A True Puppet Regime

September 14, 2011

A few days ago when I was pondering Cheerios, I considered that the cereal would be ideal for serving at state functions while entertaining foreign dignitaries.

Alas, as I cannot gut a moose, I fear that I have no possible route to high office where I could enact this bold idea.

But I think I’d make a fine head of state and I suppose that I could overthrow a current leader and install a puppet regime.

Like moose-gutting, leading a coup d’état is not in my skill set. Yet I have an innovative twist that I would introduce to shake up this tired endeavor.

My puppet regime would consist of puppets.

Literally.

I’m not sure if I’m ready for the responsibility of having my own puppet regime and I can imagine that it won’t be all seashells and balloons, but it’s time I grew up a bit.

(I’m also going to have to put a puppeteer on my payroll)

Central to making this venture work is choosing the country, one whose population is amenable to having their present government ousted. I don’t drive an SUV and my family has no ties to the petroleum industries, so oil is not a prerequisite for consideration.

I’d prefer beaches and tropical climates, so I can cross off countries like… Iraq or Afghanistan. Besides, they’ve already been spoken for and the upkeep seems to be a bit much.

I do like the idea of press conferences with throngs of reporters jockeying for answers from wooden figures being beamed globally on CNN and Al-Jazeera. I suppose we already have that now, but not with actual puppets!

And imagine if my marionette myopia starts taunting other countries?

Consider the hilarity as the leaders of Iran, Israel, North Korea, or the US go cowboy loco, puffing out their chests, and reacting with threats over statements issued by a non-living figurehead with a hand up its butt.

Just when you thought global politics couldn’t get more ridiculous, think of hearing Wolf Blitzer bloviate, “The American president noted in a speech today that ‘puppets make good kindling,’ a not so subtle message to Micronesian President Chewbacca.

This was in response to Chewbacca bellowing in an interview on foreign television and, though his Wookie wail was unintelligible, it was deemed provocative by …”

Here are four random songs from the iPod…

The Candyskins – Everything Just Falls Apart On Me
from Fun?

There are plenty of surprises within the vast digital expanses of the iPod, things that I am wholly unaware that I have, but, somewhere along the way I’ve deemed necessary to keep. I had to look up the details on The Candyskins as I couldn’t remember anything about them.

Considered one of the seminal bands of the Brit Pop era-pop, The Candyskins featured brothers Nick and Mark Cope and hailed from the same Oxford scene which produced Radiohead and Supergrass.

The band has much more more in common with the latter and Everything Just Falls Apart On Me is engaging, jangly power pop with a ’90s slacker vibe in its take on love.

Wheatus – Sunshine
from Wheatus

I certainly remembered Wheatus for the catchy Teenage Dirtbag from their 2000 self-titled debut. I might have to pull up the entire album and get reacquainted as Sunshine has the same bratty and endearing charm as that song.

(it also has banjo)

Leon Russell – Beware Of Darkness
from Leon Russell & The Shelter People

Leon Russell’s version of George Harrison’s Beware Of Darkness is something relatively new to the iPod thanks to whiteray over at Echoes In The Wind. He had written about the song and I mentioned that I was only familiar with Concrete Blonde’s version from the late ’80s.

So, he was gracious enough to turn me on to Russell’s take on the song which is a trippy, stutter-step of a song. It’s off-kilter, frenetic, and the vocals give me a sense of dread.

(and I quite dig it)

Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance
from Raw Like Sushi

Neneh Cherry was a critical and commercial sensation when Raw Like Sushi arrived in 1989. At the time, it was an unconventional brew of R&B, rap, pop, and dance music that seemed to announce the arrival of a star.

Cherry was a star for awhile as the sassy Buffalo Stance – which sampled Malcolm McLaren’s Buffalo Girls – reached the Top Ten in the US and all over the world. She never captured that lightning in a bottle again, though, and I don’t believe she’s released a new album since the mid-90s.


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.


Thinking Of George

November 29, 2009

Years ago, half dozen or so of us who worked together at a record store would often go for a drink – “the odd one” – after (or sometimes during) our shift.

The odd one was never one and hours would pass with the conversation equally divided between music and nonsense.

For the musical portion, The Drunken Frenchman was usually the tour guide and, nearly twenty years later, I don’t believe I’ve known another soul possessing more knowledge of rock music (or pop culture) prior to 1980.

It was an education.

And, like many folks of his age, those who had actually watched the Ed Sullivan Show performances live, The Beatles were the touchstone for almost everything that had occurred during his life. So, the discussion of favorite Beatle was a fairly regular topic.

There was no debate as far as The Drunken Frenchman was concerned.

It was The Quiet One.

Although there was a time when I would have reflexively answered “John Lennon” as my favorite of The Fabs, having heard The Frenchman offer up innumerable reasons as to why George Harrison was his guy, that’s no longer the case.

I vividly recall waking on this date eight years ago and opening the paper. George had passed away.

I immediately thought of The Frenchman. Our clan from the record store had scattered in various directions several years earlier. Had we not, we would have likely been together that night. And, as we often would do on significant dates in music history, we certainly would have hoisted a few toasts to The Quiet One.

So, today, eight years later, here are a few favorites from George Harrison…

The Beatles – While My Guitar Gently Weeps
from The White Album

The Beatles – Here Comes The Sun
from Abbey Road

George Harrison – All Those Years Ago
from Somewhere In England

Traveling Wilburys – Handle With Care
from Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1