November 15, 2016

"It’s a great form of communication... a tremendous form... I have a method of fighting back.... So it’s a modern form of communication. There should be nothing you should be ashamed of. It’s — it’s where it’s at."

Said Donald Trump, speaking about social media — "Facebook and Twitter and I guess Instagram" — to Lesley Stahl on "60 Minutes" the other day. She was probing into whether he's going to give it up once he's President, and his answer is that it's a way to easily reach 28 million people. That would be "very tough" to give up, but he's "going to do very restrained, if I use it at all, I’m going to do very restrained."

I like that Trumpism — "to do very restrained." Ordinarily, in English, we'd say "to be very restrained." But he's a doer. "Do" should get an adverb, not an adjective ("restrained"), so it's technically grammatically wrong.

But "do" is perhaps his "be," and "be" gets an adjective. See? I'm doing very pedantic. Hope you like it. I'm not ashamed. There should be nothing you should be ashamed of. Yikes! What a concept! No shame. No more shame. Do — and don't regret. Trump doesn't do regretful.

But the reason I'm writing this post — doing this modern form of communication — is because of the phrase "It’s where it’s at."

That's a real 1960s phrase — right in there with "Do your own thing" and "Let it all hang out." How much 1960s is in the mind of Trump? I only know what's in the mind of Althouse, and "It's where it's at" screams 60s to me.

If you're younger, maybe you know it from this highly honored 1996 recording by Beck:

But Beck's source for the phrase was from 1969, an educational recording titled "Sex for Teens: (Where It's At)," which you can listen to here.

I listened. Very sincere and thus very funny.

"Where It's At" was the title of a British TV show. The Beatles used it to present "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" to the world:
KENNY [Radio personality Kenny Everett]: "What do you think of this new LP? It's a bit strange compared to the others. Would you term it 'Psycho-Deeelic'?"

RINGO: "Only if you want to think of it as psycho-deeelic."

JOHN: "Now we'd like to play you one. It's a sad little song. (pause) Where's it gone?"

PAUL: (giggles)

JOHN: "Oh, this is it, yeah. Picture yourself on an old-fashioned elephant. Lucy in the sky for everyone, now."
The best use of "where it's at" is, I think, from Bob Dylan, in that most Bob Dylan of Bob Dylan songs, "Like a Rolling Stone." Forget the old-fashioned elephant. Bring on the chrome horse:
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain’t it hard when you discover that
He really wasn’t where it’s at
After he took from you everything he could steal
I call out to Meade, and he points out that he already texted me what is to him the better Bob Dylan usage of "where it's at," "Positively 4th Street":
You say you lost your faith
But that’s not where it’s at
You had no faith to lose
And you know it
You're probably wondering by now whether the 60s and Bob Dylan and The Beatles are where it's at and, to put it another way, whether the Althouse blog is where it's at. Or maybe is Trump where it's at. But we're all here on social media, and Trump says it's where it's at.


David Begley said...

4th Street in Minneapolis. That's where it's at.

rhhardin said...

You lick the platter clean, not cleanly.

Ann Althouse said...

You could lick it cleanly if you pre-sanitized your tongue.

fivewheels said...

If you read "do" in the sense of imitate, or impersonate, you could see Trump "doing" very restrained, in the same way I do an impression.

That's what's happening, man.

Laslo Spatula said...

Ann Althouse said...
"You could lick it cleanly if you pre-sanitized your tongue."

Althouse is exceptionally frisky this morning.

I am Laslo.

Qwinn said...

"There should be nothing you should be ashamed of. Yikes! What a concept! No shame. No more shame. "

Liberals internalized this about their own behavior over 40 years ago.

Everyone *else* was entitled to 40 years of continuous non-stop incessant hysterical shaming.

It worked out well for them, until it didn't.

Sebastian said...

"I like that Trumpism — "to do very restrained." Ordinarily, in English, we'd say "to be very restrained." But he's a doer." Technicalities aside, he is a doer who can do no wrong.

Laslo Spatula said...

Bob Dylan's "Positively 9th Street" (previously unreleased)

A business deal falls through
I informed him on the third night
When fortune gives
Only to find the night-watchman
Unaware of his presence in the building

Dogs for dogging, hands for clapping
Birds for birding and fish for fishing
Them for themming and when for whimming

Floral bark rogue doctors
Have brought this specimen
The plan, the telegram

I am Laslo.

wild chicken said...

2008: Republicans need to use teh social media!

2016: someone pls hide his phone!

Laslo Spatula said...

@ Althouse

"I am Laslo. 11/15/16, 8:32 AM"

There is a Hidden Message there for you.

I am Laslo.

Darrell said...

Trump said "big league" and reporters wrote "bigly." Every article about Trump is suspect.

Heartless Aztec said...

"A preachment, dear friends, you are about to receive
On John Barleycorn, nicotine, and the temptations of Eve"
(Bronx cheer)

No parkin' by the sewer sign
Hot dog, my razor's broke
Water drippin' up the spout
But I don't care, let it all hang out

Hangin' from a pine tree by my knees
Sun is shinin' through the shade
Nobody knows what it's all about,
It's too much, man, let it all hang out

Saw a man walkin' upside down
My T.V.'s on the blink
Made Galileo look like a Boy Scout
Sorry 'bout that, let it all hang out

Sleep all day, drive all night
Brain my numb, can't stop now
For sure ain't no doubt
Keep an open mind, let it all hang out

It's rainin' inside a big brown moon
How does that mess you baby up, leg
Eatin' a Reuben sandwich with sauerkraut
Don't stop now, baby, let it all hang out

Let it all hang out

Wilbur said...

Trump: To do is to be
Sartre: To be is to do
Sinatra: Do be do be do

(Sorry for the 50 year-old graffiti reference)

Sarah Rolph said...

Last week on an airplane the guy next to me, when asked what he wanted to drink, said to the flight attendant "I'll do a coffee."

Seemed very odd to me.

Amexpat said...

If you read "do" in the sense of imitate, or impersonate, you could see Trump "doing" very restrained, in the same way I do an impression.

Yes. Trump views this all as a game and is pretty transparent about it. He doesn't need to "be" a role, like a method actor. He can just don some superficial trappings of the needed role.

Owen said...

Laslo: Your message is too deep for me, man.

I can't see or hear "where it's at" without hearing Dylan ripping into that poor haughty unnamed girl in "Like A Rolling Stone." Instant mind-worm. Thanks, Professor. Thanks, Donald.

Amexpat said...

Last week on an airplane the guy next to me, when asked what he wanted to drink, said to the flight attendant "I'll do a coffee."

Better that than "I'll do you".

Gary Kirk said...

I'll be where it was, because this campaign and election has led me to delete my Facebook account. Socialized media is becoming the only form of communication to be used between "friends and followers" because it's where shame has gone to die.

Jeff Gee said...

The 365 Day Project, whence cometh "Sex for Teens: (Where It's At)," is most definitely where it's at. Both the 2003 and the 2007 versions are archived on the WFMU blog and at ubuweb. If Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music is the gateway to the Old Weird America, these are portals to the New Weird America and they opened up my ears like nothing else since the 49 cent bin at the East Orange NJ Korvettes vanished.

Anonymous said...

"Do" should get an adverb, not an adjective

And an object as well-- which should be your clue. Trump is using a common colloquial form here. I'd explain, but I don't do verbose.

Bonkti said...

Come on, come on. Let me show you where it's at.
The name of the place is I like it like that.

And whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that as the name thereof.

SweatBee said...

It actually makes him sound British, as they have a colloquial way of adding "do" into sentences where Americans would not. Example:

Me: Would you like to join me for lunch on Thursday?
Friend: I can do, but Wednesday would be better.

John henry said...

I agree that "do" in this context is not technically correct. I don't think it is wrong, though. I've heard it often over the years:

"We don't do nice" Tina Turner back in the 60's

I don't do quiet

I don't do aggressive

and so on.

John Henry

Ron said...

I suspect the Althouse blog is a Happening.

mccullough said...

Bottles and cans and just clap your hands, just clap your hands

Quaestor said...

To do.
To be.

traditionalguy said...

Trump was in his gentle mood for the 60 Minutes interview. I bet Kellyann promised him her respect if he could go a full 60 Minutes without attacking anyone.

And he got it done.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

My big take away from that exchange is that Stahl wanted to de-legitimize (is that a word?) the use of social media by POTUS because she and the still, for now, MSM, recognize that it allows him to bypass the media gatekeepers, quickly and easily communicate with his followers and spur them to action, and to foster a sense of community. All of which will further erode the MSM's still great, but ever waning, influence.

Trump, of course, was having none of it.

It's really interesting that a 70 year old guy understands social media and its potential so well.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Trump was in his gentle mood for the 60 Minutes interview.

Why wouldn't he be? He won and revealed a lot of braying jackasses for what they are.

Apparently NPR thinks that the country is in a somber mood. Which is true if by "the country" you mean the people in the cubicles next to you who also work for NPR.

However, if that does not describe you then there is a good chance that this is happy victory fun week.

jimbino said...

When I order roast beef and mashed potatoes at my grocery's prepared food counter, they ask whether I want it "with au jus." I suppose "with au jus" is best for "the hoi polloi."

robother said...

Baby Boomer Hell is where it's at. (Sorry GenXers and Millenials, just 30 more years to go.)

Jay Vogt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay Vogt said...

Sorry Wilbur. Just saw your post. Mine is redundant.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Make hat happy fun victory week.

mikee said...

When I was a kid, one ordered iced tea and got enough sugar to kill an entire anthill with diabetes. I have been annoyed for several decades now that I have to order unsweetened iced tea.

It strikes me as similar to the "mit ohn" described in Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, where in prewar cafes in the Balkans one ordered coffee "with without" to avoid getting the popular and normal raspberry syrup added to your drink.

One day soon I expect to go to a Starbucks and order, as I always do, a large black coffee, and after getting asked "Venti?" the server (barrista) will ask if I want room left in the cup for cream and sugar. I will then explain that his entire corporate existence, while profitable, is overcomplicated to present an appearance of sophistication, and is stupid.

robother said...

That "O Juice" is good with roast beef. Not at all what you think.

Hagar said...

I just ask for coffee-coffee, and hey know what I mean.

Earnest Prole said...

Surely the musical cue here should be Sam Cooke’s “That’s Where It’s At,” recorded August 1963.

Earnest Prole said...

Lights turned way down low
Music is soft and slow
With someone you love so
That's where it's at

Your world turned upside down
You're making not a sound
No one else around
That's where it's at

Your heart is beating fast
You're knowing time will pass
But hoping that it lasts
That's where it's at

You say it's time to go
She says "Yes I know"
But stay just one minute more
That's where it's at

Tyrone Slothrop said...

One of my parents was an elementary school teacher and the other had a masters' in English literature. I could never get past the fact that "where it's at" is just bad grammar. Bad, bad grammar.

weh said...

Let me show you where it's at- 50's or 60's song. Freddie Cannon?
My teacher used to say it's behind the at. Whatever that meant.

Jeff said...

Where it's at? Depends what it is. It is what it is, I suppose.

jameswhy said...

Trump's use of Twitter and other social media is exactly synonymous with FDR's use of Fireside Chats on the wireless. It's how he reaches his people.

jr565 said...

Earnest beat me to it. Perhaps the most sublime song using that phrase is That's Where It's At by Sam Cooke.

Charlie said...

Might be Beck's best song.