The price for a barrel of American-based oil (West Texas Intermediate) this morning was $55.91. The last time it was in this range was in 2009, while in the last three years it had vacillated around $100, a drop of 44%. Regular gas is under $3 a gallon in every state except Alaska and Hawaii. Is this unmitigated good news or is there a downside to the new low prices? And if oil is so plentiful that the price is plunging does this mean we don’t have to worry about peak oil any more?
Why Is the Price Dropping?
At its most basic, what is happening is simple supply and demand. As the chart below shows, except for brief periods in early 2009 and 2012, demand over the last five years, until 2014, was running ahead of supply, pushing the price into the $100 a barrel range. Now, as storage facilities fill up, oil needs to be priced to clear.
The gap is being caused as much by a fall in demand as by a growth in supply. This is a result of the persistent recession in Europe, a slowdown in the Chinese and German economies, the aftereffects of the 2008 crash in America, where unemployment has since declined but where good paying jobs were replaced by minimum wage and part time work. Improved efficiency is also a factor. Read more
C. M. Sunday, violinist, violin teacher, and representative of the string instrument sales company SunMusicStrings, conducted a wide ranging interview with Lionel Rolfe, published December 27 in Reflexions, a new online magazine for string players.
We are pleased to bring back into print this account of the family of famous musicians.
By Lionel Menuhin Rolfe
$13.95 Amazon price: $12.54 245 pp.
The Menuhins is the story of a miraculous family of great musicians and religious leaders. It is told here by the nephew of Yehudi Menuhin, the violinist regarded as the greatest musical prodigy since Mozart. Elements of the story have been told before: how two Russian Jews living in San Francisco, Moshe and Marutha Menuhin, raised a brood of child prodigy musicians that astounded the world. It seemed the stuff of legend. Yehudi, with his violin and his younger pianist sisters, Hephzibah and Yaltah, displayed as children a musical gift rarely equaled by the finest musicians. But few outside the family have known the true dimensions of the Menuhin story, for the Menuhin children were not the first prodigies in the family’s unique history. For centuries, the Menuhin line had been producing geniuses, yet the the elder Menuhins withheld the details of Yehudi’s exotic lineage. There was the MaHaRal, a great rabbi and the creator of the legendary Golem; Schneur Zalman, the founder of Chabad Hassidism and the composer of powerful religious songs; and all the great Schneersohns, the hereditary first family of the Lubavitch Hassids. Although Rolfe, the son of Yaltah Menuhin, often focuses on his famous uncle, he has ventured beyond the Menuhin public image with an intimacy that only a Menuhin could bring to this family portrait. Long out of print, Boryanabooks is pleased to present this new edition of The Menuhins: A Family Odyssey.
770 Eastern Parkway
BY LIONEL ROLFE
On the recent occasion of the publication of a paperback version of my first book The Menuhins: A Family Odyssey, which originally came out in hardcover in 1978, I recalled going to Brooklyn to meet my Hassidic ancestors. My mother Yaltah and aunt Hephzibah were prodigy pianists and uncle Yehudi the violinist had been described as the greatest musical prodigy since Mozart. At that point the three were alive in London, so a stopover in Brooklyn was appropriate. The first morning after my arrival in Gotham, I emerged from the black pits of the subway to find that number 790, the address of the Hassidic headquarters, was quite a bit further down Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway. As I began the trek down the broad, shabby but still dignified boulevard, I felt my balding head and cursed myself for not having followed the advice of people who had told me to get some cover for my shiny dome. It doesn’t have to be a yarmulke; any type of hat would do, I had been told. “But wouldn’t that be dishonest?” I had asked. “I mean, I’m not an orthodox Jew.” “Just to show them respect,” had been the answer. Ah, in that case, I knew what would have been ideal: one of those jaunty black berets that my grandfather Moshe always used to wear. Moshe used to have an endless supply of them, one in this room, another in that, maybe even one in the chicken shed. A beret made you a dapper, worldly gentleman, and yet if you had come from the ghettoes of Eastern Europe, it eased your conscience about your naked head. But there were no berets in the ghetto shops. My pace quickened, and as it did so, the whirring worrying in my head that I would have to brave the Lubavitcher Court hatless also increased. Many a writer had been thrown bodily out of the Lubavitcher Court. On the other hand, the Schneersohns, the Lubavitchers, were my cousins. The Menuhins were but an offshoot of the famed Chabad father-to-son dynasty which presided over the Polish-Russian town of Lubavitch. Read more
BY EUGENE ZADOR
I know practically all of Bartok’s orchestral works, including his ballet and his opera. But I still don’t feel like an authority on his music and am not able to give you a profound analysis of his works. I leave it to the musicologists. Instead of this, I rather give you a few glimpses on his life and a few personal impressions, which might be even more interesting, since you can’t find them in books.
Many people claim now that they were Bartok’s friends. Just like hundreds of people claimed to be classmates of Abraham Lincoln after he became president. No, unfortunately, I was not one of Bartok’s friends. He lived in Budapest and I in Vienna, so we saw each other only when he came to Vienna, which was always a short visit. But when he was there, I was practically is only personal guide. He always notified me when he came. I waited at the station and we took a cab to his hotel. Bartok was the simplicity itself. He didn’t like fancy hotels, on the contrary, where he stayed was an old, cheap hotel on the Wiedner Hauptstrasse, but he didn’t care; It was near to the Musikvereinsaal (the concert hall) and to the Radio, where he performed.
The conductor of the Vienna Radio, Mr. Kabaska, wanted to meet him. I suggested to see him either at the hotel or in my home, but Bartok refused, and preferred to meet him in a Kaffeehaus, which is a kind of cafeteria, where you can sit for hours. Bartok smoked and I will never forget when he pulled out his old and beaten up metal cigarette container, refusing Mr. Kabaska’s cigarettes, offered him in a golden tabatiere.
By Umberto Tosi
(Copyright © 2014 by Umberto Tosi, all rights reserved.)
7. THE PROPHET OF SPRING STREET
Here he comes, the prophet of doom. His bombast echoes off the bland glass and concrete of civic center. Shambling forward, hollering Gospel, as he hears it in his head, he parts lunch-hour pedestrians like the Red Sea. Every damn day. His booming could crack tree trunks:
“HELL! You’re all gonna go to H-E-L-L-! Hell! Hell! You’re goin’ to H-E-L-L-!”
Over and over, louder and louder until he arrives like a bad squall, spiral-eyed, tall and gaunt, with long blondish hair and beard bristling. He always wears a plus-size, cream brassiere like a helmet, D-cups akimbo like Viking horns, with the straps dangling, as he strides forward as if into a stiff wind, to the syncopated cadence of his remorseless chant:
“Ha-hell, ha-hell. You’re all goin’ to ha-hell, damn-a-nation and-a h-hell. You’re all-a-gonna-go-ta h-e-l-l-l-l!”
He’s a standing joke at the first-floor magazine office, where they can hear him bunkered from his midday, holy barrage inside the massive gray walls the old Times building. On this particular day, however, the hellfire rant stops suddenly. Down on the first floor, Benny sees Preacher Man’s face flush to the pane nearest his and Makeda’s desks. Preacher Man cups his hands against the glass and peers at them with Apocalypse eyes. His face floats disembodied against the dark glass like Jesus on the Shroud of Turin. His lips move soundlessly. Read more
Storm clouds had gathered in a slate gray sky at noon as the yellow cab barreled out of the meatpacking district, spitting up gravel on the rutted streets. Ted Katz sat beside me in the back seat. I could smell his shaving cologne and the acrid scent of tobacco. He told the driver to take us to the Daily Bugle.
“I forget where that rag is— so many newspapers in this town, all of them tell lies,” the driver said. He was a hard bitten Chinese guy about 35, wearing a black sock cap pulled down past his forehead. He radiated fury at his circumstances.
Katz rattled off the midtown address of The Bugle. He winked at me, confiding in a stage whisper that we’d be sharing a byline on the crime story I had witnessed. It would be a hot and heavy write up, he predicted, all about two wise guys getting whacked in the mob warehouse filled with pornographic books and magazines that we had just left. Police were still questioning Harvey Jewell, publisher of the notorious sex tabloid F.U. who was present during the mob rob-out. This would be a cover story with screaming headlines. There would be plenty of red blood and black ink.
Amazing how Katz, the Bugle’s chief investigative reporter, had taken over my story in the same self-assured way that he had gotten me out of trouble with an FBI agent who had nearly blown my cover at the mafia run warehouse that served as Jewell’s distribution center. Katz said nothing else as the driver headed up the West Side Highway. In the silence, he seemed like a different man than the brash dude who had come on to me at The Bugle, acting like a star reporter asserting male privilege. There was something almost comforting about his firm jawline in profile and his domed forehead with the receding hairline. I felt a brief moment of peace listening to the whooshing sounds of the cab’s windshield wipers and Katz breathing next to me as a light rain began to fall.. Read more
NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND
By Honey van Blossom
(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)
In July of 1888, one ten-year old girl and one eight-year old girl rode their horses over prairie and steppe grasslands that flowed under their horses’ hooves. The horses’ manes flew out wildly. The girls’ hair loosened from pins and billowed like clouds – one black, one brown – around the children’s heads and then streamed like flags of independence behind them. A rider less than twenty percent of the horse’s weight can encourage her horse to go twenty miles so perhaps each went twenty miles. At dusk, each child and her horse stopped to rest. Each girl fell asleep near her horse – one in Minnesota, one west of Warsaw — and returned to her home more slowly the next day.
In a photograph taken on her return to her home, Blanche Stanford wore a torn soiled white dress and leather boots and loosely held a little leather whip with a wooden handle in one hand, a whip she was to give to me when she was an old woman. She held her horse’s reins in her other hand. Her hair hung in uneven scraps. Flat Minnesota land extends behind her forever, land I was only to see through the glass of a stereopticon when I was three.
I imagine that on the day of Justyna’s ride she wore a long skirt with an apron embroidered by her mother Luisa, a tight fitting vest with ribbons sewn down the front, a white blouse and boots. Read more