This will be my last month to receive Rolling Stone magazine. I would renew, if it wasn’t for the fact that Rolling Stone is written by imbeciles and edited with the discerning eye of an eleven-year-old girl’s ICarly diary. Why did I have it in the first place, you ask? Secret Christmas, that’s why!
Secret Christmas is a holiday my family celebrates, separate from all the other family Christmases. The reason that Secret Christmas exists has to do with a white-trash soap opera that I won’t retell here; we no longer celebrate for that convoluted reason, but the fact that Secret Christmas involves just my siblings, my mother, and my Grandma Carney is a pleasant enough reason for it to continue(Secret Christmas is tomorrow, the 17th).
Since we have so many people in our collective family circles, it was impossible to give big gifts to each other on Secret Christmas, so we developed a tradition of 1) drawing names, 2) limiting the budget, and 3) developing a theme to make us think creatively. This practice of limited gift giving has since spread to the other Christmas celebrations I attend, but it originated with Secret Christmas. This year’s theme is Handmade/White Elephant/Thrift Store Only, a pretty good one. One year it was…magazine subscriptions. And here came the Rolling Stones.
Grandma Carney drew my name, and, in her Grandma way of cheating the rules a bit, got me Rolling Stone. THREE YEARS of it. Truth be told, it probably didn’t cost too much, but I’m sure it was over the limit. One year would have been plenty. I had got my sister’s name, and I got her a year of Oprah: The Magazine; that magazine had heft, slick page designs, and advise from one of the most privileged people on Earth. Rolling Stone gave me Ke$ha and Steven Tyler.
This is not a dig at my grandma, though. Shouldn’t the grandmas of the world think that their rock-and-roll-loving grandsons would love Rolling Stone? Sure. But the heyday(if there really ever was one) has come and gone. Hell, even Mojo is only half good anymore.
This year I drew my mother, and I gave her part of her gift early this year: I put some music on her phone. This was remarkably easy for me, because somehow, without the aid of Rolling Stone magazine or American Bandstand to lead the way, my mother and I have ended up liking the same type of music. Simply a case of my musical tastes widening while hers stayed the same but updated for the times– she is as equally at home in an album from The Band as she is the latest Levon Helm solo album. I’m lucky, both as a son and a giftgiver.
I don’t know if it was Zappa or just Flo and Eddie, but someone from the early Seventies incarnation of the Mother’s had it out for Rolling Stone. Fair enough.
Zappa poked fun at everyone and everything equally, and Christmas gets it’s shots here. Absolutely Free switches places with One Size Fits All anymore as my favorite Zappa album; “Uncle Bernie’s Farm” gets the listener out of the doldrums caused by the straight, John Lee Hooker-ish “Why Dont’cha Do Me Right?” and the social parody of “Status Back Baby” and into the multi-time frantic falsetto of “Son Of Suzy Creamcheese”. Yes, it’s a little didactic, but less so than some of Freak Out!, and besides, be easy on the guy; it’s the holidays.