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year's greatest song--make it a polka!?

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Mar 8, 2006, 8:00:21 PM3/8/06
on the subject of new polka trends (and controversial national
awards) it should be noted that the oscar award for best song of the
year was awarded this week , amidst great national controversy, to a
hip-hop/rap number titled "IT'S HARD OUT THERE FOR A PIMP."(this award
was greeted by a storm of protest from both black and white national
figures because of its controversial, "edgy" subject matter and, some
claimed, because it was a lousy song and hence a disgrace that the
number should be proclaimed no.1 nationwide. (at this point i would
have expected a counterprotest telling them to stop complaining and
backbiting and show respect but in this instance this didn't seem to
in any case, the song rose to number one by the oscar committee's
proclamation ---the logical conclusion, i would think, for anyone
aspiring to elevate polkas to the national level --especially by
incorporating "edgy, extreme" lyrics, would be to jump on this number
and record a polka version of it. this is an essential chance to really
grab the spotlight --and to put polkas in the limelight ---and back on
the streets---where they belong.
i pride myself on being a creative musical thinker and initially
thought of seizing the initiative and recording the number myself with
my little group ---but then reality took hold and i had to acknowledge
to myself that i am getting older and less ambitious ---sort of "losing
it", really, and that i am no longer up to the demands that the clear
national success of such a project would make on me ---constant travel,
phone calls, interviews, financial deals, etc. ---so i have resolved to
leave the field open for more energetic, ambitious performers--and
particularly to those who espouse the new anti-polka, edgy, extreme
push,etc. ideas i say
"go for it!" climb this ladder to the stars and make us proud. i will
sit back and await your success --and be quietly proud that i had a
small role in it and in the coming "street" polka revolution that it
engenders. but a word to the wise: don't delay: this song is hot
now---take it and go with it. as they say in the streets:"STRAIGHT YO!"
( i think this means "right on")
yours for moving this music from the bottom to the top (under
whatever name) ---jr


Mar 8, 2006, 8:19:10 PM3/8/06

Funny post. But maybe you should drop a note to Polkacide.


Mar 9, 2006, 12:21:36 PM3/9/06

Gee, I hope JR was being facetious with his post. Do I detect a hint
of sarcasm aimed at those who are trying to broaden polka's appeal? If
so, I think there's much that can be done to elevate the music without
embracing distatseful lyrical subject matter.

Mar 9, 2006, 4:51:10 PM3/9/06
facetious, yes---"a hint", yes---but seriously, they talk a lot about
having "edgy" songs but nothing short of this type of music is anywhere
near "the edge" these days ---and hence the "edgy-extreme"guys lack the
youthful/wild "edge" they claim to have. nostradamus was on target
,tho--some groups-- like polkacide ---or the german punk-polka
groups,who do stuff like this , might do well to consider it...i do
have to joke around a bit at the expense of the "extreme/edgy"movement,
which is actually neither of these things---marysia data did wilder
stuff than they do ---not to mention the wild, over-the-top lyrics of
the eb , lush, norm dabrowski, and lil wally , etc, etc party albums,
next to which any of the new stuff is completely gutless. it's one
thing to say your music is "edgy," extreme, or whatever and quite
another to demonstrate it. i do sincerely believe that lyrics that are
light years behind this kind of subject matter, which "rules" today,
are in no way "edgy" or competitive with contemporary music and are
even hard put to keep up with the spicy quality ( ?---in a limited,
ethnic-cliche sort of way) of 1950's walt solek-type material....and ,
as they say on the street..."if you walk the walk, you gotta talk the
what i do hear of this "new wave polka" material,if i can call it
that, actually sounds to me like calypso music to something
sort-of-but-not-quite-resembling-a-polka-beat ----they might do better
to call it polkalypso or something of the sort ---oh, but i forgot,
they don't like the term polka ---but again, of one thing i am
convinced: it ain't edgy ---and extreme---extremely what?--bland?--:
"holiday in poland", "suicide polka" ---many of the old "standards"have
much more passion , wildness--much more feeling of a leap off the edge,
into oblivion, whatever , than any of this new stuff. remember the
provocative political question "where's the beef?" i would simply--and
sincerely ask---"where's the edge?"without that i don't think much is
being accomplished---except, as various people have written and said
recently, to obscure the polka name and make the beat less
recognizeable and danceable.
just my opinion---and remember, this is a free country and it's
our right and even duty to say things truthfully as we see them. my
deeply held feeling on these matters is two-fold: first , god bless the
good old traditional polka music--which i feel certain nothing will
really successfully replace ---and second: sure, go for it if you want
to try to revitalize polkas ---but if you talk constantly about taking
the music to the edge you darn well better give it some b----s
(=musician and street talk for power or substance)

Mar 9, 2006, 5:24:40 PM3/9/06

Mar 9, 2006, 5:53:11 PM3/9/06
there you go---BRILLIANT!:unlike the average american pimp the guy from
warsaw even has a language problem to deal with... And if anybody wants
to criticize or condemn this idea, please go after ted, not me: as you
may have guessed by now, i'm much better at dishing it out than i am at
taking it. joe ("big mouth") r

Polish Prince (Szynka)

Mar 10, 2006, 12:53:29 AM3/10/06
Even better "It's Hard Out There For A Transsexual Pimp From Warsaw".
Instant Hit!!!!
Gives it extra edge.

<> wrote in message

Mar 10, 2006, 7:53:03 AM3/10/06
We can take this a little farther and combine this with the
"Chicken Dance" thing. Have a lot of barely dressed guys and girls
doing an "edgy" version of the "Chicken Dance" while some of our "edgy
new wave" polka guys grind out the "PIMP FROM WARSAW".
What do you think??????????


Mar 10, 2006, 8:15:58 AM3/10/06
JR, I think you have a different perception of what is meant by "taking
the music to the edge" compared to the majority of innovative musicians
I interview. They seem to just want to deviate a little from the
redundant formula or structure that has dominated and restricted the
advancement of the genre. They all love the excitement and passion of
the classic standards - that's how they got hooked. Many of today's
creative performers and discerning listeners, however, expect a degree
of innovation to keep things interesting. I'm told that many of the
gifted musicians brought up in polkas migrate to other musical genres
in order to satisfy their need stretch. The stagnant talent pool
within polkas is obvious. Many bands seem to depend on a "pool" of
veterans just to be able to have a full group to play gigs.

Apparently, the "Galicia" mentality of some within the industry seems
determined to stifle creativity. Here's a blurb from Nostradamus' web
site: "In her book, Music in the Culture of Polish Galicia --
1772-1914, Jolanta T. Pekacz writes at length about the conservatism of
Polish Galicia and how that conservatism inhibited musical expression
and creativity. If we presume that that conservative trait was
characteristic of the Poles who immigrated to America, and was then
passed on to their descendents, it could explain the glacially slow
evolution of the Polish-American polka."

I don't believe the "edge" is profane, bizzare, shocking, or
disgraceful. I think the "edge" is creative, innovative, refreshing,
and progressive. There seems to be just a handful of groups that dare
to approach the parameters of the polka norm to broaden the music's
appeal. They're kind of like polka missionaries or evangelists. Let's
give them some space and support to proselytize. After all, the huge
majority of bands are content to play for the flock, even though that
flock is diminishing and becoming apostate.

Mar 10, 2006, 4:21:08 PM3/10/06
yesssssssssssssssssssss! (in polish: takkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!)
please see my reply to ted and yourself, panie szynka, below----

Mar 10, 2006, 5:54:35 PM3/10/06
This is truly inspired, ted, and,including mr. szynka's transsexual
reference above, should be "outed"as a SUPREME MEDIA EVENT, GUARANTEED
TO GRAB THE ATTENTION OF THE COUNTRY'S ---and particularly the
cities''---masses, shakers, bakers (?) and opinion makers --with
incredible benefits , publicity and profit for all involved --let us
propose that it be staged ---and filmed live , with international
retransmission rights to be negotiated with the highest bidder (for
which we must form an organization and contact lawyers, etc.!) at one
or more sites of national importance--particularly in inner city
locations ---in newark, new jersey, and/or the baltimore harbor,
rockefeller center in nyc, the washington mall , mt. rushmore---should
we offer this incredible production, once legally protected, to the
polka or polish american organizations, who would foot the relatively
minor bill in return for the overwheming credit and rewards which would
redound (minor questions to be resolved...)?---first and foremost , of
course, this would be the absolute godsend for the "new polka/extreme
push" faction, who would supply, as you rightly proposed, the
accompanying orchestration for the glorious spectacle---the more i
think of it, the more convinced i become that if the financing is
available ---and it should be forthcoming for such a clear masterstroke
as this---the production should be presented simultaneously in ---and
simulcast from---multiple locations around the country, as well as , if
possible, other selected locations vital to national interests, such as
irak, iran , and if possible, north korea.first of all, this
multi-location presentation mode will provide more opportunities for
e-push musicians to perform( and who will be the hero to head the
baghdad group---performing, i suggest ,outside of the u.s.-secured
green zone in the very center of strifetorn sadr city??); but even more
importantly, it will allow the the world,and particularly the most
conflicted, anti-american regions, to see, LIVE,and in real time, this
manifestation of our nation's newly-emerging values, which transcend
traditional musical, cultural, national, linguistic, political AND EVEN
SEXUAL boundaries(the inclusion of transgendered/transvestite
dancers,mr. s., is a truly brilliant add-on) to convey a message of
peace, human solidarity and love SPEARHEADED BY THE PUSH IDEA!
As an important aside ---the potential for this initiative seems
endless--it occurs to me that the performance should certainly be
offered on the u.s.- mexican border, as well: as has often been
noted,our mexican neighbors are particularly supportive of what was
once known as polka music and thus should be uniquely receptive to the
message ---and what better place to project the "edgy"word than on the
very e d g e of our nation, its border with latin america? this will
certainly work wonders for hemispheric realtions.
I will sign off now, overcome with emotion at the incredible
future which this magnificent performance scenario lays out before us.
I am confident that the supporting details will swiftly fall into place
for the plan is irrestible, its dynamic undeniable --many
organizations,networks, etc. will no doubt vie for the prize--I
understand that one of the
""push""leaders himself has excellent network connections--in any case
these are secondary details---the die is cast, the levees have
fallen--we have but to "push" forward to see, in the immediate future,
the realization of the E-P
dream --------and with it, how appropriately, given the exalted nature
of the concept, the unfolding of those long desired but ever-illusive
goals of humankind- - - world peace, harmony and understanding. I love
you guys.
So I leave you for now, "pushers" and traditionalists alike, on
the eve of this Epiphany, with an appropriately patriotic farewell (
contrary to your previous impressions, oh innovators, I am a uniter,
not a divider) :May god bless you all ---- and god bless the blue

Mar 11, 2006, 2:35:22 AM3/11/06
mr. suds: you are clearly intelligent, earnest and articulate but, i
feel, excessively partisan and "down" on our banter, which indeed makes
light of the "extreme pushers", but also of a whole range of polka
issues, such as the controversial grammy awards, the return of the
chicken dance,etc. humor is healthy and good and should be allowed in
any open society.
yes, scratch the jocular surface---as in most humorous
situations---and you may well find some underlying
problems---many---even most, i suspect, fans of the traditional polka
music have misgivings about the "ex-p" effort, which seems to be
throwing out the baby with the bath water; i.e. in their avowed move to
save polka music they are actually suppressing the polka''s name ---as
well as changing its beat in some instances , purging its ethnic
character ,etc. ---nor have the movement's actions been all that
benign: fine musicians have been fired for disagreeing with the "push"
idea and the ex-p leaders are given to fulminating against such polka
mainstays as big joe's (traditional ) polka show ( by far polka's
music's greatest presence in the nation's entertainment world) and to
denigrating various polka styles (german, czech and slovenian) as
"horrid oompah music."
still, all we are doing is having a bit of fun with the whole
thing ---the situation somehow just naturally moves us to humor. you
are a clear supporter of the ex-push people, whom you describe as
creative, innovative, refreshing and innovative. actually my main
problem with their work ---and i am speaking as someone who has been a
musician, songwriter and lifetime lover of polka music---every
style--and many other genres , is , as i wrote above , that it seems to
lack the very "edge" you and they are "pushing".i periodically listen
in for signs of progress in the ex-p scene and to date have heard only
a collection of numbers bearing a faint resemblance to calypso or
merengue music(but without the fully developed authentic charm of these
, as well as various cw and rock music adaptations done to a beat which
, while not like the original is, many complain, not a danceable polka
either.the greatest problem with these numbers , i feel , is that their
melodies and texts are uniformly bland. in my "day job" (career) as a
high school teacher i work with teenagers every day and i can guarantee
you that, to most of these kids, this material would be considered very
sub-standard (sub-human, actually) in excitement,
subject matter, relevance, lyrical/emotional content ---and actually
every other criterion one could imagine....
further down in your song of praise to the "pushers" you write
that there is..."just a handful of groups that dare to approach the
parameters of the polka norm,etc....and that "they are kind of polka
missionaries---let's give them support to proselytize." well, nobody is
stopping them---and actually, as i've said before, if their success
were to help polka music i'd welcome it. but----here (to use a word
borrowed from a distinguished recent "poster") your view is dangerously
skewed--in a pseudo- religious sort of way--because actually virtually
no one wants to, nor should have to, support missionaries "pushing" a
doctrine that differs from their own. that's why i, like most people,
will not let
church "proselytizers" in my door on weekend mornings. when you say"

the huge majority of bands are content to play for the flock, even
though that flock is diminishing" you disregard the fact that this huge
(although diminishing ) majority exists because it is based on the
"real thing" -- european-derived ethnic roots music, the soul music of
many european peoples, augmented and modified by generations of
american- born musicians and music lovers of european descent. the new
ex-p you "push" , by contrast, is the product of a few musicians''
efforts to build a separate identity for themselves and their music--.
what i keep waiting to see (or ,actually, hear) in these renditions is
some passion, some guts, some significant song content in text or
melody that will make it exciting enough to warrant a second listen by
teens, "twens", thirty-somethings---or even myself at the age of write that these people were raised on and fired up by
"holiday in poland/suicide polka" ---so let them come out with
something approaching this quality to merit the effusive praise you
have bestowed on them. in terms of lyrics all i have heard so far in
repeated listenings has been a number of songs saying "hey, let's go
dancing (on a boat or in a club, depending on the song) to a push
how could they do better? examples ( the following just took me
about 30 seconds to list---i'm sure there are many more if someone
would make the effort): the brilliant innovative dylanesque polka work
of rotondi,in the 70's, who i think were light years ahead of any of
the x-pushers, or anyone writing polkas in english, for that matter;
polkas of the texas tornadoes (such as their regional hit "who were you
thinking of?" (when i was making love to you) --of a few years back
---similarly the polkas of the doug sahm group,the bluegrass/norteno
hybrid work of peter rowan, the english-language songs of lil joe and
the familia (tex-mex) super stars---work of the grateful dead (like the
"tijuana blues", horns and all---it's a polka),the rolling stones,
cajun zydeco groups, bob dylan himself--who seemed to serve as an
inspiration for rotondi---even weird al yankovic. what do all these
polka-compatible groups'songs and traditional polka music have that
ex-push hasn't come even close to demonstrating?: passion , meaning,
depth, funkiness, grit, yes, street appeal , fire , some humor
and cojones (in polish the word is jaja---if you don't understand
either you should get down with the ethnic scene )
you complain that the word pimp is distasteful and infer that any
song containing it must be bizarre, shocking, profane and
disgraceful.actually,as the recently-posted chicago press article
informs us,the (truly) innovative polka group the polkaholics regale
packed houses with their hit song "polka pimp.the word pimp is so
common among young people that it is a for
distastefulness,amidst the general blandness of the extreme push
repertoire one song does stand out as coming pretty close to the edge
in this category; namely, one of the movement's leaders'lead numbers,in
which a girl is repeatedly urged to grab a guy's kielbasa. i rest my
ultimately, of course, the proof of the pudding (or kielbasa) is
in the eating ---that is to say, public approval or lack thereof will
dictate what music prospers or fails. personally , although basically
a traditionalist , i guess, i would love to be able to enjoy polka-like
work approaching the quality of the numerous artists mentioned above. i'd be thrilled if this or some other stimulus would "push" the
"x-ers" inthe direction of some ral creativity ---and music that has a
small fraction of the excitement generated by the greatest of the
"old-style" polka stars.
finally, in keeping with your missionary analogy, you "push"
mightily for the x-push camp ---you should definitely be drafted to
write their album liner notes (if that is not already your function).
but even the best spin can't prevent dramatic shortcomings from
eventually being revealed ----how much these discussions remind me of
the fable of the emperor's new clothes....
in closing i would stress that we were all joking around---humor
is healthy , fun and essential in a free society ---and beware of an
institution or movement that cannot take a joke at its own expense.
your missionary analogy is also revelatory---historically (in colonial
times around the world) christian missionaries were notorious (and
reviled) for being narrow-minded, intolerant of humor and differences
of opinion ---and for branding everything from lipstick, to kissing,
holding hands and the singing of traditional songs as (where did i hear
these words recently?)
profane, bizarre, shocking or disgraceful. take care not to fall into
that mold ---otherwise you can knock on the nation's doors every
weekend morning til hell freezes over but no one of sound mind will let
you in. peace out--jr

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