Robyn Hitchcock played the High Noon this weekend. I believe he had on the same shirt, a black flowy number with bright yellow spots, that he was wearing the last time I saw him play. An enjoyable set, but the thing about a guy with a thirty-year-long catalog is that even if you go in with a mental list of ten or twelve songs you’d really like to hear, it’s unlikely you’ll get more than a couple. In my case, I got just one, “Balloon Man,” the closest thing Hitchcock’s ever had to a hit.
I was walking up Sixth Avenue when Balloon Man blew up in my face
There were loads of them on Bryant Park so I didn’t feel out of place
There must have been a plague of them on the TV when I came home late
They were guzzling marshmallows and they’re jumping off the Empire State
I’d never realized how much this song owes to Daniel Pinkwater’s Fat Men From Space, a young-adult novel about an invasion by a plague of rotund aliens intent on consuming the world’s supply of junk food, leaving the Earth a sad yoghurt- and wheat-germy imitation of itself. When I was 15 my ideas about the purpose of literature were founded almost entirely on Pinkwater, especially his strange twin masterpieces Lizard Music and Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars. Someday I’ll write a long blog post about this, but not today. Today I’ll just key in a quote that made me laugh from the Pinkwater book I’m reading at the moment, Uncle Boris in the Yukon:
Sled dogs look like wolves. They like to pose for pictures standing on some rock, gazing into the distance, looking like Siegfried. What they are thinking at such a moment, when the last rays of the sun are hitting their grizzled and handsome coats, and their intelligent profiles are to be seen at their best, is probably: “Soon I will move my bowels. Yes. That is what I will do.”