Guns & Roses

You Spin Me Right Round Baby Right Round

Forgive me dear blog friends, it has been far too long since my last post and I am totally willing to binge-watch season two of both Catastrophe and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as punishment. (Since I have already finished Catastrophe this is going to one of the easiest penances ever.) For the last couple of weeks a local radio station has been asking listeners to send in their top ten essential albums. Essential to me means like the top ten records you would want to have with should you get stranded on a tropical island yet miraculously still had access to electricity or bucket loads of batteries to keep your Walkman powered up. I came up with a list but then I forgot my password and trying to remember what it could possibly be, or even resetting it, seemed like far too much work, hence this post.

Sometimes I feel a little sorry for the kids of today. They have no idea about one of the greatest ways ever to listen to music and no I am not talking about vinyl. Vinyl is the craft beer of music to hipsters and while I appreciate it, and still listen to records occasionally, my all-time favorite audio delivery system was and always will be the humble cassette. I loved just about everything about cassettes, their size, their portability, the familiar hiss and the sheer joy of spending hours on the floor in your bedroom, just you, a turn table and a couple of tape decks making the best mix tape ever. Sure you can make a mix CD but it is just not the same kind of DIY experience. Yes the tapes got eaten up by mean decks every now and again but unless the tape was completely torn apart you just needed a good ol’ number two pencil and some patience and that baby could be back up and playing sweet, sweet tunes in no time.

So here are the top ten essential albums I would have posted on the radio website if I cared enough to reset my password. These are the albums required for me to pass the time alone whilst stranded on a tropical island. FYI: I would also need some decent sunscreen, non-toxic bug spray and plenty of weather appropriate clothing because in my mind this is not some sort of wacky Naked & Afraid kind of scenario.

Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen: I have to be honest, I have not seen the Boss in concert since the 80’s and I am fine with that because I saw him many times up until Born in the USA came out which was about the same time all the dumb shits like Chris Christie and Tim Pawlenty started to be fans. Twenty years later when they found out Bruce was a progressive they were like what?? And I was like umm, have you ever listened to the words to ANY of his songs? I thought not. BTR was one of my most treasured record purchases ever and will definitely be coming along for the ride.

Horses, Patti Smith: Growing up in the 70’s there were not a lot of female artists to look up to that were not of the folksy variety. Patti Smith showed me and lots of others that girls could be punk rockers too and for that I am eternally grateful. The album cover photo by Robert Mapplethorpe is stunning and so was Patti. Interestingly a couple of years later she had her one and only “hit” song (Because the Night), which was penned by the Boss himself. Patti is not only a musician but also an accomplished artist, poet, writer and world-renowned cat lady. She is my spirit animal.

Appetite for Destruction, Guns & Roses: Not gonna lie, I am a rock chick through and through. When Appetite came out I was working in my first grown up corporate job with a bunch of middle-aged moms and ex-frat boy sales dudes. To say that I did not fit in is an understatement of epic proportions. Every day when I left my suburban office I got in my car and blasted GNR the whole way home. Don’t ask me to defend Axl Rose for any of his abysmal behavior throughout the years because I can’t but if I am going to be stuck on a tropical island without cocktail service (can there be cocktail service, pretty please?) then I am going to need to release some steam somehow.

Hysteria, Def Leppard: When I got my new car (that is no longer at all new), the one thing that I missed from my much beloved Accord was the tape deck. And in that terribly missed tape deck there was a cassette that had been in there for years, and years, and years, and it was this one. Hysteria was 80’s pop metal at its finest and I will fight anyone to the death who says otherwise. There was nothing like cruising around one of Minneapolis’s beautiful lakes at night, moon roof open, blasting a little Animal and remembering those times will help while away the time waiting to be rescued.

Don’t Tell a Soul, Replacements: I loved the ‘Mats like mad. I went to their shows whenever I could and even when they were bloody AWFUL (which often was the case) they were still ten tons of fun and twenty times better than the bands that were getting all the attention/money at the time. I only ever bought one of their albums (again, cassette) and that was part of the problem. Their fans did not buy their music and despite Paul Westerberg being on many critics BEST SONGWRITER EVER lists at the time, they made very little money. Don’t Tell a Soul has both I’ll Be You and Aching to Be on it, two songs that pretty much guaranteed Westerberg’s inclusion in the rock lyricists hall of fame. I will think of this often while listening to my cassingle of Alex Chilton.

Disintegration, The Cure: Robert Smith, he of the hair that has never seen a comb and proud graduate of the Whatever Happened to Baby Jane school of lipstick application. You were and still are my favorite depressed Brit (with Morrissey being a very close second). Pictures of You, Lovesong and Fascination Street are just three of the great songs off this one. When I am feeling sad and lonely on the island I will pop this baby in and pray desperately for a search party.

Nevermind, Nirvana: Remember how in my Appetite for Destruction listing I talked about working in suburbia with people I had nothing in common with? This came out during that same time period. I loved Nirvana from the get-go, finally music that I liked was not only getting airplay and attention but also making money. I specifically remember coming to work the Monday after Nirvana was on Saturday Night Live and all my co-workers were talking about was how awful they were and all I could think of was that I had to get the hell out of there stat. (That and the fact that they were moving to a suburb even further away, but the Kurt Cobain derision makes for a much better story.)

Rocks, Aerosmith: I grew up in a suburb where the houses were close together. The kind of place where you needed at least two people’s front yards to play baseball, three if someone was really good at hitting or the outfielder was really bad at outfielding. I went through a pretty severe Steven Tyler phase, I thought he was the BOMB and I played this record non-stop. So much so that my next door neighbor once told me that he never had to play his because he heard mine blasting through the window all the time. You are welcome ex-neighbor boy.

Seven Travels, Atmosphere: Hip hop is not my thing generally but there are a few exceptions and Atmosphere is one of them. My favorite song on this one is a hidden track Say Shh and when I am alone on that island I am going to be playing this one on repeat because of lines like “Minnesota is dope” and “I’m from Minnesota, land of the cold air” which is something I will probably be missing after all that time in the heat. (But then again probably not.)

Frosting on the Beater, Posies: There is almost nothing better to me musically than a perfectly crafted pop song. The Posies were one of the many underrated and overlooked bands of the 90’s who deserved so much better. I was torn between this and Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend but the Seattle boys won out. There is not a stinker on this album anywhere and when I want to belt out a song or two for me and the monkeys to play air guitar on it will probably be one from this album.

Would any of these albums be on your list? What records would you choose to be stranded on an island with? Let me know in the comments!

 

November Rain

One of the few side benefits of not tottling off to an office five days a week is how very clean and organized your house can be when you have little else to occupy your time. All that pent-up energy you used to spend on work things can now be spent on house things, all the projects, big and small that have been piling up because you were either too busy or too tired to care about them when you had a job. In the past few weeks I have taken on cleaning tasks that would make Martha Stewart (or the people who actually do the work for her) proud. I have straightened out every closet, dusted ceiling fans, scrubbed floors, cleaned windows and taken the dishwasher apart, in other words I have become my mother. This Suzy Homemaker vibe was so strong it even extended to my garage, a place the child that I used to take to school in the mornings told me was “very messy“. (For the record I am a very clean and neat person, but there are a couple of areas where I let my not-at-all-neat-freak flag fly, and one of those happens to be the garage.) On more than one occasion she even offered to send her dad over to straighten it up for me, not sure if he ever knew that because I never took him or her up on the offer.

I decided to do it myself because in addition to being on a major life-cleaning and purging mission, I was also on a quest to locate something from the past that I knew was in there, somewhere. The 80’s were known for a lot of things like skin-tight Guess jeans, really bad perms, cassette tapes, Bartle & Jaymes wine coolers and rain lamps. You know those lamps with the pseudo Venus de Milo statue (but with arms) surrounded by plastic greenery and crisscrossing strands of fishing line that tiny drops of something trickled down? Rain lamps were swank and elegant in a trashy 80’s kind of way and my mom was the proud owner of one she bought back in the day at Montgomery Ward (RIP).

I was pretty sure it was somewhere in my “very messy” garage, the question was where, and then once located, what kind of shape it would be in because it has been in there for at least a decade. After filling a garbage can with useless crap and finding more than a few things that I have been looking for for years (hello expensive pruners and skate blade protectors), lo and behold there it was, behind a Sharper Image elliptical machine that hadn’t been used since the Bush years. It was sealed in a box that was a little bit water damaged because it was sitting directly under an air conditioner but other than that looked pretty gosh darn good. My mom had promised this little slice of ’80’s heaven to my niece when she was little and now that she’s all grown up with a proper career and an apartment of her own in NOHO, she was looking to collect on her inheritance.

Despite being sealed in a box it was still a bit dusty in that dirty, clumpy, kinda suspiciously looks like spider eggs way. Thanks to my deep love of all things Charlotte’s Web, I am not in any way an arachnophobe but that doesn’t mean I want to go out of my way to encounter a bunch of spiders either. I grabbed some paper towels and started to clean it as best I could before putting it on my counter, just in case any little Charlottes were still around. I plugged the cord with its annoying chain into an outlet and hoped for the best.

Let there be light!

Success! I did not even have to search in vain for a tiny little lightbulb because the one in the lamp still had some lumens left in it. What wasn’t happening was any sort of rain action. I remembered back in the day that it took a while for the rain to kick in but also figured after ten plus years any sort of oil that had been in there had probably dried up long ago. According to my Google research, they stopped selling the original oil but you could order something similar online or use mineral oil. Since I am an immediate gratification kind of gal I went with the mineral oil, which only took me going to three stores to find. Good thing I have lots of time on my hands because if I had a job that lamp might have stayed in my garage for another ten years.

According to rain lamp experts, you pour the oil into the bottom, the amount varies depending on the size of the lamp. Per instructions, I poured the mineral oil in until the pump sound changed. If there still was no precip happening you could add more, which I did and then decided to wait, and wait and wait some more, a trait I am not generally known for.

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Snoopy McSnooperson decided he liked the taste of mineral oil and proceeded to lick all the fishing line and the fake shrubbery. I was just about to unplug the lamp in defeat when tiny drops of oil rain started down one strand and then another strand and the next thing you know it’s pouring and somewhere an old man is snoring.

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Now I just need to figure out how to remove the oil so I can ship this shining example of 80’s decor to its rightful owner. Of course another big thing from that era was over the top music videos, the more absurd and self-indulgent the better. Guns & Roses, a band known for both, gave us this gem and while technically it came from the 1991 stylistically I say close enough.