“The Facts of Life”: everyone remembers this classic 1980s sitcom about a group of young women attending a private school in upstate New York. I’ve been watching a lot of it lately because my roommate acquired the DVD box set containing all nine seasons (lord have mercy). Repeated viewings of the season one intro have brought something very odd to our attention.
The last bit of footage in the opening montage shows the main characters rolling around playfully on the lawn of their school, as young women are so often known to do. If you look in the upper right hand corner you’ll notice a lone figure on the sidewalk in the background. Arms folded over a red shirt, the figure is looking directly at the frolicking girls…it’s hard to tell if this person is just observing or passing some kind of judgment.
In the grand tradition of conspiracy vernacular I have dubbed this individual “Jeans Man,” because it looks like a man and they are wearing jeans. Who is Jeans Man? A curious student of California’s Pomona College, where they shot the “Facts of Life” intro? A bored crew member? A time traveler from the far off year of 1991? Someone the director deliberately placed to confound viewers during late night DVD binges?
A Google search for “red shirt facts of life season one” yields nothing. If you have any information about the true identity of Jeans Man, what he was doing in 1979 when this footage was shot, and what he’s doing today, please do not hesitate in contacting local authorities. Together we can get through the looking glass on this one.
– every year we endure the Grammys and every year a not insignificant number of people are outraged when the awards fly wildly off target, as if this ceremony has ever accurately reflected anything
– theories abound that Beck’s Album of The Year win last night was the voting body’s mea culpa for snubbing his genius work Odelay! nearly two decades ago; there should just be a category called “Oops!” wherein they grant themselves the opportunity to reverse decisions from years past
– I think we all appreciate Kanye going through the motions for us
– wouldn’t it be great if all this lead to a Beck/Beyoncé collaboration?
– Beck: Scientologist; Beyoncé: Illuminati demigod; they each have five Grammys now, so let’s end this pointless conflict and get back to uncovering the evidence that will prove Lorde is actually in her late forties
…In addition to fishing unused jelly packets out of the trash to rinse off and put back on the dining room tables (previously referenced in this post); what a feeling it is to watch an oblivious diner fiddle with a little plastic bin of grape jelly you rescued just fifteen minutes prior from a muggy grave of chewed hash browns and sausage upchuck.
– the dish washer who was obsessed with Dream Theater and tried to convert me every night
– the dish washer who was obsessed with Canibus and was constantly complaining about ringtone rappers
– the regular customer who always brought his own tiny briefcase of specialized condiments
– the other bus boy who exclusively addressed me as “James Bond Jr.”
– my employee evaluation; the only negative bit was “needs to smile more”
– the day I wore Converse to work instead of my regulation grease-proof boots to prove some kind of point (i.e. I won’t CONFORM to YOUR WORLD, oppressors); I slid around on the kitchen floor the entire night
– the Billy Drago-esque manager who raced Kawasaki motorcycles in his spare time and who could never walk out the back door without taking a deep breath, looking up at the clouds, and saying, “What a beautiful day to die!” (he was later fired for sexual harassment)
– being scheduled weekday mornings and having jack shit to bus
– being scheduled on Sundays and feeling like I was in trench warfare
– never being too mad about the servers not sharing their tips because they all had families to support and I was just some bozo in college
– the in-store satellite radio playing the craziest post-grunge (deep cuts from Green Day’s Nimrod, the 1999 Alice in Chains “reunion” song, etc)
– getting pied in the face on my last day of work by one of the servers (it was a hearty apple pie and I had pieces of fruit caught in my hair for hours)
– running into the lead manager at a nearby Waffle House several weeks after I quit; she told me I was a great employee and that I could come back any time (this was very nice to hear)
I’ve not set foot in that Perkins or any other since hanging up my bus tub.
In 2004 a co-worker invited me to a party at his house to “celebrate” the season premiere of “The O.C.” You remember that show. In all the early commercials, the main kid gets roughed up and one of the bullies says something about 8 Mile. Either “This isn’t the 8 Mile, punk!” or “You’re not living in The 8 Mile, punk!” or “God, stop watching 8 Mile every day, it’s rotting your goddamn brain, punk!” I don’t remember exactly.
Never one to refuse an opportunity for social interaction and free finger foods, I agreed to attend this little soirée. I don’t remember what time I showed up but nobody was there when I did except the co-worker who invited me. There was an awkward pause after I stepped in the door.
“Where is everybody?”
“I lied. There is no party. I thought if I just invited you over to watch ‘The O.C.’ you wouldn’t come.”
He had me there. It was around this time I noticed the floors were concrete. I looked around for a small drain. The kind blood might seep down.
“Look, if you buy me Chinese food, I won’t call the cops.”
My co-worker agreed and I’m happy to report I did not get murdered or molested during the subsequent “O.C.” viewing (although the program itself almost put me in a coma). I think this guy meant exactly what he said: he thought I’d like “The O.C.” and wanted to hang out but didn’t want to seem weird (despite fabricating a party). We’ve stayed pals, he’s a good dude.
Yes, this all really happened.
If you’ve ever caught an interview with Marky Ramone you know he tends to sound a little rehearsed, like he has stock answers he’d prefer to substitute for in-the-moment emotion. Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life As A Ramone reads a lot like that. It’s less heated than Johnny’s Commando or any of Dee Dee’s volumes, working hard to cram in the most superfluous exposition (OMG, we know what the fucking Berlin Wall was). That said, our self-proclaimed Chicken Beak Boy manages to add a tiny bit of fresh perspective to the Ramones legend while additionally owning up to his own bonkers alcoholism.
Granted, it’s frustrating the drummer can be so candid about substance abuse while ignoring more interesting bits of his mythology, but I suppose only a fool would have expected a chapter devoted to Mark’s alleged wig wearing. There are also several points where it’s not difficult to read between the lines. Die-hards are familiar with the drama between Marky and C.J. and in this tome the former damns the latter with faint praise, mostly saluting his attitude while offering no adjective above “good” to describe the bassist’s playing. Even more telling: there’s no reference to the half decade Mark spent drumming for the Misfits.
Punk Rock Blitzkrieg covers well-worn ground in regard to the founding “bruddahs”: Johnny was fervently right wing, Joey was severely OCD, Dee Dee never met a pill he didn’t like, Tommy was sensitive. Even the author’s struggles with the bottle have been tackled to varying degrees elsewhere. If there’s any revelation in PR Blitzkrieg it’s Marky’s admission that he believes Phil Spector to be innocent of Lana Clarkson’s 2003 murder. Give him credit for sticking by his pal.
The most fascinating stuff in the book comes before Mark’s time in the Ramones, when he bounced from power trio Dust to country rockers Estus (major label ding dongs who owned a swank mansion in upstate New York) before landing in Richard Hell’s Voidoids. The Voidoids were mastering their debut album the night of the 1977 New York City blackout. On his way home, Mark decided it was time to get his; he picked up a trash can and attempted to hurl it through a bank window. The can bounced off the plexiglass like a Nerf football. Inside, a security guard smiled and waved.
Other interesting snippets: Steven Tyler was nice to the Ramones back in the day, Sting wasn’t, Dee Dee’s rap career was just as much about annoying the other Ramones as it was about a love for hip hop, Marky has a twin brother named Fred, Marky likes the Circle Jerks.
Punk Rock Blitzkrieg summed up in one line: probably the one on the last page where Marky expresses satisfaction with his career because both the Pope and Obama are Ramones fans. I’ve never seen Barack in a Mondo Bizarro t-shirt but I’m happy to take the Chicken Beak’s word.
when I was a kid
they made an oatmeal
with packets of sugary red goo
you could squeeze
on your oatmeal
a smiley face
it always looked
like blood-laden slugs
tasted like it too
happy national oatmeal month