Category: FAMILY

silly love songs

silly love songs

some people want to fill the world with silly love songs.

in this week’s new yorker, rebecca mead is wringing her hands over what she calls the percy jackson problem. for those of you who don’t have kids in the house,  here’s some 411:  percy jackson is the wacky protagonist of a series of books by (beloved-in-my-house) rick riordan. percy is a kid who has ADHD and behavioral problems in school — you know, that PITA kid whom every teacher wants to dropkick out the nearest window? percy, we also find out early in the series, is a greek demigod (which is part of the reason he struggles so.) through his adventures, kids (and the adults who read to them) often get their appetite whetted for the magical world of mythology.

so what’s so bad about percy? to paraphrase mead’s argument, between the use of slangy-current pop language and milieus and the less-than-deep storylines, folks in this camp are terrified that books like those in the percy jackson series are a gateway drug to a lifelong obsession with literary dross.  they believe that consuming these sorts of works results in less critical readers. in other words, popular fiction is dumbing down the world for kids.

(for those of you keeping score, this is #25,689 in the ways in which you are screwing up as a parent.)

when i was growing up, my mother took me to the library two and three times a week. no exaggeration here. the librarians knew us at both the ocean county library and the now-defunct bishop memorial library. if there were a 12-step program for bookaholics, my mother would be the queen and reigning champ. any time she has had a spare minute, her nose is in a book. if i woke up at ungodly o’clock a.m. as a kid, i’d usually find my mom,  black coffee and a romance or a mystery in hand. she has always been, and always will be, a book pusher. (ask my kids.) mom always had one rule at the library: take out whatever you want, but you need to actually read it.

now i still recall the day that dennis, the long-haired librarian at the ocean county library, stopped my nine-year-old self trying to take out romeo and juliet, god bless you mr. rosewater, and war and peace. he looked at me squirrelly, then asked my mom whether she had actually seen what i was taking out of the library. (please don’t ask me why i had made those selections. it seemed like a good idea at the time.)

are you sure you want wreke taking out these books? he asked my mom.

she looked at me with the seriousness of an executioner. are you going to read them, wreke? she asked. i nodded that i would, in fact, tackle all three within the three allotted weeks i would be granted. she then looked at dennis. let’s take them out, then.

(the only one of the three i finished was romeo and juliet. in high school. kicking and screaming by then.)

yep, mom always let me read anything i wanted to read. there was the phase when i exclusively read partridge family and archie comic books. there was my sue barton, student nurse phase. there was every single book about the beatles phase. (that one is still in progress.) and of course, there was the time in seventh grade where i chose soul on ice for a book report. (i still wonder if my english teacher ever recovered from that one.)

in short, there have been plenty of generations of people reading all sorts of things — and somehow, we still continue to get great literature, great music, and great works of art. we all develop in weird and wonderful ways; and part of that is because we each receive such weird and wonderful input from all directions — from our families, from our friends, from our worlds — and of course, from our books. i know there are plenty of baby boomers who grew up reading all kinds of crap under the covers, and yet here we are. so please, get the hell off the backs of the younger generations. with all the other temptations out there, electronic and otherwise, it is difficult enough to get them to read. there will be plenty of time to refine things once they have caught the bug.

in the meantime (and with sincerest apologies to malcolm x), we need to get kids reading by any means necessary. i am not above enticing my kids’ interest in books however i can do it. i have read any number of silly things to them when they were little — i wanted them to just hear the words and love the sounds. over time, i would read chapter books that i thought sounded fun until they were old enough to make their own choices. i admit, though, that when they are a captive audience in the car with me driving four hours to see family, i break out books on CD that i get from my local library.  and they listen.

meanwhile, back in percy land… while waiting for percy jackson’s book five to come out, jools was jonesing for some riordan to read. we made a trek to central library, where we discovered that riordan has also written books… for GROWNUPS.  the boy borrowed mission road, a novel about a private eye trying to solve a murder. sure, it wasn’t his usual fare. but for a boy who loathes reading, he actually read it. granted, he was especially thrilled because there were CURSE WORDS! and INAPPROPRIATE THINGS! in the book. but you know what? he was reading.

what’s wrong with that? i’d like to know.

oxford comma

oxford comma

clearly, this bullshit did not end in the ’80s. pity that.

recently, i was talking with another parent about college. he was pretty insistent about his child going into engineering. now, nevermind he has no idea whether his child has any interest or inclination toward engineering (and science in general): that is what said child will be pursuing in a few years.  if his child is not interested in becoming some sort of engineer, then said kid can pay his way through school. this parent will not be contributing toward something stupid and useless like an english degree, for example.

(you know, the degree i happen to hold.)

when i was a college kid in the go-go 1980s, it was tough to be an english major, especially when you were child #3 following child #1 (a doctor) and child #2 (computer science dude.) and here i was, in love with language and meaning and, to be honest, writers in the earlyish part of the twentieth century. preferably, but not exclusively, women. oh, and usually american.  and i often answered the barrage of questions which really boiled down into one: what will you do with that english degree?

indignantly, i did what any self-respecting women’s college editorial editor would do: i wrote what ended up being my most popular column in college. who’s afraid of liberal arts? was so popular that it was actually reprinted. (evidently, i was not the only person with this conundrum.) i was tired of people asking me when i was going to get a real major, a pre-professional major. i was tired of people asking me if i sat and made daisy chains, too.  “i am sure,” i wrote, “that somewhere, someone in my family is squirreling away an English Major Fund so that when i’m big and in the real world, i will have a financial supplement.”

didn’t happen.

and, being pedantic in the way only a 21 year old lit student could be, i quoted john henry cardinal newman from the idea of a university noting that education should be for it’s own sake in order to help you grow as a person. education should be:

something intellectual, something which grasps what it perceives through the senses; something which takes a view of things; which sees more than the senses convey; which reasons upon what it sees, and while it seeks, which invests it with an idea.

i argued that it was easier to live with yourself when you were someone and not some thing. it is difficult to change gears if you make yourself narrow; but the study of liberal arts broadens you and makes you more of an intellectual utility infielder. in short, it helps you adapt.

decades later, i am glad i chose the path i did. yes, i went on to graduate school and specialized; but when i wanted more than what a career in that specialization offered, i duck and dove into something completely different: i crashed into the early days of the internet. on my interview, my boss showed me how to build something and then asked me, the english major, to build it. i froze at first (i’m an english major, remember?), then slowly attempted to make things happen as he had done.

and i messed up.

but, i took a deep breath, backed up, and tried something else. which worked. (mercifully.) and i got the job.

later, i asked my boss: why did you hire me when i messed up on the interview?

his reply? you backed up and figured it out. i need people who know how to think and who can learn. (it was a new industry at the time.) i don’t need specialists: it’s a new field and there are none.  (in 1995, there really weren’t.)

so yeah. english major here. english major who has developed and built web properties. who has done research studies in education policy. who has performed regression analysis. who has put together several major events, uniting cabinet level secretaries and their entire departments in the process. who masters the world and delivers it daily to her family. (note: i am still a crappy cook. but so far, i have not killed anyone.)  i’ve changed careers plenty, and now, i get to do what i always loved best: writing.

i’m not starving. i’m monitoring my world and changing with it as needed. i can write cogently (most of the time.) i can think. maybe i can’t fuse my identity to some specific career, but actually, i like being stealthy like that. and i’ll be damned if i make my kids tether themselves to a pre-professional course of studies unless it is the course they choose. sure, there are consequences in all choices, but should they be the deciders of their destinies? i think so.

so to that parent who is willing to carrot-and-stick his kid’s future with his own demands? maybe you need to be squirreling away a Therapy For My Kid fund.

oh. and while i am not using capital letters in my blog,  for the record: i do give a fuck about the Oxford comma.

immigrant song

immigrant song

scared little faces peering out from buses at hostile, snarling grownups. what must they be thinking?

loads of children are making a perilous journey, sans parents, to the united states. most are coming from honduras, guatemala, el salvador, and mexico. we can talk all day long, i’m sure, about our immigration policy and how problematic it remains — while we don’t all agree on what should be done, we all, with the possible exception of the US Congress, realize that something must be done to improve the situation. and until they figure things out, we as a nation continue to show our both best and our worst side to the world. i admit i was intrigued by a thread i had read about what sort of parents let their children travel alone to a foreign nation. who in their right mind would put young children in the care of people they don’t even know and hope that they make it to their destination in one piece.

i know exactly the sort: my great-grandparents.

my great-grandfather aron katz was born in 1879 and married rose kogan between 1899-1901 in odessa, russia. aron was a tailor and they were not well-to-do. to put it mildly, things in russia were not great for anyone at that time but particularly not for jews, who were routinely persecuted and often killed. he, rose, and the two youngest children — sam and my grandmother belle — emigrated to the united states in march of 1913. oddly enough, they did not come through ellis island as most did. at the time, a lot of people in the US were pretty hostile to all those jews coming in. instead, my great-grandparents were caught up in the galveston movement, which essentially lasted from 1907-1914 and was an effort to disperse the jewish immigrant population throughout the united states by bringing them in through the port of galveston, texas.

on the manifest of the SS cassel, the ship they came to the United States on in march of 1913, their destination is listed as kansas city, missouri.  now i have no knowledge of whether they ever made it to kansas city; however, we know that by november 1913, they were living on the lower east side of new york. when i was in college, i completed an oral history of my grandmother’s life — and i still remember her telling me that her father was a tailor — and oy! could you imagine a jewish tailor in galveston, tx? she told me that they somehow made their way up the mississippi and then eastward where their relatives lived on the lower east side of manhattan. but we know that they had made their way because in november 1913, they had an important delivery to receive.

because they were not wealthy, my great-grandparents could only afford the fare for their two youngest children. their two oldest stayed behind with relatives until they were able to raise the fare for them to come over. in november 1913, those two children came to america on the ship grosser kurfurst. my great-aunt lillian (or liebe) was 11 years old, and her brother max (or mordechai) was 10. imagine being a child and taking a journey to a place you had never been? according to my cousin ilene (lily’s daughter), her mother had recounted how terrifying and awful the trip had been.  her mother was especially frightened by all the drunken sailors on board. i can only wonder what she dealt with as the elder child in charge — and only at age 11. somehow, though, after a long time fending for themselves on board, lily and max made it to new york, where they were reunited with the rest of their family.

so what kind of parents would put their children in harm’s way? what kind of parent would take young kids and have them fend for themselves among unscrupulous adults who might take terrible advantage of them — or worse? i can imagine exactly the kind of parents — very desperate ones. my great-grandparents lived in a place where they faced peril regularly.  they knew they had to get somewhere safe for their family’s sake. i can only imagine how it killed them a little bit to leave two of their kids behind. they crossed their fingers that the children would be cared for and, once the money was raised, they would send for them, too. i wish i had had a chance to talk to my great-aunt about her trip. knowing that jews were not exactly welcomed when they arrived, i’m sure their initial experience in america was probably not too pleasant; but i can figure that anything had to have been better than a pogrom so they were going to make it work here no matter what.

thinking about this experience sheds light on what mothers and fathers in dangerous places such as honduras must be thinking. they scrape every little bit of money they have and borrow what they don’t and send their children to a place where they hope their children can somehow be protected from their current daily misery. the situation has to be pretty bad for a parent to send her child off with strangers in the hope that somewhere else is better than the child’s current environment.

so whatever you might think about immigration policy, think twice before you impugn the fitness of parents of these children because they send their kids off to america. faced with the same choices, we all might do the same thing. instead, while the immigration situation gets sorted, why not treat the children as you would hope strangers would treat yours?

in the end, human nature is human nature, whether you’re in central america, russia, the united states, or anywhere else parents and children exist.

my city of ruins

my city of ruins

it sure feels that way this morning.

yeah, i know. on a week when we remember the tremendous shock and loss of life of 9/11; when flood waters are ravaging colorado; and when people the world over are being tortured and killed, you might think: boo-fucking hoo. seaside park businesses are on fire. so what?

sleazeside, as we townies affectionately call it, is an integral part of my childhood and my psyche. yeah, so all of america thinks we are snooki and the situation and spray-tanned, classless people like that. but those people aren’t even from the shore. those people are the bennies, the tourists who come to town and who make us locals often laugh and cry at the same time for their outrageous NY/North Jersey buffoonery. we loved them because they kept the shore alive with cash and spirit, but wow, they were brasher than we locals.

but we locals love the boards, too. as a very little girly, i loved riding the choo choo and the carousel. every year, one of the highlights of my day camp career was the day we were given our ticket book and had free reign (or so it felt) to ride rides, stuff ourselves full of kohrs custard, and lose our quarters playing the wheels. as i grew older, i spent so many nights with my oldest brother, getting some (at the time) cheap slices of pizza and some grape drink from the sawmill, then playing pinball for hours.  we also hit the waterslides — there was rainbow rapids, away from the boards and closer to the mathis bridge, which i didn’t like because my legs always got all cut up on the fiberglass. and there was another waterslide i loved, right off the boards, where you felt like one wrong slip and you’d end up on the pavement, a few stories below.

sometimes for me, it felt like a tiny taste of freedom. my parents would not allow me to work there, but they did let me go and breathe in the tar, the ocean, and the zeppoles. i remember endlessly walking up and down the boards, looking at all the people who seemed to have lives well underway. mine seemed like it would never begin. then again, there were lives getting destroyed there as well; people getting into fights, people getting into trouble underneath the boards in more ways than my teenaged brain could imagine. the most trouble i could get into was getting a gaggle of friends to line up at the game where you squirt water into the clown’s mouth and, when the bell went off to start the contest, everyone sprayed the poor guy or girl behind the counter. they never got too mad at you but you always felt a little deliciously evil afterwards.  it was the extent of my badgirl moment; i would hear the commotion coming from the chatterbox club but never have the moxie to step in while underage.

and the food. as a red sea pedestrian, i was never a fan of the sausages, though legions swear up and down they are the best. me, i always ended up with powdered sugar in my hair from chowing down on as many zeppoles as i could fathom. dinner would always be pizza for me, whether from the sawmill, three brothers, or some other place in a pinch. and kohrs custard? i think i can thank them for part of my fat tush. kohrs custard was always thicker and silkier than mere ice cream. i remember once, while driving outside of charlottesville, va, with my family — i saw a kohrs and begged to stop. my kids thought mom had lost the plot until they tasted the dream.

there is something about the heavy, heady smell of decades of tourists looking for a cheap, good time that has been lost.  hurricane sandy just exploded over seaside like a swampy h-bomb. the devastation from that storm ripped my heart out. the jetstar sat in the ocean, rusting out for months before it was taken out of the collective misery of our memories. and slowly, the boards began to rebuild.  they replaced some of the boards with something tougher than wood to withstand the pounding storm surf. the carousel was cleaned up. sure, the whole thing wasn’t really back to full steam, but there was a certain feeling of pride that the place was going to be back, stronger than ever.

and then, the fire.

and all these places that were lost to me have become lost to me again. i want to bring them back, and yet the only way i think i will is through my memories. sure, it looks like no one was killed, and thank goodness for that, as people are not replaceable. ever. but as time goes by, i’m beginning to wonder whether places were meant to be replaced.  the smells, the sights, the strange mix of earnest kids and flashy outsiders: it will never be the same.

and yet, there’s that part of me that wants to catch the wave of seaside’s next act.


attack of the gpms: no reply at all (genesis)

attack of the gpms: no reply at all (genesis)

bet you’re glad attack of the gpms is over after today, aren’t you. (well, except for actual mondays when i feel like writing about guilty pleasure monday selections, of course.)

yeah, yeah, yeah, i know. this is the second genesis song in one week. (if you don’t like it, go write about it in your own blog. and then, share your link with me.) however, can you even believe it is the same band that sings afterglow? you hear this song, and you definitely think you are listening to another group. what a difference a couple of years made! by the time the band made abacab, the dudes had moved from ethereal prog rock (also known in my head only as music for hobbit heads) to nearly-radio-ready top 40 singles. and while this album mostly was a mainstay of AOR radio at the time, subsequent albums would yield multiple top 40 hits. this effort was sort of like training wheels for the ride to come.

i adore abacab for so many reasons, some of which i will keep to myself so i that don’t make your eyes glaze over.  there are quirky songs intermingled with songs striving to be pop hits. while my favorite song on the album is probably still the dark horse like it or not, i adore no reply at all.  and i adore it for one reason: my Beloved Spouse.

no, there’s nothing mushy or sentimental going on here. this is not one of our songs, per se. but when this song comes on, BS always attempts to be the entire horn section. he only does this on two songs. here’s exhibit b:

phil collins may be a stellar songwriter, drummer, and even a distinctive voice. but hot damn, the man knows how to put together kickin’ horn sections.

and nothing is funnier than BS imitating them.

just take my word for it.

better yet, you try it.

attack of the gpms: back against the wall (cage the elephant)

attack of the gpms: back against the wall (cage the elephant)

oh my hell. the gift that keeps on giving.

so yeah, it isn’t monday, but i’m just rolling along with my two weeks of guilty pleasure mondays. (in other words, it’s like monday, only happier because it’s not monday.) (no, i’m not off any meds.) and i’m picking out some of my go-to songs that just make me grin and grin and shake my ass, even if my ass is currently sitting in the successor to the mommobile, which left us yea verily about a year ago. (BC still cries about it. she went away to girl scout camp one week and came back to a brand new car. and she was not amused. of course, she wasn’t going to be the grownup dealing with the potential vicissitudes of an old, old car on the side of some road, somewhere.)

what IS amusing, though, is back against the wall, a song that i think is one of the best songs of 2009 and maybe even the entire decade of the aughts. cage the elephant, a band out of kentucky, has not gotten the recognition i think they deserve.  i think they’re recording an album at this point, which means they could be touring soon. i would like to see them, even if they are the support act. (at one point, i think they were supporting the foo fighters, and i think my secret boyfriend dave grohl stepped in to play drums with them when their drummer became ill. of course, that could also be me hallucinating or projecting something dreamy. sometimes, reality bites, but in this case, i think reality might have been awesome, except of course for their poor drummer, who i hope has fully recovered.)

but i digress. per usual.

this song rocks. this is an rump-shaking, come to JAYsus kind of rocker. this is the sort of song that if i had a band, i would TOTALLY cover it, only i am quite certain i could not add anything to it and would thus create something superfluous. so i won’t. i’ll just leave you to it and you can go ahead and tell me how right i am in the comments.

if you want to, i mean. i’m not putting you up to it or anything.

not like your back’s against the wall.

hateful songs: “sherry” (frankie valli and the four seasons)

hateful songs: “sherry” (frankie valli and the four seasons)

those who know me can guess why.

i know that there is a whole world of people who cherish the old time music. you know what i mean by that music: that romanticized thought of young men, standing around street corners, harmonizing instead of swiping hubcaps? during the ’50s and early ’60s, white boys did it, black boys did it, heck, it seemed like everyone and his dog liked to do that (except for the rockers, who were tearing up music when they weren’t tearing up towns.)  the success of the broadway show jersey boys cements that whole musical period into american fabled lore.

i loathe that music.

in fact, i would probably voluntarily sit in a modern country concert before i would subject myself to an evening of doo-wop classics. while modern country music in general (there are exceptions, and i do like alt-country) sounds to me more like rejects from lite 1970s soft rock, doo-wop artists make weird noises in a way that actually makes me physically want to get up and run away from the sound. and no other purveyor of this sort of music annoys me more than frankie valli and the four seasons. it was bad enough that they sang unadulterated crap; but the sound! oh! the sound! between the piercing soprano-like warbles exiting valli’s mouth to the WHINE. you know the whine i mean: as in, big girls…do-won’t CRY-YI-YI. 


you actually need to keep me far from sharp objects when they come on. i may do myself harm, just to escape his voice.

and the ultimate worst for me? Sherry. when your name (or a name similar to it) gets used in a song, people make fun of you. ask anyone my age named michael whether people ran after them singing:my name is michael, i got a nickel, etc.  unless your name is linda or yoko, you probably don’t enjoy songs with your name in them, either.  and when your then-10-year-old brother runs after you, singing something insulting at the top of his lungs, you tend to hate it. a lot. especially when he alters the words to:


so yeah. three strikes against the song. 1) i can’t stand frankie valli and the four seasons, 2) i don’t like being teased by my brother with song lyrics like this, and 3) there are only three people on this planet — two relatives and my friend sushma — who can call me sherry and live.

you are probably not one of them.

hateful songs: “let her in” (john travolta)

hateful songs: “let her in” (john travolta)

three words: kill. me. now.

criticizing ’70s music is like shooting fish in a barrel. i did it for one month and still have stuff left over. how i passed over john travolta’s star turn is beyond me. middlebro is probably smiling right now reading this, as i think this would make it up there on his list of awful ’70s songs. (he’s like the ultimate curator of ’70s music.)

travolta was at the height of his teen heartthrob time, as he played vinnie barbarino in welcome back kotter. teenybopper wreke never thought he was cute, but i did want my hair to feather back off my face like his did.  i’m impressed that they took a chance on him and let him sing in the movie grease; this piece of musical drivel would be a career-killer for most. luckily for travolta, his career survived this song.

wonder if it can survive his alleged massage issues?

anyway, in 1976, i suspect a lot of people must have been high. how else could this song chart?

he sounds better when you don’t take his singing seriously. like here, for example.

it had a good beat, but, like let her in, you can’t dance to it.

hateful songs: “g-d bless the usa” (lee greenwood)

hateful songs: “g-d bless the usa” (lee greenwood)

oh, the wackadoodles are going to find me now.

happy july 4th! i love july 4th. it is truly the most american of holidays, as we gather to celebrate our independence. yes, we replace our phillies flag with old glory; and i put on red, white, and blue clothing, which i fortunately have. sometimes, i even get the kids in some patriotic clothing. i love the fireworks and the parades and the people joining together for one brief second as one people. i would even bake one of those yummy-looking strawberry-blueberry cake thingies, though i know jools hates fruit and won’t go near one.

so i’ll just enjoy it for the moment here.


okay. about this lee greenwood song. now, i know a lot of people love it and feel their hearts all warmed by it. and that’s great; and it’s a free country and all that. this is not about you. this is about me.

and i loathe this song.

in fact, there are very few songs that physically make me cringe. this is one of them.

(so is this.)

i’ve tried to think about what it is about the song that i dislike so much. yes, it’s sappy — but so are other songs i actually find charming.

it’s not necessarily that g-d is in the title. i mean, i love to stand up and sing g-d bless america. (admittedly, i often break out in the version i learned as a child, g-d bless my underwear. but still.)

part of what bothers me is how it was written. greenwood has said in interviews that he and his producer sort of calculated the city shout-outs:

I’m from California, and I don’t know anybody from Virginia or New York, so when I wrote it – and my producer and I had talked about it – [we] talked about the four cities I wanted to mention, the four corners of the United States. It could have been Seattle or Miami but we chose New York and L.A., and he suggested Detroit and Houston because they both were economically part of the basis of our economy – Motown and the oil industry, so I just poetically wrote that in the bridge.

first of all: economically part of the basis of our economy? what the WHAT? and so, let’s pander to the (at-the-time) money-making locations in the USA. you’ll get more radio airplay in those markets, which can only boost sales. now, certainly, lots of songs name-check places, but i don’t think they often do it in order to target the economic centers of the country. that’s just weird and disingenuous to me.

so there’s this calculated cheesefest that strikes at your heart.

I’d thank my lucky stars,
to be livin here today.
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
and they can’t take that away.

son, have you heard of the patriot act?

generally, the people i have met who are into this song often (not always, but often) are the sorts who are all about freedoms. their freedoms. everyone else’s? they can go to hell.  maybe their ancestors had the good luck to come to this country at a time when people melted in. mine weren’t so welcome (hence why my grandmother’s family came in through galveston, texas, even though their entire family was in tenements in NYC. there were too many jews, you see, immigrating (nevermind we were escaping being used as kindling in pogroms in russia poland), so there was an effort to bring immigrant jews in via alternate US ports. we were persona non grata, you know. still the age of no jews, no dogs signs.

now, of course, substitute mexicans for jews.

so yeah. maybe you are here for a generation or two. (or ten.) does that make you more american than people who are striving to be american? i know we can’t support the world; we can barely support ourselves. but the attitude i hear from so many people borders more on the bigoted and less on the factual. (which, i would add, a lot of people don’t truly get. here are some recent ones, for those who want to get info.) policy must be based on facts and not on your scapegoat-oriented ideas.

that would be unamerican.

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA

i think i’ve got it. there’s an implication that criticism of the US = you don’t love this land. criticism of the US = you don’t appreciate your freedoms. in fact, those of us who criticize this nation love it just as much as those of you who jingoistically knee-jerk into america is perfect mode.  i’m quite sure, in fact, that there will be readers of this who will call me everything from communist (nope, sorry, not one) to a nation hater (nothing could be further from the truth.) in fact, they will also curse me as… wait for it… a liberal. like that would be a bad thing to be. (it’s not. neither is being conservative. it’s just different points of view.) but this song codifies the polarization of our nation in a few stanzas, a polarization which has led to legislative standstills and all sorts of negativity in the political arena, more than any i, a student of the political process, have witnessed in most of my life. to me, this song is rather insulting.

for if you don’t love g-d bless the usa, then surely it follows that you don’t love the usa, either.

in my view, there are many other, better patriotic songs for this day. i encourage you to seek them out. some are rah-rah-usa works. some are critical. but all encapsulate a vision of this nation as a place that welcomes and celebrates all of its citizens.

some of my humble suggestions from wreke’s jukebox:

this land is your land (woody guthrie)

millworker (james taylor)

american tune (paul simon)

4th of july, asbury park (bruce springsteen) (note: had to put that in for my BS and for one of my beloved SILs)

the house i live in (what is america to me) (frank sinatra)

the house i live in (what is america to me) (patti labelle. i love this song, and while i love the chairman of the board’s version, ms. labelle knocks it out of the park.)

america the beautiful (ray charles)

goodnight, saigon (billy joel)

the stars and stripes forever (john phillip sousa, played by the awesome us marine band)

the star spangled banner (f.s. key, performed by whitney houston)



you are welcome to take issue with my selections in the comments. (some people are still taking issue with what i wrote over 5 years ago about the song wildfire… on my old blog. and wow, who knew those fans would be so nasty!) also, if you have nominees for songs you loathe (and which i’ve not written about already), feel free to share.

i take requests.


hateful songs: “locked out of heaven” (bruno mars)

hateful songs: “locked out of heaven” (bruno mars)

your sex takes me to paradise?

if that weird eh eh eh eh eh eh eh eh OOH doesn’t drive you insane through this song, the lyrics will.

singing about sex and getting lucky is nothing new in popular music. hell, in granddad’s era, cole porter and others were clever about it:

fast forward some decades. i’m the mom who drives through the carpool line, windows open, with this gem on:

in short, years and years of lyricists have talked about getting laid in clever and amusing ways. meanwhile, bruno mars, who actually is kind of adorbs as the kids might say, is clinical in his assessment: your sex takes me to paradise.

really? why not draw a diagram, too, while you’re at it.

in short, dude, you have a catchy song, albeit one with an irritating sound effect (what the hell IS that thing that goes eh, anyway?) but you lose me completely when you get all technical with me. it has all the charm and romance of 5th grade family life education class.

bruno, bruno, bruno. let me give you some advice. it might help you write better songs for the ladies. mike damone’s five point plan.

always remember, bruno. whenever possible, put on side one of led zeppelin IV.


you are welcome to take issue with my selections in the comments. (some people are still taking issue with what i wrote over 5 years ago about the song wildfire… on my old blog. and wow, who knew those fans would be so nasty!) also, if you have nominees for songs you loathe (and which i’ve not written about already), feel free to share.

i take requests.

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