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Gary and Barb are Lovecats

 By Ben Hunter

   I still make mix tapes.  I also have a mustache and blow dry my hair into a center-parted exercise in bad taste.  (Okay, the ‘tache and hair thing aren’t really true- any facial hair I might sprout looks remarkably like dirt smudges and I haven’t used a hair dryer since high school- but you can picture me this way if it pleases you).  As archaic as it may seem, I actually continue to get a real charge out of putting these creations together.  In fact, one of my greatest pleasures is getting to the point where I’ve found enough good songs- stuff I haven’t compiled before- that I can drink a bunch of beers and start making a brand new tape.  In college, especially when I worked at the radio station, I cranked out a 90-minute cassette every couple months.  Sadly, these days it’s more like one every year. 
   This past summer I got a CD burner, finally vaulting myself into the new millennium (or at least the ‘90s).  I’m not completely happy with this set up, but it’s not because I resist technological updates (though at 13, when I got caught throwing various foodstuffs at the city bus, I did essentially claim that my Luddite-like aversion to modern progress had fueled this outburst.  Yeah, the cops knew I was full of shit).  I like to sprinkle weird little blurbs between some songs- fragments of phrases or sounds culled from within larger tracks that help separate tunes that may not fit together, and this really helps preserve the flow of the whole mix.  A perfect example is on the 2005 tape I’m just finishing up (it’s November now and I started it in March).  I’ve got Hard Skin’s “Millwall Mark” (a lovely, tough skinhead anthem) going into Will Smith’s “Switch” (not normally my thingio, but this Hip Hop ear candy has such a GREAT beat).  Without a little buffer between the two songs (in this case, a quick snippet from Richard Pryor as he marvels at his grandmother’s disciplinary technique), it’s an incredibly awkward transition. I can’t do this sort of thing- or record anything at all from vinyl- with my CD burner.  This takes a lot of the fun out of it for me AND makes the final product a lot less interesting when it’s done. 
   I still haven’t completely settled on a name for the aforementioned 2005 mix.   Often I’ve got a title picked out before I even get going, but not this time.  I took a look at a bunch of compilations I’ve made in the last 15-odd years and noticed certain trends in my naming conventions. 
   Quotes From Personal Experience:
   1999’s “Get Off Of Larry, Son” (track one, side one: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes’ version of “Leaving on a Jet Plane”):  This is based on the following anecdote, lazily copied from my, ah, memoir, Me and My Beer and How Great I Was:  One night, when I was around 14 years old, I had been drinking a bunch of beers at my friend Ted’s house.  I don’t remember a hell of a lot about that night, but I do remember that Ted’s parents weren’t home at the time and that my friend Larry and I weren’t supposed to be there.  Somehow we all ended up climbing into Ted’s bed- Three Stooges-style- and passing out.  Sometime during the night, Larry fell out of bed and began to puke onto the floor. It’s important to note that Larry was on the side of the bed away from the door and was thus, at least partially, shielded from view.  About the same time Larry began to throw up, Ted must’ve heard his father preparing to come into the room.  With this in mind, he crawled out of bed and on top of Larry, attempting to fool his dad into thinking that the body in the bed (me) was actually him and that he was alone.  Ted’s father came into the room, saying, “Goodnight, Son,” and kissed me on the forehead.  He must have sensed something was wrong because he flicked on the light and cried out, “What the hell…?” followed by, “Son, get off of Larry.  What are you doing, Son?  Get off of Larry, Son.”  It was all very confusing for me, and probably for Ted’s dad too, but in the end no one was really hurt.
   This story had haphazardly made its way into the Letters section of the Improper Bostonian just as I started making that particular mix, so it seemed like a natural selection. 
   1998’s “My Son’s Penis Went Inside” (track one, side one: The Medveds’ “Dick’s Headache”- more on this later):  This was the result of a shamefully hilarious trip to the movies.  I was queued up at the concession stand when an agitated man, his whimpering 10-year-old son in tow, came blasting to the front of the line.  He kept saying, “Call an ambulance!  My son’s penis went inside.  My son’s PENIS WENT INSIDE.”  I’m not sure what this was all about, but a few minutes later the poor kid was in the corner with his pants around his ankles, freaking out as a bunch of guys gawked at his trouble and tried to figure out what was going on.
   My band (The Medveds) almost used that phrase as the title for our upcoming 7” EP, but we wisely concluded that it would be a bad idea, mostly because of the alternate incest picture it so easily conjured up.  And speaking of EP titles, we actually had two that I thought would make great mix names:  “Your Drinking Ruined Christmas” and “My Mom Smoked My Stash.” 
   1994’s “Am I That Fucking Dense?” (track one, side one: Dick Dale’s “Misirlu” [whaddya want?  Pulp Fiction had just come out]): My new girlfriend at the time, who is now actually my wife, was pissed off at me and yelled, “Are you that fucking dense?!?!?” during one of our first arguments.   I had little choice but to incorporate that into a mix title.
   1991’s “I Farted But Shit Came Out” (track one, side one: The Pogues’ “Rain Street”):  A couple pals and I were pissing up against the side of a building, just before we went into the hip 1980’s Cleveland bar Nine of Clubs.  During my piss, I gambled and lost, trying to let a little gas out but instead getting more than I bargained for.  Without thinking, I blurted out this mix’s title and have subsequently had that phrase thrown back at me throughout the years since.  And yes, that little incident ruined the rest of the evening for me. 
   2003’s “Fuck You, The Pour House” (track one, side one: Liam Lynch’s “United States of Whatever”): A few drunken Belgian friends were kicked out of The Pour House for some silly thing.  As they were leaving, one guy kept shouting, “Fuck You, The Pour House!”  The fact that he repeatedly put a “The” in front of Pour House just slayed me for some reason. 
   1991’s “I Was Fighting This Bloke” (track one, side one: The Lemonheads’ cover of “Gonna Get Along Without You Now”): My very cultured-sounding yet bruiser-ish Welsh friend Jon was describing a chaotic incident outside of a party he’d attended.  When he uttered this mix’s eventual title, it made me instantly think of him in a late 19th century, put-up-your-dukes, Queensbury Rules boxing situation, and it made me laugh very hard. 
   Mixes Named After Medveds Songs:
   The odd thing about these mixes is that while I named them after songs I’d recently written at the time, I didn’t actually put any of these particular tracks on their compilation namesakes.  And yes, it might seem a bit narcissistic to put my own band’s songs on tapes, but it’s my fuckin’ mix, so I can do whatever the hell I want with it.  You dig? 
   1996’s “The Brutally Honest Cocksuckers” (track one, side one: The Medveds’ “Western Pill Party”- double the self-involvement here):  This song was about a group of gay and bisexual super heroes I’d dreamed up.  They conquered “bullies and other mean guys” with scathing putdowns instead of with violence. Since we didn’t have the song officially recorded until the following year, it ended up on my next mix, “Dick’s Headache.”  And when I read an article in the Boston Globe a couple years ago talking about a brand new show called Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, it reminded me very much of this concept.  I sent the show’s producers a copy of the song and wished them luck.  I never received a response. 
   1997’s “Dick’s Headache” (track one, side one: Elvis’ “Didja Ever”): I was at the dog track and was just about to leave when this greyhound was announced as the first entry in the next race.  This dog’s name instantly made me smile, so I took the last of my cash and bet $5 to win on this little pup.  And sure enough, she kicked ass and allowed me to leave with more money than I came with.  Again, this song wasn’t officially recorded at the time I was making this mix, so it ended up on the following year’s “My Son’s Penis Went Inside.”
   1995’s “Carl Sarcophagus” (track one, side one: Nine Pound Hammer’s “Feelin’ Kinda Froggy”):  I’d just read Will Self’s excellent Cock & Bull.  It’s a book featuring two novellas.  One story is about a woman who suddenly grows a penis.  The other story, which is absolutely awesome, is about a big, rugby-playing lout who sprouts a fully-functioning vagina on the back of his knee.  I blatantly stole this general concept and wrote a song about a guy named Carl Sarcophagus, who grew an extra penis (which eventually fell off), an ass on his head and nipples on every other knuckle. Oddly enough, I never actually put this song on any subsequent mix.
   Random Phrases That Just Jumped Out At Me:
   1994’s “The Crazy Cock In The Land Of Fuck” (track one, side one: Penis Fly Trap’s “Photo of a Dead Man”):  I was reading a Henry Miller book at the time (Tropic of Cancer, maybe?) and just couldn’t resist it.
   1995’s “Guns, Pussy, Hot Rods & Beer” (track one, side one: The Paragons’ “The Tide is High” [betcha didn’t know it was an old reggae classic before Blondie covered it]):  My friends and I used to like to rip pictures out of magazines, write sickening captions on them and then put them up in public places.  I can’t remember the exact caption that incorporated this phrase, but it had something to do with a rich-looking old man looking smugly at the camera.  I was so smitten with this line that I also included it in a song (“The Ignorant, Violent Hillbilly”) I wrote a year or two later.  Yeah, I can be pretty lame.
   2001’s “Jackoff Catastrophe” (track one, side one: The White Stripes’ “Hotel Yorba”): I’d been listening to an old Ed Hall album and this line just flew out at me.  What delightfully sad scenarios it conjures up!
   2000’s “You and Your Beer and How Great You Are” (track one, side one: The White Stripes’ “You’re Pretty Good Looking”- the first song I ever heard by these guys and still the closest thing they’ve ever come to perfection): This is the title of a Bukowski story that very much resonated with me for some now-forgotten reason.  I liked it so well that I essentially ripped it off for the title of my aforementioned, ah, memoir, changing the wording to, as stated before, Me and My Beer and How Great I Was.
   So here I am, just about finished with this latest mix (track one, side one: Darkbuster’s “Grandma Was A Nazi”) and still unsure of a name for it.  I was recently listening to an old college radio show I did in 1988 and laughed to myself as I embarrassed my co-host Gary on-air.  Gary had been seeing (okay, essentially booty calling) a girl named Barb and was sort of trying to keep it quiet.  We were going into The Cure’s “The Lovecats” and I casually mentioned that “Gary and Barb are lovecats” over the intro. While this flustered the shit out of Gary , taken out of context years later it still makes me laugh.  While Gary and Barb are now about 37, this phrase actually makes me picture a random older couple (who in the last 30 years has named their kids Gary or Barb, anyhow?) trying to kinkily get it on in a manner that would probably gross out most of the general public.  And this, of course, makes me laugh.  So unless I come up with anything else, I guess I’m going to have to go with it.  Hopefully something more immediate jumps out at me for the naming of 2006’s mix.    

 

 

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