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The Public Image of Old People

[EDITORIAL NOTE: My apologies to non-subscribers for the number of New York Times links. Usually I try to use as many sources without paid firewalls as possible but these are the links I had collected over time not knowing I would use them all in the same place. I think, however, the quotations stand on their own.]

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Every now and then, I get all wound up about how poorly old people are treated in the media. This is one of those times.

For every nicely done cable series starring old people (Grace and Frankie and The Kominsky Method come to mind), there are a zillion portrayals reminding everyone that if you're older than 50 (and even younger sometimes) you are no better than dead.

Sometimes it is that literal. Earlier this year, New York Times New Old Age columnist Paula Span related this incident:

”It happened about a year ago. I stepped off the subway and spotted an ad on the station wall for a food delivery service. It read: 'When you want a whole cake to yourself because you’re turning 30, which is basically 50, which is basically dead.'”

Ageism can also be quite subtle. Here's a webpage about a group of professionals dedicated to combating ageism in the advertising business. But it is close to impossible for anyone older than 40 to read it thanks to the light gray text on a white background.

However much they may mean well in regard to ageist words and images in media, what is the point if they can't get this simple part right.

Recently, there has been an uptick in the number of news stories about how marketers mostly ignore old people. In one of them, Tiffany Hsu at The New York Times writes:

”...the demographic is shunned and caricatured in marketing images, perpetuating unrealistic stereotypes and contributing to age discrimination, according to a new report.”

Ms. Hsu, referencing that report, from AARP, notes that although people 50 and older make up more than a third of the U.S. population and one-third of the labor force, they appear in only 15 percent of all types of media images and in only 13 percent of media images showed older people working.

Repetition plays a large role in cementing our beliefs (see or hear it often enough, it must be true) and none of us is immune all the time. In addition, what we do NOT see can be as powerful as what's right in front of us – like screen texts that even middle-aged eyes can't read and old people working alongside people of all other ages.

When old people are excluded from the public media conversation, they become less than everyone else, as if they have a disease, and denigrating them directly or by omission, becomes acceptable.

According to reporter Hsu, some advertising agency employees blame their own ageist offices for fostering ageism in the advertising and marketing they produce. AARP says it is pressing agencies to change their ageist ways and in one instance AARP has

”...teamed with Getty Images, the stock media supplier, to introduce a collection of 1,400 images on Monday that show older people running businesses, playing basketball and hanging out with younger generations.

“'What we needed was imagery showing mature adults leading full lives,' Rebecca Swift, the global head of creative insights for Getty Images, said in a statement.”

That's what bothers me. I'm tired of seeing headlines such as this one, also from The New York Times, June 2019:

”She’s 103 and Just Ran the 100-Meter Dash. Her Life Advice?”

Too often and perhaps in a misguided attempt to show elders as equal to mid-age adults, the media report only on the few old people, the “superelders”, who behave like 30- or 40-year-olds by skydiving and climbing tall mountains. In the real world, most elders must accommodate the inevitable decline of our bodies but that doesn't mean we become stupid or irrelevant.

Do I want to see old people portrayed realistically as workers, business owners, playing whatever sports they enjoy and doing the things they have done all their lives? For god's sake, yes, appropriately for their age.

But I also want us portrayed on the other side of realistic: the ones of us who use wheel chairs or canes to get around, for example, but still go to work, drive cars, cook, clean and take care of the chores and errands everyone else does even if we are a bit slower - that's normal with age. I'm tired of seeing old people portrayed most frequently as needy and dependent.

I want old people to be as respected by the culture and portrayed in the media as the grown ups they are, a right they once had in their lives but which was snatched away when they started to look 50 or 55 or 60.

In short, I want it to become okay to be old and I want to see that reflected in the all the various media that is so much of our lives.




ELDER MUSIC: Macheath

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

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It’s been a while since I had a variation on a single song column, so it’s time for another. The song for today is Die Moritat von Mackie Messer. You may know this better as Mack the Knife.

Macheath first saw the light of day in John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera” back in 1728. He was based on a real person, Jack Sheppard, who was a thief but essentially a good guy. Others suggest that it might have been Robert Walpole, but that was probably just for political purposes.

The character turned up in several plays after that getting darker and darker, until he became the Macheath in “Die Dreigroschenoper”, by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. This is more commonly known in English as “The Threepenny Opera”.

Let’s start with the original version, the woman who sang it in the first production of “The Threepenny Opera”. Interestingly, in many versions since this one, this singer was name-checked as one of the victims. She is LOTTE LENYA.

Lotte Lenya

Lotte was married to Kurt and besides the German version, she also appeared in a revival (in English) in New York. Here she is with original Ballad of Mack the Knife (Moritat).

♫ Lotte Lenya - Ballad of Mack the Knife (Moritat)


For a complete change of pace, I’ll give you an instrumental version, sounding somewhere between the zither playing from “The Third Man” and Lawrence Welk’s bubble machine. The players are LES PAUL AND MARY FORD.

Les Paul and Mary Ford

Unfortunately, Mary doesn’t sing on this one (neither does Les). It’s just their guitars doing strange things on Moritat.

♫ Les Paul & Mary Ford - Moritat


We now get to something approximating the way we generally know the song. This one is a pretty straight ahead pop version by PEGGY LEE.

Peggy Lee

However, Peggy has never made exactly straight ahead pop. There’s always something interesting in what she sings. That’s why I’ve included her performing Mack the Knife.

♫ Peggy Lee - Mack The Knife


Getting back to the original, but sung in English, here is STING.

Sting

This is the only English language version that mentions his arson and the murder of children. I guess that was a bit too much for the pop sensibilities of the other performers (or record executives). Of course, if you don’t listen too closely you’ll miss the references. Here is The Ballad of Mac the Knife.

♫ Sting - The Ballad Of Mac The Knife


This column was inspired when I heard RICKIE LEE JONES perform our song on a local radio station.

Rickie Lee Jones

I thought she did an interesting interpretation and wondered if there were more out there (apart from the obvious candidates). A search of my music collection found that that was certainly the case. Indeed, more than would fit in a single column.

So here’s today’s inspiration, Rickie Lee with Mac the Knife.

♫ Rickie Lee Jones - Mac the Knife


DAVE VAN RONK was a blues musician who could sing pop songs and numbers from musicals and make them sound like the deepest blues.

Dave Van Ronk

That’s what he does here – makes our song sound as if it originated from the Mississippi Delta or the bayous of Louisiana, rather than Berlin in the Twenties. He calls this one .

♫ Dave Van Ronk - Mack the Knife


SONNY ROLLINS produces my favorite version of the song.

Sonny Rollins

That’s probably because there are no words and the tune is not at all evident apart from brief glimpses at the start and end. It’s mostly Sonny going off on his own tangent with some beautiful improvisation. He calls it Moritat.

♫ Sonny Rollins - Moritat


There was an English film made in 1989 called “Mack the Knife” based on “The Threepenny Opera”. It had a surprisingly good cast of actors and singers. One of the singers, and the one who sang the title song, is ROGER DALTREY.

Roger Daltrey

Baby boomers, and those who are familiar with the music of the sixties and seventies, know that Roger was the main singer from the rock group The Who. He doesn’t sound at all the way he did in that group when he sings Mack the Knife, along with other singers from the film.

♫ Roger Daltrey - Mack the Knife (1989) ~ The Moritat


You might think that some of the tunes today have been a little away from the way you remember the song. Now we have one that’s totally off the planet, and it’s probably no surprise that the performer is DR JOHN.

Dr John

The good Doc brings in elements of New Orleans (of course), but also rap, hip hop and who knows what else. He has the help of Mike Ladd and Terence Blanchard on this one. He simply calls the song Mack the Knife.

♫ Dr John - Mack the Knife


I first became aware of the song when LOUIS ARMSTRONG recorded it back in the Fifties and took it to the top of the charts.

Louis Armstrong

I imagine I’m not alone in that. Satch produces some wonderful trumpet playing in this one, something I probably didn’t appreciate at the time. You were probably all expecting this one, so I don’t want to disappoint you. Here is Mack the Knife.

♫ Louis Armstrong - Mack The Knife


I know some of you will be saying, “Where’s Bobby Darin?” I thought his version was too much like Louis’, and was obviously based on that one. I wanted as much variety as possible.




INTERESTING STUFF – 28 September 2019

ALLSTATE MAYHEM CAT COMMERCIAL

Television commercials can sometimes be their own kind of art and one that has charmed me since 2011 is the Hollywood actor Dean Winters playing the Allstate “Mayhem” bad boy.

In one of the most recent commercials, Winters is a cat and the producers got a lot of the irritating and funny habits cats plague us with. Take a look:

You can find out more about Winters' career at Wikipedia.

LION DAD MEETS HIS CUB

Following on the cat theme, here is a lion dad at the Denver Zoo meeting his little cub for the first time.

FOLLOW-UP ON FALLS PREVENTION

Last Monday, I posted TGB's semi-annual story to remind us how to avoid falling. What I left out and always have is what to do if you do fall. I ran across these tips at the National Institute on Aging and quote it now:

”If you do fall, stay as calm as possible and follow these steps:

Take several deep breaths to try to relax. Remain still on the floor or ground for a few moments. This will help you get over the shock of falling.

“Decide if you are hurt before getting up. Getting up too quickly or in the wrong way could make an injury worse.” (PERSONAL NOTE: When I fell a few months ago, people tried to help me get up right away when I just needed to adjust to the pain and mentally check my body to see if I was all in one piece. Insist on time to do this when people try to help. They mean well but...)

“If you think you can get up safely without help, roll over onto your side. Rest again while your body and blood pressure adjust. Slowly get up on your hands and knees, and crawl to a sturdy chair.

“Put your hands on the chair seat and slide one foot forward so that it is flat on the floor. Keep the other leg bent so the knee is on the floor. From this kneeling position, slowly rise and turn your body to sit in the chair.

“If you are hurt or cannot get up on your own, ask someone for help or call 911. If you are alone, try to get into a comfortable position and wait for help to arrive.

“Carrying a mobile or portable phone with you as you move about your house could make it easier to call someone if you need assistance. An emergency response system, which lets you push a button on a special necklace or bracelet to call for help, is another option.”

THE ALEX AND RONNI SHOW

The latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show was recorded on Thursday 26 September, just after the Congressional hearing with Acting DNI Joseph Maguire ended.

WHY IS THIS CREEPY MUSIC IN SO MANY FILMS?

You've heard this music or something very close to it a zillion times in your life whenever a movie or TV show needs to underscore an ominous situation.

The music has been around since the 13th century and VOX explains it all for us.

PREHISTORIC BABY BOTTLES

A study released this week in the journal Nature reports the discovery of 7,000-year-old baby bottles containing residue of non-human milk:

"'I can just imagine a little prehistoric child being given one of these with milk in it and laughing,' says the paper's lead author, archaeologist Julie Dunne of the University of Bristol, [quoted at NPR]. 'They're just fun. They're like a little toy as well.'”

Here's what the bottles look like.

Zoomorphicvesselscaption2

The bottles, which were found in Bavaria, Germany, may also have been used for human milk, and they apparently still work in the 21st century:

"'When we gave a reconstructed one to [baby] Noah, it's very intuitive, so it fit just perfectly within a baby's cupped hands. And he loved it,' Dunne says. 'He started immediately sort of suckling from it. He was really happy, sitting there playing with it and suckling from it for ages.'”

There is more information at NPR and at the BBC.

RARE SPOTTED ZEBRA BORN

There are more babies than usual in today's Interesting Stuff and here is another.

A rare, spotted Zebra was recently born in Kenya's Maasai Mara National reserve. From Frank Liu Photography:

There is more information and additional still photos of the baby zebra at Bored Panda.

NEW CONSTITUTION WEBSITE

In honor of Constitution Day last Tuesday and at a time when the U.S. founding document is being tested daily, The Library of Congress has launched a new website, Constitution Annotated.

”For over a century, the Constitution Annotated – known officially as the “Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation” – has served as the official record of the U.S. Constitution,” explains the Library of Congress page.

“Prepared by attorneys in the American Law Division of the Library’s Congressional Research Service, it explains in layman’s terms the Constitution’s origins, how it was crafted and how every provision in the Constitution has been interpreted throughout history.

You can explore it here.

CATS ARE MASTERS AT RELAXATION

We begin and end with two different kind of cats today. Nothing much goes on in the video except a cat showing us what relaxing is all about. Thank TGB reader Christi Fries for this video.

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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” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog.




And a Little Child Shall Lead Them

Every now and then – much more frequently these days than I would ever have believed in the past – something happens in the world that is not directly related to the topic of this blog but is so important that I want to give us a chance to discuss it.

Events move so quickly these days that you might think I'm talking about the whistleblower and the U.S. House of Representatives' opening a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump. It certainly meets my criteria for this kind of blog post.

But I haven't caught up to that yet. I'm still on climate change, on the worldwide climate strike marches last Friday and that astonishing young girl who is wise and brave beyond her 16 years, Greta Thunberg.

Listen to her fierce and powerful speech to the United Nations' Climate Action Summit in New York City on Monday. Even if you have heard it before, it's worth paying attention to again. And again.

(You can read the transcript of Ms. Thunberg's U.N. speech at NPR.)

Isn't she wonderful. In the 30 years that have passed since science made it clear that humankind is killing our only planet, have you heard any world leader match her understanding and passion and intention?

She reminds me a bit of David Hogg and his fellow students who survived the Valentines Day 2018 mass shooting at Margery Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and who are making their way through college these days while still working as gun control activists.

Ms. Thunberg inspires me. She makes me believe that we – humankind – can win the climate challenge before Earth is destroyed by it – even while I am still pessimistic.

Pessimistic about Earth's future because the leaders of the world attending the U.N. Climate Action Summit haven't offered a whit of concrete support for Ms. Thunberg's almost desperate call to action.

In an opinion piece in The Guardian, Michael H. Fuchs, noting that the United States should be leading world-wide cooperation to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis, compared Greta Thunberg and the U.S. President Trump:

”Her remarks reminded us what leadership, courage and sacrifice look like...”, Fuchs wrote.

“Trump refusing to participate in the UN climate summit was little surprise from a president who gutted domestic environmental protections, announced his intention to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement, and is even trying to prevent California from enacting higher emissions standards for automobiles.”

In Isaiah 11:6, the Old Testament tells us,

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.

In the aftermath of terrible, frightening events like shootings and climate, it does seem like it is the children, not adults, who are leading the humane response.

Ms. Thunberg, who is actually a teen, won't be a child for much longer but as far as I can tell she is working circles around the grownups who refuse to face our ultimate existential problem.

It occurs to me that if her passion were matched with the knowledge of scientists, with others who can apply the scientists' solutions and still others who can organize countries worldwide, maybe, maybe, maybe there is a chance to save the planet.

Pipe dream? I hope with all my might it is not.

Last week, former U.S. President Barack Obama called Greta Thunberg “one of our planet’s greatest advocates.” It looks like she may have arrived at the last minute but perhaps there is still time if we start soon.

While she was in New York City, Ms. Thunberg was a guest on The Daily Show with host, Trever Noah. It's worth the eight minutes of your time.

If you want to know more about Greta Thunberg, Wikipedia has some good background, and there is a 30-minute Vice documentary titled, Make the World Greta Again about her early efforts. You will find it here.




Are You Dropping Things More Frequently?

Nearly four years ago, I wrote about how, as I have gotten older, I have been dropping things more frequently. At the time, January 2016, it seemed like one of those minor irritations that may or may not be real so I decided to check with you, always reliable dear readers.

Astonishingly, it is the most popular story ever published in the 15 years of this blog – 2,458 visits in just the past 30 days which is about average for most months.

All but a handful of visitors to the “dropping things” post during these past four years have arrived via search engines which means to me that a whole lot of people are sitting around wondering if this dropping stuff is peculiar to elders and should they do anything about it.

Like me, when I was researching it, they aren't finding much information online.

Because I am behind in a few things in my personal life and need some extra time, I'm reposting that story today from archive.

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It is hard to be sure but [dropping things more frequently] seems to be so for me. And it is really annoying.

For example, one day last week, I dropped a spoon on the kitchen floor. I picked it up, rinsed it off and as I reached for the towel, I dropped in again. Damn.

A day or two before that, I had dropped the shampoo bottle in the shower – a new, full one that barely missed my toes. Later that day, I dropped the two-quart, plastic box where I store the cat's dry food, scattering it all over the kitchen. Damn again.

Not long ago, I dropped a nine-inch butcher knife – that one could have been disastrous – but on another day I was lucky to be standing on a carpet when I dropped my mobile phone so it didn't break.

None of these occurrences is important individually and probably not even in their proximity to one another. But they made me wonder if dropping stuff is a “thing” with old people. So I took to the internet.

There is a lot of unsourced and untrustworthy health information online and that is always dangerous for “low information viewers,” as it were. The first I found was a large number of forums where people with no expertise were freely offering their uninformed opinions.

In answer to inquiries about dropping things, many instantly went to fear-mongering: Based on nothing at all, they advised people to see a doctor right away because it could be an early symptom of MS, ALS, Huntington's disease and more.

That's nuts. Those were anonymous forums, for god's sake. I hope no one takes them seriously.

Digging deeper at more reputable websites, I found that sometimes dropping things can be among the symptoms of serious disease but only one symptom, a minor one among dozens of others anyone would notice long before worrying about dropping something.

Checking further, I found that dropping things is not a big enough issue with growing old to warrant much notice.

In fact, a webpage of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services for training elder home staff is the only direct mention of elders dropping things I found.

”The sense of touch changes,” they report. “In older adults the sense of touch may decrease as skin loses sensitivity. Pressure, pain, cold and heat do not feel the same as they used to feel. Decreases in touch sensitivity may cause residents to drop things.”

That reference to skin losing sensitivity reminded me that a few years ago, I discovered through personal experience that old people often cannot be fingerprinted, particularly with electronic scanners, because their fingerprints are worn off.

When I wrote about that here three years ago, I quoted Scientific American magazine:

”...the elasticity of skin decreases with age, so a lot of senior citizens have prints that are difficult to capture. The ridges get thicker; the height between the top of the ridge and the bottom of the furrow gets narrow, so there's less prominence. So if there's any pressure at all [on the scanner], the print just tends to smear.”

That would certainly affect sense of touch and the ability to know if you are holding things tightly enough. A report from Oregon State University [pdf] concurs with Pennsylvania report supplying a bit more medical information:

”With aging, sensations may be reduced or changed. These changes can occur because of decreased blood flow to the nerve endings or to the spinal cord or brain. The spinal cord transmits nerve signals and the brain interprets these signals.

“Health problems, such as a lack of certain nutrients, can also cause sensation changes. Brain surgery, problems in the brain, confusion, and nerve damage from injury or chronic diseases such as diabetes can also result in sensation changes.”

I finally found the most pertinent answer to my question at The New York Times. Noting that fine touch may decrease in old age,

“Many studies have shown that with aging, you may have reduced or changed sensations of pain, vibration, cold, heat, pressure, and touch. It is hard to tell whether these changes are related to aging itself or to the disorders that occur more often in the elderly...”

This Times information is quoted from A.D.A.M., a private source of medical information for health professionals and other paid subscribers.

So what I have deduced from two or three hours on the internet is that barring injury or disease or, perhaps, waning strength that affects one's ability to grip strongly, maybe elders do drop things more frequently.

Maybe a diminishing sense of touch in general means that we cannot effortlessly perceive the appropriate strength of our grasp as automatically as when we were younger. At least, that's what I choose to believe for myself until someone enlightens me further.

Following on that, for the past few days I have been making a conscious effort to be sure I am holding whatever is in my hand tightly enough that it will not slip.

I want that to become second nature because the knife I mentioned was a close call and I certainly don't want to drop a cup of hot coffee on my foot or the cat.

Does any of this ring a bell for you?




A TGB READER STORY: Why Amazon Will Rule the World

By Fritzy Dean

Dear Mr. Target,

Whatever happened to your express check-out lanes? I clearly remember a time when a shopper with fewer than 10 or 12 items could get in an express lane and in a reasonable amount of time, be on their way.

Today when I asked a red-shirted employee for the express lane, she first looked puzzled, then pointed me to the multiple self-check lanes.

I choose not to use self-check lanes for a few reasons. First, I am not an employee and don’t wish to contribute my labor to your corporation. Secondly, I know that every self-check lane allows the store to get rid of three employees.

I realize, of course, the scanner does not take shifts or coffee breaks or vacations or sick leave. They never get grumpy or need the bathroom like a human checker.

Still I prefer the human. So I will wait in a lane where an actual human is checking. I don’t need that job, but someone does.

However, I have a suggestion that should be implemented as soon a possible. Since you have done away with he express lane, I feel you need a designated slow lane. This lane will be for the shoppers who:

Have a cart full of items and EVERY single one of them requires special handling.

If you have a discount code and you have to scroll through 400 items on your cell phone to find it, go to the slow lane.

If you have a coupon in a printed ad and must flip thought the advertisement 15 times to find it, go to the slow lane.

If you buy an item that must be purchased in combination with another item to get a special price, make damn sure you have both items and get in the slow lane.

If you are oblivious to the world around you and don’t even notice the ever-growing line of people behind you, you NEED to be in the slow lane.

Mr. Target, I bet you could think of other shoppers who could benefit from a slow lane. But, Mr. Target, I have no confidence you will implement this sensible and reasonable suggestion.

That is only one reason, Mr. Target, that you and other retailers are losing ground every year to Amazon.

I truly wanted to do my part to avoid that scenario but, Mr. Target, I have seen the light. After 20 minutes behind one of those slow shoppers today, I finally asked the checker if I should move. She shrugged and said, “Well, she is almost half way done.”

I will not weep when Amazon rules the retail world.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]




Today: Falls Prevention Awareness Day

Right now, you who have been reading TGB for awhile, are likely groaning: Is she really going to go through the falls prevention thing again? Really?

Well, yes. Twice a year I post a reminder and time-proven advice to help us all avoid falling. I do it because it can save our lives.

Today is the first day of fall, the day the U.S. National Council on Aging chose for its annual reminders about preventing falls. This year there is some updated research that is not encouraging:

Mortality From Falls Among US Adults Aged 75 Years or Older, 2000-2016 is a study published in June 2019 in the medical journal JAMA.

The researchers discovered that the number of deaths from falls among people 75 and older more than doubled between 2000 and 2016. As The New York Times noted in its report of the study:

”In 2016, the rate of death from falls for people 75 and older was 111 per 100,000 people, they found. In 2000, that rate was 52 per 100,000 people.”

That's a huge jump in fatal falls. The study states that the researchers do not understand the increase.

Earlier statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state them differently:

Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall

Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall

Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths

Obviously, those numbers will increase if the new statistics from JAMA are applied.

So what can you do to help keep yourself safe from falls. Here is a short, well-done video I've posted before – from the U.S. National Council on Aging:

This year I've discovered an excellent website about fall prevention that I had not seen before: Health in Aging.org. It is extraordinarily clear, concise and useful. Here are links to the main sections:

Basic Facts

Causes

Diagnosis and Tests

Care and Treatment

Lifestyle and Management

Unique to Older Adults

That is not the only good site on this subject - there is an abundance of information online about falls prevention. We should make good use of it because unlike cancer, dementia, COPD, heart disease and other conditions that affect so many elders, we can each have a direct effect on preventing falls.




ELDER MUSIC: John Prine

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

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John Prine

JOHN PRINE is one of the finest, most admired and best loved songwriters for the last 50 years. Like most of his ilk, he’s probably the best interpreter of his songs but because so many people have performed them there’s bound to be some gems by others out there as well. I have a couple of those in the column as well as John’s own.

John Prine

John was one of the few people who could write sensitive and accurate songs about old people when he was still a young man. Robbie Robertson from The Band was another who did that. I suspect all the others didn’t have the imagination to want to try to do that.

The song I’m talking about, and it’s not his only one in this genre, is Hello in There.

♫ Hello in There


John Prine

There have been many terrific versions of the song Paradise. Probably the best of these was by the Everly Brothers. John Denver had a good one, as did the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Good as these are I’ll go with John.

He recorded it twice, once on his debut album “John Prine”, the second on the more recent “German Afternoons”, where he performs it in semi-bluegrass style.

John was writing about environment concerns years before it was even considered in politics (okay, that’s not difficult as it’s barely mentioned even now).

♫ Paradise


On her album “Other Voices, Other Rooms” where she performs cover versions of other songwriters, Nanci Griffith sings one of the best cover versions of a song by John.

Nanci Griffith

In this case she has the help of the man himself on Speed of the Sound of Loneliness.

♫ Speed of the Sound of Loneliness


John Prine

John has fun speculating on what happened to Jesus during the time that the New Testament is silent on what happened to him. That’s fine by me as I believe that the rest of his life is equally speculative. Here is Jesus, The Missing Years.

♫ Jesus, The Missing Years


The song Let’s Invite Them Over could make a pretty good plot for a TV soapie. John has the help of IRIS DEMENT on this one.

John & Iris

Of course we don’t know the attitude of the other couple, but as the song includes “again” I imagine that they’re okay with the situation.

This isn’t one of John’s songs, it was written by Onie Wheeler and was first recorded by George Jones and Melba Montgomery. John and Iris do it better.

♫ Let's Invite Them Over


John Prine

Lake Marie is a multilayered song - it’s a love song intertwined with history, murder, legend and heartbreak. It’s ostensibly about a lake in the Chain O’Lakes near the Illinois/Wisconsin border, but it’s a lot more than that. This is a really great song.

♫ Lake Marie


BONNIE RAITT has recorded, and played in concert, quite a few of John’s songs.

Bonnie Raitt

She’s probably the best interpreter of his music except John himself, and on Angel From Montgomery Bonnie might even pip him at the post.

♫ Bonnie Raitt - Angel From Montgomery


I grew up in a town about this size, so I know what John’s singing about. We left when I was about 13, but of course your formative years stay with you for the rest of your life.

To know what I’m talking about we should listen to John singing In a Town This Size with the help of DOLORES KEANE.

Dolores Keane

♫ In a Town This Size


John Prine

Back when John wrote Illegal Smile, what he was referring to certainly was illegal. Nowadays, there are a lot of place where it’s perfectly legal. I wonder if that removes the frisson of the song somewhat.

♫ Illegal Smile


Normally, I would say that I really like to include LEE ANN WOMACK in a column, but I discovered that this is the first time I’ve done that. Thanks John, for getting me to do it.

Lee Ann Womack

Unfortunately, Lee Ann seems to be trying to be Dolly Parton rather than herself, but I’m including the song anyway. It’s a good old cheatin’ song, this time with someone from the past. Fifteen Years Ago.

Fifteen Years Ago


John Prine

Oh my, can John write sad songs that sound as real as any news story? Well, more real the way news is at the moment. You can picture Donald and Lydia quite readily, but that’s not unique to this one – John’s details in most of his songs make them stand out from most other writers’ material.

Donald and Lydia




INTERESTING STUFF – 21 September 2019

SETBACK FOR JEOPARDY! HOST ALEX TREBEK

Early last week, Alex Trebek gave ABC-TV's morning show, Good Morning America, an unwelcome update on his pancreatic cancer.

You can read more at the Good Morning America website.

Perhaps fittingly in relation to Alex Trebek, I ran across a lot of items this week about words and language. Here are three of them.

DICTIONARY ADDS NEW “THEY” DEFINITION

The use of the word “they” as a singular, non-binary pronoun has been gaining usage in the past few years when referencing people who do not identify as either male or female.

This week, Merriam-Webster added that definition to its dictionary, as in, “Ask each student what they want for lunch.”

You can read that it is not such a new idea after all at the Merriam Webster website and at the Washington Post and The Guardian.

THE MOST COMMONLY USED WORD ON EARTH

Can you guess what that word is? Here's a video about how it came to be.

FOUND ON THE INTERNET

...on a page with a list of 15 things that make the internet awful. This one is all too familiar and hugely irritating, she said laughing ruefully:

“Password must contain a capital letter, a number, a plot, a protagonist with some character development, and a surprise ending.”

More on that list of awful internet things here.

FOX FIRES

TGB reader Ali sent this beautiful video which was made by a college student in Scotland. As the Youtube page tells us:

Fox Fires is inspired by the Finnish folk tale of the same name. The story isn't based strictly on it, I wanted to make up a creationist fable about how the fox fires may have come to be.

“But the Fox Fires or Revontulet are what the Northern Lights are called in Finland, as the folk tale believes they are caused by a fox kicking snow up into the sky.”

WHY DOES TIME SEEM TO PASS MORE QUICKLY AS WE AGE

The nature of time has been a lifelong interest and over the years I have collected a dozen or so of “expert” explanations for why time seems to speed up as we get older. This week, TGB reader Jane Mahoney sent a video of yet another stab at the question.

The speaker in the video is neuroscientist David Eagleman who is the author of a delightful and funny little book I've mentioned in the past titled, Sum – 40 Tales From the Afterlife.

THE SWISS ART OF PAPER CUTTING

Wait until you see what this woman can do with not much more than a pair of scissors. Here's what the YouTube page says:

”It’s amazing what Anne Rosat can do with a pair of scissors. This 83-year-old artist has been depicting life in the Swiss Alps through the folk art known as papercutting for 50 years. Using scissors, paper, tweezers and glue, she crafts intricate, colorful and layered works that are uniquely hers. Rosat invites us into her home in Les Moulins, Switzerland, to show us how she tells beautiful stories with paper.

THE SEX TALK

Over our lifetime, a lot has changed and that can make “the talk” between a father and son about the birds and the bees a minefield. Comedy Central took a stab at what that might be like these days. Thank Ali for this video.

WHALE PLAYING WITH SEAGULL

This video arrived from Norma, the Assistant Musicologist via Peter Tibbles who writes the TGB Sunday Eldermusic column.

The YouTube page says this is a beluga whale. I'm not so sure – it looks like a dolphin to me. But what do I know.

* * *

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” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog.




Scheduling Old Age

Let me say right up front that the thoughts in this post are speculative. I have not discussed them with anyone (except for you today) and it could be that there is a term for this I don't know that caused me to come up empty when I tried an internet search.

Nevertheless, it is a real and important issue in my life and I wonder if its an old people's thing more generally.

I have always kept a detailed calendar. It relieves me of trying to remember if we said we would meet on Monday or Tuesday, and it is a central place to keep notes about the items on the calendar I might otherwise misplace.

Nowadays, electronic calendars make themselves even more useful than the pre-computer paper ones with such conveniences as reminders and syncing phone to desktop. And a calendar is no less important to keeping track of my life in retirement than when I was working.

What has changed, however, is that I am older, sicker, tireder and, compared to my work years, have much less time to take care of what's necessary each day, set aside time for leisure and be sure to meet the obligations I have made with others.

Thank god for calendars.

All that is to say that I curate my time and energy via the calendar. If I have medical tests or doctor appointments, I make no other plans that day and often not the next. With travel to and from, those usually eat up three hours of the day, sometimes four.

And for some reason activities away from home are extra tiring than whatever I'm doing at home.

One of my greatest pleasures is keeping up this blog. That involves setting aside hours of time on certain days, sometimes full days, because there is never any telling how long it will take to get something written that is good enough to publish.

I rest more often than I once did. A couple of times a week, I feel the need for a nap. If not, I usually stop whatever I'm doing now and then to just sit. Sometimes to meditate, sometimes to be still and let my mind wander for awhile.

In addition to the usual household chores – cooking, cleaning up, sweeping, laundry, taking out the trash etc. - I schedule regular, long telephone calls with friends who live far away. They tend to last about an hour but three hours is not unusual either.

So on paper, I would seem to have all my ducks in a row to, within the circumstance and requirements of my age and health issues, keep daily life running smoothly.

And that's true. Except when it's not.

Although I schedule my time loosely so not to be too rigid, it is a schedule nonetheless and when I book too many appointments in a short period of time, I pay for it with increased fatigue and distraction which, of course, means things don't get done.

I might be too tired to do the grocery shopping I'd planned or if it's late in the afternoon, I can't seem to concentrate on the blog post I'm writing. When I'm that tired I even have trouble answering email sometimes.

What no one told me about being old is how long it takes to do everything and if you (well, I mean me) don't plan your time well enough, you end up getting nothing done – neither requirements nor the fun stuff.

So much to do, so little time.

So if a friend wants to reschedule a phone chat or change the day of a lunch, I'll probably wind up with a day crammed full of too many activities – it doesn't take much these days for that to happen.

There are many reasons any of us might reschedule appointments and I don't recall ever thinking much about it until the past few years. In my working years, it was no big deal; now it can throw off my energy level for two or three days.

The worst, the thing that incurs my wrath, is when someone doesn't show up. A while back, a person I hardly know, never arrived at the coffee place we had agreed to meet. After a half an hour wait, I went home, seething.

Three or four days later, I received an email saying she'd forgotten and, as though that was a normal thing to happen, suggesting we reschedule. I don't know what you would do but I hit delete.

But right now, I'm interested in the bigger picture – that after a certain age (undoubtedly different for each of us but in the same ballpark) – it is crucial to manage our energy and stamina. Oddly, too much time with people as when I have two or more appointments in a day, exhausts me even while being with people always enhances my sense of well-being.

Does any of this sound familiar? Do you schedule your time?




Old People and the Opioid Problem

On the day after my 12-hour Whipple surgery in June 2017, as I lay barely conscious in a hospital bed, a doctor put something in the middle of my back that I later learned delivered fentanyl to my body to control post-surgical pain.

It stayed there for three days and because of that, I know exactly how people become addicted. When the doctors busted me down to Tylenol along with some other over-the-counter pain killer, I yearned for, lusted after fentanyl.

The OTC drugs cut the pain to a tolerable level but oh my god, did I miss the feel-good part of fentanyl. I wanted to keep feeling that way. Forever.

Now, the United States is caught up in “the opioid crisis” and I am not here to doubt it. People are dying from opioid overdoses by the tens of thousands a year. According to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (emphasis is mine),

”More than 70,200 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids - a 2-fold increase in a decade...

“Drug overdose deaths involving prescription opioids rose from 3,442 in 1999 to 17,029 in 2017.”

When counting all opioid deaths, young people die in much larger numbers than old people. But two age groups in one category - prescription opioids - are just about even according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). They report that in 2017, deaths numbered 1,100 for people 24 and younger, and 1,055 for people 65 and older.

In an effort to combat these terrible numbers, the medical community, reports the Washington Post, is conducting

”...a sweeping change in chronic pain management — the tapering of millions of patients who have been relying, in many case for years, on high doses of opioids.

“With close to 70,000 people in the U.S. dying every year from drug overdoses, and prescription opioids blamed for helping ignite this national catastrophe, the medical community has grown wary about the use of these painkillers.”

I have personally seen the difference in prescriptions related to my cancer. When I left the hospital after that surgery in 2017, I was handed a bottle of oxycodone (or oxycontin – I don't recall which) to take home with me for pain control.

As it turned out, I didn't need it and I later recycled the pills at a drug take-back day in my community.

In the past few months, I have had trouble with severe joint and body pains and opioids were never mentioned. It was suggested, instead, that I take certain over-the-counter pain pills three times a day.

When normal dosages were ineffective, the doctor didn't offer a prescription pain killer. He told me to double up on what I was taking. That worked fairly well, but nothing like fentanyl. When the pains subsided a good deal after a couple of months, I cut back to the normal dosage which I need now only once a day most of the time.

But I wonder if I might have been able to skip the weeks of all-day, all-night pain with an opioid. Here's a short video from the Washington Post story about one man's pain predicament:

This is happening to elders and others with chronic pain all over the U.S. The Washington Post explains further:

”Hank Skinner has been tapered gradually over the course of the year. The situation is worse for people forced to cut back their medication too quickly.

“Even medical experts who advocate a major reduction in the use of opioids for chronic pain have warned that rapid, involuntary tapering could harm patients who are dependent on these drugs.

“There is little doubt among medical experts that opioids have been prescribed at unsound and dangerous levels, particularly in their misuse for chronic pain. But at this point there’s no easy way to dial those dosages back.

“Long-term use of opioids creates dependency. Tapering can cause extreme pain from drug withdrawal, regardless of the underlying ailment.”

So the medical system's cutback on opioid prescriptions appears to be a case of throwing out the elders with the bath water.

Let's be clear about this: very few elders are taking fentanyl or other opioids recreationally. Old people did not cause the opioid crisis.

Lots of old people have lots of pain. Cutting their opioid drugs or recommending over-the-counter drugs instead, is causing them harm, they are suffering as one TGB reader, Elizabeth Rogers has been telling us here for quite awhile and she's angry about it. From last Saturday's comments:

”...ongoing physical pain is a significant challenge,” she writes. “Thanks mostly to 20-somethings who overdosed on illicit opioids used recreationally, our omniscient government cracked down--on chronic pain patients, many of whom are 60+, and their physicians.

“DEA raids on doctors' offices haven't done much to reduce overdoses among 20-somethings from heroin and fentanyl, but they have without question had an impact on patients who have used prescribed pain medications responsibly for years.”

Last year, WebMD reported on a study of opioid use from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ):

”...millions of older Americans are now filling prescriptions for many different opioid medications at the same time, while hundreds of thousands are winding up in the hospital with opioid-related complications...

“AHRQ's second report found that nearly 20 percent of seniors filled at least one opioid prescription between 2015 and 2016, equal to about 10 million seniors. And more than 7 percent - or about 4 million seniors - filled prescriptions for four or more opioids, which was characterized as 'frequent' use.”

I'm no physician but yes, I would guess that that number of opioid prescriptions at once is a bit over the top.

My point, if I've be too verbose for it to come through, is that it is wrong, as always, to lump all people together. It is younger people who most often abuse drugs (and we as a country need to be helping them). But old people should not be caused to suffer pain when there is a remedy; their lives are harmed by being denied them.

The secondary issue is that I have no idea what to suggest on how to correct this. I have no suggestions and no advice for Elizabeth Rogers or anyone else to restore needed drugs for elders who suffer with chronic pain.




A TGB READER STORY: The Stairs

By Ann Burack-Weiss

This loft had stairs! We could come Down the stairs for breakfast in the morning! We could go Up the stairs to bed at night!

We had each grown up in cramped apartments on the outskirts of a major city. Roy’s apartment in the shadow of Yankee Stadium in The Bronx where he slept in a kitchen alcove supposed to hold a dinette set.

Mine in Brighton, Massachusetts, where a rarely played baby grand piano - wedged tightly into the cell-sized foyer - forced a sideways slide into the small adjacent rooms.

Growing up in the 1930s and 1940s, neither of us had even been inside a house with stairs. All we knew of them was from outside (windows on top of each other spoke of rooms upon rooms) and from books and movies.

So although we had since been guests in a variety of two-story houses, and knew that stairs could be mounted and descended in misery as well as in joy, to have stairs of one’s very own still seemed exotic and wonderful.

Decades passed and we never gave another thought to the stairs. We passed from one floor to another as unthinkingly as we walked room to room on level ground. It never occurred to us to count the stairs (there are 19) or to notice their unusual height or to even touch the bannister, a long flat piece of wood that made an attractive wall decoration.

Roy climbed the stairs for the last time on the evening of March 12, 2010. He came down on a stretcher six hours later, borne by two men sent by the funeral home, his body covered by a white cloth.

Stairs began to appear in my dreams. Stairs covered in pale green carpet like ours, stairs of bare wood. Some flights extending endlessly to the sky, others collapsing upon themselves like an accordion.

I began to fall. Bone bruises, pelvic fractures. Assaulted knees and hips responded with arthritic pain. A hip replacement and rehabilitation. Each episode requiring an altered relationship with the stairs.

I now approach the stairs as a military campaign, standard operating procedures in place with sufficient latitude for unforeseen changes of circumstance.

Things to be carried up or down are placed, at debarkation points awaiting the next floor-to-floor maneuver. Empty coffee cups and crumby plates that belong downstairs at the top, just purchased toiletries and books that belong upstairs at the bottom.

Sometimes a canvas carrying bag, to sling over my good shoulder lies alongside, sometimes a fanny pack or back pack to free my hands.

I have deliberately slid down the stairs backside first and crawled up on hands and knees. I have walked up one step at a time, intent as a toddler trying out a new skill. I have reached for the bannister as for the hand of a caregiver - grasp it a few feet above me to pull up, hang on at hip length to go down.

But then will come a lovely day – sometimes weeks, months of lovely daysb– when I can walk up and down almost as easily as I ever did. And it feels again like the time when 19 steps were as nothing, Roy would be waiting for me on the landing, and stairs were still magic.

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]




Some Respect is Requested

Last Friday, I posted a story about how, even with pancreatic cancer metastasized to a lung and peritoneum, and COPD, my life is still rich but in different ways now to accommodate my health issues.

Wow – did we get reamed for that. By “we” I mean, in addition to me, the TGB readers who commented about how they find ways to enjoy their days despite what might limit them as they grow older.

What happened is that long-time commenter, Cassandra, dropped by. Kaboom!

She made certain we know how awful she thinks we all are because we didn't talk about how terrible life is caring full time for a husband who has Alzheimer's disease. Here is her comment begrudging the rest of us:

”So, you are all enjoying your old age. Absolutely nothing said by anyone here applies to aging dementia patients.

“My Alzheimer's husband has not been able to learn anything for the last six years, and loses more cognitive abilities every week. In addition he has a bad back, is in constant pain, takes pain medications that cause constipation and is gradually losing the ability to walk.

“I have to monitor him 24/7, including his bathroom activities and I can tell you my life is not enjoyable or upbeat.

“So why don't you all stop bragging about how upbeat your aging process is. I have to go now and try to help him walk to the bathroom for the sixth time in five hours and monitor the outcome. So pardon my attitude.”

It's not hard to understand how Cassandra can feel that way. I've been there, having some past experience caring for my mother although only for several months compared to Cassandra's years.

Nevertheless, I feel that our blog has been sullied.

It is a hard and fast rule here that no commenter may attack other commenters or me. Arguing points of view? Fine. Disagreeing with an opinion? No problem. Correcting an assertion? Sure. But do it with respect. Argue or disagree with the issue, not the person(s).

Respect is one of the top values that have kept this blog from falling into nastiness and chaos, as happens at too many websites, and as long as I am here, I will fight to maintain this blog so people are comfortable here.

There is no way to be certain but I think I know how Cassandra was feeling on Friday.

Even with my short tenure as a caregiver, I was sometimes so tired there was nothing to do but weep for a few minutes until my mother needed me again. 24/7 care is hard, exhausting, unrelenting work no matter how much you love the patient.

But even allowing that Friday may have been a particularly bad day for Cassandra, her attack was out of bounds. We don't do that at Time Goes By.

I made it clear in that post that all old people are not capable of taking care of daily needs but on that day, I intended to talk about how good life can be even with limitations. It was obvious that caregiving was not the subject.

Every now and then I post a story that allows all of us to complain for a day – we all need to do that sometimes. Friday, however, was about how, amid the physical difficulties age can rain down on us, there can still be great enjoyment from life, just in different ways.

One of the things I'm pretty good at is working aorund impediments. Another way of saying that is, I have little trouble accepting what is and then jumping ahead to working out how can I make the best of it or find something else to take the place of what's been snatched away.

Others here Friday were writing about similar things.

So no one was “bragging” on Friday about having an upbeat old age. We were just taking some time to talk about where and how we find joy at a time in life when it's not as simple for everyone as when we were young. And, maybe, to remind ourselves to do so.

The problem with nasty or combative comments is that they give new people who stop by permission to behave in that manner. One of the reasons this blog as been a safe place to enjoy a good conversation is that I'm militant about maintaining respect among us.

There is no doubt in my mind that Cassandra was having a really bad day on Friday and that she's not unfamiliar with such days. Even so, on this blog, everyone is required to keep a civil tongue. Respect is a requirement.




ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 7

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

* * *

Some more music that has tickled my ears over recent times.

WOLFGANG MOZART needs no introduction from me besides saying he is one of the four greatest composers in history.

Mozart

Nothing else needs to be said about him. Everyone should have some Mozart in their home.

If you don’t (or even if you do) here’s some to go along with - his Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K216, the second movement. For some reason his violin concertos don’t get as much recognition as his other famous compositions.

♫ Mozart - Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major K216 (2)


ANN CARR-BOYD is an Australian composer and musicologist (a real one).

Carr-Boyd

She was born Ann Wentzel – her grandfather came to Australia with an orchestra and decided to stay. Her father was Ann’s first teacher and he and his brother both played viola in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Besides being a composer, Ann is a teacher, broadcaster and has contributed to various books on music, including the prestigious Grove Dictionary.

Here is her composition Rag for Razz, originally written for a piano, but this version is for piano and violin.

♫ Carr-Boyd - Rag for Razz


The Stamitz family produced several composers of note. JOHANN STAMITZ was the first of them. He had two sons, Anton and Carl, who were also pretty good at this composing lark, and Carl is probably more famous than dad.

Johann Stamitz

Jo was born in what is now the Czech Republic, but from his early twenties onward lived in Mannheim (now Germany). He died quite young, only 39, as seems to be mostly the norm for composers back then.

Jo gives us his Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra in B-flat major. This is generally considered to be the very first clarinet concerto.

♫ Stamitz J - Clarinet Concerto in B-flat major


Not a great deal is known about JACQUES MOREL.

Morel

He studied under Marin Marais, who wrote the book (literally) on playing the viol (like a slightly bigger cello with extra strings). Here Jacques takes on board what he learnt from Marin and adds a bit of flute for his Chaconne in G major, really just a trio.

♫ Morel - Chaconne en trio in G major


MAURO GIULIANI was a wizard on the guitar, sort of the Eric Clapton of his time; and he did it all without having to plug in.

Giuliani

He was also a gifted cello player as well as a singer and composer. Although he wrote for other instruments, the overwhelming number of his compositions is for the guitar. This is one of those, the Guitar Concerto No 1 in A, Op. 30, the third movement.

♫ Giuliani - Guitar Concerto No 1 in A Op. 30 (3)


WILLIAM BARTON is a virtuoso didjeridu (or didjeridoo, depending on where you come from) player. I bet you haven’t encountered many of those in your life.

William Barton

The late great Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe used William’s playing to add color to several of his string quartets. He also wrote special dedicated compositions as well.

Besides being a wizard on the didj, William is also a composer and singer. One of his compositions is Birdsong at Dusk, which is a string quartet with William singing on top and some didj work towards the end.

♫ Barton - Birdsong At Dusk


FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN was Polish by birth and French by inclination. Indeed, his dad was born in France and went to Poland. Fred did the journey in the opposite direction.

Chopin

To my mind he was the finest composer for the piano in the 19th century (if you exclude Beethoven, who didn’t just stick to the piano). He wrote all sorts of things for the instrument, including waltzes, and this is one of those.

The Waltz in B minor, Op. 69, No. 2. The great Artur Rubinstein twiddles the ivories.

♫ Chopin - Waltz Op. 69 No. 2 in B Minor


I’m generally not a big fan of JEAN SIBELIUS, I can usually take him or leave him (mostly leave him).

Sibelius

However, I’ll acknowledge him when something of his strikes my fancy, and my fancy has been struck by his Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47, the second movement.

♫ Sibelius - Concerto for Violin and Orchestra- Op 47 (2)


“La Rondine” is far from the most popular opera written by GIACOMO PUCCINI.

Puccini

However, there are a couple of arias that are often performed in concert, even if the complete opera isn’t. One of those is Chi il bel sogno di Doretta (Doretta’s Dream Song), performed here by the splendid RENÉE FLEMING.

ReneeFleming

♫ Puccini - La Rondine ~ Chi il bel sogno di Doretta (Doretta s Dream Song)


I’ll end with something that’s not often heard in the classical repertoire – a trombone concerto. The person responsible for this is GEORG WAGENSEIL.

Wagenseil

Georg was a stay at home sort of a person – he was born in Vienna and stayed there for the rest of his life. I guess if you were a composer or musician at the time (the time being the 18th century) that was the place to be.

Anyway, here is his Concerto in E-flat major for Alto Trombone.

♫ Wagenseil - Concerto in E-flat major for Alto Trombone




INTERESTING STUFF – 14 September 2019

TODDLER BUDDIES GREETING AFTER TWO DAYS APART

These two little guys are besties and this happened when they hadn't seen one another in two days. Dad of one of them posted it to Facebook.

THE ALEX AND RONNI SHOW

This was recorded last Tuesday, 10 September 2019, and I couldn't find a place for it until today.

A VERY PATIENT MAMA CAT WITH FIVE UNRULY KITTENS

This column has been too light on cats lately so here's a kitty video. Nothing special. They're just being kittens and I smiled all the way through it.

GIANT STRAW ANIMALS IN JAPAN

Thank TGB Reader Cathy Johnson for this item. In northern Japan since about 2008, after the fall rice harvest, people gather together and use the leftover straw to create huge straw animals at the Wara Art Festival.

And I do mean huge. Take a look:

You can read more and see additional photographs here and here.

GRIZZLY BEAR PRODUCT TESTERS

It's true, it's true. Grizzly bear product testers are a real thing in Yellowstone National Park. Take a look:

SECRET LANGUAGE OF TREES

Trees are high on the agenda in certain areas of the media these days and they should be. This TED-ED talk explains the fascinating and rich communication that takes place among trees in the forest.

GROUND SQUIRRELS, OWLS, TIGERS AND MORE

Dutch photographer Dick van Duijn specializes in wild animals. Recently, Bored Panda featured some of his work and it is marvelous.

Of course, I fell in love with this series of three quick shots:

Squirrel1

Squirrel2

Squirrel3

More of Dick Van Duijn's wildlife photos at Bored Panda and Instagram.

HELLO, BROTHER, HELLO

I've saved the best for last today. It comes from TGB reader Joan McMullen and as she said, this is a keeper.

It was published at Christmastime two years ago by Lab Ottagono in Italy. It is titled Video de Natal e Ano-Novo and features Louis Armstrong singing Hello Brother. The Youtube page says video footage is courtesy of Evian.

Let me tell you how this is going to go. You'll be a little puzzled at first but it's compelling enough to stick around for awhile and then, at about 1:15 into the video, you will start grinning. It will be a great, big, your-whole-face type of grin that will continue long after the three-and-a-half minute video ends.

Give it a try – you'll see what I mean.

* * *

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” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog.




Living Large in Old Age

“What's new?” asked an old friend in an email filling me in on his latest adventures.

I was stumped, unable to think of anything new (which is probably good news for someone with cancer but not what my friend meant). I would need to think about it for awhile and in doing so, I made a list of what it is I actually do during a given week or so.

And no, I'm not going to copy out that list here. On its face, it's boring but after spending some time thinking about it, I changed my mind. Let me explain.

Among what generally passes for public thinking about life in old age are such platitudes as, “It's not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years.”

Yeah, yeah. People designated as old-age experts say things like that. They also write things like this from the U.S. National Institutes of Health website:

”Quality of life (QOL) is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as 'individuals' perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards, and concerns.'”

Whatever that means. Plus, there is always some version of the five things (or eight or 10 or any other number) people should do to make an elder's life better:

Monitor and treat depression
Remind seniors that they are useful and needed
Encourage physical activity
Encourage mental activity
Keep them connected

Did you notice that all five are things someone is supposed to do to improve the lives of old people who, it is implied, cannot can't work this out on their own.

That is so for some elders but most of us can and there is little information to be found about old people who are not deemed deficient in one or more of the categories on that five-point list.

This happens because even among agencies and organizations whose goal is to help elders, too often there is an attitude of “If you've seen one old person, you've seen them all.”

Puh-leeze. One size does not fit all.

Nevertheless, old people are seen mostly as homogeneous, particularly when care-giving and government policy are being considered, and that filters out to everyone else.

Add to that how we become when we get old: most of us walk more slowly, we don't stay out late at night much, some of us nap more frequently and we all look the same to younger people. Just like high school – it's all about appearance.

Because of my newly diagnosed COPD, I don't do stairs anymore, I don't walk as fast or as far as I once did. I doubt I'll ever get on an airplane again. I won't drive on highways these days and I don't much like driving to new places. I don't recall last time I had dinner with friends. I can't stay awake that late so I do lunch dates instead.

And if that's all younger people know about an old person, it's a good description of a small, gray, little life. But wait.

With a book of contemporaneous maps and a marvelous book about the street (Broadway: A History of New York City in Thirteen Miles), I “walked” the entire length of world-famous Broadway from its beginnings in 1624 to the present day.

How's that for an exciting trip. I'm sure from the outside I looked like any old woman reading a book – well, in this case, two books. From the inside, I was thrilled to “see” the shops as they closed down and moved a few blocks north each time the center of Broadway gravity relocated farther uptown, and to recall which buildings are still there, buildings I have walked past or been in.

I'm currently watching a Netflix drama series about the 1970s beginnings of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit (BSU), now renamed the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), as in the Criminal Minds TV series.

There are a lot of fascinating ideas, well fleshed out, about what commonalities serial killers sometimes share and if you have any wit about you, you will glean some important information about people who are not serial killers - like you and me, for example.

I regularly spend at least an hour, often stretching to two or three hours at a time, talking on the phone with friends who live far away. I can wish I were in-person with them but circumstances of life change possibilities so I do the best I can – which works out fine.

These chats are deeply nourishing to me – an old (and one new) friend's voice in my ear; news of mutual friends; in one case, an ongoing discussion on the nature of Manhattan and how it has been changing; not to mention what we have learned from books we've been reading; movies; the nature of life in general, growing old in particular. And so on.

And, of course, I write this blog. I work on it every day, for hours.

In one way, TimeGoesBy is like a journal - I can flip through past posts and see what I was thinking in the past. But in a much larger sense it is a community. There is an amazing group of smart, interesting, funny and thoughtful people who comment here.

Readers say they learn from me, but they are teachers too. I learn at least as much as they do, and many blog posts grow out of ideas readers have written in the comments. Through readers who comment, I expand my vision to the whole world.

Is this a “small, gray, little life?” I sure don't think so.

I'm doing at least as much as I did before I got old. It's just that more of it takes place in my mind, and from the outside maybe it doesn't look like much.

But I think my life is bright and shiny, full of light and color and with all that, I'm livin' large.

How about you?




18 Years Ago Today Since 9/11

EDITORIAL NOTE: When important days – birthdays, certain holidays, change of seasons, anniversaries – come 'round, I pay closer attention to these than I might have in the past because, given my cancer diagnosis, I might not be here for the next one.

Eighteen years ago today, terrorists attacked the United States killing nearly 3,000 people. We call it just “9/11” nowadays – everyone knows what that means - and it looms large for me still.

Below is the blog post I wrote for the fifth anniversary of the attacks. I've edited it lightly for clarity and some embarrassing writing choices but no facts or thoughts or opinions are changed.

It's a good deal longer than I usually publish but – well, that's how it is.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES - 11 September 2006:

In the late 1950s, there was an excellent television drama titled The Naked City set, of course, in New York. The show's tagline was, "There are eight million stories in the naked city. This is one of them." And so it is today on Time Goes By, one small story among millions:

In the late summer of 2001, I was 60 years old, unemployed since the overnight demise, 13 months earlier, of the dotcom where I had been vice president of editorial and interactive.

The stack of printouts and folders on my desk had reached a height of two inches – more than a year’s worth of email and snailmail job applications, cover letters, lists of potential employment contacts, headhunters, notes of telephone conversations, rejection letters, follow-up schedules and spreadsheets tracking it all.

As everyone in the world would soon know, the morning of 11 September dawned gloriously cool, bright and sunny - a good day, if you were not working, to go to the park, stroll the city streets or bicycle down the urban path toward the World Trade Center. But not for me.

The wolf had been scratching at my door for many weeks and on top of that stack of job search detritus was a list of contacts I intended to call as soon as offices opened.

By shortly after 8AM, I had been at my desk for a couple of hours working on a design for what would, before long, become my first blog (not this one). I only half listened to CBS News Radio88 in the background, the usual litany of national and local politics, deliberate and accidental death, and celebrity stories to fill in the blanks between commercials.

Then the breaking-news alert sounded. I remember groaning; it would be just another fender bender or commuter traffic snarl breathlessly reported as though it were the start of World War III.

But instead, the news reader said something about an airplane and the World Trade Center. I dashed to the bedroom to turn on the television and saw to my horror that perhaps it was, this time, World War III.

It’s the little things in life that can turn me into a crazed harridan. When the big things happen, I am calm and rational, running potential next steps through my mind and then taking action, if any is needed. My lifelong broadcast career training kicked in; I needed to get to the office right away to help cover the story. But I had no office to go to. So, I phoned a journalist friend who was recently retired from full-time work.

“It’s like the Empire State Building years ago,” he said.“Some pilot lost his way.”

“No way,” said I. For three years, I had worked in an office on 11th Avenue overlooking the Hudson where I had watched planes large and small move up and down the river all day. I knew that 1: no planes are allowed to fly over Manhattan and 2: pilots are taught to ditch, when something goes wrong, in water and there is plenty of that around Manhattan.

“It’s a terrorist attack,” I told my friend (which we all know now came horribly true).

As soon as we hung up, the phone rang - my upstairs neighbor. His wife took their two boys to school in Brooklyn each day by subway and then returned home. She was late, he said. He just knew she had stopped to shop, as was her habit a couple of times a week, at a clothing store across the street from the World Trade Center. He knew she didn’t have a cell phone with her and he was terrified.

My Greenwich Village apartment was half a block from the intersection of Sixth Avenue, a major north/south artery, and Houston Street. For 20 years, it had been my private ritual, as I left home each morning, to check north for a view of the Empire State Building and then south to check the twin towers of the World Trade Center. If they were there then all was right, I liked to believe, with my world.

A second, less uplifting ritual – mental exercise, really - that began following the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, was my now-and-then attempt to calculate, should a Trade Center building fall over northward, whether the top of it would crash into my townhouse.

My conclusion had been that it didn’t matter. Even if it didn’t reach as far as my block, the concussion would probably kill me. You shrug in the face of such potential catastrophe you can't control and get on with life. But my mind wandered back to it from time to time.

On that morning five years ago, my upstairs neighbor and I sat watching television near his phone waiting, hoping, silently praying to all the gods the world has ever worshiped to let us hear from his wife. We took turns joining neighbors at the corner of Sixth and Houston, staring south to the fire and smoke and, before long, the collapse of the buildings.

Within an hour or so, my neighbor’s wife telephoned from a friend’s house in SoHo and soon, sitting on our stoop together, we saw her, covered in soot, walking toward us. Later, she told us her story:

Yes, she had been shopping at that store and was just entering the stairs to the subway in the lower concourse of the World Trade Center when there was a tremendous noise above. It shook the entire building, she said. Debris was raining down as she and everyone raced out and away, not looking back. She hadn’t known what had happened until she reached her friend’s house.

I heard many more stories that day. I spent much of it sitting on my stoop and as thousands of survivors walked north on Sixth Avenue toward their homes, some turned into my street.

The first time, I was surprised when a stranger in a dusty business suit, carrying a briefcase plopped himself down beside me and wept on my shoulder as he told me his story. When he had collected himself enough to head home, another stopped, and another, sometimes two and three at a time. We wept together for the dead, for ourselves and for our city.

That evening, the journalist friend I had spoken with in the morning came by and we walked Greenwich Village looking for a place to eat dinner. Hardly any restaurants were open and those that were, were crammed with people, most of them strangers to one another just wanting to be with other people. We joined them and then wandered over to Washington Square Park where thousands of others had gathered too.

The next morning, I went to St. Vincent’s Hospital to give blood, but by then, sadly, it wasn’t necessary – too few injured survivors - and I was turned away.

Home-made posters with photos of the missing were posted on many buildings in the neighborhood. Spontaneous memorials with American flags, candles, flowers, prayer cards and notes had appeared on street corners.

The authorities shut down traffic except for emergency vehicles below 14th Street for the next four days, and we used the winding Greenwich Village streets as the cowpaths they once were, ignoring street lights and crosswalks, walking where whim took us.

During those days, knots of people – sometimes neighbors, sometimes strangers – gathered here and there. The first question, carefully worded, was always, “Is everyone you know okay?” Sometimes they were; sometimes they weren’t. Often we just stood together silently for awhile, stunned still by the events of that terrible day.

Three weeks later, at last, I was offered a job and a week after that, I was on a plane to Florida for a conference. Planes approaching New York travel up the Hudson River and then turn right toward LaGuardia Airport. On my return from Florida, I deliberately chose a window seat on the Manhattan side of the plane because although I had seen the aerial photos of Ground Zero, I wanted to see it "for real".

The size of the devastation was shocking. I'd had no idea that so much of downtown was gone. A big, ugly, open sore on the city, much larger than any photo or video had conveyed.

The first anniversary of 9/11 hit me as hard as the first anniversary of the deaths of loved ones I’ve buried. I mourned for the dead, for the kind of world we had come to live in now, and for the damage done to my city.

It disturbs me that from the day of the attack – and still – when I have stood at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Houston Street, I can’t remember which buildings the World Trade Center towered above. It feels as though my lack of attention all those years to their exact location in the sky is a betrayal.

I am sorry for that.




A TGB READER STORY: The Lessons of Asymmetry

By Adele Frances

“There is little meaning in making a fuss. There is nothing else to do but say good-bye to the last body part and continue your life with what parts may be left.”

- Elderly Greenland native who lost two fingers to frostbite years ago. Smithsonian Magazine

I lost a breast three weeks ago. Well, I didn’t exactly lose it. The surgeon knows where it went, but it’s lost to me.

Can I function without it? Of course I can. Do I miss it? A little. But since it was harboring three cancerous tumors, the time had come to say goodbye. This breast did the same thing to me 22 years ago and I struggled to keep it with me despite its disloyalty.

Lumpectomy. Chemo. Radiation. It was not a fun time but I got thru it nicely and my life continued cancer-free with two boobs, one slightly smaller than the other, from the ravages of treatment. I even wrote bad poetry about it.

But now, at 74, I’ve had to part company with this valiant breast who hung in there for over two decades before going rogue again.

Instead, I have a 10-inch scar from my left armpit to the center of my chest, a gradually descending line with a few bumps and curves that has a character all of its own. And instead of holding my breast in my hand, I feel a flat plain and a steadily beating heart beneath it, now unprotected by the shelf of flesh that used to be there.

It is strange and wondrous to me. I don’t find it grotesque, but rather curious in its lack of symmetry. And the tiny bit of swelling at the bottom looks like a prepubescent breast getting ready to bloom, but — oops — no nipple! A strange appendage indeed.

Yes, it’s the lack of symmetry that causes me pause for thought. Since I don’t have the magic bra lady in my life yet who is going to even me up, I’ve been adjusting old bras to resemble my former look, but I’m not there yet.

I like asymmetry in my art; I do not favor it in my personal appearance. There is an alien look to a blouse that is gently rounded on one side and just FLAT on the other. Nature prefers harmony, balance. And so do I.

So I look forward to my meeting next week with the bra lady who will introduce me to the wonderful world of prosthetics and new bras I never imagined. She told me the insurance company will provide four bras and two prosthetics a year! I’ve never bought four bras in one year in my life. That would last me five years. I’m in for a bounty of riches.

Thus I have to agree with the Greenland elder. I can go on quite nicely with my life minus one boob. Its removal has prolonged my life a few more years and there is something to be said for that, though I’m not quite sure what, not being a proponent of longevity.

But a flat chest, even if only on one side, somehow takes me back to childhood before those long-awaited mounds which never seemed to arrive. There is an innocence there among the scarred landscape that reminds me of my 11-year-old granddaughter just beginning to sprout her own breasts and sporting her first bra.

Missing body parts. Asymmetry. All part of the mystery of my life. But the good part is that when I place my hand on my heart, it beats so much louder now.




Let's Talk About Threats to Social Security

Fifteen years of experience at this blog tells me that when I write about Social Security, readership that day drops by about one-third, sometimes more.

Of course, I have no way to prove it but I'm pretty sure that a vast majority of U.S. TGB readers, most of whom collect Social Security, would have serious challenges to face if the program's benefit was reduced.

Some people would not fill prescriptions or they might cut dosages – the poorer among us are known to do this. Others would go hungry.

The Social Security benefit is small enough but it is also the most successful social program in the history of the United States raising, according to 2017 statistics, 22 million Americans in all 50 states above the poverty line. That includes 15 million elders.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of Congress members and some presidents who have been and still are hell bent on cutting Social Security. So you of the TGB one-third who skip Social Security stories – maybe take a couple of minutes to skim this post so you'll understand the threats.

During the 2016 campaign and beyond, President Trump repeatedly said he would protect, and not cut, Social Security (and Medicare, Medicaid). Here's the compilation video from the Washington Post:

Since his election, Trump has mostly ignored Social Security and then, in his 2019 proposed Budget last March, he called for “$25 billion in cuts to Social Security over 10 years, including cuts to disability insurance” according to Vox.

The president's budget is not legally binding and Congress is free to ignore it or any parts of it whe they craft each year's budget for the country. However, it does provide Congress a sense of the chief executive's priorities, budgetary objectives and recommended spending levels.

Since Social Security was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, Congress members, especially Republicans, have been eagerly standing in line to not just cut Social Security benefits but to kill the program entirely.

The most recent is Republican Senator Joni Ernst who is up for re-election next year. She spoke at a town hall in Estherville, Iowa, about Social Security and how to “maintain” it:

The audio was poorly recorded so if you missed it, here is Ernst's salient point on Social Security (emphasis added).

”...as various parties and members of Congress, we do need to sit down behind closed doors so we’re not being scrutinized by this group or the other, and just have an open and honest conversation about what are some of the ideas that we have for maintaining Social Security in the future.”

“Closed doors.” “Not scrutinized.” “Open and honest.” All in one sentence. And in public, too. Which, I suppose, isn't too bright when you're holding secret conversations about cuts that would impoverish millions of people.

This is not imminent. Most of Congress and the president are caught up in election fever now so changes to social network programs (and most everything else that needs attending to) will not be attempted until 2021. But it behooves us to understand what could happen and what the consequences would be so we are prepared when the time comes.

All this is not to say that Social Security doesn't need some shoring up, something that has been known but Congress has ignored since 1984. Here is a quick overview from The Motley Fool which starts out saying that Social Security is in “some pretty big trouble.”

”According to the April [2019]-released Social Security Board of Trustees report, the program won't bring in enough revenue over the long term (the next 75 years) to cover outlays to beneficiaries, inclusive of cost-of-living adjustments.

“The silver lining for seniors who are dependent on Social Security as a major source of income is that the program is in no danger of disappearing or going bankrupt.

“Recurring sources of revenue, such as the payroll tax and the taxation of benefits, ensure that there will always be money to divvy out to eligible beneficiaries.

“But the bad news is that Social Security is facing an estimated funding shortfall of $13.9 trillion between 2035 and 2093. If this shortfall isn't dealt with by adding revenue, cutting expenditures, or some combination of the two, retired-worker benefits could fall by as much as 23% within the next two decades. That means Social Security's future is in our elected lawmakers' hands.”

For all the years I've been writing about attacks on Social Security benefits, there have been numerous solutions to the shortfall many of which alone or in combination would work without burdening beneficiaries.

We will discuss some of these here in the future because it is vital to increase Social Security revenues and our Congresses have let us down since the aforementioned 1984 by doing nothing in all that time.

Meanwhile, Nancy Altman is the number one expert and advocate for Social Security in the U.S. Even when, like now, Social Security is not a front-page item, she keeps us informed on the program, what officials are or should be doing about it at Forbes and other publications around the web.

Or just Google her name and click on the “news” header in the results.




ELDERMUSIC: Motown - The A.M.'s Choice

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

* * *

This is the response of Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, to Mojo magazine’s top 100 songs from Motown.

Quite a few years ago, I wrote about the top 20 and you can find those columns here and here. These are the songs the A.M. thought should have been in the top 10.

It surprised me that she would do this as I didn't think that she was a great fan of Motown over the years. You live and learn. The only one she thought they got right was their number 1, Martha and the Vandellas with Dancing in the Street.

The songs are in no particular order and the numbers in brackets after each is the position that Mojo assigned each song (where they were present in the list). The A.M. said that she avoided the obvious songs, the ones that made the original top 20.

As is usual when the A.M. selects music for a column she leaves me to do the actual writing, so let's get this show on the road.

THE TEMPTATIONS were a major presence in the top 20, deservedly so, and they are going to be included here as well.

Temptations

They had a number of lineup changes over the years, but that didn’t seem to affect the quality of the music they recorded. Here is The Way You Do the Things You Do. (55)

♫ Temptations - The Way You Do The Things You Do


MARVIN GAYE made a couple of appearances in the top 20 but none as a duet singer. The A.M. is partial to duets, so we have a couple of those today. The first is with KIM WESTON.

Marvin & Kim

After Marvin and Kim had a hit with It Takes Two (36), they recorded an album together (“Take Two”). Shortly after the album was released, Kim left Motown because of a dispute over her royalties, so no more Marvin and Kim.

♫ Marvin Gaye - It Takes Two


MARTHA AND THE VANDELLAS make their first appearance with Nowhere to Run (50).

Martha & Vandellas

They are Martha Reeves, Rosaland Ashford and Betty Kelley. There were other members early on but they dropped by the wayside. The song is one of the group’s signature songs, but they have several in that category.

♫ Martha&Vandellas - Nowhere to Run


DAVID RUFFIN is best known as one of the lead singers in The Temptations during their classic period.

David Ruffin

After he left the group, he had a few solo hits and teamed with his brother to record a quite decent album. He later teamed with fellow Temptations singer Eddie Kendricks to perform old Temps’ songs, and the two of them also did some great performances with Hall & Oates.

David’s increased drug use led to deteriorating performances and eventually his death at age 50. From his solo period he sings Walk Away From Love (66).

♫ David Ruffin - Walk Away From Love


I was surprised that MARY WELLS’ most famous song rated as low as it did.

Mary Wells

The song was written and produced by Smokey Robinson and it was easily Mary’s biggest hit. After this one, she left Motown in the hopes of getting a better deal elsewhere but nothing she did subsequently came anywhere near the success of My Guy (48).

♫ Mary Wells - My Guy


Now this one really surprised me. The A.M. has never expressed any enthusiasm for THE SUPREMES. Indeed, generally the opposite. I think it's more to do with Diana Ross than the group itself.

Supremes

The A.M. chose You Can’t Hurry Love (27) which certainly has a good backbeat and has some almost jazz-like phrasing. I think it was a good choice.

♫ Supremes - You Can't Hurry Love


The A.M. and I are in agreement that the FOUR TOPS should be present and not just because they had five songs in the top 50.

Four Tops

They were a superb singing group lead by one of the finest around, Levi Stubbs. Baby I Need Your Loving (43) was the lowest ranking of theirs in the list.

♫ Four Tops - Baby I Need Your Loving


KIM WESTON was up there with Marvin, and now she’s on her own.

Kim Weston

Her song is Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While) (not ranked). The A.M. says she really likes the Doobie Brothers’ version of this which was on high rotation on a bus trip she took through South America back in 1975, but the Doobies don’t count as Motown, so Kim it is.

♫ Kim Weston - Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While)


MARVIN GAYE makes another duet appearance, this time with TAMMI TERRELL.

Marvin & Tammi

Tammi took over dueting duties with Marvin after Kim went elsewhere. Marvin and Tammi were even more successful and were really close friends. Tragedy struck when Tammi was diagnosed with brain cancer and died at only 24.

The writing (and occasional singing) duo Ashford and Simpson wrote the song Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (22) and this version was successful enough for them to write more songs for Marvin and Tammi.

♫ Marvin Gaye - Ain't No Mountain High Enough


We end with the A.M.’s number 1. The performers are MARTHA AND THE VANDELLAS.

Martha & Vandellas

Mojo had them at the top as well, but with a different song. The A.M. thinks that (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave (39) should have been at the top.

Martha&Vandellas - (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave