# Music

Seeking accord, from "Oseh Shalom" to "Oprosti Ya Rabb"

Herb Strentz was dean of the Drake School of Journalism from 1975 to 1988 and professor there until retirement in 2004. He was executive secretary of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council from its founding in 1976 to 2000.

A program for the Sunday before election day offered “Songs of Gratitude” at an Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration. Perhaps the subtle theme suggested giving thanks instead of lying about the other candidate.

Regardless of intent, I thought the program could provide some “Pre-Traumatic Stress Relief” to offset the “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” that loomed in the aftermath of the midterm elections.

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No More Liberals!

A modest proposal. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Ok. Let’s rid the country of liberals. I read a conservative post that said that “liberalism is a disease.” Others chimed in and made it clear that liberals are “destroying America” that they are “stupid” and “don’t live in reality.”

So. Let’s deport them. That seems like an up and running directive these days for “undesirables.” Let’s get rid of all of the liberals. I know that I am sealing my own fate as the scarlet “L” emblazoned across my chest will surely reveal me, but I am willing to accept this exile. If we are, in fact, sick, stupid and diseased, I don’t want to be part of what is bringing down America. I love this country that much.

Let’s not worry at the moment about where the liberals will be sent, they (we) might be lost without government handouts, but there’s enough Hollywood money to buy half of Australia since that continent has been designated a terrorist waystation. Suffice to say that America will be populated entirely by the conservatives who, after all, have always been the true Patriots. I mean, unless, of course, you are considering the original conservatives who wanted to reconcile with King George, but I digress…

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Weekend open thread: Exposing abuse edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

The Pulitzer Prizes announced this week recognized some powerful reporting on the misuse of power. The Associated Press won the public service award for “an investigation of severe labor abuses tied to the supply of seafood to American supermarkets and restaurants, reporting that freed 2,000 slaves, brought perpetrators to justice and inspired reforms.” Margie Mason, Robin McDowell, Martha Mendoza, and Esther Htusan contributed to this incredible investigative work; the whole series is available here.

The Washington Post won the Pulitzer’s national reporting category for its “revelatory initiative in creating and using a national database to illustrate how often and why the police shoot to kill and who the victims are most likely to be.” The database is available here; reporters who contributed to this work include Kimberly Kindy, Wesley Lowery, Keith L. Alexander, Kimbriell Kelly, Sandhya Somashekhar, Julie Tate, Amy Brittain, Marc Fisher, Scott Higham, Derek Hawkins, and Jennifer Jenkins. In one of the articles for this series, Kindy and Tate explored the common practice of police departments withholding video footage of fatal shootings, using the January 2015 death of Autumn Steele in Burlington, Iowa as the touchpoint.

The Pulitzer for explanatory reporting went to T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project “for a startling examination and exposé of law enforcement’s enduring failures to investigate reports of rape properly and to comprehend the traumatic effects on its victims.” An Unbelievable Story of Rape was a stunning and depressing piece.

Speaking of stunning and depressing, previously unreported abuses of teenagers at the now-closed Midwest Academy boarding school came to light earlier this year. Several former students spoke to Ryan Foley of the Associated Press about being kept in isolation boxes for days or weeks at a time. (Isolation is particularly harmful to developing adolescent brains.) The Des Moines Register’s Lee Rood reported on approximately 80 law enforcement calls to the facility in Keokuk during the last three years the school was open. Abusive practices by staff went back more than a decade, though.

No state agency had ever inspected the Midwest Academy, prompting calls for the Iowa legislature to prevent future problems at unregulated schools. The Iowa Senate unanimously approved a bill setting out certification and inspection standards for boarding schools. House Republicans amended Senate File 2304 before approving it in the lower chamber, making “some exemptions for religious facilities.” The Senate refused to concur in the House amendment, and on a mostly party-line vote, the House rejected the Senate version. The school oversight bill now goes to a conference committee. I hope lawmakers will work out a deal before adjourning, but this legislation is not a must-pass bill like the health and human services budget (currently hung up over disagreements on Medicaid oversight and Planned Parenthood funding).

Alleged verbal abuse by Iowa State University women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly was among the actions that inspired a discrimination lawsuit by former star player Nikki Moody. The AP’s Luke Meredith and Ryan Foley broke news about that lawsuit on April 18. After the jump I’ve enclosed excerpts from their report and some reaction, but I highly recommend reading the plaintiff’s jaw-dropping twelve-page court filing. Looking through some Cyclone fan board threads about the lawsuit, I was struck by two contradictory lines of argument from the coach’s defenders: Moody is lying, because this or that former player says Fen was always supportive and would never behave that way; or alternatively, Moody is lying, because Fen is tough on all his players, not just the black ones. Cheyenne Shepherd, an unheralded player for ISU during the 1990s, provided strong support for Moody in a guest column for the Des Moines Register about her experience as one of Fennelly’s “non-favorites.” Retired ISU journalism professor Dick Haws discussed the “not-very-well-hidden secret” of how Fennelly berates and humiliates some of his players. Gavin Aronsen asked at Iowa Informer whether the lawsuit is “A Symptom of Broader Diversity Problems at ISU.”

Since Thursday, I’ve been reading reflections on the life and work of Prince. I remembered his exceptional creativity, charisma, and talent as a songwriter (for many other artists as well as for himself), but I didn’t realize how highly regarded he was as a guitarist. His solo during this performance of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was mesmerizing. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top described Prince’s “sensational” guitar playing in an interview with the Washington Post: “Even today, I’m struggling to try and emulate that guitar introduction to ‘When Doves Cry.’ It’s just a testament to his extraordinary technique.” The whole “Purple Rain” album brings back strong high school memories for me, especially “When Doves Cry.” Prince’s biggest fan in the Iowa blogosphere was John Deeth, easily recognized at political events by his raspberry beret. Deeth reflected on what the music meant to him here.

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Weekend open thread, with Christmas links

Peace symbol wreath

Merry Christmas to all in the Bleeding Heartland community who are celebrating today. After unseasonably warm weather for most of December, snow arrived in time to produce a white Christmas for many Iowans. We didn’t get enough accumulation for sledding in central Iowa, but the trees look lovely. This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

The Des Moines Register ran this version of the Christmas story from the New King James Bible on the front page of today’s Iowa Life section. The date that Jesus was born remains unknown; Andrew McGowan offers one historical perspective on how December 25 came to be celebrated as Christmas. Also unknown are the number of wise men (not identified as kings in scripture) who reportedly came to look for the baby just born. The nature of the star of Bethlehem has been a hot topic of debate among religious historians. Apparently it was not Venus, Halley’s comet, a supernova, a meteor, or Uranus. Kenneth Bailey’s discussion of the manger and the inn is worth a read. In his view, the birthplace of Jesus was likely a private home, which may have been in a cave.

After the jump I’ve enclosed the video of Mike Huckabee’s famous “floating cross” Christmas-themed television commercial, which aired soon after he became the Republican front-runner for the 2008 Iowa caucuses. When Huckabee launched his second presidential campaign, I didn’t see him winning the Iowa caucuses again, but I expected him to retain a solid chunk of social conservative supporters, having retained high name recognition as a Fox News network show for years. I never thought we’d see Huckabee languishing below 3 percent in the Iowa polling average, below 2 percent in the South Carolina polling average, off the stage for prime-time debates, and reducing staff salaries for lack of money.

My family doesn’t celebrate Christian holidays, but we did enjoy noodle kugel last night while listening to the Klezmonauts’ “Oy to the World,” the only Christmas music we own and to my knowledge, the only collection of Christmas songs done in the klezmer style. If you love “Jewish jazz” and holiday music, I also recommend the Klezmatics album “Woody Guthrie’s Happy Joyous Hanukkah.” It’s true, the legendary American folk singer wrote lots of Chanukah-themed lyrics. Members of the Klezmatics set Guthrie’s words to new music.

Final note: The peace wreath image at the top of this post originally appeared at the Paint Me Plaid website. The peace symbol first became popular in this country during protests against the Vietnam War, but like so many of our political traditions, it has roots in the United Kingdom–in this case, from the 1950s British anti-nuclear movement.

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Weekend open thread: "The Lost Girls" edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Jason Cherkis’s investigative piece for the Huffington Post, “The Lost Girls,” went viral instantly and has struck a chord with many women I know. Cherkis tells the story of Jackie Fox (real name Jackie Fuchs), the bass player for the all-girl band The Runaways. I literally knew nothing about the group before reading this piece, not even that it launched Joan Jett’s career. The focus of “The Lost Girls” is manager Kim Fowley’s horrific rape of a drugged Fox, then 16 years old, in front of her bandmates and others associated with The Runaways. Cherkis spoke with Jessica Hopper about the challenges of researching and writing Jackie’s story. Evelyn McDonnell, author of a book about The Runaways, assesses the journalist’s conduct critically here.

A thread running through “The Lost Girls” is current understanding of the “bystander effect.” Why do multiple witnesses to a crime sometimes do nothing, and how do they process the event later? If Cherkis’ reporting is accurate, some people who witnessed Jackie’s rape were shattered by what happened in that room. But according to the woman who later played bass in the group, other band members had a “running joke” about what Fowley had done to Jackie. This open letter to Jett from Hether Fortune of Wax Idols echoed a lot of my feelings after reading the article. It’s easy to understand why no one in the band spoke up for Jackie at the time. Fowley had near-total control over their future careers. The way he brutalized Jackie sent a strong message to the other Runaways: you could be next in line, and no one will protect you. But how disappointing, nearly 40 years later, for Jett to pretend (through a representative) that she didn’t know about the rape. How much would it cost her to express regret for what Jackie went through and remorse about her bystander role?

Judging by numerous threads I’ve read on social media, “The Lost Girls” has prompted many women to reflect on disturbing events we experienced or observed as teenagers–not only crimes, but also consensual relationships that now stand out as an abuse of power by an authority figure.  

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Weekend open thread: Winter Olympics, British invasion

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? I'm excited about the Winter Olympics starting, despite NBC's horrible coverage. (In some countries, television networks allow viewers to watch entire Olympic events from start to finish without commercial interruptions, and you can see all the competitors rather than the handful contending for medals.) The opening ceremony was spectacular, especially the holographic projections such as Peter the Great's ship. I only wish NBC hadn't repeatedly cut to a shot of Russian President Vladimir Putin's smug face.

February 7 marked 50 years since the Beatles arrived in the U.S., and February 9 marks 50 years since their first live performance on the Ed Sullivan Show, the highest-rated television program of all time. When I haven't been watching the Olympics, I've enjoyed listening to the Des Moines oldies station KIOA, which is playing wall to wall Beatles songs all weekend long. After the jump I've posted a few links about the Beatles in America and the British invasion. This is an open thread.

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