The Drone, the Bug & the Beat

Bottle-Loving Beetle, a Non-Stop
Beatle & the Beetle’s Real Father

What’s in a name? Much before early rock bands named themselves after insects, or what sounded like it, someone imagined a bug-shaped ‘people’s car,’ and even earlier in Australia, a certain beetle species was already wrongly accused of hitting the beer bottle too often.
But as Volkswagen ended this month production of the beloved ‘Fuca,’ as it was known in Brazil, some thought of crying, while others brought up that it’d outlived even the Nazis (well, at least, those Nazis). Thank goodness then that beetles, and the Beatle, are still going strong.
It’ll be a quick tour through completely different universes, where dreams get crushed by dictators, nature is forced to adapt, and human creativity is bounded only by prejudice. In the end, though, all three stories have something for everyone, for this is, after all, Thursday, and we’re not about to spoil your carefully laid out plans for the weekend.

THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT
For a long time, most people who saw the Julodimorpha saudersii, known as the Buprestid (jewel) beetle infesting empty brown beer bottles, thought it was all about booze, the alcohol, or at least, the sugar left inside. Few noticed then that it wasn’t just any bottle, but only those with an indentation at the bottom that caused the buzz.
But it took Australian entomologists David Rentz and Daryll Gwynne to find out the truth about the misguided love story. It turns out that the males would ‘love long time’ the bottles, thinking they were mating and preserving their species, because the glass resembles the females’ shiny wings.
For that 1983 research, Male Buprestids Mistake Stubbies (the particular kind of beer bottle) For Females, they received the 2011 Ig Noble award for Biology. It made a lot of sense, as it fulfills the Improbable Research premise of entertaining and educate. There was fear that such silly drive would harm the species, but so far, they’re doing just fine.
You may say that love knows no barriers, and all that. But the most appropriate cliche, if there was ever one, would be the old, not everything that shines, etc. They will learn it. At least, be grateful Professors Rentz and Gwynne have cleared the species’ good name, lest not think that just because they’re Australians, well, you know.

THE JEWISH BEETLE
In the early 1930s, Josef Ganz, a Jewish engineer from Frankfurt, changed the history of the automobile by creating the first small family-car, the Maikäfer (May Bug in German). Its design was a triumph of ingenuity and anticipated in years the many Sedans that started getting mass-produced after WWII.
It was, though, a personal disaster for Ganz. He became a target for the Nazis and had to flee Germany, only to see his original concept stolen and given to Ferdinand Porsche to develop into what Hitler called, seven years later, the ‘people’s car,’ an effective piece of propaganda for the mass murderer’s regime.
According to Paul Schilperoord‘s The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz – The Jewish Engineer Behind Hitler’s Volkswagen, while Ganz was being hunted down, arrested and almost assassinated by the Gestapo, his (more)
________
Read Also:
* Newspaper Taxis
* Racy Meals
* Beatlebarry

Continue reading

Twas 50 Years Ago Today


Sgt Pepper Made the
World Incredibly High

It’s just a date, it’s just an album, it’s just music. But boy how important it all seemed then, and how badly the world misses that feeling today, that hope and joy The Beatles put out on Jun 1, 1967, smacked in the middle of the so-called Summer of Love, no less.
Now it all may sound tame, irrelevant, outdated. As if the world has no longer a few generations of the young and the glad still alive, still capable of bringing it again to a moment of pure enlightenment. And indeed they are, while what it’s now a minority reminisces.
And yet, we can all drink from that ageless well of songs because they were never written to be crystalized at one point in amber time. In fact, the universe they were drawn from couldn’t even be called rock and roll, even as none of them would be possible without it.
For they were for the twenty-somethings of the day, yes, but also to the over 60, and the under 10 too. They rocked and they waltzed, they twisted and meditated. And in the end, they won the day, one in everyone’s life, and more. A morning, afternoon, and night where some of the best in us exists.
The Beatles did it, and as far as myths go, they made a mark as deep, healing, and hopeful, as any religion still promises to do. But without the toll of division or the need to prove loyalty to an invisible concept. For at the end of that very special day, there was the music.
Not John, Paul, George, or Ringo. Not a band that rode the crest of counterculture even when it was not aware that it was happening. Not a fake combo, led by a mustachioed band leader. The only thing that was real then as it is now is the music, lyrics and melodies.
And really, that was really all that those four working class boys ever wanted. So much so that when it was not fun anymore, they got rid of everything else that grew attached to their image, and threatened to suck the spontaneity they’d worked so hard to preserve.
They were the rarest example, that of the champion who does walk away from everything. And remains champion forever. Evidently because they could. But so could every other star, even as most of them have faded long ago and refuse to acknowledge they’re no longer needed.
So don’t feel coy today if you play this album one more time. And if you are part of that surprisingly small group who never gave it a try, today’s the day. No need to ‘Like’ it or send links to friends you hardly know. Make it as an intimate experience as others only you have had.
The rest of you may just shake your now proverbial gadgets. For alone or with others, the vow that The Beatles have committed to, half a century ago, remains as truthful as always: a splendid time is indeed guaranteed for all.
_______
Read Also:
* Newspaper Taxis
* Would You?
* Album Art

Every Man

Nobody Told Us That There
Would Be Days Like These

Four years for now, some of us will complete the four decades that separate us from John Lennon’s last birthday, on Oct. 9, 1980. His life had been so intense up to that day, that the same length of time following it seem now warped and much emptier in comparison.
In his last two months, the man was full of hope, ready for a comeback that’d be only partially realized. Whether his best work was really behind him there’s no way of knowing, but since then, we’ve been badly missing whatever was that only he could’ve delivered.
And he has indeed given us plenty, enough to keep us busy going over it even now, so many years later. Just like a post we’ve published four years ago, about a particular moment in 1967, that wouldn’t have had such an imprint on all of us hadn’t been for him.
Like another way of marking a date that still holds us under its spell. Even without knowing that the next two months were his final countdown, John lived his life with the intensity that only those who know they’ve got just this one chance to do it, really do it.
He’d have been 76, this time around. Instead, he’ll never age a day older than 40. Amazing to learn that many born since then consider him a friend, and his songs, a guide to live intensely and grow wiser. Happy Birthday, John. Thanks for everything.

Lord of the Rings


Peace & Love:
‘Not Just a Fad’

Former Beatle celebrates birthday
with a worldwide gesture and a wish:
to ‘everyone everywhere to think, say or do
#PeaceAndLove at Noon their local time.’

The Standards

Songs That Make You Long For
What You’ve Hardly Experienced

For the generation that grew up during the cultural turmoil of the 1960s, a lot of what it was determined to break free from was the placidity, conformity, and political conservatism of the U.S. in the 1950s. The rock’n’roll explosion only made that rupture more visible.
But there was a world that preceded it, marked by two wars, where ideological conflict, social hardship, and technological impact, helped shape a musical tradition that proved itself as one of the greatest cultural achievements of our era: the American Standards.
2015 may turn out to be a landmark year, as milestone anniversaries are bound to shed light on such a rich tradition and its main protagonists. Billie Holiday, Billy Strayhorn, and Frank Sinatra, are just but three of such luminaries who would’ve been 100 this year.
And so would Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, and Les Paul, all giants on their own, whose association with early country, blues, and jazz insert them, permanently, into the mainstream of American music. But it was the deceptively lowly popular song format what helped usher the Standards into an art form.
To many, the addition of Eastern European Jewish melodies, the Klezmer and other Gipsy traditions, to rhythms and syncopations of African tribal beats, converging for two centuries to the U.S., was what created the two main streams of American music, Blues and Jazz. The Great American Songbook is a worthy heir to those two.
It was also a rare combination of a few generations of extremely talented composers and musicians, with race and immigrant blood running in their veins, that took advantage of a nascent record industry, and offered the perfect antidote to the bleakness and economic despair of the early 1900s in the just industrialized world.

ALT-PORTRAIT OF A WORLD AT WAR
Armed conflicts helped spread that sense of urgency – French songbird Édith Piaf would also be 100 this year – with vaudeville, music hall, variety theater, and a general cultural miscegenation of sorts, all fit snugly into 3-minute songs that encapsulated a badly needed sense of hope for the era.
Even though such gems were not exclusively American, it was in the U.S. that the genre thrived and produced some of the most memorable and enduring melodies and lyrics ever written in English. Then, they were supposed to be about escapism and romance. Now, they can be enjoyed for their distilled wisdom and artistry.
Which is odd, since those Tin Pan Alley composers were working overtime to meet an inflated demand for hits. But what their produced then, under pressure, now betrays none of the rush with which they were writing them at that time; the craftsmanship of some of these songs still has few peers compared with much of those that came after.
The songwriters created an alternative universe, where longing, redemption, and the allure of romance is always within reach, even when they refuse to concede the singer the grace of happiness and fulfillment. At times, the world these songs promise or allude to was the only world worth living for, even if only for a few minutes.

AN ENTIRE NOVEL IN A FEW VERSES
Lovers who wished to be reunited with their dears, warriors whose losses made them cry silently for the first time, common people who saw their world coming apart right in front of their eyes, found comfort in these lyrics that invite them to dance, to dream, and to remain hopeful for another shot at life.
Thankfully, the great majority of American Standards stayed clear of any exacerbated patriotism or xenophobic Continue reading

Dear John,

You Are Me &
We’re All Together

The other day, when 400,000 people marched in front of your New York City home, I couldn’t help it but think how much you would’ve enjoyed seeing so many taking the streets for a cause – this time to fight Climate Change – just like you, marching against the war.
It also helped that it was the International Peace Day, but what was particularly poignant about Sept. 21st was to realize that many in the crowd had probably been there before, on a cold December night of 1980, to mourn your assassination on the steps of the Dakota building.
You would’ve been 74 today, and almost certainly, equally as engaged in progressive causes as you were some forty years ago. And that’s what makes us so sad, that we can no longer hear your voice, and how much the crowd misses the guidance of people like you, and Pete Seeger, to name a like-minded artist.
The fact is, even at that time, such head-first dive into political activism and explicit protesting was not what many musicians considered the best way to go about seeking change. Bob Dylan comes to mind as another influential star who, like many of your contemporaries, was just not into singing songs, carrying slogans, and parading for peace.
But while they may have been a tad too concerned about the impact that an explicit anti-establishment attitude would’ve had on their careers, you were simply not in the same level of showbiz calculation. To you, it seemed only natural to be part of what the people in the streets were protesting about, warts and criticism notwithstanding.

And there were a lot of put-downs about your over-exposure to the media, your peace and bed-in campaigns, your stunts which, to a small segment of the intelligentsia, were perceived as opportunistic and self-promoting. Never mind that your efforts, as off-the-kilt as they were, became somewhat effective.
In perspective, all that fiery anti-war poster and newspaper ad placing, your tireless advocating and support of people such as Angela Davis, John Sinclair, Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, and others, are now an inextricably part of the historical record about mass movements that helped put an end to the Vietnam War.
You should’ve seen how many young, high-school kids were there too, possibly making that beautiful Sunday Continue reading

Would You?

They Asked Us, Please, Please Me
& We Were All So Pleased to Oblige

It was half a century ago – Sgt. Pepper still a cultural revolution away – when The Beatles released their first album. Despite how fast it was recorded, and the band almost total anonymity outside the U.K., it became a landmark of pop and rock music like no other.
Please Please Me, an almost live recording of their Cavern Club act in Liverpool, had already the combination of originals, classic American rock, and songs by composers outside their immediate realm of influence, that marked their early output. And, of course, those vocals.
By then, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison had already honed their performing skills, and the late addition of Ringo Starr seemed to have only helped usher their meteoric rise. The album shot up to #1 in both sides of the Atlantic, and within three years, they were indeed more popular than you-know-who.
At this stage, they were still better as a cover band than at writing their own material, as most of the songwriters they’ve used, including Carole King and Burt Bacharach, were already established household names in the U.S. That was not to last, as we all know how it turned out.
However, Lennon and McCartney’s I Saw Her Standing There, the title song (released earlier as a single), and Love Me Do owed nothing to the Continue reading