Archive for Entertainment

NY Times Report of Doo-wop’s Death Greatly Exaggerated

by David Solomonoff

With the closing of a specialty record shop in New Jersey, the New York Times announced the death of doo-wop, a form of R&B most popular in the 1950’s and early 60’s which featured  harmony vocals and romantic lyrics. Doo-wop was most often performed by African and/or Italian American working class youth and combined gospel and operatic elements.

As recently as the late eighties and early nineties, I remember doo-wop groups singing a cappella on street corners in the West Village for tourists.

Though the Times tends to dismiss almost anything working class and romantic as destined for the dustbin of history, they neglected to note some innovative musicians who performed or were heavily influenced by doo-wop including Brian Eno, here performing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” made famous by the Tokens in 1961:



… and Frank Zappa, who began his career singing doo-wop and continued to incorporate it into his music throughout his career:


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Hand-Cranked, Antique MIDI Sequencer

by David Solomonoff

“Digital Enhancement” uses an electrified Symphonion Brevet No. 28 music box combined with digital technology to convert it into a MIDI sequencer. The music, embossed on steel plates, is played on a MIDI-controlled synthesizer. A hand-cranked dynamo serves as a remote control.

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Update: Gingrich bumps Corzine as Batman’s Two-Face!

by Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff

It takes a lot to shock Hollywood. But the news that Newt Gingrich has bumped Jon Corzine as supervillain Two-Face in the next Batman is making jaws drop in Dream City. Corzine was reportedly in like Flynn; his duplicitous doings at MF Global made him Two-Face to the max. Sure, Jon had heavy competition from the powers-that-be at Penn State, but sports figures often flop on the big screen. (See OJ in assorted  turkeys.) Sources close to Batman’s producers say Jon was already sitting for his Two-Face make-up when a story broke at Bloomberg about Newt Gingrich being paid $1.6 million over eight years for acting as advisor to housing bubble enabler Freddie Mac.

So what sez you, what’s Two-Face about that? Well kiddies, ever since the bubble-derived economic meltdown of 2008, Gingrich has been a humongous critic of Freddie Mac and its partner in crime (the kind that never gets prosecuted) Fannie Mae. Even saying that Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank ought to go to jail for his tight past relationship with Freddie Mac’s lobbyists.

Does this epitomize Two-Face or what? Batman’s producers did a Molly Bloom and said “yes”. Jon out, Newt in.

Prior to 2008, Newt (gotta love that name ) allegedly buzzed into the ears of Freddie Mac lobbyists, telling them how to sell the “company’s public-private structure” in a way “that would resonate with conservatives seeking to dismantle it”. Meanwhile, at the White House, top Freddie Mac lobbyist Mitchell Delk channeled Newt when pitching expanded home ownership programs to President Bush. The channeling took place during the period when Freddie and Fannie were hot to roll out ever more extreme experiments in mortgage-derived madness. (Lest we forget, Freddie and Fannie aren’t lenders; they buy and securitize mortgages, turning them into taxpayer-backed investment fodder.) According to Delk, Dubya was hip to what the political bennies “could be for Republicans and…. their relationship with Hispanics.”

Not that Dubya was all opportunism and no ideals. Remember The Ownership Society? It opened well among neocons, then nosedived into bailout land. So far, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (or is it “Mack”?) have raked in roughly $169 billion of rescue. Both say they need more. Much more. Freddie alone is seeking $1.8 billion.

Question: Should Newt Gingrich kick his Batman bux back to taxpayers? I say “yes!” His turn as Freddie Mac’s Janus landed him the way cooler role of Two-Face. He owes us big time…





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