Friday, March 23, 2018

The First Edition – "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" (1968)

I pushed my soul in a deep dark hole
And then I followed it in

At the end of The Big Lebowski, the Sam Elliott cowboy-narrator character offers this pithy review of the movie:  “It was a purty good story, don't you think?  Made me laugh to beat the band.  Parts, anyway.” 

Jeff Bridges and Sam Elliott in The Big Lebowski
There’s been a lot of hoorah recently about The Big Lebowski because it turned 20 years old this month.  As a result of that hoorah, I checked the DVD out of the public library and watched the movie in its entirety for the first time.

Like Sam Elliott, it made me laugh to beat the band, too.  Parts, anyway.  

Other parts, not so much.

*     *     *     *     *

The lead character in The Big Lebowski – his name is Jeff Lebowski, but he is usually called “the Dude” – is portrayed by Jeff Bridges at his shaggy-doggiest.  

The Bridges character was inspired by a friend of the Coen brothers – who wrote and directed the movie – whom they obviously found incredibly amusing.  

I guess you had to be there.  To me, the Dude is just another unemployed, long-haired, dope-smoking sixties burnout.  

*     *     *     *     *

The other cast members of The Big Lebowski include a number of actors who appear at least semi-regularly in Joel and Ethan Coen’s movies – including the late Jon Polito, John Turturro, Steve Buscemi, and John Goodman.

The Coen brothers have said that they had those actors in mind when they wrote the parts for the characters they played.  

Polito appears in only one scene – a scene which has no apparent reason for existing.  It adds two minutes to the length of the movie but accomplishes nothing else.

Turturro absolutely kills with his over-the-top portrayal of a swishy Hispanic bowler named Jesus:

It’s a small role, but Jesus is as vivid and unforgettable as anything in the movie.  (I don’t think this character would fly today – he’s not only a gay stereotype, but a child-molester as well – but I guess that didn’t bother anyone in 1998.) 

Buscemi’s role is just the opposite: inoffensive and exceptionally forgettable.  You could cut his character out of the movie and not miss a thing.  What a waste of a great character actor.

Goodman’s character is a cliché, and an unfunny one at that.  He swears and threatens and blusters and pontificates, and generally makes you wish 90% or so of his lines had been cut.  (Perhaps the dumbest idea the Coens had was to make Goodman’s character a very observant converted Jew who refuses to bowl on the Shabbos.)

*     *     *     *     *

In an interview that’s included on the DVD of the movie, the Coens explain that The Big Lebowski was inspired by The Big Sleep, another LA-based private-eye flick with a notoriously incoherent plot.  (The story goes that neither the screenwriters – one of whom was William Faulkner – nor the director were sure whether one of the characters had killed himself or been murdered.)

There are some similarities between those two movies.  For example, The Big Lebowski’s Bunny Lebowski character a lubricious trophy wife and part-time porn star played by Tara Reid, who couldn’t have been cuter if she tried – is an X-rated version of The Big Sleep’s Carmen Sternwood.  

Carmen’s come-on line to The Big Sleep’s male star, Humphrey Bogart, is “You’re cute.”  Bunny’s come-on line to Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski is a tad more explicit:

The movie that the Coen brothers stole the most from was not The Big Sleep, but Robert Altman’s 1973 flick, The Long Goodbye – which was, like The Big Sleep, based on a Raymond Chandler novel.  

The Big Lebowski is not nearly as good as The Long Goodbye, an eccentric film that also lulls you into a state of bemused confusion but then surprises you with the most shockingly violent scene I’ve ever seen in a movie.

The Busby Berkeleyesque “Gutterballs” dream sequence in The Big Lebowski is like nothing in either The Big Sleep or The Long Goodbye.  It’s a hot mess that’s redeemed only by its use of today’s featured song:

*     *     *     *     *

The Big Lebowski is the movie equivalent of side two of Abbey Road – it has its moments, but few of those moments have anything to do with one another.  The whole is less than the sum of its parts, and the sum of its parts isn’t anything to write home about.

You can say the same about the movie’s soundtrack.  Bob Dylan’s “The Man In Me” is not one of his better efforts, but it’s prominently featured on that soundtrack, as are several campy selections that were chosen with tongue firmly in cheek – like “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” “Standing on the Corner (Watching All the Girls Go By),” and “Viva Las Vegas” (two non-Elvis versions).

But kudos to the Coens for making the Dude a devotee of Creedence Clearwater Revival rather than the Grateful Dead or the Eagles.

And for using the Townes Van Zandt cover of “Dead Flowers” over the closing credits.

And especially for choosing the truly fabulous 1968 Kenny Rogers and the First Edition hit, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” to accompany the aforementioned “Gutterballs” dream sequence.  BEST SONG EVER!

Here’s “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Stabbing Westward – "Save Yourself" (1998)

I can not save you
I can't even save myself

The first day of spring, it snowed in Washington, DC.  

My grandson Jack enjoying the snow
One member of the DC City Council blamed the snow on . . . rich Jews?  (Why isn’t the whole world insisting that this bozo resign his Council seat toot sweet?)

I’m not sure why it snowed on March 21, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the fault of the Rothschilds.

*     *     *     *     *

By contrast, the day before the first day of spring – in other words, the final day of winter – was lovely in the DC area.

I took advantage of the 61-degree temperature to load up my bike on my new bike rack and my new car and head to the C&O Canal towpath for a ride.

The C&O Canal, which is 184-plus miles long, was built between 1828 and 1850.  No freight-carrying boat has used the canal since 1924.  In 1971, a law was passed that established the C&O Canal National Historical Park, and today the towpath is a popular place to hike and bike.

I’m slowly but surely accomplishing my goal of riding the entire length of the canal on my bike.  It’s taking quite a while because I’m doing it by myself.  

That doubles my distance because I have to ride roundtrips.  Say I park at mile 50 and ride to mile 60 – then I have to ride back to mile 50 because that’s where my car is.  That means I have to ride 20 miles for each 10 miles of the canal that I cover.

And while a good part of the canal is no more than an hour’s drive from my home, the western parts of the C&O are more than two hours away.

That’s OK.  I’m retired – I’ve got nothing but time!

*     *     *     *     *

On Monday, I started at mile 22 of the C&O – in other words, 22 miles upstream from the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, where the canal ends.  (It feels like you’re a lot farther than 22 miles from downtown Washington, but you’re not.)

Less than a mile upstream is Aqueduct No. 1, which carried the canal over Seneca Creek.  That aqueduct was constructed between 1829 and 1832, using red sandstone from a nearby quarry.

Here's a photo of a canal boat using the aqueduct in 1882:

Seneca Creek aqueduct in 1882
The Seneca Creek aqueduct is the only one of the eleven on the C&O that also serves as a lift lock – Lock 24, also known as Riley’s Lock (after one of the lockkeepers who manned that lock).

Here’s the house that Mr. Riley lived in:

Unfortunately, the Seneca Creek aqueduct suffered heavy damage in a 1971 flood.  The National Park Service shored up the aqueduct with steel beams, but never restored the entire structure:

*     *     *     *     *

A company that offers outdoor-adventure summer camps for kids parks its busses near Riley’s Lock in the off-season:

My oldest grandson, Jack – he’s 20 months old – is obsessed with trucks and busses, so I took some pictures of the camp busses and showed them to him the next day.  He stared at them like I used to stare at Playboy centerfolds.  

*     *     *     *     *

My turnaround point was Lock 25, which was just short of nine miles from where I started my ride.

The lockkeeper's house at Lock 25
The lockhouse at Lock 25 is available for overnight stays.  It looks pretty nice, but there’s no heat, no electricity and no indoor plumbing.  (There’s a nearby port-a-potty, however.)  The cost?  Only $110 a night.  

Lock 25 is a stone’s throw away from what used to be the town of Edwards Ferry.  This canal had opened to this point in 1830, and a community with warehouses, stores, and a blacksmith quickly sprang up to service the canal traffic.  But the Civil War brought all that to an end.

*     *     *     *     *

There’s not a lot to see between Seneca Creek and Edwards Ferry.  The Potomac River is wide and relatively placid along this stretch of the canal:

*     *     *     *     *

I got back to my car about 5:30, which gave me plenty of time to drive to nearby Poolesville, MD, and enjoy happy hour at Cugini’s, a popular local pizza, subs, and wings joint that always has an impressive selection of local craft beers on tap:

I chose the “Wait . . . Pull What Out?” imperial stout from RAR Brewing, which is located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  (The beer’s name is a quote from the movie Old School.  You could have fooled me . . .)

At 12.5% ABV, one 10-ounce pour was plenty:

I sipped it as I watched the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team play its second-round NCAA tournament game.

I love watching the UConn women, who have been utterly dominant for years.  (One sportswriter described them as “a basketball death machine of epic proportions.”)  

No women’s college team has ever scored more than 55 points in a quarter, 94 points in a half, or 140 points in a game.  UConn broke those records not against some winless punching bag, but against a conference champion that won 24 games in the regular season.

*     *     *     *     *

Christopher Hall and Walter Flakus formed Stabbing Westward in 1986, when they were students at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois.  Hall once told an interviewer what the band’s name signified:

Since we went to Western Illinois University, Stabbing Westward had a certain “kill everybody in the school’ vibe to it!  The school's way out in farm country and the country is really close-minded.  I was walking around like Robert Smith with real big hair, big baggy black clothes, black fingernail polish and eye makeup.  They just didn't get it. We hated the town.

“Save Yourself,” which was Stabbing Westward’s most successful single. was released in 1998 on the band’s third album, Darkest Days.  

Here’s “Save Yourself”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Chuck Berry – "Sweet Little Sixteen" (1958)

All the cats wanna dance with 
Sweet little sixteen

Friday night, the University of Maryland–Baltimore County’s men’s basketball team – which was the lowest-seeded team in its region – beat the top-seeded University of Virginia men in a first-round NCAA tournament game in Charlotte, NC.

Here’s the headline that appeared on the website of the NBC affiliate in Charlotte immediately after that game ended:

And here’s a corrected headline that appeared on that website about half an hour later:

As the NCAA pointed out in a tweet the morning after the UMBC upset, #16-seeded Harvard upset top-seeded Stanford in the 1998 NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Until UMBC won Friday night, that was the only time in men’s or women’s tournament history that a #16 seed had beaten a #1 seed.

*     *     *     *     *

My twin daughters were 5th-grade basketball whizzes in 1998, so I watched women’s basketball on television whenever I could – including Harvard’s shocking upset of Stanford.  I don’t remember a lot about the game, but I do remember being in awe of Harvard’s star player, senior Allison Feaster.

Feaster, who had led the nation in scoring that season, was unstoppable in the Stanford game, scoring 35 points and contributing 13 rebounds and three steals in the Crimson’s 71-67 victory.  She played virtually every second of the game.

Allison Feaster in 1997
Two of Stanford’s starters suffered fluke injuries after the team was given a #1 seed by the NCAA tournament committee.  There’s no doubt that helped Harvard’s chances, but Stanford was still a huge favorite.  The Cardinal were perennial national championship contenders – they had been to the Final Four in each of the three previous seasons – and their players had a decided height advantage over Feaster and her teammates.  

Feaster was 5 feet, 11 inches, which sounds pretty tall.  But  Stanford’s roster featured no fewer than eleven players who were taller than Feaster was – including a 6’7” player, a 6’6” player, and two 6’4” players. 

Stanford was coached by the legendary Tara VanDerveer, whose teams had won national championships in 1990 and 1992, and who had been chosen to coach the women’s Olympic team in 1996.  VanDerveer and Tennessee’s Pat Summitt are the only two women to coach Division I basketball teams to more than 1000 wins.  (Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is the only male coach to reach that milestone.)  

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer
And the game was played in Stanford’s home gym, giving the Cardinal a significant edge – the men’s tournament games are always played on neutral courts.

Here's an ESPN piece about the game that aired in 2008:

*     *     *     *     *

I’m not taking anything away from UMBC.  But there are many fewer upsets in the NCAA women’s tournament than on the men’s side.  While a #16 seed had never won in the men’s tournament until Friday night, eight #15 seeds and 21 #14 seeds have won first-round games over #2 and #3 seeds.

But not only has no #16 seed other than the 1998 Harvard team won in the women’s tournament since it became a 64-team tournament in 1994 – no #15 or #14 seed has ever won either.  In other words, out of 300 games involving #16, #15, and #14 seeds against #1, #2, and #3 seeds, the Harvard win in 1998 represents the one and only game when a low-three seed beat a top-three seed.

*     *     *     *     *

The more you read about Allison Feaster, the more amazed you’ll be her athletic and academic accomplishments.

Allison Feaster in 2014
Here’s an excerpt from a resolution honoring Feaster that was passed by the South Carolina Senate in 1994:

Whereas, Allison Feaster has been named to the 1994 Parade All-American Basketball Team, the 1993 and 1994 Smith and Street All-American Basketball Teams, South Carolina Player of the Year for 1993 and 1994, Miss Basketball by both the Greater Greenville Basketball Club and The Charlotte Observer, and one of the 1994 Top Fifteen Seniors by USA Today; and

Whereas, she has been a member of the South Carolina AAAA State Champion basketball team in 1993, AAAA Player of the Year in 1993 and 1994, selected to All State for five years, the National AAU Junior Olympic Champion team in 1993, and the Most Valuable Player in the North-South All Star game in 1994; and

Whereas, Allison Feaster is the career leading scorer in South Carolina history with 3,427 points; and

Whereas, she has been a member of the 1993 All-Region Track Team and has thrice been a state finalist in both the Shot Put and Discus and has been a member of the 1993 and 1994 All Region Tennis Team; and

Whereas, she is graduating from Chester High School as number one in the Senior Class and will be attending Harvard University; and Whereas, the Senate of South Carolina wishes to hold Allison Feaster high as a role model for all the youth in our State. Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the Senate:

That the best wishes and heartfelt congratulations of the South Carolina Senate be extended to Miss Allison Feaster of Chester High School in Chester County for the many honors and accolades she has received as an athlete and as a scholar and wish her continued success in pursuing her future endeavors.

Did you catch that Feaster was an All-State basketball player for five seasons?  That wasn’t a typo – she made the All-State basketball team as an eighth-grader!  (She started on the high-school varsity team as a seventh-grader.)

After graduating from Harvard with a degree in economics, Feaster was a first-round WNBA draft pick of the Los Angeles Sparks.    (She’s still the only Ivy Leaguer to be picked in the WNBA draft.)

Feaster in the WNBA
She played ten seasons in the WNBA – she took 2007 off to have a baby, but came back in 2008 – and continued to play professionally in Europe until just after her 40th birthday.  

Feaster recently was named Director of Player Personnel & Coach Relations for the 26-team “G League,” which is the NBA’s minor league organization.

*     *     *     *     *

“Sweet Little Sixteen” was a #2 hit single for Chuck Berry in 1958.  (Berry was miles ahead of Elvis in those days.)

The song was a favorite of “British Invasion” bands – you can find recordings of live performance by the Stones, the Beatles, and the Animals on Youtube.

John Lennon included “Sweet Little Sixteen” on his 1975 Rock ’n’ Roll album.  The Phil Spector-produced cover is unlistenable.  

Here is Chuck Berry’s original recording of “Sweet Little Sixteen”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, March 16, 2018

Baauer – "Swoopin" (2014)

Hands in the air
Yeah, yeah, I go swoopin’!

If a friend or a loved one suggests that you go see Red Sparrow – the new sex-and-espionage thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence as a Russian spy – just tell them, “NYET!”

I agreed to go see Red Sparrow even though I was pretty sure it was going to be a stinker.  That’s because I’m just too nice of a guy for my own good.  (I can’t help being a nice guy.  To paraphrase Lady Gaga, “Baby, I was born that way.”)

*     *     *     *     *

One critic correctly noted that Red Sparrow is “more style than substance.” 

The stylistic highlights included the lovely classical music on the soundtrack, the beautiful European locations (much of the film was shot in Vienna and Budapest) and Jennifer Lawrence in her undies – not necessarily in that order.

Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow
But all of that fails to compensate for what another reviewers called “thin characters and a convoluted story.”  Red Sparrow is one of those movies that seems OK as you’re watching it, but whose plausibility begins to dissolve moments after you leave the theatre.

A number of critics who panned Red Sparrow praised Lawrence’s performance.  I thought Lawrence was great in Winter’s Bone.  She was also great – in a very different way – in American Hustle.  But she was utterly forgettable in Red Sparrow.  That’s the screenplay’s fault more than hers.

*     *     *     *     *

Lawrence's Red Sparrow character is a former Bolshoi prima ballerina who is forced to become a Russian “sparrow” – a spy who specializes in gaining intelligence by seducing her male targets.

Lawrence as a blonde sparrow
The man behind the Lawrence’s involuntary transformation into a sparrow is her uncle, a high-ranking Russian Intelligence Service (SVR) official.

One of the more memorable moments in the movie came when Lawrence yells “You sent me to whore school!” at her uncle in what New York Post movie reviewer Sara Stewart aptly described as a Boris-and-Natasha accent.  (The venerable Charlotte Rampling and Jeremy Irons also affect silly Russian accents as Lawrence’s SVR supervisors.)

*     *     *     *     *

I saw Red Sparrow the weekend it opened – always a mistake – at the ArcLight Cinemas at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, MD.

ArcLight is a very small but very fancy movie-theatre chain with seven locations in southern California, two in the Chicago area, and one in suburban Washington, DC – which is the one I went to. 

There are no pre-movie commercials at ArcLight.   Every very spacious and comfortable seat is reserved, and latecomers are not allowed to enter the theatre after the movie begins.  And the bar features half a dozen local craft beers at a reasonable price.  (When I say “reasonable,” I mean reasonable compared to the prices for popcorn, candy bars, and soft drinks.)

All that sounds good.  But there are a couple of downsides to the Montgomery Mall ArcLight.

First, the automobile traffic in the mall’s parking lots and the human traffic inside the mall are such that you would have thought it was the Saturday before Christmas.  

Second, ArcLight charges  . . . are you ready for this? . . . $16 for a ticket.  (I assumed at first that was the price for two tickets.  But nooooo!)

Of course, because I’m so old, I qualified for a senior ticket, which was a mere $12.75.

Most of theatres in the Washington area charge $12 or $13 for a regular ticket, and around $10 for a senior ticket.  That’s bad enough if you ask me, but a bargain compared to what ArcLight charges.

What really irks me is that I could have waited a few months and checked a Red Sparrow DVD out of my public library.  If I had, I still would have complained that I had wasted two hours watching it even though it didn’t cost me a cent.

*     *     *     *     *

Baauer – his real name is Henry Bauer Rodrigues – is a 28-year-old EDM producer who is best known for his 2012 single, “Harlem Shake.”  (36 million Youtube views and counting, boys and girls.)

The lyrics quoted above represent purt near all of the lyrics of Baauer’s 2014 release, “Swoopin,” which is featured in Red Sparrow.

Here’s the “Swoopin” remix that was used in the movie:

Click below to buy the original version of the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Marti Noxon – "Parking Ticket" (2001)

It isn’t right, it isn’t fair
There was no parking anywhere
I think that hydrant wasn’t there

I received a rather remarkable letter from the city of Philadelphia today.

“We are pleased to inform you that the City of Philadelphia will be offering residents a chance to forgive debt relating to older parking tickets and/or fines and fees,” the letter begins.  “Through a preliminary search, our records indicate that you may be eligible to participate in this never-before offered program!”  [Emphasis in the original.]

The letter goes on to say that if I pay for all the parking tickets that were issued to me between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2017, “any tickets, fines and penalties from parking violations that were issued prior to 2013 will be forgiven!”  [Once again, emphasis in the original.]

I worked for a company that was headquartered in Philadelphia between 1992 and 1994.  I was never officially a resident of the city, but I spent several nights a week in an apartment there – returning to my family’s home in suburban Washington, DC, on weekends.

According to Philadelphia’s Parking Amnesty Office, I received parking ticket #106971535 on September 12, 1992 – over 25 years ago.  The amount currently due as a result of that parking violation is $38.00.

That may be true.  I honestly don’t know, although it seems unlikely.  That’s because September 12, 1992 was a Saturday, and I spent very few Saturdays in Philadelphia.  But it’s certainly possible that I got a parking ticket that day – I wouldn’t swear to it one way or the other.

What I can swear to is that I haven’t parked a car in Philadelphia since at least May or June 2008, when I drove one of my daughters to the University of Pennsylvania dormitory where she would live during her summer internship at a downtown hotel.  (As I recall I did get a parking ticket that day, but I think I paid it.  In any event, Philadelphia isn’t claiming that I didn’t.)

A Philadelphia parking ticket
So it’s impossible that I was guilty of a parking violation between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2017.

There’s a old proverb that says “The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.”  The wheels of justice in the “City of Brotherly Love” turn especially slowly, it would seem.

Am I going to pay for that 1992 ticket?  Hell, no – or rather, HELL, NO!!!  

After all, I didn’t get this far in life by playing it safe.  You can put your parking ticket where the sun don’t shine, city of Philadelphia.  

*     *     *     *     *

“Once More, with Feeling,” which was the seventh episode of the sixth season of the WB/UPN TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was performed as a Broadway-type musical.  (Several years later, the NBC hospital comedy, Scrubs, also did a episode where the dialogue was sung rather than spoken.)

“Parking Ticket” was a short song performed by an anonymous character portrayed by Marti Noxon, who was a writer and executive producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I never watched Buffy.  Did you?

Here’s “Parking Ticket”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Alice Deejay – "Better Off Alone" (1999)

Do you think you're better off alone?
Do you think you're better off alone?
Do you think you're better off alone?
Do you think you're better off alone?

(Yes and no.)

Before visiting my mother at her assisted-living place last Sunday, I stopped at the local Panera to pick up lunch.

Here’s the conversation I had with the young man who took my order – an “associate,” to use Panera’s terminology:

Me: I’ll have a small black bean soup and a plain ham and swiss on a baguette.

Panera associate: What exactly do you mean by plain?

Me (somewhat taken aback by the question): Just ham and swiss.  No lettuce or tomato – just plain.

PA: What about red onion?

Me: No.

PA: Any mayo or spicy mustard?

Me (becoming a bit exasperated): No.  Just plain.

PA: OK. . . . salt or pepper?

Me (wondering if anyone actually puts salt and pepper on a ham-and-cheese sandwich): No.

PA (after a long pause): You do want cheese, right?

Panera black bean soup
One other thing.  My black bean soup looked nothing like the soup in the photo above – it had fewer than a dozen beans in it.  The soup liquid was tasty, but I’m not being unreasonable to expect my black bean soup to have some actual beans in it . . . am I?

*     *     *     *     *

Alice Deejay is the name of a trance music project of a Dutch music producer and DJ named Jürgen Rijkers – who was better known as DJ Jurgen.  (I’m not sure what happened to his umlaut.)

The singer on “Better Off Alone” was an Amsterdam native named Judith Pronk, who later became a freelance makeup artist.

Alice Deejay released only one album, which was titled Who Needs Guitars Anyway?  (Good question.)

*     *     *     *     *

If you’re trying to figure out what the connection is between my conversation with the clueless Panera guy and today’s featured song, you’re wasting your time because there is none.

Here’s the official music video for “Better Off Alone” – which has been viewed over 25 million times:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, March 9, 2018

Foreigner – "Feels Like the First Time" (1977)

I know it must be the woman in you
That brings out the man in me

Facebook works in mysterious ways.  

I recently shared a Washington Post article that one of my friends had posted, not realizing that the article had been published in . . . June 2015.  

That article – which was headlined “Report: U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti had ‘transactional sex’ with hundreds of poor women” – may not be timely, but it’s still worthy of comment.

*     *     *     *     *

Here’s one paragraph from that Post story, which summarizes the findings of an internal United Nations report that found that members of the U.N. peacekeeping force that went to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake there had paid 225-plus Haitian women for sex:

The women traded sex for basic needs, including food and medication.

For rural women, hunger, lack of shelter, baby care items, medication and household items were frequently cited as the “triggering need,” the report said.  In exchange for sex, women got “church shoes, cell phones, laptops and perfume, as well as money” from peacekeepers.

U.N. troops in Haiti
Since when did cell phones, laptops, perfume, and especially church shoes qualify as “basic needs”?

*     *     *     *     *

I’m sure you’ve heard prostitution described as  “the world’s oldest profession.” 

The origin of that phrase is a Rudyard Kipling short story titled “On the City Wall,” which opens with these words:

Lalun is a member of the most ancient profession in the world. . . . In the West, people say rude things about Lalun’s profession, and write lectures about it, and distribute the lectures to young persons in order that Morality may be preserved.  In the East where the profession is hereditary, descending from mother to daughter, nobody writes lectures or takes any notice; and that is a distinct proof of the inability of the East to manage its own affairs.

Church shoes?
Whether prostitution is literally the world’s oldest profession is a question that can’t be answered with certainty, of course.  But what is clear is that once a human society develops any form of material wealth, people start exchanging that wealth for sex.

*     *     *     *     *

Did you know that animals as well as humans exchange wealth for sex?

From an article on the website:

Female chimpanzees living in the Ivory Coast have been observed to trade sex for meat.  In one experiment capuchin monkeys were taught to use silver discs as a sort of money (they could be redeemed for grapes), and it wasn’t long before one monkey exchanged one of the tokens for sex.  Dr. Fiona Hunter, a researcher at Cambridge University, observed female penguins in Antarctica trading sex for stones and pebbles.  Adélie penguins need rocks to build their nests . . . .

Female Adélie penguin offering sex for pebbles 
It seems that prostitution among humans and prostitution among animals have one characteristic in common: it’s the male who pays the female for sex, not vice versa.

All this suggests that it’s probably futile to try to legislate prostitution out of existence.  If monkeys trade sex for food, is it any surprise that humans trade sex for food?  (Or cell phones.  Or perfume.  Or church shoes.)

*     *     *     *     *

“Feels Like the First Time” was Foreigner’s first big hit, but it was far from their last.  

Foreigner’s eponymous debut album
Between 1977 and 1988, the group had no fewer than nine singles that peaked at #6 or higher on the Billboard “Hot 100.”  

My personal favorite is “Hot Blooded,” but “Feels Like the First Time” – which was featured on the soundtrack of the movie I, Tonya – is purt near as good:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon: