As I mentioned back when I launched this thing, one of my intentions with Jagged Time Lapse is to to share some chapters from my musical-memoir-in-progress with paid subscribers as I kick them into shape. I don’t yet have a working title for the book, but the concept is similar to what my friend and colleague Josh Wilker did with his wonderful Cardboard Gods. Except where Josh used baseball cards from the 1970s as a means to make sense of his past, I’m using 45 rpm singles as a series of windows into my turbulent adolescence — a period of my life which coincided with some of the greatest music ever heard on AM (and FM) radio, and some of the absolute worst.
Here is the latest chapter I’ve been playing with — though unlike the others I’ve written so far, this one concerns a 45 that was released two decades before I discovered it. Please let me know whatcha think…
Aside from our Mets game getting rained out, the week-long stay with my dad in New York City had been even better than I’d hoped.
I’d returned to NYC a handful of times since we’d moved from the Upper West Side to Ann Arbor in the summer of ‘67, but those were usually weekend visits — with just enough time to catch a Broadway show, eat at the Times Square HoJo’s and get a tantalizingly brief glimpse of the Empire State Building on our way to a family wedding, that kind of thing. But this week in April 1979, I was finally getting the chance to fully experience the NYC of my dreams.
For as long as I could remember, my father had instilled in me a sense of pride about my New York roots. He’d brought my mom and me to Ann Arbor after taking a teaching position at the University of Michigan, but upon arrival had almost immediately begun trying to find a way to get back home; the unfortunate discovery that our nearby Chinese eatery served pumpernickel rolls with their chow mein had only intensified his all-consuming sense of homesickness.
As a result, my sister (who was born after our arrival in Michigan) and I grew up on a steady diet of New York-related films and TV shows; if it was made in the ‘70s and took place in the Big Apple, we watched it with our dad. The Odd Couple, The Jeffersons, Kojak, Baretta and Barney Miller were just some of the educational programming that reiterated to me on a weekly basis the notion that New York (and especially Manhattan) was a hipper, grittier, more interesting and way more magical city than the one in which we lived. It felt a little like we were royalty in exile; sure, Ann Arbor was cool by Michigan standards — but I knew that I would one day return to the glorious city of my birth, where I truly belonged.
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