Good news: my publisher asked for copy to accompany the pre-sales press release. She named ten illustrations, and I winced: ugh. Those aren’t the best pages. In fact I hate half of them. Shame ensoakens the entire project at this point, as usual. But I sent the text.
Well, the first review is good: they love it. Love it love it love it. So I’m relieved. There’s a jig in my step and a song in my heart. If you took out my mood and gave it a battered hat it would sing like Durante.
I have Bleat topics stacked up overhead and circling, but no dang time; this is three-column day at minimum, plus book work, and I’ve only done one column so far. Also somewhat exhausted; one of those nights with wild dreams that kept yanking me awake. One of them featured the fellow who owned and maintained an apartment building I lived in from 1983 to 1986. It was my favorite apartment ever in my life so far. Down the street from the Valli, where I worked and played pinball and wrote; across the street from Ralph & Jerry’s, the corner store where we would gather after closing time, and where I would end up working after college failed to pan out as expected. I inherited the apartment from the Crazy Uke; the Giant Swede lived next door; over the next few years Wes the Filmmaker and Sam the Poet and Jet Varhar the Armenian would live there as well. Some of us still get together, and when we do, we talk about the others. Kindly, mind you. With reverence and amusement -
But that's another Bleat. The owner was trying to fix the walls. Things kept falling apart – the ceiling dropped chunks, the doors had no locks, and he said that people could get in the windows.
He seemed particularly concerned about that last one. People could get in the windows. When I woke and recalled the dream I had to smile; one summer he’d taken out a window in the Giant Swede’s unit. Just took it out. Then he took out the same window in my unit, and closed up the wall. The next spring he put the window back in.
It’s remarkable the cast of characters your mind holds in reserve.
Interesting dreams, but like I said, an exhausting night. So I’m looking for a nap as soon as I pick Gnat up from school, get the homework and piano done.
I should note that the fridge is now completely quiet. It hasn’t been loud for most of the day. Too late, pal.
I got dinged a bit in the email last week for slagging on Miami Vice – look, I loved it then and enjoyed revisiting it, but I was a bit disappointed. I remembered Friday nights at the aforementioned apartment, coming off a hard week at TV Guide magazine, sitting in my thrift-store Barc-o-lounge with a scotch and a smoke, setting up the VCR (o wondrous modern device!) to record Vice so I could watch it later when I got back from the dance club up 4th street. Was it really a stupid show that doesn't hold up?
Well. Last night after all the work was done (the book work continues this week, so blogging will be lightish) I checked the TiVo list, and found an episode I remembered very well. It starred, of all people, a pop singer named Fiona; she played a psychologically damaged knife-wielding serial-killer prostitute - you know, one of those. There are just scads of them; they even have their own union now. At the time – 1986, to be exact – the episode seemed very daring, with its disrobing and sex-club scenes and implications of on-stage double-back beast-making. If you’d ask me to name two episodes of Vice, this would have been one. The dialogue is nothing special, but I always remembered one sequence: Tubbs watches a the parade of streetwalkers on a glam-seamy street, and laments that “they get younger every year” – to which Crockett replied “no, pal o’ mine, we just get older every year.” That line sums up the parallax view that characterizes male sexuality in the 30s, but probably by accident.
I also remembered something that was a genuine first in television: Jan Hammer’s soundtrack, written especially for the episode, matched not just the action but the individual gestures. Crockett enters a warehouse, points a gun left and right; Jan gave each motion its own chord. Remember, this is ’86; if you’d been raised on shows that used the same music cues over and over again it was really quite striking.
Then again, they used a Howard Jones tune during one of the montage sequences.
Anyway: it was just as good as I remembered; it was taut and “gritty,” to use an overworked word, and 23 years later you can still see what made the show fresh. What I had not remembered, though, was the music used in the last five minutes – and the second the music began I felt a chill. Ohhhh. That’s what made it memorable. That’s what made the last part hard to take. The singer, his voice masked behind a wall of reverb, chanted the same taunting line over and over and over again:
This is what you want; this is what you get.
With any other score the denouement might have been pedestrian or even a bit silly (way to knock down the door with the motorcycle, pal) but with the music it was effectively dire. Back then I had no idea who wrote the piece or performed it – and back then, of course, you had no way to know. But this is now, and the Internet, she knows all.
I thought I recognized the singer as Johnny Rotten, so I typed in “this is what you want” Public Image Limited into Google, and bingo, within a few minutes I’d ordered it from Amazon.
On the off chance you think you know what I’m talking about: it’s this. The song is called “The Order of Death.” Cheery.
Well, I thought: solved that. And then I went to bed. And dreamed of the guy who owned the apartment building.
Whose daughter lived across from the Giant Swede. Who sunbathed in the small green space between the buildings. Who hung her clothes on the line outside. Whose boyfriend broke in and killed her one night.
I know the Crazy Uke will read this and stop and think and remember; I know for sure I’ll play that song for the Giant Swede and he will get the same bad chill I got. None of it ties together, but it does nonetheless.
And on that happy note! Sorry; didn’t intend to go down that dark route. New Quirk as usual, and new Funnies for your amusement. Back to work – still two columns to complete, and OH CRIPE, “24” to watch. Well, like I said, until the book’s done, all promises are off. Thanks for your patience, and I’ll see you tomorrow.
Wash your heart out with this. It’s him. The one; the only.