Bowie, Peart, & Manson Walk Into A Blog or Is Soylent Green Keto?
In addition to essays and interview transcripts you might find on this page, 2022 introduces The TomanoBlog, a weekly source of Mike’s current reads, listens, views, projects, and musings. Enjoy!
Bowie, Peart, & Manson Walk Into A Blog or Is Soylent Green Keto?
January 8, 2022
© 2022 Michael Tomano / Fossil Entertainment Group
Happy 2022, the year that Charlton Heston spilled the beans that Soylent Green was indeed people. In 1973, the year of the film’s release, such speculative notion might seem far-fetched, yet not totally implausible. The screenplay was loosely adapted from Harry Harrison’s 1966 novel, Make Room! Make Room! and in-tune with the burgeoning concerns of the world’s population explosion, food shortages, and corrupt government practices.
In 2022, as those global issues remain (along with a smorgasbord of new crisis), the idea of a population feeding upon itself doesn’t seem so fantastical. Gauging the current climate of societal division, such an occurrence would find many citizens championing it, others in raging defiance, the media offering a daily spin, and a frightening number of citizens ignoring it as they woof down their Soylent Green on gluten-free bagel, complimented with a mocha latte steamed with fat-free soy(lent green) milk.
Soylent Green is people!
Yesterday, January 7th, marked the second anniversary of Neil Peart’s passing. Like last year, the remembrance of the date spurred new and return reads of my essay, Farewell to A King, written the day of his death.
I recently stumbled on the video ads featuring Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson promoting their new signature RUSH Canadian Golden Ale. Funny stuff. Always nice to check-in with the boys, but the elephant in the room remains The Professor’s absence.
So, I’ll be listening to their albums, watching Neil interviews, and remembering a great life and the impact it had on mine. As a drummer, I love Neil’s playing, but it’s his lyrics and insight, on the page and in conversation, that resonate the deepest. His passion for life, thirst for adventure, commitment to artistic integrity and depth of soul have and will forever inspire me.
(Sidenote: Full disclosure. I’m writing this entry naked in my bathtub. It’s 8:16 Saturday morning and I took a hot bath to ease some back and hand pain. My computer was conveniently set atop the toilet seat to accommodate YouTube viewing while I bathed. I watched an interview with horror author Ramsey Campbell while sneaking use of my daughter’s coveted Bath & Body Works fragrant shampoo bar to scrub my Muppet-like coiffure. I opted to air-dry in the tub and grabbed the PC.)
Today would’ve been David Bowie’s 75th birthday. Monday marks the sixth anniversary of his death. My friend Marty suggested we share our Top 10 Favorite Bowie Songs, a fan-boy practice that belies our mid-fifties. We reminisced about David’s impact, not only in music, but art in general, through his...ahem...sound and vision. Bowie took risks, always reinventing himself, shaping pop-culture trends as he pleased and setting the course for his peers and industry to follow.
So many incredible songs. Even his occasional clunkers are more interesting than most top hits on today’s pop charts.
Alas, I’m showing my age.
You damn kids today with your Marshmellos and your Polo Gs and your WAP and your Taylor Swifts and your Taylor Swift’s WAP! Noise, I tell ya! Now, David Bowie, dat’s real music!
1. Station to Station
3. Life on Mars
4. Space Oddity
7. Ashes to Ashes
8. Time Will Crawl
9. Under Pressure
All terrific selections, and, as we agreed, subject to replacement on a moment’s notice. I met Marty’s assignment with commitment. What better way to escape social media insanity and the news of the world than to revisit the catalog of David F’n Bowie! ‘Twas not an easy task.
I listened to his albums in chronological order. I scanned through some. Others received full spins.
His first three albums defied singular song selection and, save for one defining tune, worked better as complete listens. Latter career selections were easier, with standout tracks from his ‘80s albums forward easy to identify as contenders. Most fulfilling was revisiting the albums Hunky Dory, The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars, and Low, each a significant milestone. Listening to each brought to memory exact years, places, emotions, sights, sounds, smells, and people (and smelly people!) surrounding their discovery.
Ziggy came to personify Bowie for the serious fan. ChangesOneBowie was ubiquitous among teenager car cassette holders, but for those of us seeking beyond greatest hits, the Stardust mystique drew us further into his work. As with many albums purchased in my youth, The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars came on recommendation from Larry, the bong-tokin’ Rock & Roll Guru/clerk at Tape Town Records (later Kroozin’ Music) on Archer Avenue. “Good starting point,” was his advice.
Among Bowie’s masterpieces, 1971’s Hunky Dory contains some of his most memorable melodies, garnering a trifecta of entries on my list. Kooks remains special, recalling car rides with my daughter during her infant to toddler years, with Daddy singing its whimsical lyrics and getting misty-eyed at its sentiment. The song was written by Bowie for his newborn son, Duncan.
Though not a soundtrack, Low, will always serve as my companion piece to The Man Who Fell To Earth, a 1976 film starring David, Candy Clark, Rip Torn and Buck Henry, and directed by Nicolas Roeg. The Man Who Fell To Earth was an important film I discovered during my high-school years. Its story lingered with me and became one of my go-to repeat rentals at the video store. It’s a worthwhile sci-fi gem with depression, corporate greed, and the loneliness of genius among its themes.
Low’s cover photo is from the film and, though the music is not related to the film, its futuristic moods and the timing of its release make it comparable in tone. The Man Who Fell to Earth introduced me to a new kind of cinema and Low introduced me to a new kind of Bowie.
So, here’s my list, subject to change before I finish typing it.
1. Absolute Beginners
2. Moonage Daydream
3. Life on Mars
4. Cat People (Putting Out the Fire)
5. Look Back in Anger
6. The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell
7. Space Oddity
8. Oh! You Pretty Things
A couple of yet-to-finish books remain on my nightstand, one being Richard Brautigan’s splendid Trout Fishing in America, a surreal collection of vignettes about places, people, and events and how the act of trout fishing in America relates, or doesn’t relate, to them. It’s a work worth tracking down, an abstract novella full of anecdotes and characters from Brautigan’s life and/or mind with the title used to describe actions, name people and, occasionally, mean what it means. Heady, hippy stuff, Trout Fishing in America is a unique, funny, poignant and inspired read, albeit, definitely of its time (1967).
As I mentioned, I’ve not finished it yet, with a third to go, but I know it’s a work I’ll return to and am looking forward to reading the author’s other works. Brautigan was a poet and author who has a place among counter-culture experimental writers from the Beatnik through psychedelic eras.
In 1984, Brautigan did the Hemingway Shuffle, modifying the shotgun maneuver employed by Ernie with the more user-friendly .44 magnum. The juju in his words lives on, in equal doses weirdness, mischief, and beauty. It’s a shame his work is relatively forgotten.
The other book in the yet-to-finish, possibly moving to the did-not-finish pile soon, is Marilyn Manson’s autobiography, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell. I’m finding Marilyn’s self-portrait a juvenile, decidedly cold recollection of Rock & Roll clichés, taking advantage of vulnerable people, conducting ludicrous “rituals” of degrading acts and whining about the music industry. (In light of his recent legal woes, Brian Warner the Defendant might hope the autobiography of Marilyn Manson does not get referenced in the proceedings.)
My familiarity with Manson’s music is minimal, though I have enjoyed his candidness and weirdness in interviews. I picked up the book in the hopes of reading about his ex-guitarist, Zim Zum, whose real name is Tim Linton, a guy I grew up with on the south side of Chicago. Our circle of friends had mutual members. We might have jammed a time or two in a bar basement in the old neighborhood.
When the original Ozzfest tour came through Tinley Park on July 5, 1999, my friends and I made our way up to the stage during Manson’s performance to cheer Timmy on, and, of course, bust his balls. We held up the devil-horn-hand-salute and yelled, “Timmy!” He smirked in his black lipstick and flipped us off. We were proud of him, and the show was fun. Tim did a great job playing guitar and Manson did a great job of trying to shock.
I’ve heard a number of stories regarding ol’ Zimmy’s departure from the Manson camp, some from close friends and others from industry folks. I bought the book in the hopes of getting the chief warlock’s side of the story. I don’t want to “cheat” and skip ahead, but, damn, this is a tedious read. I doubt the payoff, if and when it arrives, will be all that earth-shattering.
I finished Paddy Chayefsky’s sole novel, Altered States, last night. Chayefsky as a screenwriter is responsible for the scripts of two films I love, 1971’s The Hospital, and the Oscar-collecting Network (“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”) of ’76. Altered States was made into a 1980 film by mad genius Ken Russell. The film was the screen debut of both William Hurt and Drew Barrymore. Numerous disputes between Chayefsky and Russell resulted in the removal of Chayefsky’s name from the credits. The film contains plenty of grotesque imagery and surreal sequences, both Russell trademarks. I liked the film when it came out and have watched it couple times since. An intriguing story with solid performances, for sure, with the “have to be in the mood for” quality of any Russell movie.
The novel details the experiments of Eddie Jessup, who repeatedly enters an isolation tank while trippin’ balls in the hope of unlocking the key to consciousness. Jessup and his colleagues talk in heavy medical and scientific lingo, with a touch of pseudo-philosophy and a sprinkle of religious mysticism. They argue a lot. Jessup’s relationship with his wife and children is tested (Ya think?)
He continues to get zonked and float in a box until he becomes a simian dwarf that runs with wild dogs and hunts dinner in a zoo. Dedicated scientist that he is, Jessup realizes the only responsible thing to do is repeat the experiment, with larger hallucinogenic doses, and, you know, touch God. The icing on the cake being all the trippin’ and floatin’ and turnin’ into Cha-Ka from Land of The Lost is done with university grant cash. Hell, beats hangin’ drywall.