About Kevin Lynch

Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) is a veteran, award-winning arts journalist, educator and visual artist. He is the author of "Voices in the River: The Jazz Message to Democracy." He won The Milwaukee Press Club’s 2017 gold award for “Best Critical Review of the Arts” for the Culture Currents blog “Adolph Rosenblatt: A Great Eye, Gifted Hands, and a Huge Heart," an art retrospective exhibit at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee. He also won the gold award for the 2013 Culture Currents review, "Edward Curtis Preserved America’s Vanishing Race for Posterity.” Lynch was a long-time staff arts writer for The Capital Times in Madison and The Milwaukee Journal, where he was lead writer of a Pulitzer-nominated Newspapers in Education project called “That’s Jazz,” which was used in Milwaukee Public Schools and The Milwaukee Jazz Experience. Among other publications, he’s written for Down Beat, No Depression Quarterly of Roots Music, and NoDepression.com, The Village Voice, The Chicago Tribune, New Art Examiner, Rain Taxi, American Record Guide, CODA (The Canadian jazz magazine), Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine, Graven Images: A Journal of Culture, Law and the Sacred; The Shepherd Express, OnMilwaukee.com. Lynch has taught cultural journalism, English rhetoric and composition (while earning half of the credits for a PhD. in American Literature), and film studies. He’s been a music program host for WLUM-FM and WMSE-FM in Milwaukee. Lynch is working on a novel, "Melville’s Trace or, The Jackal." He’s also a visual artist and studied jazz piano and theory at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. He lives in Milwaukee.

Toni Morrison, on her birthday, shows that she saw how insidious forces work, and into the future

CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN FEBRUARY 

Courtesy Penguin Random House

Toni Morrison was born today, February 18, in 1931 Lorain, Ohio. This morning I was reading from her most recent book, published posthumously, and now out in paperback: The Source Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations. 

I read the short essay below, and was so stunned by it prescience and relevance to our moment, that I looked to see when it was written. It turns out the essay was published in The Nation on May 29, 1995. It was an excerpt from a Charter Day Speech, “The First Solution,” delivered at Howard University, in Washington DC on March 3, 1995.

I offer it here as a reminder of her voice’s power, of her mind’s incisive insight and ability to articulate courageous truths that dangerously fester today.

I do not intend to suggest that she is speaking about any specific person or people in our current times. I will let you readers decide that for yourself, as citizens, kind of like being a voter alone in a voting booth.

Rather, notice that Morrison, as an an African-American, includes in her referencing, it seems to me, people of her own racial background, with this chilling sentence: “And in infecting these changes (fascism) produces the perfect capitalist, one who is willing to kill a human being for a product (a pair of sneakers, jacket, car) or kill generations for control of product (oil, drugs, fruit, gold.)”

To underscore the point that people of any color or persuasion could be duped into a perfect capitalist mindset, yesterday several TV pundits were warning of some of the behaviors Morrison describes as clear and present dangers to our democracy right now. A black woman, a conservative radio host, responded lamely, “But this isn’t a democracy, its a representative republic.”

Well, speaking of those representatives, especially in or Senate…

Yes, too many years we have been advancing and acquiescing to an economic and political system to cultivate some close to “the perfect capitalist” in each of us, at the very least almost reflexive consumers. That is a big reason why we are in the situation are in today. It’s also why I support Elizabeth Warren who admits to being a capitalist, and yet she knows how much we have perverted the system of American capitalism. Her agenda is about making that system work more fairly for everyone. And she makes perfect common sense each time she opens her mouth.

So please, read Toni Morrison on her birthday, remember, think and then act. Do something, for the sake of our increasingly ravaged democracy, for the sake of ourselves and our children. At the very least, read up on candidates and the issues, and vote.

(This essay is copyrighted by Toni Morrison 2019, through Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.)

 

 

Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Harvey Taylor feel for our nation and people

Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in front of City Lights Book Store, which he founded in San Francisco long ago. Ferlinghetti, who turned 100 in 2019, remains pertinent today. Courtesy The Nation

Can we feel pity for our own nation? Our own people? Hear those questions arise in the poem “Pity the Nation” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Milwaukee poet singer-songwriter Harvey Taylor recently used his considerable gifts of recitation to revive the powerful ideas of Ferlinghetti, The 100-year-old beat-era bard, who first wrote “Pity” in 2007, during the Bush-Cheney administration. 

The poem feels as pointed as ever today. Taylor also employs the darkly expressive banjo and harmonica of Jeff Hinich on “Pity,” and the second poem offered here, “Immigrants,” penned by the Taylor himself. Both are offered “to motivate creative resistance to corruption and criminality in ‘high places’,” he says.

Taylor’s own verse addresses the idea that most Americans are immigrants or descendants thereof and, in that sense, related to today’s often-desperate and courageous migrants, risking their lives and families to escape violence by coming to America’s borders.

A desperate migrant family retreats from tear gas at the Southern U.S. border in 2018. Are they illegal? Should we muster pity for their plight? For our own nation and people? Harvey Taylor ponders such matters in poetry. Courtesy ABC News.

Heavy, dark matters simmer within these verses, yet both remain extremely palatable, given Taylor’s deft and mellifluous recitations.
And he magnanimously offers wise respite to burdened or resistant spirits, with a third poem “How Happy They Must Be.” This he wrote inspired by a splendid realm of wildflowers encountered while driving through a bucolic countryside.
This poem is brightly colored by Taylor’s own warmly buoyant trumpet playing, double tracked, with and without mute. After the previous brooding poems, this feels like taking a deep breath of fresh, pastoral air.

The three brief recordings add up to a three-part tonic, the kind only poetry recited with doses of graceful verve and insight can provide.

Poet-musician Harvey Taylor. Courtesy milwaukeerenaissance.com

Taylor plans to collaborate with a talented video artist, Susan Ruggles, for a new incarnation of these readings. Culture Currents will keep you posted when these videos appear.

Here’s the Link to Taylor’s own website recordings: harveytaylor.net

____________

These readings originally aired on “The Grass is Greener,” a program hosted by Babbette Grunow and Gary Grass, on Riverwest Radio, WXRW-LP 104.1 FM.

2019 NPR Jazz Critics Poll includes your blogger’s list of best jazz albums

Pianist-composer-bandleader Guillermo Klein (seated fifth from left), and his star-riddled band Los Guachos, produced the year’s best album “Cristal,” in the opinion of Culture Currents’ Kevin Lynch Courtesy WBGO 

After a few years’ hiatus, I re-joined Francis Davis’ longtime culling of jazz critics in a poll that began at The Village Voice in 2006, and has morphed into a National Public Radio-sponsored survey, now the largest annual poll of jazz critics. So, if you’d like to refer to the best critical consensus on what to listen to or buy in jazz, here’s a great guide.

If you have a favorite critic among participants, you can find his or her list, including mine, in the link to all the critics, in the opening essay (or here: all participating critics.) Davis’ two short essays provide fine overviews of the year and of critical preferences. He notes a surprise top consensus winner, Diatom Ribbons, by the fairly unknown Canadian pianist-composer Kris Davis (see photo below.)

My top choice, Cristal, by Guillermo Klein and his brilliant medium-sized ensemble Los Guachos (The Orphans), bolstered my sense that Latin Jazz is moving close to the center of the jazz fulcrum of artistic power and influence.

Guillermo Klein y Los Guachos released “Cristal,” my choice for the best jazz album of 2019.  Courtesy google.com

This year, Puerto Rican-born alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon, who is also in Klein’s band of “orphans,” (he’s seated to Klein’s left in the photo, at top) gave us an album that just missed my top ten, Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera. The NPR critics group similarly ranked Sonero number 12 in their consensus voting.

Zenon is also an original member of the SFJAZZ Ensemble, which scored in my top 10 with The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Original Compositions. Jobim, of course, is the father of Brazilian bossa nova.

These albums follow trumpeter former-Milwaukeean Brian Lynch’s dazzling Madera Latino, a 2-CD 2018 Latin-style take on the music of trumpet icon Woody Shaw, one of my picks for best of that year.

Otherwise, I was deeply impressed by Forward, the debut album (and a live performance I saw) by The Paul Dietrich Ensemble, a Madison-based orchestra. Maria Schneider Orchestra drummer Clarence Penn is the album’s co-billed artist. Schneider’s style and sensibility deeply inform Dietrich’s music. Among the band’s featured soloists was Chicago alto saxophonist Greg Ward, whose own album, Stomping Off From Greenwood, also made my top 10 list.

I reviewed the album here and for The Shepherd Express:

Madison composer-arranger Paul Dietrich’s music looks backward and forward, like sonic cinema

Pianist composer Kris Davis (center, in blue) and her very diverse ensemble delivered the best album of 2019, according to a poll of 140 jazz critics. Mimi Chakarova/Courtesy of the artist

Here’s a link to the whole 2019 NPR jazz critics poll:

https://www.npr.org/2020/01/14/795888693/the-2019-npr-music-jazz-critics-poll?fbclid=IwAR2BacLUoQYtLwr1hob8ljZfBP3d_Z3H2bgqdTgy1VjuADbWT6qy6HAjwvo

Here’s my own NPR ballot of best jazz albums for 2019:

14th Annual Jazz Critics Poll: 2019

Ballot 2019

Kevin Lynch (The Shepherd Express [Milwaukee], No DepressionCulture Currents)

NEW RELEASES

  1. Guillermo Klein y Los Guachos, Cristal (Sunnyside)
  2. Kenny Barron & Mulgrew Miller, The Art of Piano Duo: Live (Sunnyside)
  3. Lee Konitz Nonet, Old Songs New (Sunnyside)
  4. Wadada Leo Smith, Rosa Parks: Pure Love: An Oratorio of Seven Songs (TUM)
  5. Greg Ward Presents Rogue Parade, Stomping Off From Greenwood (Greenleaf Music)
  6. Tobias Meinhart, Berlin People (Sunnyside)
  7. Kendrick Scott Oracle, A Wall Becomes a Bridge (Blue Note)
  8. SFJAZZ Collective, The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Original Compositions (SFJAZZ)
  9. Paul Dietrich Jazz Ensemble Featuring Clarence Penn, Forward (self-released)
  10. Romain Collin, Tiny Lights (XM)

REISSUES/HISTORICAL

  1. Eric Dolphy, Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions (Resonance -3CD -18)
  2. Gil Evans Orchestra, Hidden Treasures: Monday Nights Vol. 1 (Deko Music)
  3. Paul Bley-Gary Peacock-Paul Motian, When Will the Blues Leave (1999, ECM)

VOCAL

  • John Allee, Bardfly (Portuguese Knees)

DEBUT

  • Joshua Catania, Open to Now (Shifting Paradigm)

LATIN

  • Guillermo Klein y Los Guachos, Cristal (Sunnyside)

Note: Gil Evans Orchestra should be considered under New releases (recorded 2016-17).

 

The Atlantic’s steady-in-the-storm December issue carries me to the brink of the tidal catastrophe it references

“Watching Americans Watch Parades.” Lebanon, Kentucky, September 24, 2016. Photo courtesy theatlantic.com Photo by George Georgiou

The times, they are a changin’ yet, and what goes around comes around, treading over the blood and tears on the tracks, the ravaged hearts struggling on.

The Atlantic remains required reading for anyone with an open and inquiring mind about culture, politics and the world, regardless of your persuasion. The November/December issue How to Stop a Civil War might’ve been transported to the publication’s earliest years as an abolitionist publication. What might’ve happened? You unlock this door with the key of imagination, as Rod Serling would say. Times are more complicated but the conflicting dynamics, especially on race and “the Other,” is not much different.

Since then the magazine has evolved into a sometimes exquisitely-balanced — sometimes walking a tightrope — but morally inquisitive and rigorous publication without such a clear agenda.

The November 1857 Atlantic Monthly (left), a voice born in a time of crisis on the verge of The Civil War, and the current magazine and app. Courtesy the atlantic.com. Cover art of December 2019 issue by Sam Kaplan, Brian Byrne and Atlantic creative and art directors.

Look at the December issue’s cover, beside the debut 1857 issue. A pejorative adjective comes to mind with this bleeding image. On second thought, in such times this cover speaks powerfully to painfully melodramatic times. That’s the adjective. But the cover with the new bold but elegant but assertive “A” logo reflects courage and resolve in our time of crisis, as is the sum part of the issue’s theme articles. The mag’s art and creative directors see the startling hand image as a metaphor for a “body divided against itself,” deftly echoing Lincoln.

Introducing the edition, editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg delineates some connections and distinctions with great urgency in the opening salvo for peace if not necessarily civility (more on that later) “A Nation Coming Apart,” by referencing the magazine’s debut issue.

But it showed how measured and penetrating the publication can be in its range of reporting.

How far do they cover the stormy waterfront?

The first of three thematic sections of the main body of the issue is titled “How to Stop a Civil War.” They set a provocative edge in one of the first pieces, an interview-feature on Daniel Miller, leader of the Texas secessionist movement on among the most mot intellectually stimulating right-wingers around. Union stalwart-angel Abe Lincoln would shudder, of course. I loved a brief, delightfully insightful photo essay (more a diptych mural, really) by George Georgiou Watching Americans Watch Parades. (See top photo)

Yoni Appelbaum’s edge-of-dystopia piece “How America Ends” follows his recent cover story which helped spur the intellectual charge to impeach Trump.

His historical perspective reaching into the Civil War legacy brought to mind a great novel a read and reviewed, Cloudsplitter the extraordinarily personal-yet-big-picture story of radical abolitionist John Brown, narrated by his son, and written by the gifted and inspired Russell Banks.

Yet the issue is also very to-the-media-and-cultural moment. Don’t miss “Why it Feels Like Everything is Going Haywire,” a social-media “conversation-essay” by Jonathan Haidt and Tobias Rose-Stockwell, with a powerful big-picture perspective.

Then there “Too Much Democracy is Bad for Democracy” by Jonathan Rauch and Ray La Raja (illustrated above by Ilya Milstein), which indicts our democracy primary election system but doesn’t rail against the Electoral College, which seemed an oversight. They argue for returning to a system of relying more on knowledgeable party experts, in the proverbial back rooms. Elsewhere, conservative columnist David Frum does address the Electoral College dilemma by asserting that a second Trump term, with a Republican Senate majority involves a deliberative body that’s “less democratically representative than the Electoral College,” in “When Trump Goes.”

Part 2 of the issue is titled “Appeals to our Better Nature”

The very meaty and challenging section is anchored by “The Road to Serfdom: How Americans can Become Citizens Again,” by Danielle Allen. “Can This Marriage be Saved?” examines an effort at applying couples-counseling technique to red and blue state group participants.

Part 3 is titled “Reconciliation and its Alternatives”

In “The Enemy Within: What Principles of Democracy Must Citizens Live By?” recent Secretary of Defense James Mattis boldly declares: “Cynicism is cowardice. And cynicism is corrosive when in it saturates society, as it has saturated much of ours.”

As thought-provoking as any piece is “Against Reconciliation,’ by Adam Serwer,  which argues the dangers of a political middle acceding to those who would exploit America only further. He says the gravest danger to American democracy isn’t an excess of vitriol—it’s the false compromise of civility. Serwer likens the current state of American politics to the Reconstruction era, “when the comforts of comity were privileged over the work of building a multiracial democracy.” He argues that the illusion of peace and civility is often purchased at the expense of true progress. “The danger of our own political moment is not that Americans will again descend into a bloody conflagration. It is that the fundamental rights of marginalized people will again become bargaining chips political leaders trade for an empty reconciliation.”

Finally don’t miss “What Art Can Do: The Power of Stories that are Unshakably True,” by Lin-Manuel-Miranda, creator of the Broadway masterwork, Hamilton.

Buttressing the Americana photo diptych is an essay on the great American gritty verite photographer Gary Winogrand, “A Street Full of Splendid Strangers.”

You begin to sense how brilliantly and carefully this issue was conceived and realized.

For what it’s worth, I’ve done nominating for the Pulitzer Prize a few times (in music) and was leader writer of a Pulitzer-nominated group project, and this issue is surely a powerful candidate for the coveted prize, in some group-project category.

That’s not even counting the culture review and feature pieces, which only strengthen the issue. See reviews of Margaret Atwood’s sequel of sorts to A Handmaid’s Tale, and of Martin Scorcese’s autumnal new American gangster film, The Irishman. A Q & A with first-time director Director Melina Matsoukas on her Queen & Slim, a “black Bonnie & Clyde film” starring Daniel Kaluuya, (Black Panther, Get Out) and Jodie-Turner Smith. “I wanted to showcase black love, and unity, not just romantic love. Black unity is the greatest power against oppression, Matsoukas says.

 David Blight also offers a mediation titled “The Possibility of America: Frederick Douglass’s Most Sanguine Vision of a Pluralist National Rebirth,” drawing from his 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.” The black social and civil rights pioneer was also original a prophet of struggle fomenting progress.

Here’s a link to The Atlantic’s December issue: “How to Stop a Civil War.” https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/toc/2019/12/

Which leads me back to Banks’ 1998 novel Cloudsplitter, (a finalist for the Pulitzer and PEN/Faulkner Awards) and all we might gain from reflecting on the extreme socio-political dynamic that inspired Brown to such drastic measures as murder, for the sake of finally freeing black slaves.

Radical abolitionist John Brown on the verge of splitting clouds, and America, with his zealous lightning strikes. Print by John Steuart Curry.

He remains a controversial figure. When I mentioned I was reviewing this book to John Patrick Hunter, a progressive political icon at The Capital Times, Hunter immediately declared, “He was a hero!” His spouse Merry, standing beside him, softly shook her head. “Killing people, I have problems with that,” she said.

Lincoln, of course, saw the ensuing conflagration as the crucible to preserve the Union, just as much as slave liberation. To me, the book’s story feels unshakeably true, and burning a brand of passion into our times. Cloudsplitter is a long but rewarding and psychologically fascinating novel. So read my review and do consider reading the book, as a profound message to the groaning pain of our changin’ times:

THE CAPITAL TIMES

 Friday, May 1, 1998

Edition: All
Section: Editorial
Page: 13A
Source: By Kevin Lynch
Type: Review
Memo: Kevin Lynch was an arts writer for The Capital Times.

ABOLITIONIST’S STORY IS AS DANGEROUS AS AMERICA

   Russell Banks’ majestically sad and impassioned novel about the abolitionist John Brown is a great and inspiring book. It is also dangerous, in the way that America is perilous and contradictory in its ever-shifting bedrock of independence for all people, rife with subtle and vile abuses.
The danger factor has been glossed over or ignored by critics who have been tossing deservedly glowing literary laurels at the feet of Banks.
I suspect the author would kick those politely aside, to search out responses from ordinary, deep-rooted Americans, descendants of slaves or of Civil War fighters, or any lovers of freedom and equality.
When he finished his last novel, “Rule of the Bone” about a teenage runaway, Banks did more than tour the tony bookstore circuit. He went to urban high schools to discuss its implications with students.
That, too, was a somewhat dangerous book, if one saw it as simply glorifying Bone’s rambling, delinquent lifestyle.
Now “Cloudsplitter” might be seized as an argument and excuse for terrorism. While copiously researched, it creatively humanizes the radical whose acts of carnage in the name of God and freedom brought this nation to the brink of the Civil War.
But John Brown’s vision of freedom still burns at the core of America’s best ideals, even if his Bible-based philosophizing and fiery charisma suggest cultism. The story’s narrator, Brown’s son Owen, convincingly recounts how, in growing to manhood, he fell increasingly in thrall to his father.
Early on, Brown’s family is stunned into clarity when he reads aloud scores of shameless “missing property” notices: “Runaway, a negro man named Henry, his left eye out, some scars from a dirk on and under his left arm, and much scarred with the whip” . . . “I burnt her with a hot iron on the left side of her face; I tried to make the letter M.”
As the voices of father and son alternate, the unthinkable need for their radical violence seems a matter of historic necessity.
The new western territories of the 1850s appear to be on the verge of becoming slavery states. The balance of power is clearly tipping toward the South’s political position. The reactionary Fugitive Slave Act has enabled the whim of any Northern white to deliver escaped slaves — or any freedman — back to Southern plantations. The president is Franklin Pierce, an unspoken sympathizer with slavery.
Banks’ storytelling builds a rumbling suspense, like a slowly rising earthquake, opening the cracks of the nation’s horrid moral crisis.
John Brown is an inept businessman, but he has a strangely burning brilliance as a radical abolitionist. His strategies grow from analyzing military battles and maxims in the Bible and by traveling to Waterloo to understand Napoleon’s mistakes. When the violent, racist hordes called the Border Ruffians appear to take control of Kansas, Brown and his rag-tag bunch of sons and followers respond with their shocking guerrilla counterattack, in Pottawatamie, Kan. Would it be enough to spur action from the seemingly passive Northern abolitionists?
Unlike the rhetoric of many right-wing militia types, this story is not about craven self-interest masquerading as patriotism. It is not about people lusting to possess AK-47s, to assert the “right” to act out their worst bigotry and paranoia.
John Brown’s life mission to deliver America’s blacks from slavery reveals him as the most fearless liberal of all, priming for “the revolution we should have fought back in ’76!” as he tells Frederick Douglass, the great black abolitionist.
Douglass ironically notes that the British “have outlawed slavery for close to a quarter of a century now.”
Many reasonable people understandably see a madman in John Steuart Curry’s famous portrait of Brown. He was grandiose, flawed and deluded about what he could accomplish. But this preacher’s religious fervor did not harbor political ambition — only the affirmation that the nation’s soul would be saved by the death of slavery.
As Banks tells it, no other American had Brown’s boldness of vision, not even Douglass, who tried to discourage Brown from his ill-fated raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Va., in 1859.
This novel moves with the emotional restlessness of a family and a nation just awakening to the need, finally, for a bloodletting, and a long, harsh, self-defining victory over its demons.
Among a spate of strong secondary characters, two are unforgettable — Brown’s freed-slave compatriot Lyman Epps and Owen’s simple, pure younger brother Fred — whose fates spur the story’s motion as clearly as any political act. They give the novel gut-wrenching human dimensions that Banks has now mastered over his 12 works of fiction. (Filmmakers are finally grappling with his dramatic potential, with “The Sweet Hereafter” and the upcoming “Affliction.”)
As with “Affliction,” Banks fearlessly looks at the violent instincts coursing through blood ties.
“Cloudsplitter” is the name of an Adirondack peak that symbolizes his father for Owen. This novel stands just as massive, shadowed and unshakable. That is why it transcends terrorist cant. It is rigorous moral fiction, examining its lead characters’ motives and actions from all possible angles, finding epic heroism and life-haunting fault, especially in Owen himself.
This John Brown is a caring father and husband and “regardless of their race or station, he pointedly treats women as equal to himself,” Owen writes.
His father only lords over others about slavery, the son explains. “To Father, white and black Americans alike were bound by slavery: the physical condition of the enslaved, he insisted, was the moral condition of the free.”
It is Owen who dwells in the blood-lusting darkness of the Brown family’s worst impulses. He long ago lost his faith, which remains the fundamental difference between him and his father.
Now, many years after the debacle of Harpers Ferry, he agonizes that his spiritual void contains a root of his violence, betrayal and cowardice.
He was the sole survivor.
This feels like the masterpiece of a writer who matters like few others today. “Cloudsplitter” conveys the sweep of a mighty land and the historic weight of Owen’s burdens. It reads as a private confession with an inexorable, gravitational pull.
One arrives at the end as if waking from a long dream of America, risen from the nation’s subconscious. Owen and John Brown are archetypal men one may grow to love and perhaps fear, as does a son for a great, dominant father.
As one grows to love and perhaps fear America itself, with its astonishing freedoms, its shifting moral ground and its devastating power.

________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re: SF debacle: The bruised Pack still ascending, and above most already

Packer kick returner-runner-receiver Tyler Ervin. courtesy Getty Images
Yeah, I could stomp on the Packers when they’re down, like most are now. But an old die-hard fan/friend requested “words of solace” from me, so here’s how I responded:
John,
First a big sigh. Letting the dark winds of disappointment and pain escape a bit more. Whew!
I liked the Packers’ apparent poise under duress (see 2nd half rebound) but they should’ve acted more aggressively sooner — on the first drive which ended 3 & out. I would’ve thrown a play-action deep post, on the first play.
So by the end-of-the-half pick, it was a duck in a shooting barrel.
OK. I have faith in Gutenkunst, but more in his free agent dealing, so he might find a fast, quick inside LB, maybe another TE.
The draft class is loaded with wide receiver talent, so someone should stick and help this time, preferably a guy who does 4.4 40 or less.
Here’s a thought nobody’s addressed. Despite his dopey bounce-off-the-face mask muff, I think Tyler Ervin has comparable potential to Niners’ Raheem Mostert, who was mainly a kick returner till coming to SF, and took a long time to bloom. But Ervin I think has even more previous experience as a RB. Check this from Wiki:
“In his redshirt senior season of 2015, Ervin rushed for a single-game school record 300 yards against Fresno State (Davante’s school) and for 263 yards against New Mexico.[7][8] In the 2015 Cure Bowl, his final collegiate game, Ervin got his longest career punt return touchdown, for 85 yards in the Spartans’ 27–16 win over Georgia State.[9] He finished his senior year with 1,601 rushing yards on 294 carries with 13 touchdowns and 45 receptions for 334 yards with two touchdowns.[1] Along with first-team All-Mountain West Conference, Ervin earned multiple national honors, the Athlon Sports All-American second team and his second straight Sports Illustrated honorable mention All-American title.[1]”
The Packers remain a step behind San Fran in scheming as well as team speed. I think they’ll prioritize those gaps in the off-season. They have at least one extra sixth-round pick from the trade to Oakland of KR Trevor Davis. I think the Packers have more room for improvement than SF, and will be better & deeper next year, though maybe not as lucky injury-wise.
A-Rod sounds quite optimistic, even after a nasty loss. Eliminate the turnovers next time, get a few yourself (they should’ve stripped Mostert at least once — I know they have to touch him first (ha), but with all those carries!) and it’s another ballgame. The desperation bomb throw Sherman picked at the end hardly counts, it was incomplete anyway.
Restrap you’re cheesehead helmet, and buck up. Me too!
The grass is always greener, and golden, on the other side.

Magnificent retrospective of visionary nature painter Tom Uttech closes this weekend at Museum of Wisconsin Art

Nin Gassinsibingwe (I Wipe My Tears), 2019. The size, 84 1/8 inches x 95 7/8 inches, is typical of the large scale the artist works in.

Tom Uttech, Into the Woods, The Museum of Wisconsin Art, 205 Veterans Avenue, West Bend, through January 12. wisconsinart.org 262-334-9638.

Time honors those who honor time, especially gifted cultural misfits, those who follow their vision, even to the most remote, forbidding or mystical realms, to the most precarious peak, who then muster the spiritual courage to take the deepest plunge that fate’s cavernous voice demands.

That seems like Tom Uttech’s artistic odyssey.

First, let me reach back, nearly a half a century, into the early stages of his saga, from my own nearby perspective. As a sculpture-concentration art major at UW-Milwaukee in the early 1970s, I had very little direct contact with painting professor Tom Uttech.

We sculptor-types hunkered and toiled in the blasted heat of the bronze-melting furnace, amid the grime and dust of the sculpture department in the fine arts building’s basement. Uttech, and his fellow painting faculty and students, dwelt in the comparatively exalted strata of the building’s top floor, blessed by generous shafts of illumination, only skylights separating them from the heavens.

There was a political aspect to this. The painters possessed a sheen of superiority, far above the sweaty, purgatorial Neanderthals pounding hammers and chisels, grunting to hoist crude masses of stone and wood, or be-goggled to wield flashing welding torches or hellish crucibles of molten metal. Sure, in our dreams, artistic glory lay, a la Michelangelo, entombed in those recalcitrant, flinty hunks, and Rodin-esque eloquence within the laboriously-assembled casting molds.

But, yeah, we knew our bottom-rung place in the realpolitick scheme of our art department. Yet, that doesn’t mean that, at some psychic level, I wasn’t intensely aware of Uttech’s quietly gathering power, as a somewhat mythic artistic presence in the building.

I’d occasionally see him floating through the department’s mid-level floors, where I took life drawing and other required 2-D media courses for art majors, and which he occasionally stooped to teach. The verb has multiple aptness, as Uttech’s looming presence had partly to do with his physical stature as surely the tallest person in the art department, during those years. His lanky body seemed to meander slowly to airy realms. Like many tall, gifted persons, he had a slightly aloof bearing about him.

This mural, created by Red Grooms, is in the UW-Milwaukee art department commons, and depicts art faculty and students from the early 1970s, with painting professor Tom Uttech towering over the others. Photo by Kevin Lynch *

His stature and aura befit him as the undisputed North Star of the art department faculty. This had to do with the peculiar gravitational pull of his genius, something which this sculpture major felt, but only came to understand in time, perhaps begrudgingly. Maybe, like the many towering trees he painted, he often felt the wind whistling though his high-perched ears and eyes, singing siren songs of the north country. He doggedly trod a pathway to his visual and thematic sources across the region between Wisconsin and the Quentico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada.

Bud Lake, from a 1974 photo print Uttech dubbed “Onimik Sagaigan,” was an area of Ontario that inspired the painter’s imagination. 

So, time has decidedly honored Tom Uttech, as he’s done more than his reciprocal part for career destiny, and the grand strangeness of nature. This is abundantly clear by the magnificent and transporting retrospective of his work, Into the Woods, at The Museum of Wisconsin Art. It will close Sunday, January 12.

So heed my warning: Do not missed this exhibit encompassing, as nothing ever has, the grandiloquent accomplishment of one of the greatest artists Wisconsin has ever claimed her own, a man who’s mapped out a vast landscape of singular fashioning, as a true American original and visionary.

More than most artists, Uttech possesses the powers of a sorcerer wielding paintbrushes – if he swirled them just so they’d open a swirling vortex into a realm of nature as otherworldly yet vivid as one is a likely into encounter in one’s lifetime.

And yet that uncanny effect feeds on quietude, deriving from the extraordinary scale and imaginative leaps he takes consistently in his canvases. One senses a contemplative, even Zen-like authority in his artistic travels, as exotic as they appear, something deeply moving the more you open yourself to this work. Here, Nature gives birth to a thousand nights and lives, to myriad snorts, cries, growls and howls – emitting from the weirdly eloquent creatures that haunt the twilight of this man’s fertile imagination.

Of course, this art is soundless, but it seeps into the viewer as if all five senses quiver under exquisite siege. In some canvases, peculiar dramas stand poised to play out: Flora and fauna seem like they might just die even as they radiate strange, regenerative power. They might become another version of themselves, reincarnate.

“Makwa Pindig Wabashkiki” 2011

For example: The painting “Makwa Pindig Wabashkiki” centers on a tall, standing black bear peering out towards the viewer. Two great-antlered elks flank the bear, also looking towards the viewer in alert sentinel posture. All wait from a safe, wary distance. These two species, natural enemies, here seem allies; atmospheric mist shrouds the forest. All around them, highly animated tree branches and other flora perk up, as if anticipating something. Is the presence they sense a blessing or a curse, harbinger of tragedy, or transformation?

One may be inclined to stand before such a canvas, as with others in this show, and wait for something to happen. Such pregnant ambiguity typifies the aura of mystery that Uttech masterfully trades in, painting after majestic painting.

But how did Uttech get to such a certainly unfashionable artistic place? As a university professor in the 1970s and ’80s, he was intensely aware of trends in contemporary art, fading abstract Expressionism, pop art, minimalism, conceptual art, etc., all of which left him uneasy, and ultimately an outlier. But a fearless one who knew where he needed to go, to a realm more personal than an art movement, and perhaps more far-reaching. He arrived at a sort of Zen maximalism, if that makes any sense. Early modernist surrealists certainly took their imaginations to extremes, often tuning them inside out, as does Uttech. Yet, he’s worked in a private yet generous a realm derived from traditional nature painting. His titles mostly employ language of the native American Ojibwa tribe, who inhabited the region before European colonization.

Further, his work seems that of a much older and more literary soul than the surrealists, perhaps one borne of the 19th century and its transcendentalists, notably Emerson, but with a hoary helping of Thoreau, and deep inlets to the haunted black forest dwellers of Hawthorne.

Yet to see this art, one senses a man who evolved into a sort of contemporary mystic, as well as an obsessive virtuoso. A key work illustrating the former trait is “Painting for Buckingham Lake,” a luminous early painting from 1973. Unlike most of these color-saturated works, this one appears to have given up the ghost, a central specter-like figure bathes in pale blue and white light. The silhouette appears human but a mighty rack of elk antlers seems to emit from his head, recalling The Magus, the titular half-man, half-horned mammal god-like creature inhabiting a mysterious island in a magical post-modern novel by John Fowles.This is something the painter only could’ve encountered in the deepest forest of his dreams.

Painting for Buckingham Lake, 1973

More typical here are large, stunning scenes teeming with birds and furry mammals, often all rushing together off the canvas view, drawn by some obscure force beyond. These are rendered in breath-taking detail and into almost infinitely deep perspective — an artistic style and vision I have never quite seen elsewhere in 35 years of writing about art. (see Nin Gassinsibingwe (I Wipe My Tears) 2019, at top) The paintings persistently evoke the questions: What larger spirit-force holds these scenes in the hollow of its hand? To what end? And what does it feel like to sense such questions?

Uttech today, now an avuncular 77, may have once, deep on his quests, mutated into an unfettered shaman, with craggy roots sprouting from his orifices. He does remain a bit of a spell-casting oracle, speaking today of a “secret” as the key to not only his art but also to our species’ troubled relationship to nature.

Uttech offers quiet empowerment, a sense of belonging, affirmation and adventure in a comment on a website marketing his artwork: “Since these pictures are about nature and our role in it, the knowledge gained might grow into love of nature, and thus into concern for its well-being,” he says. “This concern could lead to action to protect nature and, therefore, ourselves. The best response to my paintings would be for you to go straight to the wildest place of land you can find and sit down to let it wash over you and tell you secrets.”

Tom Uttech’s art creaks wide a vast doorway, luring all viewers to enter with open imagination and heart, to travel the right way back, into our whole humanity on earth. Perhaps the secret has something to do with survival.

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Uttech art images courtesy Museum of Wisconsin Art.

  • The Red Grooms mural is also the new theme image for my Culture Currents blog, at the very top.

 

 

 

Jerry Bergonzi Quartet displays inventive mastery of modern jazz

 

Jerry Bergonzi blowing at Bar Centro. Photo by Leiko Napoli

An ease of execution arises when musicians achieve full mastery of a creative medium like jazz. The relaxed energy evident in this authority emanated from all four corners of the Jerry Bergonzi Quartet Sunday at Bar Centro. This allowed many outlets of excitement, ideas, passion and soulful style. The most stunning moment came quite soon, when the tenor saxophonist-leader, in effect, cut off the right arm of John Coltrane.

In that act, he demonstrated mastery of his own voice, laden as it is with influences. I’ll get to my perhaps-startling metaphor shortly.

The quartet opened with a “simple blues” they titled “Let’s Pretend,” which Bergonzi revealed afterwards as his adaptation of Coltrane’s “Village Blues.” That tune, from the classic Coltrane Quartet’s first recording in 1961, affirmed Bergonzi’s deep sense of modern jazz tradition. It’s a terse four-note phrase, extended slightly. Bergonzi asserted a powerful Trane-ish tight-reed tone that allowed fiery expression through discipline. Yet it helped the band warm up their chops perfectly. Bassist Billy Peterson especially showed he was poised for the show, with elastic, throbbingly-musical dexterity.

Gear-shift to a fast tempo for the standard “Green Dolphin Street” but here “de-harmonized” and with other alterations, Bergonzi explained. What happened would’ve stunned Coltrane were he sitting in the crowd. He once famously declared that he would “give his right arm to play like Stan Getz.” Sure enough, we witnessed — in a few short moments — Bergonzi shift from Coltrane to Getz mode. Not many saxophonists can do this with such swift execution.

So suddenly his sinuous solo sounded at once like he’d “reharmonized” the changes and that Getz’s ghost had arisen, with his famous bittersweet lyricism in a tone suggesting fine-hammered, burnished silver. But the solo bore Bergonzi’s own ideas, a flinty sort of cubist reshaping of “Dolphin Street.”

Lest anyone doubt his stylistic latitude, Bergonzi quoted from Getz’s most-famous hit “The Girl from Ipanema,” in a solo later in the set.

Jerry Bergonzi Photo by Leiko Napoli

The ensuing tune, Kenny Dorham’s “La Mesha”(from tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson’s debut Blue Note album.) is ballad-like, with a fairly beguiling melody. Pianist John Campbell gave it a striking pivot point with an acerbic Monkish chord that he stopped and let ring out for several beats. This pinpointed the taking off of the tune’s flight and Campbell’s own wide-ranging facility on the keyboard throughout the set. Bergonzi’s blowing here was as passionate as it was pretty.

Another sly tune reinvention was punningly presented as “Table Steaks,” as a musical quiz of the source tune. By its end, a few folks figured out it was Benny Goldson’s “Stablemates.”

Here and throughout, drummer Adam Nussbaum buoyed the band’s hard-swinging invention with a circular slash, bash, and shimmer attack.

Drummer Adam Nussbaum with the Jerry Bergonzi Quartet at Bar Centro Sunday. Photo by Leiko Napoli

Two originals offset the reinvented standards: the genial and glowing “Love Thy Neighbor” and as “Freedom From.” “This was  originally called ‘Freedom from Religion’ but too many people took that the wrong way,” Bergonzi explained.

“So now it’s freedom from gluten!” he joked. Here’s where he quoted “Ipanema.” The effect was to assert that the veteran Bergonzi was free from, as much as indebted to, his influences. He seems to believe passionately in the jazz tradition without making a religion of it, with faith in its power to generate artistic creativity and, just perhaps, a measure of humanity’s enlightenment and liberation.

This was one of the biggest events to date for Bar Centro, a  fast-growing Milwaukee jazz venue.

The Jerry Bergonzi Quartet at Bar Centro L-R: Adam Nussbaum (drums), Billy Peterson (bass), Bergonzi (sax), John Campbell (piano). Photo by Leiko Napoli

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Culture Currents has been down for quite a while due to technical difficulties. We’re glad we’re back, and that you’re back, Thanks for you patience. — Kevin Lynch 

 

Our House is on Fire! Hear it. See it. Believe it.

“This planet is our home, and our house is on fire!”

Singer-songwriter Harvey Taylor says he’s not sure what one “small song” can do but, he has to sing it. Every one of us must speak out in the best way we can against the self-destructive madness of climate change and global warming. This video is much more potent than mere words, as impassioned as those are. Taylor has a gifted collaborator in videographer Susan Ruggles, who illustrates each of Taylor’s dire points with raging and ravishing potency.

This is the real world we live in today, the real planet we are destroying, our home and that of every other earthly creature and plant. Here’s hoping this video will inspire others to other creative means of fighting the madness.

Thanks to Harvey, Susan and percussionist Jahmes Finlayson.

Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio follows it own dedicated path, like musical Robin Hoods

Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio performs “Memphis.” Courtesy Just Jazz

Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio:

Saturday: Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts, Milwaukee 

Sunday, Sept. 22: Arts + Literature Laboratory, 2021 Winnebago Street, Madison, 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance (https://rosettatrio.brownpapertickets.com) and $20 at the door. Student tickets $5 off with a valid school ID. Advance ticket sales end 1 hour before the show. Doors open at 7:30 pm. 

Outside of classical circles, astringent might describe a string trio. But once you hear Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio, especially in person, such austere implications melt away into pools of concentric counterpoint, and welling surges of warm passion. The passion and warmth radiated primarily from the bandleader Crump and his buoyant, enveloping bass-playing at center stage, Saturday night at the Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts. The bandleader seems to possess an innate but well-cultivated musicality and soulfulness, even as it vibrates at a slightly more subtle, lower dynamic level then his two guitar-playing band mates.

Bassist-composer.-band-leader Stephan Crump. Photo by Ralf Dombrowski

Often Crump seemed to talk or sing to his bass, to spur it to some higher level of communication. For one tune, he literally used the big, upright bass as a percussion instrument, slapping various parts of its wood body, and zinging sharp effects along the side of the instrument’s neck.

That tune was called “Rose,” named for one of his formative artistic inspirations, a woman he knew in his early years in Memphis, Tennessee. The group may even be named for her.

This piece had strong country overtones embedded in its modern overall style, bringing to mind the atmosphere plectral magic of Bill Frisell who coincidentally played the night before not far south in Evanston, Illinois. Considering I almost attended the sold-out solo Frisell event (with tickets ranging from $25 to $55), I daresay I got more for my money Saturday with the Rosetta Trio, especially in the intimate setting of the Jazz Gallery, amid a too cozy-sized audience.

These are all world-class musicians, with Crump best-known as one of the formative members of the celebrated Vijay Iyer Trio, and with credits ranging as far afield as Portishead’s Dave McDonald and The Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano. Yet Crump has been so dedicated to his personal vision in this form that this trio has soldiered on for 15 years in its exact same configuration of players. The guitarists are Liberty Ellman – well-known for performing with an array of progressive jazz artists, including Pulitzer Prize-winning saxophonist composer Henry Threadgill, Wadada Leo Smith, Gregory Porter, and Jason Moran – and the somewhat less-renowned but no-less-talented Jamie Fox.

In this group, Ellman dedicates himself to acoustic guitar with subtle and sparkling elan, while Fox handles the hollow-bodied electric duties with great aplomb. What’s also impressive about this group is, for all the virtuosity and conceptual sophistication, there’s an unassuming humility to their presence, especially in Crump’s almost shy-but-eager way of sharing anecdotal information about each tune. This lent the music a human aspect even as it sometimes veered into the abstract, as it does with several tunes by Ellman, the most-overt intellectual in the group.

But what consistently engages listeners is the interplay among the players, most conspicuously the delicious array of contrapuntal felicities rising from the two guitarists together, riding Crump’s fulsome bass.

It was perhaps most purely engaging on the bandleader’s tune “He Runs Circles” inspired by his young son’s “eloquent” manner of literally running circles around his father when he practiced. The evocative effect of the three musicians here was an infectious three-part swing that almost prompted at least one audience member to dance circles around the trio. Here and elsewhere, the group engaged the body, heart and mind with music as stimulating as it was sometimes challenging.

If you have a chance, don’t miss this group, which happily presses on like slightly covert Robin Hoods – taking from the richness of both vernacular and art musics, and giving back to the musically hungry fortunate enough to cross their path. That artistic realm is encapsulated in the title of their latest abum, Outliers.

Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio has just embarked on an extensive Midwest tour in support of Outliers, so check out their website for a concert near you: Rosetta Trio tour

Blood is at the Doorstep of Congress

 

A gun safety rally speaker in Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park shows a photo of Stephen Romero, age 6, a child killed in a mass shooting in California. All photos by Kevin Lynch, unless otherwise indicated.

I really want to celebrate Labor Day today, the working men and women of many immigrant backgrounds who built his nation, and sustained its success and glory, time after time after time. I hear their work in my mind, the rhythms of the hammer, and of the sewing machine, of the printing press, even the offbeat hits of the teacher’s chalk on the blackboard. They are why America is still a great nation and continues to be. I fly my American flag proudly today in front of my home.

But Lord, we have our profound faults and that drives me to this post, because of the profligate abuse of guns everywhere, because of the seemingly mindless, or racist or vengeful carnage, and the heartbreak, the shattering of families and the blood-spattered social fabric. And because of the facile, pathetic rationalizations for inaction.

I am prompted to revisit a rally I attended on August 18, after the very latest mass slaughter in Texas and elsewhere –– how do we keep up with them all? – and another protest for gun safety this weekend, which I missed. The gun safety rally in Milwaukee I attended was held in Red Arrow Park, the site of the killing of Dontre Hamilton. This was a powerful and moving experience. I try to gain inspiration from it. So I am sharing some photos and video from that event in hopes blog readers will gain some inspiration for action.

Red Arrow Park is profoundly significant because part of our nation’s terrible gun problem is the militarization of the police, and their excess of deadly weapons, their institutional and, for some, individual racism, and their reflex to shoot in the slightest doubt, and argue that it was self-defense. In 2014, Hamilton was shot 14 times by a Milwaukee police officer who approached him where he was sleeping under the Red Arrow Park sculpture, a block from City Hall, and across the street from the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts (I’m happy that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett attended in support of this event.)

Maria Hamilton (far right, in white), mother of Dontre Hamilton speaks a few feet away fro the red arrow sculpture, under which her son Dontre was killed by a Milwaukee police officer in 2014.

Police had previously responded to a call about Hamilton sleeping there and determined that he was causing no harm. But another officer, Christopher Manney, didn’t get that message and showed up and woke up Hamilton who, after being confronted, apparently grabbed the officer’s nightstick, at which point Manney immediately emptied his gun into Hamilton.

The late Dontre Hamilton. Courtesy USA Today

The full Hamilton family story, tragic but also inspiring, is told magnificently in the award-winning film Blood is on the Doorstep which wrote about in depth in this blog at its Milwaukee premiere, and which I dearly recommend to anyone who cares about the deaths of unarmed black men. Here is a link to a trailer, and access to the film which is available by streaming currently, and available through Netflix: Blood is at the Doorstep

The protest event I attended was extremely special because of the presence of Maria Hamilton, Dontre’s activist mother. She spoke briefly, saying “now is the time” for common sense gun safety measurements like background checks. We also need to get rid of the military-style assault rifles on our streets, and in the hands of more potential mass murderers.

Maria Hamilton (top, right) speaks with U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore beside her. A rally attendee (above) consoles Maria after the rally.

When Maria Hamilton took the microphone, it hit me very hard. She spoke only a few feet away from the spot where her son was gunned to death. All new reports I’ve read say he was either “beneath” or “beside” the red arrow sculpture. Then, after the rally, I was stunned by something I saw, when I sat down on the base of the sculpture. I looked down at my feet at the granite surrounding the sculpture and I noticed some stains in the stone, faint red stains that many might easily overlook at this point in time. But I could not help feeling that I was looking at bloodstains and that, whose else might they be but Dontre Hamilton’s?

After the rally, I sat down at the base of the red arrow sculpture (top) and saw these red spots (above), next to my shoes, right on the location where Dontre Hamilton was shot 14 times in 2014. Now I believe they are Dontre’s blood stains.

I don’t even know if Maria Hamilton knows that the stains are there. I did not feel like approaching her afterwards. But I took a photograph of the stains and you can think what you might about this. But, believe me, those stains haunt me, even symbolically, even if it is not really what it appears to be. Philip Roth once wrote powerfully of “the human stain” of racism, and the phrase’s symbolism resonates to the deep heart’s core of the America.

Several speakers spoke on the broader issue of gun violence at the event which was one of over such rallies 100 nationwide that day, sponsored by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, Students Demand Action, and Hometown for Gun Safety, the nationwide organization which I was happy to help support on my birthday on Facebook with the assistance of various friends, whose contributions I am very grateful for.

A young college student activist speaks extemporaneously at the Every Town for Gun Safety rally on August 18 in Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park

One of the most impressive speakers was a young black woman activist (above) who had said she had a prepared speech. But when she got up there she was so fired up that she simply spoke spontaneously for about five minutes. She spoke intelligently, directly, eloquently, and passionately.

I will try to post the video of this remarkable young woman on my  Facebook page (Kevin Lynch, Milwaukee) posting of this blog post. It is too large for this website. 1

The blood is clearly on the doorstep of Congress, just as were the numerous pairs of shoes that were laid out symbolically on the lawn in front of the Congressional building In Washington, representing the hundreds (thousands?) of children we have been killed by gunfire since the Sandy Hook massacre of school children and their teachers.

A recent protest involved placing pairs of shoes on the lawn of Congress to signify every child killed by gunfire since the Sandy Hook massacre. Courtesy GettyImages

Any paranoid gun owner who worries about the ridiculous “slippery slope” notion of gun restrictions, is basing his fear on no evidence.

Neither I nor anyone who cares about reasonable gun safety gives a hoot about your collection of guns. We just want to stop the insane carnage in the only advanced country in the world in which this happens to this degree, by a long shot (sad pun intended).

Guns do kill people, about 40,000 in America every year. When the NRA says “no, people kill people,” remember, no person has ever killed any person by pointing with a forefinger and a “cocked” thumb and shouting “bang!”

A killer has to have a gun in his hand, dammit. I’m sorry, like Beto O’Rourke in Texas and most of America, I’m beyond horror, unhappiness and grief. This is our nation and these deaths were our lives, our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, our dear friends. They will continue to be.

Every citizen and inhabitant must play a part now, in changing this self-destructive and self-centered brain-lock, and heart-lock — at least among a small group of powerful American politicians and gun industry lobbyists.

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1 Full disclosure, I attended this rally as a belated participant, not as a reporter. Consequently I didn’t take notes (my hands were full) so I don’t have IDs on all the speakers pictured in the photos. There was very little post-rally news coverage of the event that I can find, with such details. My apologies.