Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Message



The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language was created and translated by Eugene H. Peterson and published in segments from 1993 to 2002. It is an idiomatic translation of the original languages of the Bible.  According to the Introduction to the New Testament of The Message, its “contemporary idiom keeps the language of the Message (Bible) current and fresh and understandable”. Peterson notes that in the course of the project, he realized this was exactly what he had been doing in his thirty-five years as a pastor, “always looking for an English way to make the biblical text relevant to the conditions of the people.”

While The Message (MSG) at times may be too idiomatic, below is the translation of the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5-7

You’re Blessed

5 1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Salt and Light

13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Completing God’s Law

17-18 “Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.

19-20 “Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.

Murder

21-22 “You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.

23-24 “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.

25-26 “Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.

Adultery and Divorce

27-28 “You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.

29-30 “Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump.

31-32 “Remember the Scripture that says, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights’? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are ‘legal.’ Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you’re responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you’re automatically an adulterer yourself. You can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure.

Empty Promises

33-37 “And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.

Love Your Enemies

38-42 “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

The World Is Not a Stage

6 “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.

2-4 “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

Pray with Simplicity

5 “And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

7-13 “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
    as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
    Yes. Yes. Yes.

14-15 “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.

16-18 “When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.

A Life of God-Worship

19-21 “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

22-23 “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

24 “You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.

25-26 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

27-29 “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

A Simple Guide for Behavior

7 1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

6 “Don’t be flip with the sacred. Banter and silliness give no honor to God. Don’t reduce holy mysteries to slogans. In trying to be relevant, you’re only being cute and inviting sacrilege.

7-11 “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?

12 “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.

Being and Doing

13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

15-20 “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.

21-23 “Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’

24-25 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

26-27 “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

28-29 When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Pictures



I need to get out my real camera and take some good pictures of Isabella. I'll try and do that this weekend. My iPhone doesn't take really great pictures and I'd like a few really nice pictures. Plus I want to document her growing up. She's so tiny right now. She nearly fits in the palm of my hand.

Honestly, I had nothing to blog about today. I still had a headache last night, and I didn't feel like thinking too much. I do think the picture above is really cute.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Blogging with a Kitten



Blogging with a kitten on your arm is particularly difficult, but blogging with a massive headache is nearly impossible. I took yesterday off from work to be with Isabella, and we played and played until I got a headache, then we napped. I woke up to her between my legs and chasing her tail.

This is a short post because I still have a headache.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Curiosity



My mama used to say, "Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought her back." There is so much for little Isabella to explore and be curious about, and she is doing her best to figure it all out. Last night, she became fascinated with her tail. It provided endless entertainment for her and for me. She definitely has the curiosity down pat.

She's a curious one for me too. I've only known her for a few days, so we don't communicate very well yet. HRH and I had our communication down pat. We knew what the other was thinking and we'd often talk to one another. Right now, I think there are four things on her mind: most of all food, food, food; then play, play, play; potty, potty, potty; and least of all, sleep, sleep, sleep.

She constantly tries to find where on me to nurse, thus the food, food, food. When she's not trying to nurse, she wants to play, play, play. The potty needs come in only when I'm not looking, but that's obviously an important part of her day. Sleep is less so. She will nap for an hour or two at a time, but then she's right back to play, play, play. This includes all hours of the day and night,

I am taking today off. I'm hoping that a day of play will help her sleep through the night and quit waking me up so much. As I'm writing this, she is sound asleep on my belly, which makes this hard to type, thank goodness for my iPad.  I think the chasing her tail tired her out.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Y.M.C.A.


Y.M.C.A.
The Village People

Young man, there's no need to feel down.
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.
I said, young man, 'cause you're in a new town
There's no need to be unhappy.

Young man, there's a place you can go.
I said, young man, when you're short on your dough.
You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time.

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

They have everything for you men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys...

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal,
You can do whatever you feel...

Young man, are you listening to me?
I said, young man, what do you want to be?
I said, young man, you can make real your dreams.
But you got to know this one thing!

No man does it all by himself.
I said, young man, put your pride on the shelf,
And just go there, to the Y.M.C.A.
I'm sure they can help you today.

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

They have everything for you men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys...

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal,
You can do whatever you feel...

Young man, I was once in your shoes.
I said, I was down and out with the blues.
I felt no man cared if I were alive.
I felt the whole world was so jive...

That's when someone came up to me,
And said, young man, take a walk up the street.
There's a place there called the Y.M.C.A.
They can start you back on your way.

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

They have everything for you men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys...

Y.M.C.A...you'll find it at the Y.M.C.A.

Young man, young man, there's no need to feel down.
Young man, young man, get yourself off the ground.

Y.M.C.A...you'll find it at the Y.M.C.A.

Young man, young man, there's no need to feel down.
Young man, young man, get yourself off the ground.

Y.M.C.A...just go to the Y.M.C.A.

Young man, young man, are you listening to me?
Young man, young man, what do you wanna be?

Y.M.C.A.” (An Oral History)

America's favorite ballpark sing-along is actually (gasp!) a disco anthem about gay sex. Or is it? On the 30th anniversary of the Village People smash, we get the full story from the folks who know best: the cowboy, the construction worker...

Jeff Pearlman // May 27, 2008

Henri Belolo (music producer, from a 2000 interview with disco-disco.com): [In 1975] I was talking to the gay community about what they liked, what they wanted to listen to musically, and what was their dream, their fantasy. One day [producer Jacques Morali and I] were walking in the streets of New York. I remember clearly it was down in the Village, and we saw an Indian walking down the street and heard the bells on his feet. We followed him into a bar.He was a bartender — he was serving and also dancing on the bar. And while we were watching him dancing and sipping our beer, we saw a cowboy watching him dance. And Jacques and I suddenly had the same idea. We said, “My God, look at those characters. “So we started to fantasize about what were the characters of America.The mix, you know, of the American man…And we named it the Village People.

The pair placed an ad that called for MACHO TYPES WITH MUSTACHE, eventually filling the roles of cowboy, cop, construction worker, soldier, leather-clad biker, and Indian. David Hodo, a 28-year-old struggling singer and actor, responded immediately.

David Hodo:I had just finished a musical about the Grand Ole Opry, and I had a mustache. It was Christmastime, and I needed money. They wanted a cowboy, and I had just finished a western — perfect. But when they said they wanted me to be the construction worker, that was my dad’s dream come true. I’m handy, but I’ve never built anything of consequence.

Victor Willis, who had starred in one of the original productions of The Wiz, would be the lead singer, a cop. A toll collector named Glenn Hughes was the leatherman. Alex Briley originally dressed as a sailor (but switched to a Navy ensign’s uniform when performing the group’s 1979’s hit “In the Navy”). Dancer Felipe Rose, born to a Lakota Sioux father, was, naturally, the Indian. Randy Jones, a singer raised on a North Carolina farm, became the cowboy.

Morali had sold hit-churning label Casablanca (home to Donna Summer and Kiss) on the concept of this boy band even before the roles were cast. The group’s first album, 1977’s Village People, featured the disco hit “San Francisco (You’ve Got Me). “The title track of the following year’s Macho Man debuted (and peaked) at No. 25 on the charts but later became a gay touchstone.

Randy Jones: Something just clicked with us. We had that spark. Victor was a terrific singer: He had the style of Teddy Pendergrass. He was married to Phylicia Rashad. But we didn’t start as a gay group, and not everyone in the group was gay — that’s an incorrect notion. So much of our music was played in black, Latin, and gay underground clubs; that’s’ where the first Village People album found its initial audience.

Hodo: It was 1977, and we were leaving a photography session on 23rd Street. Jacques Morali saw the big pink YMCA on 23rd and asked, “What is this YMCA, anyway? “And after laughing at his accent, we told him the Y was a place where you could go when you first came to New York when you didn’t have any money — you can stay there for very little. And of course, someone joked, “Yeah, but don’t bend over in the showers. “And Jacques, bless his heart, said, “I will write a song about this!”

Jones: David’s a little off. Yeah, Jacques came up with the idea. But what happened is that when I moved to New York in 1975, I joined the McBurney YMCA on 23rd Street. I took Jacques there three or four times in 1977, and he loved it. He was fascinated by a place where a person could work out with weights, play basketball, swim, take classes, and get a room. Plus, with Jacques being gay, I had a lot of friends I worked out with who were in the adult-film industry, and he was impressed by meeting people he had seen in the videos and magazines. Those visits with me planted a seed in him, and that’s how he got the idea for “Y.M.C.A.” — by literally going to the YMCA.

Hodo: We had finished our [third] album, Cruisin’, and we needed one more song as a filler. Jacques wrote “Y.M.C.A.” in about 20 minutes — the melody, the chorus, the outline. Then he gave it to Victor Willis and said, “Fill in the rest.” I was a bit skeptical about some of our hits, but the minute I heard “Y.M.C.A.,” I knew we had something special. Because it sounded like a commercial. And everyone likes commercials.

Jones: It was not intended as a gay anthem. Do you have the lyrics in front of you? There’s nothing gay about them. I think Victor wrote the words, but it’s all a big fucking mystery. The guy who really deserves the credit is Horace Ott, who arranged the horns and strings. Jacques had the ideas, but Horace transformed them into songs.

Horace Ott: What I loved about “Y.M.C.A.” was, to be honest, everything. Great beat, great voice with Victor, great timing in the midst of the disco boom. Now, was it a gay song? I don’t know. It certainly appealed to a lot of people who embraced that lifestyle.

Hodo: “Y.M.C.A.” certainly has a gay origin. That’s what Jacques was thinking when he wrote it, because our first album [1977’s Village People] was possibly the gayest album ever. I mean, look at us. We were a gay group. So was the song written to celebrate gay men at the YMCA? Yes. Absolutely. And gay people love it.

Leah Pouw (media relations manager, Young Men’s Christian Association): We at the YMCA celebrate the song. It’s a positive statement about the YMCA and what we offer to people all around the world.

The song’s undeniable, jinglelike hook made it a natural candidate for a single; it debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on November 11, 1978, and peaked 13 weeks later at No. 2. On January 6, 1979, the Village People appeared on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, TV’s biggest pop-music showcase.

Jones: We were flying up from South America for the show, and we worked on the choreography on the airplane — handclaps, turning, marching in place…stuff like that. Well, the audience at this particular taping was a bunch of kids bused in from a cheerleader camp. The first time we got to the chorus, we were clapping our hands above our heads. And the kids thought it looked like we were making a Y. So they automatically did the letters. We saw this and started doing letters with them. It was purely audience-generated, which is probably why it’s still so popular. And that’s great for me, because it keeps the checks coming in every six months.

Hodo: When I saw the movements, I thought, “Wow, that is so stupid.” Then everyone in America started doing it, and I thought, “Wow, that is so brilliant.” It took on a life of its own. The next thing we know, Hideki Saijo has the No. 1 hit in Japan with his ver- sion of “Y.M.C.A.” And we hit No. 2 [in the U.S.]. That’s how it always works. Saijo claimed to have invented the dance, so as soon as we got to Japan, we straightened him out.

“Y.M.C.A.” spent 26 weeks on Billboard’s top 100 (during which time the actual YMCA threatened to sue the band before dropping the lawsuit), but due largely to egos and personality clashes, the Village People quickly crumbled. Willis left the band in 1979, just before they were to start work on the feature film Can’t Stop the Music. He was replaced by Ray Simpson, one of the group’s backup singers and the brother of Ashford & Simpson’s Valerie Simpson. The movie (starring Steve Guttenberg as “Jack Morell” and ex-Olympian Bruce Jenner) bombed, as did the soundtrack album.

Three more studio albums came and went with barely a whimper; Willis returned briefly to contribute to 1982’s Fox on the Box. He also recorded an unreleased solo album and struggled with substance abuse. By the end of ’85, the Village People — who eventually sold a reported 65 million albums — gave up.

Jones: I left for the first time in ’81, when the group went in a different direction. But I kept getting royalties. Then I was the only one doing any kind of performing. [When the group broke up], Glenn was working in a camera store, David was a bartender, Alex was working in an office, Felipe was a secretary. It was sad — these were talented men who were once atop the world and deserved a chance to continue their craft.

The Village People regrouped in 1987, but not to record new material. They were proudly and officially a nostalgia act, available for weddings, bar mitzvahs, and corporate events.

Hodo: Bar mitzvahs used to be our bread and butter, everywhere from the Pierre Hotel to backyards. But we haven’t played one in five or six years, because now the parents grew up in the ’80s, not the ’70s. REO Speedwagon does bar mitzvahs instead of us.

Roger Bennett (coauthor, Bar Mitzvah Disco): “Y.M.C.A.” is the single most important song to hit the Jewish religion since “Hava Nagila.” And paradoxically, not one of the Village People is Jewish. But they did play a critical function, providing a slew of new role models for Jewish youth. We were under such pressure to become bankers, accountants, and lawyers. They opened our eyes to other career possibilities: a cop, a builder, a flamboyant Indian…

In February 1996, five years after Morali’s death from AIDS, a onetime aspiring priest from Tampa, Florida, the son-in-law of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, changed everything.

Joseph Malloy (former general partner, New York Yankees): It was the opening of Legends Field, our spring-training stadium in Tampa, and a couple of the grounds crew guys approached me with the idea of bringing a little excitement to the exhibition games. In the middle of the fifth inning, when they dragged the infield, the guys wanted to do the arm motions to “Y.M.C.A.” I hadn’t heard the song for a long, long time, but the crowd absolutely loved it. I thought, “Hmmm, this might work in New York.”

On April 9, 1996, the Yankees opened at home against the Kansas City Royals. With a driving snowstorm battering players and fans alike, five Yankee Stadium groundskeepers began their customary walk to clean the infield in the middle of the fifth inning. Then, from the speakers, a familiar horn riff and disco beat kicked in.

Juan Gonzalez (from his New York Daily News column, October 29, 1996): They began to dance, strut, and gyrate around second base while they dragged the field. The capacity crowd roared with approving laughter. We all cheered and applauded, and for a moment we all felt a little warmer inside. It was baseball poking fun at itself, reminding us all that this huge, multibillion-dollar, cutthroat business is, after all, about people having a good time.

Molloy: I remember looking at [Yankees] Wade Boggs and Derek Jeter and seeing them swaying to the music. When those grounds crew guys dropped their rakes and performed, you had to watch. From the owner’s box, I would do the Y-M-C-A motions with the crowd. I should have trademarked it.

Michael Musto (columnist, The Village Voice): “Y.M.C.A.” is one of many cultural phenomena that started as a gay in-joke and eventually became stripped of its winkiness and subsumed by the mainstream. Back in the ’70s, the masses did those crazy hand gestures along with the song, truly thinking it was an upbeat number about how nice the Y is, but at least the sophisticated crowd was plugged into the real meaning. The Studio 54 set knew full well the Village People were a campy assortment of gay stereotypes nodding to the gays with coded sexual allusions and macho posturing.

Molloy: “Y.M.C.A.” is about homosexuality? I had no idea until this very moment. Wow! Well, it’s a great song that makes people feel good. That’s what’s important.

Not long after Yankee Stadium made “Y.M.C.A.” a fifth-inning staple (which is still being done 12 seasons later), other teams took notice. Also in ’96, the Oakland Coliseum was undergoing a $200 million renovation. As an A’s batter stood at the plate, trying to concentrate while, say, Randy Johnson unleashed a 97-mph inside fastball, the noise from bulldozers and jackhammers filled the air.

David Rinetti (vice president of stadium operations, Oakland A’s): We wanted to do something cool to make the most of a terrible time. So we dressed two guys up as construction workers and sent them out to the construction site. Then we’d have two of our security guards go out there and pretend to tell them to stop making so much noise. Everyone [in the crowd] believed it — then “Y.M.C.A.” would come on and the four of them would break out into dance. One of our security guards was a guy named Icebox who played in the local roller-derby league. He was a huge man, and when he danced…

Robert “Icebox” Smith (Oakland Coliseum security guard): I tore that place up. The A’s weren’t so hot that year, but we brought that house down every single night. It was magical. We were on ESPN for weeks. It was a gay song?

Fans ate it up — some even came dressed as the characters. Teams would host Village People Nights, capped off by postgame concerts — often by the Village People themselves.

Dr. Costas Karageorghis (sports psychologist, London’s Brunel University): When you think of using music to engage a crowd and increase cohesion, “Y.M.C.A.” is the perfect track. It turns a group of individuals into a unit, just like the wave, simply because of a common action. I haven’t heard it played at rugby, though — probably too butch.

Kyle Smith (director of stadium operations, Brevard County Manatees): There are a handful of songs that just make you get up and dance. At our ballpark, “Y.M.C.A.” has to be considered one of them. “Y.M.C.A.” is a gaysong? Honestly, I had no clue.

Cameron Harris (Wally the Warthog mascot, Winston-Salem Warthogs): I’m the only mascot I know who does the whole Y-M-C-A hand gesture thing while standing on his head. As soon as the first beats come out of the speakers, everyone in the stands is asking, “Where’s Wally? Where’s that wild Wally?” Not sure what you mean about it being a gay song…. I know the Y is a healthy place to exercise.

Musto: All these years later, the gay subtext is gone, and it’s a rah-rah crowd-pleaser for the baseball stadium crowd. It happens. A rallying song for the oppressed turns into a middle-of-the-road spirit-lifter, mainly because the straights like to steal things from the gays, take away all the scary edge, and make it their own.

Tim Wiles (director of research, Baseball Hall of Fame): The song is not alone in coming way out of left field. [Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop”] is played in a lot of ball parks, and someone said to me once, “If Joey Ramone knew this was being played at games, he’d roll over in his grave.”

Brian Johnson (former major-league catcher): I’m not sure you can have a game without playing “Y.M.C.A.” The funny thing is, every ballplayer I know has heard the song a thousand times, but how many of them know it has to do with gay men at the Y? One percent, maybe? But that’s baseball players — not the most informed when it comes to music.

Brandon McCarthy (pitcher, Texas Rangers): I have no idea how “Y.M.C.A.” got popular or how it has remained so. If I had earplugs, I’d put them in every time that song came on.

J.P. Howell (pitcher, Tampa Bay Rays): I hate “Y.M.C.A.” I’ve been over it since I first heard it.

Jones: We made a mark in pop music but an even deeper impression in pop culture. People remember Donna Summer, Kiss, the Bee Gees, but they didn’t have the same impact on pop culture that the Village People did.

Belolo (from disco-disco.com): In life, you discover that an invention is not always one man or two men; it’s a combination of people putting their love together. “Y.M.C.A.” became a standard that will stay forever.

Hodo: The real genius of “Y.M.C.A.” is that it can be taken any way you want. We were once on a television show in England, and the hostess said, “Now, this is a gay song, isn’t it?” And I said, “No, actually it’s a Christian song — the Young Men’s Christian Association. “I mean, honey, isn’t it obvious?

Source: http://www.spin.com/2008/05/ymca-oral-history/

Monday, June 20, 2016

Isabella



When I first brought Isabella home, she did little besides hide under the bed and whine when I left the room. However, yesterday she became a lot more social. She's been playing and having a good time with the toys I bought her. She's learned how to get on the bed without assistance, which is nice. She also has allowed me to start petting her. In one day, she went from being Miss Skittish to Miss Loving. She's still a little bit skittish, but she's much more comfortable around me. She's also a great little antidepressant. She's just so cute and lovable.