Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My Grandma versus Pitchfork Media versus My I-Pod

Allow me to introduce you to my Grandma.

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My Grandma has several aliases, which are useful in describing her character. These include but are not limited to: Gram, Grams, The Grams, Snowbird, and Gramsterdam. As you may have inferred from her airbrushed license plate, she also goes by "Rea." This is short for Mary, leading some of her partners in crime to dub her also "Mother Inferior."

In short (and she is wee indeed) Gramsterdam is a 4'10 octogenarian sick unit with a sense of humor like none other and a stockpile of dirty jokes that rivals the resources of the entire internet. She is at the same time the sweetest and most devious creature on the planet.

Just look at the sweetness depicted here:

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So prosh, huh? You're probably trying to hug your computer. In fact, I thought about submitting this picture to Cute Overload but I don't think they take Grandmas.

But she also has a sharp tongue and an acerbic wit that she will use without mercy if the situation merits.

Take for example the time my six year old self knocked over the goldfish bowl and put poor Floppy into my mouth, only to have him spanked back out of me in an episode that left my rear end red and stinging for a fortnight. I was outraged, but a life was at stake. A little, orange fishy life. I'm happy to report that floppy was extracted, safe and sound, from my Jaws of Death, though his home was in ruins. After I suffered the indignity of having a goldfish spanked out of my mouth, my Gram went on to inform me that Floppy would now die, because I didn't listen and knocked over his home.

My little six year old lip started to tremble. My little six year old eyeballs started to water. And then my 60-something year old Gram started to feel guilty. So to make up for making me cry, Grams bought me a bracelet while we were shopping for Floppy's new digs. Floppy was saved, Gram's guilt was assuaged, and I learned a valuable lesson early on. You can undo harm by purchasing shiny objects for your victim.

(I'll save the rest of these stories for my therapist so we can move on with this post already...)

As you'd guess from her snowbird moniker, Gramsterdam winters in sunny Florida, just east of Orlando. She lives there half time, spending summers in my own dear hometown of Pittsburgh. As you can imagine, because of both her scintillating wit and because people are afraid to let her out of their eyesight, she has loads of friends in both zip codes. Right now, Florida is winning, as shown here during her recent 82nd birthday celebration:

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But her Pittsburgh crew, while smaller, is equally sassy, as shown here at the Ascension Church friday fish fry a few lents back:

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The act of snowbirding requires Gram to uproot herself twice a year and consequently requires me to load Gramsterdam and her 9000 bits of miscellany (Gram's two occupations: crossword doing and trinketry) into her Lincoln and to drive the 17 hours up or down through the states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. This trip has become increasingly dangerous, due to the fact that sometimes I look over to find my Gram slumped over the passenger seatbelt, snoring merrily (and reassuringly) in the most alarming position I've ever seen.

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Clearly, the trip is rough on her. See her sleep as I chug coffee just to stay awake:

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(Wow, that's a bad photo, isn't it? I really need to stop performing my own haircuts).

In addition to drinking 100 cups of coffee to stay awake, I also frequently drink of the musical goodness that lives in my ipod. In order to compete with Gram's snoring, I sometimes have to turn the ipod to ear-shattering levels, which occasionally has the side-effect of rousing Gram from her typical "I wasn't sleeping I was just resting my eyes," in-car state of being.

Perhaps because my filthy coffee addiction led to a pitstop that ultimately led to us being rear-ended as our journey commenced, Gram stayed more alert than usual during our most recent sojourn. In her wakeful state, Grams graced me with a music review that was as acerbic as it was dangerous. Dangerous, I say, because once the music-review commenced, I spent the balance of the trip driving with my knees while transcribing her comments into the memo section of my blackberry.

It wasn't until later that it hit me: While I don't agree with her hate-all assessments, it's only a matter of time before Pitchfork Media gets wind of my Gram and starts paying her handsomely. Making fun of pitchfork writers grasps the proverbial low-hanging fruit, but still, I think you'll agree that my Gram is much pithier. And at least her puns are intentional. Of course, my Gram's musical expertise is questionable, since I'm pretty sure the last CD she purchased was Conway Twitty, but she does have some rock experience, having endured an endless barrage of bands staying at her former Crafton Heights residence. As proof, I offer you a picture of Gramsterdam with some actual rockers, who, as it happens, have recently been maligned by pitchfork.

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Coincidence? I think not.

Here's the review in the order my ipod decided to play them that fateful morning:

1. Mogwai - Auto Rock: "What IS this? It sounds like they are trying to beat one another up with sound."
2. South - Safety in Numbers: "Not too bad I guess. But all these friends of yours in bands. Don't they ever do something you'd recognize? Nobody does songs that are recognizable anymore. They all just want to do their own hits and it's not even catchy! But these boys sound nice. Nice voices. Did you say they were French?"
3. The Cure - Lullaby: "Now see, what's so interesting about that? Whaaa Whaaa Whaaa. I'm so sad. I'm sad because I'm bored doing the same thing all the time."
4. Men at Work - Who Can it Be Now: Okay, the best part about this whole music review is that she thought this was my ex boyfriend's band and refused to comment. Bha haha ha ha
5. Unrest - Suki: "Too much goofy. They don't impress me with that bass. Bang Bang Bang! Does anybody dance to these songs?"
6. Flaming Lips - Evil will Prevail: This was too much for my Catholic grandmother to endure and it had to be turned off immediately.
7. Drive like Jehu - Sinews: "Borrring. Oh! oh that's terrible. That's terribly discordant. Is this serious or just a joke? Tsk, tsk. They don't even have to practice to play like this, do they even tune their instruments? It sounds like a bunch of apes got into the band's equipment closet. Just think, their parents probably paid good money for guitar lessons and they ended up like this!!!"
8. The Who - Legal Matter: I don't understand this. You couldn't jitterbug to this, that's for sure!
9. T Rex - Life's a Gas: This song gives me gas and I can't even understand the words.
10. Marvin Gaye - Li'l Darlin': He's okay but his backup singers, (gives thumbs down sign).
11. The Bats - Made up in Blue: Gram refused to comment on grounds that she thought I was trying to trick her into criticizing my old band. Hey, at least she didn't think we were Men at Work!
12. Monopoli - Everybody Anyway: Gram straight fell asleep to you. Sorry Chaim and Alfonso, you're not big with the 80 year old set...
13. Clap Youe Hands Say Yeah - Upon this Tidal Wave of You. Okay, this is the best one. Halfway through the song, my Gram perks up from her nap to exclaim, inexplicably, "Donkey, donkey, donkey!" Then she starts mocking his voice, which i can't easily transcribe. Then she asks me "Is the lead singer Chinese or something? Chang chong, chang. Gah, that's horrible." Then, as a loud sound marks the end of the song, "Whew. Thankfully somebody shot him."

Gram, you really aren't being very nice!!!

14. VU - Sweet Jane (at the end of the live set, upon hearing the audience applaud): "those fools! clapping for that?"
15. Magnetic Fields - Fido, your leash is too long: "What, a horse walking around is music now? Fido, this song is too long!" Then Gram gets on a roll. After hearing the lyric: "I don't know where I went wrong" gram answers, helpfully, in rhyme: "You started this song."
16. Love - Old Man: This garnered the best review of all the music, where my Gram says, "the music doesn't overpower. For once. I like this one." Wait, what?
17. Hot Snakes - who died: Ok, so apparently the Drive Like Jehu crowd did no better with my Gram as their latest reincarnation. Her response was "Terrible!" Then she offered the blanket condemnation "I haven't liked any of them so far" and slept through the next 5 songs. until
18. Magnetic Fields - The One You Really Love: "Hm. Banjo."
19. Night Ranger - Sister Christian (I've decided to be honest with what's on my i-pod here). Gram sez: "What in the heck kind of song is this?"
20. Mission to Burma - Max Ernst: This song merely provoked laughter.
21. Big Star - When my Baby's Beside me: "When my Baby Baby Baby's beside me I go crazy because I'm a big jerk who can't sing!"
22. Magnetic Fields - Nothing matters when we're dancing (my ipod loves the Magnetic Fields, and finally, so does my Grandma). "Okay I like this one. this one is nice. You can hear them over the music and you might be able to dance to it. You can understand the words. Very romantic." (I thought it best not to tell her Stephin Merritt was definitely talking about dancing with a dude).
23. X - Straight "Can we skip this one? It's hurting my hair." (her hair?????!!!!)
24. Stereolab - entrez vous - "no thanks, frenchie french fry"
25. My bloody valentine - magic nights. "borrrring." (Frankly, Gram, it may make me unpopular with my indie set of friends, but I wholeheartedly agree. There, I've said it, I FIND MY BLOODY VALENTINE TO BE THE MOST BORING BAND ON THE PLANET!) Wow. that felt liberating.
26. The New Year - Plan B. "They should have stuck with Plan A."
27. The Fall - oh brother. "Oh brother."

Okay Gram, you're getting too obvious while the list and the review went on for 14 more hours, this post shall not.


Anonymous jesse said...

Your Gram seems like a pretty entertaining gal. Now that's acerbic!

When I take long trips with my grandfather, all I get is a seemingly endless stream of anecdotes of the utmost banality. Oh, I also have every "interesting" roadside sign read to me aloud.

You don't like My Bloody Valentine?! Gasp! Don't tell Pittsburgh.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Lonnie Bruner said...

"I FIND MY BLOODY VALENTINE TO BE THE MOST BORING BAND ON THE PLANET!" --- You have no soul. I'm sorry, but it's now all clear to me about you, Faye.

Just kidding. That was the best blog post I've seen in a while.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Captain's Logue said...

the funniest line, hands down, in this whole blog was "Floppy's new digs"! im still laughing.

(im going to kidnap your mother interior design 30 feet and have her over for dinner and my bloody valentine-bashing)

9:30 AM  
Blogger Lonnie Bruner said...

When you hear about people who like good music, and DON'T like MBV, it's like hearing about someone who grew up in the 80s and didn't like Diff'rent Strokes.

11:00 AM  
Blogger rockthefaces said...

I have to admit, I'm not big on My Bloody Valentine. But, then again, I think Nelson's "(I Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection" is one of the greatest pop songs ever written, so what the hell do I know?

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Jenny spaceship said...

Holy crap...that is funny.
I've heard this story so many times, but I have to say...your writing skills amazing!
I <3 u!

2:53 PM  
Blogger Captain's Logue said...

i remember our conversation a few years back about how horrible you looked sporting the short, mod, bangs. referencing the fish fry pic, i know understand where you're coming from. cheers and never cut your bangs like that again. you look like Iben Hjejle in High Fidelity when she first started dating John Cusack.

8:29 AM  

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