Monday, 27 April 2015

Generations: The Passing of the Baton

One of the biggest changes in old age is how we are treated by other, mostly younger, people. We are ignored, dismissed and made invisible based solely on our appearance.

Put the same words, thoughts and opinions we have in a younger body and the world pays attention.

It is hard to accept, this disregard, and for good reason. It is not a fairy tale that after decades of education, experience, study, learning from our mistakes and successes that we have gained not only a great deal of knowledge, but judgment too, something that only age can bestow.

”When I was a boy of 14,” wrote Mark Twain, “my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

I have been fond of that quotation for as long as I can remember. It must have been in high school that I first encountered it, a period when grownups (my grownups, anyway) paid little attention to what I said.

So I took heart not so much that in time they would learn as that in the long run, I would become old enough to have my opinions respected.

There is a period in each person's life – those mid-years – when that is true. The generation into which we are born becomes, in the natural course of things, the one that runs the world.

Recall what an important symbol of “arrival” it was for baby boomers when Bill Clinton, the “first boomer president,” was elected. With some help from the previous generation still holding a good deal of power and the next one starting to come up behind, boomers held the reins of control and leadership.

They were the politicians, corporate executives, artists, writers, actors, musicians of the day. That time comes to every generation and when it does, it feels like it will always be so.

Until you look around one day and there's someone your son's or daughter's age in the White House; that latest entrepreneurial billionaire went to school with your grandkid; and there's not a single pop musician you know anything about.

And here's the worst part: not one of them cares what you and I think. It's painful and certainly all our life-long, hard-won knowledge should have some use some application for the issues of the present and future. Shouldn't it?

It would please me if that were true but I am regularly disabused of the idea when my contemporaries insist on clinging to old ideas that have passed their use-by dates.

Take gay marriage. Pretty much everyone is astonished at how quickly support for it has grown for such a dramatic social change and if the Supreme Court decides the current case as is being predicted, opposition will be all over but for the shouting.

It is young people who have led the way as shown by a new ABC News/Washington Post poll [pdf] released last week. Take a look at the age breadown in the chart:

Age Group % Support
18-29 78%
30-64 60%
65+ 46%

The world is changing, as it always has, as it always must and elders are dragging their feet.

The gap between young and old is even greater for legalization of marijuana. Take a look at this April 2015 Pew survey:

Age Group % Support
18-34 68%
35-50 52%
51-69 50%
70-87 29%

Legalization of marijuana is as inevitable as marriage equality but you wouldn't know that from elder opinion.

By clinging to old ideas when it is evident the time has come to move forward, we earn the enmity and disregard of the younger generations now in charge. And they are right to feel that way.

Or are they?

Could it be that sometimes it is the job (or should be) of elders to put the brakes on moving forward too quickly? To keep cocksure youth from rushing headlong into a future that has not been thought through well enough yet?

I'm not saying this argument is necessarily sound, particularly in these two cases, but neither is it unreasonable.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (27) | Permalink | Email this post

Sunday, 26 April 2015


Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

What happened in 1975?

  • Natalie Imbruglia was born
  • Bruce Springsteen released Born to Run
  • Jimmy Hoffa disappeared
  • Microsoft was founded
  • The Governor General staged a coup in Australia
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show was released
  • North Melbourne were premiers

By 1975 THE EAGLES were the hottest band around.

The Eagles

The story of this song is that the members of the group were in a restaurant and saw a stunning looking woman with a fat, ugly, older man and one said to the others, "Look at her, she can't even hide those Lyin' Eyes.”

Light bulbs all round. Each of them grabbed napkins to write on and a hit song was born.

♫ The Eagles - Lyin' Eyes

Before the Next Teardrop Falls was a country song written by Vivian Keith and Ben Peters. It was recorded by a couple of dozen artists to no noticeable effect on the charts. Then producer Huey Meaux talked FREDDY FENDER into recording it.

Freddy Fender

Freddy said that it only took a few minutes and he was glad to get it over with. He thought that that would be the last he'd hear of it. Nope. The song caught on and went to the top of the charts.

♫ Freddy Fender - Before The Next Teardrop Falls

EMMYLOU HARRIS's solo career began in earnest in 1975 with the release of her album "Pieces of the Sky."

Emmylou Harris

The album title is taken from the words of the song Before Believing, written by Danny Flowers.

♫ Emmylou Harris - Before Believing

By 1975, SKYHOOKS were the most important band in Australia.


Although often lumped into the glam rock category because of their costumes and makeup, they were a serious rock band who tackled issues head on in their songs.

They were the first to name check Australian locales in their music. Before them, no one had done that apart from a few country musicians. I don't know if this song tackles a serious issue, some might think so. It's called All My Friends Are Getting Married.

♫ Skyhooks - All My Friends Are Getting Married

The song Wildfire came to MICHAEL MARTIN MURPHEY in a dream.

Michael Martin Murphey

When he woke, he quickly wrote it down and started singing it to get it into his brain. Shortly afterwards he recorded it.

He wondered if it was any good so he played it to the staff at the lodge where he was staying at the time and they all loved it. They weren't the only ones.

♫ Michael Martin Murphey - Wildfire

Here's something you probably weren't expecting, JOAN BAEZ rocking out.

Joan Baez

The song is from her album "Diamonds and Rust,” a high point of her recording career. The song Blue Sky was written by Dickey Betts, the fine guitarist for The Allman Brothers Band (and his own group).

♫ Joan Baez - Blue Sky

After a couple of mediocre albums (for them, anyone else have loved to own them) THE BAND returned to form with the album "Northern Lights-Southern Cross.”

The Band

Members of the group thought that this might be their best album aside from the self-titled one. They could be right.

As I've used several songs from the album in other columns over the years, I'll include one I haven't featured before, Rags and Bones.

♫ The Band - Rags and Bones

In 1975 JUDY COLLINS brought out her biggest selling album just called "Judith.”

Judy Collins

This had several good songs on it but I prefer a couple of her earlier albums. It doesn't really matter. From this one we have The Lovin' of the Game, a surprisingly country sounding song written by Pat Garvey.

♫ Judy Collins - The Lovin' of the Game

JESSE COLIN YOUNG's album, "Songbird," was pretty good but didn't reach the heights of "Song For Juli" a couple of years earlier.

Jesse Colin Young

Jesse was the driving force of the band The Youngbloods and has had quite a decent solo career since their demise. His style is not straight folk or rock; he brings elements of jazz and blues into his performances. The song from the album is Josiane.

♫ Jesse Colin Young - Josiane

I'll end these 41 years of music with The King. This wasn't a really big hit for ELVIS but I do sort of, kind of remember it from the time.

Elvis Presley

Okay, Elvis didn't look like that on 1975, alas. The song is If You Talk in Your Sleep.

♫ Elvis Presley - If You Talk In Your Sleep

Well, that's it. That's the end of these "Years" columns. There will be no more. If I suggest doing them for a third time you can take me out and shoot me. Or maybe just take me out and feed me a lot of wine so I'd be incapable of typing.

We return to normal service next week.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (6) | Permalink | Email this post

Saturday, 25 April 2015



People have long complained (correctly) that Social Security numbers displayed prominently on the U.S. Medicare card makes identity theft easy.

It's right there in the middle labeled “Medicare Claim Number” with a letter following it and everyone knows that, including the bad guys.


At last, that is changing. Last week, President Barack Obama signed a bill that removes the number from Medicare cards and Congress has provided $320 million to pay for the change. (Don't hold your breath – it's going to take four years to accomplish but it is still a necessary and good thing.)

You can read more at The New York Times.


Last week, Jon Stewart announced at the end of his show that the fine episode will be broadcast on Thursday 6 August. Here's the clip:


Star Trek Wars and Indiana Jones creator George Lukas wanted to build a movie studio on his 1,000 Marin County acres in northern California. His rich neighbors who live in large mansions refused to approve. So Lukas turned the tables on them. Here's the local TV story:

So far, according to reports, it looks like the neighbors can't do anything to stop Lukas's plan for low-cost housing.


John Oliver's show, Last Week Tonight, is way too important to be buried on HBO. I would be happy to pay for it; just not as much as HBO charges to subscribe, particularly since there is hardly anything else on the channel I care about.

Speaking of care about, I am so eager for Oliver's video essays that this is where you can find me first thing Monday mornings checking out the show before anything else I do that day:

Oliver on laptop 20150420

What has become increasingly obvious about the program is that Oliver is committed to taking the most boring sounding-but-important artifacts of American culture, politics and government and make us pay attention to them - and love doing it.

Last week it was patents and you will be fascinated.

I am so grateful HBO makes the show available online.


Unlike many other red states, last weekend, the voters of Montana passed a bill expanding Medicaid. They did this even after the Koch brothers spent a fortune trying to kill the measure. It's not a perfect law but important for the defeat of the Kochs and their minions.

Reporter Eric Stern at Salon explained how that happened and some of the mistakes made by the opponents of the bill are hilarious:

”For the Medicaid battle the Kochs tried a new strategy, one that never works in the West.

“They flew in a bunch of high-priced young politicos from Washington to get the job done. These held 'town meetings' in rural communities at which they showed up in slim-fit suits and pointy shoes, looking like they were heading to a nightclub, lecturing farmers and ranches on politics and the dangers of 'more Obamacare' and publicly threatening moderate Republicans.

"It didn’t take long for them to get booed off the stage by their own partisans.”

And this:

”At the height of the debate two months ago, former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a rancher, wrote a letter to his local newspaper pointing out that Koch Industries owns a ranch in Montana that has taken $12 million in public grazing subsidies while spending their fortune to prevent someone who makes $11,000 a year from getting public help for medical care.

“The Koch team leader reacted by penning an angry opinion piece, attacking Schweitzer but leaving his accusation unanswered, thus spreading the bad news. It was a serious blow.”

It's funny to read how badly the community was misread and it's also an important object lesson Democrats and progressives should heed as partisans in other states ramp up opposition to Medicaid expansion.

Read more here. It's informative and amusing.


Last Tuesday was 4/20 – the annual maijuana holiday. Singer and stoner extraordinaire, Willie Nelson, took the occasion to introduce his branded weed, Willie's Reserve, that will presumably go on sale in the states where it is legal. Here's his laid-back announcement:

Possession becomes legal in my state, Oregon, in July; sales will begin sometime in 2016. You can read more about Willie and Willie's Reserve at Rolling Stone.


TGB's Sunday music columnist, Peter Tibbles, has a thing for domino chain reactions and he's made me a fan too. But what a surprise when he sent me this one which recently won the Guinness world record for largest stick bomb.

What does that have to do with a domino chain reacation? And for that matter, what's a stick bomb? Hang around for this entire video (it's not that long) to find out:

According to the YouTube page, the Tullin Domino Team of Austria set the new world record just four weeks ago on March 30, 2015,

”...for the largest stick bomb, also known as a popsicle stick chain reaction.

“The total: 30,849 sticks in less than 30 seconds. The chain reaction was built by 21 people in around 12 hours, beating the previous record of almost 18,000 sticks.”

You can read more here.


That video above from John Oliver's show last week was shorter than most of his comedy essays. Maybe that explains why he also included this item.

Oliver and his crew discovered that Ted Turner of CNN once made – honest, for real – a video to air only when the network received a confirmation that the end of the world was nigh.

That was a long time ago so Oliver and company created a new one and gave us this preview - the world will not end if you watch it.


You know what Google Doodles are, don't you? They are the alterations made to the Google logo on their main search page in honor of holidays, anniversaries and any other reason that intrigues them. Google explains it all here.

21 April was the 81st anniversary of the publication of that iconic photograph of the Loch Ness monster. We all recognize it instantly even if the image was revealed to be a fake in 1975, according to the U.K. Telegraph.

Loch Ness Monster

For the anniversary this year, instead of a static reworking of the logo, this is the moving gif Google made for the Doodle:


What it represents is the Google Street View crew mapping Loch Ness.

”“The firm has, with the help of divers and local experts, used its Street View cameras to capture parts of the Scottish loch, the reputed home of the famous cryptid.”

Have they found any evidence of Nessie? You can find out more about the project here.


We can't end an Interesting Stuff post without an animal. I mean, it's a weekly tradition now and I don't think the Loch Ness Monster counts.

I'm pretty sure I've posted this video in the past but that doesn't make it any less funny and it still makes me laugh.

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (15) | Permalink | Email this post

Friday, 24 April 2015

Elder Fashion – Still an Oxymoron

We gave Wednesday over to a men's club this week. Let's make today, Friday, women's day although men are as welcome to chime in as women did on Wednesday.

When I first wrote about “elder fashion” here in 2008, I labeled it an oxymoron. Here is a sampling from that post:

"I see more transparent blouses and even pants than much of anything that actually covers a human body.

"Designers just add fabric for larger sizes without considering differing proportions so that if a jacket fits at the shoulders, it is unlikely to button at the waist.

"Shirts...are missing proportion in petite sizes (I’m just under 5’ 2”). They are so long, I look like an eight-year-old wearing daddy’s shirt.

"And why do the few dresses designed without waists all look like muu-muus of the 1950s..."

Nothing has changed during the intervening seven years. Except me. I weighed about 160 pounds then; now, yesterday morning, I weighed 122 pounds.

Losing 25 percent of one's body weight requires a dramatic wardrobe do-over - total replacement for the most part - and that, beginning early in 2014, gave me an opportunity to see if anything has changed in the world of fashion for old women.

Nothing I could see.

I did most of my shopping in the two, excellent consignment shops where I live and found most of what I needed at bargain basement prices. Example: brand-new, unworn $150, lined cotton or linen pants for $20.

Of course, the price doesn't mean they fit this body as well as clothing did in my 20-, 30-, 40-year-old body. I mentioned a while back that my butt had disappeared and losing a bunch of weight only exacerbated that issue.

Those reasonably well-made pants in my new size, for example, are even baggier in the butt than when I was fat.

Recently, I have been trying to fill a few additional holes in my wardrobe – a medium-weight sweater or two, teeshirts, a couple of summer blouses. Nothing was turning up at the consignment shops so I checked a couple of the better known brand stores that cater to grownup – that is, older - women.

Teeshirts are impossible; they all are made with Spandex and even the largest size clings.

There is no such thing as a summer blouse (or, often, even heavier ones) with sleeves.

I blame Mrs. Obama for this. As soon as she showed off her toned upper arms during the election campaign in 2007, clothing manufacturers glommed onto the idea as a new way to increase profits without improving the product: just lop off all sleeves.

After two years of lifting weights every second day, I'm pleased with the little old lady biceps I've developed but even with the proper exercises, my triceps are still too bat-wingy for me to wear anything sleeveless.

(I know, I know. I'm old enough not to care anymore but I do. So shoot me.)

And don't get me started on the tacky, machine-made embroidery on so many blouses and shirts that might otherwise make the cut, if barely. Cheap, cheap, cheap.

Sweaters? Even in winter styles, the knit is almost as thin as gauze and just short of transparent so they do nothing for warmth. Plus, with Spandex commonly added, they cling like the teeshirts.

In general, it is all so shoddily sewn that garments are likely to disintegrate the first time they are washed or cleaned.

Have you noticed anything about this post yet? Aside from baggy-butt pants, I'm not even asking for anything that could even vaguely be described as high style. I'd just like it to fit my body, be opaque and last for more than a month.

Here in suburbia (where I haven't lived until now for more than half a century), most of the women in or around my age group seem to live in sweat pants and shirts. If that's what makes you comfortable, fine, but it doesn't work for me on so many levels.

Besides, sweats are what I wear to bed so I would like something a little nicer to change into when I'm vertical.

I'm not asking for clothing that would put me in the style category of the elder women Ari Seth Cohen features on his Advanced Style blog, book and video. They make fashion their hobby and they do a fabulous job of it.

But that's not my interest. I don't want to spend anything but minimal time thinking about clothes. All I need are a few reasonably priced pieces that fit well, are comfortable and not too frumpy.

How much is that to ask of a multi-billion dollar business?

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (43) | Permalink | Email this post

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

It's About Retired Men Today

If you read this blog regularly, you know there are a lot more women who comment than men. That is likely due to the fact that there are more elder women than men – we (women) tend to live longer (sorry, guys).

Or, it could be that women are chattier than men, although I doubt that explains it (I'm just throwing it out there).

At the Adult Community Center (that's a euphemism in my area for senior center), I'm guessing there is a 9-10 to 1 ratio of women to men but I'm basing that only on early morning visits to the gym and occasional evening meetings. Nevertheless, I'm probably not far off.

And if you check mornings at the local coffee shops here, it's mostly women-only groups doing the klatching. So where are all the retired men? Reporter Gail Sheehy's answer was this:

”When men reach their sixties or seventies and retire, they go to pieces. Women go right on cooking.”

Cute, sort of, but I don't necessarily believe it and it is certainly not so in the Westport/Weston area of Connecticut where 25 percent of the 65-plus, male population are members of the Y's Men. (If the name eludes you, just say it out loud.)

The group was created in 1977, when there was an active YMCA but

” place for retired men to meet and discuss their problems, world problems, health issues (we call them organ recitals), politics or above average grandchildren. Then some wise man said 'Let's meet at the Y.' And so they did...”

Since then, they've been doing it every week.

I know about this because my friend of many decades, John Brandt, is a member and last week he sent me a link to what the Y's Men call their Playbook.

Research indicates that the club, their “band of retired brothers,” appears to be unique and they are so pleased with what they get from it, they created this Playbook as a guide for other men in other places who may want to create such an organization for themselves.

The current president, Marty Yellin, explains:

”...I can tell you that belonging to this organization has become one of the best things I've done in my retirement. More than your usual 'how to' guide, this concise, lighthearted Playbook provides a simple way to build a retired men's club that really works.”

What Marty skips over is that besides funny and concise (which it is), it is amazingly thorough.

Drawing on the club's 37 years of experience, there are instructions covering governance, bylaws, officer succession, committees, membership roster, finding a convenient and accessible venue, the importance of regular publicity and PR, and much more – all with that touted light touch:

”Morning meetings, before nap time, work best. We begin at 10AM. But a lot of the fun starts at 9AM when many members arrive for coffee and donuts. It's that all important schmoozing hour.

“For some, this is their favorite part of the meeting, more so than the scheduled program. Other than having a dedicated set-up and clean-up crew, put your top negotiator on the job to find the best, homemade donuts at the best contract price.”

Y's Men meetings regularly provide information on the latest medical news and on the health conditions of members. They are also encouraged to share their personal and professional backgrounds and/or life histories in weekly 10-minute talks. Or, members can speak for those 10 minutes on subjects of their choosing:

”We've had doctors talking about what ails us, tax experts telling us how to file and a long list of guys who want to share their work adventures and hobbies. It both entertains and informs the membership of the diversity and depth of their fellow members.”

The club holds regularly scheduled talks from quality outside speakers – more than 1400 of them since the club began – and the Playbook provides excellent advice on invitations, presentation, audio/visual requirements and topic suggestions.

They have developed a wide variety of group activities, trips and events. Among them: backgammon, book club, bridge, community service, gardening, hiking/walking, investments, tennis, skiing and more.

”Our T&E people know that retirees are interested in damn near everything, including away-from-home experiences. Some trips are by chartered buses that make sufficient 'technical' stops for guys of a certain age to feel comfortable enough to hit the road...”

There are also scheduled events with wives and family.

Scattered throughout the Playbook is important advice of the sort that fits nicely with some of the things we discuss on this blog:

”...consider a way to provide transport to meetings for members who no longer drive but want to attend meetings. The lack of transport shouldn't be an impediment to staying engaged.”

“It's one thing to make announcements of upcoming travel and events but quite another to make sure members remember what they've heard. As a failsafe, set up a manned T&E table at meetings where members can see what's upcoming, sing up and take a flier home.”

This does not begin to cover all the useful information – nor have I included any of the dozen or more drawings, cartoons and photographs. The entire document – 15 pages, printed - is available for download as a PDF here. First, you will enjoy it; I hope is will inspire you.

President Marty Yellin again:

“Read it and you'll see how staying engaged makes your retirement a meaningful climax to a life well-lived. I have and it's been a hell of a ride.”

For further information, the Y's Men club also maintains an excellent website and except for members' personal information, it is open to anyone, no password needed.

You will find more information about the club, its history, a photo gallery of the men and events, past monthly newsletters, speaker schedule and activities pages.

As we frequently discuss on TGB, relationships and engagement are important to a healthy old age. Women appear to do this more easily than men but that doesn't make it less important for them.

When we retire, we lose the daily camaraderie of the workplace. Friends move away, some die and our opportunities for a social life diminish more easily than we think they will before we retire.

My friend John tells me that when the club decided to write their Playbook, they tried to find other men's clubs around the U.S. and came up empty. With the relentless increase in the elder population upon us, we need many different ways to help one another in our old age and I think the spread of this kind of men's club would be an important addition.

(By the way, there is a companion Y's Women group in the Weston/Westport area but I wanted to concentrate exclusively on men today. We so seldom do that here and I'm interested to read your responses.)

Let's hear once more from President Yellin:

”Our goals are to have fun, develop lasting friendships, become more enlightened, and serve our community. There are so many opportunities available to explore your own interests, or to try exciting and stimulating new interests with like-minded members.”

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (26) | Permalink | Email this post

Monday, 20 April 2015

Dear Diary: A Foolish Passionate Woman

On reading The New York Times Op-Ed page yesterday, I had a bit of a private snit about columnist Maureen Dowd. As usual. Again.

From that you would be correct to infer I am not a fan. Never have been. But this time it was not her puerile snark or other cheap shots. It was the headline – Granny Get Your Gun – that first caught my attention.

Of course, that might not be Dowd – headlines are most often written by copy editors at The Times. But in this case, whoever did the writing took it directly from references within Dowd's screed:

”...granny in a Scooby van”

“...between Macho Man and Humble Granny”

“...the hokey Chipotle Granny”

Don't be fooled. Dowd's repeated use of “granny” is meant to demean presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the eyes of readers.

This word, granny, the latest affront to the dignity of elders (women in particular although “grandpa” is occasionally bandied about in a similar fashion) is growing in popularity. There are dozens of examples every day due to the fact, I think, that writers believe it can be defended: “I only mean that she's a nice old woman.”

Maybe. Sometimes. Well, no, not really. It doesn't matter if a writer “thinks” granny is a cute way to say old. The word in a news story is far from harmless. It is dismissive, meant to weaken the woman's argument and integrity.

While British newspapers are bigger offenders with this word, the U.S. media isn't far behind. Some recent examples, in addition to Ms. Dowd's, that took me one minute to find on Google:

Huffington Post:
Granny Hair Is The Hottest Beauty Trend Of Spring/Summer 2015

Auburn Granny Tumbles 150 Feet Down Cliff

Runnin' Granny Training for First Blue Ridge Half Marathon

Okay, I cheated with the OregonLive item. Here is the entire headline:

”Auburn Granny Tumbles 150 Feet Down Cliff, 11-Year-Old Grandson Calls 911”

Even a child gets more respect in the media than an old woman. People of every other age group are routinely identified neutrally, by their number of years and full-word designation.

Just as I was sketching out my notes for a blog post about this, getting wound up about the ageism, I took a metaphorical step back: “Why bother, Ronni? Every time you write about ageism, particularly ageist language, at least half of TGB readers dismiss your point.”

It's been going on for years here - some version of “I don't care what anyone calls me,” they comment. Or, “You're over-reacting. It's not important what people call you." “Sticks and stones...” Et cetera.

But, you see, it IS important. Every time (and it's hundreds of times a day) an old person is demeaned with such language, it becomes easier to discriminate against elders in every other way. Refuse to hire them. Withhold certain medical treatment. Cut Social Security. Slash Medicare. It's all related.

So what, I said to myself. Nobody else cares and you haven't convinced anyone to change their mind in all this time.

I considered dropping that blog post and writing about something else. But my fury at Dowd's ageist tactic kept eating at me and I felt my bile rising again.

Then I remembered a couple of lines from a poem by William Butler Yeats. It is one of his lesser works, quite short and titled, A Prayer for Old Age.

God guard me from those thoughts men think
In the mind alone;
He that sings a lasting song
Thinks in a marrow-bone;
From all that makes a wise old man
That can be praised of all;
O what am I that I should not seem
For the song's sake a fool?
I pray - for word is out
And prayer comes round again -
That I may seem, though I die old,
A foolish, passionate man.

These days, “thinks in a marrow-bone” is more likely to be stated as “know in one's gut” and although there is plenty of solid information, both research and informed opinion, of the harm that results from ageist language, I would know that even without the science and expertise.

“That I may seem though I die old, a foolish, passionate (wo)man,” no one can convince me that ageist language is not discriminatory, prejudicial and cruel.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (61) | Permalink | Email this post

Sunday, 19 April 2015

ELDER MUSIC: Songs with Street Names

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.


(That's Beaconsfield Parade – see below)

My home town of Melbourne has an endearing (or, as most people would have it, infuriating) habit of having streets change their names, quite arbitrarily it seems, along their length.

Just in my neck of the woods starting in Port Melbourne, there's Beach Street that becomes Beaconsfield Parade, the Lower Esplanade, Jacka Boulevard, Marine Parade, Ormond Esplanade, St Kilda Street, The Esplanade and finally Beach Road before it joins the Nepean Highway.

Then there's Williams Road/Hotham Street and Balaclava Road/Carlisle Street. This pair (or quartet) cross each other and at least have the grace to change their names at that intersection.

However, Williams Road is a bit greedy and it also becomes Alexandra Avenue, City Road and finally Bay Street.

Then there are two very silly ones. Inkerman Street has that name for most of its length but the last little bit it becomes Inkerman Road. Finally, there are many High Streets around town. I imagine that's the same in every English speaking city.

The one near me is called High Street half the time and High Street Road for the rest. These are just ones I walk along or drive down pretty much every day.

So, this is a column about songs with named streets. None of the ones I've mentioned will be present today due to a lack of songs about them.

For the first draft, indeed a completed column, about half the streets were from New York, all numbered ones. I thought that that would make a column on its own and so it proved. I then had to rustle up a bunch more for this one (quite an easy exercise as there are many from which to choose).

I'll start with THE DOORS, one of the iconic groups from the sixties. They made up their street name, but it still counts.

The Doors

They were blessed with having three fine musicians and probably the most charismatic lead singer from the era. Besides the charisma, he also sang well with a fine baritone voice.

Alas, he lived life to the full and just barely made it out of that decade. Here they are with Love Street.

♫ The Doors - Love Street

I have a couple of dozen versions of Green Dolphin Street so it's a matter of playing them all until I find the one I want to include. (Time passes). Okay, I've done that and have settled on GEORGE SHEARING and NANCY WILSON.

Shearing and Wilson

This is from an album they made together called “The Swingin's Mutual!” There seems to have been a lot of exclamation marks on jazz album titles back then. Here they are with a really nice version of the song.

♫ George Shearing and Nancy Wilson - On Green Dolphin Street

Tom Waits wrote the song Fannin Street and he did a good job of performing it as well, but I've decided to go with JOHN HAMMOND's version instead.

John Hammond

John recorded an album of Tom's songs which is really worth a listen if you like either or both artists. This is from that album.

♫ John Hammond - Fannin Street

There are several songs about Beale Street; this isn't the most famous of those. It is by CAB CALLOWAY though, and that's worth the price of admission.

Cab Calloway

Although his parents wanted Cab to be a lawyer, he had a good singing voice and preferred jazz. At some pointN he joined his older sister Blanche who had become a band leader and he always credited her as his inspiration to get into show biz.

Anyway, Cab's street song is Beale Street Mama.

♫ Cab Calloway - Beale Street Mama

There are two guitarists present today whose influence is beyond measure. The first of these is CHET ATKINS.

Chet Atkins

Chet's contribution is an instrumental, something at which he excelled, called Main Street Breakdown. You'll wonder if he really has only two hands. It's not the only tune about Main Street (that won't come as much of a surprise).

♫ Chet Atkins - Main Street Breakdown

DAVE VAN RONK was the avuncular presence and titular head of the folk scene in New York in the early sixties.

Dave Van Ronk

He was once considered for a group that later became Peter, Paul and Mary. That really wouldn't have worked even though as a youngster Dave was part of a barbershop quartet. That I'd like to have heard.

Anyway, Dave's contribution today is Sunday Street.

♫ Dave Van Ronk - Sunday Street

Another Main Street. I guess they're as common as High Street, maybe more so. Around the middle of the seventies JONI MITCHELL

started to move away from her image as hippy chick/singer song-writer and started creating more complex music, usually in a jazz style.

Joni Mitchell

This began around the time of the album “The Hissing of Summer Lawns” from which this track, In France They Kiss on Main Street, was taken. There are also some elements of rock & roll along with the jazz and leftover folk.

♫ Joni Mitchell - In France They Kiss On Main Street

Here is another influential guitarist, J.J. CALE.

JJ Cale

He didn't ever receive his due with the record buying public but other musicians, especially guitarists, recognised what a huge talent he was. I think we can thank Eric Clapton for recording several of his songs (in J.J.'s own style) and bringing his name a little to the fore.

J.J.'s song is Cherry Street, not one his most famous.

♫ J.J. Cale - Cherry Street

NAT KING COLE is always welcome in any column of mine.

Nat King Cole Trio

Here he is in the early days with his trio and Vine Street Jump.

♫ Nat King Cole Trio - Vine Street Jump

JULIE LONDON is another semi-regular in these columns and it's good to have another excuse to include her.

Julie London

Her contribution is called Easy Street. Hit it, Julie.

♫ Julie London - Easy Street

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (4) | Permalink | Email this post