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Album #6 of 10 albums which marked my life

Album #6: The Clash, Sandinista 1980

I was late to the punk scene. Most likely because I was too young, and a freckle-faced kid who believed in the inherent goodness of the world. Why spoil it with a bunch of self-absorbed whining and screaming and lack of musical talent? (insert picture of Sex Pistols here)

Then came the Clash. They were some guys who could really play with fantastic thoughtful lyrics, and melodies in tune. They definitely had something to say, and an original way of getting it across. And how generous with their fans- a TRIPLE album for the regular price! Sandinista wasn’t their album I preferred, nor very punk, as they added a lot of electronic sounds. But I was blown away by the sheer volume of work they put into it. In five years of existence, they produced so much that was so good, and still sounds modern and full of life to me today. Like the Clash, I’m going to go overtime with this entry…

I only started getting into The Clash when I entered high school in 1983, just after they had broken up. I thought, High School!, finally, I’m with the big boys, and I’m going to drive to concerts, and have wild experiences with girls and drugs and be a part of the rock scene I’d heard so much about. Little did I know that 1983 was rock’s last gasp.

By the time I got to high school, rock’n’roll was dead. All the super-groups were gone. Led Zeppelin had broken up in 1980. The Who announced their ‘last’ tour in 1982. The Rolling Stones did their ‘farewell’ tour the same year. The Police broke up after their 1983 platinum album ’Synchronicity.’ There were no more ‘Days on the Green’ with multiple fantastic groups playing in a stadium.

Who replaced the rock legends? Haircut groups from LA, like RATT. Synthesizer duos like the Eurythmics. Bubble-gum pop like Huey Lewis and the News. The party was over by the time I got there. I could still smell the smoke and stale beer and the sweat of the artists, but that scene was gone.

What replaced the societal and cultural phenomenon of shared feeling, collective experience with throngs of people listening, dancing and rubbing up against one another? MTV. We WATCHED music. Alone. Music must be pretty. Nearly all the rock greats got into music because they were UGLY, and that was their only way to score. If you were already attractive, what did you need rock’n’roll for?

Think about it, did anybody from rock’s glory days put out a good, original rock album after 1983? Elvis Costello? No. Eric Clapton? No. Yes? My first concert was on their 90125 tour, (which came out when? you guessed it, 1983) and however much I adore the group, they really should have broken up before. Pink Floyd? Nope. Neil Young? You could argue that Ragged Glory and Freedom DO rock, but they’re just derivative of his earlier stuff, and trying too much to cater to the grunge fad. U2? You may have me there, as their output from ’87 to ’91 was quite good, but I could also argue that they no longer rocked, but did pop ballads, kind of like Chicago after Terry Kath died.

I call the good songs which came after 1983 ‘Zombie Rock.’ It can still do some damage, but it’s no longer alive. Examples are fleeting and far-between: The Pixies, Nirvana, Lenny Kravitz, White Stripes, The Breeders, Cranberries, Arctic Monkeys, Green Day, Offspring, Red Hot Chili Peppers. All good for a very, very short while. None capable of flag-bearing and inspiring a movement, or even getting a crowd going. Have you or anyone you know seen any of these groups in concert? 

You could literally take all the supposed ‘good’ rock songs from 1984 until now, and you still wouldn’t have as many as the absolute classics which were produced in 1966 alone. Today, we can enjoy rock, or play it, or even emulate it, but like classical, and jazz and blues before it, rock is no longer a living art form. And sadly, gut-wrenchingly, NOTHING has taken its place.

This was in response to a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days. 

Rather than a greatest hits list, I chose to make this list personal. There are even albums here that I HATE. But they contributed to making me who I am. So, here goes…

I challenge Dan Vuletich

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Album #5 of 10 albums which marked my life

Album #5: Jethro Tull living in the past 1972

Still my favorite band, and Clive Bunker my favorite drummer. Listen to him go wild on Dharma for one. It always seems like he’s about to go off the rails. Despite missing the skins on some hits, he stays on track, and keeps rising throughout his solo. What energy! My kinda guy. 

Discovered the group in high school, and this album about a dozen years after it came out. Since it’s a mix of a ‘greatest hits’ plus live album, plus a couple originals, it was a fantastic primer for me to acquire a taste for the group. I went on to buy 15 of their albums, 10 of which I really liked, and continue to listen to to this day.

This is in response to a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days. 

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Album #4 of 10 albums which marked my life

Album #4: Foreigner 4, 1981

The drumbeat on Urgent was so simple I thought I might be able to play it.

So my 12-year-old self got my dusty drum set out of the closet, where it had been put away since the Christmas I turned seven years old. I could always control my hands on the sticks pretty well and every once in a while keep the beat one with my right foot at the appropriate moment. But I could never get the hang of the left foot high hat while the three other limbs were doing their thing. I ran the cassette of Urgent over and over again while I played along.

After what seemed like an hour it all clicked, I was finally a drummer who could play with four limbs at once! 

I took out the cassette and smashed it with my foot. I always hated Foreigner.

This is in response to a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days.

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Album #3 of 10 which marked my life

Album #3: The Police Zenyatta Mondatta 1980

This was blasted into my ears from the right rear speaker of my Mom’s cherry red BMW 320i on countless drives down highway 5 on family trips from SF to LA. Never grows old. Stewart Copeland was always one of my favorites, and I’m continually surprised at the lack of recognition for his playing. His ultra-tightened snare drum sound on this album is simply the best.

This is in response to a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days. 

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Album #2 of 10 which marked my life

Album #2: The Vapors Turning Japanese, 1980

The first album I ever owned which I played loudly on my new set from RadioShack. Although I was not a big fan of New Wave music, at least these guys played real instruments and chose a unique theme that was fun to go crazy on. Everybody at the time thought Japan was going to take over the world with their fuel-efficient cars and small electronics. Today everybody thinks China is going to take over. Why hasn’t anyone made a hit song about that? I persist in believing that the world will continue to find value in creativity, however silly.

This is in response to a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days.

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Album #1 of 10 which marked my life

I received a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days. 

Rather than a greatest hits list, I chose to make this list personal. There are even albums here that I HATE. But they contributed to making me who I am. So, here goes…

Album #1: Supertramp Even In The Quietest Moments 1977

I grew up listening to my parents’ music, which I really liked, and the group I liked the best in my formative years was Supertramp. When Roger Hodgson sang, it seemed as if the words were coming out from my own lungs. It helped that we sang in the same high pitch at the time. Their songs of yearning, coming of age, questioning, and unashamed positivity really captured my pre-teen mood. They are still my feel-good treat today.

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Just desserts at restaurant

turning the tables

When I was a teenager I was either a jokester or surly and holier than thou, pointing out the foibles of the adults around me.

I was in the latter mood on a family trip to Hawaii when we sat down at the restaurant. The waitress brought the menus and introduced herself as Carol. When she came back with waters and took our orders I looked at her name tag and noticed it read Susan.

“I thought you said your name was Carol?” I said.

“No it’s Susan,“ she responded.

When she left, I turned to my family and kept talking about the switcheroo. “Carol and Susan sound nothing alike,” I explained. There’s no way I could be mistaken.

Nobody else recalled what her name was and wondered why I was making such a big deal about it. My dad gave me one of those looks as if to warn me this was not going to be another of my incidents to ruin a family outing. But I just wouldn’t drop it.

“Something fishy is going on and I’m going to get to the bottom of it,” I said. She can’t pull the wool over my eyes.“

I got up to go to the bathroom and wash my hands, but what I really wanted was a closer peek at that sneaky Carol/Susan. She was happily chatting with her colleagues behind the counter and looking at order slips and plates as if nothing untoward was going on.

“What could be the purpose of this chicanery?“ I asked myself alone in the washroom. I couldn’t think of any advantage besides fooling the tourists. Even though it wasn’t my money, it was the principle of the thing. You don’t mess with people who come a long way and spend a lot of cash, a good part of it going to your salary. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you in a restaurant.

I came back to the table to see that Carol/Susan was setting down our plates. When she came to me I made sure to look at her name tag. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Here I had caught her red-handed.

“Powtip!?” I exclaimed.

The waitress started cracking up.

“There’s no way your name was Powtip before! Just what are you trying to pull here?” It was the beginning of a tirade that aimed to be better than that of Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith goes to Washington.

But I stopped when I looked around and all of my family was laughing too. I was stunned and didn’t know why they were guffawing when we were the object of ridicule. It was then I learned the joke was on me.

“We asked the waitress to change her name tag,” my Mom chimed in.

“What, do you mean from the moment we entered the restaurant?“ I said. “But that doesn’t make sense…”

“No,” Mom said. “From the moment you made such a big deal of it. You misheard her name at the start, or you just weren’t paying attention, and then you wouldn’t shut up about it. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard!“

Upon leaving, my father set down double the usual tip for Powtip.

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It’s turkey day in America, which means that most of us in France 
have to work.

However, we do get extra compensation in the office today in the
form of belly laughs when our French colleagues wish us a happy
Thanksgiving. They inevitably pronounce it as “apple sex giving,“
and who could refuse that invitation?

For added fun ask them to repeat this phrase back to you,
“We want you to focus on Thanksgiving now.“
When you respond, remember it’s your duty to “give thanks.”

Today, I’m thankful we don’t all speak the same language in the
same way. Vive la différence !
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I lost my Grandma Barbara recently, who passed from this world at 95 years old. In her memory, I’d like to share an episode of our lives together. It’s entitled:

Not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas

I’m going to break a rule here and reveal something that happened in Las Vegas.

Grandma Barbara was born on April Fools’ day, and me a day apart, in the same town, Van Nuys. This lent us a special affinity, and we would often call or see each other to celebrate together.

One day when I was 20, Grandma Barbara called a couple weeks before our birthdays to invite me to go to Las Vegas. 

So we set off in her car, just the two of us. I think it was a burgundy Chrysler automatic sedan, and she let me drive. It was a road-trip weekend to remember! She knew just what I needed to do my 21st right: gambling, gin+tonics, girls… and grandma.

Raising exclusively boys, and coming of age in a man’s world, Grandma Barbara assumed all males had these vices, and had no problems with them. Who better to introduce me to the world of 21-year-old legal sin than grammy?

We checked into our room, then went downstairs to the main floor. Grammy always played the slots, and I fed the machine beside her for awhile while we drank bloody marys. She generously paid for everything. 

I wanted a bit more variety and asked to play the roulette wheel. She agreed, dropping something like $200 on the table. She never complained when I lost it all, and it didn’t take long, either. We finished the day by gorging at the buffet table and getting a buzz on from more mixed drinks.

The next evening, Grammy had a surprise for me. She reserved a cosy table for two at… a girlie show. Picture a room with red velvet everywhere, arranged in half circles starting from and ending at a wide stage. Gram and I are in the middle. The table is so small, our knees and toes often touch. Needless to say, we’re the only couple of our kind there. 

In my mind, I’m preparing how to react when the curtain goes up. I want to show my appreciation for her kind gesture, but don’t want to come off as a lecher gawking at the gals. I want to be non-chalant, demonstrating that I have actually seen a breast in the flesh before this day, two of them even, but never so many all at once in the same place, for which I’m very grateful. However, I anticipate a challenge in conversing with grammy openly about my powerful passion for the appendages.

The show starts and thankfully we’re far enough from the stage, and there are so many sparkles and feathers that I can’t even make out if there is also nakedness. Acts rotate through, all in much the same soft-core nature. I feel relieved. I just may survive the night without an embarrassing incident.

The grande finale begins with much pomp, when in the middle of the number, some of the girls descend the stage to walk among the tables. No wait, ALL of the girls descend to walk the concentric half-circles, and they’re coming our way! I’ve got bouncing breasts to my left and my right, only one foot away from my face in both directions! Feathers brush my cheeks, ears and neck. There’s no decent place to turn my gaze, so I look wide-eyed straight toward Grandma Barbara, who’s looking back at me!

I needn’t have worried. Grammy enjoyed the show’s artistic merits and was open to whatever reaction I might have. That’s one thing which made her so great, she just let you be yourself, and always showed she enjoyed your company.

Now, I know there are quite a few grandmothers out there reading this, and at least a couple grandsons who are not yet 21. Why not go on a very awkward trip together? I’m sure Grandma Barbara would approve.

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Faure teaser video

What’s it like to go on The Chairfather tours? Here’s a taste, visiting Félix Faure at Père Lachaise in Paris. 

Look at the old boy’s sculpture, laid out almost as if his body was found this way, minus the ‘banane’ or enormous grin he must’ve had on his face.

Before Bill and Monica, there was Félix and Marguerite, the President and the female admirer who went down… in history.

Desiring a reprieve from those pesky justice-seekers calling for clemency in the Dreyfus affair, President Félix Faure asked his mistress to come over at 5 o’clock. Marguerite Steinheil arrived in the ‘blue room’ at the Elysée palace in the afternoon. Faure dropped his drawers as she applied the presidential ‘pipe’ or enthusiastic fellatio. Marguerite did her job only too well, as moaning Félix reached climax, and in the same instant, stiffly dropped dead.

Their screams brought the rest of the house rushing immediately into the blue room, where Marguerite’s head was seen twisting near his manhood, struggling to remove his convulsed fingers clutching her hair. There were too many witnesses to hush the scandal, and soon all of Paris knew what the papers couldn’t print. 

Rival politician Georges Clemenceau had a field day, joking of Faure, “He wanted to be César, he ended up being Pompé,” which used as a verb translates to ‘pumped.’ Marguerite was tagged with the nickname of ‘la Pompe Funèbre’ which is a double entendre with the act and a funeral ceremony.

That catty Félix showed us that you CAN have too much of a good thing!


It’s time to zip up our affairs, cross over to the other side of the Avenue Principale. Walk down six steps, then across the avenue and up the six steps on the other side and turn left. Counting from Le Bas column our next host is 7 down on the right.


I’ll guide you to 50 final resting places on my @VoiceMap tours of the Père Lachaise cemetery, and tell stories from the fascinating lives of painters, performers and pompous politicians!

See funny souvenir pictures and text from our picnic together in The Chairfather book.

The passed have never been more alive!

Book a lunch date with the fallen famous NOW!

Or later…

Really, it doesn’t matter. Their agendas are quite open.

#VoiceMap #WalkingTour #audioguide #atyourownpace #Paris #tourism

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