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ELDER MUSIC: Decades

PeterTibbles75x75This 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.


I’ve just finished a column called Centuries (still to come) and I realized that there’s something missing between that one and the series I did on the music from various years back in 2011. This is it.

The decades I’ve chosen, sort of arbitrarily but rather logically I believe, are those of the 20th century.

Working forwards, starting with the NINETEEN-AUGHTIES, I give you the great SCOTT JOPLIN.

Scott Joplin

Scott was a master musician; he played (and even taught at times) the piano, guitar, cornet, violin, mandolin and other instruments. His compositions were instrumental in bringing ragtime music to prominence at the end of the 19th and early 20th century.

Besides popular music Scott also wrote an opera, Treemonisha, that’s been performed and recorded in recent times. He also wrote a symphony and a piano concerto – both, sadly, lost.

There was a terrific album from about 40 years ago called “The Easy Winners” that had Itzhak Perlman and André Previn performing Scott’s music. It’s a real gem and I recommend it to anyone interested in his music. From that I’ve taken Elite Syncopation.

♫ Scott Joplin - Elite Syncopation

HOAGY CARMICHAEL was generally a songwriter; he wrote some of the finest songs of the century.

Hoagy Carmichael

Today, however, to illustrate the NINETEEN-TEENS he will appear as a singer and not with one of his own songs.

This was written by Shelton Brooks and is The Darktown Strutter’s Ball. The first recording of this is by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band in 1917. I notice that you can hear that record on YouTube; there are a number of copies of it there of varying quality.

♫ Hoagy Carmichael - The Darktown Strutter's Ball

The TWENTIES brought forth a great diversity of music on records – country, blues and jazz all found a home on vinyl - well, shellac I guess it was. One, or three really, of those performers is the CARTER FAMILY.

The Carter Family

The Carters were A.P. (Alvin Pleasant) Carter, his wife Sara and Maybelle Carter who was married to A.P.’s brother who was also, incidentally, Sara’s cousin. Talk about keeping it all in the family. They all hailed from south-west Virginia.

Later A.P.'s and Sara's children, Janette and Joe and Maybelle's daughters June, Anita and Helen were added to the group, mostly for radio broadcasts. Still later, Maybelle toured with her daughters as Maybelle and the Carter Sisters.

After even more time, June’s daughter Carlene was often added to the group. Carlene is herself a fine country and rock performer. June became a solo performer and married Johnny Cash.

Back to original group with Keep On the Sunny Side.

♫ The Carter Family - Keep On The Sunny Side

The original INK SPOTS were Hoppy Jones, Deek Watson, Jerry Daniels and Charlie Fuqua. Just as they were about to become a small success, Bill Kenny replaced Jerry.

The Ink Spots

Until that time they mostly sang up-tempo numbers but in the THIRTIES Bill introduced ballads and slower songs with the distinctive arrangement of his singing lead tenor and Hoppy performing the bridge with his bass voice, often improvising the lyrics.

They became a huge success. Here is the group as we know them with If I Didn't Care.

♫ The Ink Spots - If I Didn't Care

BING CROSBY and the ANDREWS SISTERS pretty much epitomized the music of the FORTIES (if you ignore Glenn Miller, that is).

Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters

I don’t think that either Bing or the Andrews Sisters need me to tell you about them. Here they sing Don't Fence Me In.

♫ Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters - Don't Fence Me In

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, suggested that Heartbreak Hotel should be the song from the FIFTIES as it changed everything forever. I agree, but I’m not using it.

Instead I’m going with a man who is the very definition of rock & roll, CHUCK BERRY.

Chuck Berry

Chuck’s guitar playing defined how rock guitarists should play for the next 60 years and no doubt beyond. He was also a great songwriter at a time when these were few on the ground in his genre.

His writing was often witty and occasionally sly. He is a towering figure in popular music. Let’s listen to Brown Eyed Handsome Man.

♫ Chuck Berry - Brown Eyed Handsome Man

There is one song that defines the SIXTIES for me and it’s by THE BYRDS. You can probably guess which one.

The Byrds

In one song you have elements of the great folk scare of the early part of the decade and the rock & roll that was the music of the second part. Besides that you have Bob Dylan’s words. Not forgetting that wonderful jangly electric 12-string guitar and the bass used almost as a lead instrument at times.

Here is Mr. Tambourine Man, one of the great records of our time.

♫ The Byrds - Mr. Tambourine Man

The SEVENTIES’ song was a toss-up between The Band and VAN MORRISON. Normally, The Band would win out but I can change my mind now and then.

Van Morrison

Van recorded a series of great albums in the late sixties and early seventies (as did The Band) and several more later in the decade (The Band could only manage one more great one). The song today is from “Saint Dominic’s Preview” and it’s called Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile).

♫ Van Morrison - Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)

To me the EIGHTIES is the lost decade as far as music is concerned, all big hair and synthesizers. I suppose looking back, it’s not as bad as it seemed living through it but not by much. There were a few gems, a very few.

One gem was THE BANGLES who consisted of sisters Vicki and Debbie Peterson and Susanna Hoffs. They later added Annette Zilinkas who came and went over the years.

The Bangles

The group mostly wrote their own songs but this one was given to them by Prince (who was probably known by some arcane symbol at the time) because he had a thing for Susanna (he wasn’t alone there). Susanna didn’t reciprocate, but they still got the song, Manic Monday.

♫ The Bangles - Manic Monday

The NINETIES weren’t much better than the eighties musically (lawdy, I’m turning into a grumpy old man). I could have included Nirvava’s Smells Like Teen Spirit but thought better of it.

This decade’s music is probably even more a mystery to me than the previous one. One performer stood out for me, though, and that is WENDY MATTHEWS.

Wendy Matthews

Wendy was born in Montreal and performed in bands as a teenager. She then started busking all over Canada and America, and even Mexico. One day in Los Angeles, Glenn Shorrock, lead singer for Little River Band, heard her and asked her to sing backup on a song they were recording.

He then asked if she’d like to tour with them, singing backup. She agreed and when the American tour ended she accompanied them on a tour in Australia. She liked it here so much she stayed and has been here ever since.

She does session work and makes her own albums. Tours. The lot. She’s a really fine singer. Here is The Day You Went Away.

♫ Wendy Matthews - The Day You Went Away


INTERESTING STUFF – 30 March 2013


MAGICAL MYSTICAL GIRAFFES

I don't want to tell you too much; you should discover this video for yourself as I did when I received it from TGB reader Karen Kennedy. All I will say is that it is titled 5M80, I have no idea what that means and the creator is someone named Nicolas Deveaux.


5m80 by lesateliersOrange

The video was created in 2011 and there appears to be more information at Les ateliers Orange but it is in French of which I'm ignorant. If you read that language, maybe you will share what you learn with us in the comments.


MYOPIA TEST

You already know if you're myopic or not but this vision test is still fun. If, while sitting at a normal distance from your computer screen, you see Albert Einstein, your vision is good. If you see Marilyn Monroe you should probably be wearing corrective lenses.

Einstein Monroe

If you see Einstein and want to see the Monroe image, step back from your computer screen by a couple of yards/meters.

This hybrid image was created by Dr. Aude Oliva for the March 31, 2007 issue of New Scientist magazine.


BOOK SCULPTURES

It is hard to know where such an idea as turning old books into landscape sculptures comes from but it does exist.

Bookcave

Nikki Lindquist who blogs at From Where I Sit sent the link to Canadian artist Guy Laramee's website where in a video, even he can't say how the idea came to him.

You can see more of Laramee's book sculptures here.


EVEN MORE BOOK SCULPTURES

One of the first things I heard when I arrived in New York City in the 1960s was that even if your interest is one in a million, there are seven more people just like you in town. That's more true on the internet - no matter how obscure something is.

I wasn't looking for more, but soon after Nikki told me about Guy Laramee's book sculptures, I found U.K. artist Su Blackwell's. She uses books and paper in a different way that is no less odd and compelling. Take a look:

You can find out more about Ms. Blackwell and her work here.


LOSING LIBIDO

Last week we had a good discussion about old age sex and a couple of days later I ran across a short article from a writer name Amit Wehle. He doesn't say how old he is but it's clear he still has a long way to go until he's old.

Nevertheless, he is seeing changes in his libido and he eloquenty laments the loss of the morning woody he has been accustomed to:

”...I miss my old morning mate for what he represented: me as the sexual being. Me, the potent mammal. A reminder that despite being nearly buried beneath life’s responsibilities and fears, I still rise with a throbbing pulse. I’m hard, therefore I am,” writes Wehle.

“Sure, it may be a bit caveman and one-tracked, but it’s strangely gratifying. These days — and I suppose in all the days yet to come — the evidence will be a little more watered down.”

Go read the whole thing at The Date Report. It's nicely done and worth the time.


ELDERS STILL REJECT GAY MARRIAGE?

It was a big week at the Supreme Court for gay marriage. My favorite moment was when Justice Ruth Ginsberg (an elder, don't forget) described current law on the subject as “skim milk.” In June, we will learn the Court's verdicts on the two cases.

Meanwhile, everyone says it is remarkable how quickly popular support for gay marriage has grown in just a few years. Remarkable in every age group, that is, except elders. From the Washington Post [my emphasis]:

”In the Post-ABC survey, a slim majority of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents younger than 50 now support gay marriage. Nearly seven in 10 of those age 65 and older oppose it, but that number was more than eight in 10 as recently as 2009.”

Here is a graph from Pew showing the change in attitude by age group:

PewGayMarriageGenerations

Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker:

”Once a society decides that the law must treat a group of people equally in one area of life, it becomes harder - and, eventually, impossible - to justify discriminating against them in others.”

And so it is now with gay marriage. Come on, old people, get over it and join the future. You are embarrassing yourselves and you are embarrassing me.


BUZZFEED EXPLAINS WHAT 2,000 CALORIES LOOK LIKE

I've spent more than half a century working to keep my weight under reasonable control and I know a lot about doing that.

One of the silly games I've played over the years, is to scare myself about how much space a pound of fat (or five pounds or 10) takes up on my body by extrapolating from the size of hunks of meat at the market.

Now Buzzfeed has put together a video to show us what 2,000 calories looks like in various foods. (Most nutrition experts tell us that men should, on average, eat about 2,000 calories a day. Women, somewhat fewer.)

THE HUMBLE STAPLER

Even though computers have taken over, the paperless office hasn't yet materialized and the humble stapler is still a necessity. I've had mine for – oh, probably 40 years and it works as well as when I first got it.

Stapler

One of the things I like about The New York Times is that they regularly make space for feature stories about ephemera – in this case, recently, the stapler and its history. Who knew this:

"Stapling devices have existed since at the least the French court of Louis XV. But before Mr. Linsky’s time, staples generally had to be laboriously loaded, one by one, into the rear of the stapler."

Times reporter Phyllis Korkki tells us that Mr. Linsky, in 1925, founded the Parrot Speed Fastener Company, later renamed Swingline – the brand of my stapler and just about everyone else's.

Staplers days are probably numbered, says Korkki, but not anytime soon. Go read the whole story. It's fun.


ANOTHER GIRAFFE – A BRAND NEW BABY

Just a week ago, in the early hours of March 22, this beautiful baby giraffe was born at the LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Connecticut – a welcome and happy event because she is an endangered Rothschild giraffe, native to Africa, of which only 670 remain.

That's important but right now, we have the wonderful awww moment of the baby taking her first steps as mom coaxes and reassures her:

LEO Zoological Conservation Center is a non-profit refuge for rare, threatened and endangered animals, with a focus on breeding species at risk. You can find out more at their website.


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.


Elder Susceptibility to Scams, Swindles and Fraud

A recent report estimates that in 2010, people older than 60 lost $2.9 billion to financial exploitation, a 12 percent increase from 2008. The numbers are undoubtedly much higher than can be counted because due to embarrassment, it is one of the country's least reported crimes.

Most perpetrators are trusted professionals and family members but strangers are responsible too via scams, swindles and fraud. Whatever the source, cheating old people out of their money is growth industry because the number of elders is increasing; crooks believe they have a lot of money; and it is a low-risk crime due to that embarrassment factor.

It has bugged me for years that conventional wisdom, along with the FBI and other organizations, assert that elders fall victim to scams more frequently than younger people.

Why should they? In fact (thought I), with age comes experience and many elders have probably been burned enough times by unscrupulous people to be more alert to it than those with less experience.

It all sounded like a case of ageism to me or at best, that what is not included in elder scam reports is that victims are cognitively impaired to a greater or lesser degree.

Now, if two new studies from UCLA are accurate, the FBI is correct about larger numbers of elder scam victims and the reason supports my suspicion of impaired cognition if not in the way I imagined.

”Older people, more than younger adults, may fail to interpret an untrustworthy face as potentially dishonest, the study shows.

"The reason for this, the UCLA life scientist found, seems to be that a brain region called the anterior insula, which is linked to disgust and is important for discerning untrustworhty faces, is less active in older adults.”

As the writer Stuart Wolpert explains, younger and older adults react similarly to faces judged to be trustworthy or neutral. It is with viewing untrustworthy faces that the differences showed up. With the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans,

"In younger adults, the very act of judging whether a person is trustworthy activates the anterior insula," said Shelley E. Taylor, a distinguished professor of psychology at UCLA and senior author of the new research.

"It's as if they're thinking they need to make this judgment with caution. This gives us a potential brain mechanism for understanding why older and younger adults process facial cues about trust differently.

“Now we know what the brain sees, and in the older adults, the answer is not very much when it comes to differentiating on the basis of trust.

"It's not that younger adults are better at finance or judging whether an investment is good; they're better at discerning whether a person is potentially trustworthy when cues are communicated visually.”

Professor Taylor says the “prototypical victim” is a 55-year-old male who is an experienced investor (although I've read elsewhere that an 80-year-old woman is typical). Taylor notes that for her, this study is personal: both her father and her aunt have been victims of financial scams.

Here are two images from the study. The young adult brain is on the left, the old adult brain on the right.

BrainImageFinal

Taylor says that one of the functions of the anterior insula is to sense body feelings and interpret such visceral cues. “This is the response that we see lacking in older adults.”

That could be called a kind of cognitive impairment but it's not the sort I had imagined - of an elder's day-to-day reasoning deteriorating.

So it seems my arrogance was showing in believing that my brain is healthy enough that I could not fall victim to a swindler. Now I know better. We are all vulnerable and these studies are a good warning to be careful.

You can read more about all this at the UCLA Newsroom website.

Here are some good online resources where you can learn about known scams, swindles and frauds that commonly target elders:

The FBI Common Fraud Scheme/Seniors page
The NCOA Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors
NOLO Financial Scams Against Seniors


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Warren Lieberman: Monks in Taxis


Lessons From an Elder's Cross-Country Move

A day or so ago, TGB reader Patricia Lee asked via email how I'm adjusting since my move across the country to Oregon from Maine. Several others have asked in the past too, so here goes.

Out of curiosity, I first checked the web to see what it has to say about old people moving. I advise against doing that. The first site I looked at warns against “relocation stress syndrome” in elders, also known as “transfer trauma.”

Give me a break; is everything a syndrome nowadays? Of course, it can be stressful to move a long distance. What else would you expect?.

That's when I stopped reading. This post is about my move, not a survey of options or “expert” input. I did it myself and I expect any healthy elder can.

It will soon be three years since I landed in Lake Oswego which is not anything like where I want to live. I was aiming for northwest Portland, the neighborhood where I spent a lot of time as a kid and which is vaguely similar to Manhattan in that there are nice old buildings from a hundred years ago and you can walk to do most everything.

But unless one is wealthy, money is paramount in choosing a home and mine would not stretch far enough to afford an apartment there.

I would have had more time to look had my condo in Maine not sold in just nine days, and closings happen quickly there, in under a month. Maybe I should have rented here for awhile, but that would have meant less money for purchase and I was cutting finances close to the bone as it was.

So I settled on a condo that is comfortable, in a pleasant, wooded area and unlikely to need costly repairs before I die. But it is certainly not my ideal.

It's only about 20 years old and is designed to be as bland as millions of other contemporaneous apartments - particularly compared to the 200-plus and 100-plus year-old apartments I owned New York and Maine.

But I put practicality over charm and I don't think that is wrong at my age – just boring.

I know now that I could have done it differently. Since I bought this place in 2010, it (along with most residential property in the area) has lost about a third of its market value which means I might have been able to rent for awhile and found something affordable in Portland after all.

But them's the breaks. You go with the information you have at the time and no one knew then how much further prices would drop. There is no point in dwelling on what cannot be changed.

What was hard in the beginning (still is) is finding my way around. Manhattan is laid out in a numbered grid and if you don't count my interlude in Portland, Maine, it's the first time in nearly 50 years I've had to put more than a moment's thought into how to get somewhere.

I find that really annoying (whatever would I do without Google maps on Android?) and for every appointment in an area that is new or relatively new to me, I leave plenty of time to get lost and not be late. It's still necessary to do that.

For the first few months, I concentrated on making a house a home. That takes longer than you would think when you're turning out a blog every day – months, in fact. But a perk of getting old is that I don't feel the urgency for everything to be perfectly in place within a week or two as when I was young.

In fact, it took a year and a half until I finally bought shelves and unpacked the books. I brought only about half my books from the east coast because it is so expensive to ship that much dead weight and, oddly, there is much less wall space here even though this apartment is about 20 percent larger.

That was a mistake. I should have paid the money to ship the books and figured out wall storage somehow. Every week, I find myself looking for one or two that I sold.

If there were to be another move in my life (there will not be unless I become physically or mentally incapacitated), I would research the near neighborhood more carefully than I did and choose differently.

This condominium of 112 units, is a NORC – a “naturally occurring retirement community” – and almost everyone looks just like me: old, gray-haired, mostly female and white. I would like it better with more young families with kids and people whose skin is a different color. The lack of diversity matches the town itself and there's nothing I can do about it.

That's most of the downside which is hardly debilitating and can be overcome or accommodated.

I've made some friends. Volunteering with the 50+ Advisory Board and some other organizations has helped. It's not nearly as easy as in New York and I have come to see that even when mobility is not an issue, it is more difficult to make friends in old age than when we were younger and/or working.

I have some more thoughts on that but I'll save them for a full blog post on elder friendship sometime soon.

Climate and physical surroundings are important (I'd be miserable in the desert) and Oregon is my kind of beautiful. I like seeing Mt. Hood and Mount St. Helens reaching clear to the tip-top of the sky on clear days, and the extraordinary amount of green that Oregon has done reasonably well in preserving.

I like being only two hours from the Pacific coast, although I don't go often enough. And unlike many people, I don't care one way or another about rain. I even rather like it.

I was born and lived here until I was 15 and sometimes I wonder if there is some innate affinity in each of us for the physical place where we are from – that someone who grew up in the desert, for example, would always feel drawn to it as I do to Oregon. (I have no idea if there's anything to that thought.)

The move itself was easy but do keep in mind that if you count my parents' moves I recall, I've done this 44 times to, from and within ten different cities. I have a lot of experience.

And nothing is anywhere near as negative as I seem to have made this post sound. It's just that I've concentrated on what is different from before and therefore more interesting - at least to me.

Overall, I am happy enough for someone who will always rather be in New York City and I let myself feel that longing as often as it erupts. That doesn't make me unhappy with my current circumstance and recalling my many years there is more joyful than anything else.

There is always discomfort in leaving home and friends behind. The biggest emotional help in my last two moves – from New York to Maine to Oregon – is the thread of this blog, the self-imposed obligation to keep it going and have a story ready every day.

Although it was never deliberate and I didn't plan it this way my interest in, study of and writing about aging sustain me. It's what I do. And it would be wise, I think, for any elders moving a long way from home to hold close and keep doing whatever it is that most engages them.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: Oh, the Smell!


Elder Playgrounds

One of the things I do when I'm not writing blog posts is serve on the 50-Plus Advisory Board to the City Council of Lake Oswego. It's a volunteer position and the Board has no authority but it can advise and, hopefully, influence the Council on issues that affect old people in our town.

Currently, I head up a small committee that is researching the idea of installing elder playgrounds in some city parks. It's a new idea that is popular in Asia, is catching on in Europe and already there are at least 18 in Canada.

Here is a 2008 news story about a then-newly installed elder playground in Manchester, England:

That news report caught the attention of international kiddie playground designer, Michael Cohen, who explains:

”I had never heard of such a thing. Playgrounds for seniors? I was intrigued and needed to know more,” he says.

Michael Cohen And learn he did. So much so that he has become an evangelist for elder playgrounds, founding a company, Must Have Play, that designs playgrounds for elders and after we spoke for nearly an hour yesterday, I have come to think of Michael as the godfather of elder playgrounds.
With his two decades of experience in children's playground design, Michael has a lot of experience with the where, why and how of play. He says that while he liked the idea of the Asian and European elder playgrounds he saw, most were not very appealing – essentially just gym equipment plunked outdoors.

As he explained in an interview with Dr. Jill Bjerke of AgingInPlaceWithGrace blog, Michael had a richer vision,

”...influenced by my experiences building world-class playgrounds for children and by my love of gardens. In my view, providing opportunitues for elders to exercise is necessary but not sufficient. Must Have Play's designs had to address two other important design goals: socializing and playfulness.”

The three-legged stool, if you will, of elder well-being and in Michael's playgrounds even the elder-centric equipment is designed for face-to-face use by more than one person at a time to encourage that crucial social interaction – along with, of course, promoting fun.

As Michael told his hometown Ithaca, New York, newspaper:

“There's equal value in the giggle effect. Whether you meet a friend, or go with a friend, or make a friend, that's got value. I'm designing to encourage that.”

So in addition to the equipment, Michael speaks enthusiastically of the need for attractive landscaping, wide walking paths, gardens, fountains, spaces for other kinds of exercise such as tai chi and yoga, even board games and most of all, opportunities for conversation (he is a fan of curved benches).

Here's a rendering of one of Michael's more elaborate playground designs done for a space in Bellevue, Washington (larger view here):

Must_have_play__schematic_design__ashwood_park__bellevuewa__aerial_view__screen

Doesn't that look terrific. If my little group can convince the City Council, our first one, as a pilot project, won't be anywhere near that large. But if it works out well, I have some more elaborate plans for other areas of town.

Elder playgrounds have not gained traction yet in the United States. There is one associated with a senior center in Rockville, Maryland [video here] and possibly a few others but there is nowhere near enough of them.

I am personally convinced of Michael Cohen's vision and that there should be elder playgrounds in every city in the United States, particularly as the elder population explodes in numbers.

The playgrounds promote general health, wellbeing, spread joy and go a long way toward warding off social isolation which, as we discuss here from time to time, can lead to depression, illness and even early death. With so much concern over health care costs, to me elder playgrounds – which are not expensive to build - are a money-saving no brainer.

You can find out more about the reasons for elder playgrounds in this report [pdf] from the International Council on Active Aging that quotes Michael Cohen at length. There is also a lot more information at Michael's Must Have Play website and in his company brochure [pdf].


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: Out There


Crabby Old Lady: A Tale of Two Blogs About Aging

When Crabby Old Lady started this blog a decade ago, hardly anyone else was writing about aging – not online, in magazines and newspapers or anywhere else. Apparently it was too much of a bummer in those days to remind people they will get old and anyway, no one wants to look at pictures of old people, right?

That changed when the oldest baby boomers began turning 60 in 2006, the media realized there was money to be made from targeting that 78 million-strong generation with pertinent aging information and now, seven years later, it's a growth industry.

Most major publications – online and off – have reporters and/or sections dedicated to aging or retirement and this is generally good for all old people. But a subtle kind of ageism in media coverage of aging issues is too often evident.

Simply put, when boomers are being addressed the stories are mostly upbeat, optimistic and cheerful unless they are practical as in the case of financial information and advice.

But when the 40 million Americans who are, like Crabby Old Lady, older than boomers are targeted the subject is usually failing health. Period. Everything else there may be about us is ignored as though we have already checked out, no longer involved with or curious about the world we live in.

Although The New York Times is far from the only transgressor, it is the most widely read and it offers the most stark examples with their two blogs devoted to aging - The New Old Age and the newer one, Booming.

To show you what Crabby is talking about, here are half a dozen representative stories published in the Booming blog this month:

A celebrity interview with singer Emmylou Harris

A funny piece about reporters' daydreams of bedding their interview subjects then and now (Disclosure: the writer, Joyce Wadler, is an old friend)

Another music story about how, if you like Billie Holliday you'll love Madeleine Peyroux

How to make yourself virtually immortal for the generations who come after you

Funny, rueful story (again, by Crabby's friend Joyce) about how low-rise jeans don't work on old bodies but there is, infuriatingly, nothing else for sale

Thoughts on what to do with Mom's mink coat when she has retired to a warm climate

Pretty good lineup, Crabby thinks. Some amusing and interesting stuff related to getting old. Now here is (also representative) a list of half a dozen stories this month at The New Old Age blog.

Painfully honest, wrenching story about caregiving

Interview with Martin Bayne about the realities of assisted living

Designing homes that are safe for elders and disabled people

Much delayed treatment World War II veterans are now receiving for PTSD

New medical research that suggests elders may want to reconsider their DNR (do not resuscitate) orders

Why elders may not need as many colonoscopies as are prescribed

Quite a difference between the two lists. All the stories on both blogs are useful, interesting or entertaining, but the younger old get the fun and older old get no fun at all, just health, health, health and not much good news about it.

In fact, The New York Times seems to have planned it this way. Here is their description of the Booming blog:

”Booming is a section about baby boomers — the 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964. Besides news and information useful to this generation, you’ll find essays by boomers and by their children.

“You’ll find debates about books, new music to embrace and some secrets to enduring love. The wide-ranging conversation will be led by Michael Winerip, who has covered education, parenting, politics and his fellow boomers.”

Sounds good to Crabby Old Lady and importantly, it anticipates and respects the the intelligence of boomers – not something that is always true among media offerings for aging people.

Now, here is The Times' description of The New Old Age blog – also for boomers but the subject is more specific: people who are not only older than they, but sick:

”Thanks to the marvels of medical science, our parents are living longer than ever before. Adults over age 80 are the fastest growing segment of the population; most will spend years dependent on others for the most basic needs. That burden falls to their baby boomer children.

“In The New Old Age, Paula Span and other contributors explore this unprecedented intergenerational challenge.”

So in all the daily publication of these two blogs about aging (at least two stories a day week in and week out), The New York Times consistently ignores the existence of an entire generation of Americans, those 40 million women and men who are older than the boomers, except to declare “most'” of them to be dependent burdens on boomers for their "most basic needs."

Even if The New Old Age is "supposed" to be a blog about caregiving, the facts are that it covers much more than that, often speaking directly to Crabby's generation, and their description of the oldest population is nowhere near the reality.

According to the U.S. Department of Health Administration on Aging Profile of Older Americans 2011 [pdf], 84.4 percent of people 65 and older live with a spouse or alone. There is no information in the report about how many of the married elders are caring for an ailing spouse at home, but Crabby thinks it safe to assume that a long way from “most” are not.

Here is what can be said for sure: if you live long enough you are likely to have more health problems than when you were young and old people are definitely interested in information that will help them maintain their health.

But that is just one among what are certainly thousands of things people older than boomers collectively care about - things like “debates about books, new music to embrace and some secrets to enduring love...[and] wide-ranging conversation.”

Crabby Old Lady founded this blog a decade ago when everything she read about what getting old is like spoke only of disease, decline and debility. She didn't believe that could possibly be so and she has proved to be correct about that right here on these pages every day since.

It's not hard to do if you treat old people with respect. However, in the focus and presentation of its two dedicated aging sections, The New York Times persistently demeans elders who are older than boomers by characterizing them in a pejorative, ageist manner and Crabby Old lady expects better than that from the Old Gray Lady.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: Loss of Appetite


A Few Words About Elder Sex

Hi there, everyone. I missed you and I'm glad to be back after a week's breather. Shortly before the beginning of my hiatus, I mentioned that I had intended to talk about sex that day but something that seemed more important intervened.

In the comments, Tarzana and Ali both asked, “So when are we going to talk about sex?” and a couple of readers even emailed last week to remind me. Okay, today we talk about sex.

There is so much to say, we might need several of these chats. But let's start here:

There's a media taboo about this subject – elders and sex – and even though demographic changes are beginning to produce a slowly growing body of film, television and books with elder lead characters, they are not having much sex. Too icky, I think, for people not yet old who produce these works.

There are a few websites devoted to elder sex. They usually are selling books and the copy is too often more graphic than I am either comfortable with or need.

Six or seven years ago, Gail Sheehy, who gained fame in the mid-seventies with her book Passages, published Sex and the Seasoned Woman announcing that the new generation of old women is committed to a passionate second half of life that includes lots of sex.

Hurray for them, but as I mentioned at the time, I doubt that the women who, in their youth, marched for civil rights, women's rights, against the Vietnam War, burned their bras, adopted “the pill” as their own when it was new and went on to win previously unheard-of consideration and rights in the workplace need either permission for or instruction about sex in old age.

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in having a lot of practice. For most of my adult life sex was near or at the top of my list of compelling interests, so much so that I now wonder how I managed to get anything else done.

Although I didn't married again after my divorce at age 30, there were a couple of long-term relationships, plenty of short-term liaisons and some friends with privileges along with two or three romances so beautiful they can still break my heart when they come to mind.

Every one of those involved lots of sex. Lots of good sex and that is usually what I find wanting in discussions I've seen of elders and sex - that the goal is, as when we were young, quantity. I find that to be - well, juvenile thinking.

Sex was a big part of my life so I was saddened when, 12 or 15 years ago, I realized that I had stopped thinking about it every day. Over a period of time, the urge for an activity that had reliably and regularly given such enormous pleasure drifted away and I mourned that loss and with it the sense I had of myself as a hot, sexy chick.

As it does, time helped me come to terms with my new, older, less sexual self and I came to see that I had never understood how completely hormones controlled my behavior for so long until they didn’t anymore. It has been a welcome relief to be free of that.

Which is not to say sex has completely died for me. These days it naps, hardly noticeable for extended periods of time until there is an object of desire. What's nice about that is there is (or would be should someone of that description turn up) so much less carnal urgency than when I was young. There is time now to know one another first than was always true in the past.

There is an abundance of terrible jokes about performance in old age – or lack thereof. Generally, I don't like them because they are of a piece with late-night comedians' diaper jokes that rob elders of their dignity.

For ourselves, however, certainly at our ages we are grown up enough to take sometimes waning capability into consideration (with or without little blue pills). There are all kinds of nice, feel-good things two naked people can do together that are fun and express their feelings for one another.

I think that's something the television commercials for Cialis leave out – that the central act is not always what's paramount in old-age sex. Coziness and warmth and affection and love too, when it is there, count for a lot – more even than when we were young and horny all the time.

That is a decent-sized hole in my aged single life. There is no one to touch or who regularly touches me. Sexual or friendly - both, actually – touching is a powerful kind of human connection that single old people hardly ever have, or have enough of, and I don't know an answer for that.

Returning to the media for a moment, on the rare occasion elder sexuality is discussed in books, magazines and online (intelligently or stupidly), it is almost exclusively aimed at women.

Can it be that because men have Viagra and Cialis, no one believes there is anything more to say to them? Can that be so?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Carl Hansen: Turning 75 on the Ides of March


ELDER MUSIC: Clarinet

PeterTibbles75x75This 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.


I’ll continue today with an intermittent series featuring a single instrument in various and diverse settings. Today it’s the turn of the clarinet.

The clarinet as we know it was invented around the turn of 18th century by Johann Denner, who was a German woodwind instrument maker. He decided to add all sorts of things to the chalumeau, which was really just a jumped-up recorder. This is a chalumeau.

Chalumeau

Extra bits have been added over time. Mozart especially liked the clarinet and wrote many pieces for it, some of the most sublime music ever written.

Unlike the flute and piano that I’ve featured previously, the clarinet doesn’t pop up much in popular music – well, modern popular music. It certainly reared its head in earlier times.

In spite of what I just said, one of the recent pop musicians who has used the instrument is MARIAN CALL.

Marian Call

Marian is one of the most interesting of the young singers around at the moment. She was originally from Washington (the state) and spent time in the Bay Area. These days she seems to have made Alaska her home. She can have it; I’m not one who goes for snow and ice (except in my gin and tonic). Marian performs Vanilla from her album of the same name.

♫ Marian Call - Vanilla

Sidney Bechet wrote, and had a bit of a hit with, Petite Fleur in 1952. However, the version that was huge here in Oz (and in Britain and elsewhere) in 1959 is the one by the CHRIS BARBER JAZZ BAND.

ChrisBarber4

Chris actually plays the trombone, not the clarinet, and doesn’t appear on this particular track. The clarinet player was the wonderfully named Monty Sunshine.

The track appeared on an album by Chris’s band a couple of years earlier and no one gave it much thought until it was picked up by a German disk jockey who made it a hit in that country and eventually the rest of Europe (and here in Oz as well). Here it is.

♫ Chris Barber - Petite Fleur

JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH, called the “London Bach” as he lived nearly half his life there, and the youngest son of the great Johann Sebastian, was the master of the Symphonie Concertante. So much so that he even instructed Mozart on its intricacies.

Of course, Wolfgang didn’t need too much in the way of lessons; he could pick up anything to do with music in a trice.

Johann Christian Bach

Actually, J.C. and Wolfie were really good friends and they influenced each other which is pretty obvious as their styles are similar indeed. The track I’ve chosen involves two clarinets and a bassoon, which is really just a clarinet on steroids.

It is the second movement of his Symphonie Concertante for two Clarinets and Bassoon.

♫ JC Bach - Symphonie Concertante 2 Clarinets and Bassoon (2)

JOHANNES BRAHMS is one of those composers who seems to have slipped through the cracks a bit, as far as I’m concerned.

Brahms

I don’t play him very often but when I do I think, “Oh, that’s really nice,” but that’s as far as it goes. Maybe because of the topic today that will change.

Jo is usually pictured as this old bloke with the big boofy beard so I thought it’d be interesting to show him when he was young and not the imposing figure we’re used to seeing.

He apparently was a great pianist and he premiered many of his compositions. He was also a perfectionist and destroyed quite a lot of his works that he didn’t like, that he thought weren’t up to his exacting standards. This isn’t one of those.

It’s the third movement of his Clarinet Sonata No 2 in E flat major Opus 120.

♫ Brahms - Clarinet Sonata Op 120 (3)

BEETHOVEN wrote a whole bunch of things for the clarinet.

Beethoven

I almost threw up my hands and said forget him and then I started clicking at random on his music for the instrument and on only the second click, discovered this one. I didn’t bother going any further as it might confuse me.

So here it is, the first movement of the Duo for Clarinet and Bassoon No.1 in C Major (WoO27).

♫ Beethoven - Duo for clarinet & bassoon No.1 (1)

FRANZ KROMMER or, to give him his real Czech name, František Kramár, was considered in his lifetime to be a serious rival to Beethoven. Not since then, though, perhaps because no one knew what to call him.

Maybe it was that his music, although very good indeed, didn’t come up to that of the master. Well, whose could?

Franz Krommer

Young Franz displayed musical talent early on and he was taught by his uncle, then a renowned violinist and organist. He eventually succeeded unc at the organ place where he worked.

Franz was a prolific composer and left hundreds of compositions that we know about. This is just one of them, the third movement of his Concerto for Two Clarinets, Opus 91.

♫ Franz Krommer - Concert for Two Clarinets, Op 91 (3)

Next is one of the compositions by MOZART I alluded to in the introduction.

Mozart

Not surprisingly, at least not to me, I’ve gone for his clarinet concerto. It was one of the last things he wrote, certainly the very last he completed (his requiem was unfinished). He didn’t hear it performed.

This concerto may be the most beautiful piece of music anyone’s ever created. Alas, you won’t hear it all today (unless you have a copy of it yourself, and I’d urge everyone to get one). Here is the second movement of the Clarinet Concerto in A, K 622.

♫ Mozart - Clarinet Concerto K 622 (2)

I imagine that when you saw the title of today’s column most of you thought BENNY GOODMAN. Now I could tease you and leave him out (I’ve done that sort of thing before), but today I won’t.

I also had Artie Shaw and Woody Herman penciled in as well but they didn’t make the cut. Sorry to fans of both (or either).

Benny Goodman

I have no information about who’s playing with Benny but I assume it’s Teddy Wilson on piano and Lionel Hampton on vibes. I’m sure I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong.

I’ve always liked this tune from the first time I heard it back in the fifties when it seemed to be called Moonglowandthethemefrompicnic. It is, of course, Moonglow, and what a terrific version of the tune it is.

♫ Benny Goodman - Moonglow


INTERESTING STUFF – 23 March 2013


RONNI HERE:

I don't usually write introductions to Saturday's Interesting Stuff; most of them stand on their own. But I've been gone from the blog for a week and today's collection is, this one time, a bit different.

For one thing, it's shorter – fewer individual items. For another, at the end – a longer video than I usually post. And most of all - all five, each in its own way, are about liberty (what the state grants) and freedom (one's innate agency to do as one wants).

Not all of it is as serious as that makes it sound but writ large and small, the five embody those values.



DANCING YOUR HEART OUT

Thanks to Jeanne Waite Follett of the blog Gullible's Travels, we have this 88-year-old feeling free enough to have a fine ol' time dancing down the stairs to a favorite old song from 50 years ago.

Here is what you must do: so that it's not merely another cute old-woman video, watch the whole thing and perk up your ears for the final two seconds. It's her punch line makes all the difference.


70-YEAR-OLD TWIN PROSTITUTES RETIRE

No one is saying if they are the oldest in Amsterdam, but with a 50-year career behind them, Louise and Martine Fokkens are the longest-working prostitutes there.

Fokkens Twins

As they told the Canadian Broadcasting Company, they are proud to have run their own business.
”'We like to work in the red light district,' said Louise in broken English. 'You had fun, we know a lot of people...the American boys, the Canadian boys, the German...every country come there.'

“Asked if they will miss the work, the sisters said they would. Louise said working makes her feel younger, and Martine said she misses it because it’s sometimes nice to be your own boss.”

You can read more here and a hat tip to doctafil of Jive Chalkin' for send the item. (You know, of course, that prostitution is legal in Amsterdam, right?)


ONLY KNOWN FOOTAGE OF MARK TWAIN

In his book, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, published about 25 years after the American Civil War ended, humorist Mark Twain – aka Sam Clemens – said:

”Men write many fine and plausible arguments in support of monarchy, but the fact remains that where every man in a state has a vote, brutal laws are impossible.”

More than 125 years later, we're still working on that. Here is the only known film footage of Twain which was shot by Thomas Edison at the Twain estate in Connecticut.


DESALINE VICTOR GIVES JUSTICE SCALIA WHAT FOR

You remember Desaline Victor, don't you? The 102-year-old voter who stood in line for hours to vote last November and who received a standing ovation at President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address in January?

Desiline-victor

When, shortly thereafter, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia airily dismissed the Voting Rights Act as nothing more than a “racial entitlement,” Ms. Victor fought back.

She explained how women could not vote when she was young. She explained the many hours she stood in line to vote last November. She noted the states during this last presidential election season that tried to limit voting. And then she wrote, in part:

”...we need the Voting Rights Act. Justice Scalia, the Voting Rights Act is not a racial entitlement. It is an important protection that helps all Americans exercise their right to vote. It was put in place because, sadly, there are people in this country who don’t want everyone to have an equal voice at the ballot box.

Read Desaline Victor's entire letter here.


THE TROUBLES I'VE SEEN

That's the title of a short film featuring some results of work being done by the Northeastern University School of Law's Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project to investigate cold cases of racial murder in the south.

This came from Jan Adams of Can It Happen Here? And this is what she, more eloquent than I am, wrote of the video:

”It's the story of young law students working with elders and communities in the old South to come to terms with brutal murders, often of their family members, that they witnessed in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

“Many of us are vaguely aware that white supremacists killed without fear to enforce the social order that benefited them before the civil rights revolution. This gives us a chance to listen to people who were there.

“The witnesses will not be with us much longer...But while there is time, some justice and some healing remain possible. The stories both horrify and inspire.”

As I said above, this video is longer than I usually post – nearly 17 minutes. It is important to watch and to remember. It is narrated by former chairman of the NAACP, Julian Bond.


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.


ELDER MUSIC: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

PeterTibbles75x75This 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.


Ronni, the Web Mistress, recently sent me a book called The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars. It is subtitled Heroin, Handguns and Ham Sandwiches.

This column was inspired by that book and what an inspiration it is. Tasteless? This column is the very definition.

The first couple are of the “Don’t worry, it’s not loaded” category. The first of these is the late, great JOHNNY ACE.

Johnny Ace

Johnny was a proto-rock performer and soul singer. He was on a tour with Big Mama Thornton and they were playing in Houston on Christmas Eve in 1955. Johnny was a bit of a gun nut which freaked out the other musicians who asked him to put it away.

After saying the immortal words above he added, "See," as he put the gun to his head and BLAM. He had one hit in his lifetime and he really could have been a contender. This is that hit, Pledging My Love.

♫ Johnny Ace - Pledging My Love

Another who liked his guns was TERRY KATH, the guitarist from the rock group Chicago.

Terry Kath

Besides guitar, Terry played several other instruments and was one of the singers for the group. He eventually got heavily into booze and drugs.

One day he was imbibing at his roadie’s house and produced a revolver. It was clearly not loaded and he held it to his head and pulled the trigger several times as a joke.

Then he produced an automatic, removed the magazine and showed those present that it was empty. Terry then said exactly the same words as Johnny. However, it seems there was already a bullet in the chamber that he’d missed. The bullet didn’t though.

The song is from when the group was called Chicago Transit Authority. Apparently the organization with the same name objected to their using it and after the first album, they changed their name to the shorter version.

Here they are with I'm A Man. This’ll get your toes a’tapping.

♫ Chicago - I'm A Man

JOHNNY BURNETTE was one of the original rock & rollers. He formed a trio with his older brother Dorsey and Paul Burlison.

Johnny Burnette

Johnny may or may not have gone to school with Elvis - however, they lived in the same neighborhood and often got together to play music. Johnny remembered that Elvis was a good singer but, “He didn’t know but two or three chords on that guitar” was the way he summed up Elvis’s musical talent.

The music of the trio, called variously the Johnny Burnette Trio or the Rock and Roll Trio, was influential on many subsequent musicians. It was ahead of its time but not really recognized as such until later.

Johnny makes the grade today because one day he decided to go out fishing in a boat on Clear Lake, California. He didn’t switch on the lights on his boat and a larger cabin cruiser ran into him, unaware that he was there.

Here is that original trio with Tear It Up.

♫ Johnny Burnette - Tear It Up

JOHN DENVER certainly had a thing about planes. Probably his biggest hit (for others rather than himself) involved a plane – Leaving on a Jet Plane. Peter Paul and Mary particularly come to mind as a great interpreter of that song.

John Denver

John was an experienced pilot who owned and flew a Lear jet. He purchased a two-seater, fibre-glass, very light plane that had been modified. Modified a bit too much as it turns out as the controls were all in different places from where they should have been.

It seems that the switch for the reserve fuel tank was over his shoulder or somewhere silly like that. The previous owner had thought that was a good place for it. Or not, as he nearly killed himself as well.

John ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean. As it transpires, he'd had his pilot’s licence revoked and was serving a suspension for multiple drunk driving offences, so he shouldn’t have been up there that day.

As this is a rather tasteless column, I’ve decided to go along in that vein and use his song Fly Away to add further to the tastelessness. I believe that’s Olivia Newton-John adding the extra warbles.

♫ John Denver - Fly Away

CLAUDE FRANÇOIS was an Egyptian-born, French singer who was very successful in France but his appeal didn’t translate to the English speaking world.

Claude François

He’s included in this category as one day, when he was taking a shower, he noticed that the light globe above the shower was on the blink. He decided to change the bulb - and you can see where I’m going with this - he didn’t turn off the shower while he was doing that.

Well, you can imagine what happened (or he wouldn’t be here in the column); electricity and water are not a good mixture when people are around. It rather raises a question in my mind: did he have a spare light globe with him when he took the shower? We’ll never know.

Before that, he once barely escaped an I.R.A. bombing at the hotel he was staying at in London (by seconds, apparently). Another time, a deranged fan shot at him in his home and another later burnt down his house (maybe the same one). He really was destined for this column.

One of his songs that was a massive hit in France but again, wasn’t heard much outside that country in its original incarnation, is Comme d'habitude. However, you may recognize it.

♫ Claude François - Comme d'habitude

That familiar song of Claude’s was reworked by Paul Anka. He changed the lyrics and came up with My Way. You might have heard of that song. However, I wonder if this next version is familiar to you.

I didn’t think I’d play any music from folks who popped up after about 1973, but occasionally something strikes my interest and this is one of them.

I’ve always thought of the Sex Pistols as England’s version of The Monkees, only not as musically talented and with far fewer good songs. After all, they were put together by Malcolm McLaren, as The Monkees were by Don Kirshner.

The original bass player for the Pistols was Glen Matlock. For some reason, he was replaced by SID VICIOUS, known to his mum as John Ritchie. Sid couldn’t play bass (or any instrument) and Steve Jones, the guitarist for the group, overdubbed bass on all their records.

Sid Vicious

Sid was a nice quiet sort of lad who never got into any trouble and - sorry, wrong person.

He was an obnoxious piece of work who was a total waste of space on the planet and his death, due to a heroin overdose supplied by his mother, came none too soon. His mum supplied him with drugs! I could find no redeeming features about him at all (or his mum, if it comes to that).

His demise should have been earlier as he murdered his girl friend, Nancy Spungen, stabbing her many times, he claimed, in a drug-induced stupor. For some reason he was released on bail and it was then that he met his demise.

Given all that, you may wonder why I’m featuring him, besides the obvious fit for the column. It’s because he recorded the best ever version of the song, My Way. I know that pretty much all the readers today will disagree with me, but that’s okay.

♫ Sid Vicious - My Way

GRAM PARSONS is in here not because of the way he died which was the usual sordid tale of overdose of drugs and alcohol. He’s here because of the immediate aftermath of his demise.

Gram Parsons

Gram wasn’t like all the other rock & roll kiddies in the sixties; he was from a rich family and he had a very significant trust fund behind him. Alas, he carried on the family tradition of indulging in alcohol and drugs – he could afford the best.

Towards the end of his life, Gram said to his fellow band mate from The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, Chris Hillman, and his roadie Phil Kaufman, that when he died he’d like to be cremated at Joshua Tree in California.

It seems that Phil took him seriously because after Gram died and his body was due to be flown back to New Orleans, Phil stole the body from L.A. airport with some (only vaguely semi-) official looking papers.

He drove it in a hearse to Joshua Tree and set fire to it, with a bit of help from some lighter fluid and petrol he picked up on the way. What remained of Gram was eventually buried in the family plot in New Orleans after this ruse had been discovered.

An appropriate song from Gram is surely In My Hour of Darkness with the marvellous Emmylou Harris supplying backup vocals.

♫ Gram Parsons - In My Hour of Darkness

Let’s say that you’re quite a famous musical performer and it’s coming up for your birthday. You think that it’d be rather nice to go home and celebrate with your family.

You don’t have to be a famous musician to realise that this could be quite a good idea - after all, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, what could go wrong is while you’re having a good time there in the bosom of your family, your father whips out a gun and shoots you. Dead. For no apparent reason that I can discern. With the very gun you gave him for self protection.

You might think that this is a bit far fetched but that’s what happened to MARVIN GAYE.

Marvin Gaye

Okay, it seems they weren’t having a really good time but shooting your son is a bit extreme in my book. Marvin sings One More Heartache.

♫ Marvin Gaye - One More Heartache

To my mind, anyone who rides a motorbike is automatically penciled in this column, particularly if they are young. I now have some whose names appear not merely in pencil but in indelible ink. The first two of these are DUANE ALLMAN and BERRY OAKLEY.

Duane Allman and Berry Oakley

Duane was the lead guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band and Berry was their bass player. Duane was not only one of the guitarists for the band he was a much in demand session musician having played with Eric Clapton (that’s his slide guitar work on Layla), Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and many others.

Duane liked to ride his motorbike fast, too fast really. One day he was approaching an intersection and there was a truck crossing in front of him. Normally he could have avoided it as he was quite a skilled rider.

However, the camber on the road was rather unusual and he went skidding into the truck and then further on down the road, losing his helmet in the meantime (at least he was wearing one). He was rushed to hospital but died during surgery.

In an interesting coincidence Berry, almost exactly a year later in almost exactly the same spot (note the “almost” conspiracy lovers), approached an intersection with the same outcome. In his case it was a bus and his bike landed on top of him.

Incidentally, if someone offers you a job playing bass with the Allmans I’d think about it long and hard. Lamar Williams, who replaced Berry on bass in the band, died young of cancer almost certainly caused by exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam.

Later, Allen Woody (interesting name) suffered a heart attack while still in his forties. Oteil Burbridge, their current bass player, may possibly be looking over his shoulder (and not riding motorbikes). David Goldflies, between Lamar and Allen, managed to escape alive.

Here are the Allman Brothers Band when both Duane and Berry were still with them and the unmistakably distinctive Allman’s sound, Blue Sky.

♫ Allman Brothers - Blue Sky

Another who was keen on motorbikes was RICHARD FARIÑA.

Richard Farina

Richard was a poet, songwriter, playwright, singer and author. One day after attending the launch of his book, he returned home celebrate the 21st birthday of his wife Mimi (Baez, sister of Joan and a fine singer in her own right).

Sometime during the party, Richard and another friend decided to go out riding along the winding roads around Carmel, apparently at speeds in excess of 100 mph. I needn’t go on.

Mimi died of neuroendocrine cancer in 2001.

Richard and Mimi usually performed and recorded with acoustic instruments but here they are in unusual territory with a full tilt rock band with a song called Reno Nevada.

♫ Richard & Mimì Farina - Reno Nevada

Jeff Buckley really should be mentioned. He was recording his second album in New Orleans and late one night, after completing recording, he decided it would be a good idea to go for a swim in the Mississippi.

Anyone who has been to New Orleans, of which I’m one, would know that even in the middle of the day, even if you were a champion swimmer, this would be a monumentally stupid idea. What could go wrong did of course. I’m not playing anything from Jeff because I don’t have any of his music.


INTERESTING STUFF: 16 March 2013


LE PAPIER NE SERA JAMAIS MORT

Or, Paper is Not Dead. Let's get started with the viral video of the week. Considering the high number of readers who emailed it (Darlene Costner was the first) you've probably all seen this. But then, if you're like me, it continues to delight. Enjoy (again).


THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN HEART DISEASE

Or, apparently so. Scientists have been able to find clogged arteries in a large number of mummified Egyptians from 3500 years ago.

Actually, not just ancient Egyptian mummies but others too from up to 5,000 years ago in the American southwest, the Aleutian Islands and Peru according to this story in the Los Angeles Times.


THE MOST AWFUL ELDER STORY OF THE WEEK

Although I have never been able to track down total numbers of elders who have been victims of big-bank mortgage fraud, there are plenty of anecdotal stories that indicate the probability of thousands more. This one is heartbreaking.

Last December, a retiree named Larry Delassus died in a Torrance, California, courtroom where he should never have been.

”His death came more than two years after Wells Fargo mistakenly mixed up his Hermosa Beach address with that of a neighbor in the same condo complex. The bank's typo led Wells Fargo to demand that Delassus pay $13,361.90 - two years of late property taxes the bank said it had paid on his behalf in order to keep his Wells Fargo mortgage afloat.

“But Delassus, a quiet man who suffered from the rare blood-clot disorder Budd-Chiari syndrome and was often hospitalized, didn't owe a penny in taxes.”

That's right. It was all a case of mistaken condo address but Wells Fargo foreclosed anyway. Mr. Delassus died trying to defend himself. Wells Fargo and its executives live on.

Read the whole story by Jessica Ogilvie in L.A. Weekly.


NEW MUSICAL FROM MPTF RESIDENTS

MPTF stand for Motion Picture & Television Fund. The organization runs a retirement community in California where lots of talented show business workers go when their careers wind down.

Now, two of them have been writing an original musical and there is a YouTube documentary titled Alive and Kicking that follows the men through their collaboration and rehearsals. Here's the trailer for the doc:

The press release describes the collaborators: “Tony Lawrence is a retired writer and producer, having worked on various shows such as Bonanza, Hawaii Five-O, Swiss Family Robinson, and The Twilight Zone, among others. Larry Kelem was a music composer, arranger, manager and agent for more than 50 years.”

There are 11 webisodes of Alive and Kicking. The final two will be posted on Wednesday and Thursday this week. You can see them all here.


HOW TO USE A DIAL TELEPHONE

I laughed when I first saw these images - who could possibly have needed them. But on second thought, I had no doubt there was a time when these instructions were, indeed, necessary - when young people “got” dial phones and some old people, with no operator to speak with, were flummoxed. Just like now with computers and smartphones.

Use Dial Phone1

Use Dia lPhone2

You can see larger images at the fascinating website of vintage photographs, Retronaut.


FLASH MOB WALTZ OF THE FLOWERS

Tamar Orvell of Only Connect blog sent this video of well-known dance from Pyotr Tchaikovsky's “The Nutcracker Suite.” It was shot at Haddasah Medical Center in Jerusalem. The performers are students from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.


REPUBLICANS AGAINST GUN CONTROL

In December, six adults and 20 six- and seven-year-old children were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

A new poll [pdf] shows that 91 percent (!) of Americans support background checks for gun show purchases.

Last Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation requiring such stricter background checks. All of the eight Republicans on the Committee voted against it. Every one of them. Here are their names. Do not forget them.

John Cornyn - Texas
Ted Cruz – Texas
Jeff Flake - Arizona
Lindsey Graham - South Carolina
Chuck Grassley - Iowa
Orrin G. Hatch – Utah
Michael S. Lee - Utah
Jeff Sessions – Alabama


MOBIUS BY THE ENESS COLLECTIVE

TGB reader Bill Griffith sent this video created by Melbourne, Australia's Eness design studio. The payoff in this sort of project always feels like letdown when I consider what must be the horrendously tedious set up.

But the more I watched this one, the more I forgot about the mind-numbing work and found it oddly mesmerizing.


PILOBOLUS SHADOWLAND SHOW

Anyone who hangs out here regularly knows that I'm a sucker for almost anything New York-y and this is a fine one.

In a piece titled Shadowland, members of the Pilobolus dance company move and bend and shape themselves into iconic images of New York City to the background of Alicia Keyes singing Empire State of Mind. Enjoy (with apologies for losing the name of the person who sent this).


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.


Crabby Old Lady Takes a Breather

Here's how it works: if you put yourself out here on the internet and if you don't hide your identity and if you take strong positions on political and cultural issues, some people are bound to give you a hard time.

Crabby Old Lady (aka Ronni Bennett in ticked off mode) knows this, expects it and ignores most of it. But too much online and offline communication recently has been just offensive. Or ignorant or mean or rude or presumptuous.

The same can be said for requests and “suggestions” about how this blog should operate, look or behave. (If you think it's so easy, run your own damned blog and if you don't understand basic internet functionality, keep your complaints to yourself.)

Generally, among TGB readers, such stuff is rare but the amount that has been pouring over the transom this week feels like an avalanche. It has sucked all the energy from Crabby leaving her tired, resentful and angry.

And although there is a serious purpose to Time Goes By, Crabby Old Lady enjoys it but this week, it stopped being fun and Crabby needs a breather.

So except for links to new stories at The Elder Storytelling Place, next week Time Goes By will go dark while Crabby ignores any- and everything related to this blog.

IMPORTANT: In the past when Crabby and Ronni have been fed up enough with the trolls to back away for awhile, some of you have left lovely messages of commiseration and appreciation for TGB.

Of course, those are nice but this post is not an appeal for compliments, flattery, praise or felicitations of any kind. It is just an explanation of Crabby's absence.

So please restrain yourselves, and we'll meet back here on March 25 after Crabby's breather.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Pleasures


Elders and Loneliness

I was going to write about sex today but as I was going through my usual morning procrastination, I came across a story in the Marin Independent Journal about aging and loneliness that is stunning.

"The most dreaded thing there is about getting older is the isolation involved in it,” says 91-year-old Steve. “It's a death sentence.

"Loneliness can grab you by the throat and immobilize you,” he continues. “When you look around everyone looks so young. There is hardly no one left who remembers you in your youth — in your vitality. In death you are remembered, in old age you are forgotten.”

Harsh words. But the late Dr. Robert Butler, eminent geriatrician who coined the term “ageism” in the 1960s, agrees. As he writes in his final book, The Longevity Prescription:

”Numerous studies have led to wide-ranging conclusions about the importance of social relationships to individual good health. I have seen it in my life and so have you.

“On the darker side, the link between isolation and suicide was firmly established long ago, suggesting that, at the most elemental level, other people give us reason to live.”

Dr. Butler's prescription is to get out of one's house and into the community. Engage life. Volunteer. Start a second career. Et cetera.

Reasonable advice for those who can. But for some elders, just getting out of the house is not easy when walking is difficult or driving is no longer an option. Further, such advice doesn't often work for people caught in the terrible emotional trap loneliness can sometimes be.

Listen to Steve again:

"You know, I was a pretty dynamic individual in my youth. I fought for things like paid vacations, a five-day-a-week schedule for workers. I was a leader and took the corporations on.

“I was always fighting for the little man and for the middle class. I had so much energy and applied that energy to the betterment of mankind...

"Now, life is like cotton candy: there's no substance to it...Now we are shoved out of the home and institutionalized.

“We are indeed a number, a face, a body to be cared for. We are given everything we need, but we can't get what we need ourselves. And this makes the whole procedure routine, not a bit exciting or challenging, or creative.

“And so we wait, wait, wait and maybe the grandchildren will come and visit and maybe my four children will come, but they are always so busy.”

Does Steve sound like a crabby old man to you? Someone who refuses to make his own way? Not to me. My heart breaks for him and all the other old people like him because I've been there more than once, even recently.

Although I am more self-sufficient than many, needing a lot more time alone than some people find comfortable, at several times in my life I have been so lonely that I had intimate knowledge of the immobility Steve speaks of above. I couldn't do anything but pull the covers over my head and weep.

It wasn't depression – at least, not yet. If the phone had rung with someone I knew, even just an acquaintance, offering as simple an invitation as to meet for coffee, I would have been over the moon.

Yes, I knew it was up to me and I was very good at beating myself up over allowing myself to become paralyzed. But the kind of bone-deep loneliness Steve speaks of (and I have known) is as as physically crippling as it is emotionally so.

Yet, all it can take to crack the impasse is one other human acknowledging you and asking to spend some time together.

Anyone of any age can be lonely. Lonely in a crowd and all that. But old people are particularly susceptible because we are no longer automatically placed in social situations through work and children – a situation we have taken for granted for 35 or 40 or more years.

When we retire, that camaraderie is suddenly jerked away from us. For awhile many of us can probably find substitutes, to a degree, depending on our interests and capacities. But when we reach old, old age, as Steve has, that becomes problematic.

As you are undoubtedly tired of hearing, this is one of the reasons I promote blogging as an almost perfect pastime for elders. Even with minimal involvement, you're almost bound to make a couple of new friends across the ether of cyberspace.

But it is not a cure-all or a panacea. It's not for everyone and even in blogging, there still the strong, human need for face-to-face contact. Steve again:

”"My mind is spry and alert, but my body is decrepit. I get lonely often. Sometimes I even call my health-care provider and make up an excuse about my health so that I have the nurse to talk to. Old age isn't cracked up to be what they say it can be.”

Which reminds me that sometimes, I suspect, this blog's perspective (and therefore my own) can be a bit too rosy about aging.

”It would be a little easier though,” says Steve, “if when older people are out in public that people come over and say, 'Hello, how are you?' and talk to us oldies.

“If everyone was more friendly and kind I think that would help us a lot. It's such a little thing to ask."

You can read Steve's entire story here.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: All I Can Do is Watch


Economic Inequality – a Life and Death Proposition

While we were considering youth and age over the past couple of days at this blog, the Washington Post published a remarkable story about the difference economic inequality makes in the quality of life and longevity experienced by people at either end of the scale.

To show how this plays out in real life, reporter Michael A. Fletcher has pulled together a variety of statistics for two adjacent Florida counties – prosperous St. Johns, and Putnam where more than 20 percent of the population live below the poverty line.

"Women [in St. Johns County] can expect to live to be nearly 83, four years longer than they did just two decades earlier...”, writes Mr. Fletcher. “Male life expectancy is more than 78 years, six years longer than two decades ago.

"[In Putnam County], incomes and housing values are about half what they are in St. Johns. And life expectancy in Putnam has barely budged since 1989, rising less than a year for women to just over 78.

"Meanwhile, it has crept up by a year and a half for men, who can expect to live to be just over 71, seven years less than the men living a few miles away in St. Johns."

In some parts of the U.S., longevity is actually moving in reverse, reports Fletcher.

“A study published last week in the journal Health Affairs,” he writes, “said that in almost half of the nation’s counties, women younger than 75 are dying at rates higher than before. The counties where women’s life expectancy is declining typically are in the rural South and West, the report said.

“Putnam County shares many of those characteristics. Forests, picturesque lakes and the beautiful St. Johns River, the longest in Florida, dot the area. But amid that rural splendor there are few good jobs and, officials said, little access to medical care.”

One-fifth of Putnam County residents live in poor or fair health – twice the number in St. Johns County, a ratio that closely matches the number of health care providers:

”County health rankings by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation show that there is one primary care physician for every 2,623 residents in [Putnam] county. One county east in St. Johns, there are more than double the ratio of family doctors, one for every 1,067.

None of this is surprising and most of it is common sense. Fletcher just tracked down some comparative statistics and presented them in a startling way and good for him.

Income and economic inequality do make the difference between life and death and we all know who's winning. More from the Washington Post:

“'It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out,' [Jeff Feller, chief executive of WellFlorida Council, a state-designated regional health-care nonprofit organization, said. 'You just have to look at the socioeconomic and demographic differences — unemployment, education levels, income between the two counties — to understand what is going on.

“'This is fueled by poor economics and a lack of access to health insurance and health coverage.'

“Those differences are compounded by the resource gap separating the two counties. With a healthy tax base that is recovering from the recession, St. Johns officials are in a better position than those in Putnam to address problems as they arise. When St. Johns officials learned of a change in the infant mortality rate, they quickly joined forces with local nonprofit groups to get information out encouraging prenatal care.”

Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) revealed his budget plan yesterday which, if adopted, would further exacerbate the wealth gap. The highest income tax rate would be reduced from 39 percent to 25 percent. According to The New York Times, Ryan's plan also

”...would repeal the health care overhaul of 2009, eliminate the subsidized insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion that make up the core of the law, and turn Medicare into a system of private insurance plans financed by federal vouchers.

“The Republican proposal would also do away with Wall Street regulatory laws...”

Here is how one Washington Post reader interpreted Fletcher's story even before Ryan's budget was announced:

Let me guess: richer people eat better, get better health care, and have more leisure time to relax and exercise. Poorer people struggle to put food on the table, work more than one job, can't afford decent health care and have little time to rest, to exercise or to relax.

“The wealthier folks live longer and the poor work themselves into an early grave. Isn't that what the wealthier folks want though? Let the poor work until they drop and then they won't live long enough to collect social security and medicare.”

I couldn't say it better myself and Ryan just doubled down on the kind of policies that create these differences.

You can read the full Washington Post story here.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jeanne Waite Follett: The Way We Are


A 27-Year-Old Takes on the World of Elders – Part 2

[Part 1 was posted yesterday and can be found here.)

As I explained yesterday, I “met” 27-year-old Marcie Rogo on the telephone after she emailed me seeking a story on Time Goes By about her fledgling, online business, ConnectAround.

I don't get to spend time with many people her age (these days, with years passing as quickly as they do, those who were once my “young” friends are closer to 40 than 20) and I liked connecting with this smart, hard-working woman who lives in quite a different world from mine.

Marcie's company creates safe, secure online websites for people living in 55-plus communities to help them connect with their neighbors. Here is part of how she explained it to me in her first email:

”We started with just me and my first hire Joyce who, at 81 years old, wanted this service in her community. She had just moved in and was finding it very difficult to meet people despite the many amenities and activities offered by her community.

“We just provided her a safe place to connect and then spread throughout Rossmoor via a bit of a grass roots effort. Within a few months Joyce was running around with an iPad and she definitely proves age is JUST a number!

“Over the past year, groups have been started through the site like Spanish Language practice, Vegan dinners and Poodle Owners. Neighbors have met each other through the site and are now close friends. It's incredible to watch and makes every thing I've been through 150% worth it.”

The websites for the first two communities, Summerset in Brentwood, California, and Rossmoor in Walnut Creek, California, were launched in 2012 and more are being added. They are funded by the communities' management companies and are free to residents.

When I asked Marcie for a story about her experience working with and for people old enough to be her grandparents, she responded with some fascinating differences between our generations. Yesterday, she covered, elder paranoia, no free lunches, professionalism and dress habits of the young and old.

Here now is Part 2.


GRAMMAR

As you read this, I’m sure you’ve noticed I have horrible grammar. This is not just something that’s genetic in my family but also something that’s common among my generation because of tools like spell check and even grammar check on MS Word.

We, as peers, have come to forgive each other. We are writing quick emails back and forth and have prepositions at the end of sentences or do not use a semi-colon where we should or spell something wrong. We are moving so quickly we get the memo, forgive, forget, respond, and move on.

This is NOT the case with the older generation. I have gotten numerous messages about my poor spelling or lack of grammar. I am not forgiven. This is a huge problem and at some point we are going to have to hire a copywriter. My bad!

SYMBOLS, BUTTONS, ETC.

This is quite straightforward. If you weren’t raised using computers, no one should expect that an arrow means “next” or that a gear means “settings.” These are things that I forget, I’m so used to seeing that it’s literally second nature.

My generation is full of unintelligent, ageist people that like to conclude that older adults are “computer-tarded” or something of that nature which really makes my blood boil. Put any one of us at a typewriter and expect us to know what to do – we won’t, because we never had to use one.

This is why, when everyone asks me why I don’t just target younger communities, I say no. I’m making this for people that don’t have something made for them and who are struggling to use sites that were built for 20-year-old techies.

I want to make something for them that is easy to use and doesn’t make them feel stupid. Because they aren’t. I hope there’s a young person that does this for me one day when I am trying to keep up with the whirlwind of changes going on around me.

GUESS WHAT'S THE SAME? DATING AND MEN

Do you know what is exactly the same? Dating. It still stinks! Now, I can only speak form a woman’s perspective but Joyce, our 80-something community liaison, is female and she has told me some stories!!

The single men in her community are the obvious minority since many women outlive their husbands or move into the communities as divorcees for safety and security. These men date MANY women at once, even women that are friends. They play the field and do not commit.

Sigh, some things will never change. Even my grandmother is having trouble finding a companion. She tells me all the time, “I don’t want to be a nurse, and I don’t want to be a purse. And that’s what these men seem to want.”

DO YOU KNOW WHAT NOT THE SAME? CHIVALRY

The men may be playing the field in the older generation but they at least open doors, call on the phone, do not flake, compliment, pay the bill, etc. Also, they do NOT text.

The men in my generation think texting is OK for everything. I’ve been texted to be asked out before even meeting. I’ve been texted to find out about my day. I’ve been texted to be told he is cancelling our date. I’ve even been texted to be broken up with.

Texting enables men to be cowards, which does allow me to throw them in the bucket faster once I figure this out.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: Arizona Cowgirl