Tuesday, March 31, 2009

John Ford

On March 31, 1973, John Ford was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Nixon. This guy was a real American hero. Not only did he direct some of the greatest films Hollywood has ever made, he was also a war hero. Though he was already a famous Hollywood director, he joined the navy during WWII. He filmed the Battle of Midway from atop a primary Japanese target and was hit by flying concrete. He was later hit in the arm by shrapnel which tore a hole through the arm. He served in the Pacific, North Africa, and Normandy. He later held the rank of rear admiral in the U.S. Naval Reserve. When handed the medal, he accepted with the words, "God bless America."

If you've never seen any of his films, try "The Searchers" with John Wayne. They don't make them like that any more.

Monday, March 30, 2009


On March 30, 1981 President Ronald Reagan became the only president to survive an assassination attempt. Upon being wheeled into the operating room he asked the doctor, "I hope you're a Republican!"

On this date in 1858, Hyman Lipman of Philadelphia patented the first pencil with a attached eraser. Now that is something we should remember.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


On March 29, 1943, President Roosevelt and the United States government began rationing meat and cheese among other items. Roosevelt stressed that all Americans had to sacrifice in order to wim the war. It was a matter of fairness. I wonder how willing Americans would be today to adhere to a rationing program.

Today is John Tyler's 219th birthday. In case you don't know, he was the 10th president and half of the "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" campaign.

On March 29, 1999 the Dow Jones closed over 10,000 for the first time.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dramatic change in life expectancy

If you were born in the United States in the year 1900 you could expect a life span of 47.3 years; 46.3 for a male and 48.3 for a female. Just 100 years later the life expectancy was 78.1; 75.4 for a male and 80.7 for a female.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I Am

I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea. There is not any of me that is alone and absolute except my mind, and we shall find that the mind has no existence by itself, it is only the glitter of the sun on the surface of the water.

D.H. Lawrence

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dr. Jonas Salk

I remember lining up outside Lamberton Elementary School and being given a small cup with some pink liquid inside. I swallowed it down. I don't really remember anything else. What was it? I remember giving small change to the March of Dimes. What was it?

On March 26, 1953 Dr. Jonas Salk announced to the world that he had successfully tested a polio vaccine. He first vaccinated himself and his family to show that it was safe. Dr. Salk never patented his discovery. He could have become rich but said, "There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?" America had taken on this task and won.

Polio has been virtually eliminated around the world.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fast diet

Want to lose weight quickly?

Your weight is the result of two forces, one pulling you down and one flinging you up. At the exact North Pole there is no rotation, so the flinging force is zero. The rotation at the equator is at its maximum. Therefore you will weigh less at the equator than at the North Pole! Fast diet.

A 200 pound person will weigh 2.5 ounces less at the equator.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My peace is there

my way is in the sand flowing
between the shingle and the dune
the summer rain rains on my life
on me my life harrying fleeing
to its beginning to its end

my peace is there in the receding mist
when I may cease from treading these long shifting thresholds
and live the space of a door
that opens and shuts

Samuel Beckett

Monday, March 23, 2009


On the first day, 'God' created the dog and said: 'Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years.'
The dog said: 'That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?'
So God agreed.
On the second day, God created the monkey and said: 'Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span.'The monkey said: 'Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the Dog did?'
And God agreed.
On the third day, God created the cow and said:
'You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years.'The cow said: 'That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?'
And God agreed again.

On the fourth day, God created man and said:

'Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years.'But man said: 'Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?'
'Okay,' said God, 'You asked for it.'

So that is why for our first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family.. For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren.. And for the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone..

Life has now been explained to you.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Every Moment

"Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such." Henry Miller

"Above all, we cannot afford not to live in the present." Henry David Thoreau

"The world will freely offer itself to you unmasked, it has no choice." Franz Kafka

"Truth has no special time of its own. It's hour is now-always." Albert Schweitzer

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Recently heard being sung by B. Obama to Ahmadinejad

The color of your skin don't matter to me
As long as we can live in harmony

Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends

I'd kinda like to be president
So I can show you how your money's spent, ooh

Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends

Sometimes I don't speak bright, alright
But yet I know what I'm talkin' about

Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends

(Sung by WAR on their 1974 album of the same name)

Another "Just Asking"

A few years ago Martha Stewart was sentenced to jail time and was locked up, the Enron guys did time, Bernie Madoff has begun doing his time, and countless others either have or will do the same, including just about every ex-governor of Illinois. So why is AIG getting off scott free? Aren't they stealing tax payer money? Just asking. Of course when the people who are running the show claim they "forgot" to enter part of their income in TurboTax, hey who's looking. I guess they didn't read the "Checking for errors" screen in TT after they completed their forms.

In a completely different direction, have you ever noticed that it can take a week to get a letter from just down the street? I'm sure this has happened to just about everyone. Well, I placed an order for some electronics. They were shipped from Korea on March 18. The package was in my hands yesterday, March 20. So, I can get a box from Korea in 2 days but a letter sent from the next zip code can take a week. And the price of a stamp is set to increase once again.

Just asking.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The End of American Hegemony?

Newly elected President George Bush proclaimed that America would not indulge itself in "Nation Building" when he took office. What he meant, and later ignored, was America would no longer be Imperialist. Today, not even ten years later, Americans are spread out all over the globe in the name of Democracy. Now spreading Democracy and freedom is a good thing, don't get me wrong. But only to places where we are wanted, and where it will not cost American lives. And we can no longer afford to give away billions of dollars in the hope that the recipients will welcome our way of life. This just does not work. Perhaps the economic decline we are going through will pull us away from American hegemony and back to the realization that Imperialism is a dead end. This was a lesson learned by the Greeks, the Romans, the Mongols, Spanish, English, and in more recent times by Japan and Germany. And it doesn't take much to bring Imperialism to it's knees. A Jew from Bethlehem began the downfall of the Roman Empire; a tall Virginia plantation owner began the dismantling of the British Empire; and a cigar chewing Brit refused to give in to the Third Reich. Remove Jesus, Washington, and Churchill from the history books and we live in a much different world. Who knows, maybe the history books of the future will look back on our time and someone from our era will have changed the world. Often times financial crises brings people back to reality, that worldly possessions are fleeting, and that the ties that bind us to each other are everlasting.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Today's Game: The DC Stimulants vs. The Middleclass OPMs

Maurice loves baseball. In fact he also loves baseball cards. He collects with reckless abandon, but only his specific favorite players. But his allowance doesn't cover his habit. In order to find cards of his favorite players he's got to buy lots of packs of cards. Sometimes he gets lucky and he'll find one in one pack. Sometimes he'll buy ten packs and not find even one favorite player. It's expensive, so in order to subsidize his habit he sells some of his older favorite cards to his Asian buddy Ker Lee. Ker Lee is kind of lucky because he's been wise with his cards and only buys the good ones. Now one day Maurice's friend Lawrence comes to him with a sad story. He, too, collects cards, but he owes money to so many people that he can't borrow any more, plus some of his friends are getting impatient and would like to put Lawrence out of commission for a while. He asks Maurice to help him out. So Maurice, being an altruistic buddy, sells some of his favorite cards to Ker so he can give the money to Lawrence to avoid broken bones.

Stay with me...

The next day he gives Lawrence the money, but a few hours later he sees him with a new carton of cards. "Hey, Larry, what the heck are you doing?" "Hey, Mo, I just couldn't help myself. When you gave me the money I was going to pay off those thugs but I went by the card store and couldn't resist the temptation." So now Larry is still in debt, Mo has cut into his collection, and only Ker Lee seems to have the upper hand.

But wait. Who are Mo's favorite players, the ones Ker Lee now holds for future gains when he sells them back to Mo?

Mo's favorite's: Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Andy Pettite, Jose Canseco, and Alex Rodriguez.

If you aren't sure what the point of this tale is, here is a hint: Mo=?, Ker Lee=?, and Larry=? Refer to the title for more hints. Oh, and if you aren't a baseball fan (though baseball actually has little to do with the basic assumptions of my story), Google the names and you'll quickly get the point.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Stamp Acts, Bill Posey and Grover Cleveland, too

Most people I know are groaning about the state of the economy, and rightfully so. But like most of the generations before us, we simply take what we are fed and go on with our lives. But our history was not always so complacent. In fact, Americans once protested a tax so loudly that it was repealed. In 1766 the British Parliament repealed the Stamp Act on this very day. So wake up America and let your Senators and Congresspeople know that you are fed up and you're not going to take it any more. If you think they don't listen, think again. I have written and received replies from Florida Senator Mel Martinez, Senator Bill Nelson, and just today had an email from Congressmen Bill Posey which was well thought out and deserves praise from even a long time Democrat like myself. It was a rather lengthy reply but it concluded with:

"Lower taxes, not higher borrowing, spending, and debt, will put our economy back on track. I urge my colleagues to vote for lower taxes and against higher spending and debt.

Thank you again, Alan, for contacting me. It is an honor to serve you in Congress. If I may be of service to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Bill Posey
Member of Congress"

Also, today is the 172nd birthday of Grover Cleveland, the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms in office.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I Blame Diners Club

The biggest Ponzi scheme in history has been pulled off right in front of our eyes. A Ponzi scheme is where an individual or investment company pulls in money from investors, but uses that new money to pay previous investors without actually investing the money at all. The biggest, largest, most insidious Ponzi scheme of all time is...ta da...the United States of America Treasury!!! Yay! Here is the idea: Let's run this thing with OPM (other people's money). We can pull all sorts of shenanigans (see Iraq) and dump billions of bucks from the Treasury without asking anyone (except the clowns in Congress) if they think it's a good idea. We can spend spend spend and none of us ever have to worry about paying it back. It's like a credit card with no limit and no monthly bill. So we keep borrowing from the Treasury, sell the Treasury bills to China, owe them an unimaginable amount, and let the OPM take care of biz. Of course this makes the Chinese a little nervous about their rather large investment, but what can they do about it? Nothing really. If they protest too loudly then the Treasury notes fall in value and they lose money. They need us big time, and we need to keep borrowing to prop up the banks that started this mess to begin with.

I blame Diners Club. Back in the 50s they thought it would be a good idea to offer a card to diners. With that card you could eat dinner and pay for it later. It was a good idea because lots of traveling salesmen (remember them) were always on the go and treating their clients to dinner. This way they didn't have to have lots of cash and could pay the bill later. Then American Express caught the idea and the credit card miracle took off. Except the credit card companies were later deregulated (thank you Supreme Court) and charges and late fees took off. People started using their cards way beyond their means and defaults became a problem. On top of that the greedy banks gave out mortgages in the same way, beyond people's means.

Voila! 2009.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy Birthday James Madison, we owe you dude!

Madison, perhaps the most brilliant and undoubtedly the most widely read president, was born in Port Conway, Virginia, in 1751. Madison, though frail and a hypochondriac, was a tireless worker throughout his political career. He worked long and hard for the ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Though he faced strong opposition from founders such as Patrick Henry, his dedication to the Constitution won the day. He later claimed it was almost the death of him. His brilliant essays, along with those of Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, can be read in "The Federalist Papers."

A few interesting Madison tidbits: He was 5'4" by far the shortest president. He weighed less than 100 pounds and suffered from bad bowels among many other ailments. He and Dolly were childless. He was criticized for America's participation in the War of 1812 when the British attacked Washington and burned down the Executive Mansion (now known as the White House). Madison and Thomas Jefferson, both anti-Federalists (the only powers granted to the Federal government were those specifically written in the Constitution...states by implication gained all other rights) strongly opposed Hamilton's attempt to create a National Bank. They feared that this power, not stated in the Constitution, would open the Federal government to unlimited power and violate the Tenth Amendment (they were right). Hamilton won the day, and ultimately the question of slavery came under Federal scrutiny. It's a long story, but one worth reading about.

A few books I would recommend with Madison as the "hero" or "villain" depending on the author's point of view: American Creation by Joseph Ellis, James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights by Richard Labunski, The Summer of 1787 by David Stewart, Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution by Woody Holton, Liberty's Blueprint by Michael Meyerson. All of these are in my collection and I recommend them highly.

Oh, and Hamilton, though never President (he was born in the West Indies and therefore not eligible) is on the ten dollar bill. Madison, sorry Jimmie, isn't on anything but the list of facts about presidents under "Who was the shortest president?" In fact, we owe as much if not more to Madison as any of the more famous Founding Fathers.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Has Our Political System Run Its Course?

The time may have come for Americans to think about a new Constitutional Convention. Why? The population of the United States in 1776 was about 2.5 million people. At the end of 2007 the United States prison population was almost exactly the same number. Think about that. About 2.5 million Americans were in prison at the end of 2007. The United States is fast approaching the 300 million population mark, one exceeded only by China and India. When our Constitution was written it was done so for a relatively small amount of people in a small geographic area. In other words, it was a controllable population in a confined location. Today you would be able to drive from the northern most point to the southern most point in perhaps 24 hours. But, to me the problem is that we have grown far too large for the type of government designed by the Founding Fathers. Such a huge population in the third largest land mass on Earth spells trouble. And trouble we have. Crime is out of control. We don't adequately educate a large percentage of our children. There is no health plan protection for many Americans. New Orleans is still a mess. We are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. And worst of all is Washington. Or actually it's our political system in general. Perhaps the freedoms granted us no longer apply. Maybe there are too many people to handle so much freedom. Let's face it, we are no longer a working Republic. In a Republic the people vote for a representative who theoretically has their best interests in mind. But how can this be when most Americans probably have no idea who represents them either locally or nationally. James Madison once lost an election in Virginia because he refused to hand out liquor to voters, he felt he would no longer have the where with all to vote for what he believed was best for ALL the people. Today in Washington they hand out billions of dollars to their buddies who run the banks, the same people who plundered the system to begin with.

So, since the system may have run its course, what we need is change. Where have we heard that before? From the same clowns who now run the show. Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss. We are too large for a political system based on a world view 230 years old. It's time for a modern Constitution, or at least some change in the way we do things. Real change, not Obama-change (which is really no change at all). We are a one party political system run by a two headed monster.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Madoff Smirk

Maybe it's just the pictures, but it always appears to me that Bernie has a smirk on his face like the cat that ate the canary. In his smugness I see a guy who thinks by pleading guilty to his crimes he has saved his family and friends. Maybe he thinks he has redeemed himself from the wrath of heaven by not revealing who aided him in his Ponzi scheme. Maybe he thinks this makes him a good guy in that by pleading guilty he does not have to expose himself to a public trial. And since he is actually being sentenced to death he can lie at will. The guy is 70 years old and will never be a free man again. So it will be a death sentence for sure.

But, Bernie, by not telling what you know you really are exposing everyone who ever worked for you to guilt by association, whether they were guilty of wrong doing or not. You may be protecting family and friends, but you are making life far worse for the people who worked for you, who pushed papers around in fear that if they didn't they would lose their jobs. By not exposing your accomplices you condemn everyone.

More shame Bernie.

Dear Mr. Cheney...

A friendly note to FORMER Vice President Dick Cheney: Your eight years in Washington were quite enough, thank you. Now, please just shut up and go away.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bernie and the Tooth Fairy

So now Bernard "Ponzi Scheme" Madoff is locked up. Madoff made off with countless billions of dollars, or so we are told. The man pleaded guilty and said he was sorry. Nice guy. The shame here is that by pleading guilty there will be no trial.

My question is, what might the SEC have had to do with his plea? He did not get a plea bargain. He gained nothing by pleading guilty. He doesn't seem to me to be the kind of guy who would plead guilty without getting some kind of deal or avoiding telling the entire story. I have to believe that there is so much more to this than a simple guilty plea. How could the SEC, which was warned time and again about Madoff, simply ignore this house of cards?

Last, and I've said this before, I do feel sorry for the charities and non-profits that lost all their money. This would include Elie Wiesel and his Foundation for Humanity. However, it is difficult to feel anything for the millionaires and billionaires who lost money. To me, they are as greedy as Madoff and believed in him only because they looked to profit from his outlandish claims. You'll only believe in 46% return on your money if you also believe in the Tooth Fairy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Can You Grow a Bigger Brain?

A study was conducted measuring the brain size of London cabbies. Why cabbies, why London, you might ask.

Cabbies have a very brain taxing job, despite what you may think. This may be even more so in a large city such as London. Cabbies must memorize the complex layout of the city and be able to figure out the fastest routes between thousands upon thousands of starting and ending points. They must do so quickly and under a certain amount of pressure. This study showed that the cabbies with the most experience, which would also be the most innovative because they have come up with all types of ways to innovate, were continuously challenging their brains so that they could survive in a very competitive industry. These cabbies had larger than normal right temporal lobes, ie bigger brains since they used them so often in so many challenging ways.

So if you want to grow a huge brain, and be extra intelligent, get a job as a London cabbie. But be sure to buy a new hat!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mr. Watson, Come Here I Want You!

With these words, Alexander Graham Bell successfully tested his invention, the telephone. On March 10, 1876 the first words were transmitted by Bell to his assistant, thus opening a new era in communication. Bell, a native of Scotland, launched the Bell Telephone Company in 1877. He became an American citizen in 1882.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Daylight Saving Time Say Wha?

When told the reason for Daylight Saving Time the old Indian said...

"Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top
of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of blanket and have a longer blanket."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

This IS Your LIfe

Many people believe that life holds no meaning, and that we are adrift in a meaningless vacuum of neither here nor there. Others believe that this life, the one they are living, is but a prelude to another better life after this one. But as you read this you have meaning, you are you. And this life IS your life. It has meaning and hope for a better afterlife makes no sense in the reality of the present. If you live to make money, then your life has no meaning because money is a transitory and a man made illusion, a thing. It is here one day and gone the next, as are all possessions. They only have meaning to people who can find no meaning to their lives within their own mind. Focus on the self and your relation to other people. We are small organisms in the cosmos but we are conscious entities. So do not think that this life is a practice round for the next life.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Words, Words, Words...Hamlet

Did you ever think about how many words you know? Well, here is a way to find out. Not very scientific, but what the hey.

First, get a dictionary. Second, count the words in the dictionary. Huh, hard you say? Not really. Do this: Count the number of entries on a page. Take a couple of samples and get an average. Then multiply that number by the number of pages. The result will be close to the number of words in the dictionary. Third, and this is the fun part, look at the first word on the page. If you know the meaning give yourself a check. If you don't then give yourself an x. Fourth, repeat this 100 times. If you get 50 right, then you may know about half the words in the dictionary. The more times you repeat this, say 1000 times, the more accurate this will be. The % you get will probably be on the high side, since you may come across some words that are stems of other extended words. But that's okay.

Try it!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Remember the Alamo

March 6, 1836, Mexican dictator General Santa Anna and his army of about 5,000 overwhelmed the defenders of the Alamo. The fort in San Antonio, an old Spanish mission, was occupied by 189 men under the command of Colonel William Travis. Every man was killed that day, but Texans under the leadership of Sam Houston struck back on April 21, routing the Mexicans with the battle cry "Remember the Alamo!"

John Wayne made it into a movie, most of which is pretty accurate.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Here Now

"We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine."

H. L. Mencken

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bernard and Mrs. Madoff

I have continued to follow the Bernard Madoff case as he approaches being sentenced or facing a Grand Jury. Recently his wife has claimed that her fortune, some $50 million or so, is separate and apart from her husbands, that she somehow was able to accumulate this wealth outside of Mr. Madoff's Ponzi scheme. Okay, if she says so. But what strikes me about all of this, and Mrs. Madoff, is the complete lack of a humility, sorrow, and conscience these "people" possess. Now, as for the alleged vicitms, do they deserve the public's sympathy? I am not referring here to the charities that invested in Madoff's investment and securities firm, but rather the millionaires and billionaires who are no less dispicable in their dealings than is Madoff. How exactly did most of them obtain their bulging bank accounts? And perhaps if they weren't so suseptable to collecting even more money they would not have invested with him in the first place. His scheme was to present his investment firm as an exclusive club. Only the high and mighty were allowed in this club. In the end most of them got exactly what they deserved. Greed is a mighty thing. So I don't picture myself shedding a tear for the victims, but I am outraged that the SEC could allow this to happen. Not surprised, mind you, but outrraged.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Florida!

March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state in the Union.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Some time or other boredom may occupy your mind. Today that happened to me. So I began to think (always a dangerous thing) about breathing. Yep, breathing. At the same time my bored mind drifted to James Madison, probably due to reading, "James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights." So, I wondered about Madison and tried to calculate the possibility that the same molecules that Madison breathed, or at least a couple of them, may now be inside my lungs. Is this possible to calculate? Hmmm. Let's think about this. First one must accept the fact that the Earth's atmosphere contains the same molecules that it did during Madison's lifetime. That is a fact, since everything on the Earth is recycled, even the air. Next, one would have to know how much air there actually is. This is not easy to do, but it can in fact be done. The volume of the Earth is 4 pi r squared. That's about 200 million square miles. The atmosphere is not so easy since it thins out as you go up. But through a little searching I found that the volume of the atmosphere in liters is 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 5 times 10 to the 21st power. If the capacity of a lung is one liter, then the amount of atmosphere in your lungs is 1/5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Now, how many molecules are in that amount of atmosphere? One liter of gas contains 27,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules. So it would be 27,000,000,000,000,000,000,000/5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 5.4. So one Madison breath would be 1/5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of the atmosphere. On an average there is the possibility of breathing in 5.4 molecules that Madison breathed out.

Aren't you happy to know this? I am.

See what your mind can do when you are bored.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Music Day

Around the first of each month I plan to say a few words about some of my favorite music and musicians. I have been a jazz fan for many years, going back more years than I care to or can remember. But there will always be the first listen that sticks in my mind.

Back in the day everybody, and I do mean everybody, read Rolling Stone. So, when I read a review about an album, actually a double album, called Emergency by the Tony Williams Lifetime, I bought it. Played it. Hated it, thinking WHAT IS THIS?

Well, some time in '70 or so I picked up a copy of Rolling Stone and read about a new Miles Davis LP called Bitches Brew. So, being curious about this highly praised work, but being totally clueless about jazz in general other than the Tony Williams Lifetime Emergency LP, I bought it. Played it. Hated it, thinking WHAT IS THIS?

To make a long story short, 40 years later I still listen to these two groundbreaking works. First impressions aside, Bitches Brew is and probably always will be my favorite jazz album. It has perhaps gained in stature for me over the years. Jazz fusion's major artists were all part of this classic music: John McLaughlin/Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report with Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea/Return to Forever, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Bennie Maupin. Years later my interest was renewed when I heard Bobby Previte and his band "The Horse" playing Bitches Brew, similar to the original but with a modern edge to it. It had been a few years since I listened through to all these great compositions, but to me they sound as fresh as when I first hated then loved them.

Now there is a Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute band with Vernon Reid, Cindy Blacman, John Medeski and Jack Bruce. Bruce was a member of the original band, and appears on the second Lifetime LP, Turn It Over.

It's good to know this music is still around and appreciated by fans like myself. Too bad that Miles and Tony aren't around any more.