Rhodes Scholar

A warm and funky kind of day

Rhodes Scholar
All roads lead to Rhodes

It's been a full day, and promises to be a busy week. This morning, I took a frightened (and doped) dog to the vet for his annual checkup, then came back home to do today's Quartiles and crossword while the poor little guy curled up next to me until I was done with my tea. That was followed by a couple hours of working out, the installation of an air conditioner in the 16-year-old's bedroom, and several hours of work on the current novel project. I am now full of tacos and beer that were consumed while watching S3, E4 of The Bear. Tomorrow's calendar includes an interview for the non-fiction book in progress as well as the recording of the next episode of the Record Player, which will focus on an album that Mayor Matt Wardlaw and I can both talk about in our sleep. It should be BIG FUN is what I'm saying.

On the music front, today has been spent spelunking the depths of a massive Spotify playlist dedicated to the glory of the Fender Rhodes, the electric piano whose distinctive sound you know even if you don't know it by name. (If you really don't know it, you absolutely must repent. Further instructions will shortly follow.)

Despite the title of today's post, I am definitely not a Rhodes scholar; in fact, my ear persistently and stubbornly remains too stupid to reliably hear the difference between a Fender Rhodes and a Wurlitzer. I know I'm not alone in this, but it's frustrating nonetheless; the chief consolation here is that both of them possess a warm, analog sound that I will forever associate with the golden moment when multi-track recording came into its own, but computers hadn't yet crowded human musicians out of the room. Here, listen to the playlist and you'll hear what I'm talking about:

Watching: I finished Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley today, and now I'm here to say I semi-enjoyed it despite myself. Similar to Ghostbusters: Afterlife, I found this to be a nakedly nostalgic exercise with no reason to exist beyond leveraging IP, and yet there were definitely moments that expertly worked the right levers within my aging Gen X heart. I've written here recently regarding what it is I think people are really looking for when they queue up a sequel/reboot/revival/etc., and Axel Foley is a great example of this rather hollow principle in action — the movie is essentially a two-hour greatest hits reel connected by extremely thin plot tissue. If you want to see Axel in action again, this gives you that, with the added "benefit" of a soundtrack that breaks its back bending over to remind you of "The Heat Is On," "Neutron Dance," "Shakedown," so on and so forth. It even ends with Axel bursting in on Taggart and Rosewood while they're supposed to be surveilling him. (No banana in the tailpipe, alas.) This movie does not exist, is what I'm trying to tell you — and yet it's also a thousand times less painful than Beverly Hills Cop III, which is progress, I suppose, although it does absolutely nothing to explain why it took 30 years to stitch this silly little thing together.

After finishing Axel Foley, I moved on to In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon, which is roughly three and a half hours long, which means it will take me like a week to finish it.

Reading: Working my way through Fiasco: A History of Hollywood's Iconic Flops. I am currently partway through the chapter focusing on Ishtar, which is the type of movie people absolutely demand to read about in a book like this; I don't want to spoil anything for anyone who thinks they might want to read Fiasco, but let me just say that there were PLENTY OF SIGNS that the movie might have been a pretty bad idea WELL BEFORE anyone cut the first check.

The Ishtar chapter follows one about The Cotton Club, which I definitely remembered flopping hard the year I turned ten, but I had no idea what sort of crazy shit went down behind the scenes before the ticket-buying public had a chance to say a resounding "no thanks." This book is plenty of fun if you care at all about the art of filmmaking and the multitudinous ways in which it can go utterly wrong, is what I'm saying.

Elsewhere: While I was off doing other shit and Mayor Matt was tied up moving his belongings out of the old mayoral estate and into his newer, more expansive taxpayer-funded digs, he saw fit in his infinite wisdom to repost an episode of our previous podcast, 1991: The Year AOR Ate Itself. We had a ton of fun with that show, and this episode — which features our pal Ben Arthur — boasts a surprisingly thoughtful conversation about the rather dreadful Foreigner album Unusual Heat. As previously mentioned, we will soon return with a new episode. The album in question was released in 1984. I will say no more.

Also, my latest General Hospital column is up at Diagnosis Daytime. You should read it and also watch the show.

I should be back here tomorrow, unless the day tosses me too many curveballs, and I think I feel a new Islands in the Stream column coming on. See you then!