Saturday, March 31, 2012

Preface To Cotton: Cotton-Eyed

What the hell does "cotton-eyed" mean? No one can decide.

The term, which was popularized in the song "Cotton-Eyed Joe," isn't really explained in the song. Joe is "cotton-eyed," but that's just an identifying physical characteristic, as if someone said "big-eared Joe," or "black-haired Joe." Or is it even more descriptive?

One definition is someone who's so drunk you see the whites of their eyes prominently. In this case, it perhaps is synonymous with "wide-eyed," although I don't get that way when I'm drunk.

A related meaning is what apparently happens when you drink wood alcohol, which, sources say, turns your eyes milky white. In addition, others believe that it's what your eyes look like when you have glaucoma or cataracts.

According to the Random House Dictionary of Popular American Slang, the term refers to someone with prominent eye-whites.

But I can't shake the feeling that the term is racist - that it refers specifically to black folks. If you've seen pictures of blackfaced minstrels, you understand that a prominent caricature of African-Americans in those unhappy days was that their eyes seemed very white & very large in contrast to their skin. & it seems pretty obvious - especially from the old lyrics - that Joe in the song was black.

Self Help Radio's show about cotton will probably feature one version of "Cotton-Eyed Joe" - how could it not? But even though there is no consensus about the term's meaning, I am still made a little queasy by the term. The song's popularity waned in the late 20th century - everywhere but in the South, where it's still quite popular.

But also where there are still lots of racists. You know?

Friday, March 30, 2012

I just received this email

(I have edited it to protect the innocent. Or guilty.)

The email reads:


I'm interested in contributing an article to - The article will be unique and interesting to read. In return, I ask that I be able to subtly include a link to my site within the article.

If you are not interested in the article, I am also willing to offer you a one time donation for a permanent link to my site in a prominent place on your website.

Hope you are having a wonderful week!


I find this fascinating, not just because this has never happened to me - it really hasn't. & I'm not such a naif that I imagined that this person has actually visited the site - there are no "articles" there, of course. I'm fascinated because the site about which he wants to write a "unique & interesting to read" article is actually just a product-oriented web page. They sell things.

For the sake of argument, let's say what they sell is hubcaps. (It's not entirely that specific, but close.) What sort of "unique & interesting to read" article is going to have a "subtle" link (not underlined?) for hubcaps in it? Would it be the only link in the article? That's not very subtle.

I'm also fascinated because this is really the first time anyone has ever offered me money to put something on the Self Help Radio website. I know that virtually no one goes to the site - & those that do are mostly looking for something else, & don't stick around to listen to my radio shows - so it makes sense no one's looking to spend money in the obscurity there. But what does that say about this dude.

I wish I were mean enough to ask for the article. It would probably be hilarious. But I am honest to a fault, & would never ask for something I had no intention of using in the first place. That's just a little too douchey.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lonely Indiana Roads

I fell asleep driving through most of Indiana. In the dream I dreamt while driving the other drivers were sleeping & dreaming too. The farms, which cross carefully the nearly-empty highways, didn't have silo-space enough for the dreams of flight emanating from nearly every car.

You'd think the fields would remember all the snow, but no, there was burgeoning everywhere. It's easier to read the posted warnings when the landscape is easy on the eyes. There's no aggravation when a strange stoplight is deployed, or when the semi passing on the right ignores the sudden "Speed Limit 35" sign that's sprouted around the corner.

The polite man asks the wide-eyed woman something about cell phones. A very old woman looks confused when she sees that the ladies' rest room is out of order. We're near Ohio, & that explains: pizza for breakfast.

I asked the dozing state trooper: does everyone sleep through Indiana? He rolled over & said, "Only those like you & me, who drive alone." I looked at the gauge on his dashboard - instead of "gas" it said "marmalade." & I thought I saw lots of dogs just running around, racing along an invisible highway parallel to the one I was on.

& I drove through Indiana during the day - what must it be like at night?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Nothing Gold On The Radio Can Stay

A website called "Bad Money Advice" (really!) says this: "Gold is one the more peculiar investments out there. Although it is an exaggeration to say that it is a substance of no intrinsic value, it has several industrial uses & would undoubtedly have many more if it were not so expensive. Gold lacks some basic characteristics of a typical investment."

Therefore you should invest in Self Help Radio's show about gold. At no cost to you, this nearly ninety show also lacks some basic characteristics of a typical investment. It frankly also lacks some basic characteristics of a typical radio show. But didn't I say "at no cost to you"?

The gold songs are listed below. The show rests at the Self Help Radio website. It's in two parts, like two gold bars: part one is twenty-four carat & part two is twenty-four carrot.

(part one)

"Gold" Ken Nordine _Colors_
"Get The Gold" Three Peppers _1937-1940_
"Gold" Peter Blegvad _King Strut & Other Stories_

"The Ecstasy Of Gold" Ennio Morricone _The Ennio Morricone Anthology: A Fistful Of Film Music_
"It's The Gold (Ella Johnson, vocal)" Buddy Johnson _1939-1942_
"Bags Of Gold" Jay Jay Pistolet _Happy Birthday Me_
"Gold & Silver" Toots & The Maytals _Monkey Man_
"Heart Of Gold" Neil Young _Neil Young Archives, Vol. 1: 1963-1972_

"Fool's Gold" Rachel Sweet _Protect The Innocent_
"Fools Gold" Ghost Dance _Word To The Wise 12"_
"Fools Gold" Stone Roses _The Complete Stone Roses_

(part two)

"In The Gold Dust Rush" Cocteau Twins _Head Over Heels_

"Gold" False Friends _Burn The Bridges, Break The Gates_
"Good As Gold" Betty & The Werewolves _Tea Time Favourites_
"Goldrush" Champagne Riot _Moonstruck EP_
"Goldfinger" Man Or Astroman? _Return To Chaos_
"Diamonds & Gold" Tom Waits _Rain Dogs_

"The Gold Rush Is Over" Hank Snow _The Essential Hank Snow_
"Gold Is the Colour Of Thought" The Smoke _The Smoke_
"Spun Gold" The Three O'Clock _Arrive Without Travelling/Ever After_
"Gold" Harvey Korman _Americathon OST_

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Whither Gold?

Generous miser! May we partake in your plethora of gold?

There are too many of you, mouth to feed! There is a finite supply of gold!

Oh healthy miner! That dear metal is so lovely to behold!

Like a dragon I shall guard my hoard. You hordes shall ever look but never touch!

Kind sir, kind sir, this air, it's full of gold dust, can we just breathe a little in?

Think you me a Rumple nor a Stiltskin? What is hard fought is hard won!

Dear familiar stranger, deny us not the luster of that soft, soft aurum!

Oh all right. Form a line at the right. No licking!


The preceding parable was found many times in antiquity. It was then conveniently lost many other times.


For scholastic purposes, this ancient dialogue should be read by a monk with a raspy voice. Whenever possible, the part of the inquisitor (known in some academic circles as "the mob") should be read by Dan Castellaneta, the voice of television's "Homer Simpson."


The meaning of this so-called "poem" has been the basis of several unimpressive scholarly careers & even (it is rumored) one tenure, &, as might be expected, there is no consensus on the actual point of the dialogue. Why does the flattering interlocutor & the group he perhaps represents want so desperately to visit the hoarder's gold stash, besides, you know, the obvious? Why doesn't the wealthy grump employ some armed musclemen to beat back the grasping group, like rich people have done throughout history? Is this some sort of allegory or something? Use the back of the piece of paper if necessary. You are not allowed to use your texts.


One famous "commentary" on this literary scrap will air on the morning of Monday, March 26, on a radio station called WRFL in Lexington, Kentucky, which, it must be noted, is roughly one hundred miles from Fort Knox, where the majority of United States gold is kept. You can listen to that show from 7:30 to 9am Eastern time on 88.1 fm in the Lexington area or anywhere if you follow this audio link. The show will be archived, reportedly, online at some site called Self Help Radio although that is not a reputable educational journal site so make sure you are wearing your spam pants.