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diskant rewind: Bargain Bin Culture #8

Posted: July 1st, 2008, by Wil Forbis

(Originally posted November 2002)

Bargain Bin Culture by Wil Forbis

KIDS: You have to read the previous episode of Bargain Bin Culture for this to make any sense. Ahhh, who am I kidding? Nothing I write ever makes sense.

Surprisingly, I didn’t even blink when the Air Force Sergeant pushed me out of the airplane into an open freefall in the dark Middle Eastern night. I had several minutes to waste before I’d be below radar level and able to open my ‘chute, so I calmly reminisced on the events that had led me to this moment. I’d been tapped by the CIA to infiltrate the camp of the famed General Zarcon, a Middle Eastern despot set on worldwide domination. Whereas many other agents had failed to integrate themselves into Zarcon’s closely knit group of advisors, they had not had my secret weapon: an omnipotent command of pointless record trivia. You see, Zarcon demanded that his cadre of serviceman be able to answer any query he proffered about obscure musical groups both past and present. As the United States leading expert in such matters, I alone would be able to work my way into his camp.

However, my task at hand was a mere prelude to my final mission. Today I was assigned to sneak into an encampment containing General Zarcon’s beautiful daughter, Sally Zarcon, and do what I could to pump her for information. All in all, it seemed like a pretty cushy gig: parachute into a well-guarded fortress and convince the resident beauty to give up her allegiances to her father and provide me with whatever information might prove useful. Nothing I couldn’t handle in my sleep. After all I was an amazingly talented super-spy, I…

Egads! I’d reminisced so long I’d forgotten to pull the cord on my parachute. Now it was too late. The ground rushed up to meet me, closer, closer!

SPLAT! I fully expected to feel the sensation of my bones shattering, my organs flattening, and my eyeballs popping out of my skull and flying several feet in the air and landing on the ground with a sickening thud only to then be plucked up by a little bird and carried off to her nest where she would feed them to her hungry children. Is that not how all the great warriors die? With their eyes plucked up by little birds and fed to hungry birdlings? At least it would be a death with dignity.

Thus I was surprised to realize that I’d landed in a giant murky swamp. I was covered in mud and most of my equipment had been broken, but I was still alive. My eyes would have to be converted to bird fodder another day. Quickly I snuck past the camp guards and into the tent of the lovely Sally Zarcon.

Inside, young Sally lay upon her bed, a vision of loveliness. “Who are you?” she called out when my giant mud covered form appeared. “Are you an intruder? I shall have you shot, and then have your eyeballs removed and burned so you cannot have the warrior’s honour of having your eyeballs plucked up by a bird a fed to her hungry children.”

I had to think quickly, and realized that the fact that my features were covered in filth might prove to be an advantage. “Do you not recognize me, Sally?” I asked. “It is I, your long lost lover.”

“It cannot be you,” Sally replied. “My father claimed that you had been killed fighting in his wars. He said you had died proudly and as your body fell to the ground, birds flew down to pluck your…”

“Yeah, I get the picture. Never less, it is I. I have returned to offer my pleasures to your loins as I did so many nights in the past.”

“Well, most of the time, I was faking,” replied the Zarcon progeny. “But how can I know it is you? I must ask you something only you would know. Can you provide me with a detailed description of the classic Johnny Mathis album, ‘I’ll Buy You a Star?’ ”

A-ha. Clearly young Sally had the same obsessions as her father. She’d be putty in my hands. I began…

“Who can forget the life-affirming rhythms of young Jonathon Mathis, who, as was detailed by the back cover liner notes, earned a popularity achieved by only a few singers? A smooth crooner in the late fifties/early sixties, Mathis mastered the art of being a white person in a black person’s body long before anyone had ever heard of Condoleeza Rice. ‘I’ll Buy You a Star’ teams Johnny with the masterful Nelson Riddle and his Orchestra. Countless American families buried their dysfunctions in a haze of alcohol and Mathis albums, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t either. Highlights include ‘Stairway to the Stars’ and the nauseatingly optimistic ‘The Best is Yet to Come.’ ”

“Impressive,” countered Sally. “But I’m not convinced. You must also tell me about Cher’s ‘Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves.’ ”

“No problem, toots,” I said, sitting down on the foot of her bed. “Cher’s had a career of baffling popularity. Though her latest efforts are imbued with electronic sounds, this album captures her early seventies style – a mix of soaring string sections and folk rock grooves reminiscent of Carole King. Sans Sonny Bono, Cher sings solo on all the tunes, emoting efficiently to bring forth feelings of wistfulness and lost romance, particularly on the title track and the Peggy Clinger penned, ‘I Hate to Sleep Alone’. But nothing captures that early seventies mellow sound like side two’s opener, ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’.”

“There you go, honey,” I stated, moving closer to her warm body. “Are convinced that I am indeed your long lost lover?”

“You know things…” she said, “…things few men know. But I must test you further. What about the self titled album by Sequel?”

“Finally, a challenge,” I retorted. “Sequel might be best described as a really gay sounding Foreigner…”

“I thought Foreigner was best described as a really gay sounding Foreigner?” Sally asked.

“Nope,” I replied. “Foreigner is best described as a really gay sounding Bachman Turner Overdrive. Anyway, Sequel’s sole release hit the shelves in 1982 during the emergence of the New Wave/Rock scene that spawned artists like Pat Benatar and the Go-Gos. Light and poppy, Sequel were powered by bluesy chord riffs and fluffy production. Imagine a whole album of songs that sound like the Beverly Hills 90210 theme.”

“My God,” Sally burst out, “maybe it is you! One final test will determine this. 10cc – ‘How Could You.’ ”

“Hell, you can’t go wrong with this gem of an album. 10cc operated in the same section of the art-pop genre where you would expect to find the Moody Blues and Alan Parsons Project, combining eclectic songwriting with humorous lyrics and a penchant for traditional R&B sounds. ‘How Could You’ features the catchy ‘Art For Art’s Sake’, and other mid-tempo rockers. While mostly an enjoyable collection, one can’t help get a little annoyed with the satisfied smirk 10cc seem to wear on their faces, as if they can’t get enough of how clever they are.”

“My God,” Sally exclaimed. “It is you!”

“That’s right, babe,” I replied. “I’m your long lost lover! Now let’s take a minute or two for me to give some of that fabulous sex you so longingly remember and then you can start sharing the state secrets to your father’s…”

“It really is you,” Sally continued. “My long lost lover with whom I spent so may impassioned nights! My romantic muse who brought me to heights of pleasure deemed unimaginable. My brother, Fredrico Zarcon!

Man, this was one fucked up family.

Wil Forbis

Wil writes for the delectable Acid Logic webzine, as well as for this crackin' outfit here. He's also an obvious habitual liar, going on how he describes himself in his other writings. Truth is, Wil is a two foot tall computerised metal monster who likes nothing better than to CRUSH, CRUSH and CRUSH humanity to within an ounce of its puny life. When he's not CRUSHING, he enjoys tennis and jogging.


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