It’s Sting’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

“Turn on my VCR, same one I’ve had for years”

I still have my beta player. It’s not a Betamax, which is a Sony brand, but rather a Sanyo. I haven’t used it since I moved to LA in 2003, because it isn’t working. I don’t want to get rid of it, though, as I have a lot of great stuff on beta tapes. Stuff that is irreplaceable.

beta tapesThere are plenty more where these came from!

Some of the recordings I have on beta tapes can be found on YouTube – The Making of “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” for example. Others, such as Purple Rain and The Flamingo Kid, are available on a host of formats that have hit the market since beta. I’m sure I could find Madonna’s pre-fame feature A Certain Sacrifice on-line if I bothered to look for it.

I used to always keep a recordable beta tape in the machine. You never know if while channel surfing you’ll come across Chaka Khan being interviewed on a Spanish talk show on UHF. (UHF pre-dates cable TV. It pre-dates beta tapes. Look it up.) I have several dozen tapes filled with television performances from artists I was obsessed with during my beta machine’s lifetime. Not that it’s dead. I refuse to believe it is. Perhaps I’m still in the denial stage of Dr. Kübler-Ross seven stages of grieving, but I believe the beta machine can easily be fixed. It probably needs a new band. Getting the machine fixed is on my To Do list. I can’t wait to dig in to those old tapes. I look forward to watching the one I labelled “Highlights from The Late Show With Joan Rivers.” It contains her interview with the late great disco queen Sylvester in which he accidentally outed his boyfriend. It also contains several appearances by The Bangles, as I was obsessed with both the Bangles and Joan Rivers. Sometimes I miss the 80s, but then I remember Duran Duran.

Might any of my LA readers be able to recommend a beta machine repair person?

The lyric that opens this post is from The Police’s song “When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around.” I have some of the band’s TV appearances on those beta tapes.

Today is the 64th birthday of that band’s usual lead singer, Sting. Our weekly dance party kicks off with the song with the longest title of any in the trio’s recorded repertoire.

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In Which I Ask Boy George The Meaning Of One Of His Songs

Down the street from my first full-time job at CBS Records was a bookstore. Two blocks down from that bookstore was another bookstore. Around the corner from my office was a Sam Goody music store. Often these stores hosted book/record/CD signings. During my lunch hour I’d wait on line to buy the new release from someone I admire and get them to autograph it at the same time. I met former Supreme Mary Wilson, David Johansen (as Buster Poindexter), and Liberace. I guess it wasn’t always someone I admire. While she was signing her latest CD for me, I told Sandra Bernhard that we had met once before. She responded, sarcastically, “Who could forget?”

When I got to the front of the line to meet Joan Rivers and was face to face with her, I said “Oh, it’s you. I thought I was here to meet Joan Collins.” She responded something to the effect of “Sorry. You got me.”

I met Tipper Gore at a signing of her then-new book Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society, or something like that. There was literally nobody there to meet her. Nobody except me. Perhaps it was obnoxious of me to say “Nice turnout, Tipper,” but this was back when she was campaigning to have warning labels put on records, an idea I found silly. She was a good sport, though. We ended up chatting for about ten minutes, each explaining his/her viewpoint. After our chat she asked “Are you going to buy my book now?” I told her no, and she said “Take it out from the library. It’s cheaper,” to which I replied “You’re a great salesperson, Tipper.” She laughed.

I don’t remember what I said to Prince when I met him, but I do recall him looking at me as if of the two of us, I was the weirder one.

I couldn’t speak when I met Tina Turner. Her skin was so smooth and flawless it left me dumbfounded.

Years later I met Kathy Griffin a a DVD signing that was immortalized on her reality show My Life on the D-List. The show did not exaggerate the situation – only eight or so people showed up.

I was excited to meet Boy George when he published his autobiography in 1995. I’ve been a fan of his since the first time I heard Culture Club’s first US single, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me.” The group’s fourth album, From Luxury to Heartache, included a song called “Gusto Blusto.” A DJ played it on the radio and then said “I can’t tell you what Gusto Blusto means on the air.” Finally I had the opportunity to ask the song’s writer what that expression means. I asked George. He laughed and said “I don’t remember.” Thanks, George!

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Yesterday Boy George turned 53 years old. Here are ten tracks of his you should know.