Sunday, October 31, 2010

Don't Play B-17

Noises come from the radio that sound sort of like a train whistle. They repeat several times before Paul McCartney starts to sing. It’s the beginning of “Silly Love Songs” and I am immediately taken back to age 9, sitting in our kitchen on Charles Street eating my sugar-laden cereal for breakfast, getting ready for school, listening to WSBA 910 am radio with the Morning Mayor, Hal Raymond. That memory floods over me every time I hear “Silly Love Songs”.

We all have these moments of time floating around our heads like bubbles just waiting for the right song to burst them and release the memory. Whenever I hear “Monster Mash” around Halloween I remember being about 5 years old, sleeping with the lights on and the radio playing low to help me go to sleep. The last thing I needed was Dr. Frankenstein singing me a song when I was still convinced the closet door creaked open after my eyes closed.

Sometimes the song and memory are lodged in our brains because it was a traumatic event. When I was in 8th grade, myself and two friends started re-writing the lyrics to rock songs, replacing certain parts with words we had learned from a Richard Pryor album. Kiss’s “Detroit Rock City” was our magnum opus. Take a guess as to what word we replaced “rock” with. Yes, our humor was very sophisticated. Anyway, these ditties were supposed to be just between the 3 of us to provide sophomoric chuckles for our inchoate little minds. But one of my pre-pubescent cohorts in crime decided to pass “Detroit %$#@ City” around the room culminating in the TEACHER FINDING IT! Thank you St. Clair for giving me a stroke at age 13. To this day I can’t listen to “Detroit Rock City” without my chest tightening.

The length of time the memory represents is fluid as well. It could be an event that was over in minutes or it could be an entire week taken as a whole. INXS’s “Kick” album came out in 1987. I liked it but my fiancĂ© at the time loved it. When we went on vacation to Ocean City MD that September she popped it in every time we got in the car. Every time. By the end of our vacation I hated it, wanted to run over the cassette with the car until the plastic casing burst like an over-cooked sausage and the tape lay across the road like greasy intestines. Now every time I hear “Need You Tonight” I’m suddenly driving down Coastal Highway headed for the boardwalk screaming “Damn you Michael Hutchence!”

It’s an amazing power that music has on us: To be able to so easily replicate a moment in time even if it’s decades old or we were only children when it happened. The best part is you don’t even realize your mind is storing away that tune and memory tandem until years later when you’re in the grocery store and you recognize the muzak version of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”. Just like that I’m a high school freshman again and someone is playing the song during morning announcements. I have no idea why but I still remember.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Constitutional Wisdom of the GOP

One of the big selling points that Tea Party and some Republican candidates use while campaigning is that they will return the country to the constitution. This has always confused me because to my knowledge, the USA and the constitution are still married. I’ve scoured the papers and can’t find any news of a divorce or even a trial separation. Sure, the country has a wandering eye, trying to occasionally get away with something, but the Supreme Court always bring them back together. At the end of the day the country and the constitution are in bed whispering sweet nothings to each other.

So why do Tea Party candidates say they will return the country to the constitution? The answer, as far as I can see, is that they’re full of shit. Tea Partiers are filled with fake righteous indignation and have no idea how to express it without sounding like the racist douche bags they are so they spew out meaningless bullshit to get attention. As a candidate for office if you say you want less taxes and rule by the constitution, who can argue with you? If your opponent tries, the Tea Partiers rise up like the overinflated parade balloons they are and scream “the democrats want higher taxes and to ignore the constitution!” It’s a full proof plan to run for office without having to think or have any actual ideas.

You may ask “How well do the Tea Partiers and like minded republicans know the constitution?” As it turns out, not very well. Last week Christine O’Donnell was debating her opponent for the Delaware Senate seat, Chris Coons, when he stated that the constitution calls for the separation of church and state. O’Donnell responded "Where in the constitution is the separation of church and state?" Coons’ answer: the first amendment.

The FIRST amendment. He went on to quote from the document “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. O’Donnell responded "You're telling me that's in the first amendment?" This would be hilarious except that this woman is running for congress and has every chance of winning since our country elected George Bush TWICE! Some have argued that O’Donnell was referring to the fact that the words “separation of church and state” do not appear in the constitution. Nice try. Though those exact words do not appear in the constitution itself, Thomas Jefferson said the clause's intention was to erect "a wall of separation between church and state". The meaning has been clear for a very long time.

You could also argue “Who the hell knows the constitution by heart?” Valid point. I sure don’t, but then again, I’m not running for the Senate and haven’t used my knowledge of the constitution as a calling card. As a qualification for running for office O’Donnell talked about a graduate fellowship in constitutional government she received from the Claremont Institute. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? The Claremont Institute is a conservative think tank and the fellowship dragged on for a harrowing 7 days.

Our little constitutional scholar was also asked in another debate to talk about a recent Supreme Court decision she disagreed with and she couldn’t come up with one. Which brings us to Jon Runyan: Jon is an ex-NFL offensive lineman once voted the dirtiest player in the league. He’s now a republican running for congress in New Jersey. He was asked by his democratic opponent in a debate "Jon, it's a different branch of government, but can you give me an example from the last 10 or 15 years of a Supreme Court decision in which you strongly disagree?" Runyan’s response after a long, long pause?

“Dred Scott.”

Dred Scott, which was decided upon in 1857. I’m sure everyone feels warm and fuzzy that Jon Runyan disagrees with a ruling declaring slavery legal 153 years ago.

This is the constitutional wisdom of the GOP.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Doom in the Living Room

This is Howard Cosell welcoming you to this dark, lilliputian living room on a glorious Sunday evening in October. Tonight we bring you a heavyweight bout of epic magnitude between defending champion Left Foot and the challenger, a pair of steel-toed work boots. These pugilists have chiseled their bodies to Atlas-like proportions and honed their skills in the sweet science to the ne plus ultra of fustigation.

The cat has meowed signaling the opening of round 1. The boots, a revelation of quotidian practicality in brown suede, are lying on the floor in a heap. Here comes Left Foot walking down the hall, bare foot, flaunting his confidence like a preening peacock. He walks by and nimbly avoids his opponent to the chagrin of all footwear everywhere watching tonight’s broadcast. Round 1 goes to Left Foot.

There’s the cat’s meow for Round 2. The boots have been moved to a spot in front of the TV and here comes Left Foot to change the channel. These are the moments that crystallize in my mind why we as a global society are drawn to this barbaric yet contemplative sport. Left Foot is stepping into the viper’s pit and the boots are prepared to strike with eloquent ferocity. Oh my! Left Foot steps on the boots! He’s wobbling, but now has regained his balance. He’s picking up the boots and throwing them across the room!

What a turn of events. As Robert Burns wrote so profoundly “the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray”. Round 2 has gone to Left Foot and the gallant pair of boots has retreated in abject humiliation.

The cat has meowed for Round 3. The boots are lying next to the couch in a blind spot where the light doesn’t reach. This is an all-in gambit from this valiant competitor. Left Foot is in the dining room. And here he comes! He’s stepping into the living room and he doesn’t see the boots. Left Foot has slammed hard into the steel toe of the boots and is hurt. Down goes Left Foot! Down goes Left Foot! The champion is down on the living room floor writhing in agony. What a stratagem by the boots to just lie there like a coiled cobra and wait for Left Foot to trip over them. The referee has stopped the fight! Its over! The champ is still down. We have a new world champion! All hail the steel-toed work boots!

Join us next week when we bring you another Sunday night fight, Right Knee vs. Coffee Table.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Morning Devotions

Dear God,

Have you been checking your Facebook page lately? (By the way, I thought there was a limit of 5000 friends, how did you get 3.5 billion? Flaunting the rules is not cool) If you haven’t noticed, a lot of people have been posting a status asking you to give us back Johnny Cash and we’ll give you Justin Bieber.

First of all, apparently I’m not getting your newsletter anymore because I didn’t know we were allowed to ask for this kind of thing. Please have one of the girls in the office check that, I’m sure it’s just a clerical error as I don’t remember clicking unsubscribe.

Anyway, now that I know that we can make this type of request I have a few of my own:

1) If you give us back Stevie Ray Vaughn we’ll give you Madonna. The argument: Stevie Ray was only 35 when he died in a helicopter crash and I never even got to see him play live. He had just gotten clean and sober a short while before his death. I can imagine the great songs he still had to write and blues riffs to play. As for Madonna, I know she’s not as big a star as she used to be, but come on, I know you. You must still be peeved about the Sex book and the blasphemous religious imagery in her videos. We get a great guitarist back; you get some of that divine retribution you love so much.

2) Give us back Bill Hicks and we’ll give you Carlos Mencia. The argument: I’m going to play the age card again with Bill who was only 32 when he died. I’ve never heard anyone so smart, quick on his feet, vulgar, paranoid, profane, laugh out-loud funny and thought-provoking at the same time. As for Mencia, he’s made a career of being a Mexican telling Mexican jokes but he’s not of Mexican descent. He’s half German and his name isn’t Carlos, its Ned. And he’s a prolific joke stealer. With the political and social situation in this country we need Bill Hicks back to guide us through the minefield, not a poser who can’t think for himself.

3) Give us back Keith Moon of the Who and John Bonham of Led Zeppelin and we’ll give you Phil Collins. The argument: Bonham and Moon were two of the greatest rock drummers ever. Slight drinking problem, I know, but if we can get Aerosmith clean, we can get Keith and John clean. Phil Collins used to write good songs in the 70s and 80s, but now? Enough already with the Disney music and the saccharine drenched love ballads. We’re drowning in sugar-substitute covered lyrics and generic piano noodling. How do you go from In the Air Tonight to the theme of an animated Tarzan movie? I know you like Sussudio, here’s a chance to have the man who wrote it.

4) Give us back Bon Scott to sing for AC/DC and we’ll give you any indie hipster band you want: The argument: No offense to Brian Johnson, he’s done good work, but Bon Scott is the true lead singer of AC/DC. The band’s brand of ballsy, bluesy fast paced rock was a perfect match for Scott’s caterwauling voice and rampant machismo. As for these indie bands, I’m tired of Rolling Stone telling me what the next great band is only to listen to them and hear 40 minutes of droning, self-indulgent, our-songs-are-deep-and-meaningful-but-you’re-not-cool-enough-to-understand-them noise. AC/DC’s songs don’t pretend to be meaningful, they just rock.

I’ve got more of these requests but I’ll save them for another time. I don’t want to come off like Charlie Brown’s sister, Sally, writing out her Christmas list asking for 10s and 20s. But these are important requests. The state of music and comedy today are a sad shell of what they once were. With all the problems in the world we could use a good laugh and some good tunes.

Until next time,

You know who

P.S. Have you been getting my emails about the lottery? Because I’m still not winning. Check your spam filter. Thanks.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Making a Boob of Myself

Someone wrote a blog on the Huffington Post saying that they had seen quite enough of Katy Perry’s breasts lately. Whoa, whoa, whoa . . . whoa . . . whoa. That is blasphemy. Let’s back this male sexist pig train up, switch tracks and take the lacey black line to Boobville, Breast Town, Hooter Junction and Cucamonga!

I don’t find Perry all that attractive as a whole and her music is unlistenable, but she has a rack that is, in a word, inspirational. Just thinking about them . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Huh? What? Oh, right. I don’t think the world has seen enough of Katy’s best assets. I think they deserve their own show on MTV or VH1, you know, one of the networks that already show nothing but garbage.

Here are some ideas:
1) Give the twins names like Freebie and the Bean and make them private detectives with Aaron Sorkin penning snappy dialog for them.
2) Make a cartoon calling them the Scooby Snacks where they solve mysteries with Shaggy, Scoob and Velma.
3) You could call them Cagney and Lacey in a remake of the 80s police drama and get Steven Boccho to produce.
4) J.J. Abrams hasn’t written a series in the last 5 minutes so name Katy’s breasts Kirk and Spock for Star Trek: Space Station 38D

These were just off the top of my head; I’m sure professionals can come up with even worse ideas. The important thing is to keep Katy’s tatas in the public eye for all to enjoy. Katy, you got ‘em so flaunt ‘em, every chance you get. Just, please, don’t sing anymore.