Weekly Roundup: For The Disturbing Love Of Tanya Edition

Is this the f—ing Bumblebees song?” It was barely eight in the morning and Danger Girl was in no mood to hear No Return (Main Title Theme) (Single from “Yellowjackets Showtime Original Series Soundtrack”) cranked up in my increasingly raggedy Accord Coupe. (My street car, mind you; the race Accord is no more raggedy than it was when it won me a regional championship in 2018, and it will be returning to the track in 2022 so I can take a run at my local Super Touring U title.)

The “Yellowjackets” show is a bit of an acquired taste, but the theme song is a masterful thing indeed, consciously created for the show as a “lost track” from the grunge-poppy year of 1996 by fifty-something never-was punk rockers Anna Waronker and Craig Wedren. (That’s not fair, really; Anna is still forty-nine and holding up just as well as your evergreen author, who predates her by eight months.) Ms. Waronker and Mr. Wedren are also responsible for assembling the show’s overall soundtrack, and they do a subtly brilliant job of it. What did teen girls listen to in 1996? Judging by the facility with which my wife can instantly sing along with anything played on the show, it was this stuff.

Pitchfork has a deeper dive into the soundtrack, but I want to talk about one song in particular: “Gepetto”, released in 1993 by the four-person band Belly. Call me a teenaged girl if you like, but I was way into Belly and its fascinating frontwoman, Tanya Donelly, back in 1993, despite being a 21-year-old pin-and-plate-shooter with a chip on my shoulder and a permanent grudge against the world. The conventional wisdom is that Star, the first of the band’s two albums, is the better one; it sold over a million copies, pummeled MTV audiences with its lead single “Feed The Tree” several times a day, and made Tanya a quite controversial figure in the self-loathing, crabs-in-a-bucket pop-punk world.

As is often (but not always) the case, the conventional wisdom is wrong. King, Tanya’s follow-up, sold just 350k copies despite a massive promo effort from the label, and most people aren’t even aware it exists, but it is brilliant. If the old tale about wearing out a CD by playing it so much the laser flattens the pits in the aluminum could be true, it would surely apply to my old King CD, bought on release day and played constantly for years afterwards.

That being said, I haven’t touched either Belly album in well over a decade. What did I hear when I returned to King after all this time? Uh, some really disturbing stuff.

The first Belly album was essentially a Tanya solo record; as with “Prince and the Revolution”, “The Virgins”, and many other well-known “bands”, the tunes were written and demoed by one person before being filled in on tour by hired guns. In fact, Star was originally meant to be the next album for Donelly’s “real” band, The Breeders. Short version of what happened: having been bullied out of the limelight by Kim Deal (in The Breeders) and Kristin Hersh (in Throwing Muses), Tanya decided she would go her own way, so to speak, and in doing so managed to easily out-sell and out-swagger both of her former partners.

(Another example of this unlikely occurrence: the three “unwanted” members of Eighties kiddie-novelty-R&B-act New Edition, having fired Bobby Brown for insane behavior and then being left for dead by Johnny Gill, the fellow whom they hired as Brown’s replacement but who immediately jumped ship again for a solo career, formed the band “Bell Biv Devoe” and went quadruple platinum with their debut.)

By the time they went into the studio for King, however, Belly was very much a band, with two sk8er-boi-looking brothers on drums and lead guitar plus the remarkable Gail Greenwood on bass. The record label paid to bring in the wickedly competent and quite famous Glyn Johns as; producer; he decided the album should be recorded live in the studio. As a consequence, it’s a hugely stripped-down affair, a bare-bones rock album made just as the industry was swinging towards highly-polished efforts from the likes of the Cranberries.

If you listen to it twenty-six years later, however, devoid of context, it sounds simply wonderful. King fairly crackles with energy from start to finish, kind of unnerving given that, you know, a major percentage of the album is about…

…pedophilia and molestation.

There’s no attempt to hide it. The first song, “Puberty”, is a terrified paean to being changed by forces outside your control, an unsentimental look at the sexualization process that turns children into adults:

I send a light to shine on you
I send a light to shine around you
I send a light to blind you
I am the light that shines on your eyes
I am the light that blinds

Next up is “Seal My Fate”, absolutely drenched with the hope of a teenaged girl to be with an older, more settled lover. “Red”, described by Donelly as a love song to aliens from the perspective of a young boy, goes something like this:

Mm mm come open mouth like Venus
Mm mm come over a mountain like Vesuvius

We’ve all been there, Tanya. “Silverfish” has never been explicitly addressed by the band but I hear the voice of a disaffected sex worker in it:

Silverfish line his pocket
Silver quick he leaves…
Hold him
Hold his thin frame in your arms
When everything flows from his skin and his clothes

“Super-Connected” is a rant about a guru/savant/Rasputin boyfriend, but with “The Bees” we get into the meat of things:

My blessed son, you…
You’ve got a lot to learn
So I’m your best friend
You love me, and
Well I’ll tell you something:
“we’re on the road to messy.”
Now the bees behind my eyes sing “beware,”
But my bee-stung tongue wants in there
Beware, beware, beware of me…
I steal a piece of your diary
I don’t think that looks like me
Am I so cold, now that I’m older?
So come at me with mouth open wide
And i, like a jerk, I crawl inside

The title track, “King”, sits in the middle of the album, and now we’re past metaphors entirely, into the mind of a man who cannot stop grooming his own daughter for sex:

Little bird
I won’t prey on you
I won’t prey on you this time
I’m your faith
I’m your faithhealer
I’m your faithless companion
I’m the seed that made your body perfect
When you sleep, I am awake
There is a light under the ocean
Under the ocean, there’s things shining everywhere
There is a lightkeeper under the blanket here
Under the blanket, there’s things shining everywhere
You light the ocean from behind
I’ll show you mine
I’ll show you
Baby, I can’t fake it
I’d like to see you naked
I’d like to see you take it
I’d like to see you naked

The rest of the record returns to conventionality, more or less, although “Untitled And Unsung” notes that

I want your pearly little hand in my hair
We make a strange and furious pair
I want you pearly on the inside
I know your heart

In interviews, Donelly states that her parents were bohemian sexual adventurers who made her childhood a whirlwind of “drugs and sexual stuff”, perhaps explaining some (or all) of the above. They divorced at seven, and her father married Kristen Hersh’s mother, inadvertently creating Throwing Muses and setting Tanya on a lifetime journey of music that continues today; though she has dropped in and out of music over the years and was rather famously just a bartender in the Pacific Northwest for years, Belly has officially re-formed and there’s a new album on Spotify.

A devoted and diligent mother, Donelly strives for normalcy in her day-to-day life. Her newer work is lovely enough but there’s nothing tortured or upset about it. Her voice doesn’t crack and shriek the way it used to, she doesn’t convey the same kind of desperate, deranged emotion. She is happy now.

Sometimes, as I contemplate the unalloyed joys of fatherhood, the relative stability of my oft-injured but essentially harmless current existence, and the innocent, almost childish, hopes I have for the final third of my life in rural surroundings, I wonder if perhaps the art of authorship is passing, or has passed, me clean by. I read the things I wrote thirty years ago and they seem so much more real, so much bloodier, so much more passionate, than what I create now. There was so much to say, so much angst struggling for the perfect expression, so much of that infamous emotion to recollect in tranquility. Now, at fifty, I can be annoyed but I am rarely angry; my interest may be piqued but I am rarely passionate. So often I find myself on the Malibu coast or in the heart of Tribeca or just at a new-car dealership, and the firstling of my heart is that old Socrates chestnut, “How many things there are here that I do not want!”

And yet. My brother recently retweeted this thread about how our exceptionally minor pandemic and a little bit of disconnection from society have combined to “totally break people”. I see evidence of this everywhere I look, but I don’t feel any of it. I spend essentially zero time worrying about all the things that, according to the media, should concern me. COVID-19? It can’t harm my son and I doubt it can do much to me. The plague of white supremacy sweeping the land, a greater tragedy than Pearl Harbor? Apparently I’m not white enough to get invited to the meetings. The existential threats to our democracy posed by the “insurrection” or “gerrymandering” or the filibuster? Compared to the Bonus Army or the various draft riots of the 19thC it all seems like pretty weak beer.

Some day soon I will have taken delivery of a truck and gotten the splint off my thumb and poured a concrete barn floor and put a brand-new Sparco F10C carbon-fiber steering wheel on my exhaustively refurbished Radical and I wonder if perhaps all off my angst will be gone. I will be nothing like the Tanya Donelly of 1995 and entirely like the placid Tanya of 2022. Or more appropriately, I’ll be like Garrison Keillor on the radio: an utterly unflappable presence of pure composure and willingness to be pleased. Free from all the drama and all the recently single mamas; focused on llamas. Or goats. I rather like the idea of ostriches, but I’m currently meeting a bit of resistance on that front. I could perhaps conquer it. Or I won’t. Either way it will be fine. That’s the news from Rancho Thunder Valley, where all the women are tall, all the men are barrel-shaped, and all the children are above-average airsofters.

* * *

This week, for Hagerty, I contemplated the worrisome degradation of my fleet and told an imaginary story of a modern-day AMC Eagle at the death of a first love.

77 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: For The Disturbing Love Of Tanya Edition”

  1. JStyer

    VERY IMPORTANT ASIDE: Now that we have nearly three years of retrospect on Vampire Weekend’s Father of the a Bride, do we all agree that 2021 was clearly the best track? And, more importantly, how does it score against MVotC’s Hannah Hunt?

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Various songs of the last two albums ranked:

      1. Obvious Bicycle
      2. Hannah Hunt
      3. 2021
      4. Sunflower/Flower Moon
      5. Everything else (tied)
      6. Married In A Gold Rush

      • JStyer

        Obvious Bicycle out ranking Hannah Hunt?!?!? Was not expecting that. Makes me question everything you’ve ever written… Do you even own an Accord?

        It’s gotta be 5th, behind: HH, 2021, Unbearably White, Jerusalem New York Berlin

  2. Widgetsltd

    I can tell you’re not a mechanic, or a technician, or whatever. A couple of the cars in my household have been rolling along with multiple niggling issues for years. Because I know how serious those issues are (or aren’t) I can ignore them. This is how I reached a point with my daughter’s 250k-mile turbowagon at which it runs and drives, but it makes my wife nervous. I know I could fix everything on it, but instead it will soon be replaced by something newer that has fewer miles on the odometer…and a freshly repaired engine. Because if I’m going to buy a used car these days, it will be one that’s broken. I can fix it.

  3. Ice Age

    I was in high school when grunge took over pop music. Being an unapologetic hair-metal guy, even to this day, I can say with certainty that alternative, grunge and gangster rap are a big part of why the very CONCEPT of “New” has been consistently disappointing me since about 1992 or so.

    • stingray65

      Starting in the 1990s, I basically started going backwards in my music preferences, starting with the oldies stations playing stuff from the 50s to 70s, and then progressively moving further back to the Big Band era and early Jazz/Ragtime, Tin Pan Alley, and Classical. I’m no music expert, but to my ear the old stuff is much more pleasant and generally uplifting to listen to than most anything of the last 30 years, and several hundred years of quality compositions and musicianship means you never run out of new old stuff to listen to.

      • John C.

        Agreed. That stuff above was an interesting mix of that dirty feet, 90s hippy female playing angry less catchy 80s Go Gos. The lack of an original angle was what was missing.

        I saw 86 year old Johnny Mathis play last night still sounding good and with a full big band. He sang two more modern than him songs, the ubiquitous Beatles “Yesterday”, which all those guys did a version of. Much more interestingly, he did the early 70s Art Garfunkel solo song, “99 miles from LA”. This great mood song that would have sounded so perfect on the 8 track of a wallowing period land yacht. A guy that old needs a break halfway through and a comedian came out that did old style, clean not political jokes in the style of Hope or Carson. Great Evening.

        The modern intruded at one point. To get in you had to show your Covid Card and get your yellow brecelet to show you are a good boy. 3 different security guards asked to see it because it wasn’t easily visible when wearing a blazer. First time I have had to show the card in Georgia.

        • Trucky McTruckface

          Proof of vaccination/negative PCR has been a thing at Atlanta concert venues since at least October. A friend wanted me to come down to see Dead & Company (Weir/Hart/Kreutzmann plus John Mayer). I don’t patronize establishments that push the “papers please” garbage on principle, and the Grateful Dead just don’t do that much for me anyway, so I declined.

          I laughed when I heard that the band was cancelling shows after Mayer tested positive for COVID.

          Glad to hear that Johnny Mathis is still going. His Christmas records were a holiday staple in my house growing up.

      • CitationMan

        I have shifted to old jazz in the last 10 years and there is an endless amount of music to discover, it’s really refreshing. There are many great cheap CDs out there, and a few good Internet stations I have on in the house all day long.
        I’ll take Harriet Wheeler over any of the females listed. I saw The Sundays live back then and her voice was just as good in concert as on CD. Their music has aged well.

        • Jack Baruth Post author

          Harriet was, and is, very special. My late-teens obsession with her, based on nothing but her voice and a few grainy promo shots, was downright unhealthy.

        • Mike M

          The Sundays were incredible.
          Spent many nights in the mid 90’s listening to them.
          I fired them up last year and they didn’t loose any of that magic.

      • Ice Age

        I love piano jazz. Something about piano resonates on a deeper emotional level than even the drawn-out whine of an electric guitar.

        I’m no music expert and don’t really know the subtleties but it seems, to my ears, that there’s a difference between jazz made in the 30s & 40s and that from the 60s. The earlier stuff seems to have a richer sound.

        • Jack Baruth Post author

          I think that’s the difference between music made for mainstream upscale society and music made for an increasingly introspective and selective fanbase of beatnik/beret cognoscenti. There’s a reason Miles turned his back on them: both literally and figuratively with his Eighties attempt to reinvent jazz for a relevant audience.

  4. stingray65

    Jack, I think I have solved your car dilemma. You want something American made, good in winter, reliable, reasonably economical, easy to repair and no parts availability problems, and reasonably priced in today’s inflated market and easy to find right now. In fact, your current employer did a feature on it about 10 years ago: Ford Model A.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      I just saw that very car a few months ago; its owner is now leading the Hagerty Foundation.

      While I don’t expect to own an A any time soon, I have considered putting a Smith compressor in my barn, using an original A engine.

  5. John C.

    On the trouble you are having with your Accord, much sympathy at a time you need it. Though not your racing Accord, do you think the engine wear prior to 100k relates to using it more than usual at the higher rev ranges? German cars have a reputation for being up to such use while American non pushrod multivalves not so much. A smaller Honda four might also been up for it, but Honda expertise does not seem to extend to bigger engines or the transmissions that back them up. Makes a pretty good case for sticking to one’s knitting.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      I’d be surprised if there was another 95,000-mile Accord with as many revs on the counter as mine. I probably have as much engine wear as an Odyssey or Pilot with 200k-plus.

      Keep in mind this car has never needed a penny of unscheduled service, even warranty service. There’s no German car out there that could make that claim.

      The truest version of your statement is that there are very few six-cylinder engines that last under heavy stress. I’ve gone enduro racing for years in BMWs; they are ethereally fragile in that application. If you want a truly durable race engine, one that will last a whole career, you’re basically limited to the Mazda/Ford MZR/Duratec and the Honda K-series.

      • John C.

        As the son of a British man, I am embarrassed that that there was no Jaguar AJ6 in your useful commentary. It seemed such a useful and only counterpoint to a tuned small block V8 domestic. We must here credit Lemons for showing us what was real and what was hype in the fullness of time.

      • Nick D

        N/A Ecotecs (particularly LE5s) also deliver tens of thousands of trouble-free race performance, including when run on 87 octane pump gas and oil no fancier than Mobil 1 changed every race.

  6. hank chinaski

    Frequently, when I hear of a musician or band’s backstory, I’m reminded of Monty Python’s bit, ‘Rock Notes’. If that (sub) generation’s music is a reflection of their upbringing, perhaps we should go back to marrying off our children over the transaction of a cow or farmland.

    Ostrich is pretty damn tasty. There was a failed attempt to kickstart an ostrich and emu fad back in the late nineties, as supposedly they can be raised with less water/land/feed per pound of meat than other livestock. I’m unsure how they will tolerate OH. Given the shifting demographics there, you may be better off with goats and ‘learn to halal’. Rancho Thunder Valley sounds way cooler than Beartaria.

    As for existential threats to ‘democracy’ (cough), the argument that the scrotus used to mandate the jab for healthcare workers this week is quite the camel’s nose: ‘we pay for it, so we can tell you what to do’. Since the federal government’s financial tentacles go absolutely everywhere, do the math.

    Oh, and they built a concrete wall around the White House. Not sus at all.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Let’s hope you don’t find yourself needing to reset that clock; I started dating my first wife at 17, married her at 24, ended the relationship when I was 37.

  7. Matthew H

    The poet Jack Gilbert wrote achingly beautiful about the space between the man of middle age and his remembered younger counterpart.
    “We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
    furnace of this world.”

  8. CJinSD

    Do you think that the satisfaction you feel when you look at your recent works is diminished because you’ve been conditioned to self-censor in the years since you wrote the works you find so passionate and graphic? How is anyone going to reach the heights possible thirty years ago when he knows that expressing most truths is likely to compromise his ability to make a living, and eventually threaten his life?

    “Now They’ll Sleep” is probably my favorite Belly song. I never noticed that any of their lyrics are about pedos. Or should I say MAPs? And can I pass judgement on pedophiles the way those in power do on people for being born white?

    • stingray65

      They aren’t pedophiles anymore – we are now supposed to call them (very) minor attracted persons. As for people born white as white as Senator Warren, it seems that close to 40% of them are now claiming non-white racial heritage/identities on their college applications these days – so much for white privilege.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      I think that openly criticizing pedophilia and sex with children in 2022 is very similar to criticizing transgender athletes in 2012; it wasn’t dangerous at the time but a decade later they can ferret it out and take your livelihood.

      You’re absolutely correct that much of my unhappiness is related to being under such strict censorship. It’s mostly limited to me; other media figures in the company have carte blanche to say and do what they want. I suppose I should be grateful for what I have, but my life isn’t just about paying bills; it’s also about trying to create. I feel sometimes the way Robert Plant did when the crowd screamed for STAIRWAY, except in this case STAIRWAY isn’t something I no longer enjoy but rather it’s brand-new material targeted exclusively at people in the 55-and-up demographic who are actively upset by the presence of more than ten words between statistics.

      • Tyler

        For what it’s worth, I’ve been reading you since your EIC TTAC stretch, and watching you work within your current contraints is more impressive than watching you compose by the light of your personal and professional bridges and disposable income set aflame. I feel similarly about sober Delicious Tacos. As a muse, “sit at a typewriter and open a vein” ends the way Hemingway ended it.

        Re: pedos …. at a certain strata of income and influence, I see no evidence that Epstein wasn’t the rule rather than the exception.

        • Jack Baruth Post author

          I appreciate the kind words, and I try to remind myself that the CTI Wes Montgomery records are a joy to hear even if he isn’t smoking at the proverbial half note.

      • Ronnie Schreiber

        Obviously I’m not impartial but besides just paying bills (the new place sounds idyllic) and writing plenty of great stuff you’ve put together the best automotive enthusiast publication of the 21st century, no little feat.

  9. Ryan

    Thanks for posting that Twitter thread. Our place is going through similar to what OP was writing about. They’ve even decided to go forward with a vax mandate, stating that it is their “social responsibility” to do so. Staffing has been a problem for the last two years, and this certainly isn’t going to help things.

    I’m sure that I’m not the only one starting to look elsewhere. Based upon what I’ve seen, most everyone is in the same boat. If someone knows where all the competent tech workers are going, let me know so that I can apply.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      The goal, I think, is to make sure that every major company in America is suffering a massive white-collar shortage of their own creation, at which point President Harris will, reluctantly of course, turn the wick on H1-B all the way up to what Big Tech wants, roughly quantified as “enough immigrants to put wage pressure on the immigrants who arrived 90 days ago.”

  10. Trucky McTruckface

    People were well on their way to being “totally broken” by the time the COVID shenanigans started. Hell, a former employer of mine regularly had “pet therapy” days onsite at least a decade go. But Trump’s arrival on the scene was when I thought it really started to become apparent. Trump was the ultimate excuse for weak, fragile people to not only blame all their problems on somebody else, but to be celebrated for doing so.

    And it’s not just the obviously dysfunctional people, either. The last time I saw a liberal friend of mine in 2017, he was telling me earnestly about the “Trump 15” pounds that he lost due to his stress over the new administration. He insisted that it was a real thing I should look up. This, from a hard-working married father with a PhD in engineering.

    In retrospect, nothing about people’s behavior over the last couple years should have come as a surprise. But the AP says “mass formation psychosis” is a myth.

    Anyone who genuinely believes that pathetic Capitol LARP was “worse than Pearl Harbor” is mentally ill. Personally, I’m far more triggered by things like the fact that I live in a state that is obsessed with promoting itself as the home of the Wright Brothers, yet apparently no one in charge, all the way up to our assclown governor and his annoying wife, could figure out which end of the plane is the front on the hideous new license plate.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      I can’t blame the normies: if I hadn’t successfully beaten Gell-Mann amnesia thirty years ago I’d be panicking too.

      The mainstream news is a never-ending cacophonous, feminine bleat of impending doom and it has been that way since 2016 in earnest. Every day was the day that Trump was going to destroy America. He was such a massive Nazi that there were no unjustified means in removing him from office. Now the media party has every branch of government and yet they still babble about how DEMOCRACY IS UNDER ATTACK FROM THE MAGA GRANNY. I can’t decide if it’s greedy, stupid, or evil. Twenty years from now they will put Trump’s face on the telescreens for the daily Two Minutes Hate and nobody will know that he’s been dead for sixteen of those years.

      • Ronnie Schreiber

        I learned about not trusting the media long before Michael Crichton honored his friend Murray Gell-Mann by putting a name to the phenomenon.

        This was in the early 1980s. The late Rabbi Meir Kahane (the Bin Laden gang’s first victim in America, btw), founder of the Jewish Defense League, and at the time a member of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, was in Detroit on a speaking tour. I wasn’t involved with the JDL but let’s say I was adjacent to the Jewish right wing. R’ Kahane was speaking at a local hotel and staying at the home of some friends of mine.

        At the hotel, he spoke for about 90 minutes, without notes, mostly about Judaism and having faith in God. Sometimes he got political but most of his talk was on religious subjects. During the Q&A, I saw him masterfully disarm a woman who said, “Rabbi, I’m a Reform Jew [Kahane was orthodox]. Is there a place in your Israel for me?” He smiled and said, “Please move to Israel, and vote against me.” He was very clear that there were more important things than politics or his political career.

        He spoke quietly for the most part, but when he would get animated and wave his fist, the camera flashes from the media crew there would go off.

        That evening, I went over to my friends’ house, where R’ Kahane was being interviewed by a reporter from the Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s liberal newspaper. R’ Kahane was charismatic and he was charming the reporter. I observed the entire interview. What was published in the paper the next day bore little resemblance to what I had witnessed. They ignored the gist of what he was saying and cherry picked what they were planning to say at the get go.

        Speaking of cacophony, the other day I was reading the lede to a story on the Omicron variant and the entire first paragraph was a string of non-sequitor sentences full of scary wriggle words. On the other hand, why should we expect journalists to make sense when Ivy League educated SCOTUS justices are demonstrably stupid>

        • dejal

          …SCOTUS justices are demonstrably stupid.

          Don’t forget the hubris that goes with being that stupid, knowing you are that stupid, but still voting like you are not stupid.

          I’m supposing you are referring to the “Wise Latina”. Her 100,000 kids statements should have been a “WTF?” after the session by the others in the back room.

      • trollson

        I know the hope is that these entities will collapse on account of piss poor management and execution, but I doubt it will actually happen.

        These companies seem to be propped up by an invisible hand, no matter what they do. I still don’t understand how Twitter stays solvent, or uber/lyft for instance.

        • CJinSD

          Modern monetary policy is the how. Supposedly it is the belief that doing things like increasing the number of dollars in circulation by 46% in one year will expand the economy rather than collapse it, but that cannot be the actual impetus for cranking up the printing presses.

      • dejal

        I WHF. Have for 12 years. Hit 65. Have health-issues. I’m going to work as long as I can. COVID restrictions takes the fun out of everything. Might as well lose myself in the job, which crosses into 6 figures. Not bad for a community college associates degree. Doubt I could get hired today with it.

        I have been coding for 45 years. 42 at the same outfit. I have the 2nd or 3rd longest seniority out of 700 people. I enjoy it. I’d enjoy it more if everyone in the HR dept. was fired and replaced my sane people.

        The best last year was returning to work plans. A CEO state of the company meeting. Q + A. In the meeting, at the time, it was the honor system for jabs. But, there’s always someone.

        1st question from that someone. “When do we get to use our pronouns in e-mails and Slack?”
        2nd question from that someone. “Should someone who hasn’t been jabbed be made to wear a tag that states that?”

        The Q+A session quickly ended.

        For us old timers, it was on our cell phones with “WTF was that?” to each other.
        Now, the place I work for is a good place to work. They’ve treated me well. But, DEI via HR is going to ruin it over time.

  11. goose

    Great article. I’ve actually got more passion & drive, now that I’m older. The clock is ticking: when I was young, life was an amorphous blob with no boundaries. I have seen the edge, and stepped back momentarily.

  12. Gene

    At a similar state of evolution as I approach 44, I appreciate both the introspection and the way it’s subtlely undermined by the AMC piece.

    As for the decrepit fleet, near Saratoga Springs, NY:
    2013 Mustang GT vert, just developed an oil leak
    1990 Miata, see you in spring
    2002 Wrx wagon: 275k, needs a starter
    1981 Pontiac Grand Prix, spring
    1979 Chrysler 300, ditto
    1969 Dodge Coronet 500, spring
    2004 F150, 249k miles, my only salvation
    1999 F250 diesel, leaking diesel and ATF
    2011 Chevy Cruze Eco: wheel speed sensor, crippling ennui
    2006 Honda Element, exhaust fell off.

    And as I haven’t built the shop at tne new hillbilly estate, repairs are done outside (the Mopars sleep in rented storage).

  13. Ronnie Schreiber

    I’m 67. At this point my major goals are making it to my three grandson’s bar mitzvahs (oldest is 9, youngest is almost 4) and hopefully their and their sister’s weddings. Acccording to the actuarial tables, I might make it to a wedding or two.

    My latest grandchild is now about 4 months old and it’s very cool now that she can focus farther than mom’s faceand can actually interact with people. It’s quite amazing, in just a year or so they go from being completely helpless and selfish creatures that just eat, shit, and cry to being miniature human beings. I was over there for lunch today. People smile at baby, because baby is literally the definition of cute, baby smiles back. Neuropeptides, dopamine, endorphins (pain relievers), and serotonin (anti-depressant) are released all-around.

  14. Jeff

    My wife’s 2013 Odyssey Touring has been an unfortunate exception to “never open the hood on on Honda”. Materials have proven durable, but it has stranded me twice in the past 3 years (a bad spark plug 9 months after 105K scheduled replacement, then a coil pack a year later), along with other issues – new EGR valve, hard 2-3 shift, and a broken seat heating element. It’s at 119K with on-time maintenance, and I’m hoping it settles down and does Honda things for awhile…

    Also, Sam the Eagle…from Once an Eagle?

    • Tyler

      As the frequently delighted owner of a ’20 MDX and the one-time owner of a ’98 Accord V6 coupe with the Christ-puncher Delco alternator and rotors that barely outlasted their pads, I’m seriously hoping Honda has learned something in the intervening decades. My parents drive J35s of your vintage, however, both of which just needed a couple grand in pretty major drivetrain work. You can have a Toyota V6 for about the same money and mitigate that risk but you do tend to get a Toyota with it.

  15. Ronnie Schreiber

    If anyone is interested in the history of popular music in the United States, I heartily recommend Joel Selvin’s Here Comes The Night about producer and songwriter Bert Berns, arguably the most influential songwriter and producer of the 1960s. He produced over 50 charted songs, including hits like Twist and Shout, Piece of My Heart, and Hang On Sloopy (with a 16 year old Rick Derringer, nee Zehringer). Before striking out on his own, Berns was mentored by Jerry Wexler and Lieber & Stoller. Unfortunately, he had rhumatic fever as a child and died at 38 in late 1967 (coincidentally, the day of my Bar Mitzvah celebration).

    He discovered Neil Diamond. He was early to catch on to the British revolution (the Beatles covered Twist & Shout and the Rolling Stones covered Everybody Needs Somebody To Love (originally a hit by Solomon Burke, later popularized a second time by Ackroyd & Belushi’s Blues Brothers movie) and went to the UK to record. He discovered Van Morrison and his band Them, and brought Morrison to the U.S. where he recorded Brown Eyed Girl and other hits.

    One thing Selvin’s book delves into is just how corrupt the music business was in the ’50s and ’60s. Payola was the norm, and not just pay for play (when Berns died suddenly of a heart attack, an associate went to his office and retrieved $60,000 in cash from a wall safe so Irene Berns, who had a three week old infant when her husband died, had something to live on). Influential disc jockeys would and could demand a piece of songrwriting royalties and some record guys like Roulette Record’s Morris Levy were more than just gonifs and quite connected to the mob.

    They did an off-Broadway “jukebox musical” called Piece of My Heart a few years ago. The soundtrack is great, though for some reason it’s only available on vinyl or as a digital download, no CD.

    • Ronnie Schreiber

      You probably know the version by Janis Joplin, but the original recording was by Erma Franklin, Aretha’s older sister.

    • Ronnie Schreiber

      I’m so happy to be here tonight
      So glad to be here in your wonderful city
      And I have a little message for you
      And I want to tell every woman and every man tonight
      That’s ever needed someone to love
      That’s ever had somebody to love them
      That ever had somebody’s understanding
      That’s ever had someone to need your love all the time
      Someone that’s with them when they’re up
      Somebody that’s with them when they’re down
      If you had yourself somebody like this you better hold onto ’em
      Let me tell you something
      Sometimes you get what you want
      And you lose what you have
      There’s a song I sing
      And I believe that if everybody would sing this song you can save the whole world
      Listen to me

      • John C.

        You really get a sense from this stuff how important Motown was to black music so that it wasn’t all performing Muppets. Without it, outlaw soul might have been bigger in the 1970s than outlaw country was in period country music.

        • Ronnie Schreiber

          Please explain how Motown has anything to do with R&B songs Bert Berns produced in NYC?

          Also, as far as “performing Muppets” are concerned, until Stevie Wonder reached adulthood and Marvin Gaye insisted on artistic control on What’s Goin’ On, hardly any Motown acts performed songs that they wrote. Songwriters like the Holldan-Dozier-Holland team wrote the songs and Motown’s studio band, the Funk Brothers, played the backing tracks. Furthermore, the Motown acts worked with choreographers like Cholly Atkins to polish their dance routines. There was little improvisation, everything was rehearsed down to an eighth note. One exception, “Little” Stevie Wonder’s first hit, Fingertips Pt. 2, was recorded live during a Motown Revue at Chicago’s Regal Theater. Stevie starts vamping and improvising and as the conga and piano players pick up the beat you can hear someone in the band saying “What key? What key?” (~2:23-2:25).

          • John C.

            It might be reasonable that black people themselves write and produce their own music and be the ones cutting the slices of the financial pie in a corrupt industry. The output might have been less but more real. Outlaw country popped up when the artists thought Nashville under too much New York influence. Having people like Mr. Berns, Alan Lomax and the Chess brothers involved in not their ethnic music makes me also wonder if the political was creeping in.

          • Ronnie Schreiber

            Having people like Mr. Berns, Alan Lomax and the Chess brothers involved in not their ethnic music makes me also wonder if the political was creeping in.

            The Chess brothers were chasing a market, not a political agenda. They wanted to make a lot of money and move out of the city and up to the Gold Coast in Evanston.

            Alan Lomax did field recordings, not commercial stuff. I’m guessing he was a lefty. Who else would do field recordings for the Library of Congress in the ’30s. I read a biography of Bert Berns and it didn’t mention politics much. Likewise with the Chess brothers.

            As for what was real, Barry Gordy deliberately made Motown more accessible to white kids than anything Chess was producing. To my ears, nothing that Lieber & Stoller or Bert Berns produced sounds any more polished than Motown’s recordings. Motown supplemented the Funk Brothers with members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

            If the man was still alive, I’d dare you to tell Howlin’ Wolf (Chester Burnett) that the music he made with Leonard and Phil Chess wasn’t real. I’m not saying that Motown couldn’t get funky – anything with James Jamerson and Junior Walker almost by definition is funky, but Gordy wanted a polished, sophisticated product.

            If it was up to the recordings Lomax made at Stovall Plantation outside of Clarksdale, Mississippi, nobody would have heard of Muddy Waters. If I’m not mistaken, Lomax’s big discovery was Leadbelly. While Leadbelly sold a lot of records (not for Lomax) and his songs have become standards, I think it’s safe to say that Muddy had a greater influence on what we know today as the blues.

            Paraphrased because I’m too lazy to find my copy of Machers and Rockers:

            “People may say that my father ran a plantation and exploited black musicians. The truth is the one thing those musicians wanted was a song on the radio, because having a song on the radio meant they were making $500 a weekend gigging, and driving a Cadillac convertible with a fine bitch at their side. My father gave them that.” – Marshall Chess, Leonard’s son.

            The simple truth is without businessmen who weren’t black, like the Chess and Ertegun brothers (and Jerry Wexler who worked for/with them), John Hammond at Columbia, Sam Phillips at Sun Records, JIm Stewart at Stax, and Rick Hall at Muscle Shoals, we wouldn’t know about many, perhaps most, of the greatest black musicians of the 20th century.

          • John C.

            Lomax was part of a communist tradition after the civil war to go beyond alias Mark Twain and just making fun of the south but taking the next step and sending communists down to discover/make up stories of blacks recorded and presented widely to discredit. See also Uncle Toms Cabin and Harriet Tubman.

            Having discovered the southern black blues tradition, the muddy water and his ilk show up in ethnic enclaves in Chicago with music, not getting their long-presented work on record, but instead with professionally written and produced music aimed at liberal whites whose fathers had read so much Mark Twain.

            The British invasion early days took to it as well in the way they today love toddlers and tiaras and other shows making fun of backward wayward colonies like Ireland. They after all had much need for album filler and British recording sessions circa 1963 often ended asking the young bands what other songs do you know? When that happened with The Kinks and Herman’s Hermits, the reward was much better with new versions of old British dance hall tunes.

            As far as Messeres Berns and Chess being all about the money, the Internationale always had a well-funded aspect to it. It is a safe bet that none of the Muppet performers died with in modern terms a half a million dollars in their petty cash safe. In future, the Rick Rubins of the world would remember to promote the later Muppet rappers as big business moguls as a sop to their collective guilt.

          • Ronnie Schreiber

            Having discovered the southern black blues tradition, the muddy water and his ilk show up in ethnic enclaves in Chicago with music, not getting their long-presented work on record, but instead with professionally written and produced music aimed at liberal whites whose fathers had read so much Mark Twain.

            There are enough errors in that one sentence to support an essay’s worth of response, but I’ll try to be brief. Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield) didn’t discover the southern black blues tradition, he was part of that tradition. He played harmonica for Big Joe Williams and learned guitar from Son House, a seminal blues musician. Muddy came north in 1943. There was war production work in the factories and he could make some spare money playing house parties. He got an early electric guitar in 1944 and while he wasn’t the only inventor of electric blues, he was certainly one of the founding fathers.

            As for professionally written music aimed at liberal whites, most liberal whites didn’t know much about the blues until the blues revival of the early 1960s (which is how Mick and Keith found out about it) that was spurred by the folk music craze. When Muddy started recording for the Chess brothers in 1948, the people buying those records were urban blacks. The music industry was still highly segregated, barely past selling “race records”.

            The closest thing to a professional song writer in Muddy’s career was Willie Dixon, who played bass and wrote many blues standards. Dixon quite possibly was the first black record executive as the Chess brothers made him a vice president of the label.

            As for any supposed funding from the international Jewish conspiracy, the Chess brothers were truly self made. Leonard discovered blues while working behind the counter in a liquor store that also sold records. Bert Berns hung around the music publishing biz in NYC until he got a $50/wk job as a song pusher. He got his break working with Jerry Wexler, who was backed by Ahmet and Neshui Ertegun, who were Turkish, not Jewish.

          • John C.

            I think you know what I said above is correct Ronnie. That said, I regret responding to you on this thread. Your point was that the British invasion and Janice were perceived to have glommed on to the “culture” of blacks when the reality was that your ethnic group played a large part in the songs in question. As far as this goes this is true and will have been new information to many, I should have let it pass.

          • Ronnie Schreiber

            Your point was that the British invasion and Janice were perceived to have glommed on to the “culture” of blacks when the reality was that your ethnic group played a large part in the songs in question.

            My original comment said nothing about the culture of blacks nor the role Jews played in R&B music of the ’50s and ’60s. I was just saying nice things about Bert Berns, whose influence was broad and deep despite his untimely death.

  16. Newbie Jeff

    Because it’s more fun to talk about than other topics circulating in our “new normal”, I present my fleet status (8/8):

    2008 Ford Expedition… DD, multiple squawks and malfunctions that coexist in a harmony of dysfunction. Repairing anything disrupts the harmony and renders vehicle unusable (7.5/8)

    2015 Mustang Time Attack car… bent something in the steering hitting curbs in the Uphill Esses at VIR in Oct… car has been sitting since. Spring. (6.5/8)

    2005 Mustang AI/SI race car… quarter panel vs inside wall at Road Atlanta’s Turn 12. Quarter is fixed but unpainted. Suspect rear axle took a hit. Harnesses expired. Way down on the priority list. (5.5/8)

    2012 Boss 302… rattling from rear suspension. A/C blows warm. Tires are shot. (5/8)

    2002 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide… brake light switch needs adjustment. Rear tire bleeds down. (4/8)

    1994 Harley-Davidson Low Rider… I’m not entirely where this is located (3/8)

    Piper Super Cub… 1940’s technology. Made of steel tubing, aluminum ribs, and fabric. Engine made in 1956. Starts everytime. (3/8)

    • John C.

      From this and the other large fleets you get a hint why the basic American sedan had to die. The automakers weren’t reminding enough that every family needs a comfortable for the whole family, economical, road ready car that was bought new recently enough to be relied upon. Wives used to do that, but the automakers should have known not to rely on them. Imagine how many families today could have made good use of a new build Pontiac 6000 or Dodge Spirit.

  17. Ronnie Schreiber

    Tanya was raised in an abusive home. What’s Mick and Keith’s excuse for wanting to bang homeless 15 year olds?

    I hear the click-clack of your feet on the stairs
    I know you’re no scare-eyed honey.
    There’ll be a feast if you just come upstairs
    But it’s no hanging matter
    It’s no capital crime
    I can see that you’re fifteen years old
    No I don’t want your I.D.
    And I can see that you’re so far from home
    But it’s no hanging matter
    It’s no capital crime
    Oh yeah, you’re a strange stray cat
    Oh yeah, don’tcha scratch like that
    Oh yeah, you’re a strange stray cat
    I bet, bet your mama don’t know you scream like that
    I bet your mother don’t know you can spread like that.
    You look so weird and you’re so far from home
    But you don’t really miss your mother
    Don’t look so scared I’m no mad-brained bear
    But it’s no hanging matter
    It’s no capital crime
    Oh, yeah
    I bet your mama don’t know that you scatch like that
    I bet she don’t know you can bite like that.
    You say you got a friend, that she’s wilder than you
    Why don’t you bring her upstairs
    If she’s so wild then she can join in too
    It’s no hanging matter
    It’s no capital crime
    Oh yeah, you’re a strange stray cat
    Oh yeah, don’tcha scratch like that
    Oh yeah, you’re a strange stray cat
    I bet you mama don’t know you can bite like that
    I’ll bet she never saw you scratch my back

    • dejal

      Did they need an excuse? By 1968, that was a benfit in their chosen occupation. I’m sure the Mick and Keith of today are ashamed of themselves .

      Look for “Cynthia “Plaster Caster” Albritten”.

  18. davis


    I don’t know if anyone mentioned it but the owner/operator of The View Through the Windshield recently passed.


    I noticed the site had not been updated in weeks. I’m putting this here because he often referenced Jack Baruth and was very complimentary towards him
    There used to be many many good car related sites, but now they are mostly gone.

    May he RIP

  19. One Leg at a Time

    Those were a couple good pieces. Your fiction makes me think that I might enjoy Updike now.

    (That’s meant as a compliment)

  20. Scout_Number_4

    “focused on llamas. Or goats. I rather like the idea of ostriches, but I’m currently meeting a bit of resistance on that front. I could perhaps conquer it. Or I won’t. Either way it will be fine”

    Can’t pass up the chance to recommend llamas here–hearty, low-maintenance, much less prone to escape than goats, easy to handle, and very good at eating down the property wherever you keep them. Gotta have a pair, they don’t do well alone. I’ve got three that keep about 5 acres free of unwanted vegetation with very little maintenance.

  21. Ronnie Schreiber

    The plague of white supremacy sweeping the land, a greater tragedy than Pearl Harbor? Apparently I’m not white enough to get invited to the meetings.

    You think you’ve got tzorus? Not only won’t the Learned Elders of Zion even tell me when their weekly meetings are, they still haven’t sent me a royalty check for my share of world Jewish domination. When it comes to making goyim do the bidding of the Chosen, I’m completely left to my own devices.


    Jack, for a guy who writes about cars, music and occasionally politics, you are never predictable. The themes of that record went completely over my head at the time. Regardless, I did a 90s grunge/alt-rock deep dive a few years ago and Belly was one of the bands that held up really well.

    If you haven’t done so already, check out the “California Nights” album by Best Coast. It’s sounds like Belly and Weezer had a baby girl.


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