Song Of The Day 2/23/2017: The English Beat – “Mirror in the Bathroom”
The Final 35
Errata of OmissionI forgot to mention another musical comedy deal I was in during the summer between my junior and senior years. It was at a dance studio in Carmichael. I can’t remember the name of it, but it was totally separate from SST. My role was Prince Dauntless in The Princess and the Pea. Everybody was very nice and we had air conditioning. Someone remind me what this studio was called.
Unfortunately Emo Hadn't Been Invented YetFor a brief time in my senior year in high school I played the part of the Troubled Teen. It wasn’t terribly long but for a brief time it affected my wardrobe. I had a trench coat, and filled the left side and lapel with a lot of pins with my favorite band names on them, most of which I got from The Beat in Sacramento. My mom thought I looked like a Communist. I didn’t realize Communists were into XTC.
My style of dress erased the goodwill I’d built up with the jock contingent at Casa Roble. For a while there we got on pretty well despite us being from opposite sides of the playground, but the sullen Ducky look didn’t go over with them that well.
After weeks of teasing one guy finally said, “What happened?”
That was a good question, actually. It hadn’t been the best summer. A lot happened. Mainly heartbreak, for more than one of us. And for some that’s a supreme understatement.
I'm still pretty protective about people I haven't seen in years. Well—the vast majority of them.
Let’s change the subject. My main goal scholastically during my senior year was to coast as much as possible. I already knew I wasn’t making the UC system and was planning on enrolling in San Francisco State after high school, so really I just needed to tread water. My one tough nut was AP English class. I was also a T.A. for Ms. Friedig, my sophomore English teacher who I’m still in touch with. The rest is a blur.
We Just Can't Stop ItI finally got into a real rock band at some point during that whole time. My friend Ron introduced me to a guy named Jim Pantages. We got along pretty quickly. Jim played me The Who’s Quadrophenia for the first time. I thought “Cut My Hair” was one of the most beautiful rock songs I’d ever heard.
Jim and I both had a great affection for 2-Tone ska from England. This was not the No Doubt/Goldfinger flare-up that happened in the ‘90s. This was the English Beat, the Specials, Bad Manners, the Selecter. Jim had a few friends that were like-minded, so we all got together and started playing. I think the bass player’s name was Dan.
The only portable keyboard I had was what I thought was a crappy synthesizer from Radio Shack. It’s one of only two synths I ever owned, the other being a polyphonic Korg that could handle six notes at once. The Radio Shack synth couldn’t handle more than one note at a time, so I was a little dismissive of it—even though it was a joint product from Radio Shack’s Realistic imprint and Moog. If I’d only known. At band practice I just played someone’s Yamaha DX7—the Don Johnson of synthesizers—and whenever we were in the same room, a piano.
We played a lot of ska, including today’s song. We also did “Nite Klub” and “Concrete Jungle” by the Specials, and some non-ska numbers like Talking Heads’ “Pulled Up” and Gang of Four’s “I Found That Essence Rare.”
Somehow we got a gig booked at Casa Roble during lunchtime one afternoon. I don’t remember who did this for us, but with Casa being largely defined by the Future Farmers of America and the aforementioned jock contingent, it wasn’t really our target demo. Food was thrown at us. Jim thought it was hilarious. At the end of the show I thanked my fellow students “for the free salad.”
I didn’t last long in the band because… well, I just found other things to do, I suppose. They eventually got a name: Sunday Dancers’ Club. I went to see them at the Crest Theater in downtown Sacramento once. Jim got on the mic and said something to the effect of, “This next song… listen, seriously, it’s really a good song, okay?” They then launched into Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl.” Some in the crowd were revolted. Jim play-acted defending himself. He, again, thought the whole thing was hilarious.
That turned out to be the last time I saw Jim. I don’t have the heart to talk about what happened, but you can read about it here.
He was never, ever unhappy.
I graduated high school. Other events followed.