- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2003

Birth of the King

“Rock and roll was in the air; Elvis did not invent it. Teenagers, black and white, had been dancing to hard-driving ‘jump blues’ records by black groups such as Jackie Brenston and the Delta Cats’ ‘Rocket 88’ (commonly regarded as the first rock song) since the early 1950s, and white ‘hillbilly cats’ and western-swing musicians such as Bill Haley … were combining elements of African-American music with commercial pop and country-and-western styles around the same time.

“In fact, Haley had begun to make a career out of retooling black musicians’ hits like ‘Rocket 88’ for white audiences even before Elvis paid Sun Records founder Sam Phillips $4 to cut his first record. In doing so, Haley followed an old American custom of whitening black music for profit and glory. …

“To judge from Presley’s earliest recordings, however, it was Elvis who represented rock and roll at its unblushing, volatile best; he was its first master and the embodiment of every reason that adolescents of the postwar years turned to it. … Elvis and his music were both young, and in their earthy unconventionality, overt sexuality, and coded blackness — Presley was white, yet, as a Southerner, still otherto the rest of America — they implied all kinds of challenges to the conservatism and homogeneity of mainstream popular culture in the 1950s.”

David Hadju, writing on “Hustling Elvis,” in the Oct. 9 issue of the New York Review of Books

The parent trap

“Holly Marie Patterson of Livermore, Calif., died at the age of 18. Her premature death came as a result of her visit to a Planned Parenthood clinic where she was given the drug RU-486 to abort her child. She died due to an infection resulting from her use of RU-486.

“Sadly, only moments before his daughter’s death, her father learned that she had chosen to ‘terminate her pregnancy.’ …

“The news media and the entertainment industry like to pretend that teenagers … know about the facts of life and all of their consequences. Among American teens, peers are often considered wiser than parents, impulsive behavior rules, and the values associated with maturity take a back seat to being ‘cool.’

“The authority of parents is steadily undermined in movies and advertising, through popular music, fashion magazines and on television.”

Paul M. Weyrich, writing on “Dangerous Medicine,” Wednesday in Notable News Now

Choice hypocrisy

“Our elected representatives like school choice for themselves. And while many claim that they ‘support our public schools,’ the numbers show they’re less likely to place their children there.

“Sens. Mary Landrieu [Louisiana Democrat], Arlen Specter [Pennsylvania Republican] and Hillary Clinton [New York Democrat] are among those who have used private schools for their children. Sen. Specter’s attended a private school in Philadelphia because, according to their father, ‘they didn’t have access to a good public school.’

“Of course, most students in the nation’s capital also lack access to a quality public school. And few can afford private-school tuition. Sen. Specter’s opposition to parental-choice legislation has helped make sure they’ll be denied the leg up his children enjoyed. …

“In this case, ‘do as I say not as I do’ spells h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y.”

Krista Kafer, writing on “Opportunity For Me, Not For Thee,” Wednesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

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