Just look around you, it’s easy to see — there’s nothing we women can’t be! Ten points for you if you remember that song. I could only find a link to it in Dutch, which is kind of hilarious.
(an aside — I had a pretty depressing YouTube realization the other day. I rely so much on them, and so many of their videos have been removed, I probably have a ton of posts with dead links. Sucks, and there’s nothing I can do about it).
Back to outstanding female achievement — bellas, meet Barbara Hillary, the first black woman to reach the North Pole. She is 75, and a cancer survivor. And I love the matter-of-fact attitude she’s shown towards her achievement. From this AP article:
“Hillary insisted on skiing. Only trouble was, she had never been on the slopes before. “It wasn’t a popular sport in Harlem,” she quipped. So she enrolled in cross-country skiing lessons and hired a personal trainer, who finally determined she was physically fit for the voyage. “She’s a headstrong woman. You don’t tell her ‘no’ about too many things,” Russell said. Her lack of funds didn’t stop her, either. Hillary scraped together thousands of dollars and solicited private donors. On April 18, she arrived in Longyearben, Norway, where it is common for people to carry guns to ward off hungry polar bears. “Before I arrived, the word was out that soul food was coming,” she joked.”
Barbara Hillary doesn’t want her remarkable feat to be all about race, either. “She hopes her journey will inspire hope in other cancer survivors. With her feet back on dry land in New York, she is already plotting a new adventure: that of a global-warming activist. “What if?” she said. “I’d like to go and lecture to different groups on what they can do on a grass-roots level (to fight global warming).” Hats off to you, Barbara Hillary! We all need some of that can-do attitude. If we believe it, we can achieve it.
I do have a sense of humor, I do. But when this individual tried to add me on MySpace, I was less than amused. That to me is just lame, uninspired, and insulting. Sorry, y’all. DENIED. As Novaslim points out, Don Imus’ phrase lives on. Man, people will cash in on anything.
Had a pretty crappy work week? Dropped your cell phone in the toilet? Found a new scratch on your car? Relax, take a deep breath and know that everything’s still OK in the world. At least Paris Hilton is going to jail! Someone make a schadenfreude pie! I’ve been loving the coverage on TMZ and DListed. But in yet another sign that petitions have jumped the shark, Paris Hilton has a don’t-send-me-to-jail petition. If (and that’s a big if) I were to sign a petition about Paris Hilton, it’d be the one to send her to jail forever.
I’m as anti-Paris Hilton as I’m pro-Beth Ditto. A month ago, I didn’t know much about her other than she’s apparently a friend of Perez Hilton’s, she seems to have sprung straight out of a John Waters movie (she’s like a punk rock Tracy Turnblad and I LOVE that), and she’s super popular in the UK. Before I even listened to her music, I found her persona intriguing. I’m an anglophile for sure, but I’m extra intrigued by the Americans who become British icons by adoption. Beth Ditto and The Gossip are from Arkansas. Why is she being featured on magazine covers and being considered the coolest in the UK, and not here?
Now Standing in the Way of Control has earned a spot in my workout songs playlist. That song was written in opposition to the US government’s view on gay marriage. â€œNobody in the States was that surprised or shocked by what Bush did, but it made everyone I know feel helpless and cheated. I wrote the chorus to try and encourage people not to give up. Itâ€™s a scary time for civil rights, but I really believe the only way to survive is to stick together and keep fighting,â€ Ditto explains.
This might sound like blasphemy to some of you, but I kind of admired their rock n’ roll cover of Aaliyah’s Are You That Somebody. That’s a brave, quirky song to cover, and please don’t throw rocks at me for saying that. My favorite song and video by The Gossip is Listen Up, in which she knits, rocks out with a slice of pizza, and sings lyrics that directly address stuff I’ve been through.
“Everybody knows someone like that, Who borrows money and won’t pay you back. They’ll talk about about at the drop of a hat, And lie about it to your face, when they’re caught. There’s some people that you just can’t trust, But some people just talk too much. Take my advice, and listen up, Dont be a fool like the rest of us.”
That song made me feel like she’s directly speaking to me. So I was already convinced that Beth Ditto’s a sage, then I read her advice column in The Guardian, and I loved it. I’m a newly converted, die hard Beth Ditto fan. Won’t you join me?
I love when a celebrities use their fame to have something refreshing and intelligent to say. So needless to say, I’m super excited about Dead Prez’s new magazine! I have a lot of respect for Dead Prez, and I think they are among very few rappers who take their message seriously. I might not agree with everything they’re saying, but I love that they’re saying something. I’ll definitely support their endeavor. As soon as I read an issue, I’ll discuss this further.
I got lots of positive feedback on my Mahalia Jackson post, but one comment threw me for a loop — I had one commenter admit that she’d never heard of Mahalia Jackson before. That got me wondering about the younger generations, and how much older music might be lost to them. So I’m stepping up my flashback jam game to try to shed light on artists who might be forgotten or at the very least, slept on.
Stevie Wonder might seem like an odd person to start out with, the man just dropped a halfway decent album last year. But I’m not sure if people today remember just how funky Stevie was back in the day. Peep this funky breakdown on Sesame Street in 1972. There’s not a whiff of “I Just Called To Say I Love You” cheese in that jam.
We grew up with a large record collection, and there were some timeless, funky soul classics among the calypso and Bob Marley catalog. The Best of Earth Wind and Fire? Check. The Jackson Five Christmas album? Check. Songs in the Key of Life? Definitely a big check. Another, less popular Stevie Wonder album that we owned was Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants, which I’ve come to realize is probably the most slept on of any Stevie Wonder’s albums. The critics hated it, and fans didn’t embrace this mostly instrumental double album soundtrack as the followup to the timeless classic that is Songs in the Key of Life.
Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants came out in 1979, the year I was born. So my memory of its presence in our living room under the stereo goes back early as birth. The jacket was a cool mint green, and there was braille on it. It’s a double album, and the inside folded out to a picture of Stevie Wonder circa 1979, when he was apparently going through a “I ain’t wearing no sunglasses” phase. I cannot tell you how terrified I was of that photo. And there are tracks on the album that are also terrifying to a little one’s ears.
The album is a soundtrack to The Secret Life of Plants, a documentary that makes extensive use of time-lapse photography to reveal the behavior of flowers and leaves. The music flows seamlessly, and I’m sure if enjoyed in conjunction with the documentary could make for a memorable Pink-Floyd-and-The-Wizard-of-Oz experience. Except, you know, funkier.
Some of the tracks are just straight-up trippy and scary. Some are poignant instrumentals. And many are Stevie classics that not enough people know. Listen to the brief audio samples on the Amazon page and you’ll see — Outside My Window is a lovely little singalong. Same Old Story and Black Orchid are slow and heavy and achingly lovely (such a shame you can’t hear that chorus). To this day, the word Ecclesiastes reminds me of my big brother Patrick, because he loved that ponderous, majestic track so much. Kesse Ye Lolo de Ye is a heartwarming African chorus (it means “a seed’s a star”), Come Back as a Flower is a pretty, sweet lullaby sung by Yvonne Wright, and the title track, The Secret Life of Plants, is a timeless Stevie Wonder classic. The video reveals Stevie as he is in the album cover, without his glasses, wandering through beautiful pastoral scenes. It’s pretty amazing, but the sound quality isn’t the best.
Overjoyed was left off this album in order to anchor the considerably wacker In Square Circle. Send One Your Love was the hit ballad from Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants, and it’s one of my favorite Stevie Wonder songs.
Now that I’m older, I can fully appreciate his unappreciated album, scary photo and all. The concept is so beautiful, so powerful — a blind man expressing such heartfelt musical appreciation for that which he can never see, and so bravely baring his sightless orbs to the world. It must have felt so freeing. If you don’t have any Stevie Wonder in your music collection, do yourself a favor, and go get Talking Book and Songs in the Key of Life with a quickness. I think those are the two best introductions to the continuing career of an American musical legend.