They Never Mention Possible Cult Abduction On Cigarette Warning Labels

August 18, 2011

An episode of Seinfeld is airing in which George mistakenly assumes the identity of the leader of a Neo-Nazi organization.

It reminds of my own inadvertant encounter with some fringe folk.

I had made a pilgrimage to meet up with a couple friends and catch a U2 show. The three of us had spent three weeks traveling through the UK in a rented Daewoo, but we hadn’t all been together since that trip several years earlier.

As we hadn’t been together, the occasion required a toast and we had essentially rendered ourselves incapacitated by the time the band took the stage.

(we had arrived just moments earlier having drank all the way through the opening act with some Irish kids at a nearby bar)

As the show ended, I hastily exited Atlanta’s Georgia Dome for a cigarette. By the time my friends made their way outside, I was being chatted up by some young ’90s-styled bohemian chicks.

(I think I just heard Paloma’s eyes roll)

My compatriots ushered me off with them as my potential hackey sack harem vanished like a mirage. The next morning as we struggled through hangovers, the three of us examined the artifacts from the event – some literature with cringe-inducing poems and a CD of music.

It was hysterical stuff.

It was the Zendiks – some bunch of commune-dwellers with names like Fawn, Arol, and Wulf and concepts such as Ecolibrium and Creavolution.

(I try to be open-minded, but if you dub something Creavolution…I’m struggling to take you seriously)

As for the CD…it was so dreadful we didn’t mind laughing, loudly, incessantly through pounding hangovers as the Zendiks raged against the machine in the most obvious of fashion.

(I do hope that during the next move I stumble across it somewhere…I fear, though, that it is lost)

Ten years on and I’m still not sure if I should consider the experience with amusement or concern.

Sure I had long hair.

Sure I was no fan of The Man.

Sure I dressed a bit like Jeff Lebowski.

Sure I found hippie chicks to be fetching.

But I was just a drunken slacker that wanted a smoke.

Thanks for the consideration, Zendiks. Here are four songs by the band The Cult…

The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary
from Love

My buddy Streuss turned me onto The Cult not long after Love finally reached US shores. I thought that the name was pretty dumb and uninspiring, but I was hooked upon hearing Love.

The sleek, supersonic She Sells Sanctuary was perhaps the high point of Love, a near perfect fusion of Billy Duffy’s pyrotechnic guitar work and lead singer Ian Astbury’s otherworldly howl.

The Cult – Fire Woman
from Sonic Temple

I thought the Rick Rubin-produced Electric – the follow-up to Love – was an unredeemable disaster aside from the wonderful Love Removal Machine.

(I seem to be in a minority on this one)

I was in school in southeast Asia when Sonic Temple followed Electric in 1989 and I was surprised to read that the album had made the Top Ten back in the States.

I finally snagged a bootleg cassette of the album at a street market in Bangkok and was duly back on board with The Cult. The band had regained the slinky swagger of Love and the breakneck boogie Fire Woman almost became a Top 40 hit in the US.

The Cult – American Horse
from Sonic Temple

Of course, The Cult were well known for their psychedelic trappings and – despite hailing from the UK – a lyrical fascination with the American west and Native American culture. And lead singer Ian Astbury was oft compared to Jim Morrison.

The sturm und drang of American Horse rumbles on for five minutes or so, flattening everything in its path like The Lizard King fronting Led Zeppelin. I’ve always thought the song was an underrated gem in their catalog.

The Cult – Star
from The Cult

After Sonic Temple, The Cult lost me again with the unmemorable Ceremony. There was also plenty of tension and instability within the ranks. In 1994, the band released a self-titled album that incorporated elements from the burgeoning electronic music scene.

(it made me think of hearing U2’s Achtung, Baby for the first time)

I thought it was their most interesting stuff since Sonic Temple and I really dug the pulsating Star. I think that Paloma and I had tickets to see them on the ensuing tour but the band broke up before reaching our date.


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)