Monthly Archives: September 2013

#HateMail!

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Here’s the kind of thing I get to mess with sometimes. I dissed Obama online earlier today, at length, and someone sent me this a few minutes ago:

“Shelton, I never expected to see the day that I would find that your curious mind and unique perspective on the world and issues would degenerate to the point that you would not welcome commentary, expect only to be listened to, not challenged and when your ideas are countered determine that the action of so doing is liberal condescending Baby Boomer input. That is just so cliche. I have always viewed your commentary with an open mind even when I didn’t always agree and respected the difference in views but you went off the rails today and it wasn’t cool or edgy, beginning with the scummy white folks surrounding Obama remark to be followed by an uncalled for insult on entire nation of America and the very many fine, courageous, selfless and giving people who make this nation great. For those of us who have had people in wars to protect our country and freedoms as well as those who have lost their lives or loved ones doing so is an unforgivable insult to the good hearts of people who suffered much to give you the freedom to spin your opinions and yarns as openly as you do. I lost all respect for you today and for me that is a sad, sad thing. As someone who has read your work for years and someone you confided in in the past (and have clearly forgotten about) I truly believe that you have lost your balance and perspective. That is not meant as an insult but perhaps just enough of a comment to cause you to step back and rethink. What I read today was ugly pretending at creative commentary. I have always though better of you than that. I don’t expect a response and frankly at this point am not interested in one. What a shame you don’t understand how lucky you are to be an American and the suffering it took in order for you to live as free and openly in opinion as you do. Hurts my heart.”

My response: “Hmm, let’s see… 1) You’re disappointed in me–patronizing tone, and implies that your approval is a valuable prize that, once rescinded, should make me sad. But it does not. 2) Use of the word “degenerate” implies that my style no longer meets your approval. 3) Suggesting that I went “off the rails” implies that your opinion predominates, but it does not. 4) Being “cool or edgy” was not my intent, so I’m not sure where that comes from. 5) I stand by the “scummy white folks” remark, but I’ll amend it to note that he has some scummy black people around him, too–just not usually in position of real authority. 6) I stand by the “cowardly president for a cowardly nation” remark; just my opinion. 7) You seem to feel that I’ve never had friends of loved ones in the military; that is not the case. You also seem to think that I don’t know about the role our troops have played in winning the freedoms we enjoy today; this is consistent with your overall theme, and is another one of those condescending boomer cliches we were talking about. Your having lost all respect for me in the course of an hour’s worth of Facebook chatter begs the question of how much respect you ever had for me to begin with–but I’ll not ask that, because I don’t care. 9) Your suggestion that I “clearly forgotten” about our previous conversations is, again, consistent with your overall theme. 10) Your suggestion that I “have lost balance and perspective” implies that you are in a position to evaluate me, based on whatever your professional qualifications may be. 11) Was what you ready ugly? Of course–we were talking about Obama, lol! 12) If you weren’t interested in a response, you wouldn’t have wasted a moment of this lovely Friday evening doubling-down on remarks that you already knew I took offense to. 13) Your telling me that I do not understand my privileged position as an American citizen, or its history or my ancestors’ history would be a blatant insult, even if that information wasn’t taught at grade-school level. Everything you’ve said here involves talking to down to people, implying that you’re smarter and more sophisticated than anyone else in the conversation, and that anyone who disagrees with you is worth of your hand-wringing pity. That is not the case at all. 14) If your heart hurts, see your doctor; it has nothing to do with me. Good day to you.”

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Millcent Martin: Mavericky!

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I’d never heard of Millicent Martin until just a few days ago, when I found myself looking for old David Frost stuff on YouTube after his death earlier this week. Miss Martin has had a long career, but may be best-known for singing satirical songs on Frost’s short-lived but groundbreaking public-affairs show “That Was the Week That Was” (aka “TW3”), which kinda presages not only much of the British comedy boom of that decade, but virtually pioneered the use of comedy as a means of direct engagement with the political process via mainstream television.

The show was entire unique, starting with its opening theme–a swinging swath of British bop (which sounds a lot like West Coast stuff) popular enough to market as its own studio album… 

The lyrics were reworked for new episodes, to encompass the news of the day. The quality of the writing seems uniformly strong, in particular the poetry and song-lyrics, all of which is smoothly articulated by the singer, if not always the panelists. It’s a tricky enough matter in America these days, let alone in the BBC structure of 50 years ago. TW3 was the beginning of Frost’s lifelong push to establish himself in the newest, freshest broadcast formats; he went on to co-found the infamous TV-am network, and he was working for al-Jazeera at the time of his death. To see TW3 at its most bold, brash and biting, check Millicent Martin in the lead on “Mississippi”, which ruthlessly lampoons America’s racial climate at that time.

1963 saw the show’s peak, and its subsequent demise, just a month after the murder of JFK–a crime that stirred the cast to cold, sober sanctimony in the darkest moment yet for their generation. After some reflective words from the panel, Martin adds her voice, singing “In the Summer Of His Years” in honor of the fallen president…

By year’s end, the show would be off the air, but not before yielding another masterpiece from Millicent Martin, who duets with herself in split-screen for a run of rollicking vocalese on “Goodbye”, from the show’s finale. Those who saw the show then never forgot, while those who weren’t around–like myself–get to experience it anew…