A Taste of Honeycombs

Big Beat Scene Programme

Five years ago this month I posted a lengthy review of Martin Aston’s encyclopedic Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache: How Music Came Out.1 Last week one of Aston’s subjects came to life as it was pushed my way courtesy of YouTube: 1964’s “Have I the Right?” by the Honeycombs. Lyrically it’s reminiscent of Sixties songs that became gay and lesbian bar hymns. Think Sinatra’s “Strangers In the Night” (1966), Bobby Darin’s version of “My Buddy” (1962), Connie Francis’s “Where the Boys Are” (1961). Such songs were appropriated by this social set, but its membership included a few of the hymnists as well.

I couldn’t recall why I knew the Honeycombs’ music until I found that these clips come from Top Gear (1965) aka Go Go Mania (US), which I taped from cable years ago. It’s available for viewing, gratis, via Kanopy.
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Picture-Perfect

Bachelors Anonymous photo

Ten days ago Rob Berg and I rounded out the Bachelors Anonymous studio catalog with The Big Picture. Rob came up with the album title and the cover design: a rainbow emerging behind us as we frame ourselves (at a 1990 New Year’s Eve party held at the home of Anne Atwell-Zoll, who sang backup with Ann Russell). My first thought was that the rainbow is passé, but with the resurgence of a loathing that never left, I’m reminded of those peace symbol posters from an earlier era: Back By Popular Demand.

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I’m Dreaming of a White Bicycle

Neil My White Bicycle cover

While searching for half-remembered short films on the theme of public restrooms last month (see In the Can), I ran across a parody of “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” posted last fall as a commentary on the trans* bathroom con-troversy.

The performer, Christopher Trautman, explains:

This song was recorded in North Carolina. The only State in the United States that passed a law specifically directing that the restroom you use must be based on the junk you possess. It was later repealed after a national embarrassment campaign [led] by Comedy Central where they opened a food truck called Bone Brothers Barbecue in downtown Raleigh and discriminated against everybody who they determined to be gay… which was everybody.

That barbecue pi—er—bit, which aired on The Daily Show in 2016, was by Roy Wood Jr., assisted by Jordan Klepper. It’s hilarious and is, mm…, cued up below.

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Nursing Holes

Nursing Hole

Colorado Public Radio (CPR) reported ten days ago that the U.S. Department of Justice “has complained that Colorado violates federal law by not providing adequate services to transition people with physical disabilities out of nursing homes and back into the community.” It was the following statistic, however, that startled me: “From 2013 to 2019, only 269 Coloradans with physical disabilities transitioned from nursing facilities to the community, according to a multi-year review by the Justice Department.” That’s less than forty people a year and a little more than one per the 231 facilities in the state over those seven years.1 The implication is that nursing homes are warehousing people.

I know from personal experience that this is a reasonable conclusion, but the problem is more complicated than it sounds. Nursing homes are one part of a system full of holes.

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What’s This Feeling?

Portrait of E. M. Forster by Paul Cadmus

Now we shan’t never be parted.
It’s finished.

— Alec Scudder, from the film

Rob Berg and I released a thirty-year-old song by our band Bachelors Anonymous last week on the the occasion of the Winter Solstice; it also happened to be the birthday of Michael Tilson Thomas, whose work we knew as guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the early 1980s.

“What’s This Feeling?” asks a question that Rob posed to himself, and his affecting account is in the latest post from our BachelorBlog.

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Attica @ 50

Sing Sing Death by Shower

I wrote my first original post here three years ago this month after talking with a comrade at a prison strike support event. In part, that event commemorated the killing of George Jackson and the Attica uprising. During the event my memory went back to composers Steve Reich and Frederic Rzewski and their musical statements of solidarity with the Attica inmates and the defendants from the earlier Harlem “fruit stand” riot of 1964. In the course of conversation I realized I’d outlined the post. See Attica: Coming Together.

This week marks the fiftieth anniversary of Jackson’s murder and the Attica revolt that followed.

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False Flags

Tattered Flag photo

On August 30, 2006, I received a “don’t break the chain” email from a relative, apparently by mistake. Appropriately it had no subject line because it had no substance. Nevertheless its sentimentalism compelled my response. I offer this as a snapshot in time with which to compare the present discourse.

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