Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Yes -- "Long Distance Runaround" (1971)


Did we really tell lies?
Letting in the sunshine
Did we really count to one hundred?


"I've suffered the tortures of the damned, sir -- the tortures of the damned."  

Those words are uttered by Alex -- the narrator and anti-hero of the 1971 film, Clockwork Orange -- after a government program intended to cure him of his violent tendencies goes very, very wrong.  Alex is attempting to portray himself as a victim rather than the sociopathic criminal that he is.

Alex suffers the tortures of the damned
I'm not a sociopathic criminal.  I'm not even an anti-hero, as much as I would like to be one.  (One of my favorite memories is of a female friend of mine seeing a photo of me taken late in my senior year of college -- complete with shoulder-length hair, horseshoe mustache, and thousand-yard stare -- and saying, "You looked dangerous!")

But I did suffer the tortures of the damned, sir, when I was trying to get back home last month from my annual Memorial Day trip to Cape Cod.

The day after Memorial Day -- the last of my extended weekend on the Cape -- started off innocently enough.  You regular readers of 2 or 3 lines know that I hopped in my hurting Chevrolet Sonic rental car (shout-out to the good people at Hertz -- thanks SO much, folks!), fired up the satellite radio, and drove to Falmouth, MA, for one final vacation bike ride.

The Cowsills
The proprietor of the bike store I patronized -- who was listening to the same channel on his satellite radio -- turned out to be a wounded Vietnam vet who had attended the Newport Folk Festival with his girlfriend (who was reputed to be a Providence gangster's daughter) and was good friends in high school with Billy Cowsill, the senior male member of the great pop group, the Cowsills.

I rented a bike, rode most of the length of the Shining Sea Bikeway (which ends in Woods Hole), and then returned to the bike store.  I hopped back in my car, left Cape Cod via the Bourne Bridge, and set my course for the Providence airport, where I would board an 8:20 pm flight to the Baltimore-Washington International airport.  If all went well, I would arrive at my home around 11:00 pm.

The Bourne Bridge
But all did NOT go well, boys and girls.  All did not go well AT ALL.

Shortly after crossing the bridge, my airline sent me a text to tell me that my flight had been delayed by two hours.  That meant arriving home around 1:00 am.  That's not what I would have chosen, but I'm sort of a night owl -- so I could live with it.

I stopped at Gene's Famous Seafood in Fairhaven, MA, my favorite place to stop for a farewell dinner after my Memorial Day jaunts to the Cape.


Gene's did not disappoint.  The whole friend clams were as delicious as ever.  And the Narragansett was ice-cold:


The Narragansett Brewing Company was founded in 1890 in Cranston, RI.  It's flagship Narragansett lager was for many years the best-selling beer in New England.  

Narragansett was purchased by the Falstaff Brewing Company in 1965.  (The government attacked the merger as anticompetitive in one of the silliest antitrust cases ever prosecuted, but which was not finally resolved in Falstaff's favor until 1974.)  

Both brands fell on hard times after they merged.  The Narragansett brewery was closed in 1981, and the last of Falstaff's ten regional breweries was shuttered in 1990.


Pabst Brewing licensed the Falstaff brand, but discontinued production after sales fell to only 1468 barrels in 2004.  (Total beer production in the U.S. in 2012 was 196 million barrels.)

But Narragansett has made something of a comeback.  The brand was bought in 2005 by a group of Rhode Island investors, and sales have been on the upswing ever since.  The readers of Beeradvocate.com give it a higher rating than its biggest competitors (e.g., Budweiser, Miller, Coors, and Pabst Blue Ribbon).

Today, Narragansett promotes its lager as "The Official Beer of the Clam":


That's a cute attempt to tie Narragansett to a famous local food, but I think they've taken things a bit far:


Note the slogan on the Narragansett can:


I think "Made on honor, sold on merit" is a relatively new slogan -- I don't see any evidence of it in the photos of older Narragansett cans and bottles I've found online.  (If any of you knows better, please let me know.)

After quaffing my Narragansett, I hit the road again.  Given the two-hour delay in my flight's scheduled departure, there seemed to be no particular reason to hurry to Providence.

Where the hell is my airplane?
GUESS AGAIN!  When I checked in for my flight, I learned that the previous Providence-Baltimore flight had been delayed sufficiently that I could have made it if I had gotten to the airport a little earlier.  (Live and learn, I guess.)

The Providence airport was almost deserted when I arrived at 7:30 pm.  There wasn't a single restaurant or bar still open.  And the only newsstand/snack store that was open was about to close.

I bought a Dr. Pepper and a Snickers bar and settled down for a long summer's wait:


Which was about to become longer.  My airline pushed back my departure time another two hours.  We were now scheduled to depart at 12:20 am.  Good grief, Charlie Brown!

Good ol' Southwest Airlines showed what a big heart it has by rolling out the snacked and soft drinks for all us weary travelers.  I snagged a free ginger ale (ice included!) and some Ritz peanut-butter crackers and made myself comfortable.


Not as comfortable as some of my fellow passengers made themselves:


By the time midnight rolled around, the departure lounge was only sparsely occupied -- most of the passengers who lived in Providence had gone home hours earlier, preferring to sleep in their own beds than to arrive in Baltimore at 1:30 am (which was far too late to connect to their final destination).

After collecting my luggage and climbing aboard the bus that took me to my parking garage, I arrived home around 3:00 am.  Ugh.

Here's "Long Distance Runaround," which was released in 1971 on Fragile, the fourth studio album by Yes.  I heard this album a lot in college -- along with Days of Future Passed by the Moody Blues, King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King, and Emerson Lake & Palmer's eponymous debut album.  It was the heyday of progressive rock, much of which was unadulterated crap . . . but I'm a sentimental guy, and often succumb to nostalgia for the music of my youth.


By the way, note that the vocals and guitars in this song are playing in common 4/4 time, while the drummer is accenting every fifth beat.  

Here's "Long Distance Runaround" -- plus the succeeding track from Fragile, "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus), an instrumental that follows "Long Distance Runaround" without a break.  (Schindler's fish -- the correct scientific name is Schindleria praematura -- is a species native to the southern Pacific Ocean.  It is only about an inch long, and is one of the smaller vertebrates in the animal kingdom.)



Click below to buy "Long Distance Runaround" from Amazon: 



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