August 22, 2011, 10:45 PM
Even if the successor turns out to be even worse, there is always something fleetingly pleasant about watching events culminate in the departure of a thoroughly corrupt, entrenched dictator. And today, August 22, 2011, was one of those days.
No, Philadelphia Jewish Culture Examiner is not talking about Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi. Events are still unfolding in Tripoli, and while it definitely seems like there is a Maghreb version of the New Year’s Eve-in-Havana scene from The Godfather Part II well underway, it is right now still a bit premature to say that the almost-42-years-old Gaddafi regime is unquestionably over.
But we members of the taxpaying population of the City of Philadelphia can celebrate the end of the reign of our local Empress Edumucator, Arlene Ackerman.
To recap, via what the Washington Times wrote: “Ms. Ackerman’s tenure collapsed over the past few months as the district faced a colossal budget hole, a dispute with the teachers union and criticism of everything from her salary to her management style.”
Oh, and there was a cost to the removal of Ackerman from office; the buyout is costing taxpayers and an unnamed group of private donors $905,000. (Incidentally, the Committee of Seventy, a Philadelphia bipartisan election watchdog group, is urging the School Reform Commission to make public the anonymous private donors who are paying $400,000 of that $905,000 amount.) Not that, in comparison to the cost of removing Gaddafi, Ackerman’s price is so high … the effort to remove Gaddafi from office has so far cost American taxpayers at least $896 million.
So today’s “Song of the Day,” in honor of Ackerman (and maybe, by the time some read this, in honor of Gaddafi) is “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”, a 1969 #1 hit by the studio group Steam which is a pretty consistent part of the taunting aspect of American spectator-sports culture. (Just avoid the urge to sing it at the end of a San Francisco 49ers/Oakland Raiders preseason NFL game.)
Incidentally, given how ubiquitous “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” is, there tends to be little known about the group Steam. When the song was recorded by a group of studio musicians, it was attributed to “Steam” even though no such group really existed. Steam’s members had been together, not particularly successfully, early in the 1960s in a Bridgeport, Connecticut-based group called The Chateaus. “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” was merely recorded as a throwaway B-side, but it somehow got the attention of a DJ in Georgia. Requests poured in over the phone, the rest was history, and the song will be part of our culture after Arlene Ackerman is all but forgotten (except for by maybe those students who, years later, are bitter about having being shortchanged in their youth by her mismanagement of the Philadelphia School District).
Among others who have recorded the song are Bananarama (reached #5 in their native in the U.K. in 1983, although it did not crack the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.) and The Nylons. (The version by The Nylons, a Canadian group, features some fun harmonies; it reached #12 on the Billboard chart in 1987.)
After September 11, 2001, Clear Channel placed the song on a list of post-9/11 inappropriate titles for its stations (a suggestion, as opposed to a ban), along with other songs such as “My City Was Gone” by the Pretenders, “Crash Into Me” by the Dave Matthews Band, “Morning Has Broken” by Cat Stevens (who now goes by “Yusuf Islam”), “Dust In The Wind” by Kansas, “Great Balls Of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis and Van Halen’s “Jump.” As might apply even better to Arlene Ackerman, Megadeth’s “Death and the Fugitive Mind” was also on that list.
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