Monthly Archives: December 2013

Welcome to the 2013 Marie Awards!

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This is the voice of Neil from The Young Ones, welcoming you to the Marie Awards, where we will be counting down the highs, the lows, the slight achievements, and the major fails of My Wild Surmise for the year 2013.  Since its inception in May, My Wild Surmise has been wildly surmising about all manner of things related to music based on shakey facts from Wikipedia and various YouTube videos.  Now let’s go to our co-host and creator of all this ridiculosity, Marie, for our first offering in today’s embarrassing outpouring of self-congratulatory alternating with self-derisive malarkey. Marie, take it away…

Marie: Well, Neil, first I’d like to thank you for lending your voice to my imaginary co-host. Let’s kick off this major event in the life of my blog by looking at what other people have done, specifically, the YouTube geniuses that have made my extreme YouTube addiction such a fun, entertaining monkey to have on my back.

In the category of mind-blowing video art that makes you think you’ve accidentally dropped some acid when in fact you’ve only taken your blood pressure pill and some Tums, the award goes to fellow blogger MetalGuruMessiah for Kansas’ “Portrait (He Knew)”.  I love this song, and Mr. Messiah certainly does it justice with his outstanding video…

Neil: Wow, far out, man. I mean Marie. I mean, it was no “Hurdy Gurdy Man”, but still pretty cool.

Marie: Cool indeed, Neil. And so is the recipient of our next award, “YouTube Covermeister of 2013”, Larry L.!  Give it up for Larry L., everyone!  A former wedding band musician, Larry L. is keeping the music alive for all us YouTube junkies in his home, week after week.  Many thanks to Mr. L. for his dedication!  Larry L, as I’ve told you before, you’re my kind of guy.  I could sit on that couch in the background and listen to you all night.  Here’s a song that exemplifies everything I love about Larry L. – honest, simple, humble, and expertly done.  Enjoy the beautiful “Reflections of My Life”, originally by the Marmalade.

Neil: But, Marie, he’s an old guy – I thought we weren’t supposed to trust anyone over thirty.  He’s gotta be a bread head, man.

Marie: Neil, maybe you haven’t noticed, but you’re an old guy too. You’re only young in my head…but wait…I saw you on that episode of Midsomer Murders and that spoiled that delusion. The fact is, we’re pretty much all old guys here, including myself…the female version, I mean.  Screw youth.  Just get over it.

Now that we’ve looked at the achievements of others, let’s go ahead and present my biggest fail.  A great musician that deserves far more than I’ve given him, which is a partially read biography and a never written post – it can only be Jeff Beck.  Here’s the great Mr. Beck with one of the ass kickingest songs in the history of rock ‘n roll…”Going Down”…

Neil: Reminds me a lot of “Hurdy Gurdy Man”, except faster.  And completely different styles, course.

Marie.  ……  silence …..  Moving 0n to our next category, most paranoia inducing song and post, there can only be one contender, and that would be the post titled, “A Friday Song for the Land of the Free” with its accompanying song.  Umm…excuse me a minute…Dear Big Brother, I know that posting that song probably put me on some kind of top-secret pothead radar or something, but let me reiterate…I JUST LIKE THE SONG!  It does not reflect the personal views or lifestyle of this blogger.  Now light up or leave me alone.  Sorry, Big Brother!  That was just another song from another band (cough, cough TRAFFIC cough, cough) that’ll probably be in a future post.  Again, just liking the song, no reflecting of views, etc.

Okay, the award for “Most Paranoia Inducing Song” goes to “Shanty”!  (And the crowd smiles wanly and stares at me with red eyes.) Jonathan Edwards, live this time, with his lovely daughter, Grace.

Neil: Marie, that was heavy, man, but you’re probably going to get a bunch of breadheads after you for that.  Better stick with something safe like “Hurdy Gurdy Man”.  Just sayin’.

Marie: Neil!  I mean, I appreciate you lending your voice and all, but this self-promotion is out of hand!  It is you..YOU!  That has become the breadhead! Now sit over there and eat your lentils and let me announce the next award, which is for best new (to me) music.

Neil

I’m generally really hesitant to even bother listening to music from this century – I usually close-mindedly assume that it’s just going to be more of this crappy crap substitute for music that’s foisted on to us at every given opportunity, but when ultra-cool fellow blogger Matt Syverson over at Paperback Rocker posted some songs by Ryan Adams, I decided to give them a listen because I trust and respect his judgment. It turns out I was right to do so.  This kid has made some of the best new music I’ve heard in years.  This song is the first one of his I heard, and it is a favorite.  Here’s “Magnolia Mountain”.

Neil: ……  silence …..

Marie: Neil? You there?

Neil: …. yeah ….if you still want me.

Marie: Of course I do, Neil!  You know you’re my man. We go way back, baby.  Remember I used to read aloud from your book to entertain my friends and all?

Neil: well, all right.  I’ll let it go this time, but you’ve changed.  You’re such a straight these days.  What a drag.

Marie: Of course I am, Neil. I had to grow up.  I had to get a job and raise a kid.  But the old me lives on too.  Why else would I listen over and over to songs from my not so draggish days?  Like this next one.  This song wins the award for most played YouTube video of the year.  I watched this clip so many times this year, it really was embarrassing. It got so bad that I would exit the screen when someone walked by as if it was internet porn for fear of being the target of ugly terms like “obsessive-compulsive behavior” and “whack job”.  Here’s Roxy Music with my beloved “Mother of Pearl”; a fantastic performance.

Neil: That was all right, I guess.  But I can’t help but notice that there’s no Donovan or Steve Hillage on the list of awards.  Both do a great version of the best song in the history of rock.

Marie: I have nothing against Donovan or Steve Hillage, Neil, but I can’t include everyone here.  In fact, this post is already getting way too long and there’s probably no one listening to our awards show anymore as it is.  Let’s just do one more and wrap it up.

This award is for the most important song (to me) that I’ve talked about this year.  This is the song that opened my doors of perception, at a very early age, to a new kind of music; the kind they played on the FM dial on my little blue radio I got as a kid. Specifically, it created in me a love for the electric guitar – its many moods and expressions – that has lasted all my life, influencing me in the choices I made, causing me to spend my small resources on albums and concerts; and inclining me forever toward dating and hanging out with musicians. This is the long, heavy-duty, extra delicious version; you really need to listen to it on vinyl and at high volume, as mega-cool Bruce at vinyl connection can tell you, but if you’re like me and ditched all your records way back, some decent headphones will help. Here’s “Nantucket Sleighride”, by Mountain.

Neil: I gotta admit, that was pretty groovy, Marie.

Marie: Profoundly groovy, Neil.  Well, that’s it – thanks for coming!

Neil: That’s it?  REALLY? You got my voice here and you’ve not even going to play my song?  Unbelievable.  You know you like it, Marie.

Marie: Sigh.  You’re right, Neil. I can’t lie. Your version of “Hurdy Gurdy Man” is the best I’ve ever heard.  Better than Donovan.  Better than Hillage.  Better than them all.  And you know what Neil?  I owe it to you to play it.  You’ve been sort of my blog mascot. And my mascot in life, really.  So here’s Neil (Nigel Planer) and some slightly mysterious and not fully disclosed but real, serious musicians doing…that song.  Don’t make me say it again. It starts at about 1:40.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

May the Hurdy Gurdy Man bring you all the roly poly flaky pastry you can handle!

May there be peace and joy and flaky pastry buzzes galore in your shanty!

May we never have to go to another horrible New Year’s Eve party and hide between the cars in the driveway to avoid the drunken, slobbery kissing ritual again!  Or maybe that was just me.

Questions?  Shocked and Horrified Observations?  Anything?  Please Share!

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Filed under Blogging, Humor, Humour, Music, Uncategorized

Wildly Surmising, Fore and Aft

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blogging (Photo credit: hgjohn)

I started this blog back in May because I was told that as a writer, I needed to have one.  I wasn’t sure about this because I’ve been writing and getting published for almost twenty years without blogging, but that was boring, academic stuff that I did in an attempt to supplement my higher education pittance.  Over the past couple of years, my fancy has turned more and more to writing fiction of the short story variety with a half-written novel that continues to entice and torment me, no matter how many times I tell it that we’re through.  I keep running back, so it will either finish me or I will finish it, and if the latter happens, that means I will have something that I want to self-publish eventually. Thus, the initial motivation for starting a blog and trying to establish a personal presence in the cyber world.

But, as is often the case, my initial motivation was not enough to make me keep blogging.  In fact, I almost quit twice.  The first near-quitting episode happened a few weeks after I started.  I naïvely thought that since I boldly call myself a writer, I had to write about writing, which was mind-numbingly boring to me.  So I was thinking about shutting the whole thing down, but then I started, just for the heck of it, using the blog to talk about two things of great interest to me – myself and music.  The desire to talk about myself, i.e., my stories, my reflections, my opinions, etc., started growing a lot stronger when I turned fifty and I needed an outlet for this that wouldn’t make my family and friends start avoiding me for being a self-obsessed windbag.

But as strong as this desire was, I had an even greater need for a way to talk about the great passion of my life – music. I’ve always seemed to be more intensely focused on music than most others around me.  Not that I’m the only lover of music in my life, but I’ve always wanted to talk about it, the people that make it, and how it affects me more than anyone I know.  My family can only take so many analytical lectures on Dark Side of the Moon.   They can only listen to my description of how Bad Company made me a woman from a child so many times.  They already know that I was a high school band geek turned Janis Joplinesque c0-ed that narrowly missed her big chance with Gregg Allman and they don’t want to hear about it again.

But I can tell myself that you, my kindred spirits in blogland, want to know all about it, because you are like me – having a desire to talk about music.  Which brings me to the next time I nearly quit – when the fall semester started.  Being completely distracted and exhausted from the sudden onslaught of real work, I thought for a brief moment that perhaps my blogging was tipping the scale from pleasurable to burdensome.  But when things settled down and I got into the groove of my fall schedule, I realized that there was no way I was going to stop blogging.  I’ve enjoyed it too much and I’ve connected with too many wonderful, like-minded people to even consider quitting.

So I don’t plan to quit blogging in the foreseeable future – I will keep on sending out these musically-oriented missives and memoirs as long as I am able.  In fact, I’ve barely scratched the surface of things I want to talk about and music I want to go into wild raptures over.  The rock-harvest is plentiful, and the labor is one of love.  To my rock-brethren in blogland, and you know who you are, a heartfelt thank you for reading my stuff and liking it and commenting on it.  I would have stopped wildly surmising long ago if it weren’t for you.  You’re all amazing rock-blog-hotties and I dedicate the following songs to you.

People used to make a lot of fun of Joe Cocker, but I’ve always been a little in awe of him, because it seems like he’s sort of an outer reflection of my inner feelings about music – just utter, uninhibited submission to its power, and I’m here to tell ya, that’s rock ‘n roll, my brothers and sisters. I’m a Joe Cocker on the inside – are you?  I think you are.  Gonna try with a little help from my friends…

I have this beautiful song stuck in my head right now, so I’m really excited to have an excuse to post it, even though the lyrics don’t fit, because it sounds like this lady treated Rod pretty badly, but the title definitely works here.  Thanks for giving me a reason to believe.  From one of my favorite albums, Every Picture Tells a Story.  We won’t think about latter-day Rod, though, that makes me a little queasy.  This version is even better than the original recording.

Okay, I may as well tell you now, there’s a big ole Stevie Ray Vaughan post coming soon.  I saw Stevie at the Jackson City Auditorium in 1986; I will save my reflections for the post, but let me just say that SVR makes me go all Joe Cocker, every time I listen to him.  Heaven knows how I wish he was still here. I know you do too.  And in closing, I’d like to say to you, blogger buddies, you’re my sweet little thing; you’re my pride and joy…

Coming Up Next…”The Marie Awards for 2013″!

Questions? Comments?  Please Share!

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Filed under Art and Literature, Blogging, Music, Uncategorized

Here’s Your Proof

In thinking back over all the stories I’ve told you over the past eight months since I started this blog, it occurred to me that you have no way of knowing if all of this is true. For example, how do you know I actually met and hung out with Gregg Allman in a dive bar in south Mississippi in the early eighties? Unfortunately, I have no proof of that, though heaven knows, I wish I did, so you’ll just have to take my word on that one.

But that got me started thinking – before we tread into even deeper waters of my silly, music-obsessed memoirs, maybe you, as my faithful reader, deserve to have some form of proof that I’m not just lying my head off here.  So I scrounged through my shoe box of old photos and found a few that are at least partially related to the things I’ve been talking about. Okay, so without further unnecessary explanation and wavering, let’s start with this little gem…

Christmas Morning, 1972

“Hey, look at this neat radio!  You open it up and its got a dial…wait…it’s GOT FM!”

Radio

 

Birthday, mid-seventies, skating rink era.

“I know the Holmes boys are going to make fun of me when I practice this hula hoop in the driveway, but I really dig this bean bag chair.  I’m going to keep it in the family room and watch Midnight Special in it every weekend.”

Bean Bag

High School Marching Band

“I look like such a dork in this stupid uniform, especially with this terrible haircut.  No wonder I have to be the third wheel and sit in the backseat when I go cruising with the majorette and her cute Senior boyfriend.”

Band2

This next one has nothing to do with any stories I’ve told so far, but it relates to today’s music, so I had to post it. Christmas, 1974.  I know it was 1974, because Elvis came to Jackson that year, and I wore this dress to the concert.  That’s right.  I wore a full-length, Christmas-themed velvet and taffeta dress to the Elvis concert.  It was a fat Elvis as opposed to a young Elvis concert, but my parents got to see young Elvis in the fifties at the McComb High School Auditorium.  I, however, only got fat Elvis, but it was still cool, though we were sitting behind the stage and all I really got to see was his cape.

“I can’t wait to wear this to the Elvis concert!  That’ll be bitchin’!”

Dress

So now that you know I’m not just a lying hound dog (nothing against hound dogs, though, I really love dogs), let’s hear some young Elvis…

This is actually my favorite Elvis song…”Mystery Train”.  My mother still has the record shown in this clip – the original Sun recording on a 78.

My next post, which I plan to do between Christmas and New Year’s Day, will be my wrap up of this year’s foolishness, including the “Marie Awards” for best YouTube videos and songs and such that I talked about in 2013!  Don’t miss it!  Let’s go out on my favorite Christmas clip ever – Bowie and Bing doing one of my favorite Christmas songs from my childhood, “Little Drummer Boy”.   I watched this in my bean bag chair in the family room when it came on Bing’s Christmas Special, circa 1977.  I remember showing my parents, so proudly, that one of my “rock stars” was a relatively normal guy and accepted by Bing, ha ha!

“Okay, you gotta be kidding me…Santa’s not even bothering to look at me or the camera.  Just get me outta here.”

Santa

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my wonderful friends and followers in blogland!

Questions?  Comments?  Please Share!

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Filed under Blogging, Humor, Music, Uncategorized

For Keith’s 70th Birthday: My Stones Story, “Grievous Angie”

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This is a short story I wrote that was published by a literary magazine earlier this year.  It has now gone into the publication’s archives, so I am free to share it with all of you, just in time for Keith Richards’ seventieth birthday, which I took as an omen that I should post it, although I’m a little hesitant to do so.  It’s utterly lacking in my usual feeble attempts at humor – in fact, it’s a little weird and melodramatic.  I was trying to capture the feeling of hedonism that the Stones so successfully convey in their music, while depicting some of the angst and confusion that people often experience at the age of the characters.  I was also thinking how great it would be if when we are young, we had some way of seeing the ultimate destinations of the paths that we choose in life and thereby avoid their dangers.

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To be honest, I was a little surprised that a literary magazine would want to publish a story of this style and genre – I wrote it as an experimentation with the “young adult” genre and submitted it on a whim, thinking it was a little sucky and probably wouldn’t get published.  But what the heck do I know?  Maybe the editor was a Stones fan, and that can pretty much outweigh every other possible consideration, as every true Stones fan knows.  My groovy, hot stuff followers that have been reading my “musical memoirs” will recognize certain elements of this story, and a few aspects of the main character, “Angie”, will most definitely be familiar.

I’m going to link songs that were used as they appear throughout the story.  It might be fun to listen to the songs as you read – that way you’ll be getting the full “Angie” experience.  A note about the title – it’s a tongue in cheek reference to Gram Parsons’ album “Grievous Angel” and his influence on the Stones, particularly on Keith; also it is a reference to the Stones’ “Angie”, of course.  My dear followers and fellow Stones fans, I hope you will enjoy “Grievous Angie”.

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GRIEVOUS ANGIE

By Marie

 Angie crouched down, with some difficulty, in her tight green satin bell bottoms between a Camaro and a Mustang in the driveway.  Squatting there, balanced on her platform shoes, she lit a cigarette and smoked it down as she waited for the Auld Lang Syne-ing, Happy New Year-ing, and midnight kissing to be over.  Angie was not one to take a chance on being left out during the midnight kissing ritual, and the whole thing seemed ridiculously contrived anyway.  Fortunately, no one discovered her hidden there and she re-entered the house to the sound of “Stayin’ Alive” with her dignity intact.

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The house was full of invincible college freshmen home from their universities for the winter break.  As she walked through the sea of Izod shirts, sparkling “New Year’s Eve” attire, and feathered hair searching for her friend Kate, Angie cringed at the shrill laughter of the sorority sisters and the loud, testosterone-driven crowing of the frat boys.  She had graduated with these people and was part of their crowd, although while they had all gone to college in a mass exodus last fall, leaving Jackson for Ole Miss and Mississippi State, Angie was still living at home, selling make-up part-time at the mall and working on her drawings and paintings in her childhood bedroom.  She had a stack of college applications and catalogs on her nightstand, and every night after leaving the mall, she went home, walked past the sounds of rage and sobbing coming from her parents’ bedroom, and sorted through them.  She compared course requirements for art degrees and perused the pictures of students walking around campus and hanging out in dorm rooms, confident and beautiful, like young gods and goddesses cavorting about in their newfound realms.

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Her dreams were strange and convoluted, full of fevered flashes of debauchery and ancient mythology mixed with images of LSU, Auburn, and Tulane from the catalogs.  Night after night she went to sleep excited and hopeful, having made her final decision about which application to mail the next day.  But every morning, the chosen application stayed on top of the stack on the nightstand, and she softly kissed her mother’s often red and swollen cheek on her way out of the door, promising to come straight home after work.

She made her way through the disco-thumping, inferno-burning, night-fevered rooms until she found Kate, stoned of course, giggling on the sofa in the basement with some like-minded Greeks, watching Monty Python and rubbing thighs with a smiling, dark-haired boy wearing mirrored sunglasses.  It was quite a challenge to extract her from this warm, fuzzy cocoon, but Angie was persistent.  Once she had Kate firmly in hand, the two girls shouldered and squeezed their way through the mass of sweating, disco-inflamed bodies and escaped through the kitchen door.

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The night was clear and cold for Mississippi; the southern sky was lit by a heavy moon with a full complement of stars, and the girls’ breath came out in clouds of vapor and cigarette smoke.  They got into Angie’s Olds 442 and sat shivering in their suede jackets, waiting for the car to warm up. When Kate started rummaging through the pile of eight track tapes on the floorboard, Angie quickly said, “Put in the Stones.  I’ve got to get that disco crap out of my head.”  This was a sore spot between the two.  While Kate was being swept away with disco fever along with most of her sorority sisters up at Ole Miss, Angie was firmly in the “disco sucks” camp.  Kate still dug the Stones, though, so she popped in “Black and Blue” without complaint.

They drove off to the sound of “Hot Stuff”, past the TG&Y parking lot where the jocks and cheerleaders were hanging out, past the Jitney Jungle parking lot where the band nerds and church kids were having their good, clean fun, and into the huge neighborhood of ranch houses where Angie lived.  As usual, there was a party going on at Dion’s house, but tonight cars lined both sides of the street all the way to the stop sign. Dion was the undisputed leader of the local hoods and heads, and he supplied most of their pot.  He was a couple of years older than the girls, so Angie and Kate had only admired him from a distance.  However, they did have a connection. Kate’s older brother, Stan, was one of Dion’s lackeys, and his Chevelle was parked in the driveway.  Fueled by the sexy, driving music, the mental image of Mick Jagger posturing on stage in his androgynous, erotic way, and their own young, warm blood, they slowed down to a crawl as they passed the house.

“Kate, I know what you’re thinking, but we can’t go in there.”

“Why not?  Stan’s there.  It’ll be okay.”

“No, it won’t.  I don’t know those people and I’m not crashing their party.  If you want to go, I’ll drop you off and Stan can take you home later.”

The argument went on like this while they slowly circled the block.  For Angie, going to a party at Dion’s just didn’t seem doable, although the draw was almost irresistible.  These were the kids who had parked their hot-rods behind the vo-tech building instead of in the main lot and smoked cigarettes behind the gym back in high school.  They were the ones who had sat with arms folded during the pep rallies, sheets of long hair obscuring their expressionless faces.  Angie had badly wanted to be one of them.  She too had parked behind the vo-tech building and leaned against the gym wall during break, smoking Virginia Slims by herself while her own childhood friends hung out in the courtyard and flirted with the jocks.  Despite her efforts, she never was able to break into their world.  Pegged as a college-bound preppy, a characterization which she despised, she had given up on breaking into the group by graduation.  However, she couldn’t see herself as a sorority sister like Kate either, and was therefore lost in the proverbial chasm between two worlds.

Kate ultimately won the argument.  They parked the Olds on the street and approached Dion’s house.  They could hear the Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash” playing, growing stronger and louder as they drew closer. It was a house just like the others on the street – flat roofed and red bricked.

There was no need for Angie and Kate to knock at the door; it was standing open despite the coldness of the winter night.  Through the doorway, they could just barely see people moving and dancing slowly in the murky, smoke-filled darkness.  Angie hesitantly followed Kate out of the night air and into the crowded room.

Like the college party, a vague sense of abandon surrounded the revelers, but that’s where the similarity ended.  The Izods and sparkles were replaced with concert tee-shirts.  The bodies moved more slowly, the music was louder, and the air seemed thicker, filled with the sweet yet acrid smell of marijuana mixed with incense. Under the black lighting, colors seemed strange and unfamiliar. Long hair hid many faces and talking was subdued; Angie couldn’t make out what anyone was saying.  What she had thought was a living room seemed to go on and on, or was she going in a circle?  Holding fast to the back of Kate’s shirt, she scanned the crowd nervously.  When next she glanced at her hand, it was empty and Kate had disappeared.  She looked around, panic-stricken, for the bright pink fabric and blond hair that would mean Kate was nearby, but her search proved futile.

Pressed forward by the dense crowd and with no idea where she was going, she figured that if she just kept moving, she would find her friend or maybe wind up back at the door.  With this thought, she turned and looked behind her for the door that she had entered only a few moments earlier, or had she been here longer than that?  Although the door had stood open, with the cold night air blasting through unhindered, it was not visible from where she stood, nor did she feel the fresh air anymore.  Only the steamy heat put off by the writhing bodies encompassed her.

It began to appear that the paneling was closing in on her and the shag carpeting under her feet was growing like grass, becoming longer, and starting to entwine itself about her ankles. The music had changed; it seemed to flow into “Gimme Shelter” with no break, and with no time to switch records or tapes. In fact, Angie had never heard music that sounded like this.  It was almost as if the Stones were playing in the room, or all over the room, or were they playing in her head?  With an effort, Angie pulled herself toward the paneled wall, thinking that maybe she could lean against it, catch her breath, and search the dark room for signs of Kate or the door through which she had entered.

Drawing closer to the wall, she noticed that ivy leaves covered much of the paneling.  She sunk her hands and face into the leaves, inhaling their alluring scent.  Soothed and comforted, she pressed further into the foliage, as if trying to hide herself from the cacophony and confusion behind her, and marveled at the thickness of the ivy.  She couldn’t reach the end of it; the wall itself seemed to be made of green, fragrant leaves. What she had thought was paneling seemed to actually be thickly woven branches and vines. Soon, she was becoming entangled in the living wall, which got thicker and woodier as she tried to extricate herself.  Fat, purple grapes appeared, hanging heavily from the boughs as sweet smelling honeysuckle brushed her face and anointed her hair with its nectar.  The vines were densely intertwined, preventing any further progress forward or backward, and Angie was trapped, helpless and bound by the verdant green prison which held her captive.

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Despite her bondage, she had no fear and was mesmerized by the beauty around her.  When she tried to move, the tendrils tightened about her thighs and waist, ripping away the clothing that she had so carefully chosen for the evening, replacing it with leaves and honeysuckle, and covering her as if she were in the Garden of Eden.  Having thus transformed her, the foliage began to recede slightly, and Angie could see beyond it into another room, or was it a clearing in a forest?  A towering male figure, partially obscured by the foliage, appeared just beyond the perimeter of the vines, and reaching forward with gentle hands, he tenderly released her from her confinement, brushing away the last tendrils that were holding on to her greedily, as if they were jealous and could not bear to let her go.

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As she came closer to the tall, slender figure, she could see him more clearly.  He was dressed in a coat of fox fur that reached the ground and a wreath of leaves encircled his untamed copper curls.  His clear blue eyes were heavily lined with kohl, a long tiger’s tooth hung from his ear, and silver bracelets and rings adorned his elegant arms and hands. His skin was pale and smooth, and his slim fingers were graceful; they touched her face carefully, as to not scratch her with his long, black nails.  Then he said, in a soft, low voice, “Welcome to my party, sweetheart”.

At this, laughter rang out from the edges of the clearing, or was it a room?  Startled, Angie looked around quickly.  Reposed upon the green grass/carpet were other lovely girls, arrayed in flowers and vines like her, and handsome young men, wearing animal skins. One of the girls shouted out joyfully, “It’s Angie!”  Angie looked carefully at her face.  Astonished, she realized that this was Mae, who was one of the girls that had smoked against the gym wall during high school and had ignored her when she attempted to join her group. Mae jumped up, and smiling, embraced Angie, saying, “I knew we would see you here one day.  I knew that Dion would want you”.

Dion watched her closely as she looked around in amazement at all of the familiar faces.  All those people from high school, the ones that she had so badly wanted to join, were smiling and welcoming her with upraised goblets of dark red wine.  She suddenly realized that the music had changed again; hypnotic percussion and Jagger’s wild, animalistic screeches signaled the beginning of “Sympathy for the Devil”.  The beautiful ones on the ground were instantly up and twining around each other as the vines, speaking seductively in an unfamiliar language, and mimicking the cries and calls of wild animals, with their lips stained red from the wine.  Where once there had been a sullen lack of expression, there was now animation and life.  Where once there had been acne and greasy hair, there were now clear, glowing faces and thick tresses that curled and flowed down their strong, perfect backs.

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Angie felt a touch on her wrist, and Dion handed her a crystal goblet of the dark wine.  Dazed, she raised it to her lips and drank deeply.  She had never tasted such wine; it was smooth and warm, as if it had been squeezed directly from grapes lying hot in the sun, still on the vine.  As it flowed down her throat, its power forced her to close her eyes.  Standing with eyes shut, she felt his gentle hand take the precious liquid from her, and place bracelets on her wrists and rings on her fingers.  Then he pulled her inside the fur coat to his body, where the smell and feel of him, honey, wine, and fierce heat, overwhelmed her with dreamlike images and sensations.  Suddenly a searing image flashed in her head, nearly knocking her to the ground.

 She saw herself in a strange bed alone, waiting for him to join her.  She heard his voice on the phone, and picking up the extension in the bedroom, heard him talking to another woman, saying the things she desperately wanted to hear herself.

Angie, with pupils dilated and breathing shallowly, was too disoriented to acknowledge the vision; it was just part of the party.  Dion was kissing her neck, then kissing her mouth with his soft, honey-flavored lips.

  She saw herself on her knees, begging him not to leave.  Then she was asleep on the floor by an unfamiliar door, like a pet dog, waiting for him to come home.

 No longer in a crowd, she was alone with Dion. He gently pulled her to the ground, and she was consumed by him entirely; there was nothing left but his body and the music that surrounded them. Looking around her, she could see only him, and beyond him there was darkness.  But a shadow fell over his stunning face and it began to change; the beautiful eyes became deeply hooded and dark.   The music became distorted and echoed bizarrely all around them.

 She saw herself crying out in pain as he slapped her hard across the face before walking out the door, again.  And yet, she felt the same old intense yearning and desire for him that no amount of pain or humiliation seemed to destroy.   

 He was kissing her still, deeply and passionately, but the honey had turned bitter.  There was a strange, pungent smell in the air, like the rotting flesh of animals. She felt that she could scarcely breathe; all was plunged into blackness.  The music had become a reflection of madness as all of the songs from the night blended into one dissonant, orgiastic symphony.

She saw herself in a big room with expensive looking furnishings, holding a broken wine bottle in her hand.  Her face was lined and tired.  She walked up to the still beautiful figure of the sleeping man and plunged the broken bottle deep into his neck.  Dark, red blood, like wine, flowed from the wound and covered her ageing body as she sliced her wrists with the same bottle, and lay down beside him.

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 The darkness that had surrounded her gradually faded as the light of dawn dimly illuminated the silent room.  Farrah Faucette beamed down beneficently from the wall with her mega-watt smile upon Angie, who was lying on a bed in a typical 1970s bedroom, complete with lava lamp and psychedelic posters.  Next to her was Dion, the cool leader of the hoods and heads in her suburban home town.  Mae and others that she remembered from high school, the vo-tech-parkers and gym-wall-smokers, were asleep on the floor, dressed in the usual uniform of concert tees and jeans.  She turned to look at the sleeping Dion, who was without any signs of eye liner or long black nails.  She was amazed by his intense beauty; a beauty that was almost too perfect and ethereal to be possessed by a mere mortal man.  She felt an overwhelming, almost painful desire and longing for him and was filled with joy at the thought that he had chosen her.  Struggling to understand all that had happened the night before, she thought that maybe somebody had slipped her some acid and was relieved that everything looked so normal now.

Quietly, she got out of the bed, tiptoed around the comatose revelers, and made her way down the hall to the bathroom where she splashed her face with water from the tap.  Looking up, she caught a glimpse of green in the reflection of the mirror.  She whirled around, and there on the floor by the tub was a wreath of vine leaves.

The sight of this startling relic caused fragments of her visions from the night before to begin flashing powerfully through her mind. Leaving the bathroom and walking numbly down the hall toward the bedroom where her god was sleeping amongst his followers, she now noticed that there were ivy leaves and stray grapes lying on the dark green shag carpeting.  She saw a twitching, budding vine extending from the paneling on the wall.  There was an empty wine bottle lying on the carpeting, and when she tried to pick it up, the carpet began to wrap itself around it, as if protecting its master from potential danger.  She pulled the bottle away from the carpet, strode purposefully back into the bathroom, and slammed it down hard on the porcelain tub, transforming it into a deadly, jagged weapon.

Carrying the broken bottle back to the bedroom and approaching the side of the bed, she looked down at Dion’s exquisite face and body for a long time.  Finally, she leaned over and whispered softly into his ear, “I have to let you live, you beautiful son of a bitch, and you have to let me do the same”.  She threw the broken bottle on the bed, and put on her somehow still-intact green satin bell bottoms, sparkly shirt, and platform shoes.  Dion was still and silent, but his blue eyes, clouded with rage and tears, followed her as she walked out of the room.

Angie walked back into the living room, where people were passed out, including Kate and her brother. Although the front door still stood open, the room was as sticky hot as if it was a mid-summer day.  Somewhere in the house a transistor radio was playing softly, and she could just barely hear the familiar melody of “Wild Horses”.  The volume increased and the music seemed to come alive, as it had the night before, commanding her to return to the bedroom she had just abandoned.  She covered her ears with her hands and with great effort ran across the floor, where the shag carpeting was undulating as if blown by a breeze, and past the reaching vines that were growing rapidly from the walls.  The door was closing quickly, but Angie was able to squeeze through just before it furiously slammed shut.

She walked down the suburban street in the cold, early morning light, got in the Olds 442 and cranked it up.  The Stones tape was still playing on the eight track and the music burst forth loudly.  Suddenly aware of something bulky in her pocket, she reached in and pulled out a collection of silver rings and bracelets.  After contemplating them for a moment, she rolled down the window and tossed them into the street.  Then she ripped the tape out of the player and pitched it out too.  She threw the Olds into gear and peeled out toward home.  There were applications to be finished and mailed; time would not wait.  Down from above, as if from Mount Olympus itself, the Stones’ “Bitch” thundered throughout the sleepy neighborhood, drawing residents out of their homes to stare wild-eyed into the sky, like the trumps of heaven had sounded.

Dedicated to Rock’s Hedonist Extraordinaire on His 70th Birthday…

Keith Richards

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Robin Trower From Some Undisclosed Concert in the Distant Past

I’ve never been much of a photographer.  In fact, taking pictures or having my picture taken, especially when there are fun things going on, is downright annoying to me.  In any picture of me at Disney World, or on Christmas morning, or pretty much at any time that there are things I’d rather be doing, you can always see through my forced smile and know that I’m just chomping at the bit for the irritating, tedious picture-taking to be over.

Of course, the exception to this is the careful photographic documentation I have done of my daughter through childhood and adolescence, but other than that, I really don’t have that many photos in my house.  My mother has a ton of old photos, because she was usually the one taking the pain in the neck pictures at all these various occasions, but I only have one shoe box full, excluding the ones of my kid.  The shoe box contains a hodge podge of pictures of my single life from college up to marriage in my mid-thirties – a trip to the French quarter here, a party there, etc.  So a while back I was going through the shoe box and I came across this photo of Robin Trower…

Robin

I clearly remember seeing Robin at Tipitina’s in New Orleans circa 1991, but the back of this photo is date stamped March, 1980.  The trouble is, I don’t remember seeing Robin in 1980.  I think I faintly remember bragging to my companions at the 1991 Tipitina’s concert that I’d seen Robin before, but that’s it.  It’s a total mystery.  Judging from Robin’s hair and clothes, it looks like it was indeed taken in 1980, so I think the date stamp is correct.  It couldn’t have been that I was wasted out of my mind to the point of oblivion and have no memory of the concert as a result, because I’ve never been the “wasted out of her mind” type.  The wastedness of my youth was of the mild, maintaining memory and consciousness variety.

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Maybe the 1980 concert has blurred together with the 1991 concert or something?  It must have been a small venue like Tipitina’s, because I was obviously really close to be able to take the picture with whatever kind of crappy “instamatic” camera I must have had at the time.  Anyway, I do remember that the 1991 concert blew me away, naturally.  I’ve seen a lot of concerts at Tipitina’s over the years, more than any other venue, and Robin’s definitely ranks at the top of the heap.  The thick, heavy, Hendrixy sound of his guitar, heard live, and in a small venue like Tip’s, is absolutely mesmerizing.  But the recorded versions are pretty mesmerizing as well.

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I know I say this just about every time, but it’s always so hard to pick “the top three” songs from a great musician or band.  What I really want to do is link almost every Robin Trower song on YouTube, but that might look a little weird and fanatical and I’ll be embarrassed later, so I’m sticking to my strict regimen of three songs per post.  Okay, these are ranked #3 to #1, but actually, they all kick my ass in pretty equal measure.  Other ass-kickers I left out include, just off the top of the head, “In City Dreams”, “Long Misty Days”, “Too Rolling Stoned”, and oh my goodness, the list goes on and on…

This first song is dedicated to one of my fabulous followers, Victim of the Fury, for making me think about Robin Trower with his blog title and thereby inspiring this post.  Here’s “Victims of the Fury”.

And here’s “Day of the Eagle”, performed live.  I just love the way Robin plays with his whole body, feeling it to his soul…that’s my kind of musician.

All right, you had to know it was coming…”Bridge of Sighs”.  This is one of the few songs that I clearly remember hearing for the first time – it’s just too delicious to forget.  This clip has the little bubbles with cool facts about the song and the musicians, so enjoy!

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Echoes From the Skating Rink

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The skating rink was most definitely the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights beginning at age twelve, because that’s when they would let you stay without a parent present, and no younger kids were allowed in.  It was sort of like a PG version of a disco or nightclub, but on skates, of course.  The skating rink phase ended at about sixteen, when we got our driver’s licenses.  After we started driving, the rink was replaced with endless cruising, but you already know about that.  Thinking back on it, the skating rink was really more fun than cruising.  You’d get your parents to drop you off around six, you’d trade your sequin-encrusted platforms for a pair of beat-up skates, and you’d stay until they closed at midnight, eating bad frozen pizza and red hot dogs from one of those carousel things.

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There were boys at our skating rink that could really, really skate – I mean they looked like they could have won some kind of Olympic roller skating competition or something.  They’d shoot by like bullets – doing all these spins and skating almost sitting down and going backwards and whatnot.  I wish I could tell you that I was one of the few girls that could join in these amazing feats of athleticism, but unfortunately, I couldn’t really skate.  I could slowly, precariously totter around the edge of the rink, but that’s not really skating. Mostly, I would just stand in a cluster of other badly-skating girls at the edge of the rink, admiring the boys, nervously applying lip gloss, and waiting for a slow song to come on.  Because when they played a slow song, these amazing boys would skate over to the gaggle of lip glossers, and if we were lucky, one would pull us out into the rink and guide us slowly, carefully around, knowing that we could fall at any minute, and maybe bring him down with us, but sweetly being willing to take that chance.

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Of course, mother nature being decidedly unfair as she is, the boys that were the best skaters were the biggest prizes among the lip gloss set, and they could approach the gaggle without fear of rejection.  Boys that were slightly shakey on their skates may find that the apple of their eye simply had to make a trip to the powder room immediately and was so sorry that she couldn’t skate right now.  Not me, though.  I just wanted to get out there under that disco ball and go round and round on a boy’s arm and I would roll right off with the first boy that asked me, as long as he could skate better than me, which wasn’t very hard to do.

A few slow songs that I remember skating to are “My Eyes Adored You” by Frankie Valli, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” by Elton John, and “The Air That I Breathe” by the Hollies, among others.  But I think what really stands out in my mind after all these years are the songs that accompanied the incredible skating maneuvers of the boys.   A lot of these songs are now on what I call “my workout playlist”, which means that I listen to them on a regular basis as I mom-dance around the living room for exercise.  We’ll talk more about my silly exercise program later and you’ll get to hear some more from this list, but for now, here’s what I consider to be the top three songs from the rink…

In third place, we have “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry.  They would play this song sort of early in the evening…this is when things really started heating up…Lay down the boogie and play that funky music till you die…

As a close runner-up to our number one song, we have “Love Rollercoaster” by The Ohio Players.  This song has an almost hypnotic effect for some reason, so you could kind of get lost in it while watching the skating wizards going round and round, faster and faster.  Plus it’s just cool as heck.  Also, it really was kind of a love rollercoaster in there, what with the boys displaying their skating prowess to a bunch of adoring lip glossing girls, like male peacocks showing off their colorful plumes to a flock of timid hens.

Without question, the number one song at the mid-seventies roller skating rink of my youth was “The Ballroom Blitz” by the Sweet.  You’d better not even think about going out on that rink when this song was playing unless you were one of the top skaters in the place – you’d get mowed down before you knew what hit you.  Those skaters went so fast to this song, it was unbelievable.  This song was for the top drawer, upper echelon, crème de la crème skater only.  By the way…gosh, I miss the Sweet, don’t you?  Oh yeah, it was electric…

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Moody Blues Guys

Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed

Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed (Photo credit: kevin dooley)

Moody Blues guys are so gentle; Moody Blues guys are so smart,
Moody Blues guys wear bell bottom jeans that smite the young girls through the heart.

Moody Blues guys live in cool houses that look much better than mine,
Their walls are papered with art prints; their floors are covered in pine.

Moody blues guys play their records whilst sitting cross-legged on the floor,
They burn their candles and incense and tell you “Je t’aime mon amour”.

Moody Blues guys don’t eat burgers, nor pork chops, nor steaks, nor fries,
They slowly sip at their red wine whilst running their hands up your thighs.

Moody Blues guys buy you flowers and snuggle you deep in the quilts,
They ask you to stay cause it’s cold out today and they never intend any guilt.

Moody Blues guys aren’t settled; they are dreaming of life far away,
You will miss the cold nights in white satin; you’ll wish and you’ll pray that they’ll stay.

But Moody Blues guys can’t do that; they’ve got big goals to achieve,
So you’ll let them go though you want to say no, and kiss them real hard when they leave.

For Moody Blues guys make great sweethearts, and better lovers and friends than most,
And you’ll move along, though you’ll hear the old songs, then you’ll write a bad poem in a post.

Okay, I guess that pretty much sums up my story, unless you want to hear the details.  What’s that you say?  You’d like to hear just a few if I have the time?  Wow.  I knew I could count on you.  Well, I had a friend in the dorm my freshman year that came from a big family on the coast – eleven kids, to be exact.  Their dad bought a big, ramshackle, haunted house in the oldest part of town for them all to live in when they came up for college.  Each kid got one year in the dorm then it was off to the haunted house with the others.  The house was really cool, compared to the dorms and crummy apartments in which most of us lived.  It was two stories, with a glassed-in porch upstairs that served as one of the bedrooms, in which lived one of my friend’s older brothers – the Moody Blues guy.

The house was pretty much a bastion of non-stop collegiate-style revelry, as you can well imagine, I’m sure.  But the main attraction for me was the Moody Blues guy.  He was a little older than my group – in his final year of graduate school with big plans to move up north after graduation.  But during that one winter term, he introduced me to, among other things (like vegetarianism, for instance), a lot of great music – not just the Moody Blues, although that’s what stands out in my mind when I reflect back on those days.  The glassed-in porch was always freezing, and we would huddle under thick layers of quilts in front of the electric fire with our veggie lasagna and wine and listen to Days of Future Passed as if it was some kind of ancient oracle or something.

It’s not necessary to be gentle, or smart, or vegetarian, or any of those other things in order to be a Moody Blues guy.  In fact, you don’t even have to be a guy to be a Moody Blues guy – I’m one myself.  It’s tough to choose just a couple songs for my post.  I have quite a long list of favorites, some of which have to be omitted here, because I try (not always successfully) to stick to a limit of three songs per post.  A couple of runners-up off the top of my head would be “Question” and “Tuesday Afternoon”.  But these are my top three.

Wished I could be in your heart, to be one with your love.   Wished I could be in your eyes; looking back – there you were. Isn’t life strange?  A turn of the page…

“Watching and Waiting” is one of the most powerful songs I know.  I think it speaks to some deep loneliness; some central desire or need of the human heart.  Cause here, there’s lots of room for doing the things you’ve always been denied…

And, of course, the masterpiece.  I’m sure you’ll excuse me if I pass on this one, though.  I don’t listen to it much anymore.  Well, okay, what the heck, I may as well. I should be mature enough to handle it, now that most of my days of future have indeed passed.  Here we go…note that the video is a tribute to winter.  Right. Naturally. Perfect.

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