CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE STUMBLED INTO "THE SHALLOW ZONE." WATCH OUT FOR THE ROCKS. SOME OF THEM ARE SHARP.
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.

About Me

My photo

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.
MY SHALLOW MISSION STATEMENT

MY SHALLOW MISSION STATEMENT

MY SHALLOW MISSION STATEMENT
Not that there's any weight to it...
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?
VIDEO OF THE MONTH

Friday, March 30, 2012

WHY BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER IS STILL THE BEST

I'll be honest with you. I wanted to write a post on Dark Shadows, the cult supernatural soap opera that had my friends and me glued to the television screen every weekday at 4 PM from 1969 to 1974. It seemed only right, what with Tim Burton's film adaptation of the show, starring Johnny Depp as Collinsport's resident vampire, Barnabas Collins, hitting theaters this spring. But you know how thought process goes. Thinking of Dark Shadows, I started thinking of vampire shows in general, which set me to reminiscing about what I believe is hands down the best TV show about vampires to ever lure viewers to the small screen...namely, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

CAST OF BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: BEST. VAMPIRE. SHOW. EVER.

BTVS aired from March 10, 1997 to May 20, 2003, and for those six years it not only provided entertainment for my daughter, my younger son, and myself, it offered an unlikely respite from the familial storms doing their best to blow us apart during that same period. Created by Joss Whedon, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie of the same name (he reportedly wrote it during breaks on the set of the NBC sitcom Roseanne, for which he was also a writer), BTVS was one of those rare gems that surface on television every so often: a superbly-written show, with a talented cast, and the ability to transcend genre, demographics, and even the strictures of the medium of which it was a part.

SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR AS "BUFFY SUMMERS", THE CHOSEN ONE

Of course, I didn't realize any of this when my daughter, who was 12 when the show first aired, told me about it and suggested that I watch it with her. It was a suggestion I took very seriously, despite the fact that, as a rule, I'm not particularly interested in fantasy shows, especially ones featuring vampires. My childhood passion for Dark Shadows had nothing to do with the fact that its main character was a 200 year old vampire. The reason I watched the show was that I loved the ghosts who were Barnabas Collin's co-residents in that spooky old mansion in Collinsport. That's right. I'm a ghost person, and while I have nothing against the occasional vampire, the undead just don't interest me in the same way that ghosts do. Maybe it's a preference for eeriness over horror. Not to mention that I had seen the BTVS movie (starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry) and hadn't thought much of it. Even so, as anyone who's parented an adolescent girl can tell you, the mere fact that an adolescent girl is willing to spend an hour in the same room with you, for any reason at all, is akin to winning the lottery after plunking down your last dollar to buy the ticket. So, of course, I agreed to watch the show with her. At worst, I thought, I would spend an hour pretending to enjoy a bunch of vapid nonsense for the sake of bonding with my daughter. At best, the show might actually turn out to be bearable, with the added bonus that it would still give me an opportunity to bond with my daughter.

BEFORE BELLA AND EDWARD, THERE WAS BUFFY AND ANGEL

Both scenarios turned out to be wrong. Watching BTVS that night, I knew right away that, despite the fact that it was a show about high school students engaged in an ongoing crusade against the vampires who populated their town, BTVS wasn't just some dopey show aimed at teen-agers with nothing but gratuitous lust and blood-sucking to recommend it. The dialogue was sharp, witty, and spot on in terms of pop culture reference points as well as authentic teen-speak. The title character, Buffy, as played by Sarah Michelle Geller, though pretty and blonde, was no Barbie Doll. She was alternately tough and fragile, very funny, and there was a recognizable human quality about her, as there was in most of the other characters, even the adults, who, instead of behaving like the usual cartoon adults in teen-oriented TV shows, were three dimensional beings with complex personalities and deep flaws. The show's premise, that Buffy Summers, an otherwise normal teen-age girl was also a vampire slayer, one of which is born into every generation for the purpose of fighting the vampires who live and feed secretly among us, might be fantastical, but it was only a backdrop for the smaller, personal dramas taking place among the show's characters. Sunnydale, the southern California town in which Buffy and her friends lived, might have been built on a "hellmouth", but that hellmouth had nothing on the hell of trying to get through high school, which was every bit as much a problem for Buffy and company as the constant threat of vampires, demons, and other sundry creatures skulking in the shadows outside Sunnydale's drugstores and supermarkets.

THE ORIGINAL BTVS TRIO: WILLOW, BUFFY, AND ZANDER

For my daughter, watching BTVS was a much less profound experience. Like many of her friends who also watched it, she simply enjoyed the show and its characters. That the characters resonated with her and other girls her age was not a matter she felt any need to examine or dissect. Her affinity for Buffy was based on the fact that some people thought she and Sarah Michelle Gellar looked alike. The crush she developed on actor Nicholas Brendan, who played Buffy's friend and partner in arms, Zander Harris, had more to do with his "cuteness" than it did with the fact that, in creating Zander, Joss Whedon had created a character whose status as a high school loser, although tempered by a biting wit and an unwavering sense of loyalty to his friends, made him someone with whom adolescent viewers could relate as well as admire. And my daughter's fascination with the show's supernatural premise was the result of the excellent writing that characterized the show throughout its six year run, not, as it was for me, a deep sense of awe over Whedon's success in marrying the supernatural with the everyday and managing to make it all seem not only believable, but somehow poignant, even in those moments when Buffy's job as "the slayer" required her to stake a vampire and turn him or her into a cloud of special effects dust.

ZANDER GOES FOR A COOL LOOK IN "THE ZEPPO" EPISODE

JOSS WHEDON, CREATOR OF BTVS

But there was a lot more to BTVS than good writing and poignant moments. The slew of recent movies and TV shows about vampires, such as the Twilight movies, True Blood and Vampire Diaries may have obscured the memory of BTVS's originality and brilliance somewhat, but their success says more about the mediocre taste of their fans than it does about their content. For all of the money the franchise has made, there isn't one line of dialogue in any of the three Twilight movies that compares with BTVS at its best. Consider the following lines from the first Twilight movie, which take place between Bella (girl) and Edward (vampire) shortly after they first meet.

Isabella Swan: Are you going to tell me how you stopped the van?
Edward Cullen: Yeah. Um... I had an adrenaline rush. It's very common. You can Google it.

Mildly humorous, I guess, if you happen to like your humor insipid and uninspired. But take a look at an exchange between Buffy and her vampire lover, Angel, played by the appropriately broody and much older David Boreanez.

Angel: I saw you before you became the slayer.
Buffy: What?
Angel: I watched you, I saw you called, it was a bright afternoon out in front of your school. You walked down the steps and ... I loved you.
Buffy: Why?
Angel: Because I could see your heart. You held it before you for everyone to see, and I was worried that it would get bruised or torn. And more than anything in my life, I wanted to keep it safe. To warm it with my own.
Buffy: That's beautiful ... Or, taken literally, incredibly gross.
Angel: I was just thinking that too.

BUFFY AND ANGEL SHARE A POIGNANT MOMENT BEFORE SUNRISE

JAMES MARSTERS, THE MAN BEHIND SPIKE, AKA "WILLIAM THE BLOODY"

And then there's Spike (played by James Marsters), the former Victorian fop turned vampire whose bleached, spiked hair and black leather trenchcoat calls to mind an undead Billy Idol (who, incidentally, Spike claimed stole the look from him). As written by Whedon, Spike was a veritable font of pithy, witty, and often sarcastic sayings. Witness the following exchange between Riley (Marc Blucas), Buffy's rebound guy after her break-up with Angel, and Spike, during a discussion about Dracula.

Riley: You know him?
Spike: Know him? We're old rivals. But then he got famous, forgot all about his foes. I'll tell you what - that glory hound's done more harm to vampires than any Slayer. His story gets out, and suddenly everybody knows how to kill us, the mirror bit...!
Riley: But he's not just a regular vampire. He has special powers, right?
Spike: Nothing but showy Gypsy stuff. What's it to you, anyway?
Riley: He's in town, making his presence known.
Spike: Drac's in Sunnydale? Guess the old boy needed closure after all.

TONY HEAD AS "RUPERT GILES", BUFFY'S "VEDDY BRITISH" WATCHER

EMMA CAULFIELD AS "ANYA", A 1500 YEAR OLD DEMON TURNED HUMAN...AND HAVING A DEVIL OF A TIME WITH IT

It would be impossible, not to mention more time consuming than I can assume the time for, to share as many of the best moments of BTVS as I would like. I could go on and on about Spike, but I could do the same for the hopelessly stuffy, and occasionally violently protective Giles, Buffy's "watcher", played by Brit actor Anthony Head, the perpetually politically incorrect demon-turned-human Anya (Emma Caulfield), and even Buffy's long-suffering mother, Joyce (Kristine Sutherland) whose sudden death from natural causes was the subject of a BTVS episode entitled "THe Body", which, for the first twenty minutes, contained not a note of background music, relying, instead, on the silence of the Summers house, the distant sounds of traffic, and Buffy's occasional sobs and pained whispers to provide the emotionally-appropriate score.

TARA AND WILLOW: LOVE OF AN ALTERNATIVE KIND BLOSSOMS IN SUNNYDALE

And then there's "Hush", a genius bit of writing which contained no dialogue for almost the entire hour. And "Once More, With Feeling", a musical episode with songs written and arranged by Whedon and performed by the show's cast members. As far as inventiveness and originality are concerned, there's no other "vampire" show that can even touch BTVS. And as for balls, well, BTVS has that covered as well. BTVS featured a lesbian couple long before it became trendy to do so, and even had the good sense to entrust its viewers with the brains to appreciate an episode like "Conversations With Dead People" in which Buffy pours out her heart to a former, psychology-minded classmate turned vampire before staking him in the heart.

THE HEART AND VOICE-STEALING "GENTLEMEN" OF BTVS'S SILENT EPISODE "HUSH"

BUFFY BARES HER SOUL TO AN UNDEAD CLASSMATE IN "CONVERSATIONS WITH DEAD PEOPLE"

Joss Whedon has said that he created BTVS, the TV series, because he was unhappy with the way the movie turned out. The movie was too light-hearted, he felt, and the subtle balance of darkness and humor in his screenplay had been compromised for the sake of a less nuanced script with broader appeal. At the height of its fame, BTVS still had a relatively small audience, but it was an appreciative one which could never find equal satisfaction in cookie-cutter characters like Bella and Edward of Twilight, or their pathologically unoriginal counterparts in True Blood. BTVS may have been dusted, like Sunnydale's many vampires, but it remains, for my money, the best vampire show that ever flickered across a television screen. As Buffy said to her undead former classmate during her impromptu psychological examination in "Conversations With Dead People", "I'm The Slayer. It's sort of a thing."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What's It Gonna Be, Boy? Mary Ann...or Ginger?

THE CAST OF GILLIGAN'S ISLAND: STILL MAROONED ON RERUNS

For those who grew up watching Gilligan's Island on prime time TV, the names and faces of the seven castaways stuck on that mango-ridden, plastic-leafed island somewhere in the Pacific were as familiar as those of our own friends and family members. I have no qualms about admitting that, at its peak in the mid-60s, I was absolutely ga-ga over Gilligan's Island and, more specifically, "The Professor" played by Russell Johnson, who was not only brainy, but handsome. Of course, considering that the rest of the male population on the island was comprised of characters played by the very talented, but not so handsome Alan Hale, Jim Backus, and Bob Denver, it's not like we're looking at a lot of options here. However, when it came to women, well, that was another ball of wax completely. You had Natalie Schafer (Oh, Lovey....), of course, who was no doubt quite fetching in her day...wait a minute...let's take a look just to be sure...

NATALIE SCHAFER, PRE-ISLAND, A FETCHING YOUNG THING

Okay, yup, I guess she was, although, even young, she definitely had that "Mrs. Howell" thing going on. But that brings us to the other two women with whom she was stuck on that island. You know who I'm talking about. Mary Ann and Ginger. If "Are you a rocker or a mod?" was the number one question for Brit teen-agers in the mid-60s, "Who do you like better? Mary Ann or Ginger?" had to be the question of equal standing for American adolescent boys. That was the G-rated version of it, of course. It got a lot cruder at times, but we don't need to go there at the moment. Suffice it to say that both characters (and the actresses who played them) had their fans, and the choice a boy made as to which one he would rather...uh...date said a lot about what kind of woman he liked.

TINA LOUISE AS "GINGER" AND DAWN WELLS AS "MARY ANN"

This is hardly the first time that someone has plunged into the not exactly life-and-death issue of Ginger versus Mary Ann. And not being a psychologist (or even smart enough to be one), I'm not going to wade in too deep. This is a blog devoted to shallowness, after all. But I think the question bears some examination nonetheless, especially with trailers for Tim Burton's film adaptation of Dark Shadows all over the place. What the hell do I mean, you ask. Well, think about it. In the last few decades there have been film adaptations of some pretty iconic 1960s sitcoms, such as Bewitched, The Beverly Hillbillies, and that old warhorse, The Brady Bunch. But no one's touched Gilligan's Island. Why? Because of Ginger and Mary Ann, of course.

MARY ANN SUMMERS, COUNTRY GIRL FROM KANSAS AND A WIZARD WITH A COCONUT-MANGO PIE

As played by Dawn Wells, Mary Ann was a sweet country gal who preferred gingham over sequins and was never happier than when she was whipping up one of her coconut pies for her fellow castaways. (How she managed to do that without an oven we'll never know.) Sherwood Shwartz, creator of Gilligan's Island, has said that he was thinking of Dorothy Gale (The Wizard of Oz) when he conceived the character of Mary Ann, which is why he made her a native of Winfield, Kansas and had her parade around the set in gingham halter tops and pigtails when she was wearing those pre-Daisy Duke cut-offs. Innocent and unaffected, supportive and (mostly) selfless, Mary Ann was, without question, the resident "girl next door" of the island, and despite her obvious but never mentioned crush on Gilligan (Bob Denver), the absolute antithesis of her hut-mate, Ginger Grant, not to mention the only castaway who didn't really seem to have any reason to be on a passenger aboard the S.S. Minnow on that doomed three-hour cruise. I mean, where'd she come up with the money, for God's sake? She was barely even twenty (watch "The Postman Cometh" episode), and as far as I can tell, she didn't even have a job before ending up stranded on the island. But her innocence made her sexy, if unconsciously so, and it's a given that more than one adolescent boy utilized the image of Mary Ann in her gingham halter top and cut-offs for extra-curricular purposes.

MARY ANN AND GILLIGAN: LOVE WAS THE ISLAND'S ONE FORBIDDEN FRUIT

GINGER GRANT: GLAMOROUS EVEN AT TROPICAL TEMPERATURES

And then there's Ginger Grant, "the movie star", played by Tina Louise, the statuesque red-haired siren who went on the same ill-fated three-hour cruise schlepping enough clothes to last three years. (Which they kind of did, given that the show was canceled after its third season.) As originally conceived by Shwartz, the character of Ginger was supposed to be a secretary, which she was as played by actress Kim Reid in the series pilot. But by the time the first episode of the show aired on September 26, 1964, Reid had been replaced by the voluptuous and infinitely more seductive Tina Louise, and the idea of a secretarial pool had morphed into memories of the private pools in the backyards of the Hollywood mansions where a movie star like Ginger Grant no doubt spent much of her free time. Despite her glittery persona (and gowns), Ginger's movie star status always came off as somewhat overblown. A chronic name-dropper (she listed Carey Grant, Gregory Peck, and Walter Pigeon among her many acquaintances back in Hollywood), she was equally prone to referencing the movies in which she had appeared, but with titles like Dracula's Women, The Hula Girl and the Fullback, Sing A Song Of Sing Sing, and The Bird People Meet The Chicken Pluckers, she could hardly have been an A-list actress. But she was glamorous nonetheless, a fact which did not go unnoticed by The Skipper (Alan Hale), who always seemed to have a little thing for her, just as Mary Ann had one for Gilligan. From what I can tell, Ginger didn't reciprocate his feelings, saving her unspoken passion for The Professor (Russell Johnson) and, more subtly, for Thurston Howell III (Jim Backus) with whom she invariably sided during island conflicts, presumably because he had more money than any of the other castaways.

GINGER GRANT PRACTICES HER ACTING CHOPS WITH THE HELP OF THE PROFESSOR

All this brings us to the relationship between the two women. Apparently strangers prior to the cruise, once on the island, they ended up sharing a hut and becoming friends. Granted (pun intended), Ginger could be a bit self-absorbed at times, but the easy-going Mary Ann never seem to mind as she went about the business of making pies and other mango and coconut-based desserts. But herein lies the problem which I am convinced has kept anyone from trying to make the TV series into a feature film. Never mind that the advance of technology had made the idea of seven people remaining marooned on an island indefinitely highly unlikely (hell, it was pretty damn unlikely back in 1964). Yes, I know Tom Hank made it work in The Castaway, but no one knew that he was even alive. All kinds of people knew that the crew and passengers of the S.S. Minnow were alive. That island was a tropical Grand Central Station with everyone and his brother showing up to partake of the castaways' hospitality and then, for whatever reason, leaving them there and not telling anyone. Remember the Mosquitoes? And then there was the Hollywood producer and Ginger's homely cousin, Eva Grubb, as well as the Russian cosmonauts and the pretty boy method actor practicing for an upcoming role as a jungle man. The list goes on. Need I say more?

THE STRANDED "MOSQUITOES" ROCK OUT ON GILLIGAN'S ISLAND

THE CASTAWAYS PERFORM "HAMLET" FOR A TEMPORARILY MAROONED HOLLYWOOD PRODUCER

When it comes to making a good movie, the chemistry between characters is everything, and there's just no way that that the relationship between Mary Ann and Ginger would work in a full-length film, even as a parody. For one thing, it would be next to impossible these days to make a movie in which there were no love scenes. One of the two women, and probably both, would have to become involved with one of the three available men, which means that Ginger would probably end up with the Professor, while Mary Ann made her feelings known to Gilligan. The glitch is, the whole M.O. between Mary Ann and Ginger is that they're "the girls" on the island who are always trying to hold their own against "the boys." If you have them running in and out of the men's huts on bootie calls all the time, their solidarity goes out the window. The island dynamic goes from girls against boys to couples enforced retreat. And what about the poor Skipper? He would very likely end up the odd man out, turning him from the affable guy that we all know and love into a disgruntled, resentful loner who would probably start hitting Gilligan with something harder than his captain's cap. Besides that, Gilligan and the Professor both seemed almost pathologically asexual, and although I can imagine the Professor eventually falling sway to Ginger's advances, the thought of dopey Gilligan in the arms of a lustful Mary Ann is just...well...icky. Some characters should never be depicted having sex. Gilligan and Mary Ann are two of them.

THE SKIPPER: A SHIP WITHOUT A RUDDER WITHOUT HIS "LITTLE BUDDY"

This brings us back to the question with which we began this post: "Which one do guys prefer? Mary Ann or Ginger?" According to Wikipedia, in a variety of polls taken over the years (including one carried out by the producers of the show), Mary Ann has consistently beat out Ginger as the island girl that male viewers would most like to take home. Maybe it's simply because homespun Mary Ann seems more accessible than Ginger, who looks like the embodiment of the term "high maintenance." It bears noting that, in real life, Dawn Wells remained close to Bob Denver even after the show ended, so close, in fact, that when Denver was arrested after a box containing marijuana was mailed to his house in 1998, he at first told police that his friend, Dawn Wells had sent it, although he later recanted the statement and told the court that it must have come from "a crazy fan."
OH, MARY ANN! DAWN WELLS' 2007 MUG SHOT AFTER BEING CAUGHT WITH POT

In 2007, Wells had another marijuana-based run-in with the law, when she was stopped by the cops after she swerved her car across the road and was found to be in possession of marijuana. She was sentenced to seven months unsupervised probation. As for her post-Gilligan's Island career, the former gingham-clad country girl has made a name for herself as the author of several cookbooks and as the owner of Wishing Wells, an Idaho-based company that manufactures "clothing for people with limited mobility." Very Mary Ann-ish, wouldn't you say? Except for the marijuana part. But, at 74, Wells is hardly in the same league as...say...Lindsay Lohan. And if we can forgive Lohan, we sure as hell can do the same for the woman who gave us Mary Ann.

And what about Tina Louise, the actress who gave us Ginger Grant, and according to some fellow cast members as well as the show producers, gave headaches to a lot of people around her as well? Following the cancellation of Gilligan's Island, Louise did a number of films (Stepford Wives, Johnny Suede) before marrying TV announcer Les Crane with whom she has a daughter. Now based in New York, the former "movie star" has been involved with children's literacy work and, in 2006, published her first novel, Stupid and Contagious (did she get the title from the Nirvana song, I wonder?).

TINA LOUISE STILL GLAMMING IT UP AT AN AMPAS EVENT IN NEW YORK

At 71, (yes, Mary Ann was actually older than Ginger!), Louise doesn't talk much about her role as Ginger Grant anymore, but in more than one interview following Gilligan's Island's demise, the hot-headed redhead made a point of saying that she regretted having been on the show because it stereotyped her as an actress and ruined her career. And where Wells remained friends with Denver until his death in 2005, Louise went in the other direction, feuding with him after he gave an interview in which he portrayed Louise as a sex-hungry, self-promoting bitch who could be heard having uncensored physical contact with her boyfriend in her dressing room during lunch. Louise dismissed the comment, saying "I need more than half an hour, honey."

So, there you have it, my take on one of the great, ongoing pop culture questions. Interesting, though, that only three of the show's cast members are still alive. Russell Johnson, and, as fate would have it, Dawn Wells and Tina Louise. Let's just hope they don't all end up taking the same "Golden Years" cruise any time soon.

Monday, March 26, 2012

MACARTHUR PARK: THE SONG THAT LAUNCHED A THOUSAND PARODIES

JIMMY WEBB, SONGWRITER AND COMPOSER OF "MACARTHUR PARK"

In 1965, songwriter Jimmy Webb was dating Susan Ronstadt, (cousin of 1970s country rock queen Linda Ronstadt), who happened to work for an insurance company whose offices were located directly across the street from MacArthur Park in Los Angeles. The lovebirds met there frequently, to have lunch, to walk in hand in hand, and to do all the other things lovers do when they're together in parks. Everything was just hunky dory until Ronstadt broke things off, leaving Webb heartbroken and overcome with the desire to write a song about the erstwhile love affair, the happiest times of which (he felt) took place in MacArthur Park. Intended as a lover's lament in four parts, the song was merely a prelude to several other songs Webb wrote around the same time, all centered around the pain he felt over the break-up with Ronstadt. The best known of these songs, By The Time I Get To Phoenix, was recorded by Johnny Rivers in 1965, and re-recorded by Glen Campbell in 1968, becoming one of Campbell's most recognizable hits and reaching #3 on the U.S. Pop charts.

COUNTRY ROCK ICON LINDA RONSTADT (WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT HER COUSIN, SUSAN LOOKS LIKE)

Ronstadt eventually married another man, Webb continued to write songs, and a demo recording of MacArthur Park went nowhere. Shift forward to 1968, when Webb attended a fundraiser in East L.A. and ran into hard-drinking, womanizing English actor Richard Harris (A Man Called Horse, Camelot) who (according to Webb) announced, out of nowhere, that he wanted to record an album. Assuming that Harris was either drunk or just being silly, Webb blew him off. Until several months later, when the actor sent him a telegram from London asking him to fly over and assist him in the project. Webb agreed to do so, taking along a portfolio containing all of his compositions. After they met in London, Harris looked over all of Webb's songs and, much to Webb's surprise, chose MacArthur Park as the perfect song with which to make his pop music debut.

ENGLISH ACTOR AND LEGENDARY DRINKER, RICHARD HARRIS, CIRCA 1968

Harris' recording of the song was included on his 1968 debut album, A Tramp Shining, and was released as a single despite the fact that, at over seven minutes long, it was hardly radio friendly. But it was a hit for Harris nonetheless, topping the charts in Great Britain and Australia, and reaching #2 on the American pop charts. Its success came even though, throughout the song, Harris consistently and erroneously refers to its subject as "MacArthur's Park" instead of by its proper name, "MacArthur Park", as written by Webb. During the recording process, Webb said, he tried repeatedly to correct Harris's mistake, but the actor refused to comply, and eventually Webb just gave up and allowed the error to stand. The music industry didn't seem to care, either, and awarded MacArthur Park a Grammy for Best Arrangement With Accompanying Vocalist (s) the following year. No doubt Harris celebrated the accomplishment by downing several more hundred drinks than usual and falling flat on his face at the after party.

RICHARD HARRIS'S 1968 POP DEBUT SINGLE (NOTE THE TITLE)


Since that initial burst of success, MacArthur Park has remained in the public consciousness, most frequently as the butt of jokes and an object of parody. Why? Well, the lyrics, of course. Take the first verse, for instance, which I've included for your perusal below.

Spring was never waiting for us, girl
It ran one step ahead
As we followed in the dance
Between the parted pages and were pressed
In love's hot, fevered iron
Like a striped pair of pants

"Like a striped pair of pants"? Never mind that Harris and all subsequent artists who have covered the song pronounce the word "striped" as "strip-ed", which, in itself, is enough to set listeners a-titterin'. The real question is, what the hell does a striped pair of pants have to do with love's hot, fevered iron? Is Jimmy Webb writing about love or laundry? It's an unusual analogy to say the least, and critics have had a field day with it. And then there's the following, famous lyrical minefield. "MacArthur Park is melting in the dark, all the sweet, green icing flowing down." Why is that? Because someone left a cake out in the rain. But who would do such a thing? And why did Webb choose to include the image in the chorus of the song? In a 2007 interview, trying to defend his work, Webb said, "Those lyrics were all very real to me; there was nothing psychedelic about it to me. The cake, it was an available object. It was what I saw in the park at the birthday parties. But people have very strong reactions to the song. There's been a lot of intellectual venom."

INDIANA IU FOOTBALL TEAM MEMBERS IN STRIPED PAIRS OF PANTS, HOOSIER STYLE

Well, okay, we can give him that, I guess. The man's an artist. He's allowed to make lyric choices based on his own perceptions about love and life and whatever. But it's not just the song's lyrics that beg to be parodied. Take a gander at the vocal bridge.

There will be another song for me
For I will sing it
There will be another dream for me
Someone will bring it
I will drink the wine while it is warm
And never let you catch me looking at the sun
And after all the loves of my life
After all the loves of my life
You'll still be the one

As sung by Richard Harris, the bridge comes off as a tender, tear-jerking personal affirmation that life does, indeed, go on after the end of a love affair. The problem is, it comes after we've already heard him sing about the melting cake and the striped pair of pants pressed by love's hot, fevered iron. So, how are we supposed to take it seriously? And even if we did, why doesn't he want his former lover to catch him looking at the sun? Because it's dangerous, or because he doesn't want her to know that he's moved on and won't be committing suicide any time soon? And as for drinking the wine while it is warm, well, that's an equally ambiguous statement. Some wines, good wines, are supposed to be imbibed at room temperature, but warm? I don't know about you, but the last time I drank a glass of warm wine, at a family reunion on a hot summer day in the late 1980s, I felt like I wanted to throw up. But of course, most likely, the reference to wine is simply another of the overblown analogies that characterize the song, in which case, Webb is really talking about love (yet again) or even sex, which would also make sense. But why be so cryptic, Jimmy? Love is fraught with too many complications as it is. Did the world really need a song like MacArthur Park to come along and make it worse?

DONNA SUMMER: REVISTED MACARTHUR PARK IN 1978

Since Richard Harris's 1968 rendering of it, MacArthur Park has been covered by a slew of other artists, most successfully by Donna Summer, whose version of the song was released as a single in 1978, selling multi-millions of copies and hitting #1 on the American pop charts where it reigned for three weeks. Like Harris's version before her, Summer's rendition also includes the erroneous reference to the song's title, but because she sings it so well, and with so much passion, it's easy to forgive her. Besides, at this point, the song might as well be called MacArthur's Park since everyone thinks that's what it's called anyway.

WAYLON JENNINGS, CIRCA 1972: HE DRANK THE WARM WINE AS WELL

PSYCHOTICA: ARTISTS MOST UNLIKELY TO RECORD A VERSION OF MACARTHUR PARK, AND YET THEY DID ANYWAY

Other, very diverse artists who have covered MacArthur Park include Waylon Jennings, Sammy Davis, Jr, The Four Tops (really?), Justin Hayward (of the Moody Blues), Percy Faith, Liza Minnelli, Long John Baldry, Jerry Vale, The 5th Dimension, The Three Degrees, Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Queers, Psychotica, Aretha Franklin (again...really?), Ukuele Orchestra of Great Britain, Michael Feinstein, Andy Williams, Sally Yeh, Transistor, Transistor, and even Pink Lady. Never heard of Pink Lady? Go here. You'll never want to hear them again. Then again, maybe you will. Really, who are we to judge? But whatever you think of them, or the other artists who have chosen, for whatever reason, to cover MacArthur Park, one thing defies argument. The song has legs. Written in 1965 as salve for a broken heart, maligned for over thirty years as one of the worst songs ever written (by a man known for writing some very good songs), it refuses to lie down and die. And to be perfectly honest (as I always try my best to be), despite the fact that I know it's a horrible song and take great pleasure in making fun of it whenever the opportunity arises, I always enjoy hearing it. Sometimes I even sing it. I have no idea why. But therein lies the mystery and the power of the song. To paraphrase the final line of that overblown, hopelessly florid bridge, "And (I'll always be) wondering why."

MACARTHUR PARK, LOS ANGELES, HOME OF MELTING CAKES, STRIPED PAIRS OF PANTS, AND HEARTBROKEN LOVERS WHO DRINK WARM WINE.

Skol. xoxoxxoxoxxoxoxoxxoxoxxoxoxo

Friday, March 23, 2012

LADIES NIGHT: OUR TOP FIVE PICKS FOR ROCK AND ROLL'S MOST AMAZING WOMEN

Okay, well, the high temperatures have abated a bit, but I had so much fun writing the last post (it was the writing, I swear, not the beer I was drinking as I wrote it), I've decided to make another top five list on a related theme: rock and roll's most amazing women. It goes without saying that it's a subjective list, of course, and feel free to take issue with my choices. Just don't expect to convince me otherwise. And, so, that having been said, here we go...

DEBBIE HARRY, CBGB'S HOME GIRL AND NEW WAVE WUNDERKIND

No, wrong, it's not because of the way she looks and the fact that, during her heyday in the 80s, I wondered on a regular basis why I couldn't have been born in Florida, adopted by an older couple from New Jersey, and grown up to be Debbie Harry, front woman for Blondie. It's because she is such a damned survivor. After an ignominious beginning in the music scene as the (brown-haired) lead singer for a forgotten late 1960s folkie band called Willow, Ms Harry went to work as a Playboy Bunny, and then, after meeting Blondie guitarist and resident weirdo Chris Stein, reinvented herself as the queen of late 70s/early 80s New Wave, mesmerizing audience and many critics with a stage persona that seemed to be a mixture of Marilyn Monroe-style glamour, Ramones-inspired street savvy, and bad-girl-with-a-heart-of-gold earthiness. Her singing chops have never been what you could call "formidable", but as the co-writer of many of Blondie's songs, she deserves to be recognized as the artist she is instead of yet another pop diva, which she never was. And let's not forget that heart of gold thing. For me, one of the most intriguing things about Debbie Harry is her lack of artifice and a down-to-earth quality that fame doesn't seem to have diminished. Even after she and Stein parted ways romantically, she remained at his side following a serious illness which derailed his career back in the late 80s. And who can forget that moment when, following Blondie's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, Debbie and the current incarnation of the band took to the stage to perform, leaving fired rhythm guitarist, Frank Infante (aka Spook) at the podium. Feeling left out (understandably), Infante yelled out, "Hey, Debbie, I wanna play with you tonight!" Without blinking a mascara-fringed eye, Debbie replied,"Not tonight, Frank", grabbed her mike and started singing. Just another night for one of New York's best bands of the 1980s. And another cool moment for the woman who made that band worthy of its induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

CHRISSIE HYNDE, PRETENDERS FRONT WOMAN AND "TALK OF THE TOWN"

Let me say, straightaway, that there have been moments when, reading interviews with Chrissy Hynde, founder of The Pretenders, PETA spokeswoman, and former girlfriend of Pete Farndon (The Pretenders late bassist) and Ray Davies, as well as the ex-wife of Jim Kerr of Simple Minds, that I've thought to myself, "God, what a freaking bitch." I mean, of course reporters are going to ask personal questions about her relationship with Ray Davies, the equally snotty and brother-punching lead singer of The Kinks. That's what reporters do, Chrissy. And when it comes to PETA, well, nothing against vegetarians or those working to halt the mistreatment of animals, but it's not as though being the lead singer of The Pretenders (who it so happens was once a meat-eater herself) gives her the right to slam complete strangers for still enjoying a cheeseburger now and then. But all that aside, Chrissy Hynde is without question one of the most amazing women in rock and roll, if only because she has never, ever, as far as I can see, relied on anything but her musical and songwriting chops to achieve her much deserved success as an artist. I once read an interview with Pretenders drummer, Martin Chambers, in which he said that, during Chrissy's first pregnancy (blame Ray Davies) back in the 80s, it was hard to fathom the fact that she actually was pregnant because she had always just seemed like one of the guys. It was clearly not an act. Chrissy Hynde may never be mistaken for "pretty", but she' sexy nonetheless, simply because she is so completely and utterly herself on stage. But even now, pushing 60 and the mother of two daughters, don't waste time looking for her in "the middle of road." If Chrissy Hynde is anything at all, she's an artist...one who still has a razor sharp edge.

NANCY WILSON, GUITARIST WITH HEART...AND STYLE

There's a video on YOUTUBE, taken from a 1976 performance by Heart on the old TV show "Midnight Special" (pre-MTV, that's where we had to go to actually see the bands that we heard on the radio), which captures Nancy Wilson in what had to be one of Heart's most glorious moments up to that point. Standing alone in the spotlight, the rest of the band waiting in shadows behind her, acoustic guitar slung around her shoulders, she launches into the extended, record-perfect intro for "Crazy On You." There were other female guitarist around at the time. Suzi Quatro, Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Joanie Mitchell, and the tragically unsung June Millington, lead player for the all-woman rock band Fanny. But I wager that very few people watching the show that night had seen anything like Nancy Wilson before: a strikingly beautiful young woman handling her guitar with a riveting combination of confidence and quiet passion, her fingers flying over the strings, an artist in love with her instrument and seemingly oblivious to the fact that the majority of males in the audience were probably already in pre-wet dream stage. True, her older sister, Ann is every bit as amazing, her voice one of the most recognizable and most formidable in the history of rock and roll, but Nancy Wilson was a charter member of a club with an even more exclusive membership. Which brings us to what has been a burning question in the minds of all Nancy Wilson fans ever since she and her husband of 25 years, writer and filmmaker Cameron Crowe, announced their plans to divorce last year: For God's sake, Cameron...what the bloody hell is wrong with you?

DONNA SUMMER, HOT STUFF WORKIN' HARD FOR A LIVING

What can I say about Donna Summer without sounding trite? She has a voice that is at once sexy and majestic. She is a force of nature on stage, a stunning woman with the sort of stage presence that makes it impossible to take your eyes off her, especially when she's going those impossibly high notes that she somehow manages to toss off as easily as though she's simply clearing her throat. She's one of the few black women in music (at least in my opinion) who, like fellow artist of color, Jimi Hendrix, before her, has transcended R&B to carve out a singular niche of her own, one which can't be categorized because it defies genre completely. For a singer who started out as a disco-era siren moaning "love to love you, baby", Donna Summer has come a long way, breaking a lot of solid ground in the process and earning my respect as both an artist and a woman. Hot stuff? Try volcanic eruption. Hell, who else could have covered "MacArthur's Park", one of the most lyrically awkward songs ever written, and made it sound not only good, but poignant? But that's our Donna. Amazing. In the extreme.

JUNE MILLINGTON, THE WOMAN BEHIND FANNY AND GUITAR GODDESS EXTRAORDINAIRE

A while back, I did a post on June Millington, who, along with her sister, bassist Jean, co-founded the groundbreaking, and sadly unsung all-female rock band, Fanny in the late 60s. Not gonna cover that same broken ground again. Still, this list would be worthless without her name and face adorning it. June Millington has been called "the hottest female guitar player in the industry" by Guitar Player magazine, and the accolade is well-deserved, but even more than that, she is simply one of the great rock and roll musicians of all time. Genius loses none of its luster merely because it goes unrecognized by the majority of the population. It's one thing to be Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page, artists who no doubt struggled to achieve their musical goals and definitely paid the dues required to earn them a place in the rock and roll pantheon of guitar gods. It's quite another to be a woman banging away at the same goal, your musical chops often overlooked and even dismissed simply because you happen to be a woman, which meant, back in the primordial days of the late 60s and early 70s, you were apparently inviting derision simply for having learned to play the guitar and having the audacity to want to make a career out of playing it on stage. But that's what Jean Millington did, and is still doing, which makes her...wait for it...yes, that's right...amazing.

Skol. xoxoxoxxoxoxoxxoxoxxoxoxxoxoxoxxoxox

Thursday, March 22, 2012

LOVE TO LOVE YOU, BABY, BUT....

Because of the unexpected heat wave that has replaced the traditional coolish temperatures of early spring in this part of the world, I've decided to give myself a break and devote this post to something even more shallow than usual. And so, herewith, I present you with my top five picks for musicians I find extremely attractive and artistically intriguing, yet, for whom, for various reasons, have never felt the slightest twinge of sexual desire. Let us begin....

DAVID BOWIE (THIN WHITE DUKE PERIOD, CIRCA LATE 70S-EARLY 80s)

I fell in love with David Bowie the very first time I saw him in his platform heel-sporting, spandex-clad Ziggy Stardust persona. My affection and admiration for the man and his music only grew with every new album and every reinvention of personal style. Of course, throughout the seventies, I thought he was bisexual, mostly because he claimed that he was in interviews (although he has since recanted that statement, attributing it to the fact that he was "just searching" for his identity). But the bisexual thing just made him more intriguing to me. His songs were small portraits of strange desires, exotic imaginings, and a singular take on the trials and tribulations of love and lust in the modern world. My passion for Bowie probably reached its zenith during his "Berlin period", when I first saw the "Heroes" video and felt actual chills as he screamed out "Nothing can keep us together...but we can be heroes just for one day!" And yet, for all of my admiration for the man behind Major Tom, I just can't imagine sleeping with him. Perhaps because I met him once, at CBGB's in New York, and whilst sitting beside him on a bench, I realized how short he really was, and how frail he seemed, and when he looked at me (briefly) with his mismatched-colored eyes (one is brown, the other greenish-blue), I immediately pictured him as a space alien and was overwhelmed by the sense that nothing I said to him could possibly be interesting enough to keep his attention. So I let him go. He didn't even know I was doing it. He never will. But I kept his records, and that's where he will always remain for me...on vinyl and cd.

ELVIS COSTELLO, AKA RUSSELL MCMANUS, A REBEL JUST BECAUSE.

One of the great rock and roll moments to ever flash across TV screens had to be the night that Elvis Costello and The Attractions were the featured musical act on Saturday Night Live on December 17, 1977. (They were a last minute replacement for The Sex Pistols, who apparently had better things to do.) Forbidden by the show's producers to play their recent hit "Radio, Radio" because of the controversial nature of the song's content, the band began playing "Less Than Zero." A minute or so into the number, Elvis stopped the band and told the audience, "There's no reason to play this song." Then, turning back to the band, he directed them to play the forbidden song. The audience loved it. Producer Lorne Michaels was furious. Elvis ended up "banned for life" from the show. So, why wouldn't I want to sleep with a man whose balls are bigger than those of the man who created SNL? Because after that display of chutzpah, and many subsequent ones like it, the thought of seeing Mr. Costello taking off his socks and boxer shorts before slipping into bed is just too at odds with the image of him as a rock and roll rebel. Once you see a man sans socks and underwear, you can't help thinking of him as just a man, no matter how many wars he's won or historic speeches he's made. I'd rather think of Elvis Costello the way he was that night in 1977. In a black suit, white shirt, and skinny tie, hammering out angry chords on his guitar as he glared at the camera through those black horn-rimmed glasses. Thanks for the memories, Elvis. But let's just keep it platonic, okay?

PAUL MCCARTNEY, MUSICAL MAELSTROM, SONGWRITING GOD, AND THE "CUTE BEATLE."

Back in the Beatles' heyday, when all of my friends were declaring their love for one or another of the Fab Four, I was implacable in my status as "a John person." John was the dark soul of the band, the one with the acerbic wit, the loose canon who gave the band its sharpest edge. But I have always held great admiration for his songwriting partner, the infinitely more saccharine James Paul McCartney, and that admiration has been rewarded by the joy of watching a cultural icon grow and develop into an artist who now stands as one of the most important, and still highly influential figures in rock and roll. But the thought of making love to Sir Paul, and looking up in the middle of it to see those droopy-lidded hazel eyes that have adorned lunch boxes, cheesy chrome-framed posters, and even coffee mugs (used to have one) is just too unsettling. Some men are simply too iconic to see naked, and for me, Paul McCartney is one of them. So while I will always love the amazing and prolific Macca, it has always seemed best to take my rock and roll lover fantasies elsewhere.

BRYAN FERRY, A SLAVE TO LOVE, AND PROBABLY TO OCD AS WELL.

Bryan Ferry is a musical genius and the writer behind some of the best songs of the 1980s. But from the first time I saw him on stage in a tuxedo with a leather jacket over it, that little, errant lock of hair hanging down over his sweat-glistened forehead, I knew that he was probably the sort of guy who expects everything in his flat to be nice and neat and orderly (a place for everything, and everything in its place, ala Felix Unger), and his women to look at least as well-groomed as he does...which would be more waaaaaay more well-groomed than I am prepared to attempt for the sake of bedding even the man who wrote "More Than This", one of the most sensual love songs ever recorded by a man in a tuxedo. Besides, despite the beauty and grace of his songs, Mr. Ferry comes across as just a little too dweebish in interviews, as though, apart from his music, he's that man down the street who freaks out whenever anyone walks across his lawn. I love you, Bryan, and your music, and you can take me to Avalon anytime...but only in song.

MORTEN HARKET, A-HA HIGH NOTE HIT MAN AND "JUST TOO DAMNED PRETTY."

Ah, this one is the simplest of all. Bottom line, some men, no matter how talented they might be (and Norwegian song man Morten Harket does have a hell of a way with those high notes), are just too bloody pretty for the purpose of which we have been speaking. Sleeping with Morten Harket would be like taking the first bite out of a perfectly frosted ten-tiered cake with little candy rosettes around the sides. Even now, years after he first burst onto the music scene with those high cheekbones and matinee idol smirk, the man still looks like good enough to eat. But I'd be way too self-conscious to even reach for my fork. So, ixne on taking on Morten. I'd rather just make do with that wonderful comic book video from the 1980s, thank you.

Skol. xoxoxoxxoxoxoxoxxoxoxoxxoxoxo

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

ARE YOU A ROCKER OR A MOD?


I have a friend, Tasha, who grew up on military bases scattered across a number of different countries. Her mother was a Belgian national who met her father, an Irish-American GI from Boston, near the end of World War II whilst walking down a street in Brussels with a sack of turnips she had just bought with her ration card. The Brussels beauty and the google-eyed GI fell in love almost at first sight and married within weeks, just like a couple in a 1940s romance movie. Fast forward to 1953, the year that Tasha was born, on a military base in Japan. That's where she spent the first ten years of her life, the youngest of four children, content and secure and blissfully indifferent to the encroaching social and cultural storm clouds that were wafting steadily toward the other side of the world. Then, when she was around 12, the family relocated to England, where her parents enrolled her in an all-girls boarding school.

"I wasn't scared at all," Tasha once told me. "I looked at it as an adventure."

Even so, it was the first time she had been on her own, and, more important, the first time she had spent any substantial amount of time outside of Japan. But for a young girl who grew up a block away from a Buddhist temple and watching episodes of Flipper dubbed in Japanese (Dear God, the show was bad enough in English), it must have been quite the culture shock nonetheless. Especially the day on which she made a visit to the W.C. and was confronted by a couple of older girls who looked her up and down, and then demanded an answer to one of the more pressing questions of the time. "Are you a rocker or a mod?" they wanted to know. Ignorant of the implications behind the question, Tasha chose her response based on nothing more than a slight preference for the sound of the latter word. "A mod, I guess," she replied. It turned out to be the wrong answer, and she received a solid thrashing for the mistake. 300 kilometers away, in London, the Beatles had no idea that a 12-year-old girl had just had her nose bloodied, albeit unknowingly, on their behalf.

THE BEATLES: MOD MOPTOPS MUGGING MERRILY FOR THE MEDIA

It was one of the great cultural questions of the time. At least in Great Britain, where people could actually lose their lives based on their preference for a "mod" band like The Beatles or The Who over "rockers" like Eddie Cochran or The Rolling Stones. Rockers thought that mods were effeminate snobs on scooters while mods considered rockers to be little more than latter day Neanderthals in leather jackets and biker boots. The clash of sensibilities reached a fever pitch in 1964 when large numbers from both sides descended on Brighton Beach for Whitsun Weekend, precipitating a two-day brawl during which deck chairs were smashed, beer bottles were broken, and numerous arrests were made. The media labeled the extended melee "the second Battle of Hastings", one editorial even going so far as to warn readers that the conflict between rockers and mods would "bring about disintegration of a nation's character." It's interesting to note (at least I think it is) that the weekend's most violent confrontation took place when a small group of rockers who had become isolated on Brighton Beach were nearly decimated by a larger group of "effeminate" mods, despite the fact that the police were present and did their best to protect the quaking rockers from the tie-wearing mods.

ROCKERS: WILD ONES 1960S STYLE

MODS: THEY WERE ALL ABOUT THE SCOOTERS

The whole thing is chronicled pretty well in the 1979 film, Quadrophenia, an adaptation of The Who's 1973 rock opera of the same name. (Another interesting aside: John Lydon, aka "Johnny Rotten" of The Sex Pistols, auditioned for the role of the film's doomed hero, Jimmy, but was rejected for insurance reasons, the role eventually going to Phil Daniels.) By the late 60s, the rockers versus mods brouhaha was over, buried in a crush of psychedelic paraphernalia, peace symbols and flowers as artists like Jimi Hendrix, who were unaffiliated with either side, appeared on the scene. Even The Who, the patron saints of the mods, had moved on and considered the idea of mods versus rockers to be hopelessly passe.

And yet a residual form of the controversy remains. I encountered that sticky residue for the first time whilst riding with my bandmates on a revamped school bus en route to a gig in Calais, Maine back in the early 80s. It was winter, the roads were bad, and I was worried that we were going to die because our driver, who was also our soundman and sole roadie, insisted on drinking a bottle of MD 20/20 as he drove to keep from falling asleep. (Yes, I know it doesn't make sense, but that's not the point.) To distract me from my fears, our drummer, Pete (who was as sweet a guy as there ever was, not to mention a damn good musician) launched into an impromptu, sort of stream-of-consciousness game, insisting that he could analyze my psychological make-up based on my answers to a string of seemingly random questions. "Okay," I told him. "Go ahead."

First question was "Which do you like better, Cheeze-Its or Cheese Nips?" I went with Cheeze-Its. Second question was "Which would you rather have for your last meal? A cheeseburger, lobster, or spaghetti and meatballs?" I opted for the cheeseburger, unless it was made with American cheese, in which case, I'd rather have the spaghetti and meatballs. Third and last question was "Who do you like better? The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?" My response, without hesitation, was The Beatles. Pete was silent for a moment. I waited. The bus swerved to the right. I shouted, "Slow down!" Pete reached over and grabbed my hand.

"You're a hopeless romantic," he said.

I stared at him. "What?"

"From the way you answered the questions, I'd have to say that you're a hopeless romantic," he repeated.

"Because I'd rather die with a cheeseburger in my stomach than spaghetti sauce on my chin?"

"No...because The Beatles wanted to hold your hand and The Rolling Stones wanted satisfaction. Get it?"

I sort of did. More so now. Since then, I've encountered the same Beatles versus The Rolling Stones question in other situations, and knowing the philosophy behind it, have tempered my answer to reflect a more complex attitude regarding the idea. Ask me now which band I prefer, the Beatles or the Stones, and I'd have to say, "Well, it depends. Musically, I feel more aligned with the sensibilities of the Beatles, but, physically, well...let's just put it this way. I would have been more than happy to let any one of the four Beatles hold my hand. But when it comes to satisfaction, out of both bands, I can only think of one man fit for the job."


Gimme shelter, late 1960s Keith Richards...and thank you.

Skol. xoxoxoxxoxoxxoxoxxoxoxoxxoxoxo