Monthly Archives: May 2006

"Black Orpheus" (1959)

Finally saw this classic film last night. Shot in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the time of Carnival, it’s a re-telling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Music by Tom Jobim and Luis Bonfa.
Brilliant colors! and despite the fact that many shots have lots of people swirling around in brightly colored costumes, you never lost track of who’s who and where the action is. Gorgeous shots from the hilltops of Rio. And the two little kids are great! Recommended.

William Parker Quartet @ Fez, 21-May-2006

Two nice sets from the William Parker Quartet last night in Portland.  Some great bass grooves from Parker, Hamid Drake on drums, Lewis Barnes on trumpet and Rob Brown on sax.  Good turnout too!

Miles in 1970

I have been listening to the box set of the Cellar Door Sessions, recorded in December 1970 with Miles Davis & band, at that time with Jack DeJohnette, Dave Bartz, Keith Jarrett, Michael Henderson, and Airto, with John McLaughlin on the last couple sets.  It’s taken me a few listens to get a sense of what they’re up to.  I don’t think Jarrett lasted much longer after this; he hated electric keyboards.  So there’s a certain tension that is built into the band.

Miles at Isle of Wight

Also on Miles, I found a DVD that centered on the Miles Davis set at Isle of Wight, August 29, 1970 (it’s called “Miles Electric”).  The set was filmed, and the sound is reasonably good.  Along with the concert footage are interviews with many of the band members, shot in 2003 or so.  The band was similar to the above lineup, adding Chick Corea and substituting Dave Holland on bass.  Most of the players talk about Miles’ ability to listen, and to somehow incorporate and sum up what he was hearing in his playing.

Michael Pollan in Portland, 11-May-2006

Here’s a belated report on Michael Pollan‘s talk on May 11, the final lecture of the 2006 Illahee Series on Oil + Water. Pollan’s talk was based on his new book about food, and in particular focused on the incredible over-use of corn in our food supply these days.

He traced the history back to the end of WWII, when folks wanted to make use of the ammonium nitrate production that had been used for explosives during the war, made from natural gas. The chemical is a good fertilizer, and it was promoted for that use in 1947. Production of corn made a big jump up from about 20 bushels per acre in 1900 to close to 200 bushels now.

Then in the early 1970s there was a price drop in the food markets, and Nixon told his Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz, to do something about it. At that point a concerted policy started to subsidize growing corn with price guarantees, and this led to mono-cropping, increasing production of corn beyond the market demand.

So the next step was to find more uses for corn, which led into all the various corn syrups and so forth that permeates industrial food production in the U.S. now. As Pollan put it, these days we are in some ways “corn chips on two legs” as so much of what we eat comes directly or indirectly from corn.

Lots of corn goes to feed animals, such as cows. Of course, cows eat grass naturally, and not corn, so antibiotics are needed to stop disease from eating corn. Pollan said we’ve even turned ruminants into gas guzzlers!

Essentially the least healthy calories in the food supply are the most heavily subsidized, and the price of corn is $1 per bushel less than the cost of production. This leads to problems; obesity, diabetes, air & water pollution, etc.

What to do about it? Pollan said his biggest recommendation was moving toward local food (and this got probably the biggest round of applause of the night). He felt that the ‘organic’ movement is being fast co-opted (look for organic Rice Crispies soon!), but local food does not play so well into the corporate food structures.

See earlier reports from the Illahee 2006 series:  Michael Klare, Maude Barlow, Ken Deffeyes and James Howard Kunstler.


Relevant magazine

Today on the newstands I saw this magazine Relevant, which was in with the hip music mags.  It initially seems to be keeping the god stuff a bit hidden, but I figured something was up when I saw that the CD reviews included a judgment on ‘spiritual content’ (arrow up, down or sideways; most were rated sideways).  Looks like they’ve got a new mag for gals coming out soon called Radiant.