Driving into the gym this morning I caught every traffic light green. On the tape-deck: "The Sugar Plum Fairy", a 25-year-old mix tape - one of my first (and best). Popping it in I heard the most appropriate song, by the Bonzo Dog Band: "Mr. Apollo". This is the monologue at the end:
"Yes. Just give me ten years of your life and I'll trade in that puny flab for living muscle. Physique you deserve. Strong. Chesty shoulders to hold your shirt up. Five years ago I was a four-stone apology: today I am two separate gorillas. No tiresome exercises, No tricks, no unpleasant bending. Wrestle poodles and win! Play beachball - Shave your legs - Look over walls - Tease people. Brush them aside as though they were matchsticks. Impress your friends!"Everybody's favorite work-out song. More sonic details of the ride: segue into the next tune: "Memo From Turner" - Mick's finest moment, from the soundtrack of "Performance". Then - I was tempted to list all the tape's songs here, but I've decided against. I didn't listen to but a few, anyway.
I can't speak of Mr. Apollo without also thinking of Mr. Apology. He was a kind of early 1980's performance artist. I never saw the signs; I heard about it from NPR, apparently he put small notices up all over New York City in public places which just said "APOLOGY" with a phone number. If you called it, you heard a message inviting you to apologize, followed by the beep. Later he got a more complicated machine with a menu; you could listen to other apologies (the "good" ones). Sometimes I'd call his number to pass the time on the night shift, during early space shuttle missions <1> . Once I even apologized - many respondents were quite specific but mine was general, something like "I'm sorry for anybody I've hurt". A few years ago I heard that Mr. Apology was dead, a victim of a jet ski <2> - I'd made a note in my log. This passing was also noted, to my surprise, in Brian Eno's 1995 Diary, A Year With Swollen Appendices.
Reading these journals is taking up way too much time at work! Tonight on MarketPlace in an article about cyberloafing I heard this phrase: "thousands of Internet Addicts" ( pause ) I'm still catching up on past entries in the Battered Book of ceej, who lives somewhere nearby, and whose handle I pronounce "siege") and now I'm reading Firedrake's Off C e n t e r - she writes well about her bicycling life in DC (Bethesda, actually). Read quotes from them both in the Wired article about on-line Journals.
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Between 1983 and 1986 my job was NASA mission operations
mostly during launch but also orbit, and we were Houston's backup
throughout each Shuttle mission. This meant that, for a few days
running, some people had to stay up all night. But I was used to
this shift business from my previous job, in a different building
but at this same NASA base outside DC in Maryland, the Goddard
Space Flight Center. My earliest years there ('75 - '80) were
the same ones I was a no-car bicycle-commuter.