Gregg Allman, Influential Force Behind the Allman Brothers Band, Dies at 69

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Gregg Allman, a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, the incendiary group that inspired and gave shape to both the Southern rock and jam-band movements, died on Saturday at his home in Savannah, Ga. He was 69.

His death was announced in a statement on Mr. Allman’s official website. No cause was given, but the statement said he had “struggled with many health issues over the past several years.”

The band’s lead singer and keyboardist, Mr. Allman was one of the principal architects of a taut, improvisatory fusion of blues, jazz, country and rock that — streamlined by inheritors like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band — became the Southern rock of the 1970s.

The group, which originally featured Mr. Allman’s older brother, Duane, on lead and slide guitar, was also a precursor to a generation of popular jam bands, like Widespread Panic and Phish, whose music features labyrinthine instrumental exchanges.

Mr. Allman’s percussive Hammond B-3 organ playing helped anchor the Allman Brothers’ rhythm section and provided a chuffing counterpoint to the often heated musical interplay between his brother and the band’s other lead guitarist, Dickey Betts.

Gregg Allman’s vocals, by turns squalling and brooding, took their cue from the anguished emoting of down-home blues singers like Elmore James, as well as from more sophisticated ones like Bobby Bland. Foremost among Mr. Allman’s influences as a vocalist, though, was the Mississippi-born blues and soul singer and guitarist known as Little Milton.

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Gregg Allman had one of the most recognizable voices of his generation. And he always felt like a blues artist — one who was haunted by losses that propelled some of the most memorable music of the 1970s. Allman died Saturday due to complications of liver cancer. He was 69.

Gregg Allman and his older brother, Duane, were born in Nashville, Tenn., but raised in northern Florida. They were children of the South, where a blend of country, blues and gospel could always be heard on the radio and in the air. Gregg Allman’s voice reflected all of those influences.

“Growing up in the South at that time, there was a proximity to a lot of different kinds of music,” says Alan Light, co-author of Allman’s autobiography, My Cross To Bear. “There were different influences that enabled you to draw on a spectrum of sounds and different emotions — that in other parts of the country, you just wouldn’t be exposed to in the same way.”

Gregg Allman was just one year younger than Duane. They formed a close-knit bond after their father was murdered when Gregg was 2. As teenagers, they formed various bands that mimicked the sound of the British Invasion.

But when Duane Allman left behind a lucrative gig as a session musician in Muscle Shoals, Ala., he called his younger brother to join a band with two lead guitarists and two drummers. That’s how a collection of friends and former bandmates coalesced into The Allman Brothers Band, which released its first album in 1969.

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Kiitella awards: 2017 Colorado Film Hall of Fame Inductees

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Kiitella custom designed and fabricated retro-style TV awards for the 2017 Colorado Film Hall of Fame Inductees — a Colorado Office of Film Television and Media Award. Congratulations to Sonny Hutchison, Duke Hartman and Jim Berger of High Noon Entertainment. The recipients were honored at the Denver Film Society 40th Birthday Gala. Vintage meets modern with dark mild steel and polished stainless steel laminated to bamboo — with knobs and dials — and the COFTM logo framed & riveted.

Denis Johnson, Author Who Wrote Of The Dies At 67

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Updated at 10:47 a.m. ET

Denis Johnson, the author behind the seminal collection Jesus’ Son, has died at the age of 67. Jeff Seroy, a spokesperson for Johnson’s publisher, Farrar Straus and Giroux, confirmed that the National Book Award-winning novelist died Thursday but offered no further details.

“Denis was one of the great writers of his generation,” FSG’s president and publisher, Jonathan Galassi, said in a statement Friday. “He wrote prose with the imaginative concentration and empathy of the poet he was.”

“Brutally honest and painfully beautiful” — that’s how novelist Nathan Englander described Johnson’s work in 1992’s Jesus’ Son, a brief, unvarnished set of interwoven stories that focus on the desperate lives of drug addicts.

“He doesn’t ever romanticize these dark settings while leaving his narrator open to the fact that, despite it all, we may live in a heartbreakingly romantic world,” Englander wrote of Johnson in 2007, adding: “With dialogue that feels like you’re getting it verbatim and stripped-down prose, he writes simple, honest stories that have the bigness of great work.”

The same year that Englander praised him on NPR, Johnson went on to win the National Book Award for a significantly heftier work — at least in physical size. Tree of Smoke, a deep dive into covert operations during the Vietnam War, only added proof to the notion Johnson was “a fine stylist of the world of soulful disaster,” reviewer Alan Cheuse said at the time.

And Johnson, whose novella Train Dreams was also a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer, proved to be prolific both on the page and off: The author of about 20 books, including several collections of poetry, he pursued journalistic stories in Somalia and Liberia, among other places around the world.

In Liberia’s capital city in 1990, the dogs were doing well “because they feed on human corpses,” he wrote in “The Civil War in Hell,” a piece included in the nonfiction collection Seek. “The people are starving, but the dogs have put on weight.”

From book to book, the protean writer frequently defied readers’ expectations, slipping into new voices with each publication.

“I get bored quickly and try another style, another genre, another form,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2014, around the time he released his 10th novel, Laughing Monsters. “To me the writing is all one thing, or maybe I should say it’s all nothing. The truth is, I just write sentences.”

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NEW YORK — Denis Johnson, the prize-winning fiction writer, poet and playwright best known for his surreal and transcendent story collection “Jesus’ Son,” has died. He was 67.Johnson died Wednesday, according to Jonathan Galassi, president and publisher of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. No other details were immediately available.“Denis was one of the great writers of his generation,” Galassi said in a statement Friday. “He wrote prose with the imaginative concentration and empathy of the poet he was.”

The son of a State Department liaison, Johnson was born in Munich, Germany, and lived around world before settling in Arizona and Idaho. He was a graduate of the University of Iowa’s Writers Workshop and studied under Raymond Carver, whose raw accounts of addiction and recovery would be echoed in Johnson’s work. In a 1984 interview with The New York Times, he cited a wide range of influences.

“My ear for the diction and rhythms of poetry was trained by — in chronological order — Dr. Seuss, Dylan Thomas, Walt Whitman, the guitar solos of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, and T.S. Eliot,” he said. “Other influences come and go, but those I admire the most and those I admired the earliest (I still admire them) have something to say in every line I write.”

Johnson was intensely admired by readers, critics and fellow writers. He won the National Book Award in 2007 for his Vietnam War novel “Tree of Smoke” and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for “Tree of Smoke,” and, in 2012, for his novella “Train Dreams.” His other works include the novel “Laughing Monsters” and “Angels,” the poetry collection “The Veil” and the play “Hellhound On My Trail.”

But many remember him for “Jesus’ Son,” which in hazed but undeniable detail chronicled the lives of various drug addicts adrift in America. The title was taken from the Velvet Underground song “Heroin” and the stories were sometimes likened to William Burroughs’ ”Naked Lunch.” Much of “Jesus’ Son” tells of crime, violence and substance abuse. But, as related by a narrator with an unprintable name (his initials were F.H.), the book also had an underlying sympathy and sense of possibility.

“Mr. Johnson’s is a universe governed by addiction, malevolence, faith and uncertainty,” James McManus wrote in the Times in 1992. “It is a place where attempts at salvation remain radically provisional, and where a teetering narrative architecture uncannily expresses both Christlike and pathological traits of mind.”

The book was adapted into a 1999 film of the same name, starring Billy Crudup. In 2006, the book was cited in a Times poll as among the important works of fiction of the previous 25 years.

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The New Yorker

Denis Johnson, who died on Wednesday, at the age of sixty-seven, wept easily, without embarrassment. “I just do this a lot,” he told his students at a writing seminar in St. Petersburg, Russia, in July, 2000, where we were both teaching. The tears on this occasion came in response to a student’s question about how he chooses titles for his books. He was alarmingly candid about the demons that pursued him. Even while we were in Russia, he was looking for an Alcoholics Anonymous chapter. He was always on edge, treading a path that was strewn with temptation, addiction, and violence. Perhaps because we were in St. Petersburg when I first got to know him, Denis reminded me of Dostoyevsky, a writer who was willing to plumb the darkest corners of his own psyche in order to honestly report on the nature of humanity.

He lived in the woods in northern Idaho, at the top of the stovepipe, near the Canadian border. He had guns and books and a Corvette and an amused wife, Cindy, whom he clung to like a mast in a stormy sea. I think he kept himself out of society because he was too appealing. He captivated people with his humor and brilliance, but adulation was another form of intoxication that he fiercely avoided.

 Denis said that he never read his reviews, although he was one of America’s most acclaimed writers. While we were in Russia, his novel “The Name of the World” got a front-page review in the Times Book Review, by Robert Stone. When Denis’s editor called to give him the news, he told me, “I had to read my Bible to calm down.” And that was a good review. He said he stopped reading reviews when his friends began calling him at six in the morning, warning him not to read an indifferent notice in the Times. Each of his friends quoted just enough of the review that Denis felt like he had read it anyway. “A bad review is like one of those worms in the Amazon that swims up your penis,” he told me. “If you read it, you can’t get it out, somehow.”

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The Republican Hypocrisy Hall of Fame ~ Nicholas Kristof ~ 5/25/17 ~ NYT OpEd

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Senator John McCain last week when asked about his comment invoking Watergate in describing the controversy over ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russia. Credit Shawn Thew/European Pressphoto Agency

 

We certainly don’t want leading Republicans to tumble into hypocrisy, so let’s refresh their memories.

Patriots like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have eloquently warned of the importance of ferreting out the truth and holding politicians accountable, including for leaking classified information. Thank God for their insistence on truth-seeking!

As McConnell warned, for example: “The president did not value the sacred oath. He was interested in saving his hide, not truth and justice. I submit to my colleagues that if we have no truth and we have no justice, then we have no nation of laws. No public official, no president, no man or no woman is important enough to sacrifice the founding principles of our legal system.”

Such passion for justice and accountability (expressed in 1999, during the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton) inspires us all. And at this historic moment when timid or myopic politicians balk at congressional oversight and resist an independent commission to investigate President Trump and possible collusion with the Kremlin, it behooves us to cherish the wisdom of such honest souls.

They’re busy, but no problem! I’ve helpfully dug out their brilliant insights:

“Extreme carelessness with classified material … is still totally disqualifying.”

— Donald Trump, July 11, 2016

“It’s simple: Individuals who are ‘extremely careless’ w/ classified info should be denied further access to it.”

— House Speaker Paul Ryan, tweet, July 7, 2016

“The security clearance of any officer or employee of the federal government who has exercised extreme carelessness in the handling of classified information shall be revoked.” — Senate Bill 3135, co-sponsored last year (to shame Hillary Clinton) by 16 Republican senators: Cory Gardner, John Cornyn, Shelley Moore Capito, Tim Scott, James Risch, Pat Roberts, Dean Heller, Kelly Ayotte, John Barrasso, David Perdue, Johnny Isakson, Thom Tillis, John Thune, David Vitter, Mike Rounds and James Inhofe

“Those who mishandled classified info have had their sec clearances revoked, lost their jobs, faced fines, & even been sent to prison.”

— Reince Priebus, tweet,July 6, 2016

“What do I say to the tens of thousands of people that live and work in my district who work for the federal government, including more than 47,000 Marines? What do I say [to them] when saying something that isn’t true and handling classified information in an extremely careless way has no criminal ramifications?”

Representative Darrell Issa, July 12, 2016

“In my opinion, quite frankly, it’s treason.”

Representative Michael McCaul, Nov. 3, 2016, on Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server

“Presidents are not ordinary citizens. They are extraordinary, in that they are vested with so much more authority and power than the rest of us. We have a right; indeed, we have an obligation, to hold them strictly accountable to the rule of law. … It is self-evident to us all, I hope, that we cannot overlook, dismiss or diminish the obstruction of justice by the very person we charge with taking care that the laws are faithfully executed.”

— Senator John McCain, Feb. 12, 1999, in voting to convict President Clinton in his impeachment trial

“By his words and deeds, he had done great harm to the notions of honesty and integrity that form the underpinnings of this great republic. … If we do not sustain the moral and legal foundation on which our system of government and our prosperity is based, both will surely and steadily diminish.”

Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Feb. 12, 1999, as a senator

“The true tragedy in this case is the collapse of the president’s moral authority. … There was no better reason than that for the resignation of this president.”

— Senator Charles Grassley, Feb. 12, 1999

“Our freedom is assured by the rule of law. … Even the most powerful among us must be subject to those laws. Tampering with the truth-seeking functions of the law undermines our justice system and the foundations on which our freedoms lie.”

Senator Mike Crapo, Feb. 12, 1999

Such Ciceros! At a time when so many Americans have a narrow, partisan vision, I am grateful that we are blessed with patriots of such vision.

In all seriousness, let’s adhere to the spirit of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who as a senator during the 1999 Clinton trial declared:

“The chief law officer of the land, whose oath of office calls on him to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, crossed the line and failed to defend and protect the law and, in fact, attacked the law. … Under our Constitution, such acts are high crimes, and equal justice requires that he forfeit his office. … It is crucial to our system of justice that we demand the truth.”

As Statues Fall, the Specter of the Noose Rises ~ NYT editorial

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More African-American men, women and children were hanged, burned and dismembered per capita in Mississippi between the Civil War and World War II than in any other Southern state. This bloody sacrifice to white supremacy sprang immediately to mind over the weekend when a white Mississippi state representative, Karl Oliver, railed in a Facebook post that elected officials in New Orleans deserved to be “lynched” for arranging to have four Confederate memorials removed from the city. Mr. Oliver’s grotesque remark reminds us yet again that the era of racial terror that spawned these memorials still casts a shadow over American life.

The Confederate monuments were erected in plazas throughout the South primarily during the height of Jim Crow rule in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when black Southerners were nonpersons, with no say in how such public spaces were used. Those who spoke out against the oppression often died in lynchings staged as public entertainment. African-American opposition to the memorials — and to the Confederate emblem on Mississippi’s state flag — has grown, naturally, since black citizens belatedly gained the power of the ballot box.

Mr. Oliver finally apologized on Monday. But citizens and elected officials were still appalled that such a comment would come from a lawmaker in Mississippi — the epicenter of racial terror during the lynching period. Mr. Oliver’s district includes the hamlet of Money, where Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago, was kidnapped, mutilated and killed while visiting relatives in 1955.

That episode jump-started the civil rights movement and forced the country to finally confront the racial violence that had been a constant feature of African-American life in the Deep South. Perhaps Mr. Oliver’s viciousness can help Americans acknowledge how much of that poison is still with us.

Mississippi’s governor condemned Mr. Oliver’s statement, and the state’s House speaker stripped Mr. Oliver of a committee leadership position. The Legislative Black Caucus, however, is unwilling to let the matter go. It has called on Mr. Oliver to resign and has renewed its demand for the Legislature to finally dispatch the Confederate emblem from the state flag, which should have been done years ago.

As Representative Sonya Williams-Barns, the Black Caucus chairwoman, said this week, finally discarding that emblem would represent an important step toward breaking with Mississippi’s toxic past.

A Hemingway Tell-All Bares His Tall Tales

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ERNEST HEMINGWAY
A Biography
By Mary V. Dearborn
Illustrated. 738 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $35.

Ernest Hemingway began his career blessed lavishly by the gods. As a rugged young journalist, with a radiant, adoring wife, he dazzled the expatriate and artistic community of Paris in 1922 with his exuberance, gregariousness and exceptional good looks, including “the most beautiful row of teeth” the writer Max Eastman had ever seen. As Mary V. Dearborn notes in her authoritative biography, Hemingway “virtually commanded affection, admiration and attention.” His first books of character sketches and stories showed that he had literary talent as well, with an understated style stripped of euphemism, piety and cant. “In the golden city at a golden time,” Dearborn writes, “he would appear a golden young man.”

With the publication of “The Sun Also Rises” in 1926, Hemingway put a stamp on his spectacular literary career. Rapidly hailed as an important American writer, he became first a celebrity and then a legend, with his voracious pursuit of the adventurous roles and violent rituals of masculine contest. As he aged, however, that myth of heroic virility seemed increasingly untenable. He extolled male camaraderie, but was driven to betray and demolish his friends. He deserted his Paris wife, Hadley Richardson, and in three more marriages became more demanding of women’s adulation and service, more selfish and abusive. As his third wife, the writer and journalist Martha Gellhorn, observed, “A man must be a very great genius to make up for being such a loathsome human being.” And after World War II, Hemingway’s claim to literary genius seemed suspect as well. “How can a man in his senses,” John Dos Passos wondered when “Across the River and Into the Trees” came out in 1950, leave such garbage “on the page?” The international success of “The Old Man and the Sea” (1952) redeemed his literary reputation for a while, and secured the Nobel Prize. But his suicide on July 2, 1961, was so shockingly at odds with the hypermasculine persona he had cultivated and protected that it undermined critical evaluations of his aesthetic standing as well. Harold Bloom saw him the same way he saw Updike, as “a minor novelist with a major style.” His golden legend became the tragic saga of a man destroyed by his demons and hiding despair. Yet Hemingway’s outsize life and controversial achievement has continued to be a magnet to biographers, and Dearborn is the first woman to join their company. A perceptive and tough-minded biographer, who has written about other fabled icons of masculinity — Henry Miller, Norman Mailer — Dearborn has now tackled the big one. A feminist biography, then? Not exactly. Her chief asset as a female biographer, she insists, is her immunity to the hairy-chested, competitive Hemingway legend. Dearborn wants to opt out of the legend business and focus instead on “what formed this remarkably complex man and brilliant writer.”

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Forecasters Being Thrown Under the Bus ~ This is an IMPEACHABLE OFFENCE ~ thank you Edgar Boyles

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The main U.S. weather forecasting model, which has fallen behind the European model in its accuracy, has been called a “national embarrassment.”

In an inexplicable budget proposal that has floored the weather community, the Trump administration aims to reduce investments in programs that would improve this model and many others aspects of the nation’s weather forecasting.

Released Tuesday, the proposal slashes funding at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the parent agency of the National Weather Service, by 16 percent.

The proposal not only reduces investments in weather forecasting technology but also cuts programs that would enhance understanding of phenomena, such as El Nino, hurricanes and tornadoes. NOAA’s weather satellite programs would see reductions in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“This budget would ensure that NOAA-NWS becomes a second- or third-tier weather forecasting enterprise, frozen in the early 2000s,” said David Titley, who served as chief operating officer for NOAA from 2012 to 2013.

The cuts “would have serious repercussions for the U.S. economy and national security, and for the ability to protect life and property,” said Antonio Busalacchi, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. “Such funding cuts would be especially unfortunate at a time when the nation is moving to regain its position as the world leader in weather forecasting.”

The budget “blue book” for NOAA, which details the administration’s funding recommendations, specifically directs the agency to “reduce investment in numerical weather prediction modeling.” It calls for a $5 million funding cut “to slow the transition of advanced modeling research into operations for improved warnings and forecasts.”

~~  READ THIS IF WEATHER FORECASTING IS IMPORTANT TO YOU  ~~

TRUMP’S DAMNING RESPONSES TO THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION By Ryan Lizza ~ The New Yorker

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In September, 1972, about ten weeks after the Watergate break-in, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward huddled in the vending-machine room at the Washington Post’s old headquarters, on Sixteenth Street. Most days, the two reporters met there before presenting their latest scoops to the top editors. This was a particularly nerve-racking meeting. They had confirmed that John Mitchell, Richard Nixon’s former Attorney General and the manager of his reëlection campaign, had controlled a secret fund that paid for the break-in.

Bernstein told me that he felt a chill, unlike anything he has felt since. He put a dime in a machine for some coffee and turned to Woodward. “Oh, my God,” he said, “the President is going to be impeached.”

 Woodward agreed, and they decided that they would never use the “I-word,” as they called it, because they didn’t want anyone to think they had a political agenda. “It wasn’t our job how the information was acted upon,” Bernstein said. They left the coffee-room anecdote out of “All the President’s Men,” which was published in June, 1974, in the middle of the House impeachment hearings.

That July, the Supreme Court forced Nixon to release the “smoking gun” tape, which revealed that Nixon had instructed H. R. Haldeman, his chief of staff, to tell the C.I.A. to block the F.B.I. probe of Watergate. This was clear obstruction of justice, and it triggered key Republicans on Capitol Hill to break with Nixon. In August, all but certain to be impeached and removed from office, he resigned.

After a week of revelations about Donald Trump’s efforts to impede the F.B.I. investigation into his campaign, I asked Bernstein if he thought we had reached the turning point of 1972, or that of 1974.

“Almost inevitably, unreasonable government secrecy is the enemy—and, usually, the giveaway about what the real story might be,” Bernstein said. “And when lying is combined with secrecy there is usually a pretty good roadmap in front of you.” He added, “Yes, follow the money. But also follow the lies.”

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