Nuts to the flabby guys.

I didn’t watch the NBA championship series, but I heard about the new Apple commercial via other channels. It uses the Robert Preston song commonly known as “Chicken Fat.” You can watch it at the link.

I know a lot of us here are boomers, and we were the first audience for this record. They played it on the radio (occasionally), in gym class (ditto) and on the local morning kids’ show, “Luci’s Toyshop” (often). Somehow a copy ended up in my possession, and the last time I remember following its instructions – touch down, up! Every morning, 10 times! Not just now and then… – was in high school, goofing around with my friend Jeff Clark.

The next day, I was sore in the hamstrings. Those toe touches can be murder if you’re not warmed up.

Anyway, the song was sort of a curiosity, but everyone knew about it. Which is why it’s so amusing to read the current reaction to it. That Slate story called it “strange.” Adweek mentioned its “odd history.” Daily Kos did the same.

I guess it’s come to this: We are now weird grandparents, with our funny 23-skidoo pop-culture memories. One minute you’re at Woodstock, the next you’re stinking up the room with your adult diaper and everybody’s reminiscing about Michael J. Fox.

OK. But I always liked the Chicken Fat song. It reminds me of a time when getting in shape was mainly about touching your toes and running in place. As if.

So, I read this story about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the New Republic this afternoon. It has conservatives in a tizzy, because it basically argues that Walker has benefitted from an enormously segregated Milwaukee metro area. It’s depressing, particularly in the details about the role talk radio plays in the area; just the first three paragraphs want to make you open a vein, but honestly, it’s not so different from what talk radio has always been. (Rush Limbaugh made the theme from “The Jeffersons” the background music for his Carol Moseley Braun updates, but hey — his producer is black, so no racism!) And I’ve admired a lot of public figures in my life, but never like this:

Walker’s only overt enthusiasms appear to be his Harley Davidson motorcycle and Ronald Reagan. He and Tonette married on Reagan’s birthday, and every year they celebrate their wedding anniversary / Reagan’s birthday by serving the Gipper’s favorite dishes, such as macaroni-and-cheese casserole and red, white, and blue jelly beans.

I encourage you to read it. It’s not all jelly beans and racism; some of the voter-turnout numbers from the suburbs are frankly astonishing.

So, what else do we have today? A story out of Indiana, in which a young mother, just 24 but already with three children, sticks her head out the window of a moving vehicle to barf, hits it on something and, of course, dies. Because life is tough in Mishawaka, and there’s nothing else to do.

Finally, this:

Now is not the time to re-litigate either the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 or the decision to withdraw from it in 2011.

Oh, shut up.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Popculch |

41 responses to “Nuts to the flabby guys.”

  1. David C. said on June 17, 2014 at 6:46 am

    The regular tongue baths that Walker gets from the Journal-Sentinel and the other Gannett rags in the state are, while not as overtly racist as talk radio, just about as bad. When they print any of his administration’s many dog whistles without condemning them as dog whistles the papers are, as they say, part of the problem.

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  2. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 17, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Well, what politician on anything but the most parochial level *doesn’t* benefit from segregation and computer-driven GIS-based redistricting? It’s the thread of original sin we’ve now woven into all our civic life.

    The more awkward thing about Walker is how he’s tapped into something I’d not encountered until I came to Ohio the first time: union member anti-unionism. I grew up in NW Indiana, where there were union members, and anti-union folk, but the twain ne’er met. Surely some had questions about shop stewards on the take and high-flying national officials in their Caddys, but if you were a member of the USW, the IBEW, or the UAW it was “Solidarity forever.”

    By the time I finished college and some work (non-union) and seminary, and came to Ohio in ’89, this area was full of Reagan Democrats who are still trying to find a comfortable place to stand. This county went for Hillary 142 precincts to Obama’s 8, even though I run into more sexism than racism on any given day. It’s a very defiant mix of anger over management who’ve chased profits to Mexico taking equipment and jobs with them, and fury at unions seen as not representing their cares and concerns. Socially conservative, and fiercely patriotic, with maybe a little too much faith in the military as the institution that gave their lives structure and meaning and shared purpose back in 1944.

    That generation is fading away, visibly, but the new generation of leadership, D or R, is largely stuck in gestures of respect to those last few 90 year olds or those who have passed on, but there’s no love lost for unions, few corporations left to resent, and the new entrepreneurs and international businesses (Japan, Brazil, Canada, Germany) with non-union shops are the one path to relative stability work-wise, so the grief over the loss of a path to the middle class for high school drop-outs is washed out by the scramble to get what jobs they do offer.

    It seems like a safe and fruitful atmosphere for unions to have a resurgence, but the officials and halls still open around here have less energy or activity than a mainline Protestant congregation. The striving working class is not interested in them, and the OFA folks are endlessly chasing hipsters in circles, so neither labor not politics are pulling them together. My congregation is full of retired life-long union folk, and a fair number of middle management that worked their way up from shop floors, and they all like Walker quite a bit. He’s threaded a needle for a certain demographic. Given the nation’s growing racial/ethnic diversity, is that a ticket to electoral success? I suspect not, but he’s going to have enough legs to attract donors, so like Santorum, he’s not going away anytime soon.

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  3. alex said on June 17, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Milwaukee sounds like Fort Wayne writ larger. The Allen County GOP chairman said on the occasion of Richard Mourdock’s loss in the senate race general election that Allen County had voted overwhelmingly in his favor relative to the rest of the state. Chalk that up to a media market with lotsa talk radio, I suppose, as well as a very segregated city and a large uneducated white population, both city and suburban, that would cut off its own nose just to hear a politician validate its basest prejudices.

    I think Indiana’s Governor Pence, who’s also toying with tossing his hat into the ring, is another one of those Republicans like Walker who is a puppet of ALEC and the Koch brothers but looks nonthreatening and has enough sense not to descend into inflammatory rhetoric about race, religion or rape. The GOP field will be wide again, to be sure, but this time with more stealth kooks and fewer clowns. This is the only lesson the GOP appears to have taken to heart from its 2012 postmortem.

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  4. alex said on June 17, 2014 at 8:09 am

    And a newspaper editorial that makes sense. The talk radio morons will be going at it today, just you wait.

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  5. beb said on June 17, 2014 at 8:19 am

    “Stealth kooks and fewer clowns” When I read that Scott Walker’s only apparent interested are his motorbike and a dead actor I am reminded of both Sarah Palin and Gov. Perry who looked like promising candidates until they were acted their first real grown-up questions. Then we discovered that they know nothing about anything.

    That dynamic hasn’t changed. To thread the primary election field any Republican candidate will have to skew to the far-right. By the time they win their party’s nomination it will be too late for them to drift towards the center. They have put their mark on too much abhorrent ideology. The base of the Republican party would rather be ideologically pure than win elections. You don’t win a lot of elections that way.

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  6. Julie Robinson said on June 17, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Milwaukee and Fort Wayne both have large German populations with a similar brewery history too. Hmm.

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  7. Dave said on June 17, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Fat boy lip flapper will be right on this, I’d think, Alex. The other day, when I was driving, I turned him on long enough to hear him say something along the lines of, “This president, who isn’t black and isn’t white. . .”, and I thought, why would he feel the need to say that?

    As a note, the other afternoon local host has disappeared from the airwaves, as a result of recent radio station sales. I’m thinking he won’t resurface.

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  8. Jeff Borden said on June 17, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Has anyone come to the conclusion that maybe the Republicans, while they obviously would love to win the White House, don’t really need to? If they take the Senate and hold the House, they can grind the entire government to a standstill. Nothing will get done, preserving the status quo, and as a bonus the occupant of the Oval Office will take all the blame.

    The Pew report released a few days ago is pretty damned depressing. And I guess I’m as much a part of the problem as anyone. I can count the number of conservative friends we have on less than one hand. . .we know know zero evangelicals or born agains. . .no one who has a son or daughter in the service now that my cousin has mustered out of the Navy. . .no home schoolers. We do live in bubbles of our own choice and I’m not gonna lie that I love my bubble. . .a walkable, highly urban neighborhood with great parks, a huge library branch, buses and el within steps, largely populated by well-educated earners from all corners of the earth, a place where we routinely hear four to six non-English languages being spoken daily by those who share our bubble.

    It’s hard to think of how we can pull together as a nation when we don’t really know each other very well.

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  9. Hank Stuever said on June 17, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Just another way that the boomers and the Gen Xers are not as far apart as we think we are: “Chicken Fat” was still in heavy rotation in my parochial school P.E. classes in the mid/late 1970s, supplanted, finally, in eighth grade by Olivia Newton John’s “Physical” and other Jazzercise greats.

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    • nancy said on June 17, 2014 at 10:37 am

      The boomers who get all the attention are the leading-edge cohort. My birth years, 1957, was the peak but we were too young to go to Woodstock and are mainly ignored. “Chicken Fat” was aimed at us, not our older siblings.

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  10. Jolene said on June 17, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Am reposting a link that I posted yesterday because, well, I want everyone to see it. How’s that for clever?

    But seriously, it relates to the “Why are you still talking?” question concerning Iraq, is appropriately sarcastic, and contains many great links within. For a serious discussion of where we’ve been and where we’re going, I recommend, particularly, the Andrew Bacevich link.

    For sheer head-shaking pleasure, compare the titles and intro paragraphs of articles published by Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan in 2002 and now. Just unbelievable.

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  11. Connie said on June 17, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Open carry issue at a Kalamazoo Public Library children’s program:

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  12. Jolene said on June 17, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Ta-Nehisi Coates was on The Colbert Report last night to talk about the Atlantic article on reparations that Nancy linked to a week or so ago. Have it on my DVR, but haven’t watched it yet.

    If you want to catch it, it’ll be rebroadcast on Comedy Central later today (My listing says 6:51 EDT, but check your own.) or available on The Colbert Report’s web site.

    (Of course, there have been many other interviews and commentaries re this article, all of which I plan to review–any day now.)

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  13. Tim said on June 17, 2014 at 10:42 am

    A couple thoughts on “Now is not the time to re-litigate…” 1. We never litigated the decisions to invade Iraq in 2003, gut the country’s political infrastructure and try to install a puppet government. No one was impeached,no one of importance lost his or her job (except maybe Judith Miller; the other journalistic cheerleaders did just fine). And so 2. Many people still believe that military action is the first and best response to a foreign crisis, and that military superiority will solve problems.

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  14. brian stouder said on June 17, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Connie, that article is jarring.

    They guy had just enough sense to listen to his wife, but what about when a loner in a trench coat (or – yikes! – a hoody) walks in with a gun?

    The comments section beneath Connie’s linked article is going like popcorn – and along completely predictable lines

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  15. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 17, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Any day now, Jolene — I hear you!

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  16. Charlotte said on June 17, 2014 at 11:14 am

    I settled my mom in a really cool building in downtown Milwaukee seven or eight years ago — an old office building that had been renovated into apartments, and had some subsidized units. That there were lots of black teens and twenty-somethings hanging out in the downtown completely freaked her out. She wouldn’t admit it, but she also wouldn’t walk anywhere, and we wound up breaking the budget to get her parking in her building because to walk through the mall to the cheaper parking meant walking past clusters of (to her, terrifying) black kids. But she’s not racist or anything. Sigh.

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  17. Bitter Scribe said on June 17, 2014 at 11:34 am

    That chicken-fat commercial is a remote-stabber–makes me grab the remote and stab frantically for the mute button.

    And Nancy, as one who was born one year before you, I totally hear you about how we’re the ignored boomers. Sob.

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  18. brian stouder said on June 17, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Well – indeed. If you were an 17-23 year old in all your glory, from 1971-1977 – the big war ended, the crooked president went down….and social victory was at hand. And then people like me came in just behind, and “being rebellious” meant defending the status quo ante(!) – and being a conservative*!! Anyway, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

    *Did you notice how “conservative” has now lost all meaning? How can a “conservative” – like David Long – support taking a chain saw to the Constitution of the United States? Isn’t that the very definition of nihilism (not to mention ‘pencil-necked, pin headed’ social engineering)?

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  19. Sherri said on June 17, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Back when I was a young teenager, one of the volunteer coaches in the Little League program where my brother was playing and I was working as a scorekeeper came to his game directly from his job, like many coaches did. His job, though, was as a policeman, and he came in full uniform, complete with gun in holster. There was a huge uproar over his bringing a gun to a Little League game.

    This was in the 70s, and a cop, and in a conservative area where many people owned guns and hunted. How times have changed.

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  20. Bitter Scribe said on June 17, 2014 at 11:56 am

    In her memoirs, a female FBI agent recalls bringing her pistol to a function at her kid’s school, only to have it spotted by one of the other kids, who promptly yelled, “Seth’s mommy has a gun!”

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  21. Sue said on June 17, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    A feather in Scott Walker’s cap is the increased transit segregation occurring under his watch. The poors can’t get out to jobs, especially jobs in the suburbs, because there’s no way to get there. Meanwhile, lots of money for the roadbuilders.
    Mayor Tom Barrett is a good man but both Dems and Republicans accept this weird status quo and have for decades. Slumlords sit (or have sat, don’t know current situation) on the common council, areas around town get more dangerous and the answer appears to be things like letting Marquette University establish its own police force. Everything is reaction, you don’t often hear of initiatives. School vouchers are fought for, for over a decade, as a way to get kids out of crappy schools and end up being expanded because someone’s figured out how to game the system and get taxpayers to pay for their own kids’ private schooling.
    Everyone, not just Scottyboy, is way too comfortable with the setup here. Scott’s just taking it to its nasty conclusion.

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  22. Charlotte said on June 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    BitterScribe — my next-youngest cousin is an FBI agent (runs the SWAT team) as is his wife. By law, they’re required to carry at all times. When they flew to Florida to see my aunt and uncle after their first baby was born, she had to get permission from her boss not to carry — the reasoning being that if anything happened, she’d go to protect the baby anyhow, and wouldn’t be much use …

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  23. Dorothy said on June 17, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    One of my older brothers is a retired FBI agent and he too was a SWAT team member – he taught courses at Quantico one year. I did not realize it was a law that they had to carry. Then again he lived in Chicago for his entire career and I did not, so I rarely saw him. At our family reunions, if he attended, he must not have had it on him. Or if he did, it was hidden pretty darn well.

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  24. ROGirl said on June 17, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    I’m a prime boomer (ca. 1956), spawn of the suburbs, and I have never heard of this chicken shit / fat / fit/ whatever. Was I out of the loop, or what?

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  25. Kirk said on June 17, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    I was born in 1951. I kind of recall the chicken-fat song in first or second grade. I might not have heard it since Ike was president until I heard that commercial a few times recently (not watching the NBA finals). I do remember that I had no idea what chicken fat had to do with me and my classmates dancing around to a song.

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  26. alex said on June 17, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    I was born in ’61. I vaguely remember the Chickenfat song, as well as some other corny ditties they used to spin on a turntable for grade school calisthenics.

    “Touch head and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Touch head and shoulders, knees and toes.”

    Then there was “the Hokey Pokey.”

    It seems like I’m blanking on one that was everybody’s favorite. Very silly with weird sound effects.

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  27. Kirk said on June 17, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Well, I did bother to look it up and learned that it was part of JFK’s physical-fitness push (Democrats just can’t resist trying to get America off its ass). Meredith Wilson wrote it, and Robert Preston sang it, but the version I remember was sung by a female voice. I ought to know; it’s been only 50 years or more.

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  28. LAMary said on June 17, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    I hated that song. Our high school PE teacher used to play that record while she sat in her office and drank.

    On another cheery note, I was in an all day meeting today. All meetings here start with a “reflection” which can be a prayer but doesn’t have to be. Today’s reflection was from Mitch Albom. Some shit about a little wave. I knew things would not be getting better.

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  29. Dave said on June 17, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    I’m with Mary, I hated that song, too, but I don’t remember it being played for phys ed class. I probably remember it from “Lucy’s Toy Shop”, a Columbus children’s show for the rest of you. I was a little old for Lucy but my youngest siblings watched her every morning. When I heard it on the commercial, my first thought was how I hated that song, and I never understood why the line, “chicken fat”.

    Kirk, that’s the only version I remember.

    Which brings up another, does anyone remember a song that started out, “Do your ears hang low, can you toss them to and fro”?

    This was from Paul Droste, who was the music teacher and band director at Pickerington when I was a child, before he went on the be the OSU Marching Band director. He was very popular at Pickerington and I know he attended several weddings and what-not at Pickerington well after he went on to bigger things.

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  30. coozledad said on June 17, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Benghazi we hardly knew ye:

    Wonder what crazy shit the wingers will scoop out of their asses now.

    I hope someone is at least making book on the diseased white trash ramblings of the Republicans.

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  31. Kirk said on June 17, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Another thing about that damned chicken fat song is that I can’t get it out of my head and it’s driving me nuts. Might be one of the only times I could use some death metal.

    And, yes, I also remember “Do your ears hang low?”

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  32. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 17, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    “Do they wobble to and fro?”

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  33. Connie said on June 17, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Can you them in a knot? Can you tie them in a bow?

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  34. MarkH said on June 17, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Coozledad, even you couldn’t buzzkill chicken fat.

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  35. Jolene said on June 17, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Can you throw them o’er your shoulder like a continental soldier?
    Do your eaaars haaaaang low?

    Learned in 4-H camp, I believe, though I don’t remember for sure.

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  36. Crazycatlady said on June 18, 2014 at 12:12 am

    I have NEVER heard that song before in my life. Surprising. And beb was born in Mishawaka, Indiana, so he survived it.

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  37. Dave said on June 18, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Guess that answers the question, it wasn’t a local song or a Paul Droste song. All these years, I’ve wondered about the, “Do your ears hang low”, song. Thanks.

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  38. LAMary said on June 18, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Being from NJ, I heard that song as “do your balls hang low.” The in house Brit knows the same version from back home in UK.

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  39. Christy said on June 18, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    My GenX memory of the Chicken Fat song was a YA novel called The Real Me, written in 1974, where the protagonist was trying to get out of her Slimnastics gym class and into a tennis class, except tennis class was only open to boys. I thought the song was fictional at the time.

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  40. beb said on June 18, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    I’ve heard both the “do you ears hang low…” and “Do your boobs hand low…” Don’t recall the Chicken Fat song but I may have blocked it out from my memory.

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