Saturday, November 18, 2006

End of an Era

Yesterday's few moments of cerebral ease were spent contemplating the demise, as of this coming New Year's Eve, of Danny's, which has seen fit to allow me to sing an occasional parody, largely because, at Danny's, Anything Goes in the song department.

My regular readers, if any, know that I've contributed a series of ads for Danny's do's at Hallowe'en, New Year's Eve, St. Patrick's Day and so on (I'm too lazy to link 'em). I'd hoped the ads might have served for years to come. All that work (say, fifteen minutes' worth) for nothing! Still, I thought a swan song might be in order, and Hello, Dolly! came to mind:

Farewell, Danny's!
It's been swell, Danny's,
But we've read the ol' handwriting on the wall.
It's time to close, Danny's;
Goodness knows, Danny's,
It's for certain
That we're hurtin'
At your curtain call.

But Jerry Scott's playin',
So I'm not sayin'
That the Dear Old Gang won't ever meet again—
We'll pull through, fellas;
Rendezvous somewhere new, fellas;
Nevertheless, we'll say, "Remember when—?"

* * * *

But Jerry Scott's playin',
So I'm not sayin'
That the Dear Old Gang won't ever meet again—
Here's the trend, fellas:
Ev'rything's got to end, fellas.
But, if we part, we part pro tem;
One of these days, at 2 a.m.,
Sitting around, we'll say, "Remember when—?"

Lyric © Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

I regret the -em/-en rhymes at the end; at this point, the rhymes ought to contrast sharply, as do the original -ay/-en rhymes. But I couldn't see how to avoid Remember when. And Here's the trend may be a little too flippant for the general mood of the piece. Ah, well; I've got six weeks to work on it.

Friday, November 17, 2006


The Nyok Times reports that the Dutch are debating whether to ban burkas "as a grave security threat," out of fear that terrorists might use them to conceal their identities and their arms. According to Mr. Crouch (he's doing the reporting), "The Dutch discussion is part of a larger European debate about how far governments can go in legislating what people — and specifically Muslim women and girls — can and cannot wear." Oh, yeah? Sez you, Mr. Crouch!

The "larger debate" is liberty, pure and simple.

In our lifetimes, a grand transformation has occurred in the understanding of liberty. The law, it was once commonly believed, forbade the immoral act, such as theft and murder; encouraged the moral one, like giving alms; and condoned what was neither—for example, wearing burkas, an activity that, however silly, cannot possibly do any harm, in this life or in the next. The law's laissez-faire attitude toward neutral actions gave us broad liberties, because most actions are neutral. If someone wanted to wear burkas, or visit Independence Hall, or take shampoo on a flight to Los Angeles, he was perfectly free to do so. If someone wanted to take shampoo on a flight to Los Angeles and forcefeed it to the passenger in the next seat, he was, of course, liable to prosecution for assault. But the evil in that case was assault, not the transportation of toiletries across state lines for hygienic purposes.

Today, the law has undertaken to classify every human action as either moral or immoral, and to legislate accordingly. This is done not to detect crime and punish the criminals, but to prevent crime before it happens. The law now trades liberty for security; and we all know what a wise man once said about that sort of exchange. We will soon be told that we either mustn't, or must, do everything under the sun. And that will be the end of liberty as those quaint young men in the quaint little wigs imagined it. Incidentally, it will also destroy our moral fibre: to forbid a neutral act effectively, the government must call it evil. Commandments not to eat trans fats or to smoke now cheapen the Decalogue. Ask anyone today which is more shocking: that President Clinton repeatedly swore falsely against Paula Jones, or that someone recently smoked in a restaurant? How many, do you suppose, now believe that a little second-hand smoke is more dangerous than corruption in the halls of justice?

So when the Dutch, or Europe generally, debates what Muslim women and girls can and cannot wear, there's more at stake than whether to honor the observance of some picayune Persian pilpul. The issue is whether millions must forfeit a liberty, because some handful may abuse it. If they must, then we must be prepared to forfeit every other liberty; for the analysis applies across the board. Virtually no morally neutral act cannot be made to further the purposes of an immoral one.

But what about security? some will cry. Well, what about it? Indeed, what the hell about it? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Did you absorb nothing in those elementary history classes?

It shouldn't surprise us that Islam takes a dim view of Westernization, if these are its fruits. It also shouldn't surprise us that the "Islamo-fascists," whatever the hell that means, are confident of ultimate victory; we're hellbent on handing it to 'em on a silver platter.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Christmastime Is Here, By Golly

Ron, my DAMP, suggested to me yesterday that I try to shoehorn the word secular into a new version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. I politely told him that it can't be did. Today a song did occur to me where it fitted: Livingston and Evans's Silver Bells. Here, then, is the roughest of rough drafts, particularly the last three lines:

From November
To December
Comes a season of mist:
It’s that Old-Fashioned Secular Christmas.
Tony Danza
Doing Kwănzaa
With a Japanese twist—
As peculiar as that may appear.

Screwing up Yule with a vengeance.
Hear me sing,
“Gimme spring!
Make Christmastime go away!”

Lyric © 2006 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Needs a second verse and chorus, of course, but that will come.

Later in the day, I was folding laundry, when I ran across a pair of sweat pants that I'd never laid eyes on before. They were green, with a large picture of Oscar the Grouch on them. I asked The Kid, "Whence the trousers?" She had borrowed them, she said, from a friend. I muttered that it was a bit thick, expecting me to do Friend's laundry for her, and added that I thought Friend was a little too old for Oscar the Grouch, in any case. "No, Daddy," the Young Idea replied, "You're never too old for Oscar the Grouch." That, Dear Reader, is what we in the biz call a Song Cue:

You can get too big for riding a trike
Or training wheels attached to your bike;
You can get too big for Mama's old pouch,
But you're never too big for Oscar the Grouch.

You can outgrow cute pajamas with feet,
And baby food you no longer eat;
You can grow so tall that (sometimes) you crouch,
But you're never too grown for Oscar the Grouch.

When you're all grown up, you won't need a sitter;
You'll drink strong tea and not think it bitter;
When you take that shot
In a tender spot,
You'll never, ever say ouch.

You can be too old for dinner at 6:00
And building things with popsicle sticks;
But you'd best go find a psychiatrist's couch,
If you're ever too old for Oscar the Grouch.

Lyric © 2006 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

And, if you're wondering what tune to sing that to, don't ask me. For that, Best Beloved, is the very first lyric ever written by yours truly for which the music has yet to be composed.

So make up your own.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thankee Kindly, Neighbor

It's nine o'clock on a Saturday, and I'm stuck at the office again. But before I get down to doing the work that needs to be done but that can't be done during business hours because of the tireless interference of my boss, Cap'n Queeg, I must bung down the latest ditty.

From the moment I rose this morning, I knew I'd be bizzy, bizzy, bizzy, as Billy De Wolfe used to say. So when my next-door neighbor called this morning and offered me three free tickets to the revival of A Chorus Line, I had to decline. The agenda simply wouldn't permit it.

He was sorry, he said, because my daughter and I might have had "fun." In my courteous way, I refrained from pointing out that A Chorus Line is the Abie's Irish Rose of my generation: no worse than a bad cold, as someone said of the latter (Harpo, was it?), but perennially popular with ticket-buyers. I've only seen bits of A Chorus Line, mind you; but of all the self-important, self-indulgent, self-pitying, self-obsessed, self-congratulatory piles of masturbatory crap—!!

(That sentence doesn't make much sense, does it? And yet it does.)

One thing that drives me right up the wall is that lyric in One: For the girl is second-best to none. What in hell does that mean? Either she's not second-best, or she's second to none. But second-best to none?!

I may vomit.

So, naturally, One rattled around in my head all day. The song clings to the brain like the theme to Jeopardy! And, bit by bit, words began to form . . .

(Not that I'm against it;
Everybody needs a break)—
After you've condensed it,
How much dam' fun can you take?!
Three times you sit through A Chorus Line:
Boom. Boom. Boom.
(You know, it technic'lly ought to be
Acted out in lockstep
Turns me to a malcontent—
Someone tell me where I rent
A stun gun.
Either one is peachy.
Gents, my
Sympathy's with Nietzsche:

Lyric © 2006 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Yeah, I know: Rent/Gents is sloppy. But the thought flowed from Someone and wouldn't be denied.
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