July 02, 2005

Whitney & Bobby

Now and again, someone will note my advancing age and ask why I've never married.
The new answer is:
I'm not yet mature enough to committ to alleviating spousal constipation .

June 28, 2005

MAD Ludwig

While reading the liner notes for Beck’s Guero, I saw this familiar phrase yet again:
Mastered by Bob Ludwig

He has mastered so many of the records that matter, so many records that you own, so many records that you don’t even know about. If you take a look at his career stats, there are approximately 2300 entries. Decades of album sleeve reading, and the only other masterer’s name that comes to my mind is George Marino. According to the same source, he comes in at approximately 1400.

So, while Marino is widespread, Ludwig is ubiquitous. He’s got to be about 93 years old, and I worry that when he dies, a large chunk of the recording industry dies with him!

Firmly in fret mode, I thought about MAD magazine, and how The Usual Gang of Idiots were dying at the rate of one every 2 years. Antonio Prohias in 1998, Don Martin in 2000, my beloved Dave Berg in 2002, and George Woodbridge in 2004, all gone to that great inkwell in the sky.

While comatose with worry that a precise era of music and comic book art was about to crash to a bloody end, I wait on a gentleman in his early 80s, impeccably dressed for summer with his belt matching the shoes. I tell him his total, and then watch as he goes through his pockets for spare change. He pulls out a handkerchief and a pocketknife and I’m overtaken by nostalgia. Oh, the “Greatest Generation”…the last generation of men who wore hats with their suits, the WW2 vets with their crude, foreign land tattoos so blue-green and spread out with age as to be unreadable, the guys who never curse around the ladies they run 2 blocks to hold a door open for. My eyes mist as he walks out the door, already mourning what little is left of our oldest living generation.

Maybe because we live for so long, there’s more to know, and more to remember. When life expectancy was 49 years old in 1901, how many kids ever got to know their grandparents? Today’s children not only spend several decades with their grandparents, but great-grandparents, too. So a longer span of living history plays out before our eyes, more information to process, and more nostalgia to distill.

But I’m too preoccupied with the passing of eras, keeping track of what we’ve lost, what we’re on the brink of losing forever. The therapeutic community says that constantly thinking about the past is regret, while constantly worrying about the future is anxiety. The healthiest – and hardest – thing to do is stay in the present.

With that in mind, I found that Bob Ludwig just got an early career start, and is just barely 60 years old. Whew.

As for MAD’s Usual Gang, a therapeutic trip to a magazine stand shows Mort Drucker, Paul Coker, Jr. (both 76 years old), Al Jaffee (84) and Sergio Aragones (68) are all alive and working. I was already a fan of the work of Bill Wray and Drew Friedman, MAD’s youngest generation. Life does not come to a crashing halt when the Last Mohican dies, “and when I die and when I’m gone/there’ll be one child born in this world to carry on” new traditions in the MAD Ludwig Continuum, and there truly is a morning after.