George Greer (music by Jimmy Vann) Songs of Meter Park (Metric Records, 1976) In the generation before the Islamo-Commies in the government were trying to ensure access to affordable health care, they were busy converting America to the metric system. Good old American measurements were no longer good enough - we now had to use the Euro system to measure our baguettes and foie gras. The Metric Conversion Act of 1975 decreed that "each Federal agency... by the end of the fiscal year 1992, use the metric system of measurement in its procurements, grants and other business-related activities." It was on. The nation's schoolchildren were immediately plunged into a prolonged education campaign to prepare them for the base-10 world of adulthood. Kilo, hecto, deca, deci, centi, milli. Those of Cutout Bin's age will remember these prefixes as though first grade was only a hectosecond ago. The nation's producers of crap-to-sell-to-worried-parents entered the game early. Behold Songs of Meter Park. Meter Park was a happy place, where kids of all races (and their dogs) could walk & play among the numbers with their new anthropomorphic blue blob friends. But Meter Park was not just about fun and games. Learning was afoot! Let's examine the lyrics to
"I like to weigh with kilograms. I like to weigh with kilograms. It's easy with ten as the number. I like to weigh with kilograms." REPEAT
How could this clever use of repetition and unassailable logic fail? Well, it's the 70's. Maybe dancing will work. Let's listen to "Square Meter Dance":
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"Honor your partner, honor your neighbor. The square meter dance is no labor. The more you know, the faster you go. And this is how you do-si-do. A half-meter forward; a half meter side. A half meter long; a half meter wide. Promenade with your lady fair. Length times width finds measures square. Learn area, don't be shy. Find length and width then multiply."
It's difficult to understand how, with such catchy tunes, America's use of the metric system is still so limited. Outside of drug dealers and arms manufacturers, the kilogram and the millimeter are still vague concepts to most Americans. But we can't blame the producers of crappy kids' records: they did their patriotic duty to bring the metric system to America. By the end of fiscal year 1992.
Bonus: The music on this album is credited to Jimmy Vann, who can only be the guy behind the Jimmy Vann Band, a forgotten pop-psych group whose unreleased 1971 album was recently dug up by a Japanese label. They are now available to play your wedding. Don't forget to request "Square Meter Dance." Nick DiFonzo is a Houston record collector and bizarre-recordings aficionado. See his Web site at www.bizarrerecords.com.