Slacker Friday

Slacker Friday

On Responses to "I’m Not in Love…" and the Murdoch/Fox phenomenon.


I’ve got a new “Think Again” column called “Rupert Murdoch and the Myriad Means of Misinformation” and it’s here.

And I did a podcast interview with World Policy Journal editor, David Andelman here about Obama’s foreign policy. (I’ve been a senior fellow of the World Policy Institute since 1985.

Now here’s Charles:


Hey Doc —
"There was a chill last night, in the hobo jungle/Over the trainyard lay a smooth coat of frost."
Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "The Hottest Spot In Hell" (J.J. Grey and Mofro) — If I want, I’m going to buy any building I want in lower Manhattan and turn it into a cooking school, a gymnasium, and a chapel in which sad monks will chant daily the songs of how much I love New Orleans.
    Part The First: As much as I hate to argue with The Landlord, especially when he’s cough-wrong-cough, his list of really bad songs is very thin. In the summers of 1972-76, I worked as a ranger in a state forest in Massachusetts. Many times, I had only the furry critters of the forest and an AM radio for company. (Yes, children, once there was music on the AM dial.) Those were prime years for pop music offal. My bona fides in this regard hereby established, I would point out that a list of bad songs that makes no room for Gallery ("Nice To Be With You"), Vicki Lawrence ("The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia,") or Hamilton, Joe, Frank, and Reynolds ("Treat Her Like A Lady") is just scratching the surface.
Anyway, the worst record ever made is "I’ve Never Been To Me" by Charlene, and there is no argument to be had with that.  The music sucks and the lyrics suck, and the politics suck even more than the music and lyrics do. If I’d bought the brain-dead POS, the jacket art would have sucked. Among major artists, although he’s right and Mountaineer Mike is wrong about Sir Paul, there’s is a deplorable lack of bad Dylan — most of it, I would argue, comes from the hash-album Columbia released called "Bob Dylan," which included his craptacular cover of "Big Yellow Taxi." And not a single cut by The Doors, the most overrated band of all time? This is sad, really.
    Part The Second: I am firmly of the opinion that, last Christmas Eve, Ted Olson was visited by three spirits. And a great job, they did. First, he whacks Prop 8 out of the ‘yard in California and now, this. "Your reclamation, then."
    Part The Third: Free trade is groovy.
Thanks, Bill. Thanks, Al. Thanks, DLC. Really.
    Part The Penultimate: Bob Somerby is a friend and fellow Sox obsessive. He also was an important introduction for me to the saloons along the docks of Blogistan, as well as an invaluable resource during the Reign Of Penis-Obsessed Witches, 1992-2001. But, honestly, I don’t know what he’s on about here. "Can you feel respect or sympathy for the average shlub who gets his ass disinformed by Fox?" Well, no, as a matter of fact, I can’t. That shlub, I guarantee you, is begging to be misinformed. He waits in line patiently for hours every day for his steaming bowl of Bullshit Stew. He drives 40 miles out of his way to shop at Hogwash Depot. My sympathy — let alone, my respect — is better employed elsewhere.
Part The Ultimate: It seems to have been lost on some people who are following the moronic controversy over the Not At Ground Zero Culinary
Academy And Rec Hall that we were all treated to a dry run by these harpies a few years back, a completely lunatic exercise about which you can read in a certain book I can recommend.
The planned Flight 93 memorial in Pennsylvania was rocking right along until Alec Rawls, crackpot son of John, started yelling about how the memorial was designed to be a crescent pointing to Mecca, and that it was all actually a clever scheme to memorialize the hijackers and not the victims of their crime. The usual suspects chimed in. Not enough people loudly pointed out that the whole notion belonged in a locked ward at the Nervous Hospital, and the design wound up being changed, and the people in charge of the memorial became embroiled in ill-feeling and raw anger.

I mention this only because some people have made the argument that, if they just moved the NAGZCAARH to another location, then the hysterical loonies (like Pamela Geller), and the opportunistic politicians who seek to use fear and division to their own rancid advantage (like the Republican party), would somehow be assuaged. This is, of course, all my balls. These people are not assuaged. Ever. There are people having trouble building actual mosques thousands of miles from the hallowed ground on which now stands New York Dolls. A considerably larger percentage of the country now thinks that Barack Obama is a Muslim, and a healthy chunk thinks that it should be illegal for a Muslim to be elected president. (So much for the constitutional prohibition against religious tests for office. And, if I were Congressman Keith Ellison, I’d watch my back if things go badly for the Democrats in the midterms.) This stuff is working. Why would they ever stop?

Move the thing eight blocks and the loons will find something to be angry about there. Move it to, say, Boston, and you’ll hear that two of the planes hijacked on 9/11 came out of Logan, and how insensitive it is to build something like that on the sacred ground where it all began. You don’t assuage lunatics. You ignore them. You medicate them. You don’t put them on television. You suggest to their relatives that a spot of confinement might not be amiss. You don’t assuage politicians who are willing to use the fiery rage of the horribly manic to ride back into office. You laugh at them. Then you vote against them. Forever.

Full Name: Jeff Weed

Hometown: Denton, TX
Dr. A,

Pretty decent list of worst songs (although I’ll confess to liking a couple of them, anyway). Here’s some more other truly awful tunes:

Run, Joey, Run – David Geddes
Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now – Starship (even worse than We Built This City to my ears)
Baby, Don’t Forget My Number – Milli Vanilli
Home Sweet Home – Motley Crue
Whoomp! There It Is! – Tag Team
We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off – Jermaine Stewart
You Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Til It’s Gone) – Cinderella
Sugar Shack – Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs
Last Kiss – J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers/Pearl Jam
C Moon – Sir Paul
More, More, More – Andrea True Connection

Full Name: Pat Healy

Hometown: Vallejo, CA
Re: songs I love but hate to cop to loving, there are two songs by Michael Been and the Call that I love: one, "The Walls Came Down", is full-on great (and has a great little solo by Garth Hudson!), but I’m rather sheepish about the other one, "Let the Day Begin", because the lyric structure (verse lines all begin with "Here’s to the…") sounds like it’s a beer commercial jingle.  Also, it’s not a little preachy, which makes me think, a la Python,  "Here’s to everyone with a vested interest in the bloody status quo."

I also love Meri Wilson’s "Telephone Man".  sure it’s stupid, but I defy anyone to get that bass line out of your head for two hours after you hear it.

Full Name: Terry Risner
Hometown: Mt. Carmel, TN
Worst song?  How could such a list possibly omit the incredibly fingernail-on-chalkboard-like screeching in "Roxanne?"

Full Name: Louis Diamond

Hometown: Skokie, IL.

Norman is not so bad really, perhaps the best by Sue Thompson. Surprised he did not trash Paul and Paula.
For really bad, there’s The A Team, the followup to The Ballad Of the Green Beret.
I imagine Those Gallant Men by Se, Evrett McKinley Dirksen is a novelty song and therefore out of bounds.

Louis D.

p.s. Yes Pat Boone, Gale Storm, Georgia Gibbs are too easy.

Full Name: John DAlessandro
Hometown: Crestwood, NY
Something’s definitely screwed with my computer, because I scoured your list of all time crappy songs and couldn’t find "Horse With No Name" anywhere.
So self-evident that it wasn’t worth even mentioning?

And jeesh, "Imagine."? Yeah, I know its flaws, but it was the 70’s, man. It’s like making fun of Edward G Robinson in Little Caesar for hamming it up.

And "My Love" shouldn’t even make McCartney’s Ten Worst list. Pauly’s exceeded this effort many times, but I lack the courage to go back and listen again for specifics. You can do the research yourself, since you’re clearly made of much stronger stuff than me.

Personally, any Stones song issued during the disco era is deserving of recognition in this category, but that’s just me. And there’s always Elvis: "Do the Clam," everybody.

Greg Panfile    
Hometown: Scarsdale NY
Have to confess that the lists of good and bad songs resonate pretty well with me. The most interesting thing, I think, is what I call the "mint/pathetic continuum" where some songs are so bad they’re great, while others less bad are merely horrible. Straining for a theory to  support this idea, I came up with five dimensions to look at, and thus would note that in some cases the initial gestalt factor and the ‘sound’ (criteria 3 and 4) are so compelling they overcome inadequacies in the first two obvious ones, words and melody. Classic case in point is A Whiter Shade of Pale, where a scatty and arbitrary vocal melody and utterly obscure and incomprehensible lyric is carried to transcendence by Matthew Fisher’s organ licks and the general muddy, dark sound that fit perfectly and contrapuntally, if you will, with the Summer of Love.

Certainly Billy Joel’s effort to answer the Bill Bennett nonsense about hippies influenced by French existential philosophers ruining the world (when we know it was all John von Neumann’s fault) in ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ is flawed by his compulsion to be obscure *and* entertaining… still, a friend of mine (David Brown) plays lead on that track, and blows the room away when they do it live on SNL (same episode as ‘Downeaster Alexa’).

The entire Murdoch/Fox phenomenon is the stuff of which a full Shakespearean cycle is made. On the one hand you have this utterly corrupting media octopus permeating everything and promulgating a ridiculously hypocritical vision of ‘conservatism’ while pushing naked women on page 3 of newspapers and doing literally anything for a buck… even occasionally producing quality TV shows. On the other hand… well, there is no other hand. Our system of unfettered capitalism and free speech and enterprise provides a perfect opportunity for someone like Murdoch to come along and do his Milo Minderbinder thing, minus everybody having a share. And the only thing that can be done is to wait it out… like the Bushes, and the Kennedys, the formula in the Muqqadimah of ibn Khaldun will solve the problem, in that the third generation will be so decadent on one plane or several that the golden pooch will be thoroughly sodomized.  If humanity survives till then;-).

Editor’s Note: To contact Eric Alterman, use this form.

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