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Incoherence on the Royalist Right

category_bug_politics.gif The hysteria over Occupy Wall Street from the super-rich and Republicans is almost, almost amusing in its distance from reality.

House Republican leader Eric Cantor called the demonstrators “a mob” which, of course, they are anything but. Presidential contender Herman Cain says the protests are unAmerican. Former governor Mitt Romney thinks the protestors are engaging in class warfare.

And that plutocrat, billionaire mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, had this to say about the protesters: "What they’re trying to do is take away the jobs of people working in the city." Huh?

There is not a coherent thought among them, only panic as economist, Paul Krugman, pointed out yesterday in his New York Times Op-Ed piece. Until I read Krugman's column, I had missed this deeply insane reaction from from that senator who is named for Ayn Rand:

”My favorite, however,” wrote Krugman, “is Senator Rand Paul, who for some reason worries that the protesters will start seizing iPads, because they believe rich people don’t deserve to have them.”

Can it be true that we let these people out of their locked rooms to run the country? Do they know how crazy they sound – each and every one?

The plutocracy, the politicians and their media mouthpieces are squealing like little pigs about OWS and sounding increasingly desperate. They pretend to be baffled by the lack of an OWS message, but I think one of Krugman's commenters, filosurfer from Cleveland, speaks well for me and for every protester I've listened to:

”Much of the complaint over the occupiers is that they have no direct agenda, no stated goal. Far from it. Whether it's the wars, the tax rates, the assault on unions, teachers, or the poisoning of the environment, lack of universal health care, or so many other complaints--it's simply enough stated--Stop Screwing Us Over."

Something in America is changing, right now as we watch on television and read on the internet. Even those who can't get to downtown New York or to demonstrations in other cities are expanding their imaginations about what is possible and the moment is ripe with potential. The 99 percent have been awakened.

If you missed it yesterday, go read Krugman's column. I think it's an important step forward for the 99 percent when the plutocrats and their sycophants are sounding incoherent.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, William Weatherstone: The Silent Guardian



When Good Things Happen

category_bug_journal2.gif It was the last day of this year's farmer's market on Saturday. As usual, I was there for the opening bell at 8:30AM so that I wouldn't lose out on some items that sell quickly.

I started in back with the smoked salmon stand – yummy stuff whether eaten as a snack or in scrambled eggs – and worked my way toward the front of the market.

The strawberries this late in the season were few and scrawny compared to a couple of weeks ago but the raspberries and especially the blackberries were still at their peak of sweet perfection. Irresistible.

I was sorry to see that the cute, little melons – about the size of grapefruit - I've been eating for several weeks were gone, finished for the year.

Apples and pears, of course, are in full swing so I bought some of those and I stopped to chat with the mushroom lady, buying half a pound or so of shiitakes. After picking out a few vegetables for the coming week, my bags were full and becoming unwieldy so I was ready to head home.

Until I saw a local policeman at a table with a very large German shepherd. I stopped to see what that was about.

They – man and dog - are members of the K-9 team which consists of two dogs at the police department in this small town. There were various K-9 stickers and “tattoos” on the table that the officer was giving away to children visiting the market with their parents, and he was selling K-9 teeshirts at $10 each.

Knowing how strapped all local governments are these days, I bought two shirts, then hoisted my bags of food onto my shoulder - very carefully so that maybe, just maybe I wouldn't squish the berries on the way to my car and home.

Two or three hours later, as I juggled some work at the computer with occasionally stirring apple sauce on the stove in the kitchen, there came a knock at the front door – loud enough to startle me. When I peeked through the window, I spied a uniformed police officer.

As I opened the door, he held up a small card about even with my face, looked at it, looked at me and back a couple of times, then said, “Yep, that's you.”

It was my drivers license photo he was comparing to my actual face which he handed to me with my wallet.

Even as the officer explained that he was delivering the wallet I had left behind on the K-9 table at the farmer's market, it took a few beats for me to understand what had just happened – that this nice, young man had saved me a dozen telephone calls, uncountable emails, a lengthy period of inconvenience and who knows how many followups while I replaced every damned card in my wallet – if I could remember which cards I kept there.

And how lucky is it that I left the wallet ON THE POLICE TABLE where, probably, no one would have the nerve to steal it from right under the noses of the K-9 cop and his humongous German shepherd.

We have all been through this with lost wallets - canceling credit/debit cards, replacing the drivers license, insurance identifications, Medicare IDs, etc. and the inconveniences that go with it.

Even with all the replacement hassle, I can think of much bigger problems that could befall anyone and anyway, I was spared it. But with so much wrong in our world these days, today I wanted to mention something good that happened.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: Death and Dying



ELDER MUSIC: 1965

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.


What happened in 1965?

  • Well, I was hanging around Melbourne University, drinking coffee in the caf, playing music, checking out the chicks, occasionally attending maths lectures.
  • Canada got a terrific new flag. A pity we here in Oz didn’t as well.
  • Lyndon Johnson managed the passing of the voting rights bill. Politicians are now trying to undo this measure.
  • Bob Dylan went full tilt rock & roll at the Newport folk festival.
  • The Pillsbury Doughboy made his debut.
  • Brook Shields, J.K. Rowling, Bryn Terfel and Robert Downey Jnr were born. Doesn’t that make you feel old?
  • Australia won the Davis Cup (again).
  • Nat King Cole died.

This was the year of...

Like A Rolling Stone
Yesterday
Mr. Tambourine Man
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
Ticket to Ride
Get Off My Cloud
We Gotta Get Out Of This Place
Positively 4th Street
Turn! Turn! Turn!

None of which will be featured here today.

FONTELLA BASS was the daughter of gospel singer Martha Bass who was one of the Clara Ward Singers.

Fontella Bass

She showed musical talent at a young age; at five she was playing piano for grandma at funeral services and later accompanying mum on her gospel tours.

As a teenager, she started playing secular music, much to mum’s chagrin (and maybe granny’s if she was still around). Indeed, mum dragged her from a train when she was heading off on tour, insisting she stick with gospel music.

Well, that didn’t last.

Fontella made it to Chicago and signed with Chess records. She had a few moderately successful records and then hit it big. She co-wrote Rescue Me but when she received the cheque for the royalties, she ripped it up and threw it back at them because of how small the amount was.

She demanded a better royalty rate but her next record didn’t have her name on it as composer: “Oh, it’s okay, it’ll be in the legal documents,” they said. It wasn’t, of course and she sued the company.

Later, she sued American Express and Ogilvy & Mather for using her song without her permission. She gained a reputation for being a “trouble maker” - i.e. someone who only requested what she was owed. Go, Fontella.

She eventually gained credit for her tunes. I don’t know if she received money for them - I sure hope so. This is her song, Rescue Me.

♫ Fontella Bass - Rescue Me

The next was a rather surprise hit this year, as it was a jazz track recorded live, by the RAMSEY LEWIS TRIO.

Ramsey Lewis Trio

Ramsey was from Chicago and he started piano lessons at the age of four. He joined his first jazz band when he was 15. This was called The Cleffs.

He left that group taking two musicians with him. They were Isaac “Redd” Holt who played drums and Eldee Young, a bass player. Thus the trio was born.

After their big hit, The "In" Crowd, Redd and Eldee left to form their own group. They were replaced by a couple of others so the trio kept on going. Ramsey still lives in Chicago, still plays jazz and indeed, has a lot to do with the jazz scene in that city.

♫ Ramsey Lewis Trio - The In Crowd

The SIR DOUGLAS QUINTET were not from Britain, they came from San Antonio. It was there that Doug Sahm got together with his old friend Augie Meyers and formed the group. They recruited Frank Morin, Jack Barber Johnny Perez for the group.

Sir Douglas Quintet

Like a lot of Texas bands, their music was a hybrid, part Tex-Mex, part blues, some soul and a bit of rock & roll, even some Cajun and western swing. They had quite an impact because of those various styles, influencing other groups to try different styles of music other than basic rock & roll.

Later, in the Nineties, Sam and Augie joined Freddy Fender and Flaco Jimenez in the group, The Texas Tournados. Doug died of a heart attack in 1999, but the others are still involved in the music industry.

This song is more in the traditional rock & roll style, She's About a Mover.

♫ Sir Douglas Quintet - She's About a Mover

This isn’t the best song released this year, but it’s also not the worst. It’s by THE TOYS.

The Toys

They may have had other songs but I don’t remember them. The group consisted of Barbara Harris, Barbara Parritt and June Montiero. The first two were from North Carolina and the third from New York. Their song was A Lover’s Concerto and it was “written” by Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell.

I used the quotes as this tune is actually the Minuet in G major by J.S. Bach (although some say it was actually Christian Petzold). I suppose The Toys wrote the words, though.

♫ The Toys - A Lovers Concerto

BILLY JOE ROYAL is from Valdosta, Georgia.

Billy Joe Royal

He became quite a bit of a star around various places in that state where he met Joe South. Joe is a great guitarist and fine songwriter. He played on a couple of Bob Dylan’s albums so he must have something going for him.

Sorry, this is supposed to be about Billy Joe Royal. Okay, Joe produced Billy Joe and wrote most of the songs that were hits for him, including this one, Down in the Boondocks.

♫ Billy Joe Royal - Down in the Boondocks

Nobody could hold a candle to THE FOUR TOPS. Okay, I suppose they could if the power went off and they needed a bit of illumination, but otherwise they were the premier singing group for this period.

The Four Tops

The Tops were Levi Stubbs, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton. This group was together for more than 40 years without a single change of personal; that must be some kind of record.

They met at school in Detroit and originally called themselves the Four Aims but changed their name rather being confused with the Ames Brothers. Berry Gordy signed them to Motown records and the rest is history. This is It's the Same Old Song.

♫ Four Tops - It's the Same Old Song

THE ZOMBIES' second hit before they split asunder was Tell Her No.

The Zombies

I don’t think this is as good as their previous hit, way back in 1964, but it’s not bad. The Zoms were a very good group indeed, and extremely influential. However, they didn’t last long – they had split up before their first album was released.

To cash in on the oldies’ circuit, they’ve got themselves together again and are playing once more. Here’s the song.

♫ The Zombies - Tell Her No

This is a song I really liked from this year. I still do. It’s by THE FORTUNES They were really good harmony singers – there seem to a number of those this year.

The Fortunes

I had to include this picture because I thought “Abbey Road,” even down to the VeeDub in the background. I was wrong – I got out my Beatles album and it’s a completely different crossing and a completely different car, but it had me fooled there for a minute or two.

The Fortunes were from Birmingham (the English one) and seem to have had a dozen or two members over the years. They had a few songs that tickled the charts a bit and one giant one. This is it, You’ve Got Your Troubles.

♫ The Fortunes - You've Got Your Troubles

I guess we have to have the BEACH BOYS in this series somewhere, and here they are.

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys initially consisted of the brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin, Mike Love and a friend, Al Jardine. As most of you would know, they started out performing surf/rock & roll songs but evolved into one of the most creative outfits around, mostly due to the composing and arrangement skills of Brian.

This is from close to the beginning of the evolution process, Help Me Rhonda.

♫ The Beach Boys - Help Me, Rhonda

Bob Dylan sure started something with his protest songs, although he refused to call them that. Every second-rate songwriter decided to emulate him. One of those was P.F. Sloan. He wrote a song that was a huge hit for BARRY MCGUIRE.

Barry McGuire

Barry started out singing in a duo with another Barry and they called themselves Barry and Barry. Pretty clever, huh? They both joined the New Christy Minstrels who were a large folk group and sang and recorded with them.

Our Barry went out on his own as a solo singer and recorded Eve of Destruction as well as others. This, however, is the song we remember him for. As of this writing, he’s still out there performing including an updated version of the tune.

♫ Barry McGuire - Eve of Destruction



INTERESTING STUFF: 8 October 2011

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.


STEVE JOBS TRIBUTE PERFECTION
You must have seen this by now – it's all over the web:

Steve jobst ribute mak

This logo silhouette of Steve Jobs was created by a 19-year-old student in Hong Kong, Jonathan Mak, last August when Jobs stepped down as head of Apple. Mak resurrected it when Jobs died this week and it seems to have touched nearly everyone.

"'Originally, I was going to put a black modified logo against a white background,' said the bespectacled Mak who paid tribute to Jobs at Hong Kong's Apple store.

"'It just didn't feel somber enough. I just wanted it to be a very quiet commemoration. It's just this quiet realization that Apple is now missing a piece. It's just kind of implying his absence.'"

You can read more here.

ONE OF THE REASONS FOR OCCUPY WALL STREET
From Bob Jellison's Direct Ezine for Democrats this week, here is a reminder of the top five facts you should know about the wealthiest one percent of Americans:

  1. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Owns 40 Percent Of The Nation’s Wealth
  2. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Take Home 24 Percent Of National Income
  3. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Own Half Of The Country’s Stocks, Bonds, And Mutual Funds
  4. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Have Only 5 Percent Of The Nation’s Personal Debt
  5. The Top 1 Percent Are Taking In More Of The Nation’s Income Than At Any Other Time Since The 1920s

Details at ThinkProgress

BRAVE NEW FILMS ON OWS
After a shaky start three weeks ago, the Occupy Wall Street movement is taking off all over the nation. Republicans, predictably, have dismissed it and Democrats – some, though not enough – are warily supporting it. As Paul Krugman wrote on Friday:

”...Democrats are being given what amounts to a second chance. The Obama administration squandered a lot of potential good will early on by adopting banker-friendly policies that failed to deliver economic recovery even as bankers repaid the favor by turning on the president.

“Now, however, Mr. Obama’s party has a chance for a do-over. All it has to do is take these protests as seriously as they deserve to be taken.”

Here is a demonstration overview from Brave New Films:

WALL STREET IRONY
Did you know that the Bill of Rights came into being in 1879 on Wall Street in New York City right across the street from where the New York Stock Exchange stands today? I didn't.

As Thom Hartmann pointed out on his television show this week – well, let him tell the story. Here's the video.

TGB FEATURED AT LOCAL PIGEON
On 1 October, Time Goes By was listed on a curious little website called LocalPigeon that each day of the week features a different blog – all of them on wildly different topics and styles and all interesting.

You can see more than just me here.

CAMPAIGN SHAME
At a debate last week, a questioner noted that Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown had posed nude for Cosmopolitan magazine years ago to help pay for law school and then asked Brown's opponent, Elizabeth Warren, how she paid for her college education.

“Well,” responded Ms. Warren, “I didn't take off my clothes.”

Nice little laugh line, but in a radio interview the next day, Brown shot back: “Thank god.”

Not a big deal, but what a jerk. You can read more here.

A COMMERCIAL AS GOOD AS A MOVIE
So there I was curled up with Ollie the cat on the bed reading a book with the TV droning at a low volume across the room so I wouldn't miss – oh, who knows; some show I wanted to see that evening.

Suddenly, distracted by loud, upbeat music on the screen, I glanced over and was enchanted by an amazing video story. It turned out to be a commercial, longer that most – 90 seconds – that is stunning.

I had missed the first part, so I searched around YouTube and found it. Although there is no way to know until the last three or four seconds, it promotes Heineken beer and I am, apparently, the last one to appreciate it since it has collected nearly 9 million views at YouTube.

It is beautiful, sexy, glamorous in an updated, old-fashioned way and just wonderful. Take a look - it is titled, The Date.

SOCIAL SECURITY COLA ANNOUNCEMENT DUE ON 10/19
As anyone who is a Social Security beneficiary knows, there has not been a cost of living increase (COLA) since 2008. That's because, supposedly, there has been no inflation since then. Uh-huh.

About ten days from now, on 19 October, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will announce the official price index figures for September which will determine if there will an increase in the Social Security benefit for 2012. People who play around with such numbers are estimating that there will be an increase of 3.5 or 3.6 percent.

Not being one to count my chickens, etc., I'll wait for the announcement. Do keep in mind that if there is an increase, the premium for Medicare Part B will be increased too. For most (but not all) beneficiaries, there is a "hold harmless" clause so that the premium increase is not allowed to reduce Social Security payments.

You can read more here and here and here.

TEENY, TINY WARM PUPPY
Almost every day, the naked capitalism blog includes among the mostly dismal political news, what is called the "antidote du jour" – always a cute animal photo or video. I look forward to it every morning and was delighted with this one.

Dog and Puppy



What Steve Jobs Reminded Me Of

There is nothing I can say that hasn't already been said about Steve Jobs, undoubtedly a genius of a certain kind, who pushed technology forward at a faster clip than it would otherwise have moved, who made elegant, little toys that are nearly indistinguishable from magic and thereby changed how we live.

Of course, given that he died at a shockingly young age (56), the video that most news outlets led with is from Jobs' commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005. I've heard it so many times now since Wednesday afternoon and I can recite it verbatim:

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life.

“It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.”

Most of you who read this blog are, like me, of an age to know this all too well: “You will gradually become the old and be cleared away.” It happens all too swiftly as Steve Jobs learned sooner than the rest of us.

However, in the same breath as his message of impending doom in that commencement speech, Jobs appealed to our better selves and although his audience that day was young people, no one is too old to hear this:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.

“And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

I've always known that, but too often I forget for awhile.

I began this week by writing about why I continue to blog on this topic of aging. As happens regularly, by Wednesday or so I was asking myself again why I push on every day, particularly when nothing seems to get better for elders, when I'm not in a position to influence people who can change anything and I'd rather go to the movies or take a nap.

Now I remember why I keep going - “the courage to follow your heart and intuition” - because Steve Jobs reminded me. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person he has inspired through the years.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Steve Kemp: Life is Good



Countering Elder Ignorance and Disinterest

On yesterday's post in regard to Senator Bernie Sanders' support of elders, Social Security and Medicare, Denise left this comment:

“How can we get seniors out there? I'm an insurance agent working with Medicare-related products, so I am talking to people over 65 every day. And I am amazed at how complacent most seniors are about threats to Medicare and Social Security - and how misinformed many are.

“How can we start a movement to educate, inform, and motivate seniors to take to the streets and push back against efforts to put deficit reduction on the backs of older Americans?”

I almost responded in the comments that there are, in addition to Senator Sanders' hard work that can be supported, at least two good organizations that make good effort to hold the line against those who would gut Social Security and Medicare.

The National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) has just begun a new campaign aimed at the congressional “super committee” which seems to be leaning toward cuts to those programs (although it's hard to tell since the committee has held almost all their meetings in secret).

The other organization is Strengthen Social Security supported by coalition of hundreds of progressive organizations, unions and others who understand the crucial importance of Social Security.

Any support you can give these groups is helpful.

But these don't really address Denise's question. Like her, I have often been appalled at elders' lack of knowledge and interest in threats to their well being from elected politicians. Even smart, well-educated, aware people I've known just shrug and their concern doesn't improve when I suggest that it's up to us elders, who know first hand the importance of these programs, to help preserve them not just for us, but for our children and grandchildren.

In addition, it is amazing how many elders vote for candidates who have publicly stated they would like to kill these programs. So a great deal of education and persuasion is in order.

Plus, there are still a lot of people, including elders, who believe Social Security is “broke” and that it has somehow caused the deficit which you and I know are both untrue.

However, recent polls, while simplistic, are amazingly consistent across the political spectrum in opposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare to help reduce federal spending. Here is a chart from one recent poll: (you can see a large-size images of this and other charts here [pdf])

Oppose cuts

Also across party lines, large majorities support taxing the wealthy over cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

Raise taxes

I must say that this survey question bothers me because it smacks of revenge (however sweet that might feel) rather than thoughtful, informed opinion.

Denise also mentions the need to motivate elders to take to the streets to oppose attacks on these essential programs. In thinking this over, we need to remember that in many cases it is impossible and in others very difficult for elders to get to demonstrations and to march for any length of time.

It's hard enough to get people of any age to demonstrations these days, but elders are more physically constrained than young people.

So, with all that, I'm turning this conversation over to you, dear readers. Denise's questions are important, probably crucial, to the future of Social Security and Medicare.

How do we reach and how do we educate elders who are unaware, complacent or disinterested in these issues?

What is the best way to organize ourselves and bring new activists into the fold?

Are demonstrations the only way to make a large impact? Demonstrations are mostly for the media – coverage from them gains attention from others. How else can we gain attention from media to build support?

What other ideas do you have?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Claire Jean: Superstitions



Some Elder Politics

category_bug_politics.gif As I had a couple of outside obligations on Tuesday, there is just time for a fast overview of a couple of items for today's post.

THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION FIELD
Perry has peaked but doesn't seem to know it yet. Ditto Michele Bachmann. Ron Paul sinks ever lower in the polls. Sarah Palin has become so irrelevant no one has noticed she's missing.

Huntsman and Romney wander in the weeds losing any traction they have to every newcomer – Chris Christie this time who, no dummy he, yesterday backed off running for the nomination. Which leaves Mr. 9-9-9er, Herman Cain, who until a week or so ago was an also ran, to lead the pack. Until next week.

Take a look at this bunch. Is there a single one who has the gravitas, intelligence and statesmanship to lead our nation during its most desperate time in several generations?

And don't forget – every one of them would kill Social Security and Medicare.

BERNIE SANDERS FOR PRESIDENT
That's not going to happen, but he is the sanest man in Congress and Social Security's greatest supporter in Washington.

Tomorrow evening, Thursday, at 7:30PM eastern, Senator Sanders is holding a live telephone conference call sponsored by Democracy for America to learn how we can help “keep the promise of Social Security and scrap the cap.” You can participate in that phone call by registering at this website.

Do that and you will be automatically telephoned and connected to the conversation Thursday evening.

Now, undoubtedly you have heard of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations that started nearly three weeks ago in New York City, continue there every day and are now spreading to many other cities throughout the country.

Find out more about the OWS “mothership” in New York here and find out about demonstrations in your town here.

Meanwhile, Senator Sanders spoke with Keith Olbermann on CurrentTV last week about the importance of Occupy Wall Street.

UPDATE: At her blog Happening Here today, Jan Adams has posted photos from a San Francisco "Occupy" demonstration yesterday. Today and tomorrow (and perhaps following on), there will be demonstration in more than 150 cities and college campuses across the country. Maybe there is one in your town.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: My Chinese Marriage



Boomers Aging

It's arrived, the ultimate boomer website, HuffPost50, jam-packed with celebrity takes on turning 50 along with a plethora of blogs from no-name boomers who, together, make getting old sound like - well, just what turning 25 felt like.

For these people, passing the half century mark is “incredible” and “cool.” They are “reinventing” themselves, becoming “independent,” feeling “alive,” being “active,” “celebrating” themselves and having the “most passionate” sex of their lives.

Crabby Old Lady nearly strangled on all the self-regard, particularly the parts explaining how none of these people are anything like their parents at the same age. Actor Tom Hanks' wife, Rita Wilson, is HuffPost50's editor at large:

”Dad golfed and he and Mom, together, did their Victory Laps of Parenting, taking care of everyone's grandchildren's needs,” writes Ms. Wilson. “My parents didn't question what their future held.

“The future for Boomers is different. Our parents were winding down at middle age; we are winding up. There are so many options available to us. Our generation is Go, Go, Go, Go, Go, Do Do, Do, Do, Do...My parents were cool with how simply they spent their time. But for us, there's so much to do, so little time.”

Oooh, we are so amazingly cooler, incredible, sexier and alive than our doltish parents, dontcha know. Crabby wonders how many of those parents are alive to read what their ungrateful boomer kids think of their parents' choices to help care for the grandchildren while they've been busy being so awesome.

The headlines in the Love Post50 section of HuffPost50 appear to have been stripped straight from a dusty, 40-year-old Cosmopolitan magazine: "Five Sure-Fire Dating Tips for Frog-Kissing Boomers," "For Better or for Worse - But Never for Lunch," "Why Second Marriages May Be Doomed," "That Wedding Bell Could Have Been Mother-in-Law Hell.”

Come to think of it, Crabby sees those headlines on rags at the supermarket checkout counter every week.

The nearly empty Health Post50 section bears no resemblance so far to anything real – baldness, stamina, incontinence, arthritis or any of the minor afflictions elders deal with every day, let alone larger medical problems.

There is only a whiny piece from a woman who believes she is too young to have osteoporosis and another from an “expert” whose major health recommendation is to stay healthy. But if something does go wrong, you can – oh, wow - become a medical tourist at, perhaps, Johns Hopkins hospital in Singapore or the soon-to-be-completed Cleveland Clinic branch in Abu Dhabi.

Crabby is supposed to know this guy's an expert because he's got a book about international health travel. But that's hardly a useful benchmark when just about everyone with a blog post at Huffpost50 is flogging a book.

Huffington Post is a phenomenally success news aggregator with millions of readers. Crabby had hoped this new section would be a serious undertaking to investigate and educate readers about the culture, politics, latest news and most compelling thinking related to aging and what to expect as the years pile up.

Instead, HuffPost50 is lightweight celebrity venture without even the pretense of addressing what getting old is really like.

What a disappointment.


At The Elder Storytelling Placce today, Terry Hamburg: My Mom, the Star



Why I Write About Growing Old

category_bug_ageism.gif On Saturday, I posted one photograph with a link to more of elders who are at least 100 years old. The goal of the photographer is to show the beauty in age, and the reason it is necessary for some people to occasionally take on such a project is that most cultures abhor aging.

From the cradle we are bombarded with images, words and ideas about getting old – every one of them negative.

The best kind of elders, they say, are those who are “young at heart” (whatever that means). It is, supposedly, a compliment to hear, “You don't look that old.” And in recent years, the media has made a fetish of lionizing elders who take on extreme sports such as climbing Mt. Everest, skydiving and bungee jumping that even most young people are too smart to try.

Not to mention the 24/7 barrage of television commercials and other advertising that makes it seem unAmerican not to be using wrinkle creams and inject ourselves with Botox because – well, you know, looking old is offensive.

The attitude of certain lawmakers toward elders, particularly since the crash of 2008, is schizophrenic: old people should work longer before becoming eligible for Social Security and Medicare, some say, while others wring their hands muttering about how all those old farts are taking jobs young people could be doing.

And a whole lot of legislators and presidential wannabes, too, believe elders are responsible for the federal debt and deficit. What a bunch of greedy geezers elders are, insisting on “entitlements” they paid into for 40 or 50 or more years.

What do you suppose is the price old people pay from such damaging portrayals? Last week, the Hastings Observer in England reported on the suicide of one Jack Semmens [emphasis added]:

“AN AUTHOR who sent a press release to the Observer announcing his death, killed himself to avoid old age despite being in good physical health.

“Jack Semmens, 73, had meticulously planned his suicide over a period of months and a ‘how-to’ book for those wishing to end their lives was found lying near his body...”

Friends confirmed the man's abhorrence of aging and one said he looked younger than his 73 years.

“When we met, I asked him how old he was, but he wouldn’t tell me,” she said. “He said, ‘Then you will start treating me like an old person.’”

I vacillate between feeling pity for this man and wanting to smack him: how dare he, an elder, confirm the general cultural belief that getting old is so awful it is worth dying to avoid.

In the way of the interwebs, on the same day I read the suicide story, I found in The Hindu, a large-circulation newspaper in India, another approach to aging:

“'Old age,' says Neelam, a sprightly 85-year-old, 'is a time that is just as rich and as worthy of being lived as all the other ages in our lives.' Between letting go of our youth and accepting our death, there is a time when we can, if dealt with properly, feel deeply happy and free.”

The writer of The Hindu column, Kusum Lata Sawhney, is a novelist and poet who writes on women's issues and social trends. She continues [again, my emphasis]:

“'I realised that I no longer had to keep the same weight as when I was 20. I felt a calm acceptance towards my body and went out and bought a whole new wardrobe,' [said 58-year-old Malti]. Once we accept who we are then others learn to accept us for who we are.

“The key to a happy old age is to invest in the emotional part of our selves. We might change from the outside but we remain the same way within. You do not have to be only young to have eyes that sparkle even though they have bags, skin that glows even though it is lined, hair that is grey but shines brightly and indulge in conversation that is interesting...

“Old age creeps up on you. I have heard many people say this. 'One day I was young and the next day I was old.' But you don't just retire from living — you retire from a way of life that has to make way for the slower body. Let go of the niggling insecurities and enjoy the life that is your right. Don't throw it away because it is too precious to waste!

Sometimes you have to wonder about how the universe works – that I read these two stories on the same day, both at websites I rarely visit, the first one deeply disturbing and the second as though in answer to my troubled thoughts.

For nearly eight years I've been banging on here about the dismal state of cultural beliefs related to aging that cause such terrible events as Mr. Semmens' misguided suicide.

Make no mistake, it is the culture that killed him although I doubt there will be any public outcry or call to examine the values that led this man to choose an early, untimely death.

That needs to change and that's why I keep writing.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, William Weatherstone: Single Seniors



ELDER MUSIC: Miles Davis

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.


Miles Davis

From about 1960 until his death, Miles Davis was the coolest dude on the planet.

He was born on 1926, to an affluent family in Alton, Illinois, and the family moved to East St Louis soon after. His father was a dentist and they owned a good sized ranch in Arkansas where the young Miles learned to ride horses.

His mother was a pianist and she taught Miles the rudiments of the instrument; however, his father gave him a trumpet when he was 13. It seems there may have been tension in the Davis household as apparently he gave Miles this instrument to spite his wife who really didn’t like the trumpet.

Miles took lessons and became proficient playing in local music societies and the like. After leaving school he went to New York to study at Juilliard. He found the grounding he received there valuable for his later work but criticized the curriculum for being too centred on European classical music.

During this time, he started playing with various jazz musicians around town eventually joining Charlie Parker’s band when Dizzy Gillespie left the group.

From here on, there are books full of information about his musical life, his personal life, his political life and pretty much everything you wanted to know about him and lots you really don’t need.

Even a synopsis would be far too much for this column. I’ll only say that he was one of the three or four most important figures in jazz. He died in 1991 at the age of 65.

Today I’ll mention some of his most important albums. As with his life, there are more that I can include here, but these are my choices.

Some Day My Prince Will Come

My first serious encounter with Miles (as it were) was when I bought the album, “Some Day My Priince Will Come.” This was the also the first time I'd heard a muted trumpet for a sustained period. Before that, it was generally just for a short time, for an effect. I still preferred the trumpet without it but it was interesting nonetheless.

It didn't hurt that he had some fine players in his band at the time, some whose names are synonymous with Miles – John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb. This is the title track.

♫ Someday My Prince Will Come

Birth of the Cool

Although he had already made many records as sideman and even a few under his own name, Miles really first came to general notice with the album, “Birth of the Cool.” Recorded in 1949 and 1950, Miles got together nine musicians, including himself, under the not very euphonious grouping of a nonet.

This group included some of the finest players around, John Lewis, J.J. Johnson, Kenny Clarke, Kai Winding and especially Gerry Mulligan. Gerry not only played baritone sax, he was an arranger and wrote many of the tunes - more than he's been given credit for.

This was a very influential record that went against the prevailing bebop style at the time. Bebop was fast and furious; this album was laid back and had an almost detached elegance. This was Miles's first session with his long time arranger, Gil Evans.

Here are the gang, with Gerry very prominent, playing one of his compositions, Geru.

♫ Geru

Ascenseur Pour l'Échafaud

In 1958, Miles went to Paris, something he did often in his life (and who can blame him?). It was there that he was asked to create the soundtrack for the film, Ascenseur Pour l'Échafaud (Lift to the Scaffold).

This is a film noir of the first order that owes some dues to Hitchcock but was itself influential. The film had a couple of firsts. It was the first film directed by Louis Malle and it was Jeanne Moreau's first film. It was also the first film for which Miles supplied the sound track.

The film wasn't in the rather stylised noir style of the American films of this type; the characters seemed to be making it up as they went along.

This is take 2 of Nuit Sur Les Champs-Élysées.

♫ Nuit Sur Les Champs-Élysées (take 2)

Miles-Milestones

The album, “Milestones,” was the first in which Miles introduced modal jazz into his repertoire, something he went on to develop with great effect in “Kind of Blue."

This album also contains blues of various stripes although nothing I could see Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf playing. The album also marked the return of John Coltrane to the fold who probably had some input into the modal phase of Miles’s work.

Given all that, I’m going for a track that’s closer to bebop than anything else, Dr. Jekyll.

♫ Dr. Jekyll

Sketches of Spain

For “Sketches of Spain,” Miles went off on a totally new direction. This is something he did often, of course, but this time it was in the direction of classical music rather than a new form of jazz.

Some jazz fans dismiss the album as too structured. However, Miles replied, “It’s music, I like it”. Good enough for me.

The centrepiece of the album is a reinterpretation of the adagio from Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo. Not surprisingly, this is a long track so I’ll only play the first part of it.

♫ Concierto de Aranjuez, Pt 1

Kind of Blue

We now come to the biggie. Not just Miles's best-selling album, the biggest selling jazz album of all time and the most influential, “Kind of Blue.” Besides all the books about Miles, there are books dedicated to this one album. That’s going a bit over the top but everyone should have a hobby.

I just suggest you listen to all of it. Alas, I’m only going to play a single track so I’ll leave it up to you to check out the rest.

In late 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 409–0 to recognize and commemorate the album on the 50th anniversary of its release. The measure also affirmed jazz as a national treasure and to encourage the United States government to preserve and advance the art form of jazz music.

Can you imagine anything else being affirmed 409-0?

This is So What.

♫ So What

In a Silent Way

“In a Silent Way” is a gorgeous album. I loved it when I bought the vinyl copy. I loved it when bought the CD and I loved it when I bought the box set of the complete recordings for the disk. Obsessive, moi?

The critics panned it at the time of its initial release. They've certainly changed their tune by now. Other musicians who heard it at the time loved it. Listen to the musicians, I say.

I've gone for the title tune from this album. That's John McLaughlin on the guitar.

♫ In A Silent Way

Miles once said that he could make the best rock album around. He did just that with “A Tribute to Jack Johnson”. The album had only two tracks, both of them marvelous, but they're both about 25 minutes long so I have to skip over this one.

Bitches Brew

Continuing his rock theme brings us to the most famous of his later albums, “Bitches Brew”. Some say this album out-sold “Kind of Blue.” Some also say it was more influential than that album. Certainly in the rock & roll area, they’d be right about the influence; as to the sales, who knows?

Here, Miles again used John McLaughlin on guitar, as he did on “Jack Johnson” and “Silent Way,” this time name-checking him with the tune, John McLaughlin. Miles isn’t really much in evidence on the track, but that’s okay.

♫ John McLaughlin

This is really only part one of Miles, the more interesting part, as he kept recording and performing for another 20 years.

Miles Davis



INTERESTING STUFF: 1 October 2011

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.


OLDEST TV PERSONALITIES
Andy Rooney An era ends tomorrow evening, Sunday, when Andy Rooney delivers his final curmudgeonly video essay on the CBS News program, 60 Minutes. He is heading off into retirement at age 92.

He is one of the oldest personalities still active on American television. Others include Betty White, Larry King, Cloris Leachman and several more you can read about in this story. (Hat tip to Jan Adams)

NUMBER OF CENTENARIANS COMES UP SHORT
Back in 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that by 2010, there would be about 114,000 people older than 100. Well, oops. The actual number is less than half that: 53,364 the census bureau recently announced.

”...some demographers and researchers say the century mark may just be tougher for humans to reach than previously imagined.

“'The likelihood that we will continue to increase the proportion of centenarians is not great, not at all,' Leonard Hayflick, a professor of anatomy at the University of California, San Francisco, said in an interview. 'It’s probably contrary to most people’s thinking because of the hype that has grown up around this field in the last 20 years.'

“Hayflick, 83, challenged the notion in 1961, when he discovered what is now known as The Hayflick Limit — that cells age as they divide only a fixed number of times.”

You can read more about the failed prediction here.

CENTENARIAN PHOTOS
A lot of information about centenarians this week. Lilalia of Yum Yum Cafe sent along a link to a series of photographs of people who are at least 100 years old. This is Hildegard Grimmert born in 1910.

09-hildegard_grimmert

The photographer is Karsen Thomaehlen whose goal in his series is to show how beautiful age can be. There are more gorgeous photos of centenarians here.

JON STEWART'S COMIC INFANCY
Okay, not quite infancy, but this clip reel from 17 years ago shows a much younger, much sillier Jon Stewart and it's great fun to see him in training for the grownup political satire show he now presides over at Comedy Central.

SAUL FRIEDMAN IN AGE IN ACTION
The Virginia Center on Aging at Virginia Commonwealth University publishes a quarterly magazine, Age in Action. For the past year, they have published some of Saul Friedman's columns that originally ran on this blog before his death last December.

“Small Miracles” from Saul can be found in the the latest edition of Age in Action on page 14 [pdf].

WHO KNEW A CAT COULD DO THIS
Cats are amazing, but this? Take a look:

THE PETS WE LOVE – SO MUCH
Before there was Ollie the cat who has been my roommate for about seven years, there was Beau Bennett who was my best friend for almost 20 years. This is him when he was about a year old in 1978:

Beau1978

Fifteen years ago, he died in my arms on 29 September and last Thursday, as on that date every year since 1996, I lit a candle in his memory. Taking nothing away from Ollie, I will never forget Beau.

On that anniversary day last week, I ran across a story from a book, Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die by Jon Katz about the last perfect day of an ailing border collie named Duke.

When the vet told the dog's owner, Harry, an Iraq veteran, that it would not be long before Duke died, Harry promised his friend a perfect day.

”He would take the day off from work and create a sweet memory with his dog. It would be a special day, filled with all the things Duke loved most, as close to perfect as Harry could make it...

“Eventually, they came to a stone abutment with a beautiful view. Harry walked over to the edge and sat down. Duke clambered out and curled up beside him. It was a gorgeous afternoon, and the wind ruffled the dog's hair. Duke held his nose up to the wind, picking up the scents of the earth...

“They sat together for nearly an hour, enjoying a bond of complete understanding and affection. If only the world could stay like this, Harry thought, this simple, this good.”

Go read the whole thing. You will be happy you did.