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Entry date: 1-2-2024 – Quiet Time – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

As the sands of my winter break hour glass begin to look a little less robust, I am feeling pretty relaxed. We had a nice first day of the year. Brunch/Lunch with the J’s and then a lot of relaxation. I watched the Alabama/Michigan game, which was a really fun game to watch. I didn’t really have a dog in the hunt, but my sympathies went to Alabama early on for some reason.

 

After that was over, I watched The Dark Knight until I got too tired and drifted off to sleep. That movie is so good. It always bums me out when I watch it that it was the last completed role of Heath Ledger’s short life. He was a very talented actor who I enjoyed quite a bit. His take on the Joker was about as good as it gets, even though Joaquin Phoenix plays the character pretty well, too.

 

I think Ledger’s character in Ten Things I Hate About You is what really solidified being a fan of his for me. I was 30 years old when that movie came out in 1999, but it struck a chord. It was a pretty accurate look at high school, I thought, and Ledger’s character would have been one that I would have gravitated towards and wanted to hang out with at the time.

 

When The Patriot came out, I liked that, too. Ledger was good in the film, but frankly, the part where Mel Gibson’s character first attacks the British troops is what makes that movie for me. If I can, I’ll always watch that part. I’m not a fan of overt violence typically, but I can easily empathize with Gibson’s character. His sadness turning to rage and ultimately controlled chaos was so well done. Crazy as Gibson apparently is these days, he was good at showing that rage on film.

 

When Brokeback Mountain came out, I was really taken aback by the weight of Ledger’s performance. I don’t care for Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as much, although he was good. I don’t think, as an audience, we are supposed to feel as much for Gyllenhaal’s gay cowboy as the suffering, closeted anguish of Ledger.

 

It would have been very cool to see what else Ledger could have accomplished.

 

*****

 

Another early cassette purchase I made was the 1982 INXS record, Shabooh Shoobah. I saw them open for Adam Ant on the “Friend or Foe” tour that happened around then and liked the band immediately. Even though I was a bit of a newbie when it came to concerts at that point, I remember thinking that Adam Ant was pretty ballsy to have such a great band open for him.

 

History, of course, has shown that INXS would go on to completely eclipse Ant’s career in terms of success, but at the time, I was a huge fan of Ant. Over those early 80s years, I played Shabooh Shoobah quite a bit. When I started dating, it was kind of a go to record (along with their next one, The Swing) if I had a chance to be alone with a young lady, too. Maybe this was because it was a little more acceptable to some of the gals I dated who weren’t super into punk and maybe it was because it’s just a great record.

 

When a record starts off with a track like “The One Thing,” you just know it is going to be good. For a long time, I thought this was INXS’ first record. I was wrong in thinking that, as there are two others that came out before this, but it was the first successful record of theirs in the states and probably the first one that could be found on cassette.

 

In retrospect, too, I think I picked up on the post-punk vibe of some of the songs, too. While INXS were adept at writing really good, poppy hooks, their songs often had a dark edge in the early days, too. I wonder if they were an influence on The Cult. I wish I had asked Ian Astbury about this when I spoke to him a few months ago. As I listen more closely, I definitely hear some similarities.

 

“Don’t Change” can still make the little hairs on the back of my necks stand at attention. It takes me back to being fourteen years old and feeling like I was never going to be confident enough to ask the pretty girls to dance. For whatever reason, I liked going to school dances even if they were somewhat torturous for me. I wanted the courage to say, “Hey, let’s dance,” but I never mustered it.

 

INXS had a lot going on, sonically. I wonder if that aspect helped me find a place for them in what was becoming a narrow, but cluttered hallway of bands that I really liked in those days. Even when I went through my most militant periods of thinking if music wasn’t punk rock then it wasn’t worth listening to, I always went back to those INXS records. Shabooh Shoobah is rich in extra percussion, saxophone jags, and keyboard riffs.

 

Sadly, May 13, 1983 was the only time I got to see them. I almost went a few other times when they would play, but never got around to it. My brain is playing tricks on me, at the moment, and maybe I did go see them one other time. Could have been 1986, but I don’t think so. Might have been outside for that one, though, at Mesa Amphitheater.

Listen to it here.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



On 12-31, R, Q, Danger Tail, Bailey, and I went to the mountain and said goodbye to 2023 in a healthy way. Later that night, we said goodbye in a less healthy way.


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