My three year old experienced a significant personal setback earlier today. His special treat after a swimming lesson was a baggie of rainbow goldfish, perhaps his favorite food of all time. As we braved the frozen hellscape the weather forecasters referred to as a wintry mix, he was engaged in what amounts to gleeful multitasking for young boys. While munching his brightly hued salty snacks he was pelting dad with ice rocks and splashing through each and every puddle in his path.
As he became fully engrossed in demolishing a rather deep pop-up pond on the sidewalk, he neglected to notice the precarious position of his goldfish and they escaped the confines of the baggie and returned to the sea. A great horrified howl arose behind me and I saw the smiling little piscine shapes bloating in the cold dirty water. He cried bitter tears of great suffering and loss as if there were no consolation for his disintegrating snacks.
It was a bittersweet moment and it is easy to laugh a little at his plight. We’ve all lost an ice cream cone in the dirt or seen our freshly jellied toast land delicious side down on the floor. Yet, his pain was intense and very real. For a few moments he grieved with such profound sadness. There was no future. Everything was gone.
Despite his disbelief, there was another serving of goldfish waiting at home. Once we ditched our boots and warmed our hands he had a small bowlful to feast upon. With renewed joy he shoveled them into his gullet moments after we returned.
His predicament provokes comparison to my own horror when faced with setbacks and challenges. There are times when my suffering is very real and I shed tears and see no light in the darkness. This is the end. This failure is the ultimate failure. All possibility has been crushed. This loss ends everything.
I’ve learned the only answer is to stand up, dust myself off and move on. There is an ample supply of goldfish waiting in the cupboard. I can’t save those who drowned in the puddle, but I can accept their loss, grieve for the snack that could have been and make my way back home.
Music formats come and go. 78s, 45s, LPs, 8-tracks, reel-to-reel, cassettes, CDs, MP3s. Some come back again and others disappear. On one hand vinyl is stronger than it has been in almost three decades while the lowly cassingle (or cassette single) has been banished to the crap can of history. Even the much-maligned 8-track has made an ironic comeback, the cassingle will likely never make a revisionist return. It was designed to be cheap and disposable.
Music you will deny ever buying
The cassingle emerged in the 80s as an inexpensive, portable replacement for the dying 7″ market. From 1987-1995 sales boomed. In 1990 there were more than 90 million sold. By 1996 sales had dropped off a cliff and by 1999 it was all over. Wrapped in a simple cardboard sleeve, shrinkwrapped and sold for a couple of bucks, they were the YouTube clips of their day. Some had the single and a b-side, but many just gave you the single on both sides of the tape. Kids could buy the hits and slap them in the Walkman, boombox or car stereo. Instant gratification in the analog world!
Enter the Goldmine
Little did I know that in my very own basement there lurked a treasure trove of these three minute nightmares. While moving things around so I could paint the walls and floor I made the discovery. Tucked away in a box, more than a hundred of them waited for me to come along and unleash their big-haired, shoulder-padded power. There must be at least one nugget buried in this goldmine. I dumped out the box and began digging. George Michael, Janet Jackson, Pet Shop Boys, Roxette, Paula Abdul and countless other misdemeanors against music. Shuddering as I dug further, I uncovered three true atrocities, Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers, Gerardo and Billy Ray Cyrus.
Crimes against music
I almost gave up. And then I found it buried underneath everything. Pure gold. A song that will live forever. Yes, it was BIZ MARKIE! Now I just need a cassette player and I am in business.
Nobody beats the Biz
If you want to know more there is a website, Cassette Single World, dedicated to fans and the digital collection of “every Cassette Single ever released.” Enjoy!
Most of my town is without power, phones or wifi. The amazing people along the few blocks that do have power provided free coffee, powerstrips and wifi. People are pretty amazing and I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many neighbors. A lot of wreckage, but a lot of positive action. Go Hoboken!
Several people have asked me (or made fun of me) why I use the twitter handle @Junglerock. I wish there was a dark and terrifying secret, some impenetrable mystery. However. the real reason is simple and boring. I needed a gmail address. All iterations of my name were taken. I needed one that wasn’t jetboy1999 or rocky123. So I started plugging in obscure band names, album and song titles and odd cultural references. After countless strikeouts Junglerock worked. It has pretty much become my user name for just about everything. So what is Junglerock? It’s just a killer old rockabilly song originally released in 1958 by Hank Mizell.
Hank might have disappeared completely, but the 70’s pub and punk rock scenes reintroduced people to rockabilly and several bands covered the song. I first heard it as a Replacements b-side buried on a 1987 German double 12′ single. The band changed the lyrics to “Bundle Up,” but it still shines through as rough and raucous.
The inimitable Mark E Smith and The Fall did a bizarro techno-rockabilly version on their 1997 album Levitate.
Possibly my favorite version is LA punk originals The Weirdos and their 1979 Bomp! Records version
Plenty of other folks have covered it, but I have wasted far too much time on explaining the story of Junglerock. Hank Mizell, The Replacements, The Fall and The Weirdos are far more interesting. Time for me to stop yapping and time for you to check out a version of Mr. Mizell’s classic.