The 8 t’s (well, 5 of them, at least)

“This is a public service announcement… With guitar!”

We blatantly ripped that intro straight from Joe Strummer’s pre-recorded lips, and following it would be the commercial for Club Harvey’s New Wave Night with DJ Jane Doe. It was the first commercial voice-over work I would ever do, and to my knowledge, the last as well.

Yes, I was one of the kids who was “in,” back then, despite a whole wealth of problems coming into bloom just under the surface. How “in” was I, you ask? Well let’s just say, of the battle between Chess King and Merry Go Round… I bolo-tie shopped at them BOTH.

I guess what I’m trying to say as succinctly as possible (so we can get to the music already!) is that, outside of becoming a parent, the eighties proved to be just about the most important event in my life, as far as  my trail of self-discovery goes. The decade saw quite a few different facets of me – far too many to be round-up in just (5) little tunes.

Brief Aside: So here’s what I’d like to do for just this week (promise!). Each song will represent a different facet, and then directly beneath (or on top, or somewhere in between) will be a link to find the (5) songs proper chosen for each of these facets. Please, after you’ve read the other writers submissions, feel free to listen to as many or as few as you’d like – I promise they’re all Golden! Even IF I’m not even scratching the surface here…

OK, back on task. So where were we? Oh yes, me – multi-faceted. Blah, blah, blah. Here’s where we get to the tunes. To keep things simple (and believe you me, not a damned thing is ever simple with me), we’ll keep the 8 t’s down to 5 – Mopey t, Happy t, Angry t., Club Kid t and the “definitive 8 t’s” t.

Ready to go? Wicked!

OK, first thing’s first, with the Mopey t (of course)…

Followed quickly (and I mean that – I was damned near maniacal back then) by Happy t!

Followed just as quickly (see special “maniacal” note above) by a t that was really Angry

Of course, all those emotions bomping about inside all the time, gave me the craziest urge to hit the dance floor. I mean, I was a Club Kid t after all.

And before we (presumably) move on to the 90’s, let me give my version of the songs you MUST know in order to be a true eighties aficionado, The Definitive 8 t’s, if you will…

•••

So there we have it. Or, at least just one small tiny piece of it. And look at that, we made it all the way through without any Yanni or Kenny G references…

Care to take us out of here Joe? I mean, it wouldn’t have been a proper decade – or a Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday for that matter- without you.

Time Out…

It was a flying swing-sort of thing, but I didn’t catch the name. Hell, I didn’t catch a lot of stuff on that day.

But it was a perfect day none the less. True, Mother Nature tried to bring us down, with some skies initially grey. And a certain other also tried to bring me down. But even her best efforts at pissery melted painlessly away, under the sun and the Love of the day.

The sun, the Love, and the perfection were all experienced by myself, my three, plus a friend of Hannah’s, at a little 5 & Dime theme park up my way called Fantasy Island. Now if you’re anything like me, you can NOT go to this park without hoping, “Maybe this time. Maybe this time Mr. Rourke will be waiting for me, wearing white and looking drop-dead Mexican sexy, as he welcomes me to his drop-dead-not-Mexican-but-just-as-sexy island, granting me a wish.” As you might have guessed, this visit did no more to yield that desire becoming a reality than any of the other visits, but as the day strolled itself along, this time I found that it didn’t really matter too much at all.

It was all good, and every moment was cherished, me with them, and they with me. No longer little children – like the last time we had gone – they’d grown now, matured, and the “kiddie rides” took on a whole new meaning. A new flavor. Obviously, the ones that required you to be 4′ or under were passed by altogether this time (me, being dragged by the three plus one away from the Lil’ Boat Merry-Go-Round. Can you imagine? I mean, c’mon! They use REAL water for God’s sake! That ride kicks ASS!) But we still all smiled like idiots, as we rode down the Giant Slide, potato sack under butt. We still all pretended to have zombie and/or cyborg horses (I mean, they DO all have posts struck straight through them, after all) on the carousel. And we all – every last one – pretended that bumper cars were the vehicles used exclusively by average older Americans, in the effort of learning how to drive.

We enjoyed the Crazy Mouse (a roller coaster best described as being engineered by the boys from Devo, while being high on paint thinner), and the ferris wheel, but it was that damned flying swing-sort of thing that would eventually provide me with the inspiration (FINALLY!) for this particular post.

Picture 7

You see, the ride is simple. A swing. That goes in a circle. No big deal, right? Right, unless you realize that this particular swing is about 800 gazillion feet up in the air. I went only because I told myself – as I was herding the three plus one into the car – that this trip, I would “Just. Let. Go.” I would live, instead of worrying about dying. I would be me, instead of being scared about being yelled at by someone because I was being me. So when the kids said “let’s go,” I swallowed my trepidation, and got on the swing.

And I loved it. Like, “Jesus pulling on my non-existent hair just so it could blow in the wind one more time” loved it. The first time I went with Hannah’s friend. Which was perfect, because she has no reason to love me, yet still she apparently does (she calls me “Grand Pee,” only after she decided that “Dr. Pee Wee” was too formal). The second time I went with Ian. Which was perfect because, well, because he’s Ian. And the last time I went with, well…

He told me his name on the flying swing-sort of thing, but I didn’t catch it. Hell, I didn’t catch a lot of stuff on that day.

You see, with this ride, they always need exactly an even number of riders to lift off. And this time, he and I were both odd men out. So we sat together.

He was O.G. (do they still say that?), but one of the mentally handicapped variety (do they still say that?) A good kid, but I must admit, a bit creepy on the surface as well. Creepy as in, it wasn’t until we reached the 800 gazillion feet range that I realized, only a metal bar and a plastic seat were keeping me alive. But I swallowed a second helping of trepidation, ignored old tendencies and old fears about such things, and just spoke to the kid.

Now to be sure, we will not be pen pals anytime soon, but we did both come to realize that flying is a pretty danged cool power to have, and if God was willing, we would both ask for it. I also came to understand that even “a bit creepy on the surface” people just want to be talked to, and treated with basic human respect, in order to be happy.

The ride ended, and the kid left. And that was that.

I still don’t know his name, but I will always remember the one stage in our “journey” – after he had pointed out his family members in the adjacent swings – where I motioned across the expanse of sky to another swing, and noting the (2) beautiful young men who sat within (both having had the good sense to remove their shoes before the ride began), being able to say to my momentary friend, “those are my two boys. I love them.”

I went to Fantasy Island to spend some time with my children. But I left with the realization that they weren’t my children, they were now their own. And they had decided to come to the same park for the sole purpose of spending time with me. And I remembered just how blessed I was, and am, to have that sort of Love in my life.

Thank God for grey skies that become blue.

Thank God for icy tones that melt painlessly away.

And thank Him as well, for those nameless, yet liberating flying swing-sort of things.

Now, if He would only see Himself to just allowing for taller folk to be able to ride the Lil’ Boat Merry-Go-Round…

•••

Hell Bent For The 80’s

In the final analysis, the 80’s were to see (2) distinctly different me’s (neither of which got laid, until damned near decade’s end) which is odd, considering that 2013 finds me in very much the same utterless boat.

But during the 80’s, 2013 was too far off, and much more about flying spaceships (and getting laid as a result) than anything else. So seeing as I had my tape recorder, and Snortin’ Norton with his “Mu-Mu-Mu-Metal Shopppp…!” Metal Shop broadcasting at midnights to help me along, we’ll just stick to what I knew back then, OK?

As has so often occurred, the decade began with me trying to “find my way.” And seeing as Liberace was considered far too “old folk” at the time, my way went a little something like this:

Now to be sure, “Hell Bent For Leather” was and is, my Priest jam of choice, but this comes in at a CLOSE second, AND unlike the former, it was 80’s as hell. So there.

Here was another “80’s as hell” ticket, on the metal front:

Now if I could, Dio would be my personal Metal Drag Momma, similar to Marian and k~ being my Blog Drag Momma’s (that’s right ladies, you’d be drag momma’s along with Ronnie James – pretty awesome, right?) But – with their perfect blend of speed, weight and nihilism – it would eventually be these boys, who were the ones to trip my metal ragings into full speed:

Which of course leads us to Maiden, as I can’t hear that last track without immediately thinking of possibly The BEST metal tune of all time. Yes, I mean that. Listen, and you’ll agree:

“Hey t, that places us at (4), when (5) is required. Are you gonna share (1) more?”

Two, in fact.

What? Everyone else does…

For #5, I will go to a cover – yet another in a long line of covers that bested the original by ten fold. Made by some poor kids hoping for a chance they never truly got, this lil dittie would go on to best the original, to the point where many would forget that there ever was one in the first – here’s the boys from Quiet Riot, doing it right:

Yes, from here I could also go on to regale you with tunes from acts such as Twisted Sister, Def Leppard, and any number of other metal and/or hair bands. But even in their midst, already a new troy was emerging, and the segway between the Metal me and the Next me, was coaxed (rather accidentally) along by strange new sounds like the following…

The 80’s.

I didn’t get laid until damned near the decades end.

But who cares?

Coming in Pt 2 – the shit that would eventually make me what I am. Or what I was. Or what I might someday be… Or whatever

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I hope you liked my entry for this week’s Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday. Please drop in and play along, because honestly, I could spend about a month’s worth of posts on the music of this decade; so your assistance in exploring the musical landscape of the time (sans any mention of Kenny G or Yanni of course) is appreciated!

 

AM radio and the lingering smell of perm

She walks across the linoleum-tiled kitchen floor with her plastic curlers clamped tightly into her head. The smell of perm is, well, it permeates the house; billowing over the scent of any food she may be cooking at the time (if she was in the kitchen, she was cooking, and she was ALWAYS in the kitchen. About once a week or so, wearing those damned post-perm curlers to boot.)

It was the 70’s, and I was a musical leech. Not quite yet old enough to own my own record player, as my ardent Beatles-fan older brother did, I was enslaved to the AM radio station of my mother’s choice (my mother’s choice by the way, toggled between WGRZ for newer tunes, and WJYE – “Joy. All Music, all the time.” – for the older stuff.) I didn’t know what was to come, musically-speaking (even though it was being birthed at that very moment), but to my young mind I couldn’t wait until it did. Especially considering…

I mean, to a five(ish) year old boy, what was that supposed to mean? Painted ponies by the riverside? What was this strange language? Turns out, it was just exactly what you’d think it was. But to the (somewhat overactive) imagination of a five(ish) year old, it went a lot further than all that. Into weird and strange places best left unvisited.

Easier to understand, but even more lyrically intense – to my young brain at least – were the boys of Three Dog Night (who, for the record, could not be mentioned, without at least one local chiming in with “did you know that one of them is from here???” I think it was the one with the mustache. Pretty sure it was him), who wooed my freshly born social conscious with their plea for racial harmony, in a world still on the brink…

Sadly, to my young existence, these two are about the “spaciest” tunes of the decade to wiggle their way into my ear, eventually nestling themselves deep down within my psyche.

The remainder of the 70’s were spent pretty much here…

And sometimes here…

Though being raised a suburban Polish kid (proud owner of my very own “mini” beer stein!), who was prone to celebrate things such as “Dingus Day,” Mr White and I didn’t really share what you would call a “common language,” outside of the above track.

A bit of a shame, as I really dug his smooth and silky voice otherwise.

Alas, it was here that I would eventually find my musical soul mate for the decade, though I knew not why at the time…

Maybe it was because it had just the right amount of mope, or despair, or longing, or self-pity. I mean, hell! When you read the lyrics, you almost wonder how it was, that Gilbert didn’t have a flock of black-clad moody youth envelop him in a slow motion riot, immediately upon the song’s release. But I suppose that’s a story for another decade altogether. One I didn’t know about then, but desperately hoped was coming soon.

Right after I purchased my own record player, of course.

•••

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This is my first foray into Jen’s Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday – I’m hopeful that I didn’t crash the party with my mix. Or at least, not so badly as to not be allowed into the clubhouse next week…!

Tags, Peace & Love

There are certain bloggers who are above playing along with the “tag, your it” posts.

I am not one of these.

Well, not this time at any rate, because this time I was tagged by one of my favorite writers out here, Nowan Zen from I’m Not Lost, Just Weird.

And just as I was beginning to compile the reams of documentation required for these types of posts, who should drop in, but Shannon from The Squeaky Wheel Blog, who also asked if she could tag me (that’s right Nowan, Shannon asked…)

So what will follow will be a Frankensteining of sorts, between the (2) tags, and since both require that additional people are then – well – tagged in a “play it forward” fashion, I am simply saying screw it, and throwing this right back onto the two who first nabbed me, with each being tasked to figure out just what parts pertain to them (if you’d like to be tagged as well, start gathering your paperwork, and just let me know).

OK, ready?

Both require a picture. Both will receive the same one. This is me and my boys at Pride 2013. Simon is an agnostic who believes in Jesus more than a lot of Christians do, and he wanted to express the idea that J.C. was all about love and inclusion, versus hate and exclusion. Hence his marching the parade (as he came be known by the crowd) as “Rainbow Jesus.” I’m the lumpy old guy in the middle.

Rainbow Jesus

Both require 11 random facts. Why is it always 11, and why must they always be random? Never the mind, here goes:

1. Technically, I suppose the “lumpy” bit could count as number 1.

2. Simon caught a lot of flak from his mother and her family for his decision. He stuck to his guns anyway. Fine, not actually a random fact about me, but I’m proud of him regardless.

3. Yes, our t-shirts say “Jesus Is Not A Homophobe.”

4. “Homophobe” refers to a person who is hateful of Gay and Lesbian people. Apparently scared that this sort of thing is contagious…?

5. Yes, we’ll get off the subject of the damned photo already.

6. Random fact # 7 actually comes in at # 6.

7. See above

8. Sorry – just one more thing. Ian is going next year in full drag.

9. I’m damned proud of him as well.

10. Lookie here, we’re already at the second-to last one!

11. When I was young, I used to suck my thumb. It soothed me greatly. I recently tried it again, but it just didn’t have the same affect. Damned thumb.

Both have a bunch of questions. Some I will answer honestly, others I will simply bullshit my way through, and for none of them will I actually be funny, insightful or in any way engaging…

Nowen asks:

  1. What is your quest? To dream the impossible dream, of course. Duh!
  2. If you could select any character from the Big Bang Theory to describe yourself, which one would you select and why? (Losing Nerd cred), I’ve never watched the show, but (gaining Nerd cred), if this were about Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy, I would be the lorry driver who doesn’t realize that he is actually the God of Rain.
  3. When was the last time you laughed hard enough to snort (aka Donkey Honk) and what was so funny? The last time was when Ian (pictured above as not Jesus) came up to me and asked if he could go to Target.com to “buy a set.” Turns out, he was actually talking about legos.
  4. If you could travel anywhere and live all expenses paid for a year, where would that be? (No you may not select Uranus. Stop giggling!) The sky. No lie. Just up there in the blue. Not to get away from it all, but rather, above it. Incidentally, and since neither asked, flying is also my superpower of choice.
  5. What was the last book you read that you actually enjoyed and why would you recommend it? Andrew Davidson’s, The Gargoyle. Because it was creepy, sexual, inspiring and scary. Long before my divorce ever came down, this book showed me that True Love was not what I had. That and it made me cry. Oh, it’s also a nice weight and size to place in the small of your back, should it be aching in the middle of the night.
  6. What is your motto or mantra for your life? To dream the impossible dream, of course. Duh!
  7. You have one chance to witness first hand any event, you cannot alter it only witness it, what would it be? In all seriousness, I would like to be there on Easter morning. Not to prove to myself that it actually happened, but just to be able to give Him a hug and say thank you.
  8.  A book is being written about your life by an observer, what would the title be? Wonder How Many People Are Actually Gonna Buy This Book?
  9. What would creep you out the most? (seeing me naked is NOT an acceptable answer!) The very thing that I most desire – an actual visit from an angel. I’ve known a few who have told me of this experience, and I chose to believe them all. It’s the one thing I’ve always longed for to happen, but it would also creep me right out of my skin if it ever did.
  10. You have a friend who really needs a laugh, how do you get them to laugh? (dress in a hamster suit and dance the Macarena is funny) Depends on the person, but I can usually get people laughing just by walking into a room…
  11. What is the worst pick-up line you have heard used that worked? My little brother used to use it to great success and often, and it really can say a lot about certain members of the female of the species. He would say simply, “Get Away From Me.”

Shannon asks:

1. What smell instantly takes you back to a moment from your childhood?

Sixlets. When we were little, every year Christmas morn found us craddling hollow tube candy canes, packed to the brim with m&m’s. But these m&m’s smelled different. Tasted better. Ma n’ Pa said it was because they were Christmas m&m’s delivered by Santa, but they lied. Not too sure about the Santa part, but definitely about their being m&m’s. They were not, they were sixlets. I still like them better than m&m’s, and I still get mentally thrown back to Christmas 1970-something every time I open a bag. (Incidentally, this simutanlously makes me miss terribly the Godzilla Shogun Warrior I also had from around the same time – yeah, the one with the launching fist.)

2. What song will make you headbang/car dance/waltz around your living room no matter what kind of a shitty mood you’re in?

There is only ONE song that needs be played for this. “Jesus Built My Hot Rod,” by Ministry of course.

Or, “Got Some” by Pearl Jam I suppose.

And again, there’s also “Dont Fuck Me Up” by Cracker. And you can’t forget “Going Nowhere” by Therapy?, and I suppose I would have to mention my quizzer’s son’s near-namesake, The Exploited’s “Daily News.” And, well, I guess there’s at least a couple that trip my anger trigger.

Oops! Almost forgot “Hell Bent For Leather” by Judas Priest!

3. If you had to pick having to smell roses everywhere you went all the time or never being able to see the color blue, which would you choose?

I hate roses. And no, not because they “really smell like poo, poo-poo.” I hate them because they are so widely regarded as beautiful, with little or no actual reasoning behind this assessment. And in my experience, anything – or one – who is looked upon like this, can quite often have a deep inner ugliness that, when stumbled upon, destroys any semblance of the previously held viewpoint. That being said, if I chose the latter over the former, I would never again be able to look up into the deep azure sky, and long for the day that I will be able fly up there, unaided by man-made plane, controlled by heaven-made pilot. So I will simply have to resign myself to smelling those fucking roses all the time instead.

4. Would you be more afraid of a rhinoceros charging at you or a hippopotamus?

I would be more afraid if neither was charging me in fact. I mean, how could they not? Look at me, I’m freakin’ delicious.

5. Which, to you, would be the most flattering way to finish this sentence: Your writing really reminds me of _______.

The love-child of Douglas Adams and C.S. Lewis. With the full understanding that Mr. Lewis couldn’t actually bear Mr. Adams a child, resulting from his religious convictions.

6. Is it hard for you to stay on task from beginning to end, or do you jump around and do a little of this and a little of that and eventually cross the finish line?

Wait! There’s a finish line???

7. What is your biggest pet peeve about yourself?

43 years later, I still fall into that old trap of believing that my best will never be good enough. “Never,” as in the deepest, bleakest, most worthless never ever.

8. Do you plan to write your own epitaph or let someone else do it? Or, I guess conversely, cremation or burial would need to be answered first. TWO-PARTER! So that’s 8 & 9, because I multi-task like a motherfucker!

I’m going to answer this as a politician would. Which bascially means the answer will have nothing to do with the question. I’ve told my kids I want exactly (3) things for my funeral, and they can do whatever else they want with the rest of the service. 1) no wake. NO. WAKE. I’ve been to many, they’re all creepy, and not a damned one has actually worked. No wake. 2) bury me in pajamas (or if I die in the summer, nude is fine). Seriously, a liftime of corporate strangulation, and then you get stuck in a suit and tie for the big sleep? No thank you! 3) Bobby Darin MUST be played at the funeral. “Artificial Flowers,” to be exact. Don’t ask why.

10. All time favorite curse word, either one you’ve heard or one you’ve made up in the heat of the moment?

Douchery, fuckery, jack-assery. Catching a theme here? Basically, you can take any swear word, simply place a “ery” at the end, and it instantly becomes cool. Now, lets stop dicking around, and move on.

Incidentally “dicking around” could possibly the coolest, most nebulous swears ever. Use it often. People will think you’re smart if you do.

11. What vanity license plate would put “YOU” out there for all other driver’s to know?

“Can you believe that this cat actually thinks it’s cool to say ‘fuckery’?”

Both require a litany of new questions be generated and parceled out. But I’ve only one. Well, more like 2 – 3 in one.

If this is all that there is, and there is nothing else, either after or before, are you happy? I mean, truly happy? If “no,” then what can you do to turn that? And if “yes,” then where can I get what you’re having?

So there we go.

Shannon, Nowen, swap questions and get back to me, ya hear? Oh, and I’m also tagging Twin Daddy because I really respect his writing (though he has no idea I exist), and because He was the one that got me into this mess with Shannon in the first place.

So there.

If you’ve read this far, you deserve a little treat. So here, have a Cracker…