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Lawyers Appreciate the Wisdom of Socrates

David Giacalone, through his pro se advocacy weblog shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress has tagged me to join the year-end "lawyers appreciate" thread that started here.  A compilation of responses since the December 22 start of the project may be found here.  David tagged me in either or both of my online personae, and I choose to finesse the choice -- just ahead of deadline -- by posting this to both of my weblogs..

Some respondents have attempted a general assessment of what lawyers, as a class, appreciate.  Others have focused more closely on what they, as individual lawyers, appreciate.  I thought briefly of making a joke of it --

Financial Advisers Say "Lawyers Appreciate," So Buy and Save As Many of Them as You Can

-- but I just as quickly thought better of it (although it must be admitted that many of we lawyers could do with some saving.  But, I digress.). 

In the end, because so much of what attorneys do takes place between their ears and because the practice of law is so often concerned with getting at, or in some cases attempting to concoct a favorable version of, reality, I found myself returning to that old sly fox of ancient Athens, Socrates.

In law school, most upcoming lawyers are exposed to the so-called "Socratic Method," in which the professor -- generally in modern dress and typically not speaking Greek -- seeks to compel the student to find or discover or discern or make a lucky guess at the point of doctrine under consideration, much as the character we know as "Socrates" in the Dialogues of Plato does with his students or debating partners.  Plato's Socrates is concerned not with fine points of the law but with the Larger Questions on which the law, and all of engaged human life, depend: what is Good, how can we live in a way that is in keeping with the Good and, above all, how can we go about knowing that anything is True. 

Which leads me to the particular "Wisdom of Socrates" that I have in mind. 

It is most famously contained in the Apology, Plato's account of Socrates' own encounter with the legal system, the trial in which the older philosopher was convicted and sentenced to death.  Because all we know of Socrates reaches us secondhand, and because it comes to most of us in translation from a long-gone version of an ancient and foreign language -- discuss, if you wish, the multiple layers of hearsay involved here -- it can be stated in any number of ways, none of which carries any guarantee of accuracy.  My own favorite, by virtue of its relative simplicity, is this:

All I know is that I know nothing.

Here, for lawyers and non-lawyers both, is the beginning of all other wisdom.  Socrates may well have been pulling the court's leg a bit when he said it -- he so often gets the better of his philosophical sparring partners that we cannot but suspect that he actually thinks he knows more than a few things, and many more than his accusers to be sure -- but it stands as the indispensable starting point for most any other idea.  When he says he knows nothing, Socrates makes no claim that nothing can be known.  While some things may be truly unknowable, many other and important things, large and small, can be found out, and can be known, by the application of clear and careful thought combined with the genuine desire to find them out.  Knowing that you don't know them, or knowing that what you think you know about them is wrong, and acknowledging those limitations if only to your self, is the first step to knowledge. 

[Aside: Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld inspired plentiful mockery when he spoke of "known unknowns," but his essential point was not that far removed from Socrates.]

Like "Go" in a game of Monopoly, Socrates' statement pays off each time you return to it.  As a lawyer, I appreciate its value every time I try to figure out what are the facts of a case and which ones make a real difference, or what rule of law applies to the problem, or whether some new or different rule ought to apply and whether it is possible to reach it, and so on.  Each time those questions are answered, it is likely that they lead to a new question.  By stringing together those answers, one eventually reaches a final answer, or at least a point past which one cannot or need not pass.  Often, because the questions aren't really new, the process is a speedy one, though it pays to return to what you think you know to be certain that you still know it.

As my more personal weblog reflects, my own mind goes inquiring into many things other than the law -- which is to say it is easily distracted, but what of that when the game's afoot? -- and in those inquiries Socrates' proposition is equally helpful.  I learn something new every day, and marvel to be reminded that I did not know it when I woke up that morning.  Life is, or should be, an endless sequence of discoveries, finding out what we did not know when we started and using that new knowledge to find out what more there is to know.  Socrates only stopped that process because he was compelled by the polis to do so.  We too, whether in or out of the law, should not stop from testing our own ignorance and adding to our store of what is not ignorance, until whatever day prevents us from going further with the task. 

T.S. Eliot, toward the end of "Little Gidding" in Four Quartets, writes

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

And, we might add, know that we did not know it before.  Wherefore this lawyer appreciates the wisdom of Socrates.

Appreciate and be excellent to one another.  Onward!  Into another New Year!

Year End Clearance

In no particular order, a long string of links to items that have caught my interest over the past several months and that I have found no other excuse to post here sooner:

  • In the Boston Review, Charles Johnson [the novelist, not the little green footballs guy] appreciates his former teacher the late John Gardner's once hugely well-regarded now largely neglected post-Grendel novel, The Sunlight Dialogues. [Also via 3quarksdaily.]
  • A terrible, terrible, terrrrible pun that I have been saving for you since September, found on the Law & Humanities Blog.  [This link is dedicated to my pal Rick at Futurballa for reasons that will be immediately obvious, to him.]
  • A terrific and lovely photograph of high technology in action, found in the unexpected confines of the Re Risk reinsurance weblog.
  • Some Velvet Blog notes the upcoming release of what seems on the page to be a very fine Joni Mitchell tribute album.  These sorts of collections can be dicey, but the selection of performers and material here looks very very promising.  Extra points are earned by including three songs from the underappreciated Hissing of Summer Lawns (see this 2003 mention) and one from the oft-dismissed Don Juan's Reckless Daughter.  But what's this?  Nothing from Hejira?  What a missed opportunity.
  • no notes is a weblog devoted generally to New Orleans and most specifically to tracking down the seemingly infinite variants on "St. James Infirmary Blues."  I can't recall how I was pointed there, but the same pointer led to Max Fleischer's ghoulishly surreal Betty Boop version of Snow White, featuring a performance of "St. James Infirmary" by no less than Cab Calloway:

  • I recommend adding Ron Silliman's weblog to your RSS feed.  He has been in the habit recently of interrupting his usual considerations of contemporary poetry with lists/collections of extremely interesting links to elsewhere.  Recent examples here and here.
  • To the first of those Silliman links I owe the discovery that (1) "The supermarket in California where Allen Ginsberg once saw Walt Whitman & penned 'A Supermarket in California' will become the site of a supermarket once again," and (2) no city but Berkeley would make it this hard to build a Trader Joe's.
  • To the same source, I am grateful for being led to Brooke McEldowney's thrice-weekly online comic, Pibgorn.  My guilty comics page secret is that I am devoted to McEldowney's 9 Chickweed Lane -- for which I see he has just won the 2006 National Cartoonist Society’s Award for Best Newspaper Comic Strip.  I have borne a grudge against the Los Angeles Times for several years now since they stopped running Chickweed on Sundays.
  • Two items of particular note on the Yvor Winters blog:

Though Rich seems to have meant well, to be brave in showing the world that poetry can help us deal with such massive tribulations as genocide, she fails to make a sound case for poetry’s importance and offers not a single poem that could conceivably make any difference to genocide or to any currently serious, important, and collective issue in politics, society, or philosophy.

  • Another long and thoughtful post, on Winters and Baudelaire.  This one hold sparticular interest for me because I have been flirting with the idea of trying my hand at a bit of translation in 2007, with Baudelaire as my intended subject/victim.
  • From the New Statesman, Philip Pullman and Patti Smith, among others, on William Blake, whose 250th birthday approaches.  [Via, inevitably, 3quarksdaily.]

He is a heroic figure. His contempt for pretentiousness working in a field where there is such an abundance of it is commendable as is the importance he places on honesty and the fairness with which he treats his staff. But most of all it is his determination to achieve excellence and loathing for mediocrity which is a spirit we could do with emulating - and not just in the kitchen. I'd like to see a reality TV series with a Gordon Ramsay equivalent sent in to turn around a failing school.

Ramsay spent Christmas whipping up a turkey dinner for 800 British troops in Afghanistan, where he also met Dennis, the bomb sniffing dog.  His first U.S. restaurant, recently opened in New York, certainly sounds tasty.  He will reportedly be opening a restaurant in Los Angeles in 2007.

Many, many thanks to those few of you who arrive at and read this weblog on purpose.  And however you arrived here, reader, best wishes to you for a healthy, thriving, brimming and buzzing 2007.

A Lowe Standard

Nearly everyone with an opinion on the subject agrees that Elvis Costello and the Attractions' performance of Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?" at the conclusion of Armed Forces is one to the high points of the EC oeuvre.  (Bill Murray karaokes the tune memorably in Lost in Translation, which was a much better trailer than it was a film.) 

Idolator today posts a quick retrospective on Lowe's early 70s band, Brinsley Schwarz, and provides an opportunity (and an MP3) to mentally compare and contrast the rolling thunder of the Costello version with its more Who-influenced and harmony-spangled original from five years earlier.

Here are Mr. Declan McManus and his Attractive chums lipsynching their better known rendition:

And here is young Mr. Lowe (with an Aladdin Sane haircut) exuding charm as he fronts the Brinsleys in a performance of "Surrender to the Rhythm":

Much more Brinsleys information here.

Wipe Out! [updated]

Well he hopped in his car
And he hollered, "I'll be headin' to court now!"
But if you drive in LA,
You know you wish you had an armored escort now.
He was 13 minutes late,
The judge dismissed him with a sniff and a snort.  Now

There's no more
Fun fun fun
Since hizzonner threw their lawsuit away-ayay!

Los Angeles attorney Danny Morin represents The Beach Boys' company, Brother Records, in a lawsuit against the owner of a warehouse where Beach Boys memorabilia was stored.  According to the suit, warehouse owner Allan Gaba took a large quantity of memorabilia without permission, claimed it was his own, and with the help of his friend Roy Sciacca arranged to sell it at auction in the UK. 

Brother Records filed suit on the band's behalf in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and the case was scheduled for a final pretrial hearing on December 11.  Unfortunately for attorney Morin, he arrived for the hearing 13 minutes late, only to discover that highly controversial U.S. District Judge Manuel Real had ordered the case dismissed

The entertainment gossip site reports on the case here.  TMZ also posts a copy of a separate Complaint [PDF] that was filed in state court six days before the federal court's dismissal.


Matters are actually somewhat worse for the Beach Boys and Morin than the story reveals.

Thanks to some speedy but intrepid online investigative work, a fool in the forest can reveal EXCLUSIVELY that in August defendant Sciacca filed a counterclaim seeking damages from Brother Records.  When attorney Morin arrived late, not only did Judge Real dismiss the Beach Boys' complaint against all of the defendants, he also ordered entry of Brother Records' default on Sciacca's counterclaim and scheduled a hearing for January 8 in which Sciacca is to prove the amount of damages he should recover against Brother Records.

Attorney Morin filed an immediate ex parte request to set aside the dismissal and default on December 11, which Judge Real summarily denied on December 14.  Yesterday (December 27) Morin filed a request to have a formal motion for relief from the dismissal and default heard on an expedited basis or, alternatively, to delay the hearing on Sciacca's damages pending resolution of the dismissal issue.  Judge Real has not issued the seemingly inevitable denial of ruled on that application at this writing.



UPDATE [011207]:  A check back into the Court's docket reveals that Judge Real found himself in a giving mood on January 8, 2007, and granted attorney Morin's motion for relief from the dismissal, etc.  Judge Real set aside the dismissal and vacated the hearing on the default judgment, on condition that Morin pay the attorneys' fees incurred by opposing counsel when they appeared and he -- so far as Judge Real was concerned -- did not.  The final pretrial conference is back on, the Beach Boys' case is now rescheduled for trial on March 27, and in Mr. Morin's office there is, no doubt, much rejoicing.

In Praise of Student Athletes (obs.)

Being Michigan-born, I have long had an affectionate spot for President Gerald R. Ford.  The University of Michigan, where Ford played football so successfully in the 30s, is my father's alma mater -- my mother also attended the U of M for a year before transferring to and graduating from Alma College -- and it very likely would have been my own had we not moved to California.  I know which team I will be rooting for in the Rose Bowl on January 1.

Gerald Ford's college football success and his decision to turn down professional offers in order to attend Yale Law School (while also serving as an assistant coach to the Yale football team) have been noted in many of the reports and reminiscences surrounding his passing, and it has causes me to mourn those long gone days when university athletics really involved Student Athletes -- meaning players who were students first and athletes second.  The collegiate playing fields of the 1930s produced a President (Ford) and a respected Justice of the United States Supreme Court (the University of Colorado's Byron "Whizzer" White).  The last college (and pro) football player that I can think of who was taken seriously as even a candidate for the nation's highest offices was Jack Kemp, who spent his college days competing a few miles from where I sit now, at Occidental College.  (Are there any more recent examples I am missing, or was Kemp the last of his kind?  If we expand our college sporting criteria to include basketball, we can get to Bill Bradley, Princeton '65 -- who earns extra prestige by having gone to a school that had no athletic scholarships -- but that is as recent an example as my admittedly limited knowledge of sporting matters yields.)

Today, of course, at the most prominent Football Schools, student status is strictly secondary to athletic prowess.  Those Bright College Days are merely a pit stop on the road to hoped-for NFL riches, and a Super BowlTM ring a more sought after long-term goal than public service in high office.  In the contemporary world, it is hard to imagine a serious contender for President coming from college football, or even from the ranks of those who have merely assumed the role of a college football player.

So hail and farewell, Mr. President.  The sons and daughters of Michigan are proud of you.  And to the Wolverines: get out there next Monday and win one more for Gerry.

[Photo, Gerald Ford on the football field at the University of Michigan, 1933, courtesy of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.]

Listening Listfully

From The Onion's A.V. Club, reflections and regrets over 11 Ghosts Of Best-Of Music Lists Past.  There are at least 3 items on that list that, while they seem no longer to hold anyone else's attention, remain among my personal favorites.  [Curious?  The answer is Travis, Me'Shell NdegéOcello and Shelby Lynne, each of whom actually released better records later on.]

This is not primarily a music weblog, but the quantity of music-related posting went up substantially over this past year.  In consequence, I am succumbing to temptation and winding down the year by posting my purely personal Top 10-or-thereabouts List for 2006.

Some of this music surely qualifies for inclusion with the "Best" of the year but I will not be the one making that claim.  Much of it, I suspect, will appear on no equivalent list posted elsewhere.  The exception is Joanna Newsom, who is rightly making her way on to many of these sorts of lists.  Contrariwise, a goodly quantity of very good music will not be mentioned here simply because I have not listened to it.  (Hence the absence of, say, that Dylan fellow, whose new record I'm prepared to believe is pretty darned good.) 

This, then, is new music that I particularly liked in 2006, and expect to continue to rotate through divers speakers and headsets into the future:

1.    Sweet Billy Pilgrim - We Just Did What Happened and No One Came and Brugada EP

Sbp_cover I end the year as I began it, listening to Sweet Billy Pilgrim.  Technically, Sweet Billy Pilgrim's debut CD [We Just Did . . .] was released in 2005, but it has no U.S. release at all and I only got my hands on an import copy in April, so it is a 2006 release so far as I am concerned.  The Brugada EP really was released in 2006, and remains available for free (!) download through SVC Records.

I have not thought of much new to say since my original review this past April, so I will simply quote myself:

This is music from a rainy country where the sun, on those occasions when it gets through the thick low clouds, sends down a clean-scrubbed clear-edged slanting light out of Vermeer.  Water appears and recurs, usually as an enveloping and comforting presence.  Meaning and salvation of one kind or another are always at stake.  A pastoral soul journeys in a post-pastoral world, singing to himself as he goes.

        * * *

The influences of the Eno-Fripp-Nelson-Sylvian school of atmospheric production are apparent, but never by way of obvious imitation: we've heard some of these sound combinations before, but it may have been in a dream.  Tim Elsenburg's plaintive tenor is sometimes front and center, sometimes heard as if by accident.  Sounds are placed around it as if they fell out of an interesting cupboard, or else with the deliberation of a rock garden in Xanadu.

Still under-discovered and still my personal favorite of the year.  This track doesn't actually appear on either the album or the EP:

2.    Elvis Perkins - Ash Wednesday [official release forthcoming, Feb. 2007]

Elvis_perkins_ash_wednesday Each man's sadness is unique, but sadness itself is a universal experience; thus, no matter how sad one may be, one must not succumb to self-pity.  Elvis Perkins understands this -- one of his songs is "It's a Sad World After All" -- and embodies it in music of direct and singular beauty. 

Perkins' personal history can be found by those who want to go searching for it -- it involves the loss of his parents to two of the principal American tragedies of the past 25 years -- and it certainly undergirds his music, but he knows the difference between sorrow and being sorry for himself.  I recommend listening to the songs first before learning more about the particular life that bred them.  And while it is sad, this is not at all a depressing record: to the contrary, Perkins can be puckish, whimsical and amusing when the mood strikes (see "Sleep Sandwich," "Emile's Vietnam in the Sky," or the apocalyptic lope of "May Day!").  Happy or sad, he displays a gift for Dylanesque association in his lyrics and deserves a place of honor in the semi-confessional singer-songwriter school.

Ash Wednesday was self-released this past year and was available mostly at Perkins' live shows.  It turned up briefly for sale over the summer at Insound, which is how I got my hands on it, but has since disappeared from their inventory.  That probably has to do with Perkins being signed by XL Recordings, which will be giving Ash Wednesday an actual release in February 2007.  I expect to see it on "Best of" lists a year from now, and I expect to be encouraging people to listen to it long after that.  Here are two samples: the lead-off track from the album and a live performance from Seattle's KEXP.  (Perkins' entire KEXP appearance, including two non-Ash Wednesday songs, is streamable here.)

3.    Joanna Newsom -- Ys

YsPoet/blogger Ron Silliman, who knows about these things, declares Joanna Newsom a "folk-rock poet with a harp of gold."  Ys is a love it or hate it proposition, but full of deep and abiding amazements for those it  ensnares. 

Built principally around Ms. Newsom's harp and voice -- the latter running over a wide range as it evokes Disney's Snow White, Shirley Temple, Billie Holiday and that squeaky board on the front porch you always try to avoid -- abetted by Van Dyke Parks' expressive orchestrations, Ys exudes an aura of waking dream and earthy magic, although only one of its five long songs ("Monkey and Bear") is set in a literally magical world.   The album is readily available for purchase by download through the usual sources, but really should be bought as a physical disc, so that you can consult the thick lyrics brochure as needed.

Ys is/was a legendary Breton city that, Atlantis-like, was taken by the sea.  In some versions of the story, the city is flooded for its sins.  It is said that Ys can sometimes be seen beneath the water, fish swimming among its towers, and that sailors can hear the ringing of its bells.  Around 1976, the Breton harpist Alan Stivell named a tune after it on his now-unavailable Renaissance of the Celtic Harp.  The Ys legend is also invoked as part of the tale of the Fairy Melusine in some of the faux-Victorian poetry and tales tucked inside A.S. Byatt's Possession.   The city of Ys is never mentioned by Newsom by name, though there are bells -- including one tolling beneath the sea -- among the multiple imagistic threads in the album's pivotal song, "Sawdust and Diamonds."

4.    The Singleman Affair - Let's Kill the Summer

Lets_kill_the_summerIrony free, drenched in echo, it's 1967 all over again as Dan Schneider perfectly channels the acoustic vibe of love, mostly using just guitar (or sitar), voice, ambient mics and tons of reverb. Let's Kill the Summer creates a spare and spacious sonic space for watching the butterflies land in your lover's hair.  The songs are all originals (except for a cover of Nico's "Little Bird") and they stand on their own, not as pastiche.   In 1967, I probably wouldn't have been interested at all in this music, but at this distance it sounds like just the remedy for contemporary angst and noise.  Recommended particularly for those who like the pre-"Mrs. Robinson" folky's folky songs of Simon and Garfunkel (e.g., "For Emily Wherever I May Find Her" or "Kathy's Song" or "April Come She Will") and for anyone who missed or misses the self-styled troubadors of that era.

Schneider is based in Chicago, where in a more contemporary and electric mode he fronts the band Hummingbiird (previously endorsed here, in a post that also reveals the origins of "The Singleman Affair" name).  The album has been released on the UK label POPTONES and not, so far, domestically.  While the album is available as an import, it can be obtained more cheaply as a download from eMusic; also available there -- and otherwise existing only as a UK 7-inch -- is an additional 3-song EP that includes "Elaine," a song about Mrs. Robinson's daughter.

5.    Shearwater - Palo Santo

Palo_santo Indescribable.  A shifty amalgam of noises swirling around a voice from out of a dark dream.  The voice is Jonathan Meiberg's and it and the music encircling it lurches, lunges, drifts, and weeps its way under the skin.

Just in time for year's end, Daytrotter has posted an interview and five downloadable live performances

Rumor has it that the band does a killer version of Eno's "Baby's On Fire," which somehow makes sense.

6.    Hellwood -- Chainsaw of Life

Hellwood When Craig Bonnell of songs:illinois first posted about Hellwood, he declared it the "best . . . post ever" for that blog and described the band as a "new roots supergroup."  I am not certain you can have a "supergroup" of musicians hardly anyone has heard of, but it it can be done Hellwood has done it.  Hellwood is mostly Johnny Dowd, Jim White (previously mentioned here toward the end of this item from August 2005), and Willie B, who together concoct a swampy sin-drenched punky blue musical kick in the head.

Even though this music could only have been made in America, it has been released only in Europe.  Interested parties can save the import surcharge by buying it directly from either Johnny Dowd [who will probably autograph it if you ask] of Willie B at their respective sites linked above.  The example below is the opening track, a Johnny Dowd composition that is the most brazenly bracingly cynical take I have heard on Hurricane Katrina:

7.   Howe Gelb -- 'Sno Angel Like You and Arizona Amp & Alternator

Sno_angel A mighty and remarkable double-header from the musical sage of Tuscon, Arizona.  'Sno Angel finds him in collaboration with Ottawa, Ontario's Voices of Praise gospel choir, while AAAA is the result of globetrotting collaborations partly in Arizona but mostly in out of the way places such as Denmark and Modesto.

I only caught up with these two releases in the past few weeks, and they have been jostling for primacy in my car.  The AAAA album fits in neatly with the sardonic twang and shimmer of Gelb's work with Giant Sand, and includes a very fine cover version of Traffic's "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" as well as four different, equally satisfying versions of the eponymous "Arizona Amp and Alternator" ["We'll get right to it, sooner or later"].  'Sno Angel may make the more lasting impact, though, as the collaboration with the Voices of Praise brings a warmth and grounding to Gelb's eclectic sensibilities that works to the benefit of all concerned.  Each of these recordings is highly recommended.

Honorable Mentions

To_find_me_gone8.    Vetiver - To Find Me Gone

This was the soundtrack of much of the summer of 2006 for me. Working much the same territory as the old-timey folky side of the Grateful Dead, Andy Cabic's Vetiver could be the house band for the Old Weird America.

Garden_ruin9.    Calexico - Garden Ruin

A musical palette as wide as the Southwest, with Joey Burns singin' like a suspect angel.  The slow-building roar of the album closing "All Systems Red" may have been the best unnoticed political song of the year.  Another fine product of Tucson, Arizona.

Gulag_orkestar 10.    Beirut - Gulag Orkestar

Please pay no attention to the music blogger backlash: Zach Condon's repurposing of eastern European musical tropes is fresh, exhilarating, and only seems to get better on repeated listening.  Guitar-free, but full to the scuppers with horns, accordions, mandolins, clarinets, the occasional cheesy Casio, and all manner of other noisemaking equipage.


Blawg Review Awards 2006

The anonymous Editor of Blawg Review, the traveling law-oriented weblog carnival, has announced the recipients of the Blawg Review Awards for 2006.   

Some will recall -- because I gloat about it in the sidebar, perhaps? -- that this weblog was honored in 2005 as "Best Personal Blog by a legally-oriented male blogger."  This year, that award goes to the big dawg of them all, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit; the distaff side of Best Personal Blog honor goes to the very deserving, and rather more personal, Professor Ann Althouse

I take particular pleasure in the award for Best Law Blog in the Public Interest going to David Giacalone's shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress.  Moreover, Overlawyered, where my guestblogging tenure has just ended -- thank you again, Walter -- earns a nod for Best Blawg Theme.

The entire collection of winners deserves the praise and attention lavished upon them.  Congratulations and felicitations to all.

Now, mark your calendars: on April 2, I will again be hosting Blawg Review at Declarations and Exclusions.  By all means, make a habit of following the Review's peregrinations round the Web, and tune in in April to see what thematic inspiration, if any, strikes me for my next hosting stint

Remember: It's Not Just a Carnival, It's the Law!

A Southwest Solstice


Winter has arrived and seasonally appropriate music is the order of the day.

To counterbalance the frigid conditions in which much of the country is enwrapped, I offer up Tuscon, Arizona's own Howe Gelb, with friends including particularly here chanteuse Maria Lorette Friis, as Arizona Amp & Alternator (from the album of the same name) and a desert variant on a frosty perennial:

[Photo: "Winter Sandman" by richd (Rich DuBose, White Salmon, Washington) via stock.xchng.]