Monday, November 30, 2009

Leftovers (Similes): Tossed Like a Stone

Health and Happiness Show: Tossed Like a Stone


Looking over the past year's themes, the Similes week stuck out for the paucity of posts: just two short missives. It was the middle of August, I was on vacation, and I'm guessing other SMM'ers were, too. So here's what I should have posted that week...

I don't know many people in Hoboken, New Jersey, but on a cold, icy night in March 1996, I was invited to a private gathering in a large warehouse there. The Health and Happiness Show were the main musical entertainment for the party.

And what a party it was.

A couple hundred fans of New York DJ Vin Scelsa and his radio show, Idiot's Delight, had gathered to celebrate the legendary DJ's return to the equally legendary WNEW-FM, where he had worked for much of the '70s. Just a month before that, he and most of the other DJs at his former station, WXRK (K-ROCK), were unceremoniously fired in a format change. Fortunately, about a year previous, one intrepid fan had started a "mailing list" on this new thing called "The Internet" for listeners of the show to connect with each other. When K-ROCK dumped Vin, the mailing list (The Idiot's Delight Digest, or IDD for short) became a two-way lifeline between the DJ and his listeners.

It was an early example of the benefit of the online community. In an earlier age, if a DJ was fired, listeners were left in the dark. One day he was there, the next day, someone else was, usually without explanation. So the party in Hoboken (known in IDD lore as "The Hobobash") was more than just a communal celebration of Vin's return to the New York airwaves; it was also an in-the-flesh celebration of this new type of community. Many members of the IDD met each other for the first time there, and the Hobobash has become a legendary event in the history of the IDD.

But this isn't a post about the IDD. It's a post about the Health and Happiness Show.

Lead by James Mastro (formerly of Hoboken's The Bongos), the Health and Happiness Show were Vin Scelsa favorites in the '90s. The band released only three albums, and "Tossed Like a Stone" comes from their second, Instant Living. It's upbeat, country-influenced rock, with celtic hints. Fun stuff, and it was the perfect soundtrack to that euphoric celebration at the dawn of a new age.

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