The Worst Pop Singles of All Time

Of course these are not the worst singles of all time. Most people have never heard the worst singles of all time– like “The Times They Are A’Changin'” by Rabbi Abraham Feinberg, or “Clouds” by Leonard Nimoy or “Big Yellow Taxi” by Bob Dylan– because they simply have never been played on the radio.

So, actually, these are songs that stink even though they were massively promoted and acquired a certain following.

  • Wonder Wall (Oasis)
  • Seasons in the Sun (Terry Jacks)
  • I Write the Songs (Barry Manilow)
  • The Night Chicago Died (Paper Lace)
  • Honey (Bobby Goldsboro)
  • I am I said (Neil Diamond)
  • Cracklin’ Rosie (Neil Diamond)
  • Candle in the Wind 1997 (Elton John)
  • Popcorn (Hot Butter)
  • Achy Breaky Heart (Billy Ray Cyrus)
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit (Paul Anka)

Honorable Mentions (added November 2007)

  • Three Times a Lady (Lionel Richie)
  • Every Thing I Do (Bryan Adams)
  • Puppy Love (Donny Osmond, written by Paul Anka)
  • Glamour Boy (Guess Who)
  • We Will Rock You (Queen)
  • Never Been to Me (Charlene)
  • Feelin’ Groovy (Simon & Garfunkel)
  • Do Yah Think I’m Sexy (Rod Stewart)

Most ill-advised single of all time:

  • Pet Me, Poppa (Rosemary Clooney).

Most horrible earworm (tie):

  • “Mandy” (Barry Manilow),
  • “Sweet City Woman”, (Stampeders)


Wonder Wall” was recently voted the best pop song ever by a segment of the British public which is probably also responsible for the tabloids and Benny Hill. I don’t get it. I can’t even finish listening to it once. It sounds to me like your older brother, when you are 11, and he is about 13, and he is making fun of a song you like, by singing it in as unpleasant a voice as he can manage, without any noteworthy accompaniment. And it sounds like he is making up the lyrics at the same time, in a kind of sing-song, nasal, whine on the “now”.

I was just stunned to learn, recently, that “I’ve Never Been to Me” was first released in 1977!  1977!  Was it written by a man?  I knew it!  Written by Ron Miller, Kenneth Hirsch!  How did I know?  Because almost all bad songs written about women’s roles are authored by men:  “Having My Baby”, “I am Woman”.

And a good one:  “You Don’t Own Me” performed by Leslie Gore.

A British Worst
 of All Time List.

Yoo hoo– America? Your constitution is being abrogated. Do you care?

Probably not. No, don’t get up from Survivor or American Idol. Take your popcorn and your super-sized cola back to your couch. Relax. You are white and middle class and… well, . You have nothing to fear. The man on trial is dark-skinned. Like that man they shot after he fled that plane in Miami.

Mr. Salim Ahmed Hamid–he’s Yemeni– used to drive Mr. Bin Laden’s car. That’s right. And America caught him somewhere– in Afghanistan, I believe. Certainly not in Iraq– you know– that country that didn’t have any connection to Mr. Bin Laden? Salim Ahmed Hamad is on trial. Well, no he isn’t. Well, yes he is.

Okay, so Mr. Hamad used to drive Mr. Bin Laden’s car and he was his body guard. So that’s a crime, right? Right– this was after Mr. Bin Laden was no longer a friend of ours. That’s right.

So it appears that Mr. Hamad might not have actually broken any laws in America, or overseas, actually, but damnit– that’s no excuse for letting a known chauffeur to a terrorist former tool of U.S. foreign policy go free. We’ll try him anyway. Mr. Bush can just appoint a bunch of men– make them military men– and we’ll just hold a “trial”. After all, Mr. Bush was elected, so it’s not as if he were unaccountable.

Mr. Hamad’s lawyer thinks he should be entitled to a fair trial, due process, and all that crap. You’d almost think he was white or spoke without an accent. Is the ad almost over? So the Supreme Court is trying to decide whether or not the President could just appoint anybody he feels like appointing to hold a trial or something like it and pass a sentence or just shoot the bastard, without damned interference from those pointy-headed justices or congressmen or anybody else.

Lucky for Mr. Bush, the Republican appointees, including Mr. Thomas– who was so impressed with the arguments of Mr. Bush’s lawyer representative, Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, that he didn’t feel the need to ask a single question– are all on his side. Well, Mr. Roberts and Mr. Alito certainly are, but Mr. Roberts can’t vote on this one because, as a Federal Appeals Court justice, he already voted in favor of Mr. Bush’s position. He might at least have asked a question or two. I think Mr. Thomas did at least ask for a new crayon after a rapid-fire exchange of barbs between Mr. Clement and Justice Souter.

My fellow Americans, consider for a moment that in a case before the Supreme Court which many people consider to be one of the most pivotal in decades in terms of its impact on executive power and judicial process, Justice Clarence Thomas asked not a single question. He wasn’t even curious. He didn’t know what the hell Souter was all holy and loud about. Shut up Ginzburg! Kennedy, what the hell are you whining about? Is it dinner time yet?

Some brilliant artist out there should create a giant painting, a Guernica of American civil justice, called “Thoughts Entering the Head of Clarence Thomas as the Solicitor General Offered to Relieve the Court of Habeas Corpus”. I’m not an artist but there is such a desperate need for this art work that I might just make an attempt at it myself.

Justice Scalia shouted, why are we even hearing this dispute? If the President wants to arrest people and jail them, hell, he doesn’t need our permission. But before Clement could leave, Mr. Kennedy grabbed him by the collar.

Commercial over? Go back to your tv. Hey, it’s Natalie Holloway that they’re putting on trial…. Ha ha! Just kidding. What do you think this guy’s chances are?

On Osama Bin Laden’s Former Chauffeur

Imagine, if you will, an entire Supreme Court made up of Justice Clarence Thomas’s. This court would plow through a hundred cases in a month– not a single question would be asked of the lawyers arguing the cases! Whatever the government asks for, it receives. Whatever a defense lawyer asks for is denied. Criminals would not have been arrested if they had not been doing something wrong. If your creek is poisoned, move to another creek. If you think the government has secret information about you, tell us what it is and we’ll find out if it was wrong for them to obtain it. It is possible that your gender had nothing to do with your chances of being sexually harassed by your white male middle-class boss.

Life is simple and sweet.

Clarence Thomas’ thoughts on due process must be somewhere down here.


This is in the New York Times, March 28, 2006:

The vaccines produced every year to prevent seasonal flu are unlikely to be of any use in warding off a pandemic strain. But a flu shot could provide at least some peace of mind, by preventing the false alarm that could come from catching a case of garden-variety flu.

Being older than 11 years old, I tend to look somewhat askance at warnings of pandemics. That’s because I’m old enough to remember that there were warnings about swine flu and Legionnaire’s Disease, and SARS, and people talked seriously then about “pandemics” and “millions dead” and whether or not you should buy yourself a tight-fitting face-mask. More from the New York Times:

Some health officials have recommended stockpiling two to three months’ worth of food, fuel and water in case a pandemic interferes with food distribution or staffing levels at public utilities, or people are advised to stay home.

Ahem. Did you read this? Are you scared now? Have you scheduled a trip to the grocery store to stockpile three months worth of food in your basement? No? Are you crazy? This is a serious newspaper which prides itself on credible reporting based on factual research and accurate information. This newspaper is accountable, damnit!

This newspaper is seriously quoting “health officials” as recommending that you stockpile food in your basement because this pandemic might be so serious that it will seriously impact the food supply chain.

The article said nothing about arming yourself against roving bands of desperate mutants.

Am I crazy? Even the usually-sober CBC has been hyping avian flu for the past several months, frequently bandying about the phrase “global pandemic”.

I often recall a phrase from a Michael Moore’s documentary, in which he alleges that the government and media seem determined to frighten people, for two reasons. Firstly, to scare you into obeying them because, they would have you believe, only they can save you. Secondly, — and this may sound counter-intuitive– but they also want to scare you into consuming. They need you to feel that your life is insecure or inadequate unless you have acquired all those valuable things that other people are trying to take away from you. Our “way of life”– a clever euphemism for “extravagant toys”. [added November 2009]

But then I think, ah, no– this is the famous New York Times, and the CBC, for heaven’s sake, not ABC news…

The New York Times goes on to describe how “some experts” are afraid that this particular flu virus might mutate in humans and spread very, very quickly, and might even reach Arctic communities that can only be accessed by dogsled, like the Spanish flu.

The Spanish flu of 1917-18 was real. That is the nightmare our “health officials” worry about. Millions of people really did die. The threat of nuclear war in the 1960’s was more real than even the alarmists thought. The generals really were– and sometimes still are– psychotic lunatics. They were really prepared to bomb the entire planet into oblivion rather than surrender to any kind of Soviet ultimatum.

Pardon me if I observe, however, that people really did die of flu back then, and not just of Spanish flu. They died young, of any of dozens of illnesses or infections or injuries, most of which we have managed to overcome lately with basic nutrition, hygiene, safety precautions, and decent health care. Are we really vulnerable to a large scale “pandemic” of anything? In fairness to the New York Times, that same article quotes some “health officials” as believing that the likelihood of a pandemic is very small.

Nutrition and medical care today are way, way better than they were in 1917. Counter-point: about half of the people infected with avian flu (who caught it directly from birds) die. Counter-counter-point: what sometimes happens during these scares is that every random flu-like illness suddenly becomes attributed to the high-profile threat.

There is a subtext. Nobody who seriously believes in the threat of avian flu believes the government should have less authority to force people to be vaccinated or shutdown air ports, or arrest people.

I do wish I could bet against the CBC on the issue. It wouldn’t have to be a decisive yes/no type of bet. I would just like the CBC to carefully and publicly state what it thinks the odds really are– and put money behind it. They benefit from hyping the threat of a pandemic by getting interested listeners, who can’t wait to hear about the latest potential disaster.

There should be five million dollars on deposit with a neutral third party. If we get an pandemic, the CBC gets to keep their money and the listeners.

But if there is no pandemic– as there never was a SARS outbreak, for all the ink spilled about that business– skeptics like me should get paid for putting up with the bullshit for so long.

Liberal Culture

There’s a hole in daddy’s arm
where all the money goes
Jesus Christ died for nothing,
I suppose.

I wonder if hard core George Bush supporters ever watch Jon Stewart late at night and say to themselves, gosh, I wish we had one of those. Because as much as you’d like to believe that Ann Coulter is witty or that Bill O’Reilly is smart or that Sean Hannity is insightful, you just know they’re not, and you just know that Jon Stewart and George Clooney and, in this case, John Prine, are way smarter and way cooler and way more astute than any conservative writer or commentator except maybe Clint Eastwood.

And I think conservatives know it as much as anyone knows it. Why else would they even care what gets published in the New York Times or who says what on “60 Minutes” or who wins Oscars or Grammies? If the New York Times is really out of step with the majority of right-thinking Americans, then your worries are over, aren’t they, Charles Krauthammer?

Not exactly. There was a man who served on our church council in Chatham who never, ever voiced an opinion on the matter of women serving in church office. He just listened to all the arguments and then made up his mind that he wouldn’t listen to any of the arguments but just vote the way he felt about the issue, which was that it just wasn’t right for women to serve as Deacons. When I challenged him to explain why he believed what he did, he became annoyed and frustrated, and finally blurted out, “that’s just the way I feel”.

So even though Sam Stone is an amazing song that convinces you that there is something totally messed up with the war in Viet Nam– it’s probably not going to change your mind about Iraq or Iran or North Korea. Those people still need to be killed. And the more they think we want to kill them, the safer we’ll all be.

Free speech does not guarantee anyone the right to be heard but it does guarantee the right of the speaker to speak and not be silenced.”

Cal Thomas.

So it’s a good thing if Fox News, or the White House, or CNN, doesn’t actually allow anyone with a contrary opinion the opportunity to address any issues. You just go right on holding your contrary views in your own living room, where they can do the least damage. And a President who, according to Newsweek, doesn’t hear anything that contradicts his own views on the Iraq war or terrorism or global warming or free speech, shouldn’t worry about the fact that he isn’t exposed to any new ideas or possible solutions.

On John Prine’s brilliant Donald and Lydia.

Who do you want to invite to your party?

Conservative: Bill O’Reilly
Liberal: Jon Stewart
Conservative: Ann Coulter
Liberal: Hillary Clinton
Conservative: Clint Eastwood
Liberal: George Clooney
Conservative: Sonny Bono’s second wife
Liberal: Sonny Bono’s first wife.
Conservative: Ted Nugent
Liberal: Janet Reno
Conservative: Reese Witherspoon
Liberal: Keira Knightly

Poppy Family – Susan Jacks

This bus is awful cold,
We’ve gone so many miles…

“That’s Where I Went Wrong” by The Poppy Family was already a throw-back when it hit the charts in 1969. A cute girl– you can tell by her voice that she’s cute– is riding on a cold bus to some unknown place, boring a stranger with the details of how her boyfriend cheated on her. She says

I know it’s not his fault
I’ve known it all along
I was the one who trusted him
That’s where I went wrong.

That’s where she went wrong!

Someone — probably her husband (at the time), Terry Jacks– had the horrible idea of adding some kind of weird percussive slapping noises to the song, that I don’t remember noticing in the era in which we heard all songs on car radios.

I’m kidding about the “cute girl” comment, though one can safely assume that any woman in the business of performing pop songs is photogenic, at least. But the voice is compelling. It has this clear, crystalline sheen to it– it sounds young and innocent, and insistent. Madonna used to have a bit of this quality to her voice, in “La Isle Bonita”, for example. So did Jackie Ralph of “The Bells”. Stevie Nicks had it.

But the coolest of the cool was Jennifer Warnes – her voice on “First We Take Manhattan”– I don’t have a name for that quality.

“Stay Awhile” by Jackie Ralph with “The Bells” was quite possibly the hottest song on AM radio in its day. Yes, because the romantic couple in the song actually, delicately, go to bed together. We were all shocked and titillated. Some radio stations, so we heard, banned the song. Did they really? That’s really bizarre, when you think about it.

It’s hard to describe that voice. I’ve always liked it, though I also always found the Poppy Family’s music to be a bit cheesy, calculated, and coy. Often, Susan’s voice is doubled for effect with a pleasing result

You are my whole day
My heart and my soul babe..

and sounds like she means it.

The Poppy Family featured a drummer called Satwan Singh– I’ll bet there’s an interesting story behind that. He played the tabla initially, but there’s a full drum set on most later Poppy Family recordings.

Terry Jacks did not like touring or performing live, and that’s why he became a producer. Apparently, he even worked with the Beach Boys. He became aware of a song called “Seasons in the Sun” which the Beach Boys heard but decided to pass on. Jacks recorded it himself and it became one of the biggest hits of the decade and makes my list of the worst 10 singles of all time.

Goodbye Michelle, it’s hard to die
When all the birds are singing in the sky.

Yes, Terry– it’s easier to die when all the birds are singing on the ground. Or maybe singing on the hills that were just “seasons out of time”, whatever the hell that means.

I’m adding to this. I just reread some old newsgroup posts and there is some acquaintances on the Leonard Cohen newsgroup insisting that “Seasons in the Sun” is a deep song.

Goodbye Michelle, my little one,
You gave me love and helped me find the sun.

Okay. “Find the sun” isn’t the most shockingly original metaphor I’ve heard– not great, but not too bad yet. Well, yes it is. But wait for it:

And every time that I was down
You would always come around
And get my feet back on the ground

Now, is that or is that not the lamest description of friendship you’ve ever heard? And don’t forget:

but the stars that we could reach
were just starfish on the beach

So the starfish join the birds, imaginatively located right where Dr. Seuss said you would find them.

“Which Way you Going Billy” has a few strange twists in it. Billy’s leaving and she wants to go with him, but Billy doesn’t want to tell her which way he’s going. She could get lost and would have to get onto a bus and become the character in “That’s Where I Went Wrong”. She admits that now he’s “free” at last, though you would think she’d prefer to convince him he could be just as free if he stayed with her. No, she admits it: she’s a ball and chain.

It’s only in the third verse that we find out

I won’t forget you, Billy
For all my life
I’ll always love you, Billy,
I’ll stay your wife.

Until then, I had thought they were simply going together. Didn’t know they were actually man and wife. The song is deeper for it. Thank god Rod McKuen didn’t write this lyric, or she would stay “your wife in your house”, in the “dark, where the sun it never shines”.


“Where Evil Grows” is easily the best song the Poppy Family released. Like some of their earlier efforts, it’s not quite a textbook pop song. Pop songs don’t call people “evil” (except if it’s about a woman and she’s a vamp). “Evil grows in the dark/where the sun it, never shines” is redundant, but passable. And it would be interesting to hear what evil things, exactly, this evil person has done, but you know we won’t.

It’s a distinctive, appealing harmony, a decent hook, and an unusual lyric. It was a hit in 1972.

The Poppy Family broke up in 1973. Terry Jacks went on to record the worst single of all time (Seasons in the Sun).

Susan Jacks plunged into obscurity. Where is she now? I have no idea, and neither does Google.

Added Nov 2007:

Thank God for Youtube.

Listen to this: how can you not fall in love with that voice!

In her day, Linda Ronstadt was the much bigger star. Why? Was she a better singer? Prettier? Or better promoted? Compare Susan Jack’s version of “Different Drum” to Ronstadt’s. It’s the difference between singing and wailing.

I just listened to the two right after each other. I frankly had never realized what a lame singer Ronstadt was at this stage of her career– all elbows and eyelashes and emoting. Susan Jacks is about as I remember her– a superb singer who never really got the opportunity to reach her potential, and one of the two or three really, really magical female voices I have ever heard. (The other: Jennifer Warnes).

Listen to her take on “Different Drum”– it’s exquisite, tasteful, beautiful.  There is more heartbreak — and nuance–  Susan Jacks singing  one word — “goodbye” — than in the entire performance by Ronstadt. 

Ronstadt shouts and wails; Jacks sings and evokes that sense of disillusionment central to the lyric.


Please, oh please don’t steal from the Music Industry: Read This.

Update August 2006: Guess who finally has a website? There is a posting from Susan dated in 2003, four album covers, and that’s about it.  [Sorry: the website is gone.]

You won’t find very much about Susan Jacks, or Jackie Ralph, (or Four Jacks and Jill, or the Buoys, etc.) on the internet. In the future, no one will be able to hide, but for bands that were famous in the 1960’s or 70’s, it is still possible to fade into a small measure of obscurity. Do a search on any current pop star and look for images and find thousands of them. Do a search for images of Susan Jacks and you’ll be lucky to see five or six.

I saw a movie recently in which a woman who had not seen a former lover in ten years, spies him in the grocery store, before he sees her. Her first thought is that she doesn’t want to talk to him– because she’s not dressed very well, and doesn’t have her make-up on just right, and she’s very pregnant. She makes a gesture of fixing her hair and face, and looks hopeless for a moment.

It felt authentic to me. I’m sure some of these pop stars from the 60’s and 70’s might have the same feeling about people who go searching for them over the internet, perhaps still nursing an enduring fantasy about them– do you want these “fans” to see what you look like now? Maybe not.

And I know I don’t really want to hear Susan Jacks perform the same song now. It wouldn’t make sense. A 50-year-old woman is not going to go, “I know it’s not his fault, I’ve known it all along, I was the one who trusted him…”

If you have ever read about Frances Farmer, it’s hard not to be moved by the fact that after years of scandal and conflict and sojourns in mental hospitals and so on, Frances Farmer disappeared completely. She ended up working, for several years, in a photo shop somewhere.

And incidentally– she did not have a frontal lobotomy. The movie “Frances” was playing fast and loose with the facts. If you check around and go with the most trustworthy sources, it seems quite unlikely.


The Iraq Dollar Auction

Wow. I missed the shocking news — Saddam Hussein hated the United States and tried to think of ways to hurt it. ABC news with exclusive audio tape!

I saw that ABC News item. It wasn’t “news”. It was a tape they had acquired which did not provide any new information that was not already out there and widely known. In fact, the story largely substantiated the position that Saddam was not a real threat, and had no connection with Al Qaeda.

If you are watching the news, I presume you are also aware of the fact that Iraq is now near full civil war, and that the occupation is generating more new terrorists every day than Osama could have wished for in his wildest dreams, and that large Republican-connected corporations have been gleefully lining their own pockets while mismanaging the rebuilding of that pathetic little country, and that whenever a competent official emerges from the U.S. occupation administration, he says something truthful and is sacked.

I always find it strange that nobody seems to be demanding the simplest and most obvious measure of accountability from the Bush administration: tell us how long it will take and how much it will cost and how many people will die before you have what you promised us: a peaceful democratic Arab state in the Mid-east. So far, it is estimated to be over $20,000 per American household. How much would you say is too much, and how long, and how many lives, would you say is too many? $50,000? $100,000? And how long should the bulk of the U.S. military be tied up in Iraq? 10 years? 20 years? 50 years? Any reasonable person would want to know those things before committing to a course of action that will be almost impossible to extricate ourselves from, with decency and integrity.

Well, we know why nobody from the Bush administration will give us any kind of plan. If they did, it would immediately be apparent that the plan has failed. By saying “nobody can say how long it would take” and “it undermines the troops to insist that we have a clue about what we are doing and how much progress we are making” Bush can hope that some miracle will come along and save his ass from the embarrassment of having to admit, “we had no real idea, when we went in, of how difficult it was going to be to get out”. It’s a win-win proposition. If things go badly, it’s because we haven’t waited long enough. If things eventually go well, we knew it would.

Will anyone admit that Bush doesn’t know what he got into and has no clue how to get out? We are now into what John Nash (“Beautiful Mind”) called a “dollar auction”. You are bidding on a dollar under rules that require you to pay out even if you lose the auction. So, when you reach and pass the full “value” of the dollar, you have to keep bidding, because otherwise you still pay but get nothing. Yes, Viet Nam exactly.

Doesn’t matter to him, does it? He’ll be out cashing out in a couple years. He doesn’t actually receive suitcases full of cash from all those corporations and billionaires he has served so diligently the last six years… until he gets out of office. And then watch the payback– it should be absolutely glorious! No individual in the history of the U.S. has transferred so much wealth to so many investors, shareholders, and corporate leaders. The oil industry alone should be falling over themselves to reward him– look at the deal they got in the Gulf of Mexico!– but the pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, credit institutions,– they’ll all be rushing forward to thank the man who did so incredibly much for their profit margins (while doing virtually nothing for the economy as a whole or people who actually work for a living).

Meanwhile, an adult will have to take over the presidency and sit there and think: how long do we let this shit go on before we admit it was a huge mistake? And stop bidding? And the same adult will have to do something adult about paying bills around here. I don’t think anything Bush has done is quite as remarkably, shamelessly, outrageously childish as the handing over of billions and billions of dollars in national debt to the next generation. Some of his most fanatical devotees compare him to Jesus Christ, and they have something there: I’m watching this man walk on water right now. It’s amazing.

It’s hard to call an administration “corrupt” when it does, openly and shamelessly, what other administrations would do only in secret. The lobbyists now enter through the front door, proudly and glibly, and meetings that used to be hidden are now simply “secret”. The Bush administration actually invites corporations to write legislation for themselves. The same people who defend this government would be horrified at the idea of a labour union writing it’s own contract or a teenager making his own house rules or an actor directing his own movie– and perhaps should be. But that’s the way the Bush administration operates.

There are ideological differences, which can be argued endlessly, but then there’s simple competency issues, of which a clear vision eventually emerges.

Master Jack

It’s a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack
You taught me all I know and I’ll never look back

And it’s a very strange song that you recorded, Four Jacks and a Jill. I’ll bet you didn’t know they were from South Africa, did you? The song “Master Jack” was released in 1968 and reached #1 in Canada and New Zealand, among other localities.

On the the face of it, “Master Jack” is about a mentor relationship, between a young acolyte and her older, perhaps wiser friend, a teacher or an uncle, or some other worldly-wise adult, who teaches her to take “coloured ribbon” from the sky and tie up your problems with it and then “sell it to the people in the street”. I can’t for the life of me figure out what that means exactly. My guess is that it’s something to do with tie-dye t-shirts or incense.

The acolyte has grown old enough now to want to see and experience the world for herself, so she bids farewell to her wise teacher. It’s clear that she no longer trusts his judgment.

“Master Jack” is one of those odd songs that seem untouched by the hands of a music industry professional, who surely would have polished the vocals and added a hammy flourish in there somewhere, and would certainly have removed one of the strangest and most acute lines in the song:

I saw right through the way you started teachin’ me now
So some day soon you could get to use me somehow
I thank you very much and though you’ve been very kind
But I’d better move along before you change my mind

Rather edgy, don’t you think, for a lilting guitar ballad with a reticent female lead? It’s almost as if there is something sinister at work here, so you think of Jimmy Jones or Charles Manson. But the song sounds so innocent– maybe it’s Tiny Tim instead.

I never liked the song very much when I was in my teens– it sounded a bit saccharine to me. But like “I’ve Never Been to Me”, it has a little bite.

Yeah, they’re still around. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I recently read a comment from an anonymous poster claiming that the “jack” in the song is the Union Jack, and the song is a comment on Britain’s legacy of Apartheid in South Africa. That’s an interesting idea. [2011-11-29]

Michael Powell and Janet Jackson’s Breast

The FCC does not fine television networks very often or for very large amounts.

So think about all the indecent things you have seen on TV in the past two years.

You have seen incredibly powerful corporations advertise sugar-coated cereals to children seven years old or younger.

You have seen decapitations, stabbings, gunshot wounds, amputations, rapes, burns, slashes, and strangling.

Nope. Nothing offensive there. Nothing there that could be construed as a threat to the moral fabric of the nation.

You’ve seen cheer-leading network eunuchs swallow whole the bilious lies and distortions of a government justifying a war it had no business starting and now has no clue about ending and which has resulted in the kidnappings, tortures, and murders of thousands of innocent civilians. Nothing “indecent” there.

You’ve seen programs in which the police are shown, approvingly, beating up, abusing, and terrorizing suspects in order to extract confessions from them. Of course, these suspects are then always shown to be guilty– not like that soldier shot by the cop in Los Angeles, or Amadou Diallo, or any of these others. Is society threatened by entertainment that teaches us that police brutality is usually justified and almost always rewarding? No.

But in February 2004, the moral health of America was threatened with such pernicious and devious audacity that Colin Powell’s son– head of the FCC– leapt to his feet and immediately took drastic and decisive action. America must not be permitted to see a woman’s breast, not even for a second!

You know what a breast is, don’t you? You may have seen one yourself, if you were ever a nursing baby, a married man, or even a lucky teenager. In fact, a quick study of television and magazines would lead a reasonable person to conclude that America doesn’t think that there is anything they want to see more than a woman’s breast. Americans spend billions of dollars every year improving and enlarging their breasts. Breast cancer survivors raise money for research by posing– topless– for calendars. You pretty well can’t be a singer or actress or entertainer of any kind unless you have large ones.

So Michael Powell, speaking most deeply from beneath his cloak, has fined CBS — get this!– $550,000!

The naked breast appeared during a performance in which Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson gyrated and danced around on stage simulating incredibly passionate levels of sexual arousal and desire for each other. Timberlake sang, “I’m gonna have you naked by the end of this song.”

This is what America paid to watch. It’s what the promoters of the Superbowel paid to show. It’s what every radio station in America promotes every day: songs about sexual desire. It’s what makes “Friends” funny, and Paris Hilton rich. It’s why competitors in “Fear Factor” wear bikinis. It’s the engine of the entertainment economy. It’s why National Geographic is read by adolescent boys.

The breast was indecent? The most indecent thing about this entire sorry episode is the overwhelming obscenity of people like Michael Powell having the power to determine what is “obscene”. What on earth does he think will happen in a person’s mind when he sees a woman’s breast?

What happened in his mind?

June 22, 2011:

Be it noted– the most “Tivo-ed” moment in television history is… the Janet Jackson Superbowl breast exposure. Okay, so while the FCC decided that Janet Jackson’s breast was the most offensive and shocking thing on TV this year, the public has decided that it was the thing they most wanted to see. CBS should have appealed this to the Supreme Court.

Well… maybe not. Clarence Thomas? Antonin Scalia? Samuel Alito?

Forget it.

Remember Reno’s Unfortunate Career as Attorney-General of the United States

I just want to do my part to make sure that nobody forgets that Janet Reno was the worst attorney-general in the history of the United States, though John Ashcroft did everything he could to give her a run for the money.

To refresh your memory, check the link above. She was responsible for the Country Walk child ritual abuse case– otherwise known as the “witch hunt”. She was responsible for Waco. Otherwise known as the “those people with guns in that house are very nervous– is there something we can do to set them off” case. She was responsible for Kenneth Starr. She was responsible for the outrageous treatment of Henry Cisneros. Janet Reno is something of a psychopath.

Even though she’s been out of office for six years now (it was rumored that Clinton wanted to fire her, but couldn’t, of course, while he was being investigated for wearing a blue dress in the Oval Office). Maybe she is relaxing in her Florida home thinking that in a few more years, everyone will forget about the Cisneros and Starr and Waco and start to hold banquets in her honor.

This is a humble start, but someone has to make the effort to keep the memory of her incompetence alive.

Not fair?  Yes it is:  especially since some of the victims of her incompetence continue to suffer in prison.