Yes, fear of contracting or spreading the Coronavirus is temporarily upsetting our familiar habits and assumptions. Those who took their safety or security for granted—most of the United States, for example—are faced with the greatest fear of our time—being alone with themselves and their thoughts. I am feeling almost guilty that I am enjoying not missing out, since there’s nothing going on to miss out on. You see, staying in and reading, writing my blog posts, reviewing my many news feeds…..uh oh, danger. What is overwhelmingly followed in the news feeds now? Coronavirus, Trump bad, Covid-19, Trump bad, China Wuhan virus, Trump racist, you racist, me racist….and on, never letting a perfectly good crisis go to waste.
As I was
saying writing, this is my normal lifestyle, except for FOMO, fear of missing out. I use my news feeds for inspiration to blog about rather than to incite outrage, fear, indignation and stoking other negative emotions. Before I get to some inspiring stuff, let me get one thing off my chest, and it isn’t a virus. Erik Erickson wrote this morning, “The other area of predictable press coverage is the defense of China. I think this is the thing that makes me the angriest. The press protecting Democrats is something they’ve been doing for years. But the press running interference for China is horrifying to see. An American press that treats the First Amendment as their exclusive right, should not be protecting and defending China.” Absolutely, the Chinese government, not the unfortunate populace under their boots, are manifestly guilty of suppressing information that could have slowed the spread of the Coronavirus, and enabled more effective measures against it. Axios reports that if China had acted just three weeks earlier to contain the virus rather than suppress information about it, “the number of coronavirus cases could have been reduced by 95 percent and its geographic spread limited.” The two countries with the highest death rates per capita (not per diagnosis)—Italy and Iran—got friendly with delegations from China at the wrong time.
Now I want to share some stuff I love which may be enriching for you. Blackmore’s Night: One of my favorite rock groups back in the 70’s was Deep Purple, especially their virtuoso guitarist Richie Blackmore. When the group broke up, as such endeavors always do (though thank God, the Moody Blues were still making great music until last year, though their two frontmen, Justin Hayward and John Lodge, are touring with their own bands), Blackmore went solo, formed a group called Rainbow. The music of Rainbow was similar to Deep Purple, but started to combine hard rock with “renaissance and medieval” styles. In 1997 Blackmore, with his girlfriend Candice Night as vocalist, formed the traditional folk rock duo Blackmore’s Night. From about 1995, they were already working on their debut album Shadow of the Moon, which I heartily recommend. Blackmore mostly used acoustic guitar to back Night’s delicate vocal melodies, which he wrote, but also mandolin and mandola (a mandola is to a mandolin as the cello is to violin). Night said, “When he sings, he sings only for me, in private”. The band’s musical style is inspired by medieval music and it blended with Night’s lyrics about love’s themes. You might be thinking, “hard rock and renaissance music? Are they daft?” It works, it’s beautiful. Try All the Fun of the Fayre. Rock on. If you have Spotify or Amazon or Apple Music, you can listen for free. Go ahead, expand your world. For you old fogeys like me, remember Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention? Candice Night sounds like her reincarnation. Sadly, Sandy Denny, once considered possibly the preeminent folk rock singer in the world, died at age 31.
Since I mentioned her, I must include a this epitaph: “In 1976 Fairport Convention came home from tour in a parlous financial state, and Sandy Denny left the band for a second time. Her drinking escalated, and her black moods got deeper. She began to make another solo record with her husband, Trevor Lucas, intent upon aiming at a more contemporary sound, but her voice was showing the strain, and often as not she would turn up to the studio late, if at all. Yet still she was capable of moments of wonder, such as on the haunted song No More Sad Refrains that would end up closing the album. Arriving as punk blew up, it vanished into an abyss and Island Records let go of her like yesterday’s news. At the beginning of 1977, Denny found out she was pregnant. She had often spoken to friends of wanting to have a child, but impending motherhood didn’t rein her in. Georgia Rose MacLean was born on July 12 ,1977, three months premature. She was kept in an incubator in hospital for two months, effectively to be detoxed. Denny was no more able to look after her baby when she at last took her home.
“At that point, I would see her sporadically and I was distressed when I did,” adds Richard Thompson, bandmate and virtuoso guitarist. “She was drinking more, doing more drugs, and I would have a really bad feeling that some potential tragic outcome was on the cards. Sandy was a mess. Her baby needed protecting. But even in a situation like that, people have to come to their own realization.” Denny managed one final tour of the UK that November. Attendances were erratic, and so were her performances. The following March she took Georgia to visit her parents at their holiday cottage in Cornwall. One afternoon, coming downstairs, she stumbled and fell, hitting her head on a stone floor. Afterwards she told friends that her mother had refused to take her to hospital, not wanting to be seen with a drunken daughter. She began to have debilitating headaches. She was prescribed a painkiller, Distalgesic, that when mixed with alcohol can have potentially fatal side effects. In the 40 years since Sandy Denny’s death, her recorded works have been reissued, remastered and re-evaluated. Today there is a more general awareness of her wonderful talent and the extent of her influence. In life she was unable to get out of the black pit she fell into; in death her light is undimmed. “No one came anywhere near Sandy. She was the best,” says bandmate Ashley Hutchings. “She just had that very special quality when she sang a beautiful song. It broke your heart.”
Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays: The band formed in Missouri, near the birthplace of Rush Limbaugh. With the release of his first album, Bright Size Life (1975), Pat reinvented the traditional “jazz guitar” sound for a new generation of players. Throughout his career, Pat Metheny has continued to re-define the genre by utilizing new technology and constantly working to evolve the improvisational and sonic potential of his instrument. METHENY’S versatility is almost nearly without peer on any instrument. Its one thing to attain popularity as a musician, but it is another to receive the kind of acclaim Metheny has garnered from critics and peers. Over the years, Metheny has won countless polls as “Best Jazz Guitarist” and awards, including three gold records. He has also won 20 Grammy Awards in 12 different categories including Best Rock Instrumental, Best Contemporary Jazz Recording, Best Jazz Instrumental Solo, Best Instrumental Composition. The Pat Metheny Group won an unprecedented seven consecutive Grammies for seven consecutive albums. Metheny has spent most of his life on tour, averaging between 120-240 shows a year since 1974. His keyboardist Lyle Mays was the perfect complement to Metheny. Sadly, Lyle died in February of this year. Their friendship spanned over 50 years. If you aren’t familiar with their collaboration, I want to recommend the following titles: Cross The Heartland, The Fields The Sky, New Chautauqua, Ozark, Straight On Red, The Search. That will get you started.
No one needs a $3 million+ hypercar. They typically go very fast, look very swoopy, no doubt hasten the demise of the glaciers and the flooding of the earth by at least a year or two, unless you accept the demise schedule of climate change fanatics, in which case just the hypercars in Jay Leno’s garage hasten it by a week or two. In any case, “what’s a hypercar, how does it differ from a super car?” The term “hypercar,” was coined to qualify the top 1% of supercars. All hypercars are supercars, but not all supercars are hypercars, and while the qualifiers that allow a car to be elevated out of supercar territory and into the hypercar pantheon aren’t obvious, it’s clear with a few examples. The Ferrari 458 is a fantastic supercar, but it does not match the technological marvel of the 1,500 horsepower Bugatti Chiron hypercar. The McLaren P1, Ferrari La Ferrari, Pagani Huayra, Porsche 918: all near 1,000 horsepower, with first-class new-age technology, million-dollar price tags, stunning design and performance rivaled only by each other. Almost every aspect of each car is an advancement in automotive technology and puts them high atop the motoring totem pole. Hypercars are the stick against which all cars are meant to be measured, and not a single compromise can be made.
Then there’s the Koenigsegg Gemera. At “only” $1.7 million, it’s a bargain among hypercars, yet is probably the most technologically advanced vehicle ever made. The Koenigsegg website calls it a new category of car, the mega-GT, and only 300 will be offered. From the website: The Gemera’s 2-liter 3-cylinder dry sumped twin-turbo Freevalve engine, named the Tiny Friendly Giant (or TFG for short) adds another 450 kW or 600 bhp. The TFG is a progressive outlook on the powertrains of tomorrow. The TFG offers a lighter, more efficient cradle-to-grave solution compared to any combustion engine before it. Combined with electrification, the Gemera can be argued to be cleaner than a long-range EV, by using next-generation combustion technology designed for next-generation renewable liquid fuels, together with a small battery plug-in electrification. The Gemera, if plugged in and filled with Gen 2.0 ethanol or CO2 neutral methanol like Vulcanol or any mix thereof, becomes at least as CO2 neutral as a pure electric car. Before these second-generation renewable fuel sources are more accessible, the Gemera can also be driven on E85 and in worst case normal petrol. Let’s see, goes very fast, is ultra safe, seats 4 adults in luxurious comfort, uses renewable fuels, can be non or minimally polluting while leaving your Prius or Leaf fading in your mirrors like a pin-pricked balloon, eye-wateringly beautiful design, my tongue is dragging on the ground….but I won’t have the $1.7 million before the run of 300 is gone.
I can dream of tooling down the interstate in my Gemera while grooving to Pat Metheny….or to the hardest hard rock guitarist like Ritchie Blackmore playing renaissance rock on mandola! Ain’t this world something? As Rush Limbaugh says, “it’s a beautiful thing!” It will still be beautiful when the pandemic is over.