“Gossip” has a negative connotation, which is odd considering its origins.
In Old English godsibb or gossip was the word for a godparent. It literally meant ‘a person related to one in God’ and came from god ‘God’ and sibb ‘a relative’, the latter word found in sibling (Old English). Gossip came to be applied to a close friend, especially a female friend invited to be present at a birth. From this developed the idea of a person who enjoys indulging in idle talk, and by the 19th century idle talk or tittle-tattle itself.
Some of that original flavor of gossip as conversation with a close friend who has your best interests at heart—also some of the flavor of the romantic hothouse that is the between-classes high school corridor—is captured in Melissa Manchester’s 1982 Grammy-winning “You Should Hear How She Talks About You”.
This tightly argued, thought-provoking little (only 114 pages) book grows out of a 1998 Berkeley conference, “Critical Resistance: Beyond The Prison Industrial Complex” and anticipates by more than a decade the current public discussion about prison reform.
Angela Davis makes clear from the opening words of Are Prisons Obsolete? that she refuses to be limited to discussing “prison reform”. Instead she wants us to begin imagining a world without prisons:
In most circles prison abolition is simply unthinkable and implausible. Prison abolitionists are dismissed as utopians and idealists whose ideas are at best unrealistic and impracticable, and, at worst, mystifying and foolish. This is a measure of how difficult it is to envision a social order that does not rely on the threat of sequestering people in dreadful places designed to separate them from their communities and families. The prison is considered so ‘natural’ that it is extremely hard to imagine life without it. (pp. 9-10)
Are Prisons Obsolete? was first published in 2003, at or near the peak of the prison-constructing mania that possessed American society in the late 20th century. Davis uses her home state of California—in this instance as in so many, a trendsetter for the rest of the nation—as an example. Read more…
British jazz singer Maxine Nightingale had one pop hit and it was a big one. “Right Back Where We Started From” reached #2 on the Billboard charts 40 years ago.
With its chugging horn line, heavy hand claps, sprightly strings, and smooth call-and-response harmonies, it’s also a contestant for the title of “Best non-Pointer Sisters Pointer Sisters Song”.
Ooo and it’s alright and it’s coming ‘long,
We got to get right back to where we started from;
Love is good, love can be strong;
We got to get right back to where we started from.
The Orlons were a moderately successful “girl group” out of Philadelphia in the early 1960s. “Don’t You Want My Lovin'” wasn’t their biggest hit (“The Wah-Watusi” was), but if you like “Green Onions” it’s a good way to start the week.
(Just in case there was any confusion: “Green Onions” went to #1 on the R&B charts in late 1962; “Don’t You Want My Lovin'” came out in early 1963.)