Monday, March 28, 2016

Another One (or Twelve) Bites the Dust

I began buying baseball cards in 1976, but it was more like me putting my feet in to test the water; it wasn't until the following year that I took a full-fledged jump into the pool. From there on- until 1984, at least- I was buying not only baseball cards, but every other kind of cardboard available. Through all those years, though, I only had two friends that I traded with. Most of my friends from elementary through middle school (1st-7th grade) came from poorer families whose parents didn't have a lot of disposable income.

The first kid I traded with was in second grade, spring of 1977. He's the earliest friend I can recall during my school years (surely I had a friend in 1st grade?!) but I can't remember his last name. We traded only a couple times on the playground that spring and I don't ever recall seeing him again after that school year.

The only other childhood friend I can recall trading with came during the final two years of my younger collecting period. This was during my 8th and 9th grade years and his dad was a doctor. Needless to say, money wasn't an issue for him.

George lived not too far from me and I spent a lot of time over at his house during those junior high years. We spent much of that time shooting baskets, watching tv and trading cards. One visit, however, introduced me to the evils of subliminal messages used by those in the entertainment industry.

If you were a teenager (or older) in the '80s then you remember the 'Satanic Panic' that took place. The rise of heavy metal music during this time period brought with it a number of groups that warned of 'Backward Masking'. The most popular group was the Tipper Gore-led Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), who warned of the moral corruption that was taking place in America's youth. They took the fight before Congress in 1985 and sought government intervention in forcing the music industry to place warning stickers on album covers.

Before the PMRC took on Frank Zappa, Dee Snider and John Denver on Capitol Hill, there were other groups leading the war on 'Backward Masking' and one such group distributed a cassette tape that ended up in the hands of the mother of my friend George.

"Listen to this tape my mom brought home," my friend told me one summer day.

 I don't think he was too distraught over it, although there were warnings about the album covers of his favorite band (Journey- the scarab beetle was supposedly a hellish creature)- so I think it at least got his attention. I pretty much let everything go in one ear and out the other, but there was one part I couldn't help but laugh about.

On Queen's 1980 hit "Another One Bites the Dust" the band appeared to be promoting 'smoking marijuana' or something like that. I probably would not have even heard those words, had it not been for the preacher on the tape telling me it was there.

I had always liked the song- the funky bass line and guitar riffs, the fact that it started out with "Steve walks warily down the street..." (It was my name, after all). Hell, the singer had short hair. Surely these guys wouldn't be promoting such wickedness?!

I don't remember how we resolved this moral dilemma. We probably ended the afternoon by trading some baseball cards- maybe even ones like the twelve I recently picked up from a seller on Sportlots.

The 1980 set is one of my all-time favorites and the highlights subset found in it is one of the best ever.

Want to know what was more dangerous than that rock 'n roll music? A friggin' J.R. Richard fastball.

I defy anyone to find a card with a better photo than the one found on Gary Carter's card. It's a trap- because you can't!!

Rounding out the acquisitions. Twelve down and only 43 more to go in finishing the set.

  *hoping that this embedded audio file works*

Now, if I can only figure out a way to subliminally persuade you into sending me LLA RUOY SDRAC. Or would it be: SDRAC RUOY LLA ?


  1. And now we look back on songs by Journey, Queen, Twisted Sister and the like as fun, tame and family friendly tunes that pop up in as department store background noise, sports stadiums and commercials. Funny how the tide turns.

    1. And a lot of the music is tame compared to what the kids listen to today!
      We just recently had a locally-owned grocery sell out to a much larger chain (who then closed this one) & I can't tell you how often I'd walk in to get a donut in the morning to the sweet sounds of classic rock.

  2. I remember this period well, and going to a Catholic school, I heard all of the crazy theories. Then I went home and tried to play "Snowblind" by Styx backwards on my phonograph with very little success.

    1. Did you ruin the vinyl attempting that? I ruined the Stones' Tattoo You album trying to play scratch DJ. Speaking of Styx- that was another band on the tape. It was the "river in hell," if I remember correctly.

  3. I can remember my requesting the Randy Rhoads Tribute album by Ozzy was met with much muttering and parental hand-wringing during that time. Eventually my older cousin just drove me to the mall and I bought it myself.

    And, long story short, I'm now a minion of Satan.