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THIS IS MEMORABLE
MONDAY, 5:34 PM - 10:02PM / NOV 18, 2002
The following items were found while rearranging and cleaning and yes finally unpacking the tower of boxes in the dusty corner and from under the crooked table:
1. The most important tape cassette in my life Not the one my grandad made while recording Jenni and me at ages 2 and 5 on which I sing a song about "a duck" which "I like" while Jenni waxes with philosophical inquiry about God's Mother and declares that trees are "a little alive," and "are made out of paper" but the one which was recorded quite by accident from Normal, Illinois' ISU college radio station 12 years later, in 1983.
As a 14-year-old in my first semester of highschool biology, our student-teacher announced that he and his college-pal wrote a song about mycelium (a topic we were discussing in class). He would debut the song that night on his radio program. And if we listened we could, well, hear it. It's possible that extra credit was involved. I couldn't tune-in at the time of airing (studying?), and so asked my dad to record Mycelium* for me. My student teacher was nerdy-cool. He was in a band. He sang about science. And so dad stuck a tape in his boom-box at his studio and just left the thing on record for the rest of the A-side, which captured the entire post-Mycelium show.
The results were my first exposure to a new realm of music: College radio (waaaay left on the FM dial). Finally, an alternative to Casey Casem's top-40 and SNL's musical acts (although... remember when Gary Neuman performed Here in my car with his eyes rolled back in his head?). This for me was an expansive musical realm beyond my old worn-out Double-Dutch Bus 45 and my parents' record collection, which included plenty of Dylan and Beatles, but no Ramones.
And so there, on that 45 minute A-side which my friends and I titled "GOOD SIDE" (with quotes in ball-point pen), was the springboard to what would become soundtrack to our teenage years of life. We almost wore out the Memorex-"Dolby"-90-minute cassette in our bedrooms boom-boxes, and later in car stereos. Start by fast-fwording past Mycelium, which was basically My Sharona-meets-Devo, and get deeper into the good stuff which started mid-way. We dubbed it for everyone on our tape-to-tapes. We memorized every sung syllable.
Here came our first taste of Yaz, Ramones, and Devo. The lineup started out with Rick Springfield's American Girl (some 1983 irony) which faded slowly into Pink Floyd's tense and slightly-scary-inspiring Run Like Hell, which tries to end gracefully enough, only to be abruptly chomped in the ass by Fat Bottom Girls. Is that really Queen? Now, fast-fwd past Van Halen's "Seniorita" song.
Ok, see the beginning of the tape isn't exactly the Important-New-Music-To-My-14-Year-Old-Self stuff. I'm grateful I made it beyond Helix's dirty Heavy Metal Love to discover Yaz's "Hey baby...Don't Walk Away From Love, tell me baby, ain't my love enough?..." So poppy and synthy and you can just hear future Eurasure in Alison Moyet's voice. Next: U2's Gloria (already 1.5 years old) we loved that tough base line. Reminder: We were 14. Then, the climax, The Ramones' I wanna Be Sedated; This was totally fresh and rebellious sounding to us at the time, although the song was from late 70's. "Twennytwennytwennyfour hours to go... I wanna be sedated... Nothin' to do nowhere to go... I wanna be sedated / Can't control my fingers, can't control my toes, hurry hurry hurry, before I (something something)....oh oh oh oh oh oh / put me in a wheelchair, get me to the shore, etc... and then: Bah Bah Bah Bah, Bah Bah Bah Bah Bah... I wanna be sedated" After bouncing around in my bedroom singing it outloud, I looked up the word sedated in my dictionary, in private. Now, as the song is coming to an end, just as Joey hits the 'd' in "sedateeedddd" Bam! minor build-up, and then you hear the sung-word Tonight!, which is opener for The Cars' Bye, Bye Love which until right now I thought was always By My Love.
Next a song which I don't know the title or band, it goes like this: "I... Like... When They Talk Real Loud, Try To Tell You What They Know; It's plain to see, life is not a mystery, to me; as plain as day, I hope they ...something, and then, Hey! It makes you wonder just who they really are... they're incognito, they're into fame / isn't it funny, isn't it sad, (la la la) ... Their mother buys them clothes where she gets them noone knows..., " and so forth. So sarchastic. This song sounds exactly like all of the songs being made today by Ladytron and ohmygod I loved this song then, and actually, I'm enjoying it right now. Love the ending, one guitar, some synth, and a single voice which asks the ultimate question in British accent: "What do they really know?. Sounds very Manchester-England-Early-80s. [Just in: the song is I Like, by Men Without Hats, and they might be Australian, not Manchseterian. As this site explains, it's: "possibly written about snooty people who think they are better then everyone else and are really all-talk and no-action." Thanks for the research, DG of BK, and KM of IN]
Next comes an angry bitter revenge hymn with headache-inducing drums: Ministry's Revenge, which I will call "Ain't got time for what you Feel; you did it again, and again, and again, oh no"; Then some Squeeze: Another Nail for my Heart to pull us out of that teenage suicide-inducing Ministry mess. Now the dj comes on and explains that Revenge is one of his personal favorites. And he then humbly admits that he was actually the one playing guitar on Mycelium, and Jeff (that was our student-teacher's name!) did the singing/ song-writing. And here the tape ends with a muffled click.
*Mycelium song lyrics:
OOH THIS DAY IS NICE
THE RAIN IT FEELS LIKE ICE
THE SOIL IT WILL SUFFICE FOR
I DONT WANNA BOAST
(HERE THE TAPE BREAKS UP)
LIFE IS JUST A COAST FOR
THATS WHAT I DO NOW
I SHOULD TAKE A BOW FOR
GIRL, NOW DONT YOU FRET
A MUSHROOM I'LL BE YET
ON THAT FACT YOU CAN BET
SOON ONE DAY I'LL SPROUT
THATS WHAT I'M ABOUT
HOLD ME TO ACCOUNT ON
MY MY MY MY MY...
Jeff introduced the song as "a little song about the mushrooms for the kids at home studying for this test" ...and how it was about the spores and something about how "studying can be fun, and doesn't have to necessarily come from a text book" It's difficult for me to admit that today, I did have to look up the meaning of Mycelium, and was surprised to hear the song itself was indeed about fungi. But I'll never forget a single word of the lyrics to I Wanna Be Sedated, and for that I thank you, student-teacher Jeff.
Other Things Found While Cleaning and Unpacking:
DO YOU HAVE TIME AND MONEY?
FRIDAY, 8:50 AM / NOV 15, 2002
Sxx and I got to go experience Körper (Bodies), a dance in the Next Wave Festival at BAM, thanks to S.Mann. Get your own body over there, if you have $45 and an evening free; performances tonight, sat the 16th, and a sunday matinee on the 17th.
This is "the hottest" German composer (Sasha Waltz)'s dance about the body; One can only really say "Trust me: go"; Splurge for some good seats down in front, if you can. No really. I didn't know I necessarily liked dance, either. But it turns out it's exciting, funny, and titilating. The soundtrack is sampled bits of noise, like Matmos might do... no melody. The crescendo is thrilling. The nearly-nude dancers wear flesh colored underwear and float almost weighless in a ... nevermind. Just try to go if you can.
Oh and Bob Dylan really, really rocked at MSG the other night. He covered Stones' Brown Sugar, and Neil Young's Old Man take a Look at my life...that song. And Don Henley's The End of the Innocence which inspired some debate: did he sing that one in irony, or sincerity, considering our current political climate? (Not that it's been exactly innocent up until now). And he played lots of his own: All Along The Watchtower, which incldued Jimi Hendrix's influence in it's rendition. And Knockin' On Heaven's Door. and Shelter from the Storm. and Just Like a Woman. And he wore red cowboy boots. The highlight was Summer Days. It just was. They sounded good, even if Conan O'Brien didn't do much more than slump in his seat in the VIP box.
Calexico will be at Joes Pub Wednesday the 20th. Calexico grew out of, or is fronted by, former Giant Sand's lead guy [Correction: "Calexico is the OTHER dudes from Giant Sand, not Howe Gelb, but they're still cool." Thanks for the facts, CW] Giant Sand did one of my favorite songs of all time which was put on a Mix Tape for me by a friend years ago: Wonder.
IT WAS BECK/FLAMING LIPS; IT WAS HALLOWEEN; THEN IT WAS THE MARATHON; AND IT WAS WILLIE NELSON; AND DOES ANYONE ELSE HAVE THIS FLU?
TODAY IS TUESDAY, 8:38 PM / NOV 5, 2002 AND HERE IS A TRUE STORY
One morning, a few years back, I woke up with these words in my head wait, I should preface this with the true fact that I've never taken Spanish lessons. Not formally. Not in school; always French.
Although I did make a game out of learning kitchen Spanish in the kitchen of the diner where I once was employed as a Bus Boy. I took a job as a Bus Boy so I could quit my prior gig as a painter of houses and fire departments and vet hospitals and apartment complexes and was known there by the other painters, and addressed by the other painters always, to my face, as The Girl. "Mike, you take The Girl down'th Fire Depot and you two can finishup that trim work." Sometimes Bob Homolka, the owner, brought in donuts.
I wanted to retire as The Girl because it was getting late into October and every day colder outside; it is difficult to do really damn good trim work (which I was good at, the best in the group, really), with gloves on. As a Bus Boy the job was to fill up a bin with dirty plates, silverware and cups from the tables, and carry them into the kitchen to be washed. One of the dish washers was named Raoul; He was the boyfriend of a waitress named Ida. Another dishwasher was an older white guy whose name I forget. He spoke several languages and used to be an architect but now washed dishes and drank and he was my favorite. They were both fluent in Spanish and would humor me with my teach-me-Spanish routine when I brought the dishes back to them.
Otro cubo par usted; Más dasas de caffe. Un más cuchillo. Una cuchara. Another bin for you. More coffee cups. A knife. A spoon.
I never learned how to spell. My biceps got real big and I worked this job until I couldn't eat another free cinnamon bun and the boss one day told me I Couldn't Use His Ballpoint Pen Because It Was Property of the DinerSee Here It Says The Diner's Name On The PenAnd If I Ever Wanted To Wait Tables There I Better Not Be Using His Pens And Had Better Get Into The Habit Of Bringing My Own Pens In From Home. He was formerly in the army. He liked to bring his wife in to show off the large diamond he purchased for her.
After the army but before managing this diner, the boss had been the personal private chef of Don Johnson in Aspen, where he only cooked one meal a day because Don Johnson takes a health shake for his first two meals of the day. Don will eat a privately cooked meal for dinner, though. Don Johnson, according to his former private cook and my former diner boss, has a life-sized photo of himself walking out of the ocean wallpapered onto his bathroom wall.
So my Spanish training is limited to kitchen utensils and other culinary terms.
And so it was strange when one morning about 3 years ago I woke up after a dream with a phrase in my head. Sometimes you wake up with a song, or made-up name in your head, like a prize fighter you dreamt about named D'Amato. But this was a phrase whose meaning I had no knowledge of. I was pretty sure, though, that it was Spanish, or else just made-up. The phrase I awoke to, in my head, was: Soy Un Perdedor.
I walked to my then-job, at a broadcast network news corporation, rolling the foreign phrase around in my head, wondering what it meant and what lesson I could take from it. When I got to work, I asked a Spanish speaking friend to translate my dream-phrase. Well. I was surpised to find out it's meaning, and when I did, I said "I can't believe it."
I realized I must have heard the phrase a hundred times or more in Beck's song lyrics 3 years prior, "Soy Un Perdedor. I'm a loser, baby. So why don't you kill me?", which was a #1 hit when I worked a job at a city newspaper as a layout artist.
I must have injested the Spanish phrase from his song without even realizing it. Unless my dreams are trying to just tell me something... something in Spanish. Something about myself but, no.
And so when Beck leaned into his microphone on stage at the Beacon Theatre last week, and said to Flaming Lips' Wayne when he said "Wayne, I can't believe it"... I knew, right there, that they were about to launch into their 2002 version of Loser, the song.
It was good, then and now.
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