The Lydster, Part 127: Watching the news

I was the kid who was watching Huntley-Brinkley on NBC News or Walter Cronkite on CBS News by the time *I* was ten.

NEWSFor her first nine years, I sheltered the Daughter from watching the evening news, viewing it after she went to bed, or before she got up in the morning. Sometimes, I’d watch it while she was in the other room.

Turns out that she is preternaturally interested in these things. Moreover, she develops opinions about them that did not necessarily come from us. Ferguson, MO made her aware that it’s a little scarier being a black child in America than she previously thought. The death of Palestinian children during the conflict with Israel made her angry. And she has great antipathy for Russia’s Putin.

Sometimes, she shows off her knowledge. Last summer, she said to a friend, “Do you know what happened in Mali?” Her friend didn’t know who Molly was; it was a reference to a plane crash. During a manhunt for a cop killer in Pennsylvania, she was surprised that her friend from Pennsylvania was unaware of it.

It’s my fault. I was the kid who was watching Huntley-Brinkley on NBC News or Walter Cronkite on CBS News by the time I was ten. But the news seemed tamer when I was her age. Our involvement in Vietnam was still minimal. There was racial strife, but it seemed to be focused in the far-away South.

Now, there are ISIS/ISIL video executions; she didn’t see them – heck, I didn’t see them, but she was still aware of them, though not the first one until after the second one had taken place. Hundreds of girls are kidnapped in Nigeria. Several NFL players are involved with domestic violence.

She always DOES have the option of going away from the set, but she seems to have the peculiar notion that she should be an informed citizen. Where she got THAT idea, I have no idea.

One wants to protect one’s child, but I guess keeping her blissfully unaware is not an option anymore.

The Sound of Philadelphia

Gamble and Huff were inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame in 2008, three years after their biggest stars, the O’Jays.

Gamble & Huff, with former PIR artist Patti Labelle
Gamble & Huff, with former PIR artist Patti Labelle

That soulful dude Arthur from down south (hemisphere) asked me: “Are you planning a post on the end of Philadelphia International Records “The Sound of Philadelphia” (TSOP)? I’d be really curious to hear your take.” I hadn’t heard the news. As you may know, I do take requests, and any excuse to fill a post with music links is welcome.

Even before the official Philadelphia International Records label, you had the songwriting/production team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, who produced one of the very few singles I actually bought in the 1960s, Expressway To Your Heart by the Soul Survivors, a US Top 4 hit in 1967. I love songs that lived on the bottom.

I just recently played that classic album Gonna Take A Miracle by Laura Nyro, with Labelle, and never knew that this was a Gamble-Huff production, prior to their PIR days. LISTEN to the title track.

It’s possible that I didn’t notice Gamble-Huff on records as songwriters until The Pointer Sisters’ Love In Them There Hills [LISTEN] in 1974.

It took me a while to recognize TSOP as a “sound.” I was familiar with Motown, whose move west in 1972 seemed to correspond with its lesser output, at least to my ears. Stax Records, out of Memphis, was in commercial decline around that same time. Philadelphia International filled that “soul” gap.

In fact, as it turns out when I hooked into that sound corresponds with that very year. LISTEN to these PIR songs:
Me And Mrs Jones – Billy Paul (#1 for three weeks in 1972).
If You Don’t Know Me by Now – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes (#3 in 1972)
When Will I See You Again – The Three Degrees (#2 in 1974)
TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)- MFSB (#1 for two weeks in 1974). This was the theme to the long-running television show Soul Train.
Enjoy Yourself – The Jacksons (#6 in 1977). This was the first hit after Michael and his brothers left Motown.

Still, in spite of a great roster of musicians, I most closely associate the O’Jays with the sound of Philadelphia. LISTEN TO:
Back Stabbers (#3 in 1972)
Love Train (#1 in 1973)
For the Love of Money (#9 in 1974)
I Love Music (#5 in 1976)

Gamble and Huff were inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame in 2008, three years after their biggest stars, the O’Jays.

It’s All About the Books

I’m always fascinated when a song becomes so popular that groups of people feel the need to emulate it.

little-girl-reading-bookI came across this song All About That [Upright] Bass by Postmodern Jukebox, featuring Kate Davis. Probably found it on a Facebook page for the podcast Coverville. The goal of Postmodern Jukebox, according to pianist/bandleader Scott Bradley, is to get the “audience to think of songs not as rigid, ephemeral objects, but like malleable globs of silly putty. Songs can be twisted, shaped, and altered without losing their identities–just as we grow, age, and expire without losing ours–and it is through this exploration that the gap between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art can be bridged most readily.”

Oddly, I had somehow missed the original All About That Bass by American singer Meghan Trainor, her debut single released in June 2014, which was co-written by Ms. Trainor and Kevin Kadish, until it had already reached #1 on the Billboard Top 100 chart; it’s been six weeks at the top and counting. It is considered “a pop and doo-wop song that contains lyrics of body-positive themes.”

Shortly afterward, I come across Jimmy Fallon, Meghan Trainor & The Roots singing “All About That Bass” (w/ Classroom Instruments) from September, then a PARODY of the Fallon/Trainor/Roots performance, “All About the Books, No Trouble” from the Nashville Library, plus a few other like takes.

I’m always fascinated when a song becomes so popular that groups of people feel the need to emulate it; see Happy by Pharrell Williams, Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen, and others. Even if I’m slow to the party. To that end, Siren’s Crush covers Meghan Trainor’s “All About that Bass”; yes, that’s the niece, Rebecca Jade on the right.

Mayonnaise and other important topics

I once had something called ice milk, which was disappointing, to say the least.

mayonnaise-vs-miracle-whipDustbury hates mayonnaise, and managed to write a whole blog post about it. I’m not being critical. Rather, I’m impressed that he was able to engender a whole condiment conversation in the comments section. I like mayo well enough, in egg salad or on a BLT. It should be real mayonnaise or perhaps the light (usually written as “lite”) version, whatever that is. But I HATE the low-fat versions.

And worse is that stuff that looks like mayonnaise but is sold as Miracle Whip salad dressing; I can always tell when that’s been substituted. I’m actually not sure WHAT it is, but “Miracle Whip does not meet the minimum requirement of 65% vegetable oil to be labeled as mayonnaise as dictated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.” One of the worst things of my youth: bologna sandwiches on white bread with Miracle Whip.

This is similarly true of yogurt. Regular yogurt’s fine, and there are some decent lite ones, but the no-fat iterations I’ve tried are vile. The strange aftertaste, probably from some toxic chemical compound.

I used to drink 2% milk, then 1% for a long time, but now I have gotten used to skim. But the Daughter has not; she likes the 2%. Her mother once said it tasted like ice cream, and I scowled; surely it is fuller flavor, but it’s hardly ice cream because I know ice cream.

Ice cream is another product where the real thing is great, and the substitutes, not so much. I once had something called ice milk, which was disappointing, to say the least.

What food substitutes are acceptable to you, and which food items just can’t be replaced?

Jan Hooks, Elizabeth Peña, Alan Hauser

jan-hooks Mark Evanier tells a story about Jan Hooks, his friend, and a member of the cast of Saturday Night Live from 1986 to 1991, who died on October 9 at the age of 57 (!). The story also features some lying multimillionaire schmuck who she had tried to make nice with.

The day before I heard about her death, I had just happened to have watched a segment of Saturday Night Live featuring her and Paul Simon. I really haven’t watched the show much this century, but I watched it religiously before that. I’ve long thought the best SNL cast may not have been the original troupe (John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Gilda Radner, et al.) but the group of the late 1980s, with Jon Lovitz, Dennis Miller, Nora Dunn, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, and Jan Hooks.

I also watched her on shows such as Designing Women and 30 Rock.

Here are some nice recollections in the Huffington Post and the New Yorker.

Her former SNL co-star Victoria Jackson also wrote an article. Considering that Ms. Jackson has become a bit of a lunatic, I believe it was surprisingly pleasant.

SamuraiFrog noted the passing of actress Elizabeth Peña on October 14. I thought she was older, mostly because she plays the mother of the character played by Sofia Vergara (42) on the TV show Modern Family. But he was only 55(!) herself. (The death of people younger than myself usually gets the (!) response.) Ms. Peña was in my favorite John Sayles movie, Lonestar, and she is a voice in probably my favorite animated film of the last half-century, The Incredibles. But she also appeared in a number of other projects I’ve watched, going back at least to LA Law.

I read before I saw any confirmation in news stories, that vocalist Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer has died on October 16. I have some of their music, going back to the days on vinyl. Chuck Miller wrote a very nice piece, complete with links to MT music.

10 Glamorous Oscar de la Renta Gowns.

Ben Bradlee, the legendary Washington Post editor, dies at 93.


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