Tag Archives: live aid

That time I crashed my car because of Scritti Politti

The year was 1985.  I had just gotten my driver’s license and was terrorizing the streets of Phoenix, Arizona in my beige Dodge Omni.  (My dad always bought the most Al Bundy-esque cars…)

Yes, the Dodge Omni was ugly.  No, it was not the most reliable car I would ever drive.  Yes, it had a cassette tape deck.  That was all I cared about.  My cassette collection was impeccable. If a band was featured in Star Hits magazine or on MTV, I most likely had their cassette.  I joined the Columbia House record and tape club, and then quit, and then rejoined, so I could keep getting 12 records or cassettes for A PENNY.

However, sometimes a band was so important, I had to actually go to the record store and buy it on the release date.  Scritti Politti was one of these bands.  I had a very dangerous crush on the singer, Green Gartside.  (Now that I think about it, he kind of looked like Nick Rhodes, who was my scary obsession in the 80’s.)

My parents had gone out of town to Las Vegas (some of you may remember my dad’s gambling problems, as mentioned in my earlier post about the the time I went to Las Vegas to see Barry Manilow with my parents). Since I was the oldest child, it was my responsbility to be a grown up and so I was allowed to drive the car in case of an emergency.

What could be more of an emergency than buying a brand new cassette of the new Scritti Politti record?  Plus, the record store was only a couple of miles away, I rationalized to myself.

I headed to Zia Records, where all of the clerks would give you a hairy eyeball if you bought disposable 80’s pop, such as Scritti Politti.  It was very much a “John Cusack in High Fidelity” atmosphere.  At sixteen years old, I really didn’t care what a bunch of old hairy dudes thought of my dodgy record-buying habits.

Shiny new cassette in hand, I headed back to my car and ripped the wrapper off.  I popped the cassette in and listened through the car’s tinny speakers.  The sound of Green Gartside’s voice was like a balm for my soul.  He sounded like he had been filled with helium.  He sounded like the aural equivalent of spun sugar, and I was bursting with joy.  I sat in the parking lot and listened to the first song, and then I decided to head home.

You know those ads that say “Don’t text and drive”?  Well, I should have been told not to listen to music and drive.  I was so absorbed in what I was listening to, I didn’t realize that the car in front of me had stopped.  This car was driven by a little old lady and she had stopped in the middle of the road for NO REASON.  There was no light, no stop sign, nothing.

BANG!  I rear ended her car with the old Dodge Omni.  I didn’t have my seat belt on (Wear your seat belts, kids) and my chin slammed against the steering wheel.

I was freaking out because I had only gotten my license a few weeks earlier, and now I already was going to get a ticket.  The car was not too bad, at least, but I knew my parents were going to be so disappointed and angry.  I started crying, and I threw the door open to take a look at the situation.

The old lady was already out of her car.  As soon as she saw me, she pointed at me and started screaming.  I looked around.  She told me to look in the mirror.  I sat in the driver’s seat and looked in the visor’s mirror, and there was blood dripping down my chin.  It didn’t hurt, probably because I was in shock.


Then I realized I was bleeding because my teeth had cut through my chin and punched a big old hole in it.  Hooray!

The police came and gave me a ticket.  I tried to act brave, but then the cop said they were going to bring the paramedics and that I should go to the hospital.  They asked me for my parent’s phone number to get medical consent.

This is when I started crying really hard, because I didn’t have a number for them.  They were in Vegas, and this was WAY before cell phones were invented.  I told the cop what was going on and he told me that he couldn’t leave until he knew I had medical attention.  I told him maybe we could go to my friend’s house, because her mother would be at home.

I remember that I was shaking, freaking out, and bawling as I headed to my friend Sue’s house, which was just down the block.  Her parents were home because they weren’t degenerate gamblers that were enslaved to the one-armed bandit.  (Thank God this was before Indian casinos, because we would probably have been homeless.)  The cop told Sue’s mom what happened, and she hugged me, cleaned me up,  and took me to the emergency room.  She told the docs that she was my aunt so I could get stitches.  She also gave me a ride home afterward, and got my car back to me the next day.  Sue’s mom was the best.

I had stitches that looked like giant black hairs growing out of my chin like an old Russian lady, which is just what you want in your junior year of high school.

I decided that I wanted Green to send me a letter or a card or something.  I had no idea how to reach him.  (Remember, no Google back then)

Who could help me?  Oh yeah, Star Hits magazine!  I should write to Jackie and ask her!  And I did.  And it got PRINTED!  I was printed in Star Hits!  My first publishing credit…under an alias…which is how I prefer to live my life.

I never heard back from Green.  Maybe he will see this post and send me a note…


Mullets I have loved – vol. 5 – Bono (love/hate edition)

If I was going to sum up my relationship with Bono as a Facebook status, I’d have to choose “It’s Complicated”. You see, back in the 80’s, I thought he was a golden god. Then in the 90’s, I was starting to get confused. And now I pretty much hate the sight of him. I suppose it’s the same for everyone who is in my age group (aka The Olds).

Yesterday while I was flipping channels, I ran across Palladia showing Rattle and Hum and got sucked in, mostly because I was at the Arizona shows that were filmed for that movie. I surprised myself by bursting into tears when I saw the footage from Arizona. (I was having a very hormonal weekend, I was crying at everything. What a mess.) I had forgotten how much U2 used to mean to me, and how much I used to love them. In 1987, I couldn’t have loved anything more purely than how I loved Bono. He was a poet and a prophet to me.

I will follow!

I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the first time I encountered Bono and his mullet. MTV used to show the Under a Blood Red Sky concert all the time. It was unavoidable, and I was unable to resist its lure. Bono and his mullet were brand new, and so earnest and sincere. Bono had something to say, but he hadn’t quite figured out what it was yet. He wasn’t overbearing and pompous and sanctimonious yet. He was just a young Irish boy who was in a rock band and wanted to be heard.  His mullet was fluffy and clean and had blonde bangs, just like John Taylor of Duran Duran!

The first time that the world took notice of Bono and U2 was during the Live Aid concert.  Bono pulled a woman from the crowd to dance with her, and melted my heart.  He wanted to be close to his fans!  He didn’t take crap from The Man who said it was dangerous, he just dropped the mic and jumped!  He was a romantic figure to little girls watching around the world, and his mullet was leonine and stiff.  Now that I watch this clip without the rose-colored glasses of youth, I can see that he’s starting to become pompous and self-serving.  The seeds are germinating.

U2 reached their peak in 1987 with The Joshua Tree.  U2 played four shows in Tempe, Arizona that year, and I went to all four of them.  That was the year that the Governor of AZ (Evan Mecham, who was later impeached), decided to take away the MLK holiday.  Instead of boycotting AZ, U2 decided to run a campaign of sorts in order to restore the holiday.  This is when Bono realized that he could use his power as a rock star to change things politically in the world, and marks the beginning of the end.  He was beginning to morph into the unbearable figure we know and loathe today.  His hair was getting longer, and not really a mullet anymore.  Most of the time it was filthy and unkempt.

I, in my youth, still worshipped him.  I signed petitions and campaigned and helped get that bastard Mecham impeached.  We got the holiday back too, and when U2 returned in December to film shows for their movie, it was a victory party.  I remember the crowd filing out of the stadium after the show, singing 40.  It felt like I had just been to church.  I felt like I had been a part of something powerful and had accomplished a great task.  I know now that all that happened was I had been watching a concert.

In the 1990’s, Bono started having a little fun with his image.  I thought he was starting to take himself a little bit less seriously when he did his characters of The Fly and Mr. Macphisto.  I liked it when U2 dressed up like the Village People and did a disco song.  However, the fan base rebelled and record sales went down and most people were unhappy, so the fun times ended.  Bono put away the clown shoes and became even more serious, pompous and pretentious.  This is when he became a giant douchebag and a complete joke.

Yes, he does a lot of good in the world (I suppose), but as a rock star, he is finished.  I cannot see him in that capacity any longer.  I can’t go to U2 shows anymore because I can’t stand looking at him.  I feel a huge fiery ball of hatred in my throat and it chokes me.  It tastes bitter and mean.

Bono can either be a musician or a politician.  He can’t be both.  And let’s be honest here, once he shaved off the mullet, it was over.

Mullets I have loved – vol. 2 – Paul Young

Paul Young has been relegated to the “Who was he?” file, which is a goddamn shame. This man can interpret a song like nobody else. (He also had impressive skills in the mullet and moose knuckle department, as seen above.)

Although no one really remembers him except for nostalgic aging saddoes like me, back in 1985 he was THE SHIT.  I mean, he was everywhere.  You could not escape this man, no matter how hard you tried.  His cover of Hall & Oates Every Time You Go Away was a huge hit, and he was all over MTV.

I had first become enraptured with him a few years before that, when I saw the video for Come Back and Stay.

His hair is so amazing in that video isn’t it?  It’s kind of like a rooster or maybe a hedgehog.  If I’m not mistaken, Star Hits magazine used to call him The Hedgehog.  I’m almost 100% sure that I remember this, but if any of you readers remember otherwise, let me know.  I couldn’t find any proof within easy reach.

When Paul Young wasn’t dating Simon le Bon’s leftovers (anyone remember Claire Stansfield?), he was touring and doing amazing mic twirls.  One of my biggest regrets in life is that I never got to see him perform live in concert because he never came to Phoenix.  Back in those days, I had no way to travel around the country and catch my favorite acts.  If only I had been a little bit older!

I also missed out on Wham! in the 80s, but I did catch George Michael on his comeback tour a few years ago.  However, Paul Young never got to have a comeback tour in the US.

I’m not sure why Paul isn’t more popular in America.  He would be perfect for American Idol, because basically what he’s famous for is covering and reinterpreting other artist’s songs.  He was 1985’s Susan Boyle, I guess.  (Except he was cute!) Now all of the older artists like Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow are doing that “American Songbook” cover album.  Paul Young should be cornering the market on this shit!  What the what????

If you’re curious about Paul’s music, you should download his album No Parlez, which was his debut.  Yes, it includes his cover of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, which is universally despised (except by me), but I swear it’s a classic album.  That’s my favorite record, but all of his music is fabulous – he’s got a really soulful voice and such emotion when he sings.

Come on, Paul, why don’t you come back?  Please hurry!

Oh and if you had any doubt or curiosity about Paul’s skills as a live performer, check this video out.  When I was watching Live Aid unfold in front of my wondering eyes, this was one of the highlights of my day.  (Look at him work the mic stand!)