Static From My Attic

With Andy Senior
  • Tales of the Adventurous Recluse I’m down on heroes at the moment. And by “heroes,” I’m not referring to those genuinely heroic people who rush into burning buildings to save children or dogs. I’m considering my own heroes, some of whom I considered as role models and strove to emulate. If someone crafts a particularly nice piece of writing or a ...
  • Oxford Comma Remover, Get Yours Now A Note on (for the Want of a Better Word) Style There persists a somewhat stereotyped image of The Editor, bolstered by media archetypes Perry White (Superman) and Walter Burns (The Front Page): a cigar-chomping, coffee-swilling bully, bellowing commands to cringing reporters for rewrites. Roughneck Harold Ross seems nearly to approach that model, though if Ben ...
  • Love and the Single Factotum I had to reflect, this month, on the passing of JazzTimes publisher Ira Sabin at age 90. In reading his Washington Post obituary I was struck with an eerie sense of empathy for someone who was in almost exactly the same business that I stumbled into two years ago. JazzTimes and The Syncopated Times generally ...
  • Why Scott Joplin Still Matters “Traveling,” said Mme. de Staël, “is a melancholy pleasure.” I’m inclined to concur, despite the chorus of protest that will rise with discordant variations on the theme of You’re Missing Out. After my “Adventurous Recluse” column appeared in March, cornetist Ed Polcer (whom Professor Cunningham celebrates in his essay this month) wrote, “You owe yourself ...
  • How Could You Possibly Go Wrong? In January 2016, when I launched The Syncopated Times as Publisher and Editor, I had not gauged the full import of assuming responsibility for every aspect of publication. I’d acquired a panoply of associated occupations, including layout specialist, graphic designer, advertising manager, columnist, feature writer, reader liaison, business manager, and subscription manager. I have so ...
  • Everything is Contemporary Everything is Contemporary One of the unforeseen side effects of the internet is that everything is made contemporary. For those seeking to commune with the past, one need go only so far as YouTube to step into 1931 or 1946. Back in November of last year I wrote of how young people delight in dressing up ...
  • Appropriation—with Due Respect Traditional Jazz and Cultural Appropriation it occurred to me as I was microwaving my (very) late breakfast of a bean, cheese, and jalapeño burrito, that much offense is taken these days at what is called “cultural appropriation.” Occasionally, someone on my social media feed will post an indignant diatribe about members of one (somewhat privileged) group ...
  • Message Not Sent On Dancing Bears, Sarcasm, and the Imperfect Reliability of Electronic Mail At certain times I begin to loathe the internet, resent my computer, and nurse a simmering, murderous hatred for my modem. I deplore the digital—when the digital proves itself something to be deplored. My resentment is all the more keen because I cannot imagine publishing ...
  • Jazz and Not-Jazz Cover Art:  cuneiformrecords.bandcamp.com/album/oh-no-not-jazz When I think of some of the acts that are chosen to perform at certain jazz festivals, I cannot help but hear the persistent voice of Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Admittedly, “jazz” is a flexible term. It ...
  • Coincidence? Nah Poster for a production of Ruddigore, published in 1887. I don’t find anything especially remarkable about coincidences, except that they seem to happen all the time. Mostly, they occur, are briefly noted, and then forgotten. Others linger in the mind and instill a sense that the universe (if not some supernatural agency) is telling itself jokes. Several years ...
  • Jazz By Gaslight  Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer in a Screenshot from the trailer of Gaslight (1944) (Public Domain) Having spent my childhood and an unconscionable portion of my adulthood in an unremarkable suburban ranch house, 20 years ago I was delighted to move into a rambling brick Victorian mansion boasting all the character that my former domicile lacked. The ...
  • Keeping It Clean(ish) I am old enough to remember when the prospect of having one’s mouth washed out with soap was a credible threat. Not that such a punishment was ever administered to me, but the one from whom I had learned all those forbidden words might well have reached for the Fels-Naptha if I had repeated them ...
  • A Season of Superlatives W. C. Fields in his famous role as Mr. Micwaber. Public Domain During the season in which I write this, it is almost impossible to avoid Charles Dickens’ inky thumbprint on our culture. There is a pervasive odor of artificial nutmeg and ersatz figgy pudding, of forced magnanimity co-opted into the service of commerce, of brain ...
  • Every Month, a New Boulder Sisyphys (1548–49) by Titian, Prado Museum, Madrid, From Wikipedia Each month when I begin work on the following month’s issue of The Syncopated Times I often think of Sisyphus, king of Ephyra, condemned for his self-aggrandizing craftiness to push the same boulder up the same hill each day throughout eternity. As I reflect on his plight (and mine), I’m not ...
  • On Going Postal(ly) Ed. Note: You’re reading this because since the publication of this column in March we have joined the ranks of true online publications (take that international shipping rates!) Every story published in the paper is also online, as is our archive.  Now wherever you are, and whatever format you prefer, we’ve got you covered. We ...
  • Paying the Piper’s Lawyer (Image from http://www.techtter.net/2016/11/how-to-watch-restricted-videos-in-your.html) There is a song, whose title I dare not quote lest I incur the wrath of the copyright holders, that states something to the effect that the greatest boons in life may be obtained without monetary expenditure. Even if you know the composition to which I refer, please don’t start humming it. Alexa, or ...
  • Come Visit Our Dot Com Perhaps it is just my Inner Reactionary talking, but some days I find very little that is delightful about the internet, or (as I am inclined to call it) the Infotainment Stupidhighway. At such times I fully empathize with those who eschew the computer. I consider that I was much happier and did a lot less ...
  • Sorry, Right Number! It may indicate a distinctly unbusinesslike attitude, but I regard picking up the telephone receiver to make a call with the same enthusiasm I’d muster picking up a poisonous snake. I realize that this is antithetical to all that is supposedly good and true about Our Way of Life—our gregariousness, our ability to “take it,” ...
  • Turn Off Your Radio (Related Story: Hot Jazz Saturday Night Cancelled) Static From My Attic Most of my life I have been fascinated with radio. My childhood, of course, was dominated by television—because TV is always the loudest and flashiest thing in the house. It commands attention and kills conversation—and precludes the enjoyment of anything that isn’t television. Still, there was ...
  • A Needed Touch of Hedonism Certain matters of local pride in a community invariably become annoyances to particular members of that community. Twenty years ago we bought a delightful Victorian house in a not-untoward section of our city. However, one day a year it feels as if we might as well have set up housekeeping in the path of a ...