Saturday, January 05, 2013

Steve Earl Ain’t Ever Satisfied

I’ve always had trouble with post-holiday season letdown, and my blues were such that I’ve put all resolutions on hold for tonight, Twelfth Night, that I might crack some cold ones and sing/howl along with my music turned up loud. The New Year will get going in earnest on the 7th—and it’s just now as I write this that I realize what a long Christmas season this has been. After so many years of late starts, Thanksgiving fell on 22 November, and the media marketing machines were in full hum well before that. No wonder. A clear case of Too Much of a Good Thing.

I need to get on with my catharsis and closure, so I leave you with one of my All-Time Favorite Songs by one of my all-time favorite Americans, Steve Earle. Here he is with the Dukes, with the ultimate wail-along from their cliché-beating sophomore album, Exit 0God, the way the piano player brings the drama home at the coda gets me every time.

Happy Twelfth Night! “If music be the food of love, play on.”

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

An Auspicious Beginning

I didn’t mean to rant as I did with my last post. Lousy TV programming aside, last night was probably the best New Year’s celebration I’ve had in decades.

I was feeling good by the time midnight rolled around. Instead of hollering “Happy New Year” right away, though, I stood on my back patio and sang “Auld Lang Syne.”

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
For days of auld lang syne!

My voice carries better than most so I took care to mind my pitch and tone. This was no jokey, drunken reading. Robert Burns’ lyrics about honoring the good times past are sacred to me. 

When I was done, I paused for a beat. Then I shouted “Happy New Year!”

About a dozen voices responded in kind. I had no idea I’d had an audience out there in the freezing night. 

People began setting off their fireworks. For twenty minutes there was much hollering and pop-pop-pop throughout my neighborhood. I wish it could have gone on longer. 

For those first few minutes of quiet after the fireworks I stood in the darkness. I took in the smell of cordite, the sight of the naked aspen branches black against the red-gray city-lit clouds. I spent a minute going through my memories of New Year’s Eves past, took one last mental snapshot of this year’s edition. Then I went back inside.

I stayed up an hour later than I’d originally planned, slept many hours later than originally planned. I drank too much, of course, but I have a whole month to get over it. I’ve already got a lot of my resolutions in progress. If I can keep my fingers to the keys and my eyes on the prize 2013 will be the year I get some books on the market and some bills paid down. I might even lose some weight while I’m at it.

Here’s hoping all is well with you and yours out there in Internetland. Now that the partying is done, let the real celebrations begin! 

Old Dead Man’s New Year’s Suckin’ Eve

I wish I could find a shot of Jenny McCarthy lying on the pavement with a life-size cardboard cutout of Justin Bieber. I suppose I could find one if I looked hard enough. As it is the image of the 1990-something Playboy Playmate of the Year looking very much like an inflatable sex doll complete with grotesque eyes and huge red mouth is burned into my brain. No sense in burning yours. 

Why did we even have this thing on? Oh, yeah, so we could listen for the Big Ball in Times Square coming down while we stood outside waiting for midnight. That’s pretty much the only thing Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve has ever been for, so far as I know. I’ll watch a little of it while I’m pouring drinks. It’s always the former year’s Sorta Big Thing lip-synching in front of a dance squad. I normally don’t think much about it.

It really bugged me this year, though, So forced. So fake. So old. Even Ryan Seacrest is starting to look haggard. He kept name-checking the late Dick Clark for his “influence” and it got really annoying, especially alongside the more-played-to-death-than-usual Names and Faces of Those Showbiz Kids We Lost This Year. (Seriously, who gave a thought for Whitney Houston’s coked-out carcass before she died?) The show was well on its way to becoming a sick joke these last few years with Dick Clark’s barely animated corpse-to-be slurring through his stroke. It’s just as well he died because he apparently didn’t have the good sense to simply retire.

My wife, noting that Dick Clark’s name was still in the title of the show, asked rhetorically, “So when Ryan Seacrest finally dies, are they gonna call this Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Seacrest’s Replacement?” Yeah, probably.

Call me old-fashioned, but I remember when rock was about youth and energy, not old people who can barely speak and squawking has-been B-listers. New Year’s Rockin’ Eve is now this age’s New Year’s Eve with Guy Lombardo, with infinitely more ticky-tacky. 

Except I honestly never watched Lombardo’s shows—they were for the grandparents, even my own generation’s parents didn’t watch it—so I really can’t compare. It’s a fair guess, though. There was something extra-special sad seeing all that blue schwag in the audience—blue top hats, blue noisemakers, etc.—with the Nivea logo stamped all over it. All corporate, all the same, so many obedient sheep doing what they’re told. Rock used to rebel against that. 

And while we name-check the dead old guy we go from one has-been and not-quite-ever-was to another. Jenny McCarthy, with that weird, angular-faced witchy look former beauties sport in middle-age.  A chunky Jessica Simpson flogging Weight Watchers (a major  sponsor for the show—I can remember when this would have been embarrassing). Fergie, looking like she was puked out of a time machine set for 1986 with her big-shouldered ugly dress and bloodshot eyes. And—you’ve gotta be kidding me—MC Hammer. That’s right. Taco Bell’s and White America’s Former Favorite Rapper, The King of All Has-Beens.

This image, which I found this morning, is morbidly hilarious when you think about it:

From left to right, The Summer Thing of 1990 and the Summer Thing of 2012. Dancing into oblivion (and for Pete’s sake, STAY THERE). Photo credited to Michael Stewart/WireImage.

I dunno about you, but I’m looking forward to a year in which Psy and Carly Rae Jepsen are So Last Year. Yes, there is much promise for 2013.

Seriously, though, I’m going to have to find something else to track midnight with. A show about popular music named for an old dead man, featuring people who might as well be dead themselves—this was just too much. Add this one to the list of New Year’s resolutions. No more New Year’s Suckin’ Eve.