The Headless Maiden

October 31, 2009

moonGrowing up, there was no house in my hometown that the kids passed warily, whispering amongst themselves as they eyed the dilapidated structure and weed-riddled, overgrown yard reined in by nothing more than a decaying wrought iron fence.

However, I know from the television and movies I’ve consumed over my life, that everyone else had such a landmark in their life.

In fact, I can think of nothing in my small hometown that had a paranormal bent to it – no legends, no lore, no creatures lurking in the woods. There was simply no sinister goings on and never had been in my hometown.

(perhaps the townsfolk lacked imagination)

The closest thing to the macabre I recall was one grave.

On the southwest edge of town, one street led to a small, non-descript bridge which sped travellers into a vast stretch of sparsely populated farmland. There were fewer homes as you approached the bridge, even though it was no more than a twenty-minute walk from the center of town.

It was dark out that way at night.

A classmate lived in a large two-story house which was one of the last homes before reaching the bridge. Running past their home, off that main street, was a tree-lined lane which led to,a half-mile or so from the street, a cemetary.

The trees grew more dense as you walked deeper into the grounds, culminating in a woods, separated from the cemetary by a small ravine. There, under a canopy of thick trees, was a rectangular, stone slab, with weather-worn scripture quotes and no name. At one end of the slab was a small stone lamb with no head.

The story our classmate had told us was that, a hundred years or more earlier, the property had been owned by a vicious racist. One day, as he was hunting in those woods, he spotted a young Native American girl on the far side of the ravine.

Then, like Roland did to Van Owen in Warren Zevon’s Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner, the racist land owner raised his gun and blew off the Native American girl’s head. I remember our classmate saying, “Her head popped off and rolled into the ravine.”

It was the Native American girl supposedly buried beneath that slab.

It would make the tale more eerie I suppose if I could tell you that townsfolk had claimed to have seen a headless spirit or heard mournful wails from those woods. But, as far as I know, there no such stories.

There was little reason to go back there. There were a number of places for the high school kids to escape from supervision, so that cemetary wasn’t even a gathering place where minors might smoke or drink.

I might have to trek back there the next time I visit.

I truly wish I had a copy of The Shagg’s song It’s Halloween (It’s time for games/It’s time for fun/Not just for one but for everyone). Here are some other songs instead…

Oingo Boingo – Dead Man’s Party
from Dead Man’s Party

Bow Wow Wow – I Want Candy
from I Want Candy

David Bowie- Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
from Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)

The Ramones- Pet Sematary
from Brain Drain

When An Ex Is Revealed To Be An Interstellar Overlord…

October 29, 2009

kirk_martaThere’ve been a number of commercials for a series called V. It’s a remake – I guess the kids call it a reimagining these days – of a series from the ‘80s.

I never watched the original, but a friend at the time was a devotee, so I knew that the premise of V involved visitors from space arriving on Earth and the hijinks which ensued.

And while the friend came to mind when I saw the commercial for the new version the other night, I was more struck by the apparent alien leader bearing a resemblance to an ex-girlfriend.

It made me think how odd it would be if, when the aliens take a wrong turn and finally land here, their form is not like bulbous-headed creatures from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, but, instead, indistinguishable from humans.

And, consider the drag it would be if the alien ambassador looked like an ex, especially if the end of that relationship had been contentious. Humankind’s first encounter with alien life would receive continuous televised coverage. It would be a carpet bombing from all media.

Friends who you hadn’t spoken to in years would contact you – “Have you seen that alien chick that looks like [name of ex]?”

“No, no I’ve been in a coma and missed the whole alien thing, but it’s nice to be reminded of unpleasant times.”

Of course, then I thought it would be even more disconcerting if the extraterrestrial leader not only resembled but was, in fact, that ex.

It would be a rather jarring reveal and undeniably some kind of feather in one’s cap.

To be someone that had slept with some alien uber being –

You’d get a book deal.

You’d end up on Oprah.

You’d likely need a lot of therapy.

You’d have to consult the one man who could relate to the situation – William Shatner. I didn’t watch much Star Trek growing up, but I do know that in one episode he hooked up with some green chick.

I mean, you’ve bedded an alien, why not up the absurdity quotient and seek the wisdom of Capt. Kirk.

According to online sources, V aired the first week of May, 1983.
Here are some songs from that time…

Tony Carey – I Won’t Be Home Tonight
from I Won’t Be Home Tonight

Tony Carey might not have been a household name with most music fans, but, in our corner of the Midwest, he got plenty of attention from the radio stations with songs like A Fine, Fine Day, The First Day Of Summer, and – as Planet P Project – Why Me and What I See.

There’s nothing groundbreaking about I Won’t Be Home Tonight. It’s just a straight-ahead rock song, but it sounded good on the radio. Also, the cover for the album – Carey, standing outside a UFO with a backpack – fits the subject matter of this post well.

Billy Joel – Goodnight Saigon
from The Nylon Curtain

I’ve noted before that I’ve never considered myself to be a Billy Joel fan until I realize that I own a fair chunk of his catalog and I usually don’t skip his songs when they pop up randomly on the iPod.

Goodnight Saigon is one of his more serious efforts, a rather dire take on the Vietnam War, and I song that I’d rank as one of his most compelling.

Robert Ellis Orrall And Carlene Carter – I Couldn’t Say No
from Special Pain

I don’t remember hearing the breezy I Couldn’t Say No aside from a few times on American Top 40. It’s a pleasant little number, unassuming but endearing, and it always causes Paloma to perk up and ask “Who’s this again?” when it comes up on shuffle.

Wall Of Voodoo – Mexican Radio
from Call Of The West

It’s too bad that Wall Of Voodoo is only known to most listeners for Mexican Radio. The quirky song is an undeniable ’80s classic, but their first couple records are worth seeking out (and, to my delight, I happened across them on one of our last hauls of vinyl).

Also worth the search is the solo stuff from lead singer Stan Ridgway, who got a recent nod over at Any Major Dude With Half A Heart when his song Camouflage popped up on a recent Halloween post.

Carpe The @#$%! Out Of The Diem

October 26, 2009

Marc%20StratLike a lot of people, I watched some of the Summer Olympics in Beijing last summer. And, like a lot of people, I was wowed by the opening ceremony which was quite the spectacle.

This coming out party for the Chinese (as many dubbed it) caused quite a stir among the pundits and prognosticators. There were more than a few people getting the vapors over what they viewed as the first glimpse of coming attractions, a world where China is a superpower.

One morning last week, I read a piece – I think it was in The New York Times – detailing the relationship between the education level of a nation’s citizens and economic stability and growth. It was thought provoking and basically warned that the average high school kid in the US reads at about the same comprehension level as a baked potato (or something like that, it wasn’t encouraging).

Then, a few nights ago, I was writing. The television was on, essentially background noise. A familiar melody caused me to look up. It was a commercial for Cisco – an ad depicting technology coming to an idyllic looking countryside.

It closed with a screen filled with young Chinese school children looking ridiculously eager to carpe the @#$%! out of the diem and throttle anything that might get in their path (but with a gleeful enthusiasm that was disarming).

I’m thinking that our potato children are toast.

Anyhow, the song that caught my attention was a version of T. Rex’ classic Children Of The Revolution. So, if a world where China is a superpower means a T. Rex revival, I’m on board.

I can’t remember exactly when I discover the music of Marc Bolan and T. Rex. I was far too young to have been aware of their years as superstars in the ’70s (not that I would have heard much of their stuff aside from Get It On here in the US).

I think the first time I heard T. Rex was seeing the video for Bang A Gong (Get It On) on MTV. Several years later, Power Station covered the song and, not long after that, Violent Femmes covered Children Of The Revolution.

As I entered college and CDs were beginning to be issued for most titles, I stumbled across a T. Rex compilation (there’ve been a ridiculous number of them). The packaging was quite shoddy, but the music was astounding – all candy-coated primal crunch and sing-song lyrics.

I certainly own more T. Rex than I probably need (courtesy to a multi-set collection in the ’90s which I received as promos), but there are few acts whose music brightens my mood like T. Rex. So, to help everyone in the West relax a bit during breaks from learning Mandarin, here’s a handful of Marc Bolan classics…

T. Rex – Children Of The Revolution
from Great Hits 1972-1977

T. Rex – Hot Love
from The Legend Of T. Rex

T. Rex – Metal Guru
from The Slider

T. Rex – The Slider
from The Slider

T. Rex – Get It On
from Electric Warrior