Tuesday, May 29, 2007

California Tumbles Into the Sea

In The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, published in 2004, my buddy Rob Sheffield at one point notes that "no other band's music has been so identified with one particular drug," the band in question being Steely Dan and the drug in question being cocaine. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am the last person who should be passing judgment on such a subject, and far be it from me to challenge Rob on a question of cultural import; this is the man who found the psychic connection between Frank Sinatra and Jay-Z. But that comment struck me as a little off. The protagonist in Steely Dan's best song, "Kid Charlemagne," is manufacturing some kind of acid, is he not?

What I most identify Steely Dan's music with is Los Angeles: Every time I'm in Hollywood, which isn't often enough, I find myself thinking, You must be joking, son, where did you get those shoes? Of course, everyone in L.A., especially in the entertainment industry, comes from somewhere else, and most of those come, like Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, from the outer boroughs. (Actually, while Becker is from Queens, Fagen was born in Passaic, New Jersey [although that "Is there gas in the cah? Yes, there's gas in the caahhh!" just screams Belt Parkway to me (and as novelist and bon vivant Toure once told me, by way of explaining why he placed Kanye West's apartment in Hoboken overlooking something he called "the Jersey River," "Jersey's just another borough anyway" [and I certainly hope Toure is a reader of this blog, if for no other reason than I can then refer to him as OPC reader T.])]) It's hard to toodle-oo down the Sunset Strip without pretending to see Becker and Fagen skulking about, wandering into Book Soup to pretend to read some William Burroughs in the process of hitting on some unawares young thang just in from Nebraska.

Anyway, the band I most identify with cocaine is Fleetwood Mac, at least that part of Fleetwood Mac that is contained within Stevie Nicks' rectum.

No comments: