Songs I remember from my childhood

I was appalled by the double negative

Farewell to the First Golden EraIf I were to list the songs I remember from my childhood, it would number about a half a jillion. Still, these stood out.

Twist and Shout – The Beatles, #2 for four weeks in 1964; #23 in 1986 upon reissue.
Not only is this the best cover version by the group, I consider this to be one of the greatest cover songs EVER. It was a revision of a song recorded by the Top Notes in 1961, and then a hit by the Isley Brothers in 1962. It was kept out of the #1 slot by Can’t Buy Me Love.

The story goes that when the group recorded the Please Please Me album, they saved this song for last because John Lennon’s voice had only one or two takes in him. They got it on take #1.

Summer in the City – Lovin’ Spoonful, #1 for three weeks pop.
I could play a VERY rudimentary version of this on my grandmother’s piano. At the time, the sound effects were revolutionary.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – Rolling Stones, #1 for four weeks pop, #19 RB in 1965.
It seemed as though every other band would end their live version of other songs with the hook from this one. As a child, I was appalled by the double negative in the title, but I’ve gotten over it.

Uptight – Stevie Wonder, #3 for two weeks pop, #1 for five weeks RB in 1966.
I have a couple of Stevie compilation albums from the period. Most of the songs before this one sounded “old-fashioned”, but this was fresh and new.

Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart – the Supremes, #9 pop, #7 RB in 1966
This is my favorite Supremes song, and I don’t know why it did so relatively poorly on the pop charts when lesser songs – The Happening, for one – fared much better.

I Saw Her Again– Mamas and the Papas, #5 pop in 1966
There’s an album called Farewell To The First Golden Era which came out in 1967. It contained their hits from the first three albums, plus Twelve-Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon).

For some reason, when I played I Saw Her Again, and no other track, Denny Doherty’s lead vocal would often drop out, leaving the harmonies of Cass Elliot and Michele Phillips. You’d think this would be annoying. It was not. It was fascinating to hear the harmony vocals with the instrumentation. If I wanted to hear the song as it was intended, I’d just play their second album.

The results of the 2020 Census

critically important

Census 2020 buttonThe Census Bureau writes: “The results of the 2020 Census are critically important because this once-a-decade census data helps businesses, researchers, and communities make decisions. The data can help inform where your community needs a new fire department, more funding for school lunches, or new roads.

Watch this new Public Service Announcement by the U.S. Census Bureau to learn more about how census data help inform funding for things that impact your community.

Find more Census 2020 PSAs here, including videos, radio ads, and text pieces.

John Oliver says: irritate Trump, fill out your 2020 census form.

Nov. rambling: gifts of grace

Contractions-bitsThe Child Soldier Crisis: ‘Kids Are Cheap’

1619-2019: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration

Flat Earth conspiracy is growing especially among born again religious zealots

John Oliver Slaps Down Coal Baron’s SLAPP Lawsuit: ESB

Samantha’s Journey Into the Alt-Right, and Back from The New Yorker Radio Hour with David Remnick. I happened upon this while listening on the radio in the car last week. Whoa.

Susie Meister: How Studying Religion Made Me a Liberal and The Reality of Being a Reality Star, from Ken Levine’s podcast

Why use Ukraine to impeach when you’ve got the emoluments clause (and the Hatch Act)?

Weekly Sift: An Impeachment Hearing Wrap-Up

Recognizing Israeli Settlements Marks the Final Collapse of Pax Americana

The GOP Tax Cuts Didn’t Work

As a Veteran, I Refuse to Celebrate War

On Nov. 19, 1863, the accomplished Massachusetts statesman Edward Everett gave a two-hour speech at Gettysburg, but history gave him the shaft

RIP, the great Howard Cruse, from cancer.

Now I Know: The Woman Who Sniffed Out Parkinson’s and The Man Who Won a Trip to Mars and The British Ban on Clapping and When the US Air Force Bombed Montana and How Luke Skywalker Beat the Puffins and Why Did the Crab Cross the Road? and The Poacher Who Got Sent to the DVD Player

Gifts of grace

Ranked-Choice Voting “Allows You to Vote for the Person You Really Like”

Why bad taste is over – An interview with John Waters

Ruthie Berman & Connie Kurtz Residence – NYC LGBT Historic Site

Worker Training Program tackles opioid misuse and addiction. I know Jonny Rosen IRL.

Syracuse University janitor who cleaned racist graffiti replaces it with kindness

We desperately need to get out kids back outside

blue books

250 families receive “gifts of grace” to donate to meaningful causes

US Census Bureau: American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month

Authentic black beauty

102 Common English Idioms with Meaning and Examples

The Beautifully Macabre Cartoons of Gahan Wilson

Massachusetts Highway Exits to Be Renumbered by 2022

It’s a Musical

Who’s the greatest JEOPARDY! player of all time? I’m so glad this is on ABC-TV in January, not part of the syndicated series

Gone in 13 Episodes (or Less!)

The story of The Whistler radio program

Groucho Marx on TV after the game show You Bet Your Life

MUSIC

He’s Just a Gurl Who’ll Quid Pro Quo – Randy Rainbow

Dommage – Bigflo & Oli; English lyrics to Dommage

Papaoutai – Stromae

I’m Going Home – Sacred Harp Singers At Liberty Church; Idumea– ditto; Sacred Harp and Shape Note singing

The Rock by Sergei Rachmaninov

Mr. Tambourine Man – the Starbugs, from New Zealand

One, a U2 cover, features McKenna Breinholt as the soloist and the 100-person Cinematic Pop orchestra and choir, arrangement of Rob Gardner

Hooked on a Feeling – Pomplamoose

Coverville 1285: The Bonnie Raitt Cover Story and 1286: J. Geils Tribute and Indie Hodgepodge

Metamorphosis episode of Star Trek (original series), incidental music

Rockin’ in the free world, the Netherlands, 2016

Mah Na Mah Na – Piero Umiliani (1968); Mah Na Mah Na – first Seaame Street appearance (1969)

LAY DOWN (Candles In The Rain) – Melanie & The Edwin Hawkins Singers (1970). Full recording.

I Wanna Be A Lifeguard – Blottomoji version

A highlight of the Barbershop Harmony Society’s International Convention

Tina Turner is 80 years old. The big Interview

The Best-Selling Music Artists of the Last 50 Years

Broad appeal of Thanksgiving

Take this holiday into your own hands

turkey dinnerThanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I believe giving thanks is a social, and personal good. This Alternet article explains why.

“When Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, first advocated for Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1846, she argued that it would unify the country. In our research, [we] have been able to show that Hale’s vision for the holiday has been largely fulfilled. Inclusivity of people and traditions has been Thanksgiving’s hallmark quality.

“A reason for its broad appeal is that it lacks any association with an institutionalized religion. As one interviewee told us, ‘There is no other purpose than to sit down with your family and be thankful.’

“And after interviewing a range of people – from those born in the U.S. to immigrants from countries like South Africa, Australia, and China – it became obvious that the principles and rituals they embraced during the holiday were universal no matter the culture: family, food and gratitude.”

As the title of the story reads, “How everything about Thanksgiving as we know it was shaped by the marketing industry.” Somehow, the fact that we’ve been steered to eating turkey, cranberry, and pie doesn’t bug me as I suppose it should.

Romancing the holiday

Still, I recognize that there’s an American myth around the holiday. It’s the stuff I learned growing up about the Pilgrims and the American Indians, which makes a lot of folks uncomfortable. The article by Corinne Oestreich in Huffington Post, As A Native American, Here’s What I Want My Fellow Americans To Know About Thanksgiving, speaks to this:

“If I could ask one thing from my non-indigenous fellow Americans when it comes to Thanksgiving, I would ask that you refrain from teaching the romanticized version of the holiday. Read to your children about what it means to be thankful, what it means to heal and be a family. Learn as a family about the tribal nation that is local to where you live.”

In this polarized political environment, sometimes learning “what it means to heal and be a family” seems to be an insurmountable task. Yet, if it is possible – and sometimes it’s not – we try.

“Take time during dinner to recognize whose traditional lands you give thanks on. Take this holiday into your own hands and understand that not every Native will have good feelings about this day, and be accepting of that. We can all choose how we feel about this holiday, but it is always our own choice.”

I suppose this is a bit of a Debbie Downer ending to a holiday post. So it goes.

Garry Shandling would have been 70

Zen Diaries

Garry Shandling
per UCLA
In the 2016 article, Why Garry Shandling Was One of the Greatest Jewish Comedians Ever, Jason Diamond noted, “His persona was an anxiety-ridden, grimacing, guarded, confused man on the verge of losing control.” I think I related to that.

Though his two signature shows were initially on premium cable, I managed to see many episodes of each of them. It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, which he co-created with Alan Zweibel, ran from 1985 to 1990 on Showtime. The edited reruns started playing on FOX, which I watched regularly, starting in 1988.

Like The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show decades earlier, the series frequently broke the “fourth wall” and spoke directly to the audience There were 72 episodes, and it began with the intentionally silly theme.

No flipping

His experience as the frequent guest host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson led to his next series. “In 1992, Shandling launched another critical and commercial success by creating the mock behind-the-scenes talk show sitcom The Larry Sanders Show… It ran for 89 episodes… on HBO.”

It featured Jeffrey Tambor as sidekick Hank Kingsley, Wallace Langham as Phil, and the late Rip Torn, who died in July 2019, as Artie, “the foul-mouthed, dyspeptic talk show producer.”

I don’t think I subscribed to Home Box Office regularly, yet somehow I managed to view several episodes. The finale was titled “Flip,” a reference to Sanders saying to TV audience, “no flipping.” I watched it in a Boston hotel either the day I taped my JEOPARDY! episodes or the night before, in September 1998.

He even co-wrote with David Rensin Confessions of a Late Night Talk Show Host: The Autobiography of Larry Sanders in the voice of his alter-ego, published in 1999. Ken Levine wants you to meet comedian/writer Jeff Cesario– He was also a writer/producer on THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW.

Back when I used to watch those things, “Shandling hosted the Grammy Awards in 1990, 1991, 1993, and 1994. He hosted the Emmy Awards in 2000 and 2004 and co-hosted (giving the opening monologue) in 2003.

Dead at age 66

“Shandling suffered from hyperparathyroidism, a condition that can be fatal. On March 24, 2016, Shandling died at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California at age 66… The autopsy showed that he died from a pulmonary embolism… On February 4, 2019, Shandling’s estate bestowed $15.2 million to benefit medical research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.”

In The New Yorker, Naomi Fry describes Judd Apatow’s four-hour documentary for HBO, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling. Janis Hirsch briefly worked on the first series, where she had a less-than-positive experience. Nevertheless, she recommended the study.

Both Naomi Fry and Jason Diamond noted “the scene in the ‘Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers’ episode of ‘Freaks and Geeks.’ Specifically, the part where Martin Starr’s Bill comes home to an empty house, fixes himself a snack and watches one of Shandling’s sets…

“It’s the connection, those few moments removed from the real world that Bill gets, that makes that scene so easy to relate to. The lonely kid doesn’t feel so alone for a few minutes.” That was a gift of Garry Shandling for many, including his peers.

Garry Shandling would have been 70 on November 29.