Category Archives: Pop Goes Our Culture

A Time Piece

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I was at a concert last night and as I looked around the room I noticed something of which I have become more aware lately, people don’t wear wristwatches any more.  Of the about 40 people I counted, only 2 wore a watch (I was one of them), even the performer was absent a time piece.

I’m told that between cell phones, digital car clock readouts, computers and many other what-nots, no one needs to wear a watch anymore, that wristwatches have become like the dinosaur. Well, excuse me but I am a living breathing Brontosaurus.

I know I am in the minority of many things but I never thought wearing a wrist watch would drop me into one. The idea of leaving the house without a bandana in my back left pocket, a small pocket knife in my front left pocket and a watch on my left wrist is totally foreign to me. Now I realize the bandana and pocket knife are truly old school, those two items became intrinsic to me because of my grandfather and father who never were without either, but a watch was ubiquitous to my generation.

I have both my grandfather’s and my father’s watches, both sturdy Timexes with plain leather bands, both worn and smooth from years on their wrists. My first watch was a hand-me-down from my grandfather, yes, a simple round white-face Timex that I had to wind everyday. I believe that a first watch should be one that has to be kept wound; it teaches responsibility and a sense of duty, no matter how small.

Everyone wore a watch. Remember the Lady Timex? They were only smaller and instead of a brown or black leather/vinyl they were pink or red.

As time passed so did the watches we wore; they became more expensive, bigger, waterproof, self-winding, solar powered, battery operated and digital. Now I will tell you I have a Mickey Mouse watch, a Goofy watch that runs backward, a myriad of Batman watches and a collection of old family Timex and Bulova watches, but I am proud to say that I have never worn a digital time piece on my wrist. There is something mysterious, wonderful and romantic about all those tiny gears and contraptions moving in perfect harmony encased in a package that, if kept up, will tell you the time of day consistently with a flick of the wrist.

I have enough digital in my life, from alarm clocks to music; my final bastion of the digital age I wear proudly as my red badge of courage, a gold Seiko with matching band.

Happy Birthday Bob.

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Damn Bob, May 24, 2011 you turn 70 years old. There are so many things I want to tell you old friend but I will try and break down the highlights of our relationship.

As a youngster I was too busy AM radioing to really know you. You were peripherally on my ear-radar through the songs Blowing In The Wind, Just Like A Woman and Like A Rolling Stone. But with the British Invasion winning on my Sears stereo you didn’t stand a chance, plus that voice it just wasn’t sweet enough for my ear candy tastes.

In 1968 a fortuitous purchase at the local Drug Fair changed all that. After falling in love with The Band’s “Music From Big Pink” album and devouring the liner notes I had to know more about you. My first mistake in trying to make your acquaintance was getting to know you through your “Greatest Hits” releases. I apologize. Of course all the songs were there that make you a welcome dinner guest, but not until my Cousin Booty gave me a copy of “New Morning” in 1970 did I realize your true friends got to know you through the dark corners of midnight coffee and the deep tracks of your menu. It was akin to know Dylan Thomas only through his “Gentle Good Night” than through his body of work. So I dove into the deep end, and Bob, I’ve enjoyed every new stroke and flip.

You’ve been called the voice of a generation, you scoffed at that just like a true voice should. Bill Clinton called you America’s poet laureate and you smiled and turned your amp on 11. Oscars, Grammys and Pulitzers abound, but you remain on the road and probably couldn’t sketch their images.

Every five years or so some critic calls the next new voice the new Bob Dylan, then that voice hears your canon and collapses under its weight.

Over the years you have given me many great gifts, so many I need a list to remember them all, but these 11 are so close and personal to our friendship I had to single them out:

Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight

Chimes Of Freedom

My Back Pages

Not Dark Yet

Tomorrow Is Such A Long Time

Tight Connection To My Heart

Workingman’s Blues # 2

Something There Is About You

If You See Her, Say Hello

Every Grain Of Sand

The 11th I will close this letter with, for it speaks not only of our abiding friendship but our soon to be traveled trails in the future.

Forever Young

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

Happy Birthday Bob.

Love

Stilson

Sandwich Design 101 – Drugstore Way

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Eating out was a rarity when I was a kid. We had our meals at home  on the kitchen table; we used the big table only for Sunday Supper. For those that don’t know what supper is, well, it’s now dinner. We had breakfast, dinner, supper; somewhere along the way the word lunch became dinner and dinner became supper. In my house we did our best to have all four. The word supper remained the vernacular of my grandparents.

Going to town was a big deal when I was a very young boy. Leesburg (Virginia) was different then; it was the center of the universe. It had grocery stores, a Five & Ten Shop, pharmacies, hardware stores, clothing shops, movie theater, restaurants plus all the professionals such as doctors, lawyers and shoemakers. It was the mall of my childhood and integral to a way of life now long past.

I was probably 4 or 5 when I went with my Mom downtown one day, most likely for a doctor’s appointment or other such thing. Usually I stayed home with my Grandfather when Mom went to town. She would go with either my Grandmother or my beloved Aunt Ann because Mother didn’t drive, that was a skill she finally learned in her middle fifties. I guess Grandaddy was busy or pretended to be because he wanted a break from me following him around from chore to chore, but it was more likely he had chickens to kill for supper. I didn’t know that we raised our chickens for food then; I thought that when Daisy or Cluckles came up missing they just ran away to another henhouse or were out visiting friends. The truth hit me one day when Grandaddy made me hold Henrietta down on the block as he did the deed; I was shocked and tearful, he just turned and said, in a sad wise voice, “I thought it’s about time you knew.” Sunday Supper wasn’t the same for awhile.

On that trip downtown my Mom and I went to Edwards Drugstore, I’m guessing she had to wait for a prescription to be filled. So we waited in a booth in the soda fountain-dining room section of the store. Usually we sat at the counter and on a rare occasion I could order a Vanilla Coke, but we didn’t ever sit in a booth. On this glorious day we did, and when the waitress came over for our order, my Mom ordered two Cokes and two ham and cheese sandwiches on white toast. She still orders that today when she goes to lunch. It’s important to remember that my sandwich eating history at that time was only written by my Mom and my Grandmother, and they served it the only way that I thought God in his wisdom would have a sandwich made – cut straight across the middle making two symmetrical rectangles.

When the sandwiches arrived that day they were cut diagonally. What the hell? I just stared at my sandwich, I had no intention of putting that in my mouth. My Mom noticing my wide eyed fear asked what was wrong. Looking at those pointed sharp ends of toasted bread they became swords, razor sharp. When I told Mom that I couldn’t bite it because it would cut me, she lifted my sandwich, took a small bite to prove that it was safe and said that it was “drugstore cut.” I don’t think I ever enjoyed a sandwich more; that small memory of sharing between my mother and I became ingrained in our DNA, intrinsic in our relationship from that second forward.

My mother is 83 now, and on the occasion she makes me a sandwich in her kitchen she will hold the knife above the bread and its stuffing and ask me as she has from that special moment on, “regular or drugstore.”

Where the Wild Things Are, a small review

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Where the wild things are, were  in the movie theater with me. I never saw such bad behavior and heard such a racket, well… since I was doing it at the Tally Ho all those years ago. But I will tell you one thing different, there were more cell phone screens lit up during the movie than at an encore at a Jonas Brothers concert.

The movie, I loved it, embraced every second of it. BUT it’s not a kid’s movie, it’s a movie for the kids we used to be.

Rated: PG

John Lennon, 69 and Aliens

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On October 9, 1940, John Winston Ono Lennon was born, he would’ve been 69 today. Hard to believe. It’s also hard for me to believe that I learned something very cool today, how it escaped my Beatle/Lennon knowledge is, to be honest, dumbfounding. Here it is:

On Febuary 4th, 2008,  NASA broadcast from their giant antenna a Lennon/McCartney song, aptly titled “Across The Universe”. It was beamed into deepest space, sent to Polaris the North Star. The song is traveling at the speed of light and will take 431 years to reach its destination, 2.5 quadrillion miles away.

It’s comforting to know that when Klaatu eventually arrives he’ll already be a Beatle fan.

I miss Bela Lugosi

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I grew up a Universal Monster kid, I loved and still love those black and white thrillers with Boris Karloff, Dwight Frye, Lon Chaney, Jr. and many more. I devoured the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland monthly, looking at Frankenstein’s Monster, The Mummy and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. But it was Bela Lugosi’s performance of Dracula that had the biggest impact. His accent, his stiff movement and his piercing eyes captured the undead nobleman and forever became the benchmark of Bram Stoker’s celluloid Count. Thus the vampire was raised into modern cinema, a creature of the night, using his powers to suck the blood of the living and, in some instances, add more members to his fanged flock. And that’s the way it was, Christopher Lee and other bearers of the Dracula crest were creatures to be feared, created to scare the beegeezus of children and adults alike…until lately.

Now vampires are portrayed as brooding sullen romantics, who even in daylight, walk among us and become anti-heroes and young girl’s sexual fantasies. Blech, give me the redeyed, fanged devil scrathing outside the window, waiting to sneak into the home and lay waste on the unsuspecting. Give me the old school monster that sunlight destroyed not make his skin sparkle like diamonds. Give me a Dracula who would lay bloody havoc on a slumber party, not brood in the corner about why he shouldn’t be there, thus endearing himself as the new bad boy girls fall for. It was a leather jacket and a convertible, now it is pale skin, an aversion to solid food and a goth hairdo making the girls a twitter.

So yes, I miss Bela and his brothers and sisters, his children of the night and the things of nightnares. Now vampires don’t take you in bed, they’re more interested in taking you to bed… and tucking you in.