The half-life of treason
And it's all Helen Reddy's fault. Last week, I conducted an online poll to determine who should be History's Greatest Monster, with Glenn Greenwald narrowly edging out John Cougar Mellencamp. In light of her Crimes Against America's Families, I'm nullifying those results (it's totally constitutional) and declaring "Ms." Reddy to be History's Greatest Monster. Not so long ago, washed up celebs had to resort to Laughlin casinos or the local concert hall to eke out their second acts. Fortunately for them, they can now spend their golden years in the public eye being demonized by Culture Warriors; for that, they should be grateful. Praise Him!
The Invincibility Myth. Another myth is brought to center stage by Helen Reddy’s newly released biography, The Woman I Am (2006). She is, of course, the artist who recorded the 1972 feminist anthem I am Woman Hear Me Roar. In case you’ve been living on another planet, these are the key lyrics:
Oh yes I am wise, but it's wisdom born of pain.
Yes, I've paid the price, but look how much I gained.
If I have to, I can do anything.
I am strong, I am invincible . . . I am woman..
I Am Woman earned Reddy a Grammy Award in 1973 for Female Pop Vocal Performance; she concluded her acceptance speech at the awards ceremony by famously thanking God “because She makes everything possible.”
... Reddy was born in 1941 to an Australian show-business couple and began her career as a performer by the tender age of 4. In her late teens Reddy was briefly married to an older musician, with whom she had a daughter, Traci. In 1966 she moved to America as an unmarried mother with 3-year-old Traci in tow.
In short order Reddy met, moved in with, and eventually married Jeff Wald, an agent. After finding little success in New York, she first tried Chicago in 1967, and then moved on to L.A. in 1968. She was signed by Capitol Records in 1970 but by 1975, despite nearly a dozen hit singles, her singing career was essentially over. Her last Top Ten hit was 1975’s Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady.
One rather disingenuous biographer gives this account of what followed next: “Disenchanted with life in general during the ’80s, she performed infrequently.” That statement papers over quite a lot. In fact her marriage to husband No. 2 began to unravel in the early 1980s, egged on by his cocaine habit and aggressiveness. Reddy and Wald had a son, Jordan, who became so unmanageable by age 10 — not that much of a surprise considering his role models — that Reddy called her estranged husband to come get him out of the house she was sharing with her “boyfriend.” So much for the Roaring Woman’s “invincibility.”
The Realities Facing the Average Unmarried Mom. What does the average unmarried mother — without the income from several hit Gold records — face in trying to provide for herself and her children? Never-married mothers typically have less education than the unmarried mothers who are divorced, and the odds of the former getting child support are miniscule. With limited education, she’s lucky if she can find a job that pays enough to cover the rent and put food on the table without having to resort to food stamps. Health insurance through her employer is harder and harder to come by. And then there is the problem of finding adequate child care, particularly for the working mothers with children under school age.