Caturday felid: how Dayo the cat (aka “deo88xxx”) got his name

My friend Grania, also a cat-lover, pointed me to a website written by her friend:  Souped-up Garden. It’s about gardening and cooking with the garden’s produce, and it has lovely photographs. But the best part is the writer’s cat Dayo, who periodically appears  basking in the garden, licking potatoes in the kitchen, and so on.  The website’s description says:

I garden passionately and not entirely in a sane manner.  I live with my British husband, a  Paléoinformaticien–referred in this blog as the Calm One–and Dayo, our young, white and brown tabby cat in Angouleme, a lively, charming, small city in southwest France.  A native New Yorker, living abroad for about twenty years in various places, I came to settle down to a city that once inspired an earlier name for New York City, that is, Nouvelle Angouleme.  In a way, as  my sister-in-law graciously said,  I finally have come home.

All the Dayo-related posts can be found here, but here are two favorite photos of le moggie, first ensconced in a jam crock and then peering through a slot:

Of course I had to inquire in a comment on her website (below) how the cat got such an unusual name—a name that conjured up the famous Harry Belafonte song. It turns out that his real name is not Dayo, but “deo88xxx” (“the Calm One” is the writer’s husband):

And for the few of you don’t know of this traditional Jamaican mento song, made famous by Harry Belafonte, here is the famous 1956 recording. (“Mento” was the precursor to reggae.)  It’s a catchy song about the travails of Caribbean workmen who must load bananas onto fruit boats all night. It also contains one of the worst rhyming attempts in music history: “banana” is made to rhyme with “tarantula.”

This song was everywhere when I was a kid, for Belafonte was immensely popular. There’s also a hilarious version in which Belafonte sings Day-O with the animals on The Muppet Show.

I guarantee that this song is a meme, and at some point during this weekend you will burst out singing the words “Dayyyyyyyy-O!”

14 Comments

  1. Posted July 14, 2012 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Jerry, for such a lovely write-up (and thank you, Grania, for letting Jerry know about my blog and Dayo–it is v much appreciated).

    One tiny correction though, that’s a crock for sauerkraut.

    • Notagod
      Posted July 14, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      I thought I may have detected a touch of the sourpuss in that jammed cat.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted July 14, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Your site is too good not to recommend, I love it!

  2. HaggisForBrains
    Posted July 14, 2012 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    too good an opportunity to miss – once you’ve enjoyed Harry Belafonte you have to listen to Stan Freberg.

    • harrync
      Posted July 14, 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      First thing I thought of, too. [Is this the original “I come through the window”?]

    • chascpeterson
      Posted July 14, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      That bongocero expresses the standard accomodationist complaint:
      “It’s too shrill, man, it’s too piercing.”

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted July 14, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        +1

  3. Occam
    Posted July 14, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    The Banana Boat Song, as Jerry rightly wrote, was everywhere, and it is a meme. As a worker’s song, it was one of the first Western imports tolerated behind the Iron Curtain in the late ’50s and early ’60s.

    It was so catchy and pervasive that, years before I had a word of English to my name, I memorised it phonetically, aged about six. This got me into serious trouble later at school, for I found it impossible to memorise any of the Russian songs we were supposed to learn, whereas my phonetical American repertoire extended to “Sixteen Tons” (Tennessee Ernie Ford), “Ol’ Man River” (Paul Robeson) and, most damnably, “The Yellow Rose of Texas”. The latter had severe disciplinary consequences, given that Gene Autry could not be construed as a Socialist Hero, not by any stretch of the imagination.

    Bananas were a much-craved rarity in the Soviet block, so the musical impression courtesy of Harry Belafonte predates my first actual tasting of the fruit by several years. The sight of “a beautiful bunch a’ ripe banana” is still powerful enough to a elicit a throaty “Day-O”, to the increasing dismay and embarrassment of my loved-ones.

    • Posted July 14, 2012 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      Thanks for sharing that interesting personal account. I really enjoyed hearing it.

  4. Posted July 14, 2012 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    love the post & the song – & of course, le chat 🙂

  5. revjimbob
    Posted July 14, 2012 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    This version used to be shown on children’s tv here in the UK as a filler in the 60s:

  6. Sawdust Sam
    Posted July 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    First cat to use kohl since the Egyptians?

  7. Posted July 15, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    I thought you and your readers would appreciate an x-ray of my Manx Cat, Pollux: http://sterlingstarling.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/the-anatomy-of-a-manx-cat/

    You can really get a sense of the unusual anatomy of a Manx; I haven’t been able to find any others on the internet, so I thought this was a nice addition.

    (He and his brother Castor were also submitted to the cute kitteh contest last week.)

    I wasn’t sure how to private message you, so I thought the Caturday post was the best place to share it! 🙂

    PS. The story of how Dayo got his name is awesome. Thanks for sharing.


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