Shaking Hands With Barack (Star) Obama

Having lived in Chicago and having voted for Senator Obama, I grew very leery of the exposure he was receiving since his 2004 speech at the DNC — which occurred BEFORE he was even sworn in as a freshmen senator.

In recent weeks I’ve grown comfortable enough to agree with many people who would bring up Obama as a potential president, only to demur — “it’s too early for him.”

“It is too early,” I’d say, “give it until at least November 8.”

I let out a sigh of relief when he announced his interest in running for the presidency for the first time, last weekend on Meet the Press. (the video’s here if you missed it). Topping that, WSJ reporter John Harwood followed Obama on MTP claiming a former top Clinton Administration aide told him Obama would run and Hillary wouldn’t (thanks for pointing this out, Brad).

Fast forward to this afternoon — a rally for Phil Angelides at USC. The several hundred people gathered on the lawn in front of Doheny Library were as passive as just about every Los Angeles crowd I’ve experienced at even some of the more sensational rock shows. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had to emphatically cue the audience — which wasn’t much more than 50% students (campus is emptier on Fridays) — to react to the catchphrases, corruption killer lines and education health care environment saving proposition 87-bombs. Angelides, not surprisingly got little crowd reaction himself, although he did say the right things, but when he began with “only 10 more days” I couldn’t help but complete the sentence in my head “… and I’m done with this shit forever.”

Enter Obama and it WAS like being at a rock show — the blue rope keeping the crowd a good distance from the stage area was trampled camera’s flashed and girls were screaming. Obama had already taken off his suit jacket while listening to Angelides with the sun beating down on him.

For five or ten minutes, Obama recited, pretty much verbatim, the speech he’s given since the 2004 Democratic National Convention (watch) — Villaraigosa almost fell over laughing when Barack pulled the “Yo’ Mama” line and I had to wonder if Mayor Tony ever has time to read the paper, not to mention the dozens of magazines that have re-told the my mom’s from Kansas — that’s where I get my accent from lines over and over.

Just as I was getting concerned about his near-term political future — as in campaigning beyond Illinois state lines — he finally broke through to the next level and addressed the issues facing the country today. He spoke with the vision and hope one would expect and I’m glad he has several months to get to a point where he won’t have to spend five minutes on the same ol’ intro.

He lambasted the Bush administration and touted the values of the California Democratic party and — though he did not say much about the issues at hand (he did mention prop 87) — I definitely noted that he regularly referred to “Phil,” but repeatedly referred to Villaraigosa as simply, “the mayor.” Either Obama is really intimidated by Spanish pronunciation or just felt like putting Tony in his place (see the envious look on Tony V’s face when Barack gets with Speaker of the California Assembly Fabian Nunez

He closed with the hopeful sentiments that things can and will turn around, ending — not ironically — with FDR’s “fear itself” line from his First Inaugural Address.

As Obama got into his car I shook his left hand — he’s a lefty, like Bill Clinton — thanked him and wished him the best. Satisfied, I’m going back to the silent treatment. Don’t wanna jinx the man.

Here are some of my photos from the rally:

Sufjan Stevens Live in L.A. — Listen to Entire Show

sufjan stevens photo by Jeremiah GarciaAccordingn to his publicist, Sufjan is down with bootlegging his shows… so here goes:

Sufjan Stevens, Wiltern LG, Los Angeles, October 9, 2006 (read Ice Cream Man’s great review here).

1. Sister
2. The Transfiguration
3. The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts
4. He Woke Me Up Again
5. Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head! (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)
6. The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us
7. John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
8. A Good Man Is Hard To Find
9. Majesty Snowbird
10. Casimir Pulaski Day
11. Jacksonville
12. That Was The Worst Xmas Ever
13. Chicago
14. The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders: The Great Frontier/Come to Me Only

-Encore-

15. To Be Alone With You
16. The Dress Looks Nice On You

or download all files as one ZIP file (130 MB). Please contact me if you can seed a torrent of this and I’ll post the link! Thanks!

recorded from the center row M floor level with Sony ECM-MS907 binaural stereo mic–> Sony Hi-MD MZ-RH910 –> some tracks optimized with Audacity, others with Adobe Audition, and some not at all (I’ve been slammed)!

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**Help rid the world of bad EULAs, DRM and sneaky digital agreements! Visit the Small Print Project**

50th Anniversary of Dizzy Gillespie’s State Dept-Sponsored World Tour

“The music of Dizzy Gillespie spoke the language of freedom: the freedom to think; to innovate; and to speak in one’s own voice,” said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in video-recorded remarks to open the 50th anniversary commemoration of Dizzy Gillespie’s State Department-sponsored world tour at the University of Southern California’s Bovard Hall (watch video of Sec. Rice’s remarks here).

Special guests stars joined USC’s Thornton Jazz Band for a performance of Dizzy Gillespie classics as they were heard on the 1956 tour. On trumpet, Jon Faddis, who performed with Dizzy Gillespie since he was a teenager. His sound at USC was still powerful, lyrical, unpredictable and bright. Gillespie himself once said of his protege: “he’s the best ever, including me!”

Saxophonist James Moody performed in Dizzy Gillespie’s bands on and off since the 1940’s. His role in the 1956 world tour was indirect but significant, as Quincy Jones noted later in the night, when Jones called Moody up to thank him onstage.

‘Thanks, Brother’

Moody thanks Quincy“I’ve wanted to say this for 50 years. If it wasn’t for this man – I wouldn’t be up here today,” Jones in thanking James Moody with an emotional embrace. “That man is the bomb!” Jones said of Moody, who recommended the young arranger and musician to be the 1956 band’s music director (which entailed, among other things, arranging and rehearsing a the national anthems of dozens of countries).

The dialogue quickly shifted from prose and praise to jazz as the USC Thornton Jazz Band struck up the opening bass line of “A Night in Tunisia.” USC Thornton Jazz Band with Jon Faddis and James MoodyThe capacity audience at Bovard Hall was treated to an hour-long sampling of the music performed on the 1956 world tour, including compositions by Quincy Jones and Benny Golson, all featuring virtuosic solos from Moody and the visually inspired Faddis, evoking Dizzy in both sound and physical appearance, save for the signature bent-skyward trumpet used by Gillespie in the 50s and 60s.

John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie was already internationally famous 1956, primarily due to his exposure on Voice of America. In 1955, VOA launched it’s “Jazz Hour,” hosted by Willis Conover, which quickly grew into the stations most popular program, enjoyed by tens of millions of listeners in eighty countries, six nights a week.

As Quincy Jones explained, it didn’t take long for the band to realize the impact of their music.

Continue reading “50th Anniversary of Dizzy Gillespie’s State Dept-Sponsored World Tour”

Sufjan Stevens, the Wiltern, Los Angeles

Here’s a taste of the sweet sounding Sufjan Stevens concert last night at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. I knew I’d be blown away, having previously missed Sufjan several times both here and in Chicago — but, wow — the band, er, orchestra was incredibly tight and on it — a new song — Majesty Snowbird (Tad posted it here) — was monumental. The guy is just a disgustingly brilliant talent and wonderful musician.

Jump below to hear the set-closing “The Tallest Man With the Broadest Shoulders” and listen to the audience clap along in 11/7, 6/8, 5/4 and whatever time signatures as the 15-piece orchestra fills in the holes with wings a-flutter.
YouTube has a ton of Sufjan video, especially from the Town Hall shows at the bottom of September/early Oct. Below is a great quality video of this new “Majesty Snowbird” phenomenon.

(If below audio doesn’t work click here for Tallest Man, click here for Jacksonville.

FCC Public Hearings on Media Ownership TODAY

The Davidson Center at USC was filled beyond capacity with an energetic and at times vocal crowd. Shortly after the hearings began an overflow room was set up: the public interest is definitely ALIVE and kicking in support of the local news initiative and other topics of discussion. The FCC commissioners, divided 3-2 in favor of Republicans, found themselves laughing at the most unlikely speakers at the early session which focused on: “Creative Community / Independent Programming.”

Click here to read the Commissioner’s testimonies, click here for audio archives and live video of today’s two sessions (the second this evevining in El Segundo).

* Click here to read the testimony of Lear Center Director Marty Kaplan (PDF).
* Click here to read Patrick Verrone’s testimony (president of the Writer’s Guild of America, west).
* Click here to read the testimonies of the SAG’s President Alan Rosenberg, and VP Anne-Marie Johnson.

Other speakers included: REM bassist Mike Mills on behalf of the Recording Artists’ Coalition, John Connolly, president of AFTRA, and members of Parents Television Council.

Long live local media! Here’s to the FCC getting an earful.