A short clip of this Stones song was featured in “Argo.” The lyrics are obviously the result of a prolonged heroin binge, but the song rocks nonetheless:
In a comment on an Oscars thread yesterday, Robin G praised “Moonrise Kingdom.” I’d been meaning to see it and finally did last night. Awesome movie—highly recommended—and thanks for reminding me of it, Robin G: It was exactly the thing I needed to see.
Why People Hate the Government
My teenage daughter will soon go on a class trip that involves a domestic flight. Among the many neuroses her father and I share is an aversion to flying, but we try not to allow our eccentricities to completely dominate our child’s life, which is some of the hardest work in parenting. However, our ignorance of the demands of modern air travel nearly put the kibosh on a trip for which we’d already paid $1,400 (non-refundable!).
We foolishly assumed minors accompanied by fellow students, teachers and chaperones on a school-sponsored class trip would be allowed to board a winged bus to a destination within the United States with only common forms of identification like a student ID card and birth certificate. Not so; now, even a child must have an official state ID card from the DMV to board a plane. (Because of 9/11? If so, that’s reason enough to take a scuba trip to the North Arabian Sea, find Osama bin Laden’s skull and fashion it into a poop-scoop.)
Anyhoo, we learned that to obtain an official state ID card, a kid must have a Social Security card or a specific printout from the Social Security Administration verifying her application for a Social Security card. The form containing the same information that is issued to new parents to enable them to deduct children from their taxes doesn’t count, or so I was told by the DMV.
To obtain the magical correct form, one must have many additional forms of ID, which may or may not be acceptable to the person at SSA who ultimately reviews it. County school district vaccination records are considered a kind of gold standard, though. I learned this after finally reaching a human being following multiple excursions into the SSA’s hellish, circular automated call menu, which is designed to automatically dump callers if too many other luckless supplicants are in queue, a situation that is apparently the case 90% of the time.
Thus it came to pass that the kid and I took a day off of school and work last week and visited the Three Circles of Bureaucratic Hell in a nearby city. First we sat in the overflow holding area at the county health department to secure the vaccination records, occupying a zone teeming with screaming toddlers, anxious children and nervous families applying for citizenship or refugee status.
Then we languished in the waiting room at the local branch of the Social Security Administration with many crabby elderly folks, some of whom seemed to be practicing outraged speeches to unleash on the indifferent heads of bureaucrats seated behind numbered, Plexiglass-barred window openings in a vast, echoing hall that would make a great set for a MiniTruth scene from “1984.”
After emerging from that ordeal limp and exhausted by ennui, we made our way to the DMV for another crushing round of paper-shuffling and waiting. All told, it took around seven hours (not counting transportation), which was actually less than I thought it would. But it occurred to me that perhaps the experience of being gnashed in the gears of bureaucratic machinery is a more potent driver of people’s reflexive hatred of government than I’d realized.
I’m a confirmed fan of Big Government. I don’t enjoy paying taxes any more than I look forward to dental work, but I understand the necessity of both. The only thing that pisses me off about my tax rate is that Mitt Romney pays a lower percentage, and I’d gladly exchange a larger chunk of my income for a Scandinavian-style social safety net.
But I flatter myself and the Balloon Juice / Rumproast communities by believing that we’ve thought this through more than Honey Boo Boo’s core audience has. To them, the silly hoop-jumping requirements, appalling run-arounds and astoundingly inefficient service on display at the customer-facing outlets of local, state and federal agencies are The Government. Which makes it easier to understand why assholes like Rand Paul get elected.
Maybe better customer service would help consign Reaganism to the political dung heap it so richly deserves? It’s a thought.
Please feel free to discuss movies, music, parenting, soulless bureaucracy or anything else. In other words, open thread.
Big band colossus Woody Herman didn’t cover hack songwriters or marquee bands. In fact, he preferred to duplicate the songmaking of artists whose fame and talents rivaled his own. That became apparent yet again when Woody dedicated half a vinyl album to a cream-of-the-crop selection of Steely Dan tunes.
Herman’s Dan collection was hard to find (and expensive once you found it) when I acquired mine 15 years ago. I don’t know whether that situation has improved in the intervening years. But just in case the tracks are still fugitive, here’s what Polly and I excavated on YouTube. Enjoy the signature Fagen/Becker medley of American blues styles, with a steaming dollop of woodchoppers’ winds and horns on top!
...qr at least it’s safe to say that formal attire and buzzing, hive-like sound effects were optional. All I wanted to do was see what I was looking at.
Today, it turns out that even replacement eyes are hard to come by. I was driven to my eye and ear center this morning, presumably for the unveiling of a prosthetic eye that was being hand-painted for me by a local ocularist. Instead, I was thrown out of my doctor’s office for not already having acquired a fake eye at a cost of $3,000 out-of-pocket. No-one had ever told me that buying a prosthetic peeper was my job, and that I would be subjected to howls of derisive laughter for not doing the job no one ever assigned me.
Now, I’m a blind guy with one eye and a “your ad here” sign in the other socket and all I have for the moment is the marvelous magical Residents who must have bought their eyes in bulk. Feast your orbs!
The world is on fire
Your body doesn’t burn
Kill yourself before receiving
Something out of all this breathing Don’t you ever learn
“Don’t you ever learn?” is a song about temptation, easy solutions and stupid decisions. Playing it just the other day reminded me yet again that the first 56 years of my life were a long pleasant boulevard through time, lined on either curbside by things that had fallen out of my pockets over the years. Wandering this street at my leisure after living it in real time has yielded many treasures comparable to finding money wedged between two cobblestones or a brand new Portofino cigar still in its tube. I plan to spend a lot of time here from now on, and I intend to equip myself with a pair of high-capacity swag bags to hold all the tips and trinkets and memorabilia that I encounter in my travels. ETW, this is my last self-serving tribute to Todd—at least for today. Some other day, I may feel an urgent need to write my long-delayed master’s thesis on “International Feel,” the kick-ass bookend tune from A Wizard, A True Star.
I don’t know why Adam Ant’s signature video, “Goody Two-Shoes” and the happy-happy stomp dance made me think of Sarah Palin, except to note that nothing else makes think of her at all anymore.
Certainly, there had to be some significance in Adam Ant’s retro-couture Napoleonic settings and costumes, apart from the lightning-fast assumption that Adam was going to usher in the second coming of Paul Revere and the Raiders, featuring Mark Lindsay.
Whether or not Adam was singing about Sarah Palin in 1982, it goes without saying that whatever about her was ever truly unique, one-of-a-kind, name-brand or timeless, has wound up where it was always destined to be—somewhere between Clark Kent’s costume closet and Al Capone’s Vault.
You don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do? Nothing to see here. Move along.
Who knew that two years ago I’d shoot myself in the head, go blind, rack up a two-million dollar hospital bill, suffer the non-fatal effects of cold-turkey withdrawal from cigarettes and alcohol, die a half-dozen or so non-clinical forms of clinical death, and resurrect myself months later in a world where Sarah Palin wasn’t even running for magistrate of the sanitation division, and the GOP had just placed all of its mismatched irreplaceable sulphur-stenched eggs in Mitt Romney’s spectacularly ill-woven basket.
What can I tell you? Time flies when you’re dead.
Here’s what else I can tell you: God bless the Pips for taking up the gauntlet of being fired by Gladys Knight with a stunning medley of And The Pips top 40 hits, entirely driven by toasty harmonies and occasional woo-woo! sounds, and unencumbered by the usual, predictable, elevator-worthy one-mike stand. This was a memorable moment from Richard Pryor’s summer TV variety series in the late 1970s.
Given the fact that I don’t remember 90% of what happened last week, the fact that I thought to include it in this post is testimony to Pryor’s uneraseable presence in American minds.
No, it’s actually just a stinger scene from Trey Stone and Matt Parker’s X-rated comedy classic Orgazmo. In it, Parker’s character Elder Young is mistaken by porn film producer Maxxx Orbison for that famous hunka-hunka burning love memorialized by Elvis Presley (or was that William F. Burroughs?). In the same dangerous moment of misinterpretation Young’s junior missionary partner Ben Chepleski (Dian Bachar) is errantly ascribed the cheerful disposition and dual-purpose plumbing gear you’d expect from a fishnet-stockinged Robin.
Enjoy! If you get time and the opportunity, please treat yourself to three other South Park movies—Cannibal, The Musical; Team America: World Police; and South Park—Bigger, Longer, And Uncut.
Another shiny nugget from my golden Ohio youth. This is “Runnin’ Down the Road” by Arlo Guthrie, a frantically hopeful song about getting one’s life in gear. It could be heard shrieking from the windows of my mother’s ‘72 Monte Carlo on Friday and Saturday nights when I screamed past the “Center Of The World” sign on Route 5 at 120 MPH on my way home, sometime after 3 AM.
This one’s my music theme for the day as I run down the road with my fellow Rowdy Roasters.
Truly, YouTube is a pharaoh’s treasure horde of groundbreaking cultural Ur-media. Here is my ancient friend Ron Hankison, known in those days by his recording talent moniker “Ronnie Wasp.” The cut is from his ‘80s album Nolo Contendere, a disk on which only lunatic survivalists like this outer space ant-farmer would dare make wretched jokes about human/ant fornication (or is that formication?).
All in all, an epic song by a prodigious creative mind.
Especially when he and his band, Wall of Voodoo, have been retro-cranked through a wall of synthesizers to perfectly mimic the Spaghetti Western sound of gritty rockabilly tunes. (As Mrs. Polly notes, “It’s like Johnny Cash and Harry Dean Stanton had an illegitimate son and named him Stan.”)
Roughly ten years or so (I think) before Queen debuted their first album, audiophiles like my brother were immersed in the complex harmony of a band called Tranquility. Tranquility possessed no super-powered front man like Freddie Mercury and lacked the signature guitar work that etched Queen tunes onto the human subconscious… but wowsers, they could sing like the Devil and weave an instrumental tapestry on which the vocals shined like brushed silver. Or, as this song implies, more silver than brown, anyway.
This is a powerful song with which to face the impending end of the Mayan Cosmos, and one that asks a question that is always pertinent whether the world is ending or not: “Who do I turn to now?”
Dave Brubeck, the 91-year-old jazz wizard who ruled the mystical Mordor of my mind in the ‘50s and ‘60s, died today from heart failure. Dave and his various trios and quartets kept me company for thousands of hours in my impressionable youth. It’s hard to see him go, but I ask God to bless him for everything he gave us while he was here.
Sure, Todd Rundgren’s acquaintance with Nazz predated his spectacular solo career as a composer, singer, instrumental powerhouse, and multi-media pioneer. But, geez, did their only music video have to be a slapstick rip-off of the Monkees?