Bookmark and Share

A case of the crud, and the world ends May 21

The Japanese say that what you’re doing at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve sets the tone for the rest of your year.

If that’s the case, 2011 will be a year of hibernation for me. And coughing up huge chunks of lung.

To the latter I can attest that half the state is slogging through what is, as best as I can tell, called the Colorado Crud, probably called that because we’re known as the “Centennial State” and the crud lasts one hundred years.

In previous generations it was known as “the plague” and, according to the history books, it led to a Swedish film in which a Knight plays a game of chess with Death.

After years of abusing antibiotics, blowing up nuclear devices and transmitting Lady Gaga songs over radio waves, the plague mutated into its current, more lethal form — the Colorado Crud — leeches and mustard plaster useless against this stuff.

For those slogging through this malaise, praying for a quick and painless end, you know the symptoms: the scalding sore throat and screaming joints and muscles that announce the onset; the cough that won’t go away and hits with a seismic violence that shifts land and sea; sinuses filled with an alien day-glo green snot with the consistency of marshmallow fondant but tastes like something off the bottom of a sheepherders boot; the gait and demeanor of a Night Of the Living Dead extra; after several weeks of suffering the previous symptoms, searching for Living Will paperwork and signing up for a Hemlock Society membership (fortunately, a lifetime membership is rather reasonably priced).

I wonder what the Japanese phrase is for “I’m sick of this, already” (helpful in the case of the ill-considered order of a Wyoming Roll).

Naturally, my 2011 has hardly gotten off to a sanguine start (given the overall impotence and ineffectiveness of leeches). Worse yet, if I’m screaming for a bullet through my skull, I’m asking to save a few for those mountain sages assuring me that I’ll be just fine if I dose myself with echinacea, golden seal, sheep’s bladder, eye of newt and whatever else happens to be left over after the coyotes have had their fill.

And some hemlock for thee, my friend.

No, I’ve placed my bets on standard OTC medication. With no illusions that they’ll cure anything (I’m doomed to eternal expectoration) but they do put a lilt in my zombie groan.

Not an auspicious start for my 2011.

When midnight chimed to ring in the new year this past weekend, I was out like a bear, drooling on my pillow and snoring the pro panel off my roof. Somewhere a little past 11 p.m. I was reading the second novel of a diptych by Isaac Bashevis Singer and the next thing I knew, it was 1:30 a.m. and I’d missed making my out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new toast of NyQuil® Cold & Flue.

I hadn’t started my New Year’s Eve day intending to stay home and, in fact, a couple of options had been presented to me. With the sun shining (yet still snowing at 3 p.m. at Lake Hatcher), I was looking forward to a glass of bubbly at midnight and perhaps even some unrestrained revelry.

Unfortunately, well before the ball dropped in Times Square, the temperature plummeted. Whatever the sun was doing that afternoon was as useless as echinacea on my crud and zero degrees Fahrenheit was a just a happy memory.

The plague had something to do with my decision to stay in, as well. Already feeling like I had the worst hangover of my life, the little voice inside me (croaking and miserable) told me that staying in was perhaps the best course of action.

Staring at my sad, pale, gaunt visage in the mirror, prepared to take off the previous day’s stubble and show my best face wherever I’d intended to party, my decision to stay in and read seemed to be the first good decision of the new year.

And so, my final hours of 2010 involved several chapters of Singer and a few good naps. Honestly, the past year had been pretty good for me and I felt no inclination to diss it with overindulgence.

I can’t say that any of my dreams held the prophetic power of St. John (no four horsemen or seven-headed dragons). In fact, whatever dreams I had were of the mundane sort that weren’t even worthy of a Salvador Dali painting.

Nonetheless, as I awoke early Saturday morning and realized I’d missed the emergence of the new year by a good hour and a half, I thought, “Well, what am I going to do now?”

Channeling Jeane Dixon (with a voice coarsened by years of cheap whiskey and Pall Malls) in the infant hours of 2011, I sat in a trance enhanced by my NyQuil® buzz — the preferred OTC talisman of Pagosa shamans — and determined what the coming year will look like for me. If your year looks similar to mine, consult a mental health professional immediately.

Despite the beastly chill that kick started the year, the sun’ll come out, tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun. Unfortunately, the appearance of the sun will cause precocious children throughout the county to break out in ear-splitting song, the Children of the Corn in a singular, cheery, hideous chorus.

OK, I just made that one up. What follows will be, I believe, our year in music.

The Flaming Lips will release a new song each month throughout 2011 and I will probably be the only one in Archuleta County who cares. However, if anyone disagrees with this prediction, I’d love to hear about it: any correspondence from a fellow Lips fan would be most welcome.

The long-anticipated Jay-Z and Kanye West EP is supposed to be out any day now. Really. Within the week is what I’m hearing.

My prediction? It won’t be a huge hit. As much as I’d love to hear a Jay-Z and Kanye West collaboration, I just can’t see those two egos creating anything that transcends their individual output (and I really hope I’m wrong).

Also due out next week is the new album by Wire. The entire thing can be streamed on the NPR website and, thankfully, it doesn’t sound like a lame old-guy’s-reunion album. My prediction, nonetheless, is that it won’t cause a big stir on Indie Rock radio. Considering Gang of Four and Social Distortion are also releasing albums in 2011, this could be the year of Geritol Gen-X revival.

The advance cuts I’ve heard from the new R.E.M. album (due out in March) sound pretty good, a return to their more rocked-out early days and a welcome retreat from the weak overly pop stuff of the last two decades.

As if Peter Buck wasn’t busy enough helping R.E.M. get their rock chops back, he helps The Decemberists get back on track (also streaming on the NPR site) with their new album “The King is Dead” (due out in two weeks). The few cuts I’ve heard have indicated a return to a rawer, edgier sound and hopefully, Buck has helped The Decemberists break out of their cloying tendencies exhibited on their last two albums.

P.J. Harvey (speaking of revivals) has a new release out next month. Man, I loved her stuff in the late ’90s but it seems like she’s been phoning it in for more than a decade. Of course I’ll listen but I’m not keeping my hopes up at this point.

On the other hand, The Beastie Boys announced they have a new record coming out in 2011 (date TBA) and a crappy Beastie disk would be as surprising as a really good P.J. Harvey album. I’m giving 3-to-1 odds that it ends up on my Best Of list for the year — that’s how excited I am about a new BB record.

OK, I’ve never understood the Iron and Wine hype. Critics and college-age girls seem to think these guys invented Al Gore (who, in turn, invented the Internet so he could spread the word on the Great Global Warming Hoax he invented, donchaknow). Again, I’ll listen if only because they’ll be played endlessly on Sirius/XMU. I’m not predicting that I’ll like them any more.

I’ve heard some things by Adele and I’ve liked them all: the woman has some incredible pipes (think of a blusier Amy Winehouse with the rehab bungee cord). Advance buzz on her March release “21” is that this is her breakout record.

And now for the “Really?” releases pending for this year: Aerosmith, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Blondie, Bush, Busta Rhymes, The Cars, Culture Club, Human League, Jamiroquai, Limp Bizkit, Rush, Britney Spears and ZZ Top. Sounds like either a lineup for a pretty good state fair or a truly awful week in Las Vegas.

No predictions on these releases (none of which have a set date at the moment) but I think will be worth watching for: DMX, Santigold (hopefully, her breakout record), Wilco, Radiohead, Outkast, The Strokes, My Morning Jacket, Chingy, Fleet Foxes and, Peter, Bjorn and John.

In the I-couldn’t-make-this-up category, Greyson Chance (the kid who was a YouTube sensation last year singing Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi”) is releasing a record and my prediction is that he will either displace Justin Bieber as the new tween heart-throb or he’ll be the object of cruel jokes by late-night comics.

Perhaps the most intriguing release this next year is by Atoms For Peace: a collaboration between Thom Yorke (Radiohead) and Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers). Although they’ve been playing around live together for several years, this will be their first studio release. Whenever I hear the term “supergroup” I shudder (think Cactus, Toto, Blind Faith or Emerson, Lake & Palmer) so I’m withholding predictions on this one.

Prior to collapsing into a sweat-filled heap after my orgy of prophecy, the Universe told me a few more things that had nothing to do with new music this year:

Katy Perry will break off her engagement to Russell Brand after she can longer deal with the stench and stubble. Anyway, my NyQuil®-induced trance indicated that she’s mine, dammit, all mine. We’re soul mates, after all. My Katy Perry action figure confirmed that fact during my shamanic journey early New Year’s Day.

After falling back asleep, my dreams didn’t tell me anything more. Considering that I awoke New Year’s Day to find out that, if any of my augury was to come to pass, it would be a mixed bag at best (I got the TCU-Wisconsin game wrong, after all). Considering it was just as cold as the night before and the crud lingered just as mercilessly as it ever had, 2011 wasn’t feeling the slightest bit different than the year prior.

Anyway, maybe it won’t matter: I just learned that one Harold Camping of California, having calculated an exact timeline from biblical passages, has determined that May 21 of this year to be the exact date of the beginning of the Rapture (I’m not making this up). If Camping has it right, most of my prognostication was for naught.

However, if May 21 turns out to be the beginning of the end, I predict that I won’t be buying another vehicle this year. If all those bumper stickers are correct, I’m snagging a free car.

jim@pagosasun.com