Quote: What if the Hokey-Pokey really is what it's all about? (1998 February 21)

Jim Parish jparish at SIUE.EDU
Sat Dec 4 16:28:20 UTC 2010

As another data point: in the two-part episode "A Voice in the Wilderness" of _Babylon
5_ (aired July/August 1994) the Centauri ambassador Londo Mollari describes to his
aide Vir what he believes to be a fundamental element of human psychology, something
taught to all of their children: the Hokey-Pokey.

Jim Parish

On 4 Dec 2010 at 11:10, Garson O'Toole wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Quote: What if the Hokey-Pokey really is what it's all about?
>               (1998 February 21)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Wilson Gray posted an entertaining philosophical quip that he saw as a
> graffito. The earliest instance of a version I have found so far is in
> 1998 in an article by sports writer Mike Bianchi.
> Cite: 1998 February 21, Florida Times-Union, "Caray had Song in Heart"
> by Mike Bianchi, Page C1, Jacksonville, Florida. (NewsBank)
> And, finally, this troubling philosophical question: What if the
> Hokey-Pokey really is what it's all about?
> The phrase was repeated and labeled quotable in December of 1998.
> Cite: 1998 December 16, Denver Post, "Spirit of Colorado Christmas
> missing at KCNC" by Dick Kreck, Section 1A, Page A02, Denver,
> Colorado. (NewsBank)
> QUOTABLE: "What if the hokey-pokey really is what it's all about?"
> There is a Jimmy Buffet song titled "What if the Hokey-Pokey Is All It
> Really Is About?" on the album "Far Side of the World" which was
> released in March of 2002 according to the sometimes accurate
> Wikipedia.
> Below are two earlier different comical riffs on the Hokey-Pokey
> lyric. These versions express exasperation and are not humorously
> interrogative.
> Cite: 1993 January 22, The Virginian-Pilot, "Been Hurt in an Accident?
> Pick an Ad" by Earl Swift, Page D1, Norfolk, Virginia. (NewsBank)
> I hadn't dried off before Joel Bieber popped up on my car radio:
> "Recently someone told me that I'm his nephew's lawyer," the lawyer
> said. "He went on to say his nephew is only 3, but he goes around the
> house singing, 'If you're hurt, call Joynes and Bieber.'
> "That's what it's all about."
> Normally, ads like this make me crazy. "That's what what is all
> about?" I might scream. Or: "No, Joel, the Hokey-Pokey is what it's
> all about."
> Cite: 1996 April 10, Charleston Daily Mail, The Wrong People Get a Day
> Off by L. T. Anderson, Page 1C, West Virginia (NewsBank)
> Combining in a single sentence "impact" as a verb and the "what it's
> all about" cliche is a feat that could be brought off only on
> television, where "white stuff," for "snow," is thought to be clever.
> Besides that, impacting people, whatever that means, ISN'T what it's
> all about. Doing the Hokey-Pokey is what it's all about.
> Apparently predecessor songs exist called the Hinkum-Booby and the
> Okey-Cokey. The lyrics of the Okey-Cokey also state "And that's what
> it's all about." Thus an existential crisis for those individuals
> seeking transcendent guidance in song lyrics appears unavoidable.
> Garson
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