Friday, April 15, 2011

Phlashback: Government Bailouts Inspired Taxed Enough Already (T.E.A.) Revolt

CNBC's Rick Santilli on February 19, 2009

Daniel Hannan's March 26, 2009 European Parliment speech

Mark Levin's Liberty And Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto

T.E.A. Party Tax Day - April 15, 2009

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

With a song in her heart By Gail T. Boatman


April 13, 2011

Nancy Rokos/Staff Photographer
Sandra Messinger of Willingboro is the cantor at Adath Emanu-El in Mount Laurel. "I see my job as creating an atmosphere that encourages participation and shows everyone that there is joy in prayer."

Music has been a part of Sandra Messinger's life from the time she was a child growing up in Willingboro.

It led her to studies in jazz and opera in New York and Rome, and the potential for a career onstage. But something was lacking, she said during a recent interview, "and I didn't know what it was."

Surrounded by songs and piano playing in her music-loving family, Messinger began to study music and pick out basic chords and tunes on the piano when she was barely 4.

Later, in the performing arts department of the Willingboro public schools, her talent was developed and encouraged. She danced and sang, and played the flute and piccolo, which remain her favorite instruments.

Music performance was the focus of her classes at Glassboro State College, now Rowan University. After graduation, more music studies followed at the International Academy in Rome.

Messinger was encouraged to study opera but resisted at first, choosing jazz instead. Eventually, the beauty of opera and the star status that opera singers are accorded won her over.

"It was all about me. I admit I liked the adulation. I was the center of attention, the diva," the Willingboro woman said.

But when the applause stopped, the feeling that something was not quite right began to edge its way into her consciousness.

She soon would find a new way to express herself.

"Cantor Sandra Messinger at Adath Emanu-El" Nancy Rokos/Staff Photographer
"I've been here since I was 5," Messinger said. "I received my religious training here. It's my home.""

In 1997, Richard Levine, then head rabbi at Adath Emanu-El on Elbo Lane in Mount Laurel, needed a cantor and asked Messinger if she could fill in as needed. Since the congregation originated in Willingboro and had been her spiritual home for her entire life, she agreed. Three years later, she was performing cantor duties at
the temple full time.

"I've been here since I was 5," Messinger said. "I received my
religious training here. It's my home."

Still, the prospect was daunting.

"I was terrified," she said.

Messinger saw the cantor's role as very different from being onstage playing a character in an opera. Onstage, she could hide behind the person she was portraying. A cantor can't do that.

"It was very foreign to me. In an opera, you are the character. As cantor, it's you," she said.

Over time, with experience, she grew into the position and learned to deal with her new responsibility to lead the congregation in musical prayer.

"I see my job as creating an atmosphere that encourages participation and shows everyone that there is joy in prayer," she said.

Before the regular Friday night Sabbath services, Messinger selects the music that will be sung. She then confers with the rabbi, Stacy Offner, who approves her choices. She will do the same for next week's Passover observance.

Passover, which begins at sundown Monday, is the most family centered holiday for Jews, she said.

"It's about taking time to be a family," Messinger said

The most important part of the services for Messinger is the cantor's song, which follows the rabbi's sermon and affirms its central message.

Messinger likes to arrive at the synagogue early on Fridays to attend to administrative duties in her small office near the sanctuary. Then she checks on the music for that night and warms up.

During services, she wears business attire and a kippah, the wire and beaded skullcap she pins to the back of her long, dark hair. She also dons a tallit, or prayer shawl, which fulfills an Old Testament commandment that we should wrap ourselves while in the sanctuary.

In addition to her formal role during services, the cantor directs three choirs at the reform synagogue, which has about 500 families in its congregation.

Divided by age, the three choirs - youth, teen and adult - come to the music with different perspectives.

"I try to teach the youngest children about life and the holidays. I show them the calming, healing side of prayer," Messinger said.

The life lessons go deeper with the teens; for the adults, she
has a special message: Everyone can sing.

"Some people tell me they can't sing, but I tell them they are having trouble accessing their voice," Messinger said.

The cantor continues to study her art and spends several days every week in New York, where she meets with her voice coach.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Young people with old souls prefer records to CDs By Leanne Italie

Sarah McCarthy and her boyfriend, Jack Carroll, 19, of Bowie, Md., pose for a photograph at KA-CHUNK!! Records. McCarthy's love of music led her to visit the record store. Now she works there and dates a co-worker.


April 3, 2011

NEW YORK — In most ways, Sarah McCarthy is your average high schooler. She has a job, college plans, but also a peculiar passion for a 16-year-old: She's a vinyl junkie.

That's right, analog. And none of that hipster new stuff or a USB-ready turntable from Urban Outfitters.

To this senior from Centreville, Md., there's nothing like the raw crackle, the depth of sound, her delicate hand on diamond-tipped stylus to spin from the dusty stash of records she found in the basement of her grandfather — yes, grandfather.

“He gave me his receiver and speaker system and told me to listen to it the way it was made to be listened to,” McCarthy said. “I've turned a lot of my friends on to it. They come over a lot to listen with me.”

At a time when parents feel positively prehistoric as they explain how to use plastic ice-cube trays or speak of phones with cords and dials, this teen knows what a record is.

Not only that, she knows the difference between a 45 and an LP. She met her boyfriend in a record shop and now works there!

Sure, she has an iPod, but she also has a vinyl collection of 250 records and counting. Sure, there's a broader '70s renaissance in the air, but buying bellbottoms doesn't touch the commitment of teens unearthing old turntables and records, then convincing friends to listen, too, like a pack of crazy little anthropologists.

“Listening to old music remastered to a newer format is almost comical,” Sarah said. “They weren't meant to be digitalized. Listening to Jimi Hendrix on my iPod doesn't capture his endlessly deep guitar solos quite like a 33 LP of ‘Blues' does.”

This girl's in love with vinyl, and she's not the only member of Generation Digital with an ear for analog.

“My dad always had these old records in the garage and I never got to use them until just recently, when my uncle let me have his old record player,” said 14-year-old Nick Spates, a Los Angeles eighth grader who plays guitar and piano.

What'd he find in his dad's two milk crates?

A lot of George Clinton — “He's a genius. I swear,” declared Nick. And Funkadelic. Of the band's Eddie Hazel: “'Maggot Brain' is like my favorite song ever. The original is a 10-minute guitar solo.” There was also “Spiral” by The Crusaders. “It has a lot of horns. I love horns.” And “Carmel” by Joe Sample, Hendrix on “Voodoo Child” and a trove of Stanley Clarke.

“My friends think it's cool,” Nick said.

“Before I had the vinyls I used to Google older musicians and see what songs they made, and I'd look for them on YouTube.

“We're all musicians and old music is like our favorite stuff in the world.”

Wayyyy back when, he said, the message of the music was “definitely more to benefit society and people's knowledge and what's going on in the world.” Now, he said, “It's more about what rappers have.”

Jeremy Robinson, co-owner of the plantation-size Ditch Records & CDs in Victoria, British Columbia, has up to 20,000 records in stock — half old and half new pressings from reissue labels and indie bands.

“Our vinyl sales have probably doubled in the last couple of years,” he said.

“The bulk of that has been young people, the iPod generation. They want to collect things, own things, which is the opposite of digital culture. They want to belong to the past.”

The uptick in interest over several years includes nostalgic “nerdy superfans” looking for a way around the more sanitized sound of digital, he said, but also savvy young people with Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Iron Maiden and a host of obscure post-punk music on their minds.

“The younger kids that come in the store know what they want,” Robinson said. “They usually want the best albums by the best classic bands.”

Matt Melvin, a 22-year-old college senior in Orlando, Fla., began taking vinyl seriously when he was 17 and still in high school.

His interest was fed by buddies in search of pressings from new artists but also his dad's collection of old staples like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Dylan.

“With vinyl, one is forced to slow down and take in an album as a whole piece of work as the artist intended,” he said.

Melvin's constantly on the hunt for exclusive, hard-to-find tracks like special B sides or limited-edition color pressings. The White Stripes, for example, released a series of singles on vinyl from their last album with acoustic and Spanish versions on B sides. A vinyl version of Radiohead's latest album can be ordered from its website.

But he's interested in older music, too.

“Going through the countless stacks of different record stores, my eyes usually get caught by old funk and jazz records that I would have otherwise had little exposure to had it not been for their eccentric and colorful cover art.”

While the recording industry dukes it out over downloads and mourns the CD, 2.5 million vinyl LPs were sold in 2009, up 33 percent from the year before. Vinyl sales are a blip among total revenue from U.S. music sales and licensing, but that's a healthy increase in its own right.

“Young people are leading the way back to analog through vinyl and turntables,” Melvin said. “I think young people are demanding a product that is more tangible, the thrill of hunting through a store for that perfect record, the simple satisfaction of turning that record over.”

Young people who listen and young people who mix.

Tina Turnbull, 28, travels the world as a DJ. Last year, she opened a weeklong DJ summer camp in Ojai, Calif., for tweens and teens, many who attend on scholarship. Coming up in the business at age 15, Turnbull carted around crates of vinyl to gigs. “Now I bring two records with me and my laptop. Technology has taken over.”

At Camp Spin-Off, she and a staff of working DJs try to bridge past and present through vinyl. “We use records. We teach them the fundamentals. Where they go from there is wherever they want.”

On the first day of camp, her charges watch a documentary tracing the birth of hip-hop, when the first DJs inspired break dancing and rap, and invented scratching and “beat-juggling” on vinyl. The movie takes them straight through to “turntablism,” the more recent explosion of using one or more turntables combined with one or more mixers to create original music.

Turnbull invites guest DJs young (Samantha Ronson will stop by in August) and older to share their expertise and memories of decades past with the 50 campers, ages 12 to 17.

“You have to learn the basics on turntables,” she said. “It kind of bums me that people who are learning how to DJ will never touch a record, but that's an opinionated thing.”

Sarah McCarthy, who like Nick plays guitar and piano, holds the same opinion. She doesn't have much use for the vinyl-to-MP3 converter her mother, Mary, gave her as a gift.

“It doesn't come from me,” mom said. “She's just kind of an old soul and always has been.”