Saturday, October 29, 2011

Getting my Led out

As an adolescent, growing up in Rhode Island in the early-90s, on the local rock station, 94 HJY, each day they had an hour of programming called "Get the Led Out,"devoted to the worship of my rock gods: Led Zeppelin. And each day, I was tickled fucking pink. Mind you, by this point, John Bonham was already a decade dead, and the band's last album, In Through the Out Door was an afterthought (note: I don't count Coda as a real Zeppelin album; it was swag thrown together to honor a contract). As Pearl Jam and Nirvana and grunge began to replace the hair bands of 80s, Zeppelin was already being considered a relic, a staple of your rock diet, but definitely not hip. Jimmy Page was working with David Coverdale of Whitesnake, and Robert Plant had yet to tap the hot indie/folk chick musician market, yet Led Zeppelin was still very much alive in my baked teenage eyes.

As an adolescent, my bedroom was papered with Led Zeppelin posters. When my door was closed, I quietly dreamed of being skinny enough to wear Jimmy Page's jumpsuits with the Oriental snakes and moons and stars and black magic allusions embroidered on the leg. I lusted for Robert Plant's hair---as most women I know, to this day, still do. My wardrobe consisted of torn jeans, flannel shirts, and black Led Zeppelin concert t-shirts, although I did own a couple of Pink Floyd and Guns N' Roses shirts, as well. And I took heed of the advice from Fast Times at Ridgemont High about playing Led Zeppelin when you were alone with your girlfriend. Consequently, I'm sure my high school girlfriends throw knives at their husbands when a Led Zeppelin song plays in the background.

In short, I was all about Led Zeppelin.

I'm now 36 years-old, and I've kicked my unhealthy obsession with Led Zeppelin to cyber-stalk the Red Sox, and, oh, and I have a wife and kids and all that stuff, too. But some days, I just need a taste of my old smack and this morning, when I woke up with a lingering headache, I knew the only way to resolve the problem was to get my fucking Led out.

Earlier today, I asked my close and intimate Facebook friends the question: What Led Zeppelin song would have to be included on the consummate Zep playlist? I limited my list to 15 songs and knew I'd have some tough decisions to make. So I listened to others, drank a lot of beer, and ultimately arrived at the following:

1. "Bron-y-aur" (from Physical Graffiti, not "The Bron-y-aur Stomp" from Led Zeppelin III)
2. "Good Times, Bad Times" (Led Zeppelin I)
3. "Hey, Hey, What Can I Do?" (a B-side of "Immigrant Song" from Led Zeppelin III)
4. "In the Evening" (In Through the Out Door)
5. "Night Flight" (Physical Graffiti)
6. "Nobody's Fault But Mine" (Presence)
7. "The Ocean" (Houses of the Holy)
8. "Out of the Tiles" (Led Zeppelin III)
9. "The Rain Song" (Houses of the Holy)
10. "The Rover" (Physical Graffiti)
11. "Tangerine" (Led Zeppelin II)
12. "Ten Years Gone" (Physical Graffiti)
13. "Thank You" (live version from The BBC Sessions)
14. "Travelling Riverside Blues" (a Robert Johnson cover released as a single)
15. "Whole Lotta Love" (Led Zeppelin II)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In other news...

So I found out yesterday that my short story "Fishbone" was one of five finalists for The Norman Mailer Award, a national creative writing contest for high school English teachers. First prize was a cool $10,000 and a fellowship to The Norman Mailer Writers Colony in Provincetown next summer. I'm getting a trophy.

Always a bridesmaid.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

They dropped so low--in my Regard

The other day, I was reading Emily Dickinson's "It dropped so low---in my Regard" with my high school American literature class, and it occurred to me to make a connection that might help explain the way I interpret her central metaphysical metaphor.

That connection: The 2011 Red Sox were "the Plated Wares" and shame on me for "entertaining" them "Upon my Silver Shelf."

As the Red Sox 2011 season's dirty laundry continues to air, following today's expose by Bob Hohler in The Globe, I could only read it and shake my head as I felt more and more like a ninny. The fact that I came to the defense, week after week, for this group of repugnant prima donnas, narcissists, and hucksters makes me somewhat culpable by proxy. For 36 years, I've cheered for this team with the proverbial blinders on. Sure, this is nothing novel. For example, after leaving the Sox, it was later revealed that Clemens was a world-class asshole, and Manny recently outed himself as wife-beater; and sure, there are always some bad seeds in every batch. The story line for this year's team, however, is that the bad seeds, the Kentucky Fried jerk-offs, were actually the norm in the clubhouse, and the players that respected the game and played the way it is meant to be played---Pedroia and Ellsbury and Aceves---were the aberrations.

Let's start with Lester, Lackey, Wakefield, Buccholz, and King Douche himself, Josh Beckett, appearing in front of the Green Monster in some shit-kicker's country music video for a song titled "Hell Yeah, I Like Beer." Don't get me wrong: I like beer, too, but this video was filmed some time in the spring, setting the tenor for season. Meanwhile, John Lackey's world was going to shit, or so he said to the media after one of his commonplace 10-run/four-inning starts. His wife had breast cancer---so eventually he had to, you know, file for divorce---and at the time, even the biggest cynic had to feel for the guy. Nope. The big lug found a few minutes during his deep, deep malaise to make a music video.

Until the last week, I have been a classic Josh Beckett apologist. I loved the guy. But now, it seems, I was completely wrong about this prick. He was allegedly the ring leader of the beer-drinking, fried chicken eating, video-gamers who took to the clubhouse to partake in the aforementioned activities while his team was fighting for a playoff seed.

And having Jon Lester's name implicated in all this is my first real "say it ain't so, Joe" moment.

Again, I was duped.

In short, I've been yapping on and on for years about the Yankees, but it turns out the biggest assholes in baseball have been my home team all-along. While it's easy to say fuck these overpaid millionaires for throwing their middle fingers at the fans and the region and the game; fuck them and their manager and their general manager, who have since been fired, and don't let the doors hit you on the ass on the way out town; fuck The Crypt-Keeper and rest of the ownership and those Liverpool pole-suckers on Henry's other team; while it's easy to dismiss all this and say they'll get them next year, something irreparable has happened. In a way, I've lost my baseball innocence through this whole ordeal.

And yes, my young students, "I blamed the Fate that flung it---less/Than I denounced Myself" and this thing stings the most. While I can move past the 2011 Red Sox epic collapse---it's in my DNA as a fan---I'm not sure, as a fan, I'll ever get beyond being deceived by this team, watching these guys I so fervently admired "go to pieces on the Stones".

So until next year, folks. I need the long winter to recover from this.