5 – Blog 30 – Sounds of Silence

The approved football rally is scheduled for 11 o’clock in front of Mower. Minehan posts a ‘Check your Pot at the Door’ sign with a bowl for discarded joints by the entrance to the Mower Quad. An arrow points the potheads to a location behind Mower where they are out-of-sight and out-of-mind to the campus police. David says it is his friend Mick’s idea.

By the time we are ready to start, the lawn is jammed with students, dates, and lookie-loos. We turn the amps up so even those unable to get into the courtyard can at least hear us. I keep a watchful eye out for Tim. My hopes are fading as the time to start approaches. We decide The Neighborhoods will open the set, to get everyone ‘a’goin’. Just thinking like a hick makes me more depressed. Joan and Jill corner me.

“If he shows up, it’ll be a big lift. If he doesn’t, we’ll still be a hit. Think about the fans and how great it is that Harvard embraces rock n roll,” Jill claimed.

“Yer right,” I fall into Country Speech. “We gots ta put on a show that gits  ‘em a’movin’ and a’groovin’ across to that there Stadium.”

The girls stare at me in wonder, finally breaking up and slapping me on the back. I run up to the mic.

“Wake up Harvard. It’s time to start The Game, right here in the Quad. If you don’t leave ready to make noise at the Stadium, then please go home and die. Or, at least take a nap. Any Boola Boolas out there?” I ask. There are a few hurrahs. “Ya might as well go Crimson, ‘cause we know how to party.”

That gets a loud cheer. I wave The Neighborhoods to come up and get ready to open the show.

“Y’all knows Minehan ‘cause he’s so friendly at Hahvahd – like a pig in shit.” That gets a laugh. “He’s brought his band The Neighborhoods from across the River where they play at The Rat. He’s gonna show y’all that Rock n Roll Never Dies.”

David had taught his boys the new Neil Young cover, ‘Hey Hey My My.’

I pull out my harmonica and do my best Dylan impression as David keeps the rhythm going, coming back with the vocals

‘Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
It’s better to burn out
Than to fade away
Hey hey, my my.

Out of the blue
and into the black
They give you this,
but you pay for that
And once you’re gone,
you can never come back
When you’re out of the blue
and into the black….

The king is gone
but he’s not forgotten
This is the story
of a Johnny Rotten

It’s better to burn out
than it is to fade away….’

Neil Young

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As he finishes the cover, Minehan turns up the energy, jumping up and down and cranking old rock with maximum distortion, making some obscure joke about Arrowsmith.

‘Keepin’ touch with Mama Kin
I said, tell her where you’ve gone and been
Livin’ out your fantasy
Sleeping late and smoking tea’
Songwriters: Steven Victor Tallarico
Mama Kin lyrics © BMG Rights Management

The crowd is hopping up and down, thinking more about Johnny Rotten than Stephen Tyler. The 3D girls are all in front, doing their strutting and sashaying like they expect ‘Walk this Way.’ Instead, David surprises the girls with a Neighborhoods’ love song, “Prettiest Girl’, which he dedicates to Carol. She about swoons as the other 3Ders tease her.

‘you’re the prettiest girl
and you’re the busiest girl
but in your everyday world
you’re still the loneliest girl’

Writer(s): david minehan

Minehan grabs a beer from the front row, pours it over his head, spiking his hair and does his version of Sid Vicious voodoo doll mania.

The crowd is in shock at the energy and antics. The girls turn around and charge into the crowd, scattering hippies and half-asleep Deadheads, circling back to the front, bouncing and shaking their tits at the shocked students. First one, then several bold boys join them bouncing as the girls shimmy for them. The band turns their amps up and never stops playing between songs.

Finally I grabbed the mic from Minehan.

“Ya ready for them Yale Boola Boys now?’ I challenge the crowd.

I pull Jill up and she sings her mashup of the Tom Lehrer ‘Fight Fiercely, Harvard.’

The students recognize their song and are singing along. Once she finishes, Jim gives her his bass. I go to the MOOG and yell at David, ‘False Gods.’

I set the tempo on my keyboard, with the moody electronic sound backed by the bass and David on rhythm guitar. He steps up to the mic.

“This song is for Tim – gone but promising to return in 20 years or more.”

‘Where others feared to tread,

they gave us up for dead,

memories linger eternally,

as Lucifer’s proud plea,

a world of our own,

on high a black throne,

sing to make them see,

happy for eternity

…we are False Gods, we are False Gods…

a world so meek and blind,

we laugh at all of  mankind,

fools misunderstand,

we’re Satan’s band,

a world of endless flaws,

facades and miracles applause,

eulogized but despised,

shed your false disguise,

fall to your knees,

utter useless pleas,


…we are False Gods, we are False Gods…

pray in foreign tongues,

shoot your useless guns,

sacrifice hallowed sheep,

shun cold, dark streets,

you’re just nasty fleas,

Set your minds at ease

…False Gods, False Gods…

we live eternally,

we hear your painful screams,

Just wait 20 years or more,

You’ll know just what we mean

….We are False Gods, False Gods..

… False Gods”

“Tim will return,” I scream. “Then his excuse will be ‘Life’s Lies”

“This is our life,

our pride alive

Its our times

Lost our minds

Stupid rules rule

Demand we act

Just like fools

To be like you.

Look at me, you havta scream.

You think we be freakin’

You gotta be fast to not be seen.

No wonder we’re always sneakin’

Then we go right into:


Sneaking around

Never been caught

All over town

Better than not.

Thrill’s in the chase

No time  to waste

Folks on my case

All is in haste.

Waiting’s the worst

You were my first

I need you now

We’re on the prowl.

Back of an alley

Sprawled in the dirt

No time to dally

Who will cum first.

shaka shaka love?

‘shaka shaka love shaka shaka

Shaka shaka love shaka shaka.”

The girls turn around and are shimmying to the shaka’s. The boys all hopped up on testosterone, bouncing to the vibrating boobies. David  calls them out with


‘“I say, …you…

You’re such a fool

You’re just a tool

But I love…you

I say…. you…

What can we do?

You said we’re through

What can I….. do

I say,…. you…

We break the rules

We act real cruel

I really need…. you…

I say, …you..”

He collapses into Carol’s outstretched arms. Jill goes to the mic.

“Time for football gentlemen. And no better way to start it off then with Jimi Hendrix’

I use the MOOG to start the Star Spangled Banner. Minehan abandons Carol, grabs his guitar and rips into the distorted psychedelic riffs.   Jill sings the actual words. Half the crowd moans and whines the words as Minehan goes off on guitar. He even does the teeth slide move. I’m afraid he’s about to do the Pete Townsend smashing guitar finale. I play the final crashing chord, ending our set.

“Time to kick ass at the Stadium,” I yell into the mic.

The crowd roars back and charges out of the Quad across the Charles River to football. Minehan is playing on his back. Jim throws himself into Mike’s drum set. Jill keeps singing the words, until everyone is gone.

“Not bad,” is Minehan’s critique. “Ya don’t need Tim. We’ll keep this lineup as the new Neighborhoods.”

Steve and Mike look upset.

“No way. This was rock n roll history. You go out and make new history with The Neighborhoods,” I tell him. “Anyway, time to be cheerleaders.”

David and the 3D girls  change into their cheer outfits. I tell Joan and Trudie I need to go to the Lampoon Castle to use a phone to find Tim. Jim and Mike join us as we walk across Mass Avenue. I try to find Tim in my heart but he’s closed off. I am really worried and start signing with Jace. He also cannot reach Tim. Post-performance blues descends on me.

“What are you doing?” Jim asks about my signing with Jace.

“I asked that band spirit I told you about to contact Tim, but he isn’t able to.”

“You can talk to each other, like reading each other’s minds?”

“Sort of. I can ask a question and my heart will tell me what he says. Not today. We’re cut off.”

“I’ll bet he’s on drugs,” Jim surmises.

“What? Why?”

“When I do downers, it’s like I can’t feel anything. My feelings are numb.”

“Fuck,” I say. “Tim’s been hanging around junkies in Hollywood. I can’t believe he’d do it. It really messed up his cousin.”

“Sounds like a family gene,” Jim obviously knows his drugs.

I am in a real funk. We walk into the Lampoon Castle. The older staffers are cleaning up. They hope we are there to help.

“Just need to use the phone,” I tell Kurt.

“Go ahead, use my office,” as Kurt corrals the others for clean-up. Teens are easy to boss around.

I call Doug’s, letting it ring until Jimmy finally picks up. It’s only 10 am in LA.

“S’up?” he asks once I tell him who I am.

“Know where Tim is. He was supposed to fly to Boston last night.”

“He’s been working during the day, some movie job,” Jimmy burps, barely awake. “He doesn’t always come here at night. Hanging out with Hollywood punks. They stay up all night.”

Now I am really worried. “He with Joan Jett?”

“Mostly some rich bitches from West LA. Joan’s friends with them when they’re holding.”


“Is he doing drugs, you think?”

“Everyone’s doing drugs in Hollywood.”

“Anyway to get ahold of him?”

“If you wanna drive around and find him, we’ll just ask some punks on the Boulevard.”

“I’m in Boston.”

“Oh. Well, I can get Tony to drive around, but no one’s up this early, especially junkies.”

“Could you? I’m really worried about him.”

“He’s my hero, too. Call back in six hours or so. I’ll leave a message with Doug if we find him.”

“Ask him to call me.”

“Good luck on that one.” He is used to runaways hiding from their families and/or the cops.

“Thanks, Jimmy.”

“We’ll find him. Be patient.”

“I can’t,” I sniff.

“Hey, drugs ain’t that bad,” he tries to make it seem better.

I should argue, but drugs are breaking my heart.

One look and Joan comes running over, followed by the others.

“Looks like he’s doing hardcore drugs and doesn’t care,” I explain, then burst into tears. Kurt and the other staffers look embarrassed for me. Fuck ‘em. It’s Gay Rights to be wimpy.

“There’s nothing we can do,” Trudie is practical. “You have to get to the stadium. The Game will start soon. You need to get your MOOG there.”

I feel like I’m slogging through mud, barely able to move my feet. Jim runs back to Mower for my MOOG while the rest of the group drag me to the stadium. Ralph the Stadium announcer is relieved to see me walk into the press box. He tells my minders they cannot stay – university rules. I set up just in time to participate with the Marching Band’s pre-game performance.. The Band Director looks up at the press box when it is time to introduce the cheerleaders with fanfares. He raises his baton. I play the organ part, followed by the horn section’s response. The cheerleaders run out, to much cheering from the students in the end zone. Even the old alums are clapping, having heard that Harvard now features female cheerleaders. They run onto the field and build a pyramid with Jill at the top.     I play the fanfare organ part and the trumpets herald her flip off the pyramid’s top into waiting arms on the field. I feel better with so much to do. The cheer squad is running through their regular tumbling routines. I play background chords to keep their rhythm up. Except I keep slowing down and have to up my tempo. The 3D girls cast looks in my direction. I have to concentrate on their performance and forget about Tim. It is hard.

Ralph takes over to announce the starting players for both teams. As he announced the Yale side, I play their Boola Boola fight song.

The Band Director is not pleased that I’m welcoming the opponents. I let him lead the Marching Band in playing the Harvard fight song

I turn on my mic and sing the fight song’s words, getting the crowd to join in. There’s a big cheer. My nemesis, the Band Director, casts another nasty look my way. I am obliged to counter the fight song with our version of Tom Lehrer’s ‘Fight fiercely, Harvard,’ tuning the Moog to sound like a honky-tonk piano. I sing Jill’s version

Fight on Harvard, fight, fiercely, fight!
Show ‘em our skill.
They have the might,
We have the will.

Celebrate we will
Invite the defeated  for tea. (Jolly jolly tea!)
Pass down the field,
Fight, fiercely, fight!

Fight on Harvard, fight, fiercely, fight!

Impress them with our prowess, do!
Make Crimson bright,
Stout heart and true.

Come on, chaps, fight for Harvard
Peachy if we win the game?
Not to shame them, (But, for fame!)
Fight, fiercely, fight!
Don’t be rough, though!
Fight, fight, fight!

Do fight fiercely!
Fight, Fiercely, fight!

Original © Tom Lehrer (1953).

The students erupt with cheering, as the old alums sit glumly on their hands at the desecration of Crimson tradition. The Band Leader looks apoplectic.

Luckily, the St Paul’s Boys Choir marches onto the field at this moment. They are ready to sing the National Anthem. Mr. Band Director has to settle down his band to accompany the boys.

Ralph gives them an introduction. “Everyone rise, please, for the National Anthem, sung by Cambridge’s St Paul’s Boys Choir,  and led by Director Dr Ted Marier.

As a cheer rises up at the last line, ‘.. home of the brave,’ the choir decides to take an encore with ‘America the Beautiful.’ The band is unprepared. I seize my opportunity and come in on the Moog at the second bar.

The older alums are mollified with the patriotic moment, after years of student dissent. They fail to observe the contra temps between me and the band director. The cheerleaders run back and forth in front of the Harvard stands, getting everyone to cheer, ‘Go, Harvard; Go, Harvard.’ The choir and then the band march off the field. The coin-toss is held and Harvard, winning, elects to receive. Ralph proceeds to announce his play-by-play. I wait for the cheer leading skits to come.

Suddenly there was a pounding on the locked press box door.

“Let me in,” shouts the irate Band Director.

“No one’s allowed in,” Ralph shouts back, winking at me.

“Send that student out, then. He has no right to interfere with the Band’s performance.”

“Looks to me like he saved your asses on ‘America, the Beautiful,” Ralph is enjoying tweaking our mutual nemesis.

“Let me in,” he reiterates.

“No way, you Nazi creep. You’re interfering with my play-by-play. Go away or I’ll have you removed.”

That shuts him up. It’s the highlight of my day. Ralph high-fives me, the old goat. Meanwhile the football team has jumped out to a 7-0 lead, inspired by the student antics and alumni cheers. The Yale team has been disorganized and dispirited as Harvard marches  down the field to score. Our announcing and adding MOOG music to the cheer skits, keeps the stands cheering. Yale tightens their defense, but the Harvard lead holds until half-time.

The band marches onto the field. The cheerleaders bring out the bulldog-costumed boys on their hands and knees, snapping bull whips at them as they scurry to avoid the lash. They circle the band as the musicians set up for their half-time show. Several over-excited Yalies run onto the field to rescue their bulldog mascots.  I play Keystone Cops organ music as these antics play out.

An over-zealous Harvard cheerleader uses his whip to actually strike an intruder who falls to the ground. The bulldog-costumed squad rescues him, dragging him to the Yale side of the stadium.The cheerleaders run back to the Harvard side. Yale cheerleaders ‘capture’ their mascots, to protect them from the Harvard cheer squad. Caught up in the moment the mascots instantly change sides, exhorting the Yale fans to cheer for their team.

I stop playing as the Band tunes up to begin their performance. Jace appears, looking very perturbed.

“What’s up, gay ghost,” I joke, still amused by the mock battles on the field.

“Yer not gonna like it,” Jace murmurs.  “I finally got Tim to open up to me.”

I look in my heart, but Tim is not there. “What’s he doing?”

“He’s on a two-day drug bender in LA. He has new friends and they’ve been in a one room apartment in Hollywood doing dope.”

My heart gives a sharp start. Tim wakes up in my heart.”

“What do ya want?” he complains.  I feel a coldness in him, like never before. It’s worse than just missing him.

“Well?” he asks.

“I thought you hated heroin?” I know what is making him shut down.

“Don’t get yer panties in a twist.”

“What do you expect. You were supposed to be here. It’s halftime at the Yale game.”

“Yeah, The Game,” he remarks sarcastically.

I start to sniffle.

“Jesus, stop crying. Ya gots a girlfriend. Man-up, fer Christ’s sake.”

The coldness of his tone envelopes me. He fades from my heart. I couldn’t tell if I shut him out or if he just cut me off. Tears are streaming down my cheeks. Ralph is busy announcing the band’s movements and their obscure meaning. I’m alone.

Not for long. Jace summons all my friends into my heart, as I sit locked into the press box. They learn what happened with Tim. Their sympathy pushes me over the edge. I’m sobbing uncontrollably. Ralph looks over, concerned. Caught in the middle of his announcing, he is unable to help. I know I have to stop sobbing. I harden my heart as best I can. It feels like it will shatter. All my feelings shut down. Jace is holding me as clouds of darkness swirl. I forget about football, about Harvard, about Tim. I just need to play my MOOG. I revert to dirges and chants, not caring who is listening (about 35,000 football fans), playing to myself, maybe to Tim if he can listen. It feels like I’m in the Mower boiler room, playing to make the dorm’s brick walls moan and groan. I start in with ‘Knights of White Satin.’

I don’t really sing, just mumbling the words, unaware I have a live mic. Ralph never turns me off.

‘Just what the truth is
I can’t say any more
‘Cause I love you
Yes I love you
Oh how I love you

Gazing at people some hand in hand
Just what I’m going through they can’t understand

…. Nights in white satin
Never reaching the end
Letters I’ve written
Never meaning to send

… Just what the truth is
I can’t say any more

‘Cause I love you
Yes I love you
Oh how I love you
Oh how I love you’


© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

I continue to riff on the English blues. The Moog creates eerie, soulful, moody sobs that echo my heart’s longing for Tim. I’m unaware  of what is happening in the Stadium. Football plays on. My friends and fellow students perform as my dark music casts a pall over the playing field. I end with Procol Harem’s ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale

‘We skipped the light fandango
Turned cartwheels ‘cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
But the crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
As the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
The waiter brought a tray

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale
She said, ‘There is no reason
And the truth is plain to see.’
But I wandered through my playing cards
And would not let her be
One of sixteen vestal virgins
Who were leaving for the coast
And although my eyes were open
They might have just as well’ve been closed

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale

And so it was that later’


© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, T.R.O. INC.

I play on with the MOOG, running up and down the keyboard, creating my own songs. Descending into minor chords and recovering with up tempo finger notes. I finally collapse on top of the keyboard creating a dissonance of mashed notes pulsating to the rhythm machine. Ralph pulls me away.   I first hear, then see that the game has ended. The main stands are empty but the student end zone is still filled. They’re cheering and calling for more. Ralph opens the box’s window, holding me up so the crowd can see me. The cheers of ten thousand students ring back at me. I sit down fast, the darkness returns. I play Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Sounds of Silence.’ It is my final encore. I’ll never sing again.

‘Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools” said I
“You do not know, silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the signs said
“The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whisper’d in the sounds of silence’

Songwriters: PAUL SIMON

© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

Final score – Yale 21 Harvard 7

Next: https://timatswim.com/eighteen-prelude/