Monthly Archives: May 2016

Rock Music’s Greatest Mansplanations


I received a video link that was not only the funniest parody I’d seen in months, but also answered a question I’ve had for years:

How do men get away with such sexist lyrics in rock?

The answer, I guess, is obvious. For there is no powerful creature on earth than a rock god, regardless of what women say about the sexiness of a man’s intelligence. Ever seen a throng of girls screeching and fainting when Albert Einstein arrived on the tarmac after a trip to Liverpool?

Still, as we’re on the cusp of electing our first female president, it seems odd that the fairer sex has not yet demanded fairer treatment, at least in music.

Consider the opening line to the song all rock fans consider an anthem to entanglement-free living, Free Bird:

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?

While attributed to band leader Ronnie Van Zant, he later admitted that the line came from a letter left to him by an ex-girlfriend. At least the line “And this bird, you cannot change” was uniquely his.

But popular music has much deeper roots in chauvinism. This little ditty came from The Temptations, a group renowned for swooning women dizzy:

Oh, as strange as it seems
You know you can’t treat a woman mean

Despite sounding like it came from the 50’s, that song was recorded in 1984. Was not abusing women  really a revelation then?

Even Tommy Tutone is a bit Tufaced. In his classic Jenny (867-5309), he croons:

I know you think I’m like the others before
Who saw your name and number on the wall

But then he follows unapologetically with this:

I got it, (I got it), I got it
I got your number on the wall
I got it, (I got it), I got it
For a good time, for a good time call…

But at least a quick-thinking YouTuber had some fun with KISS’ Beth. This director may have a job as director of communications in a Clinton administration.



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Happy Bobbie Faye Day!


While he never did so consciously, dad was always stealing mom’s thunder.


While he drew laurels and praise for his amazing work as a city-wise reporter, mom worked the unheralded halls of the same cities: the classrooms.


As dad won awards from peers and the admiring, mom received the same plaudits, perhaps deeper. From the students who would visit her years later to the parents willing to do outlandish things at parent-teacher functions to land Mrs. Bowles as a teacher. One father offered to dive into a pool, fully clothed, if his child could become her student. He did, and the child was doubly rewarded, with doting parent and peerless teacher.

My guess is that student now runs her own company. And if you’re reading, could I get a grant?


And while dad’s tales made our Bowles kin legend, the truth is Bobbie Faye Johnson came from some badass heritage herself. Her mother, Daisy, was the only grandparent I knew. And it took me years to realize not every grandmother  rolls her own cigarettes, chews tobacco and carries a revolver is she ever gets into a scrape. Even in her 80’s, you didn’t fuck with Daisy.


Mom, too, doesn’t take much shit. Dad never took a vacation. But mom had summers off from class. So she’d pile me and sis, from tykehood to teen-hood, in a cramped VW Beetle to haul us to see relatives from both sides of the family.  She never lamented, at least publicly, having to shoulder that all herself. Though she does occasionally voice unsolicited  advice when you hold a knife: Don’t cut yourself. But as she’d say, it ain’t nagging if it’s true.


While dad willed his way onto his college basketball team, mom was recruited. Peabody College, a division of Vanderbilt University, offered a scholarship to the defensive guard known in hometown Chadbourn, N.C., as Mighty Mouse.


Like dad, she made little of everything she did. You’d no more knww dad was Pulitzer finalist than you’d know kids with names like Senator Scott and Precious Wellington III were singing mom to the high heavens. As Noah once noted, “When I think, I think of you.”


Amen, Noah. You’ve been taught well.




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HB Commercial of the Month


This month’s HBCOM goes to something of a jaw-dropper. Normally, the winning entry does so with a touch of wit, dash of sarcasm, at least a hint of self-deprecation.

But this one literally stopped me mid-step. And not because of its genius use of music (as can be seen here, one of the greatest TV ads ever).

No, this was stunning simply in the audacity of its message.

Advertising has always rested on a single campaign promise: Whatever you’re doing, it’s all right.

Binge overeater? There’s a pill for that. Depressed? Ditto. Can’t afford a new car? What if we spread it out over five years? No money for a couch? Why, you can rent some furniture from us at a reasonable vig.

Dad used to tease me about falling for the latest sneaker commercial. (“Do you really believe you’ll jump higher in those clown shoes?”) Compared to this, however, Air Jordan commercials were Picasso at a yard sale.


Not since Phillip Morris paraded smoking “doctors” for the TV has a corporation suggested such a potentially dark path for kids.

In the ad, Jeff Goldblum stumbles upon a poor fellow in stockades. The imprisoned man admits his wrongdoing: He entered into a 30-year mortgage.

Goldblum, always a great on-screen asshole (see The Big Chill) taunts the inmate that he could be living free and easy — just like those youngsters dancing stage right with nary a care. Why you see, Jeff explains, those go-getters aren’t weighted down by a mortgage. They’re free to rent! Flush away at!

No one will ever accuse corporate America of excessive humanity. Given the chance, U.S. automakers would have used piano wire for seat belts if consumer advocates hadn’t pressed the government for safer cars.

But the idea that nothing counts but our immediate needs — and to commit and own is a path for suckers — has got to give at some point, from an economic standpoint if not a moral one. Hopefully that comes before a generation discovers that the one before theirs had no inheritance to leave except long-term payments at fixed rates.



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