Tag: katy perry

Friday Night At The Mall

Long before Katy Perry sang about dancing on table tops and getting kicked out of bars I was mastering the art of Friday night. And there’s one particular one that I’ll always remember.

It’s a Friday night in the early 1980’s and my friend Mike and I are hopping into the back seat of his Mom’s old blue station wagon and being chauffeur driven to the Palmer Park Mall. Thirty years ago, being a teenager at the mall on a Friday night was on par with going to the “Dip-and-Dances” at the Palmer Pool in the summer or hanging out with a bunch of classmates after a school event at Penn Pizza. Even if you weren’t popular, if you made it to the mall on Friday night you were part of the in-crowd.

You see getting dropped off at the mall and left alone by your parents moved you up three notches on the coolness meter. Personally, it was also the perfect opportunity for me to showcase my chiseled teenage abs and Sylvester Stallone looks. My red Members Only jacket and my Jordache jeans. Ok, I made up that last part. I really didn’t wear Jordache jeans.

But a typical Friday night excursion to the mall was always exciting for me. It was a chance to see all the kids from school outside of the element. No teachers, pencils or homework assignments. More importantly, it was also a chance to see the hottest girls from school too. Oh sure, I’d always see a few of them here or there roaming the halls all week but in the mall environment they ALWAYS gathered together in some kind of sorority. And although I knew my shyness would inevitably hinder any chance I had at any real conversation with those of the female persuasion, I’d still be polishing up my “Hey Baby” lines as we’d pull into the parking lot.

It wouldn’t be long now before the smell of pizza and feel of Orange Julius running down my arm would put any thought of romance on hold as there were more “male” dominated matters to attend to. Mike’s mom gave us the usual time and rendezvous point to meet up with her for our journey home and at this point, the entire mall was ours.

With no I-Tunes or Internet access of any sort, unless you consider the useless modem that I had for my Commodore Vic-20 computer, being at the mall was the only chance I had to stop into the Listening Booth record store and seek out new music. On good days, today being one of them, I had extra money and with that, the opportunity to buy my very first record album which I eagerly did.

With new music now in hand, Mike and I made our way down around the furthest corner of the mall. Well past The Gap, Pearle Vision Center and Waldenbooks store. A place that was always dark and mysterious. Kind of like some seedy back alley. One of those places where there might be a bunch of people playing an illegal poker game in some smoke-filled back room and you needed a special knock just to be allowed entrance.

Only one thought came to mind as we approached: My pockets have gone through six days of pregnancy with quarters and it was now time for delivery.

I could not wait for the chance to open a can of whoop ass on Mike again playing Space Invaders or Pac-Man. I was feeling particularly lucky this evening which wasn’t a good thing for Mike. Tonight was going to be a good night. I pictured my initials being emblazoned upon all of the top spots of the machine. I was more than ready to place my quarter on the console while someone else was playing and reserve it. You see, there’s a certain unwritten rule about strategically placing your two-bits on the machine that even the meanest of children abide by. It’s the customary thing to do to indicate to the kid currently playing that: “Dude, once your ass is dead, this machine is mine!”

As we slowly entered the darkened Fun Attic arcade it sounded like a scene right out of The Empire Strikes Back. Machines beeping and flashing as far as the eye could see. Teenage Boy Nirvana. Nothing but kids congregating with each other around machines in an attempt to dominate at Pole Position or vanquish the evil Donkey Kong once and for all.

I was always conservative when it came to my video games. Although most kids were now on to bigger and better things I relished being one of the last old school players who much preferred dominating on mindless games like Space Invaders. So you can imagine the shock when I discovered that the Space Invaders machine had been replaced. Apparently, the brilliant minds at Fun Attic had decided to take away the only game I’d ever love.

But that’s when I saw it: Dragon’s Lair.

It sat alone in the middle of the arcade, right where Space Invaders once sat. Beneath a single spotlight that I’m sure was always there but some how never noticed before. It was almost as if it were the Hope diamond on display in some museum.

The machine read “50¢ a play” – fully DOUBLE the cost of three lives on a traditional machine. But as I stood there in awe watching the movie preview enticing me to dump Mario and Ms. Pac-Man to save Daphne the princess and defeat the dragon, I realized I had no choice.

I spent every last quarter I had on that game and loved every minute of it. As I progressed through the levels I took notice that a gaggle of girls from the Palmer Mall Sorority were now lining up around me to watch and cheer me on. Something that never happened while I was playing those “other” games, or at all for that matter.

It didn’t take me long to realize that in addition to this game being the coolest thing ever, it was also a chick magnet. I felt like a rock star maneuvering through the catacombs of the dungeon to the delight of those observing.  Even Mike, my loyal compadre, who normally would have beckoned me over to play pinball by now still stood by my side: my wing man.

When the last of my quarters was gone without rescuing the princess and the girls went back to doing whatever it was girls did my life suddenly had new meaning: I needed to defeat the dragon and impress the ladies.

We soon met up with Mike’s mom at the rendezvous point and were en route back home. And although I had originally planned to just listen to my new music all weekend I couldn’t help but also think about how I needed to double my quarter intake in six days.

Because next Friday night, we were going to do it all again.

Say It Isn’t So

A few days ago a friend of mine asked me to go online and check out a new CD the band he was in had just released. I quickly pointed my web browser to the CD Baby website to give a listen to a buddy whose cover band has been tearing up the local watering holes around town for years. Finally getting to hear his own original music was really going to be a treat.

CD Baby is a gold mine for independent artists. A website most local and regional bands use to promote their new music. It’s a great way for unknowns to get the word out to people who may not even know who they are.

But I never would have guessed that the CD Baby platform would ever be used in the opposite way.

Case in point: While listening to my boy’s uptempo bar songs I happened upon a CD listing for a band whose name sounded familiar to me. The album for sale was called “Replay” and the band was “The Outfield”.

“The Outfield?? It couldn’t be”, I said to myself. But by checking the band description it didn’t take long to realize that yes, this “Outfield” was the exact same Outfield who had been all over radio and MTV and sold five million records thirty-two years ago. Riding a stream of hits including “Say It Isn’t So”, “For You” and “Your Love” (a song which ironically has been in the set list of my buddy’s band for years). What the hell were these guys doing on CD Baby?

I gave a listen to some of the preview tracks just to verify that this was the band whose catchy hooks were a staple of the mid 1980’s. The new songs I heard were actually quite good. Just as good if not better than some of the ones I had heard from them during the Reagan administration. Music that brought back memories of blaring boom boxes, feathered hair and childhood summers. Music that, in my opinion, should now still be played on Top-40 radio and what ever the alternative is for MTV.

Sadly, there was no point in me picking up the phone and calling the local radio station to request California Sun, a track from the new record. Although it would personally be cool to request “The Outfield” again what were the odds that the DJ on the other end of the line would even know who this band was?

Now, had I said Bruno Mars, Katy Perry or Taylor Swift it would be a different story. There is a plethora of songs to choose from there. “Music” that saturates radio today. Song by artists that quite honestly are completely interchangeable with each other. All manufactured with the same chords, the same beat and the same theme. The only difference being the actual lyrics of the song and even most of those are cliché’.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hearing about skies full of lighters, a drunk party or crying out in the yard at two in the morning because my boyfriend broke up with me. They only make me long more for the days of Josie being on a vacation far away.

Music isn’t created anymore, its manufactured on an assembly line. The songwriters are gathered together with ideas already in place by the suits at the record company and the music is programmed in a high-tech studio in some big city. It makes me wonder how many actual musicians are playing their instruments on these tracks. Finally, it’s all put together, packaged and backed by a gigantic marketing team with deals already in place with major suppliers.

The days of the public deciding what music is good and bad are over – companies now tell you what you should buy and price their product appropriately.

Want proof? Just check out in stores and digital downloads. Ever notice that some new digital music singles sell for 30% less than standard 99-cent rate? And new CDs, for certain popular artists, which normally sell for $13.99 at a store, sell for $7.99?  Not coincidence.

It’s no longer about the music or how much money sales generate, it’s only about how many physical units are sold. Selling a million physical copies of a single or a CD offsets the loss of millions of dollars in the art that created it.

Worst of all, this manufactured stuff gets top billing in stores, radio and I-Tunes while “real” new music gets pushed to Indie web sites to be stumbled upon by accident.

To help reinforce my point about the difference between real music and today’s manufactured material let’s do a quick comparison of #1 songs in the USA from the years 1982 and 2011.

Entire month of January 1982: Physical: Olivia-Newton John
Entire month of January 2011:  Grenade: Bruno Mars

Entire Month of April 1982: I Love Rock and Roll: Joan Jett and The Black Hearts
Entire Month of April 2011:
ET (Katy Perry w. Kanye West) – No, it’s not about the little alien guy who ironically, first appeared in 1982.

Half of the month of July and all of August 1982: Eye of The Tiger (Survivor)
Entire month of July and Half of August 2011: Party Rock (LMFAO Featuring Lauren Bennett & GoonRock)

Now, armed with this knowledge, ask yourself this question:

Thirty years from now, which songs will you still remember?

My Take On The Tracy Morgan Incident

A few nights ago SNL and Thirty Rock star Tracy Morgan appeared at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville to do a stand up performance. This was a show that patrons had to pay to get in to. Apparently, some weren’t prepared for the remarks that awaited them.

At on point during his routine Mr. Morgan proceeded to go on vicious rant about homosexuality. Even at one point stating he would kill his own son if he came home one day and told him he was gay. To me, it’s definitely pushing the envelope to say you’d murder you own son but I also took into account that this is a comedy show and he can say what ever he wants. A lot of other people didn’t think so and have called for his head.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with what Mr. Morgan said or did. I also have nothing against being gay. And I’ve heard plenty of jokes that put me down for things I am or was. People can say what they want. If Mr. Morgan really feels that way about the gay lifestyle then soon enough he’ll get what’s coming to him. But I can’t call for his execution for what he says in a stand up comedy show.

Thing is, if you don’t like him, don’t watch his show or buy his DVDs. But please don’t stand there and raise holy hell that he apologize for a show in which he created and that people paid money to see.

What people don’t seem to understand is that the envelope is pushed every single day. Comedians, film makers and even musicians for that matter couldn’t survive without pushing it. Most do it all the time and no body bats an eye. But every so often it seems someone needs to be sacrificed to the people with the pitch forks and torches and appease them for the next few years. It’s now Mr. Morgan’s turn.

So why all the hub-bub? Especially since we are such a hypocritical society.

Look no further than your late night television. Remember how saying bad words was taboo? Not any more. Even Mr. Twilight himself Robert Pattison dropped the “F” bomb during the MTV Movie Awards last week. Live television and the censors missed it.  Everyone kind of just of blows that one off.  But tell me, how many eight to sixteen year old Twilight loving girls were watching him talk about what he did to Reese Witherspoon in Water For Elephants?

I think we should call for an apology. He should also do public service announcements on the benefits of safe sex. But most importantly, they should immediately cancel the release of any more Twilight movies. Much to my dismay though, they won’t. Especially the part about cancelling future movies.

We all know how artists like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Ke$ha like to use sex to push the envelope to kids. And how hard core rappers and death metal bands rant about doing drugs and killing everything and anyone. At least for them there’s some element of restriction. The infamous “Parental Advisory” sticker that most parents simply ignore anyway. But what about those places where it’s just one big free for all?

Take a good look at the Kidz Bop website. There are lots of children posting videos of themselves covering Bruno Mars’ single, Grenade. Good song actually, but do you really think it’s appropriate that Kidz Bop would let kids post videos of them singing how they’d “take a bullet straight through my brain”?

Where’s the outrage?

I remember watching an episode of MASH thirty years ago when Hawkeye Pierce called a North Korean torturer a “son of a bitch”. It was the perfect line to say in the context of the show and my mouth dropped when I heard it. I even thought my Dad was going to wash my mouth out with soap just for hearing it. That was pushing the envelope then. It’s way past the female dog stage now.

Now a days, I think a hairy ass, a boob and the word “shit” are all allowable. But not until after 9PM. Or maybe it’s no left boob until after 10PM. Well, you get my point.

Only time will tell if Tracy Morgan can survive this little episode. He’s already apologized for his own comedy show. I’m just not sure if that’s going to be enough.

But if you ask me, I’d much rather see the big wigs from movies, music and television apologize for what they’re doing to our children.