More than anything I can put my finger on, there were two forces in my formative years that grabbed what might have been a normal, productive life destined to maybe write ad copy or sue people over outrageous grievances, and nudged it off course. Given more than 10 minutes of deep introspection or professional help, I could surely flesh out that list by several orders of magnitude, but deadlines beckon.
One, the latter of the two but what would you expect from someone who reads magazines backwards, was the music of Frank Zappa. At a time when the Beatles dont get me wrong, I liked the Beatles were singing about wantin to hold my hand, Frank was writing "Trouble Comin Every Day" with lyrics like this:
Well, you can cool it, you can heat it
Take your TV tube and eat it
All that phoney stuff on sports
And all those unconfirmed reports
You know I watch that rotten box
Until my head begins to hurt
From checkin out the way
The newsmen say they get the dirt
Fore all the guys on channel so and so
And further they assert
That any show theyll interrupt
To bring you news if it comes up
They say "If the place blows up
Well be the first to tell"
Cause the boys they got downtown
Are working hard and doing swell
And if anybody gets the news
Before it hits the street
They say "No one blabs it faster
Our coverage cant be beat"
And if another woman driver
Gets machine gunned from her seat
Theyll send some joker with a Brownie
And youll see it all complete.
They dont write songs like that anymore. For that matter, no one else wrote songs like that in 1968. Stumbling over it in a remainder bin was probably a mixed blessing. Im certain it had something to do with not turning out quite the way my parents and guidance counsellors thought I would.
The other major cultural force shaping my psyche was Friday nights. There was a stretch of time when my folks socialized on Friday nights and I was left at home to boss my younger brother and sister around. This meant two things: I got to control the television, and I got to monopolize the most comfy chair with the best sightline. Now that was power.