STAYIN' ALIVE 


While I would like to say that I remember the '70s as some sort of liberating swirl of flared pants and blared psychedelia, the only real Grape-Nuts that stick to my frontal lobes are some fond memories of plaid, 6-year-old photo-day pants and a Bee Gees Casio that played rhumba beats behind preprogrammed squeaks of "Staying Alive." Born in 1972, the crosswalks of my past were not populated by Georges, Johns, Pauls and Ringos hating each other, but just a few Susans with sinus problems dripping around well-intentioned retirees in unappealing orange vests. I wasn't hip yet.

"Your name sounds familiar," eyebrows the polite door lady at the Hard Rock Live.

"I'm a very mean writer for the Orlando Weekly," I curtsy.

"Oh," she drops a nervous gulp. "Well, write nice things!"

OK. Tonight is the launch of a new season of "Classic Albums Live," which, in the best recall I can readily access, is a superfluous event in which records that require dust covers are theoretically unsheathed and reperformed by a band of studio musicians for those who suffer from an acute inability to get over it. Tonight's platter is Abbey Road by some nobodies called the Beatles, and although it was released in 1969, I'm willing to bet that my poetic license will let me use it for my '70s theme. I have sick '70s superpowers.

Currently activating my Wondertwin powers is Tony, my doppelgänger and self-proclaimed "man-bitch" when it comes to events that involve guest lists. We're here for the free booze Orlando Weekly sponsorship implies, and are more than ready to ascend to the John Lennon room of the facility in order to wet our whistles. Only there's a caveat (there's always a caveat, and rarely any caviar): The only free liquor proffered comes in sickeningly sweet shots-disguised-as-martinis that are served, tragically, in plastic cups. So we end up buying drinks that involve a sponsoring vodka named "Bang" (again, tragically), and mingling about the melee in search of whatever VIP is supposed to bring. There are no gift bags. Why am I here?

"Who would have thought that VIP would have meant so many middle-aged fat men?" skinnies Tony.

"VIP in Florida is actually just a term to dignify people who own boats." I have an answer for everything.

So we mingle out on the smoker's lanai, peering down on the detritus that makes Citywalk, well, Citywalk. Orlando Weekly advertising director Graham (which is actually his middle name) is here, out-of-town gal-pal in tow, and we immediately drift into label-speak, presumably backed by a Casio rhumba beat. They've been out sunglasses shopping, and she (a very cute girl who might or might not have once fronted the Go-Gos) notably refused purchase of one sterling pair simply because the label was not prominently promoted on the ear hook. I sort of love her.

"I found some shoes. They were BCBG, girrrrrrl," she hags to my fag. But they weren't the right color (do tell). And like any sensible gal raised in the South and on Molly Ringwald, she didn't give up there. What did she do?

"Rust-Oleum," she ghettos.

It's exhausting, really, all this talk of labels and spray-painted embellishments, so Tony and I politely dive headfirst back into our pools of liquor.

Eventually, we're joined by two of my favorite people, copy editor Jessica and her ageless vegan boyfriend, Matt. Matt and I have history, but not really, as we both used to work at Peaches and have just about every possible crumb of musical history minutiae flecked about our shoulders. Some discussion about the Beatles ensues, but nothing anybody would care to remember. We're music trivia automatons, and there is no feeling, and therefore no memory, associated with anything that we say. Just Casio blips involving chart positions and white label pressings dancing pointlessly in the air.

By the time the show starts we're all suitably toasty with half-cocked smiles slapped across our faces. Pomo quips linger in the air, barely finding an ear before the next one can knock it away. And we sit down.

What follows is a surreal walk through (or across) Abbey Road, with awkward-haired musicians trying to recapture the majesty that was "Maxwell's Silver Hammer."

"I like that they put the spotlight on the one who's singing," Jessica Bryces. "It's like the Hall of Presidents at Disney."

By the time all is said and done, I've lifted my sweater (yeah, it's summer, so what?) to expose the nipples of my concave chest; I've marveled at the longhaired insanity case jumping around at the foot of the stage; I've screamed, "This is my JAM!" at least seven times; and I've taken to hollering "jean shorts!" at the occasionally standing guy in the periphery who is sporting my least favorite fashion faux pas. In short, I came, I saw, I fell apart.

The next morning, looking for some insult to add to my injury, Tony and I decide to pay a visit to the new best thing ever, Liz Langley's Cereal Breakfast at the Peacock Room. The new monthly event promises to be everything that you shouldn't do on a Sunday morning, but you must.

"You should put Bailey's on your Cocoa Puffs," Liz states the obvious. "Seriously."

So I do. Tony and I hop from television to television, imbibing whatever is disguisable as breakfast and soaking in Sleestaks from Land of the Lost and, of course, Gleek from Super Friends, while numerous bar regulars who apparently couldn't be bothered to extract themselves from their Sunday-morning pajamas pretend not to drink. Some Sentinel reporters grill Tony on his positions (basically, the one where he's lying across a couch), take his picture and glare jealously at me, because I'm able – even encouraged – to drink on the job. And all is right with the world.

I can't believe I've stayed alive this long.

billymanes@yahoo.com

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