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Friday, November 28, 2014

Video of Police Killing Boy, 12, in Cleveland Park

Tamir Rice had what turned out to be a fake handgun.   Update: Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial points out police lied on version of events, as proven by video.  And see Wash Post editorial on another police killing (murder?) there and cover-up.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Black Friday

Steely Dan live.  And more than ever: "When Black Friday falls you know it's got to be/
Don't let it fall on me."

Black Friday Out of Their Minds

Tens of millions of wacky Americans this week again had Friday on their minds since Monday.  "I'll spend my bread / I'll lose my head."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

For Couples Only

The only song you'll ever need, from Lucinda's latest (here live).

Full Darren Wilson ABC Interview

More ABC US news | ABC World News

Next 'New Yorker' Cover--After Ferguson Decision

A Different View of Thanksgiving

From one of the greatest Americans ever, Will Rogers (Cherokee from Oklahoma):  

“I love being down here in pilgrim country. I bet you when the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock and they had the whole of the American continent to themselves, and all they had to do to get another 160 acres was to kill another Indian, you know, well, I bet they kicked at the cost of ammunition. Now, I hope my Cherokee blood is not making me prejudiced, but it was only the generosity of the Indians that allowed the pilgrims to land in the first place. Suppose it was the other way around. Yeah, my ancestors didn’t come over on the Mayflower. They met the boat.”


"This is Thanksgiving. It was started by the Pilgrims, who would give thanks every time they killed an Indian and took more of his land. As years went by and they had all his land, they changed it into a day to give thanks for the bountiful harvest."

Songs for Thanksgiving

A few tunes follow expressing various reasons for giving thanks. (Also note: I posted earlier the greatest of them all, Beethoven's "Hymn of Thanksgiving").   Kicking off with the very seasonal, "King Harvest" by The Band in amazing live in studio version.

From Sam Cooke, one of the true greats, from his gospel days, with the Soul Stirrers,  1950s, mentioning everything from flowers to kids on the street. 
Then very early Led Zep in one of the few songs actually titled "Thank You." Though there's also Natalie Merchant's.

And, of course, we then have to let Sly Stone thank you for letting him be himself again (and in his case, again and again).

'Purrasic Park"

Fun take-off can guess.

'Blind' Justice

Somehow even more apt, post-Ferguson decision.  One of greatest American songs ever, yeah Dylan bounced it off 1980s album.

Centuries Before the First Thanksgiving

The oldest settlement in America, Taos Pueblo, N.M.   My photo:

Native Truths at Thanksgiving

From Bruce Cockburn, "The Indian Wars."
It's not breech-loading rifles and wholesale slaughter
It's kickbacks and thugs and diverted water
Treaties get signed and the papers change hands
But they might as well draft these agreements in sand
Noble Savage on the cinema screen
An Indian's good when he cannot be seen
And the so-called white so-called race
Digs for itself a pit of disgrace
You thought it was over but it's just like before
Will there never be an end to the Indian wars?

When Beethoven Gave Thanks

When Beethoven, late in his life, and fully deaf, survived a serious illness, he wrote a slow movement for one of his fabled final string quartets, calling it a  "convalescent's holy song of Thanksgiving,"  now known as the Heiliger Dankgesang.  I am not alone in considering it one of  the greatest and most profound  pieces of music ever written.   Plus here's latest on our film and book about Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

The Thompsons Twined

Update:  Record out this week.  Here's NPR interview today with Richard and Teddy. 

Earlier: You may have read the big NYT Magazine feature over the weekend on Teddy Thompson and the "Family" album coming out w/ dad Richard and mum Linda and sister and others....been a big fan of the parents since mid-1970s and saw Richard and Teddy over in Tarrytown a few weeks back.  Here's trailer for album:

Tunnel Vision

Q & A with me posted today at popular site of my local Gannett paper, the Journal News of Westchester/Rockland, re: my just-announced book (and maybe Greengrass movie).  Yes, I have some casting suggestions for movie...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson Aftermath, Day 2

Once again, updating from the top, all times ET.  See my blow-by-blow for last night.

7:00  NYT editorial goes after prosecutor on several levels. 
First, he refused to step aside in favor of a special prosecutor who could have been appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri. He further undermined public confidence by taking a highly unorthodox approach to the grand jury proceeding. Instead of conducting an investigation and then presenting the case and a recommendation of charges to the grand jury, his office shifted its job to the grand jury. It made no recommendation on whether to indict the officer, Darren Wilson, but left it to the jurors to wade through masses of evidence to determine whether there was probable cause to file charges against Officer Wilson for Mr. Brown’s killing.

Under ordinary circumstances, grand jury hearings can be concluded within days. The proceeding in this case lasted an astonishing three months. And since grand jury proceedings are held in secret, the drawn-out process fanned suspicions that Mr. McCulloch was deliberately carrying on a trial out of public view, for the express purpose of exonerating Officer Wilson.

If all this weren’t bad enough, Mr. McCulloch took a reckless approach to announcing the grand jury’s finding.

5:30  Darren Wilson tells ABC he has a "clean conscience" after fatally shooting Michael Brown.

2:30 p.m. Ezra Klein finds Wilson's story "unbelievable." Myself, I'm still baffled by the body found 150 feet from the car with accounts, including Wilson's, that Brown did not run far at all, and then ran back toward him.  How do we get to 150 feet?  Or has that distance been misreported?

10:30 Post at The Atlantic quotes from half a dozen witness testimonies, and suggests there was enough on Brown "charging" or moving toward the cop to back Wilson story and to cause grand jury to not indict. 

9:20  NYT blogging the morning events in Ferguson, with clergy march underway and more.  Also they say photos show Wilson's facial injury just an "abrasion."  There were 21 arrests in nearby St. Louis--and of 61 arrests in Ferguson only 8 were for people outside the state.

9:10  NY Daily News prepared  Killer Cop cover page, then switched to a softer version. 

9:00 a.mEpic on-air battle between Don Lemon and Van Jones on CNN, with Don hitting burning and looting and Van claiming it was just a few "knuckleheads."

8:45  Full NYT report on the reaction in Ferguson and police calling it clearly a "riot."  And elsewhere.

8:25 a.mLink to 4700 pages of grand jury testimony and evidence.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ferguson Aftermath

 I'll be posting all night after the grand jury announcement, updated from the top (ET).

11:55 Finally, link to the testimony and transcript and evidence presented to grand jury--all 4799 pages...Here is just Darren Wilson's testimony

10:28  CNN guys don gas masks amid much tear gas.  Arrests. Bricks thrown.   Military vehicles moving down street--under giant Season's Greetings sign over the street.  

10:09  Obama speaks on how to "move forward." Nation based on "rule of law" and we need to agree this was the grand jury's decision to make.  Quotes Brown's father on calling for peaceful protest.  Cites problems around country between people and police. 

10:02 Live on MSNBC just now crowd nearly tips over cop car, now they are smashing car, now riot cops with long guns arrive.   Bottles had been tossed. Craig Melvin of NBC reports two separate episodes of gunfire near police hdqtrs.  One cop hit by bottle and went to ground and take away but didn't look badly hurt.

9:40  McCulloch takes a few questions.  Not allowed to say if grand jury vote for unanimous.  Says he won't pursue perjury charges against witnesses.  Doesn't regret taking it to grand jury.  Look at evidence online.  Asked if any African-Americans witnesses had Brown moving on Wilson, he said yes, including several he cited.   
Then he rejects reporter's claim that young black men being "killed with impunity" by local cops.  Spent a lot of time, with FBI help, hunting for a couple of witnesses who disappeared.  Note:  Prosecutor did not give clear view of Brown "charging" Wilson--so will be key to look at what witnesses said--online soon.

Only a brief statements from Wilson's attorney, saying decision confirmed their belief that evidence should dictate that.

9:15 p.m.  Prosecutor McCulloch with announcement just now, making full statement.  Knocks rumors and misstatements from the start fanning fears.  Then knocks news media and social media.  And says many made conflicting claims and adjusted stories after autopsy results came out.  Others made statements totally at odds with physical evidence. A lot of emphasis on bad witnesses and sorting  that out with grand jury.  Sixty witnesses gave testimony to them. 

Then McCulloch on to whether Wilson the "aggressor" and used deadly force in "justified" fashion.  Again rips media for probably about to now jump on single facts and claim decision wrong. Grand jury deliberated two days--and decided no indictment on five possible charges.  Then ticks off some of evidence and says will be released at close of his talk.  Much of it familiar now due to press leaks, on Wilson confronting Brown and "altercation" inside the car.  Wilson fired two shots there and then gave chase.  Brown "stopped and moved toward Wilson" and several more shots fired.  Took 90 seconds between start and arrival of first assist car.

Many witnesses quickly gave statements to police and not media.   Then could judge consistency.  Some adjusted to fit the facts.  Others finally admitted they only saw part of the action.  But physical evidence a more solid foundation.  Ticks off Brown's DNA found in car and on Wilson and his weapon.   One bullet found in door at the arm rest, second bullet not recovered.

Three autopsies on wounds--and consistent.  Wilson exam showed "some redness and swelling on face."  Some witnesses said Wilson fired as Brown ran, others not.  One witness placed four cops at the scene.  Most had Brown stopping and turning and then shot.  Many of those who had claimed they saw Brown with hands up then said they did not really see.  Others did stick to that.  Others said he never had hands up.  Some said Brown stopped, and then Wilson quit firing--then Brown moved forward again and Wilson resumed shooting.  Says that cell video captured that paused.  (McCulloch keeps stressing that some witnesses never spoke to media and implies they are more valid.)

Wilson fired two shots at car and then 10 later.   Medical examiners unable to guess exact order of shots, except first graze wound and final shot to top of head.  Ends by saying findings will "disappoint" some.   But decision made on evidence not on political or media concerns. 

9:05 p.m.  Pete Williams of NBC--prosecutor says he'll post materials online in an hour, indicating no way there's an indictment. Raises questions about prosecutor's decision to present all evidence as if a trial. 

The 'Last' and the Best

Thirty-eight years ago tomorrow, The Band played their last gig, with friends, at Winterland in SF, later immortalized in The Last Waltz.  I was invited, at Crawdaddy,  but couldn't fly out from NY and, after all, it was Thanksgiving.  Well, I also missed Woodstock and it was only a few hours away.   Remember the cool story about The Hawks playing Jack Ruby's club in Dallas?  The Skyline, because it was burned out and had no roof.  Another highlight: Van the Man.  And he had to be coaxed from his hotel at last minute to do it. Below that, by popular demand:  uncut version of "Don't Do It."

Thin Coates

David Carr with a kind of mea culpa in NYT today as he admits he was one of many in the media who knew or suspected that many of the tales of drugging and raping king, Bill Cosby, were true and yet  did not raise the issue, or did so barely, in profiles or books about him.   Most stunning to me is not Mark Whitaker and others who claim they did not have a clear view of Cosby's guilt and so copped out, but the respected Ta-Nehisi Coates who says flatly that he believed "Bill Cosby was a rapist."   And yet gave him a pass.

Turkey: Pardon Me

John Oliver on hiatus from HBO but just posted vid on turkey pardoning.