tremble clef

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Blue Mercedes, "I Hate New York" (1988)

I haven't seen Memoirs Of A Geisha, mostly because it seems like it might be Orientalist claptrap. But I haven't been able to escape the trailer on TV. It features a scene of Michelle Yeoh intoning, to Zhang Ziyi, that she "isn't a geisha until she can stop a man in his tracks," over which footage plays of the latter batting her eyelashes at a man passing by on a bicycle. This of course causes his...spokes to spin out of control, and he crashes. (Although, since this is a serious art movie, there is no huge explosive ball of fire. More's the pity.)

I was in New York City for the past couple of days, where I did some (but not a lot of) shopping, music and otherwise, and ate a fabulous Italian dinner. The transit strike, as you may know, kicked in yesterday, when I was trying to get back here to DC. It affected me only insofar as I decided not to take the el cheapo bus, which was how I got to the city, and instead switched to the train for the trip back, mostly because it was easier to get from where I was staying to Penn Station. But I plan to walk around today claiming that I brought traffic in New York City to a standstill. Which would make me a geisha, but you already knew that.

New York was great, so today's song is, you know, not meant literally. I've joked elsewhere that if Madonna releases "I Love New York" from Confessions as a single -- a song that she too claims is meant tongue-in-cheek, what with living in England and all -- she should cover this for the b-side. For the balance, you see.

Blue Mercedes was a late 80s English group who were really, really open about wanting to be the second coming of ABC, and weren't afraid to have the vocalist sing exactly like Martin Fry. They weren't, but the ambition, and resulting press coverage -- I remember Smash Hits devoted quite a lot of column inches to them -- intrigued me enough to check out their one and only album, Rich And Famous. Also interesting: one of the two members was gay (they're an 80s Junior Senior!), although I certainly can't remember which one. I think the fact that I found the vinyl record for no money at the Princeton Record Exchange helped. (Their single "I Want To Be Your Property" reached #88 in the US charts: enough to get them a American release, but not enough for the album not to be bargain-binned almost immediately.) It wasn't a bad album, and some of the ABCesque wordplay, while reeking a little of desperation, worked fine. "I hate New York! When you're not around, that is. Ha ha!" Years later, I was walking around in Boston's Back Bay, and stumbled upon a yardsale where I bought three CDs: a Chinese one by Sandy Lam, a gay hi NRG disc by Man Parrish, and Rich And Famous. You don't have to tell me what a weird mixed bag that was.

To make up for my silence over the past few days, some new music, including a couple of New York purchases, later.


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