Sunday, February 10, 2013

No. 480 – After the Fire

Performer: Roger Daltrey
Songwriter: Pete Townshend
Original Release: Under a Raging Moon
Year: 1985
Definitive Version: None

My senior year at Wabash, Matt and I developed a good living arrangement.

We shared cleaning duties, which is to say, neither of us did much. It’s not as though we had stuff thrown around the floor or dishes piled up on the counter. As long as it didn’t look bad, it was fine. Matt’s girlfriend, Mindy, didn’t like it, and I found out years after the fact that she would clean the place when she visited. No wonder it mostly looked fine.

Anyway, Matt and I grocery shopped together a lot and traded off cooking nights—one would cook and the other clean—unless, of course, one or both were either going to be studying late or be off campus. Our routine was the afternoon was for class or study and then come home around 5:30 to start cooking, and we’d eat around 6 or 6:30, which was just in time to catch reruns of Star Trek on the tube.

I knew the show well, of course. If you were a 20-something male in the Eighties, how could you not? But Matt was a big Trekkie. He would point out how the crew broke the Prime Directive almost every show and how Spock always saved the day, because Kirk was too busy trying to get it on with the alien babe. I became a big fan from finding the unintentional humor in some of the episodes.

We watched other shows together less regularly, like Carson or Letterman, which is to say, I watched them regularly while I played Start-o-matic baseball on the floor ,and sometimes Matt joined me before heading to bed. One night, we found Miami Vice.

I knew of Miami Vice, of course. Again, how could you not in 1985? It hit a cultural nerve since its debut the year before, and the hype had reached the point where I wasn’t interested in it because of the hype. It was kind of like how I later felt towards grunge … until I actually was exposed to it.

Beth liked it because of Don Johnson, of course, and I was exposed to it through her. It was OK, I guessed begrudgingly, but it didn’t really do anything for me.

Well, one weekend at Wabash, Matt and I had a down weekend, meaning we neither were going to visit our girlfriends nor were they coming to visit us. So we had nothing to do but flip around the TV. We landed on Miami Vice, and nothing else was on. I explained to Matt what little I knew about the show, and he said let’s leave it here.

The episode drew us in right away: It involved a Haitian voodoo chief, played by Clarence Williams III, from Mod Squad fame, coming back from the dead in Miami. Now that’s a hook.

We liked that the episode centered around Tubbs instead of Crockett, and it included all sorts of supernatural elements over hypnotic rhythmic Jan Hammer synth. It pulled us in. I don’t know about Matt, but by the end, after the final showdown on the boat where Tubbs has to overcome the influence of the voodoo chief (see the episode) to take him down, I was hooked.

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