Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


PJMcK's Journal
PJMcK's Journal
April 26, 2017

Words have meanings

My dictionary is nearly six inches thick with thousands of words and their definitions. The Guardian article articulates most of the reasons we have language. In order to communicate and cooperate as a civilization, we have to agree on the meanings of words or we're only making noises at one another. I mean, fundamentally, if you say the grass is green while I insist that it's purple, we'll never be able to effectively discuss the grass.

Donald Trump abuses language every time he speaks. If you want to give yourself a headache, try reading the transcript of his interview with the Associated Press. Nearly the entire interview is gibberish. I cannot parse a single sentence so I have no real idea what he was talking about. His thought process is unintelligible as he veers all over the place.

This is a short quote from Kathleen Parker's column today:

The disconnect between the witty and the witless was that Trump fans took him seriously, not literally, while the media — silly gooses — took him literally but not seriously — as many have mentioned.

This is a clever observation, but it’s ludicrous to suggest that reporters shouldn’t take literally a president’s or candidate’s words. Certainly other nations and leaders do.

I added the emphasis and the rest can be found here:


My point is that words have meanings and unless it's very clear that the president is joking, then his words must be taken literally. That job doesn't allow for ambiguity in communication. That path leads to confusion and danger.

I don't know why that is so hard to understand. After all, grass is green.
April 25, 2017

You're welcome

When I was in graduate school at the Manhattan School of Music, one of my composition teachers was the maestro's music associate and he arranged for me to work with them for about 6 months. It was an awesome and heady experience. He was an incredible genius and his personal life was as rich as his professional work.

In addition to the musical chores he gave me, I was invited to many events each of which were unique in their own way. One performance he gave was with the NY Philharmonic and he conducted the Brahms Third Symphony paired with his own Third Symphony, "The Kaddish," which happens to be my personal favorite of all his music. He conducted the entire program from memory!

Bernstein had a large apartment at the Dakota in NYC and when John Lennon was murdered, the maestro held the wake at his place and that was an evening I'll never forget! The list of celebrities who attended was amazing. Lauren Bacall was there and had just cracked a bone in her foot performing in Kander & Ebb's Broadway show, "Woman of the Year." Earlier, I had met her at Bernstein's birthday bash and she was sitting in the breakfast nook with her foot up on a chair. When she saw me, she called over to me, "Darling, come keep me company and entertain me." Mind-blowing stuff for a 22 year old!

Another time, at his estate in Fairfield, Connecticut, I was invited for dinner, (my parent's lived in nearby Westport). The other guests included Rudolph Nureyev, Franco Zeffirelli and Stephen Sondheim (who I would later represent as a music publisher). We ate dinner on the screen porch sitting with TV trays as we watched "The Naked Civil Servant" which is about the writer/raconteur, Quentin Crisp. Wild!

One example of his brilliance happened some years later. On the occasion of his 70th birthday, the NY Times offered him a space on the Op-Ed page of the Sunday edition. He could have written anything so he wrote a poem! What a multi-talented man.

The one event that bummed me out was a political fund-raiser for Senator Ted Kennedy who was challenging President Carter in the 1980 Democratic primary. Given Bernstein's long relationship with the Kennedy family, his support wasn't surprising but Kennedy's long-shot challenge harmed the president's reelection and we know how that turned out.

Nonetheless, the opportunity to work for him was tremendous and shaped much of my musical thinking and aesthetics. (Note my sig line!)

Profile Information

Name: Paul McKibbins
Gender: Male
Hometown: New York City
Home country: USA
Current location: Catskill Mountains
Member since: Mon Jun 5, 2006, 05:16 PM
Number of posts: 22,117

About PJMcK

Lifelong Democrat
Latest Discussions»PJMcK's Journal