RL225 - James Jacket

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The Problem: John met the English Tony Randall, referring to John meeting Roddy McDowall and calling him for the English Tony Randall.

The show title refers to Merlin not remembering James Dean’s name, but just calling him the James, the guy with the jacket.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

John being in New York City (RL225)

John is not in his customary podcast setup, it sounds like a compressed little grilled cheese sandwich that is made in a waffle iron, what Robin Williams called a Buddhist gift, something you don’t want but that you have to learn to accept. In Rock’n’Roll they say: One time it is a clam, two times it is a theme, three time it is a riff. That is how you make Jazz! How many clams you need to make Jazz depends on if it is a white sauce or a red sauce.

Merlin has been trying to listen to more music. Merlin used to really look forwards to Mr. Bill on Saturday Night Live, so did John, but he never really understood the implications of Mr. Bill. It is the National Lampoon sense of humor which you needed to be very preppy and very stoned to understand.

John is on Long Island right now, but he is staying in New York City, which is full of young preppy drunk people. They also smoke cigarettes a lot, like it is a normal thing, whereas everywhere else people don’t smoke anymore. They also don’t have any prohibition against talking on the phone and you see people on the phone all the time, while in San Francisco you never see a soul on the phone, you just see them staring at the phone typing. People in Seattle are the same way: They are staring at their phone and are engaged with it, but they are not talking. It is probably because you can’t stare at your phone in New York or you will be murdered.

People putting yeast on their popcorn (RL225)

Yesterday Merlin was in line at the snack bar at the cinema and he thought it was funny that all of the five people in front of him in line were staring at their phone. He wondered: ”Why don’t people just talk to each other anymore?” Then one guy asked another guy in line: ”What do you got there?” - ”Yeast! I like to put it on my popcorn!” Then they went into a long conversation about which theaters have yeast and don’t, and Merlin thought: ”Why don’t you just look at your fucking phone and shut up?”

If John asked ”Hey, how is it going?” and somebody used the word ”yeast” in the first sentence, that is a real ”Pull back! Pull back! Get out!” Yeast feels like the topic of a one-issue person. It could be Bernie Sanders, bikes, or yeast. ”How do you know that you have a fireman at your party?” - ”He will tell you!” It is like the dark Russian sense of humor: You have to be a 1990s kid to understand this fireman joke. There is a lot of folks like that. God bless them! ”Thank you for your service!”

John regretting not having joined the military, knowing the things you have aged out of (RL225)

John regrets not having joined the military. When he was young he always assumed that he would be in the military at some point and right about the time when he was at the age of someone who was going to join the military he was a peacenik and an anarchist and not joining the military felt like a real rebellion against his earlier self. No-one was pressuring him to go into the military, on the contrary: Every time a recruiter would call the house John’s mom would swear at them and slam the phone down. She was going to disown him if he was going to join the military because she is a real peace activist.

During the heyday years where it was like: ”Go join the military and learn discipline and be a young person!” it was not part of John’s scene, but later when he was 30 he wished that when he was 18, instead of the scene that he did occupy he should have joined the military. It would have been a completely different life.

But then after 9/11 when he was in his mid-30s and still young enough to join the military they had raised the top age and he could just have gone at 35 years old and said: ”Sign me up! I am going to fight on behalf of justice!” and he really thought about it, but he had a lot going on and now he is too old to join the military and it is very easy for him to say that he wish he had done it.

Like having a kid and some other things in life, it is part of living a full life. You want to tick your boxes as a grown-up. In Starship Troopers they won’t even give you full citizenship unless you have served in the military. Like Israel, everybody goes, except that Israel has a super-sexy Army. They have their own special Jewish Kung-Fu. John thinks of them as the tank-top-Army because they are carrying their guns on the subway, they are all wearing tank tops, it just seems like a good way to be 19!

Merlin’s primary High School girlfriend joined the Air Force when she was 22/23 and it occurred to him about 5 years ago that she is probably retired now as a Lt. Col., and she is making a normal wage for the rest of her life. They do pay them pretty good, that is one of the perks! They pay you not very well through the whole time you are working, compared to what you would be making in the real world, but then they continue to pay you pretty darn good for the rest of your life. You get free glasses and stuff and you get to go to the VA hospitals.

As a result of going to Military school Merlin was automatically in NJROTC (Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) and if he had pursued that career they would have commissioned him in the Navy and he would easily be an officer. John would have been an officer just by virtue of having been recognized as standing in the door of the recruiter. They would have fast-tracked him and if everybody had their head together that day he could have been retired in a couple of years. He would have gotten right into officer candidate school!

If he had ever gone to Yale and stood in the doorway, which he never did, somebody would have seen the light from behind, like an angle choir, and they would have said: ”Jesus Christ! What are you doing out there? Come in!” and maybe John would have been pushing a broom, but then he would have been solving math problems on the chalk board in the night. Merlin thinks that there are so many things John should be retired from at this point, and it breaks his heart how little John’s jib cut was appreciated.

When making a list of the things you ought to do in the course of a life, John doesn’t know how many of those he has done already, but he does know the ones he has aged out of. You should have been in Mosad at one point, you should have gone to Yale and gone through as a member of the NJROTC, you should have fought in an overseas war, and retired before the age of 40! You should have made an app after winning an Emmy as a writer for a hit comedy show you did after you got out of the Navy. It would be an EGOTA, an EGOT with an A for having done an app. EGOTs are Rita Moreno and Mel Brooks.

John meeting Roddy McDowall and Count Basie (RL225)

When John was a kid his father introduced him to Roddy McDowall. It was after Cornelius and he had already been the ape. John was a big fan and Merlin also loves hat guy, he is like the English Tony Randall, and he was at the time John’s favorite actor, largely because he met him, just as Count Basie was his favorite big band orchestral leader.

One time John stood there as his dad met Count Basie. His dad was a massive Count Basie fan, but he acted as though he was meeting Richard Hell. He didn’t make a big point in introducing John to Count Basie because he was pretty star struck, and John was just standing at his knee and saw it all go down, but John was actually introduced to Roddy McDowall. He was incredible! It was in a big crowded room, the lights were up, but he turned to John and gave him all this attention. It makes Merlin really happy to hear that he was good, it makes his whole month.

By that point the Cirque Theater had moved and was now down in the center of the city and they would go there sometimes because even in his late 50s John’s dad was still very bohemian, he was one of the theater people, but not really, he was a member of a lot of guilds.

John’s dad going on romantic dates with Rita Moreno (RL225)

After John's dad had already left the Washington State Legislature, but before he worked for John F. Kennedy, he was bouncing around in Washington State and it seemed like he had somewhat missed an opportunity that in the early 1950s he was fast-tracked to being a prominent Democrat in Washington, but he had somehow not played his cards right and now he was 40 years old, not sure which way to turn.

He was doing some acting at the Cirque Theater in Seattle (see RL154), which was a little Avantgarde and it was in a neighborhood that in the 1960s was considered transitional and remained so until very recently, and now it is very expensive, in the great Operetta of America, but at the time he was in this theater company that did a very excellent job of brining national and international theater people to perform in Seattle. This was pre World’s Fair.

John’s dad was in a play with Rita Moreno in 1959 and he characterizes himself… he never said that he shot down a Japanese Zero with a .45 pistol, he only claimed to have shot at a Japanese Zero (see RL34), and he left the conclusion of that engagement to our imagination. But he implied pretty strongly that he was going out on some number of romantic dates with Rita Moreno. This was also a transitional period between getting divorced and meeting John’s mom, right in this same area if 1959, going through changes.

It was the Mad Men era where everybody was really well-dressed. At one point he was wearing a pencil mustache. He went on ”some” dates with Rita Moreno and one night he was escorting her out of the front door of the theater on their way to a date and a man stepped out of the shadows and it was Marlon Brando who said: ”Rita! Make you an offer you can’t refuse!” and Rita left with Marlon Brando, dashing John’s father’s hopes.

This story is not verifiable by searching the archives that are currently on the Internet, except that The Cirque Playhouse will confirm that Rita Moreno was in a production there. She is still very active on Twitter, just like Toni Tennille, and you wouldn’t think that she is just one kiss away from Roderick on the Line, but it turns out that she is. John follows Toni Tennille on Twitter. She has a good autobiography and she is trodding the boards as a book author.

John started to write a tweet to Rita Moreno along the lines of: ”Dear Rita Moreno! My dad says that he maybe… he never said that you guys necked in a parked car, but that you went on some dates. Here is a link to the rest of this tweet!”, but he didn’t send it because it throws his dad under the bus.

There is a chance that she will read that and say: ”Ah, Dave Roderick! I haven’t thought of him in years! Of course I remember your father! He played the role of Tony Randall in our hit show at the Cirque Theater in Seattle in 1959!”, or she may not reply or she may say: ”Sorry, don’t remember anybody by that name!” and John doesn’t want to throw his dad under the bus because you don’t want every one of your stories fact-checked after you are dead.

Marlon Brando and Ria Moreno did have a torrid affair according to the Internet, but he cheated on her so much that she tried to take her own life. There is a very cool picture of them in bed together. From his dad’s story, John always put together a picture that they already had a long history, probably from treading the boards and also from sexy times, which is a kind of board treading, but Marlon Brando stepped out of the dark, Rita Moreno was not expecting him there, and if you would have asked her what she would do if Marlon Brando stepped out of the shadows, who was a very handsome man in the 1950s, she would have said…

Marlon Brando in the 1950s is not the Marlon Brando you have in your head right now. He helped upset an idea of sexy male masculinity in a very interesting way, because he was really good-looking, he was really masculine, but unlike James Dean, the guy with the jacket and the automobile accident, he was vulnerable, he was forever young, he had sensitivity, and you wouldn’t rule out that he could be bisexual. People didn’t have a name for that except some pejorative ones. Sal Mineo was in that James Dean movie. ”Take him!” He had drug-problems later on. The bisexuality was a thing in New York City that was maybe even chic. David Roderick was a great man, but you would not want to see Marlon Brando come out of the shadows while he was trying to make time with Rita Moreno.

It says on the Internet that a 22 year old Rita Moreno met the 30 year old Marlon Brando in 1954, a long time before this. This doesn’t seem like Rita Moreno’s voice, but the New York Post, a paragon of journalistic integrity, quotes her: ”To say that he was a great lover, sensual, generous, delightfully inventive, would be gravely understating what he did not only to my body, but for my soul. Every aspect of being with Marlon was thrilling because he was more engaged in the world than anyone else I have ever known.” Merlin totally believes that. ”Possibly as an outgrowth of this, he had insatiable sexual needs which he unabashedly pursued with droves of other women. He broke my heart and came close to breaking my very spirit with his physical infidelities and - worse - with his emotional betrayals”

Yet, she couldn’t resist him and left John’s dad standing Adjacent to the Shadows, which would be a great title for an autobiography, if you are going to tread the author boards. That is where the story ends and John’s dad did not follow up what happened the next day when they had to do this play, or if this was the last he ever saw her. John has no idea how this continued, and the Internet is intentionally mute on the subject.

In the same article Rita references being looked up and down by a predatory animal who spotted his prey and paralyzes it with that look, and later one she sees that same predatory animal in Life Magazine and it turns out that it was John F. Kennedy. After Marlon Brando he dated a very disappointing Dennis Hopper and then Elvis. In addition to EGOT she also had relationships with Elvis, Marlon Brando, and potentially John’s dad. John’s dad was not lascivious, he wouldn’t go ”wink, wink, nudge, nudge!” That was the Dennis Hopper and the Elvis of the 1950s, it is a whole different scene than the fat Elvis stamp. Even in the 1968 comeback it was amphetamines again, but it doesn’t read as such.

John hoping that his archivist will fact-check all of his stories (RL225)

John hopes that his archivist goes about trying to fact check his stories because that will be the subject of a documentary film when that dubious person, Jonathan Dubious after his death says: ”Huh, this can’t all be real!” and then finds themselves little by little be more and more astonished that it all checks out until their jaw is on the table. There is all kinds of stuff John left out because it didn’t seem plausible and they will find out that the stories were undertold they are going to be ashamed of themselves.

Merlin thinks that somebody might be getting started with this right now. Maybe somebody comes in, gets the lay of the land, and gets some briefings with John, and he can walk them through the cigar boxes and the cowboy boots. Maybe John should be interviewing people for this! The question is if John is going to be able to pick his own. Merlin has been watching The Crown on Netflix and Winston Churchill didn’t like they guy who painted his portrait and how the portrait turned out.

Would John need somebody who is not on board with everything? Does he need a skeptic to come in? Should they know where the cowboy boots are? Or should they just discover it on their own after John’s death? John is afraid that anybody he is going to hire right now is going to want to be engaged in the project for reasons that will diminish their capacity to say: ”Wait a minute!” because they are too credulous right now. It has to happen later!

Fact-checking in journalism, digging down, is going to be very fashionable in 25-30 years in the same way that vinyl is fashionable now. It is going to be an anachronism, some young hipster is going to say: ”Back in the old days journalists took a critical eye, trying to get to the bottom of things! That is what I am going to get into! This is going to make me really cool! I am going to get into this journalism!” There are probably a lot more things that are more interesting to investigate than John, but maybe one of them wants to be the most obscure journalist.

The Alexander Hamilton biography begins way before that person was born, while the great Albert Goldman biography of Elvis begins with Elvis being fitted into a corset and getting his diarrhea medicine before he goes on stage, along with Speed, which sets the stage for the Elvis you are going to get, but most biographies start a long time before. We learn about Alexander Hamilton’s grandparents long before we learn about him, and in John’s biography there has to be some solid David Roderick material.

Soundbreakers documentary, The Wrecking Crew (RL225)

Imagine you could have superband with Scotty Moore and Count Basie, you get some tasteful people in your band, who else would you bring in that band to have the world’s most tasteful backup band for John Roderick? Hal Blaine! Imagine the patience of that man! He had a lot of problems and he had to sell his awards, but just having to go through all of Phil Spector and Brian Wilson making a beat with their mouth and saying: ”Do that! Now change it!”, just sitting in the room while Brian Willsen does 400 takes.

Those stories are so great! Like in the documentary The Wrecking Crew. They would just show up and there would be dozens of people in the room for 4 hours over and over, and sometimes nothing because Brian wanted to find out how to make it sound like a fire engine, or he sat and and learned to play the theremin.

If John had Hal Blaine and Carol Kaye at his leisure, sitting in chairs and smoking cigarettes, with her wearing those little cat-eye sunglasses and Scotty Moore and Steve Cropper playing the guitar, if you had The Wrecking Crew at your disposal, that is a pretty good band! Why stop there? Maybe Donald ”Duck” Dunn playing second bass or Tom Petty? Why not have the whole thing recorded by George Martin or Nigel Godrich?

Last night John discovered the documentary Soundbreaking and he has been watching three episodes right in a row. It is so good and not just another talking heads music documentary. Why are there not billboards in Times Square for this? Why do we have to keep watching Kevin James make more material? John is not opposed to him, but he produces a lot of culture, disproportionate with his objective value. He has a new TV show where he sits on the roof of his house in a lawn chair and plays a blue collar guy with a suspiciously beautiful wife and in the subways in New York there are posters for his new movie where he is an implausibly overweight assassin. John is going to sell this in a room: CIA assassin who now is a mall cop.

In this documentary they interviewed literally all of the giants of popular music and the script for it is just this seamless, beautiful… Merlin’s friend (Jason Snell) does a podcast with TV-critic Tim Goodman called TV Talk Machine and when George Martin is involved you can find some pretty fucking amazing video footage nobody knew existed, but also: The canny way that it is not the usual: ”Okay, now let’s talk about Glam Rock. Now, let’s talk about New Wave. Now, let’s talk about Blues.”, just the stuff about Bessie Jones! Every person has a thought on this thing and you start to see pretty fairly how the pieces fit together.

Roger Waters is a very difficult person, but he is was so gracious in this and out of nowhere he said that when they first played Sgt. Pepper all the way through on the radio, Pink Floyd were on tour in a van, and they pulled over to the side of the road to listen to the entire album on the car stereo and were blown away and said: ”What do we do next?” You hear all the time that it was a very influential album, but here is Roger Waters and 1968 Pink Floyd. It is theatrical music, it is theater, and yet it is also Pop music.

The theme that keeps coming up because it is very George Martin-y and that certainly reaches its apex with Steely Dan is the concept of making music that you can’t play live. Sgt. Pepper is not meant to be something where we go to Shea Stadium with no monitors and yell really loud, but there are things happening that can’t actually happen, even with a real band.

Aside from 700 wonderful moment, John’s take-away was watching Nigle Godrich who was no older than the Radiohead bros, and he was just in the studio with them and they are just doing their thing, and the collaborative feeling of making a record with somebody where it also feels like they have all the time in the world, and they are a member of the band, not a thing where you say: ”We only have 3 more hours and then we have to wrap it up because there is another session in here!”, but we are in here until this gets done.

There is the voice episode where Adele does her Adele thing. Merlin watched that one twice. The Christina Aguilera thing felt a little bit contrived, but the first time he was really moved and it reminded him of John and his philosophy of: ”This is not Hound Dog (song by Elvis). We are not going to do this 42 times!” Even if it was massaged a bit, that was such a great bit. Linda Perry is a hitmaker! The story of her wanting to redo her first take the entire time that they were recording and then settling on the last one, and after one minute shutting her off because it was not as good as the first one.

John wasn’t able to see The Voice all the way through because his room mate in his hotel room in New York City asked him at 4:30am to turn that down after watching 3 straight episodes of it on the hotel television on PBS. John just lucked into it after switching through the channels, watching procedural crime dramas and autopsy photographs. Merlin was watching them in the PBS app. John came upon episode 1 in the first minute and three episodes later he heard that voice: ”Can you turn that down?” and John’s first reaction was: ”You have no idea what I am watching here!”

For many years, within the music business, it has been fairly understood knowledge that Christina Aguilera is the hardest working singer in the game. It sounds amazing at first, you think she is just super-talented and a young diva who got some cup of tea over here, she works for an hour and then tells you to fix it in the mix, but everybody says that she is a perfectionist who works harder than anybody else in the room. Linda Perry is very outspoken and she has done a lot of amazing work in the music industry, but she also has neck tattoos and an unusual hat, and that is what divorces John from Farrell a little bit. Ben Harper was also wearing a hat in that episode.

Ben Harper (RL225)

Merlin doesn’t know more about Ben Harper than his name. He is now a member of the H.O.R.D.E. tour culture (Horizons of Rock Developing Everywhere), somebody within the John Mayer school of greasy dentist office music, like the band Train. It is not offending middle-aged people who are getting their teeth cleaned, but it is also trying to rep that it is either Rock or Blue in some real ”This is the Blues!”, but it is not.

Ben Harper is almost exactly the same age as John and his first record came out in 1992 and it was really good, he was a young guy playing lap steel at a time when nobody was playing lap steel, and it had these good tunes on it and was being played in all the cool Seattle cafés, it felt like this guy was doing something nobody else was doing and it was very authentic and these were good tunes, like with the first Lenny Kravitz record where people said: ”What is this guy? He is even better than Terence Trent D’Arby!”, but as time went on they picked their culture and it is not what you think their culture is going to be, or maybe their culture picks them.

How Modest Mouse got chosen by their audience (RL225)

In the 1990s when Modest Mouse in Seattle was a very cool young, Punk-y weird band doing some weird stuff. Isaac Brock would buy the cheapest guitar he could find with a whammy bar, he would take the whammy bar off, and he would put his hand under the floating bridge at the back of the guitar and would manually whammy the bridge with the butt of his hand. John was at the show that was the turning point for Modest Mouse when they were playing the Crocodile Café and they expected their usual audience of 240 people.

What came was not their usual audience, but it was a sold-out show of 350 people and the additional 100 people were all wearing white baseball caps backwards and Modest Mouse looked from stage as horrified as John was in the audience. Who were these guys? It was the bros who had discovered Modest Mouse and they came to where there formerly had been no bros, and the next time Modest Mouse played, the 240 people that had been following their career up until that point were gone and in their place were 900 bros and off they went. That was their career now and you could tell they didn’t want that. You don’t get to pick your audience.

John wonders if that didn’t happen to Ben Harper where one day there were all these Dave Michaels there and you got to play for the people who are buying the tickets. The Lonesome Crowded West (album by Modest Mouse) came out in 1997, that is the first one Merlin owned. The one before was on Dub Narcotic (record label). They were on ”K” (record label) They did everything right and everybody liked them. They were quirky and they were really good and they made some recordings that never came out that are owned by one of John’s friends and that still sit on his shelf on tape. When they were 19 years old they were literally sniffing glue, and that feels very authentic, you are not doing that to be cool.

Smoking, Amyl Nitrate, Nitrous Oxide (RL225)

The last time Merlin was in New York it felt like everybody was smoking and now in San Francisco if you are smoking you might as well be masturbating into a bank. It looks like: ”I am so sorry! I have 10 minutes and I am really stressed out!” New York really just doesn’t care. John remembers when smoking was first outlawed in Los Angeles and there were all these bars. It used to be very fashionable in Los Angeles to turn the lights down in a bar so low that you felt like you were in a catacomb and you couldn’t really navigate this social space because everybody was in shadow. John was Rock’n’Roll, but he was not that comfortable to be in a room with 300 people he couldn’t see because of darkness. It would have been okay if he couldn’t see them because of smoke.

When smoking was first outlawed in Los Angeles there were all these bars that decided not to enforce that and suddenly smoking was not just cool by the normal amount, but in addition it was also illegal. That was just a very brief period because people realized that they were Los Angeles and they were consuming 40 avocados a week per capita, which is a lot of avocados and that is one of the reasons for global warming. 90 million people in LA times 40 avocados, that is 3600 avocados, easily! There is not the kind of journalism that we used to have, and the smoking is not helping.

John is looking at Sniffin’ Glue on the Internet. Merlin says you don’t see Locker Room and Rush like you used to, which are Amyl Nitrates. There would be Poppers, but Merlin would just get a bottle of it and snort it right out of the bottle. For years he heard that Amyl Nitrate was the drug that you would use in a gay bar, and you would go to a sex shop and pay $5-8 for a bottle of Rush and you could snort that. Merlin used to do a fair amount of that, you could keep it in your glove box.

John’s sense of Amyl Nitrate was that you would do it right as you were orgasming, talk about jacking off in a bag! It is like being on Coney Island. You could pretty easily get that into a concert, you could keep it in your car, and if you smoked a Doobie, you would have lots of smoke and stuff, but with Locker Room you could get super-high for 90 seconds and you get a little headache and it goes away and you do it again.

The inhalant of choice in Alaska at the time was Nitrous Oxide. Merlin thinks that has made a comeback because he can find a lot of Whippits on the street. In Alaska they would go to the the party supply store, pretending to have a party for their High School, and buy a canister the size of a fire extinguisher, and you could screw on an adapter that would allow you to fill up balloons and that is what they would do. Merlin would use punch balloons that you could buy at a head shop, they called it cracker, a bespoke item that looks like brass knuckles, where you would stick the little whippit in and you had a kid’s punch balloon attached to it. It was a classic ugly drug paraphernalia.

No-one was hip to Amyl Nitrate in Alaska, they were too busy doing Nitrous. It is a wonderful high and John highly recommends it if you have never tried it. Merlin’s friend introduced him to Nitrous Oxide in Dancing to Siouxsie and the Banshees and he never looked back. John was listening to them the other day. Imagine having the 12” of Cities in Dust (Merlin sings the line ”oh your city lies in dust”), the long version, and doing some Nitrous! It makes you want to masturbate in a bag! John is thinking about it, he lived it.

Nitrous Oxide is very good with the classic era of British Heavy Metal. It can also be nice when you are super-high. John used to drink Mountain Dew with it, but as time went on he said that Mountain Dew was for kids, but Dr. Pepper was a sophisticated drink because it is an old world drink. An old man is going to order a Dr. Pepper in a Soda fountain, but nobody is going to oder a Mountain Dew. If you order Mountain Dew in the Appalachians you might get some moonshine. Merlin thinks it might be namespace pollution and there might be a lot of things called Mountain Dew and you want to be really careful what you order and from whom. If you ask a guy for Mountain Dew in the pan handle in San Francisco you might get a sheet of blotter acid or he might urinate on you or urinate in a bag and then hand you the bag.

When you are watching a movie in the Speed or Rushed genre where some young people are driving some fast cars, like Gone in 60 Seconds, all of those racer movies, they often have a bottle of Nitrous Oxide as a performance enhancer where they shoot nitrous into their engine. They call it NOX. Evel Knievel has given talks about this and he has said that you don’t want to be doing drugs, that is like doing pure nitrous. In one of those movies when the nitrous button gets pushed, the person who gets into the lead at that moment is not going to win the race!

Nitrous acts similarly as a power enhancer for other drugs like Marijuana and you are going to get more stoned. They are not advocating drugs. Merlin’s marijuana is not your marijuana! You buy that fucking crazy-ass marijuana, but forget it! Merlin had that stuff maybe once in his life, the Chronic, the Matanuska Thunder Fuck.

John went into a pot store the other day for the first time, although he doesn’t belong there because he hasn’t done any drugs in 20 years, but he was there with some friends who visited Seattle. John’s friends were looking at all the things you can buy like bubble gum, bubble yum, bath salts infused with pot, face cream, or condoms. The jury is still out if that bath salt is the face eating kind, but the face eating was in Tallahassee (actually Miami), but there was another one recently where a young Trump supporter freaked out in Florida and ate someone’s face. The drug is called Flakka.

John really liked his 1980s Dance records. The Panflute guy was Gheorghe Zamfir, the self-proclaimed master of the pan flute. It is not like River Dance / Lord of the Dance where clearly Michael Flatley is the Lord of the Dance. Did the Queen call him that? As the Lord of the Dance you should be in the House of Lords. Merlin still has one episode left of The Crown. Merlin has heard Michael Flatley is a boxer and you don’t want to fuck with that guy. Does he stand in a clearing?

Watching tap dancing on YouTube (RL225)

The final performance of River Dance from 1996 is available on YouTube and Merlin and his daughter watch this twice a month. It is breathtaking. It is stunning! The line could be a little bit straighter, but give him credit! They have been at it for years. Merlin had been a bit burned out on that because it had been in TV commercials for years, but then he he finally watched it on YouTube and realized that this was pretty good. Also the lady who is dancing with him looks like she smells good! Rita Moreno probably smells good, but she doesn’t clop-dance. She has been dancing in West Side Story (1961 movie).

John was in YouTube for whatever reason and he saw a Broadway-esque show where a group of contemporary tap dancers and a group of river dancers had a dance-off West Side Story style where they were had some kind of beef and then said: ”Oh yeah? clop-a-di-clop-a-di-clop!” Top-dancing with a lot of Hip Hop shadings and River Dance in an Ireland urban dance style, like ”This is just what we do in Ireland!” when things get a little rough in Belfast.

Merlin thinks it was probably not a Northern Ireland thing, but a Regular Ireland thing. It was a very entertaining show with some Savion Glover style zappa-di-dappa-di-dap and for a brief moment in the middle of the show you realize that there is similar talent required to do both of those styles. As the show progresses the tap dancers cannot help themselves and just school the Irish dancers although the show was supposed to communicate that those two forms of dancing were the same, but the tap dancers were 1000x better dancers.

As soon as John realized that tap dancing was superior to all other dance he went down a tap dancing rabbit hole. Gregory Hines brought tap dancing forward and there is a lot of footage of the old masters of tap and they all have different styles. He is paying respect to those old masters and they were all 75 when Gregory Hines was 30. He is the Ricky Jay of tap dancing. There is some show where a bunch of these guys at 80 years old are doing a tap battle against each other, talk about charming! John watched it and he got pregnant! These are complicated times!

Siouxsie and the Banshees, English 1980s bands (RL225)

Siouxsie and the Banshees become more important to John as time goes on, but he doesn’t know how that is true because he liked them, but they were a sub-Cure. Merlin wasn’t a huge fan, Cities in Dust was the first songs of theirs that he got into before he went back and heard the other stuff. They were in a weird place from an American standpoint because she is famous for being an original Punk, also Robert Smith was in the band for a year when he took some time off from The Cure. Were they Goth? Were they Dance? It is kind of weird. They were such a perfect fit for England, but in America they were neither fish nor fowl, unless you were a superfan.

Many of those bands that most people might know from one hit song not only have many more songs that you might not have heard, but those musicians were in other bands before, like Tubeway Army, or The Tourists, all this great music that never surfaced in America…

Gary Numan and Human League and Eurythmics were all on John’s side of the line that he drew in the sand and that he dug, a line of seriousness and somehow. Even though Flock of Seagulls were really derided at the time for their silly hair, John always included them on his side of the line, he accepted and enjoyed those bands even though he was quiet about it, whereas Depeche Mode, Thompson Twins, or ABC, John was not on their team and he was against it for whatever reason. Merlin likes ABC. Siouxsie and the Banshees were over in the Depeche Mode category where he couldn’t quite bring it over. He was really into Duran Duran, but he didn’t like Spandau Ballet.

Urgh! A Music War (RL225)

The movie Urgh! A Music War was very important to Merlin. His friend taped it off Night Flight or HBO probably in 1983. You could see what The Go-Go’s looked like before they were The Go-Go’s. Merlin mentions some bands from the lineup, such as OMD, Magazine, Go-Go’s, The Fleshtones, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, X, XTC, Devo, The Cramps, Oingo Boingo, Dead Kennedys, Gary Numan (doing a Tubeway Army song), Klaus Nomi (first exposure to him), Wall of Voodoo, Pere Ubu, Steel Pulse, UB40, Echo and the Bunnymen, and The Police.

The Police, Devo, The Go-Go’s, and Wall of Voodoo were already known for something in America, but it was Merlin’s first exposure to The Cramps and the first time he ever saw Dead Kennedys. None of these bands have that much to do with each other, other than nobody else at Merlin’s school knew them. When Steel Pulse came out and they did KKK //(song by Steel Pulse) and came out in the robes, it was such a stunning movie. It was just a concert movie with shows in London and Los Angeles, but what is this? What is happening? John recommends people to push play on that movie right when Merlin hits the bell.

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