Caller Identity Crisis

January 13, 2011

I had vowed to myself that I would hold out, but a bout of car sickness on the commute one evening swayed me and, several months ago, I surrendered and got a cell phone.

I use it hesitantly.

Paloma is about the only person who I call using the cell. I haven’t even bothered to set up voice mail and, in fact, don’t even know the number as I have not given it to anyone.

(there’s at least a couple of 8s and, maybe a 9 – I think)

Paloma has suggested the fiscally prudent idea of jettisoning the landline.

But I know the landline’s number.

I’ve had it for longer than I have ever had a phone number.

It is the number that friends who I haven’t spoken to in years have for me.

In fact, it is the efforts to be more diligent in reconnecting with some long-time friends that has brought this existential angst over what is my phone number to the surface.

Since the holidays, I have made calls to a number of friends with whom I have not spoken to in far too long. As the cell phone has – as Paloma explained to me – free long-distance and several of these friends are long-distance, I have used the cell.

And I have not known what to say when I’m asked if the cell phone number is my number.

(as opposed to the number I have been known as for as long as I’ve known them)

This has resulted in a far-too lengthy explaination from me that I pay little attention to the cell phone and that the landline is still the line of choice, but, as Paloma crashes early and the phone is in the bedroom, don’t call too late, however…

I cannot bring myself to embrace the cell phone or its unfamiliar number.

In college, my buddy Streuss had a phone number that spelled out “cowslaw,” a fact that he understandably boasted of on his outgoing message, reminding callers that they had reached the “cowslaw headquarters and hotline.”

(I sometimes wonder what his outgoing message might have been had his time with the “cowslaw” number coincided with the celebrated period during which he was the self-declared “Man Who Loves All Women”)

Perhaps it might work if this cell number spells something groovy like cowslaw.

Maybe I’d feel better about the cell phone if I referred to it as my mobile, pronouncing mobile as though I was British…like James Bond.

I haven’t been this confused about my phone number since I was four.

As far as I know, I only have three songs whose titles are phone numbers…

Squeeze – 853-5937
from Babylon And On

My buddy Streuss made me aware of Squeeze in high school with their compilation Singles – 45’s And Under. I think he had discovered it through a favorable review in Rolling Stone.

(it was ’82, we had no MTV or modern rock stations, and Rolling Stone was still worth reading)

Then, five years later, the band finally had a couple of radio hits in the US with the manic Hourglass and 853-5937. I couldn’t really remember the latter until I listened to it again.

It’s not bad, but it’s no Pulling Mussels (From The Shell) or Cool For Cats.

The Time – 777-9311
from What Time Is It?

The Prince-guided funk band The Time makes me think of a good friend from college who loved the band. He was a talented bass player who bounced around to different bands, one which even put out a couple albums on a small label in the ’80s.

I’ve never delved into The Time’s catalog, but I’ve always dug the handful of tracks I do know, including the opportunistic 777-9311.

Sometimes when I see someone being rude or obnoxious in public, I can’t help but hear frontman Morris Day in Purple Rain say, “Such nastiness” as he shakes his head.

Tommy Tutone – 867-5309/Jenny
from Tutone 2

Of course.

It’s Not Lobster Flu, But It’s Not Swine Flu, Either

November 12, 2009

MTV-MoonmanIt’s difficult to be whimsical when you’re sick.

This year, it’s also tiring to have everyone ask, “Is it swine flu?”

(it’s not)

It has led me to wonder if there would be be less concern if it was Lobster Flu. Lobster is a meal for the bourgeoisie, so suffering from Lobster Flu might have more cachet.

(though I suppose such a malady would be scientifically impossible – yes?)

So, with little whimsy or patience to be had, writing is less appealling than sprawling on the couch, staring expressionless as the television channels at my command flicker by, nothing enticing me to stop.

Twenty-five years ago, there was one viewing destination.

In the fall of 1984, our town finally had MTV. Our family didn’t have cable, but several friends did.

MTV was new. It was shiny. It was riveting stuff.

We would gather at someone’s house, usually the basement of our friend Streuss, and stare at the images for hours at a time.

It was the greatest waste of time that we had ever experienced.

According to an old MTV playlist from that time, here are some of the videos that we might seen in the autumn of ’84…

The Police – Synchronicity II
from Synchronicity

Bruce Cockburn – If I Had A Rocket Launcher
from Stealing Fire

The Time – Jungle Love
from Ice Cream Castle

The Ramones – Howling At The Moon (Sha La La)”
from Too Tough To Die