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D: Dance of the Dead (Blogging From A to Z Challenge)

April 4, 2015

Dance of the Dead

If you listen to commercial music radio stations very early in the morning, before the inane morning shows take over and the program directors of the mega corporations start playing the same 20 songs over and over, you can sometimes hear some pretty good music. This morning I heard a song that flashed me back a long time.

Shortly after graduating high school, and right around the time I dropped out of college for the first time, I worked as a printer running a small offset press for a bar/restaurant supply company called Phil Ansons Company. The job was mindless: shoot artwork, develop a negative, strip it, burn a plate, put the plate onto the press, add ink and water and paper, turn it on and sit back and try and stay awake as you listen to the printer ka-chunk a tunk, ka-chunk a tunk, ka-chunk a tunk along as it spits out thousands of sheets of paper. On a good day the ink and water were always balanced, there was never any toning, you remembered to add ink before it ran out and nothing ever jammed.

Most days were not good days. But every day was fun.

I used to ride to work with a guy named Tony Richler who was the biggest head I ever knew. The word “head” has a lot of different connotations now, but back then a “head” was a person who smoked a lot of pot. Tony always fired up a joint when we were about five minutes away from work and seeing as how I was taught to never be rude, I always accepted his offer of a toke. Lunch was more of the same with beverages. We’d get in his blue ‘63 Pontiac Grand Prix and drive a few blocks away from the building. Tony would take the cooler out of his trunk and we’d spend our thirty minutes of lunch time drinking beer and smoking more pot.

We listened to music in the shop all day. The bindery worker, Dale Roslin, a guy who enjoyed inhaling press wash-soaked shop rags, had a Panasonic boombox that he kept at work and we’d bring in cassettes and groove to music while we printed ads and menus. The music was what you might expect: heavy on Grateful Dead, Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Allman Brothers, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Lynyrd Skynrd and Foghat. Other bands would sneak into the rotation from time to time like Boston and Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan and Sly and the Family Stone, but there was one song that pretty much made it onto everyone’s work mix tape and that was Hocus Pocus by Focus. That was an odd choice because none of us were into progressive rock but we all liked the yodeling.

Dale and I were both into horror movies, and zombies in particular. This was back in the days before zombies were cool or funny or the starring in a TV show on The WB. The stuff was made by guys like George Romero, Mario Bava and Lucio Fulci and it was all dark and creepy and sometimes surreal. The movies boasted deliciously lurid titles like Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, Zombie Flesh Eaters and The Grapes of Death.

These zombies were your traditional zombies who lumbered along with their limp-wristed arms sticking out in front of them and Dale and I liked to impersonate them and we especially liked to impersonate them during Hocus Pocus. When the singer reached the parts of the song where he yodeled, we’d stop what we were doing and for those few seconds we’d do the ‘Dance of the Dead’ which involved us staggering around in small circles like the stoned, half-drunk zombies we were. Tony wasn’t a fan of horror movies but he loved the dance as much as Dale and I did. As I said, every day was fun.

I have no idea what happened to either Tony or Dale, but early this morning I was listening to a commercial radio station and Hocus Pocus came on and when the singer started yodeling, a flash of three 20-something goof-offs dancing around a print shop slapping each other with their floppy arms popped into my head. I did a little ‘Dance of the Dead’ all by myself in honor of old friends and fun times. I wonder if they ever do the same?

Here’s the song so feel free to dance a little yourself. And if you like zombie movies, the funny/campy ones, “Dance of the Dead” is a pretty good one.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 4, 2015 3:43 pm

    Thumbs up again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. April 5, 2015 1:02 pm

    Michael, this has to be one of my favourite posts so far in the challenge. From the richly detailed memory you’ve shared, the unsentimental nostalgic flavour, the understated humour, the (almost forgotten) Hocus Pocus song, and, of course, the trailer for the wonderfully campy “Dance of the Dead.” So much fun from beginning to end, and beautifully written.

    Glad I found your “fishbowl” and I look forward to revisiting.


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