Narrative/Journal nostalgia Uncategorized

Evening At Home

Stumbled on this little gem, brewing in the depths of my “drafts” folder, one of 119 forgotten or half-realized old posts. You deserve to read it. It deserves to be read

Watching Wonder Woman with my wife–stir fry & folding TV trays in the living room.Ares

Her: (dismissively) I’m not fully buying Remus Lupin as “Ares, God of War”

Me: (distractedly, Gal Gadot is on the screen) Can’t wait until the Lupine bloom.

Her: What?!

Me: Huh?

Her: David Thewlis. He’s too wistful to be a twisted Greek God of War.

Me: Oh. You knew it would be him, though? Famous actor with a phony limp, helping out our heroes for no reason? If he wasn’t the bad guy, it’s a throwaway role and  they would have hired a cheaper actor. Besides, he rocks a cool look for a villain.

Her: (Incredulous look.)

Me: My grandfather rocked that look as long as I knew him. Mustache, a boar’s bristle brush, and a dab of pomade.

Grandpa 1981ish Crop
This old guy kicked furious Nazi ass. What have you done with your life?

Her: What’s a boar’s bristle brush? Is that really a thing?

Me: Exactly, but that’s what the hipsters say I should have–along with something called beard oil–in my daily beard maintenance ritual.

Her: You don’t even have a daily washing ritual.

Me: Right. All that fussing is anathema to the purpose of facial hair. I’ve51hj0uQBLoL._AC_ got a free range beard. My grandfather looked sharp, though. Business suits at work, cardigan sweaters at home. Knee-high dress socks, even with shorts. In the garden he looked just like Higgins from Magnum, P.I.–the real Magnum, P.I. with the moustache and Higgins isn’t some pleasant, pint-sized blonde.

Her: It sounds like he stuck in the 1940’s and just stayed there.

Me: Exactly. He nailed it early. Kept it nailed. Like Higgins–they both kicked Nazi ass in Africa.

Her: Except Higgins wasn’t real.

Me: He was based on a real person. Probably my grandfather.

Her: (shakes her head) Are we dull? Is this–we’re dull, aren’t we?

Me: Not a chance. We have inconspicuous depths is all.


Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee

Well, it was a different trailer. Different era. Different girl. Still…it broke my heart the day I came home and it was gone–mom sold it for $250. Jeez, mom.

Sandy's Trailer

Commentary nostalgia Photo I Like

Iconic Cars of My Youth

I’ve been saving this one for a really desperate day

By now you’ve probably figured out how I get these “themes” in my head in which one post leads to another post and that post is too big so I split in two?  A few months ago posted  about Burt Reynolds selling the last of his collection of 1977 Pontiac Firebird “Bandit” Trans Am sports cars and got to thinking: what are the other iconic movie cars of my youth?

Do I have too much time to think, or what?  Honestly, this post embarrasses me–but what the hell.  A little shame does a body good.

I came up with a list easily enough–a few from when I was older, a few that preceded me but which I discovered via re-runs and VHS cassettes.  So let’s get down to it–in no specific order (well, the order is sub-conscious, I typed ’em as I thought ’em.)  And, oh, I left out Chitty Chitty Bang Bang despite myself.

  • The Pontiac “Bandit” Trans Am.
    flying car
  • The Blues Brothers Dodge Monaco Police Cruiserbluesmobile
  • James Bond’s Aston Martin
    austin bond
  • Steve McQueen’s Bullitt Mustang
  • Michael J. Fox’s DeLorean
    time machine
  • The Ghostbusters Cadillac
  • Green Hornet’s Chrysler Imperial
  • Marlin’s and Jim’s Land Rovers
    wild kingdom
Commentary Funny and/or Strange nostalgia

Another Yellowstone Tourist Thumped By Bison? Go Figure.

I spent a few summers working in the tourist industry in Wyoming a few centuries ago, and I’m looking forward to taking my kids there to see the sights and meet some of my great co-workers for a reunion this summer.  It’s good to see some things haven’t changed–like killer nachos and tourists doing really, really stupid things that could–and inevitably do–get them killed. Bison attacks are perhaps the most ridiculous–in almot all cases, the 1500lb+ animals are standing around, like cows, chomping on grass, while tourists get closer and closer and closer.  The bison snort, their nostrils flare, they scuff the ground with their hooves…and the lady with the camera says “get a little closer….”

Yellowstone bison attack seriously injures Australian man, second park tourist hurt in 3 weeks

I’m curious.  What parts of this are unclear?  Anybody?  (Note the blood on the bison’s horn, and the splatter from the touron’s thigh–a nice, subtle, artistic touch, I think.) When I was young, these were handed out to everyone who entered the park–unless I’m wrong, strong english reading skills aren’t required to get the gist.


Commentary nostalgia Tunesday video

Tunesday : 1988 Cowboy Junkies

20130212-cowboy-junkies-306x306-1360704485In one magnificent moment, the time it took for a needle to drop on a vinyl disk, everything I thought about music changed.  I was a big admirer of the Velvet Underground, and for a while spent a lot of time arguing with people–often strangers at parties–that the Velvets were bigger and more important than the Rolling Stones and Beatles combined.  So, it was a no brainer when I read a review in the pages of Spin magazine in which a Spin critic raved over a new Canadian band, Cowboy Junkies, and their new album, especially their cover of “Sweet Jane.”  The reviewer went on to describe the album as “the perfect 3am listening music.’

I was sold. I immediately–within an hour–ran out and bought the record, brought it home, and was stunned by the sweet, resonant a capella voice that embraced me, with a mournful, unanticipated beauty.

Sweet Jane. 1989.  The Johnny Carson “cameo” is a nice bonus.

The rest of the album, the Trinity Sessions, was equally remarkable. Recorded at Toronto, Ontario’s Church of the Holy Trinity on a cold day in late November 1987,  the band huddled around a single microphone and made what is quite possibly the most intimate album ever made, its eclectic mix covers and originals begging the question: was it rock, or folk, or country, or blues?  My friend Brett Day, the notorious, British-born Pittsburgh-based sculptor, musician, and all-around renaissance man,  once proclaimed, “when I first heard “Trinity” I thought, “my god, punk rock music can absolutely be played at 1 mile per hour.”  He came as close as anyone to hitting the nail on the head.

There’s a moment, on the live album 200 More Miles, when a fan shouts “Rock and Roll!” between songs, and singer Margot Timmins, who always seems to have a cup of tea and a vase of flowers on hand for performances, leans into the microphone and says. “Well, before I rock and roll I always like to sit down….” which is deeply informative.

More than a quarter of a century later, the Junkies remain my favorite band.  I’ve seen them several dozen times live, more often than not for free (for a long time they had a real penchant for doing festival shows) and the love affair continues….

Commentary nostalgia Tunesday

Tunesday: 1988 Revolution Music–N.W.A.

I’ve gone full cliche, recently dropping the “music didn’t used to suck” on one of my kids the other day, after seeing some lame-ass pseudo-country kiddie pop band on the teevee, a wretched clump of excrement called Florida Georgia Line.  We got a good 620049_NWADangerouslaugh at these bozos, but oh, man…before I knew it I was lecturing on the whole “when i was young” theme, all but telling them how I walked seven miles to school in the snow, up hill both ways–and I listend to some real goddam music when I did it. For some reason, N.W.A. jumped into my mind–about the most opposite thing to lame, mindless cookie cutter pop country drivel I could come up with.

I didn’t listen to a lot of rap, being a rural white kid whowas into what was called “progressive music’ at the time–but what became “college rock” and then “alternative.”  I was still buried in melodic punk and some of the Austin to Athens jangle rock of the time, but I did like that they got the establishment’s hypothetical knickers in such a twist.  Where I lived, one had to actively seek out any music not firmly rooted in the mainstream, and by mainstream I mean pop and AOR.  Interesting music just wasn’t on the radio, and even the black kids I was friends with didn’t listen to cutting edge urban music–it simply wasn’t available to us, which is probably difficult for a lot of younger people to imagine.  Simply put: if it wasn’t on the radio, it didn’t exist as more than a few lines of text in Rolling Stone or Spin magazines.

Message received.
Message received.

I can’t say that I got the music, but I got that it wasn’t for no reason that conservatives were waging war on this band.  N.W.A, in a way, was like Radio Free America, a voice of the underground, of revolution.  I was in college and just learning about social justice and the civil rights movement, neither of which had been part of my high school education, and I was brimming with the fervor of the newly converted, the freshly disgusted.

The media was telling me these guys were violent, anti-social thugs but my own sensibilities suggested that rap wasn’t all that different from the 1960s folk music I was just discovering, or the then-current punk with which my day to day life was saturated.  It would be another 4 years before Rodney King was beaten within an inch of his life on an LA freeway, and we began to understand what this music was really about.

Postscript: Last week I posted a joke entry about the supremely talented Ice Cube, and another blogger pointed out how great his comedic timing was.  I had to agree, but it occurred to me in response that “The N.W.A. stuff was both awesome and prophetic–we’re living in the world they were criticized for putting on records 30 years ago–it’s a short jump from Ice Cube’s Compton, to Ferguson, Baltimore, and the hundred of other communities where folks have been pushed past the breaking point. I’d much rather live in his zany comedies, rather than those harsh realities.”  I’m sure all those guys feel a little vindicated, but it’s got to be tough to spend so much time and energy shouting from the rooftops, knowing that you were heard, but that nothing it changed nothing.

And because I can’t resist, here’s a cover from Veruca Salt’s punk goddess Nina Gordon.


A Chance To Be The Bandit

More than a few men around my age are going to be spending just a bit of time day-dreaming over the next two weeks.  I doubt we’ll all be forthcoming in admitting it, but look behind the eyes of any men you know between, say 47 and 60, and you’re apt to see a hint of a devilish glint.  A few might even start growing cheesy mustaches, or wearing cowboy hats and pearl-snap shirts, or calling their best friend “Snowman.”

Why?  In a little less than two weeks the car is going up for auction–not the only one of it’s kind, that’s still what it is: the car.


“A Restored 1977 Pontiac Trans Am owned by none other than the Bandit himself, Burt Reynolds, will cross the block on Friday, April 24 at the Carlisle Auctions in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.”  So if you’ve got an extra half-million or so lying around….

So sing it with me, fellow Xers–“East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’, we got time for one more bandit run”

reynolds cloe 876