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Showing posts from May, 2013

The Go-Go's: Cool Jerks Who Left Skidmarks on My Heart

Beauty and the Beat was Gidget with a sexy edge.

The image of those five talented and attractive musicians cruising Santa Monica Boulevard in that red 1960 Buick LeSabre convertible in the video for "Our Lips Are Sealed" was California dreaming incarnate.

Nobody knew then, outside the band, that they were in fact the "Cool Jerks" of their cool song's title. Their exuberant music, blending the infectious optimism of rock 'n roll's early days -- a la the Surfaris -- with pop's poignant melodies and punk's incendiary rawness, is not fading fast.  The Go-Go's were it until they split, which wasn't long.  Beauty and the Beat, their unforgettable debut album, left long skidmarks on my impressionable, pre-pubescent heart.  I can hear that record's grooves spinning still with cracks and pops.

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

Every wolf's and lion's howl
Raises from hell a human soul ~ William Blake, from "Auguries of Innocence"

A novella scarcely 100 pages on half-sized leaves, finished in little more than an hour, Train Dreams hauls boxcars of story that could fully load the most epic of tomes.  Train Dreams is an epic yet terse tome tracking the eccentric lifetime of Robert Grainier from rustic outpost to wilderness depot.  The cadence of Train Dreams over precipitous trestles and into tunnels keeps time to the timelessness of Grainier's memories and not the continuum of a clock, so that we know Grainier the railroad builder before we know him as an orphan; know the happy short-lived family man after the long-time hermit.  We see the caboose quite often before the engine.  Grainier's jobs seem to converge and become the singular preoccupations in his life, be it freight carrier or logger, salvager or log cabin architect, and memories (or were they dreams?) lingered in Grainier&#…