Follow the bouncing ball.

Count me among the multitudes who didn’t know Mitch Miller was still alive. May he rest in peace, wherever that may be. Like many people of the roughly Sally-and-Bobby-Draper generation, I remember the bouncing ball on “Sing Along With Mitch,” although we never sang along. Mitch and the Gang blur together with all those ’60s-era variety shows — the King Family, et al., all of which would be blown out of the water by the glorious subversiveness of “Laugh-In” and the Smothers Brothers. I loved all of it — well, not Lawrence Welk or “Hee Haw” — and sometimes I think about why.

It was the music, of course. The Smothers Brothers taught me “John Henry,” Mitch Miller “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and the King Family…can’t remember. If nothing else, they taught me that there’s no way that much yellow hair could run in one family. Although, now that I think about it, my grandmother taught me that.

Me: Isn’t it amazing that they’re all blonde?
Nana: Not when you get it out of a bottle, it isn’t.

Seriously, though, who is teaching American folk music to kids anymore? Maybe these songs were chosen precisely because they’re in the public domain, but it doesn’t change the fact they’re great songs. John Philip Sousa fretted that the rise of the phonograph would make piano playing and family singalongs in the parlor obsolete, and it took a while, but he was right. I can no more imagine the three of us harmonizing on “Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley” than I can see us forming an act and playing Vegas. For one thing, I don’t know the words. Kate, on the other hand, doesn’t know the song even exists.

Her choir’s concert last year included numbers by Leonard Cohen and Coldplay.

The best Miller obit I could find is the one linked above; like all good obituaries, it doesn’t skimp on the shadows:

He had to threaten to fire (Rosemary) Clooney before she would record the gimmicky, fast-paced song, which he insisted she sing with a fake Armenian accent. But within weeks of its release, “Come On-a My House” was one of the biggest-selling records in the country and went on to sell more than a million copies.

…Although he became a legendary A&R man, Miller’s musical tastes weren’t in sync with the changing times as rock ‘n’ roll took control of the airwaves.

Miller reportedly turned down Elvis Presley in 1955, telling Presley’s manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker, that Presley was asking for too much money. And he told Buddy Holly’s manager that he wasn’t interested in Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day,” which went on to become a hit.

Simply put, Miller didn’t like rock ‘n’ roll, which he referred to as “musical illiteracy.” Time did not alter his opinion.

Maybe he thought he could wring another hit out of the public-domain songbook. There’s a danger in never looking forward.

So. Phyllis Schlafly was in town a couple weeks ago, dragging her dessicated bones to a fundraiser for some tool in Oakland County. The local Fox affiliate covered a protest afterward; evidently she said something obnoxious. I know, I know, dog bites man. I was more interested in the coverage, which was so glib and pro-forma — I believe the word “controversial” was in the copy about nine million times — and mispronounced Schlafly’s name throughout (Shaff-lee) that I didn’t pay attention to the muddy recording of her remarks:

One of the things Obama’s been doing is deliberately trying to increase the percentage of our population that is dependent on government for your living. For example, do you know what was the second biggest demographic group that voted for Obama? Obviously the blacks were the biggest demographic…

“The blacks.” Huh. Where is she still able to get her hair done like this? That’s what I’d like to know.

My alma mater is the No. 2 party school in the U.S. Well, it’s a rebuilding year, obviously.

Life imitates “The Wire,” Detroit division: Drug dealers work out of senior homes.

Finally, Jon Stewart and his new facial hair tackled Chelsea Clinton’s wedding last night, and said everything that needed to be said. Never have five photographs and a non-news event generated so much bullshit. Until the next time, of course.

UPDATE: Coozledad plunked this in comments, but it deserves better:

There really were two Americas all along, weren’t there?

Posted at 11:11 am in Current events |
 

73 responses to “Follow the bouncing ball.”

  1. LAMary said on August 3, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Sing Along with Mitch was the only show I remember my father insisting on watching. He could skip Lawrence Welk or Bonanza but we always watched Sing Along with Mitch. We even had a few records. My dad would sit in his high back green chair, drunk,and watch until he passed out. He used to say he liked Mitch Miller even if he was a Jew. My father thought pretty much everyone on TV was Jewish unless they were black.

  2. alex said on August 3, 2010 at 11:47 am

    “Come On-a My House” was a subversive, naughty song, or so I was told by my parents and some people of their generation one time doing schnocktails. “I’m gonna give you Christmas tree,” “…peach and pear and I love your hair,” etc. were all euphemisms for body parts and sex acts. Ah, musical literacy.

  3. MarkH said on August 3, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Miller’s show was a staple at our house, too. I know I’ve written this before here, but Mitch Miller’s passing bears a repeat. When I settled here in Jackson some 25 years ago, I went to work selling advertising at one of the local weeklies. The art director was a rather worldly South African woman who came to the US in her twenties to set a career track in NYC. Early on, she landed a job as Miller’s receptionist in the early ’60s. Soon, it became clear she was not assertive enough to control the people who came in and out of the office wanting to see Mitch. So, one day he calls her in and says, “Rusty, you have to do a better job keeping people out of my office! You are the guardian at the gate and can’t just let anyone walk by and get in here. If they don’t have an appointment, they have to wait. Take charge!” So, the very next day this little old bald guy comes walking in, rushing past her desk toward Miller’s office. She socked it to him. “Just a minute! You can’t just come barging in here and right in to Mr. Miller’s office! Do you have an appointment? Who do you think you are?” He stopped and after a moment sheepishly replied, “My name is Irving Berlin”. He was allowed in.

    Wow, that party school list sure has morphed over time. I know OU has always been in the top 5, but what happened to Ohio State’s ability to hold up its own in the Big Ten? Not even in the top 20 with Penn State (natch),Michigan State, Wisconsin and Indiana all in front of the Buckeyes? Things sure change in 30+ years. CU-Boulder is slacking, too; used to be top 5 as well.

  4. adrianne said on August 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    My main man Pete Seeger is doing his level best to spread the gospel of folk singing in the Hudson Valley, plucking his banjo with schoolkids, church groups, and anywhere else he can get a gig. We saw him July Fourth weekend at Washington’s HQ in Newburgh, and he was fantastic. But I noticed that lots of the gray-haired hippies were singing along, but the kids – not so much.

  5. coozledad said on August 3, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Francis Cornford said “It is impossible to escape the circumambient atmosphere of one’s own time”. I didn’t know what he was on about until I saw this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye3ecDYxOkg
    No one can escape sex, drugs and rock and roll, no matter what part of Oklahoma they hide in. I’m just sorry I missed the Mitch Miller version of “Why does it hurt when I pee?”

  6. LAMary said on August 3, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I’ve inflicted some old music on my kids. Between their dad and me they’ve heard a lot of folk music and selected showtunes. I confess to sing alongs of Oh What a Beautiful Morning back when they were smaller and couldn’t escape.

  7. Jolene said on August 3, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    cooz, that video is hysterical. You have to wonder if they even knew what they were saying, but, since Welk refers to it as “a modern spiritual”, I guess he must have known that a certain kind of salvation was in order. Still, Brewer & Shipley must have found the idea of people singing that song in those clothes with such wholesome smiles pretty amusing.

    Lawrence Welk was, by the way, a near saint where I grew up. There just weren’t many people who made it from North Dakota to national TV to worship.

  8. Mindy said on August 3, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    What do you get when you cross a wasp with poison ivy? Sting along with itch, of course.

    Best version of Come On-a-my House, evah
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Wc9SqIVKeM

  9. Jolene said on August 3, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Here’s what TNC had to say about Phyllis Schlafly’s pronouncement:

    Seriously, though. This would be funny if it weren’t so….Oh fuck it, it’s just funny.

    Fully, half of the life-span gap between African-Americans and whites is due to African-Americans having to endure punditry about “The Blacks.” Whenever a studio anchor breathlessly comments on the “conversation over race,” the heart-rate of some old black sanitation worker jumps. It’s a conspiracy, son. But I’m wise. Motherfuckers ain’t taking me out.

    It’s impressive–in a horrifying way–that Schlafly’s faculties are still intact enough for her to still be speechifying in public. I’d say it’s meanness that has kept her going, but, as adrianne points out, Pete Seeger is still kicking it at 91, and he doesn’t seem to have a mean bone in his body. My sister, Nancy, recently told me about a video of him singing about a new song about the BP oil spill, so he’s definitely kept on keeping on. If you’re in a Pete Seeger mood, there’s ton of videos of him singing online, including lots of footage from his 90th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden.

  10. LAMary said on August 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I think Lawrence Welk’s son or grandson is television helicopter traffic guy now.

  11. Julie Robinson said on August 3, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Add me to the list who thought Phyllis Schlafly was already dead.
    Anyone else remember the Limelighters? Those boys could sing.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pP2N_zgbgw

  12. MarkH said on August 3, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    KCAL-TV and KCBS-TV in LA. You should know, Mary.

    EDIT – Here’s the scoop on Larry:

    http://www.angelcityair.com/management.html

  13. 4dbirds said on August 3, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Phyllis looks like she would fit right in with that polygamous sect in Texas.

  14. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    The scoutmaster for the troop summer camp two weeks ago gave me the task of putting singing back into the Scouting toolkit, especially after meals in the dining hall. I’ve been songleading for Cub Scouts the last ten years (6 to 10 year olds), and had lost track of just how hostile to singing in groups your average 14 or 15 year old is.

    What got ’em to start joining in was “Johnny Verbeck,” a story song with a recurring refrain of “all the neighbors cats and dogs will never more be seen, they’ve all been ground to [shouted] sausages, in Johnny Verbeck’s machine.

    The story does not end any better for Johnny than it did for the local stray population, in a gruesome way that brought in the adolescent male population for at least the rousing refrains.

    But it wasn’t easy . . . and the stony glare from most of the 15-16 year olds was bone chilling. I should have tried a campfireside Coldplay tune.

  15. nancy said on August 3, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Try “Barnacle Bill the Sailor.” That’s pitched right to their demo.

    BTW, when I used to speak to service clubs, singing was frequently on the program. The older the better, i.e. “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” etc.

  16. Julie Robinson said on August 3, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    This spring our daughter took some neighbors’ kids to get hotdogs, and ended up in a music video that was just posted. Sarah’s in the back corner in a teal top. I would say NSFW but I’m not sure anyone could decipher the lyrics anyway. But this is the music of today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVQ-voJQYDs

  17. Sue said on August 3, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Let’s not forget that Phyllis’s son founded Conservapedia, to counter Wikipedia’s liberal bias. Conservapedia’s current big project is rewriting the bible to remove the liberal bias from that good book.

  18. Sue said on August 3, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    As to where Phyllis gets her hair done: Who says she’s needed to get it done since, oh, 1964? They were serious about hair lacquer back then; I’m assuming that ‘do wouldn’t respond to a hammer and chisel and hasn’t even needed a magic turban since then.

  19. Deborah said on August 3, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Great post again today and comments have been enjoyable as usual. My day started out bad, I had to take time off from work and buy another cat litter box closer to the shape of the original one and return home to set it all up. One of the cats (we’ve got two) just won’t use the newfangled one at all even with the Urine Destroyer and Litter Attractor stuff I bought at the pet store. Sunday afternoon I left for a business trip to Indianapolis, got back home last night and my husband was livid. He had to clean up a lot of messes and he didn’t even want me to buy the newfangled box in the first place because it was fairly expensive. So I’m trying to have both of these boxes operational and hopefully that will allow for a gentler transition. If the one cat doesn’t use the box that I just bought this morning I have no idea what I’m going to do next.

  20. Jolene said on August 3, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Re singing: I think I mentioned a while back my brother’s 57-year-old brother-in-law who died suddenly of a cerebral hemhorrhage. He had been a joiner and contributor in all sorts of ways, reaching back to college where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which has, for many years, been known as “a singing fraternity.” At his funeral, more than 50 SAE alums came to sing, ensuring that any still-dry eye welled up immediately. It was, I’m told, quite a moment.

    Every time I think of this death–so early! such a good guy!–I wonder how it is that people can believe there’s a benevolent power in charge of the world.

  21. nancy said on August 3, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    SAE is a “singing fraternity?” Hmm. They’ve changed. At OU, they were the Animal House. And on a campus full of them, that’s saying something.

  22. Jolene said on August 3, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Well, my knowledge of them is limited. It was the wife of the departed who reminded me of that institutional identity. Also, their web site confirms it, so it must be true. I do remember, though, that, back in the day (i.e., when I was in college), there was a tradition of singing among the SAEs. Come to think of it, though, I also remember having gotten completely smashed at an SAE party, so perhaps one doesn’t preclude the other.

  23. Jolene said on August 3, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Another group singing story: After a Thanksgiving dinner with grad school friends–a dinner that included much wine–we sang songs that we had learned as kids. There were maybe 20 people from all over the country, and we were impressed that we knew so many of the same songs. One of the advantages, I guess, of having grown up in the era when we all learned to read from the Dick and Jane books.

  24. Sue said on August 3, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Jolene – not me, I learned from David and Ann books. Same thing, of course, except that Dick and Jane were going to Hell and David and Ann weren’t.

  25. Dexter said on August 3, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I swear, the day before I heard of Mitch Miller’s passing, I tuned into Stewart, saw that weird facial hair, and said to my wife, what’s that, Jon Stewart’s tribute to Mitch Miller?
    This is within the same framework as last week, when I was listening to a radio show, and the topic was “famous people you have seen on the street”, and a guy said he had seen Ralph Houk, years retired from baseball managing jobs, and spoke briefly to him. Ralph Houk probably had never been mentioned on any radio show for years. Hours later, Ralph Houk fell over dead, ninety-some years old. The next day the caller called back in to the show and said his Blackberry was lit up with You Killed Ralph Houk messages. But I did not kill Mitch Miller, rest assured.

  26. moe99 said on August 3, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    My father, who was a Beta Theta Pi at Miami University, used to call SAE, “Sleep and Eat” or “Sigma Alpha Everybody.” My mom was a Tri Delt from UMN. Poor folks, none of their five kids went greek. T’was the times…

  27. Dexter said on August 3, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Here’s some ‘splainin’ about the Brewer & Shipley tune that somehow made it past Welk’s censors. I guess all those Welk folks were squares. Unreal. Damn. I mean, a toke is a toke, it ain’t nothin’ else.

    I have never seen two guys who look so much like they belong in 1860, gearing up for a Civil War or a homestead in Deadwood than Brewer & Shipley. Click on their song in this link and see for yourself.

    http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=2506

  28. Jolene said on August 3, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Well, whaddaya know! I never knew that Catholic school kids had different readers. I wonder about the immortal souls of the Catholic kids in my class. Do you think they had to say extra Hail Marys because they were reading about Dick and Jane rather than David and Ann?

  29. LAMary said on August 3, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Love the Lawrence Welk clip, really, so much. I’m trying to eat lunch and laugh discretely and type at the same time.

  30. Snarkworth said on August 3, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Sue, Dick and Jane would be joined in hell by Martin and Judy, except as little UUs, they didn’t believe in it.

  31. paddyo' said on August 3, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Well, in Reno, where I went to college (rimshot), tokes are casino workers’ tips . . .

    Actually, on the Nevada campus, the SAE’s did sing — they sang unprintable and misogynistic songs under the influence of their version of “spodie odie,” the everything-alcoholic-into-the-bathtub punch popular at fratboy parties. Never went to one myself, but saw the evidence out on their lawn on the occasional Sunday morning . . .

    We were, of course, big TV watchers in the ’50s and ’60s, but “Sing Along With Mitch” was a rarity. We didn’t sing along in the family, either, even though there were seven kids. I got my introduction to folk music in high school, when I went away to Roman Catholic seminary about 400 miles up the California coast. On some Sundays and on special “feast days” on the Catholic calendar, we’d do after-dinner sing-alongs to “Tom Dooley,” “500 Miles,” and plenty of others in the ol’ American folk songbook. We were led by the cool-guy juniors and seniors who played guitars and string bass at the newfangled “guitar Mass” that the winds of Vatican II had blown into the staid church liturgy.

  32. Kath said on August 3, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    David and Ann sound like impostors. In my Catholic school we read John and Mary books.

  33. ROgirl said on August 3, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Mitch Miller was Jewish? I’m gobsmacked.

  34. Jeff Borden said on August 3, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    One of the things that always cracked me up about Phyllis Schaffly, aside from that ridiculous hair helmet, was the way she made a good living giving speeches to other women about how they should not make a good living and stay at home with their kids. I eagerly await the next career move by Snoop Dogg, where he lectures kids to stay away from dope and gangs. I wouldn’t be any stranger.

    One rather odd note on Mitch Miller for me was the memory of his singers on the soundtrack of the great D-Day invasion film “The Longest Day.” I believe they are vocalizing as the closing credits roll. Here was an international film with a cast of the best actors from Germany, France, Britain and the U.S., but it was good, ol’ schmaltzy Mitch who got to do the song.

  35. LAMary said on August 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    ROGirl, I have no idea if Mitch was Jewish. My father just thought that everyone on TV was Jewish. Maybe not Lawrence Welk, but everyone else.

  36. alex said on August 3, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Jeff B–

    Phyllis Schlafly’s gay son and Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter have a lot in common. They’re the children of people who think their own shit doesn’t stink and are therefore exempt from criticism. Too bad John and Mary didn’t do something really embarrassing, like turn out to be liberals who think for themselves.

  37. adrianne said on August 3, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Our Catholic school readers featured “Judy, John and Jean.” Their dog was Spot and their cat was…wait for it…Puff!

    Other than going to Mass every Sunday, Judy, John and Jean did everything that Dick and Jane did, I believe.

  38. LAMary said on August 3, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    We had Tom and Betty in our readers. The dog was Flip and the cat was Fluff.I don’t know if they were Catholic or Protestant. Since they were not on TV it’s unlikely they were Jewish.

  39. Deborah said on August 3, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Alex did Phyllis’s gay son finally come out of the closet? When I lived in St. Louis the speculation was that he was gay, everyone assumed so.

  40. Peter said on August 3, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Jeff, Johnny Verbeck is a pretty cool song – I still do that for campfires – helps if I introduce it to the group as “let’s do a song about death and dismemberment!” If that goes over, I promise to do another song about mass killings and mutilation – The Cat Came Back. You could follow that up with a song about forced arranged marriages – The Mousie Song.

    I didn’t know that Mitch Miller and Frank Sinatra didn’t get along – that must have been interesting.

  41. Jeff Borden said on August 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Alex,

    Amen, bud, amen. My hatred –yeah, hatred– for Dick Cheney is off the scale, but I will give him an iota of credit for supporting his gay daughter, which is more than Phyllis S. did for her son or that Newt Gingrich did for his sister. I still hope he rots in the darkest pits of hell –if there is a hell– for all of eternity for what he did to this nation. W. was always going to be a fuck-up, but I’ll go to the grave wondering what might have happened if Deadeye Dick didn’t nominate himself for veep. Perhaps a saner, cooler head would have kept the wee man from Crawford from pursuing all of his grandiose but disastrous ideas.

    I keep trying to remind myself the Schaffly’s of the world are really 19th century rejects, cast adrift in a world they hate and cannot navigate. The election of Barack Obama has brought out the worst of the worst instincts in these atavists, but while they make the most noise, they are steadily losing their place in our world. Their demise cannot come soon enough. They’ll be kicking and screaming and hurting others as they go down, but they will go down.

  42. ROgirl said on August 3, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I remember Tom, Betty and Flip. There may have been a pony, too.

  43. MarkH said on August 3, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    You’re dissing Canada, Jeff B. That Longest Day theme song did have an international flavor: Paul Anka wrote it. I defy anyone to quote me the lyrics just listening to them, though. I thought it was fine that Miller did it. He was popular at the time and it had kind of military flair to it. His guys did the whistling, too.

  44. nancy said on August 3, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    To those who care, from the LAT obit:

    Born July 4, 1911 in Rochester, N.Y., Mitchell William Miller was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants.

    I don’t know how you get a name like that out of Russian Judaism, but I don’t know everything.

  45. Jeff Borden said on August 3, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    MarkH,

    No dis intended whatsoever, though Paul Anka will never atone for “(You’re) Having My Baby.” I was 10 when the film was released and even then thought the Mitch Miller singers were an odd choice. It was a good film –I can still recall Richard Burton as a downed RAF pilot hoping a medic returns before his morphine shot wears off– but I guess the sequence from “Saving Private Ryan” was a far more accurate depiction of what happened in Normandy.

    I love Canada, Mark. For every Paul Anka or Celine Dion, they’ve given us a Neil Young or a Joni Mitchell, so the nation is still way ahead on points.

  46. Jeff Borden said on August 3, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    If you want to see what an elegant speech by an intelligent man defending American principles looks and sounds like, I have to recommend Michael Bloomberg’s speech in front of the Statue of Liberty defending construction of an Islamic community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan.

    He is the anti-Ghouliani, who regresses further and further into the maw of his own narcissism. Hey Rudy! You’re not “America’s mayor” any more, if you ever were, just another right-wing hack dry-humping Islamaphobia for profit and power. You sound like a rube from the Ozarks, Rudy, not a New Yorker.

  47. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 3, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    “Barnacle Bill” was staff only, sung on weekends between camp sessions as we cleaned up, set for Sunday afternoon’s new troops, and hoped for a Saturday night in town. Marcellus or Jones or Constantine, MI most weeks, Elkhart or Bristol, IN if someone had a full tank of gas.

    At least in earlier decades, Phyllis would open every speech with the words, “Ladies & Gentlemen, I have my husband’s permission to be speaking to you this evening.”

  48. Rana said on August 3, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Jeff, you might also try the Dead Puppies song. Heck, pretty much anything from Dr. Demento ought to go over well, as well as the stuff from Weird Al Yankovic.

  49. Julie Robinson said on August 3, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Miller probably came from an immigration officer.

  50. Jolene said on August 3, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Julie: Your daughter appeared to be having a good time in that music video. She’s got some good moves.

  51. LAMary said on August 3, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Perhaps what I thought was my dad’s anti-Semitism was actually amazing perception. I don’t think so though. Muttering, “they’re all Jews,” at the TV after half a bottle of Cutty Sark isn’t a brilliant insight.
    Memories of Mitch Miller really bring back the ugly after dinner scenes from my childhood. I need a palate cleanser like another look at One Toke Over the Line by Dale and Gail.

  52. ROgirl said on August 3, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    From the NYT obit:
    Brooks Atkinson, writing in The New York Times, suggested in 1962 that “Sing Along With Mitch” might best be viewed with the sound turned off.

    Even at the singalongs’ height, many Americans considered them hopelessly corny. That sense only intensified as a younger generation came of age in the 1960s and musical tastes changed. There were news reports that shopping malls had begun piping Mitch Miller music on their sound systems as a way to discourage teenagers from congregating. Years later, in 1993, when David Koresh and members of his Branch Davidian cult were holed up in their compound in Waco, Tex., F.B.I. agents tried to flush them out by blasting “Sing Along With Mitch” Christmas carols.

  53. prospero said on August 3, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Born July 4, 1911 in Rochester, N.Y., Mitchell William Miller was the son of Russ­ian Jew­ish immi­grants.

    Well. if you listen to Republicans, Mitch wasn’t a citizen. For eight years.

    You got your Tenth and your Fourteenth now. Question for Republicans. How did these Constitutional shortcomings slip by the Constitutional scholar W? There is no conceivable basis for this sort of shit. But if there were, how did these morons just stumble over it when W’s advisers miss this one?

    If there’s a voter that misses the absolute connection between Sharon Angle’s lunacy and Fox, my point would be, how does this whackjob gets to vote? If you’re nuts, you get to vote, and if you got put there for three strikes when you comitted a victimless crime?

    Sarah’s a moron. If you don’t understand that, sorry, you’re a fucking moron. Nobody can actually be that stupid. Vote for Rand Paul, you morons. If you’re born in the US, your’e a ciitzwn. If you say no, Asshole.

  54. LAMary said on August 3, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    I think a good campfire song would be Tuli Kupferberg and the Fugs’ Nothing Song.

    http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2TtF4Q/www.youtube.com/watch%253Fv%253D4HmJX11_AQE

  55. Connie said on August 3, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Mitch Miller is one of the reasons I can claim I know all the words to all the old songs. As a kid the records at our house were limited to Mitch and musical sound tracks.

    Jeff, tmmo, I know where that BSA camp is. My daughter had several friends that worked there, and she and her girl friends often went to the Friday night camp fire.

  56. Joe Kobiela said on August 3, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Jeff,
    Contact your local rugby team. They will teach the little buggers some great songs.
    Pilot Joe
    Former Flanker Fort Wayne RFC

  57. alex said on August 3, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Deborah,

    Schlafly’s son got outed by the gay press back in the 1990s, and neither he nor his mother deny that he’s gay, but rather argue that gay people have all of the same rights as everyone else and are demanding preferential treatment in an effort to “elevate sodomy to the level of the holy sacrament.”

    Phyllis could probably use a good holy sacramenting and a buggering too. Her son has lived at home with her for his entire adult life. Maybe they share rentboys.

    On Edit: LA Mary, I love the Fugs! I love the “Nothing” song! I discovered them late in life, and in fact heard a relatively recent release of theirs which, compared to their early works, shows they have actually evolved quite a bit musically from their signature atonal noisemaking. The lyrics are as clever as ever but now they’re accompanied by a pretty good sound.

    Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTf4OJTamuQ

  58. Julie Robinson said on August 3, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Jolene: My daughter is pretty much always having a good time.

  59. MichaelG said on August 3, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Schlafly’s hair? Same place as Pat Nixon and Nancy Reagan.

    Our public TV station (KVIE) still shows Lawrence Welk reruns. And they wonder why their contributions are tumbling.

    We used to watch Mitch Miller when I was a kid. I still don’t know why. It didn’t fit my parents’ tastes. They had lots of classical stuff and every folk album ever made including Pete Seeger albums and Weavers albums.

    I got to know Ronnie Gilbert of the Weavers a little many years ago. It was after the Weavers and before she became acquainted with Holly Near. She was kind of between things and was training to become some kind of counselor. I was working in the Unemployment Insurance office in Berkeley at the time. I was an “Adjudicator” which meant that I interviewed people and decided whether they got paid or not. This would have been around late ’72 or so and everything was done in person. I recognized Ronnie from all those Weavers album covers as soon as she walked into the office and made sure it was I who interviewed her. The issue was that she was going to school while claiming UI. So I ended up interviewing her with regard to her eligibility every two weeks for, I don’t know, four to six months. The interviews ended up being half hour to 45 minute gab fests. Her eligibility was a foregone conclusion as far as I was concerned. It was a great experience for me and after the initial meeting when she was understandably nervous, she seemed to enjoy herself as well, especially after she realized that I was a fan and would never cut her off. What a smile. Eventually she stopped coming in and I lost track of her. She was a lovely, kind, good humored woman about the age of my mother. I liked her a lot.

  60. basset said on August 3, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Fugs singalong? How about “Saran Wrap”?

  61. brian stouder said on August 4, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Coo­zledad plunked this in com­ments, but it deserves bet­ter; there really were two Amer­i­cas all along, weren’t there?

    I just watched the video, and my eyes were fastend to the woman.

    She seems to be an earlier version of Sarah Palin, or else Ms Palin is the latest iteration of her.

    And I kept wondering – are they going to finish singing about toking at the railway station, and then go up into the tree house together? What was the staging supposed to suggest? A picnic where hanky panky ensues? (how would they explain all the scuffs and stains on their starched white clothes?) Will that fellow ever let go of that woman’s waist? Is she a step up on the ladder so as to rythmically hump him?

    Y’know, forget Lady Gaga; I may just have to seek out reruns of ol’ Lawrence. That guy had it goin’ on

  62. Denice B. said on August 4, 2010 at 12:19 am

    My mom loved the Smothers Brothers. She played their albums often. We learned all the songs! She listened to Bill Cosby, Mirium Makeba, Wes Montgomery, Johnny Mathis, Ella Fitzgerald, Mitch Miller. She’s gone now, but she left a diverse legacy of cool music filling my memory.

  63. Denice B. said on August 4, 2010 at 12:32 am

    How about the Fugs “Coca Cola Douche”? The pause that refreshes!

  64. basset said on August 4, 2010 at 12:51 am

    And that was yet another classic track from their timeless “Golden Filth” collection… “Supergirl” was another, “My Baby Done Left Me,” they’re all coming back to me now…

  65. Jolene said on August 4, 2010 at 1:42 am

    My daughter is pretty much always having a good time.

    Great way to live. Love the story of your biweekly visits w/ Ronnie Gilbert, MichaelG. The right person (i.e., not me) could write a screenplay built around those visits.

  66. Deborah said on August 4, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Lady Gaga is going to be in Chicago this weekend for Lollapolooza at Grant Park. I wish I could go. She is pure theater, like the opera, but no way would I be able to stand the venue.

  67. alex said on August 4, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Being fairly oblivious to pop culture these days, I’m not sure what people see in Lady Gaga. I’ve heard some of her music and found it indistinguishable from the work of Madonna, so much so I thought it was Madonna.

  68. brian stouder said on August 4, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Alex – I think you’ve hit it squarely; Lady Gaga strikes me very much as the 2010 version of Madonna.

    I was quite taken with her performance on one of the awards shows – breaking glass and simulated semi-nudity was involved – and since then my head turns when I hear her. (but still, her music alone is not really remarkable)

    Aside from that, Pam tells me I’m ALL WRONG about Hanna not intersecting with Lafayette. I can picture the area near Towles (the old Geyer)/Scotts (the old cornicopia) – where Decatur Road angles off….and further south of there, the phonebook map shows then intersecting. (Still, I intend to drive down there and see for myself)

    Doggone fact-checkers!

  69. LAMary said on August 4, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Alex, you know Tuli Kupferberg, the main Fug, died last week? I’ve had The Nothing Song on my work computer for a long time. I use it as commentary and occasionally to offend my fundie co-worker who never uses the actual F word. She says, Oh flippers! instead. Feh.

  70. prospero said on August 5, 2010 at 12:40 am

    LAMary, I’m pretty sure that if there was a main Fug, it was Ed Sanders. Of course, there probably was no main Fug. Greatest Fugs song? Saran Wrap. “After the prom, ain’t got no scumbag…” These guys were the story of Johnny Rotten before he was born.

    Republican Hyp0crisy 101: Of course, they also believe that this nun is a member of a an anti-Christian cult. Every teeveeevangelist has stolen working folks’ money by reviling the Catholic Church as a cult, and this is the religious wing of the Republican Party. This is the sort of thing Republicans have drudges to perpetrate. See, when you say one political party is as crass and venal as the other, that’s just bullshit. One of them is absolutely as shameless as it is mindless.

    Lady Gaga and Madonna? Say hello to weak voices and Auto-Tune. Cyndi Lauper is the real deal.

  71. prospero said on August 5, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Another version of that song y’all might enjoy.

    And Tom Gray, the guy that wrote it. And I think he meant it. And, see, Cyndi Lauper got the point. Loiterers will be prosecuted.

  72. prospero said on August 5, 2010 at 12:58 am

    Check out this judicial activist. This is a judge nominated by Raygun. Tell me again how there’s no difference between Republicans and Democrats. No way this sort of scurrilous shit ever comes from the left. No fucking way.

  73. Just1Hitch said on August 10, 2010 at 3:33 am

    Contrary to popular belief, Mitch never used the “bouncing ball” animation…just the lyrics at the bottom of the screen.