If you're looking for a blog with meaningful content on the important issues of the day, you've come to the wrong place. This is the shallows, my friend. Nothing but shallowness as far as the eye can see. Let someone else make sense of things. I like it here.
- I love my grown children, miss all the dogs I ever had, and I cry at the drop of a hat, I believe in true love, destiny, fairness, and compassion. If I could be anywhere right now, it would be the ocean. My favorite city is New York, but I am always longing for London and craving more time in Copenhagen. I'm drawn to desolate places, deserted buildings, and unknown byways. I don't care how society perceives me as long as my gut tells me that what I'm doing is right. I am interested in paranormal things, spiritual things, historical things, and things that glow at night. I like to drink, I smoke when I write, I can't stand small talk, and despite my quick temper, I would rather kiss than fight. I'm selfish with my writing time, a spendthrift with my love. My heart has been broken so many times that it's held together with super glue and duct tape. The upside is that, next time, I won't be tempted to give away what I no longer have to give. But I will let you buy me a Pink Squirrel.
IN A WORLD FILLED WITH COMPLEX POLITICAL ISSUES, SOCIAL INEQUALITY, AND FINANCIAL UNCERTAINTY, I CONSIDER IT MY GIFT TO YOU, MY READER, TO OFFER THIS SHALLOW LITTLE HAVEN, WHERE NOTHING IS TOO SHALLOW, TOO INSIGNIFICANT, OR TOO RIDICULOUS TO JUSTIFY OUR ATTENTION. IN OTHER WORDS, IF IT'S NOT IMPORTANT....SO WHAT? NEITHER WAS MARILYN MONROE'S BRA SIZE. AND THAT STILL SELLS MAGAZINES, DOESN'T IT?
Thursday, April 19, 2012
DICK CLARK VS PUNK: A MEMORABLE MOMENT IN AMERICAN BANDSTAND HISTORY
On Wednesday, when I heard the news that Dick Clark, American media mogul and former host of American Bandstand, had died of a massive heart attack at the age of 82, I thought three things. 1.) That it was very sad, but not unexpected given the man's poor state of health these last few years. 2.) That it's difficult to imagine anyone ever doing what Dick Clark did, which was parlay a simple job as the host of a music and dance show for teen-agers into a multi-faceted career that spanned nearly 60 years (I know, it's freaking amazing, isn't it?) which, according to celebritynetworth.com, resulted in a net worth of 200 million at the time of his death. 3.) That it was hard to believe that John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, former lead snarler for the Sex Pistols once appeared on American Bandstand with his post-Pistols band, Public Image LTD.
Clark took over as the host of American Bandstand in 1956, four years after it first aired, and retained that position, while also serving as producer, until the show ended in 1986. During those 30 years, there were some pretty interesting performances by some acts who just didn't seem to gel with the show's clean-cut, mainstream, lip-synching premise. But in the primordial days before MTV videos, there really weren't that many other options for music artists who wanted to be seen and not just heard. There was Midnight Special, Soul Train....and American Bandstand. And so, in between the thrill of watching teen-aged couples of various abilities and fashion sensibilities dance to top 40 records, AB audiences were treated to performances by such disparate artists as Madonna, Sparks, Matchbox 20, Simple Minds, Charlie Daniels, George Thoroughgood, and Abba. Donna Summer once actually co-hosted the show, the only time a performer ever did so.
Somehow, though, the idea of John Lydon sharing a sound stage with Dick Clark on AB is almost too horrific to contemplate. Unfortunately, I was a reluctant and disapproving witness to PIL's performance when it aired on St. Paddy's Day in 1980. Despite my former life as a punk-turned-New Wave singer with a decided distaste for the music mainstream and all that it represents, I find it equally distasteful when artists who owe everything to people like Dick Clark who popularized rock and roll for the masses and made it possible for even terrible singers like John Lydon to get record deals, return the favor by showing complete and utter disrespect to those people, especially on a show as high profile as AB was in its heyday.
But that's exactly what Lydon and company proceeded to do after being introduced by Clark and given the stage to perform two of their "hits." (Bands like Public Image LTD don't really have hits, of course, but let's just pretend for the sake of this post.) Following an awkward moment of banter between Lydon and PIL bassist Jah Wobble, the band launched into what was supposed to be a lip-synched version of a song called "Poptones." Except Lydon refused to lip synch, apparently because, being the ex-lead singer of the Sex Pistols, he had agreed to be the show not to perform, but to prove that he could still not perform and somehow continue to get booked on shows like AB. He did a damned fine job of it, too. Instead of lip-synching to the band's song, he traipsed through the audience, making faces at the camera, and shoving people on to the dance floor. And it didn't get any better when PIL started playing their second song, Careering, for which Lydon also refused to lip-synch in favor of yet another stroll, this time on the dance floor, where he kept getting in the way of the dancers, some of whom he engaged in conversation, and, finally, pausing to apply nose drops.
Some of the audience members didn't seem to mind so much. It was the 80s, after all. And the days when artists were respectful and well-behaved during public performances were definitely on the wane. Clark never missed a beat as host, treating Lydon and his band with the same respect he afforded to all of the performers who appeared on the show. But it was a strange moment in AB history all the same. Needless to say, PIL was never invited back to perform on the show. Six years later, AB completed its 30 year run, its simple, straightforward, half hour format no match for the encroaching age of video and the jaggernaught that was MTV. And Dick Clark...well...we all know what happened to him. Hats off to you, Mr. Clark. I give your record a "10."