B major, suspended

So, however rude and annoying Obama got in his repeated insistence that
he would not dislodge the earbuds from his senatorial ears, I felt the
strong urge to make him comfortable, happy, and part of the party.
"Tell me what kind of music you like." I said, "Maybe we have a CD
you'd prefer to the one that's playing." Obama obliged, listing six or
eight band names I'd never heard of. If only I could recall some of
them, but all I can say is that 1. they sounded like indie rock bands
and 2. they were totally unknown to me. I felt foiled.

Then I got another idea. "Let me listen to a couple of songs on your iPod, and I'll see if I have some music that I think
you would like, based on what you're listening to." Reluctantly, Obama
obliged, handing his earbuds over to me. At this point a surreal,
only-in-your-dreams moment occurred and I realized that Obama's iPod
was somehow connected to a heavy cable that trailed off into the other
room, which made it awkward to manipulate. I managed to get the earbuds
in and, to my great astonishment, I recognized the song that was
playing. Quite improbably, it was "Race for the Prize," the first track
off the Flaming Lips' CD The Soft Bulletin. I got inordinately
excited, all of the frustration and anxiety that had built up over
Obama's musical intransigence and my inability to please him melting
away in a wash of excitement. "The Flaming Lips! We listen to that
band! We have this CD!" As I disentangled myself from Obama's iPod and rushed off to put The Soft Bulletin on the CD player, my dream melted into some other scene…

"Barack Obama's iPod,"
Oral Hygiene Queen,
May 5, 2007

[…] Barack Obama said his last purchase was "probably" "Ray," the score
from the Oscar-winning movie on the life of R&B crooner Ray Charles. […]

"Prez pols' sound of music,"
Neil Graves,
New York Post,
May 10, 2007
(via stereogum)

At first listen, the Indigo Girls
don't make any sense, not for the hyper-macho world of a presidential
campaign, much less a summertime rally for a superstar like Barack Obama.
But his sound people are piping in the feminist folk duo's music anyway
to pump up a crowd of hundreds at this small-town coffee shop on the
Fourth of July. They play "Hammer and a Nail," a 1990 declaration of
female empowerment and emancipation. "You've got to tend the earth,"
the Girls sing, "if you want a rose."

Then Obama comes out, looking lithe and dashing, with his
6-year-old daughter, Sasha, in his arms. The soundtrack starts to make
sense. "I'm a sucker for girls," says the man who wants to be president.
"There is nothing more difficult than me being on the phone hearing
about their soccer game, hearing about what happened to them in school
and knowing that I am not there in the evenings to share a lot of their
life." He turns to his wife, Michelle, who is sitting nearby on a
stool. "She is smarter," he says. "She is tougher." […]

"Hillary is from Mars, Obama is from Venus,"
Michael Scherer,
July 12, 2007

[…] "I'm old school, so generally, generally, I'm more of a jazz
guy, a Miles Davis, a John Coltrane guy, more of a Marvin Gaye, Stevie
Wonder kind of guy," Obama said in the interview. "But having said
that, I'm current enough that on my iPod I've got a little bit of
Jay-Z. I've got a little Beyonce." […]


p style=”text-align: right”>
"Barack Obama gets name-dropped in hip-hop,"

Peter Hamby,
August 17, 2007
"You've been in a room once in a while with a rock star. He walks into
the world, and he takes your breath away. I'd love him to be president,
quite honestly. […]"

"Clooney: Obama's Like a Rock Star,"
Colleen Barry,
Associated Press (via Washington Post),
Sept. 1, 2007

[…] Rock stars may hide behind all sorts of masks — be it makeup, a
thuggish image or an alter ego named Sasha — but when they perform,
the best of them give the audience the sense that it's witnessing a
very real part of their personality.

There's something charmingly old school about the notion of a rock
star, a larger than life character that at once seems untouchable but
also like an intimate friend. The Internet can't make a rock star — at
least not yet. Sites like YouTube
celebrate accessibility and the notion that everyone should be equally
seen and heard. Rock stars still benefit from the quaint notion that
they are more subversive, more audacious, more fearless, more sensitive
than everyone else. They speak truth to power. They speak for the
disenfranchised. They are poets. It doesn't matter that some of the
biggest stars are akin to private corporations with all the
hierarchies, for-profit motives and mainstream popularity that implies.
The myth of the rock star endures. And at some point, everyone turns into a groupie.

"For Those Who Rock, We Salute You,"

Robin Givhan,
Washington Post,
Sept. 2, 2007

Chronosynclastic infundibulum

"I felt and still feel that everybody is right, no matter what he says … And I gave a name … to a mathematical point where all opinions, no matter how contradictory, harmonized. I call it a chronosynclastic infundibulum. I live in one."

Kurt Vonnegut, in a headnote to his 1971 play

"Happy Birthday, Wanda June," as quoted
 in George and Barbara Perkins'
"Contemporary American Literature"

"In our seminar, whether we were arguing about labor or religion or
politics, he would sit back like a resource person and then he would
say, I hear Jane saying such and such, and Tom seems to disagree on
that, but then Tom and Jane both agree on this. I
don’t mean he makes all conflicts go away—that would be crazy. But his
natural instinct is not dividing the baby in half—it's looking for
areas of convergence. This is part of who he is really deep down, and
it’s an amazing skill. It's not always the right skill: the truth
doesn't always lie somewhere in the middle. But I think at this moment
America is in a situation where we agree much more than we think we do.
I know this from polling data—we feel divided in racial terms,
religious terms, class terms, all kinds of terms, but we exaggerate how
much we disagree with each other. And that's why I think he’s right for
this time."

"Bowling Alone" author Robert Putnam,
about Sen. Barack Obama's part in a seminar about

rebuilding community, in Larissa MacFarquhar's
New Yorker profile "The Conciliator"

Pigmentation itself, ethnicity itself, is not a factor that is going to sway people

[…] "In my district, people are going with Hillary," said state Sen. Robert
Ford, a Democrat from Charleston. "I am sure there will be some young
blacks who will be behind Obama, but elderly blacks are going with
Hillary because they love Bill and they love Hillary for standing
behind him for eight years." […]

[…] "People down here don't know him, and South Carolinians in many ways
are a difficult lot," said Cole Blease Graham, a political scientist at
the University of South Carolina. "They like to see their politicians
up close in the flesh, shake their hand and look them in the eye. "Blacks will determine the winner in South Carolina, and if it came
down to it right now, it would be Clinton because of the lack of
exposure Obama has here," said Graham. "If Obama can win some
attraction from whites and overwhelming support from black voters, he
can beat Clinton." […]

[…] "South Carolina is one of the most racially polarized places in the
country, and black people in South Carolina have never elected a black
candidate statewide," said David Bositis, senior political analyst for
the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington.
"There are places in the South where people don't think anybody black
can be elected to anything. So when they think about the presidential
election, they don't think of Obama as someone with very good

Quotes from Dahleen Glanton's Chicago Tribune article "Obama's Southern support not a cinch"

[…] "He has to campaign. Like any other candidate, he will have to prove
a viability, prove that he’s going to articulate the issues and do so
in a way that proves that he is an authentic Democrat and not a closet
Republican." […]

Rev. Joe Darby,
pastor of Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston, one of the largest
black churches in the state, quoted in Aaron Gould Sheinin's The State article "Obama campaigning in S.C. today"

[…] "There are some things you can't run away from. He's going to have
to raise between $US50 million ($64 million) and $US100 million,
and that money's not coming from black people. So black people are
going to have to engage with that reality. He gives the impression
that he dances on both sides, but when he gets into the goldfish
bowl of an election campaign, he will be forced to define himself
more concretely." […]

Walters, the director of the African American Leadership Institute
and an expert on black presidential politics, in Gary Younge's Guardian UK (via Sydney Morning Herald) column "The real deal"

"If you're a black man in America today, you're treated
like a black man, every day. […] Toni Morrison called Bill
Clinton our first black president. He was very
comfortable around black people, played the saxophone, went to black
churches. I don't see where Hillary inherits that. She's a whole
different deal."

"If blackness is not consecrated by slavery and
childhood poverty, you're not black enough? That idea is nonsense. Nothing in Obama's
background justifies seeing him as a white guy's black guy. He has
addressed black concerns as a community organizer in Chicago and a
state senator in Springfield. […] Bill went out of his way to make black appointments, court black
voters, and she was at his side when he did it. And
blacks are loyal to people who they think have produced for them."

Quotes from Georgetown law professor Patricia King and her husband, civil rights activist Roger Wilkins, in Ken Bode's Indianapolis Star op-ed "Who will get blacks' votes?"

In other words, black is whatever we say it is

[…] Consider this: Just 40 years ago, one could make certain
assumptions about the average Negro, or black American. She
was probably no more than one generation removed from the
South; whether a Northerner or Southerner, he had first-hand
knowledge of Jim Crow, or segregation; when it came to
religion, he or she was most likely Protestant.
But scholars like Vernellia Randal, a law professor at the
University of Dayton, point out that those assumptions have
fallen in the face of urbanization, migration and
integration. […]

Afi-Odelia Scruggs' Cleveland Plain Dealer op-ed "Obama's identity crisis"

[…] "I think it could very well be generational—that people like myself,
who are older and more established and have these relationships, will
stay with the people that we know. Whereas younger people, who don’t
have these relationships, will say that this fellow seems to be an
outsider too—and so, therefore, they are attracted to him." […]

Ex-New York State Comptroller Carl McCall, quoted in Jason Horowitz's New York Observer article "Clinton, Obama Vying for Black Power-Brokers"


[…] According to Census Bureau figures, in 2004, African-Americans cast
14 million votes nationwide. Now comes this stunner: Because
African-American men not only are fewer in number but also register and
vote at much lower rates, black women cast almost three of every five
of these votes – 59 percent, to be precise. White women also outnumber,
out-register and outvote white men, but the disparity is smaller (53
percent to 47 percent). […]

[…] Senator Obama's allure may be perceived as more
generationally prospective, whereas the appeal of Senator Clinton – the
former first lady married to the man novelist Toni Morrison once called
the "first black president" – is deemed more historically
retrospective. "He brings a lot to our heritage and culture, especially
to our youth," said Victoria Haynes, a 47-year-old Denver native who
worked on the campaign of newly elected Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter Jr.
"She brings a lot of strength as a woman who came from behind her
husband to lead as a woman." […]

Thomas F. Schaller's Baltimore Sun op-ed "Black women face dilemma in Democratic primary"