What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Welcome to the first installment of the newest series here on Dubsism. Regular readers of this blog know this is a not-so-subtle blend of sports and movies. Today, we take a foray into the world of music.
The title is no accident. Honestly, is there a better header than an awful line from a Barbra Streisand ear-worm to tell you this is a series all about songs which bring back specific memories? Don’t lie; you know we all have them. The difference is I’m willing to incriminate myself telling mine.
While I had this idea in the hopper for quite some time, the current pause in the sports world coupled with the fact a British friend of mine challenged me to one of those “list your ten favorite albums” things on InstaFace, there really couldn’t be a better time to launch this.
First of all, it wasn’t Sicily in 1922 (although I’ll stack up my Marinara sauce against Sophia’s anytime…but that’s for another time). It was more like Southern California on the doorstep of the Reagan administration. Back in 1980, I was just another punk kid in the “Southland” with a Suzuki 125 dirt-bike.
That may not sound like much, but when you are in the 7th-grade and have your own motorized wheels, you define the term “rock star.”
Speaking of “rock stars,” the other thing had I had at the time besides a decidedly not-street-legal bike was a growing taste in music. A major part of that burgeoning need for new music was the “bad kid” radio station; the one all my friend’s older brothers listened to which played all the “hard” stuff like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin…the stuff to which only “bad kids” listened.
Then came a day when I noticed my neighborhood 7-11 convenience store had a copy of an album by a band rapidly capturing my attention. They had the cassette in their small music right next to the room with the pinball machines and these new-fangled contraptions called video games (I said that in my best “old-man” voice). The problem was I didn’t have the $5.99 to buy it, and I certainly wasn’t ready to steal it…well, at least not yet anyway.
That brings us to the beauty known as the never-ending suburb that was the Southern California of yesteryear. There was a day when there was a 7-11 which wasn’t also a gas station at almost every major intersection. That meant you didn’t have to go more than about three-quarters of a mile in any direction to find one. That opened up a world of possibilities for a kid in the 7th-grade who had motorized mobility.
There was another kid down the street who had just moved in from New Jersey. Despite living in Southern California, my family’s roots all traced back to Philadelphia. There’s was something refreshingly familiar hearing voices speaking “New Phila-Jersey-ese” even if they were the prototypical “greaseballs” from Passaic. Being I was a “military brat” and coming from divorced parents, I bounced around a lot. That meant I usually became friends with the “new kid” (when it wasn’t me) because I knew all too well how much being the “new kid” sucked.
It was during that befriending that I realized “Jersey Tommy” had already set up for himself a nice little enterprise in selling “skin” magazines like Playboy and Hustler he swiped from those very same 7-11s. I knew he had to be too smart to be doing that continually in the store in our neighborhood; it would be way too easy for him to get recognized. Every kid in the neighborhood bought crap in that store all time, and even if they didn’t, the school bus stop was right across the street. The clerks in that store could easily pick out any kid in the neighborhood; they saw them all the damn time.
It was when I saw “Jersey Tommy’s” Mongoose BMX bike and his back-pack that I figured out what he was doing. There were any number of 7-11s within an easy bike ride; even easier if you had a motorcycle. So, I rode my not-street-legal bike a few neighborhoods over, and sure enough that store had that tape I wanted in pretty much the same spot. But it was in this foot-long hard plastic case so you couldn’t just stuff it in your pocket and walk out.
The woman behind the counter was 50-something with a bad home perm; she just looked like her name was Eunice or Mavis or some shit like that. She also was too involved in her Marlboro and People magazine to give a damn about what I was up to. There was no way I was getting that cassette out of that anti-theft device without a major cutting tool, so I just grabbed it, ran out the door and hopped on my Suzuki. The last thing I heard before that little 125-cc engine roared to life and the squeal of about a half-pound of knobby-tire rubber getting laid in that parking lot was Eunice or Mavis or whatever the hell her name was not even taking the cigarette out of her mouth to yell “Come back here you nappy-headed little son of a bitch!”
One thing about being on the cusp of your teen years is you have no idea about scale because your world is exceptionally self-centric. In other words, if something big is going on in your world at any given moment, it’s the biggest thing happening anywhere. I’m about six blocks into making my Dillinger-esque escape from the “Great 7-11 Caper” when an L.A.P.D. squad car peels out behind me. In the heat of the moment, I couldn’t believe the cops were on me that fast! I wasn’t until later that I realized those cops had no idea I had just heisted a six-dollar tape from a 7-11.
There was no way that Eunice or Mavis or whatever the hell her name was dropped her Marlboro and called the cops who were on me in under a minute. Instead, the cops simply saw a kid on not-street-legal bike whipping down a city street going at least 50 miles per hour. Even if they had, a punk kid with a hot six-buck tape on him didn’t warrant breaking out the helicopter for the pursuit. Without the “eye in the sky,” there is no way a squad car is going to catch a dirt bike; not on a city street and certainly not if I found an open hillside…which the “Southland” had far more of forty years ago.
Thirty years ago, we hit one of the silliest moment in pop culture history when British heavy-metal icons Judas Priest got sued because some dimwit parents blamed them for their kids shooting themselves. After a civil trial which bordered on the ridiculous, a judge found them to be not responsible in that case. But ten years before that, they certainly played a role in my “Breaking The Law.”
You can see all the Misty Water-Color Memories here.
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