Posts Tagged ‘INXS’

In this season of thankfulness, I want to sincerely thank everyone who has ever written me a letter. I love the mail. I love playing in the mail. I was lucky to have had two superlative, longtime pen pals, but alas, they are no more. They have ceased to be. They have kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. In a word, they’ve changed their address. (Yes, I know that’s four words. I’m a big tipper.)

I don’t remember how I got involved with mail. Like most boys my age, I sent my allowance money to shady companies that advertised incredible promises in the back pages of Batman and Justice League of America. For example, there was a dramatic half-page ad for a “Civil War battle set” that would enable me to re-create the entire Virginia campaign from the moment Grant took command of the Army of the Potomac…and all for a couple of dollars!

Imagine my surprise when the mailman did not drive up with a truck and a crane to deliver my Civil War battle set but instead handed me a box in which you could’ve packed cough drops. The blue and gray soldiers were translucent fingernails of plastic that barely existed in three dimensions. Even their artillery was flat as a pancake. I didn’t repeat this mistake later on when I saw the dramatic ad in some other comic for the Battle of Midway battle set.

But when did I start writing letters? Who was my first letter-writing chum? I don’t know. I do know that back in the 1960s, in fourth or fifth grade, we all had at least one class in how to write “The Friendly Letter.”

Dear [name],

How are you? I am fine. [The rest of this paragraph was about what we were doing in school and how much we liked our teacher.]

[The second paragraph was about our wholesome home life. A pet featured prominently, or if you didn’t have a pet you could make do with a younger sibling.]

[Complimentary close: Take care, Your friend, Sincerely, Write back, etc. If you were a girl-type person you drew a heart for the dot over the i.]


I grew up (somehow) and found people to correspond with. I added different types of letters to my repertoire; in addition to the Friendly Letter, there was the College Admission Letter, the Cover Letter, the Query Letter, the I’ve Read Too Much Thomas Wolfe or Too Many French Existentialists Letter, the I’ve Owed You a Letter for Six Months Letter, the Begging for a Job Letter, and the Begging for Sex Letter.

Some of these letters are not effective and should be discontinued.

Well, I am still a lucky guy, and not just for having known Judy and Jack or two of my other veterans, Pauline and Tilda. I guess the Lords of Kobol heard my prayers, because in the absence of old friends, new ones have stepped in and sent me mail. I was happily surprised when I made a list because there are more of you than I thought: Accused of Lurking, Mr. Seaside, Starry-Eyed Stamper, K to the T, and Mark It K8, among others. Special D is not above cutting the side out of a beer carton and making me a postcard. (K to the T, Accused of Lurking, and Mr. Seaside have all pulled off this trick with beer coasters.)

Another of my correspondents is Johnny Five. J5 deploys his skills primarily to mock me, but it’s mail and I’ll take it.


Thank you, everyone who has ever written me a letter, dashed off a postcard, or selected an insulting greeting card. Thanks to all of you for going to the trouble of finding a stamp because you knew I’d enjoy your barely legible scribbling. Thanks to you vacationers who thought of me in far-away places and bought a postcard and remembered to send it a week after you got home. Thanks to those of you who created your own postcards. And thanks for the beer coasters. Note to self: One is an accident, two is a coincidence, but three is a collection. I’d better make a checklist.

Today’s Randoms: The Land Down Under Edition

Courtney Barnett, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas (2013)
Ms. Barnett is a poet who sings/talks you through her songs as if you were walking with her through the low-key chaos of her life or helping her into the ambulance following an asthma attack in the garden. She’s a female Lou Reed or a non-crazy Courtney Love. The Smithereens would’ve been a great backing band for her, but I like the lo-fi rockers she’s recruited. (Her bass player is Bones Sloane!)

“Avant Gardener” is fabulous. “David” sounds like Bowie’s “The Jean Genie,” though Bowie’s song is closer in its imagery to Reed’s “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” while Barnett’s song includes the line “Come on Davey, let’s go plant a tree/You bring the spade, I’ll bring the seeds.” On “Anonymous Club,” Barnett evokes Neil Young in his quieter moments. She does the same for Liz Phair on “Scotty Says” and “Are You Looking After Yourself.” Some duds here – the last two tracks are a drag – but overall, I’m really digging her music.

Guilty pleasure
When I first read the name INXS, I pronounced it “Inks.” I was busted in public for it, too. Same deal with R.E.M., which I pronounced “Rem.” But I can’t compete with a former co-worker who thought the name of the melancholic English New Wave band that recorded “Personal Jesus” and “Strangelove” was “Pesh DeMode.” (This mangling fits with a line from another Depeche Mode song, “Behind the Wheel”: “I hand myself/over on a plate.”)

INXS doesn’t have a single album I’d spend money on, but I love “The One Thing” (Shabooh Shoobah), “Original Sin” (The Swing), “New Sensation” (Kick), and “Suicide Blonde” (X). I won’t even buy the U.S. edition of their greatest hits because these four songs come with 12 I don’t want. (The Australian and U.K. editions include even more crap.) But I do love those four songs.

Shabooh Shoobah is a stupid name for an album, a movie, a car, a dog, or a mathematical theorem, but it would superbly suit a political party.

No no no no no!!!

Angel City

Angel City, Night Attack (1982)
Angel City is an Australian band that made the mistake of forming about the same time as AC/DC but without any of AC/DC’s skills. And AC/DC is not overflowing with skills.

They were The Angels in Australia and Angel City in the rest of the world. I found a few of their songs online, including the intriguingly named “Dogs Are Talking.” Turns out those dogs got nothing to say. The best part of Night Attack is the cover. Their cover model looks exactly like a gentleman I worked with in the early 1990s. Bruce never shot lasers out of his eyes, but perhaps he did that outside the office when I couldn’t see him. I’ll write him a letter.


Siouxsie & The Banshees

Siouxsie & The Banshees are proof of the power of networking. Susan Dallion was one of a group of early Sex Pistols fans who were inspired to go out and make music too. She changed her name to Siouxsie Sioux, which is impossible to type, and recruited the first Banshees in 1976.

Siouxsie’s drummer, John Ritchie, changed his name to Sid Vicious and joined the Pistols. Her first guitar player, Marco Perroni, kept his name but joined Adam & The Ants. She got a guitarist back from the Pistols, Steve Jones, but it didn’t take and he ended up recording with Bob Dylan, Joan Jett, and Iggy Pop. This is starting to read like a LinkedIn profile. When two other band members quit during a tour in 1979, Siouxsie recruited Robert Smith of The Cure and a drummer named Budgie to fill in. Budgie had already changed his name from Peter Edward Clarke. Still with me? Smith eventually went back to The Cure. Budgie eventually married Siouxsie. None of this ever happens at the monthly lunches of the Oregon Columbia chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.

I’ve written about Siouxsie & The Banshees in my round-up of female acts of the 1980s. I called them (and The Cure) “goth outfits.” That was doing them an injustice. They’re much more than stereotypical black-clad, pale-skinned, bloodless disciples of H.P. Lovecraft who long for death’s ashen caress. They also rock with considerable force…though not on this record.

Tinderbox is not only misnamed (I don’t hear much on it that’s flammable), it’s so smooth that I can’t always tell which song I’m in. The exceptions, however, are more like the Banshees I remember. “Cities in Dust,” an unblinking glimpse of the apocalypse, was the hit. It’s good – it takes The Pretenders’ “My City Was Gone” one step further and almost makes it danceable – but “Cannons” is the real sleeper. I also like “92 Degrees,” which starts slow but builds to a satisfactorily melancholy finish.

Tinderbox is a record for confirmed Banshees. As for the rest of us, keep networking, because a) you never know, and b) you never know.

Random 1986 Pan of the Day 1
Pretty in Pink soundtrack
When I posted this in 2013, I made Pretty in Pink a Pick. I’ve changed my mind. Echo & The Bunnymen’s “Bring on the Dancing Horses” is the only superlative song, and it’s available everywhere. However, this album is notable for a rare appearance by the strangest name of the 1980s, Belouis Some. Some, who was Neville Keighley when he made his first appearance on earth, had two hits that were popular in ’80s dance clubs: “Some People” and “Imagination.” His contribution here, “Round, Round,” is not in that league. Overall, the Pretty in Pink soundtrack is still better than the soundtrack to The Breakfast Club (1985), but not within a light year of the soundtrack to Singles (1992).

Random 1986 Pan of the Day 2
The Church, Heyday
Midnight Oil without the grit. So otherworldly it can barely be detected through the Hubble Telescope. They had a hit in 1988 with “Under the Milky Way,” which was easily within Perry Como’s comfort range.