Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Marty Krofft, 76. Among the strangest things of the strange 1970s was the dominance of kids network TV, for a while, by Sid and Marty Krofft. I'm pretty sure the ultimate example of this was Lidsville -- which I certainly watched when it was on -- but I'm open to arguments that one of the others was even stranger.

The good stuff:

1. Dylan Matthews on Margaret Thatcher's economic record.

2. Nicole Cliffe on Thatcher.

3. Jamelle Bouie on Thatcher, Reagan, ideology, and time.

4. Dan Drezner on Thatcher and IR.

5. And Thatcher and music, from Matthew Horton at NME and from Dave Weigel. After reflection, by the way, I'd decided that Weigel is just trolling when he claims that the only anti-Reagan line he can remember from US music is from Don Henley.


  1. Nothing in the long and varied history of humanity is stranger than Lidsville.

  2. Pink Lady.

    It was so strange that people insist on calling it Pink Lady and Jeff despite the fact that it was called Pink Lady.

    At least you can explain the concept of Lidsville simply; Land of the Lost with talking hats instead of dinosaurs/Sleestaks/aliens.

    The idea of giving Richard Pryor a children's show was stranger yet, but Pryor's Place itself was pretty straightforward.

  3. I can't believe you linked to Nicole Cliff.

    That's the single best Thatcher op-ed that will ever be. I should know, I've read a lot of them as I didn't know much about her.

    Being born in 1980, the beginning of her heyday, and having only a general sense that she was Reagan's partner in crime/whipping girl I've been intrigued by her insane and unbelievably polarizing stature.

  4. In Weigel's defense, he doesn't say that the Henley line is the only anti-Reagan line in American pop music; he says it's the most explicitly anti-Reagan line he can think of in a pop song. I'm not sure that's true, but it's defensible. "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg" is pretty explicit, and a truly great single, but it was never a pop hit. Stevie Wonder's "Skeletons" was a Top Forty hit but was not very direct about its subject matter (the Iran-contra hearings). Camper van Beethoven's poignant "Sweethearts" specifically mentions Reagan, but wasn't a hit. There were also anti-nuclear-war pop songs like Men at Work's "It's a Mistake," but I don't recall any of them using Reagan's name.

    So I can't think of any pop song with a more explicitly anti-Reagan reference than "The End of the Innocence."

    1. Isn't that, though more of function of definitions ("pop") and what charts in the UK vs. US rather than anything else? I mean, the English Beat is hardly more "pop" in any musical sense than The Ramones. Just because US radio stations inexplicably didn't get it...

      Some of the other punk anti-Reagan stuff was less pop, and I suppose Public Enemy and BDP don't exactly count as pop. But it was still out there.

  5. For those who don't know the Don Henley reference (and don't want to have to click over to Weigel or otherwise look it up), the line is (from memory, so I may have a word or two wrong):

    "We're beating plowshares into swords
    For that tired old man that we elected king..."

    It's from "The End of the Innocence."

  6. Yeah, if you define "pop" as "Top Forty hits," Weigel's position is defensible. That's all I'm saying.

    Weigel, it's worth noting, wasn't even born until after Reagan took office, so he didn't even live through that era as thoroughly as some of us did.

    1. And yet here we all are discussing this as if everything is fine in the world, and meanwhile, you know, Don Henley.

      I think I'll crank up some Mojo now. And you know what it means if you ain't got Mojo Nixon.

    2. I think that's what bothers you the most about all of this, that Don Henley is being held up as some kind of politico-cultural touchstone.

    3. But he is, just not in a good way.

    4. BTW: Wasn't "Billie Jean" Reagan-bashing somehow? I guess that's about the video, not the song...if I'm remembering correctly.

      Note that I'm sort of ducking TN's point.

  7. There was quite a bit of Bush-bashing in American popular music during the 2000s.


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