Last week I was stunned to discover a holiday that I had never heard of, even though it began decades ago.
4-20 day (April 20th) celebrates marijuana use and, according to ever-reliable Wikipedia, started in the 1970s when some stoner dudes decided 4:20 in the afternoon is the perfect time to get high.
Now, in my youth, I experimented a few (hundred) times with the wacky tobaccy, but I now choose to experience life in the available light as photographers say.
I should mention that my double-blind pot experiments were conducted under strict laboratory conditions, and I eventually proved my hypothesis that smoking weed makes you about as smart as a bag of hammers.
Fortunately, like Bill Clinton, I never actually inhaled any of the giggles- and munchies-inducing smoke on the off chance I might someday become President and have some ‘splainin’ to do.
420 Day is not the only unofficial US holiday; here are some more:
Mole Day--October 23rd-- Not a celebration of the burrowing rodent or Fantastic Four villain or even home grown spies, but recognition of a measurement used by chemists derived from Avogadro's number, which is approximately 6.02×1023 and that...
Oh man, I fell asleep mid-sentence. I’m talking serious REM and drool here. Google it yourself.
Ninja Day-- December 5th—On Ninja Day, people are encouraged to dress as ninja, engage in ninja-related activities, and spread ninja info on the web. The date coincided with the release of the 2003 Tom Cruise film “The Last Samurai” which featured the black-clad martial artists.
I wonder if this holiday will be celebrated in France this year because, while there are differences, the black ninja outfits kinda resemble Muslim burqas, which were recently outlawed there. I predict come December 5th there will be so many ninja congregating near the Eiffel Tower that the French Army will have to be called out and will, as they historically do, surrender.
No Pants Day—First Friday in May—This day is based on a prank. People attend an event sans trousers (they do wear undies) and act as if prancing around pant-less ain’t no thang. Teens may have an advantage as some have worn theirs around their ankles for years.
First Contact Day--April 5th 2063—This holiday celebrates the day Zefram Cochrane achieved (or will achieve) warp drive and made first contact with aliens (Vulcans) as shown in the 1996 movie “Star Trek: First Contact.” I talked with a local Trekker who gave me way more details about it than I ever needed or cared to know, and it became clear that he is still waiting for first contact with a female.
In addition to the actual unofficial holidays, I propose a few of my own:
Yodish Day—June 6th (Yoda is 66 centimeters tall)--Jedi Master Yoda’s distinctive speech pattern (mixing up word order) would be emulated on this holiday. “Fries with that will I have,” “Not fat make you look those jeans,” “Crap, oh! Medical Marijuana card have I lost, and 420 Day it is!”
Blow Up Your Computer Day—December 31st/January 1st (Commemorates the Y2K scam)--Wouldn’t it be awesome to exact a measure of revenge for all the freeze ups, deletions of vital data at the exact wrong time and dreaded Blue Screens of Death you’ve had to endure from computers over the years?
Talk In Cartoon Balloons Day—November 26th (Charles Schulz’s birthday)—Revelers communicate via cartoon balloon all day. This was originally known as “Think in Cartoon Balloons Day,” but too many people got in trouble.
Do All the Things Your Mother Told You Not To Do Day—(Whenever the Heck You Want)--Activities include jumping on the bed, making faces at people and leaving the house wearing dirty underwear.
Unfortunately participants soon discover that they fall off the bed and break their necks, their faces freeze that way and when they inevitably get into an accident the first thing paramedics check are not vital signs but to see if they have clean drawers.
I’m going to see blues icon Buddy Guy this Friday in Davis. While listening to Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan or Howlin’ Wolf brings me pleasure, blues songs are generally about three things:
1. My baby left me.
2. I wish my baby would leave me.
3. My baby left me; came back and now I wish she would leave again.
I’ve always wanted to play blues guitar, but I’m too lazy to practice. Then I remembered the story of how Delta Blues legend Robert Johnson went down to the crossroads and sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for the ability to play some, well, wicked guitar.
Since the whole selling your soul to the Devil thing is kinda frowned upon at my church, I instead met Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis at the Starbucks at the crossroads of Jefferson and Texas streets and leased my soul to him.
Now I can masterfully play Delta blues, Chicago blues, blues-rock, Jake and Elwood Blues and Blues Clues.
My first CD, a true masterpiece entitled “Suburban Blues,” drops today. My songs explore more than the aforementioned three topics, but like any blues record worth its salt, it has in-depth liner notes that give the background of each song. Here they are:
My lead-off, “Ain’t Afraid of No Baby Goo,” is about how I thought (before my daughter was born) my biggest problem was going to be dealing with the icky fluids and solids that infants produce with regularity. I learned that changing diapers is easy, but dealing with what comes out the other end—wailing, screeching, and crying-- is the hard part.
“My DVR is Full Blues” explores the cataclysmic dilemma of having to choose whether to delete one Raider game or three episodes of “House” to make room for “Survivor: Redemption Island.” My Ry Cooder-like slide solo adds tragic atmosphere.
Ever since I saw the movie “Colors” -- about Southern California street gangs the Bloods (who wore red) and the Crips (who wore blue)—I’ve wondered “What Does a Blood Do When He’s Got Da Blues?” This song doesn’t really answer the question, but has a blistering guitar solo.
When my brothers and I were younger we would pull practical jokes like sending each other magazine subscriptions to Cosmopolitan or Vogue. “Stop Foolin’ with my Netflix Queue” is about how its gone hi-tech. My brother Kelvin hacked into my Netflix account, and I have “Beaches,” “Thelma and Louise” and “Waiting to Exhale” topping my list.
I was working on song ideas with Daily Republic blogger Nick DeCicco (“For Those About to Rock”) and he waxed eloquent about the way corner-piece brownies are better than single-edged brownies, which in turn are better than the freaky, edgeless, chocolaty squares in the middle of the pan. That was the impetus for “No-Account Woman Left Me a No-Edge Brownie.” Nick also plays some mean cowbell on the track.
“Press 1 for English” is an angry song about the frustration of talking to tech support. “I’m as hot as a flambé/Talking to some jerk in Bombay” is my favorite couplet. I know Bombay is now known as Mumbai... but you try rhyming something with that.
“The Sounds of Silence” is my bluesy adaptation of the classic Simon and Garfunkel tune. I sped it up a bit, added some boogie-woogie piano and a phat tenor saxophone, and changed a few of the lyrics. Instead of starting out with “Hello darkness my old friend/It’s time to talk with you again,” I sing: “I’m feeling angry, mad and mean/ Like a bigger, blacker Charlie Sheen.”
The slow-grinding number “No Chunky” reflects the deep psychological trauma I recently experienced when the grocery store was out of chunky peanut butter. In addition to my tasteful B. B. King-esque guitar solo, I’m proud to say that I cleverly rhymed the word “creamy” with Kathy Najimy—the zaftig actress who played Sister Mary Patrick in “Sister Act.” Only I didn’t use the word “zaftig” -- I used “chunky.”
I told you it was a masterpiece.
Reach Fairfield freelance writer and bluesman Tony Wade at email@example.com
Saturday the 16th marks the 4-year anniversary of this column. I tried to convince DR managing editor Glen Faison that the proper method of celebrating a column’s fourth year was to put it smack dab on the front page blown up corner to corner, but obviously he didn’t buy it.
So instead, I will simply focus this entire column on the number 4.
THE FANTASTIC FOUR—In 1977 my mom gave me a subscription to Marvel’s Fantastic Four comic book. One of my favorite issues was when Reed Richards a.k.a. Mister Fantastic was stuck in the Negative Zone, an alternate antimatter dimension.
Now in 2011 you can simply Google “negative zone” and get detailed info on just what it was all about. Back in the day, however, you had to read a ton of comic books and cross reference those with others. I knew about what super villains lived there, what sort of creatures inhabited it and the dangers inherent in visiting it. Why, I would have become a Negative Zone scholar if I hadn’t, you know, discovered girls.
THE PREHISTORIC FOUR—While “The Flintstones” had other characters like Pebbles and Bamm Bamm , Joe Rockhead and Mr. Slate, the show was primarily about the relationships between the four main characters-- Fred and Wilma Flintstone and Barney and Betty Rubble. I learned several life lessons from the show including:
1. Drive a hybrid car.
2. Just accept that often the animals that run your household appliances are going to make wiseacre comments from time to time.
3. If you start running in your house it will somehow magically become infinitely long and your furniture will repeat itself every 10 feet or so.
4. It’s okay for a man to wear a dress as long as it promotes baseball unity (Fred’s San Francisco Giants’ orange and black evening gown set off with an LA Dodger blue tie).
“4” BY FOREIGNER—Who could forget such classic songs as “Urgent”, “Waiting for a Girl Like You” and “Juke Box Hero” on their chart-topping 1981 album?
This is also the record where some of the members of the band that started out as a sextet discovered royalty checks divided by four were bigger and sacked two members.
UNLUCKY FOUR--Four is considered an unlucky number in certain Asian cultures because it sounds like the word "death." Consequently, many of their numbered product lines skip the number four.
Nokia cell phones have no series beginning with a 4 and when Microsoft Windows released their fourth version they called it “Windows 95."
I get that, but calling the Beatles “The Fab 95” would just be confusing.
THE FOUR GREAT ELEMENTS—The four great elements are of course earth, wind, fire and water. Like Foreigner though, Earth, Wind & Fire jettisoned Water for fatter paychecks.
19 > 4 —Before I think I’m all that because “The Last Laugh” turns four this month, I should mention that my brudda Kelvin’s column “The Other Side” has been running for 19 straight years.
I owe a debt of gratitude to my younger brother for paving the way for me, but dagnabit, just once I would like a Daily Republic reader to confuse him for me instead of the other way around.
What usually happens is someone walks up and says they really enjoy reading my articles. They then cite a particular one they read recently that presented a nuanced, cogent opinion on a particular topic.
I then have to tell them that Kelvin wrote that column and explain that I write about much weightier matters like whether or not we should chisel out some trousers to cover the Chief Solano bare-bootied /thonged statue downtown.
Their reaction is to cough nervously, avert their eyes and, mumble that they, uh, like my stuff too.
I perform this humiliating little ritual so often that, to be efficient, I typed up a tersely-worded statement declaring who I am, laminated it and read it to people like a cop informing them of their Miranda Rights. Hopefully by the 5th anniversary I'll have it memorized.
Reach Fairfield freelance writer Tony Wade at *sigh* firstname.lastname@example.org
My daughter attends a private Christian school and I have sometimes led their Chapel sessions they have every day. While I am serious about my Christian faith, I enjoy singing fun so-called children’s songs. I wrote a parody song with accompanying PowerPoint slides called “The 10 Plagues on Egypt” about Moses and the Israelites from the Bible book of Exodus.
It uses the tune from the “The 12 Days of Christmas” and the slides are hilarious. I led it last year and once we were done I told the students that I had recently discovered an eleventh plague and started the song again. Number 11 was revealed as…Justin Bieber.
The whole school erupted in laughter when the slide was revealed. Well, except for a few diehard fans who were near tears.
Now, I don’t actually look upon Justin Bieber as a plague. In fact I don’t really want to know about him at all, but that has become impossible.
Growing up it was relatively easy to ignore teen heartthrob artists that only girls liked such as Leif Garrett, David Cassidy, Bobby Sherman and Andy Gibb. Unlike DR columnist Brad Stanhope, I never subscribed to Tiger Beat or Seventeen magazine and there’s no way you would catch me listening to any of their songs.
I was aware of later acts like New Kids on the Block, New Edition, Hanson, and most recently Aaron Carter, but they did not invade my space.
But I cannot escape the Bieber. With today’s massive interconnected media I happen to know that
Then there was the “Glee”episode. And a reference on “The Office.” And the Best Buy commercial with Ozzy. Enough!
The Justin Bieber overexposure is too much to take. I’m not a hater, but it would be pretty easy to be one. I mean, the only song I knew by him was “Baby” and I have visions of the 1950’s Steve Allen routine where he would read rock and roll song lyrics as poetry with lilting piano in the background as the audience howled.
And I was like baby, baby, baby, oh
Like baby, baby, baby, no
Like baby, baby, baby, oh
I thought you'd always be mine
Not exactly Paul Simon (“Who?” just thunk the three teens who read this column)
I was also aware of a hilarious website called “Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber” which allows gay young ladies to upload pictures of themselves and quite a few of them do look remarkably like the You Tube phenom. Evidently he co-opted their look and not vice-versa.
My 13-year old daughter Kaci of course likes the Biebster, but has played it cool. She really wanted to go see his movie “Never Say Never” but I put my foot down. I couldn’t see spending you know, actual American dollars on such claptrap.
Then I remembered something I always tell her and that’s the danger of practicing contempt prior to investigation. I’ve showed her great films like “12 Angry Men” and “Malcolm X” and “Amadeus” and she balked at them at first but soon discovered that dad was right (as always).
So I asked Kaci about other Justin Bieber songs and she said I should listen to the song “Pray.” I watched the video on You Tube and was genuinely touched at the images of sick and hurting people and especially those of the Bieb visiting Make-a-Wish children in hospitals and praying.
So I’m a fan now. The only thing is I have way too much bass in my voice for all that high-pitched screaming that is expected.
I also nixed the idea of getting a Bieber tattoo, but I am getting hair extensions so I can more closely resemble a lesbian.
Reach Fairfield freelance writer Tony Wade at email@example.com
DAVIS - When many people think of Christian music, they picture the Bill Gaither Homecomings with people sitting around a piano singing gospel songs in four-part harmony.
Toby Mac's Winter Wonder Slam Tour, which touched down Sunday at UC Davis's ARC Pavilion, featured screaming guitars, phat beats and freestyle rap battles.
What the two have in common is who they sing about.
The opening act on the three-band bill was alternative rockers House of Heroes. Their brief, loud set convinced me that I am not their target demographic.
I later discovered they had recorded an extended play album (fewer songs than an actual album) of Beatles covers and I would've loved it if they had done, 'It Won't Be Long' or 'Can't Buy Me Love.'
Brandon Heath was next up to bat and connected with the crowd on favorites such as 'I'm Not Who I Was' ,' 'Give Me Your Eyes' as well as the title track from his newest release, 'Leaving Eden.'
Heath's band featured chiming, driving guitars and tight vocals.
After Heath's performance, the stage was literally set for the former member of legendary Christian rap/rock trio DC Talk.
The twin video screens above the stage displayed a clock counting down from two minutes, which the crowd joined in at 10 seconds like the ball was about to drop in New York on New Year's Eve.
What dropped was the beat as Toby Mac and his band Diverse City took the stage -- with some bouncing on trampolines -- and led off with the title track from their 2010 album 'Tonight.'
The Diverse City band consists of guitarist Tim 'T-Rose' Rosenau and trumpet player on 'No Ordinary Love;' bassist Todde 'Toddiefunk' Lawton; drummer Brian 'Da Bomb' Haley; keyboardist Dave 'D-Dub' Wyatt; Byron 'Mr. Talkbox' Chambers, who does the monster voice, keys, electric guitar; and turntables, DJ Maj.
The singers/rappers/beatboxer/dancers include Gabe 'GabeReal' Patillo, Deshon 'Shonlock' Bullock and Nirva 'Nirva Ready' Dorsaint-Ready.
The high energy show jumped into gear with snippets of crowd favorites including the raucous rocker, 'The Slam,' the infectious, 'The J Train,' and the funky, 'Welcome to Diverse City.'
Toby then tapped on the brakes and slowed it down with the breezy rap/ballad 'Lose My Soul' from his 2007 album 'Portable Sounds.' The original featured Kirk Franklin and 'American Idol' contestant Mandisa, but there was no drop off as the Diverse City vocalists handled their respective parts.
The Winter Wonder Slam concert suddenly morphed into an impromptu worship service as Toby led the crowd in singing the chorus of the Christmas classic 'O Come All Ye Faithful.' Hands were raised and eyes were closed as the refrain 'O Come let us adore him' was repeated.
The bouncy 'Made to Love' was followed by a freestyle rap battle between Diverse City band members, which lead in turn to an explosive version of 'Boomin'. '
The stage had a long runway jutting into the middle of the choice seats. Mac, along with guitarist Rosenau and vocalist/beatboxer Patillo, went to the edge of the runway and performed a wonderful acoustic set that included, 'Catachafire (Whoopsi--Daisy)' and 'Gone.'
They then threw what Mac called a 'California curveball' and added a version of last year's best known song from 'American Idol,' 'Pants on the Ground.'
Patillo produced a Bible,(which got a huge ovation) and Mac read I John 1:5-7 and then launched into the DC Talk cover of Charlie Peacock's song about those verses, 'In the Light.'
Two songs from 'Tonight' followed: 'Get Back Up,' with Brandon Heath helping out on the bridge, and 'Funky Jesus Music.' Then, the band retreated backstage.
The encore featured the powerful ballad 'City on Our Knees,' which was punctuated by images of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. The show closed with Mac's signature tune, 'Jesus Freak,' and with the band flinging bottled water on the crowd and then sliding down the doused runway.
When the house lights came up signifying the show was over, the song playing on the public address system was Huey Lewis and the News's, 'The Power of Love.'
While not a Christian tune, it summed up nicely what the songs on the Winter Wonder Slam show were all about.
Reach Fairfield freelance writer Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christian recording artist Toby Mac was one-third of the influential rap/rock group DC Talk before they took an extended intermission 11 years ago. He then launched a successful solo career which has garnered acclaim, a Grammy award and fans around the globe.
Toby Mac recently took some time to answer a few questions via telephone.
Q: You’re usually called a Christian hip-hop artist or Christian rapper, but how do you describe your sound?
TM: The short version is I call it urban rock. The longer is something I call hiprockfunksoul. It’s a melting pot of everything I grew up loving.
Q. What is the difference between Christian artists and secular? I mean, what are your goals and motivations?
TM: It all comes back to my faith. Sometimes I stumble, sometimes I fall, but my desire is that God be the center of my life. Real artists, Christian or secular, want their experiences poured into their art so it can inspire people.
Q. Your songs are all over pop culture –movies, television, video games—but not the overtly Christian ones. How would someone know you are a Christian?
TM: I think there are many songs on my records that the whole world can enjoy. I want my music to be out there. I love that my song "The Slam"
was used in "Transporter 2." Some Christians say “that’s a rated R movie.”I think sometimes we stay inside the building too much. We need to get out there as long as we are delivering something that’s passionate and real and uncompromised.
Q: “Wonderin’” on your last album “Tonight” seems to be talking about DC Talk rather wistfully.
TM: It’s a smiling glance back at the past. There’s always days when I look back and think “man, those were some good years. I wonder if we’ll ever do that again?”
Q: What would it take for a reunion to happen?
TM: Well, I’ve been working with the Diverse City band for as long as I was with DC Talk and these people are near and dear to me—we’re a family. I’d be turning my back on them if I went in that direction. The timing would have to be right for all three of us. We’re all still friends, and the relationships are healthy. It’s just a matter of when.
Q: In “Yours” on your first album you reflect on your younger days in the lyric: “Simple-minded little punk, thought I was the junk, nobody ever told me that my doo-doo stunk." Now that you are a Grammy winner and very successful who tells you that your doo-doo stinks?
TM: (laughs) A lot of people, starting with my wife and moving onto one of my best friends who is my manager. Then there’s my band. Trust me, my band will let me have it instantly. As a matter of fact, they did this morning. They called me out on a few things. I tend to walk with great men and great women who are willing to be honest with me even when it hurts and I love that about them.
Q: How do you stay grounded spiritually on the road?
TM: We have Bible studies and prayer time before the show and sometimes we often share what we’re learning. It’s a real thing out here, not just something we say on stage. We are the body of Christ and try to use our time wisely and go deeper.
Q: What can concertgoers expect in Davis?
TM: It’s definitely a diverse lineup. House of Heroes is an incredible rock band, Brandon Heath is a great singer-songwriter performer and me and Diverse City are gonna offer up a big pot of soulful gumbo. We want everyone to come out and have a good time and maybe leave thinking more deeply about a lot of things--from your neighbor to God to who you are. __________________________________________________________
Reach Fairfield freelance writer Tony Wade at email@example.com
FAIRFIELD—If British novelist Charles Dickens were alive today and able to see what Invision It Productions and Bliss Dance Company did to his 1843 story “A Christmas Carol” he would roll over in his grave.
Not in the bad way, he would just roll over to give himself more room to bust a move to the beat.
“A Hip Hop Christmas Carol” written and produced by the über talented team of David Rodgers Jr. and Fae Salfiti was a powerful, funny, and ultimately poignant slice of local theater. The familiar story of how Ebenezer Scrooge is transformed from cantankerous to caring after visits from three ghosts has been told in many different ways but never quite like this.
The play began with about 30 young people onstage talking amongst themselves when a young man with a boom box enters and starts playing the seminal 1979 rap song “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang. A fierce and fun dance battle then erupts with amazing dancer after amazing dancer trying to one up someone they personally challenge.
Local singer/dancer/actor Ruben Oriol-Rivera plays Skrooge and as his nephew Fred (Adam Wayne Gistarb) described him he was “greedy and shady.” Indeed he owns a record company called So So Shady Records. The gold records and album covers by Ice Cube, India Arie in Skrooge’s office were a nice touch.
A particularly funny scene was when Oriol-Rivera was getting into his jammies and was jamming to Right Said Fred’s 1991 hit “I’m Too Sexy” mugging at himself in the mirror. Skrooge’s long dead business associate Marley (Jaron Carolina) visits and he looked a whole lot like murdered rapper Tupac Shakur from the trademark bandana tied in the front to the “THUG LIFE” tattoo on his stomach. He was ushered onstage to Pac’s “California Love.”
After issuing his dire warning of the spectral visitations Skrooge would encounter and then exiting, suddenly ghouls emerged from backstage, from behind curtains, and from behind the audience, one actually startling me. They then exploded onto the stage and did a spot-on run-through of the iconic dance moves to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
The Ghost of Christmas Past was none other than local gymnast and performing superstar Gabi Crump who was dressed as the late King of Pop circa 1983 complete with the requisite hat and bejeweled single glove. Crump's character showed Skrooge just what a punk he had been in the past before turning it over to the Ghost of Christmas Present.
Where to start with the character played by Angeline “Cuba” Johnson Holman? Perhaps with her outfit—pink tights covered with tight blue jean shorts, leather boots and a gold belt. She had a hot pink purse which seemingly had nothing but food in it because she was grubbin’ the whole time she was on stage.
She led a smaller troupe of female dancers in a sizzling dance routine to Beyonce’s 2008 hit Single Ladies (Put a Ring On it). The young ladies’ outfits featured fishnet, boas, and splashes of color all of which were in frenetic motion punctuated with sass and attitude.
The Ghost of Christmas Present showed Skrooge how his spendthrift ways had affected his worker Cratchitt (Darrin Johnson) and his young crippled son Tiny Tim (double cast as Jordan Jackson and Jamil Madison).
Tia Madison was over-the-top great as the Ghost of Christmas Future and when she showed Skrooge his grave and launched into an impassioned version of “Amazing Grace” it nearly brought the house down.
The show closed with curtain calls to RUN DMC’s 1987 fun holiday rap hit “Christmas in Hollis.”
Everything in the show was right and worked together for a completely entertaining and fresh theatrical adventure. The dialogue was funny and real and while plenty of slang was used, context is provided so there’s no need to have to consult urbandictionary.com later. The choreography was awesome and what really came across was that the dancers were having fun which made it fun for the audience as well.
The theme of caring for the less fortunate is not only present in the play, but is taken to heart by writer David Rodgers Jr. He set a goal of raising $240 to donate to Operation Smile, a charity with a mobilized force of medical professionals who perform surgery on children born with facial deformities. Audience members can donate after the show, online at operationsmile.org or by calling 1-800-786-0783.
This funky fresh twist on a classic is only here for this weekend so you need to see it tonight!
three stars out of four
Reach Fairfield freelance writer Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org
INvision It Productions and Bliss Dance Company
“A HIP HOP CHRISTMAS CAROL”
Written by David Rodgers Jr and Fae Salfiti
Directed by David Rodgers Jr
Choreographed by Fae Salfiti
Dec 10 at 7:30pm
Dec 11 at 2pm and 7:30pm
Dec 12 at 2pm and 7pm
FOR TICKET RESERVATIONS CALL 707 330-8965 or email email@example.com.
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MISSOURI STREET THEATRE
1125 MISSOURI STREET
FAIRFIELD, CA 94533
(warning: the video contains some profanity)
My brother Kelvin’s recent harrowing flight and his resultant gratitude when it was over which he detailed in his column last Thursday, sparked a memory of one of my favorite scenes in a movie. The flick is “Almost Famous” by director Cameron Crowe (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”. “Jerry Maguire”).
It is a semi-autobiographical tale about a 15-year old who is writing a story for Rolling Stone magazine about an up-and-coming rock band. The budding rock journalist witnesses all the band’s backstage issues including drugs, groupies, and personality conflicts. The relevant scene is when they are flying in a small plane to a gig, hit major turbulence and it appears the plane is about to crash.
Getting a little scared, one of the band members makes a blanket “if anything should happen I love all of you guys” statement, but when it actually appears they are in mortal danger, they get more real.
The band manager admits that he once hit a man with his car and kept going and was sorry. Then the floodgates open and revelations about intra-band infidelities, declarations of love from one band member to another’s girlfriend and resentment over the self-centeredness of the lead singer fly around the cabin along with anything not nailed down.
Finally the drummer yells out that he is gay and suddenly the plane straightens out and the band realizes that not only will they live, but they now have to live with the truths that hang in the air.
What I like about the scene is that it shows how so many of us hold on to our true feelings and secrets until we think death is imminent. The thing is, death is always imminent. As far as I know, no one knows the exact hour when they will draw their last breath.
This column isn’t about death however; it’s about telling people what we think while we still can. Unlike the movie, I’m not suggesting that it necessarily be negative things either.
My parents’ generation didn’t open up and talk about feelings and motivations. It just wasn’t done. Consequently many of their children sought affirmation, approval and love and needed it to be verbalized and not just shown through actions.
It’s kind of like “Fiddler on the Roof” when Tevye asks his wife Golde if she loves him and she replies that she has cooked and cleaned and raised a family with him for 25 years.
I had a complicated relationship with my father growing up. We were just so different. I think what helped open up or relationship was me growing up and not seeing him as just an extension of my environment, but an actual human being with needs, desires and cares like anyone else.
I’m very thankful that before both of my parents passed away any resentment that I had allowed to fester when I was younger was cleared away.
Compared to my parents’ generation which played their cards close to the vest, the current one just shows their hand all the time.
It seems nowadays we’ve swung too far the other way with people sharing way too much stuff about themselves on TV talk shows and social media internet sites. I don’t think everybody needs to know all of your business.
However I think it’s definitely beneficial to have someone, even if it’s just one person, you can be open and honest with.
I think like a lot of people and men especially, when I was younger I both craved and feared true intimacy. I now know that that’s what life is about—connecting with people on a deep level.
While it would be really great if you could just read other people‘s thought balloons, as far as I know there is no shortcut to true intimacy. And from my experience, it’s so much better to try to achieve it before you think you only have seconds to live.
Reach Fairfield freelance writer Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm sorry if I can't seem to summon up the appropriate politically correct outrage that the new Eagles CD is only available at Wal-Mart and that a teenager in a Chinese sweat shop is making 14 cents a day making lead-filled toys so I can buy this wonderful two-disc set for only $11.88. It's just so good that my conscience has been numbed!
When the Eagles had their reunion in 1994 with "Hell Freezes Over" I was ecstatic, but still that album only had a few new tracks and newer acoustic versions of some of their classic songs. That's what makes "Long Road Out of Eden" so refreshing. The creativity and harmonies that have been a trademark of the band for so long are in wonderful abundance.
There are common themes that run through the Eagles extensive catalog--love, love lost, loneliness and social satire--and not surprisingly they show up on the new disc as well.
I don't know of too many records that kick off with a poem written by the current Sterling Professor Emeritus of English at Yale University, but this one does. John Hollander's poem "An Old Fashioned Song" is Eaglized into "No More Walks in the Wood" : a soaring harmonic tour-de-force marriage of word and glorious vocal. The radio hit "How Long" follows up and evokes the country-rock hybrid of past compositions yet sounds fresh at the same time. Don Henley's "Busy Being Fabulous" laments the demise of a relationship of a couple one of which is more in love with the spotlight than their significant other and does so with an instantly catchy chorus and mid-tempo beat.
Okay, call me a big sentimental softie but the delicate ballad "What Do I Do With My Heart" caused a lone tear to trickle down my face on first listen. The call and response part between Don Henley and Glen Frey after the bridge where he is pleading is just classic and so emotive.
The quirky voice of Joe Walsh is an acquired taste which I acquired a long time ago with "Life's Been Good." It is a welcome change from the more sedate vocals of his compatriots and adds nice contrast. The song he sings, "Guilty of the Crime" isn't great, but it has a lot of heart, great slide guitar and is fun.
Bassist Timothy B. Schmidt handles the vocals on "I Don't Want To Hear Anymore" which is a gentle radio-friendly tune which is also about a breakup. At this point you start to think that geez, these Eagles really are in dire need of a hug.
"Waiting In The Weeds" showcases the lyrical dexterity these seasoned tunesmiths are capable of. "I don't know when I realized the dream was over/there was no particular hour, no given day/you know, it didn't go down in flame/there was no final scene, no frozen frame/I just watched it slowly fade away." I would've paid $11.88 for this one awesome Henley masterpiece.
The Bruce Hornsby-eque "No More Cloudy Days" serves as a counterpart to love-lost-breakup songs and describes in a warm way the hope and beauty and fear around a new relationship.
"Fast Company" is my least favorite song on the album. It's not terrible, it just pales when compared to some of the other gems presented. It's a throwaway song that doesn't really connect on an emotional level. At least not with me.
Schmidt returns on "Do Something" which is a countryish slow number and again is about the numbing process of getting over a broken relationship. Man, I hope these guys are getting some therapy.
Glen Frey closes out disc one on a hopeful note with "You Are Not Alone." It's simplistic, but effective and the martial drumming and airy background vocals make it endearing and original.
The title track of the album is the disc two opener and while I like the Henley wordplay and the sarcasm throughout it is a little bloated as it clocks in at over 10 minutes long.It starts with over a minute of what sounds like desert wind blowing or something. I get that they are trying to make it into this centerpiece of the album but it kinda comes across as self-indulgent. I do like the crispy guitar solo in the middle though.
A wonderfully performed guitar and keyboard instrumental "I Dreamed There Was No War" follows and it is both powerful and thought-provoking even sans vocal.
"Somebody" is in the vein of "Fast Company" on disc one. It's not awful, but it ain't great either.
I've loved past examples of the biting wit of Don Henley like "Dirty Laundry" and "Get Over it" but "Frail Grasp of the Big Picture" not only comes across as preachy and a little condescending, it's not a very well-constructed song. I mean, the music is great, but it seems to have just had the lyrics slapped on top of it and it isn't very memorable. Again, a nice guitar solo though.
Joe Walsh shows up right on time and gets the album back on track with the funky "Last Good Time in Town." That's the beauty of the Eagles--with four legitimate lead singers, they can add so many flavors to an album. This is a fun song and fits the nasally-voiced guitarist well.
"I Love to Watch a Woman Dance" is a delicate, wonderful little song that sounds like it was made for a movie. It has some tasty mandolin and accordion and is simply magical.
Angry Don is back on "Business as Usual" complaining about everything from consumerism to politics and it would be more effective if the song was more fully realized. It's just not very tuneful and is one of those disposable album tracks that will fade into obscurity. I do like the part when he repeats over and over how it's a "soul-sucking world" but gee, I hope Henley really isn't that angry all the time. Stop and smell the roses once in a while, Don.
The Henley/Frey song "Center of the Universe" is the penultimate song and is a nice harmonic ode to love.
"It's Your World Now" with it's Latin beat and tasty mariachi-like horns is a nice closer to this much-anticipated return to greatness by one of rock's most talented bands. If this is the last Eagles album it just may be their best overall as well. These lyrics sum it all up quite nicely: "It's your world now/use well your time/be part of something good/leave something good behind/the curtain falls/I take my bow/that's how it's meant to be/It's your world now."