Thursday, July 31, 2008

But Enough About Me...

Sigh. This stupid world of blogs. I think about it and, I mean, what is this really but just an avenue for my opinions on stuff & a way to make people read them rather than listen to me tell them. Nobody wants that. Because if you do THAT, people glaze over & drift off & start thinking, "who cares? wonder if there's any chip dip in the fridge? I need to pee..." But given the fact that no one actually reads anymore except for the internet, blogs give people a chance to reply to one's tirades with a thumbs up, thumbs down, or an entirely different opinion that is or isn't related to what they're replying to.

And unless you're Bai Ling (look it up), who's actually responding to your blog? Your friends, if you have any? Your family, if they can be arsed? Maybe blogging is just another form of keeping a diary, but a bit more random than "day 13: today I finally pushed away from the dinner table..."

I don't care. Did I figure everyone would tell everyone else about my fab blog site, & people everywhere would read it, and somehow Dave Berry or David Sedaris or somebody would catch wind & start commenting back to me. To ME. And, y'know, the page wouldn't have to change because it's MY blog and the reason they're all reading it & commenting is because it isn't themselves. But maybe they can relate. Or the total opposite. Any reaction is better than none at all. Isn't that right, Bill O'Reilly?

I had a pretty involved post going in draftland, about how Lindsay Lohan isn't gay (she isn't, y'know) and how her friend is a Pete Doherty wannabe and the sister of "gee I'm lucky, I hope no one finds out how talentless I really am" producer Mark Ronson, then I started thinking "does anyone even know who Pete f#*king Doherty is? or Mark f#*king Ronson?" It sucks when no one gets what you're writing about. And that's not a comment on people's intelligence, it just means most stuff really doesn't mean anything to anyone. Like I'm surprised I even know who Bai Ling is, except I she was popping up in some of the stuff I read online (indicative of what?), & I felt the need to look her up (she seems enigmatic. also she's fairly stupid and shallow. I like that, but I don't actually like her).

Blogging is the 21st century t-shirt. Way back when, the t-shirt was the way to let people know you were pro-Foghat. Before that it was the bumper sticker - "Vote 'yes' on 'C'". But now, we have become such complex beings that it takes a whole series of promotional shitfests to get people to get us.

Back in the punk days it was so much simpler, I honestly didn't care who got me. I got me. Maybe my friends got me, grudgingly. Now my friends who got me are dead, and there isn't enough time for new friends to get me. That's why we have blogsites. You can get me at your leisure, that is if I'm telling the truth.

Friday, July 25, 2008

New Found Freedom In Suburbia, ca. 1964-65

The see-saw ride that is "yay summer" / "boo hiss summer" continues. This is a "yay" post; not that the last one was a "boo hiss" one, but it DID deal with death. This one doesn't. It's very much about life.

Without fail, my summers always resurrect memories of summers gone-by, and most always two years in particular: 1964 and 1965.

The summer of '64 is very special to me. My father died the previous March. It was my first summer out of the lower east side ghetto that made up my first 10 years. Also The Beatles had exploded onto the US scene just before spring. You may not think their arrival is such a big deal considering the way stuff happens now, but there was literally nothing happening since 1959; Neil Sedaka, Bobby Vinton and Del Shannon. Dire. Five years of crap (because Phil Spector was just getting it together). The British Invasion added to my other new beginnings and you have an importance on my life that you couldn't believe.

My mother and I spent 2 weeks visiting relatives in Pennsylvania that summer. Week two was spent at an aunt's cottage and it was there that I met the first girl I had a crush on, I can't remember her name but her brother was a DJ at WNEW in New York. They had a shitload of records at their cottage. He gave me a DJ copy of The Beatles' "And I Love Her", probably to stop me from hanging around him & asking questions. I clearly remember playing some card game for matchsticks at their cottage alot & they repeatedly listened to "The Womenfolk" lp (early folk singers ), especially "Little Boxes" (yeah, from "Weeds") Anyway, I got sympathy from a lot of those relatives 'cuz I was single parented. Whatever.

That first summer, using directions from my neighbor I walked, by myself, to Eastland, an "outside" mall like they try to "niche up" nowadays (they didn't go indoor until the mid 70s). It was a little over a mile away (remember, I was 11). Such were the times, nothing to fear as long as you weren't totally stupid. When I got there, I went straight to the record shop and bought two singles: "Tell Me" by The Stones and "The Girl From Ipanema" by Stan Getz. Why at 11 did I buy that one? One could say why at 11 did I buy any? That's me. Then I had no more money & lots of time to kill, walking around with that bag.

The following summer, 1965, I got a brand spanking new bike for my birthday, a 3-speed racer that I kept in my room for quite awhile. I rode that thing everywhere, and if you remember from a previous post I mentioned how I rode it to Eastland (same place) & it was stolen. Again with the record shopping, too (My Generation).

I could go just about anywhere within reason. My friend across the street and I used to ride to school playgrounds & play with matches, smoke cigarettes we stole from parents, and make up dirty rhymes & songs (He had a favorite: "Goddamn motherf$*ckin' blue-balled bitch/ Hang around me you'll get your big ass kicked" - claims he heard that from his older brother).

We had a drug store on the corner that carried everything a 10 or 11 year old boy could want: candy, model cars kits (paint too), sunglasses, comic books (and then of course Beatle magazines and even for a short time "Rave" - which was like a British "Tiger Beat"; they ran really ace color photos of people like Small Faces and The Pretty Things - fantastic!

When Beatle collector cards came out (like baseball cards), we'd buy them all the time, at a nickle a pack.

Then right around the corner the mother of the drug store owner had a little grocery shop with a penny candy counter. A few blocks away was Anderson's, all I remember them selling was stuff like trick matches, onion gum, whoopie cushions - like the back of a comic book. Kid heaven!

Every saturday and sunday we talked someone's parents (or my sister - my mother didn't drive) into dropping us off/picking us up at the movies. Two or three movies that ran continuously until about 5pm. There were about a half dozen theaters we'd go to, and on weekends during the day they were ruled by kids. Absolutely no adults coming in to catch a flick, now that I think of it. Can you imagine what that was like? It was the precursor of going to the mall, and for me & my ilk it was the precursor to going to rock ballrooms every weekend six years later or so (we didn't hang out at the mall).

After those first two summers in the suburbs I entered junior high, and grudgingly welcomed self-consciousness, self-doubt and self-loathing. All the fun kid stuff I was wrapped up in was now closely scrutinized and a very extreme "keep/discard" system was applied. And from that point forward the opinion of the opposite sex was always a factor. Gone were the days of "can I eat all five of these snickers", or "I can belch the theme to The Flintstones", or even "I can pretend this tennis racket is John's Rickenbacker and when I put this Beatle wig on I'm him".

Girls don't dig that stuff.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Death Haunts My Summer

This middle month of summer has not been kind to the world of celebrity. Let's have a quick glance at this corpse-strewn planet of ours:

July 3: BOZO!!! Bozo (legally Larry Harmon) is DEAD!!!! Awww no!!!! Who's gonna raise Butchie-Boy now (except he's about 50)? Bozo is dead, and now WGN has to fill two hours of Sunday morning programming. I vote for vintage Meet The Press outtakes, with Tim Russert (d. 6/13/08).

July 4: Jesse Helms. Shit-for-brains self-described redneck politician from North Carolina. Racist. Moron. Anti-integration. Anti-civil rights. Anti-abortion. Anti-gay rights. Glad you're dead, you piece of shit motherf*#cker. Only wish you'd have taken about 5,000,000 of your ilk with you.

July 11: Chuck Carbo. A Nawlins music staple since the 50s, when, as a member of The Spiders - with his brother Chick - he had a national hit with "Witchcraft" which Presley (d. 8/16/77) covered (and once again made more money from). But if you really wanna hear Chuck kick some soul grooves, search the web to stream "Can I Be Your Squeeze" (actually you can listen to it here ). This is one funky-ass jam.

July 16: Jo Stafford. A singer of pop standards in the late 40s/early 50s. Best known for her hit version of the WWII ballad "You Belong To Me". She was also half of the spoof musical duo "Jonathan & Darlene Edwards" (she was Darlene), in which she sang standards (again) calculatingly off-key while her real life husband, Paul Weston (d. 9/20/96), accompanied her on piano in a decidedly hack fashion. These songs were featured on 60's Detroit horror show "Sir Graves Ghastly" between film segments, with Sir Graves (d. 4/24/07) miming to the songs in drag as "Tillie Trollhouse".

July 21: Roy Shirley. A Trenchtown native, he was a part of Jamaica's first golden age of music. Back in 1967 he had the first big rocksteady hit, "Hold Them", produced by Joe Gibbs (d. 2/21/08).

July 22: Estelle Getty. Probably struggled many years as an actress, but became most famous as the Golden Girls' sassy octogenarian Sophia. She knew how to deliver the lines written for her character, one would only hope she was that tart in real life.

Now on to the wake!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Everybody's Entitled To One

I have a few trademark sayings - rejoinders may be more accurate; sure sounds spiffy - that make me me. For all I know, they may piss people off, but then any reaction is better than no reaction at all. One of my favorites is my response to visitors' farewell: "thanks for having me/us"; I say: "Thanks For Being Had". I absolutely love that one, don't let me catch you using it. Another fave, and this really isn't a rejoinder, just a real honest-to-goodness saying, is flexibly used with varied verbiage, but the gist of it is this: "heart attacks - everybody's entitled to one."

Recently I have applied this last bon mot to the 21st century version of the pacemaker, the iPod !!!

Everybody's entitled to one - nay, it's de rigeur!!!

I am sceptical of all technology when it first arrives on the scene. That's because I've worked in the technology field for the past 372 years, and have come to know that once all the saps have spent their money on "X" the very day it hits the shops, "X v.2" will be out in one or two months with all the bugs fixed. Common people are such lemmings.

My thing is: I just like stuff. Yeah, I know, that's brash & it rather smacks of gross consumerism, which I would appear to be against (but all the same, it's kinda Warhol-ish, too). But I am still really selective in my "stuff". And I just thought it might be time to have an iPod, regardless of the commercials that make me wanna learn how to pull a trigger.

So I got one for my birthday, and in my own fashion, it took me a week to even take it out of the box for real. And that was prompted by an impending visit from my son-in-law, who is a tech freak and can probably make one, McGiver-style.

I really got into loading it. That process is just as cool as actually listening to it. I have 1500 songs on it so far (it says it will take 3.5 days to run through them all), and it's always in shuffle mode. I have deleted & added songs here & there, & currently have the best summertime mix imaginable.

I don't "buy" songs from iTunes: f%$k that. I own 34,847 cds, no one has much of anything I want & don't already have (except maybe crazed James Brown-flavored African music from the 70s, and guess what, I just downloaded that today!). I just add selected tracks to the iTunes software I downloaded to my PC and keep a central playlist therein. Then the whole shebang gets transferred by dragging-and-dropping and, Bobs-yer-uncle, a 1500 song playlist no radio station in the world can match!

I use it in the car instead of a radio (which I never use anyway), and sometimes at work (when I'm not listening to my fave shows over the web), and I sleep with it most nights at the lowest possible volume. Obsessive? I guess. But I'll tell you this: I'll never be without one from now on.

How's that for an endorsement?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chin - and batter - Up!

There's really no reason for this brief, useless post. It's just that this photo, and a few others taken from the same event, have been nagging at me the past few days. And now I've finally figured it out...

Here's Norma Desmond, accompanied by hack writer Joe Gillis, played by William Holden stand-in Guy Himbo. She's ready for her close-up, but don't get too close, because her face may melt.

Whatever happened to the unibrow slut from Rochester who ran off to the Bronx so she could be a club kid?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Would You Believe It, I Have A Cold

A great opportunity to use the title of an obscure Huey Smith & The Clowns single. Yes, the one and the same Huey Smith who is one of the Apostles of Nawlins music.

Yes, I do have a summer cold.

They say they're the worst, summer colds; I don't think that's due to their severity level. It's just that it's SUMMER. A cold is for February, so you can call in sick & get under the covers & eat soup & watch Road Runner cartoons.

Whatever. I'm still going to drink mojitos.

I've been sleeping alot. I don't even know if it's mojito-drinking weather or not.

I must be sick. It doesn't have to be a certain kind of weather to drink something.

This is turning into an extremely boring post. I think I'll close out for now.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Moondog, it's all your fault

So I got the stupid bike. Actually, I like it alot. I'm not gonna say love, not just yet. But I'm in love with having it. Isn't that just so 21st-century-american-consumer?

I visited Cleveland this past weekend. What a nice city, from a tourist standpoint. (You never see the shitholiness of a place until you have to work & pay bills there) I went to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, and found numerous errors in the information they bring to the unwashed masses. What a surprise. I was really moved by parts of an inductee film they showed. Great performances/artistry/music can choke me up. I was reminded of the fact (which I forgot) that The Ramones, The Clash, Elvis Costello and The Velvet Underground have all been inducted! But I was equally dismayed that The MC5, The Stooges, The New York Dolls and, geez, OK let's say Mitch Ryder have NOT. Other than ol' Mitchy-poo, the others were trailblazers, originators, and just plain super-duper. But you just can't deny Mitch's importance; I mean, the Rascals are in; the Righteous Brothers are in; what, no more blue-eyed soul? Maybe someone should play the jurors "Jenny Take A Ride" again. Oh well. that's my life in a nutshell! Oh yeah, another groovy thing from that inductee flick (which spotlit the gang from each year since 199?) was at the end of the 2006 segment, they just displayed the letter of response from The Sex Pistols, when they refused to be inducted and refused to participate. The place was silent, no soundtrack, no nothing, just enough time to read the letter; I applauded; my wife slapped my hands down.

And my visit to this bunker of rockroll big bizness reminded me of the Michael Shelley radio program (WFMU, what else) I listened to this past week. He was doing a 20 questions/actors studio thing with my favorite DJ, Dave The Spazz, & he asked Dave who the most overrated band was. Dave said "Beatles". Well, OK, I wouldn't totally disagree, because they were shitty musicians, but walking through the R&RHOF I was reminded of more obvious answers: U2, REM, Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, Eagles, Police ... they're just dire, yet they seem to evoke hushed tone reverence.

BUT - the weather was great, had a near-perfect pizza in Little Italy, and got to visit with my daughter & son-in-law. And summer is still going strong!