Monday, November 19, 2012

Another Pleasant Valley Weekend

Here they come, walking down the street. They get the funniest looks from everyone they meet...

For a die-hard, life-long Monkees fan, Friday night's sold-out performance at the Chicago Theater was almost a dream come true. The three surviving members, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz took to the stage for 2 hours of songs I knew all by heart, traded comical banter, and thrilled the audience with medleys from both their groundbreaking 1967 LP, "Headquarters," on which they played their own instruments for the first time, but also tracks off  "Head," the ill-fated, critically-panned feature film the band put out in 1968, after the TV show was cancelled.

They were in fine form and shape, and it was more than a thrill to see Nez live for the first time, in sparkly Jimmy Choo's and a velvet blazer, no less, as he didn't participate in the previous reunion tours that Davy, Micky and Peter did over the years. Still, Davy's absence was duly and sadly noted, images of him (during target emotional moments) a stark reminder of a terrific performer who passed away before his time. The Monkees paid totally appropriate attention to Jones, no more poignantly than when they had the audience chime together during "Daydream Believer," which is probably their biggest hit, to which Dolenz said to the audience, "This song belongs to you now." With the Nesmith-penned Monkees tunes, none of us had heard them live before, so that was an extra thrill. And who knew Micky Dolenz drummed left-handed?

They had a tight back up band, which included Micky's sister Coco on background vocals and Nesmith's son Christian on guitar, as they sang all the hits one would come to expect, including some rarities ("Early Morning Blues and Greens" from "Headquarters" was a huge surprise, as was Nesmith's "Tapioca Tundra," from "The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees.")

Not being able to find a friend willing to shell out $60 to see The Monkees, in hindsight, I should've taken Luke, because I think he really would've liked it I had no trouble going downtown by myself, since the route to the theater is getting off at the school stop on Washington, walking one block east to State St, & one block north to the Chicago Theater. In fact, the Chicago Theater is where Adler holds its graduation, so I'll be there again in 2014!

There's still a standing stigma against The Monkees and their legitimacy, even 44 years since the TV show was cancelled, but you couldn't tell by the overwhelming cheers of the packed crowd, comprised of all age groups. You either love them or you hate them. I happen to adore them, and come on, getting to see Nez after ogling over him since I was 4 years old was totally worth it. I only think I've proposed marriage to him half a dozen times in the course of my life (and he, unlike my other paramours, is at least single! And he actually knows who I am!).

RE: "Head," the band's only feature film, which was critically vomited and a major flop, to any Monkees fan or pop culture junkie of the late 60's, is the penultimate adventure into a young band jumping the shark, but with freaky psychedelia and a supporting cast of a wide variety of unlikely actors ranging from Frank Zappa to Victor Mature to Annette Funicello to a very young Teri Garr. Written over what I believe was a long, pot-filled weekend in a hotel with then-relatively unknown actor Jack Nicholson, it is disjointed, jumpy, disorganized, random, contradictory and downright AWESOME. The score is solid, the self-deprecation presented aptly.

The opening sequence of "Head" remains, to this day, one of my favorite moments in film history. Never mind that slightly further in the film, the Monkees would mock their unfair label of "The Prefab Four" with their own theme song, turned into "Ditty Diego Chant," interjecting such lines as, "The money's in/We're made of tin/We're here to give you more." "Head" is SO much more than just a pop group squeezing out its last breath. "The Porpoise Song," which molds together the end of the opening sequence, was Gerry Goffin & Carole King's masterpiece and is one of my favorite songs of the era, the best line being "Clicks. Clacks. Riding the backs of giraffes for laughs is alright for a while." Taking a stab against the Establishment (which, as you know, is probably my greatest life joy to begin with), The Monkees interrupt a straight-laced mayor's bridge dedication ceremony, Dolenz darting through the not-yet-cut ribbon and diving off the bridge and into the water below. Here, regardless how you feel about The Monkees as a pop group, watch this:

And Flaming Lips fans literally follow me EVERYWHERE. Last week, it was my therapy client and his son who were big fans, dad noticing my Zaireeka t-shirt. Friday night, I was overhearing some people talking and they mentioned the Lips. I coyly interjected, "Did you just say 'The Flaming Lips?' I know those guys!" and we entered into a pre-Monkees discussion about Wayne, Steven and the gang, whereupon I had to whip out my phone and share my many photographs, explaining my history with the band. Lovely folks I was seated beside at the show. Monkees fans are all very sweet people. 

I made it home safely on the El close to 11pm, didn't get mugged or accosted, and even talked to SuperJuls on my way home. I must say I don't understand the bad review the Monkees got in Los Angeles...they got a great write-up in the Chicago Tribune and local media and totally pleased the crowd. 

Sour Grapes Saturday:

Guy Friend called me Saturday afternoon while he was at work and what followed was probably one of the most confrontational, bitter conversations we've ever had. I had taken a picture of my vantage point at the Monkees show and not only pasted it to Facebook, but I also texted it to Guy Friend, because I was excited, I'd never been to the theater before, and I was thrilled to be there. I texted him on my way home marveling at how I knew the lyrics of every song and how much fun I'd had. Well, Guy Friend doesn't LIKE The Monkees, not that I even broached him going with me in the first place. His opinion? "You 'NEED' to find some other friends who are willing to go downtown with you." Thanks for the input, Guy, unsolicited as it might be, but I can hold my own. I enjoy and certainly prefer going to see live music or other social events like that with a buddy, and I've never gone to the movies alone, or eaten alone in a restaurant, but whatever. 

It just felt like every sentence coming out of his mouth was prefaced with either a "You should" or a "You need," and he went so far as to liken me as being a "teenager" with regard to my sleep patters. You know what? I'm a symptomatic manic-depressive in graduate school. I'm 40 years old.  After my school week, I burn out, particularly (as I thought he'd already understood) when I come down off of a hypomanic episode, during which I barely slept, but when that mellows, I have a LOT of trouble staying awake for anything, including the 12-15 page paper for Life Development which is due by midnight tonight. (I'm getting 100% in that class right now. I could write 15 pages of psychological haiku and still get an A in the class.)  After being symptomatic, my body requires more rest than does the average "I'm just tired" person. Hypomania's crash is profoundly exhausting and distracting, so yesterday, I got up around 9am, stayed up until 11am, then went back to sleep until about 1:30, with Guy calling me less than an hour later. (This morning, I woke up at 6am, stayed up until 8:30am, then went back to bed until 11am.)

Guy proceeded to argue the Monkees with me at great length, and suggested that I "need to" or "should" listen to some newer, contemporary acts. What's out there today?  (For the most part....) Manure. Cow dung. Blech. His missus should've stopped listening to James Taylor 40 years ago, but I don't see him bitching about that. 

"But enough about your sucky taste in music, Annie, I have *other* things I want to crab at you about!"

I was confronted with "Why do you send me videos of Best Male Friend?" (Though he inserts his name.) I had forwarded a YouTube clip someone posted of BMF during a time of utter despair, agony and ill-health from more than a decade ago, because I thought Guy would appreciate BMF more now seeing how totally different he is now than how he was when he was not healthy. I told Guy, "I thought you might find it interesting." I don't know if it was the graphic nature of the video that disturbed him, or he's just mad about BMF, or for what in hell he had a bug up in his butt. The last video of BMF I sent to Guy a while ago was a clip of BMF  playing a famous piano owned by one of Guy's musical heroes, which I also thought Guy would find interesting. EVIDENTLY, I WAS WRONG. 

Guy Friend sent me an email HE thought I would find interesting, as an archaeologist of minds and the human condition, and I did.  But in hindsight, my sophomoric revelations were no match for the piece of writing Guy thought I'd enjoy. I would've enjoyed it more had it not been written by a racist, golf-playing-come-landscaper who is homophobic, makes fun of the mentally ill, against abortion,was Romney-backing, is religiously intolerant (unless it's Catholicism), whose arrogance makes me look downright meek. It's largely a story of a guy who thinks he's better than anyone else, but refuses to share that gift of intellect and verbal expression, choosing to demean all and egregiously slam in his letters home to loved ones. Of the people around him, who are, for a variety of reasons, less men of character than he, himself, is, how unfair our USA judicial system is because he's presently serving a lengthy sentence in a federal pen, when he could be doing community service and restitution, institutionalized and forced to come to terms with whatever he did was grossly illegal? 

I told Guy that as I read the man's letter, I got more and more upset, which he just kind of blew off. I supposed part of that's payback for BMF's 6-page diatribe against Guy some time ago, which Guy didn't contest at all. I told Guy, "Why did I send you BMF's video? I thought you'd be interested. Why did you send me a newsletter from a racist, homophobic Republican?" Stalemate, essentially.

I have a feeling that once I sent Guy back the email he sent me, with my annotations and opinions in bold and italics, he was spitting fire, because this guy is a friend of his, (Or Guy Friend's guy friend) though I don't know from where or, quite frankly, why Guy would be friends with such an Ultimate Douchebag. Out of courtesy, I will share no more than that. But I have to say, this prisoner, if he's managed to keep himself safe for 8 months, has financial arrangements or favors from either other prisoners, correctional officers or wardens, beyotch! (I've watched a lot of HBO's "Oz" in my lifetime....)

This man went so far as to say, to a West Indian man (Haitian perhaps) who has a gargoyle statue atop a makeshift altar in his cell, that he pretends to feed grits to; either that, or Baby Ruth's. In any event, I annotated that the "Voodoo Cuckoo" as this prisoner has nicknamed him, (NICE. NICE REALLY NICE.) has every right to express the manner by which he connects with God, and that walking in with your blue eyes and Caucasianarama and poking fun at this guy is one way to REALLY get, uh, in trouble. I had a hypothesis that the West Indian fella has to scratch HIS head sitting around listening to someone play with a plastic bead necklace, repeatedly saying "Hail Marys," which, while I loves me some Catholics, looks foreign and like a colossal waste of time. I said, "How much LESS insane THAT must LOOK LIKE to a non-Christian."

If this prisoner is really THAT smart, as his letter infers, that his brain multiplies and expands, while everyone around him intellectually implodes, he should petition a program in the prison to educate and teach these men how to behave in a proper, civilized manner, as the rest of us (most of us) do. Help them. Teach them how to read books and use computers, instead of purely utilizing your free time to mock them. Remediation isn't impossible, but people have to take the bull by the horns.

I have half a mind to post the resulting chaos over on Faceook, which Guy Friend can't see, because he's out of the social media world and has no idea what his iPhone 5 is supposed to do, other than to remind him constantly, "Annie's bothering you!" BTW, he's happy write me a letter of Rec for my clinical practicum, so we best be on our best behavior.

When I lobbied for a night out with him in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, he said he can't think straight all weekend, and it's been a bear, obviously. I suggested we have dinner in between holidays, and if he can't pencil me in for a dinner one night, I truly give up. The usual...make plans to make plans to make plans.. Ugh. He's working for the NYE holiday this year and I have half a mind to go the hospital at midnight and smother his face with kisses.

He's kind upset that none of daughters will be home this year for Thanksgiving, saying that this is the first year in about 30 that they haven't cooked. They're going to a neighbor's house 3 blocks away. Mazel Tov! My mom jokingly said that we should have the couple for Thanksgiving, to unleash him to my whole crazy family.(What, so the missus can stand there offending my little birdie again? I think not!) Either that, or he's bummed about the kids. In any event, that doesn't give him the right or wrong way to adjust my schedule or heed ALL of his advice. Some of it's great--spot on--but other times, I just want to smack him one upside the head.

Head. Head. Head.

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