Thursday, April 12, 2018

Leave My D'Angelico at Checkpoint Charlie ... Crossover Editition

This story was inspired by Bill Flanagan's book U2 At the End of the World. Particularly, this story was inspired by Bono's pants-less escapade in the newly former East Berlin when a family decides to take back their home after the fall of communism.

"I'm not here for or against any government,” Springsteen said, speaking in German. “I've come to play rock 'n' roll for you in the hope that one day all the barriers will be torn down.” July 18, 1988 Bruce Springsteen in East Berlin 

          Steam still escapes their mouths as they are locked in a passionate kiss.  The fire, not lit long enough to warm the room, warrants the sheet covering the couple, still dressed where nudity is not necessary. Biatrix hasn't taken off Alex's oversized Grenztruppen visored service cap and it is tilted sideways on her head as the two consummate the first time of seeing each other in over three months. Each thrust from Alex emanates gradually louder moans from Biatrix.

          The room that was cold and silent, is now slowly filled with the sunset, which is red as a nosebleed and filling the dank , East Berlin flat. The room and the couple are tinged in deep red tones making it appear  as if the world is on fire outside. It's heightened by the last of the light reflecting off the Spreekanal below. Outside, the faint sound of a crowd could be heard, but not by the couple who can currently only hear the sounds of each other and the straining bed.

             Just as Alex is about to name a fifth deity and collapse onto Biatrix, the crowd outside finally became obvious to them both. Just about as obvious as the footsteps tramping up the stairs.

          "Was zur Hölle ist los? Was zur Hölle ist los?" He says in a frenzy because he's supposed to be sitting in the gate guard booth a few blocks away.
          "Yes, just what the hell is that?" Biatrix's soft British has a hint more curiosity in it. Her brown bobbed hair makes her look like a cabaret girl. As she pushes Alex off her, a young East German border guard enters the threshold of the door. 


          Biatrix, still clad in the hat, has wrapped the sheet around her barely clothed body, leaving Alex to fend for himself by holding onto his private parts after saluting.

          Their level of professionalism strikes Biatrix. The Sergeant quickly updates Alex, his first Lieutenant, without being bothered of what he just interrupted. She puts her pants back on as she gathers something about a press conference gone horribly wrong. She buttons her white dress shirt and finds her sports jacket on the floor.

          She looks out the window at the throngs of East Germans passing under the window of the flat on Wallstrasse. The protests have been growing but there is something different about this. Even the massive demonstration at Alexanderplatz was impressive, but there is energy in the people below.  These people are going somewhere. They have bags with them and a look of determination.

         "Ich muss gehen." She looks at Alex as she mutters to herlelf. She must go soon.

          "Danke." Alex quickly dismisses the Sergeant and rushes to the window.  He smiles at Biatrix and kisses her.

          "It's happening." Still without pants and his shirt unbuttoned, Alex smiles as he stares out the window. "And it's happening by accident!" He starts to button his shirt as Biatrix hands his uniform trousers to him. His hands are shaking as he takes them from her.
          "They can go? To the West?" She begins to help Alex with his pants as he buttons his coat. "Just like that?"

           "Not really, but yes, really. Krenz just announced on live television, that starting immediately everyone can pass through the checkpoints to West Berlin...What he was not educated about or simply failed to mention was that you can apply to pass tomorrow and then still have to wait another day to go and that you won't be able to return to the East once doing so." He grabs his hat off the dresser and places it neatly onto his short blonde hair. "The communist leader in East Berlin just started a revolution."

          "I have to get back." Biatrix leans on Alex as she puts her boots on.

          The two stop and stare at each other, seemingly alone in the midst of the end of the world they've come to know. With shouts of wir wollen raus, we want out, fill the streets, the two lovers study each other.
           "You'll be helped by my superiors and the allies." The ecstatic mood quickly sours at the realization that British spy and empathetic and brave East German border guard are at a precipice. "You helped us. You helped so many of them."

          "Meine mutter, go to her. She will be worried. Please. I don't know how I'll..." he stops. He turns his attention to his boots, pulling them over his trousers. Then he begins to laugh.

          "What?" She asks as the moment is becoming absurd.

          "Can you please go to my flat?"

          "You're kidding. The guitar?" Biatrix puts her purse over her shoulder and habitually checks for all of her documents.
          "You can drop it off at the Checkpoint."

           "So you want me to casually drop off your 1964 Excel D'Angelico, in cherry red, amidst the throngs of people waiting to breathe air in the free world?" She starts to laugh as well.

            "I mean, if you could grab some of my records as well that would be great." He puts his hands on her shoulders. "Bee, I'm asking you to get my guitar.  You know that is the only thing I have from my father...For the past five years you've been smuggling people into West Berlin and valuable medicines into East Berlin all the while maintaining a secret relationship with an East German border guard under the threat of  detection by the Stasi."

         "Fine." As she grabs her coat a ruckus is heard downstairs. Thinking the crowd outside is simply overtaking the vacant building, they rush out, leaving the fireplace roaring.

          Downstairs, they are met with a family carrying their bags and seemingly their worldly possessions. "Raus aus meinem Haus!" Three burly German men cross their arms in deifiance as children begin to run past them and up the stairs.

          "Your house, this place has been vacant for years!" Biatrix doesn't even bother to answer them in German.

          Alex grabs her hand and leads her past them. They all stare at the East German soldier, uncertain of his next actions. "Willkommen zuhause!" He shouts to their surprise. Welcome home. Exiled to the west, a family is finally welcomed to return to their own home.

         At the front door, they embrace before going their separate ways. Alex kisses the top of Biatrix's head while also smelling her hair. He speaks, her hair muffling him. "I love you. Be safe."

         She squeezes him even tighter. "You need to get away as soon as possible. I'll be at Cafe Adler every day at one o'clock. If you've any problems have the allied guard call for me."

        The crowd is bumping into them as they kiss. He dissolves into the masses moving towards Checkpoint Charlie.

       Alex easily gets to the checkpoint but find that Justus, the young Sergeant is being met with defiant members of the Stasi Pass and Control Unit. They won't let anyone through.

     Now, being the most senior member of the guard at the checkpoint, he orders all gates opened. People flood through, leaving their East German passports ripped up as they enter into freedom. No more worries about the death strip, the heavily fortified no-mans-land between the East and West divide. No one else's father, like his own, will die the horrible way he did, sacrificing his life for most of his family's freedom.

       Ten days go by and each afternoon at 1 o'clock, Beatrix arrives at Café Adler. The café conveniently sits opposite the Allied side of Checkpoint Charlie. It's where she fist saw Alex, albeit from a distance as he was guarding the East German gate.

          She successfully rescued the one personal possession of Alex's that meant the world to him, only because it was his father's. The cherry red D'Angelico guitar made it's way safely to the Alex before she was quickly pushed through to the new world with the crowd.  She was met with the welcomed cheers of the Weissi, or the people of West Berlin who were handing out flowers making it feel more like Woodstock than November 9, 1989. Immediately she went to Alex's mother's flat to tell her that hopefully soon, her son would come to the West.

         Biatrix looks at the clock on the cafe wall as she sits in the back room. The cafe, set up like a railroad flat, is packed. Her allied spy hangout will become a tourist trap, she thinks to herself. The lights from the Television crews around the world have turned the dimly-lit cafe into Times Square.

        She sighs and makes sure she's left a tip. Her head down, she makes her way to the front of the building.  Someone bumps into her as she makes her way to the door.
         He's no longer in his green uniform, but is wearing jeans, a leather jacket, and a Bruce Springsteen t Shirt,  his guitar case flung over his shoulder. It's also been ten days since he's shaved, making him almost unrecognizable to her. Alex smiles as he turns to her.

          Beatrix leans over to the nearest table, picking a flower out of a canning jar. "May I?" She doesn't look for acceptance before handing the flower to Alex.

          "Willkommen zuhause. Welcome home." 

My Dream Set List for U2 Innocence + Experience Tour

Super excited to have U2 on the concert calendar yet again this June. So here it is, the wishlist. Yes, this set list is super long, so I'd be happy to hear each of these across three glorious nights at the Garden. 
What is your ultimate U2 set list?

Miracle of  (Joey Ramone)
I Will Follow
Sleep Like a Baby
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Van Dieman's Land Intro; Please;Troubles
The Fly
Stay Faraway (So Close)
Love Comes Tumbling


Raised by Wolves
Walk On; The Ground Beneath Her Feet
City of Blinding Lights
Where the Streets Have No Name
Treasure (Whatever Happened to Pete the Chop)
With or Without You

Window in the Skies
One Shot of Happy;New York
Is That All?
Stranger in a Strange Land
Drowning Man 
Hawkmoon 269
Gloria - 40

Sunday, February 25, 2018

I, Tonya: A Perfect 6.0 / 6.0 Soundtrack

Having lived through the Harding - Kerrigan incident, I really didn't know what to expect in the movie, especially with the music. I did expect many Billboard Top 100 hits from the late 80's and 90's. Overall, the movie itself was phenomenal. It really did tell maybe a scarily accurate tale of Tonya and the abuses she's had in her life, with a docu-drama style side commentary that matched the way we watched this drama unfold over 20 years ago, but from the other side of the story. The music, sorry to disappoint, no Celine Dione, no Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart, Spin Doctors, or UB40. The film makers used music to describe the characters, the scene, and really set the mood for the action. One of the best uses of music I have seen in a very long time to support story telling.

You have songs like Devil Woman, that would be both about future Tonya, or her present mother. Both, evil tempered and determined. 
The soundtrack does not include the risque songs that she often skated too but should be noted. ZZ Top's Sleeping Bag and People are Still Having Sex by Latour, show her attitude of not wanting to be like everyone else. Feels Like the First Time when she lands that first triple axle in competition , Little Girl Bad by Joanie Summers, Heart's Barracuda, and the non-soundtrack song, Norman Greenbaum's Spirit in the Sky round out the passion Tonya really did have for skating. She was a powerhouse but she did not fit the mold.

Shooting Star by Bad Company (ironic band title too) is the first song we hear when Tonya meets Jeff Gillooly. The use of Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits might be the highlight for me. The lyrics of that song are simply perfect for the Tonya and Jeff relationship: 
    Juliet, when we made love you used to cry
 You said 'I love you like the stars above, I'll love you till I die' There's a place for us you know the movie song
When you gonna realize it was just that the time was wrong, Juliet?
And for their divorce,  Supertramp's Goodbye Stranger is soundtrack perfection. Again, it's the lyrics.

The other mood setting songs include many of the song's original scores, as well as The Chain by Fleetwood Mac, Gone Daddy Gone by the Violent Femmes, and a wonderful version of Iggy Pop's The Passenger by Siouxsie and the Banshees.  

The film was able to mirror the real life story. Margot Robbie and Allison Janney deliver flawless performances. And I want to give acting credit to young actress Mckenna Grace who delivers the heartbreaking and emotional performance when Tonya's father leaves. Overall, perfect movie and perfect soundtrack.

Fair to Love Me - Mark Batson
Devil Woman - Cliff Richard
Shooting Star - Bad Company
Romeo and Juliet - Dire Straits
Free Your Mind - En Vogue 
Goodbye Stranger - Supertramp
How Can You Mend a Broken Heart - Chris Nashel
The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
Barracuda - Heart
Gloria - Laura Brannigan
Gone Daddy Gone - Violent Femmes
Dream a Little Dream of Me - Doris Day
Passenger - Siouxsie and the Banshees

Spotify link to the album: 


Monday, January 15, 2018

I Will Always Go Beside You, You Will Always Understand: Dolores O'Riordan

Something has left my life
And I don't know where it went to
Somebody caused me strife
And it's not what I was seeking.
Didn't you see me, didn't you hear me
Didn't you see me standing there
Why did you turn out the lights
Did you know that I was sleeping
Say a prayer for me
Help me to feel the strength I did
My identity has been taken
Is my heart breaking on me
All my plans fell though my hands
They fell
Though my hands on me
All my dreams, it suddenly seems
Like many, there is utter shock at the news of Dolores O'Riordan's sudden passing at such a young age. While grunge was on heavy rotation, the voice of an Irish muse began to infiltrate the airwaves.  The Cranberries Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We gave us so many classic Cranberry songs like Linger and Dreams.  Her voice, poetic and versatile, gave us Ireland in the mainstream again. With their second album, No Need to Argue, her hair pixie short and blonde, we got a heavier dose of her potency. 
Zombie, one of their few political songs, painted perfectly the political feel  at the time, the endless cycle of violence in The Troubles. It's pure emotion. It's the frustration, the denial, and the sadness.

It's the same old theme
Since nineteen-sixteen
In your head, in your head, they're still fighting
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their guns
In your head, in your head, they are dying
PCarlson 2001 Belfast
 And while they may not have stayed in the mainstream, their fan base continued to follow them until their break in 2003. However, it was Dolores that inspired me to shave my hair and buy they Doc Martens. She was a tiny powerhouse and she was my muse. Ireland has a special place in my heart and, to me, she was the continuation of a long tradition of Irish bards and poets who painted their history and religion in beautiful words. 
As a final note, Dolores had a deep regard for her religion and for Pope John Paul II and was able to play the Vatican Christmas concert several times by Pope Benedict. The church " influenced a lot of her development as an artist, as a musician." 
Chuid eile i síocháin  Dolores Mary Eileen O'Riordan
September 6th 1971 - January 15th 2018
        Rain on Rahoon falls softly, softly falling,
 Where my dark lover lies.
 Sad is his voice that calls me, sadly calling,
 At grey moonrise.

 Love, hear thou
 How soft, how sad his voice is ever calling,
 Ever unanswered, and the dark rain falling,
 Then as now.

 Dark too our hearts, O love, shall lie and cold
 As his sad heart has lain
 Under the moongrey nettles, the black mould
 And muttering rain.
~James Joyce 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Feels Just Like Starting Over ... Goodbye 2017

And here we are again at the crossroads of another year. And what a strange, crazy, year we have had. It's been full of those really awesomely great moments, but also a lot of really sad, tragic, and questioning moments. So how do we move on from 2017 - in a time of turmoil and uncertainty.

I am going to  proselytize here for a bit, but I'm not looking for you to convert. You will also not hear U2's New Year's Day as that is a song about Polish Solidarity. (See, I always ruin songs for you.) I think that with even with all of the suck that was 2017, we are more alive than ever. We're involved, be it through social media, but people give a damn. We're passionately standing up for our causes and concerns. But please, I beg you, check your facts. Pretend whatever you post is going to that teacher in high school you feared. Also, remember that we are all entitled to our own beliefs and opinions. Both may not be wrong or right. Kind of like how I can't stand Rush. I am neither right nor wrong.

But most of all, can we just be kind to one another? You don't know what that guy with a scowl on his face sitting across from you on the subway has gone through today - maybe he lost his job, his boyfriend, girlfriend, or can't shake those bombs from Fallujah anymore.  I even have to remind myself not to check the morons walking up the subway stairs slower than Belt Parkway Traffic on a Sunday, their smart phones in their hands, that glow on their face. Maybe they are waiting for important news - or just have a Pinterest obsession. Give everyone at least one chance.

Also, don't waste energy over something you cannot change. However , exhaust yourself to the limit over something that you can! 2018 is a chance to start over and feel relieved that some things are left behind. There are many things in my brain that I am tossing out with the Prosecco bottles Sunday morning, leaving room for the good moments to grow and make some space for new memories.

We've all lost something or someone this year be it a family member, friend, idol, or stranger. It's never too late to get up and start again. While pain or memories may linger, you've got to live for you and those who love you. We come into and leave this world on our own - and those are two pretty big damn things to do by yourself. So getting in shape, setting a goal, or trying something crazy is pretty doable when you look at it that way.

And don't give up on music. It is still out there very alive. More importantly, go see your favorite bands. Go see new artists. Most artists today are making their money through touring...thanks internet. Create memories through music. 

Speaking of music ...who should you be listening to in 2018??

Greta Van Fleet
Caroline Rose
Mt Joy

You should continue to listen to: 

Nicole Atkins


And maybe you should check out some wearable rock and roll while you're at it courtesy of  Dana Distortion.

Finally, I want to thank you for reading this blog. Your support means the world. It was just an idea and you've helped to foster it into something greater than I ever imagined. 
Please continue to send your ideas, new bands, and comments. Happy New Year to you all! Now, let's go chase those dreams, shall we?

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars~ Oscar Wilde