Tuesday, November 20, 2007

After all that...

It's been a long haul through the desert of adolescent musical interest, 21st century style. Dry rivers of Creed. Endless unpaved stretches of Linkin Park. Wet mashed potato mountains of Limp Bizkit.

Then an oasis of 80s relief -- Buzzcocks, Cure, Clash, even my beloved Gang of Four. But still, who would have known that so many absolutely indistinguishable bootleg versions of Sid Vicious' "My Way" would exist?

I should have never doubted that after all these rocky miles his musical tastes would turn in the end (where else?)...to Lennon & McCartney

It sure 'nuf makes a father proud.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

It's Just This Little Chromium Switch, Here: Channelling The Firesign Theatre

Cross-posted at newcritics

Zion, oh mighty Zion, your bison now are dust
As your cornflakes rise ‘gainst the rust-red skies,
then our blood requires we go…
Marching, marching to Shibboleth

On a recent car trip with my high-school-age son, just for fun, I popped into the CD player, Firesign Theatre’s Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers.

“What is this, something from the seventies?” he offered, after a while.

“Yeah. What do you think?”


“Well, sure. But don’t you think it’s pretty funny?”

He gave me, in lieu of an answer, that pity-the-old-guy look he wears when I’m singing along with a Bruce Springsteen CD or trying to explain why The Exorcist is supposed to be a scary movie.

“I guess,” he damned with faint praise.

At just his age, I found Firesign Theatre to be wildly, chaotically, subversively funny. I still do. So why doesn’t he – this man-child nourished from the very breast of modern satire, reader of The Onion, viewer of The Colbert Report – get the joke?

I attribute his reaction to three possible causes:

1) When listening to Dwarf at 16, I was likely to be – how shall I say this? – thoroughly and utterly baked to the gills. And for my son, much to his mother’s relief, that’s apparently not the case.

2) He’s not my son, but rather a student at Commie Martyrs High, diabolically disguising himself as a God-fearing American adolescent.

3) None of this truly exists.

Tempted though I am by the latter two options, I think it’s the first that begs the question. Could it be that Firesign Theatre – not unlike that dreaded 2-hour Grateful Dead space jam – is to be appreciated only, as they say, under the influence?

I’m high all right…but not on false drugs. I’m high on the real thing – powerful gasoline, a clean windshield and a shoeshine.

It’s possible, I suppose. There is a kind of low-level paranoia that hums behind the whole disc. And paranoia, strangely enough, is funny.

First, you notice that the cop is staring at you. Then, you laugh at yourself for thinking such a thing. Then, you realize the cop really is staring at you.

Don’t Crush That Dwarf works in that way quite a lot. It’s the art of non sequitor moving at a breakneck pace. At first, you laugh at it for being off-the-wall, but when you think about it, you see it’s not so off-the-wall after all. Is it going to be…all right?

Friends, it’s going to be all right tonight at the Powerhouse Church of the Presumptuous Assumption…

I don’t want to put myself in a confrontatory position, either with the United Snakes or with…them. And you can believe me, because I never lie. And I’m always right.

In Firesign Theatre world, the only thing crazier than you is…them. The real world. The world of people who tell you and sell you and teach you things that don’t quite make any sense.

Shoes for industry, shoes for the dead! What chance does a returning deceased war veteran have for that good paying job, more sugar and that free mule you’re dreaming of? Well, think it over. Then take off your shoes. Now you can see how increased spending opportunities mean harder work for everyone…and more of it, too!

It’s been a mighty long month of Sundays since I was a dope fiend. And now, I suppose, them is me. And being them, I now know what’s best for me. What’s been best for me all along…

Hot Dog, Mom, groat-cakes again!

On second thought…maybe I’ll just put that CD away now.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Whole Lotta Halloweens

How swiftly the ghouls go by!

1995: Peabod

1996: Bumblebee

1997: Tinkerbell

1998: Princess

1999: Jack O'Lantern

2000: Princess

2001: Hershey Bar

2002: Witch

2003: Hippie

2004: Hermione

2005: Grim Reaper

2006: Jelly Bean Bag

2007: Masked Avenger

Very scary indeed!