And Next…Domino’s Will Split The Atom

September 22, 2010

A headline that Domino’s is, for the first time, having a location near the University Of Dayton that will be open ’round the clock popped from the screen at me.

Pizza at all hours is an idea is so obvious I have to wonder if anyone at the top of the food chain at Domino’s has taken time to calculate the millions (billions?) of dollars in revenue lost by not providing drunken college students an alternative to small, square burgers sold by the dozen.

Imagine the sights you would surely see delivering pizza at four in the morning to college kids in various altered states.

(and Col. Kurtz thought he had witnessed horror in Apocalypse Now)

The concept of pizza being brought to you has to be considered one of mankind’s greatest achievements and, unlike most advances made by the humans, home-delivered pizza is not something that can be weaponized or has military applications.

As wonderful as the concept of pizza available at all hours might be, for several semesters of college I existed in an even more blissful state.

I had a housemate who was a perpetually stoned, unscrupulous manager of a Pizza Hut.

I was a couple years younger than Kirk, but when I moved into the house, I think I had already accrued more credits than he had.

The rest of our housemates were all within a couple semesters of graduating and several that had occupied the house – who had all moved in with Kirk initially – had already done so.

Mostly, he dropped acid like it was Pez, openly discussed the idea of a road trip to Chicago to kill a drifter, and took just enough credits to retain a student parking tag.

(add in pizza and it was a bit like some demented dinner theater)

And there was pizza.

On the nights Kirk worked, it was the closing shift. Half an hour or so before close, one of us would give him a call and make our requests. There were five of us, so he’d arrive home some time after midnight with half a dozen or more pizzas and bags of breadsticks.

And we would feast.

The remnants would clutter the kitchen table for days. The sliding doors to the deck were never locked and friends would come and go, helping themselves to cold leftovers. The empty boxes would eventually end up in the fireplace.

The house was drafty and barely insulated, so those cartons were much needed kindling in the winter.

Yeah, Domino’s might be mediocre pizza, but pizza at any hour of the night is an idea whose time has come.

Here are four songs that I remember from the first few days of autumn in 1988, when it seemed as though there would never again be a day without pizza…

Dreams So Real – Rough Night In Jericho
from Rough Night In Jericho

Dreams So Real were contemporaries of R.E.M. and a part of the ’80s music scene in Athens, Georgia, but I don’t recall being overly familiar with them during that time. I think I might have known their name.

I don’t remember where I heard the song Rough Night In Jericho, either. It might have been in the record store where I was working, but I tend to think it might have been late one night on MTV. It’s relatively straight-ahead rock with a bit of twang to it and a big, dramatic chorus that got my attention at the time.

When In Rome – The Promise
from When In Rome

I knew nothing about When In Rome when The Promise became a hit. I know nothing off the top of my head now except that I believe the act was a British duo. I never even heard another song by them.

But I know The Promise like the back of my hand. It pulsates and it truly sounds like it should have come out in 1983 rather than 1988. I have no trouble hearing this played as an import on 97X alongside Tears For Fears and Echo & The Bunnymen.

And for a band that pretty much vanished into the ether (this was apparently their only album), the song has been surprisingly enduring even popping up at the end of the movie Napoleon Dynamite.

Siouxsie & The Banshees – Peek-A-Boo
from Twice Upon A Time: The Singles

I wasn’t a fan of everything by Siouxsie & The Banshees, but there was stuff that I thought was brilliant and quite inventive. They’re undeniably one of the iconic acts of modern rock.

Peepshow, on which Peek-A-Boo first appeared, got a lot of play in our record store. Peek-A-Boo was genius – a bizarrely hypnotic pop song comprised of samples, backwards masking, accordion, discordant guitar, and Siouxsie Sioux’ haunting vocals.

Michelle Shocked – Anchorage
from Short Sharp Shocked

There were a number of female acts in ’87/’88 who found mainstream success with their folk-inflected music.

(Suzanne Vega and Tracy Chapman being the most notable)

There were artists like Michelle Shocked who didn’t become a household names, but did earn love from critics and devoted audiences on a more intimate scale.

One co-worker at the time was rabid about Short Sharp Shocked, playing it often in our store and much to my dismay. It’s sound wasn’t really where I was then, but, twenty years later, I understand the charms of songs like the gentle Anchorage.

Saturday Mornings With Casey

February 20, 2010

Growing up in a household with no older siblings and with parents who had merely a passing interest in music, I didn’t have familial influences when I began to listen to music.

In junior high, music was a big topic of conversation as teammates fought for control of the stereo in the locker room with Billy Squier, Van Halen, and Led Zeppelin being in heavy rotation. There was music on the bus rides to games and meets with rock stations tuned in during football season and – with girls on the team – Top 40 during track season.

Slowly I began to develop my own interests and it was Casey Kasem who first provided me with information and knowledge that wasn’t so easily found before the advent of cable, the internet, and electricity.

(though I had no idea that I had met Casey years earlier on Scooby-Doo)

It was January of ’82 when I first stumbled across Casey on a cold, snowy Saturday morning with a broadcast of American Top 40 on WRIA 101.3 out of Richmond. I was familiar with the concept of musical countdowns from listening to Q102’s Top Ten at 10 most nights (though as the station was in Cincinnati and in the Eastern time zone and we were in the Central, it was actually 9 for us).

From that point on, American Top 40 was appointment listening on sleepy Saturday mornings, though, if I missed it for some reason, I soon found several other stations that broadcast the show each weekend.

The show was a chance to hear a lot of my current favorites – songs that were showing up on crude mix tapes I was recording from the radio – as well as songs with which I was not familiar. With no concept of radio playlists or the other basics of the music industry, though, I was often puzzled.

There were songs that I heard constantly on the stations to which I listened which were not in the Top 40 or that ranked far lower than it seemed they should. Conversely, there were songs which I wasn’t hearing much (or at all) which were moving toward the top of the chart.

It was an education, a chance to learn some of the history of pop music and about some of the iconic artists as well as more trivial items that Casey would offer up during each week’s show.

Maybe it’s been the snow and slush we’ve endured the past few weeks, a winter unlike most I’ve experienced over the past twenty-years, which has made me think of those early months of ’82.

Some of the songs I was hearing Casey count down this week in 1982 as, more than likely, I was sprawled out on my bed listening on a cold Saturday morning…

Rolling Stones – Waiting On A Friend
from Tattoo You

Personally, I’ve always thought that Waiting On A Friend was one of the Stones’ finest post-’70s moments. The song is so casual and the vibe so laid-back that it’s always welcome when it pops up on shuffle.

Apparently it was the first video by the Stones played on MTV (with reggae great Peter Tosh hanging out on the steps). Casey well might have told me about jazz legend Sonny Rollins providing the saxophone.

The Police – Spirits In The Material World
from Ghost In The Machine

Though I had just started diving full-on into music in late ’81/early ’82, I was well familiar with The Police. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic was deservedly huge and my friend Beej was already a massive fan from their first three albums, so I heard them through him.

If I had to choose a top five from The Police, Spirits In The Material World would have a good shot at making the cut. It sounded so eerie and otherworldly, and it’s so concise, clocking in at just under three minutes.

Quarterflash – Harden My Heart
from Quarterflash

Thanks to Casey I know that Quarterflash got there name from…I think it’s an Australian saying…yeah, I had to look it up. “It came from an Australian slang description of new immigrants as ‘one quarter flash and three parts foolish.'”

The song was catchy and seems to have retained a bit of a presence.

(and lead singer/saxophonist Rindy Ross had a certain appeal to us at the time)

Huey Lewis & The News – Do You Believe In Love
from Picture This

I hear the name Huey Lewis and I have a Pavlovian moment and think Marin County. It seemed like every time I heard Casey mention the band, he noted that they were based in Marin County.

(or, that’s what I remember)

I had an unusual pizza with clams as a topping in Marin County once and I didn’t see them.

“If You Want A Pizza, Call An Apache”

October 9, 2009

apache-pizza-temple-barI have pondered what that statement means many times since I first visited Dublin and came upon it.

It wasn’t graffiti.

It wasn’t code.

It wasn’t some quant Irish adage.

(at least I don’t think it is)

The phrase “If You Want A Pizza, Call An Apache” was written in red letters across a box at a pizza place near Temple Bar.

Of all the cities which I’ve visited, few had me as smitten as quickly as Dublin. On one visit, the cabbie, an older, well-worn fellow with bushy white hair, explained that he was “going to catch hell” from his wife for skipping mass.

Upon hearing our destination of The Clarence, a hotel partly owned by U2’s Bono and The Edge, he asked “Going to see Uncle Bono, eh?”

“Is he around?”

“Ahhh,” the cabbie sighed, shaking his head and rolling his eyes, “he’s probably trying to make peace in the Middle East or something.”

It’s hard not to fall in love with such down-to-Earth people and the Irish have always struck me as some of the least pretentious folks around.

Another trip to Dublin had been spent celebrating a friend’s birthday – dinner at a small Indian restaurant followed by an evening of drinking a club called Zanzibar.

Returning to my hotel room, I sat dully watching a Bruce Lee movie and craving food. I remembered seeing a pizza place not far from the hotel and set out resolutely.

(it was a similar scenario that led to me to wander about lost at three in the morning in Edinburgh, Scotland once – apparently there is something in my DNA that causes me to trek out for pizza in strange, foreign cities after an evening of drinking)

And that is how I ended up at Apache Pizza. It had to be after midnight, but the tiny place was packed with amped up Irish kids. U2’s The Sweetest Thing was playing on the radio and they were all singing along, loudly.

I snagged a pizza for take-out and there was the phrase – “If You Want A Pizza, Call An Apache” – on the box.

It was inscrutable to me then. It’s inscrutable to me now.

The website for the chain offers no explanation and their slogan now appears to be “Too Many Cowboys, Just One Apache.” I have no idea what that has to do with pizza, although it is a rather concise assessment of the plight of Native Americans in the US.

As for the pizza, I thought it was quite good.

Of course, I’d been drinking, it was late/early, and I was hungry, so, as anyone who has been in a similar situation (in Dublin, Ireland or Dublin, Ohio) can likely commiserate, all but the vilest pizza would have been manna.

I don’t understand exactly how that works any more than I understand why an Apache is the person to call if you want a pizza.

But, as Paloma has a birthday coming soon, I’ve submitted an application to be an Apache Pizza franchisee (I’m fairly certain it’s something she doesn’t have).

In the meantime and as we will soon be seeing U2 on their 360 Tour, here are some lesser-known, personal favorites from the band that I don’t expect us to hear…

U2 – Love Comes Tumbling
from Wide Awake In America

Subtle and hypnotic, Love Comes Tumbling was one of two songs on the Wide Awake In America EP that were outtakes from The Unforgettable Fire. Had that album been released a few years later, after the advent of CDs era and longer running times, it would have made a worthy addition.

U2 – Hallelujah Here She Comes
from Desire single

U2 tried to incorporate American blues, gospel and soul into their sound on several tracks from Rattle And Hum with mixed results. Hallelujah Here She Comes – a b-side from that set’s first single – is far more low-key than most of those attempts on Rattle And Hum, and succeeds in being soulful with considerably less effort .

U2 – Lady With The Spinning Head (extended version)
from Even Better Than The Real Thing single

It was dance music of the late ’80s/early ’90s that was a major influence on Achtung Baby. Lady With The Spinning Head was another strong U2 b-side which fused dance-rock with garage-rock, incorporating grinding guitar and a heavy dose of keyboards.

U2 – Salome
from Even Better Than The Real Thing single

Before Achtung Baby was released in the autumn of 1991, a bootleg of tracks from the recording sessions for that album caused a stir. Entitled The Salome Sessions, the triple CD release is, for fans of the band, a fascinating glimpse into many of the songs that would appear on Achtung Baby in various stages of completion.

Salome, a song that didn’t make it onto Achtung Baby inspired that bootleg’s moniker.