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BASEBALL: Red Sox vs. White Sox 8, Red Sox 6, Post-game wrap-up

June 23, 2016 1 comment

POST-GAME WRAP-UP TOP TEN

1) 75 degrees and 52% humidity is just about perfect.

 

2) Eduardo Rodriguez was one of the few bright spots in last year’s last place debacle and seemed to be on his game but Todd Frazier’s 6th. inning HR put the Chi Sox ahead.

 

3)  David Oritz was thrown out at home by Adam Eaton in the 2nd. inning on a short hit to center by Travis Shaw.  Eaton played the hit well coming in rapidly and throwing accurately to Chi Sox catcher Dioneer Navarro who easily tagged out Big Papi.  As we all know Papi is having an amazing season so far but:

a) He is 40.

b) He is at least 230 lbs.

c) The replay is not recommended for small children unaccompanied by adults.

 3rd. base coach Brian Butterfield made an inexplicable decision to play for 1 run in the 2nd. inning with the Bo Sox down only 1-0 at home.   

 

4)  1 bag of dry roasted peanuts from a vendor =$5.50. 2  Coca-Cola Zero(s) at $5.25 a whack.  I opted for the Coca-Cola Zero rather than Diet Coke for the slightly acidic aftertaste which cleanses the palate.

 

5) $499 for a 1st. base box seat so you can text and take selfies.  Am I the only one who thinks this is just wrong?  Please advise.

 

6)  Former Yankee and PED offender of 2014 Melky Cabrera now sports a beard sans mustache which gives him a vaguely Amish countenance.  Is there an Amish community in the Dominican Republic or is Melky merely attempting to conceal the Shaquille Onealesque double chin sprouting from his 5’10” 210 lb. physique?  You make the call.

 

7) Sandy Leon was picked off 3rd. in the bottom of the 4th where Brian Butterfield directs traffic.  Ortiz is sent, then erased, Leon is picked off…hmmm…

 

8) “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight” was among the cavalcade of music cranked out by the Fenway sound system as is protocol  for all sporting events.  Fortunately,  Josh Kantor’s organ stylings bring back fond boyhood memories of Jane Jacobs at Shea Stadium playing “3 Blind Mice” whenever an umpire’s call was disputed.  The lovely analog tones echo in the grandstand and encourage enough conversation so that folks actually look at the game and each other rather than peering into their phone with earbuds surgically attached. 

 

9)  Peter Gammons bobblehead doll?

 

10)  Koji Uehara served up home runs to Melky Cabrera and Matt Lawrie along with a screaming double hit by Dioneer Navarro before being mercifully relieved by Heath Hembree.  “Relief” is truly the correct word.  Koji is one of my favorites.  Tending bar for the 6th. game of the 2013 World Series while a packed room chanted “Koji, Koji,” is one of my all-time sports memories and you have to love a man who has chosen the 1999 techno mega-hit “Sandstorm” by Darude as his entrance music but…Uehara is 41 and his 88 mph. “fastball” just might not be what it once was.  Just saying…

 

 

 

 

 

RAMONES: 44 YEARS AGO

August 30, 2015 1 comment

…44 years ago, August 30, 1975; later tonight…

…I saw the Ramones for the very 1st. time at C.B.G.B’s.  I was inspired to visit the Bowery by James Wolcott’s article in the VILLAGE VOICE, “The Conservatism of the New Rock,” which detailed the aesthetics of minimalism that made up the template of punk.

(Mr. Wolcott’s book LUCKING OUT provides a narrative to the music and art scenes of N.Y.C. 74-80.  A very worthwhile read and a reminder of a time when artistic aspiration rather than “reality” moved minds).

My appetite for deliberately abrasive art had been whetted by Antonio Artaud’s writings and musings on the ‘Theater of Cruelty,’ and a FILM FORUM article on FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, both of  which uplifted alienation into an art form and considered neutrality the only artistic vice.

I took the L.I.R.R. into Penn Station to brave the Bowery clad in black polyester pants, at least they weren’t bell-bottoms, and my old All America Camp counselor-in-training t-shirt which I thought/hoped would be an appropriate celebration/denial of whatever-the-heck-happened to happen.

“Are you 18?”

“Yup.”

I entered a dump that looked not unlike the Royale(Roy-Al) which resided across Main St. from my hometown Port Washington, N.Y. railroad station.  The only “decor” that caught my eye was a life-size poster of John Lennon clad in a black leather jacket with a toilet seat around his neck.

(This picture can be found on THE BEATLES: LIVE AT THE STAR CLUB, HAMBURG, GERMANY, an album that is a true template of punk).

Joe Cool was the 1st. band.  My only recollection of them is of a bunch of dorky guys in suit jackets and Cons.

The 2nd. band was Milk n’ Cookies who were the 2nd. C.B.G.B’s band to record a single after Patti Smith’s “Piss Factory.”

 ” 10 girls, 20 girls…I want more,” seemed to be the only lyrics yelped by Milk n’ Cookies’ diminutive lead singer Ian North whose tuneless enthusiasm reminded me of…me singing in the shower.

(“More Girls” can be found by entering ‘Milk n’ Cookies’ on Wikipedia).

Hmmm…

After a 20 minute set there was between set music with “Hippy, Hippy, Shake,” by the Swingin’ Blue Jeans, and “All Day and All of the Night,” by the Kinks, both of which everyone seemed to know all of the words of and were featured on BRITISH ROCK’S GREATEST HITS PART II which was in the Port Washington Public Library courtesy of Mark Bates.  Gee, I had thought that I was the only person who knew these songs.

Hmmm…

“Stepping Stone,” by Paul Revere and the Raiders?  I thought that I was the only one roused by this disparagement of social mobility.  I was amazed and amused.

Hmmm…

…The Ramones took the stage…

 “…1,2,3,4…”

Neither I or anything that I would ever comprehend up to and including this very moment would ever be the same.

This is as true at this very moment writing as it was 44 years ago.

PASSING, MUSIC, HIP-HOP: Big Bank Hank(Henry Lee Jackson) of the Sugarhill Gang January 11, 1956-November 11, 2014

November 16, 2014 1 comment

Big Bank Hank(Henry Lee Jackson) of the hip-hop crew the Sugarhill Gang, passed on November 11, 2014 of kidney failure resulting from cancer.

Big Bank Hank’s contributions to the seminal hip-hop hit “Rapper’s Delight” popularized phrases such as “hotel, motel, Holiday Inn…Superman…a fairy…why do you suppose, flying though the air in his panty hose…drive off in a def O.J.”  in a decidedly less politically correct time.  Indeed, a reference to the time when O.J. Simpson was known for being the “Superstar of Rent-a-Car” would be archaic if it were not so disingenuous.

“Rapper’s Delight” is the single most important popular song in my time of being an ear.

Only Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” which is the root of EDM, Desmond Dekker and the Rhythm Aces’ “Israelites,” the first U.S. mainland reggae hit and ABBA’s “Waterloo” which crossed over the Atlantic Ocean from Sweden to the U.S; can come close to “Rapper’s Delight” in creating an everlasting form AND audience.

Not only was “Rapper’s Delight” a  hit and a genre; 2 words, “hip-hop”, as declaimed by Wonder Mike, as the very first 2 words in the rap formed a name for the  genre sired by the Sugarhill Band’s Doug Wimbish as Mr. Wimbish purloined Bernard Edwards’ bassline from Chic’s “Good Times”.

“Rapper’s Delight” was performed with a live studio band before scratching, let alone sampling, became the building blocks of hip-hop.

Hip-hop, like its alternative distant cousins, punk and disco, was a creation AND product of independent record labels at a time when vinyl defined technology and markets.  The Sugarhill Gang, appropriately enough was on Sylvia Roberson’s Sugarhill Records and the “original” version was on a 12″ disc.

A loose confederacy of ears; college radio, club kids, post-midnight radio and independent record stores, challenged the oligarchy of the major record labels and spawned hip-hop’s fledgling artists.

Yes, “Rapper’s Delight” was as much of a slap in the face to the R&B, disco and funk of the time as the Ramones’ “Blitzkreig Bop” was to progressive rock.  My ears approved of both and my heart cast the verdict in a way that today’s iTunes/smartphone generation can scarcely imagine without asking their folks.

 (The Sugarhill Gang’s Sugarhill Records was owned by Sylvia Robinson.  Ms. Robinson’s lengthy resume’ includes singing “Love is Strange” as part of Mickey & Sylvia in 1962 and preserved in DIRTY DANCING.  Ms. Robinson wrote, produced and  voiced the proto-disco hit “Pillow Talk” as Sylvia.  Ms. Robinson also wrote the Persuasions “Love on a Two Way Street” which became the track for the Jay Z./Alicia keys “Empire State” hit of 2009.  Indeed, Ms. Robinson is worthy of historic canonization. Stay tuned).

“Rapper’s Delight” was an instant sensation far exceeding its Billboard charting.  Making its 1st. appearance months after its summer release it made the charts on 10/13/1979 eventually peaking at #36 Pop/# Soul Singles as “hip-hop” had not made its way into marketing lexicon.

 http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6281561/sugarhill-gang-rappers-delight-first-chart-appear…

http://youtu.be/tAnojTvycOg

In the snap of a finger(s), Northeastern University’s WRBB “The Spice in Your Life” under the helm of Eddie Cue, put the record into heavy rotation.  Northeastern’s Ell Center echoed with “The beat don’t stoppa ’til the break of dawn,” as students attempting to “study” were perplexed by this new sound.

The Ell Center cafeteria soon offered students, not all of them black by any means, shouting out, “The chicken tastes like wood,” long before Kiga offered soba noodles in hoisin sauce.

“Rapper’s Delight” is almost certainly the only pop hit, let alone hip-hop track, to reference Kaopectate!

The Boston-Boston Discotheque, now the site of the House of Blues, featured men proclaiming that the “women fight for my delight” with all of the enthusiasm, and none of the charm of Big Bank Hank.

During that summer of 1979 my brother Peter visited my furnished room and we delighted in yelling out “super sperm” with Big Bank Hank as the 12″ rotated on the turntable of my Panasonic compact stereo.

Of Henry Lee Jackson, the man himself, little is revealed by research.  Mr. Jackson graduated with an Associate of Science degree from Bronx Community College and was making pizza while working nights as a doorman at the Sparkle club in the Bronx when “Rapper’s Delight” was recorded.

www.rollingstone.comn/…/sugarhill-gang-rapper-big-bank

The Sugarhill Gang were true pioneers insofar as naming and claiming hip-hop.  “Rapper’s Delight” proved to be their biggest hit although “Apache”s appropriation of the Incredible Bongo Band’s “Bongo Rock” enlivened an Iota Theta step show held in the Northeastern Quadrangle after my Finance class in 1981.

By 1983 DJ scratching and the exhortations of Run-DMC, among many others, had seized the burgeoning hip-hop market.  The Sugarhill Gang continued to appear in various lineups while enmeshed in the prolonged litigation all too common among young artists and those in the employ of Sylvia Robinson, whose many talents did not include accounting.

“Rapper’s Delight ” sounds as simplistic and boyish today…as it did when it was born.  The adolescent joy of the track is entirely appropriate to the newborn genre.  Indeed, while pubescent rappers abound  the house party vibe of “Rapper’s Delight” has retained the cheery amateurism that all too many have aspired to all too strenuously. The genuine musicality of the Doug Wimbish/Chic bassline is truly a template for melody that sets up the pentameter of Big Bank Hank, Wonder Mike and Mastergee(the Baby of the Bunch).

Big Bank Hank’s gleeful “Hoo ha, keep you all in check,” found its way into the flow of Busta Rhymes and innumerable other acts even while his name was referenced by none that I can recall.

Was Big Bank Hank an “artist?”  It’s a close call and the tangle of copyright law, artistic property and rights of publicity intrinsic to hip-hop sheds no light on the question.

Certainly talking blues is a style that goes back to the Mississippi delta.   Charley Ryan’s “Hot Rod Lincoln” as covered by Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen brought Western Swing’s “calling” to the Top 40 as a novelty hit in 1971, #9 Pop/#51 Country.

http://youtu.be/3R717nDuj1o

www.tcarlson.ca/hotrodlincoln.html

Indeed, James Brown’s gruff spoken exhortations in “Hot Pants” and “Make It Funky” are precursors to hip-hop.

Big Bank Hank and “Rapper’s Delight” is to hip-hop what the Model A Ford was to cars.  It identified a form that had been percolating and gave it a name…and that is something.

“Rapper’s Delight” is the single most important  song in the life of my ears.

Age has its blessings and having my ears remember the dawn of a form is among them.

BIG BANK HANK

THANK YOU

“..cause I shock the house…”

 

 

Categories: CHANGE:, CULTURE, HIP_HOP, MUSIC, PASSING

Happy Birthday, Mom! 9/17/1925

September 18, 2014 1 comment

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!

 Doris Gallanter, my mother, would be 89 today if she was still with us.

Last week, September 10, I sent an email to my brother, exter and nieces reminding them of her birthday and my warm thoughts upon her birthday.  My recollection was precipitated by the playing of the CD VIVALDI: THE FOUR SEASONS as performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Seiji Ozawa with Joseph Silverstein as lead violinist.

But…September 17th, NOT the 10th. was Mom’s birthday as my brother, Peter and niece Amy quickly pointed out.  It took me a moment, and a consultation with my analog era Daily Reminder to realize that I had been mistaken…or not?

Classical music was one of Mom’s passions.  WQXR and WNCN frequently flowed from the clock radio perched precariously on our refrigerator.  (To be sure News Radio 88 got its due and WABC’s Dan Ingram’s authoritative baritone got their time as well.  I grew up in a loud household!).

THE FOUR SEASONS was one of my Mom’s favorites as even my Dad recognized as when he bought a new LP of the classic to lend melody to their strained relationship.  I had the good fortune of being the unwitting recipient of classical culture.

Classical music is not something that I am intimately familiar with.  However, THE FLOUR SEASONS, along with Ravel’s BOLERO, Beethoven’s 5TH. SYMPHONY and Khachaturian’s SABER DANCE is something almost as familiar as BLITZKRIEG BOP .

I have more music than I can listen to.  LPs, CDs and even cassettes fill my studio apartment even after having purged my collection years ago upon moving from a 1 bedroom to a studio.  I still listen to terrestrial radio and Internet streaming radio, (57 Chevy is the mostest) claim the hammer and anvil while YouTube, (I hear you Golden Earring and Lenny Tristiano) also has its place in my bandwidth.

Daily I pull something from my collection and give it my ears.  On September 10th, I pulled out THE FOUR SEASONS on CD. 

This CD was purchased by me when I bought Mom a portable CD player in 1999(?).

I remember her smile as she pressed ‘Play’.

“I see that it is the Boston Symphony Orchestra,” she said.

“You don’t miss a thing,” I replied.

Oft times my attempts at humor went for naught but on this occasion we both smiled.

Upon her passing I kept THE FOUR SEASONS for myself as both memory and music.

On September 10th, 2014 I inserted THE FOUR SEASONS into my boom box and melody and memory flooded over me.  The current was so strong that I felt compelled to email the family to let them know that I recalled the import of the date.

The lilting excitement of “La primavera(Spring)”, the hyper mania of “L ‘Estate(Summer)”, the descending melody of L “Autunno(Autumn)” and the somber hibernation of “L ‘Inverno(Winter)” evoked my Mom even as the date of her birthday was my misapprehension.

Peter and Amy corrected my misapprehension…

…but is it really a misapprehension when the chord between music and Mom is so strong?

…My mind was mistaken…

…My heart…perhaps…not…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!

 

Merry Christmas 2019: Santana ABRAXAS, Version 6.0

December 23, 2013 4 comments

Steve Gallanter’s Blog: https://stevegallanter.wordpress.com

is a modest enterprise.  I usually sent out about 40 or so Facebook copies and another 20 email copies of my brain candy with the occasional response from a friend being more than welcome as were the pass alongs which on 2 occasions reconnected me with folks from the past.

(On one occasion I was connected with someone who felt it “necessary” to comment on my real and perceived personal and professional shortcomings for 1200 words).

In April 2014 I began tweeting and my number of views exploded to about 200 altogether.

Oh joy!

However my Christmas 2013 blog was passed along quite a bit; long enough to break into the Top 5 of my Google page.

More gratifying were several comments along the lines of “Thank you for this acknowledgement of a personal Christmas tradition, as I too have one.”

I responded to all of these comments gladly.  I was pleasantly taken aback at the number and intensity of these very private traditions and their importance to their adherents.

One gentleman took the time to send a message about his private tradition of chewing Trident spearmint gum after Christmas dinner as his now gone father had.

The last 7 years have brought thoughts of other Christmases to mind as my memory bank is thankfully  still accepting deposits.  Indeed, this blog has precipitated thoughts of Christmases past to the extent that an addition is appropriate.

In that spirit I am once again sending:

Merry Christmas: Santana ABRAXAS

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is a time when we, even those of us who do not share in the religious meaning of the holiday, each have our own meaning for this day.

Santana’s ABRAXAS LP signifies Christmas for me. 

I bought it for my Mom for Christmas 1970.  Mom, Peter and I had seen WOODSTOCK and Mom was mightily impressed with Mike Shrieve’s epic drum solo on “Soul Sacrifice”.  While Mom always tried a little too hard to like what I liked her enthusiasm was more than sincere.

I saved my .75 a week allowance, pestered my Dad for money and raked some leaves to conjure up the $3.49 to buy the LP at Port Chemists.

(I gave Dad innumerable promotional packs of aftershave and Borkum Riff pipe tobacco.  My brother Peter got Johnny Lightning 500 while I received several slot cars and Joe Paterno’s FOOTBALL MY WAY from Dad, a Penn. State grad.

It was my first “adult” gift-giving.

In 1970 I was 12.  It was to be my last boyhood Christmas.

Turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, (my Mom never served that jellied, canned… stuff), and visits from neighborhood kids fulfilled every expectation.

Mom was surprised and delighted with ABRAXAS even with its “dirty”, actually racist, cover.  It played endlessly on the turntable of the Gallanter household’s Harman-Kardon Turntable, AM-FM Stereo with Recording Cassette Compact Stereo.

(Dad was quick to nudge me as a way of reminding me that he had purchased the stereo and had paid me to rake leaves.  On this Christmas I actually found this habit of his endearing).

Christmas 1970 was to be the last Christmas of our family as a unit although neither Mom, Dad, Peter or myself knew so at the time.

1971’s Christmas crystallized the cataclysmic changes, voluntary AND involuntary, familial AND cultural, well-intended AND malicious that would sweep through the lives of Mom, Dad, Peter and myself.

Christmas 1971 couldn’t have all of us in the same room for any length of time. I brought ABRAXAS to our North Shore Unitarian Universalist Congregation’s Jr. High room where I played ABRAXAS very loudly to the puzzlement of many.

By 1972 headphones were clamped over my head as the congas of  “Oye Como Va” reverberated.  Hostility was assumed to be my motivation, and not one completely inaccurate, but astral projection back to 1970 was the guiding star.  It was still my Mom’s LP but she was caught up in her own affairs and didn’t notice it missing.  Dad lived in Forest Hills, Queens as the divorce was now final.

(I remember looking at a snapshot of Christmas 1962 in our home at 86 Henry St, Merrick, Long Island.  There is a tower of blocks in front of me wearing a devilish grin with my Mom kneeling beside me with a bemused expression.  I remember kicking the blocks over.  1962 is my earliest Christmas memory).

For several years I continued to play ABRAXAS at Christmas.  Most memorably in 1975 when my Mom returned home from a hospitalization and I wanted to comfort her.  ABRAXAS proved to be more curative than the turkey I attempted to cook with tomato soup flavored stuffing).

By 1973 I was not speaking to my Dad, an estrangement that lasted more than 3 years.  ABRAXAS’ “Oye Como Va” reminded me of the photo of Mom and Dad celebrating their 1st.anniversary with a grinning Tito Puente, the author of the original “Oye Como Va,” at the Palladium in Manhattan, where my paternal grandfather worked.

ABRAXAS signified Dad as well as Mom and the paternal grandparents who posed with me on their laps but who I have no memories of.

The summers of 1974,1975 and 1976 found me at  Rowe Unitarian Universalist Camp and Conference Center.  ABRAXAS was in the ‘Radio Rowe’ LP pile for the public address system that broadcast on a sporadic basis throughout the camp. Santana was very popular with my brother and sister campers although they would have been taken aback, to say the least, at the talisman it was to me.

Boston gained me as a resident in 1978.  I left ABRAXAS with Mom.  I played it upon my early Christmas sojourns to the ancestral home.

In 1981 a group of we Port Washingtonians had a Christmas celebration at the New York, New York discotheque in Manhattan.  Mom remarked that the percussion of much disco reminded her of ABRAXAS.  The next day I played the now battered LP.  Upon hitching back to Boston I purchased a used copy at Looney Tunes Used Records.

1982 brought the realization that college graduation was beyond my capability.  At home in Port Washington I put on ABRAXAS to please Mom before disappointing her.

By 1984 my Dad had passed.  Yes, “Oye Como Va” reminded me that once upon a time Dad and Mom were deeply in love and Peter and I were fortunate to be the offspring of their union.  I have no recollection of my grandparents on either side but ABRAXAS is a talisman of their lives causing mine.

10 years pass. ABRAXAS PLAYS annually on my Panasonic Plus Cassette-to-Cassette AM/FM boom box.

1995 found my brother Peter and I at odds to the extent that I spent Christmas in Boston brooding ambivalently although I did send presents to Peter, his wife Aida and Mom.

I consoled myself with ABRAXAS “Hope You’re Feeling Better”s theme of ambivalence powered by congas and Carlos Santana’s wah-wah guitar pyrotechnics.

Being well into my 30’s in 1995 I had made my own Christmas tradition of surprising someone that I liked with a gift that spoke to an affection that had not been fully expressed.  Being single, childless and employed in an industry that throws folks together and throws them away with equal speed I had learned that small blessings are sometimes the only blessings one can receive but that can be a good thing.

…I was sitting on the living room floor of 24 Haviland St, Apt. 28 at about 9 P.M. 2 days before Christmas wrapping up 2 gifts while ABRAXAS played through the open door of my bedroom.  My roommate was out of the country for the holidays so I felt little compunction about playing my music a tad louder than I might have otherwise.

I was wrapping 2 gifts for a former co-worker.  Patricia was a beautiful woman who had tended bar at the same venue as I.   Although it had been a brief and occasional job for her the chit-chat of the time when I was an afternoon employee at that venue had crossed over to more chit-chat when we briefly worked the same bar.

Patricia was in the midst of several transitions in her life and I was taken aback, although pleased, when she asked me to call her.

Over the course of more than a year these calls became more frequent and more intimate and I found myself listening as much as I spoke.  Certainly, I was flattered to be trusted but more than that I trusted her with the pure aspects of my heart that had become very distant.

Pure and impure thoughts mingled, as Patricia was a beauty.

I was thinking about how to finesse a meeting with Patricia so as to give her both of her gifts.  One was a sardonic look at the recent past while the other was a light unto what was to come.

The phone rang, landlines had only begun too cede their domain to pagers, and it was Patricia.

“…Steve, I am at the bar. I have a present for you.  Where do you live?”

“I have 2 presents for you. I live 25 yards away I’ll be there in 5 minutes,” I replied.  My heart did a full-gainer and my hands began to shake.  Steeling myself I managed to wind some Scotch tape around my gifts and jetted out the door to the bar.

Patricia was by the pay phone smiling.

I ordered drinks, we took a booth and we spoke briefly of the joy and relief of having finished Christmas shopping.

“What did you get me,” she asked with the slightly turned head that moved my eyes and heart.

I gave her the 1st. package and she ripped off the wrapping with an urgency that was enthralling.  Laughing out loud she proclaimed, “I don’t know what I would ever use this for!”

“I know, that’s why I got it for you!”

I slid the other gift over the booth’s table when the owner of the bar came by to shake my hand and wish me a Merry Christmas.

I thanked him and introduced Patricia who also wished him a Merry Christmas.

“You know him?”

“I’ve been coming here since 1979,” I offered while wondering what Patricia might think of my recreational habits.

Patricia unwrapped the second gift and plugged it into a socket. She smiled a closed mouthed gesture of gratitude while nodding slowly in a way that signaled that all was right in the world if for only this moment.

“C’mon open your present.”

I opened Patricia’s package to find a mustard colored turtleneck that would undoubtedly be a good fit underneath a leather jacket for Boston’s winters.

I blinked involuntarily and held her hands briefly.

“Hey, do you think that the Prudential Mall is still open?”

“If there is any night of the year when it would be open late tonight would be that night.”

“Let’s go, we can leave the stuff in my car.”

My mind was pondering whether this meeting was a gesture of sympathy for being estranged from my family, gratitude for being a shoulder to cry on or just because Patricia was a good kid…or something more.

We walked the 200 or so yards to the Prudential Mall and after determining that indeed the stores had closed at 9, walked back to the car and I removed my gift.

We hugged.

Patricia got into her car.

I returned to my apartment…

1997 found Mom in a nursing home for the final phase of her life.  I bought her a new Walkman with ABRAXAS poised to play.  She was delighted.

1999 found Mom receiving a Discman.  The first CD…?  Yes, she remembered.

2004 brought the end of Mom’s life.  On that Christmas I played ABRAXAS at 2 AM in the living room of 42 North Bayles Ave, Port Washington on my Discman in a private memorial to Mom.

2013 found my now gone friend Steve Boisson offering that he had “never thought of Santana as Christmas music” while offering blues artist Charles Brown as his own eccentric Yuletide troubadour.

2019 has brought the passage from this world and from my life of several folks and places…Looney Tunes records has been gone since 2012 and record stores are right up there or down there with trilobites as fossils.

ABRAXAS keeps record stores and Christmas alive at one and the same time as this mind contemplates Christmas 2019.

To all those folks both present and absent I offer,

“Oye Como Va.”

ABAXAS signifies Christmas with its calling to heart folks who have passed, friends who are missed, places that are gone and the phases of the Christmases past, present and future.

ABRAXAS is a talisman as real as a rock, in LP, cassette,  CD and YouTube formats that holds in its notes the presents, love, tears and hopes of Christmas every time I so much as touch it.

I am listening to it right now.

Oye Como Va

Merry Christmas

R.I.P. Christine Amphlett of the Divinyls, 12/25/1959-4/21/2013

Christine Amphlett of the Divinyls passed from breast cancer Sunday, April 21, 2013.  Ms. Amphlett had also battled Multiple Sclerosis for over 20 years.  Ms. Amphlett was best known as the vocalist for the Australian alternative rock band the Divinyls who had their biggest hit with the alt-rock staple “I Touch Myself” in 1991.

http://youtu.be/wv-34w8kGPM for YouTube of “I Touch Myself”.

Ms. Amphlett’s voluptuously petite frame, pouty lips and grown-out shag reminiscent of Rod Stewart’s enlivened the video screens of many Boston post-collegiate bars.

And for many casual listeners that was the extent of her notoriety.

But Christine was more than just “a red brassiere” as she put it in “Boys In Town”.  Indeed the premature hardening of adolescent sexuality was never more deadening and enlivening as Ms. Amphlett’s wobbly shifts from tenor to contralto to spoken word played hide and seek among power pop guitars.

Romance and cynicism played tag in the polymorphous playground that Christine created and embodied.  “Make It Alright” featured Christine’s growling and yelping of the title leaving one wondering whether “make it alright” was a moral issue or physical potency.

Amateurism and artifice co-mingled in Christine’s vocals.  Audible breathing and clicking teeth provided poly rhythms to the rather stiff Brit beats of the Divinyls.

The diVINYLS self-titled cassette is the only purchase I ever made of their music.  If truth be told it isn’t all that great. Indeed the archaic drumming and percussive guitars wear thin even as Ms. Amphlett’s vocals are endlessly inventive.

Here in the 21st. Century an iPod would store “I Touch Myself” next to Cyndi Lauper’s “She Bop” to be played at bachelorette parties

diVINYLS became one of those things I listened to once a year.

“Love is the Drug” from the 1993 film SUPER MARIO BROTHERS  featured Christine’s take on the Bryan Ferry written Roxy Music classic ode to meeting “Miss Right (Now).”  Role reversal comedy at its finest as predatory female sexuality found a practitioner more calculating than Madonna and more assertive than the Joan Jett of “Do You Wanna Touch?”

Christine Amphlett’s mixing of persona, intent and accident mark her as a true punk.

“Amphlett” is surely the best birth name ever for the diminutive power that Christine brought to rock n roll.

A major artist?  No, there were only 1/2 a dozen memorable songs and even “Make Out Alright” was made memorable by the dubious virtue of repeating the title ad infinitum, ad nauseum…although “Boys in Town” found it’s meaning in Christine’s yelp as much as in its lyrics.

However, “I Touch Myself” brought a barroom phrase to alt-rock radio and the evocation of female self pleasure with guitar parts from Golden Earring’s “Twilight Zone” was funny in more ways than can be illuminated by this chronicler.

Being of a certain age one has outlived the generation of one’s birth parents.  I am fortunate to be a year older than Ms. Amphlett was at the time of her passing.

Ms. Amphlett’s contemporaries are retired, Michael Stipe of REM; hitless, Ali Campbell of UB40; inappropriate, the Pet Shop Boys performing at the Olympics?; or endlessly recycling their glory days; Metallica at Gillette, anyone? 

Artists of my generation are fast receding into the rear view window of iPod permaculture.

There is a certain odd sadness to the passing from life of a contemporary you’ve listened to.

“Make Out Alright”

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