Static From My Attic

Block Head

None but a Blocked Head

When I was in high school, I began a book report sixty-four times. I finished none of those sixty-four drafts, and I took an F

Why Be Legendary?

Why Be Legendary?

Aside from the mere act of dragging myself out of bed and facing a computer screen every day, the most challenging aspect of editing The

Never Mind the Epaulets

Never Mind the Epaulets

I look back with no special fondness on a publication that used to be ubiquitous in waiting rooms, Highlights for Children. I somehow acquired a

Change is Good?

Change is Good?

I admit an aversion—if not an antipathy—to change. Change is at times necessary, at a certain point it is inevitable, but I wince when I

Rome Sentinel 1908

Arrivederci, Fresno!

If, upon leafing through this month’s edition of The Syncopated Times, you notice a few differences from how the paper has appeared in previous issues,

Do You See What I See?

Do You See What I See?

Sometimes we need to be gently but firmly reminded that life is not of infinite length. I’ve been chugging along in my syncopated rut for

What Price Syncopation?

What Price Syncopation?

Three years ago this month, I set forth on a journey of perpetual astonishment with the first issue of The Syncopated Times. “How did I

Baby, It’s Colder Inside

Baby, It’s Colder Inside

Since the advent of the internet, it seems that every season is Silly Season. That oasis of frivolity used to be limited to the late

Please Forward—If Possible

Please Forward—If Possible

As part and parcel of taking on the publication of The Syncopated Times, I find that I’ve acquired a community. I wouldn’t describe us as

How Clean is Your Palate?

How Clean is Your Palate?

I don’t know if there is a law, axiom, or principle to this effect someplace, but I begin to discover that the best way to

Love and the Single Factotum

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

Jazz By Gaslight

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

A Needed Touch of Hedonism

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

On Antique Radios: a Reader Replies

Turn Off Your Radio

(Related Story: Hot Jazz Saturday Night Cancelled) Most of my life I have been fascinated with radio. My childhood, of course, was dominated by television—because

Sorry, Right Number!

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

Come Visit Our Dot Com

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

Paying the Piper's Lawyer

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

On Going Postal(ly)

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

Every Month, a New Boulder

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,

A Season of Superlatives

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

Keeping It Clean(ish)

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

Coincidence? Nah

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.

Jazz and Not-Jazz

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

Message Not Sent

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

Appropriation—with Due Respect

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

Everything is Contemporary

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

How Could You Possibly Go Wrong?

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

Richard Dowling Plays the Complete Scott Joplin at Carnegie Hall

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

Oxford Comma Remover, Get Yours Now

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

Tales of the Adventurous Recluse

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

I’m Sorry for Our Loss

I’m Sorry for Our Loss

One of the little-noted casualties of the Social Media revolution is our fluency in composing a simple and heartfelt message of condolence. The Victorians were

Shellac That Takes You Back

Shellac That Takes You Back

A Kind of Immortality There’s something exquisitely ironic about publishing and editing a paper dedicated to joyous and lively syncopated music and not finding the

A Hot Jazz Space for Civility

A Hot Jazz Space for Civility

I face the task of writing this essay with more than a little dread. Last month’s “Static” expressed my views concisely and effectively, and if

When are you?

When are you?

This essay ran in our November 2016 issue, before the election of that year. Unless you’ve been in a medically-induced coma for a year or

What Do You Hear?

What Do You Hear?

My wife and I were fortunate this past month to hear a program of Spanish and Latin American piano music, with commentary, offered as part

Sing Along With Glitch!

Sing Along With Glitch!

When I launched The Syncopated Times this past February, I made it my policy never to apologize to readers for anything except publishing information that

MOLDY FIG, GO HOME!

MOLDY FIG, GO HOME!

Even when writing about a topic as delightful and congenial as early jazz, it’s quite impossible to avoid controversy. To be fair, just about everyone

Notes from the Undermined

Notes from the Undermined

From the time I was a mere child until the present day, people have felt that they could say anything at all to me. Sometimes

Guernica

The Pain of Music

I have previously written in this space about “dread.” I then referred to a more general foreboding—which still occasionally visits me, in spite of my

Pit Band Cartoon

The Serious Business of Levity

On April 9, my wife Sue and I were delighted to attend a performance by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks in Upper Nyack, New York.

The View From the Childrens Table

The View From the Children’s Table

I have been allowed to live on this planet (by virtue of not being worth the energy to throttle) for fifty-three years. It’s a lovely

New Wonders Gotham Jazz Fest April 8 Neal Siegal

This was the Dream

It was a dream: my wife and I were in a large old auditorium which, instead of theater seating, had a polished hardwood dance floor.