Thanksgiving, like the once annual airing of The Wizard Of Oz used to be, is an event.
Yeah, some people make it out to be dysfunction junction (and for them, maybe it is), but getting to watch football all day on a day which usually would be spent slogging through work is a brilliant concept.
And, of course, it is a chance to feast.
It’s like being king for a day.
Bring me gravy! I shall gnaw on this turkey leg in a slovenly fashion as these superhumans on the television perform amazing feats for my amusement!
OK. It’s not necessarily that dramatic and, as the Lions always play on Thanksgiving Day, the feats are not always amazing in a good way.
(though I cannot imagine how empty a Thanksgiving without the Lions playing the early game would be – it would be like a Halloween without a visit from The Great Pumpkin)
One Thanksgiving was spent living in London, eating some take-out pizza in an ice-cold flat.
And, in a cruel twist, my favorite team, the Steelers, was making a rare Thanksgiving Day appearance. They would lose, in overtime after a bizarre coin toss snafu to begin the extra period.
It was a game that would have been maddening to have watched and it was maddening to miss.
Thanksgiving hasn’t been brilliant every year, but that year – no food, no football, no heat – is really the lone one I recall as being truly miserable.
As a kid, our parents dragged us off to mass. I mean, you have the day off school and can sleep in and lounge on the couch; the last thing you want to be doing at an early hour is trudging off to church.
When I was fifteen, the priest decided to use his sermon to rattle off a laundry list of accidental nuclear exchanges between the US and USSR that had been narrowly avoided.
(this was 1983 and two months earlier there had been all of the hullaballoo surrounding the television movie The Day After)
I kept having images of an extra crispy bird and excessively dry stuffing.
It was a bit of a bummer.
It was also a year when the Steelers had a Thanksgiving game. Detroit beat them 45-3.
I had forgotten (or blocked it out) and had to research who played that season.
But, global tensions and football smackdowns aside, I have no doubt that the food was good.
That autumn, I was still listening to a lot of Top 40 stations, but Q95, an album rock station out of Indianapolis, had caught my attention as well and 97X was exposing me on a semi-regular basis to modern rock for the first time. Some of the songs on the radio that Thanksgiving…
Men At Work – Dr. Heckyll And Mr. Jive
By the end of 1983, Men At Work, who had burst onto the scene a year earlier, was over. It was amazing how massive they were and how quickly it ended, but their quirky music still sounds delightful twenty-five years later.
Dr. Heckyll And Mr. Jive was their third hit from album number two and had been preceded by Overkill and It’s A Mistake on the airwaves. I still think the former is their finest moment, but the latter did little for me.
I don’t actually recall hearing Dr. Heckyll And Mr. Jive on the radio much, but I always smiled at the line, “He loves the world except for all the people.” Some days, it’s quite true.
Rufus And Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody
from Stompin’ At The Savoy
I wasn’t much into R&B growing up. There was one station and, on occasion, I would end up there, but, unless the song crossed over to the pop stations, I wasn’t likely hearing it.
Ain’t Nobody crossed over big time and it hooked me the first time I heard it.
Michael Stanley Band – My Town
from You Can’t Fight Fashion
Cleveland’s Michael Stanley was a major act in the Midwest in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Living on the Indiana/Ohio border, their music found its way onto many of the stations to which I was listening.
There was a lot of economic malaise in the first few years of the ’80s, especially in the Rust Belt. The punchy, anthemic My Town was rock straight from the heartland and its sing-a-long chorus got it a lot of airplay, especially when stations began editing in a shout out to their respective city – Cincinnati! – into the song.
Genesis – Mama (radio edit)
Paloma professes to like Phil Collins, yet, whenever a song of his pops up on shuffle, she invariably is displeased and hits next. It’s a fascinating phenomenon that has us both baffled.
As for Mama, it was the first song from Genesis’ followup to Abacab and the album continued the trio’s trend toward more pop-minded fare (for the most part). Mama, though, is a sinister sounding track which is what happens when your lead singer cackles like he’s been on a bender with Gary Busey.