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music friday: dave mason, "look at you, look at me"

In 1969, Boz Scaggs, who had left the Steve Miller Band, recorded a solo album in Muscle Shoals. The centerpiece of the album was Fenton Robinson’s blues song, “Loan Me a Dime”, which went on for 13 minutes and included some red-hot guitar, with the last 4 1/2 minutes being a jam featuring the Muscle Shoals gang and guest guitarist Duane Allman. Funny thing is, the name “Duane Allman” meant little to me at the time. The Allman Brothers had yet to release their first album, Layla was still on the horizon, and while Allman was already a session man of note, that didn’t make him famous to the general public (i.e., me). Meanwhile, Scaggs had recorded two albums and a soundtrack with Miller, and there was some red-hot guitar there, as well, most notably on “Your Old Lady”. I added all this together and decided that Boz Scaggs was a red-hot guitar player. It took me awhile to realize it was Steve Miller playing those hot licks in his band, and Duane Allman who famously laid down the solos in “Loan Me a Dime”.

(Odd tangent about “Loan Me a Dime”. The one thing that always bothered me was that Allman’s guitar was buried in the mix … he’d be wailing away, and you’d hear the organ vamping louder than Allman. Some years later, I heard it mixed “properly”. I just checked Wikipedia, and sure enough, it was remixed in 1977 to bring Allman’s guitar to the front, just as I always wanted it. If you hunt down that Boz Scaggs album now, you’ll hear the remixed version … the original isn’t available. Except on Duane Allman: An Anthology, which came out in 1972. So if you want to hear Allman’s guitar buried in the mix, you have to listen to Allman’s album.)

But this is supposed to be about Dave Mason. Mason was an on-again, off-again member of Traffic, and in June of 1970 he released a solo album, Alone Together, which drew immediate notice because the vinyl was like multicolored marble. The last song on the album was “Look at You, Look at Me”, a mid-tempo shuffle with Mason’s usual serviceable, somewhat inscrutable lyrics. There is a fine guitar solo in the middle, and then, at the end, comes a three-minute solo that blows just about any guitar solo you’ve heard out of the water. I wish I had the words to describe it. It’s not complex, drawing on repeated figures, but everything is perfectly placed, and the flow is psychedelic. In fact, I have always said the solo personifies the psychedelic experience to me more than any music I’ve ever heard (and I spent more than one session on acid listening to it).

I was listening to it the other day, and decided I’d make it this week’s Music Friday entry. So I went surfing the Internet to gobble up trivia on the song, thinking I might even find Mason commenting on the solo. What I found was a lot of praise … I’m not the only person who loves that solo. But I also found a rumor that I had never heard: that Eric Clapton played that second solo.

The notes are the same, I don’t know why it even matters. But this floored me, nonetheless. That wasn’t Dave Mason playing my favorite psychedelic guitar solo?

After a few more days on the Internet, I’m willing to say with some certainty that Mason does indeed play that solo. The style isn’t much different from the solo in the middle of the song, and the kind of fluid phrasing sounds more like Mason than like Clapton, whose style is more stinging to me (I don’t have the right vocabulary for this). I saw Mason in the mid-70s, and his guitar work was fine, although I don’t recall him playing this song. (I saw Clapton a few years earlier, and to be honest, Mason’s show was better.)

Well, let’s get to the song. First, I’ll post an example of Clapton’s work at the time. Then, when you hear “Look at You, Look at Me”, you can decide who plays what.

And “Look at You, Look at Me”:

m (fritz lang, 1931)

I wrote about this in the first year of the blog:

I just watched M again, and as always, Peter Lorre is so magnificent. You want to make fun of him ... if you're of a certain age (like, for instance, MY age), you can do a Peter Lorre imitation, and he's mostly a joke. But he was a great actor, and in M, even when you know his big scene is coming, and even when you think you're going to laugh, once he starts in, you're taken in once again, with simultaneous pity and horror at this sick child murderer.

I read his bio on the IMDB, and found this anecdote especially good:

“During the Hayes Commission investigation of 'reds' in Hollywood during the late 40s, Lorre was interviewed by investigators and asked to name anyone suspicious he had met since coming to the United States. Lorre responded with a list of everyone he knew.”

Watching it again (it was #68 on my Facebook Fave Fifty list, i.e. it didn’t quite make it), I realized how it was an early example of a police procedural. I may be the last person to figure that out. The long sequence where Lang crosscuts between the police and the criminals as they plan their varying approaches to catch the murderer might be a bit of a cliché, except I don’t imagine it was one in 1931. By giving the criminals equal time with the police, Lang anticipates series like The Wire. Ultimately, though, it all goes back to Peter Lorre. The most recent Criterion Blu-ray includes the English-language version, which is mostly a mess, but Lorre did his own dialogue, so you can watch his big scene in English.

There’s an old-time radio show starring Lorre that fascinates me. It was called Mystery in the Air, and the version with Lorre aired in 1947. It featured Lorre narrating and starring in dramas based on classic works by Poe, Dostoyevsky, and the like. John Dunning, in his invaluable reference book On the Air, describes what a session of the show was like:

Lorre delivered intense, supercharged performances of men tortured and driven by dark impulses. He stood alone at a center microphone, raving and wildly gesticulating, while supporting players worked at a second mike facing him. By the end of the half-hour, he was sweat-drenched and drained. Costar Peggy Walker recalled that once, in the heat of the performance, Lorre threw his script into the air and watched helplessly as the pages fluttered to the stage. Some quick work by the cast and judicious ad-libbing by Lorre got them to the midway break, at which point the script was retrieved and put into order.

Here is the final segment of the Mystery in the Air version of “The Black Cat”:

Meanwhile, M is #46 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time. 10/10.

leaving high school

“There’s no reason why, at the age of 60, I should still be listening to the Allman Brothers,” Steinberg says. “Yet no matter how old you are, the music you listen to for the rest of your life is probably what you listened to when you were an adolescent.” Only extremely recent advances in neuroscience have begun to help explain why.

It turns out that just before adolescence, the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that governs our ability to reason, grasp abstractions, control impulses, and self-­reflect—undergoes a huge flurry of activity, giving young adults the intellectual capacity to form an identity, to develop the notion of a self. Any cultural stimuli we are exposed to during puberty can, therefore, make more of an impression, because we’re now perceiving them discerningly and metacognitively as things to sweep into our self-concepts or reject (I am the kind of person who likes the Allman Brothers). “During times when your identity is in transition,” says Steinberg, “it’s possible you store memories better than you do in times of stability.”

-- “Why You Truly Never Leave High School” by Jennifer Senior

My teenage years were filled with the Beatles, the Velvet Underground, and Astral Weeks. I like to think my musical tastes have gotten broader as I got older … I used to get admiring laughs from students at Cal when I would demonstrate the difference between funk and disco by playing “The Big Payback” by James Brown … but I’m kidding myself. In my post-adolescent life (i.e., adulthood), my musical favorites have been Bruce Springsteen, punk, Prince, Sleater-Kinney, and Pink. Springsteen was famously called rock and roll future, but he was always far more a compilation of what came before. Punk felt revolutionary, but the music was a return to roots. Prince could do anything, but ultimately, he was Sly and the Family Stone with Hendrix sitting in on guitar. Sleater-Kinney were riot grrrls, to be sure, but by the time they met their hiatus with The Woods, it was clear they were indebted as much to Led Zeppelin as they were to Bikini Kill. Pink has offered wonderful covers of Led Zep and Queen and Janis Joplin … when I saw her at the Fillmore, she fit right in. I haven’t strayed too far from my teenage roots.

As I type this, I’m listening to “Live with Me” from Let It Bleed by the Stones. It’s part of my never-ending project/playlist, “FM”, with close to 3,000 tracks that were played on “underground” radio in the late-60s. (Coming up on the playlist: Jefferson Airplane, Beatles, Quicksilver Messenger Service.) This is my go-to playlist when I want to listen to comfort music. (There is nothing “comforting” about songs like “Inside Looking Out” by the Animals, but the ambiance they suggest is comforting.) It’s perilously close to nostalgia, which I hate in myself.

So I suppose it makes me feel better to read Jennifer Senior’s article and find that it’s not nostalgia, it’s neuroscience.

I want music to matter to me. Music in general mattered when I was a teenager, by which I mean I had favorites (Beatles, Velvet Underground, Yardbirds, Astral Weeks) but the integration of music and life was truly important (which is why my comfort playlist isn’t focused on a particular artist, but on the FM radio stations that got me through those years). I was 22 years old when we first connected with Bruce Springsteen, and that’s been a constant ever since. And there have always been others who mattered more than most: Dylan, Lou Reed, the Clash, Prince, Hüsker Dü, Sleater-Kinney. When S-K went on their “hiatus”, I suspected that I had experienced my last love affair with a musical artist. I was too old to crank it up all over again. Since then, I’ve seen Wild Flag three times and the Corin Tucker Band twice, but that’s not moving forward. I’ve seen Pink four times, with a fifth coming this fall … she’s easily the artist about whom I obsess the most these days, outside of Bruce. But I always feel like an observer in Pink’s universe. It’s not like with Sleater-Kinney, where somehow even a middle-aged guy like me felt a part of a community.

I spend a lot of time ranting about the evils of nostalgia, and get cranky at people who quit enjoying new music after they reach a certain age. Perhaps I should look in the mirror.

what i watched last week

Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978). I saw Badlands when it came out, and thought it was a nice first picture. I saw Days of Heaven when it came out, and thought I probably wouldn’t bother seeing any more of Malick’s films. He didn’t make another movie for twenty years, so it’s not like I was missing anything. Somehow, as time passed, I ended up seeing every movie Malick has directed (with the exception of his most recent). Watching Days of Heaven again, I saw that there was more to it than visual beauty, which is progress of a sort. In general, I admire Malick for his ability to make the movies he wants to make, but don’t much care for the final products. Since his first two films of the 21st century were my least favorites so far, I tend to think poorly of him, and it’s very annoying that people who love his movies act like anyone who doesn’t agree with them is a moron. One thing is indisputable: Malick’s 1970s movies ran just over 90 minutes, while his movies since his comeback have all been well over two hours (with The Thin Red Line approaching three hours). I’m of the opinion that a little Terrence Malick goes a long way, which may be why I feel kinder towards Days of Heaven than I do towards The New World or The Tree of Life. Still, The Thin Red Line was the longest of his movies, and I liked that one OK. I’m glad I took another look at Days of Heaven. There are a few breathtaking moments, Linda Manz is excellent, and Richard Gere is perfectly cast … he doesn’t do anything, so he doesn’t get in the way of Malick’s visual compositions. Obviously, a movie this gorgeous should be seen on the big screen, but it also serves as a great advertisement for Blu-ray … the Criterion disc does the film justice. #131 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time. 7/10.

music friday: jeff davis

Among the many pleasures of reading Roger Ebert’s memoirs came from the way he could tell a story about someone you didn’t know, and make them just as interesting as a Martin Scorsese or a Gene Siskel. It helped me realize that it’s the storyteller that counts, not necessarily the subject of the story. We read Ebert’s memoirs because he is famous and he knew famous people, but a memoir about people who weren’t famous would be just fine in the right hands.

Last night, we enjoyed a meal at Pizza Moda. I mentioned them last month, how we had loved going to Fellini, a restaurant in the same location that eventually closed down, and how Pizza Moda is run by Jeff Davis, the same person who ran Fellini.

When things aren’t too busy, Jeff will sit and talk for a few minutes, asking how the food was, just checking in. On this occasion, he seemed fascinated by our story: high-school sweethearts at 15, coming up on our 40th anniversary. When he disappeared for a moment, I started telling my wife about “Rampage of Songs”, an enjoyable three hours of music hosted on Facebook by Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls. Each Friday night at 10:00 New York time, Syl starts posting YouTube videos in DJ mode, while listeners around the world follow along. He’ll play anything from Bo Diddley and Bobbie Gentry to Sophia Loren and Suzi Quatro. And, of course, plenty of Dolls music.

Jeff returned to find us talking about Sylvain Sylvain and he said, “New York Dolls”, to which Robin quickly replied, “We love the New York Dolls!” He seemed to find these kinds of details about our lives endlessly fascinating. As we walked to the car, Robin said we ought to find out more about him, because by this point, he knew a lot about us. I pointed out that you can find him on the Internet, which I don’t mean in the same way as “you can find me on the Internet because Google will serve up my blog”. Jeff Davis is not only a restaurant king, he is a musician with an interesting history of his own. Which leads to this week’s Music Friday.

Here is “3 Cards” from a 1987 album by The Balancing Act, a mid-80s band with a deceptively folky sound. Most of their songs were written by Davis, although they had covers of such diverse acts as Captain Beefheart and Funkadelic. While I’m not sure about “3 Cards”, a lot of their early recordings were produced by Peter Case, who had played with the Nerves (“Hanging on the Telephone”) and the Plimsouls (the immortal “A Million Miles Away”). In this video, we see Case driving a car … his passenger is Victoria Williams, another legend (I think Case and Williams were married at the time).

Here’s a video from a reunion show the band did in 2011:

The band’s final album was produced by Andy Gill, which led to another “no way!” moment one night when I told Jeff I’d seen Gang of Four live in 1980. (That show deserves a separate post. It was at the North American Indian Center in San Francisco; three tracks from that show ended up on an anthology, A 100 Flowers Bloom.) (Actually, that show already got a separate post, back in 2006!)

And, as a bonus, here’s the Plimsouls with “A Million Miles Away”:

life itself

Roger Ebert’s recent death prompted me to read his 2011 book, Life Itself: A Memoir. When it comes to film critics and memoirs, I’m with Pauline Kael, who is quoted at the top of this blog: “I’m frequently asked why I don’t write my memoirs. I think I have.” Roger Ebert reviewed thousands of films, and taking that enormous body of work alongside his television appearances, we might be forgiven for thinking we already know the man.

There is very little in Life Itself about specific movies; it’s not a compilation of reviews. He writes a lot about movies in general, though. There are chapters about Russ Meyer, Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum, John Wayne, Ingmar Bergman, Martin Scorsese, and Werner Herzog. These chapters are very much in the memoir tradition, in the way a traditional movie review is not.

But the majority of Life Itself goes beyond movies, offering a picture of Ebert that isn’t part of his film writing. It’s not that a Pauline Kael (or a Steven Rubio) had no life outside of her film writing. But she injected so much of her self into her reviews that over time we got to “know her”. Ebert certainly used a personal style in his reviews, but with Life Itself, he wants to record what his life was like when he wasn’t reviewing movies.

Which is why, as we reach the 12th chapter, we’re still only up to high school. By then, we’ve already learned a lot about growing up in Illinois in the 40s and 50s. Ebert has specific memories of his past, and he trusts those memories (perhaps more than he should). His experiences, related to us via his fine writing, are interesting in a generic way, by which I mean it’s not crucial that we’re reading about the childhood of a famous man. We’re reading about an American childhood.

This is followed by several chapters about college, and the period just after he graduated. By chapter 20, we’re knee deep in the life of a journalist at the tail end of the “Front Page” era. Ebert is a fine raconteur, and his tales of people, famous and not, are fascinating.

Things proceed in a roughly chronological pattern: a Studebaker he loved, Gene Siskel, his marriage to Chaz (she’s present throughout the book, Ebert sees everything through her eyes, even the decades before they met), all the way to his 50th high school reunion. Outside of an odd tendency to repeat himself, these are all delightful to read, again whether the subject is something about which we know (his partnership with Siskel) or something about which we are clueless (I had no idea Studebakers were ever considered anything but a joke). He finishes with three chapters that form something of an elegy, as if he wanted to be sure to get it all down before he died and someone else’s version became public. Just before that, though, he includes a chapter about Studs Terkel, because after all, if you knew Studs, you’d be remiss not to spend some time on his life. He calls Terkel “the greatest man I knew well … the most widely and deeply loved man I ever hope to know.” Studs belongs at the end, alongside the passages about the end of life, because he exuded so much life, himself.

I think people would enjoy this book, even if they didn’t know much about Ebert’s film work. But for those of us who followed him right up to his last years, when he became King of the Internet, Life Itself is more than an interesting memoir about an interesting man who knew interesting people. It fills in gaps we didn’t know existed, adding depth to his legacy. Perhaps Kael should have written those memoirs, after all.

top of the lake

In 2013, it’s hard to know when to write about a TV series. The first time I ever said anything about TV on this blog was January 8, 2002. In one post I noted that a new Buffy episode would be on later that night. (Thanks to the Internet, I can look it up and find that it was Season Six, Episode 11, “Gone”.) I also mentioned 24, which had the seventh episode of the first season that night. In a separate post, I briefly announced that I had just finished watching Season One of Sex and the City (we didn’t have HBO in those days, so I assume this was on DVD). That would have put me three seasons behind. Those two posts established the two primary ways of watching TV shows: live, or after the fact. TiVo was introduced in 1999. We didn’t get a DVR at our house until December of 2004. So in the early 2000s, the only way we could catch up with old shows was via DVDs.

Now, of course, there are DVDs, and streaming, and On Demand, and DVRs … there are a lot of ways to watch TV shows, so many, in fact, that fewer and fewer people watch them when they are actually aired. (And, I imagine, fewer people pay for access to premium channels when they can just wait for the Blu-ray.) At first, this use of “time shifting” allowed you to watch an 8:00 show at 9:00, or a Tuesday show on a Wednesday. (And, of course, you could fast-forward through the commercials.) Now, though, it’s common for people to wait until a season is complete, and then to pig out on an entire season over the course of a weekend, several months after the show has aired.

So, when do I write about a TV series? When it’s on? That’s what I used to do, and what I mostly still do: a post when a season begins, another when it ends. I’m not one for weekly recaps (I read them, but I don’t write them). I’m also a spoiler-phobe, so I try not to include spoilers when I write.

But how long does the spoiler rule last? I’m always telling people to catch up on Rubicon, or Lights Out … those shows have been off the air for a while, am I supposed to avoid spoilers in case someone actually takes me up on the suggestion and watches them? (Not that long ago, Nathan Fillion tweeted a joke that was also a spoiler for Firefly/Serenity. He got chewed out, but, as he noted, the movie was from 2005 and the TV series from 2002.)

Top of the Lake was a classy Sundance mini-series (in the U.S., anyway … it was a co-production with the BBC, and with UKTV in Australia and New Zealand). It starred Elisabeth Moss, featured Holly Hunter in what ended up being almost a glorified cameo, and a lot of other fine actors I didn’t recognize (most notably Peter Mullan, writer/director of The Magdalene Sisters). Here’s a spoiler for you: in a real cameo, Lucy Lawless turned up in one episode. The entire production was created by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee, with beautiful location shooting in New Zealand. The final episode aired last night; today you can already stream the entire series on Netflix. Which means, if I convince you it is worth watching, you can catch up this weekend.

Here in the States, Top of the Lake was compared to The Killing, another detective series with an unusual setting, dark secrets, a very good pilot, and top-notch acting from the leads. Sadly, The Killing went astray (not for everyone … the third season is about to start, so someone out there is watching), resulting in some of the harshest criticism I’ve ever read for something that got such positive reviews in the beginning. Top of the Lake doesn’t stick around long enough to go astray, which is a point in its favor. But the truth is, Campion and Lee have such command of the material that they were never in danger of wandering off. Holly Hunter’s character is a kind of guru to a commune of women, and their scenes aren’t always clearly connected to the rest of the narrative, but they make thematic sense, and it all comes together in the end, anyway.

Moss plays a detective with a few secrets of her own who becomes obsessed with a case involving a missing, pregnant 12-year-old. The series brings together a lot of common elements without ever quite letting us know how common they are … you think you’re watching something entirely new, but in retrospect, you recognize much of what goes on. The troubled detective from the small town where the crimes take place, the town where everyone knows everyone and everyone has something to hide, the red herrings and the red herrings that turn out to be on target, the sympathetic police officer … it’s all familiar, but in a different location and with a different feel.

While all of this goes on, there are undercurrents about power and gender and violence. Top of the Lake doesn’t rub this in our faces, the way a killer-porn show like Criminal Minds does. It takes its time, it gets its points across, all the while keeping the mysteries intriguing.

Elisabeth Moss is great, and if you only know her from The West Wing and/or Mad Men, you’ll enjoy her even more. I have a few quibbles about the conclusion, but it often seems that a story with deep and interesting characters getting involved in deep and interesting events fails us at the end. Perhaps it’s because the journey is so good, we don’t want it to end, so any conclusion feels forced. Grade for series: A-.

by request: 42

Since my sister and her husband moved out here from the East Coast, we’ve occasionally taken in a movie. It was Paul’s turn to choose, and so we found ourselves watching 42 on its first day in the theaters.

My feelings about 42 were quite similar to my feelings prior to seeing On the Road, or watching the ubiquitous previews for The Great Gatsby. Did they cast it properly? Did they do right by the story? Did they screw it up?

To answer the last question, no, they don’t screw it up. Most of the casting is fine. It’s fun to see real historical figures portrayed in a fictional movie (Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher!). There are moments that threw this Giants’ fan off for a bit: Ralph Branca is one of the good guys who treats Jackie Robinson right, but the minute he shows up on the screen, I hear “THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!” in my mind.

The problem lies in what my brother-in-law said afterwards: it was a typical biopic. Why anyone expected something different is to the point. I had gotten myself worked up about seeing the Jackie Robinson story told in a new way, when it should have been obvious what was coming. A series of events are selected to stand in for various points the film makers want to make. In almost every case, those events follow the same pattern: Jackie faces racism, Jackie doesn’t fight back in an obvious way (usually after a pep talk from Branch Rickey), Jackie beats his opponents by showing them up on the ball field, and on to the next example of racism. It is all quite uplifting, Jackie Robinson defeating the forces of racism because he has “the guts not to fight back”. The way 42 tells the story, racism in America was on its downward slide the first time Jackie stole a base.

Obviously, this is crowd-pleasing. We settle into an enjoyable pattern where Jackie defeats the racists because he’s a great baseball player, with each victory a feel-good moment for the audience. This upbeat tone is framed in part by the narrow time frame of the story. We don’t see Jackie’s formative years, we meet him when Branch Rickey decides to make him a Dodger. We don’t see Jackie in his life after baseball. We only see a sliver of his baseball career, for that matter. The movie ends with the Dodgers winning the 1947 NL pennant (feel good) rather than the 1947 World Series (feel bad: the Dodgers lost to the Yankees, with Jackie going hitless in the deciding game).

This is all understandable. Why wouldn’t they want to make an upbeat film, one that might win awards given its subject matter, but also one that might succeed at the box-office as well? But, since it’s a typical biopic, it is ultimately unmemorable, just like all the others. In the moment, it seems better than it really is; in the future, it will seem overrated. Chadwick Boseman and Nicole Beharie, who play Jackie and his wife and whose scenes together are the best part of the movie, will hopefully get more good parts, and we’ll think back to when their careers were just starting. But 42 is not a classic, nor is it intended to be a classic. For a classic might not be so upbeat, so intent on pleasing the audience, might not be as successful at the box office.

42 is safe, which is ironic, given how frequently in the film we see Robinson safe after yet another stolen base attempt. There is no attempt to stretch beyond the boundaries of the biopic genre, no attempt to break free from the formulaic structure. And since Jackie Robinson’s introduction into the major leagues was anything but safe, it’s rather sad to think how much 42 is lacking in danger.

The final credits add a disturbing coda. We are told that the “good guys” in the film were successful (Robinson, Rickey, and Pee Wee Reese all ended up in the Hall of Fame, Rachel Robinson started the Jackie Robinson Foundation) while the “bad guys” were not (virulent manager Ben Chapman was fired by the following season). It’s just one last feel-good moment, but it leaves a bad aftertaste, for it suggests that racism is behind us now, that thanks to Jackie Robinson, baseball was integrated and America, seeing the light, was no longer racist. I’m sure if Jackie was still alive, he’d have something to say about that. 7/10.

music friday: more giants

Last week, I highlighted music associated with the Giants for Opening Day. I’ll continue that theme now, featuring some of the music you hear at the ballpark. How about some walk-up music?

Batting leadoff, Angel Pagan:

Batting second, Marco Scutaro:

In the third slot, Pablo Sandoval:

Buster Posey, cleanup:

Batting fifth, Hunter Pence:

Sixth, Brandon Belt, who doesn’t seem to have a walk-up tune.

Seventh, Gregor Blanco:

Brandon Crawford hits eighth:

And pitcher Barry Zito at the bottom of the order:

And the song they play the moment another win is in the books:

history meme

A meme that actually teaches folks something. At least it did for me, when I read Batdina’s contribution. So I asked her to include me … she chose the age 45:

I lived in the same house I live in today. We moved here in 1987; I turned 45 in 1998. I have lived here longer than any other place in my life (my parents bought a house when my mom was pregnant with me, and I lived there for the first seventeen years of my life, but we’ve been in this house for 25 1/2 years).

I drove … I don’t remember. I’m guessing we had two cars, and one was a Buick Le Sabre. The other was a Honda or a Toyota or something like that. This was only 15 years ago … I can’t believe my memory is failing me here.

I was in a relationship with my wife. We had our 25th anniversary just before I turned 45. I’ll attach a few lo-fi photos from the party we had for our 25th anniversary party. (And if you haven’t heard about our 40th anniversary party, which comes in about a month and a half, let me know … there’s a general Invite on Facebook and Google+, but I know those miss some people.)

I feared everything. It would be another seven years before I finally went on meds. As I once told my wife, “I hate air”.

I worked at Cal as a lecturer in the American Studies program. I’d finished my dissertation and received my Ph.D. the year before. At 45, I was directing senior theses in American Studies. In the spring of 1999, when I was still 45, I taught my final courses in the Cal English department: American Literature 1900-1945, and Post-WWII American Literature and Film. In the summer of ‘99, just as I turned 46, I taught an American Studies course on America in the 1980s.

I wanted to be an underachieving goof-off. I leave it to others to decide if I’d reached my goal, then or later (or always).

Want to meme? Tell me how old you are, and I'll pick a random age for you to remember.

Here are a few pix from our 25th anniversary party:


robin et al