Princess Anne Curates Your Spotify List

28 Nov

[Still] Celebrating her individual title at the European Eventing Championship in 1971, the princess gets us started with a magnificent choice: “The Stallion pt. 2” by Ween. Many fans, aware of the princess’s long, successful career as an equestrian, were surprised with this one. Most of the comments we received from our listeners pointed to the music of Megan Thee Stallion as the natural choice for a decorated equestrian like the princess, but she surprised even us, here at WKOS, with her whimsical pick of this Ween tune. We came across the weirdness that is Ween sometime in the early 90s whilst indulging in a wobbly combination of watermelon infused for 48 hours with 190-proof Everclear and a hefty spliff that was being passed around the Halloween party we were attending. Thirty years later, we cannot stop laughing at the insanity of this song. Remember, kids:

1. I can drink,
2. I get groomed.
3. I go for a walk.

I AM the Stallion MANG!

Next up we have “Overcoming the Self” by Brian Glyde. Read what you will in the princess’s choice of song here, you wanna-be psychotherapists, but we think that the smoove, cotton-candy-sweet sounds of Mr. Glyde on this particular track is a beautiful segue from the horsey weirdness that precedes it. We, here at WKOS, love all of Brian Glyde’s releases and are very much left perpetually longing for more music from him. Glyde works in relative obscurity, releases songs very seldom, and never promotes them. Coming across a new Brian Glyde release in the web-o-sphere is very much like happening upon a patch of magic mushrooms in the middle of a quiet, lonely forest. That luscious sax solo (and outro) gives “Careless Whisper” a run for its slick money. It does.

We’re continuing the dance party with George Duke’s “Shine On.” The princess seems to have a knack for groove and rhythm, and she doesn’t disappoint with her choice here. Looking around the studio, we can’t see anyone standing still. Even our curmudgeon king, Lazlo the Engineer—who would rather be drawn and quartered than move a limb in sync with a drum beat—is up and around, holding his right ankle whilst hopping on his left leg in some macabre version of the Elaine Benes dance. In the handwritten liner notes for “Shine On,” Princess Anne would like us all to know that: “It has a good beat. And you can dance to it.”

We’re headed out on a long flight to the Land of the Rising Sun to meet up with Masayoshi Takanaka’s “Sexy Dance.” Once again proving that vibe and groove are the only gods she prays to, Princess Anne gives us this studio gem from 1977. If you ever catch this tune live on the myriad platforms available out there, take a few minutes and listen to the mastery of Takanaka. He often employs legendary American studio musicians on his recordings; people like various dudes from Toto, drummer extraordinaire Bernard Purdie, that bass player god from Steely Dan, and so many others. The princess lets us know that on this particular track, Patrice Rushen (“Forget Me Nots”) is playing the Rhodes piano. How’s that for a special guest. Go ‘head now . . . do your sexy dance, you fabulous sovereign you!

Hard turn now, coming straight outta . . . well, not Compton. But maybe left field. The princess turns us up now to hard rockin’ and headbangin’ with Judas Priest’s “Living After Midnight.” This one, off their British Steel album (of course), may or may not indicate the princess’s personal mantra in life. Or just her preference for when to really get business done. You know, Princess Anne has been called the royal family’s “trustiest anchor” and “a beacon of good old-fashioned public service,” having carried out over 20,000 engagements since her 18th birthday. Secretly we were wishing she’d submit “Breaking the Law,” but we’ll admit it would have lacked subtlety or intrigue. Rob Halford and the rest of the Judas boys were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. They rocked out a medley of their big hits and sounded just as glorious as in those Heavy Metal Parking Lot days of mushy, watery salads and stale bread.

Well? How low can you go? Nah, it ain’t limbo, baby, it’s Anthrax with Public Enemy “Bring [ing] Tha Noize” to all of us. And what a magnificent entry here to continue the mayhem. In her liner notes provided with this track, Princess Anne reminds us that the House of Windsor has been bringing tha noize since 1917, although back then “tha noize” was mainly being brought by the BL 15-inch Howitzer artillery guns working their magic on the battlefields of France. But anywaySSSS, should you feel like doing a bit of tha moshin whilst enjoying this here little ditty, please wear appropriate footwear, spiky accessories, and protective headgear. Princess Anne is known to be quite a ferocious stage diver herself, having pulled a glute muscle and sprained an ankle during a colossal dive off the Live Aid stage at Wembley in ’85. For all you documentarians and music trivia heads: she flew off into the sea of people during Nik Kershaw’s “Wide Boy.” (No big deal.)

Ah, now. We’re slowing it down with Lana Del Rey’s “Venice Bitch.” This is a nice turn-down from all the crazy, neck trauma gyratin’ we’ve been doing the last 10 minutes or so. Princess Anne writes that, while she’s never been to Venice Beach, it remains as one of the top 5 places to travel on her Bucket List. We don’t really know why, unless she digs dudes and dudettes pumping iron on the sand, surfing, or hangin’ ’round the oul’ stompin’ grounds of the Z-Boys. We’ve been to Venice Beach during our brief tenure in Los Angeles in the early 90s and we can say that the place ain’t really for us. In any case, back when we were spinning records for WMMS-The Buzzard in Cleveland in the early 80s, we used to call songs like this our “Sh***er Song” because of its long running time. It allowed us to take care of nature’s calling with enough time to get back, select the next record, and work up some useless banter in between tunes. Back then, our go-to Sh***er Song was Iron Butterfly’s “In A Gatta Da Vita.” At 17 minutes, it runs almost twice as long as Lana’s song but still . . . we believe 9 minutes is enough time for a well-organized, professional DJ to take care of off-air business.

While we’re catching our breath from Lana’s exquisite, sultry work, let’s Take 5 and pay some bills. See what I done there? We’re building this list in small blocks, a few tunes at a time, so go fold your laundry or prep for dinner while we run these insufferable ads, disclaimers, and station identification cues. We’ll be back in a few with more of Princess Anne’s curated choices for your killer Spotify list. And as she loves to say: Keep ’em here. Keep ’em here!

Re-ducks

27 Nov

(It’s no longer summer so we’re not doing reruns.) [comma needed after “summer”]

In a warm, large dining room there, across the street, someone is looking over a menu on a phone in her palm. The server stands by the side of the table, not too close, back slightly bent, scanning the side of the wall against which the table is pushed. There had been a flying something on the wall for a split second and before it could be identified, it disappeared. The visual trail of that flying something remained plastered against the vertical surface for a few nanoseconds, and the server standing, waiting for the order, had caught it. It was something similar to a vapor trail that formed and then quickly shredded its cloud cone, disappearing from the ether. The server waits, paints on a Sunday-morning smile that’s been honed over hundreds of similar Sundays. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, as well. Thousands probably.

(At another table, next to the bar:)
How Do You Talk To A Window?
No, darling, I think you’ve misread it. It says: “How Do You Talk To A Widow?”

Only, it’s not “darling” that comes after the “No.” It is something else. The man looking across the street into this entire dining room tableau flexes his memory to figure out what they say nowadays after the “No.” “Darling” is something out of the 40s. 50s. 70s. “Darling” is only for the movies now. The old movies. What do couples use now as terms of endearment.

?

There’s a cop on the beat that approaches the man looking across at this restaurant scene—something out of that Hopper painting of the inside of the Automat. The woman resembles the one in the painting, but instead of pensively looking at a cup of coffee, this woman has been updated to the new version, scrolling the menu choices on her phone. Strange days, these. They connect to the vapor trails of the past. Somehow.

Also, there are still cops on the beat?

This one does not swing a billy club. This one does not wear a military-like, wool, blue, full-length coat with epaulets on the shoulders and golden buttons running fully North-South on its front. No cap either.

You OK, buddy? Only it’s not “buddy” that comes after the “OK.” It’s something else. “You OK, buddy?” is also something out of the 40s. 50s. 70s. What do cops on the beat say now in place of “buddy.” What is the beat.

?

You alright, [buddy?] The light’s been green five times now, the cop scanning for fissures in the construct. It’s OK to cross. You know that, right? On green though. You know that. Right?

It’s no longer summer, so we’re not doing reruns. [note: the printed word “reruns” looks a lot like “menus”]

What’s that, says the cop on the beat and spies the 6 numbers tattooed on the man’s forearm.

I was noting that it’s no longer summer.

That’s right, [buddy]. Good job. I just meant that. The cop on the beat points to the numbers inked on the arm. The man is too young to have been a Holocaust survivor.

Oh. Oh, I see.

You see: 16  69  25

This is my old telephone number, the man scanning the inside of the Hopper painting now. The server is gone. The table by the bar has been abandoned by the darlings. And the woman from the beginning of all this is left alone to scroll and swipe continuously on her phone.

Your old telephone number, huh [buddy?]

It is. It’s the old number from the old country, redux.

The cop on the beat hears “reduce/d” and feels a momentary thread of empathy for the slightly confused man standing at this crosswalk through endless cycles of green-red-green-red with an incomplete telephone number forever tattooed on his left arm.

Way-ell, you might be short a couple a digits there but it’s OK, says the cop on the beat. Come on, [buddy] I’ll help you cross, if you want. I’ll make sure you’re safe.

Inside the dining room, the woman flicking through her phone has put on a black leather glove on her left, non-scrolling hand.

It’s ice-cold, she says through the window out to the cop on the beat and the man with the reduce/d phone number on his arm, both of whom are now slowly traversing to her side of the block. They look like wounded trench buddies at Verdun going over the top of the parapet.

Well, sure, the man answers. It’s no longer summer.

So we’re not doing reruns, says the woman inside the Hopper piece.

Graveyard Tourism-Some People Dig It

14 Nov

In August, 1977 (the summer Elvis died infamously on the commode pumped full of pills), my parents decided to pack up our little Dacia 1100 and go on a country-wide, whirlwind tour of Romania’s several dozen historic monasteries and churches. The plan was to try to hit at least two houses of God per day and spend the night either with the priests/nuns at the last venue of the day (for a donation, naturally), or, if there wasn’t any room, to literally go ’round and knock at peasants’ houses and see if they could put us up for the night—for either a fee or a fair exchange of some of our goods that we’d brought just for this purpose. The goods were mainly chocolates (Almond Joy, Snickers, Milky Way) that my mum was able to bring along from the U.S. Embassy convenience store, which sold everything you can ever imagine. Mum worked as a Romanian civilian in the Economics and Trade division of the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest and was allowed to purchase a certain amount of whatever she wanted from the commissary each month.

This story or experience really deserves its own post, because the month-long trip was truly fascinating (we brought our Siamese, Petey, with us as well, and his misadventures and sly Houdini-like escapes truly deserve their own multi-part series), but this piece is not about that trip, interesting as it may have been.

This trip is about visiting cemeteries. On purpose. One of our stops, in between all the Orthodox churches, was the Merry Cemetery in the northwest village of Sapanta. This graveyard was one of the highlights of my trip ’round ye oul’ mother country that summer of ’77, even at that young age of 8 when, you can just imagine how excruciating the car rides were riding boxed in by various holiday detritus, including Petey’s cage next to me on the back bench. Petey, it should be noted, was really the one who made the rides hellacious because he was severely car sick. So he literally yelledmeowed, moaned, hissed, threw up, pissed, and shat in that carrier the entire month that we dragged him along in the car. Never mind that there was no Internet, I couldn’t even concentrate on reading my Jules Verne books I’d brought. Again, a story for a different piece.

AaaaanywaySSSSS, as you can see by the link for the Merry Cemetery, the place was a riot. The stories on the colorful tombstones of the people buried—how they lived, and especially the manner in which they died—were often full of whimsy and at times just downright hilarious. The writers of Six Feet Under have nothing on the ways in which these poor people met their demise and how it was documented. As an aside, let me say: no one, NO ONE has better jokes about death and suffering than Eastern Europeans. Hands down, no one. The gallows humour is fantastic. Tragedy and horror aside, watch what wonderful jokes the Ukrainians will be telling in the years to come. Four decades of communism sharpened the Romanian sense of humour to such a fine, sharp point that it still pierces today.

But fast-forward 45 years to October 24, 2022 when I came across an article in the Washington Post about cemetery tourism here in the U.S. It’s not just a “thing,” apparently; it’s a highly popular thing. There are cemetery hoppers who sometimes hit nearly a dozen graveyards per day. There’s even a name for these not-so-accidental tourists: taphophiles. See? Live long enough, learn all sorts of cool things. Well, I suppose live long enough and you get to stay out of these restful joints. So you can read about them.

For these intrepid taphophiles, cemeteries are not just your solemn, final resting places for people no longer with us or even fertile ground for the resurrection of zombies and various other horror stories or B movies. They are relevant destinations that combine the art and history found in museums, the flora and fauna in some of our greatest parks, and the pop culture and fandom of celebrity-home tours. Think about Jim Morrison’s iconic final resting place in Paris and all the graffiti, flowers, anonymous notebooks of poetry, and Gaad knows what other junk people continue to leave there.

And then there’s Woodlawn Cemetery and Conservancy in the Bronx, New York. Jazz aficionados come here to reflect (I hope) upon the graves of Miles Davis or Duke Ellington. People who are interested in women’s civil rights trek out here to pause at Carrie Chapman Catt’s or Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s grave. But lately, Woodlawn has seen an influx of taphophiles cum TV fans of the HBO show “Gilded Age.” I don’t watch it, but apparently all the characters are buried here.

Are you a taphopile? There are almost 145,000 burial grounds in the contiguous United States. In 2018, Joshua Stevens, a cartography and data visualization expert working at NASA’s Earth Observatory mapped out each and every one of these burial grounds. There are, as you may imagine, many other blogs and sites online that pinpoint the location of cemeteries in the States. I’m sure you can find them on your own.

I think I may be one of these types of tourists, although I’ll say I’m not an active card-carrying member. After the Merry Cemetery in Romania, for various reasons, I ended up visiting a handful of graveyards (thanks to my ex-wife who loved anything and everything New Orleans, including its famous resting places with their wonderful sun-dried mausoleums) in my life. I don’t actively seek to travel to them, but if there happens to be a cemetery anywhere near where I find myself at a particular time or on vacation, I don’t mind swinging by and having a look. It’s nice and quiet, and I can always use either of those two. Especially if they come in tandem.

Before I go, I will tell you a story that may be worth hanging around here for a bit longer. Sometime in the mid-1980s, while living in a town called Greenbelt, Maryland, smack in the middle of the short corridor between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., a buddy of mine and I—both of us huge Edgar Allan Poe fans—decided to stake out his grave in Baltimore one night. There had been a strange ongoing thing happening every year on his birthday (January 19) since the 1970s. Someone would leave a bottle of cognac on his grave in the dark hours between midnight and dawn. This someone was never spotted. No one had (or has to this day) ever come forward to claim the honor. But we knew this was happening every year, the night of Poe’s birthday.

And so Jay and I decided, that frigid January night in 1987ish (sorry, exact year eXcapes me) that we would fortify ourselves with some strong spirits, grab a box of Garcia Y Vega Swisher Sweets, and stake out Poe’s grave overnight to try and solve this mystery once and for all: Holmes and Watson at your service! All was going well, except it was beyond frigid and windier than the Mistral in November. We, as you can imagine, were two typical young idiotic teens from the 80s, clad in pork pie hats, long trench coats, and Doc Martens. Think Ducky from Pretty in Pink. This . . . lack of preparation, naturally, necessitated many swigs of the blackberry brandy bottles we had brought to keep us warm. But also this constant imbibing to keep the blood flowing, naturally, had a hard-hitting effect on us by about 2 or 3 in the morning. We passed out fell asleep an hour or so before dawn, with nary a bottle of cognac in sight.

It’s a wonder we did not end up like Jack Torrance, but there it was. Someone was smiling down upon this New Wave Beavis and Butthead duo that night and decided to let us go on living, perhaps curious as to what other idiocy we would conjure up later in our lives (and oh there’s plenty of that, for sure). Upon slow awakening/thawing, we both focused our teary eyes down onto the grave. Which now proudly displayed a bottle of Courvoisier.

You can imagine the amount of cursing, stomping, and blasphemous name-calling that ensued and lasted seemingly for hours. As well as hilarity. Our plan, so perfect: foiled. The both of us: two wet, foolish cats with our tails between our legs. But hey . . . we got to tell a pretty fun story into our later decades at various gatherings. No one ever found out who it was that was leaving the booze on Poe’s grave. And then one year it just simply stopped. There hasn’t been any cognac on Edgar’s final resting place since . . . I’m tempted to say maybe 1995ish.

We always wondered what the cops did with the booze; it was always the Baltimore city police that liberated the libation. We never pegged the Po-Po for having a distinguished enough palate to enjoy the cognac. They probably mixed it with something, the gotdamned Philistines. Or sold it under the table.

But where was I? Oh yea, go visit yourselves a graveyard soon. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s getting nice and cold (in some places), and what better place to hang with a pint of smoky bourbon than a cemetery. Bundle up, don’t be like Jay and me. And don’t expect any ghosts. I mean, really . . . why would they hang around the joint where they’ve been buried. There are so many other more fun places to haunt.

Boo!

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