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ELDER MUSIC: 1960

PeterTibbles75x75You never know who you're going to meet on the internet and I came to know Peter Tibbles (bio here) via email over the past couple of years. His extensive knowledge of most genres of music and his excellent taste became apparent only gradually (Peter's not one to toot his horn) but once I understood, I knew he needed his own column at Time Goes By - or, better, that TGB needed his column - which appears here each Sunday. You can find previous Elder Music columns here.


Hah, fooled you. Here are some more years.

I know I said after 1959 I wasn’t going to do this again because presenting 1950 to 1959, finding a hundred songs, writing a hundred blurbs about a hundred artists was a good idea until I actually started doing it.

Then it was a matter of “What the hell am I doing?” Of course, that was a while ago now and I thought, “That wasn’t so bad.” Boy, can I fool myself.

Anyway, I’ve chosen the songs for these years so I might as well push on. The years 1960 to 1962 are generally considered wasteland years as far as music goes. Yes and no.

Yes, because there was certainly some rubbish around and I’m happy to bring you some of that. No, because there was some fine music as well and I’ll have some of that too.

What happened in 1960?

  • Well, I was in 4th form (year 10)
  • Sirimavo Bandaranaike was elected Prime Minister of Ceylon, the world's first elected female head of government
  • Mossad agents captured Adolph Eichmann in Buenos Aires
  • The farthing ceased to be legal tender in Britain
  • Rome staged the Olympics Games
  • The Fantasticks opened in New York
  • Australia won the Davis Cup (again)
  • A.P. Carter died

Boy, am I going to wake you up with a start this fine morning.

Johnny O'Keefe

JOHNNY O'KEEFE was the first and best of Australia’s first generation of rockers. He started by imitating Johnnie Ray in the early Fifties and morphed into a great rock & roll singer.

He was often a support on tours by American artists but after a couple of these, some of them stipulated he couldn’t be on the bill or they wouldn’t come. Others, more sure of themselves and I’m thinking of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers especially, became friends and even covered some of his songs.

He lived a full life: sex, drugs, rock & roll, booze, car crashes. He lived fast and died (relatively) young at 43, in 1978. He blew the lid off the staid, comfortable, conformist place this country was in the Fifties. This is She's My Baby.

♫ Johnny O'Keefe - She's My Baby

Another first. THE SHIRELLES were the first and the best of what was then called “girl groups.”

The Shirelles

Okay, they may not have been quite the first, but close to it. Although there were only four of them, they seemed to have a lot of names – Shirley Alston (who was also Shirley Reeves), Doris Coley (also Doris Kenner and Doris Jackson), Beverly Lee (who seemed to be satisfied with her name) and Addie “Micki” Harris McPherson (who managed to get all her names in one go).

They got together in New Jersey and called themselves The Poquellos. They recorded a song called I Met Him on a Sunday that did okay for them. They changed their name and recorded Dedicated to the One I Love which did even better.

They hit the jackpot with the Goffin/King song Will You Love Me Tomorrow.

♫ The Shirelles - Will You Love Me Tomorrow

I was going to say that the next track is one of the EVERLY BROTHERS' best songs. Then I realized that there’d be 20 or 30 others about which I could say the same thing.

Everly Brothers

The Evs had been around for a while by 1960, but this is the year that I think they really hit their straps and produced a great song, the first of many - this one that I had to shake my head about, wondering how they could come up with anything better.

I know there have been songs that have rung my bell since then, but this is first one of theirs that did it for me, Cathy’s Clown.

♫ Everly Brothers - Cathy's Clown

Another singer from the same time that really impressed was this next one. There were few better voices in pop music in the Fifties and Sixties, or any time really, than that of ROY ORBISON.

Roy Orbison

Roy had a few minor hits in the Fifties but it wasn’t until this year and the song Only the Lonely that he made it big. From then on there was no stopping him as he had hit after hit with extraordinarily good songs.

Although not his first, this is the one that really put him on the map, Only The Lonely.

♫ Roy Orbison - Only The Lonely

KATHY YOUNG was only 15 when she had her big hit.

Kathy Young

This song was an old DooWop song (old, in these terms, means about six years old) called A Thousand Stars. She followed this with a number of other songs that weren’t anywhere as successful.

However, on the basis of that song, she joined Alan Freed’s roadshow with the cream of current performers at the time. Eventually she married John Maus, known to the rest of us as John Walker, of the Walker Brothers.

That didn’t last very long and she married again, managed a citrus grove in central California and raised a family. She’s a bit of a fitness freak and looks far too good for someone who is my age.

♫ Kathy Young - A Thousand Stars

JIMMY JONES had two hits in 1960, both worth including.

Jimmy Jones

The better known song of his and the one I’m not playing, is Handy Man.

Jimmy was born in Alabama but moved to New York as a teenager. He started out as a tap dancer but soon took to singing and joined a DooWop group for whom he wrote several songs, including Handy Man. He left that group, recorded his song and it shot up the charts.

The next one did the same. It’s Good Timin’.

♫ Jimmy Jones - Good Timin'

BOBBY RYDELL was huge here in Australia around this time. I don’t know how big he was elsewhere, but he’s seared in my brain so he’s included.

Bobby Rydell

Known to his folks as Robert Ridarelli, he was yet another singer from this time who was from Philadelphia. He started out as a drummer and was in a band with Frankie Avalon. He started singing and became an instant success (at least here).

A bit of trivia that you probably all know is that the high school in Grease was called Rydell High. To go along with that, here is Swingin´ School.

♫ Bobby Rydell - Swingin´ School

THE FENDERMEN were Jim Sundquist and Phil Humphrey.

The Fendermen

Jim and Phil met at university in Wisconsin and by a coincidence, they were born on the same day. They took the name of their group, if two could be considered a group, from the brand of guitars they both played.

Indeed, it’s only the two of them playing guitars on the record - no bass or drums or anything else, although they did use other musos when they toured.

The song is an old Jimmie Rodgers song that he called Blue Yodel No. 8. They called it Mule Skinner Blues.

♫ The Fendermen - Muleskinner Blues

Around this time there was a series of what are now called “Death Disks” – Teen Angel, Tell Laura I Love Her, Patches, Endless Sleep. Even El Paso could be considered in this category, also One Wore Black and several songs by the Everly Brothers.

There was a tongue in cheek response to these by BOB LUMAN.

Bob Luman

Bob was from Texas and his father was a reasonable guitarist and fiddle player. Young Bob got a guitar when he was 13 and started a band when still in high school. After leaving that, he formed another that included James Burton in the group. Talk about starting with the best.

Later he went solo and became a country and rockabilly artist of some note. The song I mentioned earlier was a bit of a novelty called Let’s Think About Living.

♫ Bob Luman - Let's Think About Living

DONNIE BROOKS was born in Dallas and was initially known as John Abohosh. He moved to California when he was teenager and was adopted by stepfather and took the name John Faircloth. He had a few minor hits under various names – Johnny Jordan, Dick Bush and Johnny Faire.

Donnie Brooks

These were a bit disappointing but he was encouraged by his friends Johnny and Dorsey Burnette to continue (and change his name yet again to the one we know). He hit it big in this year with Mission Bell.

♫ Donnie Brooks - Mission Bell

1961 will appear in two weeks' time.


INTERESTING STUFF: 30 July 2011

Category_bug_interestingstuff 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 probably 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 have one.


KITTEN SURVIVES WASH CYCLE
This kitten undoubtedly used up at least one of her nine lives. Amazing survival story.

RETIREMENT COMMUNITY FOLLIES
A production number from the Clark Retirement Community performing I Feel Good from Kay Dennison via Mage Bailey.

WHAT DID ABE LINCOLN MEAN?
For many decades, the word “cool,” in addition to meaning not warm, has been used as a slang term for hip, in-style, laid back, etc. We are all familiar with that usage.

During the presidential campaign of 1860, Abraham Lincoln gave a famous speech at Cooper Union in New York City. I recently ran across the text of the speech and found this odd word usage in a paragraph near the end. Note the bolded sentence:

”Under all these circumstances, do you really feel yourselves justified to break up this Government unless such a court decision as yours is, shall be at once submitted to as a conclusive and final rule of political action?

“But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool.

“A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, 'Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!'”

I'm curious to know what you think Lincoln meant by the word “cool” in this context?

MONTREAL SEWER GEYSER UPENDS CAR
A broken sewer main. A car parked in the wrong place and the wrong time. This gets more amazing toward the end of the video.

GIANT CRYSTAL CAVE
In Chihuahua, Mexico, worker dig for lead and silver. But in establishing the mine, the giant crystal caves were discovered. Made of gypsum, the crystals measure as wide as four feet and as long as 50 feet.

The temperature in these caves is 120 degrees with 80 percent humidity. People can remain in only about 10 minutes. A special cooling suit allows them to stay for up to an hour, but no more. That's how this astonishing video was made.

IMPROVE EVERYWHERE STRIKES AGAIN
ImprovEverywhere is a New-York based collective whose goal, they say is to cause "scenes of joy and chaos in public places. Recently, they got 3500 people to download an MP3 file to their smartphones and press play at a specific time and place simultanously, then follow the instructions.

They have posted the edited video of the event and it is fabulous. Watch for yourself.

MAN WAKES FROM THE DEAD – REALLY
In Johannesburg, South Africa, an 80-year-old man had “died” and his body was being stored in a refrigerator at the morgue. Well, people only thought he was dead.

The next day, morgue workers heard someone yelling for help and found the man in the drawer – alive. Here's the kicker. After the incident:

”...the health department spokesman urged South Africans to call on health officials to confirm that their relatives are really dead.”

Read more here.

SLEEPING CATS SLIDESHOW
No explanation needed. A whole bunch of sleeping cats sent in by Pamela of Costa de la Luz Gardening.

View more presentations or Upload your own.


An Elder Book Contest

category_bug_journal2.gif A friend is visiting from Colorado this week and while he and I are off for a day at the Oregon coast, have I got a deal for you.

You may remember that last summer we read an excellent book together over several weeks, The Longevity Prescription – the 8 Proven Keys to a Long, Healthy Life by renowned geriatrician Dr. Robert N. Butler. One chapter a week for about ten weeks, we discussed the good doctor's excellent, practical and encouraging advice for living a healthy, successful old age.

The book has just been issued in paperback and I have two copies to give away. If you were not here for the series last year or did not purchase it then or want another copy for whatever reason, here is how we will decide who gets the books:

In the comments below (no emails), leave your best guess as to what the temperature (in Farenheit) will be on SATURDAY 30 JULY in Seaside, Oregon at 12 noon.

The deadline for entries is midnight tonight (Friday/Saturday) Pacific Daylight Time as posted next to your name below your comment. The two people coming closest to the correct temperature, according to weather.com, will each receive a copy of Dr. Butler's book. If there is a tie among more than two people, the two earliest entries will be declared the winners.

Winners will be announced in Monday's blog post.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: One More Time


INVITATION: The Second Annual TGB Elderblogger Meetup

In October last year, we held the first elderblogger meetup here at my home in Lake Oswego, Oregon. It was a smashing success you can read about here.

RainMeetup

MarionMeetup

There are more photos here and here.

So today I'm issuing an invitation for the Second Annual Elderblogger Meetup at my home in Lake Oswego, Oregon, on Saturday 15 October. Here are some details:

  1. The MeetUp will begin at 10AM, although arrival is certainly flexible
  2. Spouses and significant others are welcome

  3. There are reasonably-priced hotels in Lake Oswego if an overnight stay makes sense
  4. More information will be forthcoming as the date gets closer

Last year, I had the event catered, but someone suggested we do potluck next time and I think that's a sensational idea. I will supply dishes, napkins, utensils and also drinks so no one need schlep heavy stuff to Lake Oswego. I will circulate a list of kinds of dishes to choose from after I know how many people are attending.

Eighteen attended last year and we could have accommodated some more. I'd like to set the attendance floor at 10. If at least that number responds, it's a go.

So please check your calendars and respond. You can do that in the comments below or via email by clicking the “Contact” link in the upper left corner of any TGB page. In either case, be sure to include your email address. (It is required in the comment form but only I can see it.)

I had a wonderful time last year. It's great to put faces with blog names and for repeat attendees, I certainly look forward to seeing you again. The RSVP window will be open through 5 August.

UPDATE: Geez, I always leave something out. This is open to elderbloggers and elderblog READERS.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joanne Zimmermann: Floor and Ceiling People


For Politically Disappointed Elders

category_bug_politics.gif President Barack Obama did not make news in his Monday night speech. The only thing that was slightly encouraging was that his debt ceiling/deficit reduction plan did not include cuts to Social Security Medicare and Medicaid.

But that doesn't mean the final bill – if there is one before the 2 August default date - won't include such cuts.

Many Democrats, independents, progressives, liberals and lefties are deeply disappointed with President Barack Obama. He's a crypto Republican, they say. Beholden to Wall Street and corporations. He caves to every Republican demand and is further to the political right than the Republicans on some issues.

It's hard for me to disagree and many of the political left have said they do not want to vote for Obama in the 2012 election. But the choice, whoever the Republicans select to oppose the president, will be between Obama and a non-entity like former Governor Mitt Romney or a blithering theocratic tea partier like Michele Bachmann.

It's hard not to despair when the choice again, as always, is between the lesser of two evils. When was the last presidential election in which you said to yourself, “ Geez, I don't know how to choose; they're both so good.”

When I was reading one of my favorite lefty political blogs, Hullabaloo, the other day, digby spoke to the issue of liberal disappointment and despair. It strikes me as the only way to go:

”I'm older now, so perhaps my newfound 'patience' can be seen as resignation rather than wisdom. But I have learned a couple of things over these years: don't panic, don't drop out and don't despair.

“The reactionaries and revanchists aren't all powerful and the will to progress is as fundamental to humanity as breathing. Bad things happen, to be sure. But liberal focus and persistence can be a powerful antidote. We need to hang in.”

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ralph Lymburnber: The Wall People


GAY AND GRAY: Gay Marriage Comes to the Niagara Frontier

JanAdams75x75Gay and Gray is a monthly column at Time Goes By written by Jan Adams (bio) in which she thinks out loud for us on issues of aging lesbians and gay men. Jan also writes on many topics at her own blog, Happening-Here, and you will find her past Gay and Gray columns here.]


Rainbow falls

The beginning of legal same-sex marriages in New York State draws me back to my roots. Nearly 50 years ago, as soon as I was able to get away, I high-tailed it out of western New York state for more accommodating parts of the country.

Buffalo was no place for a lesbian to grow up in the 50s and early 60s. My high school mates intuited that I was different, very likely "queer," as well as socially awkward. A few tolerated me, but some were downright cruel to the lanky misfit I was in those days.

With this background, I'm following with interest gay developments in the far western part of the Empire State. We all know that New York City will be fine, but what about the boondocks by the lake?

Very well, thank you! Here are a few items from that often neglected part of the country.

• Western New York Republican State Senator Mark Grisanti bucked his own previous position and his party to cast one of the deciding votes for legalization. My former neighbor, Jeff Simon, long time Arts Editor for the Buffalo News thinks Grisanti's vote and gay marriage signal a huge boost for the long suffering region:

“I just committed political suicide,” Grisanti is quoted as saying after his “yes” was one of the two crucial votes that gave New York State back its reputation for progressivism and a passion for human rights and made this the largest state to have a same-sex marriage law...

“Mark Grisanti clearly agonized over his vote. He told reporters that his own wife had doubts. What he wound up doing, despite his reservations, was becoming one of two Republicans in the New York State Senate to make New York State the biggest weapon, thus far, in the fight to universalize same-sex marriage.

“It is inconceivable to me that in the events of last weekend, Grisanti didn’t make some of the most important friends a New York State politician can make. He might have thought it looked like an open grave.

“Unless my sense of the political world is completely absurd (always possible), I’d bet anything it was just the foundation people have to dig before they put up a sign for a skyscraper that reads “watch this space for further developments.

“For those given to hand-wringing over [Buffalo's] reputation, it’s hard not to think that he, like Kathy Hochul, [a Democrat unexpectedly elected to the Congress recently in a special election in a Republican area] did quite a lot more: they have completely re-identified upstate New York, and especially Western New York, from the area that gave the state the gubernatorial campaign of Carl Paladino [an embarrassing knuckle-dragging right winger] to the area that put Hochul into Congress and proved decisive in legalizing same-sex marriage in New York State.

• New York State has six separate Episcopal Church dioceses and therefore six Episcopal bishops. I knew the one we had when I was young as I went to school with a daughter. I thought he was a pompous stuffed shirt.

The current one, the Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin, is one of three in the state who is allowing priests to officiate immediately (before the church rewrites its services) at same-sex weddings. Even the Episcopal bishop in New York City isn't doing that. Who'd have thought it?

• Most amusingly of all, the community of Niagara Falls, long a sad locus of tourism gone completely tacky, hopes to boost its fortunes as a magnet for gay marriages. The tourist bureau has gone all in.

In an effort to partner tourism related opportunities with the passage of the Marriage Equality Act in New York State, the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. (NTCC), unveiled plans Friday to hold a group wedding ceremony on July 25 in Niagara Falls, N.Y., as well as a new ‘Rainbow Romance’ package on the agency's Niagara-USA.com reservation system.

USAToday caught the flavor of the region's excitement:

”NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — New York legislators had voted just hours before to legalize same-sex marriage, and already the phone was ringing at the Falls Wedding Chapel. It was a lesbian couple in central New York, looking forward to an August wedding after 28 years together...

“Richard Crogan sees the new law from two perspectives: He's president of the Main Street Business and Professional Association in Niagara Falls -- and he and his partner, Michael Murphy, are thrilled to finally be able to marry at the falls.

“He's envisioning a homecoming for gay people who left to marry elsewhere, including across the river in Canada.

"Those gay kids that moved out to be accepted can come back," he said. "New York state is their state. They can come home and be themselves."

My delight at all this doesn't go nearly far enough to lure me back to the region. But how can I not rejoice as a tolerant and creative wind blows away some cobwebs in the old home place?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Richard J. Klade: Dumb and Dumber


Elders and Voter ID Laws

category_bug_politics.gif In Saturday's special edition of Interesting Stuff, I mentioned voter ID laws that are being used in an increasing number of states to suppress certain kinds of voters by requiring a government-issued photo ID to be presented at polling stations to receive a ballot.

Reader Diana Rothberg left a note stating that she doesn't see what's wrong with voter ID laws:

“I've never understood why requiring ID for voting is discriminatory. We need ID to cash a check, get on an airplane, get senior prices at the movies. Could you please explain this?”

I left a short explanation for Diana in the comments, but today I want to expand on it both as a political tool and as it relates to elders.

For most voters, the acceptable ID to vote is a drivers license, but many people do not drive. Another reader, Ellyn, pointed out that many states issue non-driver ID cards which are widely accepted for check cashing, airline security and senior discounts, among other activities.

(I must note that I have never been asked to prove I'm old enough for a senior discount; they just look at me and know.)

This is all well and good. The difficulty arises when the ID is required to vote because it then becomes a de facto poll tax. After the 15th Amendment to the Constitution gave voting rights to people of all races, some states instituted poll taxes and other restrictions designed to prevent blacks from voting.

This intent was made obvious when some of those states exempted citizens who had voted in previous elections (all white, of course) from the poll tax.

In 1964, passage of the 24th Amendment to the Constitution abolished the use of any kind of tax as a pre-condition for voting in federal elections. It states:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”

Then in 1966, in a case titled Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, the U.S. Supreme Court extended the prohibition on poll taxes to state elections. The Constitution and the law are abundantly clear: no tax or fee may be imposed as a condition for voting in any election.

As with drivers licenses, states charge a fee to issue a non-driver photo ID. A random check of about a dozen states shows that fees range from as little as $5 in Maine and Iowa to $44.50 in Oregon. Some states have a sliding scale of fees that increases depending on the number of years for which the ID is valid.

Supporters of voter ID laws, which have been instigated by Republicans, maintain that they are important to help reduce voter fraud. Please. The greater problem is getting people to vote at all and the only significant voter fraud I can recall in recent times took place in Florida in 2000 and it was not about fraudulent votes. From NPR:

”Doug Chapin, an election expert with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, says one problem with the current debate is that there's little data to back up either side.

“Chapin says there's not only no evidence of widespread fraud, but 'you really haven't seen, despite the rhetoric to the contrary, a whole lot of evidence that there are large numbers of people who are registered to vote, or want to register to vote, and don't have the kind of ID that would be required.'”

It may be true, as Chapin says, that it is not a matter of people lacking the required kind of ID to obtain a non-driver photo ID (others disagree with him), but he omits the point about the de facto poll tax and the extra hardship for elders.

All the states I checked require an in-person visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain a non-driver ID. For many elders, this can be an almost insurmountable problem. One, if they want a non-driver ID, they don't drive. Two, a larger proportion of elders than young people have difficulty getting around easily on public transportation (or at all) and some do not have anyone to call on for help.

Here is another comment from Trish Corl:

”I drove my 91 year old mom to the DMV (CA) this past May, when her driver's license expired, to convert her over to a Senior Photo ID. She can no longer drive and lives in an assisted living community. If not for me, her fantastic Designated Daughter (!), she would have no "government issued" ID and no way to get one.

“It was a real challenge for my mom to go through this process, even with my total support and companionship. She is mentally fine, but physically frail, and the process was such a long, complicated slog.

"It's so easy to assume that these things are accessible for seniors, when the reality is quite different.”

Due to direct deposit (which becomes a requirement for all Social Security recipients next year), there is little reason for elders to cash a check anymore. Many people do not fly or visit foreign countries and they get senior discounts the same way I do so the fee becomes a de facto poll tax.

The trajectory of voter ID laws are not on elders' side.

In a 6-3 decision in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a voter ID law in an Indiana case. "We cannot conclude that the statute imposes 'excessively burdensome requirements' on any class of voters," said Justice John Paul Stevens writing for the majority.

In his dissent, Justice David Souter wrote that Indiana's voter ID law "threatens to impose nontrivial burdens on the voting rights of tens of thousands of the state's citizens."

For many elders, the burden is indeed nontrivial both physically and financially. Remember that the average monthly Social Security payment is $1100 – less than $275 a week - which accounts for 90 percentage of the income of a large percentage of elders and half the income for millions more.

Another reader, Margie, left this comment on Saturday's post:

”I haven't had a car since 2004. I've kept up my driver's license because - well, because I keep thinking things will get better. But the last time it came up for renewal this past April, the fee was $32 here in California. That's a lot to me now, and it gave me pause. I did renew the license, but at the expense of several weeks' worth of decent groceries.

“Yes, this systematic disenfranchisement is real, it is effective, and it is evil.”

Legal challenges to voter ID laws in several states are wending their way through the court system. Given the tenor of our times and the makeup of the current Supreme Court, I don't have a lot of hope for their success.

All hail the return of the poll tax and the disenfranshisement of elders (among others).

UPDATE: Given a couple of emails I've received this morning (I do wish you would post your thoughts as comments), I did not make myself clear in this post. So let me try again:

Millions of people - some young, many old - who do not drive or do not travel by air have no reason to maintain a drivers license or to obtain a non-driver ID except, due to voter ID laws, to vote. That makes the fee for these documents a de facto poll tax and disenfranchises those who cannot get to a DMV.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: The Perfect Wish


ELDER MUSIC: Some Doo-Wop

PeterTibbles75x75You never know who you're going to meet on the internet and I came to know Peter Tibbles (bio here) via email over the past couple of years. His extensive knowledge of most genres of music and his excellent taste became apparent only gradually (Peter's not one to toot his horn) but once I understood, I knew he needed his own column at Time Goes By - or, better, that TGB needed his column - which appears here each Sunday. You can find previous Elder Music columns here.


Doo-Wop was a rather short-lived genre of music in the Fifties that, nevertheless, gave us some of the finest singers from the early rock & roll era.

For some reason, most of these groups seemed to have birds' names – The Orioles, The Ravens, The Swallows, The Robins and on and on. I don't think there was a group called The Kookaburras but you never know.

None of the groups mentioned will be played today, another time perhaps. The music was often a capella singing as most started just sitting around on their front porches singing the songs of the day.

Doo-Wop's roots had its genesis in the music of the previous generation. Initially with barbershop quartets and later, and more particularly, with the harmony groups from the Thirties and Forties. There were many of those but two stood out from the rest of them and I'll start with them.

First, let's consider THE MILLS BROTHERS.

Mills Brothers3

These were a group of brothers, at least until one of their number died of pneumonia. He was replaced in the group by Dad Mills at the suggestion of their mum.

They were very popular in Britain and Europe and toured continuously until WWII broke out and they grabbed the first boat out of there (to Australia as it turns out).

Later, even rock & roll couldn't dent their sales which kept up through the Fifties in competition with the Doo-Wop groups we're featuring today. This is You Always Hurt the One You Love.

♫ The Mills Brothers - You Always Hurt The One You Love

The other major influence on the groups was the INK SPOTS.

Ink Spots

The Ink Spots started as a duo, "Kyle and Charlie," after Jerry Daniels and Charlie Fuqua. I don't why they weren't called "Jerry and Charlie," - maybe there was already one of those.

Anyway, they kept adding members until they became the group we remember today.

They started in Indianapolis but made their way to the Apollo Theater in New York where they caught the eye and ear of a British entrepreneur who invited them to tour his country. They did this to great acclaim and on return, got noticed in their home country.

They had dozens of hits over the years. This is one of them, If I Didn't Care.

♫ The Ink Spots - If I Didn't Care

Australia's best of the first generation of rock & rollers, Johnny O'Keefe, did a splendid version of the song, Over the Mountain, better than the original I think. However, he isn't a doo-wop group so he won't be included.

The original had only two members so it also doesn't really qualify as a Doo-Wop group. However, they had others backing them so they sound like one. Besides, they were on one of my Doo-Wop CDs so that's all that matters to me. They are JOHNNIE AND JOE.

Johnnie & Joe

That's Johnnie Louise Richardson and Joe Rivers. Yep, Johnnie was a female in spite of her first name. Anyway, they had a number of records in the Fifties but none reached the heights of Over the Mountain, Across the Sea.

♫ Johnny & Joe - Over The Mountain, Across The Sea

For the first couple of years, the next group called themselves the D'Italians. I don't know why as they weren't of Italian extraction. They then changed their name to the more prosaic THE STUDENTS. I've searched in vain for a picture of them from the time, here's one from the Seventies.

Students

Their first record was I'm So Young which was a typical, and rather good, Doo-Wop tune. After that, they were offered a then-unreleased demo of a song called Cathy's Clown. They turned it down.

People of my vintage will know that this song sold squillions for the Everly Brothers who didn't turn it down.

The Students had a handy backing band that included guitar wizard Wes Montgomery. The song I chose, because it sounds like about half a dozen famous Doo-Wop songs rolled into one, is Every Day of the Week.

♫ The Students - Every Day Of The Week

THE DELL VIKINGS were a successful group who had so many members pass through that ex-members formed a competing group called the Del-Vikings. There was also a group called the "Dell" Vikings. That did tend to confuse things just a tad.

Dell Vikings

The original mob sang my favorite of the Doo-Wop songs. Their voices wove back and forward, in and around each other. This is intricate five-part harmony at its best. It is a tour de force of the genre, Come Go With Me.

♫ The Dell Vikings - Come Go With Me

THE DANLEERS started out as The Webtones in Brooklyn.

Danleers

They teamed up with a manger and songwriter named Danny Webb and somehow or other they renamed the group after him. He wrote their biggest (and perhaps only) hit, One Summer Night.

He also had an in with various record companies so they could record it and make it a hit. On the basis of this song, they made it onto the various national rock & roll tours at the time. They didn't duplicate the success of this song.

♫ The Danleers - One Summer Night

Lewis Lymon's surname may sound familiar to those well versed in Doo-Wop. Lewis is the brother of the great, tragic Frankie Lymon. I was playing some CDs for this column when this track came on and I thought Frankie Lymon but on checking the cover it was LEWIS LYMON & THE TEENCHORDS.

Lewis Lymon

In spite of being in his brother's shadow, Louie and his group toured with such major acts as Jerry Butler and The Impressions, Jessie Belvin and Mickey and Sylvia. However, by 1960 they had disbanded.

Louie performed a few times with his brother before his death (Frankie's that is). Louie has created several different versions of the Teenchords over the years. Here is the original with Honey Honey.

♫ Lewis Lyman & the Teenchords - Honey Honey

There's not just a musical link to the old groups, there's a family connection as well with the next group started by Harvey Fuqua, the MOONGLOWS.

Moonglows

Harvey was the nephew (or a cousin, sources vary on this) of Charlie Fuqua of The Ink Spots and it was this connection that inspired him to form his own group.

Later there was some dissention in the group and Harvey sacked the lot of them and brought in a new bunch of singers (one of whom was the young Marvin Gaye) and he changed its name to Harvey and the Moonglows.

Under that name they had a huge hit with The 10 Commandments of Love but today, we're interested in the original bunch and their song, I Knew From the Start.

♫ The Moonglows - I Knew From the Start

There were a number of groups in this genre who went on to bigger things. They include the Four Seasons, The Impressions, Dion and the Belmonts, The Platters, Little Anthony and the Imperials and The Miracles, later to be Smokey Robinson and The Miracles before Smokey went out on his own as a singer, song writer, record executive, A&R man, record producer and anything else he set his mind to.

Smokey and the gang had a hit with the Doo-Wop answer song. Got a Job. Answer songs were all the rage in the late Fifties and early Sixties. However, what we have today is the song it answers, Get a Job by THE SILHOUETTES.

Silhouettes

The Silhouettes started out in Philadelphia, as did many in this genre, originally as The Thunderbirds. However, there have been many groups with this latter name so The Silhouettes they became.

This song was really their only claim to fame and they pretty much sank without a trace after that until the revival of this music brought them back into the spotlight. The group Sha Na Na took their name from the lyrics of this song.

♫ Silhouettes - Get A Job


INTERESTING STUFF: Special Edition for 23 July 2011

Category_bug_interestingstuff 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 probably 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 have one.


UPDATE: After I finished the post below, House Speaker John Boehner on Friday, walked out of negotiations on the debt ceiling with President Barack Obama. Walked out! And then refused to return a phone call to the president! (I'll have something to say about that next week.)

The country is now in crisis.

The president has called Congressional leaders to a meeting at the White House on Saturday beginning at 11AM. I think the post below still stands.


The economic picture in the U.S. - and, by extension, the world – is so bleak at this moment that it is reasonable to ditch most of the light fare presented in the weekly Interesting Stuff for a look at where the nation is and where it soon may be.

Here are a few things (among many) that stand out for me from the past weeks of prolonged discussion in Washington of the debt ceiling. Each may seem small in itself but is representative of dozens of additional outrages indicating to me that our country is in deep trouble.

• Grover Norquist holds no public office, has no official standing anywhere. Yet, the media interviewed him repeatedly about his no-taxes-ever pledge as though it were law. All but three or four Republicans in Congress have signed the pledge and they stick to it more closely than the Constitution they are sworn to uphold.

Maybe I should write a progressive pledge and get every Democrat in Congress to sign it. Why shouldn't a pledge I write have as much force as Norquist's? He's got no more credentials than I do.

• The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was shut down last night because Congress, too busy flapping its gums over how to screw old and poor people, refused to allow airline and railroad employees to unionize.

Billions of dollars in airport construction is now halted (no pay for those workers) and the federal government will lose $200 million a week in ticket taxes.

• Congressional tea partiers – one-quarter of the House - are so stupid I doubt they can find themselves in a mirror. I heard one this week say that Obama is a Communist and he (the tea partier) will not allow the president to lead the nation into fascism.

That the guy believes Communism and fascism are the same thing is so idiotic it would be funny except he is an elected national leader. Which makes it frightening. What else is he ignorant of?

• That representative's brethren at the state level pass insane legislation allowing people to carry guns to bars where alcohol is sold.

• In many states, they have limited abortion so severely that is it unavailable at all even, in some cases, when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest and the health of the mother is at risk.

• They have enacted voter ID bills (to prevent fraud, they say) that make it all but impossible for millions of black, Latino and elder citizens to vote. Which is, of course, the real point since those groups lean strongly Democratic and if elders have not in the past, it's a good bet they'll switch parties when they see their Medicare and Social Security cut.

• The Social Security Administration announced yesterday that all offices throughout the country will henceforth close 30 minutes earlier than in the past. This is due to the $1 billion cut to the agency in this fiscal year's budget.

Thirty minutes doesn't seem like much but it is how right wing extremists operate; if they can't get what they want all at once, they are quite happy to chip away at their irrational goals a little at a time. They've been doing it for years while the rest of us weren't paying attention.

It's not just the Republicans. President Barack Obama has failed repeatedly to stand up for the people of the United States against the batshit crazy Republicans and Wall Street. Why would it be any different this time?

No one knows for certain, but the president appears to have sold out Social Security and Medicare during these debt ceiling negotiations by possibly agreeing to change the method of calculating the Social Security COLA to the chained CPI which would decrease benefits over time by nearly six percent, and raise the age of eligibility for Medicare to 67.

Today is Medicare's 46th birthday. Happy birthday, elders.

Here is what President Obama said at his Friday town hall meeting in Maryland where he continued to call for a “grand bargain” - you know, lots of cuts to safety net programs:

"This idea of balance, this idea of shared sacrifice, of a deficit plan that includes tough spending cuts but also includes tax reform that raises more revenue, this isn't just my position. This isn't just a Democratic position. This isn't some wild-eyed socialist position...”

I'm enraged every time I see or hear the phrase, “shared sacrifice.” THERE IS NO SHARED SACRIFICE. What there is, are draconian cuts for old and poor people and maybe lifting a tax loophole for corporate jets.

Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are being cut after those who need them most have already lost their life savings in the 2008 crash and following that, their homes and their jobs.

There is nothing left to take from us but, of course, our health care and the income we spent decades in the workforce paying for.

The president continued on the bogus shared sacrifice theme:

“There are cuts that some people in my own party aren't too happy about, and frankly, I wouldn't make them if money wasn't so tight,” he said.

One of the several reasons it is dangerous to cut safety net programs (or change any law) under deadline pressure (which should be obvious) is that it is easy to pass new legislation, but nearly impossible to rescind poor decisions. (e.g. Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.)

Polls consistently show that a large majority of the public want the debt ceiling raised, no changes to Social Security and to maintain the age of eligibility for Medicare where it is at 65. There is no indication that anyone in Washington is listening.

So here we are right now, today, ten days from default on America's debt and both the Senate and House have shut down and gone home for the weekend.

What scares the bejesus out of me is that even if a bill, any bill that raises the debt ceiling, were to be passed on Tuesday, there might not be time before the 2 August deadline for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to do the markup to see what it would cost, then have votes in both houses of Congress.

Yesterday, in one of his blog posts, New York Times Op-Ed columnist, Paul Krugman, had this to say:

“I am among those in a state of suppressed rage and panic over the president’s negotiating strategy...

[W]hat evidence do we have that Obama knows what he’s doing?” [emphasis mine]

My rage is not even suppressed and my panic is off the scale. Not only at the president, but all of them. The debt ceiling should have been voted as a matter of course, as it has been when needed for decades, on its own and then deal separately with spending and taxes.

(Do read the rest of Krugman's blog post. I don't disagree with his three-point dissection of Obama's behavior.)

So that this Interesting Stuff isn't a total loss, here are some fun items:

RESCUE OF A HUMPBACK WHALE
Nana Royer sent this video of a group of conservationists who took on a rare opportunity to save one of the creatures with whom we share this planet. Please don't skip it for its length; it is worth every minute.

JUST ONE QUESTION
Peter Tibbles sent this. I use it tentatively, but I laughed loud and long and I'm sure some of you will too.

Nagasaki 1945

Nagasaki 2011

Question: What the fark is that arch made of?

OKAY, ONE MORE PIECE OF POLITICS
This was the cover on The Weekly Standard this week. Well done!

Pols playing poker


Elder Time, Energy and Scheduling

category_bug_journal2.gif Being old eats up a lot of time and energy and takes some careful scheduling.

This came up yesterday on a telephone call with my old friend, Rick Gillis. Compared to many of us here, he's a young thing still, 57, but he is beginning to have similar experiences.

In the past, we've discussed how long it takes to clean house in our old age compared to our younger years. For most of my life, Saturday morning was cleaning day and I got it all done – top to bottom, floors washed, surfaces dusted, rugs vacuumed, bed changed, bathroom cleaned, etc. all before noon.

I always liked the feeling of having everything neat and tidy for the coming week and it wasn't something I thought about or planned. It was just how I ordered my time.

A few years ago, I realized I couldn't do it in one fell swoop anymore. I tried parceling it out; one room a day made sense. Except, no, I will not drag out the vacuum cleaner four or five times a week.

Aside from the bathrooms and kitchen, this apartment is covered in wall-to-wall carpeting. Not my choice, but I'm stuck with it until I can replace it with a real flooring – not anytime soon – that is much easier to keep clean than carpets.

The point is, there is way too much of it to vacuum in one day so I do the front half of the apartment one day and the back half another day.

The rest of the cleaning gets done eventually, but the timing is haphazard and sometimes I carry a chore on my to-do list from one day to the next to next or maybe next week.

How much I can get done in a day depends a lot on what else is scheduled. If there is shopping that involves driving, I know I won't finish more than four stops and that can be a stretch.

That is probably related to my 40 years in New York City where I walked to all outside errands. Most were within a mile of home and if there got to be too many packages, I could drop them off at my apartment and keep going.

For some reason, I find suburban driving for most errands much more tiring.

Drive, park, shop. Drive, park, shop. Drive, park, shop. If it's t'ai chi class day too or I want to explore a new area or walk in the nearby state forest, I won't do much else while I'm out with the car.

From the vantage point of age 70, I'm amazed at how much I did each day during my working years. Besides the job itself, there was almost always a business lunch often across town, business dinners, movie screenings, PR parties or personal dinners with friends, entertaining at home on some weekends – dinners, brunches - and, of course, dates.

That was in addition to frequent work travel out of town and whatever level of community involvement that came and went over the years.

These were part of my normal days, nothing out of the ordinary. I couldn't keep a schedule like that now for more than two days running. When I was in Michigan last month for three days – completely out of my daily routine – it took four days to recover.

What I have found now that pacing is everything. If something is added to a day, another item needs to be subtracted so that I don't end up exhausted, staring into space from 2PM on.

Even pleasant activities I look forward to require rearranging other items. I wouldn't have missed those afternoon visits with Jan Adams and Marcia Mayo for anything. But I planned well and ahead of time so I was relaxed during those hours I was with them and there was no pressure of anything left undone.

I was intrigued with what Rick Gillis told me about his mother in her eighties. She kept lists too and did only one major thing a day. If it was grocery shopping, she wouldn't be cleaning the bathroom that day. That chore, if chosen, precluded other errands and so it went, Rick discovered, one item a day for his mother.

I suspect in the coming years, my daily lists, if I am to be realistic, will become shorter too.

People who have health problems that require special treatment or frequent visits to physicians or therapy have additional planning to do as do those who are caring for invalid spouses.

That conversation with Rick yesterday together with my own slower schedule are a forceful reminder that elders tire easily and we need to be aware of that with one another. Too much in one day steals future time from us.

Also, we shouldn't be shy about telling our young friends and relatives when we can't keep up with their level of activity. It's all right to sit out some things so we'll be able to function tomorrow.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Harrison: Who Are You?


Meeting Blog Friends

blogging bug image Anyone who's been reading Time Goes By for any length of time, knows that I am a big advocate of blogging for elders. It's fun and interesting to do, it keeps our minds exercised and active, puts us in touch with the world outside our homes and – probably best of all, we make friends at a time in life when there are not as many opportunities to do so as when we were younger.

I think people who don't blog or who are not blog readers don't appreciate that last important aspect of blogging. We become real friends with some of the people we meet online.

It's my belief that no one can write day in and day out without revealing a great deal of themselves, their values, interests, passions, humor, etc. In fact, I think we come to know more about one another through regular interaction with our blogs than we would with new in-person friends we probably wouldn't see more than once or twice a month.

I include regular commenters in this – those who don't keep blogs themselves, but contribute their thoughts and ideas frequently enough that the rest of us come to know them well.

But there is one hitch with blog friends: as the friendship grows, there comes a time when you really want to meet them in person. An advantage of the internet is that we come to know people in far-flung place we could meet in no other way; but that is also a disadvantage.

Sometimes, however, our travels take us to other cities and we can meet. It has never disappointed me.

Three weeks ago, Jan Adams who writes the Gay and Gray column for Time Goes By and blogs at Happening Here was in Portland and she came to visit for lunch one afternoon.

As often happens, I was having such a good time I forgot to take photos, but I can tell you that Jan is very tall – at least to this 5' 2” person. And as has always happened when I've met blog friends, it was like we have always known one another.

Sure, we exchanged some historical information – how we got where we are these days and chose our careers and bits about our families. But mostly, it felt like Jan lives nearby and we were just catching up.

Marcia Mayo, who blogs at Well Aged with Some Marbling, lives in Atlanta and comes to Portland each summer to visit her children and grandchildren for a few weeks. If I recall correctly, we were just getting to know one another last year, but this year we met on Tuesday. Marcia came to my house in Lake Oswego and we had lunch at a little British shop in town that serves high tea.

Marcia Mayo

One of the first things I noticed about Marcia is that she bears a resemblance to the actor Shirley MacLaine and is sometimes mistaken for her. Oddly, we share that. There was a period of 10 or 15 years when I was often asked for autographs by fans who refused to believe I was not Shirley MacLaine. Marcia and I had a good laugh about that.

As with Jan, it was like we've always known one another. I can't tell you all the things we talked about – we covered a lot of territory and there wasn't time for all the questions I wanted to ask Marcia and follow up on other things we discussed.

And like Jan the day after she and I had lunch, Marcia is leaving to return home to Atlanta this week.

Like I said, the downside of blog friends. But we can continue long distance with a new kind of connection that spending time in person adds.

Although it has happened a couple of dozen times now, I'm still amazed at the comfort level when I meet people I've known before only online. It reinforces what I said above, that we cannot write day in and day out without revealing a great deal about ourselves which makes it easy to find those we are simpatico with.

I just wish I could pick up the phone and arrange to meet again for dinner or a hike at a nearby woods or a movie or just spend some more time in person with one another.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: The Blue-Green Mason Jars


Blog Friends – Preface

blogging bug image Again today, no real blog post. I spent a most delightful afternoon yesterday with Marcia Mayo who contributes a lot of fine stories to The Elder Storytelling Place and runs her own blog at Well Aged With Some Marbling.

Here it is evening now and I have meeting in a half an hour and I know I won't feel like writing when I get back, so tomorrow I'll talk about blogging and the friends we make doing so.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: She and He


Doing Nothing in Washington

I'm taking a day off but I thought I'd leave you with some information on what happened in Washington yesterday – nothing.

Here's another news flash for you: House Speaker John Boehner and Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia met privately with President Barack Obama at the White House on Sunday about the looming debt ceiling. Nothing happened.

Meanwhile, a new CBS News poll tells us that 71 percent of the public disapproves of how the Republicans are handling the debt ceiling issue.

They're not happy with Democrats either giving them a 58 percent disapproval rating on the issue. The president gets 48 percent disapproval.

What effect does all this disapproval have on our leaders? None.

Today, the House votes on a tea party endorsed “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill that proposes a Constitutional Amendment requiring a balanced budget.

Even if the bill passes the House, it cannot pass in the Senate. So what will come of this vote today? Nothing.

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Given the focus of Washington, you'd think the U.S. has no problems at all.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Alice Leichter: My Love Affair with Color


Jobs, We Need Jobs

One evening last week, I watched a DVD of a 2010 movie, The Company Men, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Affleck and Chris Cooper with Kevin Costner in a supporting role.

The story follows the lives of three corporate executives after they are downsized due to the crash of 2008. It's a pretty good movie if you don't count a by-the-numbers script in which you can see the writer, scene by scene, ticking off each personal issue of unemployment.

The veteran actors make up for that failing with strong, believable performances – so much so that I had to hit the pause button two or three times and walk away until I got my breath again.

It was like an acid flashback (or maybe acid reflux) to that year of trying to find work before I realized the only way to survive was to sell my New York apartment and retire.

Until that movie last week, I had conveniently "forgotten" (read: buried) the constant humiliation, sick fear and wretched despair of repeated rejection or, most frequently, not even acknowledgment of my resume - hundreds and hundreds of times.

I had forgotten the terror of monthly bill paying, the erosion of savings down to nothing, then the abominably expensive cash advances on credit cards to pay the mortgage and everything else as debt climbed to the tens of thousands.

I had forgotten the loneliness - the friends I stopped calling and who no longer telephoned because I had turned them down so many times, not daring spend the money for an evening out.

I had forgotten the hopelessness. And that was in 2004/05 when unemployment was at a relatively normal level. That movie has been haunting me every day since I watched it, especially this short speech from the 60-year-old character played by Chris Cooper:

"Worst part? The world didn't end. The paper showed up every morning. The sprinklers shut off at six. The guy next door? He still washed his car every Sunday. The day I left there, my life ended."

Yeah. And I doubt there is a family in the nation untouched by this great unraveling of employment.

On 8 July, when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the employment figures for July June 2011, that kicked the unemployment rate up to 9.2 percent, an Economic Policy Institute economist, Heidi Shierholz, wrote this:

“Virtually every single measure was devastatingly weak...this is the second month in a row with job growth at 25,000 or less. This is a remarkable, across-the-board backslide.”

Ms. Shierholz headlined her story, “Labor Market in Full Retreat” and harsh as it is, does not begin to tell the tale of today's unemployed.

In June, according to the BLS, 2.7 million people were “marginally attached to the labor force” which means they are not counted in the unemployment statistics. What no one has done since 2008, is add up how many of these marginal workers have given up entirely, how many will never work again.

I doubt many of them are in the position I was with a home to sell when the housing market was at the top of the bubble.

Meanwhile in Washington, both the president and Congress hold the nation hostage, willing to risk economic chaos beyond anyone's imagination by not raising the debt ceiling unless every lifeline and safety net program is cut or abolished: Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, Pell grants, food aid for poor, pregnant women, legal aid to the poor, FEMA, NOAA, community health centers, the CDC and many more.

Some are talking about lowering or eliminating the federal minimum wage and I read of increasing layoffs again.

Every program they want cut punishes the poor, elders, the unemployed and the entire working class while Republicans insist there can be no taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations.

A few days ago, Jan Adams sent me a link to a Yahoo! News story that late in June asked readers to send in their personal unemployment stories. They are still pouring in; last I looked yesterday, there had been 4,866 responses.

I took the time to read through hundreds of them. Although they come in all ages, a large percentage mention they are older than 50. Here are some examples:

• I have been out of work for almost 2-1/2 years. I been searching tons and tons of job openings. But the same old thing, not hiring right now.

• I am a single mother of 4 that lost her job in '08 and have been desperately seeking a job but have been turned down so many times for various jobs.

• Age 59, worked in banking industry for 35 years, been out of work for 25 months. Great resume! Great skill set! Perfect track record. Nobody wants.

• Licensed and accredited veterinarian. Over 16 years of academic, regulatory and clinical experience. Published researcher. Thousands of pro-bono procedures for shelters and humane societies - I still volunteer weekly. Unemployed since last year. I've yet to get a second interview.

• I know a guy who immigrated here from India to get a good job. He was soon laid off and his job was outsourced - to India.

• I don't have a job, either. Single father of 2 with no money at all. We're about to get evicted in a few days. We also have no family to rely on. So, what do we do?

• I am contemplating the day of my suicide. After two-and-a-half years of being unemployed (at age 51), I worked for 32 years of my life. Now I am treated like a nobody.

• Out of work for almost a year, got an MA from an Ivy League school, can't even get a job making pizzas, and the student loan people are demanding lump sums of 5 figures just to get out of default, holding my transcripts hostage.

• After 3 months and four interviews I did get a job that pays what I was making in the 1970s when I first started out.

• I have been out of work since October 2009. I am tired of hearing from people who think they know it all. They ask, "Well, have you tried this or this?" Do you honestly think I am sitting on my a** all of this time??

• Yeah, you're either too young, too old, too educated, not educated enough. WTH!?

What is heartbreaking and remarkable is their stark recitation of facts omitting, for the most part, descriptions of their misery and desperation. But you can read it between the lines – and that movie I watched last week was an all too personal and terrible reminder to me of what these people are living with every day.

And here is the simple truth Washington cannot or refuses to see: The debt ceiling can be raised with no adverse effect in the medium future. What the country needs is a bailout for the people of the United States, a renewal of Depression-era programs like the WPA, the CCC and others to put people back to work.

It would cost a lot less than the bank bailouts did while repairing our crumbling bridges and roads. It would get taxes coming in again too thereby helping reduce the deficit. It has been three years and the nation's leaders have not uttered a word about jobs. Instead, they punish the unemployed.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Tuxicodendron diversilobum


ELDER MUSIC: 1959

PeterTibbles75x75You never know who you're going to meet on the internet and I came to know Peter Tibbles (bio here) via email over the past couple of years. His extensive knowledge of most genres of music and his excellent taste became apparent only gradually (Peter's not one to toot his horn) but once I understood, I knew he needed his own column at Time Goes By - or, better, that TGB needed his column - which appears here each Sunday. You can find previous Elder Music columns here.


This is the last of an on-going series featuring the music of a particular year. These aren't the Top 10, Top 40 or Top anything, they're just tunes I selected from the year with no apparent logic behind it.

What happened in 1959?

  • Well, I was in 3rd form (year 9)
  • We moved from a small country town to the big smoke
  • Castro assumed control of Cuba. U.S. immediately recognised his government
  • Miles Davis' Kind of Blue was released
  • The Saint Lawrence Seaway was opened by a couple of people
  • Nikita Krushchev was refused entry to Disneyland
  • Australia won the Davis Cup (again)
  • Buddy Holly died.

LLOYD PRICE had once again hit his straps by 1959. He had several hits in the early Fifties but his career was halted for a time when he was called up and sent to Korea.

Lloyd Price

Lloyd had four charting songs in 1959 (well five but one is too silly to mention). These were Personality, I'm Going to Get Married, Stagger Lee and Where Were You on Our Wedding Day?

Any of these would be worth including but it's only one per customer. I've used Stagger Lee elsewhere and Personality is a bit over-used so I'm going with I'm Going to Get Married.

♫ Lloyd Price - I'm Going to Get Married

What a good year this was for RICKY NELSON too.

Ricky Nelson

Three of his best songs came out, Never Be Anyone Else But You, It's Late and Just a Little Too Much. It's going to be difficult choosing one of these. However, I bought one of them at the time on a 45 so I'll go with that one, Just a Little Too Much.

This has the great James Burton playing lead guitar, as he did with all of Ricky's songs.

♫ Ricky Nelson - Just a Little Too Much

Gretchen Christopher and Barbara Ellis knew each other as young children. They sang together and by the time they were in high school they were writing songs as well.

For one song, they thought they needed a trumpet so they asked around and found Gary Troxel. Unfortunately, he couldn't play in their key and they couldn't sing in his, so they nearly dismissed the idea until Gary started singing. He fitted in with them perfectly and THE FLEETWOODS were born.

The Fleetwoods

The three always considered themselves to be three equal voices and that was so for their first few songs. The record company, however, saw a group with a bloke and a couple of women and couldn't grasp the idea that they were equals and why wasn't he the lead vocal and they the back up singers?

After strenuous objection from the three of them, the company pretty much blackmailed them – do it our way or not at all. Deep sigh. Here's an early song of theirs, Come Softly To Me.

♫ The Fleetwoods - Come Softly To Me

SANTO AND JOHNNY Farina were from Brooklyn.

Santo & Johnny

During the war, their father heard a steel guitar being played and said his boys should learn this instrument. He organised a teacher and away we go.

Initially, Santo, the elder performed with a trio but when Johnny was old enough they formed a duo. Johnny by then had decided he preferred playing a regular electric guitar and their distinctive sound was born.

Their most famous track is Sleepwalk, which earned them a gold record, and here it is.

♫ Santo & Johnny - Sleepwalk

BUDDY HOLLY was alive for only five weeks of 1959.

Buddy Holly

What a waste his death was. The musical evolution he had shown in just two years of recording is remarkable. I believe he could have been one of the first generation of rockers who would have fitted right in with the musical revolution of the Sixties.

With the song featured today, I'm not going to use that now much overused and misused word irony, however, it's interesting that Buddy's last song is called It Doesn't Matter Any More.

Something else I find interesting is that although Buddy wrote virtually all the songs he and the Crickets recorded, this song was written by Paul Anka.

♫ Buddy Holly - It Doesn't Matter Anymore

THE IMPALAS were a DooWop group from Brooklyn.

The Impalas

They were discovered by a couple of promoters and songwriters who had the song, Sorry (I Ran All the Way Home), up their collective sleeves and needed someone to record it.

The Impalas struck it huge with the song. Even I bought a copy. However, that was it for the group and they didn't have another hit. They disbanded in 1961 but, of course, reformed in the eighties to cash in on the oldies' circuit.

♫ The Impalas - Sorry

Ah, now we're talking. RAY CHARLES Robinson was from Georgia. Glaucoma caused him to lose his sight when he was about six.

Ray Charles

His parents both died when he was a teenager and he learned to play the piano at a school for the blind in Florida. He worked in that state for a while before hiving off to Seattle where he first recorded.

Initially, he sang in the smooth style of Charles Brown and Nat King Cole. However, after working with Lowell Fulson and Guitar Slim he developed his own sound that we know today. Probably more than anyone, he was instrumental in developing soul music.

The only other contender would be Sam Cooke, but Ray brought more elements into the mix: gospel vocals as well as jazz, R&B, straight blues and country. We can hear all that in the song today, What'd I Say.

♫ Ray Charles - What'd I Say

CARL DOBKINS JR was born in Cincinnati, a city his folks moved to from Appalachia looking for work.

Carl Dobkins Jr

His folks gave Carl a ukulele when he was young. He soon mastered this and moved on to his mum's guitar, singing country songs of the time. At 16, he made a demo record of a couple of songs he had written and took them to a local DJ.

He was impressed and got Carl to record some of them. These became regional hits and that led to Decca records and the legendary Owen Bradley producing him.

They recorded My Heart Is An Open Book and that became a big success. Carl still lives in Cincinnati, he's still married to his childhood sweetheart and still keeps his bag packed for any singing engagement that may ensue.

♫ Carl Dobkins Jr - My Heart Is An Open Book

DINAH WASHINGTON was born in Tuscaloosa but grew up in Chicago where her family moved to when she was three. That family knew her as Ruth Jones. Although she was only 39 when she died, Dinah was married at least eight times (there may have been others).

Dinah Washington

After learning piano, singing in church and then at local clubs, Dinah found herself at the same club that Billie Holiday was performing. She was spotted by Lionel Hampton who hired her on the spot. He also claims to have given her her stage name.

She gained a reputation as a fine jazz singer over the next few years, but the jazz purists scoffed when she recorded What A Difference A Day Makes.

Well, too bad, it's a fine song and here it is.

♫ Dinah Washington - What A Difference A Day Makes

CRASH CRADDOCK, known as Billy to his mum and dad, gained his nickname in high school where he indulged in an activity Americans call - and I'm sure they refer to it thus just to bring merriment to the rest of the world - football.

Crash Craddock

Crash was a cousin of Gene Vincent, so I guess the music genes were there. He first made it big in Australia. Huge in fact. He was last man chosen on a tour to this country with Bobby Rydell, The Everly Brothers, Santo and Johnny, and The Diamonds.

Upon arrival, they were all greeted at the airport by screaming teenagers. Not an unusual event back then. Crash assumed it was for any or all of the others but it was for him. Communications weren't what they are today and he didn't know that his first single had spent the previous month on top of the charts.

I remember seeing him on TV, he was sitting on a high stool clad in his trademark white jumper (sweater to you). Everyone had to have one of those. Yes, I'll admit it, I had one too.

He had several big hits in this country after that. Here's the one that started it all, Boom Boom Baby.

♫ Crash Craddock - Boom Boom Baby

In past columns, I have already used some of the songs from this year. If you'd like to hear more you can find them here.

Phil Phillips – Sea of Love
Fleetwoods – Mr Blue

Phew, I made it. 100 songs later. I thought this series with songs from each of the years was a good idea when I started. There were times when I was doing them that I wasn't so sure. Indeed, it was more along the lines of, "What have I got myself into?"

However, I made it. I don't know if there will be anything else like this but you never know, I might get enthusiastic.


INTERESTING STUFF: 16 July 2011

Category_bug_interestingstuff 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 probably 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 have one.


NO KIDDING - THIS WILL AMAZE YOU
Remember the replicator on the TV series, Star Trek: The Next Generation that created food and drink for the starship crew? Fiction, right? Not anymore.

I didn't believe this when I first watched the video, but you can find out more about 3D printers at the Z Corporation website. Meanwhile, prepare to be amazed.

ODD ICE CREAM FLAVORS
To me, there is no treat in earth that beats ice cream. If it were not unhealthy to do so, I would eat it at breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. My flavor choice, however, is limited to one and I consider it a waste of calories to choose anything but vanilla.

Not so other people and now Newsweek reports on a growing interest in strange ice cream flavors – like garlic or avocado or right here in my town of Portland, Oregon, bacon pear with blue cheese. Yeech. But you might be interested. Find more odd flavors here.

HOW TO COURT THE JEWISH VOTE
The presidential wannabe who believes the founding fathers ended slavery shows off her Yiddish chops on Fox News last week.

OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES
Left to their own devices, children sometimes are more grownup than the adults in the room. Watch this kid work through the idea of gay marriage for himself the first time he learns of it.

MANHATTAN'S SECRET BOOK STORE
Thanks to high rents, mega-stores and most recently, e-readers, small, idiosyncratic bookstores everywhere are going toes up. But Brazenhead Books lives on in New York City but it's hidden and you'll need to do your own detective work to find it.

There's No Place Like Here: Brazenhead Books from Etsy on Vimeo.

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
On 6 August in Houston, Texas Governer Rick Perry (that is, an elected government official) who has presidential aspirations is hosting a prayer rally he describes thusly:

“As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy."

If that's not offensive enough for you, one of the endorsers of the event is Dr. John Benefiel of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network who had this to say about the Statue of Liberty in a recent sermon:

UNFORGETTABLE TELEVISION COMMERCIAL
Most television commercials are so lacking in anything approaching originality that the product – the purpose of the endeavor – is lost on consumers. On rare occasions, there is one to delight us.

Darlene Costner sent this one and here's your assignment: Try to guess the product before the commercial ends.

from MrPrice2U on Vimeo.

NINE LITTLE DUCKIES...
Not in a row.

DuckiesinBasin


Elders Sharing Good Eating Habits

category_bug_journal2.gif One of the most important things we can do to help maintain our health at any age is to eat well. In a culture with six fast food joints on every block and even in some supermarkets, it can be hard to do.

But even if we succumb to temptation now and then (my bete noir is ice cream), we all know the rules: low or no salt, low fat, lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains with a little protein thrown in – fish high in omega fatty acids is particularly good.

Not long ago, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ditched its long-time, oft-revised food pyramid for a food plate that is a clear representation of good eating:

MyPlate-USDA

By the time we reach old age, we should know all this and even if we fall off the wagon from time to time, we have developed some good habits too. So today, I'm inviting you to share some of them.

Here's what I propose: that readers each supply one healthy recipe in the comments below for any meal of the day. It can be your own or if not, giving credit is good, especially if it is from a cookbook or recipe website.

And it should not be elaborate or difficult or involve hard-to-find ingredients. Take pity on the rest of us and keep it simple.

I'll start with RONNI'S MORNING FRUIT SMOOTHIE.

There are zillions of recipes for smoothies, but you don't need one. You can invent it new every time as long as the proportions are vaguely as follows. It's hard to go wrong.

Place the following in a blender:

• 2-3 heaping T of no-fat plain yogurt
• 1/2 sliced banana – extremely ripe, lots of brown on the skin
• 1 C of fresh berries – one kind or mixed
• 1/2 C melon, sliced
• 1-1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, trimmed and sliced
• 1 T honey (optional)*
• 6-8 ounces of juice, enough to just cover the fruit in the blender. Pineapple or apple works well

Cover blender and whiz on high for about 2 minutes.

I feel so healthy when I have this for breakfast (or lunch, sometimes). It's like I can feel all the good, little vitamins and minerals and all running around taking care of my body - and mind, too.

*The very ripe banana is what gives the smoothie its sweetness. If the banana is less than overly ripe, I add the honey. I like the ginger because it gives the drink a spicy kick, but it's not required.

Some people throw in a handful of cracked ice. You can do that; I prefer my smoothie closer to room temperature than cold. If you think you need more fiber, you can include a tablespoon of wheat germ or other whole grain.

There are endless fruit substitutes you can make: half a mango, for example or peach - peeled, of course. The meat of a couple of plums turned out nicely once but it's a bitch to peel them.

And here's a smart tip I learned just recently. When fresh fruit is less available in winter or if the price of berries at the market gives you a heart attack, you can substitute frozen berries (or any other fruit). Just be sure to buy the bags that have no added sugars.

Because the fruit is frozen within a day of picking, it often retains more of its nutrients than fresh fruit that may have been shipped on a truck for days or even weeks.

Now it's your turn. One recipe. Any meal of the day. Healthy.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Brenton “Sandy” Dickson: Thick-a-Dungeon


The Elder Court

In California, the Contra Costa County Superior Court, located in Martinez, runs a unique program, The Elder Court. This is such a brilliant and important idea that you should know about it.

The Honorable Joyce Cram has presided over the court, which is in session every Tuesday, since it was established in 2008, and handles every possible kind of elder-related case – criminal, conservatorships, probate, financial abuse, physical abuse, civil cases, restraining orders, small claims and more.

The Elder Court program goes further than familiar formal courts. It also provides a Senior Peer Counseling program, volunteers who are available during every court session to support petitioners through the process and when necessary, work with the District Attorney's Victims Assistance Program.

Judge Cram explains further:

“They will meet with the seniors before the hearing and tell them where they’re going to sit before they are called, what papers to show the judge and when to speak.

“After the hearing, they will make reassurance calls to make sure the elder understood what happened. A lot of times if you are self-represented, senior or not, you have no idea what just happened when you got the order. So there are reassurance components before and afterward.”

Another service, the Senior Self-Help Center, is staffed by experienced attorneys, providing free assistance and referrals for a wide variety of legal claims and helps prepare elders for hearings. There is also a free Spanish translation service.

The court also recognizes that, as Judge Cram notes, “elders have special physical, mental and psychological needs that traditional courtrooms were poorly equipped to address." An example:

”At 10:00AM is the restraining order calendar. We calendared those at 10:00 on purpose,” says Judge Cram. “It is difficult for someone who may be old and frail to get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, take their medications and be alert by 8:30AM. There is evidence that 10:00AM is an optimal time for alertness for seniors.

“We have evidentiary hearings at 10:30AM, and those might be the preliminary examinations with the elderly victim, or even to preserve testimony if there is a risk that the victim will die before trial.”

Next week, The Elder Court will receive the State of California's highest award, the Ralph N. Kleps Award for Improvement in Administration.

It is, as far as I can determine, the only court of its kind in the U.S. But others are beginning to take notice. According to the judge, she has met so far with interested representatives of court systems around northern and southern California, from Buffalo and Chicago.

This is an excellent beginning. Now, there should be Elder Courts in every state of the land. You can read more here and here.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: Stuff


When a President Plays Chicken with Congress

category_bug_politics.gif Even people who don't follow politics closely must know that for many weeks, Republicans have been playing a game of chicken with the debt ceiling vote.

They have been trying to extort various trillions in budget cuts, all from the people who will be most harmed while leaving the richest individuals and corporations untouched by their sham “shared sacrifice” austerity.

Throughout this charade, President Obama mostly caved to Republican demands, repeating Republican talking points verbatim, so much so that it was becoming difficult to tell the difference between him and Republican House Speaker John Boehner. Nevertheless, every time he caved, the Republicans said, wait, wait, that's not enough. We want more.

As deeply disappointing as Obama's actions were, he had not stooped to the chicken game the Republicans had been playing. Until this week.

On Monday, at a news conference, he went further than even the Republicans had dared, all but giving away Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid:

”...it is possible for us to construct a package that would be balanced," he said, "would share sacrifice, would involve both parties taking on their sacred cows, would involve some meaningful changes to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid...”

Then, in that same news conference, he went the full monty - he would refuse to sign a stop-gap debt ceiling bill of 30, 60 or 90 days, an act that would plunge the country into default and economic chaos.

On Tuesday, President Obama doubled down, telling CBS News anchor, Scott Pelley, that if the debt ceiling is not raised by the deadline, August Social Security checks were at risk. (This video requires a Flash plugin. If you cannot view it, the text is below the video.)

Transcript:

"This is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans checks, these are folks on disability and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out...I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3 if we haven't resolved this issue, because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”

With that statement, the president told Americans that if the game of chicken didn't end immediately and the debt ceiling be raised, there would be no August checks and that would be on the Republicans' heads.

By the end of the day, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) had capitulated offering a plan to transfer the power to raise the debt ceiling from Congress to the president until the end of his term, thus avoiding a possible failed vote due to tea party extremists. (One has to suspect too, that part of the capitulation was a result of Wall Street telling Congressional Republicans, "Enough!")

To not give away the game, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said only that he would give McConnell's plan a close look. Bottom line: The debt ceiling will be raised and the budget can be addressed separately without any more threats to blow up the economy.

We probably won't know until President Obama writes his memoir, but I'm torn between two thoughts on what he did Monday and Tuesday: One: fed up with the protracted talks going nowhere, he took a long shot and happened to win.

Or two: he planned this. He let the argument go on for weeks and weeks until the Republicans had dug themselves such a deep hole that the threat of a potential political catastrophe - no Social Security and veterans' checks - could be used to bury them on this issue.

Given how Washington operates these days, I suppose this agreement could fall apart, but I doubt it; we're too close to the debt ceiling deadline to fool around anymore. But don't think cuts to Social Security and Medicare die with this standoff. I suspect Republicans will be even more fierce in those efforts now.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: P.E. Classes


Fired for Her Gray Hair

category_bug_ageism.gif Back in 1959, in San Francisco, I was called into the office of the top executive who theretofore had never spoken to me. He said he had seen me at the movie theater on the previous Saturday night and wanted to know who the young man with me was.

I didn't see how it was any of his business but I answered anyway. “My boyfriend, Larry,” I said.

He seemed to ponder this for a moment and then told me that someone in my position (please; I was a clerk who typed the same letter all day), at this particular company (a large, national insurance company) should not be seen with “people like him.”

Larry was a year or two older than I, in his early 20s, a talented, fledgling jazz musician, gorgeously handsome, funny and kind. What could be wrong with that? Oh, he was also black.

Today, I would handle that situation more aggressively. But I was young then, only 17, and unsure of myself so I nodded with what I hoped was a neutral expression and continued dating Larry.

A year or so later, I was living in Phoenix, Arizona. My boss at a local company called me into his office one day after I'd been working there for two or three months and told me not to wear blue eyeshadow anymore.

It was hardly garish, not with sparklies or anything show-girlish. It was how young girls decorated themselves in those days.

He told me that if he saw me again with blue eyeshadow, he would fire me. I thought that was unfair so I arrived at work the next morning in my usual blue eyeshadow and he fired me.

The people who employ us, I have noticed through the years, have always believed it is their right to control aspects of our lives that have no bearing on our work. One, in the late 1990s, told me I should smile more. What they choose to try to control changes with the times, but there is always something.

For many years, one of the most common firing offenses has been and remains getting old. Last week, the Houston Chronicle reported that 52-year-old Sandra Rawline was fired from her $48,000-a-year job as a title company branch manager allegedly because she refused to dye her gray hair:

”Rawline said her boss told her to dye her gray hair because the office was moving from Katy to the Galleria area and wanted a more upscale image for its new digs. She said she was also instructed to wear 'younger fancy suits' and lots of fancy jewelry.

“Rawline...said the boss ordered the dye job on a Thursday afternoon in August 2009 — even offering to perform the coloring.

“Rawline, who has been gray since her early 20s and likes her natural hair color, said she refused. And by the following Tuesday, she was told her services were no longer necessary and was replaced by a woman 10 years younger.”

During the six years Rawline worked for Capital Title of Texas, she was regularly promoted, given salary increases and had won “outstanding employee” awards in 2004 and 2005. There were no complaints about her work, none on the day she was fired and the company did not contest her application for unemployment insurance benefits.

The case is now headed for court. The company, of course, denies Ms. Rawline's allegations labeling them “baseless and preposterous.”

These days, it would be preposterous for an employer to even mention, let alone question the color of a worker's boyfriend's skin, or their eye makeup. But age discrimination in the workplace lives on – and on and on.

Where this gets trickier (sadder, harder, more frightening) for workers now than in the past is the continuing threat from lawmakers to raise the retirement age for Social Security and the eligibility age for Medicare.

If you can be fired at 52 for gray hair, where are all these old folks going to find jobs? Ms. Rawline now works in customer service at a salary cut of 28 percent.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Harrison: An Evening That Changed My Life