Fifty years ago today, George Harrison and Ravi Shankar put on the Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden:
It was the first major charity concert of its kind — the Concert for Bangladesh. In that corner of South Asia, civil war, cyclone and floods had created a humanitarian disaster.
"There are six million displaced Bengalis, most of them suffering from malnutrition, cholera and also other diseases that are the result of living under the most dehumanizing conditions," former All Things Considered host Mike Waters reported in July of 1971.
The situation was deeply personal for Indian musician Ravi Shankar, a sitar virtuoso, whose family came from the region. So, Shankar reached out to a close friend, former Beatle George Harrison.
He marveled at the astonishing roster Harrison was able to attract. "You have a Beatle — two Beatles in fact — that you have Ringo Starr as well. You have Bob Dylan," Thomson says. "None of these people had played live particularly much in the preceding years. So, that was an event in itself. You have a stellar backing band, people like Eric Clapton." Including, of course, Shankar on the sitar.
What they did end up making went to UNICEF. That weekend alone raised around $240,000. Millions more came later, as a result of the subsequent album and movie, all with the goal of helping refugees.
And exactly ten years later, MTV was born. (And I still have a crush on Martha Quinn.)
I know, two days in a row I can't be arsed to write a real blog post. Sometimes I have actual work to do, y'know?
Finally, as I've gone through my CD collection in the order I bought them, I occasionally encounter something that has not aged well. Today I came across Julie Brown's "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun," which...just, no. Not in this century.
Cassie and I headed up to Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills, Wis., yesterday to hang out with family. Today, other than a trip to the grocery and adjacent pet store where Cassie picked out an "indestructible" toy that now lies in tatters on the couch, we've had a pretty relaxing Sunday. I thought I'd take a break from Hard Times to queue up some stuff to read tomorrow at lunch:
I will now return to Dickens, because it's funny and sad.
The Sea of Marmara, which lies between the Black and Mediterranean Seas, is covered in mucus:
[A] thick, viscous substance known colloquially as “sea snot” is floating on the water’s surface, clogging up their nets and raising doubts about whether fish found in the inland sea would actually be safe to eat.
Scientists say that the unpleasant-looking mucus is not a new phenomenon, but rising water temperatures caused by global warming may be making it worse. Pollution — including agricultural and raw sewage runoff — is also to blame.
As the Guardian and numerous Turkish news outlets have reported, high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the Sea of Marmara, situated between the Black and Aegean Seas, are leading to an explosion of the phytoplankton populations that discharge “sea snot.” Though the mucus itself is not necessarily harmful, it can become a host to toxic microorganisms and dangerous bacteria such as E. coli. And when it forms a layer that covers the water’s surface, it can set off a harmful chain of events, preventing fish from being able to breathe, causing mass die-offs, which in turn leads to plummeting oxygen levels that choke other forms of marine life.
And if you're not up to date on your 16th-century madrigals, the headline of this post comes from this rockin' tune by John Bennett he released way back in '99. (1599.)
Travel in the US just got slightly easier now that the Department of Homeland Security has extended the deadline to get REAL ID cards to May 2023. Illinois just started making them a year ago, but you have to go to a Secretary of State office in person to get one. Due to Covid-19, the lines at those facilities often stretch to the next facility a few kilometers away.
Reading that made me happier than reading most of the following:
And finally, Ravinia has announced its schedule for this summer, starting on June 4th.
...and I still have another one to do, though I'm not sure if today's the day for it.
This year, the Apollo Chorus of Chicago annual benefit cabaret/fundraiser Apollo After Hours will once again go virtual, necessitating a lot more individual work and a lot less fun than doing it in person. I've just completed the easier of the two songs I need to record by yesterday. With rehearsing it, learning it, recording the audio, setting up the video, and uploading the audio and video files to Google Drive for our editor, it only took me...about two hours. The song runs 2:15; I sang only 21 bars out of 81, for about 40 seconds of singing; so the ratio of work to performance is about 50:1—including the 3 minutes where I videoed myself lip-synching to the accompaniment track and smiling benificently.
For comparison, we rehearse Händel's 2½-hour oratorio Messiah for about 12 hours total, for a 5:1 ratio.
And we have one more recording to do after After Hours, which I'll describe as we get closer to the "performance" date. Once that is in the can, I don't care if we have another pandemic, I'm never doing one of these again.
But hey, After Hours will be fun!
Back in May, which seems like ten years ago rather than ten months, I started going through all my CDs in the order that I acquired them. I don't listen every day, and some (like Bizet's Carmen) take a bit more time than others (like a 4-song mini CD of Buddy Holly songs).
I've now arrived at about the middle of my collection, with a set of four CDs I bought on 19 September 1993. Holy Alternative, Batman. I had just started doing one shift a week at WLUW-Chicago, Loyola University's radio station, having made a deal to take the unpopular Saturday 8pm to midnight shift in exchange for doing whatever I wanted. They agreed, and I started the only Alternative show on what was then an all-dance station.
So the next four I've got cued up: the Charlatans UK Some Friendly, Eno & Cale Wrong Way Up, the Cure Disintegration, and U2 Zooropa.
These really take me back. Not that I'd experience my 20s again without knowing what I know now (or, at least, without the emotional maturity I've earned since then), but I did like the music.
One of the two organizations backing the $75 million Uptown Theater rehabilitation project in my neighborhood has backed out:
Farpoint Development is no longer involved in the efforts to revitalize the Uptown Theatre, the legendary movie palace and concert hall that has been shuttered since 1981. Jerry Mickelson, owner of the theater and founder of JAM Productions, and Ald. James Cappleman (46th) confirmed the news Monday.
Mickelson and Farpoint Development’s plans envisioned restoring the venue to its Jazz Age grandeur. On top of restoring the building’s facade and historic features, the project would have increased capacity from 4,300 to 5,800, installed removable seats on the first floor and added a new marquee.
Mickelson said he did not want to place a new timeline on the Uptown Theatre’s renovation due to the unpredictable nature of the coronavirus pandemic. He did say that there will be “strong” demand for live entertainment once the pandemic has subsided, and he is optimistic that the Uptown will eventually be open to help meet that demand.
“The Uptown Theatre is one of the most iconic venues in the country,” Mickelson said. “It’s got a bright future.”
I hope it's not dead and gone. It hasn't hosted an event since 1981, and it hasn't had the best maintenance since then. But losing it would really suck.
Chicago got up to 21°C yesterday, tying the record for March 9th set in 1974. It's already 20°C right now, close to the record 22°C set in 1955.
In other news:
And now that I've finally gotten a .NET 5 application to deploy onto a Microsoft Azure Functions App, I will take a well-earned walk.
It was 40 years ago today that Walter Cronkite signed off for the last time:
Over the previous 19 years, Cronkite had established himself not only as the nation's leading newsman but as "the most trusted man in America," a steady presence during two decades of social and political upheaval.
Cronkite had reported from the European front in World War II and anchored CBS' coverage of the 1952 and 1956 elections, as well as the 1960 Olympics. He took over as the network's premier news anchor in April of 1962, just in time to cover the most dramatic events of the 1960s. The Cuban Missile Crisis came six months into his tenure, and a year later Cronkite would break the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. The footage of Cronkite removing his glasses and composing himself as he read the official AP report of Kennedy's death, which he did 38 minutes after the president was pronounced dead in Dallas, is one of the most enduring images of one of the most traumatic days in American history. Cronkite would cover the other assassinations that rocked the country over the coming years, including those of Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy and John Lennon. He also reported on some of the most uplifting moments of the era, most famously the Moon Landing in 1969.
Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of Amy Grant's album Heart in Motion, which matters a lot less in the scheme of things but makes me feel a lot older.