Essays on memoir, music, and more from Beatrice M. Hogg

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

Yours is No Disgrace – Really

51ZZfzgyu3LObservations on Yes is the Answer: And Other Prog Rock Tales by Marc Weingarten and Tyson Cornell (eds.) (A Barnacle Book)



As soon as I heard about this book, I wanted to read it. Progressive rock has been much maligned over the years, but that has never deterred my love of the genre. Some of my happiest musical moments over the years have been created by the sounds from bands such as Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Pink Floyd, and Genesis. Just saying the titles of the songs makes me smile – “The Revealing Science of God,” “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” “Gates of Delirium” – there is nothing quite like progressive rock. Back in the eighties, I used to listen to “For Headphones Only,” a weekly show devoted to Prog Rock on Pittsburgh’s main rock radio station.

I really wanted to like this book, but many of the mostly male contributors made this hard for me to do. Most of them seemed to be saying, “I liked/loved Prog Rock once, but now I’m too cool, too old, or too normal to like it. This means that I’m better than you, Dear Reader.” I don’t mind a few guffaws or criticisms about the genre – I’ve even done it myself with an essay called, “Sailing the Topographic Oceans to the Gates of Delirium” – but a whole book of it didn’t work for me. I expected the essays to be a celebration of Prog Rock, but most of them seemed to be apologies. Seth Greenland says in his essay, “When Punk came along and beat Prog to death with a club, I was not among the mourners.” As a woman who became a big fan of Prog Rock through other female fans, I take issue with Matthew Specktor’s statement, “In fact, I’d say that most Prog, while short of being misogynistic, is generally afraid of women, hence its exclusion of them lyrically, its limited appeal to them musically…” And since I didn’t get heavily into the genre until I was in my twenties and I’ve never done drugs, I didn’t grow up Prog like Tom Junod, “stoned and semi-smart, sensitive and without any real prospects for getting laid.”

But I did enjoy the book, in spite of my disappointment. Most contributors had good things to say about their favorite Prog bands, even though most of the comments were in past tense. Peter Case says, “Form followed content, so, wherever you dropped the needle on the record, you’d be lost for a time. Like Progressive groups Pink Floyd or King Crimson, you had no choice but to follow the melodic breadcrumb train out of the enchanted sound forest. And it was wonderful.” The book has several essays on Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, and essays on other bands, including Bebop Deluxe and the Incredible String Band. Styx and Rush are given no love, and one contributor insults my favorite band, but I didn’t let those negative remarks ruin my interest in the anthology. Any catalyst to reopening a dialogue about Prog Rock, its fans and practitioners, means that the music will continue to be explored and enjoyed. We old, nerdy, (and even female) freaks are still out there “On the Silent Wings of Freedom.” Even though these former nerds/writers/musicians would look down their accomplished noses at me, a poor black woman who actually liked GTR, I would still attend a book signing and I do support this book. I even shed a tear when I heard about Peter Banks’ recent death. And I still support those Prog practitioners still out on the road. Anyone got an extra ticket for Rush?


A New Holiday

  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, and Valentine’s Day. I am neither a mother, father, grandparent nor sweetheart. There is Secretary’s Day and Boss’ Day. I am somewhere between those two positions. So where is my Holiday? Where are my presents and cards? I propose that a new holiday be added to the calendar, Single Woman’s Day.

Why Single Woman’s Day? Well, we unattached single women with no dependents deserve to be recognized just as much as any one else. It isn’t easy being an unattached single woman, no matter what the magazines and sitcoms may say. I say that we deserve a special day just for us.

This new day should be on a Saturday. Then people all over the world could treat their favorite Single Women to a great night out—dinner, a movie, dancing, the works. And they wouldn’t have to get up early to go to work the next morning (or at least a lot of us wouldn’t). Women that have to work on Saturdays should be given half of the day off, with pay.

This new day should also be in the summer, when it is warm and the days are long. August would be a good month, since not much is going on that month. Department stores could coincide the unveiling of the fall fashions with Single Woman Day sales. What would be better for a single woman than getting the hottest new shoes at a sale price? Instead of the traditional women’s gifts of candy, flowers and lingerie that are used for other holidays, the staples of Single Woman Day gift giving would be the things that women really want: shoes, designer handbags, and cash.

Single Woman’s Day should have some rules, though. It would be the one day of the year that we wouldn’t have anyone ask us, “Why isn’t a nice girl like you married yet?” or “Don’t you want children?” (Which means that no family reunions or class reunions could be held on this day.) It would be the one day of the year that no one said, “Shouldn’t you be watching your weight?” (Dessert would be mandatory on this day.)

It would be the one day of the year that all salespersons would be helpful and everything would be available in your size. Single Woman’s Day cards would all say, “We love you just the way that you are!”  There would be contests where people could nominate their favorite Single Woman for trips to exotic locations. All television networks, not just Lifetime, would feature programming that extolled the virtues of unattached Single Women. There would be marathon showings of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and the few other shows that depict unattached single women as being interested in more than getting a man and starting a family.

So come on Hallmark, and all of you other card companies, get on the bandwagon! Lets designate a Saturday in August as Single Woman’s Day! Think of the additional card revenue! Come on Macy’s, Neiman’s, and Bloomie’s, think of all of the shoes that could be sold! Restaurateurs, forget about dating couples: single women are your new meal ticket!

And Single Sisters out there! Think about it! One day of the year when the world would be your oyster, and you could have all of the desserts and presents that you wanted, without having to become a year older, wear a ugly white dress, or spend 48 hours in labor. One day out of the year when you would be celebrated for being the rare, special creature that you are, not ridiculed or pitied because you don’t fit society’s definition of what women should be or should want. And then maybe the world would realize that we are not lonely or weird or workaholics or bitches, just people like everyone else. So let me be the first to say it—Happy Single Woman’s Day!

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