Posts Tagged ‘White Fang’

Deborah has for many years wielded a white feather boa that she named White Fang. She wore it at dances. She wore it for New Year’s. She wore it to see Lady Gaga. She wore it with Esmerelda and Maybelline, two of her killer party dresses.

In the company of White Fang
I won’t say when this photo was taken. However, I
can confirm that we posed after the last man walked on the Moon but before the first rover drove on Mars. The dark lighting here altered reality: Deborah’s hair is red, her dress is purple, and I am 7’ tall.

But there comes a time in a woman’s life when she knows that, though it’s been a long time coming, a change is gonna come. Oh yes it will.

Deborah and I rarely go to Fangable events these days. Society is less formal, and people don’t like me. For these reasons, and because she understood that White Fang should now be warming the bare shoulders of a younger woman, Deborah decided to give the boa to our friend Kristin. The effervescent, ever-youthful Kristin is approaching a milestone birthday, so what better time than now?

Last Friday night, at a gathering of friends, Deborah made the presentation. I was standing in the backyard under the stars – this was a gathering of women, and though I hadn’t been banished, I wouldn’t have added much to the conversation. I was playing tug of war with our lucky dog Lucky. I could see through the large picture window at the back of the house as Deborah, deploying White Fang one last time, demonstrated the poise, confidence, and good posture a boa demands (along with various show-stopping moves).

While I watched I noticed that Lucky, who is not yet six months old, was also watching. You could see the exclamation point over his head. A huge white bird was loose in the house, flapping its wings all over Mom! The fight-or-flight circuit closed in the little corgi’s brain and without a thought for his own safety he thundered through the dog door like a 20-pound cannon ball and burst into the party.

Kristin was serenely sitting with White Fang arrayed around her. Now that he was face to face, or face to feathers, with this unknown, shape-shifting creature, the avenging Lucky threw on the brakes. He remembered that he was a puppy. This was obviously a superior being. His ears melted against the sides of his head, his belly hit the carpet, and he awaited orders. Note to Kristin: Adult men will do this, too.

I admire my wife for making this decision, and I will admire her just as much without the boa as I admired her within the boa. As for Kristin, when I drove her home that night, she expressed some anxiety about being the new Bearer. I thought about that later and realized she has nothing to worry about. She already has everything she needs. All that was missing was something to wrap it in.

Random Pick of the Day
Cat Power, The Greatest (2006)
The closest comparison to Ms. Power is Tom Waits, but only their vocal delivery is similar. Cat Power is more introspective and not at all funny. She never approaches anything resembling the structure of a pop tune. None of her songs sound finished, either. I find her interesting and even cathartic (“Living Proof” is stunning in its quiet, waltz-time way), but it’s taken me a while to appreciate her.

Random Pan of the Day
Root Boy Slim & The Sex Change Band, Root Boy Slim & The Sex Change Band (1978)
This is the one with “Boogie ’Til You Puke” and that solemn study of forbidden love, “I’m Not Too Old for You” (“Step on my love and it’s like dropping an egg into the carpet”). “I Used to Be a Radical” rocks relatively hard and includes a funny line about trying to assassinate Spiro Agnew with an ice cream truck. “Mood Ring” sounds like ZZ Top at band practice. The whole thing sounds like ZZ Top, but lowercase. The occasional humor in the lyrics makes Root Boy (who was born Foster MacKenzie III) a distant ancestor of Flight of the Conchords.


Here’s one of my many life goals: To be all ready to go on New Year’s Eve. Not just dressed to go out – I always aim to have my desk cleared, my body humming along like Ken Griffey Jr. rather than Boog Powell, and my big projects for the year lined up and waiting for me to dive in.

Some years I’m ready, or at least I’m close. Not this year. I gave up yesterday and finally started 2014. Happy New Year, everyone! Thanks for reading this blog, even though I’m pretty sure I insulted you last year and I’ll insult you this year. I wish you all health and prosperity and plenty of good music in the next 12 months. Which brings me to my last musical topic of 2013, the band we saw on New Year’s Eve.

But first: When did New Year’s Eve become a public party? When did people start gathering in clubs, taverns, and dance halls to listen to loud music and drink like it’s St. Patrick’s Day?

F. Scott Fitzgerald mentions raucous New Year’s Eve celebrations in his books, but I can’t recall reading anything like that in earlier authors – for example, Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, William Dean Howells, Ambrose Bierce, or Stephen Crane. If H.P. Lovecraft liked to party, he kept it out of the papers.

Here’s another question: What makes a good New Year’s Eve band?

While Special D and I have extensively researched this topic, I’m not about to speak for her. Here instead are three of my ideas:

1)      Please practice, and not just the stuff you play the rest of the year. Learn “Auld Lang Syne.” Federal law requires you to play it at midnight so it would be a good idea to memorize a couple of verses, or at least write them down in big block letters.
2)      You must have a sense of humor; not everything is about you. Your audience will begin to evaporate at one minute after midnight. Maybe they want to finish the evening in their bathrobes eating ice cream; maybe they want to copulate at home rather than against one of your speakers. It’s not a comment on your musical talent.
3)      Original material is good, but on New Year’s Eve we mostly want to hear pop songs we already know. Don’t fret if you massacre one or two originals. That’s part of the fun. If you wreck them all you’ll antagonize an army of idiot bloggers.

Not a whiter shade of pale
When we suited up on New Year’s Eve, Special D added her boa to the fancy black number she wore. White Fang was pleased to be let out of the Nordstrom bag where he usually lives. He practically growled with antici…pation. We then headed uptown to a hall called The Secret Society where they had two bands and two djs waiting for us. The band I want to mention is called Brownish Black.

Where most bands might offer one unusual characteristic, say double the horn players or double the guitarists, Brownish Black’s lineup included three horns and two singers. That’s plenty of firepower right there, but they also fielded a bass player who played barefoot. His flashing white feet were particularly striking when he started marching in place. Rounding out the personnel was a drummer who looked like Justin Timberlake and a guitarist who looked like he’d left Pearl Jam due to artistic differences.

I was very impressed that this visually striking outfit met my first two requirements but totally trampled the third. Brownish Black plays R&B, soul, and funk that they wrote themselves. I believe I heard one cover, maybe two, in two hours of music. (They were probably able to get away with this because they only played until 11, when the second band took over.)

We loved their music, which I can only describe in terms of artists from the ’60s and ’70s:

If everyone in Big Brother & The Holding Company were black, and
if the leads were sung by Aretha Franklin and Peter Wolf, and
if you could borrow Rare Earth’s or James Brown’s horns, and
if everything were written by Sly Stone and Otis Redding,
you’d end up with Brownish Black. Plus the female singer loved White Fang.

I did hear one outstanding cover, but that was from the second band, Satin Chaps. For their opening blast they gave us a funky version of Deodato’s 1972 cross-over hit, “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001).” They couldn’t quite translate Deodato’s jazz-fusion into dance music, but I have to give them a shout-out for trying.

Best conversation of the evening
This happened in the men’s room, of all places. Ladies, we don’t have substantive conversations in there. There was one urinal and there were several of us waiting for one inebriated gentleman to finish. When he turned and saw the line, he said, “Oh, sorry fellas, I was reciting poetry.”

MAN IN LINE: What poem?
POETRY LOVER: The one where the guy’s wandering in the fucking woods.
2ND MAN: “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”?
3RD MAN: Robert Frost.
POETRY LOVER: I love this club.

Robert Frost, by the way, was once arrested for dancing nude in a fountain on New Year’s Eve.

Random Pick of the Day
The Smiths, …Best I (1992)
The Smiths, …Best II (1992)
Twenty-eight songs by one of the most excellent bands of the 1980s.

I was looking for a job and I found a job
And heaven knows I’m miserable now

Morrissey says the right thing, always.

Random Pan of the Day
The Smiths, …Best I (1992)
The Smiths, …Best II (1992)
They could’ve done this on one disc! The filler they’ve included illuminates The Smiths’ biggest problem – how little their sound varies. Plus there’s no excuse for including “Oscillating Wildly,” the most boring instrumental in the history of boredom and instrumentals.

OK, it’s 2014. As The Smiths sang, “Please please please let me get what I want!”