Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cosmic Happenings and such

Cosmic Happenings by Richard A. Waters

Okay, I was going to start this blogpost off totally differently but still with the topic of Cosmic Happenings because, well, freaky coincidences have been occurring in the Slick household over the last few days that are beyond weird.

I was about to put up one of the Belew Trio photos from my collection at the top of this post because a lot of the serendipity concerns Adrian, but I decided, on a whim, to google Cosmic Happenings to see if I could find a suitable matching image.

Not only do I find the above isn't-it-incredible artwork on Google Images, but it leads me to the website of its artist, Richard A. Waters...and it turns out that this same guy invents incredibly cool drums and other instruments.

I mean, really. My son just happens to be a drummer and I know this is going to really interest him...but okay, that's not even the tip of the iceberg as far as what's going on.

But I'll get to all that in a moment.

Did I say I wanted an acceptance letter to make myself feel physically and emotionally better? Look what was in my mailbox late yesterday!

"Hey Robin,

We really dug your submission and would like it to appear for our fifth anniversary issue, which is scheduled to go live on March 15.

Please let us know if it is still available and provide an updated bio.

My best,
Jackie Corley,
Publisher, Word Riot"

Yeah! So I wrote back, yep, the story, Beautiful, is available; it's yours!

Anyway, when it's published tomorrow, naturally, I will link it here. With accompanying graphics of fireworks and pretty balloons.


So anyway, let me tell you the whole weird story. On Saturday, Gary works for a few hours and is always reliably home by 12:30 p.m. I was sitting here writing, and I notice 1:00 p.m. comes and goes, next thing I know it's 1:45 p.m. and I think Hmmm...maybe I should call him and make sure everything's okay. It was just too out of character for him to be that late without touching base with me. So I dial him up on his cell and he says "Don't worry, I'm right outside, I'm late because I was bad."

Gary bad? Ha ha, I don't think so. I knew exactly what he was saying.

He meant: "I went to Sound of Market after work and dropped a lot of money on some rare CDs we were missing from our collection." (Stuff we already had on vinyl...which we not only never threw away but still play and love and for which we even bought a new turntable).

He also knew that this is precisely the kind of thing that would not make me mad...well, nothing really ever makes me angry except the religious right, Republicans, and narcissistic writers who lack talent but never shut up about themselves and their work...but anyway, here are just three of the stack of CDs he came home with:

Adrian Belew's Young Lions.

"This is really hard to find -- it's early Adrian," Gary told me...and check what I said above, this is one we did not have on vinyl, cassette, eight track...nothing. I grabbed at it eagerly.

He also bought this:

David Live

Now this is totally cool - it was recorded at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia and was on our turntable non-stop throughout most of the seventies into the early eighties.

"Oh my god," I said, looking over the track list which at one time I had committed to memory. "1984! When was the last time we listened to that song? Wow...I remember when a day wouldn't go by without us putting that on...and remember Doobies?" (More on Doobies in a's another piece of this weird cosmic puzzle.)

And finally, he also had this in his little bag:

No Answer, which is the very first ELO album and the only one with brilliant musician Roy Wood.

"It must be twenty-five years since I've heard this," I said when he put it on. We were like two little kids over this bounty (and wasn't I just so kind to provide you all with links to purchase them?) and each and every song brought back all kinds of memories...this was all stuff we listened to pre-Julie and Eric...when we were both kids ourselves. The Bowie especially, like I said, was a staple in the early years of our marriage, and as we were listening to 1984, I turned to Gary and said:

"Remember Doobies?"

"Yeah, like I'd ever forget that place," Gary said.

Doobies is a bar in downtown Philadelphia which still exists though it's old is Julie?...over 21 years since we've been there. Back before we were even legally old enough to drink, we'd go to Doobies just for the juke box and macaroni and cheese with beef and tomatoes..and okay, okay, I cannot tell a lie, they never asked us for age I.D. so we got our beers there, too. Lots and lots of them. Doobies had (and maybe they still do have) the best juke box in Philly because the owner's daughter, who was just a few years older than us, was a total David Bowie/Lou Reed freak and she was in charge of the music.

Cooking the macaroni was a girl our age give or take a year or two older named Maureen who was also a big Bowie nut and lived in an apartment over the bar with a roommate named David who always had the most amazing thai stick. (Now, now, this was years and years ago, before Gary was sober, when we used to party instead of changing diapers, going to Muppets on Ice...and so on and so on) Back then, we'd develop a little routine of eating and drinking at the bar until late and then going up to Maureen and David's apartment. Maureen and Dave weren't a romantic item; in fact, David was gay and sadly, one of the first people I knew diagnosed with AIDS back in the mid-eighties. We really thought he was cromagnum man for a while and would conquer that dreadful disease but he finally succumbed around ten years ago, I guess.

Anyway, Maureen had a boyfriend named Dennis...the two of them would later marry and throughout the past twenty years, we would always get together at least once a year though of course we meant to do it more often because Gary and I are anti-social as a couple and Dennis and Maureen are two of the only people in the world where all four of us can have an enjoyable evening out based on our mutual love of music and food.

In fact, the last time Eric played with Project Object, Dennis, whose car was in the shop, actually took two busses to come and see him.

While we were listening to Bowie's 1984 on Saturday, I went on a whole inner head trip about Dennis and Maureen and thought to myself, man, it's been like a year since I talked to them -- they probably don't even know about Julie and Eric being in Adrian's band -- they're going to flip out -- I should call them.

Anyway, we spent all Saturday afternoon listening to music, and then I went downstairs to check my email (big surprise) and while I was on line, I clicked on Adrian's blog to read of his latest exploits, and almost had a heart attack when I read his entry for Saturday, March 10, 2007. Now you really need to click on that and read the whole post because it's so fucking interesting it's ridiculous because it talks about Adrian meeting Paul McCartney for the first time, but here's the part which caught my eye and almost made me have a seizure as I ran upstairs to tell Gary:

"...Paul McCartney was staying on the top floor of the hotel in the Presidential Suite and he told me the room number.

I called. Paul answered the phone.

"Hello is Paul there?"

"This is Paul."

"Is Paul there?"

"This IS Paul".

Gulp. "I'm David Bowie's guitarist and I was..."

"Well, David's here right now, why don't you come up for tea?".

When the elevator door opened on the top floor there stood a man in a suit and headset, looking very FBI-like. At the end of the long hallway stood his twin brother agent in front of a grand looking doorway with the words "Presidential Suite" etched over top. Walking down the long hall I heard them whisper in their headsets,
"Guitar player. Bowie."

I knocked on the door. Paul answered it.

"What's that you've got behind your back, luv?

David said he'd be mad at you if you didn't bring your new CD".

From inside the room I heard laughing.

It's true I had brought the meager offering of my newest CD Young Lions which I sheepishly handed over."


I mean, if you look at Adrian's discography, he's got like a gazillion CDs, and he just happens to write about the one that Gary had just come home with and we'd just spent the afternoon listening to. We both had total goosebumps.

So if that's not weird enough, on Sunday morning, I pull up Adrian's blog again so that I can copy the above and tell you guys that story...when what do I see but a new blogpost dated Sunday, March 11, 2007, which literally caused me to topple over backwards and go running, screaming for Gary to come downstairs immediately so that he could see it for himself. Again, click the link and read the whole thing, but here's the pertinent part:

"Back in the dreadful seventies when I had no work except to play drums in a Holiday Inn band I had purchased my first decidedly cheap-o-cello. Cello ranks high on my list of favorite things. The first ELO record had a guy named Roy Wood who played most of the instruments including cello and I figured with enough practice I could hack away at a cello about as well as he had..."

Gary and I were incredulous. I mean, come on. How many of you have even heard of Roy Wood? We're talking about a CD that came out over thirty years ago...that Gary had just come home with and we'd listened to the day before. To say we were stunned would be putting it mildly.

Think that's the end of the story? Thing again.

Gary is in the car on Monday listening to our college station, WXPN. At 5:00, they do a theme thing with a series of songs centered around said theme. Monday's theme was songs with years in them. Do I have to tell you what happened next?

You can double check me on this -- here's the official playlist, but have a look:

5 pm
Paolo Nutini - New Shoes
M. Ward - Chinese Translation~
The Sundays - Here's Where The Story Ends
Kristoffer Ragnstam - Man Overboard
Bruce Hornsby - White Wheeled Limousine
Norah Jones - Sinkin' Soon
Peter Bjorn And John - Young Folks
Sting - Consider Me Gone
David Bowie - 1984
John Cale - Paris 1919

Gary almost went into shock. I mean, when's the last time you heard 1984 on the radio?

I'd like to tell you that's the end of it, but this you can't believe altogether. We're still talking about this an hour later Monday night when my phone rings.

Yep, you guessed it. It was Dennis and Maureen, whom I hadn't heard from in over a year.

I started gushing the whole story to them, but I could tell something wasn't right, and unfortunately, my ESP was still on overdrive because Maureen began to tell me stuff I didn't want to hear...they'd found a tumor on her liver...she's receiving chemo in hopes of shrinking the tumor so that she can hopefully have a transplant which is really the only hope....oh god, please light a candle or whatever it is you all do for my friend...she's having a really, really rough time.

So that was pretty sobering and once again a reminder for me not to sweat the small stuff (yikes, I hate cliches but that one really is something to live by) and spend each day smelling the roses instead of worrying that I'm going to be scratched by their thorns.

Anyway, are those cosmic happenings or what? Holy cow, I can't even describe how Gary and I are still feeling a few days later. We are completely freaked out.

Finally, my google stalking yielded this today -- The Detroit Metro Times has a pretty cool article about Adrian, and of course the second paragraph caught my eye right away:

"Probably best known as King Crimson’s guitarist, Adrian Belew is also a skilled multi-instrumentalist who has worked with everyone from Frank Zappa and Paul Simon to Trent Reznor, Tori Amos and William Shatner. He also attached midi effects and other synthesized elements to a guitar to create sounds ranging from wild animal calls to soaring string sections.Oh yeah, and the whammy bar, thus the 1982 Belew solo record, Twang Bar King.

Musically, he’s blended humor, pop and experimental styles into such quirky songs as “Elephant Talk,” ‘Fish Head,” and “Big Electric Cat.” The last two years have also seen the release of three albums recorded with Les Claypool (Primus) and Danny Carey (Tool), and recently he’s been touring in a power trio comprised of Paul Green’s School of Rock graduates, siblings Eric and Julie Slick. Metro Times spoke with Belew about his career and what he’s doing now in anticipation of his show with jam band Umphrey’s McGee."

Read the rest of the story here.

Okay, I think that covers today's news and hopefully makes up for my lack of blogging for a couple of days, but I'm happy to announce my lack of blogging means I've been doing "real" writing. Yay!