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All the Fine New Prefixes

Thirty Years Ago
Dear Matthew Alice:
How do you get hold of the words to a song when you can’t understand them on the record?

[As] the critic Greil Marcus said in Rock and Roll Will Stand, an anthology of writing on rock music, a popularly sung lyric is not supposed to be understood word for word. If you feel that the words themselves are all-important, you have missed the message.
STRAIGHT FROM THE HIP, Matthew Alice, June 28, 1979

Twenty-Five Years Ago
La Jollans sulked 20 years ago when Pacific Telephone altered their GLencourt 4 prefixes. To satisfy the Pac Tel computer’s appetite for numbers, GLencourt 4 — the symbol of residential affluence — became the sterile 454. But even without the letters, a neighborhood was still a neighborhood. Hillcrest was always 295, 296, and 297; Coronado 435 and 437; downtown 231 to 239 (except 237); Southeast 262 or 264. No longer. The nonsequential jumble of 260, 574, and 692 are the new Hillcrest prefixes. When downtown businesses were starved for prefixes last year, Pac Tel reached out for 696; it was quickly depleted, and 699 has been added.
CITY LIGHTS: “ALL THE FINE NEW PREFIXES,” Paul Krueger, June 11, 1984

Twenty Years Ago
A glance through last week’s San Diego Union TV Week and it hit me. With Don Freeman’s “Point of View” column, I realized these were the works of no common man but a Sartre in John Deere cap and golf sweater.

The paragraph that did it:
Blair Brown was remembering the Old Globe production of the Thornton Wilder classic, “The Skin of Our Teeth.” This one was a dandy … it wowed the populace, including the oversigned. Frankly, I had never understood the Wilder play and I still don’t....
CITY LIGHTS: “DON’S POINT OF VIEW,” Mary Lang, June 29, 1989

Fifteen Years Ago
San Diego’s Mike Hynson was surfing’s trendsetter during the sport’s golden era of the mid-1960s. Hynson, who with Robert August traveled the world in search of the perfect wave in Endless Summer had it all: fame, looks, fortune, women, talent.

Today, Hynson, who turns 52 later this month, is living in the back yard of a friend’s house in Bird Rock.
CITY LIGHTS: “AFTER ENDLESS SUMMER COMES ENDLESS BUMMER,” Jamie Reno, June 23, 1994

Ten Years Ago
Ring-ring. A male voice answers, “Office.”

I introduce myself and say, “I’m calling bail bond offices asking anyone who answers the phone about the San Diego Padres’ problems. We’re in last place and some wacko judge has just croaked the new ball park. What does it mean?”

Silence.

“Padres. San Diego Padres.”

No useful information was gleaned during that conversation. I am wildly disappointed and immediately call King Stahlman Bail Bonds, then Absolute, then A-l. Nothing.
SPORTING BOX: “UNDERSTANDING. TRUSTWORTHY. COMPETENT.” Patrick Daugherty, June 24, 1999

Five Years Ago
If something about your wife bothers you, speak right up!

There’s really no good reason why your wife can’t be better in every way, if only she would try harder. Scrutinize her aloud on a daily basis. Don’t overlook anything. Consolidate the most desirable qualities of every woman you have ever met, seen, or imagined, and measure her against that ideal. Physical flaws are particularly potent. When she orders something fattening in a restaurant, make a face. Then follow it up with a witty sarcasm as soon as the waiter’s out of earshot. At home, use TV shows and fashion magazines. Pick women with completely different body types. If your wife’s tall and slender, go for short ones on the chubby side. If she’s blonde; mention in passing that you’ve always had a thing for redheads.
“HOW TO GET DIVORCED: A PRACTICAL GUIDE,” Michael Ryan, June 24, 2004

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Thirty Years Ago
Dear Matthew Alice:
How do you get hold of the words to a song when you can’t understand them on the record?

[As] the critic Greil Marcus said in Rock and Roll Will Stand, an anthology of writing on rock music, a popularly sung lyric is not supposed to be understood word for word. If you feel that the words themselves are all-important, you have missed the message.
STRAIGHT FROM THE HIP, Matthew Alice, June 28, 1979

Twenty-Five Years Ago
La Jollans sulked 20 years ago when Pacific Telephone altered their GLencourt 4 prefixes. To satisfy the Pac Tel computer’s appetite for numbers, GLencourt 4 — the symbol of residential affluence — became the sterile 454. But even without the letters, a neighborhood was still a neighborhood. Hillcrest was always 295, 296, and 297; Coronado 435 and 437; downtown 231 to 239 (except 237); Southeast 262 or 264. No longer. The nonsequential jumble of 260, 574, and 692 are the new Hillcrest prefixes. When downtown businesses were starved for prefixes last year, Pac Tel reached out for 696; it was quickly depleted, and 699 has been added.
CITY LIGHTS: “ALL THE FINE NEW PREFIXES,” Paul Krueger, June 11, 1984

Twenty Years Ago
A glance through last week’s San Diego Union TV Week and it hit me. With Don Freeman’s “Point of View” column, I realized these were the works of no common man but a Sartre in John Deere cap and golf sweater.

The paragraph that did it:
Blair Brown was remembering the Old Globe production of the Thornton Wilder classic, “The Skin of Our Teeth.” This one was a dandy … it wowed the populace, including the oversigned. Frankly, I had never understood the Wilder play and I still don’t....
CITY LIGHTS: “DON’S POINT OF VIEW,” Mary Lang, June 29, 1989

Fifteen Years Ago
San Diego’s Mike Hynson was surfing’s trendsetter during the sport’s golden era of the mid-1960s. Hynson, who with Robert August traveled the world in search of the perfect wave in Endless Summer had it all: fame, looks, fortune, women, talent.

Today, Hynson, who turns 52 later this month, is living in the back yard of a friend’s house in Bird Rock.
CITY LIGHTS: “AFTER ENDLESS SUMMER COMES ENDLESS BUMMER,” Jamie Reno, June 23, 1994

Ten Years Ago
Ring-ring. A male voice answers, “Office.”

I introduce myself and say, “I’m calling bail bond offices asking anyone who answers the phone about the San Diego Padres’ problems. We’re in last place and some wacko judge has just croaked the new ball park. What does it mean?”

Silence.

“Padres. San Diego Padres.”

No useful information was gleaned during that conversation. I am wildly disappointed and immediately call King Stahlman Bail Bonds, then Absolute, then A-l. Nothing.
SPORTING BOX: “UNDERSTANDING. TRUSTWORTHY. COMPETENT.” Patrick Daugherty, June 24, 1999

Five Years Ago
If something about your wife bothers you, speak right up!

There’s really no good reason why your wife can’t be better in every way, if only she would try harder. Scrutinize her aloud on a daily basis. Don’t overlook anything. Consolidate the most desirable qualities of every woman you have ever met, seen, or imagined, and measure her against that ideal. Physical flaws are particularly potent. When she orders something fattening in a restaurant, make a face. Then follow it up with a witty sarcasm as soon as the waiter’s out of earshot. At home, use TV shows and fashion magazines. Pick women with completely different body types. If your wife’s tall and slender, go for short ones on the chubby side. If she’s blonde; mention in passing that you’ve always had a thing for redheads.
“HOW TO GET DIVORCED: A PRACTICAL GUIDE,” Michael Ryan, June 24, 2004

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Comments
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Matthew Alice wrote: "[As] the critic Greil Marcus said in Rock and Roll Will Stand, an anthology of writing on rock music, a popularly sung lyric is not supposed to be understood word for word. If you feel that the words themselves are all-important, you have missed the message."

This is total rot, and I wonder if M.A. and Greil Marcus have changed their minds about this after thirty years. Lyrics are words, and words cannot escape analysis, no matter the vehicle.

June 25, 2009

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