April 2, 2018

"I Eat Cannibals."



A 1982 song by Toto Coelo, which I'm listening to — I hasten to say! — not because of anything in the previous post, but because the quote "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore"...



... came up in some other conversation we were having in real life here at Meadhouse, I wanted to do something with the Latin phrase "toto coelo," and I got distracted by the existence of a previously-unknown-to-me British New Wave group called Toto Coelo.

Here's a Washington Post columnist, complaining in 1988 about the Supreme Court's use of the Latin phrase:
In the court's major decision in this term, a 7-to-1 vote upholding the independent-counsel law, Scalia wrote a lively dissent. Included was the pronouncement: "Fiat justitia, ruat coelum. Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall." Actually not a bad line. In fact, catchy and an attention grabber for a dissenting opinion.

The court's liberal wing, specifically Justice William J. Brennan Jr., also seems to be dusting off its Latin. Quoting Justice Felix Frankfurter in a case involving city regulations on newsboxes, Brennan wrote that a law allowing censorship based on an article's content "differs toto coelo from one limited . . . to considerations of public safety . . . . "

Toto coelo? The congressman from California? And his little dog, too? Instead, how about "completely"? Or "entirely"? Or "in every respect"?
Ha ha. The old independent-counsel law. Remember that?

All I wanna do, is make a meal of you/We are what we eat, you're my kind of meat...

29 comments:

Ann Althouse said...

Do you like it better when I list the questions presented by the post, as in the second and third posts of the day? I mean, I think there are a lot of obvious questions here, but I'm picturing some readers thinking perhaps What am I supposed to do with this?

What can you do? You're in a stew/Hot pot, cook it up, I'm never gonna stop/Fancy a bite, my appetite/Yum, yum, gee it's fun/Banging on a different drum...

Triangle Man said...

I like the questions, but question how you could have left out Toto's Africa.

Ralph L said...

Monday morning Latin? Heavens above!

Nonapod said...

Given the etymology, Toto seems an odd name for a Cairn Terrier. Was Baum trying to say something or was it just a name that sounded good for a feisty little dog?

The band "Toto" claimed to have chosen their name initially on the Wizard of Oz dog and then the Latin meaning (all encompassing).

EDH said...

Toto coelo? The congressman from California?

Wasn't that a Tony Coelho joke?

Anthony Lee Coelho, known as Tony Coelho, is an American politician, a Democratic former United States U.S. representative from California.

Ralph L said...

"Let justice roll down like the waters, and righteousness like an everlasting stream."
-- Miss Jane Marple, channeling Amos

Fernandistien said...

Go to 1:27 to hear all the "Totos" in the Wizard of Oz:
Of Oz The Wizard

StephenFearby said...

If they ever do a remake of the Toto Coelo "I eat cannibals" video, I suggest the producers consider using Gilberto Valle (the NYC Cannibal Cop) in a police uniform sitting in a big stew pot.

Latest from Gilberto (who was a psychology major in college):

'NY Daily News January 8, 2018

'Gilberto Valle might not be a bloodthirsty cannibal — but he hopes to cook up some cash thinking like one.

The former NYPD cop, who spent almost two years in prison on charges that he was plotting to kidnap, slaughter and eat young women, has penned an “extremely violent” horror novel that he hopes will rake in some green. The conviction was later thrown out after a federal judge decided it was all fantasy.

“Even though I've been completely exonerated, all this stuff about ‘Cannibal Cop’ is still there,” Valle, 33, told the Daily News on Monday. “Writing the book comes down to me trying to find a way to make a living.”'

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ex-nypd-cannibal-releases-extremely-violent-horror-article-1.3745322



Sean Gleeson said...

I do remember hearing “I Eat Cannibals” in the 80s, but I never listened closely or saw the video before. I did not know that they were a British girl group. The video feels very much like sitting through one of those dance routines on The Benny Hill Show.

And even though the title is “I Eat Cannibals” in the plural (meaning that they eat the flesh of humans who feed on other humans), they sure seem to be singing “I eat cannibal” in the singular (denoting merely that they eat human flesh themselves). I checked on some lyrics websites just now, and they agree that the lyric is “I eat cannibal.” So I guess I never really understood the song till now.

robother said...

White girls appropriating Cannibal culture. Disturbing. Also sad to think they're all probably dead of kuru; so many 80s trends were not healthy.

Sean Gleeson said...

Althouse: “Do you like it better when I list the questions presented by the post, as in the second and third posts of the day?”

Yes! I like to read the questions that each post impels you to ask.

Sean Gleeson said...

@robother: You are assuming a priori that “Cannibal culture” is foreign. But since the ancient Britons were in fact cannibals, these girls are simply affirming their own culture in its entirety (toto coelo). Agree with you about the kuru, though. Sad!

Robert Cook said...

I never heard of this group and I never heard this song or saw the video.

It's so painfully 80s!

Expat(ish) said...

I always thought that was a Shriekback song that I wasn't familiar with.

For example, Hammerheads.

-XC

rhhardin said...

Fiat justitia, ruat cloacam.

Yancey Ward said...

I am probably the only member of the Althouse gang that purchased the album from which "I Eat Cannibals" came. I did so in the Summer of 1983- Man of War was the album if my memory isn't too faulty. They did release other singles from the album, and I heard them once or twice on the radio at the time, but only that one hit got significant traction in the US. You do hear "Cannibals" fairly frequently, though- I have heard it at least 2 or 3 times a year on the radio (Sirius channel 8).

Bay Area Guy said...

“Ha ha. The old independent-counsel law. Remember that?”

Fuck yeah! The famous Morrison v Olson case - with Scalia’s remarkably prescient dissent.

Did ya know that the “Olson” was not yet famous Solicitor General Ted Olson in the crosshairs?

miklos000rosza said...

It's generally accepted (I assert) that females focus on the lyrics of rock music while the lasting impression males retain is of the noise.

madAsHell said...

I think the cannibal on the far right with the short red hair is the porn star Sharon Mitchell.

Ann Althouse said...

"Yes! I like to read the questions that each post impels you to ask."

Okay, here's what I would have said:

1. Don't you love the circa-1980 New Wave music? Does this song call to mind other, better songs? Aren't New Wave girl groups pretty different from the male-fronted New Wave groups? In what ways?

2. This is from the same time period as the debut of "Hill Street Blues," which we're talking about elsewhere: Are there any connections between the coming of serious art to American TV and this kind of music in Britain? Does it have anything to do with Reagan (U.S. Prez from 1981 to 1989) and Thatcher (UK PM from 1979 to 1990)?

3. Why are the lines from "The Wizard of Oz" so deeply imprinted on our minds and capable of springing to up so readily? Do you have anything else in your head like that? I have about 8 Dylan albums and "My Dinner with Andre" at that seared-in level? How about you?

4. Are you as easily distracted into language issues as I am with "toto coelo"? Is this some blog-induced mental weirdness of mine and would you do it too if you knew you could drop it at will — like a house on a wicked witch — on thousands of fellow humans?

5. Are you irritated, like the WaPo columnist when Supreme Court Justices (and others) drop Latin phrases into their English, or do you think it's amusing, and a nice sop to all the dopes who studied Latin in high school because they wanted to grow to be lawyers? Why am I calling these kids "dopes" — because they should have studied Spanish, which is more useful, or French, which is good for trips to France, or because they wanted to be lawyers?

6. Was that old WaPo columnist right that Brennan would have been just as well off saying saying "X differs completely from Y" as he was saying "X is toto coelo from Y"? Isn't it important that toto coelo should get us thinking of all of the heavens and that's very grand?

7. Didn't Scalia do it better, with a better phrase and an immediate English translation for the non-cognoscenti? Was Brennan, by contrast, a exclusionary snob?

8. Does anyone remember being around in 1988 when the the independent-counsel case came out? Anyone like me remember where you were and what the people around you said?

9. How come if we got sick of the independent-counsel law and let it lapse after everyone's ox had been gored, we still have the Special Counsel dogging a President for years on end?

10. How do the quoted lyrics of the song — "All I wanna do, is make a meal of you/We are what we eat, you're my kind of meat..." — related to our current political predicament? Who can you picture singing those lyrics? Robert Mueller?

Gahrie said...

I always get these guys mixed up with Bow Wow Wow.

Ann Althouse said...

Please try to envision the questions in this manner. There are probably usually at least 10 like that. I don't mind writing them out. I kind of enjoy it, but I don't want to be a sledgehammer.

Gahrie said...

Why are the lines from "The Wizard of Oz" so deeply imprinted on our minds and capable of springing to up so readily?

Because back in the dark ages, everyone used to watch it every year.

Static Ping said...

Thank you for enlightening me to an 80s one-hit wonder that had eluded me.

That video was about as 80s as it could be.

Sean Gleeson said...

Thanks for the list of questions! I would be overjoyed to see such streams of curiosities as often as you wish to share them. If you are worried about the “sledgehammer” hitting your readers who may not enjoy them, maybe you could make a habit of always putting your syllabus of questions after the “read more” link, or even less obtrusively, as the first comment on the post.

Robert Cook said...

"I think the cannibal on the far right with the short red hair is the porn star Sharon Mitchell."

No, it's not.

Sean Gleeson said...

I will answer Athouse question number 4:
“Are you as easily distracted into language issues as I am with ‘toto coelo’?”

Yes. E.g., just this morning, I was reading a dumb article on Cracked about “Everyday Products That Have Insane Origin Stories” but I only got to number 23 (the eighth in the list) when I was struck by the particularly implausible — but often repeated — claim that salt was used as currency to pay Roman soldiers, and that’s why compensation for labor is today called “salary.” And the article even misspelled the Latin salarium, so they didn’t even get the fake news right! I was so distracted that I stopped reading that, and searched for articles debunking the salt-was-Roman-money fable. (Like this.)

But it is not a bad distraction. It is a distraction that makes whatever it distracted me from more pleasant, and deepens my knowledge of all things. Part of what makes reading your blog so enjoyable is your prodigious attention to words. You employ ‘wordplay’ in its most literal sense: words are your toys, and you play with them, or use them to play with us. It is one of the few sports I can enjoy as either a spectator or player.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Sean.

Glad to have your company.

n.n said...

Politically incorrect. Today, we recycle cannibals and other cellular clumps... for profit.