Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Breeders – "Cannonball" (1993)

I'm the last splash

I have two wonderful daughters who just happen to be identical twins, so I’m always interested in reading stories involving twins.

My twins were married seven weeks apart.  One of them had a baby boy – my first grandchild – last July, while the other is due to deliver a boy in January.  That’s an 18-month age difference, which is pretty close.

But not as close as two 34-year-old identical twins from Cape Cod, whose first babies were born only 20 hours apart last month.

Rebecca Pistone and Rachael McGeoch have always loved being twins.  They wanted their children to be close to the same age, which they thought would be the next best thing to having a twin.

Pistone and McGeoch – or
maybe it's McGeoch and Pistone.
From the Cape Cod Times:

Pistone and her husband, William “Todd” Pistone, were married in 2016 and began trying to conceive their first child soon after, McGeoch said.

After several months with no success, Pistone suggested that McGeoch stop her birth control as well, in case it would also take her sister some time to become pregnant.

(It sounds like McGeogh just consulted with her sister – not the prospective father – before deciding to go off birth control and become pregnant.  That was my wife’s approach as well.)

Within a few weeks, McGeoch learned she was pregnant and immediately called her sister.

“You’re supposed to be pregnant first, I’m just supposed to be waiting,” McGeoch said.  “You have to take a test.”

To their surprise, Pistone learned she, too, was pregnant, and the sisters’ due dates were just 13 days apart.

But McGeoch ended up delivering her son William at 10:41 pm on August 15, while her twin – who was assigned a hospital room that was next door to her sister’s – gave birth to her daughter Andi at 6:54 pm the following evening.

William and Andi – or
maybe it's Andi and William
Pistone’s husband is named William, as is McGeoch’s fiancé.  (I’m so old that I remember when women got married before they had babies.) 

The twins’ father is also named William.  (Cue the Twilight Zone theme music.)  But his nickname was “Andy.”

So the names of both babies honor their grandfather, which is exactly as it should be.

Shortly after little William and Andi were born, McGeoch and her fiancé bought a house on the same Cape Cod lake where the Pistones live.  So the two cousins will grow up as neighbors – which is also exactly as it should be.

My grandson has never confused his mom for her identical twin.  So I doubt that the two children will have any trouble distinguishing mother from aunt.

*     *     *     *     *

“Cannonball” may be the best song ever recorded by a group whose members included identical twins.

Kim Deal was the original bass guitarist for the Pixies.  (Kim had never played the bass before joining the Pixies, but she was the only person who responded to the band’s classified ad seeking a bass player who was a fan of both Peter, Paul and Mary and Hüsker Dü.)  

Her identical twin Kelley was asked to be the drummer for the Pixies, but she chose to move to California and pursue a career as a computer programmer instead.

Kim and Kelley Deal – or
maybe it's Kelley and Kim Deal
A few years after Kim left the Pixies and formed the Breeders, she asked Keeley to be the band’s drummer.  Kelley wanted to be the lead guitarist, although she barely knew how to play the guitar.  I guess Kim couldn’t say no to her twin sister, so she taught Kelley how to play the lead parts.

Today’s featured song was released in 1993 on the band’s second and most successful studio album, Last Splash.  (Is it really possible that “Cannonball” is almost 25 years old?)

I can’t explain why “Cannonball” is a great record, but it is.  I have no idea what the lyrics mean – assuming they mean anything – and the musical structure of the song is elementary.  (It consists of a couple of good riffs, some feedback, and not much else.)

Here’s the music video for “Cannonball”) which was directed by our old friend, Spike Jonze):

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, September 17, 2017

First Class – "Beach Baby" (1974)

Beach baby, beach baby
Give me your hand
Give me somethin’ that I can remember!

Unlike most Cape Cod visitors, I don’t spend much time on the beach.

But when I do have a hankering to collect sea shells or just feel some sand between my toes, I eschew the busy public beaches where the day trippers and other hoi polloi hang out, and walk down the stairs that lead from our belvedere to the quiet strand below. 

Our beach – from the belvedere
The last time I visited Mayflower Beach, which is only a mile or so to the west of our house, it was to rescue my clueless  son, who had driven the family Toyota Camry on to the beach one Saturday night and gotten stuck in the loose sand.

Did I mention that the tide was coming in?  

I’ll never forget how he described his situation when he called from the Mayflower Beach parking lot: “Dad, I’m in a bit of a bind.”

*     *     *     *     *

I suppose I should be grateful that none of my kids ever called me from a Cape Cod jail.

Four sets of parents did receive such a call when their teenagers were arrested for “acting inappropriately in the water” at about 1:30 pm this past Fourth of July.

I’d give you three guesses as to what that inappropriate behavior was, but do really need three?  Isn’t one guess plenty? 

British newspapers do a much better job reporting on this kind of things than American journalists, so I’m going to quote from the account on the Daily Mail’s website: 

Four teenagers were arrested for allegedly having sex in the sea in full view of a large crowd of beachgoers in Cape Cod during July Fourth celebrations.

(“Large crowd” is no overstatement.  This was 1:30 pm on the Fourth of July at a popular public beach.  It was sunny and about 80 degrees at the time.  You best believe that was one crowded beach.)

Mayflower Beach (Dennis, MA)
According to the police report, a lifeguard first approached a local detective at about 1:30 pm on Independence Day.

The lifeguard informed the detective that he was told that a number of people were having sex in the water. . . .

[Detective Matthew] Turner wrote in his police report that he saw four individuals “embraced with one another” as they swam 100 feet from shore.

(I doubt that the teenagers were actually swimming.  The water is very shallow in that part of Massachusetts Bay – it was probably only waist-high or at most chest-high a hundred feet out.)

“I could not observe exactly what was going on, however both couple[s] were extremely closely embraced,” the detective wrote in his report.

“Each embraced couple were at a minimum kissing and stumbling about in the waves.”

I admire Detective Turner’s delicate prose – “extremely closely embraced” is a very tasteful way to describe the situation.

At the same time, Turner noted there were about 30 people in the water who witnessed the event up close and were cheering on the participants.

Police arresting the extremely
closely embraced teens
“This is disgusting, why is this allowed to go on here,” one angry beachgoer was heard saying.

(Every party has a pooper – that’s why we invited you!)

Turner then started to yell at the teens several times, but they did not respond.

A lifeguard then began to blow a whistle repeatedly, but to no avail, as the teens kept on “embracing and kissing.”

It was only after a second lifeguard entered the water and swam toward them that the youths began to make their approach to shore.

Turner said that as he was in the process of detaining the four teens, he detected a strong smell of alcohol and slurred speech from the entire group.

(That comes as no surprise.)

As the detective was taking the teens into custody, a crowd of about 300 people gathered to watch.

The four made efforts to shield their faces from the public after they walked out of court on Wednesday.

Here’s a photo showing them hiding their faces:

  Did they really think that was going to do any good?  The Daily Mail found about a zillion pictures of the kids on Facebook and Instagram, and posted them on its website.  You can click here to see those photos if you must, but don’t expect to them see on 2 or 3 lines – I despise such exploitative journalism!

The judge agreed to their request to postpone their arraignments while they take part in a program for youth offenders.

I assume that this “program for youth offenders” relates to underage drinking, not “extremely close embracing.”  

*     *     *     *     *

I’ve saved the best detail for last.

Here’s a video that went viral almost immediately after this incident.  In a scene somewhat reminiscent of the legendary American upset of the Russian hockey team at the 1980 Olympics, the crowd is chanting “U – S – A!  U – S – A!” as the hormone-and-alcohol-crazed teenagers extremely closely embrace:

*     *     *     *     *

“Beach Baby” has many of the same characteristics of some of the greatest Beach Boys songs.  But anyone who hears “Beach Baby” and thinks he or she is listening to a Beach Boys record knows nothing about music.

That’s not to say “Beach Baby” isn’t a great pop song, because it is.

That’s not a surprise given that it was co-written by John Carter, who also co-wrote “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” (a #2 hit for Herman’s Hermits), “Little Bit O’ Soul” (a #2 hit for the Music Explosion), and the truly great “My World Fell Down” (which should have been a huge hit for Sagittarius, but inexplicably flopped).   

Carter was one of the founders of the Ivy League, a British trio that had a couple of top ten singles in the UK in 1965. 

Carter was also a successful studio singer – he did backup vocals for the Who’s “I Can’t Explain” and Tom Jones’s “It’s Not Unusual,” and sang lead on “Winchester Cathedral,” a nostalgic oddity that made it to #1 on the Billboard “Hot 100” in 1966.

But Carter didn’t sing lead on “Beach Baby.”  He hired Tony Burrows – who had replaced Carter in the Ivy League when Carter got tired of touring – to record that song.

In addition to handling the lead vocal on “Beach Baby” for the First Class, Burrows was also the singer for four different one-hit-wonder group whose sole hits were all released in the first four months of 1970: Edison Lighthouse (“Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes”), White Plains (“My Baby Loves Lovin’”), The Brotherhood of Man (“United We Stand”), and the one and only Pipkins (“Gimme Dat Ding”).

Here’s a video of five musicians who had nothing to do with the recording of “Beach Baby” lip-synching to that record on a TV show.  (The two First Class albums – “Beach Baby” was on the first one – were recorded by a group of studio musicians that Carter put together.  When the song became a hit, he hired five other musicians to perform live as the First Class.)

Click below to buy “Beach Baby” from Amazon:  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Beyond Twilight – "Hellfire" (2001)

Before me now I see a dying planet
Captured souls with microchips implanted 

Radio-frequency identification (“RFID”) microchips were first implanted in pets and other animals over 25 years ago.

An RFID chip, which isn’t much bigger than a grain of rice, has a unique ID number that is recorded in a database when the chip is injected into an animal.  A veterinarian or animal shelter worker equipped with a scanner can read the ID number and go to the database to identify a lost animal’s owner. 

Millions of animals have been implanted with microchips to date.  According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, microchipped animals are much more likely to be recovered if they are lost or stolen.

An x-ray showing an implanted microchip
Three Square Market, a tech company located in River Falls, Wisconsin, is offering its employees the opportunity to have a microchip implanted in the little flap of skin that’s between the base of your thumb and the base of your index finger (which has a lot of different names – including the purlicue, the thenar space, the thumb crotch, the interdigital fold, the kagina, the pagina, and the flagina).

An employee who has the microchip implanted doesn’t need a card key to get into the building – all he or she need to do is hold his or her hand near a chip-reading device.

And the microchip would make paying for lunch or a snack in the company cafeteria a lot easier – just wave your hand at the reader and go.

Some people are concerned that the device could be used to make sure employees aren't spending too much time in the bathroom, or taking too long to eat lunch.

But the company’s CEO, Todd Westby, told a New York Times reporter that those fears are groundless:

[Westby] emphasized that the chip’s capabilities were limited.  “All it is is an RFID chip reader,” he said. “It’s not a GPS tracking device.  It’s a passive device and can only give data when data’s requested.”

“Nobody can track you with it,” [he] added.  “Your cellphone does 100 times more reporting of data than does an RFID chip.”

*     *     *     *     *

I don’t trust Mr. Westby for as moment.  

I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that his company is working on a technology that will allow wives and girlfriends to track their husbands and boyfriends with these microchips.  

Forget his cover story about enabling employees to gain access to secure building areas without a card key, or to buy a ham sandwich and a bag of chips in the company café without pulling out cash or a debit card.

This is all about women keeping track of the whereabouts of men.  That’s the killer app for implantable microchips.

*     *     *     *     *

I understand that it may be possible to wear a ring that contains a microchip instead of having the chip implanted under the skin.

That’s what I recommend, guys.  (For obvious reasons.)

*     *     *     *     *
“Hellfire” was released in 2001 on The Devil’s Hall of Fame, the first studio album from the Danish progressive metal band, Beyond Twilight. 

The Beyond Twilight website explains what The Devil’s Hall of Fame is all about:

[The album] deals with the personality of a human being, hacking his way through a computer into his own mind.  All the things he experiences on this journey are found deep in his subconscious. 

Someone has implanted a chip in his brain and he realizes that some of the files are corrupted while others are missing.  By hacking deeper into his own brain he slowly recaptures bits and pieces of his lost memory and the man commences on an adventurous trip through time. 

He relives past and future situations of his life, such as his own funeral – without being dead.  He falls in and out of love with the same female through different ages of time.  They meet several times through out the story, experiencing passion, anxiety, fear, anger and pain.  He finds the secret key to the strongest and most passionate love of human nature in sadomasochism.  He as the S, she as the M.  And together they live out their most intense dreams.  They are drawn to each other. 

This kind of thing goes on for quite a long time.

Here’s “Hellfire”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Paul Lynde and Marijane Maricle – "Kids" (1960)

I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!

I recently saw this headline on the business news website, Business Insider:

The story went on to offer a surprising explanation for stagnating sales at Hooters restaurants:

Millennials are less interested in breasts than their elders.

People from the age of 18 to 24 are 19% less likely to search for breasts on pornographic website Pornhub compared to all other age groups, according to an analysis conducted by the website.

Nice wings!
For comparison, Pornhub visitors from the ages of 55 to 64 are 17% more likely to search for breast-related content. . . . 

For “breastaurants” like Hooters, a loss of interest in breasts is bad for business.  The number of Hooters locations in the US has dropped by more than 7% from 2012 to 2016, and sales have stagnated, according to industry reports.

Here are the states that are the most interested and least interested in breasts:

Despite the relative lack of interest in breasts among millennials, it does appear that American males as a whole are still pretty obsessed with boobs.  According to Pornhub, the United States is #5 in per capita breast-related searches.  

The only four countries whose residents are more likely to do such searches are (in reverse order of ranking) the UK, Canada, Finland, and . . . coming in at #1 . . . Nigeria.  (Really?)

The five countries that generate the least number of breast-related searches relative to their populations are all in South America: Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru.

So just what are South Americans searching for on Pornhub?

*     *     *     *     *

Adding to Hooters’ woes is a new rival breastaurant called Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks is trying to out-Hooter Hooters.  “Hooters just isn’t racy enough,” the founder of Twin Peaks told a reporter in 2014.  Twin Peaks waitresses doff their usual outfits (“tiny plaid shirts and barely-there shorts”) and wear lingerie on special occasions – like Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day. 

"A job with no sidework"?
Twin Peaks also promises draft beer “served at a teeth-chattering 29 degrees.”  That’s quite a bit colder than beer nerds would say is optimal.

(Alcohol has a lower freezing temperature than water, so beer doesn’t freeze at 29 degrees.  If it gets much colder than that, it will freeze – so don’t leave beer in your freezer.)

I’ve never been in or even seen a Twin Peaks.  The company is headquartered in Dallas — which figures.  (One third of the chain’s 80 restaurants are in Texas.  Most of the rest are in the South and the Midwest.)

The third major breastaurant brand is Tilted Kilt.  I’ve never been in or seen a Tilted Kilt either, although several of that chain’s 50 or so locations are in my neck of the woods.  (Slogan: “A cold beer never looked so good.”)

Tilted Kilt servers
Tilted Kilts have a Celtic theme in contrast to the outdoorsy, wilderness-lodge-style decor of Twin Peaks.

*     *     *     *     *

All these breastaurants offer beer, wings, and lots of big-screen TVs.  Expect to find a real sausage fest if you go to one.

The good news for breastaurants is that while millennials seem to have lost interest in boobs, they still love wings.

Of course, beer never goes out of style.

*     *     *     *     *

The plot of Bye Bye Birdie – which opened on Broadway in 1960, and ran for 607 performances – was inspired by Elvis Presley’s being drafted into the U.S. Army.  

The original Broadway cast included Dick Van Dyke, Paul Lynde, Chita Rivera, and . . . Michael J. Pollard?  Van Dyke periodically took time off from the show, and his fill-ins included Gene Rayburn and Charles Nelson Reilly, who many of us will remember from their appearances on The Match Game.  (Lynde, of course, is best remembered as a regular on The Hollywood Squares.)

Paul Lynde and Ann-Margret
Van Dyke and Lynde reprised their Broadway roles in the 1963 film version of Bye Bye Birdie.  The female cast members of the movie included Janet Leigh, Maureen Stapleton, and Ann-Margret.

The movie adaptation showcased Ann-Margret’s singing and dancing, and led to her being chosen to co-star with Elvis in Viva Las Vegas.

Van Dyke and Janet Leigh were reportedly unhappy with the film’s focus on her.  Paul Lynde said, “They should have retitled [the movie] Hello Ann-Margret!”   

Here’s the original Broadway cast recording of “Kids”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Don Fardon – "Indian Reservation" (1968)

They took the whole Indian nation
Locked us on this reservation

(NOTE: This is the last in a series of 2 or 3 lines posts about the current debate over whether we should tear down the statues of Confederate leaders like Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis or leave them alone.  It’s been a bit of a slog, I know, but don't despair.  I promise to get back to the tasteless nonsense that you’ve come to expect from 2 or 3 lines very, very soon.)

*     *     *     *     *

We Americans have many reasons to be proud of our country.  But we have a some things to answer for as well.

I think that most people would agree that the darkest blot on American history was the enslavement of millions of Africans and their descendants.

But if our treatment of native Americans wasn’t equally shameful, it came very close.

*     *     *     *     *

In his biography of Adolf Hitler, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Toland wrote that “Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history.”

According to Toland, Hitler “admired the camps . . . for the Indians in the wild west; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination – by starvation and even combat – of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.”

Hitler was apparently “very interested in the way the Indian population had rapidly declined due to epidemics and starvation when the United States government forced them to live on the reservations.”

 *     *     *     *     *

The three men most responsible for bringing the Plains Indians to their knees were Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, and Philip Sheridan, who historian Michael Fellman has referred to as the “great triumvirate of the Civil War.”  

The three men, Fellman wrote, “applied their shared ruthlessness, born of their Civil War experiences, against a people all three despised” – the Sioux, Cheyenne, Comanche, and other Indian tribes who lived on the Great Plains.

*     *     *     *     *

In 1869, Phil Sheridan met the Comanche chief, Tosawi, at Fort Cobb, Oklahoma.  “Me good Indian,” the chief told Sheridan, who is said to have replied, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.”  (Sheridan denied making that statement but many historians believe he did, in fact, say it – or something very similar.)

Sherman’s attitude toward native Americans was just as hardhearted, if not more so.  Sherman once wrote these words to his brother John, who was a U.S. Senator:

The more we can kill this year, the less will have to be killed [in] the next war.

This statue of Sherman
stands near the White House
Sherman advocated harsh treatment of all Indians – not just the warriors.  Here’s what he said in an 1866 letter to Grant:

We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women, and children. . . . During an assault, the soldiers cannot pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age. 

Sherman must have liked “vindictive earnestness” because he used it again in an 1868 communication to the commander of a Kansas fort:

I propose that General Sheridan shall prosecute the war with vindictive earnestness against all hostile Indians till they are obliterated or beg for mercy.

By “hostile Indians,” Sherman meant all Indians who refused to capitulate and move to a reservation.  

As far as Sherman was concerned, the Plains Indian tribes had two choices.  If they surrendered and agreed to settle on a reservation, they would be allowed to live.  If they didn’t, they would be hunted down and killed.

It seems clear which outcome Sherman was rooting for.  “Probably in the end it will be better to kill them all,” he once wrote his wife.  

*      *     *     *     *

When Grant was elected President in 1868, Sherman – who had fought side-by-side with Grant in the Civil War – succeeded him as the commanding general of the U.S. Army. 

This statue of Grant stands near the U.S. Capitol
Sherman quickly began to apply the strategies that had been so effective in the Civil War to the Army’s operations against the Plains Indians.  

From a 1994 article by history professor David Smits:

The Civil War had taught Sherman that the enemy's power to resist depended not only upon its military strength, but also upon the will of its people.  He had learned that to shatter the enemy's will to resist, it was necessary to destroy his ability to supply his armies.  The man who desolated much of the South did so with the conviction that his Army of the Tennessee “must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war”; Sherman relied on the same strategy to subdue the Plains Indians.

Sherman concluded that the most effective way to bring those tribes to their knees was to annihilate the buffalo in the region.  In a letter to Grant, he referred to this strategy as “the final solution” to the Indian problem.  (Hitler used the same phrase some 70 years later.)

From an 1869 report in the Army Navy Journal:

General Sherman remarked, in conversation the other day, that the quickest way to compel the Indians to settle down to civilized life was to send ten regiments of soldiers to the plains, with orders to shoot buffaloes until they became too scarce to support the redskins.

A George Catlin painting of a
Plains Indian hunting a buffalo
Once there were no longer enough buffalo left to feed the Plains Indian tribes, they would have to move to reservations or starve to death. 

*     *     *     *     *

Sherman assigned primary responsibility for the war on the buffalo herds to General Philip Sheridan, who had contributed to the Union’s eventual victory in the Civil War by laying waste to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, a fertile region that had supplied large amounts of food and forage to Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army.

It quickly became apparent that there weren’t enough troops in all the cavalry and artillery regiments stationed in the American West to reduce the size of the buffalo herds sufficiently to force the Plains tribes into submission.

But when hordes of civilian hunters began to descend on the Great Plains in hopes of making their fortunes by killing buffalo, Sheridan had found the solution to his problem.  

He ordered his officers to assist the hunters, and opposed efforts by conservation-minded state legislators to protect the buffalo herds from indiscriminate slaughter.

From an eyewitness account of Sheridan testimony before the Texas legislature, which was considering a buffalo protection measure:

He told them that instead of stopping the hunters they ought to give them a hearty, unanimous vote of thanks, and appropriate a sufficient sum of money to strike and present to each one a medal of bronze, with a dead buffalo on one side and a discouraged Indian on the other.  He said, “These men have done in the last two years, and will do more in the next year, to settle the vexed Indian question, than the entire regular army has done in the last thirty years.  They are destroying the Indians’ com- missary; and it is a well-known fact that any army losing its base of supplies is placed at a great disadvantage.  Send them powder and lead, if you will; but, for the sake of a lasting peace, let them kill, skin, and sell until the buffaloes are exterminated.”

These buffalo skulls will
be made into fertilizer
“Sheridan was the officer most responsible for promoting the annihilation” of the great buffalo herds, according to Smits, whose article concludes as follows:

In the end, the frontier army’s well-calculated policy of destroying the buffalo in order to conquer the Plains Indians proved more effective than any other weapon in its arsenal.  Too small and too inept to vanquish the plains tribes expeditiously, the army aided and was in turn aided by the “sportsmen” and professional hunters who, along with the army itself, managed to destroy the Indians’ staff of life.  With the mainstay of their diet gone the Indians had no choice but to accept a servile fate on a reservation where they could subsist on government handouts.  From the Indian perspective the buffalo’s disappearance was a shattering blow.  . . . Sitting Bull summed up the results of the annihilation: “A cold wind blew across the prairie when the last buffalo fell – a death-wind for my people.”

*     *     *     *     *

Statues and of Confederate generals such as Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson are becoming an endangered species.  Those who support the removal of such statues from public buildings and parks ask why in the world are we honoring men who fought to preserve slavery and white supremacy.

Perhaps it’s time to question why we’re honoring men who committed cultural genocide against the Plains Indian tribes, and who were prepared to commit literal genocide if those tribes had not surrendered.

My first home in Washington was a stone’s throw from Sheridan Circle, a traffic circle on Massachusetts Avenue that featured a large equestrian statue of Philip Sheridan.

The Sheridan Circle statue of Philip Sheridan
There’s a towering statue of Sherman on the grounds of the White House, and a statue of Grant just below the west front of the United States Capitol.  

Of course, Washington is not the only city with monuments to these three men.  There’s another equestrian statue of Sheridan in Chicago, and New Yorkers are familiar with the famous Sherman statue on Fifth Avenue, just south of Central Park, and the General Grant National Memorial, which is usually referred to as “Grant’s Tomb.”  (The website for the Grant memorial says that Grant “strove to . . . make rights for all citizens a reality.”  Most native Americans would beg to differ with that statement.)

Those who are demonstrating for the removal of Confederate memorials seem to be turning a blind eye to statues of Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan.

This statue of Sherman stands in New York City
The author of this comment on the Washington Post’s website isn’t surprised by that rampant hypocrisy: 

I don’t see how the monuments to Gens. Philip Sheridan, William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant can remain in Washington, D.C., in our new climate of how to publicly remember history.  All three men were a part of the near-genocide of the Great Plains Indians in the post-Civil War era.

But then again, [Washington] is the same town that tolerates the Washington Redskins franchise name.

*     *     *     *     *

“Indian Reservation” was written by the late John D. Loudermilk, Jr., who penned a number of country and pop hits – including one of my favorite obscure singles from the sixties, “Tobacco Road” by the Nashville Teens.

Marvin Rainwater’s original 1959 recording of the song was titled “The Pale Faced Indian.”  Rainwater, who was one-quarter Cherokee, was a regular on Ozark Jubilee, a live country music television show that was broadcast from Springfield, Missouri.  You can click here to listen to Rainwater’s recording of the song.

The best-known recording of the song was the Raiders’ 1971 cover, which reached #1 on the Billboard “Hot 100.”  You can click here to listen to it.  

But I’ve decided to feature the English pop singer Don Fardon’s version of the song, which I don’t remember ever hearing although it made it to #20 on the “Hot 100” in the summer of 1968.

Here’s Don Fardon’s “Indian Reservation”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, September 8, 2017

Bee Gees – "Stayin' Alive" (1977)

Feel the city breaking
And everybody shaking, people
Stayin' alive, stayin' alive

President Trump recently made what law professors and students are fond of calling a “slippery slope” argument when he questioned the wisdom of taking down statues of famous Confederate figures:

So, this week it's Robert E. Lee.  I notice that Stonewall Jackson is coming down.  I wonder is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?  You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop? . . . George Washington was a slave owner. . . . So will George Washington now lose his status?  Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? . . . Because he was a major slave owner.  Now are we going to take down his statue?

Law professor Ilya Somin believes that it’s easy to distinguish between Confederates like Lee and Jackson and figures like Washington and Jefferson:

There are two big distinctions.  One, nobody honors George Washington precisely for the fact that he owned slaves, whereas the Confederate leaders, when they're honored, are honored almost entirely for their service to the Confederacy, which was created for a purpose of perpetuating and extending slavery.

Second, while I think it's very much correct to criticize the Founding Fathers for owning slaves, those of them who did, they also had great achievements in other areas which do legitimately deserve honor.  By contrast . . . very few of [the Confederate leaders] would be remembered today but for what they did in the Civil War to protect slavery.

*     *     *     *     *

In the last 2 or 3 lines, I introduced you to Albert Pike and James Bevel.

Pike was a 19th-century Renaissance man – a lawyer, orator, philosopher, poet, scholar, and soldier.  He grew up in Boston, then moved to Arkansas – where he served briefly as a general in the Confederate Army.  After the Civil War was over, he settled in Washington, DC, where he dedicated the rest of his life to the cause of Freemasonry.

Albert Pike in Masonic regalia
Bevel worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr., and planned several of the most memorable civil rights initiatives of the 1960s.  But he later became an ally of Lyndon LaRouche and then Louis Farrakhan, and was convicted late in his life for committing incest with his young daughter.

So what’s the connection between Pike and Bevel?

James Bevel and Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1901, the Scottish Rite Masons – with the blessings of Congress – erected a statue commemorating Pike’s work on behalf of that fraternity on a plot of federal land in Washington, DC.

The dedication of the Pike statue was preceded by a procession of what a Washington newspaper called “probably the most distinguished body of Masons ever assembled in this country,” followed by band music and a speech by the head of the District of Columbia government, who noted one important distinction between Pike’s statue and most of the statues in Your Nation’s Capital: it “honor[s] the victories of peace rather than [those] of war.” 

In 1992, Bevel led a band of protestors who alleged that Pike had been a Ku Klux Klan leader before moving to Washington – an allegation that Pike’s biographer says is false – and that his statue should be taken down.

*     *     *     *     *

The Bevel-led protests were unsuccessful, and nobody paid much attention to the Pike statue for the next 25 years.  

The Albert Pike statue
Demonstrations against statues of more famous Confederates like Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis are getting most of the headlines today.  But despite Pike’s relative obscurity – by which I mean that 99.99% of Americans have no clue who the dude was – his statue hasn’t gone unprotested by the residents of Washington, PC.  (Oops! I meant to say “DC,” not “PC.”)  

And those protests haven’t been ignored by local politicians.  Several D.C. Council members have written to the National Park Service, the agency that’s in charge of the Pike monument, to demand that it be taken away.  “Albert Pike was a proponent of slavery and a brigadier general in the Confederate Army,” their letter said.  “[T]he presence of a statue honoring Albert Pike only serves to perpetuate and incite hate, violence, and oppression.”

*     *     *     *     *

The obvious difference between Pike’s statue and those of Lee, Jackson, and other more prominent Confederate generals is that you would never know from Pike’s statue that he had ever served in the Confederate army.

Pike’s bronze statue, which is about eleven feet tall, depicts him wearing civilian clothing – not a Confederate uniform.  In his left hand, he holds a book – presumably his Morals and Dogma tome.   

A modern edition of Pike’s magnum opus
In addition, the intent of those who erected the Pike statue was to honor his many years of dedicated service to Scottish Rite Freemasonry – not his brief service in the Confederate Army.

The logic of those who believe that we should pull down the statues of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and other Confederate leaders is that those statues are monuments of white supremacists that were erected by white supremacists and for white supremacists.

That’s not true of the Pike statue.  

*     *     *     *     *

Some people might argue that the Pike statue should come down anyway because Pike did something bad: he fought to defend slavery.

If you start taking down all the statues of men who did bad, you’re going to find yourself sliding down the mother of all slippery slopes.

All those Washington and Jefferson statues are going to have to go, because each of those iconic figures owned hundreds of slaves.  That certainly qualifies as a bad thing.

Should this Jefferson statue
stay, or should it go?
So does committing incest with your daughter.  So if there are any monuments honoring James Bevel for his contributions to the civil rights movement, they need to be hidden away.

*     *     *     *     *

So far, that big-ass statue of Albert Pike – which stands just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol – is stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.  (By the way, the National Statuary Hall  in the Capitol – which has two statues chosen by each of the 50 states – includes ten Confederate statues.)

But what will be the ultimate fate of Albert Pike’s statue?  I’m not sure, but I am sure of one thing: it’s fate won’t depend on logic and reason, but on politics.

If it were up to the District of Columbia’s government, it would already be hidden away.  (That’s not surprising given that African-Americans outnumber whites in D.C., where Clinton voters outnumbered Trump voters by an astonishing 90% to 4%.)
But the Pike statue was erected on land owned by the federal government. 

As noted above, the National Park Service is the federal entity with jurisdiction over the Pike monument, and that fact alone ensures that it will some time before anything happens to it.

The Virginia State Monument at Gettysburg
is topped by a statue of Robert E. Lee
I say that not because our current President has expressed doubts about the wisdom of tearing down statues depicting Confederate figures, although that  doesn’t hurt Albert Pike's cause.

No, I say that because the National Park Service has an institutional bias in favor of preservation regardless of who is in the White House.  (That agency has already said there is no chance that it will be removing any of the many Confederate statues and monuments located at Gettysburg and the other national military parks it administers.)

And there’s one other thing: no matter who is President, federal agencies almost never move quickly.  They are world-class procrastinators.  

So my money is on the survival of the Albert Pike statue – at least for the time being.

*     *     *     *     *

Of course, it’s always possible that a mob will show up one day, throw a rope around old Albert’s neck, and pull his ass to the ground.

That’s what happened in Durham, North Carolina recently, when a mob wrecked a statue of a generic Confederate soldier that stood outside the old county courthouse.

Mob rule in Durham, NC
Local police stood by and watched the statue being toppled because it stood on county property, not city property, and because county sheriff’s deputies were present at the time.

Sheriff’s deputies stood by and watched the statue being toppled because . . . frankly, I have no idea why they stood by and watched.

*     *     *     *     *

According to the American Heart Association, the tempo of “Stayin’ Alive” is perfect for  performing hands-only CPR:

Here’s “Stayin’ Alive”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon: