Stranded in the jungle with an all night party

Johansen felt slighted. I know he did. He told me so.

Figuratively speaking of course.

He told me “yo t! You mean to tell me that you own all my shit from my New York Dolls days, AND you actually own BOTH Buster Poindexter discs from the eighties (had no idea about the other shit that I released in the early nineties, did ya?), and all I get is a mere nod and a ‘shut up! David Johansen was so too punk!’? Really? You mean to say that even tho’ two outta your three kids have spent hours with you, having dance parties around all my way cool remakes of old fifties shit like ‘Showdown’, ‘Bad Detective’ and ‘Stranded In The Jungle’, that’s the best you can give me? Just a ‘shut up! David Johansen was so too punk!’???? Hell, even Allmusic.com said that me n’ the boys helped to ‘create punk rock before there was a term for it.’ Never mind the fact that Morrissey is a huge fan. We’re talkin’ MORRISSEY here. And if that weren’t good enough, don’t you and C spend every damned Christmas, at least once running through the whole ‘Frankie angel’ schpeel I did in ‘Scrooged!’? Damn man, give me my due!”

OK David, here’s your due.

I loved the Dolls since the first time I heard them. “And when I say ‘love’, I mean LOVE, L.U.V.” But then after a while, I started to hate them. Well, not so much “hate” really. I just lost interest is all. However, this was only to be followed by my loving them again once more, and later on. The process then repeated itself. Several times. In fact, they are one of the few bands who has seen me hand over cash multiple times in exchange for their discs (I have a bad habit of, once I no longer like an act, donating their stuff to either a library or a Salvation Army. Slowly spreading the disease, one listener at a time). This latest round of purchases I’m keeping though. For one, it’s a damned expensive habit to indulge in, and for another, it’s becoming harder and harder to actually find their stuff on the shelves. This is true for even their last album, put out not too long ago by the new New York Dolls (I won’t post it here, but I highly recommend you seek out and give “Gotta Get Away From Tommy” a listen – a jolly romp, and one that the two outta the three particularly love to dance to).

And Buster Poindexter? He’s even harder to find. In fact, I found his second disc in a used bin at a local record shop. Truth be told, I believe I found his first album in a similar location. In fact, should you be interested in picking up some Poindexter, you may want to just start there. I’m not sure why this particular incarnation never really took off (especially given the never ending and inexplicable fame of “Hot, Hot, Hot” – another song I will NOT be including in this post), but I suppose that doesn’t really matter in the end. Johansen doesn’t seem the type to stick with any one thing for too long. And again, back to Allmusic.com, I was pleased to find there that it was this character of his that caught the eye of the “Scrooged” casting folks. The Ghost of Christmas Past wouldn’t have been worth the price of admission had not Johansen plunked on it’s elfin ears. Just try imagining anyone else yelping “it’s a BONE, you lucky dog!” with even half of the streetwise charm he muscled into the character.

Go ahead, try. I’ll wait.

Yes, I am also aware that he was in “Freejack.”

But so was Mick Jagger.

And Emilio Estevez.

Yep, Anthony Hopkins too.

Look, I suppose what I’m saying here is that everyone is capable of making mistakes. OK?

So there David. There’s your due. On a Friday no less, and in well under my usual one thousand plus words. I hope you’re happy, and I hope you’ll enjoy the two songs I eventually chose to end this with. Turns out, you’re almost as hard to find on Youtube as you are in the record shops. But I still love ya man…

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Briefly…

My eldest is the only person I know who would call MY cell phone. To speak with ME. And upon MY answering it, hear him retort with “Who is this?”

Here’s this week 100 Word Song.

And here is the link to our Founder & Chairman of the Board, should you wish to play along…

Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie

Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig joined me for my Sunday walk this past weekend.

Figuratively speaking, of course.

This resulted from my choosing for my “solitary Sunday walk” soundtrack, a mixed tape I’d previously made for my long distance friends entitled “Old Punk.” A mix that, it might surprise you to learn, is comprised solely of old punk tunes as sung by old punk bands. As such, the likes of Johnny Lydon, Sid Vicious, Iggy Pop and David Johansen were with me as well (shut up! David Johansen was so too punk!), all of them singing to me of some sort of rebellion or angst, and all while I traveled on my sunny suburbia way.

You see, at some point in time, the house that I bought, the house that I live in, had somehow snuck itself into the outskirts of suburbia. Not by much, but just enough. Enough to be within walking distance of the part “where the rich people live.” A land that is wholly unlike my little part of suburbia. A place where the houses that can be seen are larger than life, obnoxious, snooty and plunked onto parcels of land vast enough as to force for a new definition of the word “parcel”. The houses that can’t be seen are buried behind layers of mighty bushes, equally as snooty, though slightly less obnoxious. I walked past them briskly, keeping my heart rate up, as the denizens of early punk sang to me of how poisonous my chosen surroundings were.

Now the rich may happen to own the land I strode upon, but seeing as I was the only one outdoors, it was I who owned the sky. I who owned the day. The air was fresh, and Spring had finally arrived. After an almost non-existent winter, that was then followed by an intrusive and unexpected bit of summer in between. Why no one else (well, most no one else) was enjoying the fresh air was no longer a puzzlement to me, as this has been a noted and slowly increasing phenomenon for years now. This migration from the outdoors to the in. From the warm glow of the sun, the the cold harsh light of the screen. From the sweat of exercise to the bloat of inactivity. Of course, and in line with my normal digressionary standards, this little bitch session about the sloth-like nuance of modern suburbia has absolutely nothing at all to do with the larger bitch session at hand, so we’ll just sit it here for now, possibly picking it up again in a future post.

As to the larger bitch session at hand, what I was hoping to address was this. While I walked through all the finery and trappings of wealth, I was reminded steadily by bands such as Sham 69, The Dead Kennedys, Stiff Little Fingers and The Buzzcocks what a – well – what a sham the whole thing was. Is. OK, the Buzzcocks were actually singing about being orgasm addicts, but I thought it would be better if I didn’t share that little bit with you. A good song, but hardly one that could be seen as politically motivated. At any rate, while there was a time in my life when I would have been standing on the hoods of the fat cat SUV’s owned by these locals; shaking my weak fist mightily in the air in consolidation with these bands – and their rants – I found myself this time instead just walking happily along. Using the racing beat of each song to keep my speed up and my heart rate going. As I did, I realized that I had lost my bite. Or my fight. Or possibly a little bit of both. The rage that originally drew me to listen to, and enjoy, bands such as The Exploited and Charged G.B.H. had dissipated. The urge to change the world that I previously felt strongly enough as to align myself with bands like The Clash and The Jam had mellowed. Instead of seething in hatred at these houses of wealth – these false temples created in false praise to the (false) individual – I simply just walked on at a good clip, and enjoyed the brisk, free air instead. The air that belonged to almost only me.

So as Billy Bragg sang to me of which side I was on (shut up! Billy Bragg was so too punk!), I found myself answering him with a “neither.” As Fear screamed at me that we should start a war, I simply told them that I would much rather not. And when Burning Sensation once again informed me that “Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole,” I smiled the old smile that I’ve always smiled when I heard that song. But this time, it was much more out of a feeling of fond adieu than it was because I actually thought it was funny.

OK, it’s still kind of funny.

So have I given up? Have I given in? I don’t think it’s either, really. I’m hoping at least that it’s much more a case of I’ve grown up. The Anti-Nowhere League may hate people, but I can’t say that I do. Even IF there were far more dogs who looked me in the eye and introduced themselves, on my solitary Sunday journey, than there were dog owners who did the same. And The Circle Jerks may very well fear the day that the shit hits the fan. But not me. Not anymore at least. If it does, it will. Raging against it’s inevitability will do nothing more to stop it than ignoring it will. And Henry. Dear sweet Henry and the rest of the boys from Black Flag may jump up and down, demanding that we give them give them give them some more. But as for me, I’ve enough. Enough for now. I’ve me and mine, and we’re doing OK.

Now as the title implies, when I first started this post, I had thought that it would be Black Flag’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme” that was going to end it. A proper ditty, especially when trying to show off your punk rock pedigree. But in the final analysis – and ironically enough – it is actually The Damned who will be having the last say today. You see, whether they were being tongue in cheek or not – and I’m quite sure that they were – by the time I had finished my walk, all that I really had to say about the experience was that the locals could keep their parcels, as long as I had the sky. It made me glad to say it really had been a lovely day, and it’s OK.

Daleks & destruction: The stuff of childhood whimsy

Lines, drawn in a haphazard and rushed fashion, roughly form the sideview outline of a Dalek when connected. No mere drawing of childhood whimsy, this was created as the basis of a overly detailed and rather intense instructional piece instead. Drawn not by a child who is merely filling their hours but rather, one who is hellbent on pretending to be the very space and time terror he drew for Halloween. An idea two years in the making.

Now to those Whovians among you “in the know”, I apologize for my need of explanation to follow (not to mention the explanation itself). And for those of you who have no earthly idea what a Dalek – or a Whovian for that matter – is, then I would highly recommend you break open a book or two and begin culturing yourself. Your education can even start here:

Daleks are the most dreaded, feared and hated enemy of Doctor Who ever to appear on screen. Doctor Who, in turn, is the time-traveling Time Lord created by the BBC to be the main character of a television show by the same name; both to keep the masses entertained, and possibly hoodwinked as to the whole thing being actually based on real events, versus imagined. Admittedly not nearly as cool as the Cybermen, the Daleks still reign supreme in the Whovian universe’s hierarchy of villainy. Personally speaking, I’ve always found them to be a bit irritating. What with their rolling about in a fashion similar to that of an infant captaining a wheeled baby walker, all while in a high-pitched voice incessantly bleating out “Exterminate, exxxxxxtermmmminate!” Screaming as they do, they simply roam space, time and even dimensions in the hopes of destroying every living being that crosses their path, and sometimes they’re quite successful at it. I mean, when they’re not busy serving tea.

And my youngest son wants to be one for Halloween.

Now it’s important to note that my youngest does not, in the normal course of his day, attempt to destroy every living being that he sees (that’s much more his older brother’s “thing”). In fact, if I had to compare him to an average household item, my choice would have to be a feather-stuffed pillow – squeezably comfy, and wonderful to snuggle with, with only the occasional prick. He’s probably the jolliest of the three, and usually the one who tries hard to keep everyone “playing nice.” You may recall he is also prone to forget things. Quite readily, and shortly after they plunk down in his head. And he seems to simply glide through life, most often and quite organically making all the right decisions. But his forget-ability has held no sway in his desire to “Dalek up” this halloween. I too have tried to dissuade him, based on the idea that if this thing does come to life, it will be me doing all the actual engineering to make it so. And let’s just say that I “engineer” about as well as I give birth. But to no avail, he is soldiering on with his plan.

What follows is the actual list of items he feels we’ll be requiring to make this Dalek thing happen, according to his “elements and instructions” sheet, and I’ve left all the spelling in tact:

• Robot Voice Translator – can be found at Vidler’s or Toys R Us • glue • wood • wisk • plunger • telescope • cardbord • ball joints • 2 lightbulbs • pencile • movable seat • 3 wheels • rubber • normal rounded glass • screws • nails • lights to see inside • paint is a given •

When I asked him how all these items were going to be put together, he simply stated “duh, I included nails and screws, daddy!” And the ball joints, what are those for? “They’ll be used on the side plates” But those are huge! This suit going to weigh hundreds of pounds! “Well that’s why it’ll have wheels.” But how are you going to push it? How are you going to get it up the front stairs of each house in order to get candy? “I’m not.” Then how will you get candy? They’re not going to come and bring it to you, you know. “I’m won’t get any candy.” So you’re just going to spend your Halloween rolling a several hundred pound Dahlek suit up and down the street? “It’ll creep people out.

Now here’s the rub, the Daleks aren’t even his favorite. No, he much more fancies other villains. Villians with LEGS. Villains like the fore-mentioned Cybermen. And the Sontarans. And of course there’s the Judoon as well. Not to mention Captain Jack. Yes Whovians, I actually do know that Jack isn’t technically a villain. But you have to admit, he was sort of a self-serving ass at the beginning. And that’s not even the whole point. The whole point is that he wore CLOTHES. Just clothes. No ball joints glued to wood being required. No swivel seat and interior lighting either. And while he could still purchase the robot voice translator if he wanted to (available at either Vidler’s or Toys R Us), it wouldn’t be a necessity.

Now, although he discounted being the Doctor himself, because his favorite is David Tennent and “I’m much too short to be David” (also suggested was that he be an Adipose, but in the normal course of our family chats, this ended with him simply running about naked while waving at people, so the plan was quickly dropped), he could be any one of these other characters instead. Characters that could be created with simple cardboard, clothing and paint (being a given). Instead, he’s stuck on this whole Dalek thing.

I told him he had better start saving his money if he really wanted to pursue this. And if nothing else, that will be my saving grace. For he saves money about as well as I engineer. Even if the plan doesn’t come to pass (please Jesus, don’t let the plan come to pass…) I’m keeping the instructions he drew up. Not because they’re overly detailed and rather intense, but simply because they capture perfectly a bit of my youngest’ childhood whimsy.

Briefly…

A testament to my bad parenting, I feel it’s important to note that my youngest has befriended a “Thank You!” Balloon we received about a week ago, which was sent as a result of our buying a new car. He has been hand & hand – well, more “hand & string” – with it ever since.

I believe he’s named it Allen.

Here’s this week’s 100 Word Song.

And since I couldn’t just get off the fence about which version I liked better, here’s Take 2.

All the sad men, roaming free

She sat there, munching somewhat sloppily on her burger, occasionally spitting forth bits of it as she yelped out to no one in particular. And I sat there and stared. And I felt bad. I felt bad that I was staring, but I wasn’t doing so out of rudeness. No, it was more envy that I felt than superiority. It was more a case of “what if” than of “thank God not.” And here’s why.

Whenever I stumble across one who is severely mentally handicapped, I become somewhat immersed in what I imagine is their imprisonment. Their imprisonment in a world who wishes they just weren’t around. Or at least, not quite so visible. But at the same time, I find that I am jealous of their freedom. Freedom from a world that regrets them so.
A world, mind you, that is far more handicapped at times then they will ever be. A world filled with folk who care more about little dollar bills than we do each other. A world that places much more emphasis on the cut of the cloth than on the content of the character. A world that hopes for a cure to all disease, mental retardation included, but only partially for the benefit of those who suffer from it. And only at the turn of a profit.

In my very humble opinion, this world isn’t nearly good enough for people such as her. Or us, for that matter. This world is a damned and empty shadow of what it could be, and I feel that we’ve all worked pretty hard to make it so. Or at the very least, sat back and simply let it happen.

So what of that poor girl-woman that suffered my “not intentionally rude, but extremely rude nonetheless” stares? Why do I sometimes feel jealousy towards people of her kind? How could I be so mean as to even make mention of the concept? Well, imprisoned as she appears, I would love to see the world through her eyes, just once. Just once to see if what I think to be true, actually is. You see, I’m of the belief that her vision is much clearer than mine. I’m quite sure, in fact, that mine is muddled beyond the point of ever recognizing the Truth. A Truth that I believe she most likely sees naturally on a daily basis. A Truth that she may even long to share with the rest of us, if only we weren’t so ignorant to the language.

She sees the Truth, and I see only what I choose to see. And yet she is locked in the wheeled chair, while I roam free…

I suppose I should step back for a moment and let you know where my meanderings and ideas on the subject come from. I have no personal experience in my own family, but when I was a young boy, I was forced (yes, I mean the word – or at least did at the time) to volunteer at an institution that cared for people with severe mental and physical retardation. My parents, as teachers our church to those who were preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation, felt it was important to teach the children about stewardship (oddly, a belief of theirs that has all but vanished in their later years. A possible topic for a different time). Part of their education to this end included a trip to a local long-term care center that managed the severest cases. As parents who also trusted not another living being on the planet, my brothers and I toddled along as well, even though we were not yet in the Confirmation program. As a young and unappreciative pisser, I recall hating the place when we first arrived. The stark white walls did nothing to conceal the smell of piss and medicine. The painted-over drop ceiling served more to rebound, than muffle, the occasional non-sensical shout or yelp. The halls were clogged with wheel chairs, and in each, sat an alien life form. A being so far removed from my little pisser knowledge of the world as to be almost comical, if it (again, word usage intentional) didn’t frighten me so. Being young, and being a pisser, and being there against my will, I decided that hatred would be my best response. Hatred towards these creatures. Hatred towards their needing my assistance. Hatred towards their being around at all. I did as I was told, but only just. How dare they make me? How dare they be here? How dare they exist?

And then, as happens so often in life, something happened. And that something was this. One of them began wailing. And not just a whimper or a sob, but an honest-to-Jesus moon-raising moan. One that would make you think they weren’t just seeing a ghost, but the never-welcome Mr. Beez L. Bub himself. And for all I know, maybe they were seeing exactly that. The wailing only made me feel uncomfortable. Scared. But to another, it provoked a different reaction. I can’t recall if it was an employee, a volunteer, a random passer-by or even maybe an angel in disguise. But I do remember one soul, walking deliberately up to the young wheelchair entrapped wailer, and hugging them. Simply hugging them. The wails continued, but so did the hug. And eventually both were quietly put to rest. Both the hugger and the wailer were at peace. I stood there dumbfounded as the blinds were torn from my eyes, my little stupid pisser attitude backhanded to the floor.

I could physically feel myself growing up a little bit that day. One of the first of many times I’ve had the experience.

A little while later I was pushing along one of the more talkative residents who would speak and speak and speak, and occasionally even say something. At one point he looked me dead in the eye, and with no prompt or reason whatsoever, he told me very confidentially the exact day it would start snowing and the exact amount – in quarter inches – that we would receive. I’m sure you already know by now that I’m going to tell you he was exactly correct on both counts. EXACTLY. Dumb luck? Could’ve been. Dumb luck does seem to have a way of getting around. But me being me, I’d like to think that there’s something more to it. In fact, I’d like to think that maybe – just maybe – there are certain people who are so spiritually in-tuned, so close to God, that they’re incapable of dealing with our little shambles of a “reality.” They’re exalted over the angels, but trapped on this mortal plain, and they simply can’t function at such a junior level. They need our help in this world, but only because we’ll need theirs in the next. We just don’t know it yet. They’re not “retarded”, we are. They are advanced to a higher prominence, and we sit smugly by and laugh at their superiority.

I know, it sounds a little too “pie in the sky” to be true. And that, in part, is one of the reasons I wanted to jump into my lunch mate’s head. Just once I really would like to see if I’m right. Or if I’m an idiot. Or both. It’ll never happen of course. For one thing, we don’t live in a Disney movie, and swaps of this nature just aren’t possible. But even if they were, I don’t feel the trade would be a very fair one. For her, that is.

•••

I feel it’s important to note, I’m using this song today not in jest, but rather, in praise.  I too, long for the day when all of us “sane men” are locked away, and we allow the “mad” ones to finally be free.