Funk Friday: “The Birthday Party,” Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5


An original member of Yankette Nation and one of my very best friends is celebrating her birthday today.  I wish more than anything I could celebrate with her and buy her lots of obnoxious, expensive cocktails.  I will settle for sending her Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5.

Throwback Thursday: “Le Chant De L’Oignon,” Anonymous French Person



The make-up, organizational structure, and even some of the names we employ in the U.S. Army derive from Napoleon’s Army.  So it’s always interesting to go back to Napoleon’s Army and learn something about how they did things.  Well.  One of the things they did was sing this song as they marched into battle.  I won’t rehash the history, which this video does an admirable job of telling, but I will say, I think this is just marvelous.  Screw the typical “I don’t know but I’ve been told” cadences that our soldiers run around post to.  I want them to sing The Onion Song.  I want Rangers to sing The Onion Song, I want Special Forces to sing The Onion Song, I want everyone to sing The Onion Song.  Getting them to sing it in French would be a bit of a stretch, and probably impolitic and a whole lot of other things, and, sure, it wouldn’t be the best tactical plan to sing this while, say, trying to locate and terminate Osama Bin Laden et al.  But the blood swooshes around the heart just a little bit quicker imagining our men and women in uniform singing this on parade, at the very least.

I’m spending the day at a phenomenally boring conference on an Army post.  I’ll be sure to bring it up to one of the Colonels there.  I’m sure it will be a big hit.  “Onion Song?  $%&^ing love the Onion Song!”  …Right.


Worldly Wednesday: “Dalla parte di Spessotto,” Vinicio Capossela


Vinicio Capossela is one weird dude.  He is – surprise! – strongly influenced by Tom Waits.  This is one of my favorite songs of his.  It sounds like a demented carnival, which is handy, since that is how life has been feeling as of late.  If you want a gorgeous, melodic song, check out “Ovunque Proteggi.”  Meantime, enjoy spending some time by the Spessotto (which, from what I have been able to figure, is a hotel outside Venice).

Massive apologies to all of my Italian readers for the horrific English translation.  I know zero Italian so I relied on Google Translate.

Siamo dalla parte di Spessotto, da appena nati dalla parte di sotto,
senza colletto, senza la scrima, senza il riguardo delle bambine.
Dalla parte di Spessotto il tè di ieri riscaldato alle otto,
i compiti fatti in cucina nella luce bassa della sera prima.
Dalla parte di Spessotto con la palla dentro il canotto,
col doppiofondo nella giacchetta, col grembiule senza il fiocco.
Timorati del domani, timorati dello sbocco,
siamo dalla parte di Spessotto.
Siamo la stirpe di Zoquastro, i perenni votati all’impiastro,
sulla stufa asciuga l’inchiostro dei fogli caduti nel fosso salmastro.
Dalla parte della colletta, dell’acqua riusata nella vascetta,
il telefono col lucchetto e per natale niente bicicletta.
Dalla parte di Spessotto e se non funziona vuol dire che è rotto,
dalla parte del porcavacca e se nn lo capisci allora lo spacchi.

L’oscurità come un gendarme già mi afferra l’anima,
attardàti qui in mezzo alla via,
non siamo per Davide, siamo per Golia.

Non per Davide e la sua scriva,
non per i primi anche alla dottrina,
con il tarlo dentro all’orecchio
laflanellusi (?) che ci mangia il letto,
con i peccati da regolare le penitenze da sistemare,
sei anni e sei già perduto
e quando t’interrogano rimani muto, muto.
Dalla parte di spessotto,
che non la dicono non chiara che non la dico non vera
che non la dico non sincera, tieniti i guai nei salvadanai,
se resti zitto mai mentirai.
Adamo nobile, Carmine equivoco,
Rocco Crocco e la banda Spessotto,
imboscati in fondo alla stiva,
negli ultimi banchi della fila,
abbagliati dalla balena, nella pancia della falena,
clandestini sopra alla schiena,
gettati al mare delle anime in pena,
evasi dal compito, evasi dall’ordine,
imbrandati sotto a un trastino,
a giocarcela a nascondino di soppiatto allo sguardo divino.

E il paradiso nostro è questo qua,
fuori dalla grazia, fuori dal giardino.
Va la notte che verrà non siamo più figli del ciel,
figli del ciel, figli del cielo,
ma di quei farabutti di Adamo e di Eva.

L’oscurità come un gendarme già mi afferra l’anima,
ha tardato qui in mezzo alla via, già mi prende e mi porta

Dalla parte di Spessotto, dalla parte finita di sotto,
ma siamo tutti finiti per terra, tutti a reggerci le budella,
gli ubriachi, brutti dannati, ma pure i sobri, belli fortunati.
E quando verrà il giorno che avrò il giudizio,
dirò da che parte è intricato il mio vizio,
per che pena pagherò il dazio, in che risma sono dall’inizio.

Da che giorno ho levato il mio canto
da che pietra dato fuoco al pianto
perchè cielo ho sparso il mio botto
non da Davide solo da Spessotto..

E il paradiso nostro è questo quà fino alla notte che verrà
non siamo più figli del ciel, figli del cielo non da Davide
solo da Spessotto.

We are on the side of Spessotto, from newborn from the below,
no collar, without parting, without seeing girls.
On the Spessotto, tea yesterday, heated at eight,
the tasks done in the kitchen in the low light of the evening before.
On the Spessotto with the ball inside the boat,
with a false bottom in the jacket, apron without the bow.
Fearing the future, fearing the outlet,
are on the side of Spessotto.
We are the descendants of Zoquastro, the perennial rated all’impiastro,
on the stove dries the ink of fallen leaves in the salty ditch.
On the side of the collection, water reused in vascetta,
the phone with the padlock and no bike for Christmas.
On the Spessotto if it does not mean that it is broken,
on the side of Porcavacca and if you get it then ….

The darkness like a gendarme already grabs my soul,
lingered here in the middle of the street,
we are not for David, Goliath is for us.

Not for David and his writing,
not for the first also to the doctrine,
with the worm inside the ear
laflanellusi [?] who eats the bed,
with the sins to adjust the penances to be fixed,
six years and six already lost
and when t’interrogano remain silent, mute.
On the Spessotto
that does not say not clear who does not say not true
that does not tell you not sincere, keep the piggy banks in trouble,
if you remain silent never lie to.
Adam Noble, Carmine misunderstanding,
Rocco Crocco and the gang Spessotto
ambush at the bottom of the hold,
in the last row of pews,
dazzled by the whale, in the belly of the moth,
illegal on the back,
thrown to the sea of souls in pain,
processed by the task, escaped from the order,
imbrandati under a trastino,
giocarcela to hide and sneak the divine sight.

And this is our paradise here,
out of the grace, out of the garden.
It should be a night that will be we are no longer children of the heaven,
sons of heaven, sons of heaven,
but of those scoundrels of Adam and Eve.

The darkness like a gendarme already grabs my soul,
has been slow here in the middle of the street, already takes me and brings me

From the part of Spessotto, from the finite below,
but we all ended up on the ground, all in reggerci guts,
drunks, damned ugly, but also the simple, beautiful lucky.
And when the day comes that I have the judgment,
tell which side is intricate my vice,
I will pay the penalty for that duty, in that stack are beginning.

From that day I raised my hand
from that stone set fire to tears
heaven because I have poured out
David not only Spessotto ..

And this is our paradise until the night that will be
we are no longer children of the heaven, the sons of heaven not by David
only Spessotto.

Termagant Tuesday: “Rockhouse,” Ray Charles



Making it happen.  That’s what we do here at the Tune-Up.  We make things happen.  We also use our powers of analysis, persuasion, and charm to convince others that no only do we know what’s up, but that others should follow our lead.  And, we drink cocktails on city rooftops.  Thought leaders, thing-happen-makers, cocktail-drinkers.  How very soignée.

Modernism Monday: “Learn Me Right,” Birdy, Feat. Mumford & Sons



When in the course of a human’s events it becomes necessary to assess the path one is on, and one finds that one is in a bit of limbo, it can be a bit disheartening.  A wise woman once wrote that, really, you should take heart during stages like this.  “What is happening is that your old self no longer fits with who are you are becoming. What seems to be a state of limbo, is, in actuality, a spiritual journey, and it can only be navigated by surrendering into the ‘not knowing.’ It’s about learning to be ok with vulnerability, letting go of control, and trusting your interior guide.”

Who has two thumbs and is really super bad at this?  Me!  Hooray!  But who has two thumbs and tremendous friends who know me well enough to keep me together?  Also me.  Suddenly, limbo doesn’t seem so bad.

WALK-UP WEEK! Sacred Sunday: “I Need Jesus On My Journey,” James Cleveland and the Gospel All-Stars



To equate using a thin wooden stick to hit a tiny ball traveling at 102 miles an hour with faith, one might very well need some sort of higher power’s help to hit a home run.  These three minutes of gospel awesomeness might do the trick.

WALK-UP WEEK! Salubrious Saturday: “Ain’t There Something That Money Can’t Buy,” Young-Holt Unlimited


You remember when baseball stopped for a while because of contract disputes? Remember when your favorite player was traded, or when he left to make more money on another team? Here’s a song for that baseball player that plays for the love of the game. Hat’s off to them.

WALK-UP WEEK! Funk Friday: “Goliath,” Monophonics



Before Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, Kirby Puckett, center-fielder for the Twins and my childhood idol, gathered his teammates around for a quick talk before they took the field.  “You guys should jump on my back tonight. I’m going to carry us.”  Puckett made good on his promise.  The Twins had been behind 3-2 to the Atlanta Braves before Game 6, during which Puckett hit the game-winning home run and made the best outfield catch, against the center-field wall, possibly ever seen in baseball.  (Puckett, who was a very stocky 5’8″, had incredible and surprising athleticism.  What was so jaw-dropping about that catch wasn’t just the air he got, but how powerful his arm was.  Look how far he throws that baseball!  He totally windmills his arm around to get that distance.  Just amazing.)  That game propelled the Twins to a World Series win.

I miss you, Kirby.  Whenever I hear “Goliath,” I think of you.

Number 34 on his jersey, number 1 in your heart.

Number 34 on his jersey, number 1 in your heart.

WALK-UP WEEK! Throwback Thursday: “The Great Gate at Kiev,” Modest Mussorgsky



You’ve been playing baseball since you were 20.  This is your last season before you retire; your knees and shoulder can’t take any more punishment.  Your team has finally made it into the World Series.  Tonight is the deciding game.  The bases are loaded.  You’re up.  You put on your helmet and walk to the plate.  This is your song.