Willie Nelson, Children, Selma 1965, Solitary Confinement , Billie Holiday

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Watching Willie’s Back

Joe Nick Patoski | Oxford American | 13th January 2015

Profile of "the Devil himself", Robert Paul English, drummer and hard-man to Willie Nelson for 50 years. "With Paul there is always, always — to this very day — the veiled threat of violence bubbling under the surface". By his own account English was a hoodlum and a pimp before joining Nelson's band. "If you’re writing songs about shooting people, it’s nice to have a guy who’s shot people up there onstage with you" (6,900 words)

Children Are Special, But Not Particularly Important

Thomas Rodham Wells | 3quarks Daily | 19th January 2015

"A peculiarity of the moral priority we grant to the neediness of children is that we do not apply it to equally needy adults, most obviously those whose mental and physical faculties decline in old age. We place a special value on children because of their blankness, the fact that they have not thought or done anything interesting or important yet. As children grow up and become more like people, they become less valuable" (1,350 words)

Selma: The Charms Of Goodness

Elizabeth Hardwick | New York Review Of Books | 22nd April 1965

Letter from Selma, 1965. "The demonstrations are an embarrassment of love and brotherhood and hymns and prayers offered up in Jesus’ name and evening services after that. The political genius of the Reverend Martin Luther King is, by any theory, quite unexpected. The nature of his protest, the quality and extent of his success, sprang from a soil of religion and practicality most thinkers had thought to be barren" (1,720 words)

The Horrors Of Solitary Confinement

Ted Conover | Vanity Fair | 16th January 2015

Guantánamo Bay prisoners have no prospect of trial or tribunal. Their sentences are open-ended. But it gets worse: Many are held in solitary confinement, "a difficult condition under the best of circumstances, and psychologically excruciating when no concluding point is specified. Two centuries ago, America was a pioneer in the use of punitive isolation. Now it is pioneering a refinement: the use of solitary without end" (4,500 words)

The Hunting Of Billy Holiday

Johann Hari | Politico | 17th January 2015

Jazz musicians “reek of filth”, said Harry Anslinger, who headed the US Bureau of Narcotics for three decades from 1930. He longed to ruin them all; his prime target was the great jazz and blues singer Billie Holiday, who offended him further by being a woman, courageous, and black. His agents hauled Holiday twice through the courts, jailed her, ruined her career, and arrested her one last time on her deathbed. She was 44 (4,350 words)

Video of the day: Billie Holiday — Strange Fruit

What to expect: Billie Holiday performs "Strange Fruit" in 1959, the year of her death (2'33")

Thought for the day

Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get
Robert Heinlein

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