Thursday, April 29, 2010

JACK Report: Mixed with a little Swedish

JACK is hip. Somebody at the University of Oregon mixed some excerpts of JACK with Komeda, a Swedish pop/indie band. It sounds cool.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Crockhead Report: I Survived Ebertfest

Some day soon, I will blog about my experiences at the 12th annual Roger Ebert Film Festival in our town last weekend. I promise. I'm still recovering from sleep deprivation. In the meantime, if you are a fan of JACK Quartet, or are wondering what they sound like,WNYC is streaming them live this afternoon at 2:30 EDT, 1:30 CDT. Unfortunately, I will be on the road and unable to listen. Let me know if you listened and what you think.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

JACK Report: "Mind-Blowingly Good"

I have been telling anyone who would listen that the JACK Quartet is going to blow LA's mind (minds?) when they hear the concerts they were doing last night and tonight. I was right. Here is the review from today's LA Times. I am unabashedly, unashamedly proud. These young men are going places. (The photo was taken through night vision glasses of Kevin McFarland, the cellist, by LA Times photographer Gary Friedman)

JACK Report: Darkness in LA

As I have previously reported, JACK has two sold out concerts in Los Angeles last night and tonight. I've been breathlessly waiting for reviews. The first one is up now at this link. It's a very perceptive review.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Prove You're Not An Idiot, Mayor Schweighart

This is a video of the mayor of my city at a Tea Party rally on Thursday. He is a retired police officer and should know better than to say something this stupid.

In today's local newspaper, the Mayor defended himself by saying that he was asked for and gave his opinion. As The Wife has pointed out, whether President Obama is a citizen is not an opinion, it's a question of fact. Mayor Schweighart can't produce his original birth certificate either, it's in the custody of the Champaign County Clerk and will stay there no matter what Mayor Schweighart does. The only thing the mayor can do is the same thing Obama did; produce a copy.

So, here's my opinion, Mayor Schweighart. You're an idiot. Until you produce the original IQ test showing you're not, you're not qualified to be mayor of my city.

Here's a tongue-in-cheek YouTube video produced by someone making essentially the same point.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

You Were Right, Professor Allen

The announcement this week of the retirement of John Paul Stephens from the United States Supreme Court brought to mind a Messiah concert I attended at the University of Michigan the first Sunday in December, 1974. I was brought up in a family with no knowledge, indeed, scorn, of classical music. My in-laws, however, loved classical music and had made it a family tradition to make the two and one-half hour trek every December from Bay Port to Ann Arbor to hear Handel's Messiah.

In December, 1994, I was in my first semester of law school at the University of Michigan and was taking a criminal law course under the legendary Francis A. Allen, a former dean of the law school, author of a definitive textbook on criminal law and principal author of the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961. I discovered as the concert was getting started that we were sitting directly in front of Professor Allen.

I was a shy, young student, awed by the professors and my peers at the law school, intimidated from opening my mouth in class. So, all through the first part of the Messiah, I worried about Professor Allen sitting behind me. He probably didn't even know me, I was in a large section of about 100 students and he had three sections of first year students; I had never been called upon or spoken in his class and he would probably never know the difference if I just pretended I didn't know who he was and ignored him. On the other hand, he was very bright and what if he did recognize me and would be offended if I didn't speak to him.

When intermission came and everyone stood up to stretch, I bravely turned around, offered my hand, introduced myself and told him I was in one of his first year criminal law sections. He was very gracious, didn't act like I was a stranger, but it quickly became awkward standing there facing each other with nothing really to say to each other, but unable to walk away.

Out of the blue, Professor Allen started talking about John Paul Stephens, whom Gerald Ford had just nominated for the Supreme Court. There was concern in the legal community because he would replace Justice William O. Douglas, who had established himself as the leading liberal, probably of all time, on the court. Would Ford's pick, a relatively unknown Republican, undermine all the good work the Warren court had done in the area of privacy, civil rights and criminal rights? Professor Allen had spent time in Chicago, teaching at Northwestern and the University of Chicago and knew Mr. Stephens. I don't remember exactly what was said in our conversation, but I have a distinct memory of Professor Allen saying, "He's going to be all right."

It's ironic to now hear the media regularly refer to Mr. Justice Stephens as a liberal. He is not a liberal in the mode of Justice Douglas, and he made several rulings with which I disagree. He is a common sense moderate, however, who did not allow partisanship to enter into his decisions. His denunciation of the five Republicans on the court, who stopped the Florida recount in 2000 and ordered George W. Bush installed as president, because continuing the recount would undermine his "credibility," makes him a hero, no matter how much I disagreed on other issues.

You were right, Professor Allen. Mr. Justice Stephens turned out all right.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Son Report: "A Performance For The Ages"

Regular readers know I am never shy about letting you know when reviewers say nice things about Son Number Two's performances with JACK Quartet. In fact, it's probably getting a little old -- at least for Son Number Two. He never lets me know about these things; I have engaged a private investigator, Mr. Google, to relentlessly search the internet and send me an email when it finds something of interest. Last night, I could not believe my eyes at what Mr. Google sent me.

Son Number Two regularly does gigs with other musical groups besides JACK. Sunday, he played with a group called Ne(x)tworks. They did a piece by Morton Feldman, his String Quartet No. 2, which is made up of one movement running six hours long. It was done without any breaks, for musicians or audience, in a new space, Issue Project Room. The Wife and I listened to the performance, which was streamed live on the internet, and it was very listenable music. While SNT was playing, we listened, ate lunch, read the newspaper, went to the hardware store and worked in the yard. I talked with Son Number Two Sunday night after the performance. Although he had water with him, he didn't drink any until after the performance. He told me the problem for him was not getting thirsty or needing to use the bathroom but fatigue. His arms and shoulders were hurting by the time he got finished. (So, you probably think, as I did, he now has a week or two to recuperate. No, he played with a different group Monday night; is scheduled to play with another group tonight; with JACK in New York on Thursday night; then he flies with JACK to California for performances Saturday night, Monday night and Tuesday night. The Monday night performance is sold out.)

So, this is what Mr. Google sent me. A review in the New York Times by Steve Smith in which he concludes that this was "a performance for the ages."  Now that is high praise for any performer, particularly for one just 26 years old.  Did I say I'm proud of my son?

Saturday, April 03, 2010

JACK Report: Another New York Times Review

It's time for the monthly New York Times review of JACK. This is the one in today's paper on page C-3. No pictures of JACK, alas.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


Who says the public doesn't like new music? I see JACK's LA debut on April 19th is SOLD OUT! And it's not like tickets are cheap -- at least by Midwestern standards. They're $27 a pop. Don't despair, people on the West Coast. There are still tickets available for the April 20 performance.