Paging Pogoer (January 15, 2003)

[In response to the moderator’s  recent posts about the deaths of Joe Strummer and Andy Gibb, with Pete Townshend’s bust for allegedly possessing kiddie porn thrown in for good measure]

I arrived home last night from a week in NY and NJ with the Fiancee, visiting our respective families and arranging our big fat New Jersey wedding in April (no, it’s no fun doing it from a distance). It was tiring, and we could’ve done without the January wind whipping along the Jersey waterfront, not to mention the long slog home to BBQ Land through various airports (made more arduous by the addition of several heavy gift packages courtesy of the Fiancee’s surprise bridal shower last Sunday; we mailed some home via UPS, but not quite enough). Still, it’s exhilarating to us to think that it’s finally, at our semi-advanced ages, Our Turn. (In short, here’s my take on getting hitched: it’s a relief to find out you’re human after all, like everybody else, and rather than it being a handicap to find out you need and can be moved by other people, that it has everything to do with coming around to being who you were meant to be from the start, your better self.)

Today the Fiancee bought a blue-velvet-lined wooden storage chest to hold the good gift flatware: startling to look at this item and realize it doesn’t belong to my parents.

As to the other recent topics: I’m generally reluctant to post to a board when some rock star dies, because I believe that musicians and artists — actually, people in general — should be celebrated (and in some cases, reviled) while they’re still among us. What good does it do them to get all these encomiums now, and what good does it do us to do the encomiuming (or whatever)? I know, the bell tolls for thee and it’s ingrained in us, but still. Not that I haven’t felt badly or wanted to communicate my feelings to others (God knows) when a favorite musician died, but (call me churlish) I felt much worse when I thought that the artist still had some of their best work left in them, and/or when they died as a result of a dumb accident rather than by self-abuse, suicide or stupidity, or after they’d long since played themselves out.

I have absolutely nothing against Joe Strummer — I like “White Riot” and “I’m So Bored with the USA” as much as anyone, and he was a good role model, sure; it’s just that he was never my rock god of choice in the late `70s/early `80s, and along with most of his older fans, I wasn’t listening to his recent output. I never cared about the Bee Gees even as objects of nostalgia (though they recorded a few good tunes in the late `60s) and the posthumous media circus surrounding Gibb is as dignified as Ted Williams in the freezer. As for poor old Pete Townshend, the hooha surrounding his `research’ (and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that it was just that) illustrates the alarming tendency of the American press to succumb to the worst instincts of their Brit counterparts, as well as the  reat Anglo-American alarmist tradition of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, no pun intended. Not to be Pollyanna, but I believe the world is a much better place than you’d think it was if you got all your information from newspapers and TV, rather than walking outside and using your five senses.

All of these recent stories do get you thinking, however, about the subject of the graceful exit. How does one know when it’s time to retire, or at least, to do something else? Should one rely solely on the little inner voice, or does one really have to wait for the tabloids to deflate your balloon? Subject for further study.

Since we’ve been discussing books, here’s what I’m reading these days: Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. A fascinating collection of I-wuz-there quotes by a sizable cast of (real) characters; I like it because it just lays the data out there and lets you make up your own mind.

Oh, I still have my old 45’s. Why would anyone get rid of them?


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