How about some French rock? (courtesy of the worst inflight entertainment system ever*)

Emirates-777-360x225 (onemileatatime.com)

Move the plastic-wrapped blanket and headphones outta the way and settle into your barely-big-enough seat. The hiss and hum of the aircraft not yet ready for takeoff, the slamming shut of overhead luggage doors, various conversations in two or three different languages. And that omnipresent little screen positioned on the back of the seat in front of you, at the moment displaying ads for the airline and its latest features. That screen is gonna be one of your best friends during the ten-hour flight that lies ahead. So it better be friendly, or user-friendly as they still say some 25 years into the Internet age.

emriates-ice-222981 (aviationbusinessme.com)

The hum has grown to a dull roar, the flight attendants in their stylish outfits and candy-apple-red lipstick are parading down the aisles confirming everything is just-so. Now’s the time to play around with that screen and check out how to pass the next ten hours. Let’s see, how about “Information” first – where are we on the map, how fast are we traveling, how high in the sky are we climbing as the pressure wreaks havoc on your crackling, popping ears. Hello, anything there? Turn screen on? Turn screen off? Back arrow? This is touch-screen technology, no? Or does one need to use the remote control that’s embedded into the seat back underneath the screen? Well, that remote doesn’t even seem to be removable from its niche, so back to touching – pressing – pushing – pounding the screen – WTF!? Don’t get too crazy, though, or the passenger in front of you might turn around annoyed and angry and cause a complete Mr. Bean moment!

Mr-Bean-gif (gfycat.com)

Movies? Where are they, under “Entertainment” you assume? Right, but nothing’s happening! There’s a tiny, barely-visible cursor floating around on the screen, but it’s totally unresponsive to any logical fingertip movements. Your finger’s here…and that stupid little arrow is way over there! Pound on that icon for “Movies” again! Nothing! What about news? Alright somehow you’ve stumbled upon a BBC World News button – but guess what? It doesn’t work!

old-and-new-economy-class-emirates (gotravelyourway.com)
Duh, what’s the difference? I bet old worked better…

Maybe music? Where are those headphones…open the package, untangle the cord (Mr. Bean moment number two in progress), plug ’em in…where? In the holes next to the screen? No, that’s to charge your phone. On the end of the armrest? Of course, so after a few tries they’re in (two prongs on the plug, three holes in the armrest – go figure). Now…maybe that remote is the answer. Ugh…ouch! There, you finally got it to snap out of its cocoon, but in the process you’ve inadvertently switched on the blinding reading light over your seat and summoned the flight attendant. Mr. Bean moment number three!

Mr-Bean-1 (picsart.com)

Okay, music. Which is coming out of only one side of the headphones. Gotta wiggle that wire a bit…got it. The remote’s buttons seem to make sense, and it even has its own screen. There’s a “global” music choice, let’s see, how about England? They always churn out the best music…but really, “Come Together”? “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”? For the ten-millionth time? The ominous intro to Pink Floyd’s “Time” sounds a bit too dramatic right now…and no need to hear that for the ten-millionth time either. So France! French rock! Should be fun! Maybe even Mylène Farmer’ll show up on the playlist! Well, she didn’t…but here’s the best of what did. Presenting, in true Schizomusical fashion, some French music for a trip home from, uh, Greece:

Fréro Delavega – “Le chant des sirènes” (sounding like a French version of Donovan)
Jenifer – “Paradis secret” (featuring a killer funky guitar)
Calogero – “La Boîte à musique” (if you like Queen…)
Noir Désir – “Un jour en France” (now we’re talkin’ rock! – and they must also be big in Japan)
Johnny Hallyday – “Allumer le feu” (no, NOW we’re talkin’ Rock! and Roll!)
The Arcadian – “Folie arcadienne” (nice and bouncy!)
Michel Delpech – “Pour un flirt” (a French hit from 1971 – say no more!)
Olivia Ruiz – “Mon petit à petit” (back to the 21st century now, and get ready to rock again)
Vanessa Paradis – “Divine Idylle” (just a great song…and check out those teeth)
Zazie – “Rue de la Paix” (almost like Mylène…but what’s with those cops in her backing band)
Alain Souchon – “Foule sentimentale” (Bryan Ferry-ish guy born in Casablanca, Morocco)

france-flag-std (theflagshop.co.uk)       greece-flag-std (theflagshop.co.uk)

 *Disclaimer: Although their “ice” (information-communication-entertainment) system leaves a lot to be desired, Emirates is an otherwise fine airline.

Images courtesy onemileatatime.com, aviationbusinessme.com, gfycat.com, gotravelyourway.com, picsart.com, theflagshop.co.uk

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Mike and Micky – Still Monkee-ing Around

card-mike-2 (tradingcarddb.com) card-micky (tradingcarddb.com) card-peter (tradingcarddb.com) card-davy (tradingcarddb.com)

They were basically four actors, in a TV series about the wacky adventures of a pop/rock band a la the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night. One of them, Michael Nesmith, was a musician who sang, played guitar, and wrote songs.  Another, Peter Tork, played guitar and some keyboards, but portrayed the group’s bassist.  Micky Dolenz, who played the drummer, was not a drummer at all – he even had difficulty miming playing the drums. And the fourth, singer-actor Davy Jones, was British, so they couldn’t be accurately called the American Beatles.  Two L.A. producers assembled them into a television “band” that debuted on NBC-TV in September 1966.

Monkees-first-album-cover (amazon.com)

Before long the name of their band was sailing up the music charts, with “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer,” and “Daydream Believer” all hitting number one. After the TV show had run its course, from 1966 to 1968, the group continued to record and release music, though with less chart success.  Decades later, the remaining members (Jones passed in 2012 and Tork just recently, on February 21, 2019) still record and perform.  Hey, hey, they’re the Monkees.

dolenznesmithtour2019_orig (monkeeslivealmanac.com)
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March 9 saw “The Monkees Present the Mike and Micky Show” pull into NYC’s Beacon Theatre with two sets of songs — both hits and non — led by Mike Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and a nine-piece backing band including Mike’s son Christian, Micky’s sister Coco, and multi-instrumentalist Probyn Gregory.  After wishing Micky a happy birthday (the guy just turned 74), they hit the ground running with “Good Clean Fun” from 1969’s The Monkees Present. Other highlights were the Peter Tork composition “For Pete’s Sake” (used as the closing theme for the TV show), a handful from 1967’s Headquarters, “Birth of an Accidental Hipster” from the group’s 2016 album Good Times, two from 1968’s Head soundtrack (including the rocker “Circle Sky” complete with snippets from the movie), and the still-relevant pop masterpiece “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” As the stage darkened, Peter Tork appeared in a videoclip performing a song called “Till Then” – a touching tribute bringing set number one to a close.

peter-tork-till-then (pastemagazine.com)

After a brief intermission (hey, these guys need to rest for a few minutes!), Mr. Nesmith emerged for an acoustic “Papa Gene’s Blues” from the first Monkees album. Mr. Dolenz joined him for the rowdy “Randy Scouse Git” (a Micky composition and a 1967 U.K. hit – under the alternate title “Alternate Title” as the original was considered too risqué for Brits), then the night’s only non-Monkees song, “Joanne,” a solo hit for Michael Nesmith & The First National Band (and a request by newsman and Monkees fan Brian Williams).

Monkees-Good-Times-cover (axs.com)

The show wound down with another from Good Times, the beautiful “Me & Magdalena” (written by Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard). In fact, it would have been nice to hear more from that album – there’s not one bad song on it! Finally, a one-two-three punch of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” “Daydream Believer” (with Micky leading the singing audience), and “What Am I Doing Hangin’ ‘Round?” Then as a bewildered Mike looked around and realized the rest of the band was gone, they all returned for 1969’s “Listen to the Band” and the ultimate Monkees hit, “I’m a Believer.”

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The current U.S. tour is done…but those of you “down under” can catch ‘em in June – check out that tour schedule here!

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Beacon Theatre YouTube videos courtesy Paula Carabell and Otom Izot / monkeeslivealmanac.com; Peter Tork YouTube video courtesy Paste Magazine

Beacon Theatre photos by me

Other images courtesy tradingcarddb.com, amazon.com, monkeeslivealmanac.com, pastemagazine.com, axs.com, hollywoodreporter.com