Saturday, November 29, 2014

my block

"Completed May 31, 1963, the 8.27-acre Bronx development is bordered by Schieffelin Avenue, and East 225th and East 229th Streets."

Documenting the universal in delicious minutiae, this exemplary slice of life is lit in the shadows of the newly erected projects. 

Released the same month this Baychester development met completion, The Four Pennies' low rent issue - penned by Jimmy Radcliffe with Carl Spencer - sadly failed to dent the Billboard Top 50. Better known as The Chiffons, the Bronx quartet instead peaked at number five that same summer with Gerry Goffin and Carole King's "One Fine Day".

THE FOUR PENNIES: MY BLOCK from "My Block" c/w "Dry Your Eyes" Rust (5071) (US) 1963

Sunday, November 16, 2014


In deference to he who shall forever be dubbed the good doctor of double-jointed prose, I seriously toyed with the idea of shaving my head.

For the first time in years.

Fear and loathing - that I may emerge an ailing and elderly Syd, or more lightly, Uncle Fester's marginally younger sibling - ultimately stayed my hand on the BaByliss clippers. Even as the possibility sang in the wall socket and the razor's shield buzzed sinister like two barred cherries on hold.

As I remarked here on the bleachers previously, I have an aversion to gambling. It is not quite an all-out bugle cry from the stirrups of an old and creaking hobby horse, this disinclination to let my money ride, but in light of those other vices I have embraced or accumulated it is something of a small saving grace.

I am partial to berries. The common garden juice. I do not like fruit machines, the jangling in the slots.

The term "one armed bandit" seems hideously appropriate. Like a shrunken Mexican purse snatcher lying in wait in a dark lot in Vegas.

As a result I am cautious. The doctor would be far from proud.
So. Onto Telly Savalas. Lieutenant Theo Kojak, more specifically.

Successfully plucking Billy Goldenberg's memorable theme out the ether is itself something of a lottery, given that CBS-TV persistently meddled with the score's muscular signature arrangement. Not twice. Three times.

Crucially, it gambled on reception by inviting John Cacavas - a regular contributor of incidental music "on set" - to completely rewrite the show's opening credits for its fifth and final season, airing, five years after its inception, in 1978.

Alas. This Mancini arrangement - segueing here with the theme from "S.W.A.T." in an unedited medley - lack's the visceral dynamic of Goldenberg's original, but the rip itself is something of an audiophile's delight. A complete album of 70s cop show themes, remastered from vinyl, can be found here.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

guy fawkes it up again

My ear comes unglued on a feeble but persistent druming on the front door seemingly, a doll's voice uttering guessed at sobriquets.

The tongue protrudes past furred teeth. Ladling spittle on my cheek. Yet my eyes refuse to budge.

Dad. Daddy. Dud, where are you ?

Jesus Christ. I throw my feet at the floor. Snap to like a lock-blade in need of oiling. Tripping on my socks, snagging the waistband of my undershorts on the living room door handle.

The coughing does not seize me until I am two thirds into the hallway.

Remember. Remember.

It is the fifth already. Wednesday. Somewhere after 7 AM and tiny grenades threaten my letterbox.

I tumble the lock and crack the door a fraction. My young son pushes past me, his mother hovering above the buggy bristling fireworks. Oversized sparklers tucked down in cosy packets.

The cold air reminds me I am to pick him up from nursery. Later. In the afternoon. It slaps me in the face.

So much for confronting the unexpected with a winning smile. I tug my undershorts up around my balls and merely turn the other cheek.

I thought you were picking him up at eight.
No. I said I was dropping him off at eight.

My son already has his snowsuit off and is waving foil-wrapped sparklers at my chest. The snowsuit is unseasonal. Unwarranted.

Look what I got.

Apparently it is far from it. His face is lit with a rash. Sweating.

We fall back to the living room. The duvet spilled tellingly between carpet and couch. The sofa itself sagging from the weight of sleepless nights. The coffee table buckling under the ashtray, its litter of butts. The curtains still drawn.

The entire room howls divorce. The scene of an embarrassing dismemberment.

All that is missing is the dead dog, a box guitar propping up the porch.

Not for the first time I am caught with my pants down. It is enough to make one swear off marriage. It is enough to make one simply swear.