The Trouble With Assuming Political Incorrectness

The Toronto District School Board is replacing the word chief with manager because they believe they are being politically correct in doing so. Here’s the kicker: No indigenous person or group asked the Toronto District School Board to make these changes. That’s all on the Toronto District School Board.

SIDE NOTE:  The term ‘chief’ as it pertains to Indigenous peoples in North America is a colonial construct.  You can read more about that HERE.

But let’s take a look at how things are devolving these days. If the word chief is thought of by some to be politically incorrect in a school setting, what’s going to happen elsewhere in society?

How will this impact on businesses? Are the terms CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and CFO (Chief Financial Officer) doomed to be phased out? Someone who is a CEO or a CFO is more than just a manager (to go with the replacement the Toronto District School Board has settled on using).

According to the dictionary, a chief is a leader or ruler of a people or a clan or an organized body of people. The chief is the highest in authority.

It doesn’t sound right to have a Lead Executive Officer or Lead Financial Officer as it diminishes the responsibilities such positions carry. It doesn’t sound right to have an Executive Ruler or a Financial Ruler as it bring too much power to these positions.

Chief also means most important and highest in power or position, but you certainly can’t call someone Most Important Executive Officer or Most Important Financial Officer. What about all the others at countless businesses and organizations around the globe? Who determines which is most important?

And Highest Executive Officer or Highest Financial Officer just leads so many to think inappropriate thoughts about what these officers do while at work as well as in their off time. After all, would you want to deal with the Highest Executive Officer or Highest Financial Officer, and if you did, wouldn’t some small part of you wonder if you should prepare for an unexpected police raid?

I’m loathe to considering celebrity to replace chief even though some are celebrities (or act like they are). And I’m loathe to consider superstar even though it’s a fact there are some serious superstars in those business roles.

I’m not crazy with using daredevil, demigod, or diva for obvious reasons. Replacing chief with ace just sounds silly, don’t you agree?

I don’t believe executive would work well as in Executive Executive Director. And we can probably strike big cheese, big gun, big wheel, big enchilada, head honcho, top dog, and great kahuna from the list as well.

Somehow taskmaster and task mistress leave the wrong impression (one best left in the hands of authors of erotica stories and the likes) as does dominator or dominatrix.

Once we start down this slippery slope, things can only get worse. Imagine having to find another way of describing an economy’s chief exports. You can’t just substitute a synonym for chief and run with it without sounding pretentious.

And that’s the chief — er, main — problem with being overly politically correct these days. Perfectly good terms are being replaced because one word, taken out of context, might offend or possibly offend or allegedly offend (because sometimes those who claim to be offended are just looking to stir the pot) someone somewhere.

I don’t know where the Toronto District School Board got the idea it had to replace the word chief with the word manager but it did, and now this has opened up a can of worms the likes of which  haven’t been seen since the news last Spring reporting on culinary historian Michael W. Twitty’s allegation that barbeque was an appropriation of African-American and Native culture.  Michael, the first time a caveman or cavewoman decided to cook food over an open flame  is the first instance of barbeque existing, so pretty much anyone who figured out how to do that back then can lay claim to that discovery without tagging any culture in particular as being the originator of this style of cuisine.

SIDE NOTE:  Mr. Twitty also claimed that there’s such a thing as cultural culinary injustice, and that has to do with someone building a successful business on what they cook.  I don’t see that as cultural culinary injustice.  I see that as the entrepreneurial spirit rising to the occasion, and paying off for the hardworking entrepreneur.  But I digress.

Back in 1886, Rudyard Kipling wrote and published his poem “The Betrothed.” One line among the many stands out for its aptness to this situation: A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.

Sometimes a word is just a word, no more and no less.  And sometimes people see more in a word than what was there in the first place.  I guess you could say that’s the chief point of this essay.

Elyse Bruce

 

Advertisements

Creative Types Beware!

According to some medical professionals, daydreaming could actually be harmful to your health and indicative of maladaptive daydreaming disorder (MD). Yes, you read that right. If you’re an author or an artist, a songwriter or a sculptor, or indulge in any profession where creativity is a major part of your success, there are medical professionals who are willing and ready to label you with a disorder!

What exactly is maladaptive daydreaming disorder or MD (not to be mistaken for the MD that’s usually found after a medical doctor’s name)? Supposedly it is extensive daydreaming that replaces human interaction with extensive fantasies that creative types envision in their own minds. Of course, it would be far worse if it was extensive daydreaming that replaces human interaction with extensive fantasies that creative types envision in other people’s minds.

But here’s the kicker: As much as this is the latest buzz word in some circles, maladaptive daydreaming disorder (or MD as it is otherwise known) is not a medically recognized term. In other words, you aren’t going to find it in the latest edition of the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition) or the ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases, 11th Edition) or any other diagnostic manual. Well not yet, anyways.

The concept of maladaptive daydreaming disorder was first coined by Eli Sómer, Ph.D., back in 2002, and it’s taken 15 years for the mainstream to find out about it. I suppose it was just a matter of time before being creative was seen as a disorder, and that time has only just taken hold of the general population.

How do you know if you suffer from maladaptive daydreaming disorder? Certain topics of conversation can trigger daydreaming that distracts the person from real life. Certain sensory stimuli such as noises or smells can trigger daydreams that distract the person from real life. Certain physical experiences can trigger daydreams that distract the person from real life. Up until recently, that was known as inspiration, but I guess we were all mistaken. It’s not inspiration: It’s maladaptive daydreaming disorder!

Other common symptoms of maladaptive daydreaming disorder include:

• extremely vivid daydreams with their own characters, settings, plots, and other detailed, story-like features
• daydreams triggered by real-life events
• difficulty completing everyday tasks
• difficulty sleeping at night
• an overwhelming desire to continue daydreaming
• performing repetitive movements while daydreaming
• making facial expressions while daydreaming
• whispering and talking while daydreaming
• daydreaming for lengthy periods (many minutes to hours)

The strange thing about all those allegedly common symptoms of maladaptive daydreaming disorder is that they are also important aspects of creating art. Ask any creative type if they suffer some, or all, of the aforementioned allegedly common symptoms of maladaptive daydream disorder and they’ll assure you that they have experienced all of those in varying degrees at different times while they were busy working on a project.

It’s called being inspired.

It’s called working at your craft.

Sometimes it’s even considered genius!

The funniest part about professionals touting maladaptive daydreaming disorder as a problem is that they are also claiming that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) are co-morbidities that happen alongside maladaptive daydreaming disorder (MD). In other words, those with the worst form of MD also have OCD and ADHD so really, what they have is MOCA 4D (not to be mistaken with WD-40 or anything made with the feature-rich JavaScript test framework known as Mocha or the high quality type of coffee made from a specific coffee bean also known as Mocha or the seaport in the Republic of Yemen on the Red Sea which is known as Mocha).

This may all seem like a bad piece of fiction, however, if you do a little Internet research of your own, you’ll quickly discover that what I’ve shared with you today is no conspiracy theory. It’s no early April Fool’s joke. It’s not even a parody of some very serious disorder. People out there are carrying on about destructiveness of maladaptive daydreaming disorder. I wonder how long it’s going to be before we hear of people self-diagnosing with maladaptive daydreaming disorder so they can put on a brave face, say they are working hard at keeping their MD in check, and proudly showing how little they have done that might be considered creative, artistic, or crafty.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in society, creative types the world over will now have to accept that they have some sort of horrible “disorder” when they are busy engaged in professional pursuits that require active and extended dreaming that replaces human interaction.

“Oh, the irony of it all,” the author/artist/composer/singer-songwriter exclaimed sarcastically.

 

The Conflict of Cultural Appropriation

Cultural appropriation is the use of elements from one culture by members of a different culture.  According to law professors and psychologists, social scientists and politicians, cultural appropriation happens when one culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, and more are used without permission of the culture from which it is taken.  It’s especially hurtful when the culture being appropriated is one that’s been exploited or oppressed by the culture doing the appropriating.

In other words, cultural appropriation promotes the power imbalance of the ruling class over those who have been historically marginalized.

There are two kinds of culture:  Material culture and non-material culture.  Non-material culture is what’s meant when speaking about cultural appropriation since non-material culture deals specifically with intangibles.  Beliefs.  Traditions.  Values.

Of course, within material and non-material cultures are other constructs such as subculture (beliefs or behaviors that are contrary to the majority of the culture’s community) and counterculture (active rejection of aspects that are dominant in the culture’s community).  For the purposes of this essay, the focus is on mainstream non-material culture.

Now psychologists will tell you that culture and the people of a culture have a symbiotic relationship.  Each culture has its unique societal norms by which to live, and members of each culture live by shared expectations and rules that guide and determine their place in that culture.  To this end, people define and refine what their culture is, and culture defines and refines its people.

These days, there’s a lot being said about cultural appropriation.  Some of it is warranted such as the outcry against sports teams using names that are offensive to Indigenous peoples in the Americas.  But is it possible to create art without any cultural appropriation?

Was it cultural appropriation when the Bangles sang about walking like an Egyptian?

Was it cultural appropriation when Carl Douglas let us know that everyone was kung fu fighting?

Was it cultural appropriation when the Vapors thought they were turning Japanese?

Was it cultural appropriation when Steven Tyler and Aerosmith announced that dude looked like a lady?

How about when Toto decided to take on the entire continent of Africa?

This is where the waters are muddy.  If those songs and other art, literature, music, and more is cultural appropriation, where do we draw the line when it comes to enjoying past creative endeavors?  If we’re told to turn our backs on pop culture that draws on other cultures to exist, is it also time to boycott the classics whether it’s literature, art, or music?

Do we turn our backs on Béla Bartók’s Romanian Dances seeing he was from Hungary and not Romania?  Is it time to refuse to attend concerts where Brahm’s “Ballade Edward” is performed because it was based on a Scottish ballad and Johannes wasn’t Scottish?  How about Beethoven’s music based on Welsh, Irish, and Scottish folk songs?  After all Ludwig was German, was he not?

How about all those musicians who aren’t English but who have recorded “Scarborough Fair” or “Greensleeves?”   Should they be forced to make reparations for daring to sing something they obviously appropriated from another culture?

Should “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Go Tell It On The Mountain” be sung only by those of African-American heritage?  And next New Year’s Eve, should the traditional “Auld Lang Syne” only be sung only by those who can prove their Scottish ancestry?

Do we stop children and their grandparents from enjoying a rousing rendition of “Oh Dear, What Can The Matter Be?” if they haven’t an ounce of English blood anywhere in their background — or going back at least eight generations?

Where no offense is meant, is any harm done?  Some say yes while others say no.  But if we are to say harm is done, where does this leave the English language which is an amalgam of several languages?  Is it time to dismantle the language to create a language that English-language speakers can safely call their own that doesn’t steal from other languages and cultures?

There’s no easy solution, and this is why we need to speak openly about what is, and is not, harmful cultural appropriation.  Certainly there are ways to draw upon cultures that are not our own without causing insult and injury.  It begins with mutual respect, and this means both sides must be willing to hear each other out before jumping to conclusions.  What are your thoughts on the subject?

Elyse Bruce

PewDiePie’s Marketing Brilliance Is Showing

Rather than jump the gun on Tuesday with this entry for Business Tuesday, I decided to watch what was going on with Felix Kjellberg aka PewDiePie.  He announced on YouTube via a ten-minute rant recently that once his popular YouTube channel reaches 50 million subscribers, he will delete the channel.  Why?  Because YouTube is supposedly being “mean” to him. The Internet went wild over the announcement!  As of earlier this morning, PewDiePie was within scant subscribers of being at the 50 million subscriber goal.

pewdiepie-youtube_8-december-2016

Before the day is out, Felix Kjellberg will undoubtedly have his 50 million subscribers.  However, this doesn’t spell the end of PewDiePie’s presence on the Internet, and it certainly doesn’t spell the end of PewDiePie’s presence on YouTube.  In fact, for those who listened to his video rant where he announced he would be killing his channel, he gave himself a backdoor back in to the platform and laid the groundwork for even greater virtual reality success via his videos.

The Groundwork

Everyone who follows Felix on YouTube knows that his PewDiePie channel isn’t the only channel he has on YouTube.  In fact, he’s had the second YouTube channel with far fewer subscribers for a while now.  Threatening to delete his popular PewDiePie channel isn’t as dramatic as his ten-minute rant made it sound.  Deleting one channel in order to grow his other channel is marketing brilliance.

pewdiepie_8-december-2016

Building A Brand Based On Loyalty

When his PewDiePie channel is deleted (should he decide to go through with what he said he would do), Felix will either fire up another PewDiePie channel on YouTube to which his subscribers will swarm or he anticipates a large migration of loyal followers to subscribe to his lesser known YouTube account he’s had since December 4, 2010.  Regardless of how this plays out, Felix won’t be without his fan base as he will build the new YouTube platform to the multitudes he has previously enjoyed with a difference.  These subscribers will be diehard PewDiePie fans with the less-enthusiastic followers from his early years weeded out.

Cashing In Big Time

Something most people may not realize is that in begging for subscribers to take his channel to 50 million so he can delete his channel means money in his pocket.  YouTube revenues for people like PewDiePie are based on views and subscriptions which means he’s making a pile of money as people (both those familiar with his brand and those who don’t know who he is) tune into YouTube to see what’s going on with this Internet celebrity, and he’s making a pile of money from people (haters and new-found fans) who subscribe to the PewDiePie channel.

If he closes down the PewDiePie channel (because he may opt to hide the channel rather than actually delete it), he’ll make even more money as millions flock to his alternate channel or to his new channel on YouTube.

Sarcasm Or Inflammatory Comments

If you want mainstream media to cover a fringe celebrity’s news, do something that’s going to grab their attention.  In this case, PewDiePie stated the following in his video rant:

  1. YouTube wants to destroy his channel;
  2. PewDiePie’s channel has too much click bait;
  3. PewDiePie’s channel doesn’t have enough family friendly content;
  4. PewiDiePie complains too much to YouTube;
  5. YouTube wants Lilly Singh’s channel to be more popular than PewDiePie’s channel; and
  6. PewDiePie is white and Lilly Singh isn’t.

Now all of those claims are humorous as long as they aren’t taken seriously.  Whether it’s sarcasm or inflammatory comments made to stir the pot, it worked insofar as mainstream media is covering his story.  There’s something for nearly everyone (including conspiracy theorists) to grab hold of and run with on social media.  Nothing gets more attention from the media and on social media than outrageous claims and commentary.

Final Note

From a marketing standpoint, Felix Kjellberg has shown repeatedly that he understands what his audience expects from him, and he never fails to deliver.  This is how he’s climbed to the top of the YouTuber ladder.  His latest grandstanding stunt with his outlandish ire at YouTube is more of that marketing brilliance that he’s demonstrated over the years.    If you’re interested in growing an enormous presence on YouTube, study PewDiePie’s approach to courting and romancing potential viewers and keeping viewers he’s already won over.  His approach may not work for your business, but there’s something to learn from his approach even if you disagree with his way of doing business.

Elyse Bruce

UPDATE (SATURDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2016):  When Felix Kjellberg’s PewDiePie YouTube channel reached 50 million subscribers, he tweeted to his followers that he would delete his channel on December 9, 2016 at 5:00 GST.    The funny thing is that on Saturday, December 10, 2016 his channel was still live on YouTube.

pewdiepie-still-on-youtube-on-10-december-2016
This seems to support my suspicion that Felix’s announcement was meant to push his channel to the 50 million plus subscriber mark.  Brilliant marketing, Felix, and well played!

SUGGESTED READING

NO, INTERNET, YOUTUBE IS NOT KILLING PEWDIEPIE’S CHANNEL BECAUSE HE’S WHITE
http://www.mediaite.com/online/no-internet-youtube-is-not-killing-pewdiepies-channel-because-hes-white/

ONE OF YOUTUBE’S BIGGEST STARS SAYS HE WILL DELETE HIS CHANNEL
http://fortune.com/2016/12/07/felix-kjellberg-pewdie-pie-youtube-delete-account

PEWDIEPIE:  YOUTUBE MAY BE ‘KILLING’ MY CHANNEL BECAUSE I’M WHITE, SO I’LL DELETE IT
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/pewdiepie-youtube-delete-account-subscribers-analytics-white-lily-singh-a7457171.html

 

Idle No More: Reverse Racism Recoil

In the U.S. the one-drop rule has been around since 1662. Back then, every individual had to be classified as either black or white.  Anyone with a black ancestor, regardless of how many generations one had to go back to find that black ancestor, was automatically disqualified from being white.

How this affected the way people were listed in the American census even into the 1940s — including those who were of Native American Indian descent — was that a great many Indigenous peoples found themselves listed as black with complete disregard for any other culture or heritage that were part of who they were.

Many mistakenly believe that the law has long since disappeared into the mist of days gone by, but not that long ago, the one-drop rule was used in a legal proceeding in Louisiana.  In 1985, a Louisiana court ruled that a woman could not identify herself as “white” on her passport because her great-great-great-great-grandmother was black.

But surely in the thirty years that have passed, no one subscribes to the one-drop rule anymore.  Or do they?

Research has proven that both whites and non-whites perceive biracial individuals as being members of the lower-status group of the two races.  In other words, if someone has an African-American parent and a white parent, the child is perceived as being African-American with no acknowledgement of the child’s white heritage.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about white privilege — what it is and what it isn’t.  In cases of biracial individuals, it would seem that white privilege is disregarded by those categorizing those of mixed heritage.

And in Canada, among some First Nations peoples, it would seem that not only is the one-drop rule applied to the Métis, but the white heritage is considered to be the lower-status, and there’s nothing the Métis can do about it.

Over on social media, there’s a nasty situation brewing — one that threatens the well-being of a young mother and her children.  Some Idle No More supporters are saying that her Hallowe’en costume was racist and that she appropriated Indigenous culture.

She’s Métis.  Her children are Treaty. For Hallowe’en, she dressed as a Native.
He’s white.  For Hallowe’en, he dressed as a cowboy.

This blog entry doesn’t address what they chose to wear. This blog entry addresses the nasty comments that have been made about her heritage and her right to claim her Indigenous culture.

In Daniels v  Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development), the Supreme Court of Canada determined that Métis, non-status Indians, and Inuit are equal to Treaty Indians in the eyes of the law.

This means we are considered full status as distinctive rights-bearing peoples, and our integral practices are entitled to constitutional protection under s. 35(1).

definition-per-cdn-government
In 1705 (50 years after the one-drop rule was established), the U.S. established blood quantum law for Native American Indians.  The law wasn’t applied across the U.S. until the Indian Reorganizations Act of 1934 (also known as the Wheeler-Howard Act) when the U.S. government insisted that only persons with a specific blood quantum could be recognized as Native American Indian so they would be eligible for financial and other benefits under the treaty agreements.

The Dawes Commission Enrollment Records referred to registered Indigenous peoples as “Indians by Blood” and between these two Acts, Native American Indians found themselves forced to abandon their claims to Indigenous heritage.

Native American Indians were registered in the census as black (if they had an African-American ancestor) or white (if they had a white ancestor and no African-American ancestor and were sufficiently light-skinned as to pass), causing them to lose part of their identity due to the Racial Integrity Act.  So did all their descendants.

But in Canada, there were no blood quantum laws.  There was no Racial Integrity Act. There was no Dawes Commission Enrollment Records. There was no Indian Reorganizations Act.

What we do have in Canada is the Supreme Court of Canada definition of what a Métis is, and whether the Métis are recognized as Indigenous peoples.

who-are-the-metisBut it would seem that the one-drop rule that exists in the U.S. is also alive and well and living in Canada among some of the First Nations peoples.  To them, someone who is Métis has no right to claim their Indigenous heritage as the are white by virtue of being  half-bloods, half-breeds, mixed bloods, bois brûlés, chicots … Métis.

Thanks to the English and French who ruled what eventually became Canada, the Métis as an identifiable culture sprang up that drew heavily on our First Nations lineage with touches of our European  heritage.  We were not white then even though we had white blood coursing through our veins.  We are still not white even though we have white blood still coursing through our veins.  We are Métis.

Daniels v Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

                             Daniels v Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Yes, there were attempts to eradicate our Indigenous heritage by such legislation as the Dominion Lands Act of 1879.  Our ancestors were offered scrip which was then written up on the government rolls as an Indigenous person’s agreement to opt out of Treaties.  But those who were lost their status persevered as Métis and raised their children according to their ancestors.

But the Métis existed long before the late 1800s.  When the French explorers arrived in the early 1600s, they took First Nations women as their wives and together they had children. Distinct communities with mixed-blood children of Algonquin women and European men were being raised by the late 1600s.  These communities relied heavily on their Indigenous heritage, history, and culture while blending in European traditions for flavor.

They were neither solely European nor First Nations.  They were Métis, and they were Indigenous peoples.

Heháka Sápa also known as Black Elk (1 December 1863 – 19 August 1950) is oftentimes quoted with regards to what it is to be an Indian.  Black Elk was the second cousin to Crazy Horse.  He witnessed the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876, and fought in the Battle at Wounded Knee at 1890.  He traveled to Europe with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show in 1887, and created his own Indian show held in the Black Hills to teach tourists about the Lakota culture and traditional rituals in 1934.

When asked, Black Elk said, “If you have one drop of Indian blood in your veins, then you are Indian.”

There are some First Nations peoples in 2016 who berate Métis peoples for being who they are.  They accuse them of cultural appropriation of Indigenous culture for daring to honor what they have a right to lay claim to by way of their birthright.

They tell them that because they have at least one white ancestor (the one-drop rule), they cannot say they are anything other than white.

And that, is a racist comment.

Perhaps in stretching the rubber band of political correctness so much, we are overlooking the fact that at some point that rubber band will snap.  The recoil will smart.

Perhaps it’s time to put an end to comments and beliefs that negate who each of us are as individuals.  Perhaps it’s time to be respectful of each other’s beliefs and realities.

It is definitely time to put the one-drop rule to rest, and to be accepting of who we and others are.

Elyse Bruce

SUGGESTED READING

AN OPEN LETTER TO NON-NATIVES IN HEADDRESSES
http://apihtawikosisan.com/hall-of-shame/an-open-letter-to-non-natives-in-headdresses/

DANIELS v CANADA (INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT): SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENT
https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/15858/index.do

IS ONE-DROP RULE OVERRULED?
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-05-09/news/ct-oped-0509-page-20120509_1_indian-heritage-indian-blood-dawes-commission

MEASURING BLOOD: THE AMERICAN INDIAN BLOOD QUANTUM
http://www.native-languages.org/blood.htm

PRESERVING POSITIVE IDENTITIES: PUBLIC AND PRIVATE REGARD FOR ONE’S INGROUP AND SUSCEPTIBILITY TO STEREOTYPE THREAT
http://gpi.sagepub.com/content/13/1/55.abstract

REGINA v POWLEY: SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENT
http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/2076/index.do

REPORT OF THE MINISTER’S SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE ON RECONCILIATION WITH MÉTIS: SECTION 35 MÉTIS RIGHTS AND THE MANITOBA MÉTIS FEDERATION DECISION
http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1467641790303/1467641835266

Idiomation Takes A Bite Out Of The Big Apple

Some people do what they do because it comes easy to them.  Some people do what they do because they love doing what they do.  I happen to do what I do because I’m one of those people who loves to do what I do:  Research.  Create.  Share.

When others acknowledge what you do, and acknowledge that what you do, you do well, words can’t begin to describe how amazing it is.  That’s why today I’m choosing to share this Press Release with you on Business Tuesday.  Please feel free to share this on your social media accounts and if you aren’t already subscribed to my blog, “Idiomation: Historically Speaking” please take the time to do just that.

idiomation_1

More Than Just A Jukebox King

Louis Jordan.  The man hailed as a jukebox king was delightfully irreverent, socially relevant, and downright hilarious.  And I wasn’t very old when I first heard some of his most popular songs.  In fact, I wasn’t even a pre-schooler when I first heard some of his most famous songs although I didn’t hear them from any of his recordings until I was older.

When I was a child, my father would occasionally sing snippets of songs popular from his younger days, and these snippets usually sent his children into fits of laughter.  My father could be wildly politically incorrect in today’s terms, but back when I was growing up, being politically incorrect had its moments, and singing these songs were part of those moments.

Were it not for the silliness of that song, I might not have told myself it was important to remember the name of the singer, and as it happens, I found the singer’s name to be as memorable as the first line of that song.  It’s also where my love of dark chord progressions and happy lyrics began.

Another Louis Jordan favorite that I loved to pieces (and was happy to hear re-recorded by Doug and the Slugs in the 80s) was “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens.”  I loved that song so much that I took to using that line as my default answer when my mother would try to find her brood.  While the line always seemed to work for Louis Jordan and his orchestra, it never seemed to work for me as I was always the first child found in the house.

Now romance is something that I’ve always seen from an interesting comic perspective.  This song with its dark lyrics and uptempo music quickly became one of my favorites, and as a child, I thought it would be lots of fun to meet Jack from the song — just so I could find out why he had such bad luck in the love and romance department.  And every time my father got to the final refrain of this song, well, it was the cat’s meow!  Or the bees knees.  Or whatever other funny phrase came to mind at the time.

I suppose my love of writing lyrics that added another level to words was as a direct result of listening to songs like this one.  At the time, I was far too young to understand the many layered meanings to this song, but I loved how n-n-n-nuts made me think that this is how squirrels would probably say the word if they spoke English.

One thing I never understood (never have, and probably never will) is what it was about this song that would stick in my mother’s craw every single time my father launched into singing it.  Whenever she had terse words for my father (and we were the built-in audience for the drama during such times), there came a point where he would laugh heartily and start in with this Louis Jordan hit.

As a teenager, I uncovered a lot more Louis Jordan songs that made my day any day I listened to them.  In some ways, they were an extension of those fun days I’d known as a child, but they were also a chance to express myself without being chided for being insolent.  And trust me, on days when my older brother stuck his nose into my life, it was songs like this that helped me sidestep his nosey parker ways.

Then there was this riotously inappropriate murder-promoting song that really let a person vent thanks to a number of very popular musicians of the day including Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, and Ella Fitzgerald.

These days, everyone as an opinion on everything including how to fix the national debt (even though they may be up to their own ears in debt) and how everyone else should run their business.  Of course, in some cases if you don’t give them time on their virtual soapbox, you’ll never hear the end of how close-minded you are.  In cases such as those, you might want to learn this song so you can sing it silently to yourself while the lecture is proceeding.

Finally, while this Louis Jordan song isn’t one I heard as a child or a teen or even a young adult, it seems oddly appropriate as the American election looms large on the horizon.

Until next time, take care, be well, and let music guide you through the rough times as well as the tough times, and to spice up the fun times along the way.

Elyse Bruce

%d bloggers like this: