Maxed out 

Suddenly it all makes sense

More than anything I can put my finger on, there were two forces in my formative years that grabbed what might have been a normal, productive life destined to maybe write ad copy or sue people over outrageous grievances, and nudged it off course. Given more than 10 minutes of deep introspection or professional help, I could surely flesh out that list by several orders of magnitude, but deadlines beckon.

One, the latter of the two but what would you expect from someone who reads magazines backwards, was the music of Frank Zappa. At a time when the Beatles – don’t get me wrong, I liked the Beatles – were singing about wantin’ to hold my hand, Frank was writing "Trouble Comin’ Every Day" with lyrics like this:

Well, you can cool it, you can heat it

Take your TV tube and eat it

All that phoney stuff on sports

And all those unconfirmed reports

You know I watch that rotten box

Until my head begins to hurt

From checkin’ out the way

The newsmen say they get the dirt

‘Fore all the guys on channel so and so

And further they assert

That any show they’ll interrupt

To bring you news if it comes up

They say "If the place blows up

We’ll be the first to tell"

‘Cause the boys they got downtown

Are working hard and doing swell

And if anybody gets the news

Before it hits the street

They say "No one blabs it faster

Our coverage can’t be beat"

And if another woman driver

Gets machine gunned from her seat

They’ll send some joker with a Brownie

And you’ll see it all complete.

They don’t write songs like that anymore. For that matter, no one else wrote songs like that in 1968. Stumbling over it in a remainder bin was probably a mixed blessing. I’m certain it had something to do with not turning out quite the way my parents and guidance counsellors thought I would.

The other major cultural force shaping my psyche was Friday nights. There was a stretch of time when my folks socialized on Friday nights and I was left at home to boss my younger brother and sister around. This meant two things: I got to control the television, and I got to monopolize the most comfy chair with the best sightline. Now that was power.


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