Freaky Repost: “Freakin’ at the Freakers Ball”


I visited the library today, and checked out some decidedly non-freaky music, so I’ll just revisit an old freak for freaky times’ sake.


I’ve mentioned my love for the great and subversive Shel Silverstein before.  He’s a little like Frank Zappa, in that his freakiness very nearly reaches saintly levels.  His take on the world was unique, to say the very least.  It’s in some ways very difficult to reconcile the sweetness and delight of his children’s work with the sometimes raunchy counterculturalism of his adult work.  Although when I think about it, there really isn’t that much difference.  His poetry, especially, had quite a bit of his strange, dark humor (click here for one of my favorites).

There was a lot of anger in Silverstein’s work, too.  Powerful emotions are the fuel for creative fire, and it seems that Silverstein had many different emotional states to fuel his fires.  (Check this rant out for evidence of his rage in its full glory.)  Uncle Shelby generally turned his anger into humor.  You can catch more flies with honey, after all.  He also seemed to point his middle finger at society for the most part.  He seemed to have no patience for traditional mores and values.  I don’t know what Silverstein’s philosophy or ideology consisted of, but I have a feeling it could be boiled down to “be kind to each other, and have fun.”

Fun is what “Freakin’ at the Freakers Ball” is all about.  Gettin’ down and gettin’ funky with all the freaks.  One thing that stands out is how many of the freaks are what many people would consider sexual deviants.  (I wonder if this is where Macy Gray got the inspiration for this song?  And I dare you not to smile if you watch the clip.)  Okay, I know that “getting your freak on” is slang for sex; it’s also slang for dancing, which can be considered fully clothed sex set to music . . . if it’s done right.  But sexual deviance is not a requirement for freakiness in my book.  And even though there’s a lot of sexy funtimes  going on in “Freakin’ at the Freakers Ball,” I get the feeling that’s not quite the point.  The point seems to be accepting what’s different about people–in others and in yourself.  Tolerance is the first commandment of freaks everywhere.  Sure, let it all hang out, but don’t judge anybody else for doing the same thing.  Live and let live, whatever floats your boat, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Really, this is a bunch of opposites attracting, bouncing in and out of each others orbits.  Dancing, laughing, fooling around in dark corners (or broad daylight . . . I’m not one to judge.)  I’ll bet there’s an awesome spread of appetizers and drinks.  Maybe even a mirror ball spinning from the ceiling.  Sounds like a pretty awesome party to me.

“Flowers in the Window”


Mom ended up staying home from work today (her battery died, and she had to get AAA to come fix it).  So this afternoon, we ran a couple of errands, including visiting the garden center at one of the big box home improvement stores.  As a result, we have three new plants to keep away from the plant-biting kitty.

I like having plants.  They’re good for the air, and they look nice.  Pothos are great because they’re almost impossible to kill.  (Seriously, as long as you water them, they’ll just keep growing.)  But I’m going to have to look up the other plants we got on the interwebs because I don’t know anything about them.  I certainly don’t want to kill them.  I’m not a gardener, but I can usually keep houseplants alive.  As long as they’re not too touchy, anyway.

Because I have a plant-biting kitty, however, I’m trying to be careful about bringing plants that are toxic to her into the house.  She’s already nibbled on my lucky bamboo (toxic) and the poinsettia we had for Christmas (toxic).  I’m pretty sure she got ahold of the sad little pothos that my mother brought when she moved in (toxic).  She’s still alive.  She doesn’t eat them; she just bites off leaves until the poor little plants are naked (the current state of my bamboo).  I think I’ll have to put them somewhere she can’t easily get to until she gets used to them.

And then maybe I’ll buy that bridge in Brooklyn I’ve been thinking about purchasing.

“Happy Birthday”


This year’s birthday was uneventful.  Just dinner with the family, but it was definitely better than last year’s.  A little more melancholy, but still better.

My mom gave me some money, some cupcakes, and a plant that I have to figure out how to keep away from my plant-biting cat.  (I really have to break her of that; I want to have plants in the house.)  I got some scratcher lottery tickets, and won $2.  But things were pretty low-key.

I generally like birthdays.  Having them means you’re still alive.  So here’s to being alive, and another year older.  Happy (belated) birthday to me.

Now I’m going to have some of my leftover birthday cake (red velvet, yum).

Pete Seeger


Musician.  Singer.  Songwriter.  Activist.  Environmentalist.  Communist.  Mentor.  Father.  Husband.  Grandfather.  Friend.

They’re just labels, words that don’t mean anything without thoughts, beliefs, and actions.  They were all applied to Pete Seeger at one point or another.  He didn’t pay any attention to labels; he just lived his life the best way he could.

That life is over, after 94 wonderful years.

I’ll always remember him as someone who used his talent for more than just entertaining people, although he did that often and well. He used his music to fight for what he believed in, to help people without a voice or power in society.  He was a kind man, a good man.  He had integrity.

I think I’ll always remember him the way he is in this clip, from a concert with Arlo Guthrie that I watched on PBS as a kid.  A man on a stage, singing a song with love and conviction.

“Get Lucky”


Daft Punk walked off with Album of the Year (Random Access Memories) and Record of the Year (“Get Lucky”) at last nights Grammys, and good on them.  The electronic music duo stays anonymous by disguising themselves as robots; their goal seems to be to let their music speak for itself.  I’ve been hearing of Daft Punk since they debuted in the late 1990s, but haven’t paid them much attention because electronic/dance/house/trance/rave/whatever-they’re-calling-it-these-days is not my cup of tea.  But “Get Lucky” is a soulful, R&B-tinged dance tune that makes it seem like a warm summer night whenever it plays.

It was something of a surprise hit last year, because while Daft Punk has been popular with critics for many years, they haven’t been mainstream chart toppers before.  But the duo made Random Access Memories with the help of Paul Williams and Nile Rodgers, who are both great artists in their own right.  I think the influence of Williams and Rodgers, among many others, helped Daft Punk expand both their musical horizons and popular appeal.  As cool as it is to keep personalities from distracting listeners from the music, it’s hard to warm up to a couple of robots.  Of course, have Pharrell Williams sing the song certainly didn’t hurt, either.  Electronic music is not a wasteland devoid of all human emotion, and Daft Punk have proven that in spades.  I’m looking forward to more from them in the future.

Repost: Romeo & Juliet”


There really isn’t anything I could say about this song that could do it justice.  It is sublime.

But when “Romeo & Juliet” came up on the shuffle tonight, I remembered that the music video for this song was one of the first music videos I ever saw.  It came out in 1980, so I was 11.  We had OnTV, and early precursor to cable.  They would sometimes fill the gaps in between movies with music videos.  This was just before MTV came into existence, so videos weren’t quite ubiquitous yet.  They weren’t exactly great art, either.  I had vague memories of people walking along corridors, but no clear picture in my head of what the video was like (just that the production wasn’t exactly high-tech).  So I looked it up on YouTube to see if it matched my memory.

I love how everyone is walking around like they’re in West Side Story.  There were some bits that I hadn’t remembered, and the 80s hair and makeup are awful, but it’s pretty much as cheesy as I remembered.  Luckily, this song is too good to be ruined by a bad video.

“Dear Mr. Fantasy”


We got a much-needed new garage door a couple of days ago, and I’ve been rustling through some of the junk that’s currently taking up space in there.  A lot of it isn’t ours.  My dad arranged to let our yard guy keep some stuff in there in exchange for a discount for mowing our yards, etc.  And either my late uncle or my aunt’s complete waste of space ex left some old furniture and ephemera in there.  (There is a pretty nice console table I’m thinking about claiming, and a really squeaky tea cart that could be fun if I cleaned it up.)  I’m mostly only interested in my childhood leftovers that I know I stored in there at some point.  But I made a fortuitous discovery right away.

When I got some decent bookcases and set up the office in the extra bedroom, I was dismayed to find that some of my Rock & Roll books were missing.  I figured they must have been damaged or stolen, but I was thrilled to find them in a box near the front of the garage.  Both my late uncle and the wast of space ex lived in the house at different times, occupying the room that used to be mine.  I’d left some things in there, and I guess one of them moved the books out to the garage without telling me; I know I didn’t put them there.  Fortunately, they were dirty but mostly undamaged, which is great considering that I’m pretty sure they’re all out of print now.  I happily rediscovered some Rolling Stone anthologies of articles and interviews, and a number of nice photograph collections of U2.  But the real treasures were the only two books I had specifically missed when I stocked the shelves.

One was The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics, which was the first present BFF ever gave me (it was for my 16th birthday).  It’s a fanciful collection that I still thoroughly love.  The other was a collection of photographs by Ethan A. Russell.  Dear Mr. Fantasy features much of the work Russell did with the Rolling Stones and Beatles, along with a lot of his other famous photos and album covers.  It also features his recollections of his life from the mid 60s though John Lennon’s death in 1980.  It’s one of my favorite books, and I was a little heartbroken to think I’d lost it forever.  I’m so freakin’ happy to have found both these books.

I’m not just a music fan, I’m a collector–although my collection doesn’t really add up to anything of monetary value.  I’ve got a lot of books and CDs, a small amount of vinyl, and a couple of posters/prints that are pretty awesome.  Mostly, I have ticket stubs and programs from concerts, candid photographs found at record stores, odd little ephemera, and some old magazines.  These things mean the world to me.  They’re my little attempt to keep track of this world that I love.