Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Sunday, February 01, 2004


In late 1999 when the WTO had its Seattle meeting, I was joyously unemployed and took part in the street-festival-party protests every day. I didn’t get arrested or beat up or directly tear-gassed, so I was on the luxury cruise package protest.

What a time it was! Singing and dancing on the streets. The exhilaration of tens of thousands of people marching for higher wages and environmental protection. People in costume -- a school of lovely sea turtles. A gang of people dressed as condoms with the message, Practice Safe Trade. Street theater everywhere.

And the chanting of chants. Many lamentable lamentations. As my old friend dave bucachon chanted at some march or other many many years ago, “A Slogan / Exhausted / Should Never Be Repeated!” And, from another waggish source (once more with feeling), “All we are saying / Is give chants some peace.”

Despite my aversion to the genre, two chants at WTO I happened to dig very much. A group of tough masculine un-hippie French trade unionists chanted:
“Tous ensemble!
Tous ensemble!
Oui! Oui! Oui!”
(All together / All together / Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!)

I don’t know how to spell it; they pronounced the last line “Weh weh weh,” a French equivalent of “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” This became the drinking chant for me & my friends in the bar at night after a long day of protesting, banging our pints on the table to punctuate the Weh Weh Weh!

My very favorite chant was led by a randy white lesbian in a flamboyant red wig. “Whadda we want? EVERYTHING! When do we want it? ALL THE TIME!”

What more, what more can one say? It’s a vision of eternity.

The other morning while driving to work I heard a catchy tune on the pop country station that featured a passionate woman singing the anthemic chorus, “I wanna do it all” followed by lots of “all” rhymes -- "watch the Mariners play ball, fight City Hall, lay down the law" -- I don’t remember them all, I’ve only heard the song once, but those were three of her desires. (The Mariners? Odd. Unless they recorded market-specific versions of the song, Broncos for the Denver market, Warriors for the Bay Area market, and so on.)

The song endorses casual sex for women, though within the social standards of male initiative. “I wanna say ‘why not?’ when somebody says ‘you wanna?’” That comes before settling down with “the love of my life” and having kids, which is also part of the all that the singer wants to do.

Songs -- like culture in general -- reflect and reinforce social mores. Interesting negotiations of the gender barriers are taking place in pop country music, and contrary to country’s rep as a bastion of conservatism, it’s not all depressing news for libbers, nor is women’s lib a new development there. Loretta Lynn was celebrating the Pill and female sexual initiative more than 30 years ago. Men in country song still get more leeway to behave like rogues, but I’m all in favor of people who want to fight city hall and lay down the law and do it all.

(I googled the song. The singer and writer is Terri Clark. I found lyrics on the web that said “watch the Yankees play ball” and “watch the Gators play ball.” Ambitious!)
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