About Nondisposable Johnny

John Ross blogs from Havana, Florida. He works for a living so please don't take it personally if he doesn't get back to you right away.

AT LAST…NO REALLY! (Occasional Sports Moment #34)

Coming into this season, between them, the FSU baseball and softball teams had made thirty-one appearances (22 for the men, 9 for the women) in the College World Series and the Women’s College World Series. The women’s softball team had won two national championships in the early eighties when the sport was slow-pitch and not sanctioned by the NCAA but neither team had won the big one–a record of futility that stretched back to the sixties and has been carried like a lead weight by both programs for decades, felt to the present day by players whose parents weren’t born when “next year” first became a rallying cry.

Until now.

Monday and Tuesday night, the women lifted the curse:

I missed it all of course. No TV this year….maybe that’s all they needed!

But I still feel it. And I’d feel it even if they hadn’t done what most of us always suspected it would take–one comeback after another, staving off elimination six times, and becoming the first team to win the WCWS after losing on the first day:

 

SPINNING, SPINNING, SPINNING LIKE A SPINNING TOP (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #136)

Talk about obscure connections. Even the blogs I follow (forget the paid media, who are mostly paid to look the other way and, contra popular opinion, are very good…at what they are paid for), haven’t picked up on this:

Immediately prior to his death, Hastings had published a strong critique of the Obama administration titled “Why Democrats Love to Spy on Americans,” which exposed the party’s hypocrisy regarding some of the civil liberty overreaches they had criticized under Bush but embraced under Obama.San Diego 6 News reported that Hastings had been investigating CIA Director John Brennan for an upcoming exposé prior to the crash. (You can read the whole thing here but the quote I pulled is the story.)

(MintPressNews 3/10/2017)

Remember that Republicans and Democrats alike could have avoided Donald Trump if they had been willing to conduct a full investigation into Hastings’ suspicious death and follow it to to its logical conclusion.

Also, you can keep this one in your memory banks during the months to come as Brennan–just hired by MSNBC/NBC to provide cover for the Security State and, of course, keep their “news” operation in order–is hailed as a champion of Liberty.

I paid a little tribute to Hastings here. There are no more of his kind around, but you’ll know the CIA is back on top when they knock off some reporter who’s been as openly critical of Trump as Hastings purportedly was of Obama in the shadows and blame it on the current administration.

Bet CNN won’t turn their back on that one.

Take it Gene….

and Eddie…

STUPID FINALLY GOES ALL THE WAY TO ELEVEN (Occasional Sports Moment #33)

I don’t think you have to follow tennis to read this story and wonder if we shouldn’t just all run wild in the streets, killing and looting. Civilization had its good points and all, but what has it really brought us?

For the record I think Serena (who probably assumed she had heard every possible moronic question that could ever be asked a thousand times over before today) should have deadpanned it and said: “Yes, Trump nailed it. I’ve been frequently intimidated by my opponents throughout my struggling career. It defines me, really.”

Here’s to the free press:

HISTORY RHYMING (Mini Book Review)

I think I’m going to start calling these lengthy passages from my current reading Mini Book Reports. Here’s the first:

From Eugene Davidson’s The Unmaking of Adolph Hitler (1996)

Circa May, 1938:

The Sudeten Germans considered themselves as the prime target of discrimination–socially, economically and politically. They were forbidden on  grounds of national security to work on the fortifications  between the Czech borders with the Reich, nor could their enterprises bid on contracts. Thousands of Germans lost their employment in the postal services after the state was founded (NOTE: in the early 1920s) because examinations were conducted in Czech, which not many of them spoke or wrote. In 1924 a Czech minister, Jiri Stribrny, boasted that forty thousand German postal and railroad workers had been dismissed and replaced by Czechs, and Sudeten Deputy Taub pointed out to the parliamentary budget committee that seven thousand of them had been dismissed even though they had passed the language examination. Moreover the examinations included questions involving details of Czech literary history that were little known to Czechs themselves. As one Sudeten leader, Wenzel Jaksch, wrote, a railway construction foreman might be dismissed for not knowing the birth date or works of a fourth-rate Czech author, and a German employee in a cigar factory (the tobacco industry was state controlled) was expected to know the difference between the durative and iterative of a Czech verb, while Czech members of parliament often themselves failed to understand the expressions in a bill and had to ask for the German or international terminology to be sure of what they were voting for or against. All state employees were required to be proficient in Czech, and the requirement extended to notaries, court interpreters in any language, surveyors, and engineers, as well as district and municipal physicians. Licensed businesses, including taverns, had to display signs in Czech, and German could be used in dealing with the state authorities only when German speakers made up at least twenty percent of the local population. Such requirements were far more severe than those in force in Austria where Czechs had long been protesting any official restrictions on the use of their language. 

The Sudetenland was the last of Adolph Hitler’s bloodless conquests, taken, like the Rhineland and Austria, “without firing a shot.” His next incursion, sixteen months later, would be into Poland, where Germans were not begging to be rescued, and resulted in the proper onset of World War II…which, as even the minimalist history laid out in the passage above demonstrates, was really just an extension and (from Hitler’s standpoint) exploitation of grievances that stretched back decades, if not centuries.

I came across this during my lunchtime cafe reading time today, and it stayed with me when I got home, probably because not a few eminent historians have been noting of late that we are quite likely at the end of the Pax Americana that Hitler’s overreach (and the feckless, though, as Davidson makes clear a few pages later, understandable, response of those ruling the previous World Order) made all but inevitable.

It is a reminder that the losers never forget and “multi” cultures are only ever imposed and papered over by force. The foundational cracks are always lying underneath, awaiting exposure.

I don’t read history to feel better about the world. I read it so I won’t be surprised by the inevitable. The periods of human peace and prosperity, such as we are living through now, tend to be brief and are always followed by one of two results:

Tyranny.

Or Chaos…and then Tyranny.

Of course it’s possible I’m just crabby, the way a man gets when he has an unexpected week off and it rains every day and his web site gets hacked. I’ll get back to reading now.

BEAR WITH US….

…WE ARE WORKING ON OUR TECHNICAL PROBLEMS. YOUR BROADCAST WILL RESUME SHORTLY.

The comments section has been malfunctioning for the last twenty-four hours or so. My apologies to anyone who has tried to comment during that time. It’s being worked on, I promise. I’ll give another update as soon as the problem is resolved.

Meanwhile….

WHAT I FREE ASSOCIATE ABOUT WHEN I’M LISTENING TO MUSIC THAT WAS MEANT FOR DANCING

Since this is, among other things, an homage to the dancers who lit up the Hollywood Rock and Roll shows in the sixties (especially Hollywood A Go-Go), I’ll let this lovely photo of Roberta Tennes stand in for all of them. She passed away in 2015. Time is merciless. R.I.P.

I don’t know how many mix tapes/discs I’ve made in my life. Probably less than a hundred. Definitely more than fifty.

A modest number then. The point of a mix for me is to approximate the surprise juxtapositions you run into on radio or, these days, YouTube.

Of course, if you listen to a disc too often, the surprise element goes away. The sequence can become as ingrained and automatic as your favorite Beatles album…until you let it sit on the shelf long enough to forget.

And when you come back (in this case, after maybe seven or eight years, to a disc I originally put together as a tape in a series I called Cavern Classics, all based around music I could picture the Hollywood A Go-Go dancers dancing to at the Sock Hope at the end of the Universe), sometimes it makes you smile….

Here’s Volume 20 of the Cavern Classics…with stray thoughts attached:

“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” Elton John & Kiki Dee (1976): A sneaky good side-starter. Don’t go breaking my heart the guy says. I couldn’t if I tried, the girl answers. Wait….what? Next thing you know, feet start tapping. Somebody had been listening to a lot of Philly Soul.

“Jingling Baby” LL Cool J (1990): I still haven’t figured out quite what’s jingling. But I’ll always listen for the poetry of Taking out suckers while the ladies pucker/And rolling over punks like a redneck trucker. Oh, wait. He says its earrings that are jingling. Yeah, that’s probably it.

“Hawaii Five-O” The Ventures (1969): Of course it all has to make sonic sense. “Jingling Baby” to this: One of my top five transitions all time. Dance, girls, dance!

“The Boys are Back in Town” Thin Lizzy (1976): And here’s a song about somebody escaping the club and going downtown and driving all the old men crazy. I’m betting the late, great Phil Lynott–the second greatest Irish rock and roller after Van Morrison–had seen Hollywood A Go-Go some time or other.

“Ffun” Con-Funk-Shun (1977): Mystic chords of memory. They played Disney World the night of my senior Class Trip. I was elsewhere in the Magic Kingdom when they took the stage. Elvis wasn’t the only one who knew how to be lonely in the middle of a crowd. I don’t want to talk about it.

“It’s So Easy” Linda Ronstadt (1977): Dave Marsh once said he would prefer having records to masturbate to on his Desert Island to enduring Linda Ronstadt’s company in person. Back when this was on the radio, we used to have a word for guys like Dave: Afflicted. I think we should bring this word back.

“Mickey’s Monkey” The Miracles (1963): Okay, this is literally about spreading a new dance all around. The Cavern is not unaffected. From now on, girls, no matter what plays, everybody will be doing Mickey’s Monkey. (Warning: the video link is to the actual Cavern….this is where I learned that Rock and Roll America’s basic dances could be performed to almost anything with a beat.)

“Pay Bo Diddley” Mike Henderson & the Bluebloods (1996): No, you don’t get permission to stop! Not even for “Pay Bo Diddley.” Keep doing Mickey’s Monkey. Okay….maybe you can do a little hand jive, too. Yeah, and maybe a little of that other thing. Just keep those feet moving. What? No, you absolutely cannot do that! Not until Mike gets Bo paid. Speaking of poetry–is rhyming IRS and Leonard Chess Rock and Roll America’s funniest line? Now, I’m not gonna help you with the answer….

“Radar Love” Golden Earring (1973): The intro always damn near brings a mix to a halt. I’ve stuck it in a few, though. Because soon enough the shuffle starts (dance, girls dance!) And somewhere in there the singer’s gonna insist the radio is playing some forgotten song/Brenda Lee…coming on strong. It’s the absence of “is” that makes it.

“We Gotta Get Out of this Place,” “It’s My Life,” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” The Animals (1965): Once in a while on these things, I do suites. Call this The Animals Suite. If “punk” really meant what the crit-illuminati like to pretend it means, it would mean the sound of Eric Burdon shouting “Don’t push me!” right smack dab in the middle of this suite.

Program Break (Note: Because I started with tapes, my mixes always ran about forty-five minutes. Feel free to go to the bathroom!)

“Summer of ’69” Bryan Adams (1985): Bryan Adams has tried to explain this song more than once. Shut up and sing Bryan. Play your guitar maybe. Lead your band. Count your money. Any damn thing. There are a few people who can get away with explaining perfection. You’re not one of them.

“Be-Bop-A-Lula” Gene Vincent (1956): Take Gene for instance. Gene’s not trying to explain. And he’s talking about a girl in her red blue jeans who’s the Queen of the Teens! Get it?

“Sweet Jane,” “Rock and Roll,” “Cool it Down” The Velvet Underground (1970): This is the Velvet Underground Suite or, if you like The Loaded Suite. Now I’m not saying these things are meant to define any band as great as the Animals or the Velvets. But by the time they hit the chorus of “Cool it Down” here, and all the girls are dancing like spinning tops in the Cavern, you might  be forgiven for thinking so. Singing along is permitted by the way. Did I forget to mention that?

“Jumpin’ Jack Flash” The Rolling Stones (1968): When it was recently revealed that the FBI called its operation to “help” Donald Trump “Crossfire Hurricane,” there were many hilarious attempts to explain that “this is a reference to the Rolling Stones’ song ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash,’ which was also the name of a Whoopi Goldberg movie.” And you wonder why Trump is rolling over these punks like a redneck trucker?

“Tear Stained Letter” Patty Loveless (1996): Sprightly. (This is supposed to let the people dance, remember? Look, they’re back to doing Mickey’s Monkey!) Putting this together in the late nineties might have been the first time I realized Loveless and the Stones had some sort of weird connection. It wasn’t the last. Now let me list all the other country singers I ever thought of sticking between the Rolling Stones and War on a mix disc….

Still thinking.

“Cinco De Mayo” War (1981): Did I mention War was coming up. Dance, girls, dance!

“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (12″ version) Santa Esmeralda (1977);  The twelve-inch version of Santa Esmeralda’s cover of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” runs ten-and-a-half minutes. I don’t know how many minutes of that Quentin Tarantino (coming along years after I got all those girls dancing in the Cavern, mind you) used in Kill Bill. It felt like seventy-five or eighty. All I know is, until I saw Kill Bill, I believed Leroy Gomez and company could make a sprayed roach lying flat on its back get up and dance. I still believe that. I just know even they couldn’t make me think I was watching anything but a sprayed roach lying flat on it’s back while Kill Bill was playing.

“Gloria” Santa Esmeralda (1977): “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” can never be part of a suite. It is its own thing (heck it’s even called that officially–“The Esmeralda Suite”). But nothing else can follow it to close out a mix. I like when the Latin guy makes the Irish guy’s “i-yi-yi-yi” sound like “ay-ay-ay-ay.” There might be a revolution starting in there somewhere. Have to think it over.

Okay girls, you can stop doing Mickey’s Monkey now.

Girls….I say there….Girls?

Wait, what do you call that now?

Don’t you make me….

GIT YER CLOTHES BACK ON!

The mind is a funny thing. I’m sure glad I didn’t waste mine.

I think I’m gonna dedicate a song to Roberta’s memory…

SITE UPDATE….

I apologize again for the problems the site has been having the last two weeks. I’ve shelled out for a firewall in addition to last month’s cleanup fee…Hoping that solves the issue for good. If it doesn’t, I’ll have to do a bunch of reconfiguring and it that happens, I’ll try to keep you posted as best I can.

Meanwhile I thank everyone for their patience….And, yeah, people who said rock n roll was merely teen music, devoted to things you and the world would soon outgrow, were, as usual, clueless.

Worries, worries, pile up in my head….

ALWAYS THERE (Occasional Sports Moment #32)

Chris Evert was the most important female athlete of the twentieth century.

Some people would argue Billie Jean King was more important. I’d say that’s a little like suggesting Branch Rickey was more important than Jackie Robinson, or John the Baptist was more important than Jesus. Yes, someone must clear the path (and Billie Jean, unlike Mr. Rickey or The Baptist, was great in the arena).

But it’s the one who walks through the last gate who fulfills the final, most vital task–the thing that cannot be done by the world simply asking or allowing a new thing to be given a chance or even by the very best people with the very best intentions dedicating their own lives to making it so.

Jesus and Jackie have gotten their due. Evert has not. (There are reasons. I discussed some of them here.)

Jesus’ job was to sacrifice his life for mankind. Jackie’s was to excel on the field and take all the guff that came with breaking the color line in the only sport where, in 1948, it mattered.

Evert’s job–one I doubt she wanted any more than Jackie wanted to keep his considerable temper–was to put butts in the seats and keep eyes glued to the tube and to do it for a long enough period of time that taking a non-Olympic women’s sport seriously would take hold for good.

This is something she alone has ever done in the history of day-to-day women’s sports. Today’s women, playing her sport only reasonably well, routinely make more in endorsements than those playing other sports do for winning like crazy–and that’s on top of their sport, in good years or bad, already being a long way tops in competitive prize money.

Thank Chris Evert for all that. Without her there would be a tour. And it would be every bit as popular as the LPGA or the WNBA. (Or Billie Jean’s real passion, World Team Tennis. Not even Chris Evert, who, at the peak of her career, sacrificed the records that would have made it impossible to dismiss her in the Greatest of All Time** argument to support it, could make that dog hunt.)

The best moment in this very good interview (conducted by Steve Flink, a rare good tennis journalist and one with whom Evert has a strong enough relationship to keep her appointment even with what sounds like a terrible head cold) about her U.S. Open career, is Evert describing the two weeks when, at sixteen, she burst onto the scene with a series of improbable upsets and comebacks against the tour’s best players. The professional tour was so new it wasn’t even an idea when Evert took to the Lauderdale public courts ten years earlier, deploying her signature, revolutionary two-handed backhand because her six-year-old hands were otherwise too small to wield the racket.

Although it would be a worthwhile interview in any case because it’s a rare case of a long interview sticking almost entirely to tennis (these days, most tennis “journalists” don’t even bother with this when they are calling matches), the real kicker is when Evert and Flink revisit the moment she put not only women’s tennis, but tennis, on the front page of the paper.

Not the sports page.

The paper.

Up to and including the New York Times…and the one in my home town and yours, too.

They don’t say it so I will….

No one else, then or since, could have done that. And then backed it up with a career so consistent I–doubtless not alone–endured mild but lasting trauma eighteen years later when she retired and I was forced to confront the cold, harsh reality that there really was no rule that said my favorite player had to be in the finals every single week.

Still not sure I’m over it. All I can say is tennis is now the last sport I follow with any regularity. Not because of what it is. But because of what I know it can be.

**True, only fools do so now. But the world is run by fools. I’m sure you’ve noticed.

SISTER HARMONY (Yvonne Staples, R.I.P.)

Pops, Cleotha, Yvonne and Mavis Staples, circa early 70s

When Yvonne Staples replaced her brother Pervis in the Staple Singers in 1971, the family had been singing gospel for more than twenty years and trying to break into the mainstream (via folk at first, then soul) for nearly a decade.

Their signature strengths were long in place by then: Pops’ inimitable guitar licks, now stinging, new mellifluous; family harmony; Mavis’ astounding leads, an unmatched combination of honey and gravel.

They had even made epic records. Check out 1965’s Freedom Highway just for starters.

What they had not done was have hit records.

Coincidentally or not (they changed producers at the same time), exchanging Pervis’ harmony voice for Yvonne’s marked the exact moment the Staples headed for the sky and made the half-decade’s worth of soul and funk classics that made their legend. To my ear, a small but definite shift in energy and cohesion did occur. And, harmony, being what it is, I wouldn’t risk a do-over.

Not if it meant losing even a little bit of what the Staple Singers did in the years when they and Al Green were almost alone in keeping hard Southern soul near the center of America life, the moment we flew closest to the sun.

Not the first bit…

or the last….

…or anything in between.

Yvonne Staples passed away April 10.

I know where she is now. Where there’s no smiling faces, lying to the races.

See you when I get there.