Paparazzi

Memories lie.

There are things and moments from my childhood I remember completely differently from my parents and my sister, for example, or moments from early on in Paul’s and my relationship. My memories differ from those of kids I went to high school with, and those of my fraternity brothers. Memory and experience are always, of course, colored by our own internal beliefs, values, fears, and opinions; which is what makes being a crime writer interesting.

I remembered, for example, that we moved from the city out to the suburbs in the winter of 1969. I’ve always thought that was the truth; we moved to our house in Bolingbrook that winter and would have sworn on a stack of Bibles that was the truth. Imagine my surprise, during my recent visit to my parents, to hear both of them insist that wasn’t true and we moved out there in either the winter of 1971 or 1972; and I sat there, confused, and then a key piece of my history snapped into place in the jigsaw puzzle that is my memory: you were ten when you moved; your eleventh birthday was your first birthday in the new house so it had to be 1971. I’d always remembered that we’d lived out there for much longer than we had. We only lived in Bolingbrook for four and a half years; I was in the sixth grade when we moved and we moved to Kansas after my sophomore year ended.

Interesting, isn’t it?

I was rather startled the other day to hear that David Cassidy is in early stage dementia; David Cassidy was a part of my childhood, and it’s hard to remember the years when The Partridge Family aired without hearing their music in the echo chambers of my brain. The Partridge Family Album was, in fact, the first album my sister owned. She had one of those little portable record players that either ran on six enormous batteries or could be plugged into the wall, and she played the album over and over and over again. I didn’t mind because I kind of liked the music myself; and we watched the show religiously every week. My sister, of course, was madly in love with David Cassidy, who did nothing for me. (Even as a nascent gay child, my crush was Kurt Russell.)

Before buying that album my sister primarily bought 45’s; it amazes me that there are any number of people who don’t know what those are, or how you used to stack them on the record player, so the next one would drop when the previous one finished playing and the needle cleared out of the way, or the scratchy sounds from collected dust and/or scratches on the record that you could always hear in the background. David Cassidy replaced Bobby Sherman in my sister and her friends’ affections; Bobby Sherman replaced Davey Jones of the Monkees.

The show itself was pretty dreadful, really. The idea was derived from the Cowsills, an actual family musical group, and it was designed to appeal to young girls and hopefully sell some records; another prefabricated music group along the lines of the Monkees and the Archies. They’d never intended for “Keith” to sing lead vocals on the music, but David Cassidy auditioned and got the part and to their surprise, he could sing and had musical ambitions. (Alas for him, he became a huge teen idol but never got the rock stardom he always dreamed of.) His stepmother in real life, Shirley Jones, was cast as his mother, widowed Shirley who worked in a bank to support her five kids. (Jones was actually an accomplished singer herself, and had an Oscar for playing a prostitute in Elmer Gantry.) Even at the time, I didn’t think the show was funny, but it wasn’t as bad and corny and hokey as The Brady Bunch, which was admittedly a low bar. But I was delighted several years ago to discover that the Partridge Family’s music was on iTunes, and I downloaded some, out of a sense of nostalgia.

And it wasn’t bad. I downloaded more, and still listen to it from time to time. It’s glossy, well produced, and slick pop music, but it’s not terrible. It certainly holds up better than Shaun Cassidy’s hits or New Kids on the Block.

And am I ever glad I didn’t have to go into the office today. I am worn out, frankly, not sure how I am going to survive tonight’s parades.

Heavy sigh

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