PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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Card Reading Etiquette

When an unknown voice at the other end of the line asks for your credit card number for some sort of purchase you’re about to make, do you ramble it off in one long stream-of-consciousness flow of numbers, or do you pause between each four-digit array?

Or are you one of those people who needs to get feedback from the disembodied voice, a grunt or “OK” after each set of four numbers is conveyed to indicate that s/he has recorded the digits without which you’d be unable to buy that set of awesome pocket squares you were dying for? “And the expiration?”

“0-4-2-0.”

“And those three numbers on the back of the card?”

“9-1-1.”

I find that most people taking my order expect my verbal commas and like to chirp “uh-huh” after 4th and 8th digits are read, and add “OK” after the 12th digit. I hope the nation’s psychologists are investigating why this pattern exists.

Also, did I tell you I’m moving?

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Arctic Sea Ice Death Spiral

You always wanted to see this hardcore punk band, only to discover that it doesn’t exist. Makes you want to start a hardcore punk band just so you can call it Artic Sea Ice Death Spiral. Sorry, too late. I just formed my own hardcore punk band with that name.

The opening track on our debut album Out of Control is going to be called “Permafrost?” Notice the question mark. Believing that there is such a thing as permanently frozen anything on earth requires a person to ignore the long and fiery history of our planet.

I’m also planning to have the tracks “Reflective White Ice” and “Absorbent Blue Sea” listed side by side to provide contrasting moods. The album will end with the taut little gems “On the rocks” and “Greenhouse Gas Station.”

Since you can't use Arctic Sea Ice Death Spiral, why don't you try Executive Takeout Order?

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Crampy

I find that the best way to connect with the youth of today is through punk classics of yesteryear. For example, The Cramps are a band that you can enjoy with your own son or daughter. You don’t remember The Cramps because you were busy listening to The Carpenters in the 1970s and 80s, but they were out there whether you were aware of them or not. I was introduced to the Cramps by my friend Roy way back when he was my friend Roy. (Yes, that Roy!). As Roy had a superb sense of humor, he loved The Cramps, a band that had a superb sense of humor. Take their stupendously funny song “Chicken” and the lyrics it contains:

Yeah Chicken

I said, boiled chicken

Any kind, any kind of chicken

Boiled chicken, fried chicken, cotton-pickin’ chicken

oh my baby-baby-baby

she fixes fixes chicken for me.

Alas, you and I will never see The Cramps, as their lead singer, Lux Interior, has been playing in that great punk/rockabilly band in the sky since circa 2009, but of course, you can always enjoy a smattering of their live act on Youtube, as I often do.

 

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Oober Alice

Why have I become so obsessed of late with this video of the Dead Kennedys doing their punk classic California Über Alles? Is it that the first images we see are those of 4 geeky dudes in a recording studio who haven’t pierced themselves, colored their hair, or otherwise taken on a punk demeanor? Is it the green rubber gloves that front man Jello Biafra wears in various live clips? Or is it simply the line “It’s the suede-denim secret police/they have come for your uncool niece,” which is the kind of rhyme my daughter became famous for making when she was about 3 years old?

First, see the video:

 

Part of the reason this video works so well (for me – maybe not so well for you!) is the excellent studio audio, which provides the structure and muscle over which a series of film clips of the band playing the song at various live and studio venues are overlaid. This is not the first time I’ve encountered this editing technique: there is a well-known Led Zeppelin video of The Immigrant Song, which used bits of concert footage that could not be synced up with an audio recording. Obviously, it works much better to have a seamless audio recording of a song underpinning video/film of varying quality than to have a single seamless video/film running over a mishmash of audio takes of varying quality.

In the mid-1980s I had urges to see the Dead Kennedys but never sought them out and didn’t have my finger on the pulse of the local music scene (because I wasn’t making use of the Boston Phoenix enough, I guess), but all these years later I wish I had seen them. Even if the band mates put aside their differences and were willing to do a tour, I can’t imagine Jello coming at his audience these days with the same vigor he displayed all those decades ago.

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