We Now Return You to Our Regular Idiocy, Already in Progress

America’s Hero.We have an informal rule of thumb: Given a nation of 315,698,590 souls (and counting), even an insignificant percentage amounts to millions — or, for easy reference, the Fox News viewership. So rather than waste our time finding SOMEBODY WRONG ON THE INTERNET, we set a high squelch level: Stupid must be interesting. And, if possible, consequential.

However, in the interest of getting out of this week’s horrorshow/catvideo rut, we bring you Oklahoma House Co-Majority Leader Dennis Johnson — (R), of course — who said something you might expect of an (R) Oklahoma House Co-Majority Leader, and which we would otherwise ignore.

In debating in favor of a bill that would repeal a 70-year-old ban on “loss-leader” selling, Johnson, a small business owner, said service and not price are the key to success.

He then said some customers “try to Jew me down.”

Oklahoma House Co-Majority Leader Dennis Johnson — did we mention (R)? — hails from the Great City of Duncan, and while we can’t find precise local numbers, we can tell you that of Oklahoma’s 3,814,820 citizens, only 4,650 are of the Haggling Persuasion. We have to wonder whether OHCMLDJ(R) has ever met a Jew, much less been Jewed down by one.

But in The Year of Our (You-Know-Who-Killed) Lord 2013, OHCMLDJ(R) at least had the presence of (small) mind to realize that ascribing shopping traits to Certain Heaven-Deficient Persons is probably not something Jesus would do:

Johnson… immediately apologized, adding “Jews run good small businesses, too.”

Oklahoma House Co-Majority Leader Dennis Johnson (R!), thank you for distracting us from the real ugly shit going down this week. Under the circumstances, conventionally ugly shit is something of a relief.

Okla. House leader utters derogatory slur during debate [Tulsa World, via Political Wire]

I was going to do an afternoon Dep’t of Lady-Bits post/palate cleanser about New Hampshire State Rep. Peter Hansen (R) referring to women as “vaginas” (and his subsequent non-apology to those who may have been offended or misinterpreted him) but I think OHCMLDJ(R) will do for our refreshing daily dose of Teatardery.

@SanFranLefty: when will the fucking Democrats start using this shit in hard hitting ads? Point out what a fucking embarrassment this idiots are to your state/county/town …

@blogenfreude: A fucking embarrassment? In Oklahoma?

I went to college with a Jewish woman from Duncan, OK (her family were the only members of the tribe in that county). She was also a lesbian, so the town’s diversity really plummeted when she made her escape to Austin.

@blogenfreude: It’s not going to make any difference to the 200 Democrats left in that state. Also, what nojo said.

My high school history teacher loved to tell us stories about growing up in small-town Tennessee (a state that I have always enjoyed visiting, for the record!) surrounded by white heteronormative Protestants. He went to college (Vanderbilt, maybe?) in the late ’80s, and there met a Jewish person for the first time. Everything was going swimmingly until he told them that he’d gotten a great deal from a salesman by “Jewing him down.” The difference there being that he (1) was an adolescent who genuinely did not know better, (2) sincerely apologized and deeply regretted ever having said it, and (3) Learned a Valuable Life Lesson about intolerance and diversity. Somehow I don’t imagine that this dope will do the same.

@mellbell: which small town in Tennessee? there’s a bunch.

Johnson looks like he could be from Tennessee as well as Oklahoma. Maybe he is part Cherokee like many in East Tennessee claim. Some here ’bouts also claim the Cherokee are the lost tribe of Israel. Hmmm.

here is an Oklahoma website I visit with the same story

Jews run good small businesses? They also run the House of Rothschild, MGM, and the NY Times (see what I did? Thank you very much.).

@jwmcsame: Not sure. Could have been anywhere. Which may have been half the point, as the stories, told to a melange of kids in an urban setting, were meant to illustrate “how the other half lives,” so to speak.

@Benedick: And Zabar’s. Try the chocolate croissants.

What do you wanna bet he’s a big supporter of Israel?

Meanwhile, back in Shit Week, George Soros is (not) dead, and two more kids identified by the NY Post are (not) suspects.

@Serolf Divad:
With friends like those, who needs anti-Semites?

@Benedick: Where is the reference to the musical theater?

I propose a new phrase be used for those special occasions when a member of the Grand Old Party confirms the low IQ of the breed: “Gop’ed Up.” As in, “I really gop’ed up when I said customers “try to jew me down.”

@jwmcsame: postmomuch? After the Trail of Tears, Cherokee were selling tribal enrollment to anyone who paid. So…yeah. I know a blonde-hair, blue-eyed Cherokee. BUT one of my brothers (we’re triracial) has blonde hair (well, it’s pretty much gone now) and blue eyes and fair skin and African facial features. But, really. Cherokee is the go-to tribe for people who wanna be indigenous. Enough craptastic shit happened to immigrants before they left [insert country here] and after they got to the US. That’s not enough? Nope. Gotta be Cherokee, too.

We don’t want posers.

@gunnergoz: Like they give a shit. I’m sure they get gypped all the time.

@nojo: That amphibian thing you went through was either a rut or an obsession. The cat thing is no rut.

@blogenfreude: NY theatre joke: what happens when you put a jew and a fag in a room? They write a musical.

Other NY theatre joke: In New York mankind has three basic drives; food, sex, and fixing other people’s musicals.

Speaking of which, I just had a perfectly lovely time in the iBooks store. I bought Conrad’s oeuvre for 99 cents (it seems that The Nigger of the Narcissus, a particularly lovely romance of men at sea – though unaccountably lacking motel wrestling – cannot now be named. It must be n***r. And I understand but find it a pity but perfectly understandable. God knows what we’re to do about Firbank’s Prancing Nigger. If you don’t know Firbank he can be a lot of fun. High camp done right by one of England’s stately homos who much influenced Orton and, as it happens, me. He’s long since gone but is available in a New Directions 2 vol set but not, alas, at iBooks) ; same for Hardy, pomes and all (if you haven’t read Jude the Obscure I think it’s about time somebody asked you why). I also bought several of William Morris’s Icelandic/Norse/Germanic/woops-here-comes-Hitler books for free. I’m in the middle of reading Joseph Anton, also on iPad, which has been reminding me of books I used to love and shamed me into wanting to re-read them.

I’m sorry. We were jew-baiting? I must say, entertaining though this Okie may be no one does anti-semitism like the English. They do it with such serenity they don’t even know they’re doing it. The hub and I were watching some nonsense about old movie stars (I know) made by the Beeb and several of the ghastly Cool Britannia profs of film while discussing Rita Hayworth (I know!) kept referring to the studio head Sam Cohn as Sam Cohen. Subtle but invidious. I almost prefer the Okie blind ignorance to the soft paws of the BBC.

I’m now remembering a time long since when we were at a dinner party in London and the children came in to say goodnight one of whom was the hub’s much-loved god-daughter. At 9 she was at a very chic and expensive school and was reporting on the day’s events when somehow jews came up. Suddenly we were all upright in our chairs. Then she said, “Well nobody much likes the jews” to her jewish godfather (said hub), her black father, and white mother married to a black man when that was not yet acceptable. Imagine the humiliation of parents, godfather, and godchild once it had been explained to her the meaning of what she’d said.

Right, well… Carry on.

BREAKING: Reports of shots fired at MIT, officer down. What the fucking fuck, people?

@Benedick: Gah! I heard about this on NPR (Fresh Air, maybe) about four years ago, and my father and I had a HUGE fight over it.

Someone re-recorded Porgy and Bess (I think), and he wanted to record Showboat with the original lyrics (i.e. “darkies” not substituted for “niggers”). Found it: “Niggers all work on de Mississippi,
Niggers all work while de white folks play…”

When the black chorus showed up in the studio and saw the lyrics, they marched out. Whomever dude was said he regretted not being in the studio that day, because he thought that the use of the N word was important.

I thought about the use of the word within the context of what Oscar Hammerstein <– a Jew?!?! was trying to convey. I thought it was something interesting to consider. I mentioned that I found the issue thought provoking, and my father lost his mind. Under no circumstances was that word acceptable. He went to my brothers' school when they were reading Tom Sawyer to complain. But this is also the man who was called a nigger and had bricks thrown at him on his way to school.

Language and social identity can't be discounted. Language and social identity are malleable.

@Mistress Cynica: Don’t you bring me no bad news! No bad news! No bad news!

You can verbalize and vocalize
But just bring me the clues
But don’t nobody bring me no bad news

@Mistress Cynica: That’s the infamous Gehry building, which was under construction the summer I lived in Cambridge. Hopefully it’s nothing. Well, not more than the injured police/security officer, anyway.

@JNOV: News to me, but Showboat was a Golden Moldy when I was growing up, so I never paid attention.

And reviewing the Wikipedia discussion, well, dunno. Its place in theater history is not unlike the place of “Birth of a Nation” in film, but where Griffith was baldly racist, the source material and intention of Showboat seems to be commendable, or at least arguably so. I’d have to know a lot more before judging either way.

We now interrupt this idiocy to bring you The Latest Edition to Shit Week.

ETA: Memo to me: Next time refresh the screen.

@JNOV: No offense, darlin, but you may want to steer clear of gypped as well. I think “ripped off” is the only PC term we have left (unless of course that’s a slur against the Ripp people of Eastern Somewhereistan).

@nojo: Moments like these are when the limitations of Netflix’s streaming library are revealed.

@matador1015: Don’t make me post another cat video. Because I have one ready.

@flippin eck: As a quarter-wop, I hereby pre-approve all flat-tire jokes.

@nojo: Latest report is that the officer died. Release the cats.

@flippin eck: I was being sarcastic. ETA No offense taken. The last fucked up thing I said that I didn’t know was fucked up was “Bum Fuck Egypt.” I don’t know if more bums fuck there or not. I started saying, “Bum Fuck,” and now I just say, “Bumble Fuck.”

@nojo: Don’t make me post another cat video. Because I have one ready. Good.

No — the last messed up thing I said was “cooter.” I thought I was talking about a vagina. A guy from Missouri thought I was talking about him.

@nojo: Yeah. I started thinking about intent after hearing the interview. The dude who wanted the original lyrics used argues that whathisface wanted to shock the audience and make them think about why the laborers would use that word in reference to themselves. Was it because that’s what they were called as they worked while the white folk played? Because that’s all they were called and it was internalized? Because it starkly cast the issue in black and white?

I don’t know. But intent is something to think about before reacting. Then I think about the reaction. That’s why I think I get why I couldn’t even discuss whether intent makes a difference with my father. His reaction to the word doesn’t take intent into account because of his experiences. I don’t fault him.

This entire week needs a command-Z.

@JNOV: I think modern performance and historical context are easily separated. It’s possible to study the original production and understand (if that’s the case) ironic intentions, while also understanding that no audience would care to sit through that now. Comedians still wrestle over early vs. late Richard Pryor.

@nojo: Yes. My mother owned a recording of Porgy and Bess, I saw Carmen Jones when I was a kid, and I remember seeing Pinky. I think my mother was dealing with how segregation affected her father (jazz musician not allowed to stay in hotels) and how it affected white-looking her. Maybe she was thinking about me, too.

I related more to West Side Story.

@nojo: No grenades in West Side Story.

@JNOV: MIT. Weird shit going down. And this week, that’s saying something.

@nojo: Grenade Brigade. Grenade(s) found: in a field in Detroit; Kashmir; Bangkok; Orange County; Lincoln, NE. All since 4/11.

Violent world. Efficient weapons. Evil people.

@JNOV: Pipe bombs, apparently. Depends which Twitter feed you follow. Seth Mnookin is a good bet.

@nojo: I just Googled “How to make a bomb,” and lots of stuff came up, including the Detroit Free Press’s apology about publishing instructions for building pressure cooker bombs.

What to do? Censorship?

@JNOV: The Internet is worldwide. Even China has problems keeping it bottled.

Boston Globe reporter: “A marathon suspect is in custody as manhunt continues for another in Watertown, according to official with knowledge of the investigation.”

Standard cautions about unnamed sources apply.

BOSTON — One of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings was killed early Friday morning after leading the police on a wild chase that resulted in the death of a campus police officer, while the other was sought in a massive manhunt that shut down large parts of the area.

The two suspects were identified by law enforcement officials as brothers from Chechnya. The surviving suspect was identified as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, Mass., a law enforcement official said. The one who was killed was identified as his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26. The authorities were investigating whether the dead man had a homemade bomb strapped to his body when he was killed, two law enforcement officials said.


@JNOV: Show Boat was never meant to shock but to uplift.

What is now hard to remember is that Oscar Hammerstein was trying to honor the history of black Americans in the slavery time. If you haven’t seen the James Whale directed version with Robeson and Hattie McDaniel and Irene Dunne I command you run out now and rent it. Or stream it. Or whatever but I do insist you see it.

What we forget is that till Lorenzo Dow Turner published Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect in, I think ’47, there was no awareness of the construct of the Bantu languages entering southern speech. Since then we have constructed BVE: Black Vernacular English: and the ongoing question of trying to represent the sound of how people speak. To write ‘that’ as ‘dat’ does not to me connote ignorance on the part of the speaker. (Full disclosure: I think the history of black speech is one of the great romances of our history. Rap, house, that turntable thing, all come directly from African roots. And it makes me cry. Patting juba.)

So before Turner, artists tried to dignify the speech of historical characters in a way that they imagined was true to their lives. So when Hammerstein has Joe sing, in the original lyric, “Ol’ man ribber, dat ol’ man ribber,” he isn’t trying to condescend to the character but to catch the sound of it and underline the natural eloquence of his speech. He gives him the extraordinary metaphor of the river and Mr Kern then brought to bear all the majesty of melody to lift his speech into a place of wonder. Sidebar: Showboat isn’t a musical. It’s an operetta.

The Gershwins tried to go one better with Porgy. George wanted to pay homage to the music he most loved and the people who created it: jazz. They went to live on one of the Gullah islands to listen to the people and how they talked. And they announced right at the top that they were taking these people seriously by opening with Summertime. A rapturous ode to life and love and motherhood by a young woman who’s hardly been to school. By setting that into an incandescent aria that takes a serious singer to achieve it announces that these are important people. If you haven’t seen it in a theatre let me tell you, when Porgy gets on his cart at the end, announcing that he will go find Bess and being her back and the whole bass of the orchestra starts to throb sending the message up into the brass till it explodes in glory… well.

There is no case to be made that either of these shows are condescending. The opposite is true. The writers imagined a better world.

@Benedick: Thanks. And it’ll have to be DVD, since Netflix ain’t streaming it.

@nojo: Watch out for Fish Gotta Swim. Irene played Magnolia in the 1st national tour then went in to New York. By the time of the movie she’s too old but who cares?

@Benedick: I love you dearly. Yes, fish gotta swim.


I told you my great aunt spoke Geechee? She also spoke perfect acrolect English.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to read “dis ere…” I do think it makes us sound dumb although I know better. “Be a credit to your race…”

Some linguists consider BEV a language because there are certain speech patterns that resemble West African languages. A lot of people dismiss it as slang, but Geechee is a patios of West African languages, Dutch and English. African slaves were chained together before they left for Europe, North and South America. People who spoke the same language were separated. So, slaves started trying to communicate with each other and understand what their captors were saying. I remember one example of how BEV and W. African languages resemble each other. “John, he my brother.” It’s common to use a name followed by a pronoun and to drop the verb “to be” in both BEV and W. African languages.

People mock the way we speak. I had to speak standard English at home. In order to fit in on the playground, I spoke BEV. We all code switch.

@Benedick: If you’re playing the Home Game, Netflix only has the 1951 Show Boat on DVD, not the classic 1936 version.

@nojo: No no no no. No no no no no. You have to see Irene Dunne do shuck and jive. The Ava Gardner version is worthless.

@JNOV: I’m too drunk to do this but this matter stabs my heart. I spent 6 years researching. And I95 bisects an almost intact slave rice plantation and why is the not A NATIONAL MOTHERFUCKING SHRINE?

I must now go drink more Tito’s.

@Benedick: “I must now go drink more Tito’s.”

I hope to have that carved on my tombstone/box of ashes.

@Benedick: I’m drunk, too. Notecards can do that to you sometimes.

@SanFranLefty: <3

@Benedick: Ah. And the banjo. I’m not sure if colored folk should be proud of that one or not. Traffics lights, on the other hand? Yes.

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