Obits and biscuits.

Lance Kerwin has been dead for four days and the Boston Globe still hasn’t hoisted an obit on its website — not even an Associated Press obit — to honor the young man who starred in the absolute finest television series ever set in Boston. (Ernie “Coach” Pantusso fans, pipe down.)

The New York Times, on the other hand, was prompt this afternoon to post a staff-written obit for Tom Verlaine, formerly singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the Seventies New York art-punk band Television.

Remember when I was writing about Jeff Beck not long ago, and I said I wished I’d written a date on every one of my LPs so I knew when I’d bought them and could flash back to when they were new to me?

Television’s Marquee Moon is one I’d like to have done that with — although I can kindasorta time my acquisition of it to junior year of high school.

I preferred fishing in the $1 vinyl bin, but from time to time I invested in CDs when I had to — mostly for less popular or less common albums like Marquee Moon. The kinds of records that didn’t sell that many copies when they first came out, so you couldn’t find them cheaply on vinyl. Funkadelic albums were that way too, as were some Zappa.

As I saved my money and shelled out for the occasional CD, it marked a broadening of my tastes from the familiar, well-groomed major-label music that was cheap on vinyl to weirder, gnarlier fare.

I think I bought Marquee Moon and Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band’s Trout Mask Replica at about the same time — both on CD — maybe even on the same trip to the record store, if I were flush enough to buy multiple CDs. The longboxes for one or both probably landed in my locker for a while, where my high school classmates were completely undazzled by my eclecticism.

I’d read about Marquee Moon, and I’d heard Television’s “See No Evil” during a brief foray onto a local alternative-radio station. It turned my head — hey, these guys are weird but hooky! — so I bought the CD.

The CD still works, three-plus decades later — oblivious to its own trip from next-big-thing to outmoded musical technology — and I put it on while I was cooking dinner tonight.

And just like a thousand times before, I didn’t get past the first four songs — what would be Side One on vinyl — because those first four songs are absolutely killer, full of hooks and details and genius, and the side-closing “Marquee Moon” is so shimmering and otherworldly I usually stop listening to any and all music after I’ve heard it.

I could embed something from YouTube here … but, y’know what? Some things carry a richer reward if you go out of your way and find ’em yourself, and I think “Marquee Moon” (and Marquee Moon) are that way.

# # # # #

The younger son went back to college in NYC this morning after a crazy long winter break. Last night I marked his impending departure with one of those dinners that started out as a joke and turned into reality.

When my folks lived in the Finger Lakes, we used to drive through the village of Dundee, New York, to get to their place. (Yes, the local school sports teams are called the Scotsmen. No, they don’t wear plaid.)

There’s a gas station and convenience store on the main drag there, the kind of place that sells hot dogs off a roller machine and slushies in eight flavors and dip tobacco.

Based on the electronic sign out front, they also sell something called “Chicky Bisky.”

The name Chicky Bisky made us roar with laughter. It sounded like something you’d see on The Simpsons — like the reductio ad absurdum of roadside fast food. We imagined an entire subculture based on Chicky Bisky … a world, for instance, where the offensive line of the Dundee High football team would gather at the store on slow afternoons and challenge each other to epic Chicky Bisky-eating contests, filling the garbage can between the gas pumps with spent wrappers.

We never stopped to sample the genuine article. But it was probably inevitable that we would decide to make Chicky Bisky at home for ourselves on a few occasions … and that my son would jokingly, but not jokingly, ask for it for his last dinner at home for a while.

It’s not a great leap, really. I’ve made baking powder biscuits for years; my kids grew up on my baking powder biscuits. I have two or three recipes for them, including one from my grandmother and another from a random woman in northern Vermont. The woman from Vermont, oddly enough, became the default, and I think you’ll agree from looking at her that she’s seen some action:


The “chicky” is just pieces of chicken breast, pounded thin, breaded, and fried as shallowly as humanly possible in a skillet. I soaked this batch in pseudo-buttermilk just to be special, though I’m not sure it made that much difference.

So we chickied, and we biskied, and this morning the kid caught an Amtrak train back to New York … as content, I daresay, as if he’d ventured directly to Dundee for the genuine article.


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