Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Horowitz on HMV, or EMI, or Warner, 1930-1951

Warner now owns EMI's Classical recordings, and they've reissued their Horowitz holdings. I'm hoping they'll issue their complete recordings of George Szell with The Cleveland Orchestra. Meanwhile, click here to read my review of the Horowitz box.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Lorin Maazel in Cleveland

Amazon has published my review of Lorin Maazel's complete Decca recordings with the Cleveland Orchestra. For those interested in purchasing, I recommend shopping around, including at Amazon's European sites. The current price at Amazon's American site is outrageous. Click here to read my full review.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Decca Phase 4 boxed set

My review of Decca's new Phase 4 boxed set has been published. It's not exactly an unqualified rave. Click here to read my review

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Election Endorsements - 2014

Federal:

There are no Senate elections this year.

U. S. Congress, District 11: Marcia Fudge is the incumbent, and has held the office since the death of Stephanie Tubbs Jones in 2008.  She has represented the interests of her district with integrity.  Her opponent is a graphic designer with no experience in public service.  I recommend Fudge’s reelection.

Ohio:

GovernorJohn Kasich has been, by most standards, a mediocre governor – and that’s a generous assessment.  Ohio still lags behind much of the nation in job growth, despite his much touted JobsOhio initiative –the executive board of which is loaded with political cronies.  (It must be noted, the improvements seen in Cleveland over the last two decades happened under the auspices of Democratic County and City administrations.)  While Kasich boasts of a balanced state budget and income tax cuts (aimed at the top income brackets), he avoids mention that it comes at the cost of a sales tax hike and cuts to state aid for cities, which local municipalities have counted on since 1934.  Since cities have had to enact tax increases to make up the shortfall, on balance most Ohioans are paying the same or more taxes than in the past – unless you’re very rich.  This is the same trickle-down economics that have increased the gap between rich and poor and have squeezed the middle class – and it’s hurting places like South Euclid.

Ed FitzGerald has had a rapid rise up the political ladder.  One short year after he moved back to Cleveland from Washington, DC, he was elected to Lakewood City Council, becoming that city’s Mayor in 2008, Cuyahoga County executive in 2010, now running for Governor.  FitzGerald reminds me of all too many co-workers I’ve encountered over the past 30 years; people who are too busy aiming for their next promotion to do their jobs.  Inevitably, people such as these leave a mess in their wake and FitzGerald is no exception.  He has been secretive about his comings and goings as county Executive, used a county employee to vet political donations, and drove for several years without a valid license.

Much has been made of these controversies surrounding FitzGerald, while the media has continually looked away from Kasich’s use of JobsOhio as a holding ground for political cronies.  As a case in point, the media covered with salacious interest an incident when FitzGerald was questioned by police while a woman was in his car.  But no mention has been made of long standing rumors that Kasich, who was divorced from 1980-1997, was in an intimate relationship with his male chief of staff – with whom he also shared a home.  It goes without mentioning that Kasich holds anti-gay political positions.

Even though I agree with many of FitzGerald’s political positions, his foibles continue to nag me.  Ohio does not need another laughingstock politician to replace the recently deceased James Traficant.   Therefore, I am offering NO endorsement for Governor.

Attorney General:  Mike DeWine is the incumbent.  DeWine is a career politician who has been in politics since 1976. He has spent most of his time as Attorney General feathering his own nest and denying marriage rights to same-sex couples.  I endorse his opponent, David Pepper.

Auditor:  David Yost is the incumbent.  For the record, he is a Republican although personally I believe the Auditor’s office and elections should be non-partisan.  Yost has lauded South Euclid’s city government for maintaining its finances despite a challenging economy (and, I might add, his boss’s decision to slash $800,000 in state aid).  Yost is a rarity, a public servant who puts his job before his party, and I urge Yost’s reelection.  

Secretary of State: The primary job of the Secretary of State is to supervise Ohio’s elections and ensure fairness.  Despite the slick ads being run by John Husted’s campaign, the incumbent has spent the last four years making it harder for poor and minority voters to exercise this precious Constitutional right.  I endorse his opponent, Nina Turner.

Treasurer: The incumbent, Josh Mandel, has brought dishonor to Ohio since he ran a mendacious campaign against Senator Sherrod Brown in 2012.  He has also stocked his office staff with political cronies and his fellow frat boys.  It’s time for him to exit public office – permanently.  I endorse his opponent, Connie Pilich.

Cuyahoga County

Executive:  A few days ago, I saw old George Voinovich on TV endorsing his friend Jack Schron, the Republican candidate for county executive.  While the retired career politician droned away, footage of Ed FitzGerald appeared.  It may interest some to know that FitzGerald is not a candidate for county executive, but if you need to tour your candidate by referring to another politician who’s not part of the equation, it brings to mind the relevance of the candidate you’re endorsing.  It would be like Hillary Clinton running against Ronald Reagan.  Schron’s campaign has lacked specifics, instead trying to “feel-good” his way to victory.  But when his own campaign website refers to Natural Gas as an “alternative fuel”, he tips his hand as yet another Republican who will be controlled by big money and corporatism.  Armond Budish is not a partisan, career politician as Voinovich implied.  Until 2006, he worked as an attorney who advocated for the elderly and consumers.  He continued working for ordinary working people in the Ohio House of Representatives, and I am confident he will continue to do so as County Executive.  I encourage Cuyahoga voters to support Budish.

Council, district 11:  Sunny Simon hails from South Euclid and has served her first term on county council with distinction.  Simon is a realist who leads with an eye on the long term benefits to the people of her district and to the planet in general.  As part of that, she was the incorporator of TeMPO – which is aimed at preserving the Telling Mansion after the library leaves.  While a number of local politicians either ignored the Library controversy, or attended a few TeMPO meetings and did nothing concrete, Simon has regularly attended meetings, advised the group on how to move forward in applying for grants to renovate the Mansion, and has helped put together a plan of action for maintaining the Mansion as a viable space going forward.  Simon also pushed for and obtained a domestic partnership for county resident and same-sex domestic partner benefits for county employees.  Even though I am employed by a private company (which just so happens to provide such benefits) and not covered by this legislation, as a gay man I’m very appreciative of the support Simon has shown for our community.

Her opponent, John Currid, hails from New Jersey and moved to South Euclid a few years ago.  He has not served in elected office before.  In fact, I can find nothing Currid has done relating to public service – even volunteer work.  Currid’s lack of experience shows in a number of posts on his campaign website.  For example, he’s called for removing Ohio from Common Core educational standards, railing against them as “anti-American” and “anti-Israel” – one of the Tea Party’s prime talking points.  But the Cuyahoga County council has nothing to do with public education, so how does he propose to stop common core within the Constitutional boundaries of the office he seeks?  Currid has also derided Simon’s proposal to eliminate non-biodegradable plastic bags as “San Francisco liberalism”, which brings to mind what John F. Kennedy said of Liberalism: “If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal", then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal.”  The truth is, many forward thinking municipalities have been doing away with these bags and NorthEast Ohio would benefit by getting ahead of the curve – instead of falling behind as usual.

Currid’s main accomplishment in South Euclid has been forming the South Euclid Republican Club.  While I have written of the need for more political diversity in South Euclid, Currid’s brand of Tea-Party Republicanism is the very thing that has degraded the political debate in the United States, and is part of the reason why the Republicans remain doomed to minority status in Cuyahoga County in the foreseeable future.  While there are local Republicans who are worthy of office, and I’ve even endorsed some of them in the past, John Currid does not belong to that select group.     

Simon deserves to be reelected.

Ohio State Senate, District 25: Kenny Yuko has served ably in the Ohio House of Representatives and deserves to be elevated to the State Senate.

Ohio House of Representatives, District 8: Kent Smith is running to succeed Armond Budish and would carry on in his tradition.  His opponent, Mikhail Alterman, is a hard-right Tea-Party type who makes John Currid seem like a moderate.  I urge voters to support Kent Smith.

Ballot issues:

Issue 6: Tax Levy for Cuyahoga County College.  They are really putting property owners to the screws here, because this not only renews the existing 1.2 mill levy, but also tacks on an increase of .9 mills.  It would have been more ethical to ask for the mill increase in a separate ballot issue.  CCC claims this is to improve college education.  But my experience working at a college leads me to believe much of the additional levy will go to administrative overhead.  I reluctantly urge a No vote.

Issue 11: This common sense issue requires a two year residency requirement for County Executive and Council members.  I urge a Yes vote.

Issue 12: This would remove the County Executive and fiscal officer from the audit committee, and replace them with a council member and citizen approved by council.  Since council appropriates money, oversight should be managed by another branch – and the fiscal officer should always remain as the responsible party.  I urge a No vote.

Issue 13: Allows the County Charter Review committee an additional three months to appoint and confirm officers.  I urge a Yes vote.

Issue 14:  Republicans across the country have tried to make it harder for people to vote, all in the name of preventing voter fraud.  They will never admit, and the media has been shamefully lax in reporting, than voter fraud has not been a serious matter in any election over the last 50 years – while voter suppression has reared its ugly head in every election since 2000.  I strongly urge a Yes vote.

South Euclid City CharterPeriodically, city charters require review. This is done by a nine member elected panel.  I am endorsing eight candidates which constitute, in my opinion, a good balance between experienced elected officials and citizens. 
 
  • Dennis Fiorelli
  • Marty Gelfand
  • David Miller
  • Diane Mullally
  • Moe Romeo
  • Mark Sanderson
  • Robert Schoenewald
  • Georgine Welo

There are several other candidates on the ballot.  Frankly I don’t know most of them well enough to speak to their qualifications, but I caution South Euclidians against voting for Grant McCallum, who is a flat-out Tea-Partier who is merely looking for personal political gain. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Nelson Freire on Columbia Masterworks

Sony has just reissued Nelson Freire's complete Columbia recordings, made when he was a clean shaven young Brazilian. Click here to read my review.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The expansion of Marriage Equality

Today's decision by the Supreme Court to decline hearing appeals in seven marriage cases clears the way for recognition of same sex marriage in eleven more states - meaning there will be a total of 30 states (and the District of Columbia) which honor marriage equality. Here are two maps which detail the current, and rapidly changing situation. The second map, which resizes each state according to population, is particularly illustrative.

 

But where is Ohio? Arguments were heard in the Sixth Circuit court in August pertaining to several marriage cases. If the court rules in favor of marriage recognition, it's unlikely a stay will be granted. Full marriage equality across all 50 states can't happen too soon.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ken Burns' The Roosevelts

 
 
Ken Burns' magnificent 14 hour documentary The Roosevelts has been issued on Blu-ray. Click here to read my review.