Tag Archives: disco inferno the trammps

Soul Vikes: Fun Funk and Soul from my High School Years

 

I have done a number of articles on music that I like from the 1970s and 1980s. As I have written before it seems that most of us have some kind of attraction to the songs that we grew up with, especially those that we listened to in high school.

I started high school in 1975. It was an interesting time. Our city Stockton California desegregated its schools then and kids like me from the North Side of the city were bussed to Edison High School deep on the South Side. The city had grown in the 1960s with the area north of the Calaveras River becoming the more economically well off suburbs. It was predominantly white with a smattering of Asians, Mexican Americans and a some more well off black families.  The South Side had suffered during the period as the population and business moved north leaving the South Side and Downtown to struggle.  The South Side was predominantly African American, Mexican American and Asian.  The make up of the high schools reflected the racial and economic divide.

One of the things that many of us that experienced the bussing was a new collection of friends. We all brought different perspectives, life experiences and likes in music and entertainment. One of the things that I remember fondly was the exposure that I got to music that was not what I grew up with. I grew up with Rock, Pop and Country music with some Soul thrown in, but nothing like what I experienced when I got to Edison. The exposure to Soul, Funk, Blues and later Disco was something that I still relish and when I hear those songs I enjoy them. I was at our formal Dining Out for our Naval Hospital earlier in the year and found myself dancing to some of these songs with other officers my age. I hadn’t done that in a long time and though I am no dancer it was fun just to get out and get my groove back.

I have put some links to some of those songs from that time below. The list is certainly not inclusive and is just a sampling of the rich variety of music of the era. Likewise when you see the live performances of these songs from shows like The Midnight Special, Soul Train or Don Kirchner’s Rock Concert you find that the musicians and performers of that era were very talented and did not have to depend on high definition, digital and computer technology to be good. It was well performed, choreographed and sung music. It was also fun. For those that grew up with this music enjoy the trip back. For those that have not experienced this welcome. I think that you will enjoy it, so get down and play that funky music.

Peace

Padre Steve+

Wild Cherry: Play that Funky Music http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIXXGAPpQOM&feature=related

K.C. and the Sunshine Band: Get Down Tonight  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpoI7vK4uvY&feature=related

Hot Chocolate: You Sexy Thing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpoI7vK4uvY&feature=related

Ohio Players: Love Roller Coaster http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpoI7vK4uvY&feature=related

Ohio Players: Fire http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y47G-Wa4qfs&feature=related

The Spinners: Rubber Band Man http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKbADFJOCkU&feature=related

The Temptations: Papa Was a Rolling Stone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKbADFJOCkU&feature=related

The Trammps: Disco Inferno http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y47G-Wa4qfs&feature=related

Kiki Dee: I Got the Music In Me http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLQRW7J_D0U&feature=related

Blue Swede: Hooked on a Feeling (The Ooka Chaka Song) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3JHi4f3CUI

Barry White: You Are My First My Last, My Everything http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fcd3XuQwDQQ

Commodores: Brick House http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tf0LwyxcQAE

Commodores: Once Twice Three Times a Lady http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tf0LwyxcQAE

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Filed under music

Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Heck and Helven…Choices for Eternity

I was reading the comics yesterday when I found this great Dilbert.  I have loved the strip for years and some of the funniest strips for me have been those dealing with religion and spirituality.  Be it Saint Dogbert and his “Out out Demons of Stupidity” or Phil the Prince of Insufficient Light who rules over “Heck” with his pitch-spoon where people are “darned to Heck for minor infractions,” I have always gotten a chuckle or even a belly laugh out of them.

Of course many people and religions have different conceptions of the afterlife for both the saved, sometimes known as the elect or the unsaved that are sometimes referred to as the damned.  Without getting into anyone’s knickers I want to just have some fun with what can be a subject of speculation and even controversy.

Of course heaven is the place of the elect and is usually characterized by streets of gold, angels, pearly gates and lots of time around whichever Deity that the religion in question believes in.  Heaven is a good place and probably where you want to be going if you have to spend the rest of eternity, which I am assured sports fans is a very long time.  Now there are variations on heaven. Some religions have different concepts about it and others have looser or tighter rules as to who gets in, everything from the “All dogs go to heaven” of universalists to the 144,000 of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to the real strict fundamentalists of various religions (fundamentalists of all religions tend to be peas in a pod) who are even more select that the JWs.

Some even have different levels of heaven.  To go back to the JWs they have “real heaven” where the 144,000 go and then a perfect earth where the rest of the JWs go to pick fruit and pet animals for eternity.  If you ask me that kind of sucks because it is a works system based around how many people you convert to be JWs.  The thing that would suck is like you thought you had gotten the last of the 144,000 available spaces and someone that you converted knocked you out of the competition.  If you are not a JW forget it, you just get annihilated, not even the eternal punishment of hell to look forward to.  The Latter Day Saints have a cool belief that if you are a super cool Mormon man you get to be God of your own planet while everyone else gets regular heaven and only the really bad people go to hell. Of course some Moslems believe that if you are martyred for your faith you get to have 72 virgins in heaven to have eternal sex with, no mention of what happens to female martyrs but I wonder if their virgins would be the ones with pimples and wearing rape control glasses, Moslem nerds so to speak.  The Hindus have a number of different beliefs but the prevailing trend is that heaven and hell are things to help get you perspective in between periods of reincarnation.  Since the soul is immortal and you keep getting reincarnated this sounds like summer school.  Have you ever noticed that a lot of people who believe in reincarnation believe that they were someone famous in a previous life?  I think that Kevin Costner playing “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham asked the same question to Susan Sarandon but regardless why don’t you hear people say that they were a flea on Napoleon’s horse at Waterloo? In Buddhism the endless quest is to attain Nirvana whose lead singer Kurt Cobain off’d himself.  Actually it is to attain Nirvana but that has nothing to do with Curt Cobain.  Nirvana is a state of nothingness which in my mind is kind of boring if you worked really hard to get things right for a multitude of lifetimes.  I guess that I’m too western and wonder what the payback is for working hard only to end up as nothing.  I am also uncomfortable that there will be no more “me” if I am successful, I like me.  The folks who are Jewish have a number of ideas about heaven and hell that are not too much different than those of Christians except the little fact of who gets in. Now this will vary between the three major groups of Jews from the pretty open minded Reformed Jews, to the Conservative and then to the Orthodox Jews who come in various strains of strictness.  The Reformed folks are pretty open-minded and the more extreme versions or Orthodox don’t think that anyone apart from them will get in.

Now as far as Christians we have a wide number of interpretations of both heaven and hell and to whom might be qualified to be admitted to either location. The Calvinists that are really serious believe in something called double predestination which basically means that people were either saved or damned before the creation of the world.  Not much room for choice in that theology.  There is a subgroup of these folks who sometimes are called Antinomians who believe that since they are saved that they can do anything that they want, any sin, no matter how big and still be saved. Personally I think that is really pretty presumptuous and downright scary.  Then those who are more Wesleyan or Armenian weigh in on the side of choice even including that one can “lose their salvation” after they were saved this is often found in Wesleyan and Pentecostal groups.  A similar stream is found in Catholicism and Orthodoxy, where though not technically losing salvation keeps you on edge wondering if you made it or not until you die.  In Roman Catholicism this might mean that you end up in heaven, hell or purgatory.  There are a wide number of interpretations within the Christian faith other than these but these are probably the most common views and interpretations.

So since I have in a nutshell (you are what you eat) in a manner of speaking have presented what different religions think of heaven and hell I shall move on to some of the interpretations of what this means.

As I said heaven, regardless of the religion is “good” unless of course that your religion does not have one in which case it is what it is.  Of course the opposite is true as well, if you don’t have a hell that can’t be too bad, unless of course you guess wrong which would really suck.  It would be almost as bad as when Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson missed the Rapture.

Moving on the Roman Catholic Church has a doctrine that is called Purgatory.  Now Purgatory much to the disappointment of some is now “junior hell.”  It is a place for the elect, or the saved to go to clean up their act and learn to love Jesus better before getting admitted into heaven proper.  It is a place like being elected to the baseball Hall of Fame you may get elected to the Hall but there is a period of time that you get to wait before the plaque goes up at Cooperstown. Likewise there must be a “Purgatory” because the state of West Virginia is described as “Almost Heaven” which would mean that it is in reality Purgatory. Since that is where my family originally comes from and from where my current driver’s license is issued that I too am headed there?

Map of Hell

Now Hell, with the exception of Hinduism is pretty much universally a place that you don’t want to go, kind of like Detroit.  There are many images of Hell including the best which come out of Dante’s Inferno which should not be confused with Disco Inferno even if you despised Disco.

I like the image of Hell as the “Lake of Fire.”  This conveys to me the image of a lake in the deep south which is painfully hot, overwhelmingly humid and swarming with flies, mosquitoes and other vermin.  I cannot imagine anywhere worse.  Rowan Atkinson has a great skit called Welcome to Hell where he plays the Devil welcoming a fresh group of the damned to the infernal regions. I’ve linked that here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFGrQMD6Uqc

Now I have already mentioned “Heck” which is ruled by Phil the Prince of Insufficient Light who “darns you to Heck for minor infractions and Helvin the place that souls are outsourced to due to the unionization of the Angels and Demons.   It seems to me that heck is not a particularly bad place however Helvin may not be too great of place to be.  I really don’t want to know how they would give my harp to me.

So anyway, I guess I shall invoke Saint Dogbert to banish the Demons of Stupidity as I go to sleep dreaming of the real heaven where the baseball diamond is the lushest green field with foul lines that extend to eternity.  In this heaven the game never ends and you never get tired.  Not much longer until the earthly baseball season begins again.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, faith, Just for fun

More about Why I Miss the Music of the 70’s and 80’s

The Carptenters

A few weeks back I posted an essay that looked back a the music of the 1970s and early 1980s that dealt with some of the historic context of the era as well as a bunch of videos and pictures of some of my favorite groups and their music.  As I mentioned in that essay the time was somewhat tumultuous a lot of social unrest, economic crisis, terrorism, communist expansion, a lost war and political crisis culminating in the resignation of a President.

Padre Steve and the Abbess at Mission San Fernando Fall 1980

The time was also one where people were also attempting to return to some semblance of normalcy in the post Vietnam and Nixon era.  The 1960s were a time of social revolution which impacted almost every area of life and a time where almost everything was reduced to some sort of “message.”  By about 1973 the new younger generation which was entering high school and junior high school were less bent on activism and more on having fun as well as more inward discoveries.  The 1970s were certainly not a return to “traditional values” although there was a recovery of nostalgia for the 1950s with the movies American Graffiti, Grease and the sitcom Happy Days. This desire to feel better was partly in reaction to the turbulence of the 60’s and the reality that things were not good in the 1970s and as a result my generation sought entertainment and diversions for the nearly endless litany of bad news.  Much social change was still underway spurred on by the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement and reproductive rights, the end of the draft and change in law which allowed 18 year olds to vote.  Like the 1960s there was experimentation with drugs as well sex.

Fashions morphed from bell bottoms and t-shirts and long hair to double knit polyester, silk shirts, leisure suits and tight fitting designer jeans. Tie-dye gave way to earth tones which were followed by bright colors and finally in the early 80s leather and pastels.  Classic styles began to return by the early 80’s “Preppy” was in, Oxford shirts, khakis and natural fibers such as cotton replaced the polyester double knits.

Rocky

Movies too began to change films like Star Wars and Star Trek launched people into undreamed of worlds even as NASA worked on the Space Shuttle.  Gritty films like Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry and Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky featured everymen who battled either crime or took on superior adversaries in the ring.  On television a team of young comics launched a comedy franchise, Saturday Night Live which is still with us today and which spun off a generation of comics who have made their own impact on American entertainment.  The musical returned in movies such as Grease and Xanadu while Disco rode the wave of Saturday Night Fever and country music returned with Urban Cowboy.

Here are some more of my favorites as well as some songs that helped make the 70’s and 80’s what they were.  Enjoy.

Three Dog Night

Three Dog Night, Joy to the World This was a fun song that came out in the early 1970s and when I hear it I can still find me singing along.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2x3af_three-dog-night-joy-to-the-world_people

Credence Clearwater Revival Credence was one of the great groups of the 60s and early 70’s, members such as John Foggarty would go on to successful solo careers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYnySGM9dQA

The Carpenters Possible the most precise and skilled musical group of the late 60’s and the 70’s the Carpenters were middle America’s sweet hearts.  Karen would die tragically from a heart attack induced in part due to her struggles with depression and subsequent Anorexia Nervosa.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n53E_J9a_Fo&feature=PlayList&p=F02D8CA7FF8AA675&index=12

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPmbT5XC-q0

Helen Reddy’s “I am Woman” become the anthem of the Women’s Rights movement

Helen Reddy: I am Woman My mom absolutely loved Helen Reddy while my dad hated “I am Woman.” She had quite a few other major hits through the 70’s and I saw her in concert in Stockton CA back in 78 or 79.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmExAiCcaPk

Paul McCartney and Wings: Band on the Run Paul McCartney was the most successful of the Beatles in his solo career.  Wings was an outstanding group centered around McCartney and his beautiful wife Linda.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qx2jEfBsqY

Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Elton John had one of the most successful careers of any solo artist, his flashy clothes and wild glasses coupled with a high energy live performance made him a crowd favorite.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43Ho_6C_fM4

I Guess that’s Why they Call it the Blues

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uc4ZRdPGGTI&feature=PlayList&p=7B1E53DD1B27118D&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=39

Ringo Starr: The Non No Song Ringo did not have the same success as either Paul or John Lennon but this song was fun to listen to on the school bus.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-PirP4LiFo

Abba

Abba: I do, I do I do Abba who broke into the international music scene in 1972 remained incredibly popular throughout the 70s and the 80s before disbanding in 1989.   They survived and thrived through every major musical swing of the era.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjgxxeA83FQ&feature=PlayList&p=11B0CC8778FA9A05&index=15

Honey Honey

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeGtaSWzFRA&feature=PlayList&p=11B0CC8778FA9A05&index=4

Dancing Queen

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctzIEjjOfd4

Eagles: Already Gone The Eagles have been and always will be one of my favorite groups.  Known for their stellar guitars and five part harmonies they have endured and their music has not been duplicated.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHk2em4ZNwA&feature=PlayList&p=8A2216020416503A&index=16

Lying Eyes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYQgPTsiZIU

Dr Hook: Walk Right In One of the lesser known but still successful groups of the 70’s and 80’s this group teamed with poet and children’s writer Shel Silverstein to come up with some of the most unusual, quirky and funny songs of the era.  Having a country rock style they regularly sung about sex, drugs and alcohol they morphed into a less controversial stance in the 1980s.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPj5O3AMGDA&feature=PlayList&p=54CD692E585AE055&index=13

Years from Now

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfsPeVVL8zE&feature=PlayList&p=AF906570E242A626&index=18

The Trammps: Disco Inferno Probably the group that had the signature Disco song, the Trammps were from Philadelphia.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_sY2rjxq6M

Bee Gees

Bee Gee’s: Tragedy While the Trammps may have produced the anthem of the era but the Bee Gees were the group that best personified the era with their harmonies and passion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1_DdIxfpIU

The Village People

The Village People: YMCA While the Bee Gees may have personified the music of hte era the Village People were iconic with thier signature costumes and appeal to the gay community and their crossover into the mainstream with hits such as Macho Man, YMCA and in the Navy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS9OO0S5w2k

In the Navy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InBXu-iY7cw

Donna Summer: She Works Hard for the Money The beautiful Donna Summer would be the queen of Disco and transition to a more pop and R&B sound in the 80s.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TKQcWEXSKU

The Cast of Grease

Travolta and Olivia in Grease: You’re the One that I Want The musical Grease starring Olivia Newton John and John Travolta had an appeal that spanned generations and was wildly popular.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TKQcWEXSKU

Olivia Newton John and ELO: Xanadu The musical Xanadu was not a strong performer at the box office and was panned by most critics but birthed a host of top ten hits.  It was notable for is choreography and costumes which place it solidly in the middle of the era.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m1UWSD-FaA

Charlie Daniels Band: The Devil Went Down to Georgia As country music found a new appeal among younger people artists like Charlie Daniels careers took off crossing over to the pop charts from the country charts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m1UWSD-FaA

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson: You Were Always on My Mind Possibly the most prolific of the country artists to cross over into the pop world was Willie Nelson who along with Waylon Jennings produced hit after hit and also had a solid social conscience.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsLL6bIUs6M

A Young Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow: Mandy Barry Manilow was a one man hit machine in the 70’s and 80’s and while rockers, disco fans and others would scoff at his music he had an enduring appeal that spanned generations. I can remember many girls in high school who had their Mailow t-shirts and his songs wee always on the radio.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9E5R6dunFOc&feature=related

Weekend in New England

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpkOz-zJiq0&feature=PlayList&p=A0D84ADACA5F5E08&index=0

Boz Skaggs

Boz Skaggs: Lido Shuffle Boz Skaggs had a unique sound and was hard to pin down but again was an artist who was solid throughout the era.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIu0jQ5TaRQ&feature=PlayList&p=8201408B8B6E42C8&index=2

Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder: I Just Called to Say I Love You: R&B singer Stevie Wonder was popular throughout the era and successfully crossed over to the pop charts with I Just Called to Say I Love You from the movie Woman in Red and his duet with Paul McCartney Ebony and Ivory.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PY45DkaP9Ls&feature=PlayList&p=3C966AE64CF668CB&index=10

Rod Stewart” Maggie May Rocker Rod Stewart lived on the wild side in the 70’s and 80’s but by the 90’s and 2000’s had transformed himself into a classic crooner.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9dlG-iq3F8

Commodores: Brick House Lionel Ritchie and the Commodores from Motown we electric in the 70’s and Ritchie would cross over into a even more successful pop career in the late 70s beginning with the theme to the movie Endless Love.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5EmnQp3V48

Kermit the Frog with Blondie’s Debby Harry

Kermit the Frog and Debbie Harry: Rainbow Connection The Muppet Show led by Kermit the Frog featured a wide number of popular music artists who would ham it up often singing duets with Kermit of Miss Piggy. The Muppets had thier own top ten hit The Rainbow Connection from the Muppet Movie.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRvhRhWWE44

Debbie Harry of Blondie

Blondie: Heart of Glass Sexy former Playboy centerfold Debbie Harry and Blondie were a dominant influence on the rock and pop charts in the late 70s and 1980s.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRvhRhWWE44

Sunday Girl

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obwanhb6kww&feature=PlayList&p=F2ED8F30DB2943CD&index=10

Kim Carnes

Kim Carnes’  Betty Davis Eyes and Debbie Boone’s You Light up My Life would hold the Billboard Pop Single number one record of 9 weeks in the late 1970s. Carnes, a singer songwriter for Kenny Rogers launched a successful solo career of her own with the quirky Betty Davis Eyes while the wholesome Boone, the daughter of pop icon Pat Boone would gain fame with You Light up My Life

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPOIS5taqA8

Debbie Boone

Debbie Boone: You Light up My Life

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nC9sEAqEjxs

Air Supply: Lost in Love One of the bands from down under Air Supply would make its mark on the pop scene with a number of popular love songs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpntNDAYltM

Boston: More than a Feeling The rock group Boston and their driving rhythm and guitar solos would compete with other classic rock groups of the era and help define the “death before disco” movement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcsVPis1iNs

Supertramp: Breakfast in America One of the more overlooked groups of the era was Supertramp.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jh2TJ2DAy_o

Freddy Mercury and Queen

Queen: We are the Champions Freddy Mercury and Queen easily moved between the rock and pop charts with powerful ballads and rong songs with a quircky edge. Mercury’s vocals and stage presence were amazing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSTivVclQQ0

Billy Idol: Dancing with Myself Billy Idol a rocker also helped symbolize some of the New Wave movement his ghoulish Dancing with Myself was an early hit on MTV.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VNx78SAq8M

Katrina and the Waves: Walking on Sunshine Another 80s group with lasting appeal was Katrina and the Waves.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPUmE-tne5U

The Bangles: Manic Monday The Girl Group The Bangles had a number of hits in the 80s.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAZgLcK5LzI

Madonna: Lucky Star Pop legend Madonna broke into the music scene in this era and really until recently has never left.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThHz9wlBeLU

Kenny Loggins: Danger Zone Kenny Loggins solo career really took off with the movie Top Gun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1a_ikfUico

Billy Joel: Uptown Girl Billy Joel was another solo artist with hit after hit in the 70s and 80s.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCuMWrfXG4E

AC/DC: You Shook Me All Night Long AC/DC never failed to shock but produced some of the most enduring, if not occasionally controversial hits of the era and still have a large following today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5FWXSnCEZE&feature=PlayList&p=66074A5666DBAB87&index=2

Berlin: Take My Breath Away Berlin produced a large number of sultry hits but it was Take My Breath Away from Top Gun put them on most people’s radar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DARX9nzNE3E

Well, they were interesting times and despite everything I still enjoy the music of these groups.  Diverse and unpredictable as to what would find its way onto different charts the artists of the 70’s and 80s and their music is still popular today.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under History, music

How Padre Steve Got His Driver’s License, Passed Geometry, Escaped Advanced Algebra and Selects Mood Music for a Book Burning

Note to Parents: While this article talks about my own misdeeds it is not an endorsement or blessing of your kid doing such things unless they do it with more style and flair than me.  In which case I need to meet them, as I do appreciate genius and want to make sure that they have the opportunity to school them in the ways of the “Farce.”

ferris buehlerCutting Class and Going to a Museum…Hmmm…

I was watching the move Ferris Buehler’s Day Off a couple of weeks ago and I began to reminisce about the good and not so good times in high school.  When I watched the movie I was reminded of so of my own sneaky misdeeds by which I weaseled my way through or out of classes, escaped to get my driver’s license by playing dead, well just played really sick and cut Geometry class by hiding in the library.  You see no one suspected me of such behavior because of my shy nice guy persona. Now to be fair I was pretty introverted most of the time. To top it off I was a NJROTC cadet in the years following Vietnam, played on the Sophomore Football team, albeit not very well, was active in church and I was a pretty nice guy…not like I am now.  I look in some of my yearbooks and see the comments inscribed by friends and they all pretty much reflect the image that I put out. Thus though I was a complete goof off in some classes and show off in other classes that I liked, most people never suspected me of anything, except my little brother Jeff who had me nailed though he was still in elementary school.  Little brothers and sisters have that ability.

Steve&TuffyA Face that You Could Trust…An Unlikely Miscreant

I found that by faking being a really serious student was far better cover to get away with things than being an in your face rebel like some of my other classmates were.  The fact that I carried a large stack of books with me everywhere I went added the image.  It did make my arms tired but when you have little else to use you take advantage of what you have.

All of us back in the 1970s in Stockton had a common core of classes to prepare us for life. One of them was a class in health which also included some of the academic preparations for drivers training.  I was in a class with a bunch of folks that I have had contact with even today which was taught by Mrs. Davenport.   During the class we got to see two of the most class “scare the shit out of you” films of all time.  They were Wheels of Tragedy produced in 1963 by the Ohio State Patrol and Red Asphalt produced in the early 1970s by the California Highway Patrol. Wheels of Tragedy can be seen in its entirety by following this link: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6728780942571899981# while Red Asphalt can be seen here: http://www.documentingreality.com/forum/f166/red-asphalt-18740/

They are to this day some of the creepiest films ever made and I’m sure that the girls were really grossed out by them, especially when Mrs. Davenport left the room and couple of us played it backwards on the 16mm projector.  If these films were shown in theaters today they would get an “R” rating for violence and close up depictions of dead bodies.  I don’t know if they are still shown as they are somewhat dated, but they are pretty graphic in kind of a retro way.

Once we got through that class which was the first or second quarter of the sophomore year for many of us we started the actual drivers education portion in the spring so that hopefully when we turned 16 we would be able to take and pass the State of California written test and the road test administered at the Department of Motor Vehicles, better known as the DMV.  This class was taught by Mr. Allerdice, a stocky retired Marine with a close cropped hair.   He was like having a drill sergeant, albeit a nice drill sergeant but a drill sergeant nonetheless.  These classes were limited to 3 students and included a bunch of time behind a simulator followed by supervised driving in a Chevy Nova which had two sets of controls, one for the student and the “My God we’re about to die!” controls on the right side of the car at which Mr. Allerdice sat.   This was somewhat intimidating but still kind of fun, especially because we knew that if we were successful we got our learners permit and were pretty much golden for the DMV.  I had no problems with the class, really sailed through it and got ready for the real deal training on my parents 1972 Chevy Impala which was about the size of a small armored vehicle.

When the day came for my driver’s test I had to find a way out of school when my mom could take me to the DMV.  This came shortly after my 16th birthday at the end of March 1976.  That morning I told my mom to be ready to meet me about 10 AM.  In second period I told the teacher, whoever it was as I cannot remember what class I was taking that I was feeling sick, felt feverish and that I might throw up.  Since I had finished gym class the period before I was still somewhat sweaty which provided the cover for the fever, a sweaty and flushed face is great cover when feigning illness.  The teacher wrote me a pass to the school nurse.  I trudged down the hallway like I had the plague until I got to the nurses’ office which was in the main lateral hallway of the school where many of us had our lockers.  The nurse was a middle aged and a bit heavy set African American woman who was known for being wise to students feigning illness who was a most genial person.  I told her my story and still sweaty and flushed she took my temperature.  I prayed….and thankfully the temp was there, 99.1 but still high.  How I pulled that off I don’t know to this day.  She then looked at me and said “Young Man, do you still feel like you are going to throw up?”  I nodded meekly careful not to look her in the eye.  She went to the sink and got a paper cup and filled it with warm water.  She then said “You drink this; it will either settle your stomach or bring up whatever is down there.” I had not expected such good fortune.  I walked into the adjoining rest room and closed the door.  I looked down and the toilet and looked at the cup up water and smiled. With a grotesque simulation of an episode of projectile vomiting I tossed the water into the toilet.  I did this again and again for about 5 minutes.  When I was done I flushed the toilet, rinsed my face off with warm water and looking even more ill than I had went back into the nurses office.  She was already on the phone with my mom.  “Ma’am, your son is really sick, and throwing up. You need to come and get him now.” The time was 9:30 AM.  She wrote me a note which bought my freedom and told me that she “hoped that I felt better.” I thanked her in a most sincere way and I walked slowly to the main entrance on Center Street.  About 9:55 mom came pulling up to the school.    “Steven, are you okay? The nurse said that you were really sick.” I said coyly, “Mom, I told you that I would be ready to take my driver’s test, let’s go.”  She gave me the most puzzled expression and said, “But she said that you were really sick.” I simply said, “I know mom, I told you that I would be here.”  Years later I told her the details of how I pulled it off details which totally amazed her.

I guess that it’s like Ferris Buehler said: “The key to faking out the parents is the clammy hands. It’s a good non-specific symptom; I’m a big believer in it. A lot of people will tell you that a good phony fever is a dead lock, but, uh… you get a nervous mother, you could wind up in a doctor’s office. That’s worse than school. You fake a stomach cramp, and when you’re bent over, moaning and wailing, you lick your palms. It’s a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school.”

My problems in more advanced mathematics began to occur in 9th grade when someone decided to throw the alphabet into what had otherwise been innocuous math questions that I could do in my sleep.  First period of 9th grade began in the hell of Mr. Nichley’s Algebra class.  Mr. Nichley was a throwback teacher.  He looked and dressed like it was still 1959, gray suit, boring tie and fedora hat.  He started the class speaking a language that I did not understand and wrote strange equations on the chalkboard which had new symbols and blurred the boundaries between the alphabet and the Arabic numbers that I had learned so well.  Unfortunately he was not much for explaining things to numbskulls like me and when I asked a question his answers always sounded like he was speaking in some foreign language.  The problem was that Nichley often seemed to be more intent on enforcing his brand of discipline than teaching.  I lost count of the number of students that he sent to the vice principle for minor infractions, including those done outside of school.  Some of the girls came in one morning very tan in the middle of the fall after have sat under sun lamps the day before.  This drew them blue slips.  If you talked in class and he was not in a cheery mood, which happened to be quite often, you got sent down.  Once he sent like 8 or 9 students in one class session.  I got sent down once without a blue slip.  However late in the fall Nichley was diagnosed with cancer of some kind and we got a never ending stream of substitutes.  Somehow I got through the year with C’s of various degrees and escaped to high school where I was faced with yet another test of my now severely limited advanced mathematical skills.  Nichley would survive to an advanced age dying just a few years ago in his late 80s surprising me because I figured that he must have died long ago as he looked like he was in his 70s in the 70s.

High school was different.  Geometry made more sense than algebra, I think because I could see the diagrams.  However, despite understanding it better I found our teacher, Mrs. Rundel boring as hell, so boring that I began to cut class.  Now Rundel’s class was 6th period, the last of the day.  This meant that as long as I didn’t get caught the next stop was the bus and home…or early in the year football practice.  The first quarter I only made a few cuts by going to the library.  The library was the perfect place, who would go to the library to cut class? That’s like running from God by going to church…wait I did that too.  But the library staff assumed that I was supposed to be there as I nestled my body amid the history and reference sections.  I got a “B” that quarter.  The next quarter I upped the ante.  I was becoming more and more bored, and Rundel always seemed to buy my excuse that I called into the counselors’ office or some easily verifiable story.  Of course to verify she would have to go see the counselor as she didn’t have a phone in the classroom and I’m sure my studious and law abiding demeanor helped the charade.  The 2nd quarter I pulled a “C” and the 3rd quarter I cut more and dropped to a “C” minus. What was amazing was that I was missing huge amounts of class and still passing.  The true test was the 4th quarter, this time I cut class more often than not.  I think I cut 23 out of about 45 class meetings, all in the library.  The last day of the quarter I showed up. I had to take 7 tests that afternoon and I finished the quarter with a 60.5% average just enough to squeak by with a “D” minus. My mom was surprised at the grade; she had not gotten a notice mid quarter about substandard academic performance because I had intercepted it and forged her signature.  She asked about the grade and I gave her my innocent, I had a “hard time with the class in the last few weeks of the quarter” story.   Rundel retired that summer and I’m sure that I had to have something to do with it. Thank God she did not call my mom like Mr.  Rooney did Mrs. Buehler:  “He has missed an unacceptable number of school days. In the opinion of this educator, Ferris is not taking his academic growth seriously. Now I’ve spent my morning examining his records. If Ferris thinks that he can just coast through this month and still graduate, he is sorely mistaken. I have no reservations whatsoever about holding him back another year.”

My less than stellar experience in mathematics ended in 11th grade when I came up against the advanced algebra teacher, Mr. Nadeau.  Nadeau announced to the class that he planned on failing half of us. I realized I was definitely in the half to be failed.  I knew that I had met my match and no amount of chicanery was going to get me through the way I got through the previous year.  I raised my hand, asked to be excused and went immediately to Mr. Brascessco my counselor.  I told him that I needed out of the class now, asked what was available and was enrolled in English Literature and sitting in that class in which I was quite successful and to this day I have never had to take another math class in my academic career, I was smart enough to know that my strength was writing and research, obviously honed to a fine edge while cutting class in the library.

And now…my mood music selections for the good folks at Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton North Carolina and their eminent Grand Master Pastor Marc Grizzard.  I have written a couple of times about them (see my latest on them here: https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/halloween-book-burning-update-bring-the-marshmallows-please/ )Since I looked at what they think is good music and found nothing suitable, they don’t have the Horst Wesel Lied in their music library. Since they can’t spell the name of the song and certainly wouldn’t be able to sing it like good Nazis, I have picked a few more contemporary tunes to help heat up the night.

I would start with the classic Disco Inferno by the Trammps, followed by Fire by the Ohio Players.  Once they got into it and started gyrating to the music while piling those Bibles on the fire I would switch over to a different style and play Burning Bridges the theme from Kelly’s Heroes performed by the Mike Curb Congregation and Foreigner’s Hot Blooded, REO Speedwagon’s Keep the Fire Burning, Linda Ronstadt’s Heat Wave, Abba’s Kisses of Fire. Continuing I would go with Johnny Cash and The Ring of Fire and the Talking Heads Burning Down the House and Blondie’s Atomic. Since this is a spiritual event I would end with AC/DC’s Highway to Hell.

It seems that Grand Master Pastor Marc has run afoul of the Fire Marshall and evidently he has no burn permit and that because of burn restrictions he won’t be able to have the burning.  Evidently Marc has decided the path of confrontation with the Fire and Law Enforcement agencies.  I can see this getting picked up in some of the offbeat press gets hold of this and starts presenting it as another example of Christian persecution. This could really be fun to watch and if I was there I would bring the beer.

I do hope the good folks at Amazing Grace Baptist and the Grand Master Pastor Marc will appreciate all that I do for them.  By the way call them at 828-648-0213 write Grand Master Pastor Marc at his personal e-mail: jonmarcgrizzard@aol.com

Peace, Padre Steve+

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