The King Is The Man

September 16, 2010

There’s joyous news for a hope-starved world as Burger King is introducing a glorious buffet of new breakfast items – pancakes, muffins, ciabatta club sandwiches…pancakes.

I just know it’s all going to be flame-broiled and life-altering.

And the restaurant already offers the Croissan’Wich which trumps all other possible breakfast sandwiches if only because the egg, cheese, and breakfast meat rests delicately on the buttery, flakey brilliance that is a croissant.

I don’t usually spend so much time pondering fast food. I usually eat it less than a few times a month.

This episode of reflection was prompted by a barrage of commercials the other night.

Sure, you might declare that such enthusiasm for Burger King is misguided as it could be argued that the foodstuff whose praises I sing so deliriously represents the final link in a chain of events that has ruinous consequences to the people and the planet at each and every juncture.

(including the consumption)

I would likely agree.

But I can’t fret about such matters on an empty stomach.

I think I’ll have breakfast first.

Here are four songs that I stopped on while shuffling…

Queens Of The Stone Age – Better Living Through Chemistry
from Rated R

I can’t help thinking of Sympathy For The Devil when I hear the congas that open Queen Of The Stone Age’s Better Living Through Chemistry. The song then proceeds to plow forward, sometimes dreamy, sometimes trippy, yet always heavy.

I’ve definitely not followed music the past ten years as I had before, but of the bands I have heard, few have impressed me during that time as much as Queens Of The Stone Age.

Eve’s Plum – If I Can’t Have You
from Spirit Of ’73: Rock For Choice

With a name inspired by the actress who portrayed Jan Brady on The Brady Bunch, Eve’s Plum released two albums of delightful alternative-tinged power pop in the early/mid-’90s that were sadly ignored before calling it a day. Lead singer Colleen Fitzpatrick would have a bit more commercial success later in the decade under the name Vitamin C.

As for If I Can’t Have You, it is indeed a groovy cover of Yvonne Elliman’s smash hit from the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. The song appeared on the compilation Spirit Of ’73: Rock For Choice which gathered an album’s worth of ’70s pop hits interpreted by ’90s alternative acts.

Concrete Blonde – Beware Of Darkness
from Concrete Blonde

There’s a review of Concrete Blonde’s debut that has stuck in my mind for twenty years as the reviewer – in some hipper-than-thou rag – stated that there was no reason for anyone with two ears to ever listen to it more than once.

Personally, I was a huge fan of the L.A. trio’s punk-infused alternative rock and would argue that the group was one of the more underappreciated acts of the ’90s. Their version of George Harrison’s Beware Of Darkness – and I have to admit, I don’t believe I’ve heard his – is a good fit for the band which often incorporated a bit of a gothic vibe to their sound.

The Future Sound Of London – Osho
from The Isness

I know relatively little about dance music, but the duo The Future Sound Of London hooked me the night I stumbled across the über-cool video for their song My Kingdom

In 2002, the act issued The Isness which found the duo incorporating a heavy dose of psychedelic rock into their post-modern sound. Apparently it left many long-time fans baffled and displeased, but I thought the album was stunning.

Osho, though, has a light ’70s funk feel to it, along with sitar, tabla, and some operatic vocals in the background.

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