Apparently The Mayans Are Up To Something

March 10, 2009

There’s been a lot of calamity here on Planet Earth of late. Channel surfing is an exercise in slaloming through the carnage of twenty-four hour news networks.

I stopped on The Learning Channel to, you know, learn something other than how soon we’ll all be jobless, money will be worth nothing and everyone will be using jellybeans for currency.

Instead, I got talking heads and CGI graphics frightening the bejesus out of me about the Mayan calendar and 2012 – that’s the year that the Mayans return from the dead to snack on people like it’s one of those zombie flicks that seem to arrive every couple weeks.

(OK, that’s not really what these experts were prognosticating, but, as someone once said on Sarah Palin’s behalf, learnin’ is hard – ten minutes into the show, I started daydreaming about cookies)

Summoning all my strength, I was ready to engage the remote for something less dire that I could ignore. Fortunately, I was a split second too slow and I was soon sucked into a commercial for Coca-Cola.

Essentially, the clip acknowledged the trouble times with the assurance that as long as there was Coke, everything would be fine.

It left me feeling strangely Zen.

(and that might be the most frightening thing of all)

There was a dearth of songs in my collection with titles involving Coke or even cola or soda, but there were several that came to mind with lyrical mentions of the beverage…

The Clash – Straight To Hell
When I thought of songs with Coca-Cola in the lyrics, this one was the first one that I heard – Joe Strummer singing, “Lemme tell ya ’bout your blood bamboo kid. It ain’t Coca-Cola it’s rice.”

The music is hypnotic and off-kilter. The song’s lyrics are hypnotic and scathing – particularly those about a Vietnam-era soldier abandoning a child he fathered during that war. I always thought it was one of The Clash’s finest moments and most fully-realized songs.

Nan Vernon – Motorcycle
Nan was a member of The Spiritual Cowboys, the band Dave Stewart put together when Eurythmics went on hiatus in the late ’80s. She released one solo album, Manta Ray, in 1996 and details since are scant (it seems that she’s been a touring musician).

It’s too bad as Manta Ray was a promising debut and if Motorcycle and Nan’s wish for someone to be her “Coca-Cola cowboy” doesn’t make you want to hit the open road, maybe you’d prefer a Fresca.

The Kinks – Lola
The Clash used Coke as a symbol of imperialism in Straight To Hell and it’s a symptom of materialism trumping spirituality in Supertramp’s Child Of Vision. In the Kinks’ classic Lola, it would seem to be a red flag that if the champagne you’re drinking tastes like Coca-Cola, you might end up dancing with a transvestite.

So, clearly drinking Coke is a venture fraught with potential peril.

Supertramp – Child Of Vision
If you want to read more about Supertramp’s career-making album Breakfast In America, which concludes with Child Of Vision, you may do so here.

I Don’t Understand Fashion (And I’m A Bit Confused By Colors)

October 7, 2008

We had our first true hint that autumn is here the other morning. Needing to trudge out quite early, I dressed for the change in season, throwing on comfortable, worn jeans, a heavy, dark blue sweater (which I’m told is actually grey), well broken-in combat boots, and my Belgian army coat. I didn’t wear a tie, mainly because I don’t own one and the concept puzzles me.

Paloma, who once worked in a fairly posh department store, was pointing out ties on a television program the other day. She wanted me to guess their costs and, each time, my reply was reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman as Rain Man.

“About a hundred dollars.”

To my surprise, I wasn’t far off. One hundred dollars? For a tie? I could be a land baron in South America for one hundred dollars (are other countries still accepting U.S. currency?).

I asked Paloma the purpose that ties serve and was informed that they offer men a way to accessorize. So, I’m going to choke myself with this cloth noose so that I might have something to bring out the color of my shirt? Who was the sadistic bastard that believed this was a necessity?

If there truly was a need for men to accessorize, why not nail polish? It’s far simpler and non-constrictive.

And colors – I’m not colorblind (I took the test), but Paloma reminds me that the sweater which I mentioned earlier (and have owned for years) is, in fact, not dark blue, but grey. If I squint, I see her point.

Of course, it’s probably not grey but slate or something. I suggested to her that colors should have names that are more informative to the average person (or at least entertaining).

What’s a taupe? Is it some kind of fish that is found only near some reef off the coast of Micronesia? (and are Micronesians really small?)

However, she didn’t seem to think that the color names I suggested were marketable. I don’t know. I think Pond Scum, Cocoa Puff, Hypothermia, and Open Wound have a certain descriptive quality that taupe lacks.

As for my Belgian Army coat – why do they even have an army? I’ve never been to Belgium, but I imagine the Belgians to be polite, civilized folks who never squabble (like Flemish-speaking Canadians). Maybe it is to protect the waffles. I do love waffles, so, perhaps I should enlist. I have one of the coats (it’s green, I think) and I probably wouldn’t have to wear a tie.

David Bowie – Fashion

The Kinks – Dedicated Follower Of Fashion

Dave Stewart & The Spiritual Cowboys – Fashion Bomb

Suede – She’s In Fashion

Is It Possible To Put A Hit On Some Fish?

September 22, 2008

The fish reside in a small tank; no more than five gallons, and the entire set-up was a gift from Paloma several years ago. We’ve gone through several generations of fish, the population fluctuating and currently a trio.

Now, Paloma – ever the trooper – has actually been the one who has taken responsibility for their care. A couple of times, she’s lost one while cleaning the tank. She takes each untimely death quite personally (I on the other hand, while sympathetic to the animals, shake it off more easily as they don’t have names).

The other morning she crumbled some food into their tank and, staring down into their home, declared “I’d almost rather see you dead than see you live like this.” The fact that she delivered this assessment with a sigh added to the ichthyological melodrama.

She looked at me. I looked at her. Then, I burst into laughter and she followed suit.

The fish have no names and, at best, they’re ability to entertain is minimal. But, neither of us has the heart to send them to a watery grave, either.

If only Jean Reno lived next door.

Instead of fish songs or songs about assassins, I was inspired by JB at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ who recently lamented that “1983 was not one of pop’s grander years.” So, I followed the link he had posted to a chart from this week in 1983 to see if it lived up/down to his assessment.

As music was a relatively new obsession to me at the time, I likely view the hits of the time with a bit less discrimination and considerably more nostalgia, though there was some fairly dire stuff. But, I thought that I’d post a quartet of tracks that I’d consider highlights a quarter century later.

Def Leppard – Foolin’
1983 was the year that folks who didn’t read Circus likely discovered Def Leppard – Pyromania was truly a phenomenon. The band was big with the metal kids I knew, but Def Leppard was hardly metal in a dungeons and dragons, we’re so evil way. Oh, they could be silly in their own fashion, but they also were musical toffee.

Elvis Costello- Everyday I Write The Book
I don’t think I’d ever heard Elvis Costello until I came across Everyday I Write The Book on 97X in the early autumn of ’83. I feel horrible to admit it but as much as I respect his work, Elvis isn’t someone I listen to as often as I feel I should. I’m not sure why. But, I did love this song from the outset and it’s still one of my favorites of his.

Talking Heads – Burning Down The House
In high school, my good friend Chris was a major fan of the Heads. Burning Down The House was the first time I ever heard them on the radio and, perhaps because one of our friends was a bit of a pyromaniac, we all loved the song. Of course, the atmospheric video (brought to us via WTBS’ Night Flights as MTV wasn’t available to us, yet) sealed the deal.

Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)
Q102, the most popular Top 40 station within reception, was playing Sweet Dreams heavily by the time I heard it on American Top 40 (which didn’t seem to happen very often with new artists). Nonetheless, this sounded so different to my ears – none of the female singers I’d heard or was listening to possessed the Arctic cool of Annie Lennox. Eurythmics, visually and musically, were one of the most exotic things I’d ever come across.

They’ve always seemed a bit underrated to me. Dave Stewart was a fantastic architect of sound and the perfect foil for Annie. To me, their catalog is similar to Blondie’s – ambitious, drawing on a lot of diverse musical influences, and, at their best moments, pretty classic stuff.