Adventures In Babysitting

September 1, 2012

A buddy of mine has, for a good decade, had the cushiest gig known to man, serving as a nanny to a couple who are cardiologists.

His duties mostly consisted of driving the two kids to and retrieving them from school. In return, he had quarters in a huge home in a posh neighborhood as well as a handsome salary.

As the children have been driving for several years, his responsibilities have been minimal and, now, the position has been rendered obsolete. I fear that he will have a difficult adjustment to the true working world.

My lone experience in child care offered me a taste of this good life.

As a junior in high school, several of my friends and I opted to take Home Economics, causing a bit of a stir as the class had traditionally been reserved for girls which was one of our reasons for taking it.

(our other reason was the expectation that there would be food)

The class did put us in close proximity to some of our more desired female classmates, but, in an unfortunate development, no cooking was involved and, thus, there were no foodstuffs for us to consume.

To my surprise, as the following summer break was ending, our teacher recruited me to watch her three children.

The trio of boys ranged in age from nine to twelve and the gig, as outlined to me, was simple. The afternoon would be spent at the pool of our town’s country club, where my teacher and her husband were members, and, then, home until their return later that evening.

So, for a couple hours, I lounged poolside at The Club. This meant my one task was to make sure that no one drowned.

(actually, water safety fell under the jurisdiction of the lifeguard on duty as – had they drowned – it would have reflected most poorly on him)

This allowed me to give full attention to Kate, a classmate who had arrived shortly after we had encamped. She settled into the chaise lounge next to me, accompanied by her string bikini, to take advantage of one of the last days of summer to work on her already impressive tan.

By the beard of Zeus, the only thing that would have added to the experience was had I, like Chevy Chase in Fletch, ordered a steak sandwich and a steak sandwich and billed it to the Underhills.

The evening ended with me and the kids, back at their house, watching Miami Vice and eating take-out pizza.

Easy money.

Here are four songs from the waning days of that summer of ’85…

Godley & Creme – Cry
from The History Mix Volume 1 (1985)

The duo of Kevin Godley and Lol Creme had once been members of 10cc and had become acclaimed producers of videos.

(Duran Duran’s Girls On Film, Asia’s Heat Of The Moment, The Police’s Every Breath You Take, Wrapped Around Your Finger, and Synchronicity II, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Two Tribes…)

So, not surprisingly, it was an innovative video – using the same morphing visuals that Michael Jackson would use for Black And White‘s clip – that garnered the duo attention on MTV. Radio soon caught on to the song’s twangy, hypnotic goodness and Cry became a hit that seems to have been largely forgotten.

Talking Heads – And She Was
from Little Creatures (1985)

I was well acquainted with Talking Heads beyond their Top Ten hit Burning Down The House from a couple years earlier. When Little Creatures was released earlier in the summer, I was charmed by the cerebral rockers jaunty ode to levitation And She Was.

Though I didn’t hear the song much on radio, it became one of the few songs by The Heads to make the Hot 100.

Jeff Beck – Gets Us All In The End
from Flash (1985)

I’m not sure if I knew of Jeff Beck before 1985. Perhaps I’d come across the name, but I certainly knew no music by the legendary guitarist (who more than a few folks would argue is the greatest guitarist of the rock era).

Flash had already gotten airplay (and MTV play for the video) with his soulful rendition of People Get Ready, on which Rod Stewart provided vocals. On Get Us All In The End, Wet Willie’s Jimmy Hall guested on vocals while Beck handled the guitar work which is simply ferocious.

Bryan Ferry – Slave To Love
from Boys And Girls (1985)

Roxy Music was another act with which I had little familiarity in 1985. I know that I’d heard Love Is The Drug on 97X, but I wouldn’t discover them in more depth until a year later when, as a college freshman, a French professor would play the group’s classic Avalon before class.

It was certainly on 97X where I was hearing Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry’s Slave To Love and I liked the suave fellow’s style.


The #1 Pants

July 21, 2011

I suspect I drive Paloma to distraction with my lack of sartorial acumen and interest in such.

Often she will return home with a new shirt or pair of pants for me. I truly feel bad that I cannot participate in her enthusiasm.

Truly, I am.

It’s just that career choices afforded me the ability to dress casually with few restrictions well into my thirties.

(grunge played right to my strengths even if not all of the music associated with that era did)

Of course, during the past half decade or so, I’ve labored under the fashion standards deemed acceptable in the corporate world.

In the civilian world, I opt for simplicity and comfort – a pair of baggy cargo shorts, a well-worn t-shirt with The Who emblazoned across the front.

Two things about cargo shorts appeal to me. One is the loose fit, the free-wheeling vibe of not wearing pants while still wearing pants.

And then there’s the loose, deep pockets.

I have stuff – an iPod, wallet, keys, cigarettes, sunglasses – and that stuff takes up space that my work wordrobe’s meager storage compartments cannot handle comfortably.

(if humans are the most intelligent species on the planet, wouldn’t we have figured out a way to exist without carting so much crap everywhere we go?)

For the work day, I strive for as much comfort as possible knowing that I’ll still feel like fidgeting.

It is not easy – despite Paloma’s well-intended efforts – for new items to move into the rotation. I go for veterans that I know, through experience, will enable me to attain the greatest state of clothing Zen.

It must be the heat – what’s here and what is forecast as impending – but I feel compelled to announce that a new pair of khakis has ascended to the top of the heap in trousers.

Well done, pants.

Well done, Paloma.

I truly have no idea what kind of music best captures this event. I simply have few “pants” songs.

Here are four songs that pulled up scrolling through my 97X playlist on the iPod…

Talking Heads – And She Was
from Little Creatures

I could imagine that Talking Heads could have written an awesome song about pants. In fact, I’m probably blanking on some song in their quirky catalog celebrating clothing.

But, there is the band’s jaunty ode to levitation And She Was which has charmed me from the first time I heard Little Creatures. I used to hear it now and then on some of our more mainstream rock stations, and it even became one of the few songs by The Heads to make the Hot 100.

The Cult – Rain
from Love

The recorded output of The Cult is a bit uneven to me and, despite its success, I thought the Rick Rubin-produced Electric was an overrated yawn aside from the wonderful Love Removal Machine.

However, Love, Electric‘s predecessor, is a classic from the time and the driving Rain – with lead singer Ian Astbury’s howling to the heavens – is appropriate today.

Timbuk3 – The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades
from Greetings From Timbuk 3

Well, another song suitable for the occasion pops up because a man with new trousers is a force to be reckoned with in the corporate America workplace.

Thomas Dolby – Hyperactive!
from The Flat Earth

Thomas Dolby is an A-list act in our household and, like Talking Head David Byrne, I have absolute faith that he would succeed smashingly if I could commission him to write a song about my new pants.

(note to self: get mega-wealthy, commission Thomas Dolby to write pants song)


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?