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William and Kate, A Royal Headache

27 Apr

 This weekend the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton will command enormous attention here in the United States.  The Hangover asks, “Why?”

 It’s easy to understand why the entirety of the United Kingdom will be enthralled by the proceedings.  After all, this is their heritage, from King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table to Queen Victoria to Roger the Shrubber.  But even the most dim-witted of Americans must realize that the revolution that formed our country was an attempt to rid us of fops like King George and the Royal Family.  Despite saying goodbye to all that back in 1783 and then again in 1812, modern Americans seem smitten with English Royalty—this despite two hundred-plus years of “All men are created equal.”

When Prince Charles married Diana Spencer in 1981, United States media coverage would have suggested it was the third biggest event of the last century, following only the moon landing and OJ and Al Cowlings in the white Bronco.  Americans continued to adore Diana, even after she became, in the words of Mojo Nixon, a “drunk-divorced floozie.”  (Before you take offense, consider what you would call your neighbor’s ex-wife if she ran off with your town’s handsome local hero and sped around night-clubbing, drinking, and snorting blow.  “Your Highness” isn’t it; well, not unless you’re fond of ironic puns.)

 In the coming days, America will be again drowned in Katrina-like coverage of the upcoming Royal wedding.  The Hangover wishes the happy couple well. 

But what does our fascination with the event tell us about ourselves?    

Is it that: 

 a)  We no longer need to value “all men being equal” now that just about every American can afford high definition television.

 b)  We’ve become so ingrained with fairy tales and Disney Princesses that we just want the chance to imagine ourselves in the role.  After all, it’s only a matter of time before one of these Royal Highnesses will sweep into our Burger King, pull us from the flame broiler, and whisk us away to a McMansion in the clouds.

 c)  Americans are sheep.  We (at least those with cable) would watch Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie read the Los Angeles phone book if Entertainment Tonight, TMZ, The New York Times, and the Today Show deemed that it was an “event.”

d)  The less relevant something is to the reality of our everyday lives, the more it interests Americans.  This would explain the nation palpatating over Bret Favre’s emailed junk, the Octo-mom, John and Kate, Michelle Bachmann, and those teenage girls having babies on MTV.

 e)  All of the above.

 Enjoy the festivities.  Maybe the Newlyweds will even be so kind as to hop into a white Bronco as they head to the reception.  Wouldn’t that be ecstasy?

Dan Zanes, The Disney Channel’s Del Fuego

24 Mar

The Disney Channel used to be a morning staple for The Hangover children.  The kids have grown out of it now, and for the most part, that’s a good thing.  But there is one drawback:  Dan Zanes and Friends no longer appear in the living room, providing musical interludes between shows.  One might ask:  Why would a grown man bemoan the loss of videos starring a funny looking, colored-suit-wearing, gangly musician?  Because Dan Zanes was formerly the lead singer of one of the best bar bands on the planet–The Del Fuegos

A few years ago I was reading the morning paper and the kids were watching television (the horror, the horror).  To fill time during breaks, the networks showed music clips, usually featuring some goofy singer strumming an acoustic guitar singing about dinosaurs or bunnies.   My eyes never left the page.  And then I heard a raspy voice backed by a Stratocaster and drums.  I put down Doonesbury and there was Dan Zanes.

“Kids,” I said.  “Watch.  This guy is awesome.” 

The Del Fuegos came out of Boston in the early ’80’s.  They weren’t musical virtuosos, but the drums snapped and the guitars churned.  Dan Zanes’ vocals suggested gravel more than velvet.  Ten seconds into a song, you knew they meant it.  They sang about the usual rock and roll subjects:  girls, relationships, failed relationships, music, and making it through the day.  The music had integrity and cajones.

The Hangover first saw them in a San Diego bar in ’84 on a recommendation–more an order–from a friend in Boston.  They took the stage and howled, sweat, and jumped through their set.   People danced.  It was music made for beer drinking and letting loose.  Eventually, Miller tapped them for a commercial–a grainy, shadowy bit that is nothing like the slickly produced ads seen today.  Most of their videos looked like they were shot in 8mm and created for black and white.  That’s the kind of band they were. 

The day their second album, Boston, Mass, came out, we drove to Newberry Comics and then listened to it straight through on a portable CD player in a ratty Camaro.  A show at the Channel a few weeks later was a masterpiece.   The next time they played the venue, it was so crowded that no one could move, never mind dance.  Personal space and fire code violations were rampant. 

Two  more albums and the Del Fuegos were done.  That’s the music business.  Great bands disappear practically on a daily basis, with no logic or voodoo to explain it.  Had things fallen right, the Del Fuegos might have been a contender for the “American version of the Rolling Stones” crown.  Instead, they are a footnote. 

Dan Zanes is now on a mission to play a folk-rock-world hybrid that entire families can enjoy.  He believes in this the same way he did his earlier music.  It’s not the Del Fuegos, but we like it.  The Hangover will miss seeing the Dan Zanes videos in the morning.  They never failed to bring back bars, Buds, and great times, at least until someone spilled Cheerios all over the floor.