Since former California Gov. George Deukmejian died a week ago at age 89, the "Iron Duke" has inspired reflections on everything from his tough-on-crime approach that reshaped the state's justice system to his quiet, friendly manner.
The public will be able to pay their respects next month when the Deukmejian family holds a memorial for the two-term Republican, June 9 at 1 p.m. at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach, his longtime home.
But don't forget (and how could you?) his quirkier legacy as the inspiration for a minor 1987 parody hit called "Walk Like a Deukmejian," based on The Bangles' #1 single "Walk Like an Egyptian."
The song, which debuted on Los Angeles DJ Dr. Demento's show and received some airplay across the state that spring, recounted Deukmejian's recent reelection and successful campaign to oust Chief Justice Rose Bird and two other members of the California Supreme Court.
Then there's Tom Bradley every four years, Willie Brown and Mayor Di
They don't get Duke down, he's laughing and here's the reason why:
The entire California Supreme Court says...
Walk like a Deukmejian
"I chose the song because the title was too obvious," said its singer, "Loose Bruce" Kerr, now a 70-year-old lawyer in Rocklin who still records new material on the side.
Kerr said the track was one of the highlights of his two-decade career as a performer based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, launching him on a reinvention as a parody artist that ultimately led to opening for "Weird Al" Yankovic at the Warfield Theatre.
A self-described "lifelong liberal Democrat," Kerr nonetheless kept his Deukmejian musings fairly neutral and even sent the governor a copy of the record. It included a B-side about a condom commercial from the era and was packaged with an actual condom in the case. Kerr, perhaps, unsurprisingly never heard back.
He did hear, however, from the publisher of "Walk Like an Egyptian," who Kerr said demanded $50 and the rights to his parody if he was going to keep performing it.
Because of that experience, he eventually joined a lawsuit, led by 2 Live Crew, over the rights of parody artists. In 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor, determining that a commercial parody can qualify as fair use and does not need the permission of the original artist.
Welcome to the AM Alert, your morning rundown on California policy and politics. To receive it regularly, please sign up here.
CIVIL RIGHTS REVISITED: Marking the 64th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, Californians for Justice will hold a march and rally, 11 a.m. on the west steps of the Capitol, calling for Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers to address lingering racial inequality in schools. Among their demands is the passage of Assembly Bill 2820, which would create grants for school districts to improve their climate and community engagement.
FAST FOOD FIGHT: Should a vacant hot dog stand in downtown Ventura be added to the National Register of Historic Places? The Top Hat, which opened in 1948 and has sat empty since the business was evicted in 2010, has been nominated for preservation as a "classic example of an American roadside, post-World War II commercial, steel, walk-up hot dog stand." But the current owners of the property on which the 8-foot-by-22-foot building is located object, dismissing the nomination as an effort to sideline their proposed housing project for the site. The State Historical Resources Commission will vote on whether to advance the nomination when it meets at 1 p.m. in Palo Alto.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: Nearly a fifth of employees at the Board of Equalization work with a relative, The Bee's Adam Ashton reported last fall, some of them in the same chain of supervision. What has the troubled tax agency done since an audit of their hiring practices last November recommended firing several employees and called for tough sanctions on the department? The Board of Equalization will provide a six-month update during the State Personnel Board meeting, 10 a.m. at 801 Capitol Mall.