"Come Sleep On The Beach...Keep Within My Reach"
On Severence and The Who in Boston in 2022
Quadrophenia and Severance
On the eve of Pete Townshend’s 77th birthday, I had the rare opportunity to see The Who in Boston. My pal Matt Lambert was there to shoot, though we didn’t get to meet up! See you next time, Matt! Go follow his Instagram!
“…to be honest, I’m more of a Quadrophenia guy than a Tommy guy but by the time “Pinball Wizard” wrapped up the medley, I was fully awake…”
“…the band breaks up the set into four chunks, two with orchestra, one with band only and one encore break. To hear Quadrophenia and Tommy songs with full orchestration as intended really is something to experience, especially for those who saw the stage versions…”
My Dear Readers -
It is air-gaspingly horrid outside right now, my girlfriend and I have just switched roles from me turning down the heat to save on gas, to her opening the windows, sitting on the porch, and, to my chagrin, turning off the A/C when she gets home. The absolute nerve. She’s also a shower-at-night person, I shower when I wake up (if I’m not too stinky that is to pre-empt that with a nighttime shower).
The point is, we’re different!
I’ve spent my pre-summer weekend doing chores. I’ve made a huge dent in our ‘guest room/office’ so I eventually will stop streaming from “The Mantry”.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Stacey was away performing burlesque in NYC last weekend and then wrapped up her vacation by visiting a friend in Maine. I missed her but took the opportunity to sort through things as varied as copies of The Constitution on fake parchment, books I will never read, and just ‘kipple’.
On Apartments, GTD and It’s All Too Much…
Our neighbors downstairs recently moved, so I also never want to ‘overwhelm’ the trash guys. I’ll never know if the trash guys (or gals!) appreciate my humble efforts to recycle and dispose of without taking too much advantage.
The neighbors had a few weeks of productive waste management, and now it’s my turn - within reason to not overdo it, but also, get this crap out of my house.
Another thought, those neighbors, we were fond of them, have some kitty litter or some other subscription boxes here that they forgot to change the address on. I’ll be happy when those boxes leave here but we will be the custodian of their biodegradable trash bags for as many weeks as necessary.
What is it about The Who’s Quadrophenia and Severence, you ask? We’ll get there as soon as I sweep out this virtual hallway of my brain space.
The “Teachings” of The Minimalists and Peter Walsh’s It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff have had a profound effect on me. Merlin Mann has been obsessed with this book since the 43 Folders days but has talked about it recently. I still think of grief, as saving things from my childhood home (TL;DR, Mom passed, my Dad moved out to a smaller house and things that - what I thought - what I THOUGHT, what I LEGITIMATELY THOUGHT would be at my parent’s house for the REST OF MY LIFE are now mine. In the spare bedroom. At least a ‘storage cube’ (a palette?) worth of material(s) that had previously been in our basement is now, you guessed it, in our ‘spare’ bedroom.
To be honest, I don’t so much mind using the Pantry/Mantry as a streaming and podcasting room, it’s small and has a door and the sound is decent (I keep buying mics, and though I have one I am really happy with, bought one that’s not as good but will hold on to), but we envisioned this as a spare bedroom/workspace that we can share. I can stream and WFH there, Stacey can bedazzled panties and do other things too? (I have only ever seen her bedazzling panties, so it’s not me being blind to her other costuming efforts).
With emotional and physical space from my partner (I leave her stuff alone). I went through these things and asked Marie Kondo questions. Many black and white reprint books, phonebook size volumes, Marvel and DC Editions are now in the recycling somewhere. What was once shelf porn, I can now read on the apps on my iPad. I wanted to read Black Panther stories from early Marvel. I can do that and read them in color now. Other books did not make my ‘keep’ pile if I felt less than 50% good about keeping them around. Sure, I sold a Star Wars (new trilogy) book recently with Dursin, but I ended up tossing about 2-3 more. At the risk of giving him a heart attack, I do admit it’s easier physically and emotionally to toss them. With books, if there’s a chance to donate, I will try to do that next time.
But boy, did it feel great to hear the drag of our resin and polyethylene recycling bins and trash cans against the alley asphalt next to our house last week, in a manner that it looks like there were three apartments worth of trash that week (in fact there was just the one, ours).
I’m not particularly handy, nor am I neat.
I apply GTD principles to big things like ‘inboxes’, and reviews and have an unusual obsession with things working the first time. I want to go into this guest room, flick one button, and be streaming. No swapping out computers or plugging mics in, etc.
This week’s project wasn’t more ‘sorting’ it was doing things like installing wall-mounted power strips, the big long ones, below the living room TV, installing our old TV in the guest room, and managing power in that spare bedroom.
I hate fucking landlords, no surprise, and rather than have them fix something they will NEVER do (an outlet near the sink where the coffee maker can go), I installed an over the window and door extension cord that matches the paint with these cute little hook things. Is it kind of a ghetto setup? Yes, but those who have lived in apartments (like Merlin Mann) with few outlets have done crazier things. This replaced a big orange extension cord going under a doorway. I made it functional and made it look a little neater. I'm STILL not neat. But I like the challenge.
There’s more and that’s what I see myself as in the house. I mean, I do the laundry, I make dinner, and try not to leave a mess for too long. I problem-solve things like the iPad or Watch chargers not working or buying spares of bricks that match the wall or whatever.
In contrast, as we are indeed different, Stacey has a frayed Lighting to 1/4 inch phone adapter in her car that I threaten to replace every time we are in the car together (not often). If I have a small thing not work, I toss it and get another one so as ‘not to be annoyed’, my partner is more careful with her money and will spend hours picking out the right rug. I’m more pragmatic but less style-driven. Need rug. Open app. Order Rug. Done.
The point is, we’re different! And I love her so much. The differences, the annoyances, the shower time. I am a lucky person.
My power and cable superpower at least give me a certain amount of apartment job security. The fucking things always stop working, stop working with certain bricks, sometimes we need to go to a show and grab the charger from the living room. This is organic, like pulling electronic USB and Lightning Charger weeds out of a digital garden.
Speaking of which, Frank Miller is returning to comics in a big way and Philip Tan will be drawing Ronin. If you catch the reference, good on ya. That’s a classic graphic novel that gets read in the paper form about once a year. I have a cool promo poster of the original run in the office waiting to be hung.
Q to Stacey before her show last night: “When’s Call Time?”
It’s a shame that Severance is Apple+ only but this is easily one of the best shows on the service. With Ben Stiller as the Executive Producer and literally an All-Star cast that includes Adam Scott, Patricia Arquette, Christopher Walken, and John Turturro giving Lost and Kubrick vibes, I’m all in. Heck, even the computer terminals look like Commodore Pet (1977) machines, this was tickling more than my fancy, boss!
Have you seen the bad TikTok thing? I know, I know! It is all an awful place. Please, no more arguing with yourself about “THIS” and then “THIS.”
I mean, have you seen the explainer video against a green screen about stuff that we lived through? I don’t need a 20-year-old showing me Ticketmaster trials of Eddie Vedder and James Hetfield. I was there!
BUT if I were to do one, I would explain the concept of The Who’s Quadrophenia like you are a bunch of fucking idiots.
Tell Me, Who The Fuck Are You?
Cue Green Screen and bad keying effects… RAF Target behind me…GO…
The Who’s LANDMARK second rock opera and sixth studio album, a double album, was released in October of 1973. Different than the abstract visions of Tommy - you all know the song you sing at karaoke, this concept was different and based on the personalities of the real-life members of The Who. Back then, a double album would have 4 sides so that each member would have about a side’s worth of material based on their personality traits. You engineer nerds out there know more than me about in these early days, Quadrophonic sound (imagine it a precursor to Dolby surround) was being experimented with, and on, and as part of Pete’s vision for Quadrophenia live shows.
Switch to Green Screen of Sting in DUNE (1984)
AY-AND in 1979, the concept album was adapted into a rather successful film co-starring STING as ‘Ace Face’. Yes, that Sting from The Police that is still on tour with Shaggy!
Green Screen changes to Jimmy riding his scooter ALONG the cliff
Anyway, back to the album's concept, the main man Jimmy has schizophrenic tendencies, with each member of The Who being represented.
Green Screen changes to my ‘research’ on Gigwise
The four personality traits of Jimmy are said to be noticeable in the following tracks and have been linked to the band members.
- A tough guy, a helpless dancer. ('Helpless Dancer' – Roger Daltrey)
- A romantic, is it me for a moment? ('Is It Me?' – John Entwistle)
- A bloody lunatic, I'll even carry your bags. ('Bell Boy' – Keith Moon)
- A beggar, a hypocrite, love reign o'er me. ('Love Reign O'er Me' – Pete Townshend)
Green Screen changes to a current pic of Pete Townshend
If you don’t know this album, get into it! The Who's Pete Townshend has told NME that Quadrophenia was the band's "last great album" and that it "felt like the end" of the group after its release.
Wow, even fake TikTok is exhausting!
What does this have to do with Severance?
Good question, I’m not sure? Just kidding! I have a point.
What you need to know before heading into a Severance binge is that a company, Lumon, offers employees a chance to get a chip inserted into their head to keep their working life and personal life separate.
Adam Scott’s “Mark S” shows up to work at 8 AM (or 8:05 as they like to stagger arrivals and departures), gets in an elevator, and by the time he reaches his work station at Lumon’s basement with his co-workers, he has no recollection of his outside (outtie) life as an inside (innie) Macrodata Refiner. He only sees his work, his work colleagues, and endless corridors of white…until his day is over. This is reversed at 5 PM (or 5:05) when he returns up the elevator to resume ‘normal’ life. This is the major sci-fi conceit of the show, and certainly not a spoiler, as the story develops nicely over these first 9 episodes of the first season with a cliffhanger ending.
The first episode features Helly R (Britt Lower) arriving to join the office.
NOW, in not a scientific, mental health, or otherwise ‘expert’ type way I will attempt to draw parallels with Severance and Quadrophenia. Severance’s creator Dan Erickson and The Who’s Pete Townshend talk about the lives around us, the fronts we put up, and masks. In fact, I’m not sure that Billy Joel’s The Stranger (1977) doesn’t at least fit in with this kind of fiction.
Pete’s four personalities may or may not interact with each other inside Jimmy’s head. Whereas over in Severance, a company has blah blah blah reasons for having people’s brains compartmentalize work from home life. I say ‘blah blah blah’ because it is really a science fiction show presented as though Kubrick directed an episode of The Office. In fact, I don’t think this concept is too out-of-field for an episode of Star Trek, either generation.
Earlier in this essay, I spoke of my great cleaning effort in the spare bedroom. What was I looking for by keeping certain things?
Can I compartmentalize the emotions I had for a 1986 Red Sox pennant before tossing it in the heap? What if I could objectively look at all of the kipple in my life with ONLY a pragmatic vision?
If I could ‘take a pill’ or in the Severance parlance, have my “innie” sort through what is valuable or not by purely monetary or aesthetic or storage concerns. In fact, what makes this a difficult and emotional exercise is NOT having an '“innie” to work on it. This is what causes the crying, the doubt, the regret.
Did I need that extra press pass from Comic-Con 2011? What about the one from the Boxing event where I streamed for the first time? What about my Legacy? What will they put in the ‘Clay N. Ferno Library for Former Punks That Can't Read Good’?
Pete contains the four apple scrumping boyos in one body. Obviously, Keith Moon’s ‘Bellboy’ is the coolest one. He’s a punk working minimum wage job raging against the working class. Or ‘The Punk Meets the Godfather’ which I think is Pete as Jimmy. All four are trapped in one body. When you are in the relationship of a band, a marriage, an inescapable bond of Rock and Roll that isn’t the same without the other three personalities. For those wondering and being a dick online about The Who touring without Keith and John, calling them “The Two,” get over it. Zak Starkey is an amazing drummer, Keith’s protégé, and has been with the band for 26 years. Get a life!
There are still 4 personalities that make up The Who, the original 4 play Quadrophenia to sold-out nights in 2022. Keith and John’s spirit and memory are just spread over Zak, Pete’s brother Simon and all of the wonderful touring and local musicians making up the full orchestra.
The point is, the 4 personalities are maybe turned off and turned on when needed. Roger is un-Severed when he tears into
And in the battle on the streets
You fight computers and receipts
The wild fretboard of John is un-Severed in this unusual pre-summer heat as his spirit guides the performance…
Is it me for a moment?
The stars are falling
The heat is rising
The past is calling
Is it a bit of a stretch to compare these two pop projects? Sure, but why not?
Whereby Quadrophenia does allow Jimmy to fluidly (with the help of uppers and downers) move from personality to personality in the way only a rock opera can do and Severance slices the time between innies and outies with an elevator ride, it does ask who is “The Real Me” every episode.
And when working on my physical space and concentration, I ask myself, who is “The Real Me”? I’ve been asking this question to my inner voice since Zak Starkey joined together with the band.
Are memories things? Are objects totems or tokens? What is valuable to hold on to still? There are at least 4 different quadrants of clearing out stuff. Dr. Jimmy would self-medicate depression and isolation. Mr. Jim goes out for two big events in one night, one being seeing The Who live. The Bellboy works from home now.
All I know is, ‘innie’ or ‘outtie’:
“I AM one of the faces!”
I haven’t been substacking a lot lately, as you can see I have been busy. And I miss my friend Mike Gill.
Readers, feel free to comment (vote?) below on what I should write about next.
TOPICS I’D LIKE TO BE IN MY NEXT POSTS:
Omelets and Julia Child
Film Versions of Murder on the Orient Express
Lawman (1971) - Burt Lancaster, Robert Duvall
Unplugging, Unfollowing, and Blocking—a Social Media Experiment for Sanity
Until next time!