Speaking Of . . .

The great Leonard Cohen once remarked that he felt no urgency as far as his writing was concerned. It was his opinion that mankind would not be damaged if he never put out another record or wrote another book.

Now here was a dude whose works could talk gravity into another million years worth of bubbles. And he’s speaking as if he’s a high school newspaper editor. His point, however, is inviolable. The best part of us, as writers, is the part that can never be taken away.

Speaking of . . .

Urgency, there seems to be a little more of the stuff when it comes to Bryce Harper and the Phillies. And I’m rooting like hell for them to ink the slugger before Brian Cashman sweeps in with a drunken sailor offering that ties the Yankees to a .240 hitter through a third Trump term (Spoiler Alert!). These “Till Meth Do Us Part” unions in sports are onerous for the fans more than anyone. Because in eight years, the fans will be paying Fabulous Bryce Hair prices for Bald Bryce production. Simple as that.

Speaking of . . .

Bald men, the Oscars are tonight. And I’m sorta/kinda excited for the first time in a while. If only because of Queen.

Speaking of . . .

Queens, they’re making a biopic about Elton John. Which is a little strange seeing as how he’s still alive.

Speaking of . . .

Bad jokes (such as the one I just made), Trump and Kim Jong (Pizzeria)-Un will be holding their second summit this week to discuss UN sanctions, nuclear disarmament and Adam Sandler’s curious lack of Oscar hardware.

Speaking of . . .

Oscar, I only saw one Best Picture nominee (Bohemian Rhapsody) and I am only halfway interested in seeing A Star Is Born. I definitely will see Black Klansman when it comes out on video.

Speaking Of . . .

Movies? I tend to gravitate to the flicks that have no blessed chance of winning gold. Take yesterday for example, when I went to see Happy Death Day 2 U. Not as good as the original, but man . . Jessica Rothe is going to win an Oscar for something, some day. And I do not plan on being wrong about that. Girl’s got game.

Speaking of . . .

Game . . I am rocking the Casbah after a two month hiatus from my Fitbit. A week and a half in, and the results are sweetly plucked juiciness. Lost a few pounds already, and am up to three and a half miles. I truly enjoyed my vacation from the the wrist candy, but the reunion is Peaches and Herb righteous.

Speaking of . . .

Righteous deeds, big props to the Ole Miss basketball players for taking a knee during the National Anthem. They knelt together in response to a confederacy rally near their home arena in Oxford, Mississippi. It was the right thing to do.

Speaking of . . .

The right thing, I’m down with Terrance Howard’s support of his former co-star Jussie Smollett. Howard isn’t taking the easy road by staying in Smollett’s corner, but it’s where he started out and it’s what he’s sticking to. Howard isn’t interested in the optics, and that’s commendable in a profession where too many peeps run for higher ground when the shit hits the fan. Come what may, Smollett has a corner man. Emphasis on man.

Speaking of . . .

Yesterday, I was turned onto this cat with the cool threads and the space age folk songs. He’s got a voice that could skate on the icy rings of Saturn and come back hotter than Fortuna’s pocketbook after a Vegas jaunt. His musical roam fits the proverbs of a lazy Sunday afternoon just fine.

And the hat, that’s just bonus round.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flame

Coils prosper in hushed verses.

The filament . . .a constant plead,

of voids, fucking and smoke.

Worlds planted, graves unmarked,

lost to the ether. Found to the sunburst.

The flame dances alone,

because its partner always dies.

 

Turntable

It was June of ’86 when I hopped a plane for Port Richey, Florida. My former girlfriend had moved out of New York months earlier and I was in chase despite the fact we weren’t in love with each other. Ours was the kind of relationship that wasn’t interested with being in love. Cliches kicked the shit out of you and made you old before you really got going.

For most of the year and change we were together while she was still living in New York, forever had seemed a million miles long. And then it got lost one night when we were involved in a car accident that took my best friend’s life. Everything, every single thing, changed. We stayed together out of a hopeless desperation to save ourselves from drowning. Until the winter took us to different places, and New York, it became a place full of ghosts.

We broke up but stayed in touch. She almost got pregnant to a college football player while I swore I’d found my future wife in a Hardee’s Drive-Thru, and then we kept turning into someone elses until she called to tell me to get there, just for the hell of it.

It seemed like a great idea until I was touching down in Florida and wondering why in the fuck it was that life didn’t come with annotations. And then we were there, trying to catch up on everything we had lost and not having a chance in hell of getting back to what we had been before our lives spilled out in different directions.

The time I spent with her was filled with the kind of education only experience can provide. Among the things I learned was that the girl had more of my stuff than I remembered giving her. There was a half closet full of my clothes, including winter jackets she had no use for in her new locale but took with her just so she could wear them whenever she thought of me. She had a bunch of my vinyl, to which I cursed myself for giving up so easily. Other items of note included a sweet purple and gold Magic Johnson jersey, a Brooklyn Union Gas pylon I had gifted myself after a night of partying and a football helmet.

The more salient lesson happened from the moment I touched down and she ran into my arms. It was blatantly obvious that we tended to disagree. About everything. She thought the world was flat and I knew it was round. I was a Reagan kid and she loved Carter and Mondale. I read books like No More Vietnams and she read books like Phaedo. She was Mets, Chinese take-out, screwdrivers and U2 while I was Yankees, pizza, Corona and Bon Jovi.

It had never occurred to me that we had absolutely nothing in common back when we had been inseparable. But with the passing of time and place, now it was impossible to ignore. Once upon a time, I just assumed we were passionate and fiery. That’s some interesting shit. But the idea that we were just a couple of stupid kids who had nothing in common? Not so interesting.

So we debated who the best band in the world was and we never got back to even and then we argued on everything else. Until she was telling me to get lost and then I was hopping a plane out of there. Without my Magic Johnson jersey, or my two tone leather jacket . . . or my vinyl.

Twenty years later, we reconnected thanks to an old friend. There was zero expectation of anything romantic happening, but I had to admit it was nice to hear her voice again. She told me she was back in New York and she asked me if there was any chance we might be able to catch up over drinks. We were both divorced with kids and life was flying by and drinks with an old friend felt like a chance. To just forget all the things that time had stolen.

I had to get there. If only to ask how my LP’s were doing . . .

 

 

 

 

Speaking Of . . .

Before we get started, I should warn you, this post is sports heavy. You might want to sit this one out if that’s not your thing. Oh, but wait . . sports isn’t really about sports any longer, I forgot. So umm . . if sports is your thing, you might want to sit this one out. But the video at the end of this post . . you should check it out.

  • Classy move by SNL in paying tribute to George H.W. Bush. It’s ironic how peeps on both sides of the political aisle look upon former Presidents now, with a richer appreciation. Bush wasn’t the most popular of Presidents, but he served with dignity and grace; two elements that have gone missing since 2017.

Anime Illegal

  • Speaking of classless, the Washington Redskins signing of Reuben Foster would apply. Foster was released by the 49ers last week after he was arrested on domestic violence charges, and the Redskins were only too happy to swoop in and sign him. Foster majored in criminal behavior at Alabama and he continued his lawless ways in two seasons with San Francisco. He can play some football, which is all that counts as far as the Redskins are concerned. How sad.
  • And speaking of the Redskins  . . lemme see if I got this straight. Their starting quarterback- Alex Smith- goes out with a season ending injury a couple weeks back and they don’t even put in a phone call to Colin Kaepernick because he questions allegiance to the flag. But . . Reuben Foster, he’s okay because he just beats the shit out of women. Got it.
  • Speaking of men behaving badly, Kareem Hunt was released by the Chiefs after TMZ released a video of Hunt shoving and kicking a woman in Cleveland back in February. In a recent interview, Hunt said he isn’t the type of person to lay his hand on a woman. Son, you did just that, and admitting you were in the wrong and that the Chiefs did the right thing in releasing you is a constructive first step. Admitting you are the type of person who would lay his hand on a woman is the next step. Get help. 
  • And speaking of help, why doesn’t the NFL hire the TMZ peeps to score these videos? The same league that can bring mountains of evidence against Tom Brady for allegedly deflating some footballs, somehow can’t find a fucking video of Hunt hitting a woman? Get Roger Goodell on the phone . . I got some WMD’s in Iraq I wanna sell him. Cheap!

Well Shit

  • And speaking of paper mache bosses, I’m glad the semi-pro Ohio State Buckeyes won’t be attending the College Football playoffs. Maybe all those Buckeyes fans who thought defeating Michigan absolved Coach Meyer of aiding and abetting a wife beater can take that imaginary chip off their shoulders now and grow the hell up.
  • Speaking of imaginary, I know the NCAA couldn’t do it because they have a convoluted methodology to abide by in filling out their final four, but there is no way in hell Georgia ain’t a top four team. In my humble estimation, the Bulldogs are a top two team.
  • Speaking of fantastic beasts and where to find ’em, it seems the probe into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election might finally be coming to an end. What? Somebody found the TMZ video?
  • Speaking of probes, Target Tammy doesn’t take kindly to sex talk of any kind. Methinks the two minute video is the most sex talk Tammy has had in a long time.
  • And speaking of twits, a Rudy Guiliani tweet mistakenly linked to a screen which read “Donald J. Trump is a traitor to our country”. Awkward! And while I don’t take Twitter seriously, I do happen to take the fact that Rudy is morphing into the Penguin very seriously.
  • And speaking of WTF? I’m issuing a cease and desist to Walmart for using the classic song Help Is On Its Way by the Little River Band in its commercials. Yep, they framed this ditty into the come on for their failing grocery app; which has proven to be a shit show because the only thing this schlock house retailer is good at is low prices. Stop fucking with good music, Walmart!

And speaking of good music . . check out Pink doing it up in her best Freddie Mercury. It’s a six minute dose of pure sugar.

 

 

Sunday Morning Post

When Freddie Mercury sang a song, it was as if he was telling the grim reaper to give him just a little more time. He didn’t much care about leaving too soon, but he just wanted to make the song count.

He used to say he didn’t concern himself with things like mortality. To his way of thinking, dying was gonna happen no matter how much you cried about it. So why not raise a middle finger to the fucking thing and do whatever it is you were meant to be doing in the first place?

His talent was a deconstruction of the white picket fenced logic that was busy getting the world nowhere fast. He made magic with the absurdities and then he dressed them up in felt tipped bullets and made fire. He was a scoundrel and a prince, a king and a queen. He was heart and soul in a world that never seems to have enough of it.

He had the remarkable ability to treat each and every song as if it had never happened before. No matter if he’d written it years earlier and no matter if he had belted out the lyrics a thousand times since. Because that song, the one he was singing in that moment . . . it had never happened before.

His music possessed a desperate immediacy that felt wonderfully illogical. It felt the way music was supposed to feel when you were young and pissed off at the world. He was a totem to a generation of kids who wanted to believe in something, because he threw a wicked curve ball at the consecrated rules. He let everyone know it was okay to expect your music to behave differently. He was a cubist with his lyricism, a maestro with his vocals. And he knew us in a way we didn’t even know ourselves.

It really is impossible to believe he’s been gone almost twenty seven years, and that’s because his music will never go to sleep. I like to think the genius part of him went on a mystical vacation to a much better place than this.

His heart and soul, well . . it’s still working the room.

 

The Value of Original Thought

Queen

From the time I was in grade school, I had come to understand the world around me in monochromatic equations. I borrowed on this hopelessness as a different way of learning the world; and in so doing, my jaded sensibilities would introduce me to books and girls and music.

Books were an escape to places the real world could not touch. I lost myself in the swashbuckling exploits of Monsieur d’Artagnan, who graduated from rags to the royal guard in The Three Musketeers. I learned the art of feminine wiles when fourth grade Tammy seduced third grade me with her Helen Reddy bob. And music bled all my anger away, replacing it with a sublime equanimity.

I’m thankful for having grown up in a time when books were tactile fascinations, girls were precocious junior members of the Steinem brigade and music was more vast and mysterious than the deep blue of outer space.

Music was a magical enterprise back in the day. New albums would happen out of thin air, without the need for reveals or months long chatter. A hit song would just show up, drop heat on a DJ’s turntable and then jailbreak to the record stores.

It seemed as if every group possessed license to its own unique way of doing business. Lyrics were the birthright and melody the sweet way home. As fans, we were hit and miss when it came to the words; swinging from the arches and striking matches to the pounding of that bass. Because the scratchy grooves didn’t matter a lick, and the right or wrong of it mattered even less than that. Music wasn’t pristine and logical, because we weren’t asking for it to show up in its Sunday best.

And really, thank God for Queen. Because theirs was a sound so original that it stood out even then, inside a world full of musical giants. Theirs was a gift so transcendent that its cosmic bloom challenged our expectations from the very first time.

So it was by the early eighties that my education had coalesced into ever more simple fixations. I loved the palace intrigue of girls who smoked and cussed and wore puffer jackets. I was fascinated at the idea that I could see Ted Williams swing simply by having read about it in so many books and magazines. And I wondered what in the blessed fuck Freddie Mercury was talking about, and the mystery of it all was blissful.

Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t so much a biopic as it is a gift, to those of us who grew up on transistor radios and record stores and turntables. Which is why my attempt at doing a movie review was never going to work. Because you can’t grade soul. You either got it, or you don’t.

For what it’s worth, I loved the film in spite of itself. Because truth be told, it comes off as erratic at times and it messes with the facts more than a politician at last call. And I don’t care, because Rami Malek plays Freddie Mercury the way Sacha Baron Cohen never could have; with a graceful humility and a genuine awkwardness that belies the ultimate showman’s larger than life presence. And the music is a symphonic palette of genesis and mortality; an emphatic blend of quiet moments and glorious culminations.

Mercury wrote music for the people who didn’t belong to anything, anywhere or anyone. The band turned the monochrome into technicolor. Together, they changed the way we think about music. They spooked the words out of extravagant catastrophes and turned them into operas and anthems, ballads and rock songs.

It didn’t matter what you listened to, because Queen’s appeal struck a chord with everyone. From metal to disco to classic rock and hip hop. They simply belonged.

To all of us.

 

 

 

Sorryless Sunday Morning

Where does inspiration come from? I mean . . other than commercials and hallucinogens. Welp, I guess it depends on where you’re sitting. An idea is the composite of its metaphysical values swimming through a wilderness with no particular place to go until the feral seedlings plant themselves into a grip of ink that gives them shape.

So it was that AMC was running a Stephen King marathon yesterday morning as I searched for some inspiration for today’s post. There really was no good reason for me to tune in, seeing as how I’m not the biggest fan of King’s horror flicks. But it was The Dead Zone and Christopher Walken is in it, so that made it worth a look.

My “Very Unofficial Thespian Rules” read thusly:

  • I would listen to Morgan Freeman read a cereal box
  • I’d buy into anything a Tom Cruise character sets his mind to
  • A Julia Roberts entrance is worth the price of admission. Still.
  • Jeff Bridges owns his characters the way the tides own forever.
  • If Christopher Walken is in it, you should watch.

For thirty five years, I flouted that last one. And then yesterday morning happened and I found myself watching a movie I can’t believe I’d been missing out on for all this time. The cast is superb and the story makes you wonder why this was dropped into the horror genre, because outside of the fact that King wrote it, it ain’t got much of anything to do with horror.

But it did provide me some inspiration in the form of an idea that I thought was pretty clever . . . for about five minutes. I thought it might be fun to tuck a handful of characters from King’s horror flicks into a small town and write a short story about it.

The original idea was to use thirteen famous quotes and then build the story around it, but that wasn’t working. So I’ll try another tack, and should it work? I’ll have a Halloween “bundle” post for next weekend. If not? Well, I’ll still have my favorite Halloween song to fall back on.

Anyways . . .as pleasantly surprised as I was by The Dead Zone, I had to chase it with something more in keeping with my favorite month of the year. Rob Zombie’s Halloween did the trick. It’s been my October go-to since its release ten years ago. I tend to rummage through all of Zombie’s stuff this time of year. So far this month, I’ve digested House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, The Lords of Salem and of course, Halloween. 

The recently released Halloween is on pace to top eighty million this weekend after a record opening for October. That eighty million would topple Zombie’s total haul, so it would seem the people have spoken. And while I am down with checking out the Danny McBride sequel, which has the Pope’s (John Carpenter) blessing . . I’ve already been served up some buyer beware 411. My son went to see it on opening night and came away unmoved. “It’s a three star movie when it should be much better . .”.

Imma finish up with a classic song that has become synonymous with the Halloween franchise. It’s done up in the new old fashioned way by Nan Vernon, who did the closing credit music for both of Zombie’s Halloween films. The girl provides with Mr Sandman- a three and a half minute sugar pill that slows things down into a purring lullaby of a bad girl’s dream. With all due respect to Carpenter and the Chordettes . . this morning I’m riding shotgun with Zombie and Nan.

Go Dodgers!