Thursday, August 31, 2006
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Power to the Pols
If Joe Lieberman wins the election in November — and I sincerely hope that he doesn’t. I can’t decide if he’s a schmuck or a putz. — it will go a long way to proving a long-held contention of mine, that the Democratic Party’s decline began when the party bosses turned over the power of selecting candidates to the party’s rank-and-file. Case in point: John Kerry. Primary voters decided he was more electable than the other candidates. It was his gravitas, it was reported. Well, the gravitas thing may have worked on the floor of the Senate but it didn’t play so well in the rest of the country.
Of course, there were several other factors that kept Kerry from winning, and he certainly didn’t lose by much. Among the factors working against Kerry were the Vietnam War issues that he didn’t address adroitly enough, his too-heavy reliance on advisors, and ballot measures tailored to bring cultural conservatives to the polls, but the bottom-line issue, in my opinion, is that voters didn’t like him enough to repudiate Bush. The primary voters were wrong again.
From what I saw, Edwards had the charisma and the message, as well as the fire and the quick-wittedness, to take on Bush-Cheney-Rove but apparently he was seen as not seasoned enough. It’s a damn shame. So if Lieberman wins (a poll last week gave Lieberman 45% to Lamont’s 43%, with the rest either undecided or for Schlesinger), maybe it will be time to start a discussion about giving political professionals more control over the candidate selection process.
UPDATE: Call it a psychic reading or a strange coincidence but as I was writing this post a ruling in a similar situation was being handed down in
It’s a lovely sentiment but I’d be astonished if most voters, even educated, politically savvy ones, were dedicated enough and had enough time to research who would make the best judges, on the State Supreme Court or any other court, for that matter.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Monday, August 28, 2006
To go under the earth, to feed worms.
And me, the soul, I’ll go repenting.
I went near
Our Eden, it’s a mighty merry place,
Birds are singing, flowers are blooming,
Oh, on the flowers angels are sitting.
One day when I was otherwise unoccupied at a temp assignment, I came up with some titles for Weblogs. Since I have no use for them, I’m sharing them with the world.
Being Obstructionist (an accusation Hyacinth Bouquet sometimes levels at Richard)
With Castanets Blazing
Crammed With Incident (the first of a series inspired by The Importance of Being Earnest)
Comment on the Platform
Oddities and Curiousities
Aged in Wood (an homage to All About Eve)
Picking Oakum Underwater (a riff on S.J. Perelman's description of writing as a cross between picking oakum and eating a banana underwater. )
Slug Read Blues
Any Old Iron?* (first in a series inspired by The Highly Esteemed Goon Show)
A Crack in Eccles’ Skull
Who’s a Charlie?
Back From the Dead (“Minnie Bannister, back from the dead!” “Yes.” “How long are you staying?”)
Legion of the Bored
After That, Everything Was Wonderful (said by a friend of a friend when recounting a date that had gone well)
Summer Shutters (Eddie Cantor’s comment on seeing a Native American’s costume in Making Whoopee)
An Exclusive Postcode (Hyacinth again, describing the block where she and Richard live)
*From a favorite English music hall song, sung on The Goon Show:Any old iron? Any old iron? Any, any, any old iron?
You look sweet, talk about a treat,
You look so dapper from your napper to your feet.
Dressed in style, brand-new tile,
And your father’s old green tie on,
But I wouldn’t give you tuppence for your old watch and chain,
Old iron, old iron.
(Chas. Collins, E.A. Sheppard, and Fred Terry)(sheet music here)
I took my troubles down to Madame RuthThe first great thing is that Leiber starts in the middle of the story. The singer doesn’t say what his troubles are, exactly, though we can guess they’re love-related from the name of the song. But there’s no lead in, no enumeration of what he’s been going through. It’s as if we were passing him on the street as he’s talking to one of his friends. A more linear writer might have started with a sad story of love troubles that led to the gypsy’s storefront but it would have been a less interesting song.
You know, the gypsy with the gold-capped tooth
She’s got a pad on 34th and Vine
Selling little bottles of Love Potion #9
I told her that I was a flop with chicks,Another great thing is the concrete images. The narrator has been a flop with chicks not for years but since 1956; Madame Ruth doesn’t work downtown, she has a pad at 34th and Vine (an intersection that doesn’t exist, at least not in Los Angeles); and she has not just one but a line of love potions, the most powerful of which is Love Potion #9.
I’ve been this way since 1956.
She looked at my palm and she made a magic sign,
She said “What you need is Love Potion #9.”
Could Love Potion #9 be a sly reference to Chanel No 5, the famous perfume known by a number rather than a name? Chanel mentions on its Web site that the perfume’s packaging was added to the Museum of Modern Art’s design collection in 1959. It’s possible that the publicity around the addition gave Leiber and Stoller the germ of the idea for Love Potion #9.
After Madame Ruth diagnoses the singer’s love trouble she’s ready to supply him with the cure. And she is one funky gypsy. No FDA-inspected laboratory for her, she just takes all the ingredients and goes to work in the kitchen sink.
She bent down and turned around, and gave me a wink.In contrast to Chanel No 5, which the fashion house tells us “launches with bewitching notes of Ylang-Ylang and Neroli, then unfolds with Grasse Jasmine and May Rose,” while “sandalwood and Vanilla round out the fabled composition with unforgettable woody notes,” Love Potion #9 smells like turpentine and looks like India Ink. This is clearly a desperate man.
She said, “I’m going to mix it up right here in the sink.”
It smelled like turpentine and looked like India Ink.
I held my nose, I closed my eyes—I took a drink!
The potion goes right to work. The next verse follows right after the bridge (the instrumental break comes after this verse) so we don’t lose any time in learning what happened after the fateful drink.
I didn’t know [if] it was-a day or night,(On the album, the last two lines are “I had so much fun that I'm going back again, I wonder what happens with Love Potion #10.”)
I started kissing everything in sight.
But when I kissed the cop at 34th and Vine
He broke my little bottle of Love Potion #9.
It’s a wonderful image, the poor guy kissing everything in sight (not a cow, though, as some misheard), but isn’t a love potion supposed to make someone fall in love with you? I thought the deal was that you slip to it some young lovely and then stand back, like in A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Tristan und Isolde. Either Madame Ruth got some of the ingredients mixed up or the singer drank the potion he was supposed to give to the object of his desire. So if he was a flop with chicks before, he was damn sure going to be the same flop after he swigged down his bottle.
Love Potion #9 is poignant little story set to music. In close to 150 words and less than two minutes we move from passion to pain, hope to defeat. No one is changed, but maybe that’s the lesson: You won’t find love by drinking a gypsy’s cockamamie concoction.