Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 1st 2017 Contents A26 life
guardian.co.tt Wednesday, February 1, 2017
The day Mary Tyler Moore
sang calypso on television
With the recent deathof the talented
andgroundbreaking actor Mary Tyler
Moore, few recall that she had once
sung and danced a calypso on an early
episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
It was back in December 1962 and links
to the video clip are popping up on social
The calypso was written by Morey Am-
sterdam who was also a cast member on
Amsterdam has a far from enviable po-
sition in calypso history. He had been in
Trinidad with a United Service Organisa-
tion show during World War II and heard
Lord Invader's Rum and Coca Cola.
Having deciding it was a folk song,
Amsterdam proceeded to homogenise the
lyrics a bit and claimed copyright.
The Andrews Sisters recording of Rum
and Coca Cola became a huge hit and
Amsterdam got sued for the claim that
he wrote the song.
Lord Invader sued for the lyrics and Li-
onel Belasco for the music, and both won
at the trial level.
After ten years of litigation, Invader set-
tled for a monetary amount that allowed
him to tour Europe but it meant that Am-
sterdam, and later his estate, continued to
gather considerable royalties for the song.
There is an excellent website called the
Rum and Cola Reader that tells the details.
The litigation didn't stop Amsterdam
from trying to write calypsoes himself.
He had a hit in 1948 with a song called
Yuk-a-Puk which was listed as a Hill Billy
Calypso but this comic song had little to
Amsterdam also wrote calypso num-
ber True, Mon, True for a shortlived 1945
Broadway variety show.
He recorded it himself in 1952 though
it went nowhere on the charts.
Billboard's reviewer called it a "gag ca-
lypso, full of gimmicks"built on a concept
articulated in the first verse and chorus and
various gags in different verses.
In Trinidad you hear natives talk so
queer, it sounds like a mess
Every calypso will say no for no.
Sounds like foolishness
But he'll never say yes instead he says,
True Mon True,that is the actual fact
True Mon True,that is the actual fact
The put-down of Trinidad speech may
be because of the Rum and Coca Cola law-
suits. When Amsterdam revived Rum and
Coca Cola a decade later on The Dick Van
Dyke Show, the specific reference to Trin-
idad was deleted and a special verse added
that directly references the Laurie Petrie
character that Mary Tyler Moore played.
"In my suburbia housewife-urbia
school / Dig a swimming pool / Work
just like a fool.
Husband -- what a help he is! / He
play dee golf / And I'm teed off!!"
In her role as the not-so-quiet house-
wife, this brief calypso offered a light
hearted pushback on suburban life.
Check out Mary Tyler Moore's performance
Mary Tyler Moore dances and sings on
The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1962.
I also created a parents Facebook
page for the march to answer their
concerns with the help of one person.
We created a Teen Outreach Team
which led a group of teens to the
We also collaborated with organ-
isations to ensure moms had places
to rest and nurse their kids.
We worked with the press to high-
light the work of the youth ambas-
sadors in Teen Vogue, Rookie, The F
Bomb,Women's Media Center, Metro,
Vox, MTV and more.
The march attracted celebrities
like Madonna and Ashley Judd, as
well as thousands of others. What
did this signal to you about the
It is important and we need to be
heard. Women's rights are human
rights. We literally are the vessel
through which life is brought to this
earth. That's a pretty significant job
that gets downplayed by policies,
laws and practices that seek to govern
our bodies and take our rights away.
Women from all over the world came
together as one, because feminism
isn't one-dimensional. Women are
affected by many factors but we can
stand up for each other in a unified
manner and build each other up. That
was the goal of the march.
We understand that even
though the intent of the march
began in one vein, it involuntar-
ily became a platform for other
groups in society who felt their
rights, too, were being stifled or
neglected. This included minor-
ities and the LGBT community.
Why do you think these groups
piggy-backed on this specific
march to let their concerns out?
I touched on this before but I think
it is very important. Feminism is not
one-dimensional. We welcome oth-
er groups to our movement because
women can be affected by many things
that affect marginalised groups.
They can be affected by the in-
fringement of LGBTQIA rights. They
can be affected by issues relating to
immigration policies. I am a black
woman in America who is affected by
the murders of black people by the po-
lice. I am also an immigrant and I am
affected by immigration policies. I'm
also a mom so I want paid family leave.
I don't need to choose a cause. We are
stronger together as a movement.
Why time the march one day
after the US President's inaugu-
ration? Was it a way for people to
protest Trump's utterances about
women during his electoral cam-
paigning in 2016? Was it also a
way to react to his utterances con-
cerning other groups considered
to be "less than conservative?"
Yes. We did so to send a clear
message to this government that we
will not sit idly by for the next four
years. We will work hard to protect
our sisters and brothers, no matter
their gender identity, orientation,
ethnicity, immigration status or age.
On a personal level, how has
this impacted you?
Before the march I had many excus-
es for not getting more involved in my
community. My work with the march
showed me that we need all hands on
deck, even the smallest ones.
Do you believe the march has
achieved what it set out to do? If
yes, explain how?
We are humbled by the impact of
the march---but the work is just be-
ginning. The president has made that
clear in just his first week in office.
What now? Where does the
march go from here?
The hope is to mobilise these new
and seasoned activists from all over
the world to work together towards
Our first action is to send postcards
to elected officials. Trinidadians can
take part too. You can organise to have
postcard drop-offs, maybe where fete
tickets are purchased, and large num-
bers of postcards can be taken to the
offices of elected officials to let them
know what matters to women.
My heart breaks that a woman has
to fear for her life when stopping off
at a store after work. Elected officials
need to work with communities to
keep them safe. We elected the gov-
ernment. They need to know that we
expect them to work for us.
What's the backlash? Has the
event received any scorn? We
know of Linda Sarsour's unkind
reception expressed by some on
social media, just for her being a
Muslim woman. How is her sit-
uation being addressed and how
does this movement/association
intend to handle these reactions
that we believe will continue?
What's the plan?
#imarchwithlinda was trending
on Twitter this week. Everyone from
Bernie Sanders to Russell Simmons
tweeted support for her. We will not
be intimidated by trolls and smear
campaigns. We are stronger than
'Women's rights are human rights'
Continued from Page A25
WHO IS LINDA SARSOUR?
Linda Sarsour is a Palestin-
ian-American activist and execu-
tive director of the Arab American
Association of New York. Sarsour
was one of the activists and coor-
dinators who mobilised women for
the Women's March on January 21.
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