Sunday, May 27, 2007

Playbill

A couple of weeks ago, a nice young man approached me.

I turned and smiled, focusing on him, when he asked:

"Aren't you a character in Joe.My.God.'s blog?"

And it fact, I am.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Put Your Records On

If you were to walk into my apartment...well, it's highly unlikely that you actually would walk into my apartment, because I seem to suffer from some un-named phobia as regards visitors to my private domain, and the fact that I am somewhat less than house-proud. In fact, I wouldn't allow Tim into my apartment for the first four months we dated. He actually waited until I was home and ill before showing up at my door with dinner from Balducci's. I told him to go away, but he used that tone of voice that makes me do just about anything, and I buzzed him up against my better judgement. Later that same month, he announced that he would have to stay with me for an entire weekend, as the PATH trains were to be out of service. Years later, he admitted that he'd completely fabricated that story, but he did spend the weekend with me, and we've been doing it ever since, with minor variations. Those who do forge ahead and gain entrance have compared my abode to an "Aladdin's Cave", or a "jewel in the rough". Very rough, I might add. I think I must suffer from some variation of Collier Brothers-type OCD. Tim just thinks I'm totally detached, and don't care. Both of us may be correct in our diagnosis.

But I digress.

If you were to walk into my apartment, you'd be immediately confronted with a seven foot tall record cabinet, filled to overflowing. If you were to take a left, you'd encounter another storage unit, not quite as tall, but equally as full. Making the final right into my Living Room you'll pass the Mission Oak upright piano. Stop to admire the many framed photographs of the two of us strewn across the top and then cast your eyes upon the third and final bank of LPs. Previously, if you continued on to the bedroom, you'd need to fight your way past racks of Cd's stretching towards the ceiling, as well as errant stacks and piles, placed like so many land mines, atop the speakers and turntable. One false move could and often did cause an avalanche of plastic jewel boxes.

The house I grew up in had a minimal hoard of recorded music; mostly my parent's distinctly different collections of 78's and a handful of seminal rock and roll 45's purchased in the late Fifties. My sister had a small collection of LPs by such current hit makers as the Beatles, Rascals and Doors, but these were stashed in her room, and I was under strict orders to avoid any contact with them under penalty of death, or at least a severe beating. Since we had nothing to play them on, I would mostly sneak in and study the cover art when she wasn't around.

I received my first two very own albums in 1967, when I was 12, and I was hooked. I had to visit the record department of any department store we visited. As I grew older, I could not pass a record store without entering. This habit stuck with me well into the last decade, when record stores basically disappeared off the face of the earth. I moved out of my mother's house in 1974 with a three enormous cartons of LPs, movable only with the aid of dollies. The boxes ran the full length of the living room wall at my tenement apartment on 6th Street. By the time I moved to 12th Street, the collection threatened to overwhelm the new apartment until I had shelving units made. There the records have remained, alphabetically, ever since.

I remember seeing my first CDs at Tower Records and feeling disdain, thinking here was yet another second rate method of selling recorded music, not unlike the 8-track tapes and cassettes I had little use and no respect for. Over packaged in their long boxes, they yielded little information about the product within, and I felt the reduced size of the album graphics, so much a component of my LP enjoyment, was laughable. I couldn't imagine paying twice the price for music I already owned.

I might have kept that attitude up if I hadn't been gifted with a miniature Sony CD player in the mid-Eighties, along with a $150.00 gift certificate to Tower for my choice of Cd's. I spent a Friday evening shopping, hooked the little beast up, and was instantly hooked myself by the sheer volume and brassiness of the sounds that issued forth.

The Cd's first were stacked on my mantelpiece; that pile grew too big, and begat other stacks and piles, as I assembled a veritable mountain range of music. Soon, even the old turntable was covered with Cd's; rendered inaccessible and all but unusable.

Until last week.

Now that no one buys Cd's and most music seems to be purchased via download, I had a large wall-length cabinet fabricated in which to put all those jewel boxes away. Last Saturday, the clearing process was completed and I spent a lovely afternoon alphabetizing.

Afterwards, harvesting a seed planted by the Farmboyz, I fixed some lovely Manhattans for the two of us: Knob Creek bourbon and some Blood Orange (not peach, but not bad) Bitters, and cranked up the dusty old and newly available turntable. I'd really not heard it yet, in conjunction with the monstrous Nikko amp Tim had gifted me with, and I was excited to haul out a stack of re-inaugural LPs.

As we'd watched the Cockettes documentary that morning, I pulled out the two Sylvester & The Hot Band albums I've had for years. I handed the first one to Tim, asking him to sample the ancient scratch 'n sniff gardenia affixed to it's cover. He grinned, and handed it back. It had still retained it's scent these thirty five years later.

From Sylvester's Bazaar album, I played "My Life" and "She", followed by:

"Gettin' Ready for Love" and "You Got It" from Diana Ross' Baby It's Me album

"Spoiled" and "Main Line" from Ashford & Simpson's I Wanna Be Selfish album

"Aching Kind" and "Trashy Rumors" from Michelle Phillips' Victim of Romance album

"I'm Not In Love" from 10cc's The Original Soundtrack album

"Introduction to the Concert (By The Women's Club President)" by Anna Russell

"Madeline's Theme" by Giorgio Moroder from the Electric Dreams soundtrack

"Nineteen" and "(If You Emptied Out Your Pockets) You Could Not Make The Change" from Maggie & Terre Roche's Seductive Reasoning album

"Love for the Sake of Love" from Claudja Barry's Sweet Dynamite album

"Changin'" from Ms. Sharon Ridley's Full Moon album

"Hold On (To My Love)" from Jimmy Ruffin's album of the same name.

One might say I was reveling in my long ago youthful glory; it's true, I was.

I went out to dinner that night humming, a very happy man.

Next week, we tackle the 45's.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Death of a Clown

Though she wrote it 22 long years ago, nothing's changed.

Tax Free
by Joni Mitchell

Front rooms
Back rooms
Slide into tables
Crowd into bathrooms
Joke around
Cheap talk
Deep talk
Talk talk talk around the clock
Crawl home
Lie down
Teeth chatter
Heart pounds
I don't feel so good
I don't feel so good
Push a button to escape
Preacher on the tube crying "Lord!"
There's evil in this land

(Evangelist:)
"Rock and roll music!"
"Cast down these dope fiends
and there noisy bands!"
"Damn their souls!"

Preacher preaching love like vengeance
Preaching love like hate
Calling for large donations
Promising estates
Rolling lawns and angel bands
Behind the pearly gates
You know he will have his in this life
But yours will have to wait
He's immaculately tax free

"Multiple hundreds of thousands of..."
Tax free
"Hundreds and millions of dollars"
Tax free
"A hundred billion dollars!
And who is paying the price?
Who who
"Your children are"

Pissed off
Jacked up
Scream into the mike
Spit into the loving cup
Strut like a rooster
March like a man
God's hired hands and the devil bands
Packing the same grandstands
Different clothes
"Pot in their pockets!"
Different hair
"Sexually active"
Raise a screaming guitar
or a bible in the air
Theatre of anguish
Theatre of glory
God's hired hands and the devil bands
Oh come let us adore - ME!
Lord, there's danger in this land
You get witch-hunts and wars
When church and state hold hands

Fuck it!
Tonight I'm going dancing
With the drag queens and the punks
Big beat deliver me
From this sanctimonious skunk
We're no flaming angels
And he's not heaven sent
How can he speak for the Prince of Peace
When he's hawk right militant
And he's immaculately tax free

"Our nation has lost its guts!"
Save me
"Our nation has lost its strength"
Tax free
"Our nation has whimpered and cried"
Save me
"And petted the Castros"
Tax free
"The Khomeinis' and the Kaddafis'"
Save me
"For so long"
Tax free
"That we don't know how to act like a man"
Save me
"I think that we should turn the United States Marines
loose on that little island south of Florida and
stop that problem!"
"I am preachin' love, I am!"



Copyright © 1985; Crazy Crow Music