June 26, 2010

Remember, walking in the dunes?

This is Whitefish Dunes State Park, and that water — with a riptide just waiting to drag you to your death if you don't have the presence of mind to swim parallel to the shore — is Lake Michigan.

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If you dawdle on the stairs, you might notice this orchid-like vine, and if you're married to a horticulturist, he might tell you it's sweet pea, which it is:

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And if you're old like us, you might feel compelled to sing the old Tommy Roe song. The video at the link is nice. You see Roe performing and interacting with a girl in the audience. "Pause at exactly 1:43...the look on her face & eyes as he whispers in her ear..priceless!! :)" says a comment. Another comment comes from "Itsmewithroe," who says:
Actually, Tommy Roe was lip singing. 
I.e., lip synching.
We could hear the recording, and he was whispering. Even he was strumming his guitar, but it was a quiet strum. We were all told to sing the song along with him. If I had known the camera was on me all that time, I would have been so embarrassed. I thought the camera was on everyone.

No. That's not his daughter. the blond in the back, she had a blue & white sailor type 2 piece bathing suit. Tommy Roe had no children. I remember now. It was the summer of 67. I've been talking about that day all my life. I was in ecstasy. I never knew the camera was on me. The producer/director, who ever he was, stage the girls behind me in position. I wonder if I could upload my pictures when I was a kid on this site.
Ha. The producer knew what he was doing. The girl is adorable. And what a great bubblegum song of that era. Roe's best song, however, was "Sheila." It was a cool enough song that The Beatles saw fit to cover it, pretty much in the original form.

But back to Whitefish Dunes. I was going to do a spiffy segue. You know, something with...



... but... well, that counts, according to my rules of blogging.

We were lying on the beach, and a guy came over and asked me if I was Ann Althouse. I confessed and he introduced himself — we'll call him Dr. Steve — and said he loved reading the blog. So, then, hi, Dr. Steve. You know, you said something that invited an answer and I let silence be the answer, but then as Meade and I were walking back across the dune...

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I experienced l'esprit de l'escalier — staircase wit — literally on the stairs.
This name for the phenomenon comes from French encyclopedist Denis Diderot’s description of such a situation in his Paradoxe sur le comédien. During a dinner at the home of statesman Jacques Necker, a remark was made to him which left him speechless at the time because, he explains, l’homme sensible, comme moi, tout entier à ce qu’on lui objecte, perd la tête et ne se retrouve qu’au bas de l’escalier: a sensitive man like me, overwhelmed by the argument levelled against him, becomes confused and can only think clearly again [when he gets to] the bottom of the stairs.
Blogging is great for people afflicted with l'esprit de l'escalier, because I can answer Dr. Steve here. He said: "I can never quite figure out your political persuasion."

The late riposte: "I am not persuaded."

39 comments:

AllenS said...

Gag me with a spoon. Grab some of those vines, and we'll make a noose and string-up Tommy Roe.

former law student said...

Meade should play this Tommy Roe song for the professor:

Dizzy,
I'm so dizzy my head is spinning
Like a whirlpool it never ends
And it's you girl makin' it spin
You're making me dizzy

First time that I saw you girl, I knew that I just had to make you mine
But it's so hard to talk to you with fellows hangin' round you all the time
I want you for my sweet pet, but you keep playing hard to get
I'm going round in circles all the time

Meade said...

☝SOMEbody has had too much Jalepeno cheese and is almost out of beer!

Oh no. Oh no. Oh no no no no no...

AllenS said...

Meade, that song Sweet Pea is absolutely sucky. The Shangri La's song was pretty good, though.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

The quote literally says that he loses his head and doesn't find it until at the bottom of the stairs. I have one of those detachable heads, too.

Toy

pm317 said...

Who cares about your political persuasions? I get a good dose Americana that I would never know, being an immigrant and all.. whoever had heard of Tommy Roe. The attention you bring to things I would never know is priceless.

dbp said...

If we could just persuade "Dr. Steve" to post his take on the encounter here, then we would have your post wrapped-up in a sort of full meta jacket.

SMGalbraith said...

Somebody's feeling nostalgic.....

So odd how things can bring back memories. A song, a picture, even a smell, and suddenly we're back in time.

Life is short but sweet for certain.

Ann Althouse said...

"Meade should play this Tommy Roe song for the professor"

I played that for Meade as I was writing this post... introduced by: "This was my theme song a few weeks ago."

(You may remember I was suffering from vertigo.)

Ron said...

"Sheila" sounds too much like a Buddy Holly ripoff!

I can see Althouse on her death bed thinking fondly of "Paint it Black" -- and blogging about it. Blogging about it would be your "death mask"!

Ann Althouse said...

"If we could just persuade "Dr. Steve" to post his take on the encounter here, then we would have your post wrapped-up in a sort of full meta jacket."

I think Dr. Steve is one of those readers who don't comment. You get the feeling, in the comments, that the readers are the commenters, and you forget about all the readers who never comment. It's quite possible that they are generally pretty different from the commenters, and that one gets a misimpression of the effect of this blog when you think only about the way the commenters are seeing things.

Ron said...

"Sheila" pointed me at Del Shannon's "Runaway"...and made me long for more amateurish go-go dancing in videos.

Ann Althouse said...

@Ron Who knows what song will run through your head when you're dying? It could be "Brown Girl in the Ring"?

And who gets the movie reference? Answer (spoiler alert): Here.

El Pollo Real said...

Gudmund Gudmunder, an Icelandic immigrant who settled on Washington Island (Door County), wrote home to his relatives in the 19th century:

All the gold in the mountains of California cannot equal the wealth that is to be found in the waters of Lake Michigan

Many many more came and established Washington Island as an Icelandic fishing community.

From Iceland Fishermen Go Seafaring Chapter XI in Old World Wisconsin by Fred L. Holmes.

Ron said...

Who knows what song will run through your head when you're dying?

Sounds like a whole post to me...what say you, Doc?

Ron said...

Just my luck, I'll be hearing "Surfer Bird" on my deathbed...crazy ass brain cells!

Paul said...

My favorite illustration of l'esprit de l'escalier is from the Cape Fear episode of the Simpsons, when Sideshow Bob is stalking Bart and Marge tells him to stay away.

virgil xenophon said...

The tale of your whole encounter sounds pretty fishy to me, Ann..

William said...

The little girl does not reveal what Tommy Roe whispered in her ear. Perhaps it was just a banality, and she doesn't wish to shoddy the most elated moment of her life by recalling it. The song itself is banal and elated as are ruminations about life on a pleasant summer day.

Paul said...

Blogging is great for people afflicted with l'esprit de l'escalier, because I can answer Dr. Steve here. He said: "I can never quite figure out your political persuasion."

The late riposte: "I am not persuaded."


Writing a memoir is also great for l'esprit de l'escalier because you can put in all the great things you should have said as if you actually said them. (I suspect that is the case in most memoirs I've read.)

Bob_R said...

The Farfisa organ always redeemed bubble gum for me. Guy in my first garage band played one, so there will always be a sweet spot in my head that will light up every time I hear one.

ricpic said...

Lake Michigan is like the midwest and midwesterners: underneath the placid surface is a killer. Of course the millions of super nice well fed folks you pass may actually be what they appear to be. But Hemingway and Sinclair Lewis didn't think so. Who knows?

Mike said...

one gets a misimpression of the effect of this blog when you think only about the way the commenters are seeing things.

-A.A.



Exactly right. And I wanted you to see that last night.

You and Meade looked so peaceful and at such equanimity as you gazed upon Lake Michigan from the shores of Whitefish dunes, I hesitated to intrude. But, given that everyone should experience a “groupie adulation moment” at least once in their life, intrude I did. How did I do? Enough teenage girl-like Beatle mania excitement for you? Hope so. You deserve it.

Obviously, I recognize your persuasion is libertarian. But compared to the standard foot soldier of the UW professoriate with their predictable little “L” liberalism, your outlook is more....(Kerry ruined this next word for me) nuanced. I suspect while you revile little “C” conservatives’ hypocrisy almost as much, it looms less large in a time of liberal ascendancy. I wonder, really, if you pay a bit of a political price for your views in Madison. Groupie moments aside, I simply wanted to thank you and let you know you are appreciated Though your writing appears effortless, I recognize the discipline you exhibit in putting to word your observations, insights, and frankly your love story. Thank you. You are quite right that it is enjoyed by an audience far wider than the commentators (who I really enjoy too).

It was wonderful to see you enjoying my home place. I appreciate the quiet anonymity and beauty Door County offers.

Well, back now to my lurker status….Its scary out here in comment-land.

Oh, one more thing. I do not know fancy French words, but if “l'esprit de l'escalier’ often results in a dumfounded moment of silence, I would say you did rather well for having your peace suddenly interrupted by a runner with stinky clothes on and a dumfounded grin himself.

Dr. Steve

former law student said...

One of my old acquaintances sells British goods in Egg Harbor -- the good Lord knows why.

Trooper York said...

Dude...if you really want to be a groupie....well you have to get a plaster cast or something.

Everybody knows that!

edutcher said...

Funny that I've had a song running through my mind since I heard it on XM - "Sit Down, I Think I Love You".

Surprised it was Buffalo Springfield and written by Stephen Stills - and I always liked it, but it never went that far. My taste in music tends not to be the mob's.

They go more for stuff like "Sweet Pea".

Ann Althouse said...

This is Whitefish Dunes State Park, and that water — with a riptide just waiting to drag you to your death if you don't have the presence of mind to swim parallel to the shore — is Lake Michigan.

That's what happened to all of the Zero's critics. The riptide.

Yeah, dat's da ticket.

Ron said...

"Sheila" sounds too much like a Buddy Holly ripoff!

You just summed up Tommy Roe's career.

Cedarford said...

1. The German term is Treppenwitz, literally "staircase wit" and the Germans claim the French just ripped them off - as it in medieval German in origin. The wit you know is with you, on the tip of your tongue, but which only emerges when the moment has passed. Believed to be started in France or Germany (or by a visitor to an Italian court) where the premium was on courtier wit, and many rued their great wit within disappeared on the stairs leading to or exiting from the courtier jousting grounds where wit was to be on display for the amusement of nobles.

2. Dr. Steve delurks.

3. Althouse was meta-free associating like crazy and delivering with photos even of whitefish caviar, and a Tommy Roe vid. (The girl was adorable and not overtly staged like using youg teen model Courtney Cox in the Springsteen vid "Dancing in the Dark".)

4. I was once in a Lake Michigan riptide with two friends. All really good swimmers. We tried powering in with a crawl and lost 100 yards - being swept past a buoy that was originally behind us when we swam for shore then with a roostertail of spray being stationary in the current led us to abandon the brute force approach. Then swam parallel, landed about a 3rd of a mile from the beach..on a stony beach that killed our feet getting through, to a trail loaded with prickly sand burrs, confronting an irate private property owner who owned the trail we were skewering our feet on burrs on, then a half mile of sizzling hot blacktop.
Lake Michigan can be dangerous! (That included a tough great-aunt killed in Chicago in her 80s. Huge wind gust picked her up on her daily 5-mile walk, slammed her against the lakefront "seawall", breaking a hip, fracturing her skull. Died a few days later.)

5. Now lawyers have replaced the old aristocracy system of courtiers. But the place of people with final word over the masses is still called the Court. Nor do the replacement courtiers - called solicitors, lobbyists, and aspiring judges need to be armed with wit. Money substitutes nicely.

Trooper York said...

I just don't think it was cool for Dr. Steve to post photos of his encounter with Meadhouse.

(Warning, who knew they were nudists)

Trooper York said...

That one was for you Penny.

Bruce Hayden said...

One of my fondest memories of Lake Michigan were our trips to the Sleeping Bear Dunes on the other side of the lake. My grandparents (and three generations before them) lived 20 miles south of there in Benzonia, MI, and so whenever we would visit them in the summer, we had to go to the dunes. I remember when it would take what seemed like hours to get to the top of the dunes. The younger ones often wouldn't make it all the way up. I think I can remember when I couldn't. And then I went back as an adult, and it took maybe 15 minutes or so.

Sixty Grit said...

I'm goin' with Garry Owen.

As for l'esprit de l'escalier, I once got a call back in the early 80s, the caller asked if this was the Cleaver residence, I said no and hung up. Not quite a stairway, but a moment later I realized the correct response was "Yes, would you like to speak to Wally, Beaver or Eldridge?"

Split second. Dang - I was that close.

Bruce Hayden said...

Sweet Pea, and those other Tommy Roe songs do bring back memories. They were an earlier, brighter, time. Not like the darker music we had by the end of the 1960s. But, then, it could be my age, as I was in high school when this video was made.

It really is a great video. Cute as it can be. Roe is flirting with a young (13?) girl, and she is playing along with him, making eyes at him and smiling winsomely in response to his singing this romantic song to her, as she sings along with him. She claims it was the summer of 67, she and her older sister were at the beach, and this just happened.

virgil xenophon said...

Cedarford, two of the best HS tennis-playing brothers who ever came out of Chicago--Tim & Mike Sheehan--died/drowned from hypothermia in a summer boating accident in Lake Mich. in the '60s A third friend who was rescued and later became Head Tennis coach at Minn.--Jerry Noyce--almost gave up tennis as a result.

k*thy said...

Thanks Dr. Steve. As an infrequent commentor, you echo my thoughts very closely.

p.s. I miss your part of WI. It's been 20 years since I've been in that neck of the woods.

former law student said...

My grandparents (and three generations before them) lived 20 miles south of there in Benzonia, MI

Bruce Catton country. Along with his Civil War books, he wrote Waiting for the Morning Train, which I picked up at the original Borders.

Also close to the Cherry Hut in Beulah.

Cedarford said...

I opened Trooper Yorks link.
Wish I hadn't.

Ann Althouse said...

"Sounds like a whole post to me...what say you, Doc?"

Ha. Just reading this now. I had the idea to do that on my own or I'd have given you a nod in the post. I hope you didn't feel slighted!

Ann Althouse said...

Dr. Steve/Mike!!!! Thanks for the comment!

"Well, back now to my lurker status….Its scary out here in comment-land."

I hope you speak up again, but in any case, it's nice to know you are reading.

"... I would say you did rather well for having your peace suddenly interrupted by a runner with stinky clothes on and a dumfounded grin himself."

Ha. The truth is Dr. Steve/Mike is incredibly cute. So don't worry about having a heart attack or whatever and needing to go to the hospital in the wilds of Door County.

Trooper York said...

"Cedarford said...
I opened Trooper Yorks link.
Wish I hadn't."

Sorry Cedarford. I can't help it that people send my photos to blog about. Even Meade is getting concerned about the professors perchant for photoblogging everything!

I agree that some things should just be private.