Nearly favorites: Steppenwolf

Yeah, there’s a monster on the loose

steppenwolf bandWhen J. Eric Smith picked Steppenwolf as his favorite band in 1971-1973, I thought it was a respectable choice. I don’t think they’d make my Top Five at any junction, but possibly Top Ten.

For one thing, in this blog WAY back in 2007, I extolled the greatness of the eponymous first album. For another, I touted Monster, the title track of their 1969 album, back in 2016.

I had forgotten that I owned every album in between, all of these on vinyl. That’d be The Second, At Your Birthday Party, and Early Steppenwolf, when they were known as The Sparrows. Also, I have Steppenwolf Live, a 2-LP set from 1970, but nothing thereafter. And they’ve put out a LOT more albums, usually as John Kay and Steppenwolf. Well, I do have a greatest hits CD.

The group has not been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They were nominated in 2017. However, “Born To Be Wild” was selected in 2018 in “recognition of the excellence of the singles that shaped rock ‘n’ roll, kind of a rock ‘n’ roll jukebox, records by artists not in the Rock Hall — which is not to say these artists will never be in the Rock Hall.” Surely, the group is worthy.

The songs, roughly 10-1

Who Needs Ya, #54 in 1970
Hey, Lawdy Mama, #35 in 1970 – which I heard when I finally watched Avengers: Endgame this summer
Rock Me, #10 in 1969
Move Over, #31 in 1969
Sookie, Sookie – The first song on the first album. It’s a song by soul singer/songwriter Don Covey, who wrote Aretha’s hits See Saw and Chain of Fools; and Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the MGs. It was a failed single in the US, though it got to #93 in Canada. It was later the B-side of Magic Carpet Ride.

The Pusher, a failed single. But it got a lot of exposure on the Easy Rider soundtrack, which got to #6 on the album charts in 1970.
Magic Carpet Ride, #3 in 1968
Born to Be Wild, #2 for three weeks in 1968. It was also on the Easy Rider soundtrack. It was kept out of the #1 slot by People Got To Be Free by The Rascals.
Monster/Suicide/America. There was a TERRIBLE single version of this which somehow got to #39 in 1970.
The Ostrich, the last song on the first album. The chorus:

But there’s nothing you and I can do
You and I are only two
What’s right and wrong is hard to say
Forget about it for today
We’ll stick our heads into the sand
Just pretend that all is grand
Then hope that everything turns out ok

Bob Clemente? Roberto Clemente Walker!

3000 hits

Bob ClementeOne of those arcane pieces of information is about the great baseball player Roberto Clemente. I was talking about one of my choir buddies, coincidentally named Rob, about the fact that the press tried to rename him. But he would have nothing to do with it.

As it turns out, the ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA had the story:

“While Clemente amassed a mountain of impressive statistics during his career, he was often mocked by the print media in the United States for his heavy Spanish accent. Clemente was also subjected to the double discrimination of being a foreigner and being black in a racially segregated society. Although the media tried to call him ‘Bob’ or ‘Bobby’ and many of his baseball cards use ‘Bob,’ Clemente explicitly rejected those nicknames, stating in no uncertain terms that his name was Roberto.”

Almost immediately, Rob found this card online. It’s from 1958. But even Roberto’s 1969 Topps baseball card listed him as Bob Clemente.

Fix that plaque!

“There was also confusion over the correct form of his surname. For 27 years the plaque at the National Baseball Hall of Fame read ‘Roberto Walker Clemente,’ mistakenly placing his mother’s maiden name before his father’s surname. Only in 2000 was it changed to its proper Latin American form, Roberto Clemente Walker.”

Roberto Clemente was a great ballplayer. He won four NL batting titles, 12 straight Gold Gloves in the outfield, and made the All-Star team 15 times. The man got exactly 3000 hits. “He inspired generations of Latino kids, particularly in Puerto Rico, to dream that they could make it in the big leagues one day.”

But he also was a great human being. I wrote about him several times, the first being Talk Like a Pirate Day in 2006. I noted this quote: “Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.” I mentioned him most recently in 2018.

From his Hall of Fame page: “On Dec. 31, 1972, Clemente boarded a small plane en route from Puerto Rico to Nicaragua to assist with earthquake relief. The heavily loaded plane crashed just off the Puerto Rican coast, and Clemente’s body was never recovered.

“He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973 in a special election that waived the mandatory five-year waiting period.”

The amendments are for voting

the reinstitution of the poll tax

firstvoteIt occurred to me that many of the Constitutional amendments involve voting and elections. I’m excluding the Bill of Rights. If you ignore Amendments 18 and 21, which canceled each other out over prohibition, it’s a clear majority. The first group involves eligibility of voters, the latter, the process.

Amendment 15 (1870) – says the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

But “the promise of the 15th Amendment would not be fully realized for almost a century. Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests, and other means, Southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African Americans. It would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South were registered to vote.” And the VRA was gutted by SCOTUS in 2013.

Amendment 17 (1913) – removed from state legislatures the power to choose U.S. Senators and gave that power directly to voters in each state. The arguments for it “sounded in the case for direct democracy, and the problem of hung state legislatures. Also, it freed the Senate from the influence of corrupt state legislatures.

Still, some conservatives still argue for its repeal, on the theory that it “would protect states’ rights and reduce the power of the federal government.”

Susan B. Anthony didn’t ask for that pardon

Amendment 19 (1920) – “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Amendment 23 (1961) – allows citizens residing in the District of Columbia to vote for presidential electors, who in turn vote in the Electoral College for President and Vice President. Now if they could only get a voting Member of Congress.

Amendment 24 (1964) -outlawed the poll tax as a voting requirement in federal elections. The poll tax exemplified “Jim Crow” laws, developed in the post-Reconstruction South. These rules aimed to disenfranchise black voters and institute segregation.

Then in 1966, SCOTUS ruled in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections that “poll taxes for ANY level of elections were unconstitutional. It said these violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Yet some would argue – I certainly would – that SCOTUS in 2020 allowed the reinstitution of a poll tax. It “failed to upend a lower court move that is preventing otherwise eligible citizens with felony records from registering to vote if they cannot afford to pay off old court fees and fines.”

Amendment 26 (1971) – The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.


Amendment 12 (1804) – if you’re a fan of the musical Hamilton, you may know the Election of 1800. Thomas Jefferson and his vice-presidential running mate Aaron Burr both received an identical number of electoral votes. The amendment stipulates that each elector must cast distinct votes for president and vice president, instead of two votes for president.

Amendment 20 (1933) removed the “excessively long period of time a defeated president or member of Congress would continue to serve after his or her failed bid for reelection.”

Amendment 22 (1951) created a two-term limit on the Presidency. It would not have applied to Harry Truman, who was president at the time of its enactment.


Third Amendment riff – John Mulaney Monologue – SNL (from 3:53 to 6:06)

Winter Soldier, other MCU Phase 2 films


Winter SoldierMore Marvel Cinematic Universe movie reviews. The ones marked in italics I’ve seen since the summer solstice 2020 in the northern hemisphere.

Iron Man 3 (2013) – Entertaining enough, I suppose, but a bit of a slog. It does bring us the Black Widow for the first time. I don’t love the theoretical villain. “Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?” Yeah, yeah.

There was this recent article about racist terms. Somehow the author determined that “douchebag” could be a slur towards certain white people. I didn’t quite get the argument. Still, it suggested that Tony Stark was a douchebag and that Steve Rogers, Captain America, most assuredly was not. And that’s the underlying annoyance about Iron Man. He’s that guy named Steve in my library school classes who claimed to know everything.

Thor: The Dark World (2013). I suggested to a friend that IM3 was a slog. “Wait until you watch the next one,” they said. I’m afraid they were right. It was confusing keeping track of the nine realms. Any time you have that many screen overlays to try to let you know where you are, it’s usually problematic. Wormholes that lead to where? What? I did like the fiery farewell to one of the characters. And the final fight was a bit of goofy fun.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). This movie was great! You don’t even need to know the characters well to appreciate this conspiracy-laden story. Who ARE the good guys? Nick Fury of SHIELD (Samuel L. Jackson) doesn’t even know. I was holding my breath quite often, particularly when the title pair collide. And Robert Redford’s character is unfortunately quite credible. The introduction of Sam Wilson, the Falcon.

Hooked on a feeling

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). I may not have seen this in the right setting. It was on a bus tripon the way to Indiana in 2019. The movie seemed disjointed and dark. The ’70s soundtrack, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts, was often an affectation and a distraction to me. And yet I later bought the album, mostly for the Bowie, 10cc, Redbone, and Five Stairsteps. I don’t suppose it helped that one of my pastors thought the film was pointlessly violent. I should probably watch it again.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). Now you’ve done it, Stark. You’ve helped create an Artificial Intelligence that wants to destroy humanity. Earth’s mightiest heroes need to work together. I’m glad I used to read the comics, as I understood better who the Vision, the Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver were. The movie was occasionally confusing, but I got the gist. An overstuffed film which I nevertheless mostly enjoyed.

Ant-Man (2015). As I noted in my review, my wife, who is not a big comic book fan, and I saw this when it came out. I figure that an origin story could stand alone, and it did. We liked it quite a bit. It’s light and funny when so many of these MCU films seem serious and ponderous.

Thor, Cap, and The Avengers, BTW, I watched in one 28-hour period on July 4 and 5 when my blog was down. Viewing them kept me from looking at my URL and wondering, “Is t working yet? Is it working yet? Why isn’t it working yet?”

September rambling: torched

the wanton, uninterrupted, tragic destruction

From Wrong Hands
The Inevitable Whitelash Against Racial Justice Has Started.

America’s long history of scapegoating its Asian citizens.

September 29 on Zoom: “Agitate!” Frederick Douglass and Ireland: A Conversation about history, solidarity, racial justice in Ireland, and the US.

State of New York State History: 1827 Freedom Bicentennial Commission Covid-19 Casualty.

Oakland residents convinced the city to rethink how it tackled gun violence.

Tennessee passed a bill increasing penalties related to political protests to felonies. This could revoke the right to vote.

Gravity, Gizmos, and a Grand Theory of Interstellar Travel.

The dream about my ‘only you’.

Ken Levine interviews writer Bill Persky part one and part two.


Weekly Sift: The Four Big Lies of the Republican Convention and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: RNC 2020 and Kenosha.

Florida Man Leads His State to the Morgue.

History’s a Joke! Laugh! We Need It.

The Inside Story of the $8 Million Heist from the Carnegie Library.

Why Politics Makes You So Angry.


In newly revealed recorded interviews with Bob Woodward, he knew the coronavirus was much deadlier than the seasonal flu but that he “wanted to always play it down.” He Breaks With US History of Global Cooperation in Eradicating Diseases.

He May Have Broken the Law by Encouraging NC Residents to Try and Vote Twice, and For a Second Day in a Row.

Fox reporter confirms story that he slurred troops. Gold Star families react. ‘He Is a Draft Dodger’, Brutal New Lincoln Project Ad Charges.

His EPA Chief Lays Out Vision for Agency Critics Warn Would Create ‘Apocalyptic, Devastated Planet’. ‘Disaster for Endangered Species and the Natural World’: Advocates Decry Move to Gut Habitat Protection Law.

His hires are sabotaging Voice of America and transforming its journalism.

The real threat to law and order is found with his enablers, lackeys, and bottom-dwellers.

Federal judge orders regime to stop detaining asylum-seeking children at hotels.

He Despises His Supporters Too.

Despite reality, he said he won the popular vote in 2016 ‘in a true sense’.

At least, the Nazis love him.


I got my flu shot last week. Just saying.

From xkcd

Washington Post editorial board: “But beyond the low unemployment rate he gained and lost, history will record his presidency as a march of wanton, uninterrupted, tragic destruction. America’s standing in the world, loyalty to allies, commitment to democratic values, constitutional checks and balances, faith in reason and science, concern for Earth’s health, respect for public service, belief in civility and honest debate, beacon to refugees in need, aspirations to equality and diversity and basic decency — he torched them all.”

I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it. -Edith Sitwell, poet (7 Sep 1887-1964)

Now I Know

When Candy Land was the Game of Life and The Accidental Case for Loose Morals and The Literal No Man’s Land and The Missing Marathoner and Why Cats and Salad Ingredients Don’t Mix and When Little Leaguers Need to Play to Lose.


Stabat mater– Julia Perry.

End Credits suite from Black Panther, written by Swedish composer Ludwig Goransson.

Coverville 1322: Joe Jackson Cover Story and Justin Townes Earle Tribute and 1323: Van Morrison Cover Story and September Songs.

Kreutzer Violin Sonata No. 9– Beethoven.

Weekend Diversion: Yazoo.

Quarantined Brits Play Recorder From Balconies.

K-Chuck Radio: Wait, there’s a new Midnight Oil song?

There’s a lot of mashups that haven’t been done… but just you wait…

Getting to Know You – Julie Andrews.

Teach me, O Lord – Thomas Attwood.


That’s Just the Way Willie Nelson Rolls