Saturday, April 08, 2006


Yesterday deadly tornados ravaged my native Middle Tennessee, and among those caught in the storm was Oak Ridge Boy William Lee "Mountain Man" Golden, whose house took a big hit. All thoughts with him and everyone affected.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Whose space?

My MySpace profile mentions that I went to the University of Chicago, twice, which may be why I found this query in my mailbox, from "Fuser":
Date: Apr 6, 2006 2:09 AM
Subject: greetings
Body: Hello there, I may be attending the University of Chicago and was wondering if you could, perhaps share your experience there. I plan to study politics. Is it liberal or conservative?Thank You.
I replied:
Date: Apr 6, 2006 12:54 PM
Subject: RE: greetings
Body: Were you accepted? Depending on what you mean by conservative, the U of C is certainly more conservative than many universities. The U of C's economics department is ground zero for supply-side economics, for example, and its political science department is known for international relations scholars who are hardcore realists. The U of C was also home to many prominent neoconservatives, like Leo Strauss, Allan Bloom and Paul Wolfowitz.

However, the U of C is not socially conservative, in the Bible college sense.

For what it's worth, I'm a flaming liberal and loved the U of C. Whatever your politics, it is an excellent, challenging school, one of the very finest American universities. Undergrads there work hard and take intellectualism seriously.

Good luck and let me know what you decide. -k
I looked at Fuser's profile and noted that "Hugo Chavez" and "Neo-Che Guevera" are among his or her MySpace friends, so my reply may scare the Fuser off. I hope not.

It's a new use for social networking sites: Anonymous college counseling!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Dance on your knees

I lived through the disco revolution, but I wasn't old enough to boogie much. I was 6 when Saturday Night Fever hit the screens in 1977, and although I loved the music -- the movie soundtrack was the first record I bought that wasn't called something like 30 Great Kids Songs! -- the disco ephemera I consumed came not from coked-out dance clubs but rather from pop culture outlets that were rather more kid-friendly. I'm thinking of the roller disco fad, the LP Sesame Street Fever, and movies like the 1979 comedy Love at First Bite, which has a memorable scene in which a vampire George Hamilton dances to Alicia Bridges' transporting disco classic "I Love the Nightlife."

But then there were tracks like the 1976 novelty hit "Disco Duck (Part 1)" by the DJ Rick Dees. The song, about a clubgoer transformed into a waterfowl, has adult themes -- animal lust, club dancing -- and even that premise seems altogether druggy. But how could kids not love the song too? I did. It's performed by a man doing a passable impression of Donald Duck.

After that, it was all but inevitable that KISS and Fred Astaire would put out disco records. And then the whole thing was over.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Take me out

And another baseball season is underway. I welcome the news as a harbinger of spring, but otherwise I don't care anymore. I followed the game pretty closely until the 1994 realignment, which expanded each league from two divisions to three. When that happened I got confused and lost interest.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Dance on your knees

You've doubtless heard it before, but "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" by the Police fully awakened me to the pleasures of pop music in 1982, when I was 11. MTV was new in our house, and I found the videos from the group's 1981 release Ghost in the Machine record particularly enthralling -- especially the clip for "Every Little Thing," its discomfiting neocolonialist imagery notwithstanding.

My Police fandom went off the charts in 1983, when Synchronicity came out, then waned slowly and painfully over the course of Sting's solo career.

But I still love this song, and when I was a lad I thought the jazzy piano chords and weird synthesizer arpeggios that kick in at 2:23 were the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard. I think maybe I still do.
This outlaw bit

Students of country music ought to read Chris Neal's very fine Nashville Scene article (3/16/2006) about the outlaw movement, whose signature release, Wanted! The Outlaws, came out 30 years ago this year.