Friday, September 19, 2014

Sense memory music.

Music brings the memories back like nothing else can. With some songs…certain songs…you are able to relive a moment. At least I am. 

I’m not talking about the time I went out and bought a bunch of beads and feathers to braid into my hair because Stevie Nicks wore them in the “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” video. Or how The Rolling Stones Tattoo You album has permanently taken over one-third of my brain.

I’m talking about songs that come on the radio and suddenly you see things. You smell things. You feel things. Things like this.

"I Want To Know What Love Is" - Foreigner.
Albert was one of my first real boyfriends. I was in 8th grade and he was in high school. He wore the tightest parachute pants you ever saw. He was from Cuba and had a really slight mustache and the blackest/waviest hair you ever saw glisten in the Florida sun. 

Albert and his best friend Gaby (yup, a guy named Gaby) would drive to my house in Gaby's El Camino. I was a virgin and had let Albert know I had no plans of giving it up to him, even though things could get pretty hot and heavy in the back of that El Camino. 

When he and Gaby weren't blasting "Feel For You" by Chaka Khan or talking to each other in Spanish he would sing me the chorus of this song, a little mockingly, especially the "I want you to show meeeeeee" part, or sometimes he'd sing that line to Gaby as I was heading to the fridge to get a Fanta. I never showed Albert what love was, even though he wanted me to real bad.

"Pressure" - Billy Joel/"Lights" - Journey.
I took an aerobics class with my mom in 1989. We wore leotards, leg warmers and headbands because we were cool and fashionable like that. The instructor was a pint size aerobics queen who took us through a routine to Billy Joel's "Pressure" that could have been its own Broadway production. After it was over I always felt like I was going to have a heart attack and die but I knew I was going to be OK because the big cool down routine was coming up soon. 

"Lights" by Journey would come on the boom box, we would stretch, lay on the floor and exhale as the instructor told us to let all of our worries lift up off us "like the San Francisco fog." Because I think "Lights" is about San Francisco? There's that "sun shines on the bay" part? Thanks aerobics instructor for almost killing me, and for teaching me something about geography.

Anything off of the Sports album by Huey Lewis and the News.
Huey Lewis and the News were in town, I'm in 7th grade and for some reason I lie to my friends telling them not only am I going to the concert (lie) but that I have backstage passes to the concert (lie) because lead guitarist Chris Hayes was a family friend (complete bullshit lie.) The night of the concert I was actually babysitting at the Marzak's house, the one where I got in trouble for putting a light bulb down the garbage disposal

If you asked me who I liked better, Huey Lewis or Chris Hayes I would say Chris Hayes. I even had a nickname for him. I called him "Peanut." Why? Who the hell knows. I made my little  brother Mike call him Peanut too. But come on...look at this guy and tell me you didn't have a crush on him and call him Peanut. 

I called my best friend Stacey from the Marzak's house after I turned the television up real loud and got those Marzak kids to scream like lunatics, so I could pretend I was calling from a payphone at the big show. I went on how great the concert was, and how I couldn't wait to see old Peanut afterwards.

So whenever I hear "I Want A New Drug" "The Heart of Rock and Roll" or my favorite Huey Lewis song, "If This Is It" I always feel kind of bad for lying to my best friend in 7th grade about going to a stupid concert.

Bust mostly I think about how ridiculous it was that those Marzak kids -- one who was a toddler -- had to pretend to be at a Huey Lewis concert. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sunday afternoon fever.

When we were young entertainment was way different. It was way more simple. We lived our lives way less on demand.

In the late 70’s/early 80’s the following technological advances kept me sufficiently entertained:

  • Having a tape deck cued up and ready to record when The Knack's "My Sharona" or "Bad Girls" by Donna Summer came on the radio. HURRY & PUSH PLAY/RECORD!
  • My dad palming the cable guy 15 bucks to give us free HBO.

Besides Saturday, another day of the week had pretty epic television programming. While talking with some friends last night we came to realize the significance and importance of Sunday afternoon television. 

Here’s what was playing in the background at my house every Sunday after mass.

Davey and Goliath.
If Gumby and Mr. Bill had a baby it would be Davey and Goliath -- a stop-motion show produced by the Lutheran Church about a boy and a talking dog that was created back in the 1960’s ran on three different television stations simultaneously on Sundays in New York. Only Davey and the audience could hear Goliath the dog speak as he and Davey had adventures and learned religious life lessons. The short 15 minute episodes with names like “Lost in a Cave” “Bully Up a Tree” and “Chicken” were actually pretty sweet. I loved the way Goliath talked (his sing-songy "DAY-veee") and I’d always stop on them when turning the dial, landing on one of the three episodes that happened to be on.

Abbott and Costello.
I loved Lucy, Carol Burnett, and these two guys -- always on every Sunday afternoon. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello did everything, vaudeville, radio, television and movies. It took a lot to get a little girl interested in something on the glowing box that was pretty dated and in black and white, but Bud and Lou reeled me in every time. I loved Abbott’s deadpan straight man to Costello’s brilliant buffoon. My favorites were the films they did with popular movie monsters like “Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man” “Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.” And this. I loved this. I'd watch it with my grandfather who'd be wiping away tears from laughing. I especially enjoy how riled up Costello gets towards the end.
The Yankee Game.
Always on. Always. Really loud. My family loved their Yankees. Lou Piniella. Reggie Jackson. Thurman Munson. Phil Rizzuto's voice. You guys better win or doors will be slammed, things will be thrown and people will yell and swear at the television set. Family time. Please win Yankees. Please

The Wonderful World of Disney.
And to round out my day of television I present this:

Hearing the opening theme signaled it was almost time to leave Grandma and Papa's house or we had just gotten home from their place. It also signaled the end to the weekend, time to put on the footie pj's, brush teeth and get ready for bed and the week to come.

Each of these programs I remember watching with a friend, my brother, my grandparents or aunt -- someone I loved. It was quality time, not "screen time." There were no guilty feelings, no "you really should be outside playing not watching TV" vibe about any of it because that's what we were all doing. We were watching TV. 

We were watching TV together. Even if we were yelling and sweating and pacing because the Yankees were down by four runs -- we were together.