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Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?

DigiTrad:
BURY ME IN MY OVERALLS
FROM WAY UP HERE
IF YOU LOVE ME
JUST A LITTLE RAIN
LITTLE BOXES
LITTLE BOXES RE-VISITED
MAGIC PENNY
MAGIC PENNY
ROSIE JANE
THE BANKERS AND THE DIPLOMATS
THE BOY SALUTES
THE MONEY CROP
TURN AROUND


Related threads:
No Closing Chord - Tribute to Pete (4)
Help: Everything Malvina! (76)
Lyr Req: The Little Land (Malvina Reynolds) (16)
World in Their Pocket (Malvina Reynolds) (4)
Lyr Add: Andorra (Malvina Reynolds) (4)
Origins: Morningtown Ride (Malvina Reynolds) (40)
Do you like 'Little Boxes'? (202)
Lyr Req: The Little Mouse (Malvina Reynolds) (3)
Lyr Add: 1st Amendment Banjo (Malvina Reynolds) (4)
Lyr Req: The Man in the Mask (Malvina Reynolds) (3)
BS: Little Boxes revisited (8)
Lyr Add: God Bless the Grass (Malvina Reynolds) (23)
Malvina Reynolds - World Gone Beautiful (4)
Lyr Req: Let Us Come In (Malvina Reynolds) -Seeger (3)
Malvina Reynolds C.D.'s? (12)
(origins) Origins: Turn Around (Reynolds/Greene/Belafonte) (31)
Lyr Req: Magic Penny (Malvina Reynolds) (12)
Malvina Reynolds (16)
Lyr Add: Alone (Malvina Reynolds) (1)
BS: Whats the point of Andorra (43)
Lyr/Chords Req: Morningtown Train (M Reynolds) (6) (closed)
Tune Req: Turn Around (Malvina Reynolds) (4) (closed)
Lyr Add: Little Tourists (Little Boxes parody) (12)
Lyr Add: Faucets Are Dripping (Malvina Reynolds) (5)
Lyr Add: Lambeth Children (Malvina Reynolds) (1)
Two new Folk Sites (Malvina Reynolds!) (7)
Lyr Req: No Hole in My Head (Malvina Reynolds) (7)
Help ...'The Magic Penny' (10)
Malvina Reynolds tribute (26)
Tune Req: If You Love Me (Malvina Reynolds) (5)
Lyr Req: Battle of Maxton Field (Malvina Reynolds) (9)
(origins) Origins: I Don't Mind Failing (Malvina Reynolds) (7)
Lyr Req: Morningtown Ride (Malvina Reynolds) (12)
Lyr Add: Peace Isn't Treason (Malvina Reynolds) (3)
Need a Song - Morningtown Ride (5)
Origins: We Don't Need the Men (Malvina Reynolds) (11)
Song sought for Lupercania(?) (8)
How about that Malvina Reynolds? (5)
Tune Req: It Isn't Nice (Malvina Reynolds) (4)
Lyr Req: male version of 'Turn Around' (M Reynolds (6) (closed)
Lyr Req: Pied Piper (Malvina Reynolds) (6)
Lyr Add: The New Restaurant (Malvina Reynolds) (3)
Lyr Req: Bury Me in My Overalls (Malvina Reynolds) (20)


GUEST,cornnr.aol.com 02 Feb 01 - 12:46 PM
Tinker 02 Feb 01 - 12:52 PM
NightWing 02 Feb 01 - 05:07 PM
Stu 19 Apr 04 - 09:52 AM
The Villan 19 Apr 04 - 09:57 AM
open mike 19 Apr 04 - 10:14 AM
mack/misophist 19 Apr 04 - 11:04 AM
Once Famous 19 Apr 04 - 11:33 AM
Dave Bryant 19 Apr 04 - 11:40 AM
Steve Parkes 19 Apr 04 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,harlowpoet 19 Apr 04 - 12:29 PM
SueB 19 Apr 04 - 01:33 PM
YorkshireYankee 19 Apr 04 - 05:33 PM
DonMeixner 19 Apr 04 - 11:35 PM
Dave Bryant 20 Apr 04 - 12:07 PM
Ed. 20 Apr 04 - 03:54 PM
Bill D 20 Apr 04 - 04:44 PM
Gypsy 20 Apr 04 - 11:10 PM
Dave Bryant 21 Apr 04 - 06:06 AM
GUEST 21 Apr 04 - 07:47 AM
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Firecat 21 Apr 04 - 04:46 PM
MickyMan 24 Apr 04 - 11:30 AM
Gareth 24 Apr 04 - 02:07 PM
Charley Noble 25 Apr 04 - 10:16 AM
Roger in Baltimore 25 Apr 04 - 11:39 AM
GUEST 25 Apr 04 - 04:13 PM
MickyMan 25 Apr 04 - 04:22 PM
Steve Parkes 26 Apr 04 - 04:38 AM
GUEST,Charles H. Smith 02 Feb 07 - 02:26 PM
ClaireBear 02 Feb 07 - 03:13 PM
Alec 02 Feb 07 - 03:32 PM
ClaireBear 02 Feb 07 - 04:19 PM
Alec 02 Feb 07 - 04:23 PM
GUEST,Scoville 02 Feb 07 - 05:38 PM
Wordsmith 02 Feb 07 - 11:51 PM
Joe Offer 03 Feb 07 - 03:41 AM
Sandra in Sydney 03 Feb 07 - 10:08 PM
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Sandra in Sydney 06 Feb 07 - 07:37 AM
dick greenhaus 06 Feb 07 - 11:50 AM
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GUEST,Cricketer Chris 08 Aug 11 - 10:11 PM
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Jim McLean 09 Aug 11 - 04:44 AM
MGM·Lion 09 Aug 11 - 08:42 AM
Long Firm Freddie 10 Aug 11 - 03:10 AM
MBSGeorge 14 Mar 12 - 06:52 AM
GUEST,FloraG 14 Mar 12 - 10:23 AM
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Jeri 14 Mar 12 - 12:33 PM
George Papavgeris 14 Mar 12 - 01:00 PM
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Phil Edwards 19 Aug 13 - 08:55 AM
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sciencegeek 19 Aug 13 - 09:30 AM
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MGM·Lion 19 Aug 13 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,Grishka 19 Aug 13 - 10:28 AM
Uncle Tone 19 Aug 13 - 10:40 AM
Uncle Tone 19 Aug 13 - 10:45 AM
Uncle Tone 19 Aug 13 - 11:14 AM
Bill D 19 Aug 13 - 11:53 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Aug 13 - 12:18 PM
Uncle Tone 19 Aug 13 - 12:31 PM
Uncle Tone 19 Aug 13 - 12:46 PM
Bill D 19 Aug 13 - 12:56 PM
sciencegeek 19 Aug 13 - 01:11 PM
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Uncle Tone 19 Aug 13 - 01:25 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Aug 13 - 02:00 PM
Joe Offer 19 Aug 13 - 02:05 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Aug 13 - 02:44 PM
Joe Offer 19 Aug 13 - 03:06 PM
Uncle Tone 19 Aug 13 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,Stim 19 Aug 13 - 03:38 PM
GUEST,Grishka 19 Aug 13 - 03:41 PM
Joe Offer 19 Aug 13 - 03:44 PM
Jeri 19 Aug 13 - 04:17 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Aug 13 - 04:46 PM
Greg F. 19 Aug 13 - 04:53 PM
Jeri 19 Aug 13 - 05:00 PM
GUEST,Stim 19 Aug 13 - 05:09 PM
GUEST,Grishka 19 Aug 13 - 05:14 PM
Greg F. 19 Aug 13 - 06:05 PM
GUEST,Stim 19 Aug 13 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,Grishka 19 Aug 13 - 06:32 PM
Phil Edwards 19 Aug 13 - 06:47 PM
Joe Offer 20 Aug 13 - 12:44 AM
GUEST,Grishka 20 Aug 13 - 04:44 AM
Phil Edwards 20 Aug 13 - 04:47 AM
sciencegeek 20 Aug 13 - 07:16 AM
Leadfingers 20 Aug 13 - 10:38 AM
Steve Parkes 20 Aug 13 - 01:33 PM
Steve Parkes 20 Aug 13 - 01:37 PM
Joe Offer 20 Aug 13 - 02:25 PM
sciencegeek 20 Aug 13 - 02:52 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 20 Aug 13 - 03:30 PM
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GUEST,Grishka 20 Aug 13 - 06:02 PM
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Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Aug 13 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,Grishka 21 Aug 13 - 01:26 PM
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dick greenhaus 23 Aug 13 - 11:03 AM
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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Help me I need to find this song
From: GUEST,cornnr.aol.com
Date: 02 Feb 01 - 12:46 PM

Iwould like to find the words to little boxes a folk song


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Help me I need to find this song
From: Tinker
Date: 02 Feb 01 - 12:52 PM

Cornner, if you type Little Boxes in the DT Search line you'll find several versions.

Tinker


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Help me I need to find this song
From: NightWing
Date: 02 Feb 01 - 05:07 PM

Little Boxes, on the hillside
Little Boxes, made of ticky-tacky ...

Story of my life at this point in time.

BB,
NightWing


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Subject: Ticky-tacky
From: Stu
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 09:52 AM

Malvina Reynolds, her 1962 song "Little Boxes", says they're all made from ticky-tacky.

What's ticky tacky then?


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: The Villan
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 09:57 AM

I think this will help.

NOUN: Shoddy material, as for the construction of standardized housing.
ADJECTIVE: 1. Made of shoddy material; cheaply built. 2a. Marked by a mediocre uniformity of appearance or style: ticky-tacky rows of look-alike houses. b. Tawdry; tacky.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: open mike
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 10:14 AM

made out of tic tac breath mints?


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: mack/misophist
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 11:04 AM

No matter what the phrase may literally mean, one need only see the houses she was talking about on the hills above San Francisco to understand that they were mindless, artless, doghouses for people. If they hadn't also been cheap, they never would have been built.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Once Famous
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 11:33 AM

I hated this song.

Agreed, Tract houses built in the 1950s were pre-fabricated and not too stylish. But for many WWII veterans having families and getting started in life, they were their castles and their American dream.

The song was very snobbish.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 11:40 AM

I was once running some folk events at a waterways festival in Milton Keynes UK. The mayor was being shown round and asked if we could think of a suitable song for his town. We all looked at each other and without any discussion launched into "Little Boxes" - although the mayor smiled, I don't think he was very happy !

Incidently, does anyone have the words of the parody version - about cricket "protectors".


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 11:41 AM

Maye we could do with some in Britain! There's almost no affordable housing for first-time buyers, and prices continue to go up at a silly rate. Houses built as starter homes twenty years ago soon got priced out of the first-timers' market, so a good idea that didn't help much in the end. What we need is some decent quality but horrible to lok at housing that nobody will want to pay an inflated price for: either the first-timers will stay (because they're good quality & they can't afford to move), or they won't get a great increase on the price (so new first-timers can move in), but just enough to get on the next rung of the so-called property ladder. Remember how nobody wanted to move out of their prefabs?

Steve


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: GUEST,harlowpoet
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 12:29 PM

Coming from Harlow, this song brings to mind the houses created here after the war.

"All made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same"

Of course the designer Sir Freddie Gibberd didn't live in one himself. His was a big house away from the plebs.

No disrespect to his widow or Harlow, but after the success of Letchworth a generation or two before, where space was important, we're all boxed in. On top of this the council want to concete over our precious greenspaces for Stanstead airport expansion.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: SueB
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 01:33 PM

At least in the song, there are red ones, blues ones, green ones and yellow ones, which as a child I always thought was nice and colorful - in the last ten years I've seen all the land on the west side of the Rio Grande from Albuquerque to Bernallilo -that's miles and miles of previously open space- become completely built over with nearly identical single family homes, each and every one of which is roofed and painted with slight variations of a single color - diarrhea brown.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 05:33 PM

Have you heard Joanna Kazden's parody/update?

Here's the 1st verse:

Little boxes on the boulevard
Little boxes made of plexiglass
Little boxes stacked on topses
Little boxes all the same
There's a clear one, and a clear one, and a clear one, and a clear one
And they're all made out of plexiglass
And they all look just the same


Great stuff!

YY


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: DonMeixner
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 11:35 PM

Bill Staines did a new age version of this tune. Where Ticky Tacky was a blow against post war mediocrity and sameness. Bills was a blow against new age arrogance and politcal correctness and sameness.

"Little boxes made of Lincoln logs and they all look just the same."

Funny how the circle is a wheel, ain't it.

Don


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 20 Apr 04 - 12:07 PM

No-one seems to have come up with the "Cricket Boxes" parody yet.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Ed.
Date: 20 Apr 04 - 03:54 PM

Why don't you enlighten us, Dave?


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Bill D
Date: 20 Apr 04 - 04:44 PM

in about 1971, I flew out of San Francisco airport, sitting on the right side of the plane, and suddenly, there they were! I grabbed my camera and shot 6-7 slides of them....all bare on the hillside and red and green and yellow and ...umm...tacky. Whether or not folks were happy to have them, it sure was obvious why Malvina wrote the song. I'm sure it all could have been done a bit more tastefully.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Gypsy
Date: 20 Apr 04 - 11:10 PM

Love the interview with her...........and i quote "PUll over, i feel a song comin' on!" She had her first look at Daly City. Malvina was great........most of her songs came from situations, or even headlines.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 06:06 AM

Ed - On the assumption that you don't know much about the game of cricket, a "box" is the name given to the protective device that a cricketer wears around his "wedding tackle" - to prevent a fast ball from leaving him singing soprano. I have heard a parody of "Little Boxes" on the subject.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 07:47 AM

Little boxes, little boxes,
little boxes made for cricketers
and you stuff them down your trousers
when your playing in the game.
There's a pink one and a blue one
and one made of aluminium
but if you stop one from Ian Bothem
it will hurt you just the same.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 08:08 AM

Further to that, I don't know who wrote it, but I heard it sung by Fred Wedlock I think.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Firecat
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 04:46 PM

And there's me thinking that it was something completely different! When I was little (and even now sometimes!) I watched a kids programme called Blue Peter (UK show). The programme involves quite a few makes, some of which use stickyback plastic, and I always thought the houses were made on Blue Peter! I was only about 7 at the time though!


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: MickyMan
Date: 24 Apr 04 - 11:30 AM

Does anybody know whether the actual term "ticky-tacky" was previously used, or did Malvina Reynolds come up with it?
   Very interesting comment about those houses being castles to those who finally afforded them. I grew up in one such identical Cape Cod style early 50's development house. Kids don't care at all. I didn't realize that the houses were all designed the same until my early teens. Your eye goes for the differences...this one has a fence and that one has a shed in back. My parents still live there and when I look at them now the similarities are much more pronounced.   
    The message written above by Martin was so very true. My GI Bill financed school teacher father would have had to raise us in an inner city apartment if it wasn't for these mass produced houses. Still... one only has to listen to several Malvina Reynolds songs to know she was no snob. It's just so overly obvious to an outsider that the variety is missing.
   Mike in suburban CT, USA


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Gareth
Date: 24 Apr 04 - 02:07 PM

Steve Parkes

Errr "Prefabs"??? Or have you forgotten Nye's housing drive !!!

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Apr 04 - 10:16 AM

I don't know about "ticky-tacky" but "Jerry-Built" for shoddy contruction of suburban housing goes back to the late 19th century, as is evidenced by the protest song "This is the House that Jerry Built" by T.S. Lonsdale, © 1885, music by W.G. Eaton.

Warm regards,
Landlady's Daughter


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 25 Apr 04 - 11:39 AM

In my dim memory, the term "ticky-tacky" preceded Malvina, but as an adjective not a noun. Malvina's creativity was to say the house were made of "ticky-tacky" instead of they having the quality of beint "ticky-tacky".

I remember being crushed when Karen Rauch (the resident Bohemian of my High School's Junior class) described me as a "Ticky-tacky guitar player". Ah the joys of memory. I'm sure there are much nicer things I could have remembered from 40 years ago which instead I have forgotten.

At least today, I know I'm not a "ticky-tacky guitar player".

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Apr 04 - 04:13 PM

Surely Malvina can object to the paucity of imagination and design of affordable housing without being accused of being a snob. Ordinary people should be able to live in attractive, original housing.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: MickyMan
Date: 25 Apr 04 - 04:22 PM

Yes.....well put there, whoever you are.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 26 Apr 04 - 04:38 AM

Gareth ... I remember Nye (just), but not what he did!


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: GUEST,Charles H. Smith
Date: 02 Feb 07 - 02:26 PM

I don't know whether she invented the term or not, but the Oxford English Dictionary ('OED') credits her with the first printed use of the term (at least, that they know of). For what it's worth, I just checked our electronic version of the New York Times, and the term first appears in that paper in 1965 (with over a hundred uses since), so that tends to reinforce the idea that Malvina invented it herself.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: ClaireBear
Date: 02 Feb 07 - 03:13 PM

All this discussion, and it doesn't appear that anyone has posted a photo link. Allow me to remedy that: little boxes

Don't know how long this link will be alive, since "beta" appears in the URL; don't miss your chance to see exactly what Malvina was writing about!

Cheers,
Claire


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Alec
Date: 02 Feb 07 - 03:32 PM

Thanks for that link ClaireBear (It worked fine when I followed it)
I still tend to the view that it is an elitist and unfairly judgemental song but perhaps understand her POV better from actually seeing the environment she was referring to.The cold grey uniformity that is barely camouflaged by the garish colours.
It's too bad her lyric could be (and is) construed as blaming the victims though.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: ClaireBear
Date: 02 Feb 07 - 04:19 PM

I was hoping you'd understand her POV better, having seen what she was writing about, but I wanted to let you get there by yourself. I'm glad you did!

These houses are truly awe-inspiring in their uniformity. There are many other quite pleasant post-war tract homes, duplexes and apartments (in a couple of which I have lived) nearby that, though similarly mass-produced, did not have the mind-numbing sameness to invite the criticism these did. As far as I know, Reynolds didn't write about those.

Incidentally, I think that this development was not actually meant to be affordable housing as much as an icon of the new prosperity. The words of the song reflect this. The fact that the adults "all drink their martinis dry" while "the children go to summer camp and then to the university" does not sound anything like the Bay Area working-class culture of the 1950s/early '60s. (I was here then, so I know!)

By the way, this neighborhood has looked just the same ever since I first passed it in 1958.

Cheers,
Claire


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Alec
Date: 02 Feb 07 - 04:23 PM

That explains a lot & may require me to reconsider my view on the song ClaireBear.Thanks for posting.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: GUEST,Scoville
Date: 02 Feb 07 - 05:38 PM

My dad used to sing:

"Litter boxes in the bathroom,
Litter boxes full of ticky-tacky . . ."

back when we had a cat.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Wordsmith
Date: 02 Feb 07 - 11:51 PM

I'm glad to see after reading the entire thread, that someone actually got Malvina's point...and the photo almost says it all. What she was saying was that despite the color of the houses, they are a way of homogenizing people...communities that sprang up like these...developments...and not for the poor. The trend toward suburbanization - where everyone has to blend...back in the 50's that included the perfunctory cocktail(s) before dinner. I think the ticky-tacky aspect refers to both the flimsy pretense on which these communities are based and to the tackiness of them as well. I actually remember seeing Malvina Reynolds on television...another somewhat tacky development of the 50's. I now understand after reading that they dozed areas, and probably clear-cut, to build these edifices of conformity. I don't know which bothered her more. I always pictured Levittown when I heard "Little Boxes." I do remember thinking how simple a song, yet amazing subversive, at the time, yet appearing to be quite innocent. Well, that's my take on it. :)


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 03:41 AM

If you drive north from Santa Cruz this time of year, the hillsides along the Pacific Coast are a beautiful site. You pass two lighthouses, wonderful surf, and spectacular rock formations. Then you round the bend at about Half Moon Bay or Pacifica, and the once-beautiful hillsides are covered with those ticky-tacky houses that Malvina warned about. I suppose those little houses are worth $750,000 or more apiece nowadays, but they were affordable GI no-money-down pastel stucco tract houses when they were built.

Now we're seeing lots of those San Francisco people moving here to the Sierra Foothills, a hundred miles to the northeast. They collect their windfall from their tiny stucco houses, and then they come here and put up fences, bright lights, and "McMansions" - and they pull out the Valley Oaks and Ponderosa Pines.

And they buy big trucks and SUV's and drive them like race cars.

-Joe Offer, Colfax, California-


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 10:08 PM

very interesting to see the houses that inspired a song I've known for yonks. Thanks for posting it, Clairebear. It's also good to get a local perspective, Joe.

It's also very interesting to see how the website picked up this thread!

In Oz our returned soldiers & their mates built their own homes using fibro sheets, and many families lived for years in a garage while slowly building the house. Some houses were never finished.

Some are still as originaly built 60 years later, others have been covered in brick cladding, or demolished & replaced with brick houses or MacMansions.

I grew up surrounded by these fibro houses, tho we lived in a brick house that Dad's Dad built in 1916, then another, older, decrepit weatherboard house.

sandra


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 04 Feb 07 - 06:02 PM

Sandra, you may have to translate the word, "fibro," into American. I don't think
the word has made it across the Pacific.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 05 Feb 07 - 10:20 AM

At least those houses have a little variety in color. You can't even say that about a lot of them built in new neighborhoods around here in North Texas. Builders are obligated to stagger the house plans so they don't look so uniform, but look at the features, building materials and lot placement and they're pretty bad.

These are from a few miles south of us, and it was this shot that was able to convince the neighbors here that they should insist in larger lots in a planned development being established in our neighborhood. The lots are a bit wider, but alas, the zoning folks weren't paying attention when the developer asked if he could shorten the lots from 105' to 80'. "Sure, sure," they said. And now the new lots are too small for anything much other than just the house.

Close in neighborhood

Backing up a little

I'm in town, in a subdivision like everyone else, but I searched high and low for a house and a lot that had a little elbow room. My lot is a half acre, not that large by most standards but in this region with shoulder-to-shoulder building, it's substantial. There is a lot of undeveloped land around us that gives the impression of more space (marginal flood plain). My area.

There are embellishments on the houses that offer a sameness to otherwise varying designs. In the 1970s they put these little rock or brick things I refer to as "shoulders" on the front of each house, an affectation of some sort that lets you pigeonhole the date and the builder. I discovered last summer that there is a hot wire into each one where there was a lamp at one time. I'm going to have an electrician in this summer to take out the lines and then I'll dismantle the walls. I've approached muting the sameness of the house by creative landscaping and am pushing the boundaries of the tree placement rules (I've ignored the rule that says they have to be 10' back from the street--if you want good looking street trees they have to be closer to the street, and too many others have ignored the rule for too long for the village to come along and try to enforce it). Pulling back from my neighborhood reveals some small houses to the north, built in the 1940s in a cookie-cutter pattern (tied into a military base that is now dismantled). But though they are small and modestly priced they don't stay on the market long. Investors and young families snatch them up. They have a good layout plus hardwood floors and woodwork, and yards that are much larger than newe houses and established landscaping that makes them much less ticky tack than they might once have been considered.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Feb 07 - 01:13 PM

I just want to say that there are a lot of new houses that have been built near me of late. They are all very ugly, made of ticky-tacky and they all look the same, they also cost about 600 thousand dollars Cdn.
Ugliness is not unique to inexpensive housing. Cheap is cheap, ugly is ugly, no matter what the cost.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: jacqui.c
Date: 05 Feb 07 - 02:55 PM

In a lot of places in the UK standardising of houses has been happening for a long time. I lived on two public housing estates, both of which featured row upon row of identical houses. The only difference was that the colour of the front doors was varied, but only using about four different colours.

I can think, offhand, of a few private estates in the area that I lived where the houses were all identical in structure. I think that the Brits tend to accept this more than do the Americans.

I must admit that I still find it interesting that, in any one road here in Maine, there can be so many diverse building styles. I think that is one of the major differences I have found here from the UK.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Tootler
Date: 05 Feb 07 - 04:05 PM

Malvina Reynold's song encapsulated for me, the suburban estates springing up in Britain in the 1960's and the attitudes of many who bought houses on these estates. Attitudes that were superbly sent up in the TV Series "The Likely Lads".

If SRS thinks his Texas houses are bad, you should see how they pack 'em in over here in the UK these days. And the houses are much smaller than they used to be.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 05 Feb 07 - 10:34 PM

'fibro' refers to asbestos fibre cenent sheeting - used on the outside, wet areas inside, and sometimes all the internal walls too, during a certain period. It was perhaps the cheapest cladding material.

'fibro' no longer is allowed to contain asbestos, but a similar product is still available. There is much pressure to have it removed appropriately from houses - many roofs also had a similar substance that looks like corrugated roofing iron.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: GUEST,Ingrid Frances Stark
Date: 06 Feb 07 - 01:06 AM

Asbesto shingles were used here in the U.S., as well. Wall and roof shingles. And there are non-asbestos versions of many building materials which used to contain it.

The name may not have crossed the pond, but the tech did.

Ingrid


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 06 Feb 07 - 07:37 AM

Google images of ticky-tacky fibro houses

'fibro and fugly seventies windows' leads to an interesting mix of suburban housing this isn't Sydney, it's Woy Woy


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 06 Feb 07 - 11:50 AM

Reynolds was using the mass produced, homogenized look of the houses as a symbol of a mass produced, homogenized culture, rather than as an architectural critique. And it's innaresting that almost nobody in the past 40-odd years has had trouble with what ticky-tacky means.


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Subject: RE: Ticky-tacky
From: Wordsmith
Date: 08 Feb 07 - 02:28 AM

Exactly, conformity!


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Clemdane
Date: 18 Aug 10 - 09:06 PM

Must be nice to have the luxury of living in the early 60s and having the extraordinary luck that most talented people never have to be able to support yourself from your art. Guess Malvina was never forced out of necessity to work at an ordinary business job and become one of the doctors, lawyers and business men all made of ticky tacky who all look just the same. Apparently her artistic luck and perhaps a supportive husband enabled her to get on her high horse and look down on others.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Patsy
Date: 19 Aug 10 - 03:11 AM

In Bristol England ticky tacky is a 'Bovis' development estate with walls so thin you can here everything going on next door.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Cricketer Chris
Date: 08 Aug 11 - 10:11 PM

Here's the cricketing version of Pete Seeger's little ditty:

"Little boxes in the sports shop
Little boxes are for cricketers
Little boxes made of plastic
Little boxes, all the same.
There's a white one and a pink one
And one made of aluminium
For the tender bits of cricketers
And it still hurts quite a lot.

"And the batsmen still get injured
And get impotent and quite undignified
'Cos a short ball in the boxes
Hurts the ballses quite a lot;
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
With a sprinkling of aluminium
And it still hurts quite a lot."

Accredited to English west country singer Fred Wedlock.
Source: Allen, David Rayvern; A Song For Cricket,published by Pelham Books, London, c1981.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 12:01 AM

Dear Clemdane, give it a read.

"MALVINA REYNOLDS 1900--1978

Born Malvina Milder of Jewish socialist immigrant parents in San Francisco, Malvina was refused her diploma by Lowell High School because her parents were opposed to US participation in World War I. She entered UC Berkeley anyway, and received her BA and MA in English. She married William Reynolds, a carpenter and organizer, in 1934 and had one child, Nancy, in 1935. She completed her dissertation and was awarded her Doctorate in 1939. It was the middle of the Depression, she was Jewish, socialist, and a woman. She could not find a job teaching at the college level. She became a social worker and a columnist for the People's World and, when World War II started, an assembly-line worker at a bomb factory. When her father died, she and her husband took over her parents' naval tailor shop in Long Beach, California. There in the late forties she met Earl Robinson, Pete Seeger and other folk singers and songwriters and began writing songs.

She returned to Berkeley, and to the University, where she took music theory classes in the early fifties. She gained recognition as a songwriter when Harry Belafonte sang her "Turn Around." Her songs were recorded by Joan Baez, Judy Collins, The Seekers, Pete Seeger, and the Limeliters, among others. She wrote songs for Women for Peace, the Nestle Boycott, the sit-ins in San Francisco on auto row and at the Sheraton-Palace, the fight against putting a freeway through Golden Gate Park and other causes. She toured Scandinavia, England and Japan. A film biography, Love It Like a Fool, was made a few years before she died in 1978.

For further information call Schroder Music at (510)524-5804."

Get a life. You are one seriously nasty individual. And before you say "fuck you", allow me to say what a pleasure it's been to know you.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 04:44 AM

The melody appears to have been lifted form "There's a pawn shop on the corner in Pitsburg, Pensylvania .."
There's a pawn shop
Is this acceptable? or was there any credit given to the song sung by Guy Mitchell?


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 08:42 AM

Most of these points were made on a thread I OPd, 3rd in the list above, "Do You Like Little Boxes?", which ran for 192 posts and ended almost exactly one year ago.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Long Firm Freddie
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 03:10 AM

Thanks for giving the info re A Song for Cricket, Cricketer Chris - I've ordered myself a copy!

The parody was written by Les Barker and appears in his book Songs for Swingin' Tails available through his website:Les

Cheers
LFF


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: MBSGeorge
Date: 14 Mar 12 - 06:52 AM

More Fred Wedlock words


Little boxes, little boxes, little boxes made for cricketers
And you shove one down your underpants to protect you in the game
There's a pink one and a blue one and one made of aluminium
But if you stop a Googlie it'll hurt you just the same.

Even England's finest batsmen can get a nasty thump on the middle stump
Then they all take herbal remedies and they all take quite a lot
There's a black one and a gold one and a red one from the Lebanon
And they're caught bowled and spaced out cause they've all gone to pot.

But Ian Botham he defies them he's big and butch and he can clobber them
He could eat his bat drink Paraquat and crawl on all fives
But his box still takes some hammer and you may think that's peculiar
Til you notice that the dents have all come from inside.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 14 Mar 12 - 10:23 AM

heard a parody about concertinas/ melodeons/accordians

Little boxes, little boxes little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes, little boxes and they all sound just the same.

And they all go to Sidmouth, Whitby and broadstairs
And they all learn a little french tune
And they all sound just the same.etc.

There were several more verses of same.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 14 Mar 12 - 12:26 PM

That's just another expression of the Great-You-Shut-Up, Flora. It's the cultural trend that says the average person has no right to sing or make music.

You can tell the person who wrote it (if you can use 'wrote' for something so slavishly imitative) that no matter how he sneers, we enjoy our instruments and intend to keep playing them.
==================
Clemdane, if you are still around, I agree with you.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Jeri
Date: 14 Mar 12 - 12:33 PM

There goes the humor...


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 14 Mar 12 - 01:00 PM

I take exception to your tone, Jeri


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Klump
Date: 14 Mar 12 - 01:23 PM

hmmmmm... "Little Boxes" ?

Sounds like the title of a song Gary Glitter might have wrote.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Mar 12 - 01:38 PM

leeneia ~ as Bruce demonstrated [9 aug 11 1201am] by authoritative citations and quotations, Clemdane was entirely mistaken about Malvina's antecedents and situation; so why do you express agreement with him/her?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Mar 12 - 02:06 PM

This, btw, was not meant as a defence of Little Boxes, a song I detest ~~ see my own "Do You Like Little Boxes?" thread, cited above. But fair is fair, & surely Bruce demolished Clemdane's particular animadversions against her?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Jeri
Date: 14 Mar 12 - 04:08 PM

George, I'm sorry if my tone came across any way but just exasperated at Leeneia's objections to the parody. She was saying it was meant to get others to stop making music, and saying it was sneering. It might have been, but how can anyone be sure of that without reading a load into those five lines.

"You can tell the person who wrote it (if you can use 'wrote' for something so slavishly imitative) that no matter how he sneers, we enjoy our instruments and intend to keep playing them."
1) "slavishly imitative" -- It's odd how often that happens with parodies.
2) I can keep playing instruments without insulting someone with whom I may disagree.
3) It was a bit of an overreaction to a couple of verses of snarky silliness.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Mar 12 - 06:21 PM

My turn to apologise Jeri, I was actually agreeing with you and expressing it through sarcasm. - too obtuse of me. To reiterate: yep, humo(u)r did seem to disappear for a while there


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Jeri
Date: 14 Mar 12 - 07:01 PM

George (lost your cookie?), one of us was obtuse, and it wasn't you. When one gets irritated, one tends to be irritable, and not even try to see anything more generous. It's catching, too. And I apologize to you.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Had enough
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 12:18 AM

I grew up in Westlake. The houses were very well built and not pre-fab. There were many different styles of homes. To this day anyone who lived there has wonderful childhood stories.
I want to know what fabulous custom home did she live in when she wrote the - oh so brilliant snobbish song?


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 03:14 AM

From 15 posts earlier:

Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,999 - PM
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 12:01 AM

"MALVINA REYNOLDS 1900--1978

Born Malvina Milder of Jewish socialist immigrant parents in San Francisco, Malvina was refused her diploma by Lowell High School because her parents were opposed to US participation in World War I. She entered UC Berkeley anyway, and received her BA and MA in English. She married William Reynolds, a carpenter and organizer, in 1934 and had one child, Nancy, in 1935. She completed her dissertation and was awarded her Doctorate in 1939. It was the middle of the Depression, she was Jewish, socialist, and a woman. She could not find a job teaching at the college level. She became a social worker and a columnist for the People's World and, when World War II started, an assembly-line worker at a bomb factory. When her father died, she and her husband took over her parents' naval tailor shop in Long Beach, California. There in the late forties she met Earl Robinson, Pete Seeger and other folk singers and songwriters and began writing songs.

She returned to Berkeley, and to the University, where she took music theory classes in the early fifties. She gained recognition as a songwriter when Harry Belafonte sang her "Turn Around." Her songs were recorded by Joan Baez, Judy Collins, The Seekers, Pete Seeger, and the Limeliters, among others. She wrote songs for Women for Peace, the Nestle Boycott, the sit-ins in San Francisco on auto row and at the Sheraton-Palace, the fight against putting a freeway through Golden Gate Park and other causes. She toured Scandinavia, England and Japan. A film biography, Love It Like a Fool, was made a few years before she died in 1978.

For further information call Schroder Music at (510)524-5804."

I do wish folks would read a thread before commenting. The accusation of snobbery has been answered above too.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 04:58 AM

Agree, Tone, as have said before, that the accusations against MR of privileged upbringing &c have had their hashes comprehensively settled, by that passage formerly adduced by Bruce which you now repeat.

But it doesn't quite answer GuestHad·enough's point as to where she might have graduated to homewise by the time she wrote the song, does it? And the arguments against 'snobbery', which you claim as 'answers', appear to me assertive rather than conclusive. Can you cite one that really does refute the accusation, rather than merely express disagreement?

I can't see how the song itself can be described as anything other than 'snobbish'. One thing that has always astounded me is how the great egalitarian martyr &-all-that P Seeger could have brought himself to perform such an ill-natured attack on such respectable and indispensable members of society as doctors & lawyers. Where would we be without them, for crying out loud! What's 'ticky-tacky' about them?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 05:19 AM

The problem about that dated song is that it mixes three distinct aspects that should be treated separately:
  1. Conformist mindset
  2. Lack of taste
  3. Economy ("ticky-tacky").
The same confusion can be observed in essays and songs about food, still in vogue now. Inevitably, the authors are accused of snobbery, whatever their private financial situation. (According to Wiki, satirist Tom Lehrer described "Little Boxes" as "the most sanctimonious song ever written").

Critical lyricists are best advised to focus on one issue at a time, to mention the possible alternatives in a given (financial) situation, and point out the reasons for their criticism.

Like many lyricists of that decade (and of other decades), MR was neither snobbish nor sanctimonious, but lacked intellectual rigour in this song. Present-day songwriters no longer have the excuse of being pioneers.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 08:55 AM

Victor Jara translated it & turned it into a song attacking the Chilean upper middle class, who were guilty of a bit more than lack of taste. Malvina Reynolds apparently appreciated the rewrite and sang a re-translated version of Jara's song, although I don't know any more about it.

Here's Victor Jara's version, for them as has the castellano. ("Recipol" is a building material based on expanded polystyrene; "polycron" is viscose.)

LAS CASITAS DEL BARRIO ALTO

Las casitas del barrio alto
con rejas y antejardín,
una preciosa entrada de autos
esperando un Peugeot.

Hay rosadas, verdecitas,
blanquitas y celestitas,
las casitas del barrio alto
todas hechas con recipol.

Y las gentes de las casitas
se sonríen y se visitan.
Van juntitos al supermarket
y todos tienen un televisor.

Hay dentistas, comerciantes,
latifundistas y traficantes,
abogados y rentistas
y todos visten polycron.

Juegan bridge, toman martini-dry
y los niños son rubiecitos
y con otros rubiecitos
van juntitos al colegio high.

Y el hijito de su papi
luego va a la universidad
comenzando su problemática
y la intríngulis social.

Fuma pitillos en Austin mini,
juega con bombas y con política,
asesina generales,
y es un gángster de la sedición.

Y las gentes de las casitas
se sonríen y se visitan.
Van juntitos al supermarket
y todos tienen un televisor.

Hay rosadas, verdecitas,
blanquitas y celestitas,
las casitas del barrio alto
todas hechas con recipol.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 09:17 AM

To MtheGM.

I don't correspond with chip-on-the-shouldfer Trolls such as yourself.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 09:29 AM

Do most folks miss the point of this song?

It isn't about housing. It is about the establishment forcing everybody into cycles of similarity, slightly differently cosmetically coloured.

It is a cry to break away from the 'norm' and do your own thing! Stop serving the establishment, that only wants you so you can pay them taxes and keep the rich rich, anyway.

Instead live adventurously! Do your own thing and sod the politics!

Rebel!

It is a great subtle protest-song written with much humour by someone who has climbed above prejudice through her academic achievements and her brilliant talent as a song-writer.

For those armchair critics here who want to decry her, her name will be known long after you have disappeared, and who knows you now anyway?

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: sciencegeek
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 09:30 AM

the argument that tract housing was the only affordable housing is BS.

At the same time that "developers" like Levitt were mass producing shoddy homes, you could buy a kit house from SEARS or a half dozen other outlets. Houses that were affordable and used good material.

Driving past, in the school buse, some of the tract houses being built I was horrified to see how shoody they were. I was around eleven at the time and still knew enough to think they were crap. And then later the aluminum wiring caused enough house fires to ban the use of it in the building codes.

The first time I heard the song, my reaction was "Finally, someone else is calling them what they really are."

As for "the American Dream", ask a Native American for their thoughts on it. One man's dream can result in another's nightmare.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: sciencegeek
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 09:38 AM

oh, yeah... canalwheeler is right on...

the song really has two levels... and I remember one home that the owner dared paint some offbeat, vibrant color that "just wasn't done" and had the neighbors trying to change the building code to forbid such horrible behavior in the future.

And then there was the guy who banished his own kids to play in the street or with the neighbors, because his lawn was too precious to use as a yard. Nice to know where the priorities lie.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 10:07 AM

Let it be generally known that I have complained formally to the mods re "canalwheeler"'s offensive post addressed to me above, 4 back. As pretty well everyone reading this will know, I am not 'a troll', but a regular and non-anonymous contributor to these threads, and object strongly to being addressed as such by a little jumped-up like him.

~Michael Grosvenor Myer~


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 10:28 AM

Tone, I think most of us understand MR's intention of the song similarly as you do, and so did her contemporaries. Attacking conformist attitudes was and is a worthy goal, as agreed by most. Nevertheless, the craftsmanship of the lyrics is found questionable, even by Tom Lehrer whose name might well outlive MR's, and who cannot possibly be accused for promoting conformism. (Pete Seegers was not as critical and honoured the good intention and other positive aspects, which is his perfect right as well.)

In a nutshell, the feeling is that the song unduly confuses people who have no better idea or wish - the conformists - with those who see no better option, who may feel insulted.

MtheGM, there is nothing wrong about doctors and lawyers, but everything is wrong about parents pressing their children to those careers for sake of wealth and prestige, and about having that conformist idea of prestige at all. I think we can read this message from MR's lyrics alright, considering it in its historical context, but I agree with you that she should have made it clearer whom exactly she criticizes for what.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 10:40 AM

Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: MtheGM - PM
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 10:07 AM

Let it be generally known that I have complained formally to the mods re "canalwheeler"'s offensive post addressed to me above, 4 back. As pretty well everyone reading this will know, I am not 'a troll', but a regular and non-anonymous contributor to these threads, and object strongly to being addressed as such by a little jumped-up like him.

~Michael Grosvenor Myer~

It's time somebody stated what you really are.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 10:45 AM

If stating the truth gets me barred from MC it is no great loss to me. But I have seen your YouTube videos. In truth you are a talentless bitter old man.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 11:14 AM

... and furthermore, I have looked back on many of your posts here, and I cannot find one that contributes to a discussion sensibly. Most are negative. Go away!

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 11:53 AM

"..I cannot find one that contributes to a discussion sensibly. "

You haven't looked very well.... Michael has contributed a tremendous amount. It is not required to agree with everything he says, but he is erudite, aware and generally a welcome addition to these discussions.

As to his 'talent'... HE has shared some music, and *I* have enjoyed it.

Where is your contribution?


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 12:18 PM

Levittown and the suburbs in California, the "little boxes," were the result of the need for affordable housing after WW2.

The cities with their noise, crowds, inertia on land use rules and expensive housing made no provision for the large lower part of the middle class- storekeepers to professors.

These tracts were the only solution for those who wanted something better than a small apartment; room for their children and pets, a garage for the car, compatible neighbors.

It is unfortunate that they had to expand into the countryside, displacing the natural environment, but no alternative was available.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 12:31 PM

Quote:

You haven't looked very well.... Michael has contributed a tremendous amount. It is not required to agree with everything he says, but he is erudite, aware and generally a welcome addition to these discussions.

As to his 'talent'... HE has shared some music, and *I* have enjoyed it.

Where is your contribution?

Unquote

He is a patronising prat.

My contribution?

I Ran three folk clubs in St Albans from 1973-1991.

I had my own folk show on Chiltern Radio covering five counties from 1986-1991. I was chairman of the first St Albans Folk Festival.

And three of my songs have ben sung back at me in folk clubs.

More recently I organised a folk concert in aid of Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

My CD, including a tribute to Cyril Tawney, is available online.

Currently I have compiled the 2013-4 Folk Events list found here:

2013-4 Folk Festival List

What's yours?

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 12:46 PM

...Oh I nearly forgot. I started Cottonmill Clog Morris and Ramrugge Morris with Colin Bargery (both NW) in Hertfordshire and I was founder chairman of the Unicorn Federation of Folk Clubs in Herts, Bucks, Beds, Northants, Cambs, and North Middlesex until Martin Banks took over.

You did ask.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 12:56 PM

"He is a patronising prat."

I'm sure he will immediately be taken to task by your tactful analysis.... *giggle*

Me? I am just a lowly member of a folk sociey (here in the ignorant colonies) for the last 35 years (served on the board for several years.) I have attended & helped organize 2-3 local festivals every year for all that time, and sung & played at many of them.

More to the point, I have posted at Mudcat since Nov. of 1996, and watched silly insulting twits come & go. I have little patience for gratuitous nastiness... as you might guess.

I have made my point... I will not engage in more useless debate with you, as you seem to be far too taken with your own smugness.....besides, Michael is quite capable of speaking his own piece, should HE care to.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: sciencegeek
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 01:11 PM

"These tracts were the only solution for those who wanted something better than a small apartment; room for their children and pets, a garage for the car, compatible neighbors.

It is unfortunate that they had to expand into the countryside, displacing the natural environment, but no alternative was available."

No... they were not the only alternatives... but they were the ones that made the biggest profit and benefitted short term gains. Big difference. And the battle continues as more and more marginal land is all that is left. And we use "new housing" as a parameter of fiscal health.

And the folks who moved out from the city still expected the same types of services they got back in the city. And also had to commute back to the city were the jobs were... minus the tax base that shifted to the suburbs.      

As an environmental analyst, my job deals with the legacy left by the ticky tacky housing mentality with its get rich quick now and ignore the future consequences.   

One final observation as to the lack of foresight, not to mention common sense, found at the time. The 1960s experienced a long term drought in New York State... which caused a number of ponds to shrink as the water table dropped. The clueless wonders in the local towns only saw "new land & tax $$$"... so they promptly approved buidling lots on land that used to pond margins. Well, it shouldn't take a genius to guess what happened when the drought ended and water returned.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 01:17 PM

Many thanks for your support, Bill. Congratulations on making that evasive person come so far out from behind his defensive anonymity. He actually appears to be a man of some considerable [& admirable] achievement (tho, as you observe, not entirely free of smugness about it!) ~~ as well I find after a bit of research on previous threads, as being 6'4" in height. So I wonder what can possibly be his motivations for being so peculiarly spiteful & vindictive. Ulcers, perhaps?

I wonder too what can possibly have originally caused so much animus against me on his part. Hasn't even had long to acquire it either; unlike you, who have been here since the date you mention 17 years ago, and me, for exactly four years, he only joined last December. But I don't propose to lose any sleep puzzling over it. Nor to open this thread again, or read any further posts he might put up elsewhere. He clearly has nothing to say that can be of any possible interest to me.

Meanwhile, my formal complaint to the Cat authorities as to his gratuitous offensiveness remains. Haven't heard back from them yet, but live in hopes to do so in due course.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 01:25 PM

@ Bill D "I will not engage in more useless debate with you, as you seem to be far too taken with your own smugness"

No. Unfair. You challenged. You asked. I responded, honestly.

What I would like to know is what is MtheGM's authority, and what he has actually contributed that makes him such a knowledgeable critic (in his own mind) of other peoples' opinions.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 02:00 PM

"Not the only alternatives"

What else was there that was available?

This can be blue-skied to death.

I was a vet of WW2. I found an affordable, comfortable house in a new suburb, put up by a reputable builder. Prairie dogs were displaced and land was re-contoured for housing, but for me and many thousand vets newly educated (GI Bills) and with a job, or with a loan for a start-up business, and a "start-up family," I had no alternative except to live poor in a cheap flat.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 02:05 PM

OK, folks. This thread is about a song, and about the circumstances behind the song. In general, song threads have been sacrosanct here at Mudcat, and have been quite free of personal invective. Let's keep it that way.

My stepson just moved to an apartment on Lake Merced, near the campus of San Francisco State University. He's within walking distance of the Westlake development in Daly City, so we've been spending time in Daly City in the process of moving him in. Daly City doesn't look like the "little boxes" Malvina is singing about. I thought that Pacifica was the subject of her song. If you drive California Highway 1 north from Santa Cruz, you go through some of the most beautiful terrain in the U.S. There are two lighthouses, lovely little towns, and treacherous places where the highway hugs the edge of the cliffs over the ocean. Then you round the bend into Pacifica, and the beautiful terrain is covered with houses that all look just the same. These aren't working-class houses. They're not quite McMansions, but they're the homes of middle management. There are other areas around San Francisco that were rugged, beautiful hillsides that were remarkably beautiful in the winter and spring. Those hillsides are covered with expensive houses now, all with big SUVs in the driveways.

There were the neighborhoods Malvina was singing about, the ones with packaged pretentiousness and artificial opulence. She wasn't singing about little, no-money-down houses for soldiers returning from WWII to get jobs and start families. Those soldiers didn't play on golf courses and drink dry martinis - and they didn't become doctors and lawyers and business executives. Malvina is singing about the McMansions that sprawl over the beautiful hillsides of the San Francisco Bay Area. The opening credits of the Weeds television program portray this McMansion ethic very well.

Here's an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvGd8vwWLpE&list=PLFBEA5C8D8536B1F0

-Joe-

This is a music thread. The argument is now officially ended. As I often told my children, "I don't care who started the argument, and I don't care who's right or wrong - I'm going to stop the fight right now!" I'll delete any personal invectives that are posted from now on.

(i.e., anything that is not about the song, gets deleted.)


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 02:44 PM

Joe, where would you find affordable housing for a burgeoning population and returning vets- many of them with GI Bill educations and mortgaged to work in the professions and business, from plumbing concerns to nuclear research. Most of us went to the suburbs, and put 10 percent down.

Levittown was a breakthrough.

On analysis, her little ditty is silly.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 03:06 PM

Q, "Little Boxes" wasn't about Levittown. It was about the silly, pretentious, extravagant housing that costs a million dollars a copy now - housing that completely covers the environmentally delicate hillsides of the San Francisco Bay area. These houses regularly slide down hillsides or fall into sinkholes, or burn in wildfires, or collapse in earthquakes.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 03:29 PM

Right.To get back to the MtheGM's statement about the song

Quote:

I can't see how the song itself can be described as anything other than 'snobbish'. One thing that has always astounded me is how the great egalitarian martyr &-all-that P Seeger could have brought himself to perform such an ill-natured attack on such respectable and indispensable members of society as doctors & lawyers. Where would we be without them, for crying out loud! What's 'ticky-tacky' about them?

Unquote

If he thinks this is an attack against doctors and lawyers, or even housing, he misses the whole point of the song and grossly maligns MR and Pete Seeger. In fact to make such criticism as an english person against what is so obviously an indigenous American song is really out of order.

The song is about breaking away from what is expected of you. Instead, doing what you want to do. Being free. It's very much a song of the american 60s.

To bring the sentiment back to the UK it has the same message as Mick Softley's Gold Watch Blues (and is just as dated now).

To claim that MR's song is 'snobbish' Is either mischievous or markedly uninformed.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 03:38 PM

"Little Boxes" was social satire--not to be taken anymore literally than Monty Python or Luis Buñuel or "A Modest Proposal". As to being dated, Grishka, you're wrong--as evidenced by the fact that it is the theme song of a very popular television program.

Underneath the somewhat annoying melody and childishly repetitive lyrics is a profound message, which is that when you try to create a society that gives the greatest good to the greatest number, everyone is going to wind up getting pretty much the same thing.

One day, not so long ago, I took a walk down my street and stopped to chat with my neighbor whose house had the garage on the right instead of the left, with blue minivan instead of a tan one, parked next to a blue sedan, not a grey one right in front. He was wearing tan cargo shorts from target and a black polo shirt. I had the black shorts with a white polo shirt. We chatted about our kids school, and summer camp...Any of this sound familiar?


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 03:41 PM

Joe, in the video you linked to, the houses do not look as if they were made of cheap or inferior material at all, and individually designed by good architects. "All the same" only applies to the overall spirit.

The song is obviously about a different type of settlement, and probably about a time when real estate was much cheaper than now, as opposed to good building material. Golf clubs and dry martinis were not too expensive either. Thus the song does not seem to mock at the truly affluent, but those who are making their way up, by conformism, networking, make-believe of wealth and competence, and choosing professions with highest chances of real wealth and prestige. (Particularly the clichä lawyer's brain is filled with formalistic stuff at the expense of personality.)

Some groups may have felt wrongly subsumed: Those who lived in the same settlements but with different mindsets, and university people like Tom Lehrer who chose their science for its own sake and with individualistic plans.

Is my impression wrong (not knowing the west coast myself)? If so, what else made Lehrer and others despise the song?


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 03:44 PM

The song is about California doctors and lawyers and business executives, living in their modest million-dollar houses. They have no life. They work long hours, commute long hours, and then go home and sleep. They don't know their neighbors. Their chief social contacts are their "personal trainers," with whom they spend several hours a week "working out."

I had to do government security clearances on these people, and had to go through the motions of going to the neighbors and knocking on doors to find people who knew them. More often than not, none of the neighbors knew each other, even when they had lived there for years.

Now, obviously the song is a caricature, as is the opening sequence from Weeds. Yes, there are many neighborhoods in California when neighbors know each other and interact and work to better their communities - there are even neighborhoods where people gather to sing folk songs. But there are California neighborhoods, particularly neighborhoods of high-income people, where the inhabitants fit Malvina's caricature very closely.

I think that the song "Little Boxes" actually helped to change California urban planning for the better, and much of the sameness of California housing tracts has disappeared. But there still is a need for more variety. Thousand-house tracts are still built in California with a selection of only five floor plans. The first house I rented in California was a three-bedroom house in Fresno, with the kitchen in the middle front, between the garage and the living room, a family room behind the garage, and three bedrooms and two baths behind the living room and kitchen/dining area. The first house I bought in California had the same floor plan, but it was a bit smaller. My second house was two-story home in Sacramento and quite different, but there were houses across the street that had the same floor plan as the two houses we had 200 miles away in Fresno. And after we got divorces, my ex bought a house in Sacramento with the exact same floor plan as our two Fresno houses - my son lives there now, and it's like "deja vu all over again."

In certain places in the US, urban planners have made a move to do away with "snout houses" - houses where the garage door is in front of the rest of the house, creating a neighborhood where all you see is garage doors.

So, I think that "Little Boxes" is a valid and valuable commentary on American urban planning. Certainly, it exaggerates to a point, but can't exaggeration be a valid tool for songwriters and storytellers?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Jeri
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 04:17 PM

We've had this discussion before. Personally, I think it's stupid. You like the song, you don't like the song, or you don't care. You won't change anything, though.

Reynolds apperently wrote the song about Daly City, which means McMansions.
The Wikipedia article talks about the thread being about suburbia, middle class housing, and includes a picture of Levittown. This, AFAIK, was because that's how a Wikipedia contributor understood it.

It may not be what Reynolds intended, but it doesn't matter. People have to try pretty hard to be offended by the song. The people living in the little boxes made of ticky-tacky knew they were living in little boxes made of ticky-tacky, and folks used to joke about it when I was a kid. My mother used to sing the song

The only really dumb thing, as in stupid, as in it makes no fucking sense whatsoever is thinking that people who lived in those relatively inexpensive houses could afford to send their sons and daughters to law school or med school. Disconnect. This should tip people off she wasn't writing about people who would have been happy with a home, period.

It might be a good idea to change or add to the Wiki.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 04:46 PM

Ticki-tacky doesn't exactly describe the million dollar houses I know.
Anyway, your price scale is wrong; most of those houses were built for under $50,000 (although with loss of dollar value, and increase in lot (land) value) that would equal perhaps $1 million today.

Example, my house cost $30,000 and would go on the market now for $900,000.

My question hasn't been answered- what other options did these GI Bill and other returning servicemen have? Plus burgeoning population as mentioned. California had an additional problem- influx of people continued.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Greg F.
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 04:53 PM

Levittown was a breakthrough.

Q, you ever been to either of the Levittowns or lived there? I've done have. Levittown is and was a nightmare.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Jeri
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 05:00 PM

How did Levittown get involved in this?


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 05:09 PM

You're wrong about those houses, Grishka. In fact, the building materials are much cheaper than those used at the time Malvina Reynolds wrote the song. Drywall and particle board and PVC have
replaced most of the more durable building materials in the big developments, and what may appear to elegant, solid exteriors are generally thin layers of facing,stuccoor PVC siding. Hardwood floors tend to be expensive options, with carpeting over poured concrete flooring or particle board being pretty much standard. And lots of veneer.

Though these houses may seem solid and imposing, they often begin to deteriorate even before they are finished.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 05:14 PM

Thanks for your long explanation, Joe. Now, if the song is about really affluent persons (in 1962), as Jeri confirms, why would they live in prefabricated houses of shoddy material? Is that only meant allegorically, like "All flesh is but grass; all human masonry is but ticky-tacky"? Thus Q, Lehrer, the Wiki author and many other critics misunderstood the song with its pejorative word ticky-tacky?—
I think that the song "Little Boxes" actually helped to change California urban planning for the better, and much of the sameness of California housing tracts has disappeared.
It may even have had a worldwide effect - quite an achievement! Nevertheless, the song is not primarily about disastrous urban planning, but about its grateful (?) customers: these turn out "all the same" themselves, giving up their individual personalities. This, Jeri, is certainly a criticism, thus a reason to take offence. I do not think Mudcatters such as Stim would recognize themselves in that description, since they do have "a life" and individual hobbies. (Besides, Stim, I do not think that in any society "everyone is going to wind up getting pretty much the same thing", not even in the former Soviet Union, let alone in California.)

If we assume the "real ticky-tacky" hypothesis, I imagine parents working hard, and living in modest housing in order to save every dime to send their children to good universities. But the song seems to suggest that the parents have those lucrative academic professions themselves, which contradicts the hypothesis. I tend to agree with Jeri that there is a little mistake in MR's concept.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Greg F.
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 06:05 PM

Some people would take offense at the sun rising.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 06:21 PM

I think you miss the point,Grishka. We live in a time of mass production-more and more people live in the same houses, wear the same clothes, eat the same food, and more and more, our lives seem to fall into that pattern of sameness, too. That's it.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 06:32 PM

If you are happy to be perceived as a conformist made of ticky-tacky, who am I to object. MR was definitely critical of that property, since she used a clearly pejorative word (or re-coined it into a noun, from an adjective of known pejorative meaning).


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 06:47 PM

Now, if the song is about really affluent persons (in 1962), as Jeri confirms, why would they live in prefabricated houses of shoddy material?

I think we can read too much into one word, at least when that word is "ticky-tacky". I don't picture the houses the song's describing as cheap or shoddy in construction. It's more that they will have been thrown up quickly, designed for show rather than architectural merit, and all with the same lack of taste. As I understand it, the point of saying "they all look just the same" is precisely that they aren't meant to look the same - they're each designed as somebody's dream house, but they all look the same because all these people are having the same dream.

It's actually much easier to answer the question about building materials in the Chilean context. Victor Jara didn't translate the "all look just the same" line directly; his version says

Las casitas del Barrio Alto,
Todas hechas con recipol

Or:

The pretty houses of the rich suburb
Every one made with Recipol.

Quoting a poster on the Word Reference forums:

"Victor Jara is speaking about a constructive technique used in the richest suburbs of Santiago involving a core of expanded polystyrene, covered with a metallic grid and concrete that allowed for an extreme control in the shape of houses, but that was extremely expensive in the '70s, since it involved, at the time, importing all the polystyrene and paying high importing taxes. This fact alone restricted this constructive technique to those suburbs. "

So there you go - modern, light-weight construction techniques, making it possible to build large houses with unusual designs, were being used by the Chilean 1%. Their houses were made of ticky-tacky, but it was expensive ticky-tacky. But I don't know if anything similar was being done in the Californian outer suburbs that Malvina Reynolds originally wrote about.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 12:44 AM

I worked for a couple months in Denver during my last year of employment, 1999. Within the limits of Denver City and County, it's a wonderful town, full of interesting architecture. Once you cross the city limits, you're in California - a collection of suburbs packed with oversized, opulent, cheaply-made houses with SUVs in the driveways (because people kept their garages full of "stuff" - unused, overpriced toys, mostly). I went up to one house and rang the doorbell. When I pushed the button, the whole wall pushed in. It was vinyl siding, with nothing behind it for support - but the houses all looked very prosperous. That's the kind of neighborhood where houses start looking shoddy after 15 years, and there are neighborhoods like that all over the U.S. There's no room for interaction between neighbors because the driveways and streets are full of vehicles. That's the type of neighborhood depicted in the Weeds introduction. It may look opulent now, but it won't last long.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 04:44 AM

If I now understand correctly, MR was talking about truly wealthy persons in 1962, who did not insist on quality material because they did not care. So we have the allegations
  • Conformism, lack of individuality
  • Choice of profession according to income and prestige
  • Lack of taste; going for show value, however short-lived
  • Neglecting durability and quality of living, even though they could afford it.
That makes sense. Those who feel offended because they live in inferior housing for economical reasons, can be replied that they are not targeted, because (typical) Californian doctors and lawyers are not in that group.

Remains the mixture of allegations resulting in stereotyping. In this thread and the other one Do you like 'Little Boxes'?, many valid points are put forward against such stereotypes. Songwriters had best focus on one issue at a time, such as criticizing conformist prestige-seekers. Even if the latter are likely to prefer showy building material to durable one, and choose certain professions, this must not be the primary accusation, and had best not be mentioned at all in a short song. There are much better reasons to criticize that life style.

As I wrote above, the pioneers must be granted some licence, particularly for a song that had an impact on the non-musical world to the better. Nowadays, lyricists must be careful.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 04:47 AM

For what it's worth, here's a rough translation of Victor Jara's version. See my previous comment for the bit about polystyrene. The general referred to was René Schneider.

PRETTY HOUSES

The pretty houses of the rich suburb
Pretty gardens behind their gates
A lovely carport at the side
Just waiting for a Peugeot.

Pretty pink ones, pretty green ones,
Pretty white ones, pretty blue ones
The pretty houses of the rich suburb
All made of polystyrene!

And the people from the houses
They smile as they pay visits
Off they go to the supermarket!
Everyone has a TV.

Some are dentists, some are landlords,
Some are traders in import/export,
Some are lawyers, some are landowners,
And they all wear nylon suits.

The play bridge, they drink martinis
And their kids have little pink faces
And with other little pink kids
Off they go to high school

A little later, Daddy's little boy
He goes to the university
To begin his serious studies
Of the complexities of society.

He smokes cigarettes in his Austin,
He plays with bombs and with politics,
And assassinates generals
He's a gangster of subversion.

And the people from the houses
They smile as they pay visits
Off they go to the supermarket!
Everyone has a TV.

Pretty pink ones, pretty green ones,
Pretty white ones, pretty blue ones
The pretty houses of the rich suburb
All made of polystyrene!


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: sciencegeek
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 07:16 AM

Q...

you keep harping on no other options for returning GIs...

well, my dad served in WWII and came home to Astoria, NY where he met & wed my mom. They lived in a small apartment in Jackson Heights, saved their money & bought land out on the eastern end of Long Island. It took a couple years & we lived in a converted chicken coop while they built the home I grew up in with help from friends & family.

That's what people used to do... and they sometimes used home kits from SEARS and others. And they scrimped to save enough to send their kids to college... often with scholarships. And some, like my uncles, used the GI Bill to fund their own college educations to become an engineer and a geologist.

MR may have written about California but the trend spread across the country and it could easily apply to any number of housing tracts that sprang up like mushrooms. The song appeals to anyone who was or is appalled by both ticky tacky construction and seemingly mindless conformity.

It appeals to me because I rebelled against most of the BS that people wanted to impose upon me merely because I was born female. And because I knew how to build a house that would be sound and last for generations.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 10:38 AM

http://www.mudcat.org/Detail.CFM?messages__Message_ID=1809682 for alittle light relief , something I posted in 2006 !


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 01:33 PM

Blicky for Leadfingers:
For a little light relief , something I posted in 2006 !


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 01:37 PM

And as an aside, here are some houses made of cast iron! There was a shortage of bricks after WWI; this method of prefabrication turned out to be too expensive.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 02:25 PM

I suppose you can personalize this an make it into some sort of snooty condemnation of the working class, but I never got the impression that Malvina was snooty - and she was a powerful spokesperson on behalf of the working class. I think the message of the song, is that there is a need for wisdom in urban planning. Well-planned developments need not cost any more than the ticky-tacky ones, and they're better for community and they're better for the environment. I know there are political forces that try to denigrate urban planning, but it's a very necessary and constructive function that needs to be done done wisely.
One very important topic in urban planning today, is providing housing for the homeless. There are ways to construct affordable housing that is pleasant, pleasing to the eye, functional, and durable. It takes imagination, but imagination costs very little.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: sciencegeek
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 02:52 PM

may I add that it is not just better urban planning that is needed, but a whole education in cluster development, open space preservation and well thought out infrastucture placement.

They now have college courses that use the building practices of the 1950s & '60s to illustrate what not to do. Better late than never, I guess. But these are not the folks who end up on town planning boards.

This thread is starting to look a lot like the issues that my job has to deal with... lol.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 03:30 PM

"People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?" - R. King


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 03:36 PM

Good luck, sciencegeek, you need it.

Our county had a well thought out master plan that politicians have gutted by granting developers large scale exemptions, and when that wasn't enough, simply looking the other way while developers exceeded height, density, and egress regulations.

The terrible thing is that most buyers don't realize that the construction materials that support the latest amenities won't last the term of the mortgage. And when the realtor shows them the properties on Saturdays and Sundays, they don't think about what the two lane highway, which was constructed when the area was farm land, looks like at 7:00am, when 1200 families are heading to work and school...


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: sciencegeek
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 03:47 PM

thanks, Stim...

our team just was just discussing two development projects under review... talk about how much sh*t can you cram in a 5 pound bag...

the only open space are the federal wetlands that they left alone to avoid needing a permit from the Army Corps... so we are left with only stormwater compliance thanks to the Clean Water Act. big whoop there...

and thanks to being out in the suburbs, they can't get anywhere without a car.. or cars if a family. Another ant colony of commuters.

my mantra... how many more months until I can retire.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 05:00 PM

I'm not sure how any song of social comment can avoid being snobbish. I guess it's a matter of whether the songs snobbishness coincides with yours.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 06:02 PM

I'm not sure how any song of social comment can avoid being snobbish.
Quite easily, Dick, exactly as an essay of social comment can. It must make sufficiently clear whom and what exactly it criticizes, and mention (or clearly imply) good arguments exactly to the point. It is snobbish to attack irrelevant features of opponents and to omit argumentation, e.g. "These would-be politicians do not even know how to knot a tie!" or "These ticky-tacky lawyers send their kids to summer camps!"

Song lyricists can leave some of the work to the listener, but should make sure to set them on the right track. "Little Boxes" sends confusing signals.

There is of course more to good rhetorics, and even more to good songwriting. MR definitely had some artistic talent, but was perhaps too quick with her writing to pass the test of time completely unblemished. Of course, many others were and are worse (- yes, I am also thinking of Mudcatters, whose names I won't mention).


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 21 Aug 13 - 11:32 AM

There is a difference between a song and a position paper.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,MtheGM
Date: 21 Aug 13 - 12:18 PM

I suppose you can personalize this an make it into some sort of snooty condemnation of the working class
.,,.

'working class'?????

Doctors & lawyers & business executives are not quite what we would call 'working class' around these parts.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Aug 13 - 01:08 PM

What is the working class today? And in what area and context?
In Calgary, I suppose the working class is mostly in the 22 percent visible minority, immigrants who work in health care, in the stores, restaurants and jobs that do not require certified training (most trades require technical school or certified apprenticeship). Houses in the areas where they have their communities are at the low end of the scale, about $225,000. Those who develop the skills move out to the suburbs or cut-off areas with the rest of us.

Most of what has been posted here, including this, belongs in the BS section.

Most houses today are replaceable. In my neighbourhood, a lot that cost $7000 in 1960 is now at $500,000 or more, the house counting for little. New people are moving in. A current practice is to tear out the house and build a new one that suits.

Is this practice prevalent in the suburbs in the hills of Los Angeles County?
What were the lot prices in the suburbs of LA in 1960? What are the lots worth today?
"Ticky-tacky" houses perhaps, but easily replaced. And the owners sell and move on to other locales for work or retirement or rebuild the house.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 21 Aug 13 - 01:26 PM

Dick, indeed, a song is not an essay, that is what I wrote. Nevertheless, they have in common that they can sound "snobbish" (or "sanctimonious" or like manipulative propaganda), either on purpose or unintentionally, but need not necessarily. A lyricist who wishes to convince the unconvinced, and to gain a reputation among sensitive audiences, had best avoid that sound. Even angry or sharply satirical songs need not be "snobbish" in the sense of indiscriminate and apodeictic. Tom Lehrer knew that.

The problem is not restricted to social comment in the narrow sense. Quite a number of songs state some fact such as "Milk bottles are made of plastic nowadays" and directly continue "- doomsday has come". Those of us who like plastic milk bottles will not be convinced, and may in fact think "that snob should be glad to have milk at all, even brought to his door every morning without being woken."

As I wrote, the listener or reader of lyrics and other poetry must do more work than the reader of an essay, but so must the poet.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 21 Aug 13 - 01:32 PM

I still think a song must be taken in context with the times in which it was written.

I mentioned Gold Watch Blues above. Obviously those lyrics don't make any sense whatsoever in the 21C. But it's message of 'don't conform', 'get away' 'be yourself', 'don't be pigeon-holed' is pretty much identical with Little Boxes.

I tend to sing the two songs together.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 23 Aug 13 - 09:16 AM

From DT

"Malvina Reynolds, who lives in Berkeley California, where the
hillsides are bulldozed, terraced, and emboxed, has written a
song before breakfast almost every day for the last seventeen
years, and this is one of her best."

I wonder what time she had breakfast.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 23 Aug 13 - 11:03 AM

GUEST Grishka-
Who's snobbish now?


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 23 Aug 13 - 11:40 AM

Perhaps you, Dick, by refusing to give reasons ;) ? I am sometimes critical, which is the opposite of snobbish, as I tried to elaborate. Sometimes I cannot help sounding patronizing, against my intention, like most Mudcat posters; this is due to the forces of brevity.

Pointing out non-optimal aspects of existing songs is not an end in itself, but necessary in order to improve our understanding in general, and to encourage good practice in the future. You are welcome to disagree - please mention your reasons, if possible.


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Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 23 Aug 13 - 11:44 AM

Henry, that gives an entirely new meaning to the expression "jejune writing style"!


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