That Was Then, This Is Ow

Time was, the idea of change possessed an alchemized quality whose essence was the sweetly reckoned offspring of Bradbury. It screamed its fledgling lungs out in a beta operetta and we rode its song to sleep with dreams of a future replete with hovering highways, robot athletes and world peace, or nuclear annihilation. Either? Meet Or. And yet, there was an abiding charm to it all. And then 2000 happened.

Say you would have gone to Vegas at the turn of the millennium and laid down this bet . . .

That the Twin Towers would be gone. That Joe Paterno was no saint after all, his legendary name forever tarnished by a horrible child rape scandal. And Bill Cosby, America’s Dad, would be a convicted serial rapist. Donald Trump . . President. And oh yeah, a global pandemic would bring us to our knees.

No jinn joint in Vegas would’ve touch that crate of cray cray prime. And yet, here we are. With all of the above having Waffle Housed us into a braveless new world where every strange corner has become a dubious rendezvous. We’ve lost the thrill that used to be associated with mystery. In fact, sometimes it seems as if we’re downright scared of the prospect. Can you blame us?

So Imma write up a light beer What It Is for our weary minds to get drunk on. A dainty little duty free dance that regales in time machine wizardry, because I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of running from the stuff.

And to 2021, all I can say is . . have some mercy on us, will ya?

Back in the day . . . If you went viral, it was time to see a doctor.
Today . . . If you go viral, you’re famous. Or infamous. And sometimes, both.

Back in the day . . . If you enjoyed “Fifteen minutes of fame” it meant you were a temporary fascination.
Today . . . If you enjoy “Fifteen minutes of fame”, you’re a reality show star.

What Desperately Seeking Susan Got Right About Fashion | Vogue

Back in the day . . . Madonna
Today . . . Lady Gaga

Back in the day . . . You could catch your favorite musicians on MTV.
Today . . . You might catch your favorite musicians on TMZ.

Back in the day . . . A Walkman was space age shit.
Today . . . A Walkman is the shit that takes up space in your attic.

Back in the day . . . Dick Clark was going to live forever.
Today . . . Ryan Seacrest, it’s your turn.

Back in the day . . . If the President went nuclear, it was time to find a stocked up bomb shelter.
Today . . . If the President goes nuclear, he’s on Twitter.

Steve Grogan | The Patriots Hall of Fame

Back in the day . . . The New England Patriots were a quaint flea market of a football team with a cool logo that had as much chance of winning a title as the Red Sox.
Today . . . Boston sports teams have tallied 12 titles since 2000, which means they signed their souls over to Charlie Sheen.

Back in the day . . . There was a payphone on every corner.
Today . . . There’s a cell phone tower that isn’t nearly as dependable.

Back in the day . . . The New York Jets were a dumpster fire of a franchise. Even when they won, they lost.
Today . . . Okay, some things really never do change.

Back in the day . . . When you went to a concert and got fucked up, it meant you did some magical potions whose illegality made you feel as if you were somehow fighting the power.
Today . . . When you go to a concert and get fucked up, it means you went to Denny’s.

Back in the day . . . A turntable was the greatest music delivery system for music lovers.
Today . . . In my humblest opinion,  it still is.

Back in the day . . . Cameras needed flashbulbs.
Today . . . Instagram

Back in the day . . . When you didn’t answer the phone, it meant you weren’t at home.
Today . . . When you don’t answer the phone, it means you’re probably at home.

Back in the day . . . We looked back at the year that was with a melancholic affection.
Today . . . We’re sprinting to the finish line on this mofo of a calendar year.


The Rushmore Series- Crazy Little Thing Called Love

A person’s taste in music is very much like their fingerprint, no two are the same.

So when me and Dale (Check out her femme finale here) decided to carve out a musical Rushmore, we knew such an undertaking would be met with plenty of Yeah, but what about? . . . But rather than deter, it made us that much more determined to deliver up our vision of what Rushmore would look like if it was set to music. The truth is, I would have had an easier time with just about any other Rushmore related exercise- from sports to art to superheroes.

Music is different, and so I had myriad decisions to make if I was going to whittle down to four. I took faces off and I put faces on and then I did it all over again. Until the finished product was left with Jackson, Bowie and Prince. Of those choices, the only slam dunk was the last choice. Until today, that is. Because this final installment had his face on it from the first conversation about a musical Rushmore.

It was late May of 1980 when me and a bunch of friends screamed our lungs out to a song that would pin itself to the rafters at Nassau Coliseum for years to come. The New York Islanders had just defeated the Flyers to clinch the Stanley Cup, ushering in a dynasty. It would be half a decade before a kid from Edmonton would begin re-writing history. But the song, it still brings me back to that time.

I had this idea that I was Romeo until a girl named Alisson showed me that love is never that easy to figure out. And damn if Main Ingredient hadn’t warned me that everybody plays the fool sometimes, even if I’d never planned on listening to that sage advice until it was too late. So thank God for Freddie, playing wingman as I ventured back in to that most dubious of romantic entanglements. The rebound.

Me and Shereen drove to Moon Lake with a couple of friends. A case of beer, a boombox and the idea that I was moving to Florida to be with her. Until I wasn’t. And it was just another song that played itself across the moon that night, or so I thought. But to this day, that song unspools itself into a photograph that collapses in a waterfall across my brain every time I hear it.

I’m possessed by love, but isn’t everybody?- Freddie Mercury

I was living with that girl who wore the raspberry beret. Her Venus was liberal and artistic and my Mars was not. My younger days felt as if they had happened inside another universe as I found myself far from the madding crowd of screamers and boomboxes playing “Thriller” and Queens logic.

November of ’91 was an unforgiving one for headlines. First came Magic Johnson’s announcement that he had HIV, and then a few weeks later with the news that Freddie Mercury had died. The first had proven damn near impossible to process while Freddie, well . . he’d always lived his life as if rocking chairs were a waste of time.

I made dinner for me and my girl on that last weekend of November, and we broke open a bottle of wine and had at it. We debated politics and then settled on music.

“Greatest band ever . .” I asked her.

“U2 . . .” She said.

“No way!” I laughed.

“Oh yeah? So what say you? Huh?” She said, sipping at her wine.

“Well, Bon Jovi . . of course,” I said, since it always got a rise out of her.

“Oh . . my God, you can’t be serious,” She said.

And then the wine started paying off and then the music started making all the sense in the world. It was as if Freddie was shaking his fist in triumph as two young lovers surrendered themselves to that magical drug called rock and roll, shouting his famous last words from the moon.

“You’re bloody fucking welcome,”





Raspberry Beret

She sat on the park bench, freshly painted in mint with brass handles made handsome by the patina of weather and time. Her peach shaped lips hummed a song full of words with a mystical perch as she watched a squirrel negotiate the limb of a wise old oak tree whose stories travailed the living and the dead.

The sun lowered itself in a magnificent bow, an anguished daily cry playing out across a nervous jumble of clouds that very much resembled a pile of used laundry. The indigo spill of night began to drip across a canvas made of ocher, its theater of war spoke of seasons fighting for their chance at forever. As if on cue, a lonesome breeze brushed at her face with tiny pin pricks of invisible frost, chasing away the blanket of warmth that had been gifted her by the ancient sun moments earlier.

Poetry came easy to her most times, but not this one. She reckoned it was because her heart was too full and her body was too anxious and her soul was reaching . . recklessly, uncertainly, sublimely, reaching. Time was shedding itself to her now as a solitary tear held ransom on her ivory cheek, as if the vesper of a long forgotten star whose body was small but whose purpose was mightier than Venus itself.

Words of a poem that was busy never getting born presented themselves like splinters as her fingers shook in anticipation. She laughed at the thought that a boy could have this effect on her. But he did. The particulars of him, when broken down into a mathematical formula, did not equate with white picket fences, two and a half children and a hallway teeming with chronological snapshots. He was very much a here and now proposition, but it didn’t matter because to her way of thinking, tomorrows were too perfect to be interesting. She wanted, no . . she demanded to be spellbound by something, if only for a moment. And that, he supplied.

She checked the time. He would be here soon, riding up on his small change chariot built of chrome and curse words. He would set his eyes on her, and in the process thieve every last retrievable part of the girl she was walking away from. The language he would carry on his tongue would be equal parts Longfellow and fire. And then she would hop on and then they would take a ride up to old man Johnson’s farm, to the secret lair he had constructed inside a barn.

They would fall in love for a moment’s time, and no more than that. And really, what else was there to life but the moments? The ones you would not trade for all the promises of Solomon. The ones that made you feel as if the world made the most sense of all when served in small slices.

Some day, a million years from now, she imagined looking back on the moment they would paint across that loft and she would smile the smile of an innocent virgin girl; the one with pretty wishes in her painted fingernails and all those jukebox dreams in her restless bones. She would look back in fond remembrance of how determined she had been to make him remember her. In the wherever after of his future, he would buy time for her cranberry and red wine lips and the poetry they made. And he would paint a raging storm with that name.


The Rushmore Series: What If?

Yoko Ono | Biography, Art, & Facts | Britannica

New York City, December 1st 2020: 

John Lennon had just gotten back from a trip abroad. He was exhausted and exhilarated all at the same time. His celebrity benefit concert to aid victims of COVID-19 had proved to be a huge success, its outreach would hopefully stem the second wave of cases that had begun springing up across the globe in late summer. There had been no major outbreaks and the purpose of this fundraiser was to make certain it remained that way.

The first wave had been stanched to a great degree by the Kennedy administration’s quick response in answering the pleas for help by state governors across the country. A prompt two week shutdown of the country had proven most effective, during which the appreciable store of ventilators collected while President Obama had been in office helped to save countless lives. By May the country was open for business, with contingencies in place to help prevent an outbreak.

In late August, Paul McCartney and his former bandmate embarked on a three month tour across the globe. With the help of fellow musicians and entertainers, they had raised enough money to help wherever the need was greatest. The “Make America Sing Again” tour was greenlighted by allies and even several countries who had previously been at odds with the United States. Such had become the reach of John Kennedy Jr since sweeping into office in a landslide victory over GOP renegade candidate Donald Trump in 2016.

“Are we seeing John this weekend?” Yoko asked as their car came to a stop outside the Dakota. The two octogenarians stepped out hand in hand, canoodling as if lovesick high schoolers.

“Yes we are dahling . . we can’t miss this party,” He smiled. Kennedy had won re-election over former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, and he had promised his good pal John that the invite was not a “busman’s holiday” and that he would provide cover in the event there were any song requests. The night would be about cooling their jets before refocusing on the future.

As they stepped out into the December night, John shuddered. To think it had been forty years since a crazed gunman had made headlines standing right in this very spot. He had been taken down when an off duty police officer noticed he was carrying a firearm and that he fit the description of a suspect who had accosted the singer James Taylor outside the 72nd Street Station a day earlier. The Beatles “fan” had waited all afternoon and into the night for Lennon to return, with plans to assassinate him in order to collect his fifteen minutes of fame. When he was booked, all he had in his possession was the book Catcher in the Rye, a signed copy of John’s album Double Fantasy and a .38 Special.

John and Yoko had spent the evening at the Record Plant, making refinements to the song Walking on Thin Ice with producers Jack Douglas and David Geffen. Afterwards, the couple invited Robert “Big Bob” Manuel- a security guard at the Plant- to grab a bite to eat. The couple’s original plan to head straight home to say goodnight to their son Sean was scrapped when their sitter called to let them know the boy had come down with a stomach ache and had been sent off to sleep early. So it was when the couple arrived back at their apartment just before midnight on December 8, 1980, they were just in time to see the would be assassin as he was escorted off to jail by the NYPD.

“You alright?” Yoko asked as they stepped into the vestibule and out of the cold, dark night.

“Just thinking . . . if we had arrived back here a few minutes earlier on that night . . .”

“My love, it’s been forty years . .”

“Marry me,” John said.

“Again?” Yoko laughed, smiling that schoolgirl smile only one man on the face of the earth could elicit. “That would be what? . . .”

“The twenty eighth time, dahling . .” John said, bringing her in for a kiss.

“Yes, twenty eight times yes . . . forever yes,” Yoko laughed.

They made their way inside just as the clock struck midnight.