Pirates! Militant Islamists! Let’s Get Ready To Rumble!

November 24, 2008

A long time ago, Paloma and I would often declare ourselves to be pirates. I’m not sure why we would do so, but this nautical impulse would often kick in during a night on the town (though I don’t recall either of us drinking rum).

We never donned eye patches let alone left land, but Paloma could make a brilliantly entertaining ‘aargh” face. Actually, it more resembled an expression which Calvin (of Calvin & Hobbes) might make – highly amusing; not exactly threatening.

(if the ability to unleash amazingly comical expressions was considered to be threatening, Paloma would be deemed to be a supervillianess)

Anyhow, piracy on the high seas is a growth industry these days. Somali pirates have literally created boom towns in their homeland which is, from what I’ve read, a postcard for poverty and lawlessness.

Now, I’ve read that militant Islamists – being a prickly bunch in the best of times – are ticked. The pirates are totally stealing their thunder. And, seriously, if you were recruiting discontented, angry, poor youths, isn’t the promise of a life of wine, bawdy women, and song here, now a better hook than virgins in the afterlife once you’ve blown yourself to bits?

So, the Islamists are offering to take the pirates down. Does this match up cause a light bulb to flicker for anyone else?

Secure the rights, make it a reality show, put it on pay-per-view cable, do merchandising tie-ins with Burger King – mmmm, Burger King – have Vegas set a line…. Do something. Do anything.

There’s a treasure chest of loot to be made here and no need to risk life, limb, or ingest Dramamine.

Thomas Dolby – Europa And The Pirate Twins

Bow Wow Wow – Sun, Sea And Piracy

The Beautiful South- The Lure Of The Sea

Echo & The Bunnymen – Seven Seas

The Shooting Of Paul Davis

November 20, 2008

There was a headline I read the other day, something about some new study trying to solve the assassination of JFK. It’s a subject beaten lifeless for me, so I didn’t read it.

Paloma and I are more intrigued by the details (or lack of) surrounding the shooting of ‘70s soft rock singer Paul Davis. We do have more normal curiosities like what’s the story behind those statues on Easter Island and wondering when will the aliens finally show and will we, as speculated by Perry Farrell, make great pets (OK, maybe those are things I ponder).

But as for Paul Davis, we wonder who (and why) someone would shoot the man crooned I Go Crazy. He certainly never sounded threatening.

And his music seems to have made quite an impact on both of us during our respective childhoods. We snagged a copy of his LP Cool Night a few weeks back.

“You know, he was shot once,” Paloma will say when Paul Davis comes up in conversation (surprisingly more often than I would have imagined but not often enough that I think we should be concerned).

She’s had me research the shooting, but there are no details I can find beyond the basic when and where Mr. Sweet Life was shot (in Nashville, ’86).

Paloma has once or twice voiced her suspicion and concern that Davis was up to some shenanigans. I suppose that if you are hanging with dodgy characters or engaging in questionable antics, the likelihood of being shot is decidedly greater.

Of course, we may never know the story behind the shooting of Paul Davis. The thought that he might have been some scallywag – a potential drinking buddy for Gordon Lightfoot – makes for an odd contrast when listening to the man pine for his ’65 love affair

And I wonder if Paul Davis is getting hammered in some afterlife dive with Warren Zevon.

*For those unfamiliar with Paul Davis (though I’d wager if you’ve made it this far, you are acquainted), he survived his shooting in ’86, but passed away earlier this year.

Paul Davis – I Go Crazy
If Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald is the light rock Stairway To Heaven of the ’70s, then I Go Crazy is…what? I do remember when this was a hit in ’77 and it was inescapable. It seemed to always be playing over the loudspeakers at our town’s public pool that summer (and on the radio of our bus returning from swim meets).

Of course, the song’s mood works well for this time of year, too. And, I still don’t get tired of hearing this lush declaration of mental instability.

Paul Davis – Cool Night
I remember hearing Cool Night on the radio as my brother, a neighborhood friend of ours, and our friend’s uncle returned from an NBA game in the winter of ’81/82. Maybe it was because the midnight air was frigid and I’ve mentally linked it to the song title, but Cool Night always makes me think of seeing the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons that night. It’s a pleasant enough song.

Paul Davis – ’65 Love Affair
The second hit from the Cool Night album, I recall Kasey Kasem telling me that ’65 Love Affair was originally entitled ’55 Love Affair. I can’t think of a thing I learned in college (academically speaking), but I’ve managed to hold tight to such useful information.

I quite liked this song at the time, but I’m not feeling it now.

Paul Davis – Love Or Let Me Be Lonely
This song was the third hit from Cool Night, but it didn’t seem to get played much on radio where I lived. It’s a cover of a song by The Friends Of Distinction from the late ’60s? Early ’70s? I think I might have heard the original once or twice on oldies radio while channel surfing (I miss channel surfing).

Anyhow, maybe because I didn’t get burned out on it back in the ’80s, I much prefer Love Or Let Me Be Lonely to ’65 Love Affair and, possibly, Cool Night, too.

You Kids And Your Damned Video Games Are Freakin’ Me Out

November 16, 2008

For several weeks back in October, those trailers that continually showed for the movie Quarantine creeped me out. It affected me like nothing since the trailer for It’s Alive back in the ‘70s when I was six.

Just when I thought I was safe from being threatened in the usual calm glow of the television from the comfort of the couch, there’s been a spate of commercials for video games set in some post-apocalyptic wasteland (I know one is called Resistance 2). Some of them are truly eerie.

For a moment I considered it sad, this fixation on the end of the world. Then, I realized that I grew up in the ’80s with War Games, The Day After, and Ronnie with his finger on the button. It wasn’t exactly a lighthearted time.

It’s heartening to realize how far we’ve come as a species.

Of course, as a kid in the ‘80s, we had a lot of music with somber themes alluding to the impending nuclear Armageddon. But a lot of those songs managed to be far from sinister. Some even managed to be deemed perky enough to sell Burgers.

Nena – 99 Luftballoons
Several of my friends and I were taking our second year of German in high school when Nena arrived. So, we understood that 99 Luftballoons was a song about red balloons sung by a chick named Nena who didn’t shave her armpits. Then, when the English version arrived, we knew the full, terrifying truth.

Oddly enough, I first heard the song when I discovered 97X in the fall of ’83 and that alternative station was also the first place I heard another German singer, Peter Schilling. Additionally, 97X was playing several German versions of Peter Gabriel songs like Schock Den Affen and Spiel Ohne Grenzen.

Orchestral Manouevres In The Dark – Enola Gay
Paloma turned me on to OMD. I mean, I knew their hits So In Love and If You Leave, but there was an entire body of work with which I was unfamiliar.

Anyhow, Enola Gay is a sprightly little number about the bombing of Hiroshima.

Alphaville – Forever Young
Forever Young will always remind me of a good friend from college. Her boyfriend, whom she had dated for several years in high school, had been killed by a drunk driver and she’d often tell me how she would sit for hours playing Forever Young repeatedly, trying to cope with his death.

Modern English – I Melt With You
Modern English’s I Melt With You is about as quintessential ’80s as it gets and with good reason. I’m not sure if I’ve read that it’s about nuclear war or it’s my own particular take on the lyric. Sure, it seems to be a nothing more than an extremely melodic, joyously upbeat song of devotion, but there is the whole matter of stopping the world and melting with your beloved which could be interpreted as a more dire scenario.

*I’m sitting here, mere hours after posting this entry and what should I hear on a commercial? Yes, I Melt With You in a Hershey’s commercial.