Monday, October 26, 1992

90/90 Hindsight

Don't get me wrong; I like Bergman films as much as the next person (as long as the next person isn't a member of the Swedish Bikini Team) but the growing obsession with symbolism is giving me a headache.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the furor caused by Sinead O'Connor in comparison with the behavior of the Atlanta Braves baseball fans. The point I was trying to make but made in a sloppy, inarticulate way was the mistake of placing toom uch importance on "symbols" versus being sensitive to the belief of others. THis pas week yet another incident involving a symbol caused a minor uproar.

In Atlanta, before the first game of the World Series, members of the U.S. Marine corps marched out the Candadian flag to present during the traditional singing of "O Canada." Problem was the flag was displayed upside down. The Canadians were displeased. Some even thought the incident was intentional. The anger that followed proved America isn't alone in being overly concerned with the trivial. Silliness knows no boundaries and I guess that is why we fight wars. It wouldn't take much to document the United States' offenisve behavior toward both Canada and Mexico, economically, politically, and in general attitude, but I doubt any ranking official ordered the Marines to demonstrate a lack of respect for the people of Canada. No one ever accused members of the Marines of being too bright for their own good. There are more important things to get riled up over.

We live in a time where nothing means what it means. There are hidden subliminal messaged in everything that is said, written, or done. What does Madonna's new book mean? Is it a symbol of growing sexual freedom in American society or a statement against it? Is the symbolic attitude of Hollywood undermining our traditional "family values?" We can't seem to take anyting at its face value anymore. Pooh to that...

Since I only work in a retail atmosphere two days a week, I'm not exposed to the new sounds, bands that most of the rest of you are, so it is quite an event when I hear something new that I like. A couple of weeks back, "Shakespeare's Sister" appeared on Late Night with David Letterman. It was the best thing I've heard since that Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty duet all those years ago. Their preseentation was grand and fun in the spirit of the best opera (which of course is Paul McCartney's "Liverpool Oratorio"); outrageous dress, glitter and absurd singing and dancing including a soaring female soprano. I bought the CD last week (despite the group's rather pretentious name) and was more than pleased with my purchase. Who knew that former Bananramer, Siohban Fahey was the singer? Can you say the words "heaven" and "nirvana"? The song "I Don't Care" is wonderful. "Walking through the rooms in my head. I came across your image..." "Whenever I fall I land on my feet." References to Cupid, cats, and sex- the major themes of all good rock and roll songs.

So a woman walks up to me in Landfill and says, "Do you have any Animals records?" And I being the musical genius I am says, "We probably don't have any of their records but I know "The House of the Rising Sun" is included on several compilations. You might want to look there..."

"I have a few records with dolphin songs on it," she says as I realize her definition of "animals" is much different than mine.

"You guys got the time?'
"Yeah, they're in the 'T's or with Morris Day."

David's Haiku
Applause and Cheapo (five syllables)
sell much music to people (seven syllables)
in the Twin cities (five syllables)

Why I Like My Job
This past week Secretary of State Joan Anderson Growe asked your friendly neighborhood state employee how he liked his job. "I'm beginning to dislike it immensely," the lil guy replied.

I've been with the state about two years now, and have worked at Cheapo on and off for five eyars. Both jobs deal with a lot of contact with the public. The major difference I see is there isn't a lot of satisfaction in helping the people of Minnesota. I deal with a lot of customers, but even the ones I can help, it doesn't seem to do much good. A lot of the people I try to help have a hostile attitude towards governmental bureaucracy, which in itself is understandable, but being rude to those who didn't set up the system isn't going to accomplish much. In retail on the other hand, we deal with customers who want something we ware all interested in: music. At Landfill yesterday a gentleman asked me my opinion (minimal as it is) about a particular record. We got into a nice conversation about our lives and music and we both left the encounter all the better for the experience and the sharing of opinion. Much as I know retial work can be frustrating, there are moments when it is fun and worth the time. So take the time like David and appreciate the job you are in (or at least one of them).

Monday, October 19, 1992

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Random thoughts I had while falling off the deep end of memory lane driving down Robert Street headed past E Upper 55th Street in Inver Grove Heights, thinking to myself I'm cold and sort of lost (where am I heading?).

Excuse the incoherency, and absolute lack of issues here but it's been one of those weeks. After one of those weeks. The first question I have is directed west at either Daryl or Kristina but what the hell does "You're so St. Paul..." mean? I assume it wasn't a compliment but to me calling someone St. Paul has better connotations than calling someone Minneapolis but that's getting back to Catholics and Indians again... Please explain.

Question two is for Denise or Michael. What's the deal with the flying bugs in your office? A guy can't even eat his sausage biscuits (one with egg, one sans egg) in peace. Call the freaking exterminator. (Call him what?)

Thrust number 3: Elsewhere in this issue, Mike Nordgaard (I think it will be page one but I still have to figure that out...) wrote about his experiences at Landfill. I just wanted to add a perspective from the weekend crew. As far as phone calls, the most frequently asked question I have fielded is "I have a bunch of household waste I need to get rid of. Can I dump it there? Oh, you're a record store. Well do you know where I can dump it?" Try a dump pal... Also my experience is opposite of Mike's as far as lunch. I have found Hardees much quicker than McDonalds. Also there is a KFC on University but their customer service is subpar even for a fast food place. One of my biggest book buys was when my sister and her husband and my nephew Eben brought in a ton of ripe, dusty religious books. I paid around $20 and when they left book manager Pete took a look and found one book he said we could probably sell for over $50. So I ripped off my own sister. Quote of the day came from three year old Eben who took a look at the cover of a Sheena Easton album and declared, "Yechhh."

Prong number four: The best summer of my life (a little detour here. Remember when you were a kid and on the first day of school the first assignment would always be what you did with your summer vacation? As they say, I guess school is an ongoing venture.) isn't the flip option/answer/escape clause Mark offered, "It hasn't happened yet," but mine is probably equally flip (surprise!). As in many instances from my life I think I peaked early; way before the "cliceh" years. Actually i can't remember an entire summer I enjoyed from start to finish but there was one where my moods didn't vacillate more than a politician running for the Oval Office (David attempts to be relevant and funny one more time). It was the summer between my junior high and senior high years. The last day of junior high I went on a field trip with several of my classmates to Valleyfair.

After a decent time we were getting set to return home. As we were waiting for our bus to arrive, the skies opened up and the clouds let go of their rain. We were dumped on; a busload of drenched adolescents, what could be more festive? It was a dark and stormy night... Our moods took a turn for the worse when the bus driver arrived and said he had some mechanical problems (I took it he meant the bus' not his own) so we would have to wait for another bus. They let us sit on the borken down bus to get us out of the rain. I didn't care, didn't really ntoice the discomfort because I was facing my own personal distrubance, seated next to me was the young lass who had recently been on my mind both night and day. For three years I hadn't paid much attention to her (and doubly vice versa) but the last few weeks of 9th grade she seemed to be everywhere (mostly in a young poet's heart). I don't know why she chose to sit next to me that evening and I dont' remember saying much to each other. I do remember she touched me knee and her hand remained there for a bit. For a brief moment the possibilities of life seemed endless. I still don't know if her touch was intentional or accidental/incidental but it doesn't really matter.

That evening set the tone for the summer ahead. The promise of my upcoming high school experience seemed full of potential. I spent most of the summer playing wiffle ball with my brother in our backyard, and attending Twins games (back in the days where one could find an empty section and the solitutde to do some writing). But it wasn't so much the events of the summer that I enjoyed. Looking ahead, my mind was in a peaceful, hopeful state I haven't encuontered before or since. Going back to the piece Melodye contributed a couple of weeks back about the importance of attitude, the best summer of my life wasn't special because of what I accomplished but rather because I looked at life in a different way. Sure, I eventually lost the girl, and headed down the road of a jaded cynic but for a brief period I did believe what France Albert sang, "Fairy tales can come true. They can happen to you..."

Another prong... Has anyone seen Paul McCartney recently? His last appearance/piece of work was on Unplugged (sorry to the person who wanted us to print the MTV show's schedule. I forgot this week. Hold on until next week) and he hasn't been seen since. Maybe Paul really is dead this time. I played his Tripping the Live Fantistique backwards and I could have swore he said, "I'm gettin gold and don't have many more discs in me..." Some of my faith in humanity was restored when my favorite mother of two (now qualified as "one of my favorite mothers of two) attended last Monday night's Kathy Mattea concert. I made her a tape of Ms. Mattea's last CD which filled up one side of the tape so I was left to ponder what to fill the second side with. Not knowing her taste in music, I put a hodgepodge of stuff on and the one song she said she really liked was McCartney's "This One" which is one of my all time favorite songs. That she chose that song to single out means there still is hope for all of us.

Final thrust: Our newsletter is about to make history as I sent off several issues to Washington DC where I have directed our correspondent, Alex, to march them straight to the Smithsonian. I hope they have a recycling bin there too...

Monday, October 12, 1992


It’s moments like this that give bald women a bad name. Once again Cheapo is at the cutting edge of the country's consciousness. The Heights troubles with the "Jim and Tammy" advertisement foreshadowed the incidents of the past week. Our store learned first hand how serious people take religious figures. Sinead O’Connor caused a similar ripple of controversy when she ripped up a picture of the Pope during last week's "Saturday Night Live".

Not having seen the show nor knowing the details of her motivation, it's difficult to criticize or applaud her actions. Supposedly the rippage was a protest against the Catholic Church’s continued oppression of women (hardly a news flash); and how O’Connor blames the atmosphere of that oppression for some of the abuse she endured as a girl. The outcry that followed is akin to the standard anger people display after any desecration of a sacred symbol -like the burning of a flag. However this country's hypocrisy was on display the past week during the second straight appearance of the Atlanta Braves in baseball's National League Championship series. Why is the American Indian's protest (led by Clyde Bellecourt) against the Atlanta fan's obnoxious and racist "tomahawk chop" dismissed as silliness from a "fringe" group? Is it that in a sporting arena any activity is acceptable as long as it is i n the name of fun? Or can it be mainstream America still regards the Indians as less than real citizens so the ridicule of "their" symbols is to be tolerated while a serious symbolic protest against a religious figure is seen as blasphemous?

This isn't to say what O’Connor did is on par with the insensitivity demonstrated by the Brave's fans. Obviously she gave much more thought to the response she would get compared to any of the "tomahawk choppers. Still, her demonstration was an ineffective reaction to a serious issue. There isn't anything funny in what she did, nor is it amusing to think there still is a football team named the "Redskins". Perhaps it is time even in the litigious society we live in, to start being more sensitive to the different beliefs and groups of people that form our society. O’Connor obviously meant to stir up controversy. But wouldn't it have been more effective to articulate her concerns'(perhaps in a song -allegedly what she does best) rather than behave in a way which only drew attention to herself, rather than what she was attempting to "say"? The focus of the past week wasn't on the philosophy of the Catholic Church, but rather on O’Connor's continued controversial behavior.

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A couple of comments on a few of the past week's contributions. I greatly enjoyed Mark Lethert's article last week. I was flattered to be compared to Glenda Jackson. I also enjoyed Denise's list of restaurants to eat at in St. Paul for less than five dollars. I only disagreed with the Old City Café (what is that stuff?) and would add the Lagoon which is a Vietnamese restaurant (where the waitress sits with you if you are alone) near our State Capitol. I also thought Al's postcards were highly entertaining. I especially was amused by his "rain" story. It sounded like it was a fun trip. Welcome home.