Letters

Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

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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