Posts By: John Marks

By on August 1, 2014


Decades after the events in question, Marina Oswald claimed that on the night of Thursday, November 21, 1963, her husband Lee Harvey Oswald suggested that they end their estrangement by having make-up sex (although I believe that term was unknown in 1963).

She claimed that while she was resigned to having sexual relations with Lee again, she wanted him to stew in his own juices one more day by making him wait for the weekend. However, she didn’t dangle a promise (or even a possibility) in front of him.

Marina claimed to be morally certain that this sexual rejection was what pushed “lone nut” Lee Harvey Oswald over the edge and made him impulsively bring his WWII-era Italian military rifle to work with him the next morning. Oswald’s life being a total mess (and finding no comfort on the home front), he decided to go out in a blaze of Marxist-Leninist glory.

That’s Marina’s story, and she’s sticking with it.
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By on July 13, 2014


No, that is not a metaphor for The Man in Black’s musical legacy.
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By on May 18, 2014


Our imaginary road trip with great music (see Part 1 here and Part 2 here and, finally, Part 3 Part 3) is almost done. The albums in this last part are modern, and, for lack of a better word, popular. Before anyone complains about the lack of albums by Arcade Fire, Mumford & Sons, or Taylor Swift, please remember my self-imposed criterion that a recording must have, without doubt, passed the test of time. The quasi-inverse also is true. Most people don’t need to be pointed in the directions of Pet Sounds or Abbey Road, and so, I will not bother to do so.
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By on May 11, 2014


Our imaginary road trip with great music (see Part 1 here and Part 2 here) continues with music usually thought of as “classical.”
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By on May 4, 2014


Didn’t read Part 1? Catch it here

Our imaginary road trip continues in jazz, which is America’s greatest contribution to music.
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By on April 27, 2014


Jack Baruth recently told his tale of an 898-mile road trip accompanied by only one CD. True, he also had with him a Spawn of Satan Homing Device, oops, I mean an iPod. And also true, and perhaps even more relevant, the one CD that so engaged Jack’s artistic imagination was a stunner, Joel Fredericksen and Ensemble Phoenix Munich’s Elizabethan early-instruments and vocal tribute to Nick Drake, Requiem for a Pink Moon.
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By on March 18, 2014


(When I put this into the TTAC “back-end”, I forgot to change the author. This article is the work of John Marks, not Jack Baruth — JB)

Former Detroit News city-beat reporter Charlie LeDuff’s memoir Detroit: An American Autopsy (2013; newly out in paperback) fairly pulsates with not-quite-controlled rage, but at least he came by it honestly. A working-class native of Detroit who parlayed his talents for finding stories and for telling stories into a position at the New York Times, LeDuff quit what once had been his dream job in 2007.

After ten years (a span of time that included 9/11), LeDuff had had enough of the Times’ “intellectual mud wrestling and… oblique putdowns.” The straw that broke his back was an editor’s telling him that he spent too much time writing about “losers.” (One gets the idea that if that editor wasn’t a Brown graduate named Chauncey who was wearing a Brooks Brothers oxford-cloth shirt, he might as well have been.)

After a brief unsatisfying stint in Los Angeles, LeDuff and his wife and infant daughter returned to Detroit in 2008, so he could “chronicle the decline of the Great American Industrial City.” His timing was impeccable, to say the least.
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By on January 21, 2014

Famed (and perhaps the most famous) opera composer Richard Wagner started out as a political revolutionary. Really. Wagner’s stated aim was to destroy the established order and to transform established social relationships. (That’s why Wagner’s personal behavior often involved sexual betrayals.) Wagner himself wrote:

I will destroy each phantom that has rule o’er men. I will destroy the dominion of one over many, of the dead o’er the living, of matter over spirit; I will break the power of the mighty, of law, of property.

— (Richard Wagner: “The Revolution.” Printed in Volksblätter No. 14, Dresden, Sunday April 8, 1849.)

Ironically enough, Wagner’s stunning success as a composer of music dramas was quite dependent upon the generosity of the newly rich (who craved the social prestige that came from being associated with a celebrated composer), and later, the patronage of the nobility. So much for overthrowing the established order—at least in the real world.

(NOTE: There’s a potentially non-work-safe painting after the jump — JB)
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