At age 17, while most of my friends were either studying at high school or studying how to get high at school, I spent leisurely days brainstorming new and creative ways of annoying our local Sheriff and his deputies.
Living in a tiny Gold Rush town tucked in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains – a quaint dot on the map named Nevada City, California – with a population of less than 3,000 people and a downtown district that could be circumnavigated in a brief jog, the only trouble a teenager could get into was trouble he made himself.
Nothing's changed. Except the colors are brighter now.
I had a partner in crime – the prettiest girl in town and my best friend, Autumn. We were soul-mates, mutual muses, and best of all, we were both enrolled in the independent studies program, which meant our actual campus time was reduced to a single 20 minute session a week, leaving the rest of our schedule open for adding to our collection of abandoned lawn ornaments, inventing new kinds of candy, and devising “experiments” to test the moods and reactions of our fellow man. Some people called us practical jokers, but we fancied ourselves social anthropologists.
It was late September and very hot. Autumn and I lounged in a swimming pool, which was conveniently located in the middle of her upstairs bedroom. In a moment of brilliance fueled by heat-stroke, we constructed the pool there so we could watch TV or toast bagels while we soaked. We drank water from margarita glasses, snacked on Joy-Pops (an unpleasant tasting but texturally exciting confection we assembled from parts of Almond Joys, Pop Rocks and wasabi), listened to polka music and played Trivial Pursuit.
Yesterday afternoon in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa, artist David Byrne filed a $1million suit against the governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, along with his senatorial campaign, alleging that the governor used the Talking Heads' mid eighties single "Road to Nowhere" (Sire/Warner) without permission or proper licenses.
Gov. Crist, who is also Florida's former Attorney General, used the Talking Heads song, found on the band's 1985 Little Creatures album, earlier this year in a website and YouTube ad directed against his then-Republican primary opponent, Marco Rubio.
According to a report on Billboard's website, Byrne, "became aware of the Crist ad from a friend in New York, where the Talking Heads co-founder resides." Byrne told the music magazine that he "was pretty upset" when he learned about the song's unauthorized use and stressed that the lawsuit, "is not about politics...It's about copyright."
This is not the first time that an American politician has used a famous rock artist's music or likeness without permission. Back in 1984 during his re-election campaign, Ronald Reagan, while giving a speech in Hammonton, New Jersey, appropriated the work of the state's favorite son Bruce Springsteen (referencing the then popular "Born In The USA"). When Springsteen (a liberal & most opposed to Reagan) found out about this, he was pissed and put an immediate stop to it. More recently, John McCain, in his 2008 Republican presidential candidate run, used Jackson Browne's song "Running on Empty." Browne filed a suit and won. His lawyer in the case, Lawrence Iser, is now representing Byrne in the case against the Florida Gov.
"Please conjure sheets of paper to come floating out of the laundry basket below"
The author, circa 1996
I have recently come into possession of my adolescent photo collection. There was, for a period of about five years, a time when I owned a fetching Ricoh camera which had been given to me by a rad woman whom I lived with on a mountaintop commune on the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico. She used to regale me with stories from her years as a hot-shot publicist, and explained to me which lines from David Bowie’s “Drive-in Saturday” had been written about her by the Thin White Duke.
Were these claims true? Who knows. But it did distract me from the profound and crippling nervous breakdown I was experiencing at the time, fuelled in part by excessive use of ecstasy as a means of spiritual enlightenment and by living with my then step-father who made such helpful suggestions as, “Maybe you have alien implants in your brain.”
“Oh, yes. Well thank you for that.”
I thought it might be fun to dip into the box and see what musical and/or cinematic associations they bring. Kind of reconsider my colorful past in terms of stuff you could purchase at Amoeba Music. For I am a salesman, ladies and gentlemen.