1982: Mixtape, TDK Normal 90 Minutes

TDK - D 90 - 1

Side One, “Hard Side”:

AC/DC “You Shook Me All Night Long”

Billy Joel “It’s Still Rock and Roll”

Pink Floyd “Another Brick In The Wall (Part Two)”

Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight”

Foreigner “Urgent”

Journey “Any Way You Want It”

Waylon Jennings “Theme From “The Dukes Of Hazard” (Good Ol’ Boys)”

 

Side Two, “Soft Side”:

Fleetwood Mac “Don’t Stop”

Air Supply “All Out Of Love

Eddie Rabbit “Driving My Life Away”

Kim Carnes “Bettie Davis Eyes”

Bruce Springsteen “Hungry Heart”

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Poem from 1995: “Sign on Trainbridge: Trenton Makes The World Takes.”

080818_trenton2

I suspect the jerk-off
they just threw off the train
doesn’t believe in God, because

if he did, he’d have sat down
like the conductor asked him. Instead,
he did the scofflaw’s walk

down the aisle, a drunk
in a cemetery who pees on the headstone
with the funniest-sounding name.

He slipped into another car,
to chintz on his fare. Nothing,
you see, gets by these railroad

employees, especially freeloaders.
They are acutely aware of this abuse.
God is the same feeling you get, sitting,

waiting on a bench in Trenton,
the empty transfer platform, open-air
cold with glinty metal. No train yet,

but it’s paid for. That’s it.
That’s all. It’s our shared desolation.

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Twombly

TwomblyIlliam

There was a Sunday around this time, when I was 11 or so, where dad took us to the Philadelphia Art Museum. Toward the end of our visit, we made our way to the modern collections. My feet still ached from runs up and down the famous Rocky stairs. I entered a roomful of paintings by the American painter Cy Twombly, “Fifty Days at Illiam,” a series of large, hand-scrawled paint-drawings that depict the last 50 days of the Trojan War.

Even then, I could see how we would grow apart. Even them, as I gawked at the brightest and most abstract paintings while he dragged me through the Arms & Armor collection, I drew blanks as he pep-talked the backplates and helmets of Saxony.

We passed what looked like a cracked window taken out of a house and plopped on the floor. We were near the end of our trip, but I dawdled and snuck in to see it. “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even,” or “The Large Glass,” a piece that had broken and repaired and placed permanently in Philadelphia. I felt the force of my father as he drew me back, his body nearer. He called my name. The shiny broken glass glimmered in my eyes, and I looked for meaning and purpose, some story to tell.

In that light-filled room of Twomblys, it seemed my dad and I met on some neutral ground.  He didn’t grumble impatiently or tug my hand to keep moving; I as looked at the bright, almost-blank canvases, I felt like I could draw something like this. This was a story I knew. The room presented a possibility that you could tell old stories in new ways, that it didn’t always have to take place in a dark room in the back of a small house.

In that room, he saw my joy and did nothing about it.

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The Ethel-or-Fozzie Rule, applied to the top 200 bands of 1980s.

I have a rule that states that in rock music, there are Ethel Merman singers or Fozzie Bear singers. This rule applies only to singers with careers that begin after April 1970, the month the Beatles broke up. I call it The Ethel-or-Fozzie Rule.

In this rule, I attempt to demonstrate divide in singers among showtune histrionics (Ethel) and holier-than-thou groans (Fozzie). To skeptics, I refer to the episode of The Muppet Show, in which Merman sings a medley with the Muppet troupe, among them Fozzie.

The first Ethel Merman Band, formed in April 1970, is Queen.

What follows is a list of the top bands/artists of the 1980s, according to this random site, along with my E-or-F ruling.  Bands or artists whose careers begin before April 1970 are ruled as NA, or Not Applicable.

If anyone would like to appeal a specific ruling, I invite your feedback in the comments section. My rulings on bands/artists of the 1990s appears here.

1. Michael Jackson
Solo Michael Jackson is Fozzie

2. Prince
Ethel

3. Madonna
Fozzie

4. U2
Ethel

5. Bruce Springsteen
Ethel

6. Run-D.M.C.
Run is Ethel; DMC is Fozzie

7. Van Halen
Ethel

8. Public Enemy
Chuck D is Fozzie; Flava Flav is Ethel

9. Billy Joel
N/A

10. The Police
Ethel

11. Phil Collins
Fozzie

12. Guns N’ Roses
Ethel

13. Def Leppard
Fozzie

14. Janet Jackson
Fozzie

15. George Michael/Wham
Ethel

16. Whitney Houston
Ethel

17. Metallica
Ethel

18. N.W.A.
Eazy E is Ethel; Ice Cube is Fozzie

19. Dire Straits
Fozzie

20. AC/DC
Bon Scott was Fozzie; Brian Johnson is Fozzie

21. Rush
Perhaps the most Ethel band of all time

22. Iron Maiden
Wait–maybe this is the most Ethel band

23. Judas Priest
NA — formed in 1969

24. Lionel Richie
Fozzie

25. Bon Jovi
Ethel
26. Talking Heads
Fozzie

27. Genesis
NA formed in 1967

28. R.E.M.
Fozzie (IRS years); Ethel (Warner Bros.)

29. Duran Duran
Fozzie

30. Motley Crue
Ethel

31. The Cure
Fozzie

32. Journey
Ethel with Steve Perry

33. John Mellencamp
Fozzie

34. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
Fozzie

35. REO Speedwagon
Ethel

36. Kool and the Gang
NA formed in 1964

37. L.L. Cool J
Fozzie

38. Tina Turner
NA

39. Queen
The first Ethel band

40. Beastie Boys
Ethel (Ad Rock, Mike D), Fozzie (MCA)

41. Ozzy Osbourne
Solo years are Ethel

42. The Smiths
Ethel

43. Huey Lewis and the News
Fozzie

44. Bryan Adams
Fozzie

45. Hall & Oates
NA formed c. 1969

46. Pat Benatar
Ethel

47. Eric B. & Rakim
Fozzie

48. Billy Idol
Ethel

49. Peter Gabriel
Solo years Ethel

50. INXS
Fozzie

51. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Ethel

52. Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
Fozzie

53. Eurythmics
Fozzie

54. The Cars
Ric Ocasek is Fozzie; Ben Orr is Ethel

55. Aerosmith
NA

56. ZZ Top
NA

57. The Rolling Stones
NA

58. Heart
NA

59. David Bowie
NA
60. Elton John
NA

61. Rod Stewart
NA

62. Foreigner
NA

63. Stevie Wonder
NA

64. Toto
David Paitch is Fozzie; Bobby Kimball is Ethel

65. Bob Seger
NA

66. The Pointer Sisters
NA

67. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Fozzie

68. Salt-N-Pepa
Salt is Ethel; Pepa is Fozzie

69. Fleetwood Mac
NA

70. The Go-Go’s
Fozzie

71. Paul McCartney
NA

72. Pet Shop Boys
Fozzie

73. Don Henley
Solo Don is Fozzie

74. Paul Simon
NA

75. Tracy Chapman
Fozzie

76. Cyndi Lauper
Fozzie

77. Depeche Mode
Ethel

78. Sonic Youth
Fozzie

79. Pete Townshend
NA

80. Culture Club
Ethel

81. Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine
Fozzie

82. De La Soul
All-Fozzie

83. Luther Vandross
NA

84. Chicago
NA

85. The Bangles
Fozzie

86. Thompson Twins
Fozzie

87. Yes
NA

88. Men at Work
Ethel (Colin Hay solo is Fozzie)

89. Pixies
Ethel (Frank Black); Fozzie (Kim Deal)

90. Pink Floyd
NA

91. Robert Palmer
Fozzie

92. Kenny Loggins
NA

93. Whitesnake
Ethel

94. Sade
Fozzie

95. Steve Winwood
Solo work is Ethel

96. Billy Ocean
Fozzie

97. Tears for Fears
Ethel

98. Bobby Brown
Fozzie

99. Scorpions
NA

100. Simply Red
Ethel

101. B-52’s
Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson are Fozzie; Fred Schneider is Ethel

102. Boston
NA

103. Rick James
NA

104. Joan Jett
NA

105. Stevie Nicks
NA

106. Berlin
Fozzie

107. Sting
Solo sting is Ethel

108. New Order
Ethel

109. Poison
Ethel

110. The Pretenders
Fozzie

111. Quiet Riot
Ethel

112. RATT
Fozzie

113. The Clash
Joe Strummer is Fozzie; Mick Jones is Ethel

114. The Stone Roses
Fozzie

115. Squeeze
Ethel

116. Styx
NA

117. Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Ethel

118. New Edition
Michael Bivins is Ethel; the rest are Fozzie

119. Stray Cats
Fozzie

120. Paula Abdul
Fozzie

121. The Human League
Philip Oakley is Ethel; Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley are Ethel

122. Violent Femmes
Ethel

123. Elvis Costello
Ethel

124. A-Ha
Fozzie

125. Blondie
Ethel

126. Anita Baker
Fozzie

127. Milli Vanilli
Fozzie

128. Sheena Easton
Ethel

129. Loverboy
Ethel

130. Asia
Fozzie

131. Skid Row
Fozzie

132. Tiffany
Fozzie

133. Debbie Gibson
Ethel

134. Crosby Stills Nash (& Young)
NA

135. Madness
Fozzie

136. Aretha Franklin
NA

137. Afrika Bambaataa
Fozzie
138. UB 40
Fozzie

139. Patti LaBelle
NA

140. Tone-Loc
Fozzie

141. Falco
Fozzie

142. Simple Minds
Ethel

143. Earth Wind & Fire
NA

144. KISS
Gene Simmons is Ethel; Paul Stanley is Fozzie

145. The Jam
Fozzie

146. Marvin Gaye
NA

147. Bananarama
Fozzie

148. New Kids on the Block
Fozzie

149. Billy Squier
Ethel

150. Slayer
Fozzie
151. Adam Ant
Fozzie
152. Spandau Ballet
Ethel

153. Dokken
Ethel

154. The Jesus and Mary Chain
Fozzie

155. ABC
Ethel

156. Cinderella
Fozzie

157. Bonnie Raitt
Ethel

158. 10,000 Maniacs
Ethel

159. Accept
Fozzie

160. Eric Clapton
Fozzie

161. Kool Moe Dee
Ethel

162. The Cult
Fozzie

163. The Fixx
Fozzie
164. Air Supply
Ethel
165. Richard Marx
Ethel

166. Bruce Hornsby & the Range
Fozzie

167. Starship
Ethel

168. The Replacements

Fozzie

169. Fine Young Cannibals
Fozzie

170. Mr. Mister
Ethel
171. Boogie Down Productions
Fozzie
172. Irene Cara
Ethel

173. David Lee Roth
Solo DLR is Fozzie

174. Twisted Sister
Ethel
175. Corey Hart
Ethel

176. Doug E. Fresh
Fozzie

177. Laura Branigan
Ethel

178. Dio
Ethel
179. Europe
Ethel
180. A Flock of Seagulls
Fozzie
181. Eddy Grant
Ethel

182. Husker Du
Bob Mould is Ethel; Grant Hart is Fozzie

183. Black Flag
Fozzie

184. Dead Kennedys
Ethel
185. George Thorogood
Fozzie

186. John Lennon
Ethel

187. Terence Trent D’arby
Ethel

188. Red Hot Chili Peppers
Fozzie

189. Rick Springfield
Fozzie

190. Paul Young
Fozzie

191. Black Sabbath
NA

192. Howard Jones
Fozzie
193. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Ethel
194. Level 42
Fozzie

195. John Farnham
Ethel
196. Tom Waits
Fozzie

197. Mike Oldfield
NA

198. Chris De Burgh

Ethel

199. Alan Parsons Project
Fozzie

200. Ministry
Fozzie

 

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Bisbee Yearbook/Annie Freefanny

One day dad gave me a guided tour of his Bisbee High School yearbook from 1965.

“There’s one of my old flames,” he says.

I looked at the picture: an average-looking girl, short, with a brunette beehive. There was a hint of cleavage below her collar line. When they were dating, he said, the girl’s father offered to pay for his college tuition–University of Arizona in Tucson–should they stay together after they graduate.

And I think to myself, How could you turn this offer down? Why didn’t you just stay with the beehive brunette?

“Oh, you mean Annie Freefanny?” my mom said to me when I tell her the story. “She was the easiest girl at Bisbee High. A real tramp. Your father told me about her when we were dating.”

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Joe Piscopo’s Sinatra record: "I Love Rock ‘n Roll (Medley)."

joepiscopo

I have been meaning to get another copy of this EP for years, since I wore out my first two copies playing them at parties. Here is Saturday Night Live alum and fellow Jersey boy Joe Piscopo’s 1982 Frank Sinatra record. Here, you will hear Piscopo/Sinatra interpreting several rock classics in a way only Ole Blue Eyes could. I’m also posting the B-side, which is worth the price of admission for a reference to a rock band called “The Foreigners.”

A-side:


B-side:

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Here’s “Parade,” a Robert Lowell imitation from 1995.

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I wrote this poem 20 years ago as an exercise in a workshop I took in fall 1995 with the great poet Philip Levine. He didn’t really give out homework assignments so much as tell us things we should do. One of them was to read Robert Lowell; another was to imitate poems you love. I love Lowell’s “Skunk Hour,” and was under the misimpression I could write my own version, with my hometown, Maple Shade, taking the place of Lowell’s Nautilus Island. Although I don’t think this is a good poem, it is a curio for it’s stanza-by-stanza imitation of the original, rhyme scheme and all, as well as swapping out of “Careless Love.” for Journey. It also shows the obsession I’ve had with Maple Shade goes back two decades. It’s much longer than that, but still.

Parade

Frankie, the unhip record store owner,
roughs it out
two miles from the mall.
He closes at 7. His wife’s a nurse.
His father fills the cash register,
accepts gas and phone bills,

cashes checks, folds t-shirts by the cassettes.
There’s a photo album of girlie posters.
County road workers play Lotto there
every Friday, scarred
and rough-tanned by black tar.

Last fall, we had another sidewalk sale.
The governor didn’t come
to wave and speed
past the bingo tables,
past the custard stand, the cone-
strewn sled hill, where kids drink Bud ponies,

smoke butts in the firefly-tall grass. One night
last spring, I borrowed my mom’s Cougar
and drove behind the Acme,
hoping to spot a younger sister
maybe, alone, flat-footed, lanky,
pocketbook-full of hairspray

shuffling to the pizzeria, needing a ride.
The soft rock station played Journey—
“So now I come to you,
with open arms.” As if sacrificed
out there, I stalled in the parking lot,
talking to myself, scarfing a slice,

chafed and thinking, so this was home
Maple Shade, its abrupt streets,
half-full bottles in yellow lights.
Then a trolling monster truck slowed down
with open windows, arms swanning
to girls on the sidewalk. I sat alone,

first in front of the Catholic church,
then by my mom’s TV,
and watched music videos,
late-night deflated on the couch,
and stared at detached sexless bodies
that can’t exist, can’t possibly care.

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