A Dude Extraordinaire

I can’t get over the fact that they found an unresponsive Prince on an elevator.

An elevator.

It is completely irrational and goes against the anti-supernatural perspective I maintain. But I can’t help but wonder if Prince, when he warned us in 1984 not to let the elevator break us down, if Prince essentially told us 25 years ago how he would meet his end.

Given the lofty themes that often appeared in the man’s music, you can’t blame me for thinkin’ it.

I started digesting this news today, this news of the death today of Prince, at about 1 p.m., when sheriffs were only reporting that “someone” had died at Paisley Park. Soon, the various news agencies, first AP, then CBS, etcheterra, started verifying TMZ’s initial scoop: That the deceased was a skinny motherfucker with a high voice. A kid at work made the most obvious jokey comment, that now he really is the artist formerly known as Prince. I tried not to shoot (purple) laser beams at him with my eyes. But I probably did. Pew pew.

This is a hard one among celebrity deaths. No. It’s the hardest one. You’ve got to understand. I have spent probably a third of my life living inside of a Prince album. Having it play on the nearest sound system. Having it play in my head. Digesting the music. Absorbing the whole work. Just essentially wearing the current Prince album around like a pair of snorkeling goggles. That’s how I have spent a lot of my time.

I remember three different instances of being introduced to Prince, and I do not know for certain which came first. There was the summer in Edinboro, when Leah couldn’t stop talking about him. Or, there was the time I got the 1999 album as part of a Columbia House Record Club deal and didn’t listen to it for a long time figuring it was just some of that weird black music, and then I listened to it after I heard “Delirious” on the radio and it made me fall on the floor due to the immaculate attention to detail therein.

Or, there was the first time I heard “When Doves Cry.”

The aesthetic Prince introduced in that song, in that video, in that whole era, was stunning. The man could be elegant, he could wear lace, he could wear that HAT that covered HALF HIS FACE, and yet he could still be cooler than the Fonz. A man could wear elegance, he said. It was okay to embrace your own soft edges, he said. It was okay to appreciate the beautiful things, he said. All welcome messages to a horny, frustrated kid newly plopped in the Midwest who had no love of football whatsoever.

Prince gave a young awkward kid named Aaron a lot of hope.

And he continued to do so. Album after album. Every summer for a time, you could count on a release. It was glorious. And I have memories associated with every release from Purple Rain to Graffiti Bridge and beyond. I remember putting on the goggles and wearing them around and seeing and hearing everything I experienced through the goggles. The Batman soundtrack, or as my buddy called it, Batsexy, I associate that with biking. Lovesexy, I was in Kansas that summer before I transferred to Kent State. I kind of worshiped that album. Though I also remember hearing “Dance On” for the first time walking across campus at Ohio University, so I guess that one was with me for a long, long time. I first unboxed Sign ‘O The Times when I was in D.C. for the summer.

Prince albums are weird. Because you must listen to them a few times before they grow on you. Because a new Prince album doesn’t sound like the last one. It doesn’t sound like anything else you’ve ever heard. It’s brand new. So you sort of go, what in the world is he doing now? On the second spin, you become more accustomed to his new experiments. By the third spin, that album is ALL YOU ARE GOING TO LISTEN TO FOR THE NEXT MONTH OR TWO. Constantly. On your stereo. In your head. In your body. That’s all you’re hearing. You got the goggles on. And they’re glued to your face. You are haunted by the music. And there are no spells to help you.

Few musical artists have ever done this to me. None have done it to me as often as Prince has.

He did it most recently with his double release as a result of his reunion with the Warner Bros label. Art Official Age would have been a sublime achievement had it been Prince’s only release that year. But that it was paired with his girl-group sonic triumph PlectrumElectrum, that is something that makes this untimely death cut to the gut. It’s not like he’s lost his gift, not like he’d given up his art to send his children to private school (oh, there’s that), not like he had become Phil Collins. These two albums are masterpieces. They belong in a shelf next to any of his best, and I haven’t even listened to the Hit n Run series yet.

In his mid-50s, he still had it. He could still do it. He could still be fucking brilliant.

All welcome messages to a horny, frustrated middle-aged man newly plopped in upstate New York who friggin’ loves football.

This isn’t difficult because of nostalgia. This is difficult because he wasn’t done. Because he hadn’t lost it. Because I wanted to look forward to another spell where there’s a Prince album a year, and each one tops the last. I wanted another golden age for this golden artist. He wasn’t done. And neither was I.

I cannot begin to express to you what this artist meant to me. He is 80 percent of what music is to me. He is the content of my pop culture goggles much of the time and has occupied them exclusively much of the time.

I cannot tell you how difficult this is. What a touchstone you’ve lost if you’re a fan.

I saw him live once, during the Musicology days. He gave a brief intermission and then came back, just him and a guitar on a stool. He played a lot of favorites, heavy on Around the World as I recall. And he said to us, he said something like this, he said “you know you sang this into the mirror holding hair brush.”

And I’m like how the F did he know? F’n guy’s been spying on me all along.

He got on the elevator. The elevator tried to break him down.

He forgot to go crazy.

That’s what happened.

I am not done updating this post. I’m just tired. I’ll be back. I’m so sad.

Jesus Christ

I had seen crucifix scenarios before. But none like this.

I think I was 8, maybe? 7? And I was staying with the grandparents in Kansas for the summer. And we were traveling from somewhere, and it was on a Sunday. And of course they just had to find a service. Where’d we stop, Eudora? Maybe? I don’t know. Some huge church in the middle of a corn field.

Now this church hadn’t just bought the normal Jesus on the cross statue thingie out of the regular Church Mart catalog. This thing was massive. Big, muscular Jesus. His hands bound to the cross and nailed solidly. His feet nailed with a single post. He was barely dressed, save of course for the bloody thorns on his head. And he was looking up at the sky with that forlorn sort of gaze.

The thing was massive and, rather than seeming to come from another era, it seemed real. Which I reckon was the point.

Bear in mind, I was reared secularly. I didn’t go to Bible study every week. I wasn’t in CYO. I got inklings via the occasional television preacher and when I stayed with friends overnight (there’s another story altogether there…they were Christian Science…) So my context for this was somewhat limited. I mean, your average Catholic is probably inclined to see at as simply part of the scenery.

I was a bit horrified.

And, it occurs to me to ask this Easter weekend: Who’s wrong? Childhood me? Or your average Catholic?

Ya’ll are celebrating a death cult tale with a zombie ending, one that is highly unlikely to have actually occurred, yet it is celebrated, and it is a cornerstone of our culture and the basis upon which many people make their moral choices.

It was only a few years ago that I gave myself permission to stop believing in supernatural forces. I’ve always been a skeptic, though not without some time wasted seeking in various capacities. But while many of these stories I have always found fanciful and irrelevant, I never said the words out loud much: I don’t believe.

I know many will take great comfort in their death cult rituals this weekend, and I do not begrudge them it. I think I may observe by replaying the recent Cosmos reboot on my magical box that relays images to me by some unexplained magic. Or maybe I’ll stick my nose into my Ingersoll biography on my magic tablet that magically puts word in front of me to read.

Great thanks to my wise parents for saving me the indoctrination. Happy Easter, and I think you Jewish folks have something or other going on as well, so mazel tov.

Next time: Why I try steadfastly as I can to avoid taking “the Lord’s” name in vain.

The Ice Is Breaking Under My Feet

It all started at Christmas.

I may have mentioned that I bought sort of a family gift. Record Archive carries these grab bags; 10 CDs for five bucks or something along those lines. I thought it’d be a fun thing to do for Christmas, as a bunch, to listen to new music and to see what we liked, what we hated, and what we just had to have.

It was a suprisingly rich trove. Maybe two out of the whole bunch were coasters. Was some really good indie jazz in there.

Then there was Castanets.

When I was younger and chasing bands in North Carolina, The Ray Mason Band woulda been tired of me stealing their set lists.

Let me show you why, courtesy of Ray’s YouTube channel:

Mailbox Blue, my friends:

Not to mention the title track:

This album is so well-conceived and wonderful, with witty writing and a delivery that never fails to engage. I immediately grabbed this CD, and, sorry, but it ain’t ever going back.

So I tracked down ol’ Ray on the Internet and sent him a mash note.

I told him the whole story, the grab bag, how much I love his CD and, mainly, I wanted to let this local Massachusetts musician how far his music had reached and how.

And, lookie what was in my mailbox today.

Music is the best.


Meanwhile, this happened today.

It was a day perfect for calling in to work. Not an option. Not on launch day.

(Except that we didn’t do squat today, you know…due to the snow… #catch22)


She: How much [snow] do you think you got? Me: All of it.

Detour

Am trying to shop more these days at the Aldi store.

Took a leap of faith today and purchased a roast from there, and it resides currently in my slow cooker with a stick of butter, one envelope of ranch dressing mix, five pepperocinis, and one envelope of gravy mix. Easiest recipe in the known universe.

Now Aldi is over on State Street. I drove over and had to take a bit of a detour because Rochester Police had taped off an entire block. I assumed they were investigating a murder.

I sure do hate to be correct about such things.

Oh well. What can I tell you about a shopping trip that cost me $60? And that included a roast. Did I mention the roast? Smells good in here.

So I thought I’d talk a little bit about speeches.

Before I was sent out the door with my box at a previous job, I’ve seen some of these speeches they give. I’ve seen Condoleezza Rice speak. Al Franken. Bill Bradley. Bill Clinton. One of them astronauts. The Capital Gang. Freddy Mercury. Just kidding.

And what I can tell yinz about those speeches is that they’re rather unremarkable. Their purpose is to put butts in seats. They are not particularly informative nor educational. Most of them are canned speeches the person tells at dozens of events all over the country.

Except for Bill Clinton. When he speaks, they turn off the teleprompter.

For the most part, though, these speeches are pablum. They are crafted to fill up an hour so that the event’s attendees can say they saw so-and-so at the whatsit convention or meeting. So they can, for example, say they shook Bill Clinton’s hand. Wait. That’s my story.

My point: Those of you who are losing CTRL over your bowels because you are dying to see the transcripts of Hillary Clinton’s speeches to various groups are going to be incredibly bored. There will be nothing there. I rush to mention that these speeches are not part of the public record and that the Secretary may have no legal claim to actually release these transcripts, of course.

Besides, here’s my real problem with the “speech-gate” nonsense: Hillary Clinton may have spoken to Goldman Sachs, but she also spoke to my former employer, the nation’s premiere trade association for the scrap recycling industry. (You may remember it. A lady threw a shoe at her.)

Does that mean that our nation’s for-profit recyclers are in Hillary’s pocket too?

If so, why did she shift on TPP? I guarantee they would not like that.

Reckon they wasted they money, eh?

Eh?


So, here’s a hint from Abelard.

I have a folder on my desktop called “Instant Trash.”

See in the olden days, I’d see a picture or a meme or something I wanted to share on the FacedBook. And I would need a place to save it first. And generally, I would save it on my desktop. Which made my desktop messy.

Now, those files go into “Instant Trash,” which I know I can delete the contents of which any time because those are files I did not mean to keep long, just long enough to put up to FacedBook. Thus: “Instant Trash.”

Desktop looks like this now.

(Background by Simple Desktops.)

You are welcome.


One day, humans will evolve to possess exoskeletons impervious to bullets. Which will leave some damned frustrated rednecks in more ways than one.

Hope He Drives an Automatic

A 15-year-old Pakistani boy cut off his own hand believing he had committed blasphemy, only to be celebrated by his parents and neighbours for the act, police told AFP Friday.

Local police chief Nausher Ahmed described how an imam told a gathering at a village mosque that those who love the Prophet Mohammad always say their prayers, then asked who among the crowd had stopped praying.

Mohammad Anwar, 15, raised his hand by mistake after apparently mishearing the question.

The crowd swiftly accused him of blasphemy so he went to his house and cut off the hand he had raised, put it on a plate, and presented it to the cleric, the police chief said.


In Other News

“A thoughtful, serious argument about why single-payer isn’t the best path forward would have won Clinton more fans than this kind of obvious pandering.”

What follows is one of the finest deconstructions of Hillary Clinton’s bizarre recent attack on Bernie Sanders’ position on healthcare policy. It is a mightily clarifying piece, and you should read it.

Hillary Clinton doesn’t trust you (Vox, by Ezra Klein)


Ah, so that explains it. Thanks, Gizmodo. Why We Become Such Assholes When We’re Behind the Wheel

…and…Simpsons tattoos

That Seems Like A Pretty Good Idea To Me

I’ve been sitting on this stuff a while. Here. Go see funny and interesting things on the Internet.

New blog I done found called Adequate Man sez

“After that meltdown, did the Bengals just “out-Browns” the Browns and take the throne as the “Brownsiest” team in Ohio?

No, that’s not possible. The Browns would have to win a title before the Bengals could truly usurp their THRONE OF MISERY…”


“The only reason why we ask other people how their weekend was is so we can tell them about our own weekend.” (Chuck Pahlaniuk)

Note to self: Find “The Way” by Jill Scott MUST HAVE THAT TRACK

Steelers-Bengals

Bengals: Oh, hey, Steelers, how are you?
Steelers: Not good.
Bengals: How come?
Steelers: Well, see, we were beating you guys the whole game pretty much and then you guys scored and now you’re like totally gonna win the game.
Bengals: Oh, that’s terrible!
Steelers: Indeed.
Bengals: Well, I wish there was something we could do to help you out with that.
Steelers: Well…
Bengals: What? Don’t be shy. Just ask.
Steelers: Well, you could commit a flagrant foul in the last minute of the game.
Bengals: Hey! There’s an idea! Say if we…hmmm…popped one of your guys in the head after the play ended?
Steelers: Yeah! That’d be good for at least 15 yards and a first down!
Bengals: Okay! We’ll do it!
Steelers: Sigh.
Bengals: Now what?
Steelers: It’s just that…that’s a might long ways away for a field goals, still.
Bengals: Oh, right. I see what you mean…Okay. I have an idea.
Steelers: What?
Bengals: How about after we commit the flagrant foul, four or five of us will ARGUE WITH THE REFS ABOUT THE FLAG!
Steelers: Oh, wow! You’d do that for us? Could one of you really get in the ref’s face? Maybe even a little bit of touching?
Bengals: Why not?
Steelers: Wow, that would really put us in range for a field goal! That would be great, thank you!
Bengals: No, Steelers. Thank you!