♫ The Everly Brothers — A Brief Tribute ♫

In my current state, it would almost certainly have escaped my notice, but for my dear friend Ellen who sent me an email to let me know that Don Everly, the older of the two Everly Brothers, had just died on Saturday at the age of 84.  He was preceded in death by his brother and musical partner, Phil, who died in 2014, sixteen days before he would have turned 75.

I well remember listening to the Everly Brothers as a child and during my early teen years.  They began writing and recording their own music in 1956, and their first hit song came in 1957, with Bye Bye Love, written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. The song hit #2 in the spring of 1957, and additional hits would follow through 1958, many of them written by the Bryants, including Wake Up Little Susie, All I Have to Do Is Dream, and Problems.  In 1960, they signed with the major label Warner Bros. Records and recorded Cathy’s Clown, written by the brothers themselves, which was their biggest selling single.

The Everly Brothers charted 31 singles on the Hot 100, including three #1s: Wake Up Little Susie, All I Have to Do Is Dream, and Cathy’s Clown. The latter was the first single to top the US and UK charts simultaneously.  The Everly Brothers’ career slumped in their home country in the wake of the British Invasion in 1964. However they retained a faithful following in countries including Canada, Australia and the UK. They scored nine Top 40 hits in the UK between 1963 and 1965, including the self-penned The Price Of Love.

The Everly Brothers ended their partnership in 1973 after a gig on July 14, 1973, at Knotts Berry Farm in California, at which Phil smashed his guitar and stormed off the stage.  Embarking on a solo career, Phil charted three times as a solo artist with the #37 peaking Who’s Gonna Keep Me Warm being his biggest hit. He also had a Top Ten entry in 1983 on the UK singles chart with She Means Nothing To Me, a duet with Cliff Richard. The brothers reunited in 1983, when they appeared at the Royal Albert Hall, London. The concert spawned a well-received live LP and video.

The Everly Brothers were part of the first group of ten artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Rather than a single song and set of lyrics, I shall post a few of their most popular songs as a tribute to a fine duo whose music will live on.

All I Have to do is Dream (1958)  Charted at #1 in both the U.S. and UK

Cathy’s Clown (1960)  Charted at #1 in both the U.S. and UK

Wake Up Little Susie (1957)  Charted at #1 in the U.S. and #2 in the UK

Bye Bye Love (1957)  Charted at #2 in the U.S. and #6 in the UK

♫ My Way ♫ … Annnnnnnd … (Redux)

Tonight I am in an introspective mood.  Angst-ridden, vexed, and a bit despairing, I sought a song or two that could cheer me.  I strayed from my usual Stevie Wonder/Lionel Richie cure, and went further back … back to a simpler time, but was it really?  At any rate, back to the music of our parents or our early childhoods.  If you ask my faves from back in that day, I would immediately answer:  Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Louis Armstrong.  So tonight, let’s just go with the first one … a redux from May 2019 … two of my favourite Sinatra songs …


Ellen correctly noted that I have never played a Sinatra song here, and the reason is that I thought perhaps he wouldn’t have a mass appeal, though I grew up on Sinatra and like his voice and much of his music just fine.  At any rate, the suggestion was to play his iconic song, My Way, as a tribute to Ol’ Blue Eyes.  I debated, for I was rather more inclined to play New York, New York.  And finally, I threw up my hands and said “What the heck … I shall offer them both”.  Since the lyrics are on-screen with the first video, I present only the lyrics to accompany the second.

The lyrics to My Way, released by Sinatra in 1969, were written by Paul Anka and set to the music of the French song Comme d’habitude co-composed and co-written (with Jacques Revaux), and performed in 1967 by Claude François. Anka’s English lyrics are unrelated to the original French song. The song was a success for a variety of performers including Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Sid Vicious. Sinatra’s version spent 75 weeks in the UK Top 40, a record which still stands.

Paul Anka heard the original 1967 French pop song, Comme d’habitude (translation: As Usual) performed by Claude François, while on holiday in the south of France. He flew to Paris to negotiate the rights to the song. In a 2007 interview, he said, “I thought it was a shitty record, but there was something in it.” He acquired adaptation, recording, and publishing rights for the mere sum of one dollar, subject to the provision that the melody’s composers would retain their original share of royalty rights with respect to whatever versions Anka or his designates created or produced. Some time later, Anka had a dinner in Florida with Frank Sinatra and “a couple of Mob guys” during which Sinatra said “I’m quitting the business. I’m sick of it; I’m getting the hell out.”

Anka went back to New York and re-wrote the song for Sinatra …

“At one o’clock in the morning, I sat down at an old IBM electric typewriter and said, ‘If Frank were writing this, what would he say?’ And I started, metaphorically, ‘And now the end is near.’ I read a lot of periodicals, and I noticed everything was ‘my this’ and ‘my that’. We were in the ‘me generation’ and Frank became the guy for me to use to say that. I used words I would never use: ‘I ate it up and spit it out.’ But that’s the way he talked. I used to be around steam rooms with the Rat Pack guys – they liked to talk like Mob guys, even though they would have been scared of their own shadows.”

Anka finished the song at 5:00 in the morning, called Sinatra who was performing in Vegas, and the rest is history.

Frank Sinatra died on May 14, 1998, at the age of 82, after a heart attack.  The next night, the lights on the Empire State Building in New York City were turned blue, the lights at the Las Vegas Strip were dimmed in his honor, and the casinos stopped spinning for one minute.  Wow … now that’s a tribute!

New York, New York
Frank Sinatra

Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today
I want to be a part of it
New York, New York
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it
New York, New York

I wanna to wake up, in a city that doesn’t sleep
And find I’m king of the hill
Top of the heap

These little town blues
Are melting away
I’ll make a brand new start of it
In old New York
If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New York, New York

New York, New York
I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps
And find I’m a number one, top of the list
King of the hill, a number one

These little town blues, are melting away
I’m gonna make a brand new start of it
In old New York
And
If I can make it there
I’m gonna make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New York
New York
New York

Songwriters: Fred Ebb / John Kander
New York, New York lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Something To Celebrate! 🎈

I was in the midst of gathering snippets of news upon which to unleash my world-famous snark when I came upon something so heartwarming that it made the snark take a backseat … for now, anyway.  What was it, you ask?  Yesterday, former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary!  I think that is worthy of putting the snark aside and congratulating them!  They’ve been married longer than I’ve been alive, and I’ve been alive a loooonnnnnggg time!

I was married for 15 long years and try though we did, we simply drifted further apart in our views of life.  Marriage is a complex thing … it takes tons of patience, the willingness and ability to compromise, it takes being able to say, “I’m sorry” without following it with a ‘but’.  Whenever I read about someone who has been married to the same person for 50 years, I am uber-impressed, but 75 years together has me floored!

Jimmy & Rosalynn were married on July 7th 1946, one month after Jimmy graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy.  Yesterday, they became the longest-married presidential couple in U.S. history.  Jimmy Carter, who is now 96 years of age has said that his marriage to Rosalynn, a spry 93 years old, is the single most important thing in his life.

James Earl Carter Jr, fresh from the US Naval Academy, married Eleanor Rosalynn Smith at a Methodist church in Plains on 7 July 1946

On Monday, Jimmy Carter appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America where he was asked what the secret to such a long marriage is.  His response was simple enough …

“First of all, choose the right person to marry. And every night, we try to make sure we’re completely reconciled from all the arguments during the day.”

Simple, yes?  Maybe not so simple, given that every year in the U.S. there are some 750,000 divorces, many by couples over 50 years of age.

Jimmy Carter served as the 39th President of the United States from January 20th 1977 until January 20th 1981.  Since leaving the White House, he and Rosalynn have been involved in a number of humanitarian works, the most famous being, of course, Habitat for Humanity where even as recently as last year, Jimmy could be seen on a ladder with a hammer in hand, helping build homes for those who might otherwise never own a home.

Back home, the couple supported the Habitat for Humanity charity, building affordable homes

Congratulations to Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter … two good people who dedicated their lives to each other and to humanity!  We should all strive to be more like them!

Rosalynn supported Jimmy’s rise through Democratic politics, from his election as a state senator in Georgia in 1963 to the 1976 presidential campaign, seen here

On one occasion, the couple met rock legend Elvis Presley

The 39th president of the United States and his first lady walked in the inaugural parade with their daughter Amy on 20 January 1977. They also have three sons

Dancing at a White House ball on 13 December 1978

After leaving office the Carters were involved in peace initiatives abroad. In 2002 they made a visit to communist Cuba

In December 2018, they attended the funeral of George Bush Sr in Washington DC along with other former presidents and their wives, as well as then President Donald Trump

New President Joe Biden and his wife Jill visited the Carters at their home in Plains on 29 April

Five Years Later …. “ 🏳️‍🌈 ‘It Still Hurts! Gone Too Soon’ – #OrlandoUnited 🏳️‍🌈 …. “!!

Due to circumstances largely beyond my control, Part II of my “Celebrating Pride Month” post has been delayed by a day until this afternoon. However, as my friend Larry points out, PRIDE Month is about more than parades and celebrations, it is about history and heartbreak as well. Five years ago, 49 people were murdered and 53 others injured in a mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. My dear friend Horty Rex is looking back at that night, remembering those people, and I think her post is as important to honouring PRIDE Month as are the parades and celebrations. Thank you, Horty, for this beautiful tribute to those people.

It Is What It Is

~~June 12, 2021~~

PULSE NIGHTCLUB MASSACRE

Five years ago today, I remember waking up to the horrific reality, perpetrated on my local LGBTQ+ community in Orlando.

#OrlandoUnited

Gone but not frogotten!!

The majority of the victims were Latin/Hispanic … that was another blow to one of my demographics. It’s something that can’t never, ever be fogotten!!

#49Angels

… who will live in our hearts and memories for all eternity!!

HortyRex©

ORLANDO

~REMEMBERING THE PULSE 49~

Five years ago, 49 families learned their mothers, fathers, siblings and friends would not be coming home after a gunman opened fire on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Each one of the 49 people killed, now known as the 49 angels, on June 12, 2016, left behind a legacy.

Before they were victims, the 49 were mothers, fathers, recent graduates, veterans, breast cancer survivors, dreamers, artists and so much more.

~~Published April 28, 2017~~

On…

View original post 79 more words

🏳️‍🌈 Celebrating PRIDE Month – Part I 🏳️‍🌈

My posts are usually geared toward socio-political issues such as racism & bigotry, politics, the environment, etc., but every now and then there is something that takes precedence over all those things — they will still be here tomorrow, right?  Today, I am dedicating Filosofa’s Word, as I have for the past two years, to Pride Month.  Quick question:  do you know what PRIDE stands for?  I’m ashamed to say that I did not know until a few days ago that it stands for Personal Rights In Defense and Education.  Makes perfect sense, don’t you think?  The fight to be recognized and accepted has been an ongoing battle for decades, perhaps longer, and while we have made progress, today there are states such as Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and others that have either passed or are preparing bills that would legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

The following is Part I of a post I wrote for PRIDE Month in 2019 and reprised in 2020.  I don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel, and frankly when I read over this post, except for a few minor adjustments, I didn’t think I could do any better if I started over.  Part II will be on the schedule for later this afternoon.  Meanwhile, to all my friends in the LGBTQ community … I wish you a heartfelt Happy PRIDE Month!


Pride-month-3June is Pride Month, a month dedicated to recognizing the impact LGBTQ people have had in the world.  I see Pride Month in much the same way I see February’s Black History Month.  It is a way to honour or commemorate those who rarely receive the recognition they deserve, and are often discriminated against, simply because they are LGBTQ, or Black, in the case of Black History Month.  A bit of history …

The Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, was owned by the Genovese crime family, and in 1966, three members of the Genovese family invested $3,500 to turn the Stonewall Inn into a gay bar, after it had been a restaurant and a nightclub for heterosexuals. Once a week a police officer would collect envelopes of cash as a payoff, as the Stonewall Inn had no liquor license and thus was operating outside the law.  It was the only bar for gay men in New York City where dancing was allowed; dancing was its main draw since its re-opening as a gay club.

At 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 1969, four plainclothes policemen in dark suits, two patrol officers in uniform, and Detective Charles Smythe and Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine arrived at the Stonewall Inn’s double doors and announced “Police! We’re taking the place!”  Approximately 205 people were in the bar that night. Patrons who had never experienced a police raid were confused. A few who realized what was happening began to run for doors and windows in the bathrooms, but police barred the doors.

Standard procedure was to line up the patrons, check their identification, and have female police officers take customers dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their sex, upon which any men dressed as women would be arrested. Those dressed as women that night refused to go with the officers. Men in line began to refuse to produce their identification. The police decided to take everyone present to the police station, after separating those cross-dressing in a room in the back of the bar.

Long story short, a few patrons were released before the patrol wagons arrived to cart the rest off to jail, and those few stayed out front, attracted quite a large crowd, mostly LGBT people, and after an officer hit a woman over the head for saying her handcuffs were too tight, the crowd went into fight mode.  By this time, the police were outnumbered by some 600 people.  Garbage cans, garbage, bottles, rocks, and bricks were hurled at the building, breaking the windows.  The mob lit garbage on fire and stuffed it through the broken windows.  Police tried to use water hoses to disperse the crowd, but there was no water pressure.  Police pulled their weapons, but before they could fire them, the Tactical Patrol Force and firefighters arrived.  The crowd mocked and fought against the police, who began swinging their batons right and left, not much caring who they hit or where.

The crowd was cleared by 4:00 a.m., but the mood remained dark, and the next night, rioting resumed with thousands of people showing up at the Stonewall, blocking the streets.  Police responded, and again it was 4:00 a.m. before the mob was cleared.

There comes a point when people who are mistreated, abused, discriminated against, have had enough.  It is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, and the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, the treatment of people who were only out to enjoy the night, was that straw.  It was a history making night, not only for the LGBTQ community, but for the nation.pride-month-stonewall.jpgWithin six months of the Stonewall riots, activists started a citywide newspaper called Gay; they considered it necessary because the most liberal publication in the city—The Village Voice—refused to print the word “gay”.  Two other newspapers were initiated within a six-week period: Come Out! and Gay Power; the readership of these three periodicals quickly climbed to between 20,000 and 25,000.  Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) was formed with a constitution that began …

“We as liberated homosexual activists demand the freedom for expression of our dignity and value as human beings.”

I think that says it all, don’t you?  ‘Dignity and value as human beings’.  It is, in my book, a crying shame that our society needs to be reminded that we are all human beings, that we all have value and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street; with simultaneous Gay Pride marches in Los Angeles and Chicago, these were the first Gay Pride marches in U.S. history. The next year, Gay Pride marches took place in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockholm.  The Stonewall riots are considered the birth of the gay liberation movement and of gay pride on a massive scale.  The event has been likened to the Boston Tea Party, and Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus.  All of those were people’s way of saying, “We’ve had enough!”

2019 marked the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid and ensuing riots, and at long last, the New York City Police Department apologized to the LGBTQ community.  “The actions taken by the NYPD [at Stonewall] were wrong, plain and simple,” police commissioner James O’Neill said.  He also noted that the frequent harassment of LGBTQ men and women and laws that prohibited same-sex sexual relations are “discriminatory and oppressive” and apologized on behalf of the department.

President Bill Clinton first declared June to be National Pride Month in 1999, and again in 2000.  On June 1, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that the White House would not formally recognize Pride Month.  Every year that President Barack Obama was in office, he declared June to be LGBT Pride Month.  Donald Trump ignored it in throughout his tenure and blocked the display of the Pride flag at all U.S. embassies.  This year, President Biden recognized Pride Month, saying he “will not rest until full equality for LGBTQ+ Americans is finally achieved and codified into law.”

“”During LGBTQ+ Pride Month, we recognize the resilience and determination of the many individuals who are fighting to live freely and authentically. In doing so, they are opening hearts and minds, and laying the foundation for a more just and equitable America.”

Since this post turned into a history lesson, I wrote a second post to highlight some of the celebrations, the fun ways that people celebrate pride month, the people and organizations that are supporting Pride Month, and to honour the LGBTQ community, but I felt the history was important also, so … stay tuned for Part II later this afternoon!

Pride-month-4

♫ B.J. Thomas — Gone, But His Music Lives On ♫

I actually had another song picked out for tonight, but earlier this evening I read that B.J. Thomas died yesterday from complications of lung cancer and I thought it only fitting to do a brief tribute to the man and his music.

A brief bio from Deadline

Born in rural Hugo, Oklahoma as Billy Joe Thomas, he moved to Houston, Texas with his family and began singing in church as a child.

He joined the local band the Triumphs, and then in 1966 recorded “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” with producer Huey P. Meaux. Released by Scepter Records, it peaked at No. 8 on the pop charts and became his first million-selling single.

The follow-up single, “Mama,” and his first album came that same year. In 1968, he released the million-selling “Hooked on a Feeling” from his album, On My Way.

Dionne Warwick met Thomas when he visited the Scepter offices in New York and introduced him to songwriter-producer Burt Bacharach. That led to a collaboration on “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” written by Bacharach and Hal David and sung by Thomas.

The song was featured in the Paul Newman/Robert Redford film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, earning the Oscar for Best Original Song. It has since reoccurred in such films as Forrest Gump, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Clerks II, and Spider-Man 2, as well as multiple TV shows.

Thomas kept rolling with such pop/rock hits as “Everybody’s Out of Town,” “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “No Love at All” and “Rock and Roll Lullaby.”

He signed to Paramount Records and released two albums—1973’s Songs and 1974’s Longhorns & Londonbridges. In 1975, Thomas released the album Reunion on ABC Records, featuring “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.”

The success wasn’t easy on Thomas, who fell into drug use. But he returned as a Born Again Christian in gospel music, signing with Myrrh Records and releasing the album Home Where I Belong in 1976.

It won Thomas a Grammy and became the first of two Dove Award wins while also becoming the first gospel record to sell a million copies.

His “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song was No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot Country Songs charts. It won the Grammy for Best Country Song in 1976 and was nominated for CMA Single of the Year. On his 39th birthday in 1981, he also joined the Grand Ole Opry.

Thomas found the time to voice the theme song, “As Long As We’ve Got Each Other” for the TV series Growing Pains, and he also was heard on numerous commercials, including campaigns for Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

I will play just a few of my favourite B.J. Thomas songs in tribute …

R.I.P. Mr. Thomas, and thank you for some pretty awesome music throughout the years!

Black History Month — Maya Angelou

This post is a reprisal of one I wrote last year about a great lady whose voice is still so relevant today and will likely be so long into the future.

Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1928 … her given name was Marguerite, but her older brother nicknamed her “Maya”, derived from “Mya Sister”.  Her parents divorced when Maya was just three years old, and when she was eight, she was sexually abused and raped by her mother’s boyfriend.  She told her brother, her brother told the rest of the family, and the man, whose last name was Freeman, was arrested.  But, though Freeman was found guilty, he was freed after only one day in jail.  Incensed, an uncle or uncles, it is unclear whether it was one or more, beat and kicked Mr. Freeman to death.  Says Maya …

“I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone.”

And she spoke not a word for nearly the next five years.  Angelou credits a teacher and friend of her family, Mrs. Bertha Flowers, with helping her speak again. Flowers introduced her to authors such as Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Douglas Johnson, and James Weldon Johnson, authors who would affect her life and career, as well as black female artists like Frances Harper, Anne Spencer, and Jessie Fauset.

maya-angelouDuring World War II, Angelou moved to San Francisco, California. There she won a scholarship to study dance and acting at the California Labor School. During this time, Angelou became the first black female cable car conductor in San Francisco.

During the 1960s, Maya and her son spent several years in Ghana, where she became an administrator at the University of Ghana, and was active in the African-American expatriate community. She was a feature editor for The African Review, a freelance writer for the Ghanaian Times, wrote and broadcast for Radio Ghana.  It was in Ghana that she met and became close friends with Malcolm X during his visit in the early 1960s.  Angelou returned to the U.S. in 1965 to help him build a new civil rights organization, the Organization of Afro-American Unity; he was assassinated shortly afterward.

Maya remained a civil rights activist, and in 1968 Martin Luther King asked Angelou to help organize a march.  She agreed, but before the plan could reach fruition, Martin Luther King was assassinated – on Maya’s 40th birthday, as it happened.  For many years thereafter, Maya refused to celebrate her birthday, but sent flowers to King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, on that day. maya-angelou-2Maya Angelou went on to become one of the greatest writers and poets of our time. Despite having almost no experience, she wrote, produced, and narrated Blacks, Blues, Black!, a ten-part series of documentaries about the connection between blues music and black Americans’ African heritage, and what Angelou called the “Africanisms still current in the U.S.” for National Educational Television, the precursor of PBS.  Also in 1968, she wrote her first of seven autobiographies, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published in 1969. This brought her international recognition and acclaim.Maya-caged-birdIn 1993, Angelou recited her poem On the Pulse of Morning at the presidential inauguration of Bill Clinton, becoming the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.

I came across this quote by Maya regarding writing …

“I make writing as much a part of my life as I do eating or listening to music. I also wear a hat or a very tightly pulled head tie when I write. I suppose I hope by doing that I will keep my brains from seeping out of my scalp and running in great gray blobs down my neck, into my ears, and over my face.”

And now I know what I’ve been doing wrong all this time — I must wear a hat from now on when I write!!!maya-angelou-4There is so much more I could tell you about Maya Angelou, who died in 2014, but there are many, many great books both by and about her.  What I do want to share with you, though, is one of her most famous poems, Still I Rise.  Just as with Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech, I cannot listen to her recite this without a tear coming to my eyes. In this, she writes about racism and slavery,  about rising above hatred – something that is just as relevant today as it was when she first published it in 1978.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou died in 2014, at the age of 86.  Among other, former President Bill Clinton and then-First Lady Michelle Obama both spoke at her funeral.

“And then she developed the greatest voice on the planet. God loaned her His voice. She had the voice of God, and He decided he wanted it back for awhile.” — President Bill Clinton

“For me that was the power of Maya Angelou’s words, words so powerful that they carried a little black girl from the South Side of Chicago all the way to the White House.” — First Lady Michelle Obama

During her lifetime, she won Grammy Awards for three spoken-word albums, was a civil rights activist, streetcar conductor, Calypso singer, dancer, movie director and playwright.  She left behind a legacy that will not soon be forgotten.maya-4

A Few Tidbits …

R.I.P. Tom Moore

Tom-MooreI start today’s post on a sad note.  You’ll remember that I’ve written about Captain Tom Moore, the UK veteran raised tens of millions of pounds for Britain’s health workers by walking 100 laps of his garden last spring.  Sadly, he died this morning after being treated for pneumonia and then testing positive for the coronavirus last month. 

Mr. Moore’s own words of optimism come back to us at this time …

“We will get through it in the end but it might take time, but at the end of the day we shall all be OK again… the sun will shine on you again and the clouds will go away.”

Reading of Tom Moore’s death first thing this morning brought a tear to my eye.  He was one of the good people and will be long remembered.  Thank you, Captain Tom Moore, for a lifetime of being a good man … the world needs many more like you.  R.I.P.

tom-moore-graffiti


The price for a conscience …

Representative Liz Cheney from Wyoming was one of ten Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted to impeach Donald Trump late last year, and now she is paying a high price.  The people of her state are turning against her, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will be meeting with her this week, possibly planning to strip her of her committee assignments and her position as House Republican Conference Chair, the third highest ranking position in the House Republican leadership.

This is ridiculous!  The woman voted her conscience, saying that Trump “summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.”   She also called his incitement “the greatest betrayal by a president of the United States of his office.” She was correct on both counts, and yet she is likely to be asked to apologize for both her words and her vote.  Why?  Because the entire Republican Party is populated by cowards who are afraid of the ‘man’ who is no longer in the Oval Office. 

I am not a fan of Liz Cheney, but she followed the dictates of her conscience, something the rest of the slime in the Republican Party cannot do because they traded their consciences for a box of Cracker Jacks long ago.  She does not deserve to be censured or otherwise punished, and the people of Wyoming need to wake up and realize that Trump was the biggest threat this nation was facing until just 13 days ago!


And on the other hand …

On the other hand, there is Marjorie Taylor Greene, the pistol-packing idiot from Georgia who now sits in the House of Representatives.  I’ve written before about Greene, so I don’t need to repeat what I’ve already said, but she, like Ms. Cheney, will be having a one-on-one meeting with Kevin McCarthy sometime this week for her racist comments, for supporting the attack on the Capitol on January 6th, for saying she wished death upon some of her fellow members of Congress, and other behaviours not acceptable for a member of Congress.

She is likely to receive a slap on the wrist for her horrendous words and actions, though she could lose her committee assignments.  While I definitely hope she loses her committee assignments, one of which is the Education & Labour Committee … she belongs nowhere near those who make decisions concerning our children’s education!  She would likely demand that firearms training be included in every school’s curriculum! 

If McCarthy doesn’t strip her of her committee assignments, the Democrats are likely to do so.  She sits on the following committees …

  • Judiciary
  • Education and Labor
  • Energy and Commerce
  • Financial Services
  • Foreign Affairs
  • House Administration
  • Oversight and Reform
  • Transportation and Infrastructure
  • Ways and Means

She has no relevant education or experience in any one of these areas, so I’m not sure where the logic in determining her assignments was. 

But what I would really like to see is her expulsion from Congress.  It can and should be done before she causes a disaster, either by shooting someone within the Capitol (she has said she would like to see House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a bullet in her head), or by turning the House of Representatives into a three-ring circus. 

The United States Constitution (Article I, Section 5, Clause 2) provides that “Each House [of Congress] may determine the Rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.”

It would, however, require 70 Republicans to find a conscience and vote to expel Ms. Greene, and we all know there aren’t 70 republicans with courage & conscience in the entire Congress.  Sigh.

Hank Aaron – quiet dignity, quiet strength

I had planned to write a tribute post to baseball’s legendary Henry (Hank) Aaron this afternoon, but as often happens when great minds think alike, Keith was on the same page, only he beat me to the punch and did it every bit as well as I could have. Thank you, Keith, for this lovely tribute to a man who was not only a great baseball player, but also a great human being.

musingsofanoldfart

A great baseball player passed away yesterday. His name was Henry Aaron, but he went by Hank. He was a very quiet man growing up in the south in the middle of the Jim Crow era. But, arguably he is on a very short list of the greatest baseball players ever.

Rather than bore non-baseball fans with endless statistics indicating how great he was, let me focus on how poorly this African-American was treated as he chased records set by white ball players. He received multiple death threats and family kidnapping threats and was openly called the N word both aloud and within the many letters of vicious hate mail.

Like Jackie Robinson before him, he took all of this with quiet dignity and a heavy dose of quiet strength. Racism and bigotry was dumped on this man like garbage. But, he stood strong.

When he chased the greatest of…

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Honouring Dr. Martin Luther King …

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a federal holiday in the United States.  I first wrote this tribute to Dr. King in 2017, and each year I reprise it, with slight changes or minor additions, for I find that it still says exactly what I wish to say.  Given the increase in racism in the United States over the past four years, and particularly last year with the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, and with peaceful Black Lives Matter protests being assaulted by law enforcement and white supremacists, I think the above quote seems more apt today than ever before.  So please, take just a minute to, if nothing else, listen once again to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  In these troubled times, it is good to be reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream.


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” 

“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”

mlk-3Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on 15 January 1929.  He would have been 92 years old last Wednesday, had he lived. On this day, we celebrate not only his life, but also his legacy. Martin Luther King Day celebrates not only Dr. King, but the movement he inspired and all those who helped move forward the notion of equal rights for ALL people, all those who worked tirelessly during the civil rights era of the 1960s, as well as those who are continuing the good fight even in this, the year 2021.  Dr. King’s fight lives on, for we have moved further away than before from his dream.

Dr. King, along with President John F. Kennedy, was the most moving speaker I have ever heard.  To this day, I cannot listen to his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech without tears filling my eyes.  If you haven’t heard it for a while, take a few minutes to watch/listen … I promise it will be worth your time.

This post is both a commemoration and a plea for us to carry on the work that was only begun, not yet finished, more than five decades ago.  Today we should remember some of the great heroes of the civil rights movement, those who worked tirelessly, some who gave their lives, that we could all live in peace and harmony someday: Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Roy Innes, Medgar Evers, Stepen Bantu Biko, Booker T. Washington, John Lewis, Percy Julian, Marcus Garvey, Desmond Tutu, E.D. Nixon, James Meredith, and so many more.  I am willing to bet there are some on this list of whom you’ve never heard, or perhaps recognize the name but not the accomplishments. If you’re interested, you can find brief biographies of each of these and more at Biography.com .

Yet, while we celebrate the achievements of Dr. King and the others, there is still much to be done. Just look around you, read the news each day. Think about these statistics:

  • More than one in five black families live in households that are food insecure, compared to one in ten white families
  • Almost four in ten black children live in a household in poverty, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Among prime-age adults (ages 25 to 54), about one in five black men are not in the labor force, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Although blacks and whites use marijuana at approximately the same rate, blacks are over 3 and a half times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession
  • For every dollar earned by a white worker, a black worker only makes 74 cents
  • Black families are twice as likely as whites to live in substandard housing conditions
  • Black college graduates now have twice the amount of debt as white college graduates
  • The likelihood of a black woman born in 2001 being imprisoned over the course of her lifetime is one in 18, compared to 1 in 111 for a white woman
  • Similarly, the likelihood of a black man being imprisoned is 1 in 3, compared to 1 in 17 for a white man
  • Of black children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution, about half of them will still be there as adults, compared to less than one-quarter of white children

Data courtesy of the Brookings Institute – for charts and supporting details of above date, please click on link. 

And of course the above data does not even touch upon the recent spate of hate crimes, racial profiling, and police shootings against African-Americans.  There is still much of Dr. King’s work to be accomplished. But who is left to do this work?  Most of the leaders of yore are long since gone. There are still noble and courageous people out there carrying on the programs and works of Dr. King and the others, but their voices are perhaps not as loud, and there are none so charismatic as the late Dr. King.

In the current environment of racial divisiveness, we need more than ever to carry on what Dr. King only started. Instead, the past four years have found our nation backtracking on civil and human rights in a number of areas, ranging from discriminatory travel bans against Muslims to turning a federal blind eye to intentionally racially discriminatory state voter-suppression schemes, to opposing protections for transgender people, to inhumanely separating children from families seeking to enter the country.  I think Dr. King would be appalled if he returned to visit today.

In a speech on April 12th, 1850, then-Senator and future President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis said:

“This Government was not founded by negroes nor for negroes, but by white men for white men.” [1]

That was wrong then, it is wrong today, and it will always be wrong.  That is what Dr. Martin Luther King fought against, that is what I rail and sometimes rant against, that is why we need activists and groups dedicated to fighting for equality for all people … today, tomorrow, and forever.

Here is a bit of trivia you may not know about Dr. King …

  • King’s birth name was Michael, not Martin.
    The civil rights leader was born Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929. In 1934, however, his father, a pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, traveled to Germany and became inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. As a result, King Sr. changed his own name as well as that of his 5-year-old son.

  • King entered college at the age of 15.
    King was such a gifted student that he skipped grades nine and 12 before enrolling in 1944 at Morehouse College, the alma mater of his father and maternal grandfather. Although he was the son, grandson and great-grandson of Baptist ministers, King did not intend to follow the family vocation until Morehouse president Benjamin E. Mays, a noted theologian, convinced him otherwise. King was ordained before graduating college with a degree in sociology.


  • King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was not his first at the Lincoln Memorial.
    Six years before his iconic oration at the March on Washington, King was among the civil rights leaders who spoke in the shadow of the Great Emancipator during the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom on May 17, 1957. Before a crowd estimated at between 15,000 and 30,000, King delivered his first national address on the topic of voting rights. His speech, in which he urged America to “give us the ballot,” drew strong reviews and positioned him at the forefront of the civil rights leadership.


  • King was imprisoned nearly 30 times.
    According to the King Center, the civil rights leader went to jail 29 times. He was arrested for acts of civil disobedience and on trumped-up charges, such as when he was jailed in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956 for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone.


  • King narrowly escaped an assassination attempt a decade before his death.
    On September 20, 1958, King was in Harlem signing copies of his new book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” in Blumstein’s department store when he was approached by Izola Ware Curry. The woman asked if he was Martin Luther King Jr. After he said yes, Curry said, “I’ve been looking for you for five years,” and she plunged a seven-inch letter opener into his chest. The tip of the blade came to rest alongside his aorta, and King underwent hours of delicate emergency surgery. Surgeons later told King that just one sneeze could have punctured the aorta and killed him. From his hospital bed where he convalesced for weeks, King issued a statement affirming his nonviolent principles and saying he felt no ill will toward his mentally ill attacker.


  • King’s mother was also slain by a bullet.
    On June 30, 1974, as 69-year-old Alberta Williams King played the organ at a Sunday service inside Ebenezer Baptist Church, Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr. rose from the front pew, drew two pistols and began to fire shots. One of the bullets struck and killed King, who died steps from where her son had preached nonviolence. The deranged gunman said that Christians were his enemy and that although he had received divine instructions to kill King’s father, who was in the congregation, he killed King’s mother instead because she was closer. The shooting also left a church deacon dead. Chenault received a death penalty sentence that was later changed to life imprisonment, in part due to the King family’s opposition to capital punishment.

Dr. King fought and ultimately gave his life for the values I believe in, the values that should define this nation, though they often do not.  Dr. Martin Luther King was a hero of his time … thank you, Dr. King, for all you did, for the values you gave this nation, and for the hope you instilled in us all that your dream will someday come true.

[1] (Kendi, 2016)   stamped

Note:  Our friend TokyoSand has written a post with ideas for how each of us can help carry on Dr. King’s legacy … I hope you’ll pay her a visit!