june 2012

Reality Check

nora ephron'Nora Ephron Made Genius Look Easy'
My Facebook feed blew up last night with appreciative status updates in tribute to Nora Ephron. The burst of activity made me wonder whether everyone's Facebook feed was full of Ephron's urbane wit, or if things were quieter in places where people prefer NASCAR to Zabar's.
Today, the day after her untimely death from illness at age 71, Nora Ephron will be eulogized by many, many appreciative people. They will write heartfelt tributes to the writer, journalist and filmmaker who gave the world films like "When Harry Met Sally..." and books like "Heartburn."
But no one will write a tribute as well as Ephron would have written it herself. And that is the true depth of our loss.
In the Jewish Daily Forward of June 27, Jordana Horn offered a warm, insightful tribute to the dauntingly gifted Nora Ephron, who passed away on June 26. Read the full text here.


Reality Check II

sister simoneLike many of us, Nation blogger Greg Kaufmann has been following the tour of Nuns on the Bus as it traversed 2,700 miles of America on the nuns’ mission to educate the populace on the House Republican-passed Paul Ryan budget and, as Kaufmann writes in the July 6 issue, “the damaging effects it would have on poor, vulnerable and struggling people throughout America.”

When the tour ended in Washington, D.C. recently, Kaufmann was there to question Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, lead organizers of this effort, about the whys, wherefores and end results of the sisters’ activism. A sample:

You said that the nuns went on the road to explain to people about the Ryan budget but instead the people explained to you. You’ve worked your whole life on poverty-related issues. What is it that you learned on this trip?

The stories of people who broke our hearts over and over and over again. To meet people like Margaret’s family who came directly from her memorial service to our “friendraiser” because they wanted to raise up Margaret so that no more people would die without health insurance because they lost their job. Or Shiesha in Chicago, who is pulling her life together in this little oasis of hope on the South Side—to see her determination and work in getting her college diploma. Or Billy trying to feed his family when he can only afford to either put a roof over their heads or food on the table, so he uses the food program at St. Benedict’s dining room. Or the man who just got out of jail in Youngstown who now has this place to stay that’s like a bed and breakfast, who never felt his dignity until he had that experience. And it’s all because of the programs of sisters in these public-private partnerships.

Read the entire Q&A with Sister Simone at The Nation.


Remembering Sheriff Andy

sheriff andy
(illustration by Mark Streeter published at The Cagle Post)

The headline in the New York Times of July 3 pretty much said it all in describing Andy Griffith as “TV’s Lawman and Moral Compass.” As Sheriff Andy Taylor, Griffith, who died at his home on Roanoke Island, NC, at age 86, shared his lofty popular culture perch with Gunsmoke’s Matt Dillon, but, living in less rowdy and rough times in the fictional town of Mayberry, NC, his character could afford a more folksy, easygoing perspective towards the small-town miscreants he had to deal with, as opposed to the gunslingers and general ne’er-do-wells shooting up Matt's Dodge City and its environs. Given the high regard this publication has expressed for Andy, we were pleased to learn he appreciated our 85th birthday salute to him published in our June 2011 issue, especially its focus on the music of The Andy Griffith Show. Andy, who knew his roots music and was a solid picker himself (in 2003 Martin issued a Limited Edition guitar based on the D-18 Andy played on the show), didn’t just show up for the musical numbers; he selected the musicians (first, the Country Boys, with Roland and Clarence White; and most famously, the Dillards, who played the backwoods Darling family) and the songs, which constituted some of the most beloved bluegrass and country tunes of the 20th century. Our June 2011 feature deals not only with the music and background of The Andy Griffith Show, but provides links to coverage in our November 2010 issue on the occasion of The Andy Griffith Show’s 50th anniversary. Follow this link to our June 2011 Andy Griffith 85th birthday salute, and it will take you to the rest of our Andy coverage. And here are a couple of choice musical numbers featuring the Country Boys and the Dillards, respectively, from The Andy Griffith Show. Wasn’t that a time? -–David McGee

Andy Griffith and the Country Boys (featuring Roland and Clarence White), ‘Whoa Mule’

Andy Griffith and the Darlings (The Dillards), ‘Boil Them Cabbage Down,’ with Maggie Peterson as Charlene; Bob Denver as Charlene’s husband, Dud Wash; and Denver Pyle as the Darling family patriarch, Brisco Darling Jr.


Cover Story: Monks Of The Desert


From The Wilderness, Blessings, Peace and Harmony

‘To chant, to sing, engages one’s whole being’: From the New Mexico desert, an American order of Benedictine monks who reside at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, north of Santa Fe, sends a transcendent spiritual message in a new collection (comprised of tracks from the Monks’ four independently released CDs plus four new recordings) of Gregorian chant released by Sony Masterworks, Blessings, Peace and Harmony. Our coverage of this soul stirring album and the men who live by its message every day includes:

blessings*From the Wilderness, Blessings, Peace and Harmony—An overview of the history of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, and the central role music (chant) plays in the monastic tradition as exemplified by the Monks of the Desert.
*A Day In the Life of Christ in the Desertfrom Vigils at 4 a.m. to Compline at 7:30 p.m., the structure of each day for monks at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert is explained. ‘It is not so much a hard life as it is a relentless one,’ writes one of the monks. ‘There's no such thing as ‘calling in sick.’’
*Embracing the Deserta monk at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert notes: ‘The Desert isn't just a geographical location that receives very little rainfall. It is also a metaphorical location where temptations, trials, and spiritual battles take place.’
*Monastic Chanting by Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB‘I came into choir one day. I had already been a monk for over 47 years. Someone had asked me about how it felt to chant. That question had never crossed my mind. In our tradition, a monk or a nun chants whether he or she feels well or ill, whether he or she feels good or bad, whether he or she feels anger or happiness. A monk simply chants. If a monk gives himself totally to the chanting, then all feelings begin to take second place. The goal of chanting for the monk is communion with God, but a communion expressed in his singing and being aware of what he is singing.’
monks ale*Let There Be LibationA self supporting group, the Monks of the Desert engage in a number of activities to support themselves and their mission at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. One of those activities is the brewing of two ales, Monk’s Ale and Monk’s Wit. Herein, one of the monks provides the historical background of monk-brewed ales (dating to at least the 11th century) and some insight into his order’s own enterprising efforts to continue that grand tradition.

Dear Abbot: What is your view on interfaith relationships? Abbot Philip Lawrence OSB of the Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the Desert answers.


Being about Paul Mark and the Van Dorens’ new album, Smartest Man in the Room

Intense, gravel-voiced, and completely possessed, blues-rocker PAUL MARK has often been compared to a firebrand preacher.  On his ninth album, Smartest Man in the Room, he earns that comparison, in spades, and his band, the VAN DORENS, lives up to its reputation for advancing a strictly scorched-earth policy when it comes to supporting Mark’s screeds with pitiless fusillades of blues-rock ordnance. On Smartest Man, Mark takes aim at the one percenters who got us into this mess, at an indifferent Almighty and really doesn’t even have much good to say about an old flame, since he can’t quite remember much about their assignation, including her name. He explains much of this when interviewed by a coin-operated clown (video exists to prove this statement), the Q&A transcript of which is published here, and by syndicated radio host Carolyn Fox (also on video). But the clown is classic.

willie nelsonALBUM SPOTLIGHT: Willie Nelson, Heroes
It’s not so much that WILLIE NELSON sounds rejuvenated here; he has a way of fitting in whenever he heads to the studio, no matter who’s producing or playing. Consequently he doesn’t make bad albums; he may sound more inspired on some than on others these days, but even when everything isn’t totally square, he has a way of making you like what you’re hearing, unless you simply will not tolerate any Willie that isn’t The Red Headed Stranger or Phases and Stages. Or Stardust. Well, Heroes isn’t any of these monuments, but the more you live with it, the more you’re likely to love its easygoing ambience and carefree attitude, the artists’ real commitment to the songs, the empathetic arrangements and the spirited musicianship.

Border Crossings

saarah aroeste

Sarah Oroeste Unleashes Ladino’s Sensuous Feminist Power in Original Songs on Gracia
That’s right: Feminist rock in Ladino. The Judeo-Spanish language born in the Middle Ages is the perfect vehicle for articulating an utterly contemporary sensuality, defiance, wisdom, and love. It’s a living language, a lively tradition heard in a generation of new voices from New York to Jerusalem. One voice leads them: American-born Ladino singer and songwriter SARAH AROESTE, who has spent a decade expanding the possibilities of contemporary Ladino song. An interview with the artist ensues.
*REVIVING DONA GRACIA by SARAH AROESTE-- In an essay she originally penned for the Jewish Daily Forward, Sarah Aroeste argues for greater recognition for the woman who inspired her new Gracia album. Writes Ms. Aroeste: ‘Before Golda, and even before Herzl, there was Dona Gracia Nasi, the 16th-century Zionist, feminist, and the Harriet Tubman of the Jewish people. She is one of the most remarkable women in Jewish history--and in history, period. It's a tragedy that so few people know her name.’

ravi shankar

CLASSICAL PERSPECTIVES: Majesty in the Living Room
In one of the happiest accidents in recent recording history, 91-year-old sitar master RAVI SHANKAR and his friend Tanmoy Bose (tabla) had the presence of mind to record what both men thought was going to be an informal day of music making at Shankar’s house in Encinitas, California. Instead, the day becomes a master class in the Indian classical music Shankar brought to the world’s attention after the Beatles—and most especially George Harrison—discovered and promoted him to the western world in the late ‘60s. The results of that day’s recordings are now on CD, on Shankar’s own East Meets West label, as The Living Room Sessions Part 1.

Gospel Set

eunice wright

*Eunice Wright Puts Musical Career on Standby to Save Her Son
For the last four years, Eunice Wright has ministered in song to deliver a message of faith, hope, and love to people across the county. On June 22nd, her message took on new definition as she put her busy music and secular careers on hold to donate a kidney to her eldest son, Tony, who was diagnosed over two and a half years ago with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), a condition where both of his kidneys have completely shut down.’ I trust God and I'm at peace with whatever the outcome may be,’ Ms. Wright tells gospel editor Bob Marovich. ‘God knows the plan He has for me and Tony and His plan is working in us right now.’

myesha chaney

*’Young, Fun, Passionate, Liberating’
By Bob Marovich

Rising gospel star MYESHA CHANEY has a lot on her plate these days: hosting a popular weekly radio show with her husband, Pastor Wayne Chaney, with whom she has also co-founded the Long Beach Gospel Fet; blogging for EURweb.com and Interactive One’s Elev8.com, and contributing articles to the Essence magazine blog. She also happens to have released her debut CD, Take Him to the World. Its powerful assertions of faith and conviction are fueled by an amalgam of rock, soul and hip-hop influences in a state-of-the-art soundscape sculpted to match the intensity of Ms. Chaney's emotionally gripping, incantatory testifying. Gospel editor Bob Marovich caught up with one of gospel’s most in-demand artists for a quick Q&A.

*Gospel News & Notes
*Remembering gospel singer-songwriter GABRIEL HARDEMAN (of the Gabriel Hardeman Delegation), who passed away on June 16 from complications of interstitial fibrosis at age 68. Hardeman co-wrote Stephanie Mills’s #1 1987 hit ‘I Feel Good All Over’ and Teddy Pendergrass’s ‘Truly Blessed.’
*Remembering singer-songwriter PEPE EPTING, who passed away on June 5 following a long illness. Epting most recently performed at Shekinah Glory Ministry’s live concert recording at Valley Kingdom Ministries International. His last recording, "Peace for the World," will appear on Shekinah Glory Ministry's forthcoming September 25 CD release, Surrender.

Bob Marovich’s Gospel Picks

tim bowmanTIM BOWMAN JR., Beautiful On Beautiful, Tim Bowman Jr.explores many musical styles-from urban R&B to acoustic to contemporary and traditional gospel to rock, but the eclectic mixture blends nicely and never causes aural whiplash.


new awakeningA NEW AWAKENING, It’s a Blessing-- On It's a Blessing, the quartet A New Awakening from Cheraw, South Carolina, combines soulful and strong lead vocals, fine harmonies, talented musicians, and a pleasant production. The CD reminds you why you enjoy quartet music.


frank h evansREV. FRANK H. EVANS & THE CLEFTONE GOSPEL SINGERS, Are You Saved?-- by this Jacksonville, Florida group is packed with authentic and soulful gospel ensemble singing. Rev. Evans earned his trad badge by working with Rev. James Cleveland for five years, though the Cleftone Gospel Singers have been around, in one iteration or another, for more than fifty years. Impassioned shouting leads by Rev. Evans on Are You Saved? are backed by tight harmonies for a "sweet and salty" listening experience.

zacardi cortezZACARDI CORTEZ, The Introduction-- Notwithstanding the title of his new album, Zacardi Cortez really needs no introduction. His signature performances with James Fortune and FIYA on "I Believe" and "The Blood" were sufficient to sear his gruff but tuneful preacher's tone onto the minds of gospel music enthusiasts. Cortez is not just a hard-shouting vocalist. On The Introduction, he also croons while traversing the gospel scale.

texas gospelVARIOUS ARTISTS, Texas Gospel Vols. 8 & 9: Pay Day 1955-1960-- With Pay Day 1955-1960, gospel scholar Opal Louis Nations continues to mine the Houston-based Duke/Peacock vaults for Golden Era goodies. This latest two-CD set focusses on the latter half of the 1950s, as the quartet revolution, which dominated the gospel scene from the late 1940s, was beginning to give way to piano-led groups and large gospel choruses. While Peacock was still considered the most significant quartet label--you were somebody if your group was on Peacock--Pay Day uses a chronological lens to show how Don Robey couldn't disregard the slow shift in listener preferences.


Continuing our Bicentennial Dickens salute, this month we remain focused on our subject’s relationship to music, both as a musician and as an author, as chronicled in James T. Lightwood’s 1912 study of Charles Dickens And Music, originally published in London by Charles H. Kelly. This month, Chapter V, focusing on church music as it appears in Dickens’s works.

Pleasures Of Music


Musical Brows by Rudolf Kassner
‘Nothing in the study of Musical Physiognomy strikes me as so fascinating, and at the same time fruitful, as a comparison of the three brows of Bach, Beethoven and Richard Wagner,’ wrote Rudolf Kassner in an essay in his 1946 collection, Der Grösste Mensch.
*Also this month, César Franck Is Inspired by Vincent d’Indy, pupil of Franck, composer and co-founder of the famous Paris music school, the Schola Cantorum, d’Indy was the master’s chief confidante and solicitous biographer.From his 1912 study César Franck, d’Indy offers a snapshot of ‘Father Franck’ searching for inspiration.

Woody Guthrie Centennial Moment


Completed in 1947, filed away and forgotten, now found, Woody Guthrie’s only novel, House of Earth, is being edited by actor JOHNNY DEPP and historian DOUGLAS BRINKLEY for publication in the spring of 2013. Claiming ‘Guthrie successfully mixes Steinbeck’s narrative verse with D.H. Lawrence’s openness to erotic exploration,’ Brinkley and Depp say that despite the novel’s ‘somewhat static narrative drive,’ its ‘architectural intensity makes it a minor masterpiece.’ Bob Dylan, with whom Brinkley and Depp shared the manuscript, said he was ‘surprised by the genius’ of it.


audie blaylockAUDIE BLAYLOCK and REDLINE, Hard Country-- On balance it’s safe to say Audie Blaylock and Redline on a hot roll. Each year since 2009 the group has released an album of state-of-the-art traditional bluegrass, with last year’s contribution being a stirring centennial tribute to the father of bluegrass, I’m Going Back to Old Kentucy (A Bill Monroe Celebration). The intriguingly titled Hard Country continues that trend.

larry stephensonLARRY STEPHENSON, What Really Matters--To declare Larry Stephenson’s What Really Matters the best album of his laudable 20-year solo career is a dicey proposition, given the high standard of traditional bluegrass picking and singing marking all of his long players. Better than “best album,” then, let’s say What Really Matters is clearly Stephenson’s deepest, most soulful effort.

marleys ghost jubileeMARLEY’S GHOST, Jubilee-- Celebrating a quarter century together, Marley’s Ghost follows up one of 2010’s best albums (Ghost Town) with the Cowboy Jack Clement-produced Jubilee, which can fairly be designated as one of 2012’s finest long players. The quartet has played practically every style of roots music under the sun, but on Jubilee, perhaps owing to Cowboy’s influence, the fellows keep a tight focus on their strength as country and folk musicians first and foremost.

Beyond The Blue

johnny rawlsJOHNNY RAWLS, Soul Survivor-- Over a thumping, pumping, Stax-style horn-infused beat at the beginning of his new album, robust-voiced Johnny Rawls proclaims himself “a soul survivor, the last of a breed.” The Columbia, Mississippi, native may not be exactly, precisely the last but with last year’s acclaimed Memphis Still Got Soul and this year’s followup, he’s at least the best of the last of a breed; a man in whom the spirit of his mentor, the late, great O.V. Wright, remains strong in Rawls’s distinctive approach. Throughout, soul man/survivor Rawls demonstrates how when heart meets conscience, powerful things happen.

tim too slim langfordTIM ‘TOO SLIM’ LANGFORD, Broken Halo-- Those who know Tim “Too Slim” Langford only from his incendiary work with the veteran “Too Slim” and the Taildraggers trio—which has pursued a scorched-earth blues policy over the course of a quarter-century and some 16 long players—won’t exactly be surprised by the depth and power Langford brings to this compelling 11-song (all originals), one-man-band effort called Broken Halo, but the largely austere settings do reveal a more introspective, contemplative (and issues-oriented) side of the artist often obscured by the fury his trio raises.


Here Comes Summer 2012

beach party

Celebrating the summers of yore, when life was slow and oh, so mellow. To that end, we salute…

*Annette Funicello: Trailblazer. Dig It. (Part 1)
By David McGee

Arguing for a reconsideration of the music of ‘America’s Girl Next Door,’ whom the author assertscould legitimately lay claim to opening doors for a host of gifted teen girl singers in the ‘60s and laying the groundwork for a more sophisticated teen pop that ultimately produced Lesley Gore’s 1964 pre-feminist anthem “You Don’t Own Me” and Sandy Posey’s frank, conflicted 1966 screed, “Born a Woman.” In an Epilogue, Annette’s life since the Beach Party movies and her recording career wound down, which has centered, in the past two decades, on her work in fighting her own case of multiple sclerosis and establishing a foundation, The Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases, a non-profit program that funds research into the cause, treatment and cure of Multiple Sclerosis and other neurological diseases. Also, in her own words from 1992, she describes the onset of her MS in the mid-80s and how it had affected her life to that point. She is now reportedly wheelchair bound and unable to speak.

Annette, ‘Pineapple Princess,’ written by the Sherman Brothers, produced by Tutti Camarata, for the  Hawaiiannette album (1960)

*Beautiful Music: Mr. Disney, Annette and ‘Tutti’ (Part 2)—In his liner notes for the 1993 box set A Musical Reunion with America’s Girl Next Door, Joe Rhodes chronicles the rise of a highly reluctant Annette from star Mouseketeer to teen pop princess, and the music she made in her most productive years (1959-1965), when she released 13 albums and 30 singles and was a cultural force. Her achievements include the 1964 cover version of Byron Lee & the Dragonaires’ ‘Jamaica Ska,’ which makes her nothing less than a pioneer in introducing ska music to mainstream America. She didn’t do this on her own, however, In the studio she was blessed with the guidance of one of the era’s great producers, SALVATORE ‘TUTTI’ CAMARATA, whose background in jazz, classic pop and television musical productions proved invaluable in giving Annette more sophisticated arrangements and smarter songs than the average teen idol of her day. In seeking new material for Annette, Camarata sent out an all-points bulletin to Disney’s field reps, who came up with what would be her first hit single, ‘Tall Paul,’ written by struggling songwriter brothers RICHARD M. and ROBERT B. SHERMAN. The Shermans then went on not only to write more teen sagas for Annette, but to become Walt Disney’s first-call songwriters for motion pictures. They promptly crafted one classic songs after another for Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh, and, for one of the most popular rides at Dinseyland, “It’s a Small World."


*The Enduring Girls of Summer: Meet the Real Gidget
As a teenager girl in the mid-1950s, KATHY KOHNER wanted to be different. So she started riding the waves at Malibu, her father wrote a fictional account of her exploits and gave it his daughter’s nickname—Gidget--and surfing has never been the same. Herewith an update of last year’s interview with another enduring girl of summer, Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, the real Gidget.

*The Enduring Girls of Summer: First Girls in the Curl
Long before Gidget put female surfing on the international cultural map, MARY ANN HAWKINS was constructing a resume of competitive wins to rival those of her male counterparts in southern California. EVE FLETCHER, a Gidget contemporary, was a Disney animator who took to the waves in 1957 and at age 85 still rides the wild surf.

tymes*THE TYMES, So Much In Love—The Story of a Summer Love
By David McGee

Introduced at the Apollo as “those finger-poppin’ daddies from Philadelphia,” the quintet known as THE TYMES finger-popped and crooned its way into legend in the summer of 1963 with the swoon inducing classic “So Much in Love.” Named as one of the Songs of the Century in 2001, “So Much in Love” doesn’t so much capture the tenor of its pre-Beatles era so much as it sums up a style of close-knit, romantic group harmony singing that hearkens back to the Mills Brothers in the 1940s and flowered in the 1950s. They did so by fashioning a concept album around their hit single, a first in the R&B world, centered on the evolution of the summer love experience, in effect making the entire album an exegesis of summer love.


Hawaiian Summer Love by Candice--June 1st was a magical day in Hawaii./It was 2:43, when he walked by,/My mind was saying, ‘Wow what a guy!/I have to meet him/What is his name?’
Keepsakes From the Past by Barbara Larque’ SisnerosKeepsakes are what every girl loves, stored in a simple shoe box, expensive safety box or just locked away inside her heart.
The Perfect Summer Affair by Anonymous-- He was the one, my heart said. And I let him go.
With music by: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’), Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (“I Second That Emotion”), The Rascals (“Groovin’”), The Beatles (“All You Need is Love”), Etta James (“At Last”)

beach music

By David McGee

The East Coast counterpart to surf music actually predated surf, was rawer, bluesier and blacker, never migrated east to west, and wasn’t even a defined genre. But its music--drawn from Stax, Motown, Atlantic, and countless indie labels, featuring nationally known and obscure artists alike--was simply great and timeless, the lynchpin of a life affirming, joyous scene that even generated its own dance craze in the timeless Shag. Which may account for that scene remaining vibrant today, however much below the national radar it may be. Herewith a basic guide to Beach Music essentials, updated from last year’s issue.

surfer girls

A true account of how a child surfer—a ‘grommet,’ in surfer lingo—taught a veteran long-boarder a most valuable life lesson that helped reignite the latter’s passion for wave riding.

Few are better positioned to assess the havoc being wreaked by pollution in our oceans than are surfers, on their boards and riding the waves. It’s not surprising, then, to find environmental themes creeping into the verses crafted by this month’s surfer poets.

Video File: Summer Of Love @ 45

summer of love

As far as music goes, there has been nothing quite like the summer of 1967. Looking back at Monterey Pop and the sounds of a summer for the ages.

Christine Santelli’s Video Of The Month

From her 100 videos in 100 days songbook project, Christine Santelli performs her original song ‘Sparrow.’
Christine’snew solo acoustic album, Dragonfly, is available at www.christinesantelli.com, and will soon be offered at CD Baby and various online music sites. See our review in the March 2011 issue. For those in or visiting New York City, the PATH Café at 131 Christopher Street features Ms. Santelli hosting and performing an opening set at its Singer-Songwriter night every Wednesday from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Check her out live--seeing is believing.


Meaningful Matters

northern lights

Northern Lights Dance Across Sweden Night Sky in Amazing Video

An incredible time-lapse video three years in the making has captured the bewitching northern lights over Sweden, as seen by a talented aurora photographer who stitched the eye-popping scenes together from thousands of individual images.
Photographer Chad Blakley spent thousands of hours over the course of three winters capturing stunning views of the northern lights from Abisko National Park in the Swedish province of Lapland, which is located approximately 121 miles (195 kilometers) north of the Arctic Circle.

white noes bats

The Disappearing Bats

First the honeybees disappeared; now it's bats. With good reason, farmers are worried. Over the past several years, several species of American bats have come under attack from an invasive fungus responsible for a virus known as white-nose syndrome that has left bat caves littered with bodies. Biologists estimate that 6.7 million bats have died as a result of white-nose syndrome in the past five years. Those deaths translate into 692 tons of insects--many of them crop and garden pests--are not being eaten every summer. ‘Without the bats,’ says bat authority Thomas Kunzy, Boston University William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and director of BU’s Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology (CECB), ‘it means that farmers, in order to maintain their economic advantage, will throw pesticides [on their crops].’

natures temple

The Calm Before the Storm
By Lazaro Ruda

Another weekend--another hurricane headed in our direction. The one thing about hurricanes you quickly learn as a Floridian is that some of the most spectacular days follow that age old saying, ‘The calm before the storm.’ Setting my sights, too, on Florida's coast I grab my kayak, my underwater camera, mask and snorkel and head out to catch a spectacular FloriDay. Humbled by nature's power, whether in the beauty I have just experienced or the wrath that awaits me, I drift in her divine hands throughout every moment in my life.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Emily Arnold McCully

It's a real pleasure to have Caldecott Medalist EMILY ARNOLD MCCULLY visiting 7-Imp today. As she notes in her bio, she was a daredevil girl, born in Illinois but raised in a New York City suburb. Her hero was John and she decided to be a naturalist one day, but instead she grew up to write and illustrate stories about fellow daredevil girls, lucky for us readers.

ta logo

By Duncan Strauss

When rock bands get stuck on the road too long--or get sucked into the exhausting vortex of make album / tour / make album / tour / lather / rinse / repeat--it's not uncommon for their behavior to be likened to animals. It may go without saying that this is not a compliment. A few years ago, when CARRIE BROWNSTEIN came off the road and foresaw the end of her band Sleater-Kinney, she plunged into working with and helping animals, which is a far more uncommon rock 'n' roll saga. Now starring in the acclaimed IFC series Portlandia, and causing a stir in the rock world with her new band Wild Flag, Brownstein continues to work on behalf of needy canines. ‘Thinking about a lot of my friends who volunteered at the Humane Society, I would say many turn to charity work, particularly with animals, when they need to project a lot of things onto those animals,’ she tells Duncan Strauss in an interview for NPR’s Talking Animals show. ‘It's not a bad inclination, but you find a lot of people who are at these crossroads in their lives, thinking, 'Who needs me now? But who's not going to talk back?'”


Recent Issues

(For all back issues go to the Archive)

Video File





Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (www.johnmendelsohn.com)
Website Design: Kieran McGee (www.kieranmcgee.com)
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY; www.flickr.com/audreyharrod), Alicia Zappier (New York)
E-mail: thebluegrassspecial@gmail.com
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024