Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, June 24, 2004


A few nights ago, hanging out in the alley behind our house, talking to neighbors, our next-door-neighbor told this story.

“When I was a kid my family used to go on vacation in Florida, and my parents would drive all night to get there from where we lived in upstate New York. My sister and I would sleep in the back of the station wagon, and when the sun came up my dad would play the music from 2001 A Space Odyssey over his CB radio and wake us up.”


Last night walking home from the late night trip to the supermarket, I stopped in the neighborhood bar for open mic night, the same neighborhood bar where 6, 7 years ago I played regularly. A man was improvising on a small stick that lay across his mouth, tapping it with his fingers and changing the shape of his mouth to get different tones. He was drowned out by a motorcycle starting up outside. Everyone cracked up and he stopped playing, to a hearty ovation. “Duet with a Harley -- I never know when to stop anyway. Now I’m gonna play ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky.’” And he did, on jew’s harp. The melody came through, and I think it would have registered with me eventually even if he hadn’t told us. Afterwards I asked him what the thing he was playing before “Ghost Riders.”

“Oh, it’s a clackamore,” and he showed it to me, a 2-pronged wooden thing with no handle, with a thin flexible joint to make it easy to clack the prongs together.


A few weeks after publishing the 50 greatest rock-and-roll artists of all time, Rolling Stone’s current list is 50 great moments in rock-and-roll history. I was happy to see Carole King! In her Brill Building girl-group songwriter savant phase, but still it was nice. And ‘90s boy bands! Not Britney, but her ex-boyfriend, Justin, when he was in NSync. I didn’t read the articles, just looked at the pictures.


Once at a pep rally in high school, the cheerleaders started doing some peppy cheer, and me and my mean nerd snob friends started booing, and soon the whole gym was booing. I am not proud of this.

I thought of this in trying figure out my animosity towards people who say in a self-evident manner that Britney sucks. (I wrote about this on June 16 and 17.) Maybe it reminds me of of a shameful episode from my youth, and the reminder makes me mad.

I need to let it go. 10 years ago or so I bumped into one of the cheerleaders in a bar in my hometown, and she was perfectly friendly. A very sweet person, actually, and always was; nerd boys like me just resented her back in the day for being pretty, or for being a cheerleader, or for being “popular,” or for bestowing her affection on some “unworthy” athlete, or all of the above.

When grown men continue to act this way, I just need to learn to ignore them. My problem is, some of them are prominent music critics, or music bizzers, or professors, and I can’t help myself from taking them seriously, just as Rolling Stone magazine -- and the Oscars too! -- always disappoint me. (“How could they not give an award to ‘The Cradle Will Rock’?!?!?”)

I need to let it go.

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