Tina Turner was the acid queen of rock and soul. As I wrote when Private Dancer was added to the national registry by the Library of Congress, “She strode onto MTV with her big hair, tiny skirts, and long legs and became a hero to another generation. The small screen beamed the throbbing gristle of her great voice, her been-there-done-that stare, her transcendent wigs, and her ability to do it all backward in heels into millions of living rooms, and everyone from housewives to their preteen children loved her like she had never been loved before.” Thank goddess Tina was finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as her own artist before she left us for the thunderdome. Illustration by Anne Muntges from Women Who Rock.
Category Archives: Uncategorized
RIP Tina Turner
Filed under Uncategorized
John Hamilton McDonnell
I posted the below on my social media accounts on April 26 but never posted it here in my blog.
At the pond behind my father’s house this morning the birds were trading calls, red-winged blackbirds and chickadees and Canadian geese and crows singing a song of John Hamilton McDonnell, whose spirit left this earth last night. Dad loved Lake Nymphaea, on the former Wisconsin farmland on which his wife Judy was raised. He taught me to love nature, among other lessons. He was a man deeply outraged about the inequities of American society and passionate about the role of education in bringing justice and peace. The Beloit College education professor’s bookshelves are full of works by Kozol, Baldwin, Skinner, Malcolm X, Galbraith, Steinbeck. His lineage includes the many students he trained to pass on lessons of civic engagement to their students, and so on.
Dad passed peacefully after eight years of the ravages of Alzheimer’s. I’m so grateful my brothers Brett and Paul and I were able to be here before he transitioned.
You can read his obituary here.
Happy Mother’s Day
When my dad was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016, he was lucky to have this woman by his side. Judy took care of him as long as she could, until the professionals told her it was time to let them take over. She still came to see him, bringing his beloved poodle and ice cream to his nursing home, until the pandemic shut her out. When she finally got back in to see her husband of 30 years, she fed him like a baby. When he got upset, she would kiss him on his balding head and whisper in his ear, “Hi John it’s me, Judy, your wife.” Dad would calm down. In his last moments in this sphere, this woman was by his side.
In the first days after Dad’s death, Judy and I went out for fish fry and pie. Driving through Wisconsin farm land, we talked about Dad. The seven year anniversary of Mom’s death was approaching. I was now an orphan, a parentless child, I said. “You have me,” this woman said.
I have Judy. And I have Bettie, my husband’s mom. Happy Mother’s Day to Judy and Bettie, and to all the mothers out there, by birth and by choice.
Rock & Roll Hall of Lame?
CORRECTION NOTE: We missed one woman in our original count; this blog has been updated accordingly. The correction did not change the overall projections. I worry that my readers are tired of hearing me complain about a certain Cleveland institution. I know I am wearied by complaining. So this year, I thought that I would pass the mic to my research assistant, Tyler Roland. My LMU student assistants help me crunch the numbers every year. This time Tyler–a guitar player, music lover, and writer himself–also throws down some words. According to our calculations, women–including Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow, and Cyndi Lauper–make up a paltry, not-even-token 14.63 percent of this year’s nominated individuals. People of color account for 34.15 percent. The only thing that I would add to Tyler’s argument is that I am thrilled and relieved that Missy Elliott is on the list (and also personally excited about Joy Division/New Order.) If Elliott doesn’t get inducted, well, then you will all be getting quite the earful from me in a few months.
The Rock & Roll Hall of
Lame Fame has once again proven their inept handling of the rock and roll genre with their announcement of nominees for this year. Just a quick glance at the list (and inductees from years past – take just a year ago, for instance) reveals just how seismic the shift is needed in annual inductions for there to be even a meaningful number of POC and, especially, women, in their ranks. Women that are POC? Forget it – this year, out of the 41 nominations, one is a black woman – Missy Elliott. That’s 2.44%. Please.
Further stats make for further depressive reading. Iron Maiden’s a great group, but do we really need all nine of its white guys in the hall? I suppose there’s some BS technicality that lets that happen, but they alone make up 21.95% of the potential class.
I hear you begging for the best-case scenarios. What if only the women got in, and no acts with any male presence got the nod? Well…
The hall overall would turn 8.93% feminine. As it stands, the hall is 8.56% female. Again – a seismic, Richter-level shift is needed to get the hall into some more respectable territory. An RRHOF with 20 or 25% women just ain’t happening.
The situation is a little better with POC, but that is saying little. We’ll play the what-if game with only acts featuring POC. The Rock Hall is currently 31.79% nonwhite. The same logic we used earlier would mean the hall would turn a whopping 32.76% nonwhite. Still shameful.
The above scenario would also mean that the Rock Hall would remain mostly women-free, with the 2023 class making it 8.57% women. If only feminine acts got in this year, the hall would be 32.03% POC.
So, the Schlock and Bull Hall of…okay, you get it. Though some decent acts could be getting the shout-out they deserve in 2023 (see: Kate Bush, A Tribe Called Quest), the whole establishment, like the GRAMMYs, is still far from representing quality music, and the artists that produce it, as a whole. Crank up those acts that deserve more respect from a tired, old, pale-as-a-sheet corporation in Cleveland…that means more than this place ever will. — Tyler Roland
Filed under Rock Hall, Uncategorized
P22 is dead, long live his impact
At the celebration for the late catamount P22 at the Greek Theatre on Saturday, tribal elder Alan Salazar spoke about how his people – the Chumash and Tataviam – divide themselves into different animal clans. Since I can remember, I have felt myself to be a member of the mountain lion clan. As a child, I read and watched everything I could about the mysterious, majestic “ghost cats,” with their tawny fur, striking Gen X-worthy facial hair, silent stealth, deadly strength, and ridiculously cute spotted kittens. I even started my own novel about one (the first of too many unfinished manuscripts to come). I had feline fever in general – the cat child to grow up into the cat lady. But I was particularly drawn to pumas, in part because they are the only big cat found in multiple areas of the United States, but mostly because one of the places they have long thrived is California. I am a third-generation Cali girl who was abducted by my parents and relocated to a small Midwestern town when I was just four years old. Panthers were my people; I went to the library and visited them in books.
It took me four decades to come back home. Just a few years after my return, LA welcomed another new resident, this one with a Los Angeles Times front-page story: a mountain lion rather dorkily named P22. The P stood for puma, one of the many names given to Puma concolor. The number indicated his ranking in a study of his breed taking place in the Santa Monica Mountains. Except this handsome fellow wasn’t with the rest of his kind in the hills between the San Fernando Valley and the Pacific Ocean: He was in the middle of Griffith Park.
Over the next 10 years P22 became a cause celebre and a celebrity. Instead of freaking out about an apex predator in their midst, Angelenos rallied around this cat of mystery who somehow snuck through suburbs and across multilane interstates and past In-N-Out Burgers to shack up in a park that’s ample for humans but litter-box-sized for a big cat. Amazingly, for a decade, he sustained himself on park deer and the occasional house pet and koala – a long life for a cougar. The world rallied around P22. He became the poster kitty for the preservation of this imperiled population of pumas, his image used to raise funds for the biggest wildlife crossing in the world, now being built across Highway 101.
Like so many of us, I watched all the stories about his sightings and misadventures, his sickness and his chihuahua snacks. I even got to write one of those stories, for LMU Magazine, interviewing Beth Pratt – the National Wildlife Federation organizer and writer who has led the efforts to create the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, and Jeff Sikich, one of the NPS rangers leading the study that gave P22 his moniker.
I knew that at 12 years old, P22 had probably lived out eight of his nine lives. So I wasn’t shocked in December when he was found in a back yard in Los Feliz, injured from a car crash, emaciated, dying. Still, I cried when I heard he was euthanized. And I wept a couple times yesterday, at the celebration in the park that was his home.
The sold-out event featured speeches from Pratt, Sikich, and many of the scientists, activists, artists, citizens, politicians and schoolchildren who loved him, including the musician Diplo, representatives Adam Schiff and Ted Lieu, and actors Rainn Wilson and Julia Butters. It was so LA. And I loved it. With people – okay, mostly women – dressed in cat ears and tails, I felt a little like I was at Cougar ComiCon. Like I had found my clan.
Sure the event was sappy, goofy, long. Exhibit A: The descendants of the Tokens played their hit “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” But the overall message was important and timely. As Sikich said, this wasn’t just a memorial for a Hollywood star: it was a “celebration of coexistence.” That was the theme sounded over and over, that there is no such thing as wild, as one speaker remarked; “it’s all home.” As Salazar said, we have to move from a policy of extermination to a “policy of living in harmony.”
Cougars have always symbolized the place of my birth to me, but I would never have imagined that one would become the most famous animal since Lassie, as P22 was called, in the years of my homecoming. The king of Griffith Park is dead, but long live the mark he made on the world – including an in-progress safe passage for his kin and other animals, and a changed understanding of human’s relationship to our fellow animals.
Filed under Uncategorized, Wild Things
RIP the mountain lion king
He was a handsome, mysterious, Hollywood recluse who kept mostly to himself except sometimes at night, when Ring alerts would warn that he was lurking in driveways. He was a loner by force, maybe by choice. He was a bit of a bad boy, probably dining on koala at the Los Angeles Zoo one night, definitely making off with a pet chihuahua recently. P22, the world’s most famous mountain lion, was a magnificent animal. When I heard that he had been euthanized today, I wept.
I wrote about my lifelong infatuation with panthers a couple years ago for LMU Magazine. P22 was the poster boy for the endangered Santa Monica Mountains population. He was the rare Hollywood political beast who effected real change: The saga of his voyage to and isolated plight in Griffith Park captivated people around the globe. Because of him, and the tireless advocacy of people like Beth Pratt at Save LA Cougars and biologists Jeff Sikich and Seth Riley, the world’s biggest wildlife crossing is currently being built across Highway 101. It will hopefully not only prevent animals from being hit as they cross this dangerous roadway; most importantly, it will offer a connection between the animals that are stranded on the west side of the 101 — and are facing extinction through in-breeding — with the larger, healthier population to the north and east.
Pratt wrote a moving eulogy to the animal she dubbed “the Brad Pitt of the cougar world”; you can read it here. As she says, P22 taught us how wild animals and humans can coexist — until he was hit by a car, that is. Injuries sustained from that and a series of other ailments forced his caretakers to make the heartbreaking decision to put him down. He lived an unusually long life for a puma: 12 years. But that he lost his life in part because of a moving vehicle is especially tragic — and so LA.
Hopefully his heritage will not just be his individual fame, but a recognition of the magnificence of all these American felines — and of their vulnerability. Goodbye P22. Pass gently over the rainbow bridge, and apologize to the koala and chihuahua!
Filed under Evelyn's articles, Uncategorized, Wild Things
Rock Hall: How about a little bit of ladies first?
My research assistant, Maude Bascome-Duong, and I finally had some time to crunch the numbers on the Rock & Roll Hall Hall of Fame nominations for 2022 and the results are mixed. While I applaud the nominating committee for putting Dolly Parton, the Eurythmics, Dionne Warwick, Kate Bush, Carly Simon and Pat Benatar on the ballot, numbers wise, the selection field still skews predominantly male.
More than a third of the acts have female members, and all of those six acts have their women front and center. Not bad! But when you look at the total number of potential inductees, women account for only 12.77% of the nominees. (This is the more important number, because every living inductee gets a vote.) Yes this is higher than the current percentage of women already inducted into the Hall of Fame, but we need an infusion of women to be inducted to get their total percentage into the double digits. As I’ve argued before, this can only happen if the Hall of Fame inducts more female groups. We need the six women of Fanny to be inducted to begin to balance out the four men of Rage Against the Machine. The nominating committee seems to have a particular allergy to all female acts: Once again there are none on this year’s ballot. Fear of a female planet?
The other most egregious omission is any female rapper. The fact that Eminem has been nominated before Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, and Roxanne Shante is shameful.
The nominees are also more than 80% white. I repeat: The fact that Eminem has been nominated before Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, and Roxanne Shante is shameful.
Here are four acts that better be on next year’s ballot or I’m calling for a Lysistrata: Salt-N-Pepa, TLC, Labelle, and Fanny. Also for goddess’s sake, induct Big Mama Thorton as an early influencer this year. In Janet Jackson’s immortal words: Induct more women.