The Best of Peter Tork

While other young boys wanted to be spacemen or firefighters, I wanted to be in a band just like the Monkees. I’d write music and have wacky adventures. That was my fantasy.

I taught myself how to play a passable guitar and piano and later was in a number of bands (playing bass), writing and performing my own songs. Never had that many wacky adventures, though…

About a year ago, I teamed up with popular culture historian Mark Arnold and wrote a book about the Monkees’ music, which was published by Bear Manor Media.Monkees cover

So you can guess that Peter Tork’s death yesterday was a blow to my childhood. It wasn’t completely unexpected — he had stayed out of public for the last year for undisclosed medical reasons. Still, it hits you.

I can go into detail about his career but there are plenty of places where you can read that. I’ll just point out that Peter was the most talented musician of the group, and was very frustrated by the fact that he thought he had been hired to be in a television band but they didn’t allow him to play on any of the records (at first). Later, his keyboard playing especially made a big difference to the songs (see “Daydream Believer,” “Randy Scouse Git” and “The Girl I Knew Somewhere” and notice how important the keys are to those songs).

He was not the best singer and not the best songwriter. Still, he wrote a few really great songs for the Monkees. Let’s review:

FOR PETE’S SAKE was the song he wrote that got used as the closing theme to the show the second year. Peter plays the distinctive guitar riff that opens the song. You all know this one:  “In this generation…”

CAN YOU DIG IT? was a wonderful hippie anthem that was part of the Monkees’ film “Head.”

Also from “Head” is LONG TITLE: DO I HAVE TO DO THIS ALL OVER AGAIN? (and now you get the title of our book, too). Peter gets to sing on this one!

Later, during one of the Monkees reunions, he wrote GETTIN’ IN, an 80s pop ballad that would have fit right in with “Ghostbusters” and “Pop Musik” had it been released as a single.

Around this same time, he had a great song called MGBGT, but there’s only live versions of the Monkees performing it.

He wrote more, but these are my favorites.

So here’s to Peter! (And if you want to read more about the Monkees’ music, I have a suggestion…)

How to discuss the Democratic candidates without being insulting

If there’s one thing the Republicans (and their friends the Russians) want, it’s for us Democrats to be divided and fighting each other. It makes their job so much easier.

They’ll once more do all they can to encourage it, by posting articles in their newspapers and magazines full of lies and accusations, and posting blatantly false memes they know we’ll share.

We cannot play their game this time. The stakes are too high.


Sure, I have my preference. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to trash the others.

We’re at war to save our country from incompetence and corruption, and even the worst Democrat is better than the best Republican right now.

So here’s what you need to do:  Discuss campaign strategy without using personal attacks.

Like this:

“I think Kirsten Gillibrand will have a harder time getting the support of people like me because of her support of [issue].”

“Bernie Sanders will have difficulty getting the Democratic nomination because he refuses to understand that you need to work within the party to get its support.”

“I think we need to nominate someone from a red state and not another Masssachusetts or California liberal, and that’s why I’m supporting [candidate].”

This is not a sport, where you pick a team you support and call all the other ones losers. This is politics, and this time, we have a lot of good candidates. I have my preference and I can tell you why I think she has the best chance of winning, and I can do that without trashing her opponents.

I ask all my liberal friends to do the same. Please. This election is too important for us to hand it to people who want to destroy all that we stand for.

Why I’m not supporting Bernie this time

You may be aware that I supported Bernie Sanders last time, because I thought he had a better chance of winning than Hillary.

Bernie accomplished some great goals nonetheless: He proved that (a) you can raise money for a campaign without using corporate donations and PACs; (b) you can use the word “socialism” without killing your campaign; (c) you can talk about issues that the media calls “leftist” which are actually moderate and supported by a majority of people.

He’s allowed our other candidates to be able to do these things, as he has shown the way. I thank him for that.

I supported him last time but not this time. It’s not the same election.old man yells at cloud

I think we need a younger, newer candidate to excite the voting populace, and Bernie’s not it. We have a lot of great candidates this time. We don’t need him.

And it doesn’t help matters that he only wants to be a member of the Democratic party when he can get something out of us. One of the problems with Bernie (and some of his supporters) is that he doesn’t understand that politics is about, well, politics. It’s about making alliances and getting people on your side to get things accomplished. You need to make friends and allies and you do that by helping each other.

You want the support of other Democrats? Support them back. Don’t just show up at the last minute and wonder why none of the insiders are helping you.

However, if he gets the nomination (which is very unlikely), I’ll still vote for him over any Republican.

Please note: I think it is very important that we do not attack other Democrats this year. However, I think we can rationally discuss each candidate’s pluses and minuses (such as their chances and what will help and hurt them on the campaign trail) without trashing them. And I also think all of the candidates can be made fun of in ways that are not harmful.

Translating Trump’s Tweet

#428 in a series



  1. I don’t understand the difference between satire and real news
  2. I don’t understand the concept of the 1st Amendment’s freedom of speech and press clauses
  3. I don’t know what the word ‘collusion’ means