Life Post Rapture (It’s Not Just The Pious Who Are Bummed)

May 26, 2011

Since that whole Rapture dealio surprisingly fizzled, I can’t help but think that the real losers were the non-pants wearing inhibitants of this planet.

Imagine how elated the animal kingdom would have been had several hundred million humans simply vanished.

I picture camels, cockatoos, coyotes – all creatures great and small – breaking into song and dance like cartoon characters at the idea of fewer of us humans mucking up the scene.

Word would obviously be spread by the whales as they are able to communicate to all of the world’s oceans through their song. I know this because Charlotte Rampling’s professor character said so in Orca.

(I feel that a Dino De Laurentiis’ flick I saw as a kid at the drive-in in 1977 is a credible source for ichthyological information)

I thought that Prof. Rampling also told the hungover college kids something about some philosopher who had speculated that God would return to earth as a whale.

Maybe The Old Fellow Who Cried Judgment Day needs to factor that concept into his calculations.

In the meantime, the animals no doubt have champagne on ice. Here are four animal songs…

The Judybats – Animal Farm
from Down In The Shacks Where The Satellite Dishes Grow

I’ve stumbled across songs from Southern jangle rockers The Judybats twice of late as I’ve looked for songs to post and I’m surprised that its taken me nearly twenty years to discover them.

(especially since I’ve had Down In The Shacks Where The Satellite Dishes Grow since it was released in ’92 when I snagged a promo copy)

Better late than never, though, and the charming Animal Farm is not only a cover of a song by The Kinks, but it’s nowhere near as dystopian as the classic novel of the same name.

Talking Heads – Animals
from Fear Of Music

One of my high school buddies was a rabid fan of Talking Heads, so I was familiar with the band’s catalog before the mainstream success of the stellar Burning Down The House and its parent album Speaking In Tongues.

I dig The Heads and own a good chunk of the band’s catalog, but there is a portion of their output that is difficult to embrace. If I had to choose one Talking Heads’ album, though, I would likely opt for the textured Fear Of Music.

Somehow I’d forgotten about the delightfully paranoid Animalson which David Byrne expresses his great distrust of the titular creatures – “I know the animals are laughing at us” – and concern that, since “they’re living on nuts and berries” and “they say they don’t need money,” “they’re setting a bad example.”

(damned socialist animals!)

The Fixx – Calm Animals
from Calm Animals

I’ve long liked the idea of The Fixx more than the actual band and much of their music. Their albums were uneven and I didn’t like One Thing Leads To Another even before it got played into the ground in the autumn of ’83.

But, when things truly jelled, The Fixx had some killer tracks – Red Skies, Saved By Zero, Secret Separation – and, listening to it for the first time in years, the more rocking Calm Animals is pretty cool.

Def Leppard – Animal
from Hysteria

It’s Def Leppard, man. I mean, once we’re gone, the animals are certainly going to have a major blowout and why wouldn’t they throw on some Def Leppard?

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

God Bless Men Without Hats

March 5, 2009

The legendary band Men Without Hats was long a joke to Paloma. She’d shake her head recalling her younger brother’s fondness for The Safety Dance when they were kids.

Things changed when I bought a copy of The Rhythm Of Youth on LP last summer. She claims to have never heard the album, but she quickly warmed to the madcap musical antics.

I’d never owned the album, but I was quite familiar with it. In high school, my friend Chris had a cassette with Men Without Hats on one side and Iron Maiden’s The Number Of The Beast on the other.

Amazingly, he’s quite successful and well-adjusted.

But twenty-five years ago, thanks to winter nights when a half dozen of us would be piled into Chris’ Volvo (actually, his dad’s car), I was well acquainted with the elastic melodies of Men Without Hats.

Like a lot of the ‘80s, their songs were like musical cartoons.

Why they had no hats – had they been stolen? Lost? – I have no idea. Maybe it was some religious thing. It does seem like a lot of religions are preoccupied with headware.

And there does seem to be a lot of focus among the pious on what foods may be eaten.

It’s as though most of the people of the world have chosen to believe in a deity who they choose to present as a disgruntled foodie or a fervent fashionista.

And suddenly the music of Men Without Hats isn’t quite so non-sensical.

Men Without Hats – I Like
The first song on side two of Rhythm Of Youth, I Like was the track that broke Paloma. Try listening to this one and not having it lodge in your brain.

I’m not completely certain what the hell they’re going on about in this song – some kind of middle finger to shallow people – but it’s fun to sing along to lines like “I. Like. When they talk real loud, try to tell you what they know.”

Men Without Hats – Things In My Life
“Things like polyester pants and shoes don’t make it easy to remember.”

You know, I’m bumfoozled by a chunk of Bob Dylan’s lyrics and Men Without Hats often leave me similarly confused.

Of course, other than that, the two acts aren’t very much alike.

Things In My Life is, surprisingly, kind of pretty, though.

Men Without Hats- I Got The Message
Remember years ago when those Pokémon cartoons caused seizures in a large number of the viewers in Japan? Had I Got The Message been a hit, I’d imagine it would have provoked a similar problem.

Men Without Hats – Pop Goes The World
Like most of the known world, I lost track of Men Without Hats after their initial fifteen minutes were up. Chris soon replaced that cassette with ones by Talking Heads, Devo, and The Cure

But then, they returned several years later with Pop Goes The World. Chris and I were in college and I think he was in a Byrds phase (it involved a girl).