The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Lunchtime reading

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.

One video done for today...

...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 1993

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.

Uptown Theater rehab in trouble?

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.

Record temperature yesterday

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.

And that's the way it is

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.

No key left behind

I think we can all appreciate the novel and—can I just say?—courageous interpretation of the National Anthem that not even the lads from the Anacreontic Society could have managed when they penned the tune lo these many centuries past.

The best love song of all time?

WBUR–Boston's Julie Wittes Schack says Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" tops the list:

[N]ow, nearly 50 years after it was released on “Blue, one of the best singer/songwriter albums of all time, I can still confidently assert that “A Case of You” is one of the best love songs ever written. The quantitative evidence of that can be found in the fact that there are over 300 known cover versions of it; 300 artists who found something in its distinctive melody or conversational lyrics that they felt they could make their own.

But it’s not the number of versions that makes this song so enduring. It speaks to each new generation of singers because of the feeling it evoked in me, even when I was a moony teenager, driven by inchoate longings, knowing that there were insights still well beyond my reach. This is a love song by and about grown-ups.

There’s no giddiness here. Unlike practically every pop song that came before it, in this one, love is not an intoxicant. Quite the opposite, in fact:

I could drink a case of you darling and I would
Still be on my feet
Oh I would still be on my feet

Some understand those lines to say that she can’t get too much of her lover (variously speculated to be Graham Nash or Leonard Cohen). But what I hear all these years later — and the interpretation I prefer — is that with the clarity generated by time and age, she can drink him in, savor him and still be sober enough to clearly see him.

I got Blue in 2000, and I agree it's one of the best albums ever. As I'm wending my way through my CD collection I've got a ways to go before hitting it. But I'm looking forward to hearing it again.

New art forms in the pandemic

Dear future reader, observe how the combination of physical isolation; near-universal access to the entire world through the Internet; apps that make collaboration simple (like TikTok); and really bored young people has allowed entirely new art forms to flourish. This, as just one example, needs preservation so future generations can see what we got up to in early 2021:

I don't know whether videos like this will continue once people can make live music for live audiences again. I will predict, however, that movies made in the 2040s and 2050s will use a few seconds of a TikTok sea shanty to set the stage in the same way that a few notes of "Mister Sandman" instantly tells today's audiences that the story takes place in the 1950s.

New batch of public-domain works

All works published before 1 January 1926 have now entered the public domain:

1925 was the year of heralded novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Virginia Woolf, seminal works by Sinclair Lewis, Franz Kafka, Gertrude Stein, Agatha Christie, Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton, Aldous Huxley ... and a banner year for musicians, too. Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, the Gershwins, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller, among hundreds of others, made important recordings. And 1925 marked the release of canonical movies from silent film comedians Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.

As of today, every single one of those works has entered the public domain. "That means that copyright has expired," explains Jennifer Jenkins, a law professor at Duke University who directs its Center for the Study of the Public Domain. "And all of the works are free for anyone to use, reuse, build upon for anyone — without paying a fee."

On January 1 every year, a new batch of published works is liberated from the constraints of copyright. (For a long time, copyright expired after 75 years, but in 1998, Congress extended the date of copyright expiration for works published between 1923 and 1977 to 95 years.) It's difficult to overstate the importance of having work in the public domain. For example, can you imagine the holidays without It's A Wonderful Life? That movie happened to be unprotected by copyright, so it was able to be shown — a lot — for free, contributing to its establishment as an American Christmas classic.

In an article about this year's Public Domain Day, Jenkins discusses everything from the changes in length of copyright to a fascinating story about the copyright of Hitler's Mein Kampf, which also enters the public domain this year. (A dizzyingly exhaustive list of works from 1925 now in the public domain can be found here.)

I will once again raise my objections to the Mickey Mouse Preservation Act of 1998. The Constitution allows for "limited" protections; 75 years is quite enough, thank you.