The content of this post is based on random requests, which of course means I have to dedicate it to my former college radio show co-host and great friend SZ, who, if you know her, you pretty much also know that your goal in life is to write or say something funny just to hear her marvelous laugh.
I might as well start out with candy. Some of the candy we ate as kids was straight up disgusting. Remember those wax bottles full of colored liquid? And wax lips, which you could eat? Maybe? And pixie sticks, which was just colored sugar in a straw that you could pour into your mouth and something my friend brought in her lunch every single day, which made me jealous beyond belief. And naturally this leads me to circus peanuts, which no one has actually ever tasted, since they have no taste, but everyone can tell you they have the exact texture of Styrofoam. I knew they were orange, of course, but I discovered, after doing a little research, that they are considered “marshmallow candy.” Also this: “In 1963, General Mills vice president John Holahan inventively discovered that Circus Peanuts shavings yielded a tasty enhancement to his breakfast cereal.” I like to picture the steps that led to this inventive discovery.
Speaking of inventive discoveries, let’s move on to the Manson Family, which I never found as interesting as most people did, even though you’d think I would if you know me at all. But due to my fascination with the American presidents I am somewhat interested in Squeaky Fromme who attempted to assassinate Gerald Ford. Though to be honest, I’d rather write about the assassination attempt on Ford’s life just three weeks later by Sara Jane Moore (not of the Manson Family). And that story is particularly interesting because of Oliver Sipple, the ex-Marine who saved Ford’s life and whose own life changed overnight when he became a hero. Sipple was active in San Francisco’s gay community, but had not come out to his family or his employer. Gay activist and politician Harvey Milk, who knew Sipple, allegedly said that this would be a great opportunity to show that gay people could be heroes. I mean, who could blame him. Sipple asked the press not to mention that he was gay, but the San Francisco Chronicle reported it anyway. Sipple was then hounded by the media and Sipple’s parents back in Detroit were harassed by their neighbors and soon became estranged from their son. Sipple tried to sue the Chronicle for invasion of privacy, but the case was dismissed in 1984. Sipple’s health deteriorated due in part from the PTSD (or “shell shock” as it was known then) he suffered in Vietnam, and he ultimately died of pneumonia in 1989, at the age of 47. For me, this case brings up a whole bunch of interesting issues, including what happens to people who get instant fame (Sipple admitted a number of times of how he was sorry he grabbed Moore’s arm as she fired the gun meant for Gerald Ford, who notably did not invite Sipple to the White House, but rather sent him a short thank-you letter) and what constitutes the private details of a person’s life when he or she becomes a public news story.
But where was I? Oh right, Charles Manson. I only recently learned that the Beach Boys recorded one of Manson's songs, which appeared on the B-side of their 20/20 album. Manson really believed that he had a musical career in his future and was deeply disappointed when it did not pan out.
Which leads me right to The Clash. Back while we were waiting for the Internet to be invented, my friend Christina found a book in the library that actually included the lyrics to all of The Clash’s songs. She had made us both xeroxed copies of the lyrics and we pored over these pages together as though we were reading treasure maps. “Ends up making payments on a sofa or a girl!” we shouted. Slowly all the mysteries were being revealed. We had, together and on our own, watched the movie “Rude Boy” probably a dozen times, with our favorite scene being the one in which Joe Strummer washes his t-shirt in a hotel room rink. It’s not a good movie, by any means, except for the concert footage, but if you were a girl of a certain age it could certainly make you all swoony. I should admit here that the first Clash album I bought was “Combat Rock.” People, I had no idea.
(Brief interlude while I listen to the song “Jimmy Jazz” which is decidedly not off that album.)
Here is probably all you need to know about unicorns: “The famous traveler, Marco Polo, agreed the unicorn was only tamable by maidens, but when he wrote about the unicorn he'd been shown, he described it like this: ‘Scarcely smaller than elephants. They have the hair of a buffalo and feet like an elephant's. They have a single large black horn in the middle of the forehead. They have a head like a wild boar's. They spend their time wallowing in mud and slime. They are very ugly brutes to look at.’ It has since been realized Marco Polo was describing a rhinoceros.”
Here is a picture of a double rainbow that I took last month. Pretty.
Speaking of rainbows, take note that vintage “Mork and Mindy” rainbow suspenders are available on ebay, which is something of a relief.
Which, oddly enough, leads me to when and how kids grow out of their meanness, and unfortunately I have no answer for this at all. And I'd like to take this opportunity to forgive a certain boy who teased me for, of all things, being flat chested (I was freaking 12 years old in eighth grade!) who when I reminded him recently of this had no memory of it at all.