What's the source for your claim that "200 more African Americans lost their lives to 'bad apples' since George Floyd's death on 5/25/20? I'm familiar with the Washington Post's police shootings database, but it doesn't, as far as I know, let users extract date-based data. What I do know, from the Post's database, is that a total of 18 unarmed Black people--17 men and one woman--were killed by cops in calendar year 2020. The other 225 Black people killed by cops in 2020 were armed. Wherever you got your stats, the way you've phrased things is intellectually dishonest. At least…


Kenny Wayne Shepherd and the Extreme Lee (2015)

“The blues world — the contemporary American mainstream scene and its discussants — has a race problem.”

Several years ago, when I wrote that opening sentence for my new book, Whose Blues? Facing Up to Race and the Future of the Music (2020), I’d already seen signs of serious discontent among some African American blues people, although few white blues musicians and fans seemed concerned. …


Between March 2002, when I purchased the Honda from Max Tarnishovsky in New York City, and May 2013, when I sold it to Stacey Boone in Oxford, Mississippi with 372,000 miles on the odometer, I racked up a total of 210,000 miles. It felt like a lifetime but was only eleven years.

For seven of those years, I was driving a shiny, sapphire-blue jewel. Fourteen years earlier it had begun life as a standard-issue four-door 1992 Honda Accord LX, black with a light grey interior. Take away the fancy paint, the chrome rims and fat wide Nankangs, the Thermal exhaust…


in memory of Sterling Magee (May 20, 1936 — September 6, 2020)

(courtesy Danny Clinch)

In 1991, when my blues duo Satan and Adam first began to break into the national market with the release of our debut album, Harlem Blues, journalists and DJs were curious about how we’d met. What they were really trying to say was, “He’s an old black bluesman from Mississippi and you’re a young white guy with degrees from Princeton and Columbia. You’ve got absolutely nothing in common!”

Sometimes they said that in so many words; sometimes they just hinted at it. The music we made spoke for…


Harlem broke open for me in the spring of 1986. This was six months before I first jammed with Mr. Satan on 125th Street, but it’s the key to that whole period. Without John Spruill, Tippy Larkin, Jimmy “Preacher” Robins, Phil Young, and the other musicians who welcomed me, without the audiences at La Famille and Showman’s, there’s no way I would have had the nerve to do what I did later. The experience demolished the way I’d been programmed to think about Harlem.

These days a fair number of politically inclined people, white and black alike, use the phrase…


The question on the minds of everybody who follows politics right now is: Why would Donald Trump stoop so low as to insult Hillary Clinton for her bathroom breaks during a recent Democratic Presidential debate? Isn’t that so far beyond the pale that it’s just….un-Presidential in the extreme? And, apart from a few yahoos, why would anybody — anybody— whatever their politics, think this was acceptable, much less something worth roaring one’s approval at?

I think it’s time for all of us, and especially my good friends on the Left, to understand that Trump is playing a different sort of…


“life is not about good vs. evil, but about good and evil eaten off the same plate.” — Kalamu ya Salaam

When an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown was shot dead on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri by a white cop, Darren Wilson, on August 9, 2014, and when angry protests sponsored by Black Lives Matter poured onto the streets and rocked Ferguson for a full week, drawing live feeds from the major cable networks, anyone would be forgiven for feeling that America was coming apart. The revolution was being televised; the fires were burning. Straw metaphors abounded: the…


Dear Fellow Citizen:

You’re not supposed to exist, but you do. Politically, you might locate yourself somewhere on the line that runs from center-right to flag-waving conservative. You may be evangelical, or you may be a crusty atheist. I wouldn’t be surprised if you described yourself as an independent. (I do that these days, although I’ve voted for Democrats pretty much my entire life.) You might be a libertarian. You may have the bearing of Clint Eastwood in “Gran Torino”: scowling at the world, unhappy with where it’s going.

You may be young or old, white or black or white-and-black…

Adam Gussow

Husband, father, professor, author, musician, runner.

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