Each year the movie industry tries to push up the start of summer by opening their big event movies earlier in the year. Used to be that Memorial Day was the weekend that kicked off the season. Now it feels like mid-April is when the studios begin pushing their big blockbusters. Pretty soon it’ll be summer year round and the only way to see small indie films will be through video on demand or Netflix. For me, the summer officially begins the first Saturday of May. Throughout the country that day is Free Comic Book Day at the local comic shops. This Saturday, May 1st, Jacob and I will head on over to Brave New World, the excellent comic store we frequent, getting caught up in the zaniness the proprietors will serve up that day. Raffles, baked goods, discounts, Stormtroopers and droids, and of course, free comic books.
I’m so happy that my son has become enamored with this art form. It’s one way that the two of us bond separately from his sister and mother. I once took Sophie to Free Comic Book Day. She was patient, God bless her, but after about twenty minutes she began eyeing the front door, hoping to exit. Jacob is a lot like me; he likes to browse. He takes his time examining as many of the comics as he possible before determining just which one to buy. This was my method perusing the aisles of record stores twenty-five years ago. To this day, on those rare occasions when I’m in Hollywood and visit the massive Amoeba Records, I can spend a good hour looking at everything before finally heading to the bin with the album I originally planned to buy. I suppose I’m not that different than any other collector.
Perhaps someday Jacob will want to visit Amoeba, one of the last independent record stores. If his love for music becomes an obsession like his love for super heroes, soon enough we’ll be marking Record Store Day on our calendar each year, too.
Music, of course, is another area where the two of us have a special bond. Although Jake is well rounded and likes all genres, he seems to lean toward the harder edged music when it’s just the two of us, knowing he can crank up the volume. It’s not hard to imagine the day when Jake is a teenager speeding up the driveway singing at the top of his lungs and beating the steering wheel in time with the drums, while the car vibrates from the bass of some hard rocking band,.
That’s one aspect of summer I look forward to year round: cruising in my car around the neighborhood, through the city streets or down the highway with the music loud, the wind pounding on my face and not a care in the world. This universal feeling of freedom goes back to my adolescence, to the days of the Whomobile. It was a time when my friends and I would motor through the Cleveland Metroparks, the Valley, with no particular place to go, just enjoying the camaraderie, the sunny days, and the girls out tanning or playing Frisbee.
And the music.
Tom Petty, the Who, Zeppelin, the Georgia Satellites, Van Halen, the Outfield, Peter Gabriel, Springsteen and Rush. The music made the moment; the people made the memories.
Each summer there were always one or two songs that defined the year. One year it was “Don’t Come Around Here No More;” another year it was the one two punch of “Heartbreaker”/”Living Loving Maid” These summer songs weren’t sought; they leapt at you and sank their deep hooks into your heart. At that time radio played an important role in introducing me to great music. Now I rely on my iPod and the cornucopia of albums my friends have recommended and sent to me. Thank God for my iPod. I never would’ve given AC/DC a chance past their hit songs; I never would have heard “If You Want Blood (You Got It)” from their 1979 album, Highway to Hell.
Angus and Malcolm Young are in sync, creating another one of their killer guitar riffs, with Angus going off on two solos. The rhythm section of bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd keep the number chugging along with the power of a locomotive. Bon Scott’s gravely voice drips with the appropriate mix of anger and disgust. Mutt Lange’s production stays out of the way, letting AC/DC’s meat and potatoes approach to rock ‘n roll keep the song genuine, capturing the band in their prime. Simply put, this song f’n ROCKS!
As the weekend approaches my anticipation grows. I can’t wait to spend the morning with Jake, shopping for comics and witnessing fanboy mania up close; I can’t wait for our customary lunch at Wendy’s when we’ll pour over the stash we picked up; and I can’t wait to introduce him to one kick ass AC/DC song, driving around with the windows down, the wind blowing our hair and our fists raised high as we welcome in the summer.
originally published April 29, 2010 on POPDOSE