Looking for an Echo: 10 That Shoulda Made The Top 10

Car;eme Carter

Michael Sigman: If the multiverse theory holds, there’s a land far, far away exactly like ours except that the following cuts — which never made it to American pop charts — would be as much a part of our musical DNA as the songs endlessly repeated in movies, oldies radio and commercials in our neck of the cosmological woods.

Can America Again Become An Imagine-Nation?

Roger Nygard

Michael Sigman: Roger Nygard’s new documentary The Nature of Existence gives us a good-natured glimpse into the imaginations of brilliant thinkers from science, religion and other disciplines on life’s fundamental questions. If we try to let our imaginations run free and work shoulder to shoulder on real problems instead of fantasizing about self-aggrandizement — my own particular fave being high school basketball greatness — maybe we can become an imagine-nation and begin to turn things around.

Can Slake Quench LA’s Media Thirst?

magazines

Michael Sigman: Joe Donnelly and Laurie Ochoa — the deputy editor and editor, respectively, of LA Weekly until both were forced out by corporate overlords from Phoenix in recent years — have joined forces to produce the debut issue of the quarterly Slake Los Angeles. It’s a gorgeous, 232-page quarterly mix of journalism, fiction, poetry, photography and art.

Alvin Greene’s South Carolina Win: The Inside Scoop

Singer Al Green

Michael Sigman: Roughly a third of Al’s votes came from soul and pop music lovers who believed they were voting for sexy Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Al Green, nee Albert Greene. Green, who was a superstar who sold millions of records in the ’70s, also evoked sympathy from voters who remembered he was once doused by his girlfriend in a sea of boiling grits.

Falling For Feldenkrais: A Patient’s Progress

Moshe Feldenkrais

Michael Sigman: For an obsessive swimmer who craves the endorphins, the past two years of failed therapies for a bum shoulder have been a bummer. I’ve been acupunctured, acupressured, cracked, Rolfed, electro-stimulated, nutritionized, lasered, therapized, osteopathed, hypnotized, rheumatologized, cortisoned, massaged, medicated, iced, heated, surgerized and more. Much more.

Eight Thoughts About Election Day and Words and Music

Bruce Springsteen

Michael Sigman: The name Tea Party evokes — was no doubt conjured to evoke — deep deep associations with The Boston Tea Party, a stirring public challenge to corporate monopoly and monarchy studied by every American schoolchild. Now, thrown together with carefully-chosen words and phrases like “Take our country back,” “socialism” and “Hitler,” the Tea Party purveys the exact opposite — restoring corporate monopolies and viciously rejecting a popularly-elected president.

Yes on Prop 15: One Small Step for Democracy

Jesse Unruh and Willie Brown, former Democratic Speakers of the California Assembly

Michael Sigman: Californians can do something about time-consuming fundraising, nefarious corporate influence, and obscene personal spending in American politics on Tuesday, June 8. A victory for Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act, will mean that the race for the Golden State’s Secretary of State will be a “clean money election” in 2014 and 2018. A small step, but a necessary one.

Bald Pols: To Pay or Not Toupee

Adlai Stevenson

Michael Sigman: It’s tough to be a politician and a member of what Larry David calls “the bald community” in America, particularly when your shoulders also carry the burden of taking our country back. On last week’s Real Time with Bill Maher, one of the host’s New Rules was, “If Rand Paul is a true libertarian, he has to free his toupee.”

Fey’s Fantastic, But Never The Twain She’ll Meet

tina fey

Michael Sigman: Given the commodification of dissent in corporate America, it’s doubtful Fey or anyone else will achieve Twain’s trifecta of talent, courage and mass popularity. But worrying about what we can’t control will only invite the kind of unhappiness that caused the great man himself to reflect that, “My life has been a series of disasters, most of which never happened.”

Jonesing on 24? Try 61 Hours

Jack Bauer

Michael Sigman: Reacher fascinates more because his isolation isn’t metaphorical. He has no home, no family, no ongoing relationships, no cell phone and no possessions. He buys a new set of generic clothes every few days, and earns pocket money via odd jobs as he randomly drifts from place to place, encountering more troubles than Job and more liaisons than Ricky Nelson’s Travelin’ Man.

24, Shel Silverstein, Muons, and God’s Toe

Shel Silverstein

Michael Sigman: Just as it was perversely gratifying to find out that no one — including the experts — understood the complex financial derivatives that undermined the global economy, it’s nice to know that even the top physicists don’t really understand the mind-bending contradictions of quantum theory.

O.J., Blumenthal, Souder, and Other Liars: What’s the Point?

Richard Blumenthal (Photo by Chion Wolf)

Michael Sigman: It’s one thing for a sociopath like Simpson to think he can get away with asking, in effect, “Who do you believe, me or your lying eyes?” But why do politicians — who love to praise the smarts of “the American people” — tell lies time and again when common sense dictates they’ll be caught, especially now that online searches allow facts to be instantly checked and communicated?

Newsweek Blew It

newsweek sarah palin

Michael Sigman: it was refreshing to hear Washington Post Chairman Donald Graham’s candor about the fate of Newsweek, his company’s iconic money-hemorrhaging magazine, about which he said earlier this month, “If anyone should take the blame for this ending, it is me — for not seeing early enough and reacting in the right way to the changes that have come to our industry.”

Google Isn’t (Necessarily) Making Us Stupid

google

Michael Sigman: Contemplative practices like meditation and yoga — the yin to Internet promiscuity’s yang — are also on the rise. But my own meditation practice — which facilitates clarity and focus — has benefited incalculably from Buddhist and other spiritual websites, blogs, lectures, readings, videos and guided meditations. And my meditation group’s email tree has become an interactive source for ideas, links and information about local events members might otherwise never discover.

Mainstream Media Swoon Over Rove’s Power Play

Michael Sigman: Karl Rove — chief political architect of George W. Bush’s presidency, the worst in modern history — is reentering frontline Republican Party politics. And the narrative-defining mainstream media have wasted no time in portraying Rove’s return as the most momentous development since Tiger Woods nearly re-mastered the Masters.

No Goldman at the End of the Rainbow?

goldman sachs

Michael Sigman: Marxist socialism may be dead, but perhaps what Marx called capital’s internal contradictions, illustrated beautifully by the desperation of Goldman and other mega-corporations for short-term profits may, by strengthening the case for fundamental financial reform, bring us closer to a more livable world.

Bill Walton Shines a Light on Chronic Pain

Bill Walton

Michael Sigman: Basketball legend Bill Walton is beloved as much for his boundless enthusiasm and quirky individualism as for his hoops heroism. But the class and perseverance he’s shown through decades of severe chronic back, leg and foot pain might just top his most courageous courtside achievements.

CARS Catalyzes Cultural Community

Michael Sigman: Community Arts Resources’ mission emphasizes the development of public space in Los Angeles, a concept that may seem oxymoronic to Angelenos who have panic attacks when they have to walk more than a few feet to their valet-parked cars. Bergin/Paley helped with the design for the new Grand Avenue Civic Park, slated for 2012 opening, which will feature a fountain plaza, performance lawn, community terrace and event space, along with a children’s garden and an area for community markets.

Mechanical Morons Unite!

Michael Sigman: I am a mechanical moron, a species to whom Larry David once gave voice when, in the opening scene of a 2009 episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” he exploded with “wrap rage” after a death-struggle with the plastic shell that encased a newly gifted GPS device. The mega-humiliating payoff comes at the end of the episode, when he’s lost and desperately needs to un-package the GPS. But the box cutter he’s sure will do the trick turns out to be so hard to open that it requires a box cutter of its own.

A Nuanced Look at How We Die

american standard tabby cat

Michael Sigman: There are those, Dr. Cohen himself passionately among them, who don’t see death as an evil to be avoided at all costs. They believe each individual has the autonomy to make reasonable end-of-life decisions, and that prosecuting doctors and nurses for anything short of criminal malfeasance is a travesty that will only ruin innocent lives and increase patient suffering.

9/11, Financial Crisis, Church Sex Scandal? Imagine That!

Paranoia

Michael Sigman: Isn’t it precisely the job of political, financial and religious leaders to imagine disasters and then prepare for them? (Plausible ones, that is, as opposed to, say, anti-asteroid Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s crusade for funds to combat “objects coming from space that could cause colossal loss of lives on our planet.”) And if their imaginations fail them, and us, shouldn’t they be held accountable — morally and, when appropriate, criminally?

Outrage Is All the Rage

Johnny-Mercer

Michael Sigman: It’s often momentarily satisfying to react to outrage with more outrage. For years, I’ve rooted like a sports fan for MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann when he righteously matched and even outstripped the bile of the ignorant Right. But during his recent absence from the airwaves, it’s been a tonic to follow Laurence O’Donnell’s more reasoned approach and Rachel Maddow’s measured, humorous way of skewering the opposition.

Exec Bonuses/Newsroom Outsourcing a Virtueless Circle

Michael Sigman: The decimation of the media industry, and particularly the newspaper business, has meant the elimination of health insurance benefits not only for the tens of thousands thrown out of work but also for the many writers, designers and others now forced to freelance. Media companies have to make cuts to stay in business, and some outsourcing is inevitable. But rewarding execs with big bonuses for, in effect, taking away workers’ health insurance is unconscionable.

News/PR Line Gets Blurrier

Ozzy Osbourne, dining.

Michael Sigman: Many of the thirty-thousand-plus newspaper journalists laid off in the past two years have signed on to corporate public relations gigs, further blurring the already-murky line between PR and news. When the handful of corporate chieftains who control most mainstream media hire as PR agents the journalists who used to expose them, they’re one giant step closer to commandeering the information narrative in America.

Creating Community in LA: A Safety Net for Singers

singer

Michael Sigman: Community can be created in many ways — geographically, electronically, or around a shared interest or cause. The community of singers which has formed around SOS and its sister organizations needs help from another community: us listeners, whose lives have been so enriched by the wonderful singers — past and present — performing in Los Angeles and around the world.