"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

26 October 2016


Doug Peacock on the origins of the first Americans ...

We finally have a definitive answer to the timeless mystery of where the First Americans came from: They walked across the Bering Straits from Asia (and not from southwest Europe paddling kayaks across the frigid Atlantic sea, as some have claimed).

The first people to successfully colonize North America are called “Clovis,” and they made their appearance in the lower United States just prior to 13,000 years ago. The only known Clovis burial is in Montana, about forty miles north of my house on the Yellowstone River (also known as the Anzick site). Here prehistoric people buried a one and a half year old boy with about 115 stone and bone funeral offerings, all covered with sacred red ocher. The burial objects, discovered by construction workers in 1968, constitute the largest and most spectacular assemblage of Clovis artifacts ever found.

A recent analysis of the child’s DNA (Nature 2-13-2014) reveals a genome sequence showing the Montana Clovis people are direct ancestors to some 80 percent of all Native North and South Americans living today. The child’s ancestors came over in a single migration from Northeastern Asia. This data is a very big deal.

Archeologists call this report “the final shovelful of dirt” on the European hypothesis. And, yes, previous to the release of this information, a popular alternative theory argued that the sophisticated Clovis stone-flaking technology came from Southwestern Europe, from Solutrean people living in Spain and France who paddled across the ocean 18,000 years ago. That meant the Clovis child should be of European ancestry. The iconic Clovis projectile point, many of which have been found imbedded in the bones of huge animals who became extinct around 12,900 years ago, appeared suddenly and is a large, extremely well-crafted weapon. A troubling insinuation of the “Solutrean” theory is that Native Americans weren’t somehow able to invent the distinctive Clovis point on their own.

One might think that the Out-of-Europe hypothesis was, at its worst, a harmless crackpot theory--that this very terrestrial-adapted culture of the Iberian Peninsula, with no evidence of maritime technology, overcame a frigid Atlantic ocean during a time span of 5,000 years by iceberg-hopping in skin boats in order to deliver the distinctive Clovis weapon system to the Southeastern United States. But this scholarly squabble quickly grew ugly with the discovery of Kennewick Man in 1996.

Civility evaporated during the nasty eight-year legal squabble over Kennewick Man (a 9,000-year-old skeleton found in the Columbia River), and we were reminded that archaeology lingers yet as a barely disguised insult to many Native Americans. The central issue of Kennewick Man was his ancestry: Was he of European origin?

Happy birthday, Scarlatti.

Velasco, Domenico Scarlatti, 1738

Domenico Scarlatti was born on this day in 1685.

Vladimir Horowitiz performs the Piano Sonatas in E major, K. 380 and G Major, K.55 ...

25 October 2016


A stunning new map shows the complex network of rivers and streams in the contiguous United States.

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, "The Promised Land"


Wyeth, Jamie, Torn Spruce, 1975


There's a place between two stands 
of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled
this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary
to talk about trees.

Adrienne Rich

Chopin, Etude No. 1 in A-flat major, Op. 25

Murray Perahia performs ...


Listen ...
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break free from the trees
And fall.

Adalaide Crapsey


From The New York Times, April 21, 1986 ...

Vladimir Horowitz returned to the Soviet musical stage today, giving a recital that dazzled the audience and left many in tears.

It was the 81-year-old pianist's first recital in the Soviet Union since he left his homeland 61 years ago to make a career in the West.

Mr. Horowitz, playing with a clarity and dynamic range that friends said he had not matched in many years, seemed to create an emotional bond with his former countrymen.

Many Cry Openly
Many in the audience cried unabashedly during portions of the recital when he played works by Rachmaninoff and Scriabin, both Russians, and during an encore by Schumann.

The audience, applauding loudly and shouting cheers, brought Mr. Horowitz back on stage for six curtain calls after he had played three encores.

Mr. Horowitz, leaning against the piano to rest, pointed to the sweat streaming down his brow and shook his head, indicating he could not play anymore.

The documentary, Horowitz in Moscow ...


24 October 2016


A wall of woodland overlooks me.
A blackbird sings me a song (no lie!).
Above my book, with its lines laid out;
the birds in their music sing to me.

The cuckoo sings clear in lovely voice
in his gray cloak from a bushy fort.
I swear it now, but God is good!
It is lovely writing out in the wood.

How lovely is today!
The sunlight breaks and flickers
on the margin of my book

A bird is calling from the willow
with lovely beak, a clean call.
Sweet yellow tip; he is black and strong.
It is doing a dance, the blackbird's song

The little bird
let out a whistle
from his beak tip
bright yellow.
He sends the note
across Loch Laig
- a blackbird, a branch
a mass of yellow

Anonymous, from 9th century Gaelic monastery



"Baby Loves to Rock"


I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

Rainer Maria Rilke


If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

J.R.R. Tolkien


They were carved from turnips or beets rather than festive orange pumpkins, and were intended to ward off unwanted visitors.

Gourds were one of the earliest plant species, domesticated by humans around 10,000 years ago, mostly cultivated for their carving potential – for kitchen tools, dishes, musical instruments, toys, furniture and more. Maoris began carving them for lanterns 700 years ago – the Maori word for “gourd” and “lampshade” are actually the same.

According to Irish folklore, a man called Jack O’Lantern was sentenced to roam the earth for eternity. A ghostly figure of the night, O’Lantern walks with a burning coal inside of a carved-out turnip to light his way.

Thanks for the inspiration, Jess!


Technique is the proof of your seriousness.

Wallace Stevens

23 October 2016

Tavener, "The Lamb"

The Tenebrae Choir performs ...


I have often wondered whether especially those days when we are forced to remain idle are not precisely the days spent in the most profound activity. Whether our actions themselves, even if they do not take place until later, are nothing more than the last reverberations of a vast movement that occurs within us during idle days.

In any case, it is very important to be idle with confidence, with devotion, possibly even with joy. The days when even our hands do not stir are so exceptionally quiet that it is hardly possible to raise them without hearing a whole lot.

Rainer Maria Rilke


Do not be proud of the fact that your grandmother was shocked at something which your are accustomed to seeing or hearing without being shocked. It may be that your grandmother was an extremely lively and vital animal and that you are a paralytic.

G.K. Chesterton



Peter Hutton is a school principal with a radical solution, no school bell, no school levels, staff selection and curriculum is even decided by students. Result? No bullying, collaboration, innovation in school dynamics.


Grateful Dead, "Bertha"


Bob Weir, "Only a River"

Oh Shenandoah, I long to see you
Hey, hey, hey, you rolling river
Oh Shenandoah, I long to see you
Hey, hey, hey
Only a river gonna make things right




"There's Only One Way to Rock"


Schubert, Piano Trio No 1 in B flat Major, op.99, D. 896

The Beaux Arts Trio performs ...


When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!

Miguel Cervantes, from Don Quixote 

Lindsey Buckingham, "Never Going Back Again"



As I look out at all of you gathered here, I want to say that I don't see a room full of Parisians in top hats and diamonds and silk dresses. I don't see bankers and housewives and store clerks. No. I address you all tonight as you truly are: wizards, mermaids, travelers, adventurers, and magicians. You are the true dreamers.

Brian Selznick, from The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Vivaldi Concertos.

Il Giardino Armonico performs Vivaldi pieces for strings under the direction of Giovanni Antonini, Enrico Onofri, principal violinist, featuring Luca Pianca, Lute ...

22 October 2016

'Tis Autumn.


October 22th 1895, Accident de la Gare de l’Ouest

At 4pm exactly, being five minute late, the train n°56 from Granville arrived in the Montparnasse train station in Paris at a speed surpassing 40km/h - 25mph, in part due to the pilot and mechanic trying to make up lost time and also maybe from a faulty air brake, causing panic in the station.

The locomotive pulverized the three wooden buffers -ejecting the pilot from the cabin, ran through the 30m long platform’s end, going through a newspaper kiosk before piercing the 60cm thick stone wall and the ledge behind it and falling ten meters below on a tramway stop of the place de Rennes.

A newspaper seller was crushed by falling masonry and parts of the engine, and was the only casualty of the accident - by a stroke of luck the tramway was about to leave when the horses, scared by the locomotive’s commotion, ran away farther down the place with the passengers safe inside.

Seine’s police prefect Louis Lépine mobilized a hundred policemen and twenty more on horses to manage the accident’s scene, with the direct aftermath seeing considerable attention from both the press and regular folks flocking the train station to take a peek at the fantastic sight, going so far as to buy tickets to nearby destinations for a few Francs to get access to the platform where the train stayed for two days for the police investigation.

The locomotive was removed after two failed attempt with a 250t winch, and was found to have suffered little damage - unlike the train station.





"Good Times, Bad Times/Ramble On"


Wyeth, N.C., Scotsman Lumberjack, 1908

21 October 2016

REO Speedwagon, "157 Riverside Avenue"

Happy Friday!



Drew Sharp, R.I.P.

Drew Sharp, the Detroit Free Press' best sports columnist, has passed.


The Smiths, "Accept Yourself"

If you can ...


Bach, The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080

Glenn Gould performs the Contrapunctus I ...

'Tis Autumn.


You see, I want a lot.
Maybe I want it all:
the darkness of each endless fall,
the shimmering light of each assent.

So many are alive who don’t seem to care.
Casual, easy, they move in the world
as though untouched.

But you take pleasure in the faces
of those who know they thirst.
You cherish those
who grip you for survival.

You are not dead yet, it’s not too late
to open your depths by plunging into them
and drink in the life
that reveals itself quietly there.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Happy birthday, Diz.

Dizzy Gillespie was born on this day in 1917.

"Oop Bop Sh' Bam"

Happy birthday, Coleridge.

Northcote, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1804

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born on this day in 1772.


Since all that beat about in Nature's range, 
Or veer or vanish; why should'st thou remain 
The only constant in a world of change, 
O yearning Thought! that liv'st but in the brain? 
Call to the Hours, that in the distance play, 
The faery people of the future day— 
Fond Thought! not one of all that shining swarm 
Will breathe on thee with life-enkindling breath, 
Till when, like strangers shelt'ring from a storm, 
Hope and Despair meet in the porch of Death! 
Yet still thou haunt'st me; and though well I see, 
She is not thou, and only thou are she, 
Still, still as though some dear embodied Good, 
Some living Love before my eyes there stood 
With answering look a ready ear to lend, 
I mourn to thee and say—'Ah! loveliest friend! 
That this the meed of all my toils might be, 
To have a home, an English home, and thee!' 
Vain repetition! Home and Thou are one. 
The peacefull'st cot, the moon shall shine upon, 
Lulled by the thrush and wakened by the lark, 
Without thee were but a becalméd bark, 
Whose Helmsman on an ocean waste and wide 
Sits mute and pale his mouldering helm beside. 

And art thou nothing? Such thou art, as when 
The woodman winding westward up the glen 
At wintry dawn, where o'er the sheep-track's maze 
The viewless snow-mist weaves a glist'ning haze, 
Sees full before him, gliding without tread, 
An image with a glory round its head; 
The enamoured rustic worships its fair hues,
Nor knows he makes the shadow, he pursues!

Samuel Taylor Coleridge