Chickenhead The Cat

April 10, 2008

I don’t understand cats. Actually, I think I do understand them which is why I am decidedly a dog person.

Not that I harbor malevolent intent toward felines. Paloma has two cats, Coltrane and Fat Sam, and I have come to be quite fond of both of them. I realize, though, that I could never have the same bond with a cat as I have had with dogs due to their blatant, almost brazen, indifference. They’re like an acquaintance whose body language says, “Yes, we’re interacting and – although I don’t dislike you – I don’t particularly like you and would not be the least bit disappointed if we never saw each other again.” I can get that anywhere. Why would I want it from someone I have to feed and clean up after?

I recall a time before Paloma and I lived together and she went out of town on business. I would make a daily visit to her apartment, making sure that the cats had food and water as well as spending a bit of time with them. Coltrane, especially, seemed inconsolable. I would find her own Paloma’s bed, crying, so I would pet her a bit and talk to her. For the next few days following Paloma’s return, my visits found both cats paying an unprecedented amount of attention to me. It didn’t last. They soon were ignoring me as always, leading me to suspect that their attention toward me was more a dig at Paloma for her absence rather than delight at my presence. Pretty dodgy, huh?

Then, there was Chickenhead. The windows to my apartment’s living room are easily reached by an overhang despite being on the second floor. One warm, summer night, I was sitting on the couch, writing, when a cat climbed through the open window, wandered about (indifferently) and left. This occurred several more times until one night when Paloma was there. She did the thing that I had purposely avoided – she put out a small saucer of milk. Realizing that he would now be a regular visitor, we named him Chickenhead – nicked from a Denis Leary bit involving the naming of a pet. Actually, I named him Chickenhead and Paloma kindly obliged me as the name made me laugh (I am, obviously, easily amused).

Chickenhead came around regularly for a few weeks, getting fed and receiving a bit of attention. Then, no more. And to prove my point about the indifference of cats, here it is a year later and I am writing about him while I know he’s out there somewhere with nary a thought of me.

The Cure – The Lovecats
This number is downright jaunty (particularly Robert Smith’s vocals which have an almost feline quality) – jaunty not being a description which I would have thought appropo to most of The Cure’s music. That is until I mentally went back over their catalog and realized, to my surprise, that they have more moments of jaunt than you might think.

David Bowie – Cat People (Putting Out Fire)
There are two versions of this song which I have. One appeared in the 1982 movie of the same name in which Nastassia Kinski frolics about murdering bunnies (OK. It’s only one rabbit of which she makes a meal); the other version appeared on Bowie’s 1983 commercial comeback album Let’s Dance. This one is from the former and has a nifty, smoldering intro and was produced, if I recall correctly, by Euro-disco-meister (say that three times fast) Giorgio Moroder.

Squeeze – Cool For Cats
Growing up in the hinterlands of the American Midwest in the years prior to MTV, it wasn’t easy to be exposed to new music and fringe acts. However, my friend Chris had an uncanny knack for turning me onto some of the most intriguing and beloved music of my formative years. Among his discoveries, he introduced me to The Cure with Pornography and the sprightly, New Wave-tinged pop of Squeeze with their compilation Singles 45 And Under. Good stuff.

Danielle Dax – Cat-House
I can’t recall how I found the music of Danielle Dax (most likely it was from watching MTV’s 120 Minutes one late night in college when I should have been studying). I believe most (all?) of her stuff is out of print now which is unfortunate because I know I lost a copy of her Blast The Human Flower disc (containing two favorites – The Id Parade and 16 Candles) when I loaned it out. As my Irish friend Liam would say, Cat-House is a corker. Well, if I had an Irish friend named Liam, I have no doubt that’s what he’d say.