2004 Year End Thoughts
Hope Zabriskie

Getting The Led Out

Buick Regal saved my soul this summer. A champagne bronzed, grand touring suspension, four-door luxury sedan. Ride of choice for the American over-50s set. I know what you’re thinking. “Champagne colored? Suhweet!” No, actually I know you’re thinking. “Get to the point girl!” So here it is. When aural push comes to all your music is on a slow boat across the Atlantic shove, the healing powers of FM classic rock radio should not be underestimated.

How on earth does one come to what can only be described as this life-altering conclusion? It is not an easy journey. It involves living abroad, dating musicians, missing your family, being frugal and having far too many CDs. Let’s go back (way back!) several years when I decided to move to a foreign plot of land called Europe. I won’t bore you with how incredible it was to live there, how travel broadens your mind in ways nothing else can, how Europeans actually do bathe, and that living in a world-widened city is a joy every single person should be so lucky to have. Suffice to say I lived abroad, and it shaped me into someone I wouldn’t otherwise be.

My adoptive home was an extremely sonic city. Bands a-plenty and jumpy with hip dance music. Plus, not only is a good chunk of the frothy, candy-colored pop market cornered, but the holier-than-thou hipster indie-muzakoids are also well represented. It’s tough to not slip into its cellar roots, and, since I wanted to capitalize on all opportunities (and I was naïve and ballsy to boot) I stuck a feather in my Yankee cap and called it Le Rock-out Macaroni.

However, early last year, I decided it was time to come back home. America was making some pretty bad choices and I had obviously left the kids on their own far too long. Plus, I missed my family tremendously, and I was rapidly losing my American English. Once I couldn’t remember what horseradish mixed with ketchup was called, I knew it was time to leave (Answer: cocktail sauce!). So I packed my bags and said au revoir to Europe. I sent four huge boxes of CDs home via the cheapest way possible—steamer boat. Estimated time of arrival: 3 months. Tan-fastic.

Mid-summer, I got back to not only the ever-loving arms of the motherland, but to the omnipresent embrace of my mother herself in my hometown of Joe six-pack USA. It was a very strange adjustment period. I hadn’t realized how much I had checked out of America. I didn’t come back much. When I did, I used to think “hmm…that’s messed up…who cares I don’t live here”. But I had no out anymore. I was here. I lived here. So I took my euro-judgmental hat off and drank in the reality of creepy drug ads (field of flowers, kids playing, may cause bleeding from the eyes voiceover, family BBQ); the constant state of utter panic and marrow-deep peril everyday items could place me in if my local news was to be believed (Cell phones cause death. Be sure to find out at 11 if you’re at risk!); the over-salting of pretty much every single food stuff (is sodium-crusted breakfast cereal something desirable?). I got back on the U.S. groove jet.

And just when I was starting to get overwhelmed with plastic surgery shows and the phallus-on-wheels known as SUVs, something amazing happened. I turned on the radio in the grand touring, champagne Buick and heard 105X. Suddenly, I was teleported back to a time when my only real worries were getting enough tater tots for lunch and if I would pass math. That’s right. I became a teen-ager all over again. Of course, living in my mom’s house in my teen-aged bedroom made the retrograde transitional nearly impossible to avoid. But for the love of everything acne-ridden, I was in heaven.

105X’s top of the hour station ID, growled in a La Brea tar pit voice goes: “105”…dramatic pause…”X,” the X emphasized by the sound of a whip cracking twice. Then the Dark Lord baritone comes back and commands you to “Turn it up”. That’s right, gridlocked drivers—turn it UP. See, when I was teen and I should have been listening to classic rock radio, I was far, far too busy cultivating the buds on my burgeoning snobby taste tree. Buds that would eventually bloom into full-fledged bunches of bright red elitism. It took the cutest of the smoking porch/shop class stoner boys, Paul Fowler, to cajole me into a hit off his pipe and fumble in his Dad’s 1965 Bronco to Led Zeppelin III for me to fully realize the classic rock magic. Who knows if it was the pot, Paul’s skills or Jimmy Page’s siren song, but whatever it was—I was hooked, lined and sunk.

My druggie paramour was kind enough to buy me Houses of the Holy and Bowie’s Young Americans. After the self-loathing narcissism of Morrissey and Joy Division—this pure, straight up rock was like a deep, Dionysian drip from the Gods. Pseudo pagan/Camelot/mythical Gods, but whatever, the cup is raised, the toast is made, yeah yeah whatthefuck yeah. It has this amazing in-your-face, let’s fuck and snack on drugs and live life the way young people who can afford to mess up should live it—decadently. The spell held me as tightly as Robert Plant’s jeans held his cornucopia of a crotch. Now we have emo, which is all about overly sensitive cry-babies pissed off ‘cause the head cheerleader isn’t looking at them. Buddy, she ain’t gonna see you moping in the corner with your black hoodie blocking out the sun. Shit ain’t exactly enhancing your doughy appearance. But if you spark one, crack some jokes, then add in a hip flask nip of Jack Daniels—I guarantee she’ll be eating from your hand. Loosen up! We’re young! We have a lifetime of accruing debt and unmet expectations. It’s every American’s place. For now, let’s make haste. Let’s be careless.

And that was what I needed so badly this past summer. Carelessness. I was reacquainting myself with a country I hadn’t known for so long, it was like forging a new identity, just like I did back in those halcyon youthful years. I was upset about not having the security blanket of my music, about the lack of immersion in jazz-deep hipster scenes. But, I was able to find a security blanket far more plush, the familiar one of growing up and heading out to infinite possibilities. And I had all my old friends there: Bowie, Aerosmith, Zepp, Sabbath, The Stones, G-n-R, Thin Lizzy, Hendrix, Springsteen, Neil Young, AC/DC and every young girl’s white wing dove Stevie Nicks. Factor in the reality of my friends and family near me again, a burgeoning new love, and a spanking crisp town, and it all adds up to a gloriously giddy adventure. Grab your cocks and let’s go; Dancing Days are here again.

Reviewed by: Hope Zabriskie

Reviewed on: 2004-12-21

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