Jeanne and The DarlingsListening to my Stax/Volt box sets – plural, nine CDs each – I came across two extraordinary hit singles AND their answer songs, a track “made in answer to a previous song, normally by another artist.”

Soul Man, by Sam (Moore) and Dave (Prater) from 1967 has been on lots of “best of” lists, including the RIAA, Rolling Stone and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was heavily covered, most notably by the Blues Brothers in 1979.

Then there was Soul Girl by Jeanne and the Darlings from 1968, featuring sisters Jean and Deloros “Dee” Dolphus plus Phefe Harris and sometimes another unidentified singer. While Soul Man starts “Coming to you on a dusty road”, the answer song begins, “Come on to me, on a concrete street.” He was educated at Woodstock, she on “my green tree (that’s money).”

Perhaps the songwriters could make a case for copyright infringement. But not really, since both records were written and produced by Isaac Hayes and David Porter.

Speaking of Hayes, that bad mother produced the Theme from Shaft in 1971. The song received similar accolades as Soul Man, plus one other. It “won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, with Hayes becoming the first African American to win that honor (or any Academy Award in a non-acting category), as well as the first recipient of the award to both write and perform the winning song.”

The answer song to that hit was Son of Shaft by the Bar-Kays, Hayes’ backing band on Shaft. The group had to re-form after four of the six members, along with Otis Redding, died in a plane crash on 10 December 1967. The songwriters Homer Banks, William Brown and Allen Jones were from outside the group. While it borrows from its predecessor, Son of Shaft was heavily sampled in its own right.

All chart references to Billboard magazine (US). Listen to:

Soul Man – Sam and Dave; #2 for three weeks on the pop charts, and #1 for an astonishing seven weeks on the soul charts in 1967

Soul Girl – Jeanne and the Darlings; did not chart in 1968

Theme from Shaft – Isaac Hayes; #1 for two weeks pop, #2 for three weeks soul in 1971; here’s a longer version

Son of Shaft – Bar-Kays, #10 soul, #53 pop in 1972

I got the results of my second genealogical DNA recently, this time from Ancestry.

Like the first one, from NatGeo earlier this year, I’m barely half sub-Saharan African. The 23% from the British Isles doesn’t surprise me. The 11% Scandinavian does.

I shared that fact with an ex of mine, who believes she is 100% Scandinavian. Now she’s thinking of doing the DNA test too, hoping, actually, that she’s not.

There are four people in the database who are likely my second or third cousins. One of them actually IS my second cousin, Lisa. There are about a dozen candidates for third or fourth cousins. And a couple hundred fourth to sixth cousins.

One of these is a Walker, which is the given surname of my maternal grandmother. His first name is the same as one of her brothers, who has been long deceased. I have contacted him and a select number of others, hoping for more information.

There’s a way to share the family tree, and I am hoping that the combination of the DNA tests and the various trees of other contributors will lead to greater insight.

Of course, I need to fill in my own family tree more vigorously. I have – somewhere – far more data than is currently presented. Some of it just needs more specificity, such as exact dates of births and deaths.

I also need to go back a couple more generations, particularly on my maternal grandmother’s side, which I have on something called “paper.” Then I need to check old Census records to fill out more of the details. It’s a very interesting process but an amazing time suck.

Several people have wondered what I’ll do when I retire. Travel, probably and write, read, and sort a lot of stuff that’s stored in the attic.

The genealogy project undoubtedly will be a huge piece.

internet scoutAfter attending the ASBDC conference – that’s America’s Small Business Development Centers – my library colleague Judith from Texas sent me the September 7, 2018 issue of The Scout Report (Volume 24, Number 36), part of Internet Scout, apparently.

The lead story in the Research and Education section was The Digital Panopticon: Tracing London Convicts in Britain & Australia, 1780-1925. This is “a fascinating research project exploring the impacts of various punishments on approximately 90,000 people who were sentenced at London’s Old Bailey between 1780 and 1925. This project brings together ‘millions of records from around fifty datasets’ into a searchable database, including trial records, transportation records of convicts who were sent to Australia, and many more.”

Also noted in this issue of The Scout Report:

Annotated Books Online (ABO), “‘a virtual research environment for scholars and students interested in historical reading practices.’ Visitors… will find a [searchable] database of more than one hundred scanned early modern texts dating from the late 1400s to the late 1600s.”

Bedtime Math, which ” offers more than two thousand short math puzzles designed as fun activities for parents to do with their kids at bedtime” to avoid math anxiety.

The Institute for Bird Populations (IBP) “studies the abundance, vital rates, and ecology of bird populations to enable scientifically sound conservation of birds and their habitats.”

Given the current political climate, I was fascinated by Americanization: Then and Now, a digital exhibition examining a 1919 pamphlet… which advocated for a particular viewpoint regarding immigrants to the United States in ways that may be both familiar and surprising. The exhibition begins by first delving into the substance and rhetoric of the pamphlet itself… as well as the historical context surrounding its publication.

But wait, there’s more! How America Uses Its Land. The Show Must Go On! American Theater in the Great Depression. Insta Novels: Bringing Classic Literature to Instagram Stories.

Sign up for the Scout Report. It’s free. and it’s geeky as all get out.

prison strike

Prison strike 2018

About a month ago, wading through my vast vacation email, I came across a story about a nationwide prison strike: incarcerated people across the country were uniting to protest the inhumane conditions that pass for our prison system. Here’s a short video from last week.

The prison strike demands included:

1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women. Yes, and while they’re at it, getting rid of for-profit prisons.

2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.

As MoveOn noted, “Many incarcerated people are often forced to work with minimal or no pay in strenuous jobs. Just this past summer, there were incarcerated individuals fighting fires in California for just $1 an hour — though they won’t even qualify to get jobs as firefighters in California once they’re out of prison.” In states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and Texas, incarcerated people receive no pay for their labor.

Everyone assumes that slavery ended with the 13th Amendment, but the amendment reads as follows:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution actually created a loophole that legitimized slavery—and is used to this day to force people in prison to work with little to no pay, a strategy that allowed slavery by another name, starting shortly after the Civil War.

3. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.

4. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count!

But, of course, I know a lot of folks don’t care. Recently, on Last Week Tonight, John Oliver urged Floridians to vote because convicted felons can’t, ever, unless the law changes.

Oliver showed people thinking that the issue doesn’t matter to them because of the feeling that people in prison must have done something wrong – which may not be true. But even those who did the crime, once they’ve done the time, STILL can’t participate in the democratic process.

Logic suggests one would want those rehabilitated citizens “to participate democratically in the fundamental act of how we shape our society,” to have a sense of ownership in their communities.

The second Tuesday in September has been primary day in New York State for non-federal offices. It’s not today because it’s September 11, 9/11. It’ll be held Thursday, September 13 instead.

September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday so it was primary day. Unsurprising, the voting, which had already begun at 6 a.m. in New York City and a few other counties, was postponed to September 25, notably with seven new polling places.

I understand it, I really do. September 11 is for not forgetting. But what better way to to remember than to stick up a proverbial middle finger at terrorism by casting the ballot that the planes hitting the World Trade Center interrupted? This is, BTW, the third time the vote has been on the 13th, also in 2007 and in 2012.

Truth be told, I think a September primary is too late. In races with an unchallenged incumbent, a late primary is a disadvantage to anyone running in a primary, who will have only eight weeks to consolidate the fractured segments of the party and run against a usually entrenched and better financed opponent.

The federal primary in New York State is at the end of June, so those running for Congress, House and Senate, compete then. I think ALL the primaries should be held at that time. It would also create a savings for the local Boards of Election, who wouldn’t need to find people to staff the voting booths in both June AND September.

Finally, here’s my my annual complaint. People in New York City, Long Island, some NYC suburbs, and Erie County (Buffalo) can vote from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. But those in the rest of the state, it’s only noon until 9 p.m., quite possibly the shortest primary slot in the country.

There are several statewide races this year, including Governor/Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller and Attorney General. Why should the folks downstate have six more hours, 15 instead of nine, to vote? I’d favor some way to even things out, such as 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. everywhere in New York State.

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