Author: timungs

A moment to wallow in the glorious sounds of Dion DiMucci

Just in the past couple days I have stumbled on Dion’s “Born to Be With You,” the album he recorded in 1974 with production duties and boozy erratic behavior supplied by none other than Phil Spector.

Columbia execs at the time were horrified by the darkly introspective treatments, but Phil refused their pleas to revamp the material. So the massive and expensive 40-musician project was shelved, and didn’t appear until a UK-only release the following year.

As per allmusic:

“Dion, too, was unhappy — ‘I don’t think we ever really finished that,’ he complained in 2003. It shocked him mightily, then, to discover that names as far apart as Andrew Loog Oldham, Bobby Gillespie, Jason Pierce, and Pete Townshend have pronounced Born to Be With You one of the finest albums ever made. And they were correct.”

Have to wonder about the studio atmosphere, with Phil being Phil and Dion clinging to his then newly declared sobriety. Dion’s been clean for more than half a century, and Phil will die in jail, so I guess there’s your answer, in part at least.

Anyway, this is one of many absolutely glorious tracks.

PS This strikes me as a missed opportunity for Scorsese. The songs on this album would have been perfect for either Goodfellas or Casino soundtracks. Not that they were wanting in any way, just that Dion would have made them better, and would have been a nice tribute to Marty’s fellow Italian-American auteur genius. Just a thought.

Populism is good, actually

There’s a movement afoot, an etymological land-grab, that involves centrists shouting at every opportunity: “eh, Sanders and Corbyn, Trump and Bolsano, they’re the same. Populists. The only people you can trust are … centrists.” It’s not a NEW movement, God knows, but the distortions that Trump has brought to the national discourse have led centrists to sense that they can seize this opportunity to lock out any significant deviation from full spectrum dominance. The weirdness of Facebook and Twitter’s intervention in the Hunter Biden laptop kerfuffle show just how emboldened they’ve become to block conservative AND progressive voices from access to what have become de facto All the New That’s Fit platforms.

This Guardian dispatch, for example, celebrates Jacinda Arden’s victory in New Zealand over the weekend, and manages to drag the words populist and populism through the mud with no little gusto. The author associates these words exclusively with the Right-Wing Murdochian populism, which doesn’t really involve actual populism and instead stands for the diametrical opposite of the powerful populist movement America has experienced on and off for more than a century. Monied interests, then as now, saw fit to trash the Good Kind of populism with every dirty trick in the book, including, I guess, by describing it it in this dishonest way.

Google Thomas Frank, for God’s sake, or watch/listen to Frank’s fascinating and entertaining guest appearance on Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper’s insanely great Useful Idiots podcast.

I know. This is a two-hour episode. But the time will absolutely fly by.

Want the tldr; ? Well, actually: we should never forget that Populism Is Good. Centrism, the game of footsie played by two (and only two) corrupt nihilistic parties, is what has given us our world. Precarity, disease, scarcity, the threat of nuclear Armageddon always present, and now on the brink of complete ecological collapse.

No, we can’t have populism. Anything but that.

I got so fussed over the besmirching of the fine word “populist” that I started googling around about Thomas Frank, our age’s foremost defender of the term, and found that he has written just a spectacular essay for Le Monde Diplomatique. I’m guessing he tried placing it in outlets more easily accessed by American readers, but the op-ed pages of major media platforms were stuffed to the gills with all the Fear pieces Frank describes here so well. And so funnily. Read this.

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