Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The day U2 saved the team called "The Skylarks"

They are running away with their division thanks to a head coach who once spearheaded the offense of the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS.
LES ALOUETTES DE MONTRÉAL boast a 9-4 record in the East Division of the CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE and can look forward to their city hosting this year's 96th GREY CUP.
Former San Francisco offensive coordinator Marc Trestman is the coach.
The team's story hasn't always been so flush with success, but Les Alouettes received some indirect help from an unexpected source.
When a November 1997 concert by Irish rockers U2 conflicted with a home playoff game gainst the B.C. LIONS, Les Alouettes took the only route available and reluctantly returned to 20,202-seat Molson Stadium, on the campus of McGill University.
Montréal had played at the venue from 1954 to 1967, but conventional wisdom said a professional football team could survive in what amounted to a college field.
Once again, conventional wisdom was wide of the mark.
Interest in the team soared as tickets were sold out for the playoff game.
Montréal beat B.C., 45-35 (but fell to the eventual Grey Cup champion TORONTO ARGONAUTS and quarterback Doug Flutie in the next round).
The experience was enough for Les Alouettes to decide to permanently relocate to Molson Stadium in 1998.
Montréal has sold out every game at Molson since 1999, ensuring the financial health of Les Alouettes.
Before Sunday games, the stadium sound system blares U2's "SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY" as a sign of gratitude for the scheduling conflict that pointed the way to success.

Monday, September 29, 2008

End of a musical era

Forget, for a moment, the play of Ed Kranepool, Mookie Wilson, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and the rest of the NEW YORK METS.
Yesterday's final game at SHEA STADIUM doesn't just mean the passing of a baseball era.
It means the passing of a musical era.
Shea Stadium is closing after 44 years. It will be replaced by CITI FIELD next season.
THE BEATLES famously launched the STADIUM ROCK concept with Shea concerts in 1965 and 1966.
Artists that followed the Fab Four into Flushing Meadows included the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Clash, the Police, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Elton John and Janis Joplin.
Yankee Stadium may have hosted the best baseball teams, but it could never come close to Shea for music.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Truffaut's cameo in his film gem

I admit it: I am a sucker for FILM DIRECTOR CAMEOS.
I love it when I can spot Terrence Malick as the man at the rich man's door in "Badlands," M. Night Shyamalan as the guard at the desk in "The Village" and of course, the 37 times Alfred Hitchcock appears in his own films.
This morning, I watched old favorite "LES QUATRE CENTS COUPS (THE 400 BLOWS)" and caught the blink-and-you-miss-it cameo by director FRANÇOIS TRUFFAUT.
Truffaut appears in the fun fair scene, riding on the centrifuge with protagonist Antoine Doinel (pictured).
It's a tough cameo to spot, which makes it all the more enjoyable.
There is so much to adore in this film, a classic of LA NOUVELLE VAGUE.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Maples and oaks and cleaning the bathroom

I am always surprised that I enjoy listening to RUSH.
On paper, this Canadian band seems like an incongruous combination of high-pitched vocals, guitar histrionics and Ayn Rand-inspired libertarian lyrics.
Once the songs come blaring out of the speakers, though, I find myself captivated by the sum of the unlikely combination.
There is no better example, for me, than the Rush song about the forest, and what it might mean.
Right now, I am cleaning the bathroom and listening to "THE TREES," from the 1978 album "HEMISPHERES."
"There is unrest in the forest, there is trouble with the trees,
for the maples want more sunlight and the oaks ignore their pleas."
This song has been debated by Rush fans for 30 years. Surely there must be some important symbolism surrounding this fable in which the maple trees charge the oaks with being "
just too lofty" and that the taller trees "grab up all the light."
"But the oaks can't help their feelings If they like the way they're made.
And they wonder why the maples Can't be happy in their shade."
Is this a song about class distinctions that can never be broken?
"There is trouble in the forest, and the creatures all have fled, as the maples scream oppression! And the oaks just shake their heads."
Is it an anti-Communist rant by Rush lyricist and drummer Neil Peart?
"So the maples formed a union and demanded equal rights.
The oaks are just too greedy; We will make them give us light.
Now there's no more oak oppression, for they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe, and saw."
Or, as some surmise, is this song a parable about CANADA (where maples are predominant) and the UNITED STATES (where oaks are the most common tree)?
A song that demands this much lyrical consideration is commendable, but usually doesn't interest me much when I want to enjoy myself.
However, just as Rush seem so much greater than the band's incongruous parts, so does "The Trees" stand apart as a truly great song.
I love the "The Trees," even if it does make me think too much for a Saturday morning when I just want to take my mind off scrubbing the toilet.

Friday, September 26, 2008

(Insert some cliché about "rosin up your bow" here)

Last night was marked by surprising, near-miraculous upsets, including:
1. Outside-potty challenged pup RORY chased a skunk out of the front yard without getting sprayed.
2. Organized-room challenged ROUTE 1 apprentice ANNIKA began formal study of the violin.
In honor of the latter endeavor, ROUTE 1 readers have answered the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite violin -- or fiddle -- performance on record?"
KERI M. -- "Last Dance," from the Sarah McLachlan CD "Surfacing."
BEKAH P. -- I really don't have one. Sorry. But I love the whole dueling banjos thing... Not the same, I know, and it makes me look a little backwoods-ish.
RICK T. -- A thing called "Back Up and Push." You find a fiddle player who can play that, and you've got a foot-stomping tune!
MIKE M. -- My favorite is J.S. Bach's Ciaccona (or Chaconne) from Partita in D minor for solo violin (BWV 1004). Supposedly, Bach wrote this in anguish soon after returning home from a long trip and discovering that his wife Maria Barbara, mother of their seven children, had died suddenly and unexpectedly while he was gone. The recording on the CD "Hilary Hahn Plays Bach" (1997) is excellent.
BRIAN C. -- "Ashokan Farewell," made famous as the "theme" song in Ken Burns' "Civil War" series.
MIKE D. -- We just heard it live at the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra's "Classical Madness" performance -- The William Tell Overture by Rossini. In fact, after the show, my wife commented that the violin can convey such a range of emotions, from a slow, sullen sound to a frenetic blast of activity.
ERIK H. -- I should probably list some Paganini composition here, but after seeing little Rory chase off the big, bad skunk, I am going to say "Coz I Luv You" by Slade. Jim Lea's electric violin figures prominently on this U.K. chart-topper from 1971 -- the first of the band's No. 1 hits. Lea was a highly underrated musician and songwriter.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dreams and Batman scenes: A comparative study

I am trying to decide which is weirder -- the dream I had last night, or a certain scene in the 1966 "BATMAN" film.
In the dream, work stopped at the office and we all sat in classroom-style chairs to play a sort of bingo game, devised by ROUTE 1 reader MIKE D. We all had sheets of paper and various "chips," which were really small bits of hard candy, colored glass, plastic and shirt buttons. I thought Mike had given me too many, so I handed back some of my "chips." As a result, I really couldn't participate in the game.
Amateur psychologists might say this dream confirms the suspicions of my family members, who often suspect I am not playing with a full deck. In my dream, I was certainly not playing with a full complement of game chips.
So that was weird.
I have been watching the 1966 film version of "Batman" during my lunch breaks this week.
Yesterday, I watched the scenes in which CATWOMAN, masquerading as Kitayna Ireyna Tatanya Kerenska Alisoff ("Miss Kitka") lures BRUCE WAYNE into a trap.
He escapes (because he is really Batman), and the super criminals decide upon a different tack.
PENGUIN uses a DEHYDRATER to render five underlings into small piles of dehydrated matter. He then instructs Catwoman to sweep each pile into a vial for safekeeping, cautioning her with:
"Careful, careful, every one of them's got a mother."
I decided that the film took a turn from the wacky to the weird at that point, so I clicked off the DVD and returned to work
Little did I know, more weirdness would come once I laid me down to rest.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thirty years of Teenage Kicks

I am listening to "TEENAGE KICKS" and some other songs by THE UNDERTONES today, celebrating 30 years since the release of their spectacular debut E.P.
The "Teenage Kicks" extended play was originally released on the Good Vibrations label in the band's home, NORTHERN IRELAND.
The Derry band's debut was released on Sire Records about a month later, following constant plays on John Peel's BBC Radio Show.
Songwriter and guitarist JOHN O'NEILL once downplayed his role in the song's enduring appeal:
"I always think that even though I am credited as the person who wrote 'Teenage Kicks,' it's the actual sound of that record that makes it, the actual song's not particularly great, it's the actual sound that makes it brilliant."
I happen to think "Teenage Kicks" is particularly great itself, actually.

Monday, September 22, 2008

"Disposing a pre-atomic submarines to persons who don't even leave their full addresses... Good day, Admiral!"

I watched the first half of the 1966 film version of "BATMAN" during lunch.
There is certainly nothing dark about this "Dark Night." Leslie H. Martinson's film extension of the mid-60s television show is awash in garish color -- including the pink-and-green suit worn by THE JOKER.
The film's tone is anything but dark as well.
As an example, take the Dynamic Duo's solution to the riddles written in the sky by a missile fired by a submarine.
"What does a turkey do when he flies upside down" and "What weighs six ounces sits in a tree and is very dangerous???"
In the wacky world of this Batman film, the answers are naturally "He gobbles up" and "A sparrow with a machine gun."
Nope... this isn't the Dark Night.
Instead, as Commissioner Gordon so eloquently put it:
"Penguin, Joker, Riddler... and Catwoman, too! The sum of the angles of that rectangle is too monstrous to contemplate!"
Uhh.... yeah, right.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The "relaxed, easy beauty" of "That's the Way"

We spent much of the weekend outside, camping in MONTICELLO, IOWA yesterday and last night, and attending DUBUQUE'S COMMUNITY PICNIC today.
Driving from EAGLE POINT PARK and COMISKEY PARK in search of FREE CUPCAKES, the girls and I drove around with the windows down and "LED ZEPPELIN III" wafting out of the car stereo speakers.
I love the one-two, easy going combination of "TANGERINE" and "THAT'S THE WAY."
In "LED ZEPPELIN: THE STORY OF A BAND AND THEIR MUSIC (1968-1980)," Keith Shadwick writes of the "relaxed, easy beauty" of "That's The Way."
"The simple acoustic guitar and mandolin patterns of the first four minutes make much of an unresolved major 7th chord and the absence of drums, in the process maintaining a great intimacy of communication."
"That's The Way" is surely among the most beautiful songs in the Led Zeppelin canon, and the song -- and the album it's on -- complemented our outdoor endeavors quite nicely today.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

He invented this sh*t

EARL PALMER came from New Orleans, like so many other innovative musicians, and it was his Crescent City background that contributed to his pioneering use of the BACK BEAT in his iconic drumming.
Palmer played drums on Fats Domino's "The Fat Man," Little Richards' "Tutti Frutti" and Richie Valens' "La Bamba," among many, many other classic songs.
Heck! He even played drums on the theme song for "The Flintstones!"
Palmer passed away Friday, age 84.
One of the greatest stories about Palmer surrounds his participation in the video shoot for the CRACKER song, "I Hate My Generation" (YouTube has it here).
Cracker leader (and ex-Camper Van Beethoven) founder David Lowery asked if Palmer could appear in a cameo role in the video, possibly drumming along with the modern rock song.
Could Palmer possibly drum along to the song?
"I INVENTED THIS SHIT," Palmer reportedly replied.
Indeed he did.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I know what I like in your wardrobe

Henry David Thoreau wrote in "Walden:"
"Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes."
What does this mean? It means Thoreau was NOT a ROCK STAR, that's what it means.
ROUTE 1 readers have countered Thoreau by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Is there any famous musician's clothing you would like to add to your wardrobe?"
KERSTIN H. -- Ringo Starr's sunglasses in "Help!"
BRIAN C. -- A Beatles Sgt. Pepper's coat. Would look good at staff meetings, I think.
RICK T. -- One of Porter Wagoner's rhinestone stage suits.
BEKAH P. -- I would totally take Madonna's wardrobe, on the stipulation that I could look like Madonna.
ELLEN B. -- Michael Jackson's red leather jacket.
BRIAN M. -- Fast Eddie Clarke's leather jacket.
MIKE D. -- Gene Simmon's boots from the KISS "Destroyer" tour. They'll come in handy if we get the snowy winter they're predicting.
ERIK H. -- Pete Townshend's Union Jack jacket from the band's pop-art influenced period. Keith Moon's target T-shirt of the same period was great as well.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Go, go, go little Queenie!

I needed something to get me going this morning.
How about a little QUEEN?
I grabbed the "QUEEN GREATEST HITS" CD and hit the car stereo button until I landed on Track No. 10 and the glorious "NOW I'M HERE."
Released in 1975, "Now I'm Here" predates "Bohemian Rhapsody" as well as Queen's initial American success.
The template is there, however, for dozens of classic songs to come.
The BRIAN MAY-penned song features searing guitar and the patented multi-tracked vocals of classic Queen.
It certainly fit the bill as a pick-me-up song, as it blared through the speakers as I drove to work.
"Go, go, go little Queenie!"

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

One of the best pulp mysteries

I am reading "CONCEALED WEAPON," a 1938 detective story by ROGER TORREY, one of the best of the pulp writers of the 1930s and 40s.
According to editor Otto Penzler, Torrey's last name was probably Torres, but the author insisted he was of Irish descent and gave most of his protagonists Irish names.
McCarthy is the name of the private detective in "Concealed Weapon." He arrives at his office to find a stabbed man barely alive. Checking the man's wallet, McCarthy finds a card with his detective office listed, the business card of the city's biggest investment banker and an attorney who specializes in recovering damages from accidents.
That scenario sets the scene for one of the best "who-done-it" mysteries included in "THE BLACK LIZARD BIG BOOK OF PULPS," a 1,150-page collection of crime fiction from the 1920s, 30s and 40s that I have been reading since April.
Torrey produced 50 stories for the seminal pulp magazine BLACK MASK, but only published one novel: 1938's "42 DAYS FOR MURDER."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A one-of-a-kind music teacher

HURRICANE IKE'S landfall near HOUSTON made me think of CONRAD O. JOHNSON, and what might have been history's GREATEST SCHOOL BAND.
Johnson was the music teacher at KASHMERE HIGH SCHOOL, located in a predominantly black Houston neighborhood called Kashmere Gardens.
Inspired by classic soul acts, Johnson molded the school's band after the well-drilled funk acts emerging on the R&B scene.
The KASHMERE STAGE BAND won national high school band competitions and recorded at least eight albums.
I listened to the Kashmere song "SCORPIO" -- a cover of the Dennis Coffey tune -- on the COLD HEAT compilation during my morning walk today.
Johnson passed away in February, but his legacy remains intact among music fans, thanks to his amazing school band.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Woody Shaw's first triumph

The name on the front cover (brilliantly conceived by my graphic-design hero, REID MILES) says "LARRY YOUNG," but it often seems the real star of the 1965 jazz album, "UNITY," was the trumpeter sideman, WOODY SHAW.
I am listening to "Unity" during a rather downcast day -- both the economy and the weather are a little worse than expected.
Shaw always shines on this album, however, especially on his compositions, "Zoltan," "The Moontrane" and "Beyond All Limits."
Shaw was only 20 at the time, and would eventually become a solo act.
The story surrounding Shaw is ultimately unlucky. He began to come to prominence when jazz-rock fusion triumphed over the acoustic, traditional jazz Shaw played.
His life ended tragically in 1989, when he lost an arm in a subway station accident in Brooklyn. Several months later, he had died from kidney failure.
Shaw basks in glory on "Unity," though, as I am hearing today.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Would you believe FIVE new grey hairs?

Would you believe me if I told you that watching MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS slip past PURDUE, 32-26, in double overtime yesterday gave me seven new grey hairs?
No? Would you believe *SIX* grey hairs?
You would find that hard to believe? How about two gritted teeth?
Please forgive me. I celebrated my 10th ANNIVERSARY at the TELEGRAPH HERALD this week by purchasing the first season (1965-66) of "GET SMART" on DVD, and now the entire family is talking like MAXWELL SMART... and *LOVING* it!
Actually, the myriad mistakes made by the Ducks against the Boilermakers reminded me of Agent 86 and his persistent bungling. Substitute Oregon for CONTROL and Purdue for KAOS, and I think I know how the Chief felt all those years.
"Sorry about that, Chief."
Yesterday, Oregon came back from a 20-3 deficit but had to rely on the Boilermakers missing a 44-yard field goal at the end of regulation to force the game into overtime.
Purdue also missed a 47-yard field goal attempt in overtime.
Missed it by *THAT* much!
LeGarrette Blount, who had 12 carries for 132 yards rushing for the Ducks, ran the ball in from three yards for the winning score.
Of course, with MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS, every silver lining seems to have a cloud, and yesterday was no exception. Starting quarterback JUSTIN ROPER (who is really the second-string quarterback, who was the fifth-string signal caller last year -- got that Max?) injured his knee in overtime. Roper could miss the next month.
MAX: "Ninety-nine, this ship is a freighter, right?
99: "Right, Max."
MAX: "And freighters run on fuel oil, right?
99: "Right again, Max."
MAX: "And wooden masts belong on sailboats, correct?
99: "Exactly."
MAX: "And this is a wooden mast."
99: "Go on, Max."
MAX: "Ninety-nine..."
99: "Yes?"
MAX: "I forgot where I started."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Uncommonly fresh and contemporary

Writing in the NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS in 1973, CHARLES SHAAR MURRAY described the DAVID BOWIE single "DRIVE-IN SATURDAY" as "an intersection between 50s doo wop and Hawkwindesque electronic rock."
That particular combination would seem a strange pairing, but listening to "ALADDIN SANE" 35 years later, "Drive-In Saturday" in particular continues to sound fresh. The song certainly hasn't dated like some of the other glam rock of the period.
Our region has been spared some of the worst national weather, obviously, but it was been uncommonly wet and cold. I think the weather conditions prompted me to pull my Bowie CDs off the shelf.
I have a busy day ahead, with a family reunion in Peosta, Iowa and my wife Jill throwing a baby shower for her sister.
"Aladdin Sane" will provide a great soundtrack as I drive around in the rain. There is plenty to digest on this great album, filled with memorable songs such as the still-contemporary "Drive-In Saturday."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ten years ago I heard...

A decade ago, the Monica Lewinsky Scandal blazed across newspaper front pages, Mark McGwire hit (we now suspect, chemically enhanced) home runs out of ballparks in an unprecedented fashion and a couple computer geek types founded some search engine or something called... what was it called? Oh yeah. Google.
ROUTE 1 readers recall those days by answering this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What were you listening to a decade ago?"
KERSTIN H. -- Raffi and The Beatles.
RICK T. -- Good country music!
BEKAH P. -- New Kids on the Block!
MARY N.-P. -- Not much music, but in the summer, we were listening to a loud chorus of frogs every night around our little pond. It was glorious (and sometimes deafening), but they're gone now -- started disappearing about six years ago.
JIM S. -- This week's question made me curious, so I looked up the Top Songs of 1998. About the only ones on the list I remember listening to (and liking) were "Tubthumping," by Chumbawamba; "One Week," by the Barenaked Ladies; "Crush," by Jennifer Paige; and "Gettin' Jiggy With It," by Will Smith (the last one was one of my 8-year-old son Shawn's favorites at the time.) One song I definitely wasn't listening to, ranked No. 24 on this list, was "Body Bumpin' Yippie-Yi-Yo," by Public Announcement.
MIKE D. -- "Gettin' Jiggy Wit," "Walking on the Sun," "Tubthumping," "MMMBop," "Time of Your Life" and "You're Still the One."

BRIAN M. -- The period from 1997 through 1999 was a weird time in pop music, between the bland pop of people like Duncan Sheik and Celine Dion and the like in 1997, the "big band/jump blues" revival of '98 and the Britney Spears/boy band explosion of '98 and '99. Music, at the time, to me, lacked creativity and musicianship, and it was bleak.
In 1998, I was listening mostly to Dream Theater's first three studio releases and live album, which came out in the summer of '98, Dave Matthews Band's first three CDs, and "Feeling Strangely Fine," by the vastly underrated and now-forgotten Semisonic.
MIKE M. -- A decade ago I had just discovered the Smithsonian collection of classic blues singers. My favorites are Big Mama Thornton, Junior Parker, Ray Charles, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie Johnson and many others.

ERIK H. -- One of my favorite singles from 1998 was “The Rockafeller Skank," by British DJ Fatboy Slim. The song was included on the album “You've Come a Long Way, Baby” and featured the line, "Right about now, the funk soul brother. Check it out now, the funk soul brother," a sample of Diggin' in the Crates Crew rapper Lord Finesse (Robert Hall). The song also features a repeated, twangy guitar riff from the obscure soul instrumental “Sliced Tomatoes” by the band the Just Brothers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Here comes Ike

"We are not talking about slowly rising water, we are talking about a surge that could come into your home." -- Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.
It is raining here in DUBUQUE this morning, but our attention is turned south.
We have been listening to 740 KTRH HOUSTON online this morning and live coverage of the approach of HURRICANE IKE.
Harris County Judge Emmett just called for mandatory evacuation of areas near Galveston Bay that are subject to a major storm surge. The evacuations will begin at noon, so transportation officials can ensure that the morning rush hour has subsided on Houston-area roads.
Even from afar, the approach of Ike sounds like a serious situation. We are only three years removed from a major hurricane targeting a major U.S. city. Will Ike create similar distress?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thank you very much... It means thank you very much!

I listened to the METS defeat the NATIONALS, 10-8, last night on SPORTS RADIO 66 WFAN (via MLB.com).
New York star CARLOS DELGADO smacked his second home run of the game, and the Shea Stadium crowd went bonkers.
Radio announcer HOWIE ROSE got a little goofy, too.
The scoreboard operator flashed "DOMO ARIGATO, MR. DELGADO" to the crowd, and Rose told listeners:
"I don't know much Spanish, but that must mean, 'You are wonderful, Mr. Delgado.'"
I sat up, staring at the computer speakers with my jaw dropping.
"It's not Spanish!" I shouted at the computer. "No. 1, it's Japanese. No. 2, it's a reference to a STYX song! You know: 'Domo arigato' Mr. Roboto.' It means 'thank you very much!'"
Only later did I realize that Rose couldn't hear me shouting at the computer. I wondered, though, how many New Yorkers probably shared my reaction.
Or am I just overly sensitive to misidentifying the Japanese language and ignorance of 1980s cultural touchstones in others?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It could be about tuna on a bagel

I'm sitting here hoping TUNA ON A BAGEL and some JESUS AND MARY CHAIN can accomplish what the ALARM CLOCK and several cups of COFFEE were unable to accomplish -- namely, effectively wake me up this morning.
My head is as FUZZY as the mix of JAMC's "SOME CANDY TALKING," and I am not sure why.
The Reid Brothers famously declared the May 1986 single was not about heroin, but a quick scan of the lyrics makes me think otherwise:
"I'm going down to the place tonight, to see if I can get a taste tonight. A taste of something warm and sweet. That shivers your bones and rises to your heat."
Oh? Yeah. It probably isn't about heroin. It's probably about tuna on a bagel.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Are you sure it was 10 years ago? It seems like yesterday

It was 10 years ago.
News of Kenneth Starr's Clinton-Lewinsky report filled the airwaves. Akili Smith and Reuben Droughns starred for MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS and -- thanks to Steve Young -- the 49ERS were actually good.
Future ROUTE 1 editorial assistant KERSTIN was beginning 3-year-old preschool 10 years ago.
Arsenal had signed a new foreign player 10 years ago. Supporters called him FREDRIK LJUNGBERG then, he would become "Freddy" in no time.
Elsewhere, IOWA STATE beat IOWA, 27-9, a decade ago for the Cyclones' first win against the Hawkeyes in 16 years.
What was I doing a decade ago?
It was 10 years ago today that I began my current job as NEWSPAPER REPORTER at the TELEGRAPH HERALD in Dubuque, Iowa.
In some ways, it really does seem just like yesterday.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Whay do you mean, "time to wake up?"

I could have easily slept all day.
In fact, when the alarm clock shocked me into consciousness this morning, it was while I was dreaming I was in bed.
I will be unable to sleep all day because I work today. I will heading toward the office in about eight minutes.
I have grabbed several special CDs off the rack for today, because I am really going to need them to help shake off the sleepiness.
I grabbed some HIGHLIFE albums in order to hear the joyous sounds of musical greats such as ORLANDO JULIUS (pictured).
An alto saxophone player from Nigeria's Osun State, Julius founded the group The MODERN ACES in 1964.
Julius is unique among his peers in that he relocated to the United States and worked with soul musicians following a string of highlife hits in Nigeria.
I am hoping the bouncy rhythms and intricate guitar lines of highlife help me emerge from my cocoon.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Thirty years of laughter

It was 30 years ago today that the comedy rock band ALBERTO Y LOST TRIOS PARANOIAS released their U.K. Top-50 pastiche of headbanging acts such as Status Quo -- "HEADS DOWN NO NONSENSE MINDLESS BOOGIE."
The heart of the track is a simple riff and shouted chorus that is both instantly memorable and a delight to repeat:
"Heads down, no nonsense, mindless boogie.
Heads down, no nonsense, mindless boogie. Heads down, no nonsense, mindless boogie. Bang your 'ead on the wall."
The irony is that, 30 years on, Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias leader C. P. LEE is now a University of Salford lecturer and respected author. He is worlds away from the great song's opening line "Ain't got no mind to speak of, in fact I'm pretty thick."
Band cohort JIMMY HIBBERT became a successful writer for British television and a voice actor.
I hope Lee and Hibbert are laughing today, 30 years after they unleashed one of rock's great parodies on the world.

Friday, September 05, 2008


ROUTE 1 staff members have enjoyed -- er, "over-enjoyed?" -- a few meals lately, leading to the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Is there a food you always overeat?"
RICK T. -- Shrimp scampi.
BEKAH P. -- Um, pizza, chocolate, Chinese, pasta, circus peanuts, chips and salsa... really... do you want me to continue?

ROSEANNE H. -- We went to the big annual Sparks Rib Cook-off a couple days ago. How can you not sample all those tasty ribs. Our favorite was Famous Dave's. He and his staff have banners over the booth and they list all the awards they have won. We especially noted the ones from Cedar Rapids, IA. Our paper will announce the winners tomorrow. Rib cookers come from all over the US to participate - by invitation only.
MIKE M. -- Chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy, black-eyed peas, cornbread and ice tea.
BRIAN M. -- Planters Dry-Roasted Peanuts. I just bought a 16-ounce jar on Sunday and it was half-empty by Sunday evening and now it's one-deep on the bottom by this (Tuesday) morning. The label says a "serving size" is one ounce or "about 39 pieces." I think my hands have more capacity than 39 pieces, and I'll go through handful after handful if I know they're around.
MARY N.-P. -- Probably any kind of snack foods, because you just keep nibbling and nibbling and going back and "having just one more," until you've likely finished off a platter full -- something you'd never do to an actual platter of food.
BRIAN C. -- Without question, chips and salsa.
MIKE D. -- Nacho cheese Doritos. I usually eat them to the point of regret.
KERI M. -- Eat = Rice. Drink = Broadway Cafes.
ERIK H. -- Fried chicken, especially if it is a Sunday evening and I slaved over the stove to make the fried chicken. But it's sooooo good!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Tessio plays highlife now?

After listening to 1960s AFRICAN HIGHLIFE genius CARDINAL REX LAWSON while driving around today, I am now relaxing after our workplace FANTASY FOOTBALL LEAGUE draft while listening to Los Angeles band ABE VIGODA -- a group that weds a noisy alternative sensibility with echoes of the African sounds I heard earlier in the day.
Named for the actor who portrayed Tessio and Fish, the band has emerged from the Southland venue The Smell. They recently released their third album, "Skeleton."
MOJO Magazine describes Abe Vigoda as "bringing Pavement angularity to King Sunny Ade uplift."
Perhaps MOJO's writer is a bit confused.
True West African music fans (I'm guilty as charged) know King Sunny Ade played JUJU, not highlife.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

That Dizzy Malone is a real animal

It just so happens that today is all about the ladies.
I am driving around while listening to "BEAUTY AND THE BEAT" by the GO-GO'S, I am going to watch SARAH PALIN address the GOP National Convention tonight on television and at lunch I am reading "THE JANE FROM HELL'S KITCHEN," a 1930 gangster tale by PERRY PAUL.
Paul wrote for one of the "trashier" publications of the 1930s, GUN MOLLS, and his tale paints protagonist gangster girl DIZZY MALONE in a less-than-flattering -- and less-than-human -- light.
When Dizzy approaches the New York district attorney, Paul writes:
"James Mitchell looked down at her lovely blonde bravado with the expression of a man charmed against his will by some exotic yet poisonous serpent."
Paul compared Malone to a reptile. Later, as the confrontation with Mitchell intensifies, Paul likens to Malone to a different beast:
"She crouched like a feline killer ready to spring. Coral-tipped fingers that could tear a man's face to ribbons, tensed. Her lips curled back from her teeth in a fighting snarl of defiance."
Entertaining? Yes. Suitable for a language-arts composition class exercise? Decidedly no.
I am interested to hear what Palin says tonight, and I am looking forward to grooving to more of the Go-Go's brilliant debut album. I am also wondering what the ladies in his life thought of Paul's depictions of their gender.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Predawn dirge-like pop

KERSTIN held on tight as nervous puppy RORY set an ambitious pace during our predawn walk this morning.
Rory had never walked in the dark before. She scurried along the sidewalk, turning to look behind her anxiously every few steps.
I contrasted Rory's frantic trail blazing with the album on my iPod -- "AUTOMATIC" by THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN.
By the September 1989 release of "Automatic," JAMC had dropped the noise that had thrust them into the limelight earlier in the decade.
Instead, "Automatic" sounds like a collision between the Velvet Underground and the Beach Boys. A breezy kind of dirge-like pop.
I like "Automatic," an underrated gem in the Scottish band's catalog. Given Rory's sprinting pace, though, I probably should have listened to some techno this morning.

Monday, September 01, 2008

"Now, nature was going to take revenge on mankind"

With GUSTAV bearing down on the Louisiana Gulf Coast, I decided to watch a film focusing on the fear of the unknown dangers of nature made manifest -- GOJIRA.
Producer TOMOYUKI TANAKA was reportedly flying from a meeting in Jakarta to Tokyo after a failed meeting about another film, when he gazed out the plane's window at the ocean below.
What if mankind's nuclear testing woke a creature from the depths of the sea? What if this creature unleashed its force on Japan?
"The theme of the film, from the beginning, was the terror of the atom bomb," Tanaka said. "Mankind had created the bomb, and now, nature was going to take revenge on mankind."
In the film, Gojira ("Godzilla") left Tokyo "a sea of flames."
I am praying Gustav leaves only the smallest of impressions on New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast.