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Throwback Thursday – 1994

Ringo + Beck

Some years ago I played Beck’s “Loser” for my 94-year-old grandfather. He didn’t care for the lyrics. “I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me?”

“That’s why so many young people commit suicide,” he argued.

Hearing “Loser” and the rest of Beck’s major label debut album, Mellow Gold, didn’t make me want to kill myself. Quite the opposite. He brought and continues to bring so much joy into my life.

Beck’s “Loser” kicks off this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, spotlighting the year 1994.


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Jada Pinkett Smith announced that she is boycotting the Academy Awards this year due to the lack of diversity among the acting nominees. I’m sure that will put a huge dent in the show‘s ratings, as the 40 million people who tend to tune in to the telecast do so to see Jada Pinkett Smith. Following in Pinkett Smith’s footsteps, Spike Lee and Pinkett Smith’s husband Will Smith announced that they were joining in the boycott.

The issue is that out of twenty nominated actors and actresses, twenty are Caucasian. At first glance that doesn’t appear to be very diverse. At second glance, it’s still not diverse, but a boycott is not going to bring about the change that is needed.

Granted, the conversation about the lack of diversity among the nominees needs to be had. The Motion Picture Academy needs to step up its efforts to expand its membership beyond white men, who at this time overwhelmingly make up its ranks.

However, the Academy Award nominations are the result of the actual problem, which is the lack of diversity involved in the movies being made by Hollywood. Movie studios and production companies need to be engaged in the diversity conversation. They’re the ones making the majority of films from which the Academy chooses the nominations. While Caucasian men make up the majority of ticket buyers, serving other demographics adds to a studio’s bottom line. Remember how shocked everyone was when the Sex & the City movie proved a box office bonanza? It’s a movie with female leads that sold tickets primarily to women moviegoers and grossed over $400 million, and it isn’t even good!

Women like to see their lives on the screen. So do African Americans. And Latinos. And people of Asian descent. And gay people. And trans people. And older people. And so on and so on.

Seeing one’s life on the screen means more than merely seeing people of one’s race or ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation on screen. As the conversation surrounding this year’s nominees focuses on race, let’s look at some recent black nominees.

During the past decade, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o were nominated for portraying slaves. Denzel Washington was nominated for his role as an alcoholic drug-abusing pilot. Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis were nominated for playing maids. (Spencer won, but Davis lost to Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. Yes, the Iron Lady won over the lady who irons.) Mo’Nique won for her portrayal of an abusive mother. Forest Whitaker won for playing a corrupt, human rights-abusing dictator. Barkhad Abdi was nominated for playing a pirate. Ruby Dee was nominated for playing the mother of a drug kingpin.

Also nominated was Gabourey Sidibe for her portrayal of an African-American teenager who is repeatedly raped by her father and abused by her mother and others. That performance lost to Sandra Bullock’s portrayal of a nice, white lady who takes in a troubled African American teen.

Other characters portrayed by recently nominated white folks include Colin Firth as a king with a speech impediment, Eddie Redmayne as a brilliant scientist, Benedict Cumberbatch as a brilliant computer scientist, Leonardo DiCaprio as a stockbroker, Patricia Arquette as a loving mother, Sandra Bullock as an astronaut, Daniel Day-Lewis as the U.S. president who freed the black slaves, Robert Downey Jr. as a white actor portraying a black man, and Christoph Waltz as a bounty hunter who emancipates and mentors a black slave. I’m not going to go through every white nominee; we’ll be here all day!

From the examples given, eagle-eyed observers may notice the types of parts for which black actors and white actors get nominated for Academy Awards. Lee and the Smiths are not wrong in saying there is a problem here that needs to be fixed.

Joining the boycott are Curtis Jackson, star of such not-Oscar nominated films as Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Home of the Brave and Righteous Kill. Under his nom de rap 50 Cent, Jackson posted on Instagram a plea for Chris Rock to step down as the award show’s host. The same request came from Tyrese Gibson, star of such not-Oscar nominated films as The Fast & the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7.

Calvin Broadus, under his nom de rap Snoop Dogg, posted a video on Instagram that said “Fornicate the Academy Awards,” though not in those exact words. Broadus was not nominated for his role in The Wash, in which he stretched his acting chops by portraying Dr. Dre’s weed-smoking best friend. That film has an 8% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Until a few minutes ago I thought The Wash was a remake of the seventies movie Car Wash, which has an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Per Wikipedia, The Wash is an original movie written and directed by Mark Jordan under his nom de rap, DJ Pooh.

While the soundtrack of The Wash didn’t produce any Billboard Hot 100 hits, the soundtrack to Car Wash did. It was on January 29, 1977, that its theme song hit #1, an incredible feat given it’s a song about a car wash. Amazingly, the song holds up to this day.

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Our playlist kicks off with Rose Royce’s “Car Wash.”


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The Song Retains The Name

Winston + Bobby Brown
Today is Bobby Brown’s 46th birthday. A former member of New Edition, Brown had his first solo hit in 1988 with “Don’t Be Cruel,” which reached #8 on the Hot 100. Though it shares its title with an Elvis Presley #1 hit from 1956, Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” is not a remake.

That brings us to today’s playlist, which I call The Song Retains the Name. It consists of different songs with the same title. I initially planned to include twenty such songs, but more kept springing to mind. Before I knew it, I passed 100 entries. There are plenty more, so I decided to open this up to my reader(s). If you have songs that share titles you’d like to add, feel free to do so.

(NOTES: I included The Jacksons’ “This Place Hotel” because when it was released in 1980 its title was “Heartbreak Hotel.” Thought he didn’t have to, Michael Jackson, the song’s writer, later changed its name to “This Place Hotel” to avoid confusion with the Elvis Presley song “Heartbreak Hotel.” Whitney Houston didn’t feel the need to make the same Hotel accommodation.

Also, though it is listed on Spotify as “The Best of My Love,” the Eagles track does not have a “The” on the 45 or the band’s On the Border album.)

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Your 420 Playlist

doggies + Peter Tosh

I don’t smoke the marijuana; I get high on music.

Here is your 420 soundtrack – twenty hits:

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A Beginner’s Guide To Pharrell

dogs + Neptunes 002

Perhaps while you were watching the Grammy Awards this past weekend you asked “Who is this cute guy with great hats who sings “Get Lucky?” He is Pharrell Williams and he has been having hits for more than twenty years.

He first hit the Top 40 as one of the writers of Wreckx-N-Effect’s “Rump Shaker,” which hit #2 in 1992. Since then he has co-written and co-produced hits for many pop and hip hop superstars. He has also performed as a member of N.E.R.D. Today’s playlist is a sampler of his work. You may be surprised as to how many of his hits you already know.

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Happy Anniversary, Ringo + Winston!

Three years ago I adopted Ringo and Winston from a nearby dog rescue shelter. Ringo was abandoned by his previous owner(s). He was micro-chipped but they never sought him. He was fending for himself on the streets of L.A. When I met him he was malnourished, weighing six pounds. His fur was shaved as it was all knotted when he was found. He sat next to me and shook for a half hour.

My intention was to adopt one dog. While meeting Ringo someone dropped off Winston. I don’t remember his background, except that the person who dropped him off was looking after him for a few days and said he’s a great dog but his previous owners couldn’t keep him.

I couldn’t decide between the two so I adopted both. They are opposites in almost every way but they get on great.

Ringo wasn’t named Ringo when I met him. I changed his name so he would have a new identity for a new, happy life. I chose Ringo after the drummer in my favorite group. Winston was already named Winston when I met him. I recall that John Lennon’s middle name was Winston, which would go well with Ringo. My next two dogs will be Harrison and Mac.

Dec 2013 si9a1833Ringo, Glenn and Winston

Here is a dog-themed playlist for my two kids, Ringo and Winston.

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An Atheist Jew’s Guide To Christmas Music, Part 1

Raised Jewish, I celebrated Hanukkah. For several years, my family also celebrated Christmas. We didn’t go to midnight mass, we didn’t drink egg nog, we didn’t throw a special type of log in the fireplace. (By the way, I have no idea what makes a Yule log yuley). We put tinsel and candy canes on a large potted plant my mother had in the den and bought each other small but practical gifts. For example, when I was 11 for Christmas my parents got me a salt shaker. The Christmas celebrations stopped after I innocently told Grandpa Mordechai about them. My parents were so angry with me they took away my salt shaker.

Though I no longer celebrate Christmas, I still have a major jones for Christmas music. I own many more Christmas records than any atheist Jew probably should. We’re talking in the hundreds.

I eschew Christmas classics performed by well-known middle-of-the-road acts such as Celine Dion, Michael Bublé, Kenny G (sell-out Jew), Neil Diamond (sell-out Jew) or Barbra Streisand (sell-out Jew). Frank Sinatra shows up only in a duet with Cyndi Lauper and Bing Crosby shows up only in his duet with David Bowie.

Including the Crosby/Bowie version, I have 15 renditions of “The Little Drummer Boy” in my iPod, by a diverse list of artists including Johnny Cash, The Temptations, Joan Jett, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop and RuPaul.

I have ten versions of “Winter Wonderland,” and that’s not counting the cross-dressing parody “Walkin’ Round in Women’s Underwear,” not performed by RuPaul.

I have “Christmas in Hollis,” “Christmas in Harlem,” “Christmas in Washington,” “Christmastime in the LBC,” “Christmas in the City,” “Christmas in Heaven,” “Christmastime in Hell” and “Christmas at the Zoo.”

I have Christmas songs by most of my favorite artists of all-time, including The Beatles, Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Stevie Wonder, R.E.M., Elvis Presley, The White Stripes, Kanye West, Ike and Tina Turner, Chuck Berry, and Radiohead.

Some Christmas songs aren’t Christmas songs at all. “Frosty the Snowman,” “Let It Snow Let it Snow Let It Snow” and “Winter Wonderland” don’t mention the baby Jesus or Santa Claus or presents or a bullied reindeer with a skin ailment.

Some of the Christmas songs I have are a bit odd. “I Found the Brains of Santa Claus,” a smooth jazz version of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” C3PO and R2D2 singing “Sleigh Ride.” I have Liberace reciting “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” though his version doesn’t hold a candle to Aretha Franklin’s version, in which the Queen of Soul took a few liberties with the words: “A bundle of gifts he had and what did I get? / As I squealed, opening the package, the same old shit!” Her lyrics are downright Disneyesque compared to Snoop Dogg’s reading of the famous poem. If you’re interested, Google the lyrics because I’m not going to print them here.

I have John Denver singing “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas).” Verse one opens with a couplet for the arithmetically-challenged: “Just last year when I was only seven / Now I’m almost eight you can see.” Santa needs to bring John some flashcards. The next two lines create a holiday image that is less Norman Rockwell and more John Waters: “You came home at quarter past eleven / And fell down underneath the Christmas tree.” Someone needs to get him to a 12-step group. He can attend a meeting with the title character of Fishbone’s “Slick Nick, You Devil You,” who came down the chimney with a keg of brew and spilled Jack Daniels all over the drapes.

I have Sarah Silverman singing “Give the Jew Girl Toys,” in which she taunts Santa by singing “You have a list / Well, Schindler did to / Liam Neeson played him / Tim Allen played you.”

Then there’s the classic “Fairtytale of New York” by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, which evokes the holiday spirit with the line “You scumbag, you maggot / You cheap lousy faggot,” something yelled at me every year by those Salvation Army Santas.

Better still is “Macarena Christmas.” I LOVE “Macarena” and I’m betting you do to though you probably won’t admit it. “Macarena Christmas” celebrates the birth of our lord and savior Baby Macarena by taking the chorus from the hit single and uncleverly inserting it repeatedly into a medley of Christmas songs, so it goes “Joy to the world, the Lord has come / Da le a tu cuerpo alegria Macarena, Que tu cuerpo es pa darle alegria y cosa Buena / Da le a tu cuerpo alegria Macarena / Eeeeeh, Macarena – ay / Jingle bells jingle bells jingle all the way.” Sound effects of what sounds like an infant with the hiccups are thrown in. It makes no sense, y me gusta mucho.

My favorite holiday album and one of the greatest all-time albums period is Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You, featuring tracks he produced for The Ronettes, The Crystals, Darlene Love and Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans. Every cut on it is classic and can be enjoyed by the whole family, except Grandpa Mordechai.

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The History of Glenn’s Ten

2013 marked the thirty-second anniversary of Glenn’s Ten. Every Saturday for the past thirty-two years I’ve tracked my ten favorite songs of that week. The practice started in high school when my friend Lydia, who preferred to be called Candice, gave me a diary for Chanukah, which I prefer to spell Hanukkah. I never kept a diary before, as my life was lonely and depressing and I didn’t want someone to find my diary years later and read “July 15. The kids at summer camp threw rocks at me today. I thought that would have stopped by the time I became a counselor.” I was optimistic things would improve – I prefer to see the glass as 1/8 full as opposed to 7/8 empty.

The diary Lydia/Candice gave me had a drawing of Paddington Bear on the cover. I didn’t know who Paddington Bear was or why he was famous, making him the 1981 version of a Kardashian. Being a packrat (euphemism for hoarder) I couldn’t throw away this gift from Lydia/Candice. I gave diary keeping a try.

“January 1. I woke up ‘round 12. Had bacon for lunch. Clam chowder for dinner.” I know how to ring in a new year! [NOTE TO SELF – Don’t share diary entries with anyone.]

My entry for January 6 reads “Instead of antiperspirant, I accidentally sprayed shaving cream in my armpit.” [REMINDER TO SELF – Don’t share diary entries with anyone.]

Four days after that burst of genius, Glenn’s Ten debuted. In my diary I wrote “My ten fave songs: 1. “The Tide Is High” – Blondie, 2. “9 to 5” – Dolly Parton, 3. “Time is Time” – Andy Gibb, 4. “Seven Bridges Road” – Eagles, 5. “I Love a Rainy Night” – Eddie Rabbitt, 6. “Giving It Up for Your Love” – Delbert McClinton, 7. “I Made It Through the Rain” – Barry Manilow, 8. “Celebration” – Kool & the Gang, 9. “Guilty” – Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb, 10. “Suddenly” – Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richard. I rocked hard in my youth! (If any of these titles are unfamiliar to you, stay tuned. At some point I’ll feature them on this blog.)

I’ve kept track of my top ten every Saturday since. When Paddington ran out of Saturdays I bought a Ziggy notebook. Ziggy’s comic misfortunes made me feel good about my life. While both he and I were lonely, at least I had hair. My cover subjects have since improved – I’m presently tracking my lists in a John Lennon notebook. It can be argued that my song choices have also improved (no disrespect to Barry Manilow, Cliff Richard or Eddie Rabbitt).

Today’s playlist consists of all the songs to be #1 in Glenn’s Ten on November 24, in chronological order, except for 1985’s entry, as I cannot find that notebook.

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All the girls are on me cause I’m down with Mike D

Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of Beastie Boy Mike D. Originally a hardcore punk band, the Beastie Boys evolved into one of the most influential and longest-running hip hop groups.

Our playlist begins with “The New Style,” which hit the r&b chart a month prior to the Beasties hitting the pop chart with their breakout hit, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!!!).” Both tracks appear on their debut album Licensed To Ill, which the Village Voice favorably reviewed under the headline “Three Jerks Make a Masterpiece.” The album came out in 1986, the year after the group opened for Madonna on The Virgin Tour, and was practically glued to my turntable. I didn’t think they’d be able to top such a perfect record.

Through the years they continued to surprise and innovate. Enjoy this playlist consisting of a handful of Beastie Boys tracks along with other hip hop favorites.

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