At any point between 1987 and 1993 or so, this would have been my favorite song in the entire universe. Coincidentally, in 1987 my friend Neil and I published a zine called Kumquat Popsicle, which featured a drawing of a rudeboy by Neil’s pal Alex Désert, who’s doing the voice of the dad in that song. (I would scan that page of the zine, but it’s in my brother’s attic somewhere along with the rest of my old stuff.)
My pal Dave (who directed me to that clip in the first place) prepared an audio extract for your continued listening pleasure: Pick It Up.
Random pop-culture trivia about Reading that I learned today (with audio references):
Mod band Secret Affair played their first show at the University here in February 1979, opening for The Jam. (I would have loved to see either band.) Ten years later, I had a crush on a cute boy who introduced me to the first single, Time for Action
In 1981, The Human League‘s producer made them come to Genetic Sound in Reading to get away from the “unhealthy atmosphere” of the studio in Sheffield where they usually worked alongside their former band members who left to form Heaven 17. They recorded The Sound of the Crowd here.
One of the more profound touchstones of my pop-cultural development was Square Pegs, a short-lived sit-com from 1982 that starred, among others, the people that would be better known as Captain Kirk’s bastard son (so pretty, so tragic) and Carrie Bradshaw (so tiny, so odd-looking).
The show was my first exposure to a number of things that inspired my devotion for years to come, particularly Devo and The Waitresses. Certain phrases from the show still pepper my conversation to this day. Not bad for a show that was only on for half a season twenty-five years ago. What amazes me is that I’ve retained all this stuff about the show, but I couldn’t have actually watched more than an episode or two. But I listened to them all.
In 1982, my family didn’t actually own a TV. The last one had finally broken down altogether, and it was a while before my parents felt the need (or had the wherewithal, perhaps, or some combination of the two) to get another. My sister Ellen, however, had a portable TV/radio that could tune into the audio signal of broadcast TV stations. It was kind of a pain, but better than nothing. (And I’m sure she appreciated being able to keep up with General Hospital as much as I appreciated keeping up with Square Pegs. Honestly, I can’t even remember what clever bit of marketing inspired me to listen in to a show I couldn’t actually see, but I was hooked pretty instantly.
It’s been odd having such vivid memories of sounds and dialogue without accompanying footage. I know I saw a couple of episodes — probably when spending the night at my friend Eddie’s house — but for the most part my visual memories of the show are more delicate than the rest. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, though, that’s starting to change. Last night I stumbled across the episode I most wished I had seen when it was first on: the one where Devo (Johnny Slash’s 9th favorite band) played at Muffy Tepperman’s New Wave bat mitvah. Bliss!
The scripted jokes and the accompanying laugh track are painful, of course, but there are all kinds of charming little details in there that I still love. I hindsight, I love the quirky, watered-down version of 80s culture that was sanitized for TV, but still hints at interesting things must have inspired it. I love the throwaway gags, like how John Densmore from the Doors is the drummer for Johnny Slash’s band, and how LaDonna, the cool black chick, can identify gefilte fish that came out of a jar. And even now, Devo still seems beautifully eccentric.
And here’s a bonus for you: the ass-kicking theme for the show by The Waitresses: Square Pegs (buy more)
Since I never actually saw the Square Pegs pilot (just listened to it), I never saw the Waitresses perform, and for years I mixed them up with the equally sassy Josie Cotton, who performed in another other pinnacle of watered-down 80s New Wave teen comedy, Valley Girl. (My obsession for that movie and its soundtrack is a story for another day, perhaps.) But they’re like totally different. Totally!
Find of the day: a free podcast featuring full-length downloads of classic B movies in the public domain. Cult of UHF! They’re not high-enough resolution for home-theater viewing, but if I’m watching stuff that’s for curiosity or light entertainment I tend to watch them in a corner of my screen while I do other stuff. This is a gold mine for those of us with a soft spot for cheesy sci-fi and horror. (There’s also a companion blog, of course.)
People are always surprised to hear that I haven’t been homesick all year. Although there are lots of things — and certainly lots of people — that I miss, I was really ready to leave the States, and in particular to leave New York. I’m notoriously nomadic and it’s certainly possible that I’ll feel like settling in New York again, but it will be a while.
Last night I heard this LCD Soundsystem song that put its finger on some of what drove me away:
Oh, and in my free time time this year I designed a book, too. It’s also my first design project to get its own MySpace page, since it’s about indy music stuff and the music folks apparently use the MySpace once in a while. It’s by my good friend Norm, and you should buy it.
Seriously, though, it’s a fantastic read, especially if you have any interest at all in hardcore and post-punk bands of the 90s. (If you do, you probably know who Norm is anyway.) Anti-Matter was a zine he published that featured these amazing, insightful, totally natural interviews with a bunch of great bands. Norm had (well, still has) an amazing ability to get past the party line and get people to really talk to him, and that honesty is what makes these collected interviews so engaging, even if — like me — you might only be familiar with a few of the bigger names included.
And the photography! I haven’t seen the book in print yet, but if they reproduced the photos well then this is even more of a must-have for anyone into that era’s scene. Seriously, just buy it.
There are so many reasons why The Bionic Woman is an all-time favorite of mine. And that was before I remembered there was an episode where Jaime poses as a nun to uncover a diamand-and-heroin smuggling ring operating out of the winery at a convent.
TV in the seventies wasn’t better, really, but it was certainly simpler.
Of course, if you have any memories of the show at all, you were probably traumatized by the same images that have haunted me all these years…
While I’m at it, let me also share a piece of genius that Dave sent my way. This is originally from here, but the links are dead now, so here’s a copy for you. It’s a marima-rrific reworking of my favorite bit of music ever written by John WIlliams: