Author: wrekehavoc

my city of ruins

my city of ruins

it sure feels that way this morning.

yeah, i know. on a week when we remember the tremendous shock and loss of life of 9/11; when flood waters are ravaging colorado; and when people the world over are being tortured and killed, you might think: boo-fucking hoo. seaside park businesses are on fire. so what?

sleazeside, as we townies affectionately call it, is an integral part of my childhood and my psyche. yeah, so all of america thinks we are snooki and the situation and spray-tanned, classless people like that. but those people aren’t even from the shore. those people are the bennies, the tourists who come to town and who make us locals often laugh and cry at the same time for their outrageous NY/North Jersey buffoonery. we loved them because they kept the shore alive with cash and spirit, but wow, they were brasher than we locals.

but we locals love the boards, too. as a very little girly, i loved riding the choo choo and the carousel. every year, one of the highlights of my day camp career was the day we were given our ticket book and had free reign (or so it felt) to ride rides, stuff ourselves full of kohrs custard, and lose our quarters playing the wheels. as i grew older, i spent so many nights with my oldest brother, getting some (at the time) cheap slices of pizza and some grape drink from the sawmill, then playing pinball for hours.  we also hit the waterslides — there was rainbow rapids, away from the boards and closer to the mathis bridge, which i didn’t like because my legs always got all cut up on the fiberglass. and there was another waterslide i loved, right off the boards, where you felt like one wrong slip and you’d end up on the pavement, a few stories below.

sometimes for me, it felt like a tiny taste of freedom. my parents would not allow me to work there, but they did let me go and breathe in the tar, the ocean, and the zeppoles. i remember endlessly walking up and down the boards, looking at all the people who seemed to have lives well underway. mine seemed like it would never begin. then again, there were lives getting destroyed there as well; people getting into fights, people getting into trouble underneath the boards in more ways than my teenaged brain could imagine. the most trouble i could get into was getting a gaggle of friends to line up at the game where you squirt water into the clown’s mouth and, when the bell went off to start the contest, everyone sprayed the poor guy or girl behind the counter. they never got too mad at you but you always felt a little deliciously evil afterwards.  it was the extent of my badgirl moment; i would hear the commotion coming from the chatterbox club but never have the moxie to step in while underage.

and the food. as a red sea pedestrian, i was never a fan of the sausages, though legions swear up and down they are the best. me, i always ended up with powdered sugar in my hair from chowing down on as many zeppoles as i could fathom. dinner would always be pizza for me, whether from the sawmill, three brothers, or some other place in a pinch. and kohrs custard? i think i can thank them for part of my fat tush. kohrs custard was always thicker and silkier than mere ice cream. i remember once, while driving outside of charlottesville, va, with my family — i saw a kohrs and begged to stop. my kids thought mom had lost the plot until they tasted the dream.

there is something about the heavy, heady smell of decades of tourists looking for a cheap, good time that has been lost.  hurricane sandy just exploded over seaside like a swampy h-bomb. the devastation from that storm ripped my heart out. the jetstar sat in the ocean, rusting out for months before it was taken out of the collective misery of our memories. and slowly, the boards began to rebuild.  they replaced some of the boards with something tougher than wood to withstand the pounding storm surf. the carousel was cleaned up. sure, the whole thing wasn’t really back to full steam, but there was a certain feeling of pride that the place was going to be back, stronger than ever.

and then, the fire.

and all these places that were lost to me have become lost to me again. i want to bring them back, and yet the only way i think i will is through my memories. sure, it looks like no one was killed, and thank goodness for that, as people are not replaceable. ever. but as time goes by, i’m beginning to wonder whether places were meant to be replaced.  the smells, the sights, the strange mix of earnest kids and flashy outsiders: it will never be the same.

and yet, there’s that part of me that wants to catch the wave of seaside’s next act.


attack of the gpms: no reply at all (genesis)

attack of the gpms: no reply at all (genesis)

bet you’re glad attack of the gpms is over after today, aren’t you. (well, except for actual mondays when i feel like writing about guilty pleasure monday selections, of course.)

yeah, yeah, yeah, i know. this is the second genesis song in one week. (if you don’t like it, go write about it in your own blog. and then, share your link with me.) however, can you even believe it is the same band that sings afterglow? you hear this song, and you definitely think you are listening to another group. what a difference a couple of years made! by the time the band made abacab, the dudes had moved from ethereal prog rock (also known in my head only as music for hobbit heads) to nearly-radio-ready top 40 singles. and while this album mostly was a mainstay of AOR radio at the time, subsequent albums would yield multiple top 40 hits. this effort was sort of like training wheels for the ride to come.

i adore abacab for so many reasons, some of which i will keep to myself so i that don’t make your eyes glaze over.  there are quirky songs intermingled with songs striving to be pop hits. while my favorite song on the album is probably still the dark horse like it or not, i adore no reply at all.  and i adore it for one reason: my Beloved Spouse.

no, there’s nothing mushy or sentimental going on here. this is not one of our songs, per se. but when this song comes on, BS always attempts to be the entire horn section. he only does this on two songs. here’s exhibit b:

phil collins may be a stellar songwriter, drummer, and even a distinctive voice. but hot damn, the man knows how to put together kickin’ horn sections.

and nothing is funnier than BS imitating them.

just take my word for it.

better yet, you try it.

attack of the gpms: get lucky (daft punk)

attack of the gpms: get lucky (daft punk)

daft punk is playin’ at my house.

are you sick of robin thicke’s blurred lines yet? i don’t care if it’s the freaking song of the summer; i sure as hell have od’d on it (and i have only heard it for two days now. i’ve tried to avoid it, but when it shows up on the Today Show and i have to see al roker bumping and grinding, well, it has jumped the shark.) and no, i’ve got no kick against modern jazz crap pop. it’s very catchy pop, that is, if you don’t mind being called a bitch. but call me old-fashioned. if i am going to listen to a song about getting laid, i think i prefer something breezier. something that doesn’t insult me.

that’s where get lucky comes in.

sure, pharrell williams ends up on both of these songs, and he continues to laughlaughlaugh his way to the bank. i actually like his voice. but get lucky is a study in sunny, discofied summer music, the sort of stuff you might have on your radio while driving to the boardwalk.  this is not entirely surprising since nile le chic rodgers is a co-writer of the song. (can you HEAR that guitar? i’ll bet the ranch it’s niles.) it’s totally old skool, something i might have expected to listen to on Disco 92 WKTU.  and yet, there’s something so fresh about it. i have listened to it a jillion million times, and i am still not sick of it.

and hell. it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.

attack of the gpms: afterglow (genesis)

attack of the gpms: afterglow (genesis)

bursting into tears in T-3, 2, 1.

jools was worried about me last week. a song came on in the car, and i just burst into tears. i assured him i was okay, nothing was the matter. it was just how a song made me feel.  here’s a secret about me that everyone in my family knows all too well: i’m kind of a boohoo by nature.  to be sure, i have not been a big girl’s blouse who would cry about getting beat up or something like that. i didn’t cry, for example, when a girl named lori started to kick and punch me at north dover school while we nine year olds were hanging out waiting for our brothers’ basketball practice to finish. no, i kicked and punched her back (until another girl, sari, ran and got our dads.) i also don’t cry when most people say rude things about me. generally, such things make me either ignore them or give them the finger and i go my merry way. in truth, the things that make me cry are usually and strangely not the things that make other people cry.

beauty makes me cry.

i have never been able to explain it, really; but some things in the world are simply so exquisite and rare that i can’t find the words to describe them. words fail. and my heart feels full, partially because i have all this emotion in me and i cannot express it. sometimes, there is special meaning to said song and it makes me feel engulfed by memory and feelings. so i do what i can do: i cry.

there are certain pieces of music which hit my soul in such a place that i can’t even sing them. i hear, for example, in my life (as i did in the car last week) and i am a blubbery mess.  border song is another example.

and this, of course, brings us to today’s guilty pleasure. i think genesis keyboardist tony banks said that he wrote afterglow in about the same amount of time the song runs. if that’s the case, i count that among some of the universe’s wacky musical miracles, along with keith richards waking up one night, playing the satisfaction riff into his tape recorder, and then falling back to sleep.  off of wind and wuthering, afterglow is often overshadowed by perennial 1970s prom favorite your own special way, an absolutely gorgeous song in it’s own right.  in fact, i am hard-pressed to think of any obvious love songs by genesis prior to these two on this album. (feel free to correct me in the comments; i might be mistaken.) but where your own special way is this wistful celebration of love and the wonder of holding hands, afterglow is a song of yearning and loss. the singer has been somehow been banished — from home, from the heart of his love, from something central to his existence. he has lost everything. he has nothing.

but what sustains him is the singular hope that maybe, somehow, in some tiny little recess of her heart, his love will accept him again. maybe it’s a vain hope, but it is all he has. he would search everywhere just to hear (her) call: 

And walk upon stranger roads than this one
In a world I used to know before.
For now I’ve lost everything,
I give to you my soul.
The meaning of all that I believed before
Escapes me in this world of none,
I miss you more.

he is consumed by love. he has lost love. he is pretty damned morose. but he hasn’t given up. if you have ever been in the most untenable situation of hoping against hope that love is not lost, this song conveys that and grips you in a way few others can. it’s like the grandma to another song that makes me weep, against all odds, though far more powerful, i think.


pardon me. i need to find my tissues. in the meantime, here’s where i first heard this wondrous song — as part of a medley genesis played in concert for years. probably the pinnacle of every genesis live show for me.


attack of the gpms: the happy song (dum dum-de-de-de-dum-dum) (otis redding)

attack of the gpms: the happy song (dum dum-de-de-de-dum-dum) (otis redding)

this song would get me off the dock of the bay. toute de suite.

happy monday! what? you’re not feeling the love this morning? here. i’ll give you some in the guise of the late, great otis redding. everyone and their dog is familiar with the classic (sitting on the) dock of the bay. and anyone who has ever sat through pretty in pink will never forget jon cryer’s amazing  lip synch to otis’s try a little tenderness:

but not a lot of people know the happy song, and that’s a shame. it’s hard to stay grumpy with this one on. yeah, i know it’s titled like something out of romper room; but i promise. romper room would be so lucky to have such a soulful moment. (and while we’re talking romper room, i’m not still bitter that the teacher never saw me in her magic mirror. no, not much.)

then again, i don’t think she called otis’s name, either.

anyway, the happy song came off the immortal otis redding, an album recorded in a three-week span of time just before his untimely death in 1967. (nothing happy or immortal about that.) there’s such a wonderful quality to redding’s voice, especially in this song. it always feels like he is speaking directly to me (or you); it has craggy warmth and realness that so many these days lack. (and no auto-tune.) and backed by the best of the best — the stax crew, people like steve cropper and duck dunn and booker T and isaac hayes, for cryin’ out loud. that crew could have recorded the freaking phone book and it would have been the funkiest, coolest white pages experience ever.

in a world where music seems to have lost a certain level of authenticity, it is so wonderful to remember that there are people out there who have got the goods. they can sing, even without augmentation. they can play instruments with gentle power and great skill. they can create musical moments which easily translate and morph into your personal musical memories. and i’m sure there are people out there in the world, still, who can do all that. maybe they aren’t getting the industry attention or backing, but i know they are out there. i hear it in otis’s voice, and it brings me back to that wonderful realization. and hope.

and that makes me very, very happy.

attack of the gpms: tin soldier (small faces)

attack of the gpms: tin soldier (small faces)

yeah. i’m a little late to this game, already in progress for about 40 years.

okay. so how on earth did i miss the small faces? yeah, i always knew about itchycoo park. i had heard aplenty about steve marriott and ronnie lane, but i never really paid any attention to that crew. (i’m sad now, as i think i have fallen in serious like  with steve marriott, only too bad for me: he has been dead for over 20 years now.) the only faces i ever listened to involved rod the mod stewart. one day last summer, i was stuck in a musical malaise. you know the sort: you’re sick of your music, but nothing new is making you jump up and down? so i was working from home, as i do, and i actually paid attention to one of those thingies that said if you like this band, you’ll like small faces. and in a leap of faith, i began my journey with ogdens nut gone flake.

and wow.

what an amazing concept album. yeah, the storyline is a bit dodgy (it isn’t like tommy‘s story isn’t a little crazy) in that late 1960s sort of way. but i LOVED it. from the intro of the album, which sounds like a cross between the creation meets the who, and then all sorts of stuff ranging from the kinks to english music hall, i was just gobsmacked.  i cannot help but smile when i hear lazy sunday afternoon. (kazoos, people. in a rock song.) anyway, i really love this album now, and i need to engage some further study in the history of rock opera and concept albums because of it.

after pulling myself away from ONGF, i branched out into the rest of their catalog, and wow, is tin soldier a stunner of a song. originally, steve marriott wrote it for singer p.p. arnold, but he took it back and kept it for himself, letting p.p. sing backing vocals on the track. (you have to have a lot of confidence if you walk through life with the nickname p.p., and her voice is like a steamroller.) i love the story of the song , which brings us back full circle to rod the mod. apparently, marriott wrote this song to impress a girl, jenny rylance, who had a rocky relationship with stewart. in the end, love won out — marriott and rylance were married. yeah, i know — the marriage ended eventually. but you gotta love someone who wins the heart of someone else through creative means.

i know i would.

attack of the gpms: nine tonight (bob seger)

attack of the gpms: nine tonight (bob seger)

not, not bob saget. bob seger.

yeah, a lot of people my age are pretty sick of bob seger. his music has ended up implanted in the national psyche, i don’t even think i can think of so many songs anymore without the relevant visual. (let’s see: like a rock makes me think of chevy vehicles. old time rock and roll: tom cruise in his skivvies. night moves: a young matt leblanc. and i can keep going.) his stuff is the dreams that lite rock radio is made of. and except for some of his really old stuff, like ramblin’ gamblin’ man (go ahead and click the link and listen to it; i’ll wait. it’s that good), when i see bob seger’s name pop up on my radio, i tend to turn the page, er, station. it’s not that his stuff is inherently bad: he has a way with serious hooks. but it mostly has been played. to. death.

so how delighted was i when this little forgotten gem came on my radio, straight from the crappy 1980 film urban cowboy, a tale of a young country boy trying to make his way in the big, bad world of houston.  i suppose john travolta could be just as believable as a southern dude as he might be crossdressed up as edna turnblad, though i found his stint in the latter far more believable. (but i won’t go there.) don’t you love those amurican tales, where men are men and masseuses are scared? where your worth as a human can be proven by riding some mechanical bull the longest?

honestly, beyond the bull, i can’t really remember much about the film, but i do remember this song. and while it is much slicker than ramblin’, gamblin’ man;and while i will swear he ripped off the opening riff from hollywood nights, i do enjoy this little ditty. i think what i like best: it doesn’t really get a lot of airplay, so i haven’t had the chance to get sick of it.

and of course, not making me think of travolta in a ten-gallon doesn’t hurt, either.

attacks of the gpms: i’m free (soup dragons)

attacks of the gpms: i’m free (soup dragons)

yes, children. a cover that kicks the original’s ass.

i love the stones. i put my 7 year old in a mick’s lips t-shirt. and there is no question how i feel about keef.

that being said, how i love the soup dragons’ cover of the stones’ i’m free. they take it to new places — a rappy, reggae place, a universe where i picture everyone dancing, grooving and having an amazing time. there are rainbows and people with multicolored braids, dancing for days. (yeah, i also imagine that there are probably people on ecstasy in the corner of that universe, but as long as they stay the hell out of my way, i will ignore them.)

when the stones sang it, i imagine mick shaking his little tambourine — or would that have been brian jones? — and the surprisingly uninspiring guitar solo winding it’s way through the middle of the song. frankly, it was fairly forgettable to me — until this cover came about in 1990. sure, it didn’t do a whole lot in the US charts, though it had plenty of airplay on my late lamented radio station WHFS. but i lurved it.

and i always loved junior reid, the guy yelling: don’t be afraid to feel freedom!

a few years back, chase used the song to advertise their freedom credit card. yeah, it made me feel old — there’s nothing worse than being obviously targeted for your age. but i decided to free my mind of that image.

i’ll just close my eyes, chair dance, and wonder what happened to the soup dragons. (yeah, i know, i know. teenage fan club. but i’m not digressing again. at least, not today.)


attack of the gpms: back against the wall (cage the elephant)

attack of the gpms: back against the wall (cage the elephant)

oh my hell. the gift that keeps on giving.

so yeah, it isn’t monday, but i’m just rolling along with my two weeks of guilty pleasure mondays. (in other words, it’s like monday, only happier because it’s not monday.) (no, i’m not off any meds.) and i’m picking out some of my go-to songs that just make me grin and grin and shake my ass, even if my ass is currently sitting in the successor to the mommobile, which left us yea verily about a year ago. (BC still cries about it. she went away to girl scout camp one week and came back to a brand new car. and she was not amused. of course, she wasn’t going to be the grownup dealing with the potential vicissitudes of an old, old car on the side of some road, somewhere.)

what IS amusing, though, is back against the wall, a song that i think is one of the best songs of 2009 and maybe even the entire decade of the aughts. cage the elephant, a band out of kentucky, has not gotten the recognition i think they deserve.  i think they’re recording an album at this point, which means they could be touring soon. i would like to see them, even if they are the support act. (at one point, i think they were supporting the foo fighters, and i think my secret boyfriend dave grohl stepped in to play drums with them when their drummer became ill. of course, that could also be me hallucinating or projecting something dreamy. sometimes, reality bites, but in this case, i think reality might have been awesome, except of course for their poor drummer, who i hope has fully recovered.)

but i digress. per usual.

this song rocks. this is an rump-shaking, come to JAYsus kind of rocker. this is the sort of song that if i had a band, i would TOTALLY cover it, only i am quite certain i could not add anything to it and would thus create something superfluous. so i won’t. i’ll just leave you to it and you can go ahead and tell me how right i am in the comments.

if you want to, i mean. i’m not putting you up to it or anything.

not like your back’s against the wall.

guilty pleasure monday: hurt my pride (the young sinclairs)

guilty pleasure monday: hurt my pride (the young sinclairs)

if you close your eyes, it’s like 1965. not that i would remember the year, of course.

you know, i have spent two whole weeks. TWO WHOLE WEEKS, writing about songs i loathe. i have subjected myself, and the hundreds three people out there who still dare to read my stuff, to pure, unadulterated crap. i just wanted to feel the love, people, so i am changing tracks. i think for the two weeks of awful, hateful songs (really? you really like my humps? you’re a sad case, you are. get thee to a nunnery), i need to do penance. so… you loved it for years. you laughed at me with me at my sometimes quirky taste in music. and so?

trust me: you’ll like it like mikey likes it.

anywho… from what i can glean, the young sinclairs have been around for over a decade, and where the HELL HAVE I BEEN? seriously, i am a serious sucker for jangly pop. i have a history of listening voraciously as the rickenbacker torch has passed from the byrds to tom petty to REM to the La’s to… well, there are loads in between who are fine, fine jangly pop people. these guys hail from downstate in Roanoke, a place i have never been. i hope they come up to play at Iota or the State (i’m sure the legwarmers can find another place to play to drunken 40-somethings trying to recapture their frat party memories from the ’80s some saturday night, amirite?) sometime, both fun venues.  with my luck, i’ve probably missed them.

timing is everything.

anyway, my timing was lucky, as i heard this on little steven’s underground garage one day while chauffeuring the boy somewhere. (the kids grin and bear it when i refuse to listen to the top hits station on sirius/xm in the car; there’s only so much bruno mars i can stands and i can’t stands no mo’!) and yes; i was thrilled, yea verily… for i heard something garagey and fresh, all rolled into a lovely, poppy, jangly hot mess. and i became that mom, the one with the windows rolled down in the school kiss-and-ride line and the volume cranked to 11.  i don’t often do that (usually, it happens when rocks off comes on, and not otherwise much), especially since the day i embarrassed BC amidst her middle school pals when i had the clash cranked. moooom, girlfriend moaned, you’re embarrassing me!

(oh honey. embarrassing would be if i had perry como at full throttle.  not:


but i digress. per usual.

in short: i rarely hear things that make me want to go out and buy the album (only too bad for me, the 1980s called and said we want our albums back, nobody makes albums anymore, old lady) or at least download this stuff.

the young sinclairs deserve a better write-up than what i can glean from internet searches. i would tell you more if i could. but in the meantime, take a tip from me. you can close your eyes and pretend you’re a groovy girl from the ’60s when you hear it. but you have to rejoin the 21st century (still in progress) to get there. so:

just. download. it.

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