PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

Welcome! Please take off your shoes.  I want you to be comfortable while visiting my website, and I think you would be more comfortable if you weren't tracking dirt around. You may be asking yourself, how did I end up here, and how do I leave? Please, stay for a moment, I beg you. Read more

Shoe Failure

 

You’ve never met me, as you can’t afford to fly all the way from your home in Fiji, rent an inconspicuous vehicle, and park on my street to observe me in my natural habitat. But by the loudness of my writing voice and the many feats I intend to achieve in the coming years, you probably have the impression that I’m tall. It turns out I’m not. In fact, I stand a few inches below the average height for American males. I once blogged about my big shoes, noting that they had changed my life by fraudulently increasing my height to above average, thereby making general admission rock concerts much more enjoyable.

I recently used my big shoes to attend a concert at Fenway Park (yes, that Fenway Park!) to see the volatile Jack White (first time an adjective other than “mercurial” has ever been used to describe him in the popular media). It’s a show I’ll remember for quite a long time because it was so excellent on so many levels. So allow me to focus on the biggest negative, as I like do. Ten minutes before the concert began, the producers turned down the lights, making us think the show was about to start, then trotted out an emcee-type who gave us a smart little lecture in how to behave in modern day rock concert: put away your phones. You don’t need to text and make phone calls, and best of all you don't need to take photos because you can all go to Jack’s website to download, at no charge, pictures taken by a professional photographer. How sensible!

 

Jack White and Concert Videographer croppedWhy? Why?

 

What we have here is a picture of someone shooting video on his phone. This happened on and off all night long, comprising maybe a quarter of the show. I would have tapped the lad on the shoulder and said, “No one is going to watch your stupid shaky-cam video of Jack. You’re up here in the 48th row and the sound on your iPhone is going to suck.” Unfortunately, he was several rows ahead of me, rendering his shoulder untappable. I might have thrown a beer cup at him but I was drinking only water at that point.

This habit of young concertgoers to digitally record every moment of every rock concert they have ever attended is rendering my big shoes largely worthless.  I’m seriously considering buying stilts for the next show I attend. (In case you’re wondering, by the way: the camera I used to get this image was held at chest height, impinging on no one’s sight-lines.)

Jack, for his part, tore the place to pieces, playing songs in just about every Western genre of music known to man except classical (he’ll get there eventually, no doubt). After ranting against Rolling Stone (which continually raises hopes via email that my free subscription will come to a merciful end, but then fails to deliver), and smoking his way through every era of his chameleon-like musical history, Jack stood in triumph with his awesome band and said something like, “That was just you and me! Not your cell phone! Not YouTube!”

It was a great message. If only it were true.

Add Comment | Views: 2

Monster Birthday

 

When I am dead and gone, I plan to surprise my son by being reincarnated as one of his children (born to him late in life, as I don’t intend to die until I’m well over 100). Then, on my ninth birthday, I will insist he throw me a party at Monster Mini Golf in Norwood, with pizza, an ice cream cake, and quarters to be used in the arcade.

I wonder if he’ll be as proud of me as I am of him. Seems unlikely.

(Happy Birthday, nine year old).    

Add Comment | Views: 6

Focus On Yodels

 

If you’ve been stalking me online, looking at my fallow “Linked In” profile to see if you might hire me into some phony position just so we can lunch together, or wondering why I don’t make better use of my Facebook account (a real writer would alert militants across the globe that he has a new blog post!), or seeking me out in the pages of “highschoolyearbook.com,” where I’m conspicuously absent, then I imagine you ultimately resorted to hitting up my classmates for access to the Bishop Grimes High School 1982 Yearbook in hopes of learning more about me.

Yearbook Picture

Looking at my entry, one is immediately drawn to the words "hocus pocus."  Is this some unsubtle indication that I fancied myself a magician, pulling rabbits out of hats and making girls blouses disintegrate in the middle of English class? Sorry, that wasn't me. The fact is I had a brief affection for a strange Euroband out of The Netherlands, called Focus. I loved Focus for the one or two days that happened to coincide exactly with the due date for providing the Powers That Were with something not too bawdy to print under my blown-dry head. I didn’t even know Focus, to tell you the truth, just their song Hocus Pocus.   Check it, from 1973 (when I was just in 3rd grade):

 

 

I’d love to know how much of that you got through. I’m guessing not all four minutes thirty-seven seconds. I hope you at least lasted through the first yodel. The song’s tempo is about 50% faster (wildly rough estimate) than the studio version, which is pretty fast to begin with. I’ve learned, from Wikipedia (so it must be true!), that Thijs van Leer, the singer and band’s founder, indeed of Amsterdam, was a classically trained organist and flautist. One thing for sure: he has incredible mouth control. If you watch the whole clip, you’ll see he plays a flute at breakneck speed and can whistle in an octave previously unknown to whistlers.

The Dutch: they inhabit the most surreal nooks at crannies of popular culture, with their "coffeeshops," phallic pillars that line sidewalks, and conviction that Heineken is worth drinking.

(And myriad other hocus pocus to focus on.)

Add Comment | Views: 24

Blinded By The Light

 

When I was in 8th grade, I went to the local Catholic high school to see a band called 805. Not “Eight Hundred Five” or “Eight Zero Five” but “Eight O Five.” I had seen a couple of big rock concerts by then – the Doobie Brothers comes to mind – but this was the first loud rock band I had ever seen right up close.

805 gave me my first case of tinnitus, such that my ears rang for hours afterward and didn’t stop until I was fast asleep . But that isn’t even what was most memorable about the show; instead, it was the flash pods they used.

The band started with Emerson Lake and Palmer’s “Karn Evil 9,” a song which, until the time of this writing, I had always assumed was titled “Carnival Nine.” Sometime during the song, with the stage lights low, we teens were blinded by two huge explosions of light, and when we finally were able to see again, many seconds later, the singer was standing between flaming torches and had a boa constrictor around his neck.

Ha! That’s totally awesome! My friends and I, who were utterly sober, had just had our minds blown by this band thanks to the light show. A few years later, when I formed a rock band with friends, the flash pod effect became central, as we sought to blind our audience temporarily to blow their minds. Frankly, making them deaf for a few moments would have been more considerate, but that’s just my opinion.

How many bands have I seen since the 1970s and completely forgotten, while 805 remains a vivid memory? Probably hundreds.  Thanks to the internet, you too can see a little of 805, (and I encourage you to try finding them using some other search engine than Google).

Alas, I have found no video footage of the flames and boa constrictor.

Add Comment | Views: 37

Blog Archive

Produce This Audio Play!

Ever wanted to produce a radio play?  Think you have the mettle?  Read on!