Thursday, November 30, 2006

Rolling Stones: highest-grossing tour ever mounted

The Rolling Stones (prematurely ridiculed for their advanced age, starting years ago, as the Strolling Bones) have just mounted the highest-grossing tour ever. According to Monday's New York Times (Nov. 27), their Bigger Bang tour, which started in August 2005, has grossed $437 million. Formerly U2 were at the top, their Vertigo tour having grossed "only" $333 million, and expected to top out at $377 million in December.

Apparently, the Stones were not hurt one bit by their Condi-critical song, "Sweet Neo-Con," released last September.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Buffy Sainte-Marie's censored sounds

Interesting but flawed article about government attempts to suppress the music of Buffy Sainte-Marie, as well as other Native American artists like John Trudell, during the 1970s.

Unfortunately, this is based in part on the testimony of a former government covert operative named Charles Schlund.

Now, in federal court, Charles August Schlund III stated he is a covert operative and supports Sainte-Marie's assertions that the United States took action to suppress rock music because of its role in rallying opposition to the Vietnam War...

In his federal court affidavit, Schlund said he has knowledge of ''the detailed plans for the break-up and destruction of rock n' roll music including the assassinations of many people to achieve their goals. The detailed plans to replace rock n' roll music with all-American music called country western.''

''This massive CIA and DEA covert operation was being conducted to stop political overtones in the rock n' roll music and to stop foreign influences on Americans caused by the exposure to foreign music. This operation was conducted because the Rockefellers had lost the Vietnam War because of the protest that was in part directly linked with rock n' roll music. In these files, the Rockefellers had needed the natural resources of Vietnam for the expansion of their corporate empire and they blamed the loss of the war in part on rock n' roll music.

''The assassinations started long before Vietnam but the plans to replace rock n' roll with country western music started during the Vietnam War and have continued to the present,'' Schlund stated to the court.

In his federal court affidavits filed in Maricopa County in Arizona, Schlund also stated that singer Buddy Holly, killed in an airplane crash in 1959, was considered a threat to the U.S. government.

The article brings out other evidence to suggest that the US government did make efforts to suppress Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Schlund may indeed have had knowledge of this. But "The Rockefellers"? And Buddy Holly?! Please!

Monday, August 21, 2006

"In Nashville, Sounds of Political Uprising From the Left" (New York Times)

"Country music, the genre of lonely hearts and highways, lost jobs and blue-collar woes, has become a cultural battleground. Conservatism is widely seen as having the upper hand, a red-state answer to left-leaning Hollywood.

Democrats on Music Row, the country music capital here, have grown frustrated with that reputation. A group of record-company executives, talent managers and artists has released an online compilation of 20 songs, several directly critical of Mr. Bush and the Iraq war."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Gays in Metal

Good overview of gays in metal music, as well as punk, by Anthony Bartkewicz, in Decibel Magazine.

I was particularly interested in this observation: "punk rock has had its share of openly gay provocateurs, like the Big Boys' Randy "Biscuit" Turner [top picture], the Dicks' Gary Floyd [bottom picture, in center], and Martin Sorrondeguy of Los Crudos and xLimpwristx, who deliberately, often satirically, confronted or gay stereotypes in their lyrics and performances. The flamboyant Turner defied any homophobes in his audience by belting out hardcore in a tutu and eye makeup."

When I lived in Austin in the late 70s and early 80s, the Big Boys and the Dicks (who later moved to San Francisco) were an important part of the lively punk scene. I recall their queer provocations, and don't remember people reacting negatively. It's not correct, however, that the Big Boys were "hard core"--they were very funk influenced, their sound in some ways resembling the Gang of Four. One of their best songs was a cover of "Hollywood Swinging" by Kool and the Gang. I think my favorite Big Boys show was when they opened for Trouble Funk. (Biscuit, who was an incredibly sweet guy, died in August 2005.) The Dicks, on the other hand, along with another celebrated Austin band MDC (who also later moved to S.F.; MDC stands for, among other things, Million Dead Cops), virtually defined what hardcore stood for/stands for.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

"Burn Baby Burn Hotsauce": Selling the Black Panther Party Memory

This item is a year old, but still worth recording. You can buy the "Spirit of '66" t-shirts here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005 (SF Chronicle)
BLACK PANTHERS HOT AGAIN/Huey Newton's widow resurrects militants' memory with 'Burn Baby Burn' barbecue sauce
Rick DelVecchio, Chronicle Staff Writer

Former Black Panthers in Oakland have cooked up a hot sauce called "Burn Baby Burn" [pictured] and plan to ship it to stores in the coming weeks along with a new clothing line [a t-shirt example is pictured] trading on the legacy of the late-'60s revolutionary Huey Newton.
Newton's widow, Fredrika Newton, came up with the idea for the new brand of spicy condiment, and original Panther David Hilliard brewed the recipe at home in West Oakland, with help from his musician and amateur-cook friend Al Green of San Francisco.
The Huey P. Newton Foundation, headed by Hilliard and named for the co-founder of the militant group born in Oakland, filed an application with the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office last year to secure the phrase "Burn Baby Burn" for commercial trademark purposes.
"It was a catchy phrase, and I thought it would be reminiscent of the '60s," Fredrika Newton said Tuesday. "I sure didn't want it to be a call to burn anything other than our taste buds."
Green said: "We have a number of different kinds, and some of it is really hot -- I mean, incredibly hot."
The phrase is associated with the race riots in the Watts section of Los Angeles in 1965. Onlookers started chanting it after police arrested a young man for drunken driving. The confrontation triggered six days of rioting, resulting in more than 30 deaths, 1,000 injuries and devastating fire damage to the neighborhood.
Each bottle of Burn Baby Burn Revolutionary Hot Sauce will come with a tag noting milestones in the history of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, which was formed in 1966 by Huey Newton and his college classmate Bobby Seale. Newton was fatally shot by a drug dealer in Oakland in 1989. [No mention of the FBI's COINTELPRO program that targeted the Black Panther Party for neutralization and resulted in the murder of Fred Hampton and other Panthers.]
The tags will highlight the group's social legacy, Fredrika Newton said.
"I guess I want to celebrate the history and to let people know the actual facts of the Black Panther Party and how some of these programs are woven in today, like free breakfast programs and the call for free health care," she said.
Newton's idea is that the phrase should recall the Panthers' social programs. Children who benefited from the Panthers' free breakfasts in the '60s might reminisce over the taste of a mild, medium or spicy barbecue sauce, and young people might learn about the Panthers for the first time by reading the tags.
"It's not about violence, but the hot sauce will remind people of the rebellion in Watts and how the slogan came about," Hilliard said. "But this is an emphasis on using some of the revenue used by our hot sauce to educate."
Profits from the merchandise will support literacy programs, Hilliard said.
The nonprofit Huey P. Newton Foundation is rolling out the hot sauce and its "Spirit of '66" clothing line in advance of events commemorating the Panthers' 40th anniversary in October 2006.
"The hot sauce and the clothes are all a part of us trying to find new formats for marketing our history," said Hilliard, the foundation's executive director.
He sees two generations of potential customers.
"It's the hip-hop market, and certainly there's people who have a nostalgia for the '60s -- people who are looking for retro clothing, people who are still listening to Bob Dylan," he said. "And most recently, Carly Simon has a retro CD out."

Carly Simon fans are eating this up: The Black Panther clothing store's website, accessed today, says this:

We're sorry, but due to the growing popularity of our clothing line we are currently experiencing a high volume of orders and have had to suspend any future orders until we receive more stock.

Check back again soon! We thank you for your understanding and patience.

- The Black Panther Clothing Staff


Monday, August 07, 2006

Medine: "French Muslim Band Speaks Against Racism, Terror"

Cleaining out the e-mail box, I found this, which is just a little dated, but still useful. The original, from IslamOnLine, is no longer up, so I post it in full.

French Muslim Band Speaks Against Racism, Terror

The band’s albums have sold a record number in France.

By Hadi Yahmid, IOL Paris Correspondent

PARIS, March 26 ( – In France, rap music no longer conjures up images of hip-hopping boys and girls or doped teenagers after a Muslim band has given it a new look.

Singing primarily against terrorism and racism, Din Records seven members are priding themselves on being Muslims moved by the sufferings of their fellow Muslims from Palestine to Chechnya.

“Other rap bands are united by drugs, but we are united by prayers,” the band’s vocal Medine said on the band’s Web site.

Established in 2002, the band denounces the injustice done to Muslims in the occupied Palestinians territories, Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya.

It also condemns terrorism and expresses heartfelt sympathy with the oppressed worldwide.

Din Records songs, which topped France’s music charts and sold briskly, include “Jihad” “9/11,” “Guantanamo” and “The School of Life.”

“We want to give voice to the sufferings endured by Muslims throughout the past three years in the aftermath of the attacks,” Medine says.


The 9/11 ditty, which has been banned by the French TV, shows a mixture of the havoc caused by 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington and the destruction caused by the US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It also features the deplorable conditions of the Palestinians and the wide-scale destruction of their lands and homes by the Israeli occupation army.

“I keep looking for the root of the world’s disasters/Only to find out that the storm is blowing everywhere,” read the song’s lyrics.

“But the eyes are fixed on the twin tower/You don’t understand anything neither do I/But listen to the story from the very beginning…From September to September…From Ramallah to Manhattan…From Kabul to Baghdad,” they say.

The song says that the 9/11 attacks have had their domino effects on Muslims in France with the secularism drive picking up steam.

“In the country of the three-color flag, you have to be secular and enlightened/You must respect the values of the republic/Muslims are not allowed to wear beards or take on the hijab in schools.”

And it hits out at the media blitz against Muslims.

“In the newspapers, they accuse us of inciting violence, war crimes/They accuse us of being against the Americans though the Americans are rallying behind Michael Moore,” the US filmmaker who directed the anti-Bush “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

The song also touches on the torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers.

“Two or three million dollars and we will forget about Abu Gharib,” the scene of the pornographic and shocking practices meted out to Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers.


The songs “Guantanamo” and “The School of Life” have to do with the humiliation of Muslims in the West.

“The storm is blowing down Islam and the residents of the suburbs, who are marginalized in transports because of their hijabs/And those young people with beards, who are banned in airports/It is a plausible reason for Islamophobia,” read the lyrics of “Guantanamo”.

“The School of Life” adds: “They tell me that I belong in the third generation of immigrants/Though I have been born here and lead a simple life/Indeed, [the Hijri year] 1425 is a minaret for our fathers, mothers and brothers.”

The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) said in a recent report that Muslim minorities across Europe have been experiencing growing distrust, hostility and discrimination since 9/11.

“Pre-existing patterns of prejudice and discrimination have been reinforced and Muslims have increasingly felt that they are stigmatized because of their beliefs,” said the report.

Click for “9/11” video clip
Click for Din Records Website

Lusty lyrics spur teen sex

From the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 7.

(The underlying assumption seems to be: teen sex = BAD.)

Study: Lusty lyrics spur teen sex
CHICAGO - Teens whose iPods are full of music with raunchy, sexual lyrics start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs, a study found.
Music’s influence on teen behavior appears to depend on how sex is portrayed, researchers found.
Songs depicting men as “sexdriven studs,” women as sex objects and with explicit references to sex acts are more likely to trigger early sexual behavior than those where sexual references are more veiled and relationships appear more committed, the study found.
Teens who said they listened to music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse or other sexual activities within the following two years as were teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.
Among heavy listeners, 51 percent started having sex within two years, versus 29 percent of those who said they listened to little or no sexually degrading music.
Exposure to lots of sexually degrading music “gives them a specific message about sex,” said lead author Steven Martino, a researcher for Rand Corp. in Pittsburgh. Boys learn they should be relentless in pursuit of women and girls learn to view themselves as sex objects, he said.
The study, based on telephone interviews with 1,461 participants aged 12 to 17, appears in the August issue of Pediatrics released today.
Most participants were virgins when they were first questioned in 2001. Follow-up interviews were done in 2002 and 2004 to see if music choice had influenced subsequent behavior.
Natasha Ramsey, a 17-year-old from New Brunswick, N.J., said she and other teens sometimes listen to sexually explicit songs because they like the beat.
“I won’t really realize that the person is talking about having sex or raping a girl,” she said. Even so, the message “is being beaten into the teens’ heads,” she said.
The Recording Industry Association of America, which represents the U.S. recording industry, declined to comment on the findings.
Benjamin Chavis, chief executive officer of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, a coalition of hip-hop musicians and recording industry executives, said explicit music lyrics are a cultural expression that reflect “social and economic realities.”
Martino said the researchers tried to account for other factors that could affect teens’ sexual behavior, including parental permissiveness, and still found explicit lyrics had a strong influence.
However, Yvonne K. Fulbright, a New York-based sex researcher and author, said factors including peer pressure, self-esteem and home environment are probably more influential than the research suggests.
“It’s a little dangerous to just pinpoint one thing. You have to look at everything that’s going on in a young person’s life,” she said. “When somebody has a healthy sense of themselves, they don’t take these lyrics too seriously.”
David Walsh, a psychologist who heads the National Institute on Media and the Family, said the results make sense, and echo research on the influence of videos and other visual media.
Martino said parents, educators and teens themselves need to think more critically about messages in music lyrics.
Fulbright agreed.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Shaviro on the New York Dolls

On the occasion of the release of the New York Dolls' new album, One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This.

"...what was so great about the Dolls’ sound, a sound far more down ‘n’ dirty than the Stones ever had, with an intensity born of desperation, an energy that kept on building but never broke through into ecstasy, and was all the more impassioned for that...they seemed to inhabit a place in which questions of authenticity or not, sincerity or not, committment or satire, passion or performance raucous excess or calculated effects… simply made no difference...The new album is an unsatisfying simulacrum...Except — and here’s where things get both difficult and interesting — that my (overly obvious) criticism of the latter-day Dolls would seem to depend precisely on the categories of originality, authenticity, etc., which I praised the original Dolls for rendering thrillingly irrelevant."

Friday, July 14, 2006

Cristina Verán on Native Hip-Hop

Interviewed by Jeff Chang:
Far more common, however, are situations where Native hip-hop artists remain as marginalized within the larger hip-hop scene as they do from the mainstream, national culture overall. In the U.S., Indian Country's parallel "Reservation Hip-Hop" scene remains virtually excluded from an African-American dominated mainstream which doesn't really even acknowledge its existence.

Jeff Chang: Hip-Hop: Pro-Logo or Pro-Liberation?

From the author of Can't Stop Won't Stop: a History of the Hip-Hop Generation. The answer is (sorry to give it away): yes to both.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Chase credit card: "All You Need Is Love"

Tirdad Derakhshani, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, on Chase's new TV add that uses the Beatles' 1967 single, "All You Need Is Love."

"It's a big, ugly piece of situational irony: companies using anticonsumerist, antiestablishment art to sell consumer products." Correct, but no surprise. Thomas Frank's The Conquest of Cool, demonstrates that this strategy has been at the heart of advertising for several decades, a trend that started in the late 50's.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Reading for this week

One of the readings for this week is: P. Silverstein & C. Tetreault, “Urban Violence in France,” and you can find it here.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Fun^Da^Mental's official website

Go here for info on Fun^Da^Mental, for free downloads, to view videos, etc. Global chaos!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Country Joe & the Fish, "The Fish Cheer & I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag"

Give me an F! F!
Give me an I! I!
Give me an S! S!
Give me an H! H!

What's that spell? FISH!
What's that spell? FISH!
What's that spell? FISH!
(Live versions: substitute another "F" word for FISH.)

Come on all of you big strong men
Uncle Sam needs your help again
he's got himself in a terrible jam
way down yonder in Viet Nam so
put down your books and pick up a gun we're
gonna have a whole lotta fun

And it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for
don't ask me I don't give a damn, next stop is Viet Nam
And it's five, six, seven, open up the pearly gates
ain't no time to wonder why, whoopee we're all gonna die

Come on generals, let's move fast
your big chance has come at last
now you can go out and get those reds
cos the only good commie is the one that's dead and
you know that peace can only be won when we've
blown 'em all to kingdom come

Come on wall street don't be slow
why man this war is a go-go
there's plenty good money to be made by
supplying the army with the tools of its trade
let's hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
they drop it on the Viet Cong

Come on mothers throughout the land
pack your boys off to Viet Nam
come on fathers don't hesitate
send your sons off before it's too late
and you can be the first ones on your block
to have your boy come home in a box

Monday, April 03, 2006

Rolling Stones video!

Go here to read a bit about and find the link to a fabulous 1964 Rolling Stones video, and advertisement for Rice Krispies.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

the punk anti-industry spirit lives on

This is the Sex Pistols' official announcement that they would boycott the ceremony commemorating their admission to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame (located in Cleveland, OH). The ceremony was on February 24. Read more about it here.

And here is the website of John Lydon (formerly Johnny Rotten).

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Evil Barbie

Evil Barbie
Originally uploaded by wild.
Check out for multiple examples of Barbie accessorizing. Search for tags with 'Barbie'; I suggest looking at them by order of 'most interesting.'

Sunday, March 05, 2006

New Book on Postpunk by Simon Reynolds

Simon Reynolds, co-author of The Sex Revolts, has just published a new book, Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984. The New York Times reviewed it today. The book covers bands like the Talking Heads, the Fall, Devo (pictured), Gang of Four, Joy Division, Scritti Politti and the B-52's. You can listen to samples of some of these bands if you go here and scroll down to the review of the book.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Links to grrrl rockers

Here are some good links to the grrrrls we will discuss in connection with Part 3 of The Sex Revolts:

PJ Harvey
X-Ray Spex
The Slits
Diamanda Galás (pictured)
Siouxsie Sioux
Au Pairs
Patti Smith (
Patti Smith (wikipedia)
The Gossip

Track List, Grrrrl Rock

This is the CD I will pass out and that we'll discuss March 7 & 9. (Photo: Patti Smith)

1. "Wargasm," L7, Bricks Are Heavy (1992)
2. "Oh Bondage Up Yours!," X-Ray Spex, Germ Free Adolescents (1978)
3. "50ft Queenie," PJ Harvey, Rid Of Me (1993)
4. "Rub 'Til It Bleeds," PJ Harvey, Rid Of Me (1993)
5. "Typical Girls," The Slits, Cut (1979)
6. "Anonymous," Sleater-Kinney, Call The Doctor (1996)
7. "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone," Sleater-Kinney, Call The Doctor (1996)
8. "Berry," Hole, Pretty On The Inside (1991)
9. "Hex," Diamanda Galás with John Paul Jones, The Sporting Life (1994)
10. "Arabian Knights," Siouxsie & the Banshees, Juju (1981)
11. "Come Again," Au Pairs, Playing With A Different Sex (1981)
12. "Babelogue," Patti Smith, Easter (1978)
13. "Rock 'n' Roll Nigger," Patti Smith, Easter (1978)
14. "Where The Girls Are," The Gossip, That's Not What I Heard (2001)
15. "Fuck The Pain Away," Peaches, The Teaches Of Peaches (2000)
16. "Shake Yer Dix," Peaches, Fatherfucker (2003)
17. "Back It Up," Peaches, Fatherfucker (2003)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Pop music and social distinction

In every region, Americans with higher education and higher incomes typically prefer rock music over country. We found that rock lyrics had a lot more talk of choice, control and self-expression, as in the Rolling Stones' refrain, "'Cause I'm free to do what I want any old time." But when we analyzed country music, preferred over rock by less-educated Americans in every region, we heard more mentions of self-protection and defense, as in Darryl Worley's observation, "We didn't get to keep [our freedom] by backin' down." When choice was mentioned, it was often as a prelude or coda to tragedy, as in George Jones's lament "Now I'm living and dying with the choices I've made."

From an article by Barry Schwartz, Hazel Rose Markus, and Alana Conner Snibbe, entitled, "Is Freedom Just Another Word for Many Things to Buy?" (New York Times, February 26).

Monday, February 20, 2006

Simon Reynolds' Blog

Simon Reynolds, co-author of The Sex Revolts, has a very smart blog called Blissblog.

Tracklist, Oceanic Rock & Queercore

Music for week 2 of The Sex Revolts:

1. "Eight Miles High," The Byrds, Fifth Dimension (1966)
2. "Hurdy Gurdy Man," Donovan, The Hurdy Gurdy Man, (1968)
3. "Monterrey," Tim Buckley, Starsailor (1970)
4. "Mother," John Lennon, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)
5. "Golden Hours," Brian Eno, Another Green World (1975)
6. "Another Green World," Brian Eno, Another Green World (1975)
7. "Loomer," My Bloody Valentine, Loveless (1992)
8. "Papua New Guinea," The Future Sound Of London, Accelerator
9. "A Huge Evergrowing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre of the Ultraworld," The Orb, Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (1991)
10. "The Drowners," Suede, Suede (1993)
11. "I Am Hated for Loving," Morrissey, Vauxhall and I (1994)
12. "Horny In The Morning," Pansy Division, Wish I'd Taken Pictures (1996)
13. "Vanilla," Pansy Division, Wish I'd Taken Pictures (1996)
14. "Koeeoaddi There," Incredible String Band, The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter (1968)

Tracklist, Thrust Rock

Here's the track list to the songs we will listen to during week one of our discussion of The Sex Revolts (S. Reynolds & J. Press):

1. "Whole Lotta Love," Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II (1969)
2. "Search And Destroy," Iggy & The Stooges, Raw Power (1973)
3. "Bodies," Sex Pistols, Never Mind The Bollocks (1977)
4. "Submission," Sex Pistols, Never Mind The Bollocks (1977)
5. "Death or Glory," The Clash, London Calling (1979)
6. "Heart Shaped Box," Nirvana, In Utero (1993)
7. "Midnight Rambler," The Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed (1969)
8. "Radioactivity," Kraftwerk, The Mix (1991)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Queer Willie

Listen to and read about Willie Nelson's new single, "Cowboys are Secretly, Frequently (Fond of Each Other)," here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Angela McRobbie

Here's more information on Angela McRobbie, whose article, "Settling Accounts with Subcultures: A Feminist Critique" (1991), we will discuss tomorrow.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Oldschool Hip-Hop: NYC Tourism

In today's NY Times, we learn that Hush Tours is offering hip-hop sightseeing tours of the Bronx and Harlem. Tour guides include such old-school luminaries as Grandmaster Caz (pictured above), Curtis Blow, and DJ Red Alert.

The author, Jody Rosen, recounts the tour (only $70) she took with Grandmaster Caz, who gave his own account of the mostly forgotten history of rap's origin. Among the tidbits: "[Caz] described how the looting of hi-fi stores during the 1977 New York City blackout propelled D.J. culture. ('It was like Christmas for black people" he said. "The next day there were a thousand new D.J.'s.')"

And I learned from Rosen that "underground or 'backpacker' rappers, who position themselves as the true heirs to the old school, carrying the spirit and politics of hip-hop's 'golden era' into a debased age of bling and chart-topping gangstas." (I didn't know the explicit connection of backpacker rap to old school.)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Thomas Frank, The Conquest of Cool: Oldsmobile

From U.Chicago Press website. More illustrations from the book here (left-hand column: scroll down).

"the utopian imagination of the Detroit automakers"

Oldsmobile, 1961. This is as neat a vision of consensus order as one will find anywhere in American culture: Norman Rockwell landscape, patriotic colonial architecture, confident man, fawning wife, mirthful children, jolly firemen, and reassuring reminders of the jet-age military. Five years later an ad like this would appear to be from a different country.

More on Thomas Frank at his website.


Larry Neumeister writes in an AP story, "'Cool" remains the gold standard of slang in the 21st century, as reliable as a blue-chip stock, surviving like few expressions ever in our constantly evolving language."

Here are some more excerpts:

"[B]y the 1940s, the word exploded into popular usage through its constant use in jazz clubs, where musicians showed the versatility of a word that had already enjoyed wide use in the nation's black population.

The 1997 book, 'America in So Many Words'...traces the origination of the modern usage of cool to the late 1940s. In 1947, the book noted, the Charlie Parker Quartet recorded 'Cool Blues.' [Charlie Parker is depicted above.]

A year later, Life magazine titled an article 'Bebop: New Jazz School is Led by Trumpeter Who is Hot, Cool and Gone.' And in 1948, The New Yorker said 'the bebop people have a language of their own. ... Their expressions of approval include "cool."'

Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the University of California at Berkeley, said the word should have faded away at the end of the fifties. Instead, it was adopted and redefined by hippies, followed by surfers, rappers and techno-geeks."