December 2006 Archives

L'essence de la Rue Cerise

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What makes Cherry Street (15th between Peoria and Utica) the lovely place it is, maybe the nicest street in Tulsa? This week's Urban Tulsa Weekly column tries to distill the essence of Cherry Street so that we can learn and apply the right lessons from its success.

Also in UTW this week:

Robert N. Going, who was set to run for a seat on the 1976 New York delegate slate as a Reagan supporter (and was a Reagan delegate in 1980; see his comment for explanation -- I've corrected this paragraph), says of the recently departed 38th president, de mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est.

Here's a selection of bona sententia in tributes to the Accidental President. The same three points frequently recur: a decent man, the right man for the hour, and, even if not a great president, certainly a good deal better than his predecessor and his successor:

(Also at Hot Air, Allahpundit posts video of the first thing (I sheepishly admit) that came to my mind when I heard the news on the radio. This sketch from Saturday Night Live in 1996 is really a satire about the network news business, not about Ford; his name was just a hook on which to hang the concept: Dana Carvey as Tom Brokaw prerecording several versions of breaking news of Ford's death, just in case something should happen while Brokaw is on vacation. In the event, Ford outlived Brokaw's career.)

My own reminiscence: The first political convention I ever attended was the 1976 Oklahoma 1st District Convention at Nathan Hale High School. My dad was there as Wagoner County's lone delegate (our precinct was the only one in the county in District 1), and he was a Ford man. He also served that day as convention secretary. Then as now, the state and district conventions selected who would go to the national convention as delegates. But prior to 1998, Oklahoma didn't have a presidential preference primary, and national delegates weren't bound to a candidate; instead candidates for national delegate would announce their preference and run as a slate. The Reagan slate won the 1st District by a large margin that day. I was sad that Ford fell short in that skirmish, happy to seem him win the nomination at Kansas City, but sad again to see him lose to Jimmy Carter by such a close margin. At age 12 I didn't understand all the ideological issues in the '76 primary campaign. (I didn't discover National Review until the following year in the high school library.) He was the Republican incumbent, he was a decent man in a difficult time, and that was reason enough to support his renomination.

MORE remembrances, but not so kind:

Paul Greenberg on "Gerald Ford: The In-between President":

There is much to be said for mediocrity, and surely it will be at the state funeral now in the offing. There are worse things. Certainly few things are more perilous than man's eternal striving for greatness and the hubris it engenders. Look what happened to Woodrow Wilson and Lyndon Johnson, and is happening to George W. Bush.

At such times we are tempted to think, oh, yes, better someone who can wrap up an indecent defeat as decently as possible, the way Jerry Ford did in Vietnam. It wasn't his fault. He was just there in the White House at the time, like Zelig. Give us another Zelig, the people cry. A nice unknown quantity who will soothe things over - a Jerry Ford. (And now a Barack Obama?)

It's exhausting, always acting on principle, seeking to shape history rather than be shaped by it. There comes a time when the country just wants it all to be over, and that is the time when a Gerald R. Ford earns our gratitude, or at least gets it. And let it be noted that Mr. Ford was a good citizen even if he was First Citizen - no easy thing.

Much like Gerald Ford himself, most of us want to do the decent thing and overlook some other things in the interest of a little peace and quiet for now, whatever whirlwind we are sowing for later. Let it be said that Gerald Rudolph Ford was just the man for his time - a time not unlike this discouraging one, a time yearning for a return to a normalcy that never was.

Christopher Hitchens at Slate: "Our Short National Nightmare: How President Ford managed to go soft on Iraqi Baathists, Indonesian fascists, Soviet Communists, and the shah … in just two years":

Ford's refusal to meet with Solzhenitsyn, when the great dissident historian came to America, was consistent with his general style of making excuses for power. As Timothy Noah has suggested lately, there seems to have been a confusion in Ford's mind as to whether the Helsinki Treaty was intended to stabilize, recognize, or challenge the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. However that may be, the great moral component of the Helsinki agreement—that it placed the United States on the side of the repressed populations—was ridiculed by Ford's repudiation of Solzhenitsyn, as well as by his later fatuities on the nature of Soviet domination. To have been soft on Republican crime, soft on Baathism, soft on the shah, soft on Indonesian fascism, and soft on Communism, all in one brief and transient presidency, argues for the sort of sportsmanlike Midwestern geniality that we do not ever need to see again.

Wayne Hancock narrates an 18-minute documentary about the career of western swing bandleader Adolph Hofner, whose career spanned six decades blending the sounds of Texas with the sounds of old Bohemia. You'll learn a little something about German and Czech influences on rural Texas, and Texas dance hall culture. Mom and Dad would bring the children along to the dance, and they'd dance the night away while the kids slept on pallets under the benches.

Adolph's Beautiful America from Geoff G on Vimeo.

UPDATE: Commenter D. J. Hellwege notes that Czech Hall near Yukon, Oklahoma, still holds dances every Saturday night.

UPDATE(2): Wayne "The Train" Hancock, narrator of this documentary, is playing Tulsa's Mercury Lounge, 18th & Boston, this Saturday night, December 30. It's a release party for his new album, Tulsa.

UPDATE 2013/02/16: Google Video's gone; replaced with the video on Vimeo.

And Wikipedia has an answer to something I've been wondering about for some time: What is that snippet of Czech conversation at the end of "Shiner Song" ("Farewell to Prague")?

In order to accommodate their sponsor, Pearl Beer, the Hofners recorded the original version of "Farewell to Prague", which had been known in the old country, instead of the more recent Czech-American "Shiner Beer Polka," the same song with the word Prague (Prahu) changed to Shiner. This avoided the implied reference to the rival Spoetzl brewery in Shiner, Spoetzl's being closely identified with the "Shiner Beer Polka." The brothers could not however resist inserting a joke in Czech at the end of the recording, when one of the Hofners asks the other to "give me a dark beer" ("Daj mne cervene pivo"), Spoetzl's Shiner Bock being the most well-known dark beer in Texas at that time, as it remains today. The other brother firmly replies, "No!" ("Ne!").

Who is this?

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Sung at our church's communion service tonight:

Who is this so weak and helpless,
Child of lowly Hebrew maid,
rudely in a stable sheltered,
coldly in a manger laid?
'Tis the Lord of all creation,
who this wondrous path hath trod;
he is God from everlasting,
and to everlasting God.

Who is this, a Man of sorrows,
walking sadly life's hard way,
homeless, weary, sighing, weeping,
over sin and Satan's sway?
'Tis our God, our glorious Savior,
who above the starry sky
now for us a place prepareth,
where no tear can dim the eye.

Who is this? Behold him raining
drops of blood upon the ground!
Who is this, despised, rejected,
mocked, insulted, beaten, bound?
'Tis our God, who gifts and graces
on his Church now poureth down;
who shall smite in holy vengeance
all his foes beneath his throne.

Who is this that hangeth dying
with the thieves on either side?
Nails his hands and feet are tearing,
and spear hath pierced his side.
'Tis the God who ever liveth,
'mid the shining ones on high,
in the glorious golden city,
reigning everlastingly.

-- William Walsham How

Bridge congratulations

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Belated congratulations to the South Tulsa Citizens' Coalition -- on Wednesday District Judge David Peterson ruled against the motion for summary judgment brought by Infrastructure Ventures Inc., which would have dismissed STCC's lawsuit against the latest deal to build a toll bridge across the Arkansas River at Yale Avenue.

The story in Thursday's Whirled brings up several issues that really ought to be addressed by the State Legislature, issues where there are gaps or ambiguities which will otherwise be left to a judge to sort out:

  • Should an authority formed by multiple municipalities be allowed to condemn property outside the bounds of the beneficiary municipalities?
  • Should such an authority be able to condemn property belonging to a non-beneficiary government?
  • Should a franchise agreement like the Arkansas River Bridge Authority has signed with IVI be subject to a vote of the people, in the same way that municipal franchises are, for a maximum term of 25 years?

I'd also like to wish Judge Peterson a happy retirement. He was someone you could count on to rise above political pressure, and he will be missed.

Found while browsing

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About the only brick-and-mortar shopping I do any more is around gift-giving season. I found several books that got me to stop and thumb through them for a few minutes:

Tulsa architect and author John Brooks Walton, who has published a series of books on Tulsa's Historic Homes, has several new books out. One is called The Artwork of Tulsa, photos and articles about pieces of public art (pieces that aren't in museums) around town, everything from that weird hunk of metal on City Hall Plaza ("Amity"), to the terra cotta designs on the exterior of the Tulsa Fairgrounds Pavilion, to the Ten Commandments on the exterior of Temple Israel, to "Appeal to the Great Spirit" on the grounds of Woodward Park.

Walton also has a book on historic homes in Ponca City and a new book on the work of architect John Dilbeck, who designed homes in Dallas and Tulsa, as well as several notable commercial buildings. You know that pretty cottage at 19th and Peoria, the one that looks like it was transplanted from Elizabethan England? That's a Dilbeck.

(Steve's Sundries at 26th & Harvard is a great place to browse and buy books by and about Tulsans.)

The Oklahoma Centennial Committee commissioned music columnist John Wooley to write a book on the history of Oklahoma's distinctive music. It's called From the Blue Devils to Red Dirt: The Colors of Oklahoma Music. In addition to the two bookends in the title, the book has chapters on Bob Wills and western swing, Woody Guthrie, Tulsa-based impresario Jim Halsey. A chapter traces the development of the "Tulsa Sound" that flourished in the '70s -- it all started with a band that took over for Johnnie Lee Wills at Cain's Ballroom in 1959. (Some kid named Johnny Cale played with them.) The bits I read were quite interesting. The back of the book has a listing of the membership of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. The chapter on western swing is excellent, and not only tells the story of Bob Wills and his brothers and their years in Tulsa, but of the many other acts that emerged in their wake.


The Stratocaster Chronicles
tells the story of Leo Fender's solid-body guitar, which debuted in 1954, the technical advances that made it different, and the musicians who made the instrument famous. There's a great full-page photo of Eldon Shamblin posing in front of Cain's Ballroom with the demonstrator model that Fender gave him. The caption spells out how Shamblin modified it to make it his own.

The new Bob Wills 4-CD box set is (will be?) given a rave review by Bill Friskics-Warren in tomorrow's Washington Post:

As the four-CD set "Legends of Country Music" attests, these Western swingers could do it all, and with as much imagination and verve as anybody. And they weren't just magpies fluent in every strain of the American musical vernacular. To paraphrase the immortal "Time Changes Everything," they could "change the name of an old song, rearrange it and make it swing." And how....

Wills and company didn't reserve their inventiveness only for recordings they covered. If their leader's "Big Beaver" proves that his Playboys could achieve Ellingtonian grandeur, then "Twin Guitar Special," an instrumental written by steel player Leon McAuliffe and electric guitarist Eldon Shamblin, beats it eight to the bar like Basie, and with a pair of guitars making like an entire horn section. "Roly Poly," meanwhile, is prototypical rock-and-roll, and so is "Ida Red Likes to Boogie." The latter anticipates the backbeat of Chuck Berry's "Maybelline" (by way of the jump blues of Louis Jordan) by nearly a decade.

He goes on to call it "easily the best-sounding collection of Wills material yet."

I had actually considered passing on this set, because of the significant overlap with the Proper Box 4-disc set (especially on the early years), but this review is making me reconsider.

Also in this week's issue is a Jamie Pierson op-ed responding to the "Birth Control Is Harmful" billboards that Catholic-affiliated Respect Life Tulsa has placed around town. Jamie talks about double standards, and birth control, in her opinion, levels the playing field in the power struggle between men and women. I've got some comments, but given the subject matter, I'll put them after the jump....

Landing craft

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The developer of the Branson Landing riverfront mixed-use development has expressed interest in developing the west bank of the Arkansas River between 11th & 21st Street, and that's the topic of my latest column in Urban Tulsa Weekly. I reflect on a recent visit to Branson Landing and to a startlingly similar (but non-waterfront) development in the Florida panhandle called Destin Commons and consider how well that sort of thing might fit on our west bank.

Also of note in this week's UTW:

  • Holly Wall reports on plans to build an 85-room boutique hotel on the grounds of the historic McBirney Mansion at Riverside and Galveston. It's an interesting approach that seems to try to be sensitive to the historical context, but the neighborhood impact has to be considered, rezoning would be required, and there are preservation easements, donated by the owners to the City of Tulsa and the Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office, that prohibit the kind of development being proposed.
  • Jarrod Gollihare has a feature story on the Tulsa Violin Shop, on Main north of Brady downtown. There's more to getting a violin or cello ready to play and keeping it playable than you might think.

A "Little Drummer Boy" parody, by blogger Saint Kansas. He ought to send this in to Rush Limbaugh:

This seems as good a time as any to direct you to Kevin McCullough's excellent series on why he believes (against his hopes) that Barack Obama will be the next president. Here's the latest installment -- Why OBAMA will be President - Part 10 - "He's NOT Howard Dean, John Edwards, or Hillary...":

Many of my critics are also saying that I'm off on the Obama prediction by claiming Obama to be an "empty-suit". Friends, call him anything you want, call him short on experience, call him only two years deep into his freshman Senate term, call him a baby-face in Washington - but Obama is not an empty-suit. John Edwards is for sure, but not Obama.

Obama's ability to identify across a broad spectrum of people groups comes from a very multi-faceted background that has allowed him to live in MANY different environments. His exemplary record at Harvard Law school would make most of our recent Presidential candidates reel in embarassment. He also was the FIRST African American to head the Harvard Law Review.

Everything about Obama's political career has been strategic. The reason he settled on Chicago as his home base. The reason he ran for the state positions that he did. Even in running for Congress and losing against Bobby Rush he observed, analyzed, and re-strategized.

Kevin McCullough has been watching Obama's career from the very beginning, and he looks to be as indispensible a guide to Obama as Paul Greenberg was in 1992 in educating us about Slick Willie.

(On the other hand, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal explains why he thinks Obama may not run, and how Obama can bow out in a way that maintains and enhances his prospects for the future.)

Walt Kelly, A.D., B. P.*

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As a fan of the comic strip Pogo, I've read many biographical sketches of cartoonist Walt Kelly, but I never remember having read that he wrote and illustrated a comic book series based on the Our Gang shorts. (You might know them better as "The Little Rascals" -- Spanky, Buckwheat, Alfalfa, etc.)

Earlier this year, Fantagraphics published a reissue of Walt Kelly's Our Gang comic books from 1942 and 1943, volume 1 of a planned series. The ALA Booklist blurb has this to say:

Although the Our Gang film series was on its last legs in 1942, Dell Comics launched a comic-book version of it that is more than a footnote to the films because it was written and drawn by Walt Kelly, seven years before he brought Pogo to the newspapers. Ironically, while the films were by then slick and mannered, having lost their low-budget modesty after MGM took over producing them, in Kelly's comics they regained much of their earlier, unaffected charm, thanks to his winsome story lines, homey characterizations, and engaging cartooning.

(*After Disney, Before Pogo. Kelly was one of the animators on Fantasia (1940); the Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony segment, featuring centaurs, putti, Zeus, Bacchus, and other characters from Greek mythology, bears his unmistakable touch. As a two- and three-year-old, my now-10-year-old son watched this segment over and over again, and Iris, who brought forth the rainbow after the storm, was his first imaginary friend. He called her "the rainbow princess.")

Phyllis Schlafly's latest column makes the claim that high-tech companies are engaged in a conspiracy against American workers by pushing the Federal government to allow more engineers to come to America under H-1B visas.

Like all visas, the H-1B visa is temporary permission to be in the United States, specifically to allow college-educated foreign nationals to work in "specialty occupations" such as engineering and architecture. I've worked side-by-side with engineers who are here on H-1B visas, and while I'm not prepared, with an early morning ahead of me, to make a detailed case in support of the program, I do want to respond to some of the things she says.

First, Schlafly denies that there is a labor shortage in high-tech fields and claims to know the hidden reasons behind the push to double the number of H-1B visas:

Three reasons motivate the tech giants to use their political clout and political action committee contributions to increase H-1Bs:

1. Cost-cutting: H-1B visa holders are paid much less than Americans.

2. The influx of H-1B visa holders depresses the "prevailing wage" for all computer techies and engineers.

3. The hiring of H-1B visa holders prevents potential competition from Americans who might choose to work for other firms or start companies of their own.

Reason 1 is false, and reasons 2 and 3 are dependent on reason 1. H-1B visa holders must, by law, be paid comparably to or better than American workers. Companies have to post notices listing the salary, job title, and experience of H-1B employees to allow other employees to verify that the visa holders aren't driving out American workers by accepting a low wage. The companies I have worked for have complied with this requirement. She goes on:

H-1B visas are not for entrepreneurs or executives. They are for employees who are tied to the company that imports them, much like indentured servants, and are supposed to depart from the United States after a few years....

H-1B visa holders cut industry costs but do nothing to improve innovation. Most innovators are Americans, and the successful immigrant entrepreneurs the industry brags about did not come here as guest workers on H-1B visas, but entered as children and were educated in U.S. universities.

Most H-1B visa holders I've known are using it as a first step to qualify for permanent residency and eventual citizenship. And the companies I've worked for are not going to Bangalore and Karachi to scout for employees, the way baseball scouts scour San Pedro de Macoris for new talent. Instead, international students who are earning advanced degrees at places like Oklahoma State University or the University of Kansas look for job opportunities that will allow them to work in their profession and stay in the US. They are not tethered to the first employer that hires them.

They may not all be entrepreneurs, but many of them are innovators. The hydraulic digital control loading and motion system -- the system that provides realistic control feel and motion sensations for pilot training -- used on hundreds of FlightSafety simulators worldwide was developed here in Broken Arrow by a Jordanian with a doctorate from OSU, assisted by a Finn who was a grad student at OSU at the time. The development of the new all-electrical version of the same system was led by the same Jordanian national, with the help of both Americans and other foreign nationals. Their contributions have made FlightSafety a world leader in the manufacture of flight simulators, enabling it to compete effectively against rivals based in Canada and France.

And these engineers are not going to steal our technology and take it back home. They love living here, their kids have grown up here, and they are here to stay. Even if they wanted to go back, "back home" doesn't have the capital to provide a place where they can do the challenging level of work they can do here.

This statement of Schlafly's just floored me:

Much of the Compete America discussion involved blaming the U.S. educational system and the fact that fewer U.S. students are going into math and computer sciences. Yes, U.S. students have figured out that our engineers have a bleak employment future because of insourcing foreigners and outsourcing manufacturing.

Isn't this the same Phyllis Schlafly who has been telling us what a bad job our schools are doing of educating our children in the fundamentals of reading, writing, and arithmetic? So now falling math scores and a decline of interest in the hard sciences are not the fault of goofy curriculum fads and too much focus on social engineering, but because engineers have a "bleak employment future"?

One of the things that makes America strong and prosperous is that the smartest people in the world want to live here, because we offer freedom, peace, and prosperity. When they come, they bring their own brains and then they sire brainy children. They buy homes here and spend their high salaries in our malls and supermarkets. They pay the same taxes (or even more) than we pay. They are building the intellectual capital of the United States of America. It's not so good for their home countries, but it's great for us.

Two more points, and then I really should call it a night:

(1) At a time when states like Oklahoma worry about a brain drain to places like Silicon Valley, talented foreign engineers help to fill the gap here in the heartland, as they're often happy just to be in the United States. Many find the slower pace and more conservative way of life here more like home and better for raising a family.

(2) Schlafly seems to think that engineering degree programs and computer programming courses automatically churn out the kind of engineers American companies need, and as long as Americans get that piece of paper they ought to be able to get a job. We do have to have a certain number of people who can do basic programming and simple engineering, but to stay ahead of the rest of the world we need people with agility of mind, with the ability to solve problems that haven't been solved before. That's a gift, a gift which can be refined and improved by education, but which can't be educated into existence. We can use all of those minds that we can find anywhere in the world.

Not one, not two, but three -- count them! -- three mandolins (amplified, of course), played by (from the audience's left) Johnny Gimble, Tiny Moore, and Jethro Burns, with Eldon Shamblin backing the trio on rhythm guitar (and Eldon probably wrote the arrangement).

Yeah, I'll get back to local politics at some point. I have an early deadline for UTW this week, because of Christmas, so substantive blogging will have to wait.

Found via swingfiddler's MySpace page -- he has a bunch of videos of swingin' strings, including some rare footage of Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club of France.

UPDATE: Someone took down the video, doggone it. If someone finds it on the web, please let me know -- email blog at batesline dot com.

O Sapientia

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The first of seven ancient antiphons, each used at vesper prayers in the seven days leading up to Christmas, each invoking Jesus with a different name and inviting meditation on a different attribute of His nature:

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter, suaviter disponensque omnia; veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

O Wisdom which camest out of the mouth of the most high, reaching from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things; come and shew us the way of understanding.

(Latin text found at Dappled Things, translation found at the website of St Peter's, Nottingham.)

The blog Godzdogz has more about the history and meaning of the Great Antiphons of Advent and will be posting a video clip each day of the antiphon being chanted over video of the music for the antiphon in Gregorian notation. Here is the video for O Sapientia.

Earlier this summer, the Branson, Missouri, Convention and Vistors Bureau asked about a dozen members of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas (AORBS) to spend a weekend in Branson. They were filmed riding roller coasters at Silver Dollar City and clowning on stage at a number of Branson's theatres. The result is a three-minute promo set to a Beach Boys-like tune.

My dad, who went to his first AORBS convention in Branson earlier in the year, was part of the group brought back for the video. In the video, he's the Santa in the red ballcap and red shirt. (You can see him at the left end of the chorus line at about 1:49, and in the back row on the right when all the Santas call out "Merry Christmas" at the end.)

santadad.JPG This is Dad's second season as a Real Bearded Santa, and he's having a great time. He spent three weekends at Philbrook's Festival of Trees. Here's a proof sheet from his first Saturday there, on the website of photographer Ian B. Danziger. A visit with Santa can be intimidating for little kids, and Dad says that Ian is great at getting kids to relax and smile for the camera. (Dad does a pretty good job of putting kids at ease, himself.)

If you need a right jolly old elf to grace your Tulsa-area Christmas event, give David Bates a call at 230-6258 or e-mail him at bateswd@yahoo.com. He's already starting to field inquiries for the 2007 Christmas season.

UPDATE 11/08/2007: Santa David Bates now has his own website at www.santatulsa.com.

There's a new Roemerman!

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... and it's a boy! Click the link to see pictures and to add your congratulations to Steve and family.

Found in an online bio of Johnnie Lee Wills, the Tulsa-based Western Swing bandleader:

In 1950, recording on Bullet, he achieved Top 10 US country and pop chart success with "Rag Mop" (a number he co-wrote with Deacon Anderson that was also a pop hit for the Ames Brothers) and a country number 7 with "Peter Cottontail". He also made further recordings for Decca, MGM and RCA-Victor, as well as over 200 15-minute transcription discs for use on KVOO Tulsa and other stations.

So the question is: Who has those 200 transcription discs, and how do we get that music back into circulation?

A few years ago, someone posted a couple dozen transcriptions of Johnnie Lee Wills on a Usenet news group in MP3 format. According to the file names, these came from 1950-1951. Each file is about 12 minutes long -- with local commercials, it would fill a 15-minute time slot.

Here (in MP3 format, about 1 MB) is a set of promos for use by radio stations prior to the premiere of the broadcast. If there's interest, I'll see if I can find a way to post these somewhere.

I've added a new category, Western Swing, so now you can find everything I've posted on the subject in one convenient place.

Hear the angels sing

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Tonight, December 16, at 7:30, the Tulsa Boy Singers will be performing a Christmas concert at Trinity Episcopal Church, 5th & Cincinnati in downtown Tulsa. (Because of construction at the church, it's easiest to use the western entrance on Cincinnati.)

This is their second performance. I attended last night, and it was a beautiful performance, a mix of sacred and secular classics of the season. Here's the program (the links will take you to lyrics):

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree, Elizabeth Poston
Resonemus Laudibus, arranged by David Willcocks
Confirma hoc Deus, Jacob Handl
Ave Maria, Franz Biebl
Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in C, Charles V. Stanford
Torches, John Joubert
Carols, arranged by David Willcocks (O Come, All Ye Faithful, The First Nowell, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing)

Masters in This Hall, arranged by David Willcocks
Ave Maria, Franz Schubert
What Sweeter Music, Michael Fink
Carol of the Bells, Mykola Leontovich
Midwinter, Bob Chilcott
Winter Wonderland, arranged by Roger Emerson
Twelve Days of Christmas, arranged by John Rutter
Sleigh Ride, arranged by Hawley Ades

"Jesus Christ the Apple Tree," is a beautiful, simple a capella folk tune that opens the concert as the boys process from the back of Trinity's Gothic Revival sanctuary.

The older boys -- altos, tenors, and basses -- beautifully rendered the lush harmonies of Biebl's "Ave Maria." (Here's an excerpt performed by the Western Illinois University Singers.)

My favorite piece may have been "Midwinter," a pretty new setting of Christina Rossetti's "In the Bleak Midwinter":

Our God, heaven cannot hold him
nor earth sustain;
heaven and earth shall flee away
when he comes to reign:
in the bleak midwinter
a stable place sufficed
the Lord God incarnate,
Jesus Christ.

What can I give him,
poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb;
if I were a wise man,
I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him
give my heart.

The audience is invited to sing along on three carols at the end of the first part of the program, and again in the second half on "Winter Wonderland."

Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted and will help fund their planned Summer 2007 performance tour of Britain. A reception with savory and sweet treats follows the concert.

World Magazine is starting a series of profiles of potential presidential candidates and first up is Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas. World editor Marvin Olasky recently spent the night in Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana with Brownback.

Brownback was on my list of possibles, but I think he just dropped off. He appears to be mushy on Iraq, on the death penalty, on illegal immigration. He may have been trying to come across as thoughtful, but he came across as muddle-headed instead. He's even muddled on theology -- he converted from evangelicalism to Roman Catholicism, but he still attends an evangelical church with the rest of his family, who apparently did not join him in his conversion.

We don't need a firebreather as the Republican nominee, but we do need someone who isn't blown to and fro by every breeze.

Paul Harvey: "I Am Amway"

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The 365 Days Project was offline for a time, but it's back, for good, evidently. For every day of 2003, a new piece of rare and usually strange audio was posted, in MP3 format -- covers of famous songs by unknown singers, promotional discs, kiddie records. Some music, some spoken word.

The June 27 entry is from a three-disc set of speeches from the 1968 Amway convention. It's Paul Harvey in his prime. Here's the link with all the entries for the last half of June; you'll have to scroll down to find it. (If you keep going, you'll find some early Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and a song by Thurl Ravenscroft.)

As an aside: Many thanks to MeeCiteeWurkor! Not only did he tip me to problems with the way the main BatesLine page was displaying on certain browsers, he came up with a fix for the problems. If this page is displaying strangely or you have a suggestion for improvement, don't hesitate to e-mail me at blog at batesline dot com.

Here's a funny little film by Matt Leach and Earnest Pettie, filmed right here in Tulsa, about the prejudice suffered by "A Man with a Moustache". (Note: This would probably be rated PG for a couple of mild vulgarities.)

(UPDATE: I moved the video after the jump. That close-up of the mustache was CREEPING ME OUT.)

Mosque of peace?

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This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly is about Jamal Miftah and his treatment by leaders of the Islamic Society of Tulsa's al-Salam ("Peace") mosque over his guest editorial in the October 29 Tulsa World. (Here's a link to the text of his op-ed.)

The same issue has another letter from Miftah, in which he makes the case from the Qu'ran that the Holy Land belongs to the Jews, and that means that Palestinian attacks on Israel cannot be justified as jihad. (It's on a page with the rest of the letters, so scroll down once you click to it.)

In the story I link to eteraz.org, a blog and web community for progressive Muslim activism. Ali Eteraz interviewed Jamal Miftah and has written several more articles about the situation. Another site of interest is the Free Muslims Coalition:

The Free Muslims Coalition is a nonprofit organization made up of American Muslims and Arabs of all backgrounds who feel that religious violence and terrorism have not been fully rejected by the Muslim community in the post 9-11 era.

The Free Muslims was created to eliminate broad base support for Islamic extremism and terrorism and to strengthen secular democratic institutions in the Middle East and the Muslim World by supporting Islamic reformation efforts.

The Free Muslims promotes a modern secular interpretation of Islam which is peace-loving, democracy-loving and compatible with other faiths and beliefs. The Free Muslims' efforts are unique; it is the only mainstream American-Muslim organization willing to attack extremism and terrorism unambiguously. Unfortunately most other Muslim leaders believe that in terrorist organizations, the end justifies the means.

Here's an interesting piece from their blog about the two faces of Saudi Arabia -- is it friend or foe to the West?

So is the Saudi Arabian government a friend of the United States or does Saudi Arabia propagate hate and intolerance among American Muslims and Muslims world wide? The answer to both of these questions is yes. The Saudi Arabian government is a great friend to the United States and at the same time many in Saudi Arabia, including some who receive government funding propagate hate and intolerance against anyone who does not share their Wahabi inspired ideology. The answers to both these questions may seem inconsistent and counter intuitive but these seemingly inconsistent answers reflect the complexity of modern day Saudi Arabia.

By now everyone has heard of the historic compact between the Saudi Royal Family and the fanatical Wahabi religious establishment. According to this agreement, the Saudi Royal family deals exclusively with matters of state while the Wahabi religious establishment deals with issues of morality which includes substantial control over the education system and the substantive interpretation of Islam. It is this division of power that produces the two faces of Saudi Arabia.

As long as my column is this week, I've got much more material that I didn't use, particularly from my interview with Jamal Miftah, and I have more research to do on Saudi funding of Islamic organizations in the West. I hope to get this material out here on BatesLine or in UTW.

Steve Patterson of Urban Review STL has an analysis of a plan for redoing three blocks of Euclid Avenue in St. Louis -- paving, lighting, streetscaping -- the same sort of treatment we've seen here in Tulsa along Brookside, Main Street, and in the Blue Dome District. Steve's article is full of brilliant insights about the gap between what actually makes a street lively and what cities tend to spend a lot of money on.

(UPDATE: Here's a link to a Google map of the target area. It extends one block north and two blocks south of the green arrow, from Lindell on the north to Forest Park Blvd. on the south.)

Steve attended a public meeting about the plan, and he heard one commenter suggest eliminating on-street parking altogether. Steve says that would kill the street:

“But how would eliminating parking kill the street,” you ask? Simple, we do not have the density required to keep the sidewalks busy at all times. Sure, we have a number of pedestrians now that make the street look lively but take away the cars and those same number of pedestrians now looks pathetic. We’d need considerably more pedestrians on the sidewalks to make up for the loss of perceived activity contributed by the parked cars. You might argue that removing parked cars from the street would increase pedestrian traffic but such a cause-effect is only wishful thinking. Density is what increases pedestrian traffic, not the absense of parked cars. Without parked cars the street would look vacant and as it looked vacant you’d have less and less pedestrians because they would not feel as safe on the street. Eventually we’d see less stores as a result. The street would die a slow death. On-street parking can only be eliminated in very special circumstances and none of those exist, or are likely to ever exist, in the St. Louis region. We all need to accept on-street parking as part of the activity of the street.

He also mentions that a row of parked cars provides a buffer between pedestrians and traffic, and it has a traffic-calming effect.

The proposed re-do of these three blocks is expected to cost $600,000 to $1,000,000 per block. That doesn't include $400,000 in design fees! Steve writes:

City streetscapes do not need to be fancy. They need good paving, concrete is a perfectly fine material. They need to be lined with good-sized street trees (spend a bit more on bigger trees). Streets need attractive and quality lighting, nothing too fancy or garish. In short, streets need to just be streets. Zoning, signing and things like opening windows to restaurants are the factors that make for an exciting street.

So why do designers focus on the fancy?

You see the design community has the nagging problem, the portfolio. The portfolio or gallery is where they show off their projects to their peers and prospective clients. It takes the really flashy stuff to show up well in photographs. A well-designed streetscape (or building) that is reasonable conventional but part of a dynamic urban context will look far too boring in a designer’s portfolio. Often they want projects that look exciting when empty, hard to accomplish unless you go all out.

I've heard complaints that the same sort of thing is happening in Tulsa. The reopening of Main Street left far too few on street parking spaces. The lighting in front of Cain's Ballroom is too bright (those horrid "acorn" fixtures) and at a height that blocks the facades of Cain's, Bob's and the Sound Pony from the view of passing cars. Worse still, the light fixtures actually obscure part of the Cain's neon sign.

In Brookside, the curb bumpouts eliminated some valuable street parking spaces for businesses like Shades of Brown and Brookside Lao-Thai. Overly-fancy streetscaping means that we don't have the funding to revert downtown streets to two-way as quickly as if we used basic but good street treatments.

I hope every Tulsa planner and the laypeople who sit on design task forces will read all that Steve Patterson has to say.

MORE: Steve has also posted a critique of new suburban sidewalks. Very pretty, but do they actually make the street walkable? Would you feel safe walking on them?

Barely worth flying

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I went to Arlington, Texas, today for what turned out to be two hours' worth of meetings. It was a thirteen-hour trip all told.

Anytime I have to go to the DFW Metroplex, I consider whether it's going to be faster to fly or drive. Sure, it's only a 45 minute flight from TUL to DFW or DAL, but for an accurate comparison, you have to include the drive to the airport, parking at Fine, shuttle to the terminal, early arrival for check-in and security, waiting for baggage, waiting for the rental car shuttle, waiting to pick up the rental car, and then the travel time to the final destination. Then there's the flight schedule -- unlike a personal car, you can't leave on a commercial flight anytime you want.

Today it took me four hours to get from my son's school in south Tulsa to my destination in Arlington. I only arrived an hour before my flight. If I had obeyed the instructions on my boarding pass, I would have been there three hours in advance. The biggest delay was having to go to DFW's remote terminal parking.

It took me four and a half hours to get home, from the time I started out for the airport until the time I pulled into my driveway. Because I didn't know when the meetings would end, I booked a 7:30 flight to give me plenty of time to get to DFW and get through all the pre-flight nonsense. If I had left for Tulsa as soon as my meeting was over, I would have been home an hour earlier than I was.

This was a day trip, so I saved a half-hour each direction by not checking a bag. Originally, I was supposed to be picked up and dropped off, which would have tipped the scales overwhelmingly in favor of flying -- two hours saved not dealing with a rental car.

I haven't even added in the hassle factor of flying, and the pleasure of being able to turn off the Interstate, travel the old road for a few miles, and stop at a small town cafe.

Arlington is one of the few places in the Metroplex where flying is almost always quicker than driving, because of its propinquity to DFW and the lack of a sufficiently direct route from the north. No matter which way you go to Arlington, you have to go through half the Metroplex to get there. It's definitely quicker to drive to Plano than to fly and drive, since its on the side of the Metroplex closest to Tulsa. But it's almost as fast to drive to Ft. Worth, even though it's farther, because it's interstate all the way -- higher speed limits and no need to slow down for Stringtown.

The building where the meeting was has a good view of Six Flags over Texas. I told someone that it was strange to see the place in the grownup context of a business meeting, when I remember going there as a kid 37 years ago. The "skyline" of Six Flags has changed -- lots of roller coasters and drop rides -- but the big orange derrick is still there, albeit without the giant slide that I remember from '69 and '73. (Here's a collection of Six Flags maps from the past, plus a map of Seven Seas, the marine wildlife theme park that was where the Wyndham Hotel is now. We went to Seven Seas on our '73 trip.)

There were cranes in the air -- the new Cowboys stadium is going up, near Collins and Randol Mill Road -- being built by Manhattan Construction. I would love to see some aerial photos of the Six Flags / Arlington Stadium / Ballpark at Arlington area and how it evolved over the last forty-five years, since Six Flags' debut in 1961.

I will stop my rambling there. I'm on 1170 KFAQ tomorrow from 6 to 7 as usual.

Tyson Wynn linked to this video of Asleep at the Wheel performing Cindy Walker's "Cherokee Maiden" from the "Ride with Bob" album. The video has glimpses of each of the guest artists who perform other songs on the album. (I didn't spot Don Walser -- the Pavarotti of the Plains -- but he must have been in there.)

Tyson pointed out that the drummer (Dave Sanger) is wearing a KVOO Radio Ranch t-shirt, KVOO ("The Voice of Oklahoma") being the radio station that was the first home base for Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. (KVOO is still around as an FM station at 98.5, but the old frequency of 1170 kc belongs to KFAQ, just across the hallway, whose airwaves I modulate every Tuesday morning at 6 a.m.)

I think the result would have been different if they'd asked how to pronounce Hahvahd, Cuber, Dwochestah, Wistah, and Cahtawk.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Boston
 

You definitely have a Boston accent, even if you think you don't. Of course, that doesn't mean you are from the Boston area, you may also be from New Hampshire or Maine.

The Midland
 
The West
 
North Central
 
The Northeast
 
Philadelphia
 
The South
 
The Inland North
 
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Via Don (or is that Dawn?) Danz.

My intro to Bostonian speech was this little article in HoToGAMIT (How to Get Around MIT) -- there have been a few additions in the succeeding quarter-century since I matriculated.

Jamal Miftah was on Fox News talking about the confrontation at the Islamic Society of Tulsa over his op-ed condemning terror in the name of Islam. Ms. Underestimated has video.

In the video Miftah makes it clear that it was not some back-pew parishoner who confronted him in the prayer hall, but it was Ahmed Kabbani, the imam of the mosque. And it was the head of the operating council of the mosque, Houssam Elsoueissi, who confronted him in the hallway. Both called him "anti-Islamic" for what he wrote in the article, and he regards that an implied death threat, as it is considered a meritorious act to kill an apostate Muslim.

A little over a week ago, Ali Eteraz of the progressive Muslim online community Eteraz.org interviewed Tulsan Jamal Miftah about the anti-terrorist column he wrote and the backlash he experienced.

Eteraz published a follow-up after the Tulsa World's story last Friday, December 1, including Miftah's response to the story (also published here at BatesLine). In the conclusion, Eteraz urges his readers to urge two national organizations to get involved -- the Islamic Society of North America and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Then, last Saturday, Eteraz defended Miftah on the point of his op-ed which seems to have generated the most controversy:

Even mosques and Islamic institutions in the U.S. and around the world have become tools in [terrorists'] hands and are used for collecting funds for their criminal acts. Half of the funds collected go into the pockets of their local agents and the rest are sent to these thugs.

Noting the complaint of the Islamic Center of Tulsa that Miftah has accused IST of being such a mosque, Eteraz writes:

The thing is, Miftah didn't say what the IST is saying he did. He didn't say "American mosques support terrorists." He said "even" American mosques have been subverted in the past. Just because the IST does not know of any that have been so subverted does not mean that Miftah becomes wrong. He is right to call them liars.

It's an interesting perspective, and interesting, too, to read the comments.
Since it's a month old, Miftah's op-ed has passed into the Whirled's archives, but I found the complete text here.

UPDATE: Eteraz has posted some further thoughts, seeing some lessons for Muslim reformists, and he also posted an e-mail from Miftah:

Think about forming an Alliance of like-minded Muslims, and let's begin our Jihad (struggle) against such rogue leadership of the so called Islamic institutions, who, in the name of Islam, are misguiding the ordinary simple Muslims and continuously causing a bad name for our pious religion.

In Miftah's e-mail, there's an interesting comment about forgiveness which stands in contrast to Christianity: Jesus taught, in Matthew 6 in connection with His model prayer, that God's forgiveness of us is dependent on our forgiveness of those who have wronged us. In Islam, divine forgiveness for a transgression against someone is dependent on the forgiveness of the victim of the transgression. In other words, if I steal from you, I must gain your forgiveness before God can forgive me.

I met Jamal Miftah a couple of days ago, and we spoke at length. It was very interesting, and some of the thoughts he expressed to me about the nature of his faith are reflected in the e-mail that Eteraz has published.

Too tired to blog tonight, because I was up early this morning for my weekly update on 1170 KFAQ. Here's a link to the podcast of the 6-7 hour this morning. (And here's a link to the archive of podcasts.)

Anna Falling from Cornerstone Assistance Network was in studio to talk about Turkeys for Tulsans. For $15 you can provide a turkey Christmas dinner for a needy family. Click here to donate or to learn more.

In our roundup of news here and elsewhere, we discussed suspended City Attorney Alan Jackere's plan to retire, Mayor Kathy Taylor's Sunday op-ed about "the Mighty Arkansas River," potential challengers to Sen. Jim Inhofe in 2008, and Barack Obama's chances for President against Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Congratulations to a couple of long-distance blogpals whom I've met in real life and who are getting some well-deserved recognition:

Steve Patterson writes the excellent Urban Review STL, which covers local politics and urban planning in and around St. Louis. In the December issue of St. Louis magazine, he made their list of "50 Most Powerful in 2006." Here's what they had to say about Steve:

He’s the Jedi master of sunshine laws, the seeker of clandestine city meetings, the guy who can suss out the minutiae of St. Louis politics and explain it in a way anyone can understand. Some call him strong medicine: Jennifer Florida described him to us earlier this year as a “zealot,” and the RFT just crowned him Best Gadfly. But his knack for digging up information that makes those in power squirm—for example, a site plan for the proposed South Grand McDonald’s that Florida claimed did not exist—has been throwing a wrench into local machine politics.

NYC radio talk show host and syndicated columnist Kevin McCullough had the thrill of hearing his latest column, "Why it will be 'President Obama' in 2009," read by Rush Limbaugh today on the flagship program of conservative talk radio. You can read Kevin's reaction and find a link to audio of Rush's comments here. In his column, Kevin lists five political trends and shows how Obama fits each one. Note the last one in particular: "gullible evangelicals."

An e-mail this morning from Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor:

Dear City of Tulsa employees,

I am writing to keep you informed of recent actions regarding the City's legal department. City Attorney Alan Jackere has decided to retire effective January 2nd, 2007 and has agreed to remain with the City's legal department through the end of the year. Alan has worked for this city for 32 years and I sincerely appreciate his long service to Tulsa.

I will begin the process of searching for a permanent successor immediately. As you may know, this is a civil service position and, as has been the long-standing practice, internal candidates will be given the first opportunity to apply and be considered for the position.

To supervise the Legal Department and assist in a transition until a successor is hired, Judge Deirdre Dexter will serve as acting interim City Attorney beginning immediately.

I hope you will all join me as we all wish Alan well in his future endeavors. As is true of so many of you, Alan has been a dedicated veteran of public service to our City. He deserves our thanks and appreciation for his work.

Thank you for all you do.

Sincerely,

Kathy Taylor
Mayor

Interesting -- thanks and appreciation to someone she suspended? And what of Larry Simmons, the deputy City Attorney who was also suspended.

Deirdre Dexter is a pleasantly surprising choice to serve in the interim. I endorsed her in the runoff for District Judge Office 10 (won by Mary Fitzgerald).

You'll note that City Attorney is a civil service position. As important as the job is -- one of the few non-elected offices whose duties are specified in the City Charter -- the appointment ought to be handled like the U. S. Attorney General, nominated by the executive and confirmed by the legislative branch (the City Council).

Just when you thought elections were over.... The filing period for Oklahoma K-12 school boards and vo-tech school boards runs from Monday, December 4, through Wednesday, December 6. School board seats in Oklahoma run for three, four, or five years, depending on the size of the district, with different seats coming up for election each year.

Here's the official press release from the Tulsa County Election Board (with the list of offices reformatted for the web):

Candidates for the Board of Education in 15 Tulsa County School Districts will file Declarations of Candidacy beginning at 8 a.m. Monday, December 4. Gene Pace, Secretary of the Tulsa County Election Board, said the filing period will end at 5 p.m. Wednesday, December 6.

Candidates for the Board of Education in Tulsa Technology Center District No. 18 also will file their Declarations of Candidacy during this same time period.

Board of Education positions at stake will be filled at the Annual School Election scheduled February 13, 2007. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the total votes cast in this election, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes will meet in a second election on Tuesday, April 3.

Offices for which Declarations of Candidacy will be accepted at the Tulsa County Election Board office include the following:

ISD-1Tulsa DistrictElection District 14 yr term
ISD-2Sand Springs DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-3Broken Arrow DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-4Bixby DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-5Jenks DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-6Collinsville DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-7Skiatook DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-8Sperry DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-9Union DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-10Berryhill DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-11Owasso DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-13Glenpool DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-14Liberty DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
C-15Keystone Elementary DistrictOffice No. 23 yr term
C-18Leonard Elementary DistrictOffice No. 23 yr term
Tulsa Technology Center District No.18Zone 67 yr term
- 30 -

Gary Percefull is the incumbent board member for Tulsa District 1. According to the school board's website, "schools in Mr. Percefull's election district include Addams, Chouteau, Emerson, Eugene Field, Lee, Park, Remington, Robertson, Roosevelt and Mark Twain elementary schools; Clinton and Madison middle schools; and Central and Webster high schools." That's Tulsa west of the river and west of downtown, plus downtown, Brady Heights, and the area between 11th and 21st, Utica and the Arkansas River. (Here's a PDF map showing the election district boundaries.)

Percefull was elected to an open seat in 2003, defeating Loyce Manning by 930 to 310 votes. Think about that -- if you're a credible candidate and run an organized campaign, it doesn't take much to win.

In 2005, turnout in Election District 2 was only 723 of the 17,884 registered voters -- 4 percent. Also in 2005, Election District 3 drew 887 voters in the primary for an open seat, and 2,106 in the April runoff.

The participation is a little better in the suburbs, but not by much. In 2005, a highly publicized Union School Board open-seat race drew 1,131 voters in the primary and less than 1,600 runoff voters.

(Notice that the Tulsa Whirled never questions the legitimacy of school board elections, even though the turnout is many times smaller than that for a similarly-sized City Council district?)

School board elections are governed by 70 O. S. 5-107A.

Local political activists Gregory and Susan Hill keep close track of elections, and they say that "in 2006, 17 school board elections were scheduled [in Tulsa County], but only 5 elections actually were conducted.... In 2005, 17 elections were scheduled, but only 7 elections actually were conducted." The other elections didn't happen because only one candidate filed.

Some might say these elections don't draw candidates because residents are content with the public school system. I think it's more likely that the filing period catches potential candidates by surprise, coming as it does during the busy run-up to Christmas.

We need to take school board elections as seriously as races for City Council or state legislature. In particular, the Tulsa board needs at least one member who is a staunch supporter of charter schools. Right now, Tulsa has only three charter schools -- one elementary, one middle, and one high school -- and the current board is hostile to allowing any more to open. Oklahoma City has more than 10. Charter schools make educational choice accessible to families who cannot afford private school tuition. Tulsa also needs board members who see their role as accountability, not cheerleading for the administration.

Wherever you live in Oklahoma, find out who your school board member is and think about whether you or someone you know could do a better job than the incumbent. If you're a reformer who decides to run, there are plenty of knowledgable and experienced campaign volunteers who would be glad to help you.

A review of Radio Days

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I just received a CD called Radio Days by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. The CD was issued in 2005 by Tomato Records. I was excited when I first spotted this online because this appeared to be a radio broadcast of the Texas Playboys, complete with the opening and closing themes. While the CD is not exactly what I expected, it's still well worth having for any fan of the Texas Playboys. Here's the review I just posted to amazon.com:

Like the Tiffany Transcriptions series, these tracks, recorded for or from radio, capture Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys at their loosest and swingingest, the way you might have heard them at a dance hall.

While this disc is set up to flow as if it were a single broadcast, in fact it's a combination of a transcription done around 1945 (tracks 1-15, 28-29) and a broadcast from 1953 (tracks 16-27). It's almost seamless, but Wills scholars will notice differences in the names that Bob calls out for solos.

The 1945 section features Tommy Duncan on vocals, Bob Wills, Louis Tierney, and Joe Holley on fiddle, Alex Brashear on trumpet, Millard Kelso on piano, and Junior Barnard on standard guitar, with announcer Ross Franklin. You'll get to hear Tommy Duncan sing the opening Playboys theme, as well as "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," "Empty Chair at the Table," "Take Me Back to Tulsa," and a duet with Bob on the blues call-and-response "I'm Talkin' about You." Les Anderson provides vocals on "Stardust." Nearly everyone takes a solo on instrumentals "Lone Star Rag" and "Liberty," including a couple of Junior Barnard's proto-rock'n'roll guitar solos. Junior is also featured on "I'm Talkin' about You" and "Take Me Back to Tulsa."

The 1953 tracks seem to have the same tracklist as an LP called "Rare 1953 California Radio Broadcasts Volume 2." Jack Lloyd and Bill Choate take the vocal duties, and you'll hear Skeeter Elkin on piano, Keith Coleman on fiddle, Billy Bowman on steel guitar, and Eldon Shamblin on standard guitar, with announcer Lou Stevens. There's mention between songs of the band playing dances at Harmony Park Ballroom in Anaheim and Bob doing a transcription for Armed Forces Radio with Carolina Cotton. "Tuxedo Junction" features some fine solos from Skeeter Elkin and Billy Bowman. Louise Rowe and Keith Coleman sing a duet on "Got You on My Mind."

Beyond the great music, the between-songs banter makes this a disc worth having just to get the sense of what it was like to tune in to the daily broadcasts.

It's that banter that sets this recording apart from the Tiffany Transcriptions. (Presumably, the original Tiffany Transcription discs included introductions and banter, but that hasn't been included on the compilations that Rhino issued.)

I still dream of hearing a radio broadcast from the band's heyday at KVOO in Tulsa, but I suspect those shows are only extant in the Celestial Archive.

Snowbound reading

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Thursday morning my car was too iced over to get the door open, so I took our garaged minivan to work. On Thursday night the 10-year-old and I had to dig out the driveway to get the minivan up the hill into the garage. We lit the gas fire, and I read Dickens' abridged version (the version he used for public readings) of A Christmas Carol.

This morning we had about nine inches of snow at our house on top of half an inch of ice. I stayed home and late morning we all got out into the snow. The wee one had his first encounter with the icy white stuff and was interested, but it did not induce his happy bounce. (The birds at the feeder did, however.) The two big kids went across the street to play with a neighbor kid. The six-year-old came home in tears -- she took a snowball in the face. A couple of good movies on TV -- The Polar Express and The Princess Bride -- were part of the day.

I remember a lot of ice storms in my childhood, and snowfalls of two to three inches. I don't recall the big dumps of snow -- six inches to a foot -- that happen at least a couple of times every winter nowadays.

I hope to catch up on some reading. Some of my fellow bloggers have been tracking some important stories in depth. Here are just a few:

At JunkYardBlog, SeeDubya has been covering the stories of the six imams who were removed from a US Airways flight after some worrisome behavior, the "realists" of the Iraq Study Group (actually defeatists who will lead us into disaster), the evidently fake Iraqi police captain who is a frequent source of information for the Associated Press -- heck, just start at the top and work your way down.

All right, one more, back a bit further -- the suicide bomber grandma gets immortalized with a parody of an Elmo and Patsy tune -- "Grandma detonated in a rage, dear"

Kevin McCullough has been all over bestselling author-pastor Rick Warren's decision to invite Sen. Barack Obama to address a global AIDS conference hosted by his Saddleback Church. McCullough detailed Obama's legislative record and religious views and cautioned Warren against giving Obama what amounts to an evangelical seal of approval. Today, Kevin reports that Obama said what he was expected to say:

In other words, Barack Obama views the people of the African continent as smart enough to change their behavior so as to apply microbicides and condoms before engaging in otherwise risky intercourse, yet he doesn't believe that the people of the African continent are smart enough to be presented with the fact that it is the risky sexual behavior that is endangering their lives. Nor does he trust them enough to be able to decide for themselves that they would rather LIVE than have sex.

And Kevin notes that while retailers generally saw post-Thanksgiving sales go up, Wal-Mart's numbers were down, perhaps due to the efforts of groups who are publicizing Wal-Mart's new ties to homosexual-rights groups.

Tom Gray has a couple of updates on the Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery of the PCUSA's legal efforts to seize to the property of Kirk of the Hills, which left the PCUSA earlier this year. Part of the PCUSA's strategy when evangelical congregations leave is to find a few disgruntled members of the congregation, declare that they are the "true church," and sue to give them control of the church property. In a similar situation in North Carolina, the PCUSA presbytery found a member who had moved to the west coast but whose name was still on the rolls. When he declared his opposition to the congregation's departure from the denomination, the prodigal member became one of the chosen remnant entitled, in the PCUSA's view, to the church property.

Lark News, a satirical evangelical news website, has posted its December issue. A couple of the articles awaiting you:

  • "Pastor tries inauthenticity": "'I don't see much benefit in everybody knowing everything about me,' says Bradley. 'Jesus' example is to be guarded and realistic about human nature. I feel good about reserving some of myself for me.'"
  • "C&E Christians gear up for holiday season": "But many C&E families who attend church on special days dread the inevitable wooing that follows. Last year Glen and Belinda McMurty of Bakersfield, Calif., 'did everything wrong' during an Easter visit to church. 'Normally we prepare, but this time we got lazy,' Glen says. 'We asked for directions to the nursery, borrowed a Bible and stood around looking confused. We should have just hung a sign around our necks that said "fresh meat."'"

You've heard of a Proverbs 31 woman? Last month Lark News introduced us to the Proverbs 31 man:

MINOT, N.D. — Jack Crocker, a beer-loving machinist and "part-time Christian," finally agreed to read Proverbs with wife Reanna. He's glad he did.

"I'm a Proverbs 31 husband all right," says Jack, then quotes Proverbs 31:6-7: "Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more."

"That's my permission to crack open a cold one," Jack says, having a Coors after dinner.

[Read the rest.]

MEANWHILE across the pond, there's a new movement in the Anglican church: Affirming Laudianism. Named in honor of the 17th century Archbishop of Canterbury who attempted to impose a high-church uniformity on both England and Scotland, the movement is not focused on doctrine "but is solely concerned with the externals of religion and including the ambitious." It is affiliated with the "Old Wine Skins" initiative, which believes "that vitality in Church life can co-exist with decadence and hypocrisy." (Found via Tom Gray, who must have been struck by parallels with the old wine skin from which Kirk of the Hills recently burst forth.)

At long last, the Tulsa World has printed a story about Jamal Miftah's expulsion from the Islamic Society of Tulsa's (IST) al-Salam mosque. You'll recall that it was an op-ed by Miftah that was published by the Whirled that triggered the situation. The story made local TV in Tulsa and Oklahoma City last Friday and immediately attracted attention around the blogosphere. I wrote about it here on Sunday, and the story was discussed on KFAQ Monday and Tuesday.

So it's curious timing: the Whirled seems to have waited until they had something to report that put IST in a positive light:

Local mosque lifts ban on outspoken member

By BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
12/1/2006

The governing board of Tulsa's Al-Salam mosque ruled Wednesday night that a Pakistani native who had been banned from the mosque can return.

Houssam Elsoueissi, president of the operating council at the mosque, said he would announce at Friday's service that Jamal Miftah is free to attend services as long as there is no disturbance, and that no one at the mosque should confront him.

Miftah was banned last week after a confrontation at the mosque over a guest commentary he wrote that appeared Oct. 29 in the Tulsa World.

Let's look at the timeline:

On Friday, November 24, KOTV reporter Omar Villafranca reported on the incident and Miftah's expulsion. Miftah describes how he was confronted and threatened at the mosque and says he had filed a police report about the confrontation.

Miftah says several Muslims told him he is no longer allowed at the mosque. He says leaders told him there is only one way he can come back to worship.

[Miftah:] "There are two members of the community who spoke to them [mosque leaders] and they have said, 'Well, he has to apologize. He has to take his article back, and that is the only way we can let him come back into mosque.'"

Villafranca concluded his story with this:

Now, I did speak with one of the leaders of the mosque and he has a different version of the story. He told me that Miftah was being loud in the prayer hall and that's why he was asked to leave. The leader also told me Miftah can come back to the mosque if he apologizes for being loud in the prayer hall. He also added that the apology does not have to be public. And, Terry, he also says that he does not have to apologize for that column.

(I have been unable to find the story on KOTV's website.)

Tag to the same story on Oklahoma City's KWTV (Here is a direct link to KWTV's Flash video and a backup link to YouTube):

And we spoke with one of the leaders of the mosque, he told us Miftah was being loud in the prayer hall and that is why he was asked to leave. He also said Miftah can come back to the mosque, if he apologizes.

So although Miftah and this unnamed mosque leader differ about why he had been asked to leave and what he has to do to be re-admitted, both agree that he was expelled and that there was a condition placed on his return.

On Wednesday, November 29, this message from Jim Mishler, executive director of Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry, was posted as a comment on an earlier entry. In the message, Mishler reported a conversation with Dr. Sandra Rana, whom Mishler identified as a member of the mosque's governing board. Note how the story has changed, and note how it conflicts with the Whirled's reporting.

She reports the following::
  • First, the blog is incorrect in its most important statements. The mosque did not "expell" the man and he has not been told he can return only following an apology for the article.The Shura has not taken any official position on the article nor on censuring its author. In addition, the Islamic Society of Tulsa has strict rules about and is very careful in who it gives money. Only organizations on the USA approved list are given contributions from IST.
  • Then, about the incident. The man was physically removed from the mosque's prayer center by the Tulsa Police Department after a discussion about the article became an argument which ended with the author cursing, threatening to hit someone and refusing to leave when requested. The building supervisor called the police at that time. A restraining order was filed but was ended after 2-3 days by request of the mosque's leadership. He can attend prayer services at the mosque without restriction as long as he acts in an appropriate manner during prayers.

(I posted a comment responding to this. In short -- Miftah believes that is the reason for his expulsion and the condition for his return, and he did not make any claim about IST's contributions.)

There's also a conflict between what Rana is reported as saying about a restraining order and what mosque council president Elsoueissi is quoted as saying in today's paper:

Elsoueissi said he talked to police about getting a restraining order against Miftah to prevent further incidents at Tulsa the mosque.

Did they get one and drop it, or did they just talk about getting one?

Miftah e-mailed me with this response to the reported comments of Dr. Rana:

As regards Dr. Sandra Rana's response or contradiction, I have to make the following submission: - I believe I have met Dr. Rana a couple of times in meetings of IST. - I feel sorry that Dr. Rana preferred to misrepresent facts or has been misinformed about the events of the night of November 18th, 2006, and made the conclusions without any fact finding. I am also surprised as to why she volunteered to provide clarification on financial matters relating to IST without being asked by Jim Mishler or challenged by me in my article. - She claims that the man was physically removed from mosque prayer center by Tulsa Police Department. It is too shallow a claim to comment on. I would just request you to please contact Tulsa Police Department and find out for yourself the name or names of police officers who escorted me out of the mosque.

- As regards my behaviour at the time of discussion or argument or claim that I was becoming violent, speaks of the truth it self. How can a man with my physique and age can dare to become violent against a group of 10 to 15 Arabs waving the boots at his face. I was rescued out of the mosque by a fellow Pakistani living in Tulsa for the last 40 years. Last but not the least, the incident occured inside the mosque hallway which remains under survellance camera 24/7. You may please request her for video of the incident and judge for yourself what was going on and how I was rescued out of the mosque.

- Also why was the restraining order filed in the first place and then withdrawn by mosque leadership, as per her claim, in 2 to 3 days?

- The fact is that after Isha congregation (the last prayer of the day) on November 20, 2006, two days after the incidence, my article was discussed in depth by mosque administration and the faithful were informed about decision by mosque leadership of banning me from mosque until such time that I agree to apologise in front of Friday's congregation (preferrably on November 24th, 2006). This decission was conveyed to me earlier on Sunday through Khan Muhammad Zareef, which was refused by me. I asked him to convey to mosque leadership that I intended to sue them for threats, intimidation, and expulsion from mosque and if they were courageous enough then they can come and say in front of judge and jury that I was expelled from mosque for being anti-Islamic and if they did that, then I will accept whatever they say including my submission to OBL [Osama Bin Laden].

I can go on and on on the subject, but to what point. You can not win from liars. I again feel sorry for Dr. Rana, she should have done some fact finding before levelling any allegations. I invite her to talk to Mohammad Zareef Khan, she knows the guy very well, and she knows that he never lies and once she ascertains the truth, then I am sure she would owe me and Jim Mishler an apology for misrepresenting the facts.


The IST leaders quoted in the Whirled story said their only disagreement with Miftah's op-ed was with this statement:

Even mosques and Islamic institutions in the U.S. and around the world have become tools in their hands and are used for collecting funds for their criminal acts. Half of the funds collected go into the pockets of their local agents and the rest are sent to these thugs.

Here's the section of the Whirled story reacting to that statement:

"We agree with most of his article, except the one statement that American mosques support terrorists.

"Our mosque does not, and I don't know of any that do," [mosque spokeswoman Sheryl Siddiqui] said.

Tulsan Mujeeb Cheema, executive director of North American Islamic Trust, said Miftah's views on bin Laden were "mainline views among American Muslims."

However, he said, "I was surprised that a person who has been in the U.S. for only three years, and not part of any national Muslim organization, would speak so confidently about Islamic institutions in the U.S."

Who is Mujeeb Cheema? As I outlined in an earlier entry, he is a leader in several prominent national Muslim organizations which are said to be a means of extending the influence and control of the extremist Wahhabi sect of Islam over the Islamic community in the United States. In 2004, Freedom House released a report about the hate-filled Wahhabist literature funded by the Saudi government which has become prevalent in American mosques. (Here is a link to a PDF of the full 95-page report.)

Earlier today, Jamal Miftah copied me on a reply he sent to the Tulsa Whirled in response to the claims made by IST leaders in the story. Here it is in full:

Dear Sir, I am perturbed and disappointed by the comments made in this publication of Tulsa World by Houssam Elsoueissi (Abu Waleed), president of the operating council of IST mosque, and Mr. Mujeeb Cheema, Executive Director of North American Islamic Trust. I will first take Mr. Houssam's comment.

While attempting to appear very generous for having agreed to make the following announcement on Friday services (that is today): "Mr. Jamal Miftah is free to attend services as long as there is no disturbance and that no one at mosque should confront him."

Is it a conditional permission?

From the tone of his language it appears that permission is conditional and that they have no remorse or regrets for the incident.

Is he implying that I was responsible for causing disturbance, if any, in the mosque, while confronted by ordinary Muslims in the mosque?

He is trying to create the impression that I was responsible for causing disturbance. So far as this allegation goes I was only responsible to the extent of writing the article which was published in Tulsa World on October 29, 2006. Any subsequent disturbance or excessive actions were initiated by Mr. Kabbani, Imam (leader) of the mosque, and Mr. Houssam Elsoueissi himself. The accused me of being traitor, anti-Muslim, and threaten me while inciting others to rise against me on the night of November 18, 2006.

I am also surprised why office bearers of IST are so defensive about channeling funds to illegitimate organizations by them. My article does not say anything to that effect by IST mosque in Tulsa, rather it was reference to the mosque in Brooklyn (Al-Farooq Mosque), New York, California, Albany, New York, Bridgeview, Illinois, Allentown, Pennsylvania, and one in Texas, and the result of investigation on the London bombing plot, leading its trails to funneling of earthquake donations collected in Britain to the terrorists involved. I have not yet made any allegation about IST on this count, yet some of their activities that I am aware of and have evidence certainly create doubts about legality of some of their activities.

Now to Mr. Mujeeb Cheema’s following assertion: “I was surprised that a person who has been in US for only three years and not part of any national Muslim Organization would speak so confidently about Islamic Institutions in US”.

Is he implying that for a Muslim, three years is too short a period to form an opinion and then in order for him to be confident, he has to be a member of national Muslim organizations to have knowledge of any illegal activities!

Mr. Cheema, I was not born three years ago. I have been a reader of the Times, Newsweek, and World Economist since 1980. There was, of course, a small break during 2003 and 2004, when I was in the process of settling in US. I am very well informed about what’s going on around the world and in the US, and especially with the internet revolution since 1990’s, events around the world are only a click away. The current state of affairs of the Muslims around the world is a result of the typical psychology of the leaders of so-called Muslim organizations where they are barred from expressing their views, as the leaders of such organizations for the fear of being exposed keep those voices suppressed by accusing them of being un-Islamic or Anti-Islamic when they speak or protest, and that’s what exactly happened during the shameful incident at IST’s mosque in Tulsa.

After going through the current ordeal, I feel and believe that the majority of the office bearers of IST that I have dealt or experienced are unfortunately liars, and I would prefer to boycott them and rather say my prayers on my own instead of saying it after a hypocrite like Mr. Ahmad Kabbani, the Imam of Tulsa mosque.

Thank you very much Mr. Houssam and Mr. Cheema!

I, however, thank Madam Sheryl Siddiqui from the depth of my heart for her honest efforts to diffuse the situation, but her efforts seem to have faded with the comments made by the others. She has also tried to communicate the wrong impression by relating my expulsion from the mosque by suggesting that it was as a result of disturbance. If at all any one was to be expelled from mosque for causing disturbance, then it should have been Mr. Ahmad Kabbani and Mr. Houssam and the group of 10 to 15 Arabs incited by them against me on the night of November 18th, 2006, and in all fairness not me.

More as it develops.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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