February 3, 2009

Anniversaries of pop culture events simply let you know that time is passing you by.  To a degree, what is the difference how many times the earth has revolved around the sun since an event occurred, except to remind you that Holy S#!t, it’s been X years since Y occurred.

That’s not quite the case in this posting.  As I am blogging about the anniversary of the death of two people who passed away outside of my awareness of time.

Today, specifically is the 50th anniversary of the death of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper.  American Pie and all of that.  We all know the story, saw La Bamba or the Buddy Holly Story, or at least have listened to American Pie enough times. 

To me Buddy Holly is one of the greatest “what ifs” in music.  Even bigger than “What if John Lennon hadn’t been shot”.  How would the 1960s have evolved if Buddy Holly had been alive?  Would he have continued to make music, or would he have started making country music?  Would he have gone down the road of drugs and alcohol of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley? 

Or the other possibility is that the only reason Buddy Holly is remembered more than the 50 other rock and roll artists from the era is because he passed away so young and so tragically?  Would he be more of a bump in the road, rather than an innovator of the music that dominated the last three- four decades of the 20th Century.   

Or, could Buddy Holly have emerged, rising from the ashes during the British Invasion, and being the elder statesmen during an era that needed a voice.

It’s interesting… at least to me it is….

Buddy Holly’s music was always there, in the background for me.  Whether it was the original versions of the songs, or cover versions, I had heard his music throughout my life.  (Plus, I seem to remember some sort of Ronco collection of Buddy Holly music probably advertised during an episode of Hogan’s Heroes or some such nonsense).  I knew the song American Pie, and learned that Buddy Holly died in that plane crash.  In spring of 1991, I went to Broadway for the first time to see Buddy (a musical of the Buddy Holly Story).  And the show probably cemented my kinship with Buddy Holly and his music. 

As they say in the musical, “And the rest, and the rest is simply rock and roll!”

The other anniversary occurs later this month, and it is the 15th year anniversary of the death of Bill Hicks.  For those who are uninitiated, Bill Hicks was a comedian who challenged the status quo in ways the few white comedians have done in recent years.  For my money, you have to go back to Carlin for someone who really, on a stand-up stage spoke and joked and preached about the levels of hypocracy and human foibles.  He condemned ‘religion’ but embraced the ‘one living god that lives in all of us’.   He trashed commercialism and marketing.  He refused to sell out in any way whatsoever.  Never backed down. 

I’d like to tell you that I remember where I was when I heard about his death, but it passed by without my notice.

I’d like to tell you that I was too young to know about Bill Hicks during his life, but… while I was young…  (23 when he passed away), I wasn’t that young.

Uninitiated…  Like someone living in Jerusalem 2000 years ago who hadn’t heard of Jesus til after he died. 

I watched a comedy special sometime between 1995-1997 on Comedy Central, and my jaw hit the floor.  I was rolling on the floor.  I could not stop laughing.  I had never heard anything quite so funny. 

And then I found out that he was dead… I found a prophet to believe in… to follow… to drink the Kool-Aid and let him take me to the promised land… and he had already been crucified on the cross on pancreatic cancer.

Obviously, I’m going overboard, slightly here… 

But I think you know what I mean.  There are things in life that are enjoyed by everyone, like chocolate, Disney Animated Movies, the sound of the ocean… things you say that you like, and it’s not a revelation…. it doesn’t define you… it just simply is very likeable

Then there  are those things that cause you to have an opinion, one way or the other about them.  You either love Henry Rollins or you don’t.  No one just kindof likes sushi.  No one says, “Yeah, I was going to go to sleep, and a Felini film was on. I hadn’t seen it yet.” These kindof describe your tastes and preferences, and separate you from the crowd.   To a degree, a liking of Buddy Holly’s music falls in this category.

Then there are those things out there, that seem to have been created just for you… that speak to you on a level that is deeper that just enjoyment.  An echo of sentiment that already existed.  A capturing of your akin spirit that is expressed through their creativity.  Food or art or work that brings together likemindedness and reminds us that we are not alone. 

My list would be (and I’m sure I’m forgetting things): Strangers In Paradise, High Fidelity, ECW (the original), Southern Culture on the Skids, RENT, craft-brewed beer, The Commitments, and Bill Hicks

Anyway, there’s not much else I can say about that except to “Enjoy the Ride”.

P.S. After writing this… I found out that Bill Hicks owned a “Chevette“!!!!!  HA!  Four door, but what can ya do….  Connections, my friends…. connections…  Either a karass or a granfalloon… not sure which


Forgive the Reminiscence…

February 8, 2008

My wife called up with severe cabin fever earlier this week. Another night plopped in front of the television was not going to work for her. As it was a Wednesday, and there was nothing to do, no one to call to watch our son, and work the next day, we decided to put this off til the weekend.

Now, this would have been perfect, as one of our favorite bands, Marah, was SUPPOSED to play at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. But, apparently they’ve had a major band squabble , leaving them with just the core of the Bielanko boys and Christine Smith.

So, we were going to go see a cover band, but the timing wasn’t working out. But one of the bands we were thinking of seeing was the Sensational Soul Cruisers. One of the last great Philly cover bands from my younger days… just a phenominal band.

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Scrounge Rats Revisited (Part One)

February 6, 2008

The other night, was talking to a good friend of mine who lives down Virginia way (Baron and the Lady Von Jaeger), hearing about his latest explots. We were talking about blogs, as he’s recently joined the blogging community on Live Journal (let me know when you decide to stop riding the moped, buddy)… blah blah blah, back and forth….

So he mentions that he saw an entry on my blog that was in the category of Scrounge Rats. And that he clicked it, and it was password protected. So of course, he’s wondering what inflamatory, incriminating material is in this blog post. Well, I wasn’t online at the time, and couldn’t tell him what was protected

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Sitting on the Sidelines

June 13, 2007

I’ve been aware of a movement within my pop-culture being. It’s nothing serious, nothing that is truly that tragic, yet….Well, it’s a complete departure from where I’ve been recently, and in a sense most of my life. I’m no longer at the forefront of the entertainment wave.

It’s not that movies, television, or music are no longer being directed at me. But rather that it’s the reason why movies, television, and music is not directed at people of my generation. And that is that I don’t have the time for it. If the wave hits me, it is well after the fact. I am standing on the shoreline by the lifeguard stand, while others are out in the middle of it, riding the wave and catching it.

I wish it was for a really cool reason, like that I’ve become bored with mass-produced, 30-something media, and I’m off into the cyber-ooze to find something pure, not brought down to the lowest-common-denominator, and achieveing artistic merit in the truest sense of the word. But it’s not.

The truth is that between a 8 hour work day that starts at 5:30 AM, sitting in a traffic filled commute for 2-3 (yesterday it was 4) hours a day, being married, supporting a household, raising a child… that there just isn’t time. And the time that I have is usually spent with things that are easily digestable, predictable, and chat worthy like sports radio or American Idol. I don’t have time for a full meal, so I’m content to have the fast-food of pop-culture.

I remember talking to my parents, about cultural phenomenon that happened when I was a young kid. And they’d be missing these pieces of culture that everyone talked about. They didn’t have time for it. They were absent from the entertainment of the day. And I feel it happening to me.

Now I understand that it isn’t a tragedy that I’m only hearing music when it hits popular radio, seeing television shows weeks or months after they were released, and only seeing movies that both my wife and I like. But the part that’s bugging me currently has to do with Strangers in Paradise.

Strangers in Paradise (or SiP) is a comic book series about two women named Francine and Katchoo. To call it a comic book or a graphic novel reduces the power of it, but not from an elitist way. It truly achieves artistic and emotional merit. Now, after 14 years and over 100 issues, the creator Terry Moore, has ended the series with issue #90 which came out last week.

The issue is that I stopped reading individual issues of comic books shortly after Suzanne moved in with me (fall of 2003). I just couldn’t see sitting down with a huge stack of comic books, as was my norm, and reading them fresh from the comic book store. I mean one of the reasons you get married is to have companionship, and I always read comic books like it was my sworn duty.

When comic books are collected in trade paperback form, to me, it feels like there is less urgency. I can read the whole thing in one night, or slowly take my time reading only a chapter (issue) at a time. And usually the next trade isn’t coming out for 6-9 months.

But, you do feel like you are behind the curve. It’s like running a marathon, and you’re finishing in the “well, good for you” group instead of one of the front runners.

Plus, with the Internet, there is discussion, conversation, and spoilers. And I want to interact. I want to give my opinion, see what others think, participate, and enjoy. And by the time the trade is released (next month I hope), it mostly will be done, passe, after the fact, as it were. It’s like wanting to wait til the Sopranos to come out on DVD, and hearing it talked about on the radio and television, you have to put your fingers in your ears and go “lalalalalalalalalala”.


The other recourse, is to go to a comic book shop, buy the last 8 issues of the series, read them, and then buy the trade paperback so it fits nicer on my shelf.

Don’t like that option either.

I’ll just watch others surf while I play in the sand as the occassional remnants of a wave wash across my feet.

Queen of Wands

October 30, 2006

Queen of Wands, originally uploaded by rjschwabe.

Well, as long as there’s a precedence for this hair sort of thing. And it kindof ties into my current thoughts about the ponytail.

Anyway, this was taken from:


Sometimes I don’t know what this is supposed to be…

February 11, 2004

I shouldn’t worry about this stuff, I know…. Being in your early 30s, you see the technology booming around you. Well, not the technology per say, it’s the knowledge. And I’m falling waaaaay behind.

Take LiveJournal for a moment. Everyone has these cool pages, and I’ve got the industry standard with a few unique colors. Whoopdie doo. I barely know how to create an icon. Let alone how to post a different one each time.

For me, in my early 30s, it’s a simple question. Do you try (and most likely fail) to keep up with what’s cool (music, internet, etc), or do you simply go on with your VH1, Greatest Hits, I love the 80s, niche and be done with it.

Jeez, honey there’s just too many people in this place, and the music is just too darn loud. Maybe we should go home. Let’s swing by the Howard Johnsons. They have a nice early bird special that allows us old cheap farts to eat at a time much earlier than everyone else.

Just put my cultural impact and awareness in the ground and bury it. We’ll make a nice gravestone for it, and pluck the weeds.

Give me my Def Leppard Greatest Hits CD, an old game of Centipede, and a collection of Terry Brooks original Shanara series while reruns of Cheers are shown on the television screen.