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BigYearColorado67 karma

I don’t have a question, I wanted to let you know that I (paid for and) assigned PMJ in an Honors arts and letters survey at Metropolitan State University of Denver. It was a unit on genre mixing and codeswitching. Those who knew music theory dissected PMJ’s styles like you were Itzhak Perlman through a lens of Weird Al. For an entire semester, the kids played a constant stream of Boregore, Negativland, Richard Cheese, Tufts Beelzebubs, and especially PMJ.

So cross off “have music taught in university” off your bucket list. Everyone loved it.

Edit: I should note I did not assign Boregore or Cheese but neither did I discourage it.

BigYearColorado35 karma

I explore the history and wildlife of the deserts during the summer heat. Pardon my excitement because I’m going back next month to my favorite little desert and won’t be back until September.

Our homes could not be more opposite, but our feeling about them is the same. My home is named for the feeling of walking through purgative walls of fire as the heat reflects off the narrow rock canyons. I fit there in the crevices like the tarantulas and the crows.

Following a little beetle with my telephoto lens, watching him go about his day or become a meal, is a thrilling drama. Creatures speak through actions. They behave with intent and instinct. They display their behavior in a way humans have learned to hide it. I love watching that unfold before me. It isn’t so much geography we explore. Otherwise it would be enough to take satellite photos and be done with it. We’re exploring another way of existence that parallels and supports our own.

BigYearColorado7 karma

I'm also interested in the name change question, particularly since I'm researching a population of Jews in Mr. Sanders' generation and the generation before it. This population emigrated to the United States and certain waves seem more likely to anglicize their names. Being observant seems to be only one factor, but not a controlling factor.

What went into changing your name, particularly your first name? How long had "Schwartz" been your family name, if you know?

BigYearColorado5 karma

Lived in Colorado most of my life and one day kids in my high school were passing out leaflets calling for the extermination of Jews.

When I went to the University of Denver, I worked at the Hillel House sometimes. We had to have police patrols because otherwise we would get vandalized. Once the police caught a guy wearing paraphernalia spray-painting swastikas on campus and he was across the street from Hillel when they found him.

Ironically, later one of those officers would be shot to death by a neo-Nazi.

Last month was the last time I experienced direct hateful anti-Semitism. Last time I heard someone say something anti-Semitic was yesterday.

It's not hard to find them - it's whether they stick out to you and whether you happen to catch them expressing the ideology. Just because you aren't a target right now doesn't mean it isn't happening to other people.

BigYearColorado4 karma

How much of Lincoln's participation in spiritualism was due to a legitimate belief (even the faddish sense of spiritualist belief going around at the time), and how much of it was done to help Mary Todd process her grief over losing Willie?

One characterization I see frequently concerning the Lincoln's relationship is Mary Todd as an insane whacko who believed in ghosts, and Abe was forced to suffer her various delusions. What I find however is that he, too, was devastated by Willie's loss and held it together because he had to be there for the rest of the family. He could easily have succumbed himself. There's been plenty published about his propensity for depression.

And spiritualism wasn't just some fringe belief: during the Civil War, death came to every doorstep and brought its own mass culture of mourning. David Blight's Race and Reunion, which you've probably read, uses the culture of national mourning as a framework to explain a number of behaviors and actions after the Civil War. I've seen some studies on the radical change in tombstone and cenotaph imagery around the period.

Anyway my historiography professor had a wonderful guiding principle: people are neither crazy, nor are they stupid. When researching, I remember that every decision made sense at the time to someone. The Lincolns' behavior and especially Mary Todd's might look bonkers, but placed within an atmosphere of overwhelming death and mourning, I get it.