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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Off the road.

The road trip I previewed three months ago went down this past weekend, and I suppose I ought to sum up the highlights.

– After seeing the Chris Robinson Brotherhood perform for the first time, I’m definitely on their bus. Can’t find the right words for why … but I like their songs and the spirit in which they perform them. That’s a good start.

I suppose I’d also forgotten, during those hours I spent listening to old Grateful Dead recordings, that jam bands (and most bands) best work their magic in person.

On my favorite CRB live recording, lead guitarist Neal Casal seemed too technical, hitting all the right notes but never quite catching fire. He didn’t really play any differently in Geneva — personal style is personal style — and yet it seemed to make more sense and generate more energy, even coming from a bespectacled, professorial guy who looked like he might have wandered over from Hobart and William Smith to check out the show.

Keyboardist Adam MacDougall also is a pleasure to watch, grimacing and pulling faces to accompany the curious squiggles he draws from his vintage keyboards. Beneath its complement of hair, his face has a certain boyish bemused quality, and the fun lies in watching it return from grimace or lopsided grin to its default wide-eyed who-me? setting.

(As for CR, he largely confines himself to singing, playing guitar and making his own gently dyspeptic jam-faces. He is, however, in superb voice; and if he has left the swaggering of the arena-rock frontman behind, he has found an altogether more charming and approachable new performance style.)

Left to right: Neal Casal, Chris Robinson, drummer Tony Leone, and bassist Mark "Muddy" Dutton, waving their Melting F flag wide and high.

Left to right: Neal Casal, Chris Robinson, drummer Tony Leone, and bassist Mark “Muddy” Dutton, waving their flag wide and high. (I don’t know what the symbol signifies, but I came to think of it as the ‘Melting F.’)

It also helped that the Smith Opera House is a charming rococo old barn — the perfect place to see a psychedelic band — and that I got to watch the entire thing standing in the orchestra pit, between five and 10 feet from the stage.

The gnomish but rock-solid Muddy Dutton, watched by fans on one side and owls on the other.

The gnomish but rock-solid Muddy Dutton, watched by fans on one side and owls on the other.

The bros in the front rows comported themselves just fine.

The bros in the front rows comported themselves just fine. Note also the stuffed Bagpuss that lives atop CR’s amp.

So, I hope the future will include both more CRB shows and more trips to the Smith … and if the two coincide, so much the better.

– Also got out on a whim and watched some high school football on Saturday, basically to get out in the sun and take some pictures.

The Dundee High Scotsmen took on the Red Jacket Indians. The PC movement has perhaps been slow in coming to central New York, but when your school is named for a Native American chief, maybe the “Indians” nickname is easier to defend.

The Dundee Scotsmen wear maroon and white uniforms -- no tartan to be found, alas. But they are led onto the field by a bagpiper who skirls a fanfare every time they score a touchdown.

The Dundee Scotsmen wear maroon and white uniforms — no tartan to be found, alas. But they are led onto the field by a bagpiper who skirls a fanfare every time they score a touchdown.

Red Jacket's uniforms are refreshingly free of tomahawks, feathers or other kitsch, at least.

Red Jacket’s uniforms are free of tomahawks, feathers or other kitsch, at least.

Dundee couldn’t stop the run; Red Jacket had trouble with the pass; and a game that was 19-14 at the half ended 41-38. It could have been even higher-scoring — Dundee was inside the Red Jacket 15 with a minute left — but the Indians finally figured out pass defense and intercepted a tipped pass to seal their win.

The weather was lovely and clear, and the setting couldn’t have been nicer.

The only bringdown was a guy next to me who suggested that a shaken-up player “don’t be a pussy” as the kid staggered off the field, followed by the comment that the kid had injured his ladyparts. This wasn’t visiting-fan trash-talk, either; this was a Dundee fan talking salty about a Dundee player.

I hoped for several minutes that the fan would someday encounter a comeuppance that would very publicly and humiliatingly cut his masculinity out from underneath him.

Then I realized he probably already had. When he was 16 years old, back in 1986 or whenever, some red-necked ex-letterman townie probably yelled the same thing at him as he limped off a football field. And now he was passing it on — maybe because he felt tradition had legitimized it, or maybe to assuage an inner anger that still burned.

What I really hope, then, is that the kid with the wind knocked out of him didn’t hear his critic (which is possible) … and that when his time comes to watch teenagers play football, he sets aside the cliches of hypermasculinity and attains a greater equilibrium of poise, intelligence and respect than his forefathers taught him.

One can hope.

Mundane moments: North of the grass.

Part of an ongoing effort to dredge my grandfathers’ photos out of the family scrapbooks where they sit unappreciated, and bring them out for contemplation.

Another installment, then:

As best I can determine, there is no Tumblr site devoted to Pictures Of People At Their Own Graves.

When there is, maybe I’ll have to tip somebody off to this one:

101_2125

They look amused enough, don’t they?

We’ll start with the guy on the right. That’s my Great-Uncle Jimmy, or James W. Cahill to the taxman and the stonecarver. If you’re a long-timer here, you’ve read about him before.

The woman in the middle is my maternal grandma, and also Jimmy Cahill’s sister. Her husband, my grandpa, is presumably behind the camera.

(It might be their big blue Oldsmobile parked in the background, as well.)

And the woman on the left is my Great-Aunt Jean, a.k.a. Eugenia N. Cahill, Great-Uncle Jimmy’s wife. Her maiden name was Okonenko, and Marie, the other future tenant of this grave-space, was her sister.

I can only wonder what brought about this visit. Clearly they were not there for someone else’s funeral; they weren’t dressed for such an occasion.

Perhaps they were passing the cemetery en route somewhere else, and Great-Aunt Jean and Great-Uncle Jimmy had just bought their stone, and they decided to show it to my grandparents since it was something new.

Or maybe their graveside stopover was driven by the desire to laugh at death — or celebrate life, the other side of the same coin.

One of the Cahill siblings was killed in World War II. Another brother died, roughly 15 years before this photo was taken, from the long-term effects of alcoholism. A sister, who was mentally disabled, spent many years in the care of the state of Connecticut.

So maybe my grandma and her brother took enjoyment in the thought that they were on the right side of the grass, and still reasonably healthy, and free to go order a big steak and a cold beer if they felt like doing so.

These are things we often take for granted, but could stand to acknowledge a little more often than we do. Death will get us all in the end … but it hasn’t yet, and until it does, we might as well strut our stuff here.

I don’t suggest we start turning our cemeteries into party destinations or anything, but laughing at the future site of one’s grave seems as whole-hearted an embrace of life as any other I can think of.

(Great-Aunt Jean doesn’t seem to buy it like the others do. Maybe it’s an Irish thing.)

Not hurrying into anything.

In December 2012, I wrote a post about Todd Rundgren’s intention to release a new record, and my intention to see him perform if his subsequent tour came to my area.

Took me almost three years, but I finally bought a ticket to go see him again.

He happens to be coming to a theater in the northern Philly suburbs in mid-December, on a Sunday night before I take a week off from work.

(He’ll be coming with the same band I saw him with in 2011, not with the EDM-oriented show he toured with earlier this year. Though, honestly, I would probably have gone to see the EDM show if that’s what was on offer.)

And, I happened to discover the presale code for tickets left online by the theater management. So I went ahead and bought a ticket. They would have gone on public sale tomorrow at noon anyway, but I saw no need to wait that long if I didn’t have to.

I’d been holding out for him to come to the Lehigh Valley again, especially now that we have a bunch of nice new performance venues. Hasn’t happened, though. Rundgren’s legendary stubbornness seems to have trumped mine, and if he won’t come in my direction, I’ll drive an hour south to go to his.

This show (assuming nothing stops me from attending) also will elevate Rundgren alongside Neil Young, Bob Dylan and maybe B.B. King as artists I have seen three times.

Given that he continues to tour regularly, and continues to play smaller markets (or the outskirts of larger ones), Rundgren seems to have a better shot than the other (living) members of the Three-Show Club at reaching the never-ascended Four-Show Plateau. I won’t go to the big arena in Philly to see the other guys, but a smaller theater in the ‘burbs is another matter.

What happens if he reaches four shows, I don’t know … but Rundgren’s always game for new things, so maybe we’ll find out together in a year or two.

Of course, I’ve said that before.

For the turnstiles.

I love baseball but hate hype; and it is a combination of these two things that will put a few hundred fresh words on the blog tonight.

My local Lehigh Valley IronPigs, with whom I have something of a love-hate relationship, put out a news release Tuesday announcing what seemed to be a remarkable achievement: “IronPigs Remain Attendance Leader Since 2008.”

The news release announced that the Pigs had topped 600,000 fans for the eighth straight year — each year of the team’s existence, in other words — and that the Pigs “remain Minor League Baseball’s per game attendance leader since their debut season.”

In other words, the team has sold more tickets per game on average than any other minor-league team over the past eight years. They’re averaging just over 9,000 tickets sold per game over that span. (I have been to enough games and seen enough empty seats to be convinced that “attendance” really means “tickets sold,” not “fans through the gate.”)

After reviewing the International League’s official attendance data for the past eight years, I decided the Pigs’ spin was a nice way to camouflage the fact that the team’s per-game attendance had a down year.

The second-worst year in team history, to be precise:

pigsgraf1The Pigs like to boast about their per-game attendance, but they haven’t led the International League in this department since 2012. In the year just past, they fell all the way to fourth, with 8,769 fans per game — trailing Charlotte (9,428), Indianapolis (9,331) and Columbus (9,016).

In other words, that “per game attendance leader” business seems to rely a whole lot on that hot streak from 2009 through 2012.

(I am powerless to explain their weak showing in their very first year, which marked the return of affiliated baseball to the Valley after a four-decade absence. I would have thought they were above 9,000 a game that year too. Guess not. Perhaps the dreadful opening to their season — 13 straight losses, if memory serves — tempered the Valley’s interest.)

There are all kinds of yeah-buts, in-defense-ofs, and caveats to be made about the Pigs’ attendance this year; and I’ll throw in as many as I can think of:

  • Fourth in a 14-team league ain’t bad. Certainly, the Gwinnett Braves and Syracuse Chiefs — both averaging around 3,800 tickets sold per game — dream of support like that.
  • By my rough math, the International League average for fans per game was 7,130 this past season, so the Pigs remain well above average.
  • Coca-Cola Park only has 8,089 fixed seats, so the Pigs continue to admit more arses than they have seats for. This is not quite as remarkable as it sounds: Pretty much every Triple-A park of the past dozen years has a general-admission outfield berm that can hold 2,000 fans or so. Still, if they’re selling 8,769 tickets per game, that’s every seat in the park plus maybe one-third of the berm, which is pretty impressive.
  • The Pigs are stomping their Pennsylvania rivals, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, who averaged 5,753 fans per game last year despite completely revamping their ballpark just two or three years ago.
  • The Pigs’ on-field performance has been so-so to downright lousy. They went 63-81 this past season, the second-worst record in the IL, and have finished above .500 only twice in eight years. Their performance at the gate is a tribute to management’s promotional ingenuity … ’cause all those people aren’t coming to watch well-played baseball.
  • I’m not focusing on total year-end attendance here, because the Pigs picked per-game to be their measure of choice, but 600,000 fans a year at the Triple-A level is nothing to sneeze at.
  • Finally: You can’t read anything conclusive into one relatively slow year.

Yeah, this past year was a good one by many attendance measures, and it wouldn’t have looked bad at all if the team hadn’t concocted questionable ways to crow about it.

Still, seeing the gradual downturn in per-game attendance, I wonder whether the Valley is starting to cool on the IronPigs … and if so, where the attendance levels will eventually stabilize.

Will we dip to around 7,000 to 7,500 and hold there, like longtime International League markets Toledo and Pawtucket have done in the past few years? (Pawtucket was pulling 9,200 per game a decade ago and 8,300 five years ago.)

Farther down to 6,000 to 6,500 per game, like Rochester, another defining International League market? All the way south of 4,000, like Syracuse, also not a fly-by-night market?

Or, who knows? Maybe the Pigs’ front office will find the magic promotional formula to bring attendance back to 9,000 per game. Maybe they’ll hit on just the right tap-dance to keep all eyes fixed on them. They’ve been pretty good at that so far.

My preference, for what it’s worth, would be for the Pigs to settle in at a level where they are well-supported, comfortably profitable … and free of spun-up claims about their attendance performance.

It’s hockey season now.

It’s sort of a tradition here for me to write something about the start and end of each baseball season … so here goes.

I took the family to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ last game of the year earlier today. This is the third straight year we’ve gone to the last home game. My younger son likes the idea of buying half-price concessions; the rest of us just like a last trip to the ballpark before hockey season starts.

(I remember last year Lehigh University played a few games of fall ball. If they do that this year, and if I have the free time, maybe I’ll go check that out. I recently checked their website and saw no word of anything.)

There was nothing all that noteworthy about the game. The Pigs never seem to play that well for us, and today they fell behind early and lost 8-1 to the Rochester Red Wings. It was fiercely hot (93 degrees) and even my last ballpark beer of the season, a Victory HopDevil, didn’t do much to cool me off.

We sat in a new section of seating next to the bullpens; and in the eighth inning, one of the Red Wings’ relief pitchers started handing out baseballs to nearby kids (including mine). Made for a nice souvenir, and a complement to the New York-Penn League foul ball I took home earlier in the summer.

For some reason I am especially jonesing for fall and winter this year, so I am content to put another year of baseball-watching to bed. I want cold and bare trees and hockey. Sorry, baseball. Your time will come again.

A few sights from the day:

Sitting next to the 'pens means we got to watch both starting pitchers warm up at once. Rochester's Tyler Rogers in the foreground; Lehigh Valley's Severino Gonzalez in the background.

Sitting next to the ‘pens meant we got to watch both starting pitchers warm up at once. The bullpen buds are Rochester’s Tyler Rogers in the foreground and Lehigh Valley’s Severino Gonzalez in the background.

Red Wings relief pitcher Aaron Thompson, warming up the left fielder between innings.

Red Wings relief pitcher Aaron Thompson, warming up the left fielder between innings.

Veteran IronPigs reliever Dustin McGowan, also in warmup mode. Will he be back next year? The Sept. 1 roster expansion has come and gone, so almost no one on the field for this game has any hope for a September callup. (Three IronPigs who did not play were called up after the game.)

Veteran IronPigs reliever Dustin McGowan, also in warmup mode. Will he be back next year? The Sept. 1 roster expansion has come and gone, so almost no one on the field for this game has any hope for a September callup. (Three IronPigs who did not play were called up after the game.)

Right fielder Tyler Henson is also in the will-they-be-back? file. After 10 years in the minors, he's yet to crack the bigs, and the Phillies won't be calling him up this September.

Right fielder Tyler Henson is also in the will-they-be-back? file. After 10 years in the minors, he’s yet to crack the bigs, and the Phillies won’t be calling him up this September.

In the official team store, numbers wait to be attached to jerseys.

In the official team store, numbers wait to be attached to jerseys.

Wings left fielder Eric Farris enjoyed turning around and sharing the out count with nearby fans. It was a little Junior Griffey-ish, and we enjoyed it.

Wings left fielder Eric Farris enjoyed turning around and sharing the out count with nearby fans. It was a little Junior Griffey-ish, and we enjoyed it.

For a vacation day, the crowd was kinda sparse: The outfield berm was pretty empty, and so were these seats down the right-field line. I'm sure the IronPigs management will spend its offseason coming up with ever more frantic stunts to put asses in those seats for 2016.

For a vacation day, the crowd was kinda sparse: The outfield berm was pretty empty, and so were these seats down the right-field line. I’m sure the IronPigs management will spend its offseason coming up with ever more frantic stunts to put asses in those seats for 2016.

This pig is involved in some sort of fundraiser at Coca-Cola Park. Maybe the nostrils aren't the best place to paint the word "Coke"? *snort*

This pig is involved in some sort of fundraiser at Coca-Cola Park. Maybe the nostrils aren’t the best place to paint the word “Coke”? *snort*

Mike Quade -- best known as one of the dozens of managers who have failed to win a World Series with the Cubs -- is in Rochester now. Here he commiserates with fellow major-league refugee Argenis Diaz.

Mike Quade — best known as one of the dozens of managers who have failed to win a World Series with the Cubs — is in Rochester now. Here he commiserates with fellow major-league refugee Argenis Diaz.

The last out has been recorded; Eric Farris and his teammates jog off the field; and I've seen the back of live baseball for another year.

The last out has been recorded; Eric Farris and his teammates jog off the field; and I’ve seen the back of live baseball for another year.

213 days, eh? (Of course, *my* live baseball season starts with college games in mid-March. So for me, Opening Day is closer to 194 days away. Not that I'm counting. Yet.)

213 days, eh? (Of course, *my* live baseball season starts with college games in mid-March. So for me, Opening Day 2016 is closer to 194 days away. Not that I’m counting. Yet.)

You walk into the room with your pencil in your hand.

Inspired by Paul Nelson’s excellent 1972 Rolling Stone review of Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Volume II. Go read that first.

As with everything else in life, there are multiple ways to look at Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, the sprawling, freewheeling, self-released album that dropped a week ago with no pre-announcement whatsoever.

Dead Petz has divided music critics both professional and amateur, with some offering their highest raves and others their most stinging dismissals.

How to sum the record up from one (fat boring middle-aged) writer’s perspective? Well, some sympathetic critical schizophrenia — pro and con — seems to be called for:

Opinion 1: So here we have an album longer than Elvis Presley’s entire Sun Records output. Where to start with it?

Opinion 2: Maybe by not comparing it to anybody else?

O 1: Point taken — though the specter of Elvis reminds us that young rebels who lead with their crotches are nothing particularly new. Anyway, with Wayne Coyne playing Sam Phillips to Miley’s Elvis, we get 92 minutes and six seconds of profane, openly druggy, homemade electronic psychedelia. And I should be excited … because?

O 2: Maybe you shouldn’t be. But other people are, because Dead Petz is the work of an artist with star charisma who refuses to walk the well-trodden path. She breaks ground by putting out her own music her own way — and she sings better than a lot of people who haven’t been listening give her credit for.

O 1: I concede the point about her pipes. And I suppose putting out her own music her own way is something uncommon. It would help if the music were better, though.

O 2: How so?

O 1: Take the album’s first song, “Dooo It!,” a throbbing, headachy plea for peace. In its effort to be both raw-and-real and idealistic, it succeeds at neither, and ends up collapsing under a stream of distorted, meaningless cries of “Peace, mo’fucker.”

The shallow affirmations of “Dooo It!” remind me of the collage on the inside of Paul Kantner’s Blows Against the Empire, where the handwritten slogan says, “GO TO THE FOREST AND MOVE!,” and you look at it and think, “What does that even mean? Did they really think that signified revolution? Did anyone perceive any kind of substance behind the sloganeering? And are there lots of gray-haired dipshit hippies still lost in the forest?”

O 2: First of all, you’re lost in a forest. Second, I can’t believe you would drag Paul Kantner into this. That album sucked, and anyway everybody in the Starplane family was hugely overrated except maybe Papa John Creach, a cheerful old R&B gnome with the brass to put a song called “Time Out For Sex” on one of his solo albums. Yeah, Miley and Papa John might have hit it off nicely.

O 1: I dunno … the more I think about Blows, the more it seems like a companion piece to Dead Petz. Statements of independence, delivered with the help of celebrity buddies, and derailed by druggy mushheadedness and instrumental sameness. Or, you know what else it reminds me of?

O 2: I can’t wait to hear.

O 1: George Harrison’s Electronic Sound. Back in ’68, the quiet Beatle bought himself a Moog synthesizer and formed himself a record company. Inevitably the two collided, and the result was forty-four minutes of aimless swizzling noises. I’m sure there were people around back then to testify about Hari’s unique independent vision, too.

O 2: Oh, come on. Dead Petz has none of the pretentiousness of something like that. There’s no air of, “These farting noises were created by a Beatle, so they must be fine art.” And you don’t have to pay for Dead Petz — at least not yet — so if Miley’s personal ramblings are not to your taste, there’s no great loss to you.

O 1: Dead Petz, unlike most other albums, raises some interesting questions about who its artist really is. If this rambling mishmash is really where Cyrus’s head and heart lie, that means she only does the polished, produced major-label stuff for the money —

O 2: — which is the only reason you do your job, I might point out —

O 1: — and if her head and heart are really in the polished “real” releases, then this is one titanic jerk-around.

O 2: Can’t she invest herself fully in both worlds? Can’t they both be the real Miley Cyrus? When — let’s see — Neil Young jumps from raging electric to quiet acoustic, you don’t seem to have a problem buying that … and God knows he’s gone the druggy homemade route a whole bunch of times.

O 1: Maybe I’m being both ageist and sexist, but I have trouble buying it in Miley’s case. I’m gonna need a little more than what I’ve seen and heard so far to be convinced that she has that many different personal and musical facets. Oh, and if Neil’s gonna be your poster boy for eclecticism, two words for ya: Everybody’s Rockin’(Or, maybe, three words: The Monsanto Years.)

O 2: If memory serves, the last time you went to a record store, you left with a copy of Christ at the Mount of Olives. What makes you think you’re in the same ZIP code as the target audience for Dead Petz?

O 1: Sure, I bought Christ at the Mount of Olives. I bought Peaches and Herb, too, so I like a half-decent hook and a good beat. I could have used with a few more of both on Dead Petz, and a couple fewer songs built mainly on atmospherics.

O 2: That’s a common complaint, and I see where you’re coming from. Some of the spacey stuff, like “Miley Tibetan Bowlzzz,” is more pleasant than you’d think, but on the whole it can get a little old. I can only assume she saves the more commercial, broadly catchy stuff for her “official” albums. Gotta make the record company happy, you know.

O 1: But I thought she didn’t give a fuck about anything. She said so herself. A whole bunch of times. Starting about 15 seconds into the album. I think she says it when she gargles her mouthwash in the morning, just to keep in practice.

O 2: You’re just angry about that line in “Twinkle Song” about robbing the record store (“we stole every GOD-DAMN RECORD THEY HAD.”) That’s actually a pretty brilliant line: It’s guaranteed to offend people who cherish record shops, and at the same time it sympathizes with them, because who hasn’t dreamed about walking out of a record store with every god-damn record they have? See, she can write, too.

O 1: OK. When she wants to, yes, she can. Perhaps someday she will write songs a little better-formed than this. And maybe they won’t be about drugs or sex, two topics she is fast wearing threadbare in music and in person.

O 2: The drugs I can live without, and hopefully so can she, sometime soon. As for female sexuality, that copy of Led Zeppelin II on your shelf has clearly been spun plenty of times. If you can put up with “The Lemon Song,” why not Miley’s “Bang Me Box”?

O 1: For one thing, “Bang Me Box” (Lucille Bogan would be proud of you, Miley) is probably better than “The Lemon Song,” or at least it would be if I didn’t prefer guitars to synths. And as for women doin’ it and singin’ about it: That ain’t new, dude. I grew up seeing pretty much the exact same thing — or the 1985 version of it, anyway. It left me cold then too.

O 2: OK, I’ll give 12-Year-Old You a pass for not being able to grok the notion of unashamed sexual liberation for women. What’s 42-Year-Old You’s excuse?

O 1: (crickets)

O 2: I think I’m on to something here. Name me a song about female sexuality that impressed you. Any one.

O 1: (thinks) Patti Smith, “Gloria.” One of the few songs by anyone ever that makes me forget to breathe. There are no six minutes on Dead Petz — hell, no two minutes — to compare.

O 2: Oh, God. Still kneeling before Saint Patti? You need to break free from your Seventies icons. That song will be 40 years old this fall. Almost as old as you are.

O 1: Say whatever you like. People will still grasp the primal drive of “Gloria” when Miley Cyrus is busy not giving a fuck about her Social Security check. Speaking of which, how do you think Dead Petz will be judged for posterity?

O 2: Not at all, maybe. And who cares? Dead Petz isn’t even available for download. It’s just a Soundcloud upload, and it could go away any time its creators think it has served its purpose. Maybe people need to start rethinking what “posterity” means. Maybe music is disposable now. Maybe we’re entering a Snapchat era of musical stardom, where stars are constantly putting out material that appears and disappears, and a discography is a moving target. Can you get your head around that?

O 1: Yes, actually. Did I ever tell you how I got into Funkadelic?

O 2: Not sure what that has to do with this, but go ahead.

O 1: The assistant track coach my sophomore year of high school — black dude from the city somewhere — lent us his copies of three or four P-Funk albums because they were out of print and impossible to find. I’ve forgotten the dude’s name, but not his gift.

Before the age of digital releases, there were all kinds of records you might never luck into — or might never be able to afford if you did. Big-time professional reviewers might tell you Captain Beefheart was a genius, but good luck finding a copy of Lick My Decals Off Baby  to confirm it. Same deal with some out-jazz record that sold 10,000 copies when it first came out. A discography was a moving target, and you assembled what you could and trusted somebody else’s word for the rest.

O 2: OK, point taken, sorta. But, you know, you still haven’t explained why a guy who drops references to Lick My Decals Off Baby — indeed, who hasn’t dropped a reference to anything released since the Reagan Administration — should care about Miley Cyrus in the first place.

O 1: Because I don’t want to give in and close myself off and just listen to the Sounds of the Seventies. Because the rebels of the world, however stupid they sound a lot of the time, sometimes grasp a spark that’s worth celebrating. Because — for all the attitude and nonsense that surrounds her — I’m willing to believe other people’s contention that Miley Cyrus is somehow a performer who matters.

O 2: (mocking singsong) There’s somethin’ happenin’ here, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?

O 1: All right, I’m leaving.

O 2: Here’s your throat back. Thanks for the loan.