Friday, May 9, 2008


My friend Andrew Shields tagged me in his blog: this means I am to write six random things about myself. The rules of the tagging, which Andrew posted, indicate that I should also tag people's blogs and get them to follow suit. It's like a blog chain letter or something. But I'll have to break the chain because I don't really have a list of bloggers to link to. And yet I'll try to keep with the spirit of the thing and post "six random things"... which reminds me of the lyrics to "My Favorite Things." These are a few of my randomest things?

1. May 8th was Thomas Pynchon's 71st birthday. I began reading Gravity's Rainbow (1973) in 1976 because a friend/teacher told me about it in 12th grade; I didn't finish my first reading of it until 1980. I started working on a ms. on Pynchon last spring/summer but haven't completed the GR chapter yet.

2. I have lived in four states in a sequence that happens to follow the order in which the states were admitted to the union: Delaware ("the 1st state") 20 years, Pennsylvania 4 years, New Jersey 5 years, Connecticut 14 years (almost), though between PA and NJ, I lived in DE again for 6 years.

3. The books in my personal library and the CDs I own are arranged in chronological order.

4. The cars I have driven are: 1 Honda Civic hatchback, 3 Honda Accord sedans, 1 Toyota Corolla. My favorite was the gray Honda Accord '87 which I drove a lot while commuting to college and throughout grad school and which died in '94 in CT after being backed into in a parking lot.

5. My earliest occupational dream was to draw comicbook heroes for Marvel Comics.

6. The first rock concert I ever attended was Jethro Tull at the Spectrum in Philadelphia in the winter of 1975 when I was in 10th grade.


Andrew Shields said...

My first rock concert was either Billy Joel or Boston. Or no, I think it was actually Linda Ronstadt, with Livingston Taylor opening, something I had completely forgotten until just now!

Donald Brown said...

well I'm glad you remembered! I can live with Linda Ronstadt (no pun intended). But Billy Joel??? Boston?? The latter I can't even conceive since they were a joke to me when they were "hot" which was about 1976 I think. So, maybe if you saw them then, when you were 12, that would be acceptable.

Andrew Shields said...

I saw Billy Joel on the tour for "The Stranger"; while I dislike what he did after that, I have come back to "The Stranger" (at least in memory) as a good album (if only for its memorability: the title cut and "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" are both good tunes, and "Only the Good Die Young" is hysterically funny!

Tom Scholz of Boston graduated from my school in Ohio, so when they played in Toledo, bunches of us went to hear them. But I hardly remember any of their music at all now, which says a lot about the music, especially given how much Billy Joel is still in my brain—or Linda Ronstadt for that matter. Although what I best remember of LR is actually WZ: "Poor Poor Pitiful Me."

Donald Brown said...

Yeah that's the one Joel album I've actually heard all the way through (my older brother had it), and it's probably his best; after that he gave up on his "Piano Man" outsider status and went into mainstream schlock ("always a woman to me"). My favorite LR song was a J.D. Souther tune: "Prisoner in Disguise," but her cover of "Blue Bayou" is also rather affecting.

Andrew Shields said...

There's one bit of schlock on "The Stranger": "Just the Way You Are." But some good rockin' stuff, too, which is at least memorable without being annoying. That's the key here, I guess: the "without being annoying" part!

Donald Brown said...

Oh yeah, I remember that song, at least I did like one line in it: "I don't need clever conversation, don't want to have to work that hard." It's ironic because Billy was rather less clever and his work much less interesting after that album. I always thought "The Entertainer" was also very funny, as was "Angry Young Man." Then of course, "who needs a house out in Hackensack, is that all you get for your money..."

As to Boston, do the words "more than a feeling" ring any bells?

Andrew Shields said...

"More Than a Feeling," yes, but that line is all I remember from the song!

A band I was briefly into a few years later was Rush: I'd love to do a mandolin version of their song "Tom Sawyer"! :-)

But other than that tune, not one iota of Rush has stuck with me.

Donald Brown said...

I cringe at Rush in general and that song in particular. What can I say, you was born too late, thus coinciding with that crap in your teens. So it goes.

Andrew Shields said...

When I was a junior in high school (80-81), my favorite band was Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. By the time I was a senior, I had moved on to, among others, Peter Gabriel (the third album was big at the time, with "Games without Frontiers"). But senior year was also when I discovered XTC, much to my ecstasy.

It was as a freshman at Stanford that I discovered the Dead (who played Frost Amphitheater there in October 82), and then I got into jazz the following year.