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Beyond the Beatles part 2
I don’t know if I had the vinyls first or if I saw the Sullivan broadcast first, but I’ll probably know before this chapter is completed, I sent out a message to one of my oldest friends, Kevin Clement, for some memory assist. Kevin and I were partners in being Beatle crazy. Wait, he just got back to me and reports, "We got Meet the Beatles in January, 1964, one month before the Sullivan appearance." So now I ask, "Was our first exposure radio, singles, or just the buzz in the air?"
I remember the singles being passed around in class, I Want to Hold Your Hand maybe, makes sense, I can’t really see the particular sleeve covers in my minds eye. My mind says "She Loves You," which had the same sleeve as I Want to Hold Your Hand, but I know I didn’t own it because I recall my excitement finding that song contained on The Beatles Second Album that I did own. I wasn’t a singles guy, I guess, not at that point. I know I didn’t have the Love Me Do single because I was sorry it wasn’t on the Introducing the Beatles album where I thought it should be. Wait, maybe I did get Love Me Do. I remember being in a record shop again with my cousin. No, no, now I recall. She offered to buy me a present and I was torn between two items, the Love Me Do single, and a poster of Elvis wearing a red jacket. It was a hard decision, I kept looking into Elvis’ eyes for help as I hesitated, or maybe I hoped if I stood undecided long enough she’d buy me both. I think I settled on the Elvis poster. I recall walking the street outside that shop knowing I had missed my Love Me Do/P.S. I Love You chance. Shall I make some mention at this point of how Elvis fit into the scheme of things or save that for a later chapter? Well, it would fill in that nyc enviroment...
...I think it continued on cable as a national network called The Super Station, but back then it was local WOR-TV channel 9. They had a program titled "The Million Dollar Movie" that aired the same movie a few times a day for an entire week, and though they didn’t have many movies to rotate, they had good ones, monster movies, maybe the Giant Behemoth was one, maybe even Gozilla, but they definately had Elvis’ first four films: a week of Love Me Tender over and over again, a week of Jailhouse Rock, of Loving You, and my personal favorite, the most identifiable King Creole. The last three were heavy duty rock and rollin and fist swinging. Man, forget that hip gyroing stuff, when Elvis threw his fist in those flix he really put his shoulder into it, and in motion that ol’ pompidou would fall into a supermanish splintered curl right over his forehead. He didn’t seem so tough in Love Me Tender, seemed like his big brother or friends could kick his butt, but he was still mighty cool in a tenderer way. I reckon for that reason it was my least favorite of the four. Maybe I identified most with King Creole because he was fighting the kids on his street, just as I found myself having to do. I had, post first Sullivan show, immediately grown my hair long, and it seemed the cuban boys in my neighborhood didn’t like that. Maybe because it made me cool to the girls? Eventually one of those boys, after we had a fist fight outside the school, confessed to me that he was mad at me for having long hair because his mother wouldn’t let him grow his own hair long. Eventually, I’d prefer to identify with rock star Elvis, of the middle two flix, over fist fighting Elvis.
I think the Elvis poster was one of these two. I I remember it to be a painting rather
than a photograph, but maybe that’s because Elvis always looks like a work of art. I’m sure Elvis fans can correct me, but I imagin this look could go back as far as 1962’s Girls Girls Girls up through 1965’s Girl Happy, but I’m going to settle for midway 1964 Kissing Cousins.
In 1964 my cousin and her boyfriend took me to the route 3 Secaucus NJ drive-in to see the release of the Elvis Rousabout movie. I enjoyed it so much that afterwards I begged them to take me to another Elvis drive-in movie. There wasn’t one so my cousin had her boyfriend take me to see indoors the then out-for-a-while Girls Girls Girls at the Union City NJ Cinema on Bergenline Avenue. Bergenline was then, and still is now in 2017, an oasis of ethnic mom and pop stores that stretches for a few miles, the thickest part being about 20th street to 70th street. You can still get a good price on a leather wallet from an Indian there, or a good pointy toe shoe or boot from a Cuban. Elvis wore the red jacket while he sang the title song on the beach finale. Kevin joined us for that movie. The following year I went to that same cinema with my parents to see the release of Girl Happy, and I recall my mother saying, "He just gets more handsome the older he get."
I think it was after Roustabout that I began posing in front of a large rectangle mirror my parents had hanging over our couch. It was proportioned just like that drive-in movie screen. I’d hang my acoustic guitar, which I got right after that first Sullivan Beatle show, around my neck, spin an Elvis record, and pantomime my own rockstarness, pretending I too was bad and beautiful up on that movie screen.
Now there was something real special about Kissing Cousins so it gets its own papagraph. Kevin and I did The Twist to the juke box to Kissing Cousins with our local beauty queen school mate, Barbara, at the tavern where their moms and my dad hung out. It was not the first time I danced to the jukebox. At another tavern up the block, where my dad also hung out, I was taught how to twist by girls my fathers age. And they even taught me the fancy additives like doing the lasso while I twisted. And that tavern’s juke was filled with Please Please Me, Do You Want to Know a Secret, and continued to harbor Beatles tunes up through I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party/Eight Days a Week. It was three tunes for a quarter in those days, but a quarter was a good amount of cash back then. It’s what I got for lunch money. It would buy a slice a pizza and a fountain soda. Or a pool game in that tavern. A few years later, when they were emptying out that juke, my dad claimed one of my favorite non Beatle 45s, the Grassroots’ Live for Today, and brought it home to me. But eh, this paragraph was suppose to be about Kissing Cousins, so let me leave that tavern simply by saying I didn’t like their potato chips, Blue Bonnet potato chips. It was always a drag that when Dad took me to the tavern he was always good for a bag of potato chips and all they sold were those Blue Bonnets. Only Wise potato chips were potato chips to me. Lays had yet to start their "bet you can’t eat only one" mesmerizing campaign that popularized them. I could add that my dad’s sister owned a tavern, I remember Loren Green’s Ringo on her juke and of course I was attracted to that title. We would go there, I reckon it was Sunday nights, where the folks would discuss football results and watch the Jackie Gleason Show. Once my Aunt invited all her brothers and sisters and their kids, my aunts, uncles and cousins, to her backroom where she prepared an Italian feast, and I sat with a young cousin who I asked, "just what is a kissing cousin?" OK, actually I said Kissing Cousins gets its own paragraph because there was something special about it. Actually the exclusive paragraph honor isn’t due to Kissing Cousins at all but rather to that something special, that someone special the song reminds me of twisting with, that someone I wanted to kiss, Barbara.
CONT. FROM: http://mikemarks.hubpages.com/hub/Beatles-and-Beyond Part 1
CONT to: http://mikemarks.hubpages.com/hub/Beyond-the-Beatles Part 5
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