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Throwback Thursday – 1999

Eminem has often been accused of being homophobic. Maybe it’s because he rapped “I’ll still be able to break a motha-fuckin’ table over the back of a couple of faggots and crack it in half.” Maybe it’s because he rapped “My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge / That’ll stab you in the head whether you’re a fag or lez.” And “All you lil’ faggots can suck it / No homo, but I’ma stick it to ’em like refrigerator magnets.” And “Little gay-looking boy / So gay I can barely say it with a straight face-looking boy / You witnessing massacre like you watching a church gathering taking place-looking boy / ‘Oy vey, that boy’s gay,’ that’s all they say looking-boy / You take a thumbs up, pat on the back, the way you go from your label every day-looking boy.” And “You fags think it’s all a game.” Anyone can see how the artist born Marshall Mathers got labeled a homophobe, even if he pretends he doesn’t see it.

So it’s ironic that in his first hit single, the song that put him on the map and into the international consciousness, the music bed is based around a sample from an openly gay singer-songwriter.

“My Name Is” became Eminem’s first single to crack the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #36. Its music is taken from a 1975 release called “I Got the…,” written and performed by Labi Siffre. Siffre, who was born in England in 1945, says he knew he was gay since age four. He met his life partner, Peter John Carver Lloyd, in 1964. They remained a couple for 49 years, until Lloyd’s death in 2013.

Before Siffre would allow Eminem to use the sample, he made the rapper change some of the words on “My Name Is.” The lyric “My English teacher wanted to have sex in junior high / The only problem was, my English teacher was a guy” became “My English teacher wanted to flunk me in junior high / Thanks a lot, next semester I’ll be 35.” The lyric “Extraterrestrial killing pedestrians, raping lesbians while they’re screaming, ‘Let’s just be friends!’” became “Extraterrestrial running over pedestrians in a spaceship while they’re screaming, ‘Let’s just be friends!’”.” Said Siffre, “Dissing the victims of bigotry – women as bitches, homosexuals as faggots – is lazy writing. Diss the bigots, not their victims. I denied sample rights till that lazy writing was removed. I should have stipulated “all versions” but at that time knew little about rap’s “clean” & “explicit” modes, so they managed to get the lazy lyric on versions other than the single and first album.”

For Throwback Thursday this week, Tunes du Jour revisits some of the musical highlights of 1999, kicking off with Eminem’s “My Name Is.”


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It’s Q-Tip’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Here’s the thing…I started writing today’s blog entry about mishaps I’ve recently encountered in on-line dating, specifically with an app I downloaded last week that despite my creating a profile that says I’m a man looking for a man, keeps trying to set me up with straight guys. I tied that into today’s birthday, Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest, by saying he’s one straight guy who wouldn’t date me. I quoted lyrics from Tribe’s song “Georgy Porgy.” While I was typing those lyrics, my stomach turned. I had trouble finding the humor in a song that refers to a gay guy as gross, ill, a fag, wounded, weak, a fucking faggot, and then some. The post started out funny but when I got to Q-Tip’s lyric “You can call me homophobic but I know it and you know it/ you’re filthy and funny to the utmost,” I decided I may be funny, but he isn’t, nor is he worth celebrating.

Odd that such a hateful bigot should appear on a record by Deee-Lite, a trio of gay and gay-friendly performers. Q-Tip appears on a lot of good records.

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Today’s playlist doesn’t celebrate the loathsome Q-Tip, but rather twenty great club tracks, a few of which feature Q-Tip. I’ll fill you in on my dating app experiences later.


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It’s Robyn’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Another New York Moment

    In those halcyon days before we thought about skin cancer, when David Dinkins was the mayor of New York City, Kathy and I would go to Central Park to tan. Usually we spread our towels on Sheep Meadow, among our fellow Manhattan sun worshippers, who were not sheep, at least not genealogically.

    One time Sheep Meadow was closed off, so we went to a nearby field to lay out. It was a smaller area, with only a handful of folks taking in the rays. Shortly after we covered ourselves in suntan oil, Kathy and I independently simultaneously peripherally noticed some motion nearby. A gender-discordant couple was enjoying each other’s company. Not in the same way Kathy and I were enjoying each other’s company. Their way was under a thin ratty blanket and involved thrusting. Looking around we saw that our fellow tanners saw what was happening and looked around at all the tanners to confirm their eyes were not deceiving them. It being New York City, nobody bothered them. Not the people there to tan, not the parents walking with their children along the path a few feet from the fornicators, not the NYPD. Live and let live. That’s how we did it in New York.

    They finished their activity and cleaned themselves up with the paper towels they had the foresight to bring with them. These were not amateurs. They were prepared. He probably was a boy scout many many years earlier.

    That was all well and good. However, a half hour later they started at it again. One time, no problem, but a second time? Now that’s rude! Nobody likes a show-off.

    “I’m near the meadow watching you boink her, oh ooh oh.” I didn’t write a song with that lyric that day, but let’s pretend I did, if only to make this segue less awkward.

    In 2010, Swedish singer Robyn released “Dancing on My Own,” which included the lyric “I’m in the corner watching you kiss her, oh ooh oh.” Her song was not about coitus in a Manhattan park. In the song she is stalking her ex, something I don’t recommend doing unless it’s on-line.

    Today Robyn turns 36 years old. As Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, we’ll pepper our playlist with some of Robyn’s best, starting with “Dancing on My Own.” Everybody get down (though if you’re in a public park, get down only once per 24-hour period)!


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

There was an article on the site Gawker yesterday about a woman named Zoe Fennessy who, when she hears the music of Ne-Yo, “freezes up and begins vomiting uncontrollably.” You may say the same thing happens to you when you listen to Nickelback, but Ms. Fennessy’s reaction to Ne-Yo’s music is due to a rare medical condition called musicogenic epilepsy.

Some of you may be saying “Who’s Ne-Yo? Is he/she/they someone whose music gets played a lot?” The answer is, apparently. Since his first hit in 2006 (“So Sick,” which went to #1 on the US and UK pop charts), Ne-Yo has had 17 top forty hits on the US pop chart and a half-dozen more on the r&b chart. He has had just as many hits in the UK, where Fennessy lives.

Ne-Yo isn’t the only artist to cause seizures in people with this condition. Around ten years ago there was a report of a six-month-old who had seizures when she heard The Beatles. The Beatles! That shit ain’t right, yo. One may get a reaction from all classical music, another from the lower notes played on a brass instrument.

The reactions people with the condition have vary as well. Some have convulsions, others become incontinent, and others become incredibly sleepy.

Ms. Fennessy had part of her brain removed to try and cure the problem, but the operation was not a success. She still needs to steer clear of Ne-Yo’s music.

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, and if Ms. Fennessy is reading, she’ll be happy to know there is no Ne-Yo on today’s playlist, which kicks off with the Jason Nevins remix of “It’s Like That” by Run-D.M.C., whose Joseph “Run” Simmons turns 50 today.

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Clowns Angry At Media (+ It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!)

The new season of American Horror Story features a character named Twisty the Clown. Twisty the Clown is a psychopath who murders people with scissors and imprisons children in a school bus. The character is getting professional clowns’ knickers in a twisty.

Glenn Kohlberger, president of Clowns of America International, is quoted in The Hollywood Reporter as saying “Hollywood makes money sensationalizing the norm. They can take any situation no matter how good or pure and turn it into a nightmare.”

His sentiments are echoed by the United States’ second largest clown trade group, the Society of Clowns for the Advancement of Realistic Expression (SCARE). “Business was going great for me until the autumn of 2001,” said that organization’s president, Slappy bin Laden. “You have to ask yourself ‘Why would business suddenly drop off?’ The answer must be the media’s portrayal of clowns.” Bin Laden points to The Simpsons’ Krusty the Clown as an example. “[Krusty the Clown] is a buffoon masquerading as a clown. He’s not a real clown.”

“Things have not improved since then,” bin Laden continues. “We got a Batman movie in which a clown called The Joker is a sociopath. We got a sitcom called Modern Family in which a clown is actually a homosexual. These portrayals give clowns a bad name.”

“Hollywood is not going to change unless it is pressured to do so.” That is why bin Laden pitched a new sitcom that portrays clowns in a positive, and per bin Laden, more truthful light. Everybody Loves Slappy will premiere on the FX network in January 2015. In the show, bin Laden plays Slappy Hussein, a sportswriter living with his family in Lynbrook, NY. “The show is good clean entertainment. It’s about a clown who works hard and loves his family, though he’s an alcoholic who beats his wife, because all clowns do that.”

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Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. You can vogue, hustle or do the twisty. Put on your dancing shoes (or big clown shoes) and hit the floor!

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

I’m at a place in my life where I very much wish to try new things. To enter into places not completely familiar. I’ve accomplished a lot utilizing my knowledge of popular music and negotiation skills. From college graduation until last September I’ve always worked at record companies. Is there somewhere else where I can use these attributes?

Figuring out the next step on one’s own can be challenging. Having a career coach is helpful. Better yet would be meeting someone who sees what you (or, in this case, I) have to offer and gives you (me) a job, or, optimally, collaborates with you (me) on a new venture.

I think about this fairly often. This morning it occurred to me that it came to be for me a couple of weeks ago, though not directly related to my record company jobs.

When I lived I New York I performed and-up comedy at night. I did well with it. I won contests, had an agent, and played to sold-out theaters. I understand comedy structure, know how to formulate a joke, and have good timing.

Two weeks ago a friend and I started working together on a TV sitcom pilot. I can write relatable characters and punchlines. My friend, who has a terrific sense of humor as well, can take what I do and add in his knowledge of script formatting and sitcom structure. I’m enthusiastic about our new venture.

Winston + Suzanne 2014-07-11 15.15
In 1987, singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega scored a huge hit with “Luka,” from her album Solitude Standing. Her biggest hit to date, the song went to #3 on the United States pop charts, and also hit the Top 40 in countries such as The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, The Netherlands, France, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, New Zealand, Austria, and Ireland.

Vega can write great lyrics and catchy hooks. ”Luka” also performed well on the Rock chart. Vega is like me in this story, and the British production duo who called themselves D.N.A. are my friend with whom I am writing the television script.

D.N.A. took Suzanne’s skills, in particular the a capella track that opens the Solitude Standing album, and added a dance beat to it. The result was another top ten pop hit, this one credited to D.N.A. featuring Suzanne Vega. The song, “Tom’s Diner,” also brought Vega to the top 15 of the Dance Club chart, the Modern Rock chart, and the R&B chart.

Vega didn’t plan this success. By chance D.N.A. entered her life and together each reached new heights. Hopefully our sitcom pilot will have the same success.

Today Suzanne Vega turns 55. We’ll kick off our Friday dance party with the DNA mix of “Tom’s Diner.”

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

daft punk

Today’s dance playlist is inspired by Daft Punk, whose Thomas Bangalter turns 39 today.

Enjoy!

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Our weekly dance party kicks off with the Beatmasters’ remix of Moby’s “Everytime You Touch Me,” a track that appears in its original form on Moby’s third studio album, Everything Is Wrong. Entertainment Weekly gave the album an A-; The New Rolling Stone Album Guide gave it 4 stars.

Get your groove on. I’ll be back Sunday with part one of my top tracks of 2013 list.

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