And Another Thing

In a response to a lovely email from a young person in Europe I have decided to post one more time. The author of the email “adores” the music of my generation and sent an article for me to read (https://metro.co.uk/2019/02/07/millennials-prefer-music-20th-century-golden-age-pop-today-research-reveals-8462993/).

“Since you obviously love Rock & Roll music,” the email began. The author wished I would continue writing about music. “Is there anything you did not write about you wish had been included?”

After reviewing my last two posts there were some things I wish had been included, so I have decided to write this post in order to rectify things and make someone happy.

I will begin with the best concerts attended, one of which may surprise you.

The Fox theater in Atlanta, Georgia, is a magnificent place for music. For those inclined you can learn all about it here: https://www.foxtheatre.org/

Both of the concerts attended were at the Fox. The first one will not surprise readers of this blog. I was fortunate enough to see The Band perform at the Fox. In a time when many Rock & Roll shows had become extravaganzas the curtains opened and there was The Band as they began playing their music. After an intermission the curtains opened and again they performed their music. Nothing else was needed. It was a tremendous concert which I enjoyed immensely.

The next concert contains a story. Someone had given me two tickets to see a concert at the Fox. I was having much trouble finding anyone to go with me. Keep in mind the Fox is so wonderful just going, no matter what the event , made a trip worthwhile. For example, the woman with whom I lived asked me to go see Philobolus at the Fox. “What’s a ‘Philobolus?” I asked. “I’ve never heard of them.” She said they were a dance company. If you are fortunate enough to have a significant other one must attempt to please your partner, so I agreed, thinking, “Well, at least its at the Fox.” Fortunately, I was open to new experiences and they put on quite a show.

I called a platonic girlfriend I had known since we were young, Susan Bailey, who worked for the Atlanta Braves. “Susan,” I began, “would you like to go to a concert at the Fox?” She asked, “Who’s playing, Eggs?” Yes, there was a time my friends called me “Eggs,” for an obvious reason. “America,” I answered. There was silence for a few moments before Susan replied, “You mean that “Horse with No Name group?”

“That’s the one.”
“I dunno, Eggs.”
“Aw, come on Susan, I’m having trouble finding anyone who will go with me.”
“I can’t imagine why, Eggs,” she said. Finally, she decided to “take one for the team,” and agreed to go. “But don’t ever tell anyone I went with you, Eggs!” she said. I promised.

The Fox was only half full. “Imagine that, Eggs,” Susan said. Like The Band, the curtain opened and America came out and played acoustic music. When intermission came Susan said, “Let’s go, Eggs.” I urged her to stay, but she was having none of it. One of the members of the group said. “We’ve heard Atlanta was more of a heavy metal kind of town, but it is extremely disappointing to only half fill the venerable Fox. We are going to take a break and come out and Rock this city!”
“OK, eggs, I’ll stay a little while,” she said placating me.

The curtain opened for the second part of the show and Rock they did! They plugged in and blew the proverbial roof off of the building! At one point everyone was standing on their seat, Susan included, which made me smile. When they concluded their performance Susan, all smiles, looked at me and said, “Damn Eggs, who woulda ever known they could play like that!” Who indeed, I was thinking. The best part was when Susan began telling anyone who would listen how great was the performance, which perplexed the hard core Rockers. “What got into Bells,” was the usual reply.

Those two concerts stand out even though I attended a Bob Dylan and The Band concert at the Omni, of which I have fond memories.

Another thing I wished had been written about was an email received from the Discman, with whom regular readers will be familiar. He considers the period between the middle 60s and middle 70s to be the best period of Rock & Roll. Chris sent me an email with his top ten one hit wonder albums. In reply I mentioned only one album, the one I have always considered the best album of the one hit wonders. I am not talking about a one hit wonder single such as Drift Away by Dobie Gray,

who made a career out of singing that one song, but a complete album with many songs. That album is the first album by Christopher Cross, titled Christopher Cross.

The next morning there was a reply from the Discman in which he wrote something about having listened to it the previous night, and he agreed it should have been on his list. “Every song is good, and it really came together,” he wrote.

The last thing I wish had been included was Steely Dan. I somehow neglected to write about how much the Dan influenced me into listening to more Jazz, because of the exceptional way Jazz rifts were incorporated in their wonderful music. Steely Dan was one of, if not the most inventive of Rock musicians. The Dan expanded the boundaries of what could be classified Rock & Roll. Steely Dan may be considered the most extraordinary of Rock groups with what some called “sophisticated” Rock music. I went from listening to The Band, who many have said wonderful things about, such as Eric Clapton and George Harrison, among others, to listening to Steely Dan, causing some of my friends, who were into, let us say, hard core R&R, to say, “Musically, Eggs has gone in a different direction .” Every album is good and solid; some great and other exceptional. The love of my life, Patricia, was watching a show, Gotham, in which the star was someone with whom I was familiar, Ben McKenzie, but I could not place him, so I went to the Internet Movie Data Base and found he had earlier been in an acclaimed TV show, Southland, which is rated highly at the IMDB. Then it hit me…I was channel surfing years ago and saw only a few moments of one episode in which Ben was with his partner and they were getting into the squad car when Ben mentioned something about his partner’s fondness for Steely Dan, which made me smile before flipping the channel. Steely Dan was probably the most sui generis of all the R&R groups. I thought of this when watching a movie at Amazon Prime about the group recently, which brought back fond memories.

While living with the aforementioned woman with whom I attended the Philobolus event, Gail Childs, I would listen to the Georgia Tech student station, WREK. (https://www.wrek.org/) My favorite spot was when one bird would start singing, and then be joined by another, and another, until many birds were singing. Then came, “Here at WREK we give all the birds a chance to sing.”

Listen to all forms of music and let the birds sing.

The Chess Ostrich

In an essay by Dave Cameron, “White Bred: Major League Baseball’s Intern Issue,” in the excellent book, “The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2014,” a Fangraphs production, I read, something that made me think of my writing about chess. Dave wrote, “Even within a single organization, it is valuable to have people pushing back against the accepted ideas so that traditions don’t become entrenched simply because it is the cultural norm for the majority of the employees.”
Bill James is considered to be the “father of sabermetrics,” because he questioned the accepted ideas that had become entrenched traditions in Major League Baseball. The game has changed in many ways because one man dared to question the Status-quo.
Progress is not made by conservative people who do not question. If our forefathers had accepted the Status quo we would still be subjects of the Queen of England. If Albert Einstein, and his wife Mileva (http://www.pbs.org/opb/einsteinswife/) had not questioned accepted wisdom and given us special relativity and general relativity, we would not now have GPS.
Former President of the GCA and former Senior Champion of the Great State of Georgia Scott Parker once said about my writing, “I do not often agree with you, but I will admit what you write is always interesting.” Michael Mulford, another chess “pooh-bah,” wrote in an email that he only agreed with me “about 25% of the time.” My thought was, “That much?” The Georgia Tech radio station, WREK, one of only two college stations in the world that possess 100,000 watts (WRAS, the Georgia State station being the other one, but that could change if Georgia Governor Nathan “Raw” Deal has his way: http://clatl.com/atlanta/up-in-the-air/Content?oid=11215404) used to play something that began with one bird singing, then another joining in, and culminating with many birds singing. Then a voice could be heard saying, “Here at WREK we give all the birds a chance to sing.” Everyone should be heard, no matter how outlandish one may think their opinion. Otherwise we are all “singing to the choir.”
I write this because chess is facing difficult times. There is the draw death issue, the cheating by gizmo issue, and the Kirsan the ET issue. The signs are everywhere, if one is receptive to them. For example, a decade ago chess books were crowded off the shelves at bookstores by books on poker, the latest craze. Now that the air has been let out of the poker balloon, one finds very few books on poker on the shelves (“Straight Flush: The True Story of Six College Friends Who Dealt Their Way to a Billion-Dollar Online Poker Empire” by Ben Mezrich). The space has not been replaced with books on chess. Backgammon was the “in thing” back in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, and then it faded quickly. The game is still played, and there are tournaments, but at least a zero has been taken off the number of participants.
I, and many others, believe the proliferation of short draws has diminished the stature of chess. There are enough hard fought, “serious” games ending in a draw without players agreeing to split the point before a “serious” game can be contested. What some ignorant people fail to understand is that if only one fan of chess decides he has seen enough short draws by the best players to last a lifetime and turns to something else more interesting than another boring draw, it has diminished chess and hurt the Royal game. When the news from the chess world is of yet another cheating scandal like the one now known as “Toiletgate,” it diminishes the game in the mind of the public. When the game has no credibility in the mind of the public, there is no game.
Because the issue of so many short non-game draws is so important I decided to put my post of June 6, “What Constitutes a “Serious Game?” on the USCF forum. It has, as of this writing, been read by only a couple of hundred people (http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=20054&sid=b5bf1c80970edc2dd56544fdd20b3c44). A few readers have left comments, including one by tmagchesspgh, or Thomas P. Magar. His comment culminates with this paragraph: “If you want the players to be gladiators at all times, selfish spectators, pony up the cash to sponsor the event. Buy tickets. Then you can demand that the players play for blood. Otherwise, just shut up and watch. There are enough deluded professionals out there who will sacrifice health, sanity, and their economic well being to provide you with free games to watch.”
The Discman sent me this comment concerning the post by Thomas Magar:
“Well that post is over the top. Spectators just want to see hard-faught games between great players.
Free lessons & DVD’s? What the heck??”
It is difficult, if not impossible, to hear the birds sing when one has, like the ostrich, buried his head in the sand.