Sunday, May 28, 2006

Crapapedia: Kids don't use it to research papers!

[Sing jingle] "It's not an encyclopedia . . . It's CRAP, CRAP-a-pedia."

Enter generic White (natch) Male (ditto) host. Grins to the camera.

GWM: Hey boys and girls! Want to learn a lot of fake facts! That's what we'll do this morning on Crapapedia!

Yeah, we're talking Wikipedia. Some of us felt sorry for it when it was being attacked by the mainstream media (following a heavily passed around New York Times memo). None of us used it but the concept of a group of people coming together to document things seemed like a wonderful idea. And then . . . we visited it.

That was due to another issue [see "April Oliver got a fiancial settlement, whether Wikiepedia tells you it happened or not, It Happened"] with the rabid right, slow readers that they are, finally responding to an old story here and all citing Wikipedia as though it were handed down on holy tablets.

Ty was the first to take a look (he's also the primary on reading e-mails) and urged the rest of us to take a look. Mistakes abound. Big ones. As well as a strong thread of sexism that repeatedly pops up. For our study, we examined the entries on the Mamas and the Papas (as a group and individuals), Carly Simon and James Taylor (young kids, Carly was once married to the guy that you asked "Who?" about just now), and Fleetwood Mac (as a group and also focusing on Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham). We saw men pop up all the time in entries on women but the same women didn't pop up like that in entries about the men (implying through the sheer bulk of the references that the men helped the "little ladies" do their hobby but men are so damn manly they don't need any help when doing their art).

Facts aren't present. Whether it's getting a single wrong, creating an album title that doesn't exist, not knowing a date of birth, crediting a song to a writer who didn't write it or much, much more, there was one error after another.

Where to start?

Let's start with the Mamas and the Papas. (A favorite group of all of ours.) (And a favorite with our readers.)

We'll start with this from the Michelle Phillips' entry (a very nasty entry):

In 1986 she penned her autobiography, California Dreamin': The True Story of the Mamas and the Papas, [. . .] In it Phillips describes such events as [. . .] and how her writing credit on the California Dreamin' song, which still nets her royalties, was "the best wake-up call" she ever had (she was asleep on the tour bus and John Phillips woke her long enough for her transcribe the song he was writing).

Is that what Michelle Phillips writes in her book?

Funny, we didn't get that. First off, we don't know what she would be doing on a tour bus in the Earl Hotel? Let's go to page 46:

Before moving to the apartment in Charles Street in the Village, John and I had stayed at the Earl Hotel in the Village, and it was there that we had written "California Dreamin'" two years before. It was John's way to walk around with his guitar strapped to him and make up little tunes; often I would go to bed, have a night's sleep, and wake up to find him still strapped to his guitar. Sometimes there would be a song, and sometimes there wouldn't. "All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey . . ." He already had much of the song by the time he woke me that morning. It was four a.m., but he was wide awake with the "upper" he'd taken. He said, "Listen, you have to help me finish this song, Mitch. Help me, and you'll thank for me it someday." Well, I got up, and we finished the song. "I've been for a walk on a wintere's day. I'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A. California dreamin' on such a winter's day . . ." I do make a point of trying to thank him for it every now and again. We did, do still, share publishing on "California Dreamin'" and every other song we wrote together. No matter how great or small my individual part was in writing, it was a share.

Obviously, she didn't write in her book that the song was created on a tour bus. Transcribed? She helped write the song. What kind of sexist, lying freak wants to take away her credit AND claim that he's merely summarizing what she wrote in her book? What a sick, sick fuck.

Now let's go to their Mamas and the Papas entry and note this:

They were one of the few American groups to maintain widespread success during the British Invasion (others being The Beach Boys and The Lovin' Spoonful).

"Others being"? In terms of toe to toe, the American group to come closest to the Beatles with number one hits was Motown's Supremes (later Diana Ross & the Supremes). They did it "during" the British Invasion. The Beatles hit number one 20 times. During the same period, the only group to come close, American or otherwise, was The Supremes with 12 number one hits. Where's there mention? (And don't give us that "they didn't play on their recordings!" b.s. -- get real about the Beach Boys once Brian Wilson really takes over. Also, John Phillips is the only member of the Mamas and the Papas playing on their recordings.)

Back to Crapapedia. There are so many lies in their Mamas and Papas entry that the writer should be banned from ever writing there again. Presented as "FACT" is that Jill Gibson (who was never known for her singing -- though an image did take hold when she split on Jan Barry of Jan and Dean) sang on all but two of the twelves songs that make up The Mamas and the Papas. That is Jill Gibson's claim. It's not anyone else's.

It's not the claim of any of the musicians who were in the studio for recordings with Michelle Phillips and present for recordings with Gibson. This is dealt with at length in Matthew Greenwald's Go Where You Wanna Go: The Oral History of The Mamas & The Papas. (Papa) Denny Doherty said of Gibson's attempts in the studio "She was completely out of her element, and she didn't know what the fuck she was doing there." Lou Adler (who produced the sixites albums) said, "She had done some singing, but she wasn't a singer. . . . We recorded Jill on six songs . . . It was real hard work -- she may have done some singing, but to step into The Mamas & The Papas . . . he [John Phillips] got six vocal performances out of her, which we later replaced, some of 'em." Bones Howe:

In some ways, Jill had trouble blending in with Cass, because Michelle, I think had sung so much with Cass that she understood how to let Cass be the up front voice, and she just blended in with her. This was big pressure on Jill, too, and I think she came in and tried to find a different way to be part of the group in a different way. I'm sure there was a lot of working around the sound, you know, giving Cass more things to do, like overdubbing on herself.

Gibson's assertion (which matches no one else's account including muscians who were there for the recordings with her and with Phillips) is that one of the two songs she didn't sing on was "Dancing in the Street." P.F. Sloan refused to record with the group while Jill Gibson was in it (he was visting Jan Berry, in the hospital after the infamous car accident) because he didn't want anything to do with Jill Gibson due to the whole scene between her and Jan. Since Sloan remembers the recording of the hit "I Saw Her Again Last Night" quite well, she obviously can't be on that song.

And until she can find people who were present that can back up her claim, especially in the face of the public comments made by Adler, Sloan and others, Crapapedia has no business printing her dubious assertion as FACT. The Crapmeister also claims that some seeing the "tour" (we believe it was a little over three dates and no more then ten tops) were upset that Michelle wasn't in the group ("Mama Jill" was introduced at the shows with no explanation of where "Mama Michelle" was*) but that some were okay with it. This grossly underestimates the crowd's audible reaction to learning that wasn't Michelle on stage in Dallas Memorial Auditorium and at Forest Hills. Strangely the Forest Hill detail was included at one point in an earlier entry at Crapapedia but someone dubbed it a "myth" and it was striken. Strange since even Jill Gibson herself remembers, in Greenwald's book, the concert "at Forest Hills, New York, where a guy in the audience yelled out, 'Where's Michelle?' I think that upset John. I remember the shows going smoothly, as though people accepted me, or perhaps they didn't even realize I wasn't Michelle." Or perhaps Gibson was too stoned out of her mind to grasp what went on in Dallas Memorial Auditorium? (Her complaint to Greenwald is that "I would have been more comfotable on stage if John hadn't pushed me to get stoned before going on.")

It bears noting that Gibson was briefly in the group for about two months. Three weeks were spent rehearsing in London. The remainder was playing some already scheduled dates and recording. Though the first album was recorded quickly, The Mamas and The Papas wasn't. It wasn't to the point that Cass would be complaining yet that they spent an entire month recording one song, but it wasn't far from that either. Gibson's claims, even without the denails from everyone else involved, are hard to swallow.

There are so many errors in the Crapatedia entry, we can't tackle them all. We'll note this (still from the group entry):

John approached them and made an insulting remark about her in front of the guests. Disgusted and humiliated, she stormed out of the party and quit the band.Their record company released a Greatest Hits compilation as a stopgap measure. Cass was contractually bound for the band's next LP, and therefore appeared on The Papas & the Mamas, the group's fourth album.The band broke up in July 1968. In a rare interview, after the group's break up, with Rolling Stone magazine, Cass admitted she wanted to go solo and that this is what had caused the official break up of the band.

First off, the Dunhill/ABC (by then ABC was a part of it) released Farewell to the First Golden Era because they needed "product" and needed money. It had nothing to do with a "stopgap" measure and, in fact, was bad for the group. It wasn't to help the band and it was done for one reason only, to make a quick buck. They would have done it regardless of when the fourth album was completed and only a fool who doesn't know what he's talking about would write such nonsense. (The writer is obviously unfamiliar with the whole Dunhill/ABC saga -- but when Dunhill was swallowed, it effected a lot of artists negatively.) As for the embarrasment Cass suffered in England, where's the sourcing on that because it's not the tale Cass, Michelle, Denny or Lou told? The reason she did the 1968 group album was because she wanted to do it. That album would give her the ability to quit because it would provide her with what was seen her as her first solo hit (the Mamas and the Papas "Dream a Little Dream of Me"). (If the writer is attempting to suggest that, prior to 1968, an album was released entitled Greatest Hits -- he may be suggesting that, he doesn't type "greatest hits" -- he is again mistaken.)

The Cass entry states:

Her most successful recording during this period was 1968's Dream a Little Dream of Me from her solo album of the same name, released by Dunhill Records, though it had originally been recorded for and released on the album The Papas & The Mamas Presented By The Mamas and The Papas earlier that year.

Wrong. A version of "Dream a Little Dream of Me" appeared on The Papas & The Mamas and one appeared on Cass' first solo album. They are not the same recording. The one for the solo album has sound effects in it (thunder, rain, a radio being switched from station to station, etc.), different vocals and was never released as a single. The hit single was taken from the album The Papas and the Mamas, was credited to "Mama Cass with The Mamas and The Papas," and featured on the flip side the Mamas and the Papas "Midnight Voyage" (also on the album The Papas & The Mamas). Cass' first single issued off her solo album Dream a Little Dream of Me was "California Earthquake."

The clear impression from the Michelle entry and the Denny entry (less so from the John entry, which, to its credit doesn't attempt to steal her songwriting credit from her -- but then "Frecklefoot" doesn't list it as one he worked on -- though he worked on the problematic ones) is that Naughty Michelle caused all the problems. That's interesting considering that this was the period of free love and that John Phillips was involved in several affairs while Michelle Phillips (no longer living with John Phillips) was seeing Gene Clark. But a woman engages in affairs, and she's a bitch. A man does it and he's just a "stud." That same 'enlightened' thinking allows Michelle Phillips to be stripped of her credit for Monterey Pop Festival. Three people on the Mamas and Papas team helped put that festival together, Lou Adler, John Phillips and Michelle Phillips. It's curious that only John Phillips gets credit.

That's true of many accounts which often note that "John and Lou" put money into the project -- since John Phillips was back with Michelle Phillips and they were married, it was their money. On the festival, Michelle has written (in her book California Dreamin'):

But I loved Monterey and the excitement, and the fun of working with the graphic designers and stage managers around us; my job was telephoning record companies and getting them to pay $1,500 for a page advertisment in the program put together by Tom Wilkes, Guy Webster (who had covered our career with his camera from the start), and David Wheeler. Nobody turned us down for ads.

She also writes of how she and John kept office hours, how "we" formed a board of directors and much more. Michelle Phillips has long been denied her earned credit for the festival, one would think the "people's encyclopedia" would attempt to right that wrong. Instead, it's just interested in repeating sexist notions about the female as transgressor and heaping credit (deserved or not) onto males.

But John did it all himself (a key to all the entries we studied) the burnout apparently even wrote an "autobiograhpy" entitled Papa John. Now an "autobiograpy," to us, means someone wrote their own book. It doesn't mean they had a co-writer. Papa John has a credited co-writer, he's just never mentioned at Crapapedia though they mention the book repeatedly.

The main entry once contained a link to this "Review of Dream a Little Dream" but Frecklefoot pulled it because only they can offer opinions -- their useless, factually challenged, piece of crap opinions. While passing them off as facts. It should also be noted that in one entry, they write that Michelle Phillips is blowing kisses to Gene Clark at a concert. That concert took place at the Melodyland and not only did no press account report blown kisses but two people who were at that concert swore that it didn't happen. Considering that the public account has Michelle and Cass attempting to keep John from noticing Gene Clark in the audience, the idea that Michelle was on stage (with her estranged husband) blowing kisses at her lover is a bit hard to buy. (Especially since, like most of the dubious claims, it has no sourcing.)

On the trail of how men are elevated to genius which requires downplaying women, Rebecca suggested we contrast and compare the Carly Simon and James Taylor entries. We did. While the Simon entry merely notes that the couple divorced, the Taylor entry contains a curious bit of 'explanation':

Taylor and Simon had two children, Ben and Sally. Simon was unhappy with Taylor's extended absences due to touring; he rejected an ultimatum from her that he spend more time with his children and they eventually divorced in 1983.

That's why they divorced? There's no source for that curious claim and Taylor's lifelong battle with drugs is generally seen as the reason for the breakup. Simon's never made that claim, so where does it come from?

To read the Taylor entry is to get a rah-rah impression of the recording career, one slump (Walking Man -- apparently they never heard of Never Die Young), and BAM! THE MAN IS BACK! It helps to avoid mentioning the failures.

It's also interesting to contrast No Nukes which Simon and Taylor both participated in. Here's the version in the Taylor entry:

Taylor also performed at the No Nukes concert in Madison Square Garden and appeared on the album and film from the concert.

That's it in full. Now here's the same event from the Simon entry:

That year, shortly after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, from September 19 to September 22, a series of concerts were held at New York's Madison Square Garden sponsored by MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy), a group of musicians against nuclear power. Simon and James Taylor were part of the concerts which later became a film documentary as well as a soundtrack called No Nukes.

You see that throughout, men weighing heavily in entries on women but the same women never weighing heavily in entries on the same men. We stopped counting at seven the number of sentences covering Carly Simon and James Taylor's joint vocals on songs -- in the Simon entry. It's not mentioned in the Taylor entry -- even when "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" is noted (which Simon did sing backup on). In fact, Simon is only mentioned in five brief sentences in the Taylor entry, but be prepared for a long read of Taylor coverage in the entry supposedly about Carly Simon.

Here are two FACTS not stated in the coverage: Simon, unlike Taylor, won a Grammy (and Oscar and Golden Globe) for songwriting; Simon, unlike Taylor, wrote her number one hit.

Now let's note mistakes. There is no album titled Christmas Is Here Again. In 2002 a Christmas album was released by Rhino called Christmas Is Almost Here. In 2003, Rhino released the album with two additional tracks. The title was not, as Crapapedia tells you, Christmas is Here Again -- the title remained Christmas Is Almost Here. Simon did not write "Someone Waits For You" for the film Swing Shift. The song was written by Peter Allen and Wilbur Jennings (that's how it's credited on the sheet music). She sang it, she didn't write it. "All the Love in the World" was not written "for the 1985 TV movie Torchlight" because, get this, Torchlight (starring Pamela Sue Martin) was not a TV movie. It was a theaterical release. The Very Best of Carly Simon was never "released" in the United States -- it can be purchased in the US as an import and most copies cleary display the sticker reading "IMPORT" on the plastic wrapping. (Which is why the single disc's list price in this country is $27.97 -- because it's an import.) We're also confused as to how both that album and Reflections can be "her third greatest hits collection." But, in the Simon entry, both are credited as "her third greates hits collection."

Further confusion comes from the fact that these two words never appear in the Taylor entry: "Kathyrn Walker." The second wife. The one whom Taylor couldn't stop yapping about (they divorced in the mid-nineties) and credited with his more sober life. Equally puzzeling is how Taylor just "left" the mental institution since he himself has spoken of how he escaped and, in fact, whines in the current issue of Rolling Stone about revealing that in an interview (he actually discussed it in many interviews). But that, like Walker, who has fame in her own right, just goes unremarked upon.

It's an interesting portrait of the man alone, not unlike James Taylor's Dad Loves His Work which, despite the title, contained no mention of children. Rest assured, the house and the garden, the boys in the band -- all divided up. The children? Dad Loves His Work so much that the then father of two can't mention his children in one damn song. (He does meet an old man, in one song, who talks about how he walked out on his son years and years ago. That's the closest to a child appearing on "Dad"'s album.)

How about Fleetwood Mac? Huge group and one where all the members tried to have solo careers. (Sales wise, Lindsey Buckingham never got a career off the ground.) The first thing that popped up was the issue of age.

C.I.: Prior to 1984, Lindsey Buckingham was one year older than Stevie Nicks. While promoting Go Insane, suddenly he was a year younger than her. If he could put that diet into print form, How to Lose Two Years, he might finally be able to claim writing a real hit because I'm sure the book would sell millions.

Crapapediea lists Lindsey Buckingham's birth as October 3, 1949. That is popular -- it's just not correct. We'd advise Crapapedia's writers to put down the issues of Guitar and research their facts. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame backs up C.I.'s assertion, they give his date of birth as October 3, 1947. Crapapedia's Buckingham entry currently opens with:

"Lindsey Buckingham (born October 3, 1949) . . ."

Wrong. It's not encyclopedia, it's CRAP-crapapedia.

Linsdey Buckingham sure comes off talented in his entry and in Fleetwood Mac's. That's because they read like a sexist wrote them. Whether it's the same sow plowing through other entries, we have no idea. But there's a need to elevate Buckingham above the rest by creating things that flat out never happened.

For instance, in both the Stevie Nicks entry, the Buckingham entry and the Fleetwood Mac entry, Stevie Nicks is only asked to join the group because Buckingham told them it was him and Nicks or he wasn't joining the group. That's not true and the public record demonstrates that.

Here's what the public record tells you. The band needed a guitarist (Bob Welch had left the band). You can find comments by Stevie Nicks that she always thought (or "suspected" in some accounts) that they only asked her to join because they wanted Lindsey. You'll also find many accounts from Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Christine McVie saying that's not true. Producer Keith Olsen has long been the cited source for bringing up the issue of Nicks being in the band. Fleetwood spoke with him about the issue of a guitar player and noted he'd like to use Buckingham. Olsen's version is (and always has been) that he stated Buckingham and Nicks were a combo deal. He has always stated that Mick Fleetwood replied that he wanted them both.

Somehow, probably the same way Buckingham becomes two years younger, that story, as told by Crapapedia becomes: "Stevie Nicks not wanted in the band! Lindsey Buckingham had to fight to have her in the band! Next on Behind the Music!"

The Buckingham lover/luster who wrote the entries also wants to attack a much reported account of what happened to end the Tango In The Night tour before it began. We have to scream "Stop!" here.


1987's "Tango In The Night", or, "Shake the Cage" tour was the first outing for this lineup."

There was no Tango In The Night Tour. The tour was called Shake the Cage. There's no "or" there.

Now let's go to Crapapedia for a few more lies:

Fleetwood Mac had always had personality conflicts, but some believe the tension between Buckingham and Nicks had grown unbearable, leading to Buckingham quitting the group right before their Tango in the Night world tour. Buckingham has never publically attributed that decision directly to relations with Nicks. In the Fleetwood Mac segment of British TV Program Rock Family Trees (broadcast in 1995), John McVie described the confrontation between Nicks and Buckingham at Christine McVie's house in August 1987 as "physically ugly". Nicks admitted that Buckingham almost killed her, after she violently rejected Buckingham's decision to leave the band. After Buckingham chased her through the house and out onto the street and, according to Mick Fleetwood in his disputed autobiography, threw her against a car and strangled her, Nicks warned him that if he killed her and none of the other band members came to get him, her brother Christopher and father Jess would murder him.

The tension between Nicks and Buckingham, Crapapedia says, was "unbearable." Then we get Buckingham "never publicly attributed" his departure from the band to that. Then we're told that an argument occurred and, "according to Mick Fleetwood in his disputed autobiography," Buckingham threw her against a car and tried to strangle her. (Mick Fleetwood writes nothing of Nicks warning Buckingham that her bandmates or her brother and father would kill him if he killed her.)

The writer of the entry clues you that he doesn't think it's true.

That's a pretty sympathetic portrait of Buckingham. It's not factual, but it's sympathetic. First off, long before Fleetwood wrote his book, the music press had already covered the highly publicized fight where Buckingham stormed out of McVie's house with others following him, turned on Nicks, threw her against the car and then attempted to strangle her. (Musician magazine mentioned it, in detail, in a lengthy story on the band.) That fact, heavily reported, is not in dispute anywhere but at Crapadeia. It happened.

Why did Buckingham storm out of the house? It probably helps to first explain why he was at the house. It had nothing to do with tensions between him and Nicks (other than possibly commerical envy on Buckingham's part). It had to do with the band agreeing to tour, the album being out and them needing to start touring. Buckingham pulled his "Guys, I'm not touring" nonsense which led members to demand a face to face since the tour was scheduled to begin, dates were booked, contracts were signed, roadies were hired, go down the list.

He didn't just say, "Hey, I might like to tour." He told the band he'd tour, he let deals be made and then tried to weasel out of without telling the band face to face. But presenting him as less than the saint of our times doesn't fit with the genius label he created for himself and the press ran with. This fact free approach to reality makes us wonder who in the administration writes for Crapapedia?

In the Stevie Nicks entry at Crapapedia, this appears:

Nicks contributed songs including "Rhiannon" and "Landslide", originally written for the second Buckingham Nicks album. It also included a re-release of a song from the 1973 Buckingham Nicks album, "Crystal".

Who wrote that song? ("Crystal.") Stevie Nicks did. But that won't be told at Crapapedia. Reading the sentence, the average reader will see "Buckingham Nicks" and think they wrote it together. (The way some still think that since Buckingham sang on "Don't Stop," he must have co-written it. He didn't. Christine McVie wrote the song.)

At their Fleetwood Mac entry, they list Fleetwood Mac singles but apparently missed "Paper Doll" which was recorded for and released in conjuction with the boxed set The Chain. To close this out, we'll note that "Planets of the Universe" was not Nicks' first remix to hit the dance charts (look to the eighties, Crapapedia!) and that, since they're attempting to track Stevie Nicks mentions in films and cite Joan Cusack's character in School of Rock, they might need to consider adding Mr. Wrong wherein Cusack plays a character who once stalked Stevie Nicks. As for the singles "discography," someone remind them of "Needles & Pins" (among other charting singles that are missing from the line up). Otherwise they need to change the heading to "select discograpy."

We could go on and on. We could go back to Carly and James and note other mistakes, or to the Mamas and the Papas or stay here. There's a lot more to note.

But the point's been made. It's not encyclopedia, it's Crapapeadia.

[*"Michelle's in Mexico!" shouted out, by John Phillips, to those hollering, "Where's Michelle?" at a concert is not an explanation. It's a location, it's not an explanation.]
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