Nothing Says Easter Like Ravenous, Rampaging Rabbits, Mushrooms And Extra Cheese

April 23, 2011

It’s Easter weekend and people all over the globe will, to paraphrase the late, great visionary Bill Hicks, commemorate the death and resurrection of their professed savior by telling children a giant bunny rabbit left chocolate eggs in the night.

Forget the hunt for pastel-colored eggs. the ceremonial carving of the spiral-cut, honeybaked ham, and religious observances. Several years ago, Paloma and I opted for a more unique way to do Easter – snagging a carryout pizza and watching Night Of The Lepus.

For those of you unfamiliar with this cinematic opus, Night Of The Lepus was born out of the nascent groundswell of environmental consciousness of the early ’70s, a movement that provided inspiration for a number of science fiction films at the time.

I must have been six or seven, when I first saw the movie, sitting in the dark of our living room, on the CBS Late Movie. As the credits appeared on the screen, I asked my dad, “What the @#$%& is a lepus?”

(actually, my vocabulary was less sodium-based at the time and it’s likely all I said was “huh?”)

But, despite my father’s surprising reply to my lepus query, I knew the CBS Late Movie to be a cornucopia of B-movies shown after the local news in the ’70s which often featured nature run amok.

And amok it runs in Night Of The Lepus in the form of rabbits the size of Volkswagens who have developed a taste for humans. Actually, they seemed disinclined to consume the terrified townsfolk, instead gnawing on them as though they were large, pale carrots.

Paloma and I had tentatively planned to make a tradition of a viewing of Night Of The Lepus on Easter, but, alas, one viewing of the film seems to have been enough for her.

So, this year, it’s Chinese take-out and Watership Down.

Night Of The Lepus was in theaters in 1972, so I must have seen the movie for the first time the following year. Here are four songs that were on the Billboard singles chart in late April of ’73…

Lou Reed – Walk On The Wild Side
from Transformer

How can a listener not get drawn into Lou Reed’s tawdry tale of life in the dirty city?

Is it possible to not hear Walk On The Wild Side and not have the colored girls singing “doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo” in your head for the rest of the day?

But, when I think of Lou Reed, I can’t help but remember a summer afternoon in 1986 when I was hanging out with my high school girlfriend, lounging in the den, watching MTV. Her great-grandmother, visiting from the Phillipines, was sitting there with us when the video for Reed’s No Money Down came on.

Great-grandmother had paid little attention to the television until, midway through the song, Reed began to claw at his face as he sang, tearing the skin off and revealing his skull as the old woman – now watching the proceedings for which she had no cultural frame of reference – freaked out.

War – The Cisco Kid
from The World Is A Ghetto

On the mental list which I keep of songs that I’d rather not hear ever again is War’s Low Rider. There’s just something about the song that is like a popcorn kernal caught between my molars.

But the south of the border groove of The Cisco Kid is always welcome.

Stevie Wonder – You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
from Song Review: Greatest Hits

Some love songs are dramatic.

Some love songs are gooey.

And then, there is the occasional love song that captures a feeling of contentment which I would offer as the most accurate vibe of the emotion. Well done, Mr. Wonder.

Roberta Flack – Killing Me Softly With His Song
from The Best Of Roberta Flack

Most of the music I was hearing in 1973 was courtesy of the car radio. So, there are hits from the time that I actually remember hearing and ones with which I would become familiar during the ensuing years as I grew older and music became a part of my life.

Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly With His Song is one of the former and, as it was one of the year’s biggest hits, I recall hearing it often. Though it would be toward the end of the decade when I truly became interested in music, there was something about the song that drew me in even in ’73.

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Accidentally Poking The Nun With A Stick (Or, Maybe She Simply Wasn’t A Lakers Fan)

April 14, 2009

Unlike last Easter, Paloma and I opted for a more traditional take on the holiday this year – I’d promised we could go shopping for some plants and flowers.

As the late morning sky resembled that from the opening credits of The Simpsons, we decided to head out into the countryside and, forty-five minutes later, she was loading up a cart at a lawn and garden store.

Checking out, Paloma made polite conversation with the clerk. As it was roughly noon on Easter, she asked if things had been slow.

The clerk replied that, actually, quite the opposite was true. “Guess people ‘round here don’t go to church on Easter Sunday.”

His eye contact conveyed disapproval and his tone had enough accusation in it for me to, momentarily, consider telling him that we were Muslim were late for the call to prayer.

However, as “’round here” was Sticksville, I suspected such a comment might have brought Homeland Security into the mix. Paloma had promised me KFC for lunch, so, obviously, that would have been an inconvenience.

When I was in third grade, basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was only about half a dozen years removed from being known as Lew Alcindor. As Larry Bird and Magic Johnson wouldn’t really bring the NBA onto my radar for several years, I doubt that I knew Abdul-Jabbar by any name.

(I was surprised that both Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lew Alcindor passed spell check – what a glorious time to be alive)

As a nine-year old who was being raised Catholic in a small Midwestern town, I doubt I’d heard of Islam, either, until reading an article on Abdul-Jabbar in some magazine (probably Sports Illustrated).

The piece made me aware of the greatness of Abdul-Jabbar and it served as a foreshadowing of the future.

After several days of letting the subject slosh around in my nine-year old brain, I decided to take up the matter in religion class with Sister Jonette.

“Sister Jonette, we’re Catholic and believe in God, yes?”

So far, so good.

“And some people are Muslim and they believe in Allah, right?”

I was suddenly sailing into unfavorable waters.

“So, how do we know that we’re not praying to the same god? Or, what if we’ve got the wrong one?”

Sister Jonette had to be eighty-years old. She was of the ruler-wielding generation of nuns. She was not really of the demographic to take into account that I was quite honestly curious about a topic that would prove to be vexing to a lot of folks down the road.

I tried to throw Kareem under the bus as the source of my curiosity.

As I shuffled off to the principal’s office, I was no closer to having a grasp on spirituality, but I had learned a valuable lesson regarding religion.

Queens Of The Stone Age – God Is In The Radio

Beth Orton (with Emmylou Harris and Ryan Adams) – God Song

Faithless – God Is A DJ

Manic Street Preachers – The Girl Who Wanted To Be God


Nothing Says Easter Like Ravenous, Rampaging Rabbits

March 22, 2008

Forget the hunt for eggs or the ceremonial carving of the spiral-cut, honeybaked ham. No, Paloma and I opted for a more unique way to celebrate Easter this year – snagging a carryout pizza and watching Night Of The Lepus.

For those of you unfamiliar with this cinematic opus (and I’d guess that would be virtually anyone who stumbles across this post), Night Of The Lepus was born out of the nascent groundswell of environmental consciousness of the early ’70s, a movement that influenced many science fiction films.

I recall having seen it as a youngster when it was shown on CBS’ late night movie, a cornucopia of B-movies shown after the local news in the ’70s which often featured nature run amok.

And amok it runs in Night Of The Lepus in the form of rabbits the size of Volkswagens who have developed a taste for humans. Actually, they seem disinclined to consume the terrified townsfolk, instead gnawing on them as though they were large, pale carrots.

Paloma and I had tentatively planned to make a tradition of an Easter viewing of Night Of The Lepus, but, alas, next year it might be pizza and Bugs Bunny as one viewing of the film seems to have been enough for her.

And now, for some Easter-inspired music…

Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit
It’s impossible for me to hear this song now and not think of the scene in Platoon where Charlie Sheen’s character is introduced to “The Heads.” I also keep thinking that it would make an inspired choice for Bjork to cover.

T. Rex – Rabbit Fighter
When the inevitible CGI-powered remake of Night Of The Lepus arrives (and you know it will), perhaps they will opt for a little Marc Bolan from his classic set The Slider. And please, let them cast William Shatner (especially as the late DeForest Kelly was featured in the original). Who else would you rather see battling brawny bunnies?

Echo & The Bunnymen – Lips Like Sugar
When I asked Paloma, a big fan of Ian McCullough and the boys from the beginning, what track I should post, she surprised me by noting this one as her favorite (I would have guessed something perhaps a bit darker like The Killing Moon).

Patti Smith Group – Easter
Sure Horses has the cachet and was a groundbreaking release, but as I was a tyke and unaware of its impact at the time, I’ve always leaned toward Easter as my personal favorite of one of my favorite artist’s early (pre-1988) output.

Bill Hicks – Easter
The late, great comedian shares his thoughts on how Easter is celebrated and who can argue that a goldfish pushing a lincoln log across the floor wouldn’t be pretty miraculous?