Help me find a way.

The first great-books club meeting of the year was yesterday, although maybe that’s pushing it. We don’t read any great books in toto, we read selections from them, in a master text called “Great Conversations,” which the library, the sponsor of this shindig, provides. There was dark talk of budget cuts affecting this year’s schedule, but so far — fingers crossed — we’re hanging in there. Members of the group may have to lead a session or two, should we lose our librarian, but we’re ready for that. I signed on for “The Chilean Earthquake” by Heinrich von Kleist, a work and a writer I had never even heard of before, and so much for that English minor, eh?

Anyway, when I joined the group I was hoping for a raucous bunch of table-pounders. I got five retirees. Ah, well. It’s also where I found my Russian teacher, after we read a selection from the “War and Peace” and she revealed she’d just finished her second read of the entire novel — in the original language. And the retirees are always interesting, especially when they make small talk. One recently tuned in to WJR and heard Mark Levin, who is apparently a talk-show host who makes Rush Limbaugh sound like Walter Cronkite. I have to take someone else’s word for this, because I can’t listen to commercial radio anymore. I force myself to take in a little on the weekends, because if it weren’t for the XM they play at the gym, car commercials and these few brief hours of weekend exposure, I wouldn’t hear new music anywhere.

I draw the line at talk, however, no matter when it’s on. Just can’t do it, and when I hear Rush or Sean or someone else drifting from an open window or the UPS truck, my default setting is the same one I employ when I pass a homeless person muttering about motherfuckers. I assume: Crazy. Avoid eye contact. Do not engage.

My book-club friend, a nice lady who was most engaged by the tangent we took on left brain/right brain issues, was horrified by Levin. WJR is a community institution here much the way WOWO is in Fort Wayne, but like lots of AM stations, it’s had to stake out its position in right-wing talk. They generally go for the A-team national shows with lots of local-local hosts, and I notice they sneak Levin on in the evenings, when the rational part of the nation is watching TV and only the insane ones are down in their basements, radio on, cleaning their guns or building birdhouse after birdhouse under a bare light bulb. (And hey, check it out — Dr. Laura now has the coveted 11 p.m.-1 a.m. slot. How the mighty have fallen.)

It’s good to see someone else is horrified. Although less comforting to know more people are seeking this stuff out.

I’m short on time today, and want to say a little about Mary Travers, the latest in this year’s long, long line of obituaries. I can’t exactly mourn her passing — what has Peter, Paul and Mary been since 1970 or so? — but I’d like to at least take note of what she was a part of. “A Mighty Wind” had a mighty fine time mocking the early-’60s folkie era, but I was a young child then, and these were some of the earliest records I can recall choosing myself out of the pile and putting on the turntable. The world won’t mourn the last New Christy Minstrel who leaves the earth, but for all the fun you can poke at it, this was some great music. It was also maybe the last time that overtly religious traditional music was heard in the public square. (I’m not counting “Godspell” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and you can’t make me.) The first PP&M record is a little work of art in a time capsule, and today, while we’re marking the passage of the blonde, lots of people will call your attention to “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Meh. This is the only PPM record you need, and this is its best single song (side one, track one, I believe). Yes, it’s the one that was used on that “Mad Men” episode last season. Enjoy, and RIP Mary Travers:

Posted at 9:59 am in Media, Popculch |

68 responses to “Help me find a way.”

  1. MarkH said on September 17, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Wow, didn’t know about Henry Gibson until this morning. Amazing the prominent people we’ve lost this year. One may need a scorecard, so here’s a site with a nice compendium:

    I really enjoyed Gibson’s turn on the last few seasons of Boston Legal.

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  2. moe99 said on September 17, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Still true today as it was almost 5 years ago:

    But there’s a few more things to add to his list of issues like birthers and health care reform. And I bet John McCain would no longer be on his list of sober, realist Republicans after the 2008 campaign.

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  3. LAMary said on September 17, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Mary Travers could walk into a room today, with the same hair and outfit, and look contemporary. The women in the audience still had the residual Mamie Eisenhower influence hairdo but Mary looked way cool.

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  4. Laurie said on September 17, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Mary walked the walk of conscience. The folk music of the 1960s was influential in social-change movements and our wider culture, and I just can’t imagine that music without PP&M.
    Plus, to me as a young girl, she was just so darned glamorous and sexy, with that dusky voice blowing right on a par with Peter and Paul.
    Take your place, Mary, on the Great Mandella. You’ll be missed.

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  5. mark said on September 17, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Google news advises that scientists have found a cure for color-blindness. Way cool for me.

    Now my color-blindness hasn’t been a big deal for me since my last chemistry lab (“You add the sodium chloride and remove from the heat when the solution turns blue-grey. You did that, right?”), I’m not inclined to spend a whole lot of my personal money just to see the world in color. I can live with mixing up the blue and black socks once in a while. But with free care on the way, I’ll do it no matter what it costs.

    After that, I’m going to shop around for some government grants to kick-start my second career as a chemist, I think.

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  6. Whitcomb said on September 17, 2009 at 11:33 am

    It was great music. Bob Dylan owes a debt to PP&M for giving his songs much wider exposure than they otherwise would have received in the early ’60s.

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  7. nancy said on September 17, 2009 at 11:45 am

    LA Mary is right about Travers’ look. You know what I like about folk music? Anyone can play it, and anyone can sing it. Which sounds duh, but that’s one thing I really think overproduced pop music has done — professionalized what is really one of the simplest human pleasures. For every tin-eared dork who thinks they’re the next American Idol, there are 100 who are afraid to sing in front of other people, for fear of not sounding like Beyoncé. I like those old campfire tunes.

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  8. brian stouder said on September 17, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    What Nance said. The real power of these sorts of folk classics seems to derive from the fact that an average person CAN sing it; it’s intended to be sung by one and all; art that is beautiful AND accessible. Consider more formal examples of folk music – hymns like Amazing Grace – which aways puts a lump in my throat, or The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

    Aside from that, today – September 17, is the anniversary of the bloodiest single day in American history. Not December 7, not September 11, not Katrina nor the San Francisco Quake nor the Chicago Fire nor even D-Day –

    but instead, near a lovely creek in western Maryland – near Sharpsburg – all hell broke loose just before sunrise, and the Union victory there by sundown was the one the president was waiting for, before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation ultimatum.

    And aside from that, this evening the young folks and I are heading to beautful IPFW for an evening with Henry Winkler and Marlie Matlin. I’ve no real idea what to expect, but how can you go wrong with the Fonze and an Academy Award winning deaf actress?

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  9. Jolene said on September 17, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    All these deaths–Travers, Kennedy, Cronkite, especially–are not only sad in themselves, but, each one pokes another hole in the cultural and political framework of my life.

    Fortunately, I am right this minute watching Barack Obama rock the house at the University of Maryland. Gives me some hope that, despite the losses of icons of the past and the ugliness of the present, a bright future is still possible.

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  10. Jolene said on September 17, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    mark: Does it really make you feel better to say snide things like “now that free care is on the way”? The primary thrust of all the reform proposals is to make it possible for more people to BUY insurance and to attempt to reduce costs.

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  11. coozledad said on September 17, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I remember reading somewhere that for all off the fluff and insipidity of the Carpenters, when you actually listened to them they were like the primal scream of the hush-puppies and cardigan set. There’s a lot of music that works a lot better if you remove it from the context of its original marketing. The Seekers and Spanky and Our Gang had a distinctive harmonic environment that’s mostly attributable to English Folk, but just got lumped in with AM radio Biedermeier. There’s something endearing about these geeks, I think. But again, if you listen to the lyrics, the songs are primarily about getting away from something painful or inimical.

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  12. mark said on September 17, 2009 at 12:44 pm


    The proposals will require me to BUY insurance whether I want it or not. It will require me to BUY the policy that Washington bureaucrats decide I must have rather than what I want. I will be taxed an equivalent penalty if I refuse to go along so I will obviously BUY my government plan to replace the one I like but which will no longer exist.

    At that point, my decisions about my health care will be completely divorced from my economic decisions. There is no reason not to cue up for all I can get. I’ve been assured there will be plentiful care for everyone, costs will go down, and the whole thing will be deficit neutral. That is true, isn’t it?

    And really, Jolene, is my comment the best example of a “snide” comment you can find on this blog? I at least try to direct my snark to ideas, not people.

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  13. moe99 said on September 17, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    mark, if you don’t BUY insurance, you are a drag on the rest of society that does buy insurance, because, well, we’re just so damn wimpy that if you were to be seriously injured and without the means to pay for medical treatment, why we would pay for that treatment ourselves.

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  14. 4dbirds said on September 17, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    I so wanted Mary’s hair. Long, blonde and straight. Instead mine was red with a stubborn wave. I love California Dreaming. I still sing PP&M songs along with Simon and Garfunkel, Joan Baez and Dylan.

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  15. Jeff Borden said on September 17, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    It’s a shame that the station of classy J.P. McCarthy now must turn to a third-rate squawker like Mark Levin, but legacy stations like WJR are having a beastly time remaining relevant in this crazy media world.

    In Chicago, ratings for our legacy outlet, WGN-AM, are hurting, which led to an experiment in which the weekends were turned over to loud, argumentative conservatives. They didn’t seem to catch on, perhaps because WLS-AM already has the angry old white man demographic sewn up with Rush the Race Baiter the star attraction.

    As much as we discuss the decline of American newspapers, folks, the whole media platform is collapsing. Radio is shedding listeners by the tens of thousands as young adults tune out in favor of everything from iPods to Network TV ratings are shadows of what they once were and, again, the next generation isn’t watching. They catch their favorite shows online without commercials.

    For oldsters like me, this is a sad situation. As a kid, I used to tune in stations from all over the country from my bedroom in Lima, Ohio using a turquoise plastic Motorola table radio, writing down the call letters and frequencies in a small notebook. Those big, badass clear channel outlets like WJR, WOWO, KMOX, WLS, WCFL, WBZ, WABC, KDKA were trophies to me back then. Now, in many cases, their survival is in question.

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  16. Sue said on September 17, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    mark, why do you think nothing but a government plan will exist after this? Do you really think insurance companies are not going to find a way to benefit from this? They’ll be able to roll with the punches with lots of help from their purchased elected representatives.
    Now THAT is a snide remark. Directed at people.
    Can this be Snide Remark Day? Dwight’s not allowed.

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  17. Scout said on September 17, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    From all I am hearing, the Baucus Plan is so ridiculously bad it is finally the one thing garnering bi-partisan support – everybody hates it. It may not make it out of committee and I have all my fingers and toes crossed hoping that it won’t. It is an awful bill, written by the very industry that is already raping us.

    Harry Reid will decide which bill to bring to the floor – The Baucus Debaucle or the Kennedy Committe bill. I urge everyone to call Reid and insist on the Kennedy Bill.

    Majority Leader Harry Reid

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  18. Jeff Borden said on September 17, 2009 at 1:04 pm


    As details of the Baucus plan, which you accurately cite, come out, you’ll see this thing die a quick and welcome death. The whole idea was to garner a few Republican votes, so Obama and his team could cling to the idea of a bipartisan approach to a national problem. Now that the GOP has signaled it will not cast a single vote for the Baucus plan, why bother?

    I’d prefer a single-payer plan myself, but a public option is all right with me, too.

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  19. mark said on September 17, 2009 at 1:09 pm


    I have a policy for catastrophic illnesses. It’s cheap and I’d rather deal with a sore throat for a couple of days or come up with the money to pay if I break a bone than pay an outrageous sum for a policy that has the coverage you want me to have but I don’t need. But if you get your way, there is no reason for me to not visit the doctor at the first sign of a sniffle. And why would that bother you?

    Again, haven’t we been assured that care will be plentiful, less expensive and deficit neutral? If that is true, why should you care how often I go to the doctor or for what? We can all go as often as we want and it will be better and less expensive.

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  20. paddyo' said on September 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Single payer? That’s what I was in 1963, age 10, when I bought my first 45-rpm single …

    Though I grew up in SoCal and would become a fan of the Beach Boys et al. forever (along with plenty more mainstream-alt-edgy rock, jazz, pop, etc.), that very first record, bought for 99 cents of hard-earned allowance at my local record store in Glendora, CA, was
    “Puff, the Magic Dragon”

    Hey, you gotta start somewhere …

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  21. LAMary said on September 17, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    First record I ever bought was Sloop John B.

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  22. Rana said on September 17, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    You know what I like about folk music? Any­one can play it, and any­one can sing it.

    I like this about it too – the notes are within the range of ordinary peoples’ voices, and the lyrics tend to be easy to remember and understand. Whenever I’m trying to think of things to sing in the car to keep myself awake, or to sing while doing something boring like cleaning, it’s the folk songs that I remember. I enjoy singing along with more “mastered” pieces, but most of them tend to sound terrible when sung a cappella. Given that my voice is not unflawed, I’m fond of songs that are forgiving.

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  23. mark said on September 17, 2009 at 1:52 pm


    My plan discriminates (that’s why it is cheap) in ways that will be outlawed. It also has a big exclusion for substance abuse due to a prior stint in a rehab facility. Without that exclusion, I couldn’t get the policy. I don’t care because I don’t intend to deal with that problem again and if I have to, I wouldn’t use the same treatment (in-patient) anyway.

    Jeff- Seems the Baucas proposal has lots of critics. I still wish they would consider plans for those who crrently have need, which would then be available to others if and when need arises, and leave everybody else alone.

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  24. LAMary said on September 17, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    I had the eight track tape of PPM Ten Years Together album. I loved singing along with 500 Miles. It’s such a lovely plaintive song.

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  25. Julie Robinson said on September 17, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Of course I wanted that long straight blonde hair–mine was black and curly, but I also identified with Mary because she was an alto/tenor and sang very low for a woman. This was part of PPM’s unique sound–they were all singing in the same octave. My son and I have done this a few times, me on alto, him on the melody but an octave lower. Although he’s developed an awesome falsetto, he could almost sing the actual soprano notes.

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  26. Rana said on September 17, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    I dunno, mark – everything I’ve read on the issue suggests that the cost and drain on doctors’ time for hypochondriacs rushing in for every sniffle would still be less than the cost and waste of time that result from chronic conditions being allowed to go critical to the point of requiring emergency room care. This is especially the case when we’re talking communicable diseases; it’s that classic ounce of prevention, pound of cure equation.

    This isn’t to say that the initial transition wouldn’t be difficult, as the backlog of people who’ve been putting off necessary treatment enter the system all at once, but it’s a bit like dealing with a forest that hasn’t been allowed to burn for decades – the question isn’t whether it will burn, but under which conditions. We’ve been suppressing our medical fires for a long time now, and putting off the inevitable isn’t going to make things easier.

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  27. Rana said on September 17, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    (That shouldn’t be read as support for the Baucus plan, btw. As best I can tell, it’s the worst of both worlds, and if the Democrats allow their name to be put on it while the Republicans abstain, they’re fools.)

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  28. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 17, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Brian — my great-great-grandfather thanks you for the shout out on Antietam day:

    Clock’s ticking for anything even remotely resembling a GOP plan to hit the table; even Max could come up with one in the back seat of his town car on the way to the Capitol, fer Pity’s sake. I really think there’s gonna be an impact if they don’t even pretend to come up with something.

    Mark Levin i had to listen to on an earphone radio at camp, trying to get the next morning’s weather before i fell asleep at 11 pm. He makes Glenn Beck sound like Cicero, Ptolemy, and Lord Beaconsfield wrapped into one. I needed to wait up for Art Bell to feel better about going to bed (or George Nouri, or whomever it is who has the Coast-To-Coast slot these days).

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  29. 4dbirds said on September 17, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Mark, I think the days of having a broken bone set in the family doctor’s office and paying a hundred bucks is long gone. I bet by time the family doctor sends you to the Ortho guy, he takes x-rays, does surgery to have pins inserted (My understanding is that bones and joints don’t like casts and to recover like new the last thing you want is an old fashioned cast)and you finish physical therapy, you’ve spent ten grand.

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  30. LAMary said on September 17, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    My son’s broken jaw and ear injuries have cost almost five grand so far. I’m covered, but I pity the family who isn’t. This was just from falling off a bike.

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  31. Connie said on September 17, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    My daughter’s jaw surgery a few years ago cost me $15,000 after the insurance company decided it was unnecessary cosmetic. She met all the requirements regarding measurements and deformity. But to be covered she also had to be dying of malnutrition.

    We will have enough med bills to deduct this year for the first time since that surgery in 04. And that is for a heart attack, stents, and follow up, which was covered by insurance. Our copays, deductible, and 20% is past $7,000 ytd.

    Did I tell you my daughter is going to an expensive private college?

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  32. 4dbirds said on September 17, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    My daughter has a double chest anomoly called Pectus excavatum and Pectus carinatum, (a combo of pidgeon and sunken chest) Insurance won’t cover any surgical correction of pidgeon chest but if sunken chest meets a certain threshold on a Haller index, it can be covered. Children’s in DC was willing to do the combo surgery for one price if we could get it covered. An index measured by an MRI of over 3.25 is covered by insurance. Our daughter just missed that. The cost to us was $50,000.00. Needless to say, it hasn’t been fixed.

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  33. Jolene said on September 17, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    mark: Obviously, much remains to be worked out, but I haven’t heard anything that says insurance companies won’t be able to offer different kinds of policies. If that’s the case, you can still buy the catastrophic illness policy you favor.

    It’s also worth noting that your preferences may change as you get older.

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  34. moe99 said on September 17, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Limbaugh on Obama today: “Just as he is ACORN, just as he is Van Jones, he is racism”

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  35. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 17, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    btw, Nancy — “hop­ing for a rau­cous bunch of table-pounders” — i guess you’re stuck with us!

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  36. Dexter said on September 17, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    The first PP&M album I bought had this song on it.
    YouTube only has it by Elvis and here by Joan Baez.
    It’s right on topic…a religious song (you can’t get more religious!) yes, but it ties into a rebel’s stance too. I was inspired by it.
    I also got a kick out of “Car Car” or “Take Me for a Ride in Your Car Car”.
    Whitcomb is very much correct; I was playing Dylan songs sung by PP&M before I ever knew who this Bob Dylan was that wrote all those great songs.

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  37. Dexter said on September 17, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Also on-topic, the lawyer-PhD -in -Chinese lit -Tweeter “Hudsonette” tweets this:
    “Hate Talk Radio is like pro wrestling. Only the fans of pro wrestling have a better grip on reality.”

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  38. emma said on September 17, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    “Going to the Zoo.” From the “Peter, Paul & Mommy” album. It still plays in my house — on vinyl.

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  39. Deborah said on September 17, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    I definitely copied Mary’s hairdo, throughout my teen years, blond, long, straight with a bit of a flip, and bangs down to my eyes.

    When I went to the U2 concert last Saturday night and saw the over the top visuals and special effects I thought about whatever happened to the simple spotlight on a singer with a guitar. The U2 show used up lots and lots of energy with the enormous digital display and lights galore. Not very green minded.

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  40. annie said on September 17, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Peter Paul & Mary was my very 1st concert – & very 1st date. I was 15 & went to a club in San Francisco where, because alcohol was served & we were under age, they put us in a special roped off section to the side of the stage — do they still do things like this?
    For weeks afterward I tossed my long straight hair (not blond, alas) in imitation of Mary.

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  41. Bob said on September 17, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    “I draw the line at talk, how­ever, no mat­ter when it’s on. Just can’t do it, and when I hear Rush or Sean or some­one else drift­ing from an open win­dow or the UPS truck, my default set­ting is the same one I employ when I pass a home­less per­son mut­ter­ing about moth­er­fuck­ers. I assume: Crazy. Avoid eye con­tact. Do not engage.”

    The only national-scale talk radio that entertains me a few minutes at a time is “Coast to Coast AM,” the only show that doesn’t pretend its guests and callers are sane. Twenty years ago, when national talk radio included combative hosts from across the political spectrum, it was interesting. Now it all sounds like a kennel full of barking far-right outliers fighting over the same red meat. Ho-hum. Cue the book on CD for the long drive.

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  42. Scout said on September 17, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Talk radio CAN be informative and fun – I am a big fan of The Stephanie Miller Show.

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  43. LAMary said on September 17, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    After I’ve heard all the NPR news stories at least twice while dressing and eating breakfast and driving, I switch to cds. Lately I’ve been listening to Paul Simon a lot. Slip Slidin Away.

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  44. jeff borden said on September 17, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Ah, c’mon, the best talk radio is Click and Clack on the weekends.

    I guess El Rushbo has decided that inciting a race war is all right so long as it drives his ratings. Media Matters notes he’s still flogging that school bus incident, even though the police chief has recanted the original premise that it was racially motivated and now says it’s just good, old-fashioned high school bullies acting like high school bullies always have. That, of course, is not good enough for Rush.


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  45. joodyb said on September 17, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    annie, no; you get your own under-age show or you don’t come in at all.

    LAMary, that album just keeps getting better and better.

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  46. MarkH said on September 17, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    “…just good, old fashioned high school bullies acting like high school bullies always have.”

    Holy shit, Jeff, did you actually watch the video?! I’ve seen some bullying in my time as well, but that type if viciousness goes beyond the pale. That kid was whaled but good and multiple assaulters seemed to chime in, not once, but in a second episode a few minutes later just to make sure he got the message. I don’t know how many black kids or white kids were on that bus, but just because you don’t want to see what looked like black on white violence painted as racial, please don’t soft-pedal the beating that kid took. Maybe it wasn’t, but no one deserved that.

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  47. mark said on September 17, 2009 at 8:02 pm


    It happened to me a few years ago. Closed reduction surgery with pins. Total cost was $4900.00- a blow to some of my plans and a debt paid over time, but not a catastrophe that gives me a claim on other people’s money. I understand that for others 5 thousand bucks would be a much bigger hardship and I’m open to programs to help them. But leave my damn insurance alone because I like it, I don’t need help and I enjoy making decisions for myself.

    Rana- You make a good point and I don’t know where the balance is. But the vast majority of medical issues that people like me ignore for economic reasons DON’T lead to something awful and expensive down the road. There are some things that shouldn’t be ignored, but not all of those lead to something expensive. Some lead to falling over dead of a heart attack or aneurysm. No expense at all. If that happens because I’m CHOOSING not to spend $200 bucks on a doctor visit because I want to spend it elsewhere, that’s not a national tragedy or a sign of our awful health care system. It was a bad decision by me. Remove the economics and there is no choice to make.

    Jolene- The “we really don’t know what the plan is” response remains legitimate but it’s getting very old. With Obama shouting “the time for discussion is over” every day, with the Administration’s complete abandonment of it’s pledge of transparency in legislation, and with the precedent set by the auto bail-out and stimulus bills, pardon me for suspecting that the citizens won’t be allowed to know “what the plan actually is” until after the vote is taken. That’s been the modus operandi of Obama on EVERY major piece of legislation thus far.

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  48. mark said on September 17, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    While my other comment languishes in moderation purgatory due to my inablility to type an accurate e-mail address (sorry, Nancy), I’ll suggest this recent poll as reading material.

    Yes, there are problems with this kind of polling. But please don’t tell me that you have to be a racist or addicted to talk radio to think that you can’t massively increase access to health care, without increasing the providers, without reducing the quality or quantity of any current care, while reducing cost and not increasing the deficit. People don’t dislike Obama, they don’t believe him.

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  49. Deborah said on September 17, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Whenever I happen to ride in a cab in Chicago with talk radio on, I ask the cabbie to turn it off which they are obligated to do when asked. Even NPR. It just bothers me to listen to talk radio in a cab. When I lived in St. Louis before I moved to Chicago I always listened to NPR while driving and that’s the way I got most of my news. Now it just irks me. I do like “This American Life” occasionally but that’s about it. What happened to NPR? It’s not the same.

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  50. beb said on September 17, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    What happened to NPR? — Bush. You can look it up.

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  51. moe99 said on September 17, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Yeah, the Board at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are all Bush appointees and have turned what used to be a great news source into meh.

    Oh, and “it’s” = “it is,” while “its” signifies ownership. Or Mrs. Ellie Stoner taught me wrong in 9th grade.

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  52. Rana said on September 17, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Remove the eco­nom­ics and there is no choice to make.

    I don’t quite understand what you’re getting at here, I think because it seems to me that you’re partly arguing that if people don’t have to pay for their own health care they’ll feel encouraged to request medical treatment that they don’t really need, and partly arguing that if people don’t take advantage of that health care option they’ll save the system money by dying? This feels contradictory to me; maybe I’m just not getting what you’re driving at here.

    As to the first point, I don’t know that I agree with that, simply because that position assumes that there are no other “costs” to seeing a doctor. It seems to me that you’re overlooking the annoyance of taking time out of your day or job in order to do so – it’s not like time opens mysteriously in your day when the payment is outsourced. Meanwhile, although there are cases of things that might be caught but when aren’t simply result in sudden death, most of the truly expensive things to pay for – cancer, diabetes, and other chronic disorders – are indeed things that are best caught when they’re still small and controllable. There are also situations where you want to encourage people to seek care for minor conditions, such as a fever – right now, in the institutions where I and my fiancé teach, students are being strongly encouraged to take seemingly minor symptoms seriously, because of the concerns about an H1N1 epidemic. When economic costs discourage such behavior, what you end up with are people who are out spreading communicable diseases and not getting the treatment needed to help protect other people. Paying for others’ health care isn’t just about being charitable; it’s also a matter of self-protection.

    Again, everything I’ve read by doctors and health care professionals indicates that they’re in broad agreement that letting people come in and request care whenever they want is still cheaper than the current system.

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  53. brian stouder said on September 17, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Well, regarding Henry Winkler and Marlee Matlin, the presentation was surprisingly good. Shelby, our 11 year old, came with me – but Grant bailed, which was too bad, because the lively and humorous point of the talk was congruent with the president’s recent address to America’s school children: that they must figure out what they’re best at, and then work hard to excel at that.

    We learned that when Winkler was at the apex of his Fonz fame, he and his wife went to an academy for deaf students to see a production of The Wizard of Oz (which must have been marvelous!), starring a 12 year old Marlee. Henry said he and his wife were in tears watching this girl dance to music she could not hear, and displaying huge amounts of talent and flair.

    He said they wanted to meet her backstage after the show, and that her parents implored him to tell her to forget about becoming an actor, since clearly that was a road to heartbreak and disappointment; and how Winkler told her folks that he could never, ever, ever, if his life depended on it, ever tell her that; that he was going to tell her that she had “it” – whatever “it” is – and that she had to work hard and pursue her dreams; and how, 8 years later, Marlee was standing there with an Academy Award in her hand, for her acting in Children of a Lesser God.

    I never knew about his involvement in her career. She seems to be a sort of adoptive daughter to him and his wife.

    Anyway, the house was as packed as it was the evening Hal Holbrook came to town. They filled the place to the rafters, and Shelby walked out with a smile on her face.

    Next up is James Galbraith on our economic crash – which I think will be tremendous stuff. Although Shelby will likely come with me, I suspect the house might be a little less crowded!

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  54. MichaelG said on September 17, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    First record I ever bought was “Rock’n ‘round the Clock” by Bill Haley and his Comets. “Rock’n Through the Rye” was the flip. You tell me the date.

    When you say the words “folk music” in this country you must also say the words “Pete Seeger.”

    I love Joan Baez. There was a nice thing and an interview a couple of weeks ago on NPR. In the summer between HS and college I went to a Joan Baez concert at Ravinia Park in Chicago. She had begun singing “Freight Train” when a train went by. She stopped and put a hand to her ear. The crowd went wild. The train’s blowing its horn was perfect. Then she resumed the song. What a moment.

    I have that Seekers album that Coozledad sampled for us. It was great. I can’t remember the woman’s name but she sure could sing.

    PP& M sang several songs that were written by Pete Seeger, Never forget that name. Their first album came out when I was in college. We listened to it a lot. The associations with the album and individual songs and time and place and friends alive and dead and school and my times in Vietnam are almost overwhelming. I found a cherry copy of the album about seven or eight years ago. I put it on and listened to the whole thing with tears streaming down my face. Somebody mentioned Mary Travers tossing her hair. What a signature movement. They did other albums and some appearances on Public TV but that one album was all it took for me. Who didn’t have the hots for Mary?

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  55. MarkH said on September 17, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    OK, beb, help me out. It’s clear what you’re suggesting, and I tried googling to find some editorial backup for George W. Bush screwing up NPR, personally, or with the backing of some group (like its editorial staff maybe?) Couldn’t find it. Please point me in the right direction.

    Further, moe, please…how does tossing out the old “it’s all Bush’s fault” canard give a proper explanation to how you may now feel about NPR? Here’s some help for you:

    I would challenge anyone to look at the CV’s of all these members and tell me what it is in their backgrounds that would send them on a mission to tank the network, let alone succeed. If you have examples, moe, cite them. Chairman Ernest J. Wilson was a Clinton appointee in 2000, held over and re-appointed in 2004 by Bush. Look at his credentials; impeccable. The rest show similar, if not as abundant as Mr. Wilson, backgrounds. All except one. I grant you that Gay Hart Gaines’ appointment smacks of political payback, as there is no real communications or broadcasting history, just charity and republican party work. But what of the rest? Granted, the rest are clear Bush appointees, what is there that indicated nefariousness? Do we know af any intrusion by these people into the editorial process at NPR? If there had been, why haven’t we heard from a disgruntled former reporter or producer? Maybe we have; evidence, please. I know Nancy may share your views, but really, just because you’re bored at best with NPR, and I know that now and then a story will tread into silly territory, but what did Bush have to to with it? I can’t believe I am defending NPR, but I do, regularly to my friends on the right and the left. It’s easy for me because we have such lousy radio here in our valley (you wouldn’t think so with six stations), and it provides the only real radio news around, and it is balanced. Morning Edition, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, I think really make an effort to present all sides. Even Terry Gross, who IS as liberal as they come, conducts thoughtful interviews, challenging all her guests, most times.

    Just my $.02, folks. I just never thought I ‘d hear anyone on this blog be critical of NPR because it got away from a perceived liberal bent.

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  56. nancy said on September 17, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    I’m going to have to agree with the conservatives here. Whatever happened to NPR at the board level was more than offset by Mrs. Kroc’s enormous gift, and the network grew and expanded afterward.

    I think a lot of it was a change in philosophy: They aggressively went after younger listeners, cast their net beyond the New York/DC area (hence the L.A. studio), and tried to fill in between the tent poles of Morning Edition and ATC.

    That required some changes a lot of old-timers weren’t happy with. They lost one of their long-term “investigative” reporters and others, but that was the direction they set for themselves.

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  57. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 17, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    I do wish “Day To Day” had survived . . . but Brian Unger sure seems to have landed on his feet. Can’t avoid seeing him every twelve minutes right now for Maxwell House & BMW. (Granville HS grad!)

    Do i scan rightly? Surely i’m not the first to post this lovely link here:

    So we’ve got a real burrowing worm deep into the apple . . . Rush Limbaugh’s inspirations are just P.T. Barnum and H.L. Mencken as far as i can tell. This stuff for Beck is H.P. Lovecraft.

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  58. Dexter said on September 17, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    MichaelG: My pal Larry, two years my senior, was chatting up the city tour bus driver on his high school senior trip to New York City. Larry was stunned when he saw a woman crossing the street. He told the driver ,”Wow! That looks just like Mary Travers!” The driver informed Larry that was because it was Mary Travers.
    When Larry and I both got computers and started emailing and reminiscing a bit, many years later, Larry had totally forgotten his story. I just couldn’t believe how a man could have forgotten that!
    When I was a boy , Dad took me to a baseball game in Chicago. Right outside the main gate a Checker cab pulled up and out bounded Tony Kubek, longtime NY Yankee shortstop. He signed my baseball yearbook I had bought seconds before from a vendor on the curb. That was 45 years ago and I can still see that cab and Mr. Kubek in my mind’s eye, in color, exactly as the scene played out.
    How could a kid forget seeing Mary Travers?
    Well, in 38 minutes I say goodbye to my fifties. I was born at the stroke of midnight, 9-18-49. Sixty years old. I never thought I’d make it. Nine miles on the bicycle this evening. I’ll ride ’til I fall off!

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  59. Jolene said on September 17, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    A lovely reminescence, MichaelG.

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  60. del said on September 17, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    LA Mary @24. 500 Miles is a lovely song, I didn’t know PPM had popularized it. My mom and dad would sing it in the car when as we neared home.

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  61. MichaelG said on September 18, 2009 at 12:47 am


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  62. moe99 said on September 18, 2009 at 1:29 am

    This one stops at 2006:

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  63. Connie said on September 18, 2009 at 6:51 am

    Happy b’day Dexter. My husband’s same is coming in November, he often calls himself “a remnant of the 40s.”

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  64. Connie said on September 18, 2009 at 7:12 am

    My first single was the Mamas and the Papas, and while I don’t remember that song, I remember the flip side, Creeque Alley, and can still sing every word. John and Mickey were gettin kind of itchy to leave the folk music behind, Zal and Denny were working for a penny…… and no one’s gettin fat cept Mama Cass.

    And I thought Car Car is a Woody Guthrie song, mostly because I remember Arlo singing it. There’s logic for you.

    Yup. Here it is.

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  65. coozledad said on September 18, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Mara Liason and Juan Williams are shills. Mara began carrying water for the Republicans during the Clinton administration and has never let up. I read that she describes herself as a libertarian, and that’s just about right: she’s unable to transition beyond self absorbed to critically introspective. She strikes me as a kind of vengeful starboffer.
    Replacing Ray Suarez with Juan Williams was a slap in the face. The Fox News moonlighters were the reason we switched to giving to the local affiliate for Amy Goodman’s program. If you’ve got to listen to advocacy journalism, it may as well be from the advocates for your part of the spectrum, and not Rupert Murdoch’s.
    Ira Glass and Terry Gross, and hell, even Car Talk, are more politically insightful than their news division. I get the impression the current atmosphere there is as grim as the last days of Louis XIV, when he was dying from gangrenous diabetes, and he stank for a few surrounding yards, but you still had to show up with the rest of the court and watch him gum his pheasant. Maybe that’s a legacy of the star system that includes such cringeworthy marginals as Susan Stamberg and Scott Simon.

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  66. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 18, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Oh, sweeeet —

    A long-forgotten puzzle at the heart of Chicago.
    A ruthless cult determined to protect it.
    A desperate race to uncover the Boy Scouts of America’s darkest secret.


    When world-famous Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to Wrigley Field to analyze a mysterious ancient script—imprinted on a gold ring lying next to the disfigured form of the head docent—he discovers evidence of the unthinkable: the resurgence of the ancient cult of the Inquifori, a secret branch of the Boy Scouts of America that has surfaced from the shadows to carry out its legendary vendetta against its mortal enemy, the Vatican.

    Langdon’s worst fears are confirmed when a messenger from the Inquifori appears at Lake Michigan to deliver a grim ultimatum: Deposit $1 billion in the Boy Scouts of America’s off-shore bank accounts or the exclusive clothier of the Swiss Guards will be bankrupted. With only three days to foil their plot, Langdon joins forces with the saucy and firm-minded daughter of the murdered docent in a desperate bid to crack the code that will reveal the cult’s secret plan.

    Embarking on a frantic hunt, Langdon and his companion follow a 200-year-old trail through Chicago’s most sacred statues and exalted buildings, pursued by a mustachioed assassin the cult has sent to thwart them. What they discover threatens to expose a conspiracy that goes all the way back to Davy Crockett and the very founding of the Boy Scouts of America.

    [Except, you can hit refresh and get more plots, and that’s just if you pick “Chicago” and “Boy Scouts”! ]

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  67. Ricardo said on September 20, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    First time I saw PP&M was on the TV show 77 Sunset Strip. Efrem Zimbalist’s character went into the night club where Eyd “Kookie” Burns parked cars and PP&M were performing. The plot stopped and they let them sing the entire song “A’Soalin”. I was always a fan after that.

    Henry Gibson was great in one of the leading parts in “Nashville”, as the Hank Snow/Roy Acuff character. Went through the movie looking like his hairpiece was on crooked.

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  68. MarkH said on September 21, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Ricardo, you were right:

    I was a fan of 77 Sunset Strip and didn’t remember this, but there it is.

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