An Aging Rock Critic's Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 1

07/13/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • David Wild TV Writer; Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone; Co-Author, 'Everybody's Brother'

Until the Dow is back above 10,000 and/or there is peace in the Middle East, I hereby pledge to on some semi-occasional basis offer right here on Huffington Post some reasons to be cheerful during our current Depression. I use the word Depression here not in any technical economic sense, but more in the traditional, semi-literary Sylvia Plath sense. I use the word simply because I cannot stand to hear another individual utter the phrase "these economic times" -- words which themselves bum me out by sounding so fantastically portentous yet completely meaningless.

For the record, these "Reasons To Be Cheerful" are so named in honor of a wonderful song, "Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3" made famous by the late, great Ian Dury -- a wonderfully unique old punk who did not live long enough to see "these economic times -- and his brilliant band The Blockheads, who are now back playing together, itself another reason to be cheerful. Furthermore, in my nearly half-hearted effort to help usher in a new and more responsible, pay-as-you-go economic era, at least one of my reasons to be cheerful each week must be free, at least in theory.

1) You Can Finally See My Dinner With Jimi -- Does it reveal too much to say that the Turtles were the first band I ever loved sometime in the early mid-Seventies right before I discovered the Raspberries and somehow then the Beatles? Perhaps so. But it's taken years for some company to reveal this intriguing and charming rock & roll movie that somehow got lost in the pipeline. The song that first made me love the Turtles was "Happy Together," which struck me then as now as a perfectly constructed and performed pop masterpiece full of great romance and menace -- sort of like life itself. As a kid I had the good fortune to meet one of the song's writers Gary Bonner who was at the time running a health food store in Teaneck, New Jersey and, when I met him, busy scooping carob chips. Mr. Bonner could not have been nicer to me as he washed his hands of carob and signed some of my many, many Turtles' albums. This movie now finally released on DVD is based on Turtles lead singer Howard Kaylan's surprisingly clear memory of the band's trip to England in 1967 in the wake of that monster hit, and their meetings with John, Paul, George and Ringo, Graham Nash, Donovan and Jimi Hendrix, among others. Directed by Bill Fishman of Tapeheads fame, My Dinner With Jimi isn't perfect by any means, but it's fairly fascinating window into the stoned reality of Sixties rock world with a little My Dinner With Andre thrown into the mix, except this time it's Kaylan (played nicely by former Kramer Vs. Kramer kid Justin Henry) having an extended dinner conversation with Jimi Hendrix, a long iconic figure who actor and comedian Royal Watkins vividly and convincingly brings to life here -- itself something of a public service.

2) You Can Go To The Grammy Museum Like Me And Check Out "The Drop" -- If you love music, and live anywhere near Los Angeles, you really should check out The Grammy Museum which is a fantastic part of LA Live downtown. Sure, I'm biased having had the pleasure of working on the Grammys for years now, but I'm here to tell you this Museum is a great place to spend a few hours getting lost and maybe even found in all things musical. And starting this week, the Museum has kicked off a very cool new program called "The Drop" which seems like an excellent chance to watch a series of interesting artists discuss and perform material from their latest release. This week I already missed appearances by Nanci Griffith, Rhett Miller and Mandy Moore because of a non-stop series of elementary graduation events for my kids. At least where I live, elementary school graduation has somehow become the new medical school graduation -- only with more pomp, circumstance and swim parties. But I will not miss being downtown this coming Monday night to see "The Drop" with Marshall Crenshaw, another of my early pop rock heroes. Marshall has a brand new album called Jaggedland, and I can't hardly wait to go back to the Museum to hear Marshall discuss it with the Museum's Executive Director Robert Santelli and perform some songs for a few hundred of his closest friends. You can't miss me -- I'll be the loud bastard begging Marshall to play "Monday Morning Rock" or "Favorite Waste of Time."

3) You Can Spend More Time With Your Kids -- Okay, here is this week's theoretically free reason to be cheerful. Kids are great. They're funny. They're smart. And they don't talk too much about "these economic times" as a rule. They're also shorter than you -- at least until they eventually sprout up -- much like the Dow.

I'll be back to uplift you more later. In the meantime, let everyone know: what the hell are your "Reasons To Be Cheerful"?

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