The Clermont Hotel | WMLB 1690 | The Voice of The Arts

A great episode about the beloved Atlanta landmark built in 1924 and the (in)famous, seedy, must-see strip club in the basement that’s been running since 1965, the Clermont Lounge. One old postcard calls it As Modern as Tomorrow.

Featured on this episode of Sidewalk Radio are guests Boyd Coons, Executive Director of the Atlanta Preservation Center, Mike Gamble, a tenured professor in architecture at Georgia Tech, DJ, the de facto spokesperson and bouncer at the Clermont Lounge at the Clermont Lounge, and Atlanta icon and dancer at the Clermont Lounge, Blondie.

The Clermont Hotel | WMLB 1690 | The Voice of The Arts

It is pleasant to observe how free the present age is in laying taxes on the next. FUTURE AGES SHALL TALK OF THIS; THIS SHALL BE FAMOUS TO ALL POSTERITY. Whereas their time and thoughts will be taken up about present things, as ours are now.

You can still compare a coin to the moon–poets have done so in days gone by. The coin itself remains one of the few objects of perception continually and immediately surrounding us that, through long-established habits and fantasies, connect us across the millenia to antiquity–like bread and wine, our shoes, the dog, the knife, indeed the moon.

Pennies to heaven—By Joachim Kalka (Harper’s Magazine). Nice reflection on the death of money made of paper & metal. Better than most “death of” pieces. Also includes a nice discussion of Scrooge McDuck.


“Well in those days the internet was in black and white. It was only on for three hours a day. We used to get all dressed up in our Sunday best to log onto it. We’d log onto and order a gas mask and a pound of tripe. Then when we’d finished with the computer we’d switch it off and we’d all stand up and sing the national anthem.”

Reading through the histories of both jazz and rock, I am struck again and again by the fact that although women and girls were the primary consumers of popular styles, the critics were consistently male–and, more specifically, that they tended to be the sort of men who collected and discussed music rather than dancing to it. Again, that is not necessarily a bad thing (some of my best friends…), but it is relevant when one is trying to understand why they loved the music they loved and hated the music they hated.

Another selection from How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n’ Roll. Over the past year or so, I find I’m more and more reluctant to condemn music I don’t like, maybe partly because I’m more willing to dance than I used to be.

Travels with Herodotus (review: 3.5/5)

travels with herodotus
“If reason ruled the world, would history even exist?”

On his first trip outside of Poland, an editor gave Ryszard Kapuściński a copy of HerodotusThe Histories (which I’ve never read or read much about, besides this recent New Yorker article). The book became his off-and-on companion for the rest of his career in journalism. Kapuściński re-narrates Herodotus journeys talking all the while about what it is to travel, to know the world, to try to learn and understand it all.

The book makes for a scattered memoir, but the sections about Herodotus’ work are pretty good. I really liked his way of humanizing all these long-dead people:

What sort of child is Herodotus?… Is he obedient and polite, or does he torture everyone with questions: Where does the sun come from? Why is it so high up that no one can reach it? Why does it hide beneath the sea? Isn’t it afraid of drowning?

And in school? With whom does he share a bench? Did they seat him as punishment, next to some unruly boy? Or, the gods forbid, a girl? Did he learn quickly to write on the clay tablet? Is he often late? Does he squirm during lessons? Does he slip others the answers? Is he a tattletale?

and later:

I imagined him approaching me as I stood at the edge of the sea, putting down his cane, shaking the sand out of his sandals, and falling at once into conversation. He was probably one of those chatterboxes who prey upon helpless listeners, who must have them, who indeed wither and cannot live without them; one of those unwearying and perpetually excited intermediaries, who see something, hear something, and must immediately pass it on to others, constitutionally incapable of keeping things even briefly to themselves.

And again, in writing about Xerxes after he flees the battle of Thermopylae:

And flee he does, abandoning the theater of war before the war’s end. He returns to Susa. He is thirty-something years old. He will be king of the Persians for another fifteen years, during which time he will occupy himself with expanding his palace in Persepolis. Perhaps he felt internally spent? Perhaps he suffered from depression? In any event, insofar as the world was concerned, he disappeared. The dreams of might, of ruling over everything and everyone, faded away.

Kapuściński went to some rough places (e.g. Maoist China, the heart of Africa at mid-century, etc.). Parallel to Herodotus, he has the occasional wondering digression into modern political absurdities. Here’s a bit about dictators and mobs and ruling over a populace without focus:

It is an interesting subject: superfluous people in the service of brute power… Their neighborhoods are populated in large part by an unformed, fluid element, lacking precise classification, without position, place or purpose. At any moment and for whatever reason, these people, to whom no one past attention, whom no one needs, can form into a crowd, a throng, a mob, which has an opinion about everything, has time for everything, and would like to participate in something, mean something.

All dictatorships take advantage of this idle magma. They don’t even need to maintain an expensive army of full-time policemen. It suffices to reach out to these people searching for some significance in life. Give them the sense that they can be of use, that someone is counting on them for something, that they have been noticed, that they have a purpose.

Yes we can? Then again, power makes for paranoia (interesting parallels here with “Tales of the Tyrant“):

What animated Xerxes: he wanted to have everything. No one opposed him, because one would have had to pay with one’s head for doing so. But in such an atmosphere of acquiescence, it takes only one dissenting voice for the ruler to feel anxiety, to hesitate.

There’s a lot to like here. I ended up skimming most of Kapuściński’s reminiscing, but it all moves pretty quickly and the Herodotus sections are worth it.

Lapham’s Quarterly looks like a worthy new periodical. Each volume covers a specific theme and the essays come from a wide range of historical texts. The current issue, “States of War,” draws on Patton, Ruskin, Lenin, Goebbels, bin Laden, Virgil, Tim O’Brien, Whitman, Vonnegut, Tolstoy…

–Six-and-a-half billion people on this planet. And I’m only one pixel.
–Here’s an interesting essay & audio piece in the New Yorker on Mozart, written by a guy who has spent some time listening to the master’s works–all of them. “A hundred and eighty CDs… reissued in a handsome and surprisingly manageable array of seventeen boxes. During a slow week last winter, I transferred it to an iPod and discovered that Mozart requires 9.77 gigabytes.”

–Russia not only has a lock on the club scene, it’s also got the biggest hole in the world. I hope they do something cool with it when the mining peters out, like a waterslide. [via digg]
Update: I ought to have done some fact-checking. The biggest man-made hole in the world, Bingham Canyon, is actually here in the States. That’s 4000 feet of hole-ness outside of Salt Lake City. I still think the Russian one looks cooler, but they are both begging for a water park. Or some trees.

–I’m a sucker for conspiracy theory and revisionist history. The Associated Press reports on a newly-discovered copy of a letter written by Abraham Lincoln, a letter urging governors to support a Constitutional amendment to protect slavery. But then again, as historian Thomas DiLorenzo writes, this isn’t really news. I’m not usually much interested in biography, but I’m looking forward to DiLorenzo’s new book arriving this fall.