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Hate California? That's Why The Lady is a Tramp - Mo's Journal
March 26th, 2009
07:41 am

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Hate California? That's Why The Lady is a Tramp
Okay, so I was listening to some "standards" radio show on our local public radio station and they played a Sinatra recording of "The Lady is a Tramp" by Rogers and Hart and it gave me a terrible ear bug. Figuring I'd do something educational with this malady :-) I looked up a bunch of different versions of the song - both looking at lyrics and listening to recordings (thank you, Rhapsody). So now I've got 15 different versions (including one sung by Kevin Spacey - who knew?) and a persistent question.

Here are the Sinatra lyrics, as an example. Different versions are shorter or longer, and they all have topical references that vary a bit by when they were recorded (e.g. the older ones say "I follow Winchell and read every line") but they all have lots of New York City references. These include:

Won't go to Harlem in ermine and pearls
I love Coney, the beach is divine
I like the rowing on Central Park lake

Some of the versions have references to LaGuardia (the mayor, not the airport) and NYC restaurants.

So anyway, although the lady does "tramp" around ("I've hitched and hiked and grifted, too, from Maine to Albuquerque") she seems to be based in New York City and loves it. Which makes me completely perplexed by this line:

"Hate California, it's cold and it's damp."

WTF? Surely New York City is colder and damper than California.

ETA: The plurality view is that it refers to Northern California in the summer. LJ flists know everything.

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From:barb_krasnoff
Date:March 26th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
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I'm pretty sure that line was supposed to be ironic. (Also, it rhymes with "tramp," and Hart may have been getting bored with the whole thing by then. )
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From:mofic
Date:March 26th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC)
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Also, it rhymes with "tramp," and Hart may have been getting bored with the whole thing by then.

LOL! Hey, were you guys at Lunacon? Were the attendees as ill behaved as I've read?
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From:barb_krasnoff
Date:March 26th, 2009 02:10 pm (UTC)
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Yes, we were there, and had a nice time catching up with friends (at least, until Jim sprained his ankle about an hour before we were going to leave...sigh). I didn't notice any misbehavior, but then, I've noticed that every convention is actually many different conventions -- it depends on the individual. I've read reports about Readercon where I sat there and wondered, "If that was Readercon, what con was I at?"

So who misbehaved?
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From:mofic
Date:March 26th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
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Sorry about Jim's ankle. How is he now?

I've only been to two cons and they were small ones. I felt like I knew what was going on at them, but maybe not.

I don't know who misbehaved or even if they did, not having been there. But this post http://rm.livejournal.com/1596235.html says a lot of bad stuff happened.

On a totally different topic, I'm very much looking forward to seder. Thanks so much for including me.
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From:barb_krasnoff
Date:March 27th, 2009 01:25 am (UTC)
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Well, I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. There's always a certain amount of mishegas at cons; unless it's something really egregious, I tend to shrug and go on. (Actually, I've had more problems with bad behavior at computer trade shows.)

Yes, we're looking forward to having you guys over -- it's been a hard month and we all deserve a party!

Barbara
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From:hitchhiker
Date:March 26th, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
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(Also, it rhymes with "tramp," and Hart may have been getting bored with the whole thing by then. )

that was my first thought too :)
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From:executrix
Date:March 26th, 2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
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Not than San Francisco!
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From:mofic
Date:March 26th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC)
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Well, depending on time of year. San Francisco kind of has the same weather all year, I find.
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From:st_crispins
Date:March 26th, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC)
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And it could be, in those days, "California" meant San Francisco not LA and that city is definitely cold and damp.
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From:mofic
Date:March 26th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
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executrix said the same thing and it's certainly true that some times of the year SF is colder and damper than NYC.
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From:davidfcooper
Date:March 26th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
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I agree with st_crispins and executrix. CA refers to northern not southern CA (though I understand that the central coast can also be cold and damp much of the time).
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From:litotease
Date:March 27th, 2009 07:58 am (UTC)
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It's just more irritating when it's cold and damp out here. This is California, fer cryin' out loud; it's not supposed to be cold. All the songs & movies say so.

I spent a couple of High School years in Albany/Schenectady, which taught me what cold (woo-hoo! snow days!) and damp (thunder boomers!) really are.
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From:talktooloose
Date:March 26th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC)
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That is a perplexing line!

I didn't really understand this song at all until I listened closely a few years ago and learned the context. She's saying that everyone calls her "tramp" in society circles, not because she is a slut or whatever, but because she doesn't play by society's rules. "I go to opera and stay wide awake," "... the bleachers are fine."

The final punchline is, "I'm all alone when I lower my lamp / That's why the lady is a tramp."
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From:mofic
Date:March 26th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, it's before "tramp" meant "slut" - when it meant "hobo" or "bohemian." And the lyrics even make a portmanteau word of that - she refers to "hobohemia."

I like all the New York stuff in it. Also how the lyrics changed over time in different versions. There's a line "I still like [insert name] - I think he's a champ" and I have versions where it's LaGuardia, Roosevelt and Kennedy. Ella Fitzgerald adds the line "For Frank Sinatra I whistle and stamp" but Sinatra doesn't sing that :-).
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From:executrix
Date:March 26th, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)
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I like to think of the President singing the "I still like Roosevelt" version.
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From:mofic
Date:March 26th, 2009 03:38 pm (UTC)
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That's a fun image! I can just see him, sort of singing to himself:

I go to Coney the beach is divine
I like a ball game the bleachers are fine
I still like Roosevelt I think he's a champ
That's why I'm in the Democrat camp
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From:executrix
Date:March 26th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)
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He's certainly getting plenty of prize fights that aren't a fake, so I hope he enjoys them!
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From:hippediva
Date:March 26th, 2009 04:35 pm (UTC)
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LOL! Apparently, SF was NOT to the lady's liking. She sure wasn't hanging around Los Angeles! (and for 'cold and damp' NOTHING can beat the Mohawk valley! Constant "Ithacating" as we used to call it when I was in college. ROFL!
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From:mofic
Date:March 27th, 2009 11:04 am (UTC)
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Yeah, SF seems to be the consensus.
From:okelle
Date:March 26th, 2009 06:39 pm (UTC)
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Not San Francisco in the summertime.
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From:mofic
Date:March 27th, 2009 11:07 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I should have thought of that, having certainly spent time in San Francisco in the summer.
From:okelle
Date:March 27th, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC)
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Other parts of NoCal are more pleasant that time, but I still enjoyed the city's beauty when I was there last August.

Missed you -- I've been off LJ for a while.
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From:mofic
Date:March 27th, 2009 01:22 pm (UTC)
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Missed you, too. Sorry to see you've been having a hard time lately.
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