Friday, August 10, 2018

Song of the Day: 'Wedding Ring (on the Bathroom Floor)’ by Phantom Limbs

As most of you sadly/probably/already know, you never really recover from the death of a loved one. The pain is always with you no matter where you go. But oftentimes it's offset a bit by being accompanied by a happy memory. Just last weekend, Damian, some friends and I stumbled upon a new antique store in Chelsea called Garage Sale. The place was like a time capsule from my childhood, and it didn't take long for my ear-to-ear smile to be reduced to tears, wishing I could text my brother Bill to show him some of the treasures I'd found: First, they had our Holiday Inn (which was technically Terence's, I had the Playskool McDonald's) -- we used toothpaste caps as ice buckets for the guests -- that was made by Playskool but fit in with our Fisher-Price village well enough. (The top floor included a restaurant and my family had eaten at a Winner's Circle at a Holiday Inn somewhere once, so Bill took tape and a marker and added the “Winner’s Circle” sign above the little sliding doors!)  The Garage Sale also had the Fisher-Price castle I had gotten for Christmas one year. Bill thought it was "idiotic" for an antediluvian dwelling to be added to our imaginary city of Winter Springs, Florida, so we converted it into a theme restaurant so that I could still play with it. (Let it be noted this was years before Medieval Times was even founded!) They also had little red bracelets from a swim club, just like the ones we had for the recreation center in our childhood neighborhood of Dobson Ranch. (I can still remember mine was 4799 -- with the rest of the family have numbers 4800, 4801 and so on -- because I was the one who always called to reserve the tennis courts!) 

No sooner did I pick myself up from that one, I got into a conversation with a new colleague at work -- with a new-wave history -- who was intrigued that I'd lived in Arizona in the 1980s. He immediately brought up the Meat Puppets and Giant Sand (Worms) and I, Killer Pussy, but then drew a blank when I mentioned Tucson's own Phantom Limbs, who were my brother Bill's all-time favorite. (Bill went to college in Tucson in its punk heyday, and made it sound like the funnest place on earth.) Later that night as I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep, I replayed the conversation in my head ... and it got me wondering just how obscure Phantom Limbs were. My first search -- done in the dark trying to not wake Damian with the brightness of my phone -- led me to what turned out to be a post-punk deathrock band from Oakland that was around from 1999-2004. 

When I narrowed my criteria to add the word Tucson, my heart skipped a beat when I realized the first result was written by none other than my brother himself! The short piece is vintage Bill. And it made me happy and sad at the same time again, reminding me that all memories will forever be bittersweet, but at least they keep my brother in my life. And as I finally set the phone on my nightstand to try to go to sleep. all I could think is that I hope the boys in the band have seen it too, and realize how special they were to someone so special. The irony is not lost on me that Bill is now my own phantom limb. I still feel like he's here, even though reality keeps cruelly reminding me he's been amputated from my life.

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