We got a new computer a couple weeks back. Since then, slowly but surely, I've been transferring my CD collection into the laptop's music management program. This is an oddly entertaining exercise as, I reckon, only about 30% of my music is "on the playlist" at any given time. The other 70% includes records I once loved, one-hit wonders that suckered me into buying a whole album of their crap, impulse purchases that I regretted later, duds from artists I otherwise like, and so on. This excavation has forced my to revisit this sometimes justly, sometime unfortunately neglected majority.
I recently rediscovered that I have an album of German polka music. I no longer remember when or why I thought this was something I needed. I suspect the influence of alcohol was involved in the purchase. One of the albums I uploaded yesterday featured traditional Arab folk tunes, in Arabic, sung by Danny Thomas, the nightclub comedian turned television sitcom icon from Make Room for Daddy. Again, where I found this musical tribute to the fruitful diversity of American popular culture is lost to history. I've never considered myself a Danny Thomas fan and, if the urge to buy traditional Arab folk music did overtake me at some point, I find it difficult to believe I would have settled on Danny Thomas as the guy I trusted to give that authentic Arabian folk music sound. I must admit that I may have purchased it simply because it was Danny Thomas belting out tunes in Arabic. The WTF-factor is its main draw now and may have well have been the main draw then. Who knows?
Along with the "why are you here?" albums I've found several "are you still here?" albums. A large portion of the neglected 70% are bands that I once thought were absolutely the shit – but now, almost a decade later, ehhh, not so much. There was probably a whole week or so in the mid-90's were I might have been able to look you in the eye and say with utter conviction: "The Smoking Popes are the future of popular music." I don't think it would have ever come up, even then, but I could have said it. A man's got to have his enthusiasms.
Among the neglected 70% I found Eleventeen, the only full-length album of a wacked out Brit rock unit called Daisy Chainsaw. What I remembered most about this group was:
1. They got the kiss of death by being listed as one of Rolling Stones "hot" new groups in their annual bonfire of the inanities: "The Hot Issue." Getting officially listed as a hot band was about as sure a sign as one could wish for that a band was going to spend the rest of their lives fruitlessly flirting with mainstream success. Other "hot" groups included Teenage Fanclub, Breeders, American Music Club, Hothouse Flowers, and numerous other also-rans that never quite made the jump to superstardom. The poor kids of the DC never had a chance once they were officially hot.
2. Their front woman was the deliriously crazed Katie Jane Garside. Garside's vocal performances were creepy tours of what MPD looks like from the inside. She'd alternate between throat shredding screams, discomforting baby talk come-on's, that bizarrely campy strident warbling sound one equates with British women singers of the pre-War years, dead-pan line readings, and this spastic word spill that resembles the staggering narrative style of small children. It was enough to make you think she was being fed lines from a pink laser shot from space.
KJG's looks were as odd as anything she sang. Though she wasn't the sole grunge-era chick to adopt the baby doll dress, KJG's dresses always seemed to be smeared with mud. What we hope was mud. She didn't look like an emotionally arrested woman-child. She dressed like a sex crime victim's corpse. She was also fond of wearing veils and handmade crowns of holly branches and whatnot.
Unlike other "sister from another planet" acts, she didn't trade on precious metaphors or traffic in confessional poetry. Her lyrics were fairly straightforward. More often than not, they were strings of clichés she caught fluttering about a given social situation. In the closest thing the group had to a hit, "Love Your Money," KJG made a tune out of nothing more than a jumble of the sort of vacuous sweet nothings label mavens spew at contract meetings. Think of somebody taking the Burroughs cut-up method to the minutes of an A&R meeting and you'd get an idea of what it sounded like: this is what music biz execs sound like in the world of Nova Express. Only KJG never possessed the cool satiric detachment of a Burroughs. She was more like some deranged version of Echo, only able to express her emotional needs through the words of others, screwed because she can only ever hint at what she wanted.
Word on the street is that the character of Delirium, the unhinged Endless who embodies the mental derangement of Delight pushed too far, is based on the piano-lady songster Tori Amos. This is, however, just a bit of fanboy starfucking on Gaimen's part. If anybody ever fit that description it was mud-splattered, wailing, crazy little Katie Jane.
Anyway, I ramble. So I found this album and thought to myself: "Damn. I wonder what happened to this band. That chick was crazy."
Apparently she went crazy and the band broke up. She blamed the pressures of fame. Given their level of fame, I assume that's a euphemism for "I'm freakin' crazy."
Met Dan, his new girlfriend, and Melissa and Larry, some work contacts (there's a conference in town) for dinner at Troimphe, a tiny little French joint not far from the MoMA. Somehow the conversation turned, after several glasses of wine, to the Sex Ed films we were all subjected to in our school days.
Melissa told us about this flick they were shown in which a group of teenage girls are all at a sleepover and they begin to talk about S-E-X. It becomes apparent that none of the young ladies has any idea what they're talking about. They then decide to do what any group of young women at a sleepover would do: go find the party hostess's mom and ask her a series of well thought-out and dead serious questions about reproduction.
The coven of nubiles finds The Mom in the kitchen making pancakes. In the middle of the night. The Mom, of course, wants to be helpful and begins her discussion of the miraculous changes afoot within the bodies of the collected sleepers over by using pancake batter to make a diagram of the female reproductive system on a skillet.
Melissa said there was plenty of stuff after that, but the image of the sizzling pancake uterus pretty much ended her efforts to follow it.
Larry had no Sex Ed stories, but he did have this story about this spelling bee he was in. First time Larry entered the spelling bee, 6th grade, with is like, I don't know, your second year at Hogwarts for you Brits, he turned out to be quite the prodigy. He made it all the way to the regional finals, last step before nationals, before getting knocked out.
The next year he was the kid to watch. Unfortunately, the next year he got a new English teacher. He hated this woman and the feeling was mutual. And it was this woman who was judging the school's bee.
Now, before we get any further in this story, Larry's a bit L7. You need to know tht for the story to make sense. He's a good guy, but he's the sort of guy who tends to turn red when people around him tell off-color jokes. I fairly sure "dookie" is the strongest obscenity in his arsenal of bad words.
He gets up there and the teacher smiles at him. He smiles back.
"Your word is menstrual."
Larry nearly shriveled up and died. Even then his choirboyish ways were well known.
Finally, overcoming his juvenile embarrassment, he tore through the word.
But he'd misheard. They wanted Jolson not Aunt Flo.
To this day Larry believes he was set up. He feels that his teacher knew he'd be too flustered to ask for the word to be used in a sentence.
I had the seared scallops and the market salad.
Later, Dan and I had a drink at bar of the hotel where he and his beloved were staying. He hinted that his new squeeze – who owns a respectable firm up in Boston – might soon be looking for a new project manager. I've been doing a lot of freelance work for them already and they're very happy with it. I would still work out of Brooklyn, with semi-regular trips to Boston. Salaried position. Not so much as I was making at the last place, but I knew that was a rare situation: I'll probably never be so in the driving seat when it comes to salary requirements again.
Song title: Daisy Chainsaw's Everything is Weird
|< I should have seen that one coming. | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >|