Posts Tagged ‘Rolling Stones’

Every year on my birthday, my grandparents sent me cards with cash in them. My father’s parents, Rose and Sam, sent me $5. After Sam died, and as Rose came to depend more on her children, my Aunt Edith took over this birthday chore. She sent me the card, tucked in the $5 bill, and signed her mother’s name. I once asked her to stop. “I know it’s you behind this, and not Grandma,” I said. Aunt Edith repeated this to my father as further proof that I was a mensch. She thought I was adorable. By the way, I was 22 when we had this conversation, not 12. Edith sent the cards until Rose’s death and I kept raking in the $5.

My mother’s parents, Bella and Sol, were more affluent. They started me at $5 but through various cost-of-living adjustments raised me to $25 by the time I got to college. There I remained for many years after Grandpa Sol’s death, an early victim of contemporary capitalism’s rule that no one should ever get a raise. When I married the woman with whom I share a mortgage and put on parties, Grandma Bella sent her $25 on her first birthday in the family. I was outraged. She should start at the bottom and work her way up! Bella’s curt ruling: “Tough luck!”

It’s been many years since I received a fresh-from-the-bank $5 bill or a check written in the penmanship of someone who was born in 1904. But every year on my birthday, my current employer gives me a $10 gift card roguishly tucked into colored tissue paper inside a festive bag.

Last year my card was good at an upscale supermarket, New Seasons. I bought a fried chicken lunch and some stickers. This year the card was for the Pacific Northwest department store chain Fred Meyer. What the heck was I going to do with $10 at Fred Meyer? Buy socks? The closest store to our office doesn’t sell lunch, unless I wanted to buy something wrapped in plastic and vacuumed into a skinny box printed in primary colors. But I was up for the challenge. “I’m leaving now for Fred Meyer,” I told the boss at noon. “Don’t be surprised if I don’t come back.”

It was a beautiful day here in Portland and I drove with the windows down and my music playing. Though I am a man of a certain age, I felt ageless as I walked in, and I realized I was thinking of my grandparents and their birthday gifts and all the useless stuff I bought and how much fun it all was. I’m not saying my job is my family, but I am saying thanks for the free money.

I bought 18 colored pencils and I still have $1.02 remaining on the card. The sky’s the limit.

To my readers in the United States (what’s left of it): Happy Fourth of July! I hope you’re enjoying our nation’s birthday as much as I am. It’s late in the day. Soon I shall be drinking the Bloody Marys of Liberty. I don’t expect Trump to send me a card with five bucks in it, either.

Random Pick of the Day
Smashing Pumpkins, Pisces Iscariot (1994)
My father-in-law used to say about dogs, “They only have one thing to say and only one way to say it.” Billy Corgan’s voice is about as versatile. He usually sounds as if he has a grievance, if he could just remember it. The rest of the time he sounds like his voice just changed, or maybe he’s feeling faint.

Despite this handicap, when Smashing Pumpkins starts to move, they’re a blend of Cream, Hendrix, and Led Zep in a Nirvana shot glass. They can be unexpectedly quiet, too, as on the cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” Corgan doesn’t have much of a voice, but I can forgive him for his guitar-playing (“Starla” and everything else).

Random Pan of the Day
The Rolling Stones, Blue & Lonesome (2016)
Their first album since A Bigger Bang in 2005. This time around we have 12 covers of old blues songs. They did this in 1964! Eric Clapton helps out. He could’ve helped out in 1964. Yawn. The only person who triumphs on this record is Mick Jagger. His voice and his harmonica are in excellent shape, plus Mick still weighs less than a wet hobbit in a bathing suit.

 

Last week, we celebrated my birthday (the best day of the year) by taking our lucky dog Lucky on his first hike: Lookout Mountain!

Steve Lucky Mt Hood 070316
Left to right: Run-DMSteve, Lucky, Mount Hood

Lucky enjoyed being out in the wild. You’d think he was an animal or something. At midday we rested in the shade, with a view of Mount Jefferson to the south and Hood to the west. To the north was Adams and, breaching a stream of clouds like a dolphin, the snowy fin of Rainier.

Fear of a Trump planet
Fear of a Trump planet.

That night we celebrated my birthday with pizza, ice cream, and Acana Free-Run Poultry Formula kibble.

I didn’t throw a party for myself this year, but we did go to a party last night. It was called a Friender Blender. The idea was to mix as many strangers as possible and see what happens. This could easily have turned into a fender bender, especially since I knew beforehand that Special D and I would be way older than the rest of the crowd. For backup we brought along another couple from our rapidly deflating age group.

When we lived in Boise, there was a local home repair business with the slogan, “Your problem is no problem!” We always thought that was confrontational. My problems are my problems, OK? Well, my worries were no worries. It was an interesting party with people who are poster children for the Pacific Northwest. I can’t do justice to them all so I’ll just mention a few.

Our hands-down favorite was the woman who ghostwrites online dating profiles. When she embarked on this career path, most of her clients were men. Now most are women. Bonus: Years ago, she married her teenage sweetheart and has never done any online dating. I’m not sure she’s done any dating.

The ghostwriter brought a friend who’d tried out for the Portland Thorns women’s soccer team. (Football to you foreigners.) Though she was only in her late 20s, she was older than most of the other women trying out. Join the club, kid, this isn’t going to stop.

Then there was the lady who had published a coloring book about animal penises. Ducks! OMG. Who buys this kind of thing about things?

I overheard this conversation:

Playwright: I’m living in a great place now. My housemates are really friendly.
Tattooed graphic designer: That’s cool.
Playwright: Yeah, it’s better than the cokeheads I was living with. I was just back to visit and I can’t believe I fucking lived there.

We were all supposed to make name tags with a secret on it. One guy wrote, “I downloaded Pokémon today.” Pokéman and I had a clash of generations:

Me: Isn’t Pokémon like 20 years old?
Pokéman: I know, right?

I eventually discovered that Pokémon is 20 years old and that my new acquaintance was right at the front of the line for Opening Day of Pokémon Go hunting season. He thought I was marveling at the franchise’s longevity. I thought I was saying WTF. You can excuse me for knowing what was going on. I am old and I know nothing until I see it in Reader’s Digest.

Shortly before we left, one of the co-hosts asked me, “Have you done something different with your head?” I think she meant my hair, or maybe I have a new dent.

But you know something, I am doing something different with my head. As I begin this new year of my life, I’m trying to see the world and my place in it differently. I’m trying to think and act differently. I have some ideas…but they don’t involve coloring books or Pokémon.

Ducks! OMG.

A few thoughts on the Church of Latter-Day Rolling Stones
People stop me on the street and ask: “Run-DMSteve! There are 1000s of Stones albums. What should I do?” The first thing you should do is pay me for writing this blog. What? No? OK.

As Ross Perot, the first Donald Trump, used to say, “Pretty simple, really!” The last good Stones album was Some Girls in 1978. (Frankly, Donna Summer’s Bad Girls is better.) You could stop right there. The Stones showed some spark on their next two outings, Emotional Rescue (1980) and Tattoo You (1981), sort of like a batting champion who coughs up a couple of seasons in the .270s before slipping into the abyss.

Athletes retire, but the Stones just keep going. What do you do with all these latter-day records? Ignore all except these:

Steel Wheels
1989
Nothing on this album is any good except for “Rock and a Hard Place” and “Sad Sad Sad,” and that’s because those two could’ve come from Some Girls. This is the challenge facing any popular band that has lived into old age: competing against yourself. In the past 30 years, I’ve liked the Stones best when they’ve resurrected their first 20.

Voodoo Lounge
1994
No shortage of ideas here, most of them bad. But on Voodoo Lounge they do more experimenting than they have since Exile on Main Street.

“You Got Me Rocking” and “I Go Wild” sound like the old them; “I Go Wild” is a slo-mo “When the Whip Comes Down” or something off Exile. The new them (“Moon Is Up,” “Out of Tears”) is not my thing.

I give the Stones credit for trying new stuff. But if The Rolling Stones of 1974 had heard The Rolling Stones of 1994 recording “Sweethearts Together,” they would’ve jumped in a chippie van and run themselves over.

A Bigger Bang
2005
If the Stones of today are at their best when they remind you of yesterday, this record quietly delivers. It’s not innovative; it’s polite; it rocks. Sometimes they even sound like Bruce Springsteen on The River. But the big bluesy “Back of My Hand” takes us right back to Beggars Banquet. Not bad for a band that released its first record 41 years before this one!