31 December 2011

The turn of the dial...

Earlier, I read Jason Tougaw's superrific blog posting Adam Ant Is Leading a Make-up Tutorial in the Park, about his memories of discovering new wave thanks to San Diego radio station 91X.

I soon found that the praiseful comment that I speed-typed in response would take up three-quarters of Jason's page. So I've instead began again here.

Have you read Jason's post yet? Do. 

Go on. I'll wait...

I would've picked Duckie.
In July of 1986, two months before I was to begin high school, I was forced to move with my mother and step-father from Los Angeles county to a small town at the southern tip of Riverside county. 

As if this in itself was not bad enough.

At 13 and one-half years of age, music had become my life - I was going to miss KROQ, Rodney on the Roq and seminal record shop, Licorice Pizza - but what could a girl do?

On move-in day, I took a break from schlepping boxes to plug in my (Pink! From Sears!) stereo and find anything resembling anything I deemed worthy for my ears.

I landed on 91X. For the next 7 years, the dial did not move from this position.

The Cure's Man Inside My Mouth and Siouxsie's Cities in Dust remain distinct memories from that first day.

It wasn't long before the pink stereo was replaced by a far more respectable and punk rock black one.

For the next couple of years, any trip over the county line into San Diego involved a rush of excitement at the prospect of purchasing another 91X t-shirt at the shopping mall. Somewhere...in a box far, far away, I still have those t-shirts.

Robin Roth
became a legend in my school for those of us cool enough to know of her. Some 10 years after that day in 1986, a turn of events brought me into the 91X studios, and Robin and I together, and we became friends. After an absence from 91X, she is back where she belongs. We still keep in touch, and sometimes she plays a song for me during Yesterday's Lunch if I ask nicely.

Steve West was...English. Which made up for the hours that Richard Blade's Video One was not on the television.

In 1992, I watched Mike Halloran interview Brian Setzer at San Diego Street Scene; I was equally excited to see both men who had been frequent visitors to my teenage bedroom...through the airwaves...standing but 5 feet before me. I captured this moment on photographs, one of which still hangs on my wall in a frame.

Descendents and Face to Face at
Brixton Academy London, August 2011.
In the mid-late 90s, I returned to Orange County and Los Angeles; 91X remained on my car radio's presets for those rare moments when I could get a signal.

In 2002, I moved to the UK, and thanks to the power of the internet, I still listen to 91X online when I can. My 91X earplugs still accompany me to gigs, loud hotel rooms and on flights.

In the wee hours of their morning, 91X played (and perhaps still do) the Mexican national anthem. Five or six years ago, hearing it brought me to tears: for the first time, I felt what people call 'homesick'.

The Cramps, Social Distortion, Face to Face, The Smiths, Rocket from the Crypt, The Beat, The Colourfield, The Specials, X, The Woodentops, The Primitives, XTC, Ultravox, The Damned... the list of what 91X helped bring to my life -- and which still remains a huge part of it -- goes on and on and on.

To quote a tune one would be unlikely to hear on 91X: Thanks for the Memories!

PS: Here is a fun (if not aesthetically-pleasing) post someone's written about KROQ, KNAC and 91X, complete with original audio clips!

Somewhere, I quite likely still have this sticker stuck on a
binder - or perhaps a pee chee.

27 December 2011

Altered Images...

...of reality.

For this, my 39th year - which I somehow find scarier than my 40th.

I may feel differently about that in 364 days.

For now, here is a tune dedicated especially to me

13 December 2011

Happy little rays of information...

...sometimes - not often - come my way that make me feel as if my head will explode. I mean that in a good way.

Today's news: The composer of the Little House on Prairie (and Bonanza, among others) theme tune was called David Rose. He was born in London.

That's not the interesting bit. (First, click below while the suspense kills you.)

David Rose was married to both Martha Raye (1938-1941) and Judy Garland (1941-1944).


One more time: The Little House on the Prairie music composer was married to kooky comedienne extraordinaire Martha Raye and she who needs no introduction, Judy Garland.

Not so happy? Dig those threads, though.

This is PIVOTAL INFORMATION to my nostalgically-overloaded brain.

So - what else could I do but write about it in order to help myself digest.

I think I am calm now.

18 November 2011

It occurs to me that I...

...earlier described myself as:

"I know very few people in real life who like any of the oddball things that I do. My heart and soul are totally living in decades different than this one, so I am fairly useless when it comes to things most people seem to like to discuss in today's world."

Yes, that does sound about right.

01 November 2011

Where have all the dynamic...

...duos gone?

Today, I have been reflecting on Hollywood's 'Golden Age', which, before its untimely demise, gave the world some of the best and most heart-warming partnerships to grace a screen:

Fred and Ginger
Tracy and Hepburn
Bogart and Bacall
Laurel and Hardy
Abbott and Costello
Bing and Bob (and sometimes Dorothy)
Martin and Lewis
Preminger and Bass*
Frankie and Annette

(Not forgetting the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges, which are hardly duos yet well worth a mention.)

I grew up watching their pictures, and find myself going back to them time and time again, all of these years later. Their magic will never be matched, and they will stay with me forever.

Who are your most memorable on-screen pairings**?

* a bit arty
** Yes, Redford and Newman are missing. They were a different time and place.

20 October 2011

Pacing in...

...front of Claire's, waiting for the bus, I am reminded of how far my life has come in the last 14 years.

This time in 1997 (just a few days before Diana Spencer died), I'd not long left my job of nearly 4 years at Claire's in small-town Southern California.

Today, I am one month away from being granted permission to spend the rest of my life in the UK.

But how did that happen...?

The things I've done, jobs I've held, places I've lived and people who have come and gone that have led me to this day... I suppose I should be grateful for each and every one of those moments in time. Those moments which brought me to this one right here and now.

It's difficult to remember this sometimes, no?

To be continued...

15 October 2011

Not only Sheena is a Punk Rocker...

Thanks to Twitter friend Mark Perkins today bringing to my attention a band called The Vaccines and their song 'Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra), I have been reminded of 1982 film 'Class of 1984'.

Why? Because The Vaccines mentioned it here in their blog.

So this got me reminiscing about seeing the film on its initial realise to video - which must have been 1983.

Watching the trailer today is pretty comical (yes, that's Perry King, who has become a familiar face on television screens over the last four decades) - and it does not go unnoticed that at age 10/11, I was far too young to be watching it; I probably sneaked it home from the video hire shop!

Mind, perhaps it influenced my not-long-after (and still current today) punk rock tendencies...along with 'Suburbia' (1984), a flick which definitely deserves its own post.

Would you believe these lovelies are on display in
London's Museum of Childhood? Believe it.

This also makes me ponder what other 'students gone wild' films were made between 1967's 'To Sir With Love' and this - long before 'Dangerous Minds' (1995) and its numerous copycat ilk. I can't think of any at present - or, for that matter, any between'To Sir...' and 1955's 'Blackboard Jungle'.

I will have a think about that. Or, if you've landed on this page, please share your titles.

A final comment on 'Class of 1984' is that I remember it also being kind of a big deal that someone so bad (lead rogue, Timothy Van Patten) could be played by someone related to America's favourite Dad, Dick Van Patten. Simply scandalous!

I see now that Timothy Van Patten has become an accomplished Director in his own right. Did you know that? I didn't! Well done, you old punk ruffian.

13 October 2011

I hate to be a killjoy, but...

...I hope the jokes about the Life in the UK test (it is not called the UK Citizenship test) are over for now.

It is easy enough making light of it, but for thousands of people, the test represents a life-changing culmination of years of uncertainty.

Its merits are easily dismissed...it is a means to an end...a necessary evil...a bit of a joke of facts and figures to memorise.

But, for some, taking the test means that their life could soon be their own again, free of restriction.

Some struggle to remember what life free-of-restriction was like.

Most days bring a reminder of being miserable and stifled in work for which they've lost all passion, yet are unable to do anything about it; feeling reluctant to form relationships or put down real roots - because they've no idea if they'll soon be chucked out of the land which, in their heart, is their home...making the last several years feel a waste or failure.

So - if you must - laugh about making tea and knowing the difference between Ant and Dec.

Giggle that you've got only 8 of the 24 mock test questions right and joke that you should be deported.

Snigger that the government think it important that people who've sacrificed much should take more of an interest than you in your country's facts and figures.

But also please consider, just for a moment, that you are unwittingly laughing in the face of what is a vital part in someone's future and long journey to be not only British at heart, but also on paper.

Someone out there who thought they'd never in their life pledge allegiance to a Queen, but is counting the minutes until they get to do so.

That person may be your friend's partner, your work colleague, a writer from your favourite magazine or the barman who pulls your pint. Or me.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This is not meant to sound curmudgeonly or overly-dramatic about what people consider 'just a bit of fun' - perhaps simply philosophical. This is what happens when you get old(er) and realise that in a couple of months' time, you may finally have something for which you sometimes feel you've waited your whole life.

11 October 2011

Life In The UK...

...test, as opposed to the 'UK Citizenship' test.

As follows, is what was originally a very long comment on a post by Thom Brooks about the Life in the UK test.

I am posting it here, instead of there, ONLY because I do go on, and it got to be so incredibly long that I didn't want to clog up Thom's page with it. NOT because I disagreed with a couple of things that he said, so wanted to run off to post a rant like so many internet soapboxers users do these days.

Not at all! I am in complete agreement with Thom. So I hope that this will be taken in the (light) spirit in which it was meant.

First, it is useful to listen to the BBC's most recent You and Yours programme, and then read Thom's post, both of which can be found here at his blog.

Back already? All caught up? Excellent.

Two weeks ago, I took (and passed - happy days!) the Life in the UK test and, earlier today, listened to Thom’s comments about the test on You and Yours.

I agree that much of the content is out of date, but feel this is to be expected. To update the materials each year would be at further cost, likely passed on to the test taker...which is another issue, in my opinion, after the fee recently jumped from £34 to £50 (I missed the £34) - now taking the overall cost of permanent settlement in the UK (aka ILR) to over £1000 (then, another £900 12 months later for citizenship).

I was admittedly quite bitter about having to take the test after 9 years in the UK (long story), but ultimately found it useful in many ways, and feel that Thom’s comments about the test lacking British history were slightly misleading.

There is an intimation that no aspects of history are covered, which is incorrect; migrants over the decades who helped develop the country, the Second World War, women’s rights and Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland devolution are all accounted for.

Albeit - yes - only in brief.

Whereas, including words such as Churchill, Heath, Cromwell, BBC, Plymouth, Labour, Tory - and perhaps even J Arthur Rank*, East India Company and what means 'At Her Majesty's Pleasure'**! - would certainly not go amiss.

* As a film maddie, this may be a bit self-indulgent.
** Joking. I guess.

There should be MORE about what it actually means to be a part of this country and LESS about on what date Valentine's Day falls, what do British people eat at Christmas and who were founding members of Council of Europe (not to be confused with European Council).

I felt that also misleading - and somewhat contrary to the point Thom was making about the test content - were his comments about many people with whom he’s come into contact failing the test due to erroneous information given as study material.

As Thom states, tests are mostly about memorising information than anything else - therefore, given the availability of study guides (I personally found the gocitizen.co.uk website 1000 times more useful than the books), I can not agree at all with his suggestion that people fail due to out-of-date information.

It is not an ideal situation, but this is not the US (Yet! I left there to get away from it, but feel we are gradually turning until Little America here!), who (and, therefore, their citizenship test, one conjects) must always be seen as leading by example and win, win, winning!

On a lighter note…

Thom's suggestion about involving those who've taken the test on what sort of content should be included is a very good one: but why stop at academics? My ongoing nemesis that is the UKBA have record of test-taker data - how about assembling a cross-section of people of different background and age to share their feelings on the test and what they would’ve liked to have been asked to learn?

While the majority probably couldn’t be bothered, surely there are enough people like me and Thom who would be happy to spare the time and effort to help make improvements for the future.

Which brings me to a related point...

Now I’ve finally taken the test, I personally feel that it should be taken on arrival rather than simply in order to meet a requirement 2/5/10 years down the road.

It seems rather ridiculous for people to be learning how to get a National Insurance no., a driving licence, at what age their children will be tested in school and if their neighbours eat turkey AFTER they've been here for a number of years, no?

For example: New arrivals are given a six-month window to take the test...for £10, rather than £50...perhaps even making it voluntary so that one can get it out of the way early on if they know (believe) they will be making the UK their permanent home.

I realise this would not work in all cases, but think the idea has its merit.

I feel a letter coming on!!

Perhaps best to wait until my long-suffering ILR application is finally submitted, though...

Tick tock goes the clock.

30 August 2011

My starter...

...for Ten.
The tenth one is behind you.

When recently in Blackpool for four days of punk rock at Rebellion Festival, I needed to both get out of the city and get in some football.

Apart from my initial visit to London Road in 2003 (which hardly counts, since it was my first match ever and I had no idea what I was letting myself in for) and my first of two visits to Tel Aviv's Bloomfield Stadium in 2010 (Bnei Yehuda v Hapoel Acre, maybe), this was to be my first match to a new place on my own.

My original plan was to visit AFC Blackpool because it looked simple enough to get to whilst also far enough away from, well, Blackpool. Plus, theirs v Runcorn Linnets was the first league match of their season.

I'd also done a smidgen of research on AFC Fylde, whose location was meant to be nicer, but farther away and the match, their final pre-season friendly.

At home, I'd scribbled down a few notes about how to get to both clubs from Blackpool. Or so I thought...*

After a leisurely B&B breakfast and lounging about in my room listening to The Danny Baker Show, my destination indecision came to a halt after a brief t-chat (see what I did there?) resulted in a last-minute victory for AFC Fylde v Guisborough Town.

*A long, convoluted journey from my hotel ensued...but let's skip ahead...


As I'd need to change buses in Lytham, I'd had a quick search to see if there was anywhere worth stopping for a quick pint. Was there ever...

I made my way to CAMRA 2010 Pub of the Year runner-up, The Taps.

The Taps was a busy and homely place with friendly faces behind the bar; the food (of which I unfortunately did not partake. Walkers salt & vinegar doesn't count.) looked and smelled good and there was a good choice of ales.

After ordering my beer (which may have been Elgood & Sons' 'Black Dog') and looking like a lost sheep searching for its table, I eventually perched awkwardly on a seat that had a former life as a barrel; its height made me feel like a child who can't quite reach the table.

While I cast my mind back to supping that beer and looking at all of the rugby memorabilia surrounding me...

A library to be proud of.
I will take the opportunity to mention what a wonderful little town was Lytham. I knew within seconds of leaving the bus that this place was special. Independent shops dominate the high street, as did smiling people. It was clean and tidy, with blooming flowers everywhere. And less than a 5-minute walk away: the beach.

What's not to love?

What's also in Lytham that I unfortunately didn't learn about it until it was too late is a famous (apparently) windmill! I am disappointed to have missed it, and that my time in the town was so brief. I must return someday.

And so to the footy...

From Lytham was a short bus journey to the village of Warton and The Pickwick Tavern, from which Kellamergh Park, the home of AFC Fylde, was alleged to be a mere 10 minute-or-less walk.

The pub was in no way noteworthy, but the lady behind the bar was friendly enough. I retired to the garden with my Guinness. And what a view...

Hard Ware Up Shop Stairs?

It was soon time for the '10 minute or less' walk, which, it turned out, would have been more aptly called the 20-25 minute walk. I suppose the average football supporter has much longer legs than me.

Along the way, I passed an old church, a farm with 3 large dogs playing like puppies and a field of sheep. I was winning already.

But more was to come...

AFC Fylde 10 v Guisborough Town 0
Saturday, 6 August 2011
Attendance: 120 (a guess)
Entry: £5
Programme: £1
Consumed on site: pint of bitter, chip and cheese butty (ish), tea

Yep, that's 10-0.

This many days later, I can't remember the who, when and how of those ten goals (here's a report, if you go for that sort of thing). I tend to be people-watching or looking out into space (or, in this case, at sheep) when goals are scored, so I can't say for sure that I saw them all.

But there were ten. That I know.

One team is in white and the other in blue.
Just don't ask me which is which.

Things I do remember:
  • Fylde had a good partnership up front. I think one of them had orange hair
  • Sheep baaaahed and cows moooooed during quiet times of play. This should be incorporated into all games
  • The Club's PR was very well-designed and professional; A4 posters in the toilets and other spots around the ground advertised the new season's full programme of fixtures
  • The Club staff and volunteers that I encountered were all very friendly
  • The clubhouse, 'Fullers Bar', was snazzy
  • The chap on the tannoy was upbeat and cheeky

I got my money's worth.

Unsurprisingly, I was the only person to leave the ground on foot. The walk back to the bus stop seemed quicker than earlier. I passed the sheep again - who, one might proffer, worked harder for my affection than did Guisborough Town.

After sleeping for most of the hour or so it took to get back into Blackpool, I arrived at my hotel 6 hours after I'd left. For local football.

And then there was tea. And punk rock.

This tune bears no relation to this post, but fits nicely with the theme of my weekend. Football and music. It's the same.