Davy Jones, 1945-2012

See update, below.

Genuine sorrow over here: Davy Jones has died of a heart attack, aged 66.

I loved him once, as only a very little girl can, with a kind of ache that would sit on my little girl heart whenever I saw his beautiful face. His voice was lovely, and he and his Monkee friends are, I’m sure, a big part of why I have such a big place in my heart for absurdist humor. Because if you think The Monkees was just a little kids’ show? Look again. It was madness. Wonderful, inspiring madness.

But in the family and in the home in which I live as a 47 year old, Davy is best known for his collaboration with children’s author Sandra Boynton (also a purveyor of absurdist humor, if you think about it) on the song “Your Personal Penguin.” He sings the part of the penguin.

So in his memory, in real gratitude for his pop presence in my life, and with tears in my eyes, I offer you this: Davy Jones, singing “Your Personal Penguin.” May he rest in peace – may his memory be for a blessing.


Update: Sandra Boynton has responded to the sad news:

Davy Jones. Not possible. My first crush. I dreamed, along with everyone else, that he could be my Personal Penguin. Oh. A wonderful man.

So nice to hear that he was, in fact, “a wonderful man.”

The “ok, this time I just lost track of time” open thread.

That’s all it was!

Chat away, people. (But don’t forget: I’m super busy with work – if you get stuck in moderation, I’ll fish you out as soon as ever I can!)

Standard FYI clause: My rule of thumb is that I wait for 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would usually open a thread (roughly noon, EST), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.

But Michelle Obama’s the one with the anger management issues.

So apparently Ann Romney, wanna-be First Lady, said this about the media:

[It’s] getting harder and harder to be cheerful…. I am so mad at the press [that] I could just strangle them! And, you know, I think I’ve decided there are going to be some people invited on the bus and some people just aren’t going to be invited on the bus.

As Mother Jones’s Adam Serwer rightly pointed out on Twitter yesterday: Imagine what would happen if Michelle Obama had said anything even remotely similar, adding:

You know, for such an angry black woman, I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard Michelle Obama talk about strangling anyone.

But she does like to encourage kids to exercise, and we all know that’s straight-up Kenyan Communism, mirite?!!1!?

“Shared Jerusalem” means just that.

As a long-time advocate for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with people who seem to think that “two states for two peoples” is code for “the Jews don’t really belong here but since they’re here already and have cities and whatnot, I suppose we’ll have to figure something out.”

Which is not what I mean. I mean “two states for two peoples.”

Part and parcel of the “Zionists are foreign colonists who should be consigned to the age imperialism” meme is the notion that Jews have no actual stake in Jerusalem and to the extent that Palestinians are willing to recognize reality and share the city with them, that’s an act of real politik on their part. Nothing to do with history, or facts, or actual Jews and their actual lives.

Which, you know, despite my personal dislike for Jerusalem? Is also not true. When I advocate for “a shared Jerusalem as the capital of two states living side-by-side in peace and security,” I mean that, too.

I bring this up because Lara Friedman, American for Peace Now’s Director of Policy and Government Relations, is currently in Doha at the Arab League conference, where she ran straight into the fact that for many supporters of Palestinian rights, the notion of a Jewish claim to Jerusalem is laughable.

If representatives of the organization that sponsored the Arab Peace Initiative cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the legitimacy of Jewish equities in Jerusalem, they should know that they discredit their own professed interest in peace. Their framing of the future of Jerusalem as a zero-sum game only makes it more likely that Israel will continue asserting its current power over East Jerusalem to hinder the vision of two states living in peace with a Jerusalem as a shared capital.

All throughout the day [of the opening session], it was unfortunately the same story. Participants talked about Jerusalem as if Jewish history did not exist or was a fraud — as if all Jewish claims in the city were just a tactic to dispossess Palestinians.

Addressing the same conference, the ever-excellent Dahlia Scheindlin at +972 Magazine wrote in a similar vein:

It’s time to stop this absurd belief that ancient historical facts are at issue. Peoplehood, the weight of history, emotional bonds to a cultural, spiritual and yes, religious axis mundi are at issue and I believe passionately in the need for Jews to accept those aspects of Palestinian life. It is fair to desire the same understanding from the people with whom I hope to live peacefully, when they are un-occupied, under any form of just political solution that will be reached.

I can already hear the voices saying that Israeli Jews have no right to criticize as long as the asymmetrical occupation makes life intolerable for the Palestinian population; that it’s just too bad if the occupier doesn’t like how its victims resist. Why should the oppressed care?

But that’s just it. We are on the same side, and we need each other. Let’s cast off the notion of a conflict between Israelis and Palestinians already, which I sometimes feel is a brilliant decoy of the far right. The truth is, we have long been in a conflict between extremists and moderates, between hateful and compassionates, between exclusivists and inclusivists. A genuine liberal universalist approach must accept that even those who believe in universal rights have a national, religious, cultural and spiritual identity they cherish….

Whether we end with one, two or twenty states, we’ll be together in Jerusalem for eternity. That should be something to look forward to, and I do not accept that it has to be an ongoing source of conflict

What can I say? Word.

The “How could I forget you?” open thread.

I got all caught up in some stupid Twitter conversation about how religious people do or do not believe that gods solve our problems with magic AND FORGOT YOU. I do hope you’ll forgive me. Have at it! (But don’t forget: I’m super busy with work – if you get stuck in moderation, I’ll fish you out as soon as ever I can!)

Standard FYI clause: My rule of thumb is that I wait for 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would usually open a thread (roughly noon, EST), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.

When you gotta go, you gotta go – a Canadian musical interlude.

On Friday, I posted a clip of Billy Bragg singing to a dancing Canadian lobster. (Nova Scotian, to be more precise). I allowed as how I would like to know more about this dancing lobster fella and Canadian kids’ TV in general, and an obliging commenter over to the Angry Black Lady Chronicles helped me out – check out her knowledge and prodigious Google-fu here. Bottom line for our purposes? Dude’s name is “Captain Claw.”

You might well imagine that armed with this information, I proceeded to the YouTube. Whereupon I found the following piece of sheer delight: Captain Claw singing the undeniably catchy “When You’ve Got to Go” song.


I know, right? Score one for Canada, baby!

And here’s the other thing: While I am coming to learn that Canada is not always and forever the bastion of compassion and sanity that American Democrats tend to believe it to always and forever be (see: Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews and his contention that if you don’t like unlimited governmental electronic snooping you’re “with the child pornographers“; see also: Fraudulent election day robocalls intended to discourage voter turnout), I do find it very hard to believe that any American producer of children’s television would ever be allowed to depict a character peeing his bed. Which, let’s face it, is a genuine concern of actual children the world over.

 So score two.

Plus, bonus: Dancing, singing shrimp.

Score three.

On Too $hort and apologies.

So a couple of weeks ago, this rapper I’d never heard of before he really pissed me off — really pissed me off.

In a video shot for the online presence of XXL Magazine, rapper Too $hort said:

When you get to late middle school, early high school and you start feeling a certain way about the girls. I’m gonna tell you a couple tricks… A lot of the boys are going to be running around trying to get kisses from the girls. We’re going way past that. I’m taking you to the hole….[Push her] up against the wall or [pull] her up against you while you lean on the wall. Take your finger and put a little spit on it and you stick your finger in her underwear and you rub it on there and watch what happens.

So. Here we have a grown man of some renown advising pre-teen and teenaged boys to sexually assault girls. Which, you know: Awesome.

Initially, Too $hort appeared to apologize on Twitter, if with a certain lack of understanding, explaining that he’d been “in character” and had gotten carried away, but he changed tack fairly quickly, essentially lashing out at those who took the video as anything other than a joke.

Which, you know: Awesome. (And hence my reference to him here).


In the meantime, having been swamped with responses, reactions, stories and no little anger, Too $hort (nee Todd Shaw) gave an interview to Dream Hampton, a writer with Ebony and one of the women involved in WeAreThe44% (a reference to statistics that show that 44% of American girls are assaulted before their 18th birthday). This time, here was what Too $hort  said:

I just wanted to reach out because I had been truly disturbed by this whole thing as far as me putting this out there like that. I’m not trying to make this go away or trying to make this right or anything. I understand completely….

When I taped the XXL video, my goal was that this was some kind of comedy piece. So I am sitting there and the thing that I am saying is actually reminiscent of when we as little boys were being bad and (what) we were doing something or learning or practicing. But now I’m understanding that it’s actually it’s a form of sexual assault. And it’s crazy that I’m just now understanding this.

I’m not going to lie to you…my eyes are opening just from reading the comments, the stuff that is coming from people. They say stuff like, “Does he get it?” I’m reading it and I am starting to get it.

….I hate that this had to come out like this but I really feel blessed. I feel like I am going to kick in and kick back a lot positive energy in something that I have been kicking out a lot of negative energy in a lot of years…I am not expecting anyone to say “I forgive you” or anything in that nature. It may not be the biggest mistake in my life, but it was a major mistake, looking at the camera and saying those words.

We have this tendency to not allow for change, to not believe in it. The one, worst, most terrible thing that a person ever said or did? That’s it. That’s who that person is, now and forever more, amen.

But this interview (as well as the one Too $hort later gave to allhiphop.com) shows the sheer, self-destructive stupidity of that. People can listen. People can learn new ideas. People can change.

And if we don’t allow them to do so, if we don’t believe them, if we reduce people to their worst moments — we fail in our own path. And we fail those we would hope to protect.

As a woman who has suffered her own share of passing, casual, low-level assaults and harassments, as the mother of a girl, as the friend and loved one of women who have been assaulted and raped at all stages of life, and as a former rape crisis counselor, I am very clear on what we need to stop rape: We need men.

Women and girls can learn, to a certain degree, to protect ourselves, but bottom line, the people doing the raping are the ones who have to stop. And they will not do so until enough men come along like Too $hort who say “Hold on. I didn’t get it before, but now I do. I’m sorry.”

I’m grateful beyond measure to the women who organized on this issue, to Dream Hampton for conducting the interview and using it as an opportunity to tell yet more truth (read the whole thing here), and to Too $hort, for apologizing and meaning it. Sometimes there’s no way out but through — I’m grateful that he’s decided to push on through.

h/t my internet buddy thewayoftheid

Once a little girl, always a little girl.

This is what I wanted to look like and who I wanted to be when I was growing up. Down to the last curl. (Maybe my eyes would have been a little more sea-gray. But yeah. Otherwise).

I’m guessing the kids will want to go see this, but that doesn’t really matter – I’ll be there on June 22, either way.

Woody Guthrie, a dancing lobster, and Fridays with Billy.

Back in the 1990s, Woody Guthrie’s daughter Nora got in touch with our man Billy, and asked him to write music for a whole treasure-trove of lyrics that Guthrie himself had never had a chance to set to music.

Which is to say: The torch was passed.

Bragg recorded these songs with Chicago-based band Wilco in the Mermaid Avenue project, and they’re probably the best known of his work in the US — but as they’re not “his” songs, I don’t really much associate them with him. Which is madness, really, and I’m sure he’d tell me so.

Be that as it may, there is one song that emerged from those recordings that I particularly love: “Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key.” The other day I commenced to look for a video — only to stumble upon the following, a truly random and delightful slice of Canadian pop culture: Billy Bragg performing on the (apparently) defunct kids show “Peggy’s Cove” (or, possibly, “The Peggy Show.” I’ll have to ask one of my Canadians to clarify this matter for me).

Did I say “performing”? I meant: Singing to a dancing lobster (ok, it’s really more of a rhythmic swaying that the lobster does, rather than a dance — he’s a puppet, after all), who eventually offers to row our Billy back to England. The visual quality isn’t quite HD, but the clip is really quite outstanding, nonetheless.

And the song, as ever, lovely.


I lived in a place called Okfuskee
and I had a little girl in a holler tree
I said, little girl, it’s plain to see,
there ain’t nobody that can sing like me

She said it’s hard for me to see
how one little boy got so ugly
Yes, my little girly, that might be,
But there ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me
way over yonder in the minor key
Way over yonder in the minor key
there ain’t nobody that can sing like me.

full lyricsWhat is Fridays with Billy?

Another day, another Santorum miracle.

Rick Santorum to Glenn Beck:

On the president’s efforts to boost college attendance, Santorum said, “I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely … The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.”

He claimed that “62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it,” but declined to cite a source for the figure.

What’s the miracle?

That there is apparently no end to the ways in which Rick Santorum can make me want to headdesk. Just when I thought I’d taken the measure of the man — Blah people are given other people’s money in the form of government handouts, abortion providers should be arrested, the Dutch kill old people for being old — he comes up with some damn new thing.

President Obama wants to indoctrinate our children with harmful, faithless notions — so he’s working to increase enrollment at colleges and universities.

I cannot with this guy. I just cannot.

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