Joe Theismann Has Never Made Me Want To Set Fires

August 28, 2009

I happened upon an NFL pre-season game on which Joe Theismann was doing commentary. I know that Theismann was quite the irritant for several friends during his years as part of ESPN’s Sunday night broadcasts.

I was mostly indifferent.

Sure, he’s a bit of a pompous blowhole, but spending three hours listening to his proclamations, once a week, actually held a certain charm to me.

However, one friend was so apoplectic over Theismann’s broadcasting style that he once declared a desire to set him afire.

I found that to be a bit drastic.

Meanwhile, yesterday, I stole down to the parking lot for some quiet and a cigarette. I was thinking of some poll I’d read which questioned people as to what superhero power they’d most want to possess.

(I think invisibility and super strength were most cited)

I looked up to the fifth floor of our building and I thought how the superhero power I most wanted to possess was the ability to start fires telekinetically.

Apparently there is a tiny fire bug living inside me.

And, apparently, the stress of my job has done what Joe Theismann could not do and driven me to thoughts of pyromania.

Graham Parker – Get Started, Start A Fire
from The Mona Lisa’s Sister

I know that Graham Parker is fairly well-regarded and I own a handful of his albums, but I’ve just never found his stuff to be all that memorable.

That said, I love Get Started, Start a Fire. Maybe that explains why, to Paloma’s bemusement, I’ve inadvertantly bought three copies of The Mona Lisa’s Sister on vinyl over the past year.

Shawn Colvin – Sunny Came Home
from A Few Small Repairs

I pretty much ignored A Few Small Repairs when it briefly made Shawn Colvin a superstar. It wasn’t intentional.

Later, when I actually listened to Sunny Came Home, I was blown away.

It’s safe to say that neither Joe Theismann or my office building would still be standing had Sunny been around.

Rolling Stones – Play With Fire
from Out of Our Heads

I freely admit that The Stones have been phoning it in for so long now that it has affected my view of them. And that makes it all the more astounding when something pre-Goats Head Soup pops up on the iPod.

Play With Fire is menacing which is something that The Stones once did as well as any band ever has.

The Thorns – I Set The World On Fire
from The Thorns

Matthew Sweet, Pete Droge, and Shawn Mullins – The Thorns had some alternative credentials individually when they got together for one lone album in 2003. The first song I heard from it was I Can’t Remember and the obvious comparison was Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

If I recall, the album didn’t cause as much of a stir as I thought it might (or, more likely, had hoped it would). Too bad as it’s well worthwhile.

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Me And Bob Dylan

August 24, 2009

I think it was my friend Bosco introduced me to Bob Dylan.

(the music, not the man)

Bosco was the first of my friends to express an interest in Dylan.

The stations I had listened to as a kid were Top 40, album rock, and then modern rock. I don’t remember hearing Dylan on the radio in the first years I was listening to music.

I knew Dylan’s name from reading it in music magazines (though I was pronouncing it Dye-lan).

The first music I remember hearing from Dylan was when Infidels came out in autumn of 1983. 97X, which was my station of choice at the time, was playing Neighborhood Bully.

I think, then, I had little feeling one way or another about the song. It was Bob Dylan, this legend I had read about, but I was far more excited to hear 97X play Talking Heads’ Burning Down The House or Siouxsie & The Banshees’ cover of Dear Prudence.

Bosco often mentioned Dylan and Infidels. I’m not sure if he had previously been a big fan, but I imagine now it was Mark Knopfler’s involvement – Bosco was a big Dire Straits fan – that was the hook.

It must have been a couple years later, maybe our senior year, that Bosco apparently spoke to Dylan on the syndicated call-in show Rockline. I don’t recall what he asked Dylan, but it did pertain to some well-documented moment of his career.

I do remember what Dylan’s reply supposedly was.

“Well, I’ll tell ya, it’s been so long, I don’t remember.”

Meanwhile, the parents of another friend of ours claimed to have known a young Mr. Zimmerman, attending school with him, during his short stint at the University of Minnesota.

I haven’t seen Bosco in twenty-five years, but I have listened to much more Dylan during those years. I don’t have a subscription to Isis, but I have a far greater appreciation of the man and his place in history.

Bob Dylan – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
from Bringing It All Back Home

Somber, bitter, melancholic, beautiful, haunting – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue is as hopeless as hopeless gets.

The song reminds me of Paloma as she turned me on to Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators’ Easter Everywhere with their version of the song – simply titled Baby Blue – which Dylan has supposedly noted as his favorite.

Bob Dylan – Hurricane
from Desire

Hurricane is a riveting tale and a potent call for justice. For whatever reason, when I think of the song, I immediately hear Dylan howl, “He could have been champion of the world.”

Bob Dylan – Jokerman
from Infidels

The first time I ever saw Bob Dylan live, it was at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. He walked out and his band immediately launched into Jokerman.

Afterwards, I bumped into a friend who had seen Dylan three-dozen times. He said it was the best performance of his that he’d ever seen.

I’ve always thought that evening – everything seemed to align – to be one of the more fortuitous things I’ve experienced.

Bob Dylan – Series Of Dreams
from The Bootleg Series

Dylan teamed with producer Daniel Lanois for 1989’s Oh Mercy. It was the first album Dylan had released during my years as a music fan that resonated with me.

Series Of Dreams is a surging anthem that supposedly Lanois had hoped Dylan would put on Oh Mercy. It didn’t make the cut, but it was released a few years later on The Bootleg Series.

I’d name it as one of my favorite Dylan songs.


Let’s Make Money, Let’s Grow Hair

August 22, 2009

Sally Struthers used to show up on my television, waddling amongst throngs of starving children in Third World countries. She also used to appear to inform me that we all want to make more money.

Aside from discovering oil (a la Jed Clampett), getting a government bail-out, or sitting on the board of Haliburton, there seems to be one thing that would make anyone wealthy beyond their wildest dreams…

…finding a cure for hair loss in men.

Aside from pills to abate maladies like restless legs and dry eyes, there is also an endless array of remedies bandied about by late-night television hucksters to achieve this end. Is such an elixir truly out of the grasp of modern medicine?

Hey, I’m no scientist (even though I do have a lab coat which doubles quite nicely as a robe), but it’s 2009. How difficult can it be to grow hair?

It seems inconceivable when I think about my years as a single male and the times when I have had male roommates. In such situations, I have seen amazing things grow in unbelievable settings.

Seriously, a bachelor’s living quarters is a science experiment onto itself.

I remember waking one morning in college, bleary-eyed, and stumbling into the kitchen for some Cocoa Puffs. Above the kitchen cabinets, a dark cloud of gnats flew in formation. I clambered onto the counter and peered above the cabinet to discover the source of their interest.

I found a large blob of brown matter which I ascertained had, in a previous life, been a bunch of bananas.

Another time, foraging for sustenance, I foolishly opened the bottom compartment of our refrigerator. There was nothing there but a two-inch thick colloid that could best be described as black Jell-O.

I went hungry.

OK. So reducing potassium-laden fruit to inedible bio hazard or creating a jiggly substance that would cause Bill Cosby to recoil isn’t exactly splitting the atom, but it should illustrate my point – somewhere, in the wilds of some apartment inhabited by single men, hair is growing on something.

I know it.

All it takes is someone with the vision and intestinal fortitude to search – possibly in a kitchen, perhaps in some dank shower – for an item sprouting fuzzy, hair-like follicles where none were before.

Once such a miracle of life is uncovered, it’s simply a matter of reverse engineering, submitting a patent application, and slapping a marketable name on your snake oil.

It’s certainly a more direct path to amassing a small fortune than relying on a late-night infommercial degree in welding (no matter what Sally Struthers might contend).

The Who – Cut My Hair
from Quadrophenia

America – Sister Golden Hair
from Hearts

The Heads (with Ed Kowalczyk) – Indie Hair
from No Talking, Just Head

Everclear – Short Blonde Hair
from Songs From An American Movie, Vol. 2: Good Time For A Bad Attitude