Not your average old boys network

Of the benefits provided by an Ivy League education, exposure to the “old boys network” supposedly tops the list. You join the ranks of powerful, fat, balding white men who smoke cigars in dark, Victorian rooms and do each other favors. Naturally, if it ever really worked like that, it doesn’t anymore. This is not to say that no networking exists, just that the networks built these days are less likely to include CEO’s, senators and the gnomes of Zürich. More often, you’ll find a diverse bunch, scattered world-wide and doing some interesting stuff.

A casual mention of a band I’d never heard of during an internet meander brought this home to me. Being in “random surf” mode, I took a look at the band, named Pink Martini. Their style is a bit difficult to describe, but I’d call it “world lounge”. If “Song of the Black Lizard” and some of their instrumental stuff sounds familiar, you probably heard it on the Sopranos. “Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love” is also now used in a self-promo piece on one of the Starz! channels.

A reading of their bio page revealed the group to be the brainchild of Thomas M. Lauderdale, a name I hadn’t heard in over a decade. I didn’t know him that well. We exchanged maybe a couple of sentences. I knew of him, of course. The Crimson called him the “eternal cheerleader” of the place in which we both lived. That article doesn’t really do him justice, though. In the first place, it lacks the picture that ran with the original article, the close-up of him making out with the statue of John Harvard, compositionally one of the best shots the paper ever published. In the second place, it makes him sound like one of the annoying throng of fabulous men who do outrageous things in a desperate attempt to seem interesting. Thomas wasn’t like that; he really is interesting.

My primary memory of Thomas is during a party he put together for freshman (like me) who would be moving to the house the following term. His events deserved their good reputation. I met him twice that night briefly, once while he wore a tux, then later when he traded it in for a gown. Not your average old boy for sure. I don’t know him well enough to truly consider him part of my “network”, but if I asked him for a favor, I have a feeling he’d probably do it. He seemed like that kind of guy.

Meanwhile, I’m happy to pimp for his band. Check out Pink Martini. “Amado Mio” and “Hang On Little Tomato” are the only things that have been able to break my cycle of listening to a handful of DJ Earworm tracks over and over. Also, if you’re in Boston, check them out when they play with the Pops on May 18-21.

Regarding Arizona Bay

Inspired by a new way of formatting music, this is a representation of Tool’s Ænema (some links not work safe):

Now if only someone would post similar reworkings of the lyrics of Spocks Johnson.

Lesson of Christmas

When Robert L. May wrote the verse “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in 1939 for a Montgomery Ward promotional children’s book, he created something of a phenomenon, particularly when his brother-in-law Johnny Marks turned it into a song in 1949, recorded by Gene Autry. Since then, Rudolph, has become one of the many plagues of Christmas, spawning everything from toys to TV specials to inane debates.

Many say that the point of the Rudolph story is that flaws can be turned into assets; however, in one of many holiday shopping moments spent being brutalized by musical Christmas glee, the following lyrics struck me:

Then one foggy Christmas Eve,
Santa came to say,
“Rudolph with your nose so bright,
Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
Then how the reindeer loved him

The point of the song, therefore, seems to be “people who are different will be ridiculed until someone popular says they’re OK.” Or, perhaps, “you are nothing until you prove useful to the elite.”

Merry Christmas.