Off Topic

Special Feature On The Shining


As we wrap up the end of summer and enter my favorite season…Autumn, I wanted to talk about a scary movie. My favorite scary movie actually. THE SHINING by director Stanley Kubrick. I will discuss the music a little so its not entirely off topic but every now and then its nice to get these things off your chest. So WHY is The Shining So SCARY???

This is not easy to answer because the movie is quite unconventional and not your traditional horror flick. This film has barely any cliches; it is a horror movie that takes place in the day time kind of experience. But I will begin with the music.

What we have is this stylistically modernist art-music that is startling from the very beginning of the film. Composer Wendy Carlos, who previously did the soundtrack for A Clockwork Orange with her unique interpretations of Beethoven, comes up with some crazy demonic synthesized material to showcase here. Mr. Kubrick also used a lot of strange avant-garde sounds that really set the mood for this film. It is effortlessly disturbingly creepy from the beginning right through to the end, because the music is constant.

Now let’s focus on the camera. What’s really creepy about The Shining is the fact that it’s filmed in Stanley Kubrick’s trademark “detached” style. The camera is watching the events unfold. The camera IS the hotel watching them. The camera IS the evil spirit watching them.

You never know what could happen next. Like most Kubrick films, it’s never straightforward and nothing is ever predictable. Events happen randomly and unexpected: balls rolling down the corridors, twin girls randomly appearing and speaking at the same time, a naked woman kisses Jack Nicholson’s character and then turns saggy and green (as you do). It’s like the average dream of hallucinations mixed with schizophrenia. Quite weird and yet, very disturbing. Which, makes it even more genius.

On a side note, I don’t really care that Stephen King hated this film based on his novel. Boo F%$king Hoo! So what? This is an independent movie not to be so meticulously compared to a book. I first saw this film when I was 10 years old never reading the darn book and yet it stands out in my head quite lovely. Purists will find faults in the film but I frankly don’t give a damn. It was Kubrick’s vision and it was delivered quite brilliantly actually.

So a lot of tension builds throughout the movie. I am always at the edge of my seat, sweating while watching it. The slow building of pace adds to the excitement, to the intrigue and I become more and more engaged with the characters, and more drawn into the film, meaning that each and every shock in the film affected me deeply and profoundly.

There are gut-wrenching images such as long hallways, snowy mazes, Jack holding an axe and so on. There are no other horror films that work like this one. HALLOWEEN only works because you know what happens next, yet with this, you just give up and let it work on you again.

Maybe it’s the crazy concept: the idea that a husband and father is going to kill his son and wife. As you might have noticed, I am struggling for answers here, the thing about this film is, I can pick it apart, dissect how it works, yet the fact of the matter is that it still works no matter what. It has something that you can’t place your finger on. Or in other words, perhaps it’s so mysteriously atmospheric, that it creates a disturbing feeling, because it’s so unnatural, and you never know what could be hidden around each corner.

But for me anyway, what’s most frightening about The Shining is the fact that I don’t know why I’m so terrified while watching it. I just am.



Punk Girls From England….Shredded It!!!


Savages? Who are they? Four women from London, aka British chicks. They rule. I did blog about them not so long ago. I saw a great show two nights ago at the Metro Club in Chicago. This is a great venue. Basically its across from Wrigley Field on Clark Street. For me its sort of enemy territory because I am a White Sox fan and not a Cubs one, sorry. This street however extends for a couple of miles filled with bars and bars and bars. There are some restaurants and Tapas too. T Shirt shops and record shops, you know? Lots of college age appeal on Clark Street in Chicago’s north side near Lincoln Park. It’s a party community. Lovely I tell you.

Yet, I would have never imagined a band like Savages would be playing there. I only really discovered them about five months ago. I haven’t been a longtime fan. Although I believe they only formed about 2 years ago. I think this 4 piece “all female band” put out an EP and they played several gigs in their homeland until their first LP, “Silence Yourself” which was released this past May. I can’t remember how I came across them. Kind of a stumbling upon sort of accident. Must have been flipping through the internet. Cruising through random sites and sampling a few tracks and such. It was almost like the universe suggested this record to me and that I will see them live, someday.

For about a year, recently I was on a kick listening to bands like: The Who, Japandroids, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, Husker Du and other Post-Punk groups. So I was digging the late 70’s and early 80’s music for awhile. Perhaps because I was spinning these records and doing random searches; I came across Savages. I started to notice some striking connections to the above mentioned rock bands. It really is an amalgamation of that kind of music. Their inspiration comes from a lot of places as well. But I only initially read that information without listening. Blind faith brought me to them. I initially listened to them at work with my iPhone shoved in my pocket and earbuds tucked in my music-hungry earlobes while signing in several packages on the dock.I was struck by this obscure dialogue from a film introducing the album about listening and communicating from youth to elders, I think. All while sorting through packages in the mailroom.Then the bass guitar started ripping through very crisp and aggressively. It was loud but clear. Somehow it was silently loud and then the drums and guitar join in at a pleasurable pace. It really oozed out punk style but not too fast. A nice pace, for sure.

The band, Fugazi comes to mind whenever I hear these opening riffs.Its good to hear this kind of sound coming back in this day and age. It requires bravery to step out of your comfort zone and tell it like it is. What do I mean? Man, I don’t know how to describe these girls. Its very tight musicianship. That’s for sure. All four members are amazing. At times I can hear the New-Wave style of guitar playing too. I tend to be reminded of early R.E.M. sounds, I don’t know why, I just do. Jenny Beth, our frontwoman has quite a stage presence. Somehow, I convinced my wife to go with me.I should probably backtrack again because I’m all over the place.

The allure and excitement of hearing this hypnotic, gothic, post-punk, aggressive and this British politically charged music was enough to make me shiver with enthusiasm. I definitely listened to these girls obsessively all summer long. It has an addictive sound. I knew all along that I wanted to see Savages, somehow. A small club like Metro would be an awesome place. Never thought that I would get a chance to see them either, it was just sort of out of my mind. Then about 6 weeks ago I found out that they were. So I was like, OMG! I jumped on that opportunity right away!

I purchased 2 tickets because, you never know. I guess I had some expectations that somebody would tag along with me but I just couldn’t find anyone. So what was I gonna do with the other ticket? I wasn’t trying to force anyone to go with me. Yet, Denielle, my wife said that she would go with me and be a good sport. She didn’t have to, especially since she was feeling a little “under the weather.” Perhaps she didn’t want me to be alone or whatever. She’s a great backup buddy at live shows. She’s an awesome lady! Not entirely her cup of tea but she kept me company. No guilt trips! She was a trooper.

We drove through the congested gauntlet of Interstate 294, the merges and the one way streets of Chi-Town in order to reach “the venue.” It was worth the rush hour traffic. It was a 9:00 pm show on a Monday night. Talk about dedication man! We have no kids and I strategically planned a half day off the following morning so that I wouldn’t be all crabby at work the next day. It’s good to sleep in when you get home a quarter after midnight.I could sleep longer, stretch, shower, eat breakfast and most importantly not rush off to work until the afternoon. Standing outside on the sidewalk and waiting to get inside while the Autumn air is chilly and crisp and I am keeping my wife safe and warm putting my arm around her. People watching and chatting with others can be a fun time. Its cool and you’re hanging with other devoted fans, all there for the same purpose. To ROCK! I made sure that we bee-lined it for the mighty “chairs” upstairs by the balcony so we can sit down and not crank our necks all night or get cramps in our feet from standing all night while tilting our heads up either.

We ordered a couple of sodas and satisfied our thirsts. The waitress brings the drinks right to our tiny and cozy little table. It was nice and refreshing. It was a blistering performance that night.The stage handlers and roadies were going at it ferociously on the stage setting everything up and making sure the lighting, the sounds and plugs were all hooked up. Crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s. Strumming the guitars, banging the drums and making sure the mics picked everything up. They even laid out the ladies water bottles out precisely. These girls were certainly getting the royal treatment.

The vamping music is always a fun treat. At any concert, especially big acts like NIN or Pink Floyd…the really good concerts, you just hear that echoing kind of like electronica that feels like that of an anticipating crowd. It feels like…..WE ARE READY! You….sitting there…watching it all…and you
are staring in anticipation to the point where your blood’s almost boiling and rising because you’re like OMG I am here….and then…….the lights go off and everybody is cheering and stomping their feet saying OH YEA! Fog machine kicks in, spotlights dim and the 4 ladies come onto the stage and grace us with their presence all dressed in black.

They just busted out right into it man! I love all of the instrumentation and all of the musicians but sometimes my eyes tend to gravitate towards the drummer because she’s really technical and really knows when to crash the cymbals, the high hats, the bass drum and the snares and all of it when precision. It was amazing watching Fay Milton twirl the sticks in her hands and her technical delivery. Brilliant! Then there’s Ayse Hassan, the bassist. Doing an in place kind of dance swaying back and forth but really into a rhythm with her head titled down bobbing her head a little bit and wailing away on that 4 stringed instrument.

The lead guitarist, Gemma Thompson, again she’s all over the place. She keeps walking back and forth towards the large amp and back out to the stage. She was doing all kinds of cool effects; sliding, screeching and thumping. Effects with feedback and twangs and tweaking and just making a lot of cool noise. She really busted out into some really standard rock n roll guitar riffs. Really versatile. Finally our lady front and center, Jenny Beth, knew how to work that mic. She has her high pitches and her low pitches. She has her dialect. Sometimes she will narrate part of the lyrics and tell stories of mystery and wonder. She spoke out against using your phones during the performance and not being so distracted which I thought was a nice brave statement. ( I only snuck a couple during the encore) All she wanted for us was to immerse ourselves within this musical experience and that’s what we surely did.

That night they exceeded my expectations. I was blown away by the performance. I was treated to a wonderful night at Metro. It was invigorating and lively. Just plain Awesome! Thank you and good night.



September Playlist…..School Music


Now that everybody is back in school (no smoking in the boys room….get back to class buddy!!!), I thought I would put together a different kind of playlist for this month. I was thinking about all of the movies I could remember off the top of my head that were either about school, took plays near a high school or college setting and the kinds of songs featured in those films. I reflected on my own personal memories of school and thought that September was a great month to do this in. At this point you basically are settled in to your classes, lockers, sports, college dorms, after school activities and have established the bands that you’re currently digging (listening to).

These movies are all great, IMHO. In a nutshell, they’re all related to school, for one thing. But it goes beyond that. Teen pregnancies, big parties, being popular, smoking dope, working at a record store, the nerds, the princesses, the jocks, the basket cases, the rebels, the inspirational teachers, the drunks, the dropouts, cruising around in sport cars, hanging out at the diners, running for student council, school dances, dating, rock n roll, vacation plans, jogging in track, getting into trouble and simply living life as we know it. The soundtrack to our lives as teenagers and early adulthood.

I came up with a list of 17 films (She’s Only Seventeen) to represent this theme. Now I suppose I could dissect every film here and talk about all of my favorite scenes. My focus here is a MUSIC playlist. So I chose a song from each film. I will list the songs here, in no particular order with the title, the artist, the film and the scene its played. I will try to make you all proud. Here it goes:

1. “Somebody’s Baby” by Jackson Browne: Fast Times At Ridgemont High (Mike and Stacy “making out” in the dugout. Plus its essentially Stacy’s theme song)

2. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds: The Breakfast Club Main theme at the beginning of the film and at the end. before and after detention)

3. “Pretty In Pink” by The Psychedelic Furs: Pretty In Pink
(Main Theme)

4. “Louie, Louie” by The Kingsmen: Animal House (frat boys are drunk doing a sort of kick line sloppy dance)

5. “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio: Dangerous Minds (Closing credits)

6. “Stand and Deliver” by Mr. Mister: Stand and Deliver (The teacher proudly walks away when all of his students pass the Calculus Exam)

7. “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent: Dazed and Confused (played during a scene where kids are smoking pot in a friend’s room)

8. “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Haley & The Comets: American Graffiti (The entire soundtrack is full of hits, but this one opens up the film and sets the tone really nicely)

9. “Jennifer Juniper” by Donovan: Election (Tammy meets Jennifer at the “all girls” academy)

10. “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (The parade scene where Ferris sings on the float with the ladies—“flash mob” style)

11. “A Quick One, While He’s Away” by The Who: Rushmore (Bill’s smile when he realizes… “Game on!)

12. “Canned Heat” by Jamiroquai: Napolean Dynamite (Dance Scene For School Talent Show)

13. “If You Were Here” by The Thompson Twins: Sixteen Candles (Jake Ryan and Samantha kissing over her birthday cake by the window)

14.”It’s A Long Way To The Top” by School of Rock: School of Rock (The band jams on stage during the closing credits)

15. “Paradise City” by Guns N Roses: Can’t Hardly Wait (Nerd singing karaoke at the big party)

16. “All I Want Is You” by Barry Louis Polisar: Juno (Opening sequence with Ellen Paige walking around with Sunny Delight bottle)

17. “Under The Milky Way” by The Church: Donnie Darko (“Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) under the great southern sky in a room at a party, in a tangent universe in a small town, the scene is set for what donnie might be experiencing, not only rabbit but slinky the fm radio station!
::: to the backgroung music of the band the ‘church’ fronted by steve kilbey.”—Unknown


Watching the MAN at Work!


Saturday night in Chicago was terrific! Denielle and I met up with some close friends in the Lincoln Park area to catch an intimate show at Park West. It’s a small auditorium that is host to many top act performances. I didn’t mind standing outside along the sidewalk waiting for the doors to open. Good people and good conversations to distract us from what we were about to experience. Ever hear of the 1980’s band, Men at Work? Well a very special man named Colin Hay, who was the lead singer, guitarist and principle song writer of that group was the performer of the evening.

You have to hear him play, in order to understand why I think he’s so incredible. Sure you might be familiar with songs like “Who Can It Be Now?” or “Down Under.” But he has really matured as a fine solo artist after his record label let him go back in 1991. He figured it was a good thing they did, because if he’s not welcomed anymore than why would he want to hang around with them. He has written and performed wonderful songs accompanying himself on acoustic guitar.

That is what he did at Park West. He stood there on stage holding his guitar, playing, singing and talking. He even told a lot of jokes at times. Colin Hay is really funny. The audience was just rip roaring at his anecdotes, his old tales from back in the day and just telling us about some funny run ins with some of his oddball fans. Mistaken identities in restaurants and people thinking he wrote some song about a goat. I was just surprised how many times I was laughing.

All joking aside, he had like 5 guitars on stage which he tuned himself, live in front of us. It’s just so special to be in a place this small with this living legend on stage jamming away for us. It’s like storytellers from way back when tv stations like VH1 used to air these precious live shows with little tales about the songs being performed. Colin is a regular guy from Scotland and Australia. He tells it like it is but he’s just so damn good playing the guitar. It is fascinating to watch him strum, tune, his wincing facial expressions and the beauty of his vocals.

I’m glad we went. Here is a sample from the show. It happens to be “our song” when we were planning our wedding and beyond. Thank you Colin Hay for an awesome experience!


Friday Night’s Hidden Music


What is the hideout? A small venue is located in Chicago, one of many. But this one is unique. More unusual than you might think. It’s a place for the average dude or chick. A dive bar that “rocks.” It’s in the middle of an industrial area with a lot of garbage trucks and warehouses nearby. An obscure location. Cash Only. Since the Al Capone days, the Hideout has been around. Lots of events and small concerts actually happen here. I tend to dig places that are off the beaten path. Have you been to a bar this this? One that holds random bingo nights, charity events, live shows with a lot of beer that keeps on coming. Cheap drinks. The hideout isn’t flashy. It’s ordinary, small and a wonderful little gem that many people don’t know anything about. Plus there’s cool outdoor seating in the summer time. Which brings me to the next question.

They hold a Block Party? Whats this all about? Well it takes places annually around Labor Day. In September; on the streets outside of the bar, this fun and laid back party is full of music, food, drinks and various hipsters hanging out. But there’s no hype or much talk about it. Unlike events, such as Lollapalooza or Pitchfork, this is kind of a secret. But let me tell you, there’s a lot of heart and soul in this party. Low stress, family friendly festival. There’s even valet bicycle parking. The smell of garbage dumpster juice blowing around in the cool Friday night windy air is awesome! Ahhhh! Parking is free but you have to walk at least 6 blocks. That’s what my wife and I did on Friday, September 6th.

Now for the bands we saw as we stood around drinking our green tea, chomping on BBQ sandwiches and pasties.

First we got treated by banjos, fiddles and various acoustic guitars jamming quite excitably loud and making everyone clap and cheer. This group I speak of is called “Trampled By Turtles.” They’re from Minnesota. It’s folk. It’s bluegrass. Think Bob Dylan and Neil Young with a touch of country. The two of us were nicely entertained by this catchy band.


Intermission time. Bathroom break! Lets grab a coke!

Next up? A living legend. We are now in the midst of the one and only Mavis Staples. Se been around since the civil rights movement. Rhythm and Blues mixed with Gospel is her style. She was the front runner of the classic group The Staple Sisters. Remember the hits, “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself?” We’ll she’s been recording some new stuff with Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) creating gospel albums of the 21st century. Spectacular voice and a great band with backup singers. Mavis is 74 years old and still really packs a punch! You go girl!


Last break before the final act. Our headliner for this evening is Neko Case. We situated ourselves up front to the left of the stage and leaned against the cold steel rails in anticipation for one of my favorite artists to take the microphone. This now marks my fifth time seeing Neko live. Today, September 8th, is her birthday. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY Neko Case! Just thought I’d mention that. So, who is she? Why do I like her so much? She has the voice of an angel. Much revival enthusiasm with arresting beauty.

Her inspiration comes from respected artists like, Loretta Lynne, Hank Williams and Tom Waits. She’s embraced country music but truly influenced by David Lynch Films and unusual noir styles. She’s incorporated dreamy imagery of the rights of animals, love, loss and what it means to live in America.

So the blue spotlights flicker on
We hear the noises of Submarine sonar pings
Fog fills of the stage
The crowd goes wild
Much applause
Our red-headed hero is ready to jam
She’s ready to expose her soul
Her melancholy mixed with humor
It’s just her way of entertaining
Aggressive guitars
Yet laid back

Her stuff is truly a nice blend of Indie, Alternative, Rock and Country.
One of the most stunning moments was a gorgeous acapella done by her and co-singer Kelly Hogan. Shocking language and just their two pleasant voices in this abstract location just made me realize why I love her so much. No fear to express her and dear friend’s voice in an honest and real way.

It was another night to remember at the Hideout.

Thanks for the inspiration Neko and everyone else.

Peace out



Carnival Memories Vol. 1


Carnivals, amusement parks and county fairs all have something in common. Rides. Fast moving thrill rides. My parents took my sister and I to those summer activities every year. “Step right up and test your skills,” the various Carnies would yell out to get your attention. Toss rings from a distance and hope they land on a particular bottle to win a prize. Or shoot the basketballs into the moving hoops so that you could be the proud owner of a giant stuffed gorilla. Neon lights, popcorn, cotton candy, elephant ears, funnel cake, bozo and cookie circus shows, freak shows and plenty of repetitive organ music blaring loud enough to the point that it can make you dizzy and nauseous. That’s the way I felt. I liked going to these places but it could get a little overwhelming at times.

Once, my sister and I hopped on this ride (called the Enterprise, I think) because it looked fun. Van Halen music was starting to fade out in the background as Jess and I stood in line waiting to go on. The previous ride had just finished up and we were eager to hop into this 2 passenger rotating gondola experience. We thought it would be fun to spin around in a circle that eventually would be like a Ferris wheel. Well almost 90 degrees. There’s a fair amount of centrifugal force involved too. The thing is, I was unaware that the ride spins you UPSIDE DOWN. At the time it was kinda scary!!! For some reason, that fact surprised me and my sister. She wasn’t used to being upside down. But then the cage closed, the squeaky metallic hydrological arms started to propel us into a twirl of impending doom. Well maybe not that bad but I certainly felt the heavy metal vibes slowly kicking in a la Huey Lewis style…….it was 1988 (come on, give me a break! His music was the bomb back then!)

I had experienced The Demon and Tidal Wave at Six Flags Great America, so I wasn’t too worried. I think it just freaked us out. My mom was probably nearby on the ground watching in terror not realizing that this was the kind of ride we were on. It initially seemed harmless like Tilt-A-Whirl or something. Upside down rides seem to be the ultimate in terror, for many. I honestly don’t know if either of us cried. What really stood out was this music that saved me. “Walking on a Thin Line,” by Huey Lewis & The News was blasting the whole time. I felt that this song saved me. Totally 80’s sounds! Fears….nerves….sweat all began to rise. Felt like we were trying to resist but at the same time just gave up and surrendered to this carnival ride. The drum beats, guitar solos and that typical hairband type of rhythm fit perfectly with the spinning Enterprise experience! Who knows where these memories come from. But I sure had a blast!

Here’s the song:


The Blue Car’s Swan Song

Despite all of the fond memories of driving all over the place in my Blue Plymouth Acclaim. Believe me, I experienced a lot. Various passengers. Friends and my movie theater buddies going for wizard cruises or long road trips with british band, Radiohead blaring on the stereo or even doing donuts in parking lots on ice in the winter. Eventually there came a time when things began to take a turn. Reality suddenly woke me up.

On my way to class during my last semester at NIU, I ran into a tree. The roads were icy. The street was a winding one. No sand bags were provided to insure better safety. I was not driving fast. I was listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers, or something. But anyway, I slid off the road and into this guys front yard and plowed into a tree. The guy ran out to make sure I was ok. I asked him how the front of my car looked. He said bluntly, “TERRIBLE!”

The front hood was crushed but not unfixable.I was able to drive it to school and then shamefully come home. I called my dad at work and told him what happened. We took it to a body shop and I believe I had to dig into my savings to pay for that repair. Luckily, I was able to carry on more with my boy blue.

This ended up not being a real good year. I had my Associates Degree, I left the movie theater and spent the summer looking for another stable job. My car was getting tired from all of the moving around. One night my buddy Caesar and I went to the movies. When I came back out to the car and sat down to drive, I noticed that my face plate to the CD player was gone and ten of my CDs were stolen. I was angry. Caesar felt bad for me. He thinks he might have left his door unlocked by mistake. I didn’t have power locks or a clicker so it was my responsibility to remind all of my passengers to lock their doors. That night I forgot.

Ironically, I should have removed the face plate before going into the movie theater so I could have prevented that better as well. The signs were looking gloomy. I went to a junk yard and bought a tape deck to replace what was stolen because without that part, I couldn’t do anything. I was able to save Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here CD from the thievery because it was inside the unit still. My stubbornness to do things myself lead me to a crappy installation job on the tape deck.

After a couple of months, it shorted out due to it not being grounded properly. So I was staring at a blank screen and couldn’t play my music anymore. I was getting frustrated. Sure I found a new job eventually. But again my car was broken into, in the middle of the night. The car was in the driveway at my folks house, where I was living. It was a long rainy night. Perfect opportunity for a thief to have their way. Once again, I forgot to lock my car and the broken tape deck was stolen. I guess they did me a favor.

So I replaced it again with just a basic AM/FM radio player. I started listening to more of talk radio and whatever rock station was on. Boy, wasn’t I spoiled with musical control or what? After another six months with less friends around and less adventures going on. I felt lonely, bored and sad with the Acclaim. It wasn’t his fault. He was tired and feeling violated. Perhaps even neglected by me because I showed less signs of wanting to care for him. Still this was the best car I really remember owning. This was at a peak point in my life. 19 years old going on 23.
From the spring of 1996 through the fall of 1999 this was my ride and I have no regrets.

I am sure there are many many tales I could think of with this car but I had to get this out of my system. I have some more car tales to tell so perhaps I will leave the best for last. I will say that my next story is quite an interesting one for sure. But I’ll get to that another time.

Dedicated to the memory of my Blue Plymouth Acclaim:

And In the words of Pink Floyd, Shine On You Crazy Diamond!



Part 2 of my Blue Car Music Tale

Lost Highway

My friend Tony and I planned a trip to Hannibal, Missouri in the Spring of 1997 in my blue Plymouth Acclaim. He was living in Urbana, Illinois at the time and I would be picking him up because he didn’t have a car. But I didn’t mind the two and a half hour drive from North Aurora. With my new stereo/pioneer CD player system and a load of discs with a bottle of Mountain Dew plus a pack of smokes, I was ready for a little getaway.

Route 47 is a long and hypnotic road unless bands like Type O Negative, Pink Floyd or Smashing Pumpkins are helping you out until you pull into the campus of University of Illinois. Champaign is a busy little town you cross before reaching the house that Tony lived in with his other college buddies. He grabbed his stuff. We stopped for tacos and then with my roadmap we headed west to visit Mark Twains land, write poetry, drink and go on hikes. Tony always had new music to play for me.

He popped in some poetry and music from “The Beat Generation” box set. With our windows rolled down, Tom Waits “Diamonds on My Windshield” pouring from the speakers, a joint in each of our hands and the sun beating down on us; the drive was a real good one. Our standby discs in my car were Mungo Jerry, CCR and Grateful Dead. I liked messing with the bass, treble and fade quite a bit. We talked a lot in that car. I decided to put the Lost Highway soundtrack in the CD player at some point. I made a wrong turn eventually and ended up at a dead end.

It was as if the disc was telling me that I was getting tossed around or something. Maybe just a coincidence. What was it about this car that found its way back on the right path after I ejected this mesmerizing music? Tony put his feet on the dash but I just let him. He’s tall and wasn’t usually as comfortable as me. But he still liked to ride shotgun anyhow. We stopped at a used record store at some point a long the way. I’m not sure where cuz I felt “lost” in another world. My car knew where he was going so I just let him figure it out. Yes I am personifying my car. So what?

Tony was captivated by Pet Sounds by Beach Boys and proceeded to tell me all about it. I heard him and let it soak inside my brain. But all I wanted to do was get back on the open road and cross the Mississippi River. So we did, while some acoustic Alice In Chains brought us to Hannibal. My car never broke down. He was reliable. Although he never completely avoided injury…..

To be continued……..



Blue Car Music


The day I bought a used 1992 Blue Plymouth Acclaim brought me such sheer joy for the next three and a half years. My dad and I did a good job picking it out. This was by far my favorite car I ever owned. I experienced the best memories in it. Driving to school felt much better than ever before. I took a lot of road trips and enjoyed many adventures in the Acclaim. Was it flashy? No. Did it have sub woofers in it? Not at all. My car was comfortable, drove really good and had cruise control in it. My best friend, Tony, and I took many scenic drives listening to a lot of music and smoked cigarettes all the time.

After the first few months going to work and to school in it, my dad stopped by the movie theatre one day (where I sold tickets in the box office) and needed to borrow my keys because he said that I needed the alignment fixed. Gullible me, said okay. He came back an hour or so later and handed the keys back to me and said, “we’ll see you later.” After I got off work in the afternoon I was supposed to meet up with the family for my birthday at an Outback restaurant. When I started the engine on and pulled out of the parking lot, I was enjoying “The Division Bell,” by the band Pink Floyd. Yet, I wondered, why was this particular song on the radio. Since I did not have a tape deck or a CD player, I was confused.

I went to adjust the volume and noticed a glowing red digital screen. A detachable face for a CD player was right in front of me. I was like, “huh?” Then I realized as I was almost to the restaurant that my dad had a new stereo installed. New speakers and CD player was now a part of my car. COOL! It was my birthday and I am not sure why I was so foolish not to get it right away. I told him thank you and couldn’t wait to get one of those visors that hold up to 12 CDs so that I can finally play what I want when I want to.

……more to come