Quiet Desperation

Memories keep the past from going past its prime

Column by Craig Marshall Smith
Posted 5/8/19

Major news stories tumble on top of each other like newborn puppies, and there is a new litter every week. How’s that for a simile? Remembering what and when becomes more challenging the older we …

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Quiet Desperation

Memories keep the past from going past its prime

Posted

Major news stories tumble on top of each other like newborn puppies, and there is a new litter every week.

How’s that for a simile?

Remembering what and when becomes more challenging the older we get, but memories become more meaningful the older we get. Therefore, sometimes it’s good to have reminders.

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released in the United States on June 2, 1967. It was number one for 15 weeks.

The first line of the first song is, “It was 20 years ago today, Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play.”

I wasn’t even 20 years old when the album came out, so 20 years into the past seemed like a very long time.

Not now. The album itself is 52 years old, which is, to quote Wallace Shawn (in what film?), “inconceivable.”

Every day now, an actor, actress, athlete, or entertainer I grew up with is in the obituaries.

Then I reminisce, a word that means “back-formation.”

Sometimes when this happens, I will look the person up on the internet.

I am especially interested in the formative years of someone, before they became headlines.

Some of the names this year include: Dan Robbins, who created paint-by-number. I was given a paint-by-number set as a joke, when it became obvious that I didn’t need one.

Julie Adams, the dark-haired beauty in the “Creature in the Black Lagoon,” the film Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell go to see right before Monroe’s famous subway-vent skirt scene in “The Seven Year Itch” (1954).

(Monroe’s husband, Joe DiMaggio watched the scene being filmed, and wasn’t happy about everyone ogling his wife.)

Frank Robinson (baseball), John Havlicek (basketball), and Dick Dale (music).

Right after writing Dale’s name just now, I pulled up his biggest hit. I have it on my playlist.

Released in 1963, “Miserlou” was referred to as a “surf rock” song. It’s so good that it’s still played at University of Michigan football games.

Wikipedia says that his music drew on “Middle Eastern scales and experimenting with reverberation.”

“He was of Lebanese descent from his father, and of Polish-Belarusian descent from his mother.”

With a name like “Dale,” I figured he was of Manhattan Beach descent.

He was, however, born Richard Anthony Monsour.

Dale never used drugs or alcohol, and studied karate for over 30 years.

There’s a YouTube performance of “Miserlou” complete with a twisting, backside blonde in the foreground.

Dale’s band was called the Del-Tones. I don’t know what a “Del” is, but another one of my favorite bands, the Del-Vikings, used the preface as well.

It was (roughly) 20 years ago today that Charismatic won the Kentucky Derby. “Spongebob Squarepants” debuted. John Elway announced his retirement.

I was still employed in 1999. I was a schoolteacher, and beginning to have my sights on the glorious light at the end of the tunnel.

That was an odd year, wasn’t it? Not only numerically, but as a calendar milestone. There was something called “the year 2000 problem” that didn’t turn out to be a problem after all.

The Billboard Top 100 for 1999 was indicative of the dire straits of popular music that is still here. Cher had the year’s top song: “Believe.”

“Inconceivable,” as Wallace Shawn said (over and over) in “The Princess Bride.”

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

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