Archive for August, 2006

August 30, 2006

What happened to gum?

It’s 3 am Sunday morning and I’m exhausted but almost done with my cab shift. I stop at Marges’s Amoco to buy a pack of gum as my mouth tastes like its been in a cab all night (which it has). I check out the gum selection and they have quite a few at convenience stores these days, many many more that I remember as a kid. I chewed a lot of bubble gum back then but I grew out of that and now crave something spearminty. Sugarless gum is a total turnoff–sure, the flavor is accurate but the “sweetener” is that same dubious chemical aspartame they use in Diet Soda. Deanna stopped quit drinking her daily Diet Soda long ago and said she still craved it even after 2 years without the stuff (!) so I refuse to put that shit in my body. I walked over to the Wrigley’s section and selected a pack of Spearmint. I checked out the label to make sure the fine folks at Wrigley’s weren’t pulling a fast one on me by switching sugared and sugarless–and lo and behold, not only did it contain corn syrup (as I expected) but freaking ASPERTAME as well!!! It turns out that all the other brands of sugared gum also now use it as a sort of “flavor booster”!!! I almost walked away empty handed but discovered that Big Red–also made by Wrigley’s–is still just made with corn syrup and apparently is good enough not to need extra bullshit added. The next time I’m at Big Lots I’m loading up on Chicklets as I know they are made with actual sugar and gum base and little else.

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August 13, 2006

Die Beatles

It’s been a Beatle couple of weeks for me. During a visit to Chicago, my brother loaned me a copy of Geoff Emerick’s Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles. Mr. Emerick was an engineer at EMI studios during the 60’s and was lucky enough to observe the making of several of their early records. In 1966, he took over for Norman Smith (who went on to produce the first couple of Pink Floyd records) and helped shape Revolver, Sgt Pepper and The Beatles. The book opens with his infamous first session as their main engineer (for “Tomorrow Never Knows”) where he had John Lennon sing through a leslie speaker to distort his voice. Though most of Emerick’s stories are well documented elsewhere, this book has great descriptions of the hierarchical and sterile environment of a 60’s recording studio. The Beatles realized at some point that they were talented and successful enough to dictate how they made their records. And through the luck of the draw, they wound up with a great producer (George Martin) and 20 year-old Emerick who had been formally trained but was young enough to understand what the Beatles were doing. They changed the industry and revolutionized how records were made and Emerick’s book is rare in that it’s written by one of the folks who was actually there when the magic happened (and was responsible for how good much of that magic sounded). Yes, I have almost 50 Beatles books and there are several out in the last few years that I haven’t gotten to yet!

I also picked up a copy of Beatles at the BBC at Mad City Music. I’d listened to this years ago and loved it but never picked it up. I’m glad I did as its a close as I’ll ever get to hearing a real live show from the Beatles. After they got huge they played shows that consisted mostly of whatever hit song was out at the time plus their other hit songs of the previous year. On this collection they play some hits (mostly on disc 2) but mostly covers from their many years of struggling on the road and it’s a total delight. I really dig “Soldier of Love” and “Some Other Guy” and “Sure to Fall (In Love With You).” They do cover an awful lot of stuff that is very derivative but I realize that they loved these songs and pour their hearts into each performance. If you like early Beatles at all, this one is worth checking out.