A blues primer

A coworker of mine has never heard of B.B. King. This must be remedied. In response, I’ve created “An Evolution of Blues” compilation. It’s not a definitive list and I had to question if certain songs could truly be considered blues tracks (when they’d likely first be catalogued as jazz, rock ballad, folk, country or downtempo, to name a few).

John Mayall
John Mayall by Federico Giammusso

Read more A blues primer


This is the first time that I’ve almost completely forgotten to post the Tuesday Zep. It’s 9 am Tuesday and I just realized that I haven’t prepared anything. I’m reminded of the (uncensored) “Blame” piece Jason, Jon, and I composed a few years ago (before Foxx’s “Blame It”). I probably shouldn’t mention it—it would be wise not to post any of this kitsch—but if you want more diary-style insights into my 2007-2009 life,  you can look for links on my History page. Sorry. Next week, I’ll be ON IT!

Read more Blame


The concept for this entry began as a lyrical metaphor relating Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman” to my web publishing philosophy. The latter is boring, though, and a topic that tends to weave its way into all of my posts anyway. Music, on the other hand, tends to be a rabbit that we chase into Wonderland. 1972 “Pusherman” performance on Soul Train (YouTube):

Read more Pusherman

America’s Best Idea

I just wrapped up what I’d like to call my birthday week in which I spent most evenings watching the premiere of The National Parks documentary on PBS. Last Sunday, I recommended that people donate to the Park Service in place of gifts to me. After watching the final episode (the 6th, each 2hrs long), I couldn’t resist reminding you why the parks are “America’s Best Idea”.

Reworked Denali from McKinley Princess
Reworked Denali from McKinley Princess

The final episode does a great job of summing up the purpose and history of the parks. If you only have time to watch one episode, watch this one (and/or the first one). These are not just the sweeping landscapes of America; they also consist of historical monuments where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream speech” and where Japanese-Americans were interned during WWII. The National Park System preserves America’s irreplacable links to the past.

This is where we were
This is what we’ve loved
And now it’s in your hands
– Terry Tempest Williams

All six parts will be available streaming online through Friday. The DVDs will be released on Tuesday, currently $64.99 on Amazon (35% off). If you’re feeling more philanthropic, consider replacing your next meal out with a donation to the parks instead. In addition to the link on my Facebook, you can also donate directly to the National Park Foundation.

Today, we declare

Before distracting yourself with BBQ and fireworks, take 20 minutes to brush up on your July 4th knowledge. Reading the Declaration of Independence this morning may even make for good conversation over a few beers tonight!

Engrossed copy (via <a href=
Engrossed copy (via NARA)
I’ve always had an interest in manuscript history. The Declaration of Independence is literally America’s most celebrated manuscript, and any historian will tell you that primary documents are gold. The Los Angeles Times gets right to the point and reminds us that responsible citizens should read the document yearly. They provide us with the “engrossed copy” text of The Declaration of Independence of these United Statef of America after a short, inspiring introduction. Wikisource is also an invaluable site for reading the various editions of the document, such as the Dunlap Broadside (earliest printing). Imagine the kind of confidence it requires to propose to a king “that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government….”

Peggy Noonan pays tribute to David McCullough, “America’s greatest living historian,” in yesterday’s WSJ opinion piece, Making History. In it, she uses passages from McCullough’s books to recreate the excitement of independence week in July 1776. Part 2 of HBO’s incredible John Adams series also reenacts this moment in history. For more details about The Declaration, see the Wikipedia article and the National Archives Charters of Freedom page.