Lucid Culture


RIP Rose’s Turn

posted by Sarah Mucho

Rose’s Turn is the best bar ever. Any night of the week you’ll find the greatest, funniest, most talented people gathered there making music, drinking, laughing, enjoying life. This has been so for over 50 years but this Sunday, the 22 of July, 2007 it will all come to an end. Our venue for joy and mayhem is closing it’s doors for good and a much needed real estate agency will take its place. What a shame. I have had the best times of my life in that little shithole but aside from that, it’s an historic spot on an historic street and legendary performers have appeared there including Barbara Streisand, Richard Pryor and Joan Rivers. We are all losing something very dear and I encourage everyone to go this week before it’s gone just to have the experience, one that is unique to NYC or, at least, what NYC used to be. You will have the best time and you will hear some of the best talent in the city and you will be part of something special.

Rose’s Turn is located at 55 Grove St. at the corner of 7th Avenue.

July 17, 2007 Posted by | Culture, Music, New York City | 1 Comment

The Green

Is brought to you by BP and Lexus… two companies really striving to make sustainable economics possible…

Along with our pop star friends, who are quite happy to take our money in order to promote something about which we could give a shit.

Why else would energy companies give a shit – unless they were making a shitload?

Green, green. Go, Go.

Just like Bono wanks his mojo.

But what is really green?
Local agriculture.
Not driving a car.
Not consuming in any way that our grandiose culture expects.

What is really green?
Not allowing ‘first world’ trade agreements to impoverish the rest of the world
Not letting us grow so much fucking corn.

Not letting us abandon agriculture
Just to pass a few dollars around some useless dicks.

Those dicks now spew on the rest of the world whether we like it or not.


Crops under patent, even if it’s just in the bees.

It’s really up to Bono to save us – ‘The Green’

environmentalism for the challenged…

because at this point do we really have a brain cell?

July 7, 2007 Posted by | Conspiracy, Culture, Politics, Public Health, Rant | Leave a comment

Non-Aligned Blogs

posted by lucid 

So the non-aligned political blogs seem to be in a state of flux. Personalities are shifting, disappearing, hanging it up.

 I’m quite happy to recognize the end and make my absolution, but something troubles me:

We don’t make our own cloth.
We don’t make our own salt.
We don’t man the trucks that cart our shit to another jurisdiction.

I’m quite happy to let the light/sound wash over me, to pretend the moments of beauty in my life flush away the moments of horror in the life of another. I can be a selfish sonofabitch.

 I can also play a James Brown funk riff on the guitar until you’re numb in the teeth.

But I can never turn away.

 I cannot stand by while women are viewed as chattel, while latinos become a permanent underclass, while anyone who stands against the power of corporatism is simply deemed a terrorist.

 I will not cooperate.

 I will not comply.

I will not support those who seem to think that ‘if we can just get over this ridge, it’ll be ok’.

There is no ridge. There is no “OK”.

There is only humanity. And what that demands is equality, everywhere, at all times, without condition.

Is that clear enough?

So let’s continue to change the world.

July 5, 2007 Posted by | Culture, philosophy, Politics, Rant | 8 Comments

The Problem of Peer Review

So in recent weeks, I’ve quoted some linked articles in Alexander Cockburn’s ongoing tirade against the global warming hypothesis. Today, I finally waded through the source material of this tirade – an ongoing ‘debate’ between Monbiot and Cockburn hosted by Znet after Cockburn’s first column appeared in the Nation several months back. Bracketing any dispute I may have with Cockburn on the ‘global warming’ issue, after reading the exchanges, I can now completely understand why his columns took the direction that they did – and I have completely lost all respect for Monbiot. Let’s start at the beginning.

Let me begin this response with an admission of incompetence. I am not qualified to comment on the scientific claims made in Alexander Cockburn’s article. But nor is Cockburn qualified to make them.

George, you are a journalist who writes almost exclusively on environmentalism and environmental science. If you are not ‘qualified to comment’, you should seek another field. But this point is just the opening volley of a gross appeal to ‘experts’, to people who seem more qualified to offer their opinions simply because they have letters after their names and their writings have been ‘peer reviewed’

When a non-scientist attempts to dispute the findings of an entire body of science, a good deal of humility and a great deal of research is required. Otherwise he puts himself in the position of the 9/11 truthers.

Right, so when someone appeals to the work of scientists who disagree with the prevailing paradigm, they are immediately to be deemed conspiracy theorists who believe that no plane hit the Pentagon. Great. Got that point.

Cockburn’s article cannot be taken seriously until we have seen his list of references, and affirmed that the key claims he makes have already been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. This would not mean they are correct, though it does mean that they are worth discussing.

And we reach the point – the only science ‘worth discussing’ is that which appears in peer-reviewed journals. Before I dissect this, I would like to backtrack to one more statement made in this foray by Monbiot:

If you want to believe that HIV does not cause AIDs, you can find a professor of medicine who supports that view.

Well, given your high appraisal of peer review, I ‘d like to see the peer-reviewed article in which 1. HIV has been isolated, 2. HIV has been shown to be present in vivo in blood and fluid, 3. HIV is shown to have a clear pathogenesis resulting in AIDS, and 4. That the non-specific antibody tests for HIV actually predict an AIDS diagnosis in the absence of other factors which could result in an AIDS diagnosis. Don’t put yourself out George, Kary Mullis has been asking the HIV royalty for this ‘peer reviewed’ article for about 15 years, neither Gallo nor Montaigne have coughed it up. And for your information, some 2,500 scientists, doctors & academics have concluded from a review of the literature that HIV does not cause AIDS. There are several Nobel laureates, there are a vast array of people formerly working in the field, there are a vast array of some the most prominent scientists currently alive on that list.

Why are their opinions not worthy of grants George?

Peer Review.

I have long had issues with the ‘peer review’ system. We now seem to accept it unquestionably as the only way to vet knowledge. It wasn’t always such. And it serves a far more nefarious purpose than one would imagine. David Noble has written a great article on the history of peer review that should be a both a revelation and reiteration for anyone following science in the ensuing decades.

Led by New Deal senator Harley Kilgore they put forth a plan for a postwar National Science Foundation that emphasized lay control over science and political accountability. It was to be headed by a presidentially appointed director advised by a board whose members would include citizens representing consumers, labor, and small businesses as well as large corporations and scientists. The agency would let contracts to firms and universities on an equitable basis and would retain public ownership of all patents. Kilgore envisioned the new agency as a democratic means to socially responsive science.

This democratic proposal alarmed Bush and his elite academic and corporate colleagues who formulated a counter proposal, for National Research Foundation (later, also called the National Science Foundation). Central to this plan was an agency that guaranteed professional rather than lay control over science, was insulated from political accountability, and gave its director discretion over the awarding of patent ownership. In essence, the Bush agency was designed to guarantee public support for scientists – and, indirectly, for the corporations they served as well – without public control, a regime of science run by scientists and paid for by the taxpayer.


In 1950 a compromise version of the Bush bill was passed and signed by Truman, now once again under (cold)wartime exigencies. The new agency included a presidentially-appointed director but a board composed only of scientists committed to continuing the comfortable patterns established by the OSRD during the war. As a bulwark against democratic oversight and lay involvement in the awarding of scientific contracts and grants, the agency adopted a new mechanism of exclusion: “peer review.” Only peers – fellow privileged professionals, whatever their unacknowledged ties to commercial enterprise – could be involved in deciding upon the merits and agenda of science.

Hence the origin of ‘peer review’ – a political attempt to keep ‘science’ under the control of government and the corporate interests they serve. Keep that in mind the next time you ask for ‘peer reviewed sources’.

But this gets to the crux of the matter. What has this legislative dictum wrought? Precisely what we have today – a world in which the status quo is reaffirmed by grant after grant, and those doing real science, those questioning, those debating, those doing whatever they can to cobble together research that contradicts the ‘right’ ideas, are completely excluded from the ‘scientific world’. They are cranks, quacks and snake oil salesman. It doesn’t matter if they’ve won Nobel Prizes or are recognized in other ways as some of the greatest scientists of all time. They’re still heretics in the face of ‘peer review’, because their ideas don’t serve political ends. 

June 28, 2007 Posted by | Politics, Public Health, Science | 2 Comments

Viper Odds & Ends

Just shot through Cockburn’s most recent article at Counterpunch. Along with a rather fascinating look at eugenics, immigration policy, Zyklon B & the El Paso delousing facilities that later became the model for Nazi death camps, there is a fantastic article by MIT prof Richard Lindzen he quotes at length on the interstices between science, advocacy groups, and public policy:

The interaction of science, advocacy and politics in both the global warming and eugenics cases share a number of characterisics:

Powerful advocacy groups claiming to represent both science and the public in the name of morality and superior wisdom.Simplistic depictions of the underlying science so as to facilitate widespread ‘understanding.’

Events’, real or contrived, interpreted in such a manner as to promote a sense of urgency in the public at large. Scientists flattered by public attention and deferent to ‘political will’ and
popular assessment of virtue.

Significant numbers of scientists eager to produce the science demanded by the ‘public.’

Given the automatic tendency of our educated elites to form advocacy groups, the above interactions would appear to have a certain inevitability, and the advantages of advocacy groups over individual scientists in communicating with the public will inevitably give advocacy groups an opportunity to dominate the presentation of the science.

While I have issues with Cockburn’s position on global warming, I think the above applies to just about every biological discipline which can result in public policy – most notably, health policy. The public will always be unaware that ‘consensus’ is not something built by scientists, but by advocacy groups with underlying motivations [or by industries with profit motivations]. In fact there are very few areas of science in which there is ‘consensus’ – and the history of science [at least as seen through Kuhn] is based precisely on the breaking of accepted scientific paradigms. We all need to keep this in mind when faced with other current idiocies like ‘global bird flu pandemic’, etc.

In other news, my favorite Hasbara troll, dcoronata, made a lovely appearance today, trotting out some of his greatest hits:

What country was that? (3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:redcardphreek, Doughnutman, MBNYC
If you know your history, the area was a British protectorate, previously a part of the Ottoman Empire.

There was no previous country in history, that went by the name of Palestine.

Right, so it’s fine that a bunch of Europeans came in, stole the land from the hundreds of thousands of people living there & then instituted policies of ethnic cleansing that continue to this day… Just so that’s settled…

In that diary though, mattes linked to a very interesting article I hadn’t seen before on the Mizrahi rejection of Zionism. Very good read & completely blasts the myth of the great Arab expulsion of Jews after the creation of Israel.

Anyhow – have at it vipes.

June 25, 2007 Posted by | Politics, Public Health, The Blahgues | 15 Comments

Peter Apfelbaum, June 16 – Jazz Gallery

posted by Lucid

I first encountered Peter Apfelbaum when I was approached by a friend of long time Trombonist Josh Roseman to record a show of theirs in 2001. I was happy to do it, as a jazz head and an amateur recordist. I loved the show & cherished the recordings. For reasons inexplicable, I hadn’t gone to a Peter Apfelbaum date since then… until this past Saturday.

Peter has not only expanded the scope of his writing, but he has expanded the scope of his band. From Berkeley in 1977 when he first made a name for the ‘Hieroglyphics’, Peter has always shown a flair for blending African, Middle Eastern and American jazz idioms into a festive stew of riveting tunes, tonalities, idiosyncrasies – and extending them in his live shows with solos nodding to everyone from Zorn to Ponty.

This band, in its current configuration, surpasses anything I’ve heard in the past. It’s a 12 piece – traps, bass, 2 guitars, violin, 6 horns [with some reeds], and Peter. The night I saw them, it was all new material – no song names, with the only pauses to introduce band members. Peter has truly become a band leader. While in the past resting on the chops of his band to execute far simpler songs, with the complexity his writing now achieves, he comes into his own directing an ensemble of formidable musicians.

For me, the high point was the amazing violin solo in the third song by Charlie Burnham. From a traditional violin sound he transformed into a Jan Hammer/John McLoughlin screaming cat with a simple use of the wah – and a facial expression that left me wandering between sex, death and ecstasy.

Peter’s new music starts from tropes similar to his older material. He is a fan of a groove that encompasses anything form North African folk to McCoy Tyner piano idiomatics, but with his expanded line up, the veritable ‘wall of horns’ produces a symphony of harmonic & rhythmic ideas that cross paths, play in their own sandbox, and come back for a dive at the public pool. The band plays polyrhythms, odd time signatures and added measures with a tightness one would expect from an orchestra.

 Peter Apfelbaum and the NY Hieroglyphics are a must see when they’re in town – and it’s a very reasonable ticket for jazz this good.

June 20, 2007 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | 7 Comments

The OG&P Hiatus & Vagoshpere thread

posted by Lucid

As some readers of Lucid Culture may or may not know, I post regularly at a wonderful political blog hosted by Marisacat called Opera Glasses & Popcorn. In light of a number of circumstances, Marisacat is taking a much needed hiatus. With her permission, I have elected to invite the Vagosphere to come hang out in our living room for the time being. I’ll do my best to throw up a thread a day amidst Delarue’s excellent reviews of the NY music scene that will be dedicated to OG&P style politics, humor, and BBB critique. I think Mcat’s attracted a great group over at OG&P, & while she’s taking a much needed break I invite all of the regulars to stop in and share links, articles, insights & all things VAG – keep the repartee going. I won’t have the pictures & might be a bit slower in snagging you from moderation or SPAM, but I’ll try to be a competent substitute host.

So, have at it vipes.

June 18, 2007 Posted by | Politics | 22 Comments

How We Experience Equality

We think of equality as something gained. We think of equality as something that gains strength  through our struggles, our moribund activism to reamake the world as the rational Kantian palace of ends, or the beautiful kingdom of peace thought by Gandhi and King.

 ‘We shall live again’

‘Shake out the ghost dance’

We think these things wrong, and misunderstand universality. While we toil with internationalist thoughts, we don’t look within, within our own lives, within our own culture. The universalism, the peace, of a Gandhi began with cleaning latrines – we all make waste & no one is above cleaning it. No being is better than a cat burying it’s scat. At the most fundamental levels, the level of our birth, our death, our pissing and shitting, our loving our fighting, our growth our decay, our grandest scientific discovery and the arcane induction of a child into the make believe of faith, we are not different. In fact <i>we are the same</i>. What stands between us is artificial.

 Equality is not something gained, fought for, it is the revealed truth when we shed our skins.

 Our spiritual nudity, <i>sans</i> the interpretation of the socio-economic elite, is the only equality, the only truth our lives will ever embody.

June 16, 2007 Posted by | Culture, philosophy, Politics | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Linda Draper at Cake Shop, NYC 5/26/07

Linda Draper played the cd release show for her latest and fifth effort, Keepsake. Playing solo on acoustic guitar as she virtually always does, she fingerpicked with imagination and agility and made it look effortless. She still sings with the bell-like clarity of a chorister, which she once was, but she’s utilizing her lower register more and it suits her material. As a lyricist, Draper is unsurpassed. While her new material backs away from the intricate rhyme schemes and deliciously off-the-wall metrics that were all over her last couple of albums, she hasn’t lost the ability to deliver a knockout double or triple entendre. As much as her songs tend to be melancholy, she writes mostly in major keys, and serves them up with considerable humor, even on the haunting, ghostly Traces Of, from the new album. She’s also reverted to the catchy pop sensibility of her first album, as opposed to the hypnotic fingerpicking style that she’d been mining until recently: you can hum her stuff for hours after hearing it. Despite this being Memorial Day weekend, the house was full, the audience was ecstatic and wouldn’t let her leave without an encore.


Kat Heyman and her rhythm section opened the show with a soporific set of generically narcissistic, tuneless Lilith fare.

May 30, 2007 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Concert Review: Hazmat Modine and Dr. John at the Hoboken Arts and Music Festival 5/6/07

Knowing what time the bands start at this semi-annual outdoor deepfried food festival is always a crapshoot: the schedule on the festival’s official website didn’t gybe with stagetimes the day of the show. Reportedly this is par for course. Word on the street was that Demolition String Band’s 1 PM set was excellent. Hazmat Modine took the stage at just a little after two, looking like they’d just crawled out of bed, the lot of them (and there are a lot of them: two harmonicas, trumpet, bari sax, a rhythm section with a tuba substituting for bass, and two guitarists who traded off on lapsteel and banjitar). Confined to a set that ran just over 45 minutes, there was a minimum of the expansive, frequently exhilarating soloing that they’re best known for. Instead, they worked on squeezing in as many songs as they could from their wildly psychedelic new cd Bahamut along with some road-tested crowd-pleasers. They opened with the exuberant So Glad, frontman Wade Schuman and his sparring partner, Randy Weinstein trading bluesy harmonica licks over a bouncing reggae beat. Later they did a spirited cover of the Irving Berlin novelty tune Walking Stick: while it’s easy to see this song becoming totally Sesame Street (perhaps as its creator intended it), Schuman worked the lyric’s innuendo for all it was worth. Trumpeter Pam Fleming stole the show as usual with a flamenco-flavored solo, particularly apt since the song is basically a tango. When her 12 bars were up, she paused for a second, gave a quick look to the band as if to say, “look out!” and then launched the song into the stratosphere with one of her trademark crescendos.

Though Schuman looked sleepy and wasn’t nearly as boisterous as he usually is in front of the band, he had no difficulty getting the crowd hollering, with a long, James Cotton-inflected harmonica solo that he took by himself as the band looked on, singing through the reeds as does from time to time. He also added some unusual textures by playing through a wah-wah pedal on a couple of songs. The band wound up the set with an especially terse version of the title track from the new cd, a calypso-flavored behemoth about “the largest thing that never existed,” which seems to be some kind of Borges reference. The crowd didn’t want them to leave: perhaps because Hoboken is replete with blues cover bands, this exposure to something far more authentically blues-based went over particularly well.

Afterward on the Sixth Street stage, local guitarist Karyn Kuhl and her mostly female backing band stomped through a painlessly formulaic set of punky pop with cheerleaderesque vocals and forgettable lyrics. Their best song was a minor-key blues that Kuhl said they’d never played live before.

Back to the main stage where Dr. John was headlining. He’s a hot-and-cold performer: when the mood strikes him, especially in a small club, he can be electrifying, but he’s just as likely to take the money and phone it in, especially at an outdoor festival. Happily, the Night Tripper was in a particularly dark and stormy mood, the result being a fiery, impassioned, hourlong show. Before launching into the two-part post-Katrina salute to his hometown, Sweet Home New Orleans, he berated the audience to give their money only to smallscale charities: “With the big ones, the money disappears before it gets there.” A bit later he did a bristling, impressively fresh take on the old standard St. James Infirmary Blues that he ended by pounding out the opening hook from the famous Grieg A Minor prelude.

“We call ourselves Dr. John and the Lower 9/11th,” he told the crowd. He posed the rhetorical question of why they’d continue to dwell on something the rest of the world has pretty much forgotten: we’re tough customers, he said: “We carry a grudge.” This was still a party (it’s always a party when the Doctor is in town), but a defiant celebration delivered in minor keys. No Iko Iko: we got Gris-Gris instead and it was clear that Mr. Rebennac felt like he wanted to hoodoo someone. At the end of the show they lightened up a bit, the drummer showing off his collection of funk beats before bringing Dr. John back to the stage for the encores.

Despite a degree of disorganization, the Hoboken Arts & Music Festival always has some first-rate performers on the bill: the Moonlighters, Patti Smith, Mary Lee’s Corvette and Laura Cantrell have all recently played there, and it’s safe to say that this fall’s lineup should be a good one.

May 7, 2007 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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