First day of school at Mitchell School, Racine, Wisconsin, September 5, 2023
First day of school at Mitchell School, Racine, Wisconsin, September 5, 2023.

Another Week: Number 37

by | September 10, 2023

I always imagine this week as the beginning of a long chute to the new year. Summer is a thirteen-week plateau, floating lazily on peaceful waters — but now the current has drawn us into a flume, and we tip downward and begin to pick up speed, compelled toward the cold, dark end of the annual ride in an underground tunnel from Thanksgiving through January 1.

Fall officially begins September 1st. Kids go back to school. Network news anchors return from their Mediterranean cruises and resume their regular time slots. Congresspeople return to Washington. Businesses get serious about work again — and may even consider updating their websites. Some start scrambling to prepare for Black Friday and Christmas. In another month, even the U.S. Supreme Court will get back to work.

We did feel the transition from summer to fall. It came Wednesday evening, walking Amy back to our car after a quick CT scan on her head. Temperatures dropped, a little rain fell, and the wind shifted.

Mostly, though, this year’s autumnal quickening took place on the other side of our windows and video screens as we rode the waves of headache pain and nausea, drowsiness and fatigue that Amy has been bobbing along on since March.


The Rolling Stones hype Hackney Diamonds

It’s simultaneously delightful and horrifying that — 45 years after I saw them at Soldier Field on what was then a comeback tour of sorts — the remaining members of The Rolling Stones are promoting an album of new material.

They began with a deliberately aggravating website,, on September 2nd, then live-streamed a chat with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday from the Hackney Empire theater in east London. The new album is called Hackney Diamonds, which apparently is local slang for windshields shattered (shadoobie) onto the Hackney district’s streets.

Mick Jagger’s patter with Fallon was surprisingly good. He was funnier and quicker than the talk show host — and even though I don’t enjoy Jimmy Fallon much, he was okay in this appearance.

Less good was the video for the new song, which confusingly streamed on a separate feed following the live talk — following five deliberately aggravating minutes of artsy countdown graphics.

The track, “Angry,” has been well-received in the reviews I have seen, but to me, it’s just more sausage from the same grinder. The main riff is the kind of thing you play to find out if your guitar is plugged in — or if you want to rejigger the riff from “Start Me Up” to produce a new single. The lyrics have about as much to say as any basket of placeholder phrases spit out by machine learning.

As for the video, actress Sydney Sweeney rides the back of a red convertible down Los Angeles streets, passing billboards that all feature various periods from The Rolling Stones’ past brought to life via generative AI, while her suggestive poses and black leather outfit caricature sexiness.

So much nothing happens for so long that you begin to suspect you’re watching a loop.


Mehdi Hasan vs. Vivek Ramaswamy

Vivek Ramaswamy attracted some buzz with his pushy performance in the August 23 Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee. No one seems to know much about him — but hey, he’s pushy like Trump, so he’s got to be presidential material, right?

If you don’t have NBC’s Peacock streaming service, you might not have seen Mehdi Hasan‘s 25-minute dogfight with Ramaswamy on Wednesday. We don’t have Peacock anymore — but we do have YouTube, and we watched the clip as soon as the entire country started raving about it.

It’s so rare to see a political interviewer asking real questions supported by actual research — and forcing the interviewee to answer, instead of just doing the pivot waltz.

The interview is jarring because when Ramaswamy gets pushy, Hasan pushes right back — talking at the same time whenever necessary. Before long, each man has both guns firing on automatic, and the clatter escalates to a level I honestly haven’t experienced since seeing Oppenheimer last week.

Hasan’s New York Times bestseller, published February 28, is titled Win Every Argument: The Art of Debating, Persuading, and Public Speaking. This interview was a crash course.

Watch it to learn some details of how Ramaswamy made his money — and how his education was funded.

The man is absolutely exasperating.


Under the Covers (2002)

On Saturday morning, I stumbled upon a quote from Jackson Browne regarding the artwork on the cover of his self-titled first album. The quote was taken from the 2002 documentary Under the Covers, which I have heard of but never seen, so I Googled for a way to watch it and found a tolerable upload on YouTube.

This copy notes up front that it has been edited “due to copyright claims,” and there is some noticable pitch-dropping during later scenes involving Eagles members. Nevertheless, we watched and enjoyed the full hour and 23 minutes.

The film profiles art director Gary Burden and music photographer Henry Diltz, who created a great many of the abum covers to come out of California in the 1960s and 70s — particularly from artists based in the legendary Laurel Canyon neighborhood overlooking Los Angeles, like Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Jackson Browne, The Doors, Joni Mitchell, and (the) Eagles. There’s a great story about a harrowing glider flight with Jimmy Webb, and the backstory to the cover of Richard Pryor’s first album.

Along with their improvisational creative brilliance, Burden and Diltz are down-to-earth guys with a pile of great photos and anecdotes.



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