Letters

Letters 07-27-2015

Next For Brownfields In regard to your recent piece on brownfield redevelopment in TC, the Randolph Street project appears to be proceeding without receiving its requested $600k in brownfield funding from the county. In response to this, the mayor is quoted as saying that the developer bought the property prior to performing an environmental assessment and had little choice but to now build it...

Defending Our Freedom This is in response to Sally MacFarlane Neal’s recent letter, “War Machines for Family Entertainment.” Wake Up! Make no mistake about it, we are at war! Even though the idiot we have for a president won’t accept the fact because he believes we can negotiate with Iran, etc., ISIS and their like make it very clear they intend to destroy the free world as we know it. If you take notice of the way are constantly destroying their own people, is that living...

What Is Far Left? Columnist Steve Tuttle, who so many lambaste as a liberal, considers Sen. Sanders a far out liberal “nearly invisible from the middle.” Has the middle really shifted that far right? Sanders has opposed endless war and the Patriot Act. Does Mr. Tuttle believe most of our citizens praise our wars and the positive results we have achieved from them? Is supporting endless war or giving up our civil liberties middle of the road...

Parking Corrected Stephen Tuttle commented on parking in the July 13 Northern Express. As Director of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority, I feel compelled to address a couple key issues. But first, I acknowledge that  there is some consternation about parking downtown. As more people come downtown served by less parking, the pressure on what parking we have increases. Downtown serves a county with a population of 90,000 and plays host to over three million visitors annually...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · That Wang-Dang Doodle
. . . .

That Wang-Dang Doodle

Robert Downes - June 8th, 2009
That Wang-Dang Doodle

Robert Downes 6/8/09

“Tell Automatic Slim, to tell razor-totin’ Jim, to tell butcher-knife totin’ Annie, to tell fast-talkin’ Fannie,
We gonna’ jump and ball, down at the union hall,
...We gonna’ wang-dang doodle, all
night long.”
-- Willie Dixon, Wang-Dang-Doodle

I saw “Queen of the Blues” Koko
Taylor about 10 years ago or more at the Turtle Creek Casino, with her band perched up in a corner window, playing behind a row of slot machines.
She could belt the blues to make your hair stand straight up, but even then, Koko looked like she had barely a shred of tread left on her tires. She appeared leathery inside and out, and possibly as old as the pyramids.
But you had to hand it to her, because Koko was still doing that “Wang-Dang Doodle,” her hit song from 1965, and reportedly she kept performing close to 50 concerts per year right up to the age of 80.
She died last week, one of the last of the Chicago blues musicians who still recalled the days of performing with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, and the kind of sidemen who used to blow harp through the borrowed microphones of Windy City cabs, or pack .45s in their guitar cases.
Born near Memphis in 1928 and nicknamed Koko for her love of chocolate, she was a sharecropper’s daughter (ie. virtual slave) who began singing the blues as a kid, but was orphaned at the age of 11. Like many poor, rural southern blacks, she moved to Chicago, which was an incubator for the blues after World War II. She was discovered by songwriter Willie Dixon in 1962, and released the then-scandalous “Doodle” song about partying that made her a national hit.
One can only imagine that more has been written about Koko Taylor since her death than in the two decades leading up to it. A pity, because she probably would have appreciated more publicity to help make ends meet in her winding-down years.
But that’s the way things tend to skew in the media, where youth is celebrated and age is ushered into the closet. At a recent concert, Claudia Schmidt mentioned that most urban weeklies across the nation won‘t even consider doing a story about performers over the age of 30, and that Northern Express is the rare exception.
But even here, I have to admit that I cringe when a writer wants to do a story about someone in their 60s, 70s or 80s, because like all of the other urban newsweekly editors across America, I know that people tend to like youthful faces in their newspaper, magazine, or on TV.
Even elderly people like reading about younger people. I recall my grandmother in her 80s, who loved to read the trashy National Enquirer for all of its scandalous details about stars and starlets. She wouldn‘t have dreamed of reading one of the appalling “seniors” publications printed by most mainstream newspapers today, which are filled with ads for nursing homes, hospice appeals and graveyard services.
On the other hand, I’ve known many people in their 60s, 70s and 80s who are a good deal livelier than people in their 20s, and intend to get my own Wang-Dang Doodle on when I’m that age. For some, growing old gracefully sucks.
So we tend to throw the oldies in with the youngies here at the Express at our peril, under the notion that you’re really only as old as what‘s going on between your ears (if not your legs). I’m proud to say that we ran a story or two about Koko Taylor even when she was almost two times over the hill.
I saw a funny sign at a local business recently, and it made a good point about life‘s finish line. You can eat well, go to bed early, forego drinking and smoking, live a quiet life and arrive at your casket looking wonderful. Or, you can drink the wine, eat the chocolate, go to all the parties and use your body like a jackhammer, arriving at your grave looking like hell because you’ve had a pretty darned good time at life’s big show.
That’s what Koko Taylor taught us, and somehow “rest in peace” doesn’t sound like a fitting farewell for an original party girl.

You‘re invited...
How do we save the newspapers of America from getting killed off by the Internet?
That‘s one of the questions we’ll discuss at a forum on the “Fate of the Print Media” this Wednesday, June 10 from 6-8 p.m. at the Oleson Center on the NMC campus.
In my view, the damage to American newspapers is largely self-inflicted and is easily remedied. I will unveil my master plan for saving America’s newspapers (which no one will pay a lick of attention to) in the august company of fellow panelists Mike Casuscelli, publisher of the Traverse City Record-Eagle; Alan Campbell, publisher of the Leelanau Enterprise. Gregg Smith, former owner and publisher of the Antrim County News, will moderate.
So please, come on down and join us. Can‘t promise any popcorn, but it’s a free show and may produce a thought-provoking idea or two.

 
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