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What the Reaction Says About Women, Class and Liberals

CherI’ll be offline for a few weeks. I’m wrapping up my five-year gig at ICANN next week in Los Angeles. It’s been an awesome experience and with many mixed-emotions I leave to refocus on other projects. Until I'm back, have a good two weeks.

Meanwhile...Cher has been ranting on the republican party in tweets for over a year it seems. It hasn’t been news. She’s been tapping into some rarely-expressed liberal anger as far as I’m concerned. She’s not debating, politicking or doing any public relations. She’s just venting. Last week her anti-Romeny tweet went viral before she had a chance to snuff the flame.

Cher scholar Dishy sent me the first news of it from The Hollywood Reporter:

"Thank God I got the half that thinks," she writes in response to an assertion that a series of tweets -- now deleted -- has cost her 50 percent of her fans.

Cher went on an anti-Republican tirade early Tuesday morning that went viral courtesy of the Drudge Report, and by noon she had deleted the offending tweets.

“If ROMNEY gets elected I don’t know if I can breathe same air as Him & his Right Wing Racist Homophobic Women Hating Tea Bagger Masters,” the entertainer tweeted referring to Mitt Romney, the Republican's likely nominee for president.

After some criticism -- some of it profane -- Cher tweeted: “TOO HARSH? That’s me Holding BACK! They care nothing about the POOR The OLD The SICK The HUNGRY CHILDREN & People striving 4 a Better LIFE ! –"

I then heard the tweet-storm discussed on The Stephanie Miller Show (Cher would be a super guest on that show!) and even posted about it: "The Words That Started A Twitter Storm: Cher’s Famous Tweet About Romney" where they quoted her apologizing, “Im not sorry 4feelings, but i was not kind.’

I haven't heard any fans trashing Cher over her initial comments and even my mother said she shouldn’t have apologized. There may have been personal reasons why she did.

In any case there are three issues at play here:

  1. Liberals and their Feelings: the Right (and the celebrity Right) is never apologetic about their angry feelings. See Ted Nugent as a most current example. Liberals are always encouraged not to take it into an angry place. That restraint can't hold forever.
  2. Girls and their Feelings: women aren’t supposed to get angry or express their anger. Women constantly get pressure to back down from their expressing their anger while the same expressions are seen as appropriate for men. (see the book The Unruly Women by Kathleen Rowe)
  3. The Struggle of the Lower Class and their Feelings:  Cher comes from a working class background; she has working class friends; she cares about working class people (as her tweets and comments have shown throughout the years). She expresses herself in a way that some criticize as being crude, low-rent (i.e. low class), “She talks like a truck-driver; she swears like a biker.” Comments when they are expressed in this way tap into this country’s deep-seated issues about class, especially when unruly (outspoken) women are the ones expressing liberal feelings about class. 

They try to shut her down. You go girl!


Speaking of Speaking Out

220px-CarolynMarieSouaidPromoTwo weeks ago I found this poem about a Turkish novelist who spoke out against Armenian genocide. The poem was anthologized in the book Language for a New Century, Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond, edited by Tina Chang, Nathalie Handal and Ravi Shankar, and was written by Lebanese-Canadian poet Carolyn Marie Souaid (pictured).


I thought it was an apropos message to post in light of Cher's twitter risks. (See my post on the Tweets)




Apology to Orphan Pamuk

Comrade, how is it so?
Fined by the high court—

for what? Trafficking a thought?
You, an accomplished lover

of the pen

Who challenged the Turkish flank
for far, far more than a girl.

How do I walk these streets?
How do I breath this air?

While, heroic, you stand

eulogizing the thousands
flattened on your land?
Risking an emporium bullet,
your name in the news.

I, who am one of you
and not of you.

Flattened by the minutiae of Art:
Idolizing my muse

and the metaphorical prisons
of the heart.

Carolyn Marie Souaid's Author’s Note: In January 2006, the [Turkish] court dropped charges against the novelist [named in the title of the poem], accused of insulting the Turkish republic for openly writing and speaking against the genocide of Armenians in 1915, a taboo subject and one that officially never happened, according to the Turkish government.


This Is Cher, A Cher Zine #3 has been reviewed!

Zine3Back in 2005, Zine World reviewer Anu Schnuck called Golden Greats: A Cher Zine 2 “a must for Cher fans.” Australian zine-reviewer Dann Lennard of Betty Paginated and Zine World recently posted his latest reviews including one of Cher Zine 3 from the point of view of a non-fan.


"As a massive non-Cher fan, I still found a disturbing amount of interesting material to absorb. Like Cher’s tenure with Casablanca Records in the late 70s – including her flirtation with disco, heavy rock (with her band Black Rose), pioneering music videos and…Gene Simmons. Or the making of her obscure 60s hippie flick Chastity (which I somehow managed to see on an Aussie regional TV station when I was a kid). The lengthy piece on Cher’s infomercial career jumps the shark (nine pages…seriously?). But this zine did the near-impossible for me, it made me care about Cher. Hell, I may even pick up her Black Rose CD off eBay now."

I have to concede that the infomercial article is very long, but as the only Cher-infomercial defender out there, I had to make an airtight case for my argument. Besides, the Casablanca article is 17 pages long!

I am disappointed no one has made special mention of the racy Sonny centerfold.

For more info on Cher Zine 3:


Chad Michaels Excels on Drag Race

Chad3Chad Michaels (far right) made it to the top three of Ru Paul's Drag Race at the end of the season along with with Phi Phi O'Hara and Sharon Needles (middle, who won). It would seem there was no official second or third place on Drag Race this year.

I watched the entire season for the most part in three days last weekend. By far, Chad was the prettiest in most challenges, and in some challenges the only one to really get it right (see the inaugural ball challenge below).

He was thrown some shade for his age (being over 40), his plastic surgeries and (from judge Michelle Visage) for being too perfect and not messy enough. Ru Paul also challenged Chad at the end of the season to tap into his emotions more.

Chad did a pitch-perfect Cher send-up in the impersonation challenge fThreechersor the "Snatch Game" episode, which was a spoof on The Match Game show. See the animated gifs of the episode from "Of Coursets a Drag."

Chad, Sharon Needles and Latrice Royale were my favorites. And if Chad was not destined to win, I'm glad it was Sharon.

Sharon Needles pushed the envelope, was witty and cute as a button in his scariness. He raised the competition to a level of performance art.

At the end Ru told Ch Sharonad he raised the level of the competition this season and was a real class act. Which was true: he played the adult in the room, the negotiator, the conversation starter, the mama of this den of bees, always trying always to stay above the DRAMA.

But he was in a real bind competition-wise because it was only in the moments of messy fighting that Chad was able to show that emotional side: fighting with Sharon's icky hetero-drag-model, confiding in Sharon about Phi Phi's treachery (on an Untucked episode), and crying when discussing gay marriage and when apologizing for being harsh on Phi Phi's innocence/immaturity.

If he had showed too many of these moments, maybe he wouldn't have looked so classy. 


I'm a huge fan of Drag U but this is my first full season watching Drag Race. This is because watching bitch-fights sometimes gives me high anxiety. But this season was exciting (Willem getting kicked off suddenly, the spectacle of the big finale) and emotional (drag queens crying) and also sometimes uncomfortable (the political challenge, the episode trying to drag out butch dads).


Watch for Latrice on Drag U next month. Her blue boat/blue hair outfit killed me!

Latrice Royale
Chad Michaels
Sharon Needles


Photo Tour of Gregg & Cher

Reading reviews of Gregg Allman’s new autobiography "My Cross to Bear" I notice quite frequently that reviewers go straight to find out what Allman has to say about Cher. Columnist Liz Smith says it best.

"President Obama is on the cover of [Rolling Stone]. As a politically concerned citizen, I knew I should have headed straight for the president's interview with Jann Wenner, the magazine's editor and publisher. But the gossip columnist in me took over...Anyway, I went right to Allman's memories of Cher.

As much as people want to claim they are too cool to be interested in Cher, they secretly are.

Here's a 14-photo image tour of that old Hollywood tabloid couple we loved to talk trash about:

Their formal side

Their country side

Continue reading "Photo Tour of Gregg & Cher" »

Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon

CanyonI just received Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon by Harvey Kubernik. This book kept popping up as an Amazon recommendation for me: "Since you're obsessed with Cher, you might like this book."

Unless you are a 1960s/70s LA music nerd, I can’t really recommend the book for Cher fans; there are only some slim Cher references inside...mostly revolving around S&C when they were living in Lower Laurel Canyon during the time they made “Baby Don't Go" and "I Got You Babe” exciting time to be making music in LA to be sure.

The book is mostly a reverie of session players and music-makers who lived and worked "up in the country" of Lauren Canyon Drive and who came down to the clubs of Sunset Boulevard to play their music at night, stories of people who have faded from the limelight, like Jackie deShannon, Randy Meisner of the Eagles, Donovan and Glen Campbell. But the fact that Sonny & Cher make so many cameos in this historic scene is satisfying.

As I noted in my introduction to the Cher Zine 2, Cher’s reputation is improving just by nature of her name appearing more frequently in lists of the rock establishment's cannon. We find an example of this on this books inside flap:

"Lauren Canyon, California, is a zip code with its own playlist. The unforgettable sounds of Sonny & Cher; the Doors; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Joni Mitchell; the Eagles; Carole King; the Byrds; and many others were cultivated in the canyon…”

Included in the book are stories by S&C-connected people such as guitarist Barney Kessel who played on “The Beat Goes On,” keyboardist Don Randi who knew S&C in 1964 when they were Caesar & Cleo and played on “Baby Please Don’t Go” [SIC], and Jackie DeShannon, called The Queen of Laurel Canyon, who says Sonny and Jack Nitzsche wrote “Needles and Pins” for her and how the the record company didn’t like it but she “wanted something with an edge to it.” She said Brian Wilson skateboarded into the studio when they were recording it. Her version didn’t make it very far on Billboard (#84) while The Searchers version made it to #13 (#1 in the UK).

Dan Kessel talks about the hip acts of the day: Caesar & Cleo, Joe & Eddie, The Pair Extraordinaire, Ian & Sylvia playing the clubs of the Purple Onion, The Ash Groove and the Ice House.

Photographer and musician form MFQ (Modern Folk Quartet) talks about taking photos of the KHJ concert sound check at the Hollywood Bowl with Sonny & Cher, Donovan, and Bob Lind.

Randy Sterling talks about being hired for $36 to use his 12-string in the “I Got You Babe” recording needed for added Wall of Sound. He also worked on the “All I Really Wanna Do” sessions. He says he gave Cher a pep talk before recording the Dylan song because she was teary-eyed and self-conscious about it. He says she “knocked it out of the ballpark in one take. When we were doing it I knew it was good.” He says he even told Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman of the Byrds soon after that Cher’s version would be a hit.

Kim Fowley (creator of The Runaways) says his novelty single “America’s Sweethearts” with Bunny & Bear was a takeoff of Sonny & Cher. (Bunny & Bear...HI-larious)

Guitarist Tony Valentino (of The Standells) says he used to hang out near Pandora’s Box on Sunset Strip in 1966 and there was a lot of tension there between “rock band people with long hair and bell-bottoms” and people from “the other side” (does he mean the other side of consciousness? or the other side of the Santa Monica mountains, ie. the Valley People?). There was also tension between the hippies and the police who were always pushing people. He said he saw Sonny & Cher around Pandora’s Box the night of the riots. Sonny was producing and recording with The Standells (with drummer Hal Blaine and bassist Carole Kaye).

[By the way, The Standells are often called the Godfathers of Punk or purveyors of protopunk. They were matched with Sonny, according to member Larry Tamblyn, in an effort to tone down their image with the single “The Boy Next Door.” Blaine and Kaye are not mentioned in their Wikipedia credits. As members of the infamous LA session players, The Wrecking Crew, getting shafted from credit is not unusual for them.]

Songwriter and producer Ian Whitcomb talks about 1965 as a magical time and that he was friendly with S&C when they released “Baby Don’t Go.” He says, “Sonny loved my song ‘The Sporting Life.’ The odd thing was, even thought they didn’t have a hit. They still had a chauffeur and limousine.”

Most interestingly, Glen Campbell talks about picking guests for his “Goodtime Hour” TV show:

“When I did the TV show, I wanted to make sure I could get everybody I knew who was a good singer. Johnny Cash, Cher, Ray Charles, Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, John Hartford, Linda Ronstadt, Bobbie Gentry, Rick Nelson, Anny Murray."

[I think Glen Campbell trumps Gregg Allman when it comes to a critique of singing.]

Randy Meisner of the Eagles talks about their early managers (former S&C managers) Charles Greene and Brian Stone, “Managers are bad in a good way. We hadn’t even made a record and we were in a limo. Those guys had some class.” (Sounds like a pattern.) He said when he was cutting an early album at Gold Star, Cher walked in. “She watched us from the control room and gave me a smile. It almost made up for all the mac and cheese” [he was forced to eat because he had no money].

There are pics of Sonny or Cher on a few pages: Cher singing with Glen Campbell and Neil Diamond in the late 60s; Sonny with the Kessel brothers allegedly during the recording of “I Got You Babe.” (Did Sonny really wear that paisley shirt under a bobcat vest that day? Oy. Loud.); Sonny & Cher with Rodney Bingenheimer at Gold Star during “The Beat Goes On” sessions.