This is not a political blog. I have no desire to rant and rattle on about my political views and why you should or should not vote for this one, that one, or the third one who really shouldn't even be running because he's just mucking up the chances of the second one. There are plenty of blogs exactly like that, though, so if that's the horse you want to ride, well, do a search and saddle up, cowboy.

This is not a blog about the short-comings of the American education system or the stupidity of the next ( or any) generation. If you think the school system failed you and you can still read this, then congratulations,Kilroy! You managed to rise above it. Kudos to you.

This is absolutely not an anti-American blog. I may have named it "Stupid America", but as corny as it sounds, I really do love this country. I will, however, admit I am often embarrassed by it. I just don't understand how a country that once gave us Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, Sojourner Truth and Walt Whitman could now be serving up Real Housewives, teen vampires, info-mercials, Humvee limousines and all things Kardashian. Where, exactly, did we go off-script? This blog is my journal of musings on American culture and mores as I try to find some answers.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Video Spotlight: Mark Gormley, Rock Star

      Many people have never even heard of Mark Gormley. I don't remember exactly how I came across him, but I have a feeling it was a search for " weird music videos" on Youtube.  If I hadn't been diligent in my research, I would never have known he exists. But oh, he does. And he is going to ROCK. YOUR. WORLD.

      When you first see a Mark Gormley video, you may say to yourself, "Huh, I didn't know Ned Flanders was a real person". But then you'll have a closer look and think, "Oh, it couldn't be Ned Flanders, Ned has a better physique. And he's a cartoon..." And you'd be right, on both counts.  Mark Gormley may not have the fame of Ned Flanders, cartoon neighbor of Marge and Homer Simpson, but what he does have is THAT SPECIAL SOMETHING.  Yes. Behind those unfashionable glasses, behind that unassuming outfit, lurks the makings of a rock star. Come along, don't be shy. Press "play" and surrender to the inevitable...

      "Little Wings"  is my favorite Mark Gormley song. I will admit to humming it sometimes and not even realizing I am doing so. I can also do a pretty excellent  Gormley impression to this song, so, I like to work that.  In this video, you were introduced to the Mark Gormley stance. This is a very important part of what gives Mark THAT SPECIAL SOMETHING.  Note how he artfully shifts his weight constantly from one baggy-jeaned leg to the other.  His retro plaid shirt and sneakers are perhaps an homage to Kurt Cobain and the grunge movement. His voice is uniquely Gormley, but perhaps a touch of Neil Young's high plains whine sneaks in at times( yeah, I know, Neil was born in Toronto. Make it a high CANADIAN plains whine,ok?).  His whistle is masterful, comparable to the whistling in the Lovin' Spoonful's "What a Day for a Daydream". His double take at the end of this video is a classic Gormley moment that all his true fans can appreciate. In this song, the Maestro manages to span four decades of rock and distill it into his own song about redemption and reward at the end of a long day's work.  "Will you make the morning light, oh, little wings in flight?" We can only hope so.

    "Without You" was Mark's breakthrough video. It is a take no prisoners art rock festival, taking us along on Mr. Mark's Wild Ride through the stratosphere. He strides upon snowcapped mountains one moment and stands isolated in front of the Northern Lights the next. He shift his weight from side to side on Caribbean sands, gazes out over the Mojave desert, cavorts in haunted forests. One especially poignant split second scene shows the Laura Ingalls style log cabin love shack that was obviously the shared abode of Mark and his video love. Lusty Times on the  Prairie.  Note how he bravely marches on while ever looking to his right, hoping his lady love is there. But alas, she is not. She cavorts upon the beach, leaning on their favorite tree and walking up and down the same strip of sand while looking vaguely hung-over. Later we find that she is obviously working as an exotic dancer, flaunting herself in front of the beer-bellied patrons of a non-descript bar while wearing a shiny, Barbarella-esque bikini. Has she no shame?
    Poor Mark. They have shared so many memories all over the Earth, he cannot stand to tread upon its surface one minute longer. He intrepidly blasts into space on the next lunar launch outta here, and goes to live alone on our previously unknown secret lunar space station. Meanwhile, showing no remorse whatsoever, his lady love parades up and down the beach, hoping to attract the attentions of a local windsurfer.
      This is a powerful, emotionally wrenching song.  Mark's take-no-prisoners lyrics, "don't play around with my affection, woman", apparently delivered at the Medical Arts building after an intense session with his therapist, tell it like it is. Do not mess with the Gorminator. He WILL send you, or perhaps himself, to the moon!  Hasta la Vista, baby.
     In this song you can really hear how much Mark was influenced by his predecessors, like  Journey, Rush, and especially,  Yes. And is that a touch of Jethro Tull I hear when Mark takes it to the bridge? Oh, I think it is. Yet Mark takes the influences and turns out a song all his own, about his sadly shattered relationship with his video vixen, who is at last look seen smiling at the camera wearing her one-shouldered top.  Foul temptress! She cares not that Mark is suffering in space. She is only concerned with her tree and maybe that windsurfer we saw earlier. But Mark soldiers on, even though is spirit is now broken.

      This is a sadder, darker Mark, a Mark who has loved and lost, and loved again and lost again, and then maybe placed a personal ad and got not too many responses.   This is the Mark who does tequila shots with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant after a long, hard time on the road. I find this video is notable especially for the band-aid clearly visible on Mark's chest throughout. Why is it there? What has happened to him? Has he been bitten by an especially ornery mosquito, or snake, perhaps? Did he, in typical rock star mode, trash his hotel room and get hurt in the process? Was it a tuberculosis test gone horribly awry?   And will it hurt when he has to take it off, since it is obviously adhered to  his manly, hirsute chest? Hmm. Ponderous.

     Well, I hoped you enjoyed your introduction to the great Mark Gormley. You can view many more of his videos on Youtube. There is even one that apparently takes place after his blast-off into space towards the end of  "Without You". In it, you can see Mark cavorting on the moon, playing some sort of lunar hacky-golf or maybe moon hockey, I'm not sure. It also contains various scenes of his lady love eating Cheetos. I don't know whether this is product placement or whether that girl really likes her corn-based cheese flavored snack foods. If you are really hooked, you may be glad to hear that Mark has released a new CD. It includes all the original songs heard here, and plenty more.
     The thing is, I really have to give the guy props. I mean,  if he looked more like a male model and less like a cartoon character, some record producer may very well have snapped him up by now. His songs are not bad at all. His voice is not bad, either, if you like that whole power ballad shout out or acoustic semi-falsetto.  And he's a damn fine whistler.  Bob Dylan is no looker and his voice, to me, sounds a lot like fingernails on a black board. Tom Waits sounds like he's singing to you from the bottom of a bottle of whiskey. There's gotta be a niche somewhere for Mark Gormley. There are plenty of bands out there that out-right suck, yet people keep buying their music. There are hip hop artists who couldn't do a thing without Auto-Tune. And I am still perplexed as to the popularity of that little monkey-boy, Justin Bieber. That kid can't even shave yet and he has a movie out about his life? That's just stupid, America. ( HAH! Yes, I went for it!)
       I read on Wikipedia that Mr. Gormley was once a member of the United States Marine Corps. Who would have ever guessed?!  I cannot imagine Mark Gormley as a U.S. Marine, but  a Marine he most definitely was. So, you may not imagine Mark Gormley as a Rock Star, but a Rock Star he most definitely is.


  1. Thanks for the intro Kerry- I actually enjoyed listening despite how I resisted.

  2. Kerry this is an excellent and amusing tribute to your husband.

  3. Hah! I WISH!!!! How could I land HIM?!

  4. Wow. I loved your commentary!

  5. Mark Gormley IS a rock star. And I concur, your commentary was excellent. I see Mark in a whole new light now. After reading it, I am now certain that you should be his manager. You'd so make sure everyone in the country knew Mark as you do. You'd so, have everyone *really* rocking in the free world. Yeah, I said it. Neil has nothing on Mark!

  6. Hey, I'm just doing my part as a member of the Gormley Army. We wear over-sized glasses and fake moustaches instead of black and white face paint, but it could catch on...

  7. I love the way the sky slowly eats his face during that last video. Not a bad musician though, if slightly clichéd, oddly affecting & strangely addictive – I wonder if this links to the curiosity of the presentation.