But I'm Team Shaun

So many photos rattling around the hard drive, so many posts twitching my fingers, so many ouchies holding my tongue. I finally went to the doctor earlier this week, about my back and some other symptoms, and I'll be back next week to see what the blood work says. (I think it's going to say, "Go get an X-ray, but mostly just prepare for a life of ibuprofen and crotchetiness. That is, prescription ibuprofen and extra crotchetiness.")

In addition to not feeling like writing (be it blog posts, lesson plans, or overdue correspondence) despite now having a new (dare I say, amazing and top-o-the-line-for-at-least-another-10-minutes) laptop (as we try not to think about how this was a necessary replacement and not a fun upgrade), my Kindle died. MY KINDLE DIED. And I can't have a new one until the new ones come out at the end of the month. MY KINDLE DIED.

Look forward to a post later called "How to move all of your still-unread back issues of The New Yorker from your DEAD Kindle to the new, alive, spunky, wifi-enabled, smaller-so-they-force-you-to-buy-a-new-case Kindle" because, despite what Amazon says about magazine back issues being the one thing that can't be transferred between devices, even if backed up to a hard drive, this will be happening. Oh yes, Garth, it will be happening.

We did leave the house this summer after going to Big Bear/San Diego (see "photos rattling" and "posts twitching" above) for something other than the doctor, the lab, and the grocery store: this past weekend we saw David Cassidy.

At some point in my youth I stopped spinning Barry Manilow Live and the Star Wars soundtrack over and over on the turntable to add Shaun Cassidy's Shaun Cassidy. I'm sure the gateway ditty was some fellow second-grader playing me Shaun's cover of Da Doo Ron Ron, but - being too young to know of A&R men and too sheltered to be guided by Top 40 radio - I listened to every track equally, like I thought you were supposed to. (Such instincts are the one thing that keep me slightly open-minded about astrology, Hello, Madame Libra here! Sucker for maintaining fairness and a friend to inanimate objects!) One of the real hits for me was Amblin':

("Sounds like Boy George," says Mike, without menace.)

At some point, somebody - probably a sloppy pronoun for "Tiger Beat" - mentioned that he was David Cassidy's brother.


The Partridge Family went off the air in 1974, the year before I entered Kindergarten and could be exposed to patchwork-schoolbus lunchboxes. Syndication wasn't the same beast it is today, so I didn't actually see The Partridge Family until several years later, probably not until after the Monkees had their MTV comeback. Oh, I'd heard of them, but without having them slipped into my afternoon lineup during the critical years, they failed to enter The Shari-Canon. I have only been able to watch them through the eyes of retro kitsch.

I always thought "Come On, Get Happy" was a fun song, but until Four Weddings and a Funeral came out in 1994, I couldn't have named anything else by them... and even then, when Hugh Grant stuttered, "In the immortal words of David Cassidy, I think I love you," some of the appeal of the moment was me believing that Grant was making one of those clever, understated British allusions.

I have since been educated through E! specials and tortured biopics that David Cassidy was, once, a huge panties-flinging deal. Oh.

"Mike, did you know who Shaun Cassidy was before you met me?"

"Uh... I think so. Vaguely."

And apparently that is the way of most of the world, unless you're a Stratemeyer enthusiast.

(Now Mike is humming "Amblin'," the one Shaun Cassidy song he knows. I feel like a sociologist with a rare and fragile opportunity to expose someone to only the non-hit songs of an artist. Next up, a trip to Papau New Guinea with a suitcase of B-sides.)

Somewhere along the way I heard "I Think I Love You" for myself and pronounced it "catchy." Then, a couple of years ago, Mike - being a little younger and perhaps living where the UHF programmers had different cultural values and slotted The Partridge Family as heavily as The Brady Bunch - exposed me to "I Woke Up in Love This Morning."


Never mind that until recently the only version I knew was one on YouTube with the middle verses cut out. Now I got The Partridge Family. A frisky beat I could bop to!

(Eventually I started considering the lyrics more deeply. Is it me, or are they a little rude? A little "stalker masturbating with a pillow effigy"? It's me, isn't it? Yes, I disappoint myself, too.)

So, when Mike said we ought to go see David Cassidy (especially at $25 a pop, especially in the fun little town of Laughlin 100 miles away, especially in the pleasant, intimate venue of the Tropicana Express Pavilion Theatre), I was game. After all, I knew three songs, which is one more than I knew when going to see Blue Oyster Cult for the first time, and look how that turned out. (In case you don't follow my every Facebook update, it went well, and we'll be going to see them for the zillionth, or fifth, time when they do a free show on Fremont Street in a couple of weeks.)

I did try to bone up a bit before the DC concert, taking a little fancy to this song:

Hmmm, but it didn't sound right.

"Who is that?!" Mike yelled across the apartment. 

"Did David Cassidy not do all of his own vocals?"

"Not in the beginning. Is that the Partridge Family?"

"That, or the white Fifth Dimension."

I guessed he wouldn't be singing this one at the show. Oh well.

On the day of the concert, we started with buffet at Harrah's, which was so nice last time.

This time, no. Turns out that one gnocchi dish on the previous visit coloured our memories. This time, no gnocchi, and not a single good dish to replace it. Mike was woozy as we drove back down Casino Drive to Tropicana Express, and I had to catch up with him outside the men's room where he'd dashed as soon as we left the elevator.

I was okay because it's hard to get sick off of a few bites of salad, pizza, and mac 'n cheese. (None of which was worth a third bite.) Was I crabby that my brokeback summer of lying in bed and not going out for faboo Indian buffets and pasta stations and perhaps tapas was broken by the spell of culinary defeat? Yes, but $10 each in free slot play for signing up with Trop Express' new players' card left us six dollars richer and in a better mood for the David Cassidy experience.

Not long after sitting down in our carefully reserved aisle seats (that old trick of reloading before the website releases the non-aisle seats you just rejected), we became heroes to those around us for demonstrating how to unhook the seats from one another and grab an extra inch or two of clapping space. It's a small venue with very wide aisles, and the chairs are pushed together like a group of elephant extremists might be taking hostages later. Trick #2: If your legs are average-to-long, study the seating chart and grab those outer aisle seats with nothing in front of them. (Or maybe, like in our case, the people in front just won't show up.)

Now that it's time to talk about the actual show, I don't have a lot to say. I always thought that in interviews Cassidy came across as a slightly bitter person but not a bad guy, just someone with a rueful, short laugh who takes his work very seriously because others don't, someone who is perhaps still fighting whatever demons come with having once been Keith Partridge, Tight-Trousered Superstar.

I left the show with the same opinion. Cassidy, much like Davy Jones in this same venue before him, allows photography/video, so even when I wasn't very into the music, I at least could play with the little pocket camera. This doesn't mean that I took much video. Actually, for a few songs, I spent that time going through the cruise photos still on the pocket cam and idly delete some to make space. Hey, not everyone can be BOC. It's not personal.

However, I'm not an insensitive monster. A less kind person would've recorded David going on about his days of hanging out with BFFs John Lennon and Paul McCartney and his pathos-pathetic speech about the next song, which he would try to get through without getting too emotional...

The next song started out to be an off-key rendition of "In My Life." Cassidy stopped. "This has never happened to me before! Really!" After grins all around, we got the speech again, and he began again... still off-key (according to Mike) or at least butchering The Beatles soundly (according to me, with the tin ears). Oh, David.

Cassidy, despite his ego and his sins against Liverpool, isn't a disagreeable performer to watch, not even when a woman wouldn't stop shouting praise and song suggestions, and he finally yelled back, "This dialogue is over." (Then he stalked a few paces away from the audience and began the song.) The woman was out of line, definitely, but she was also clearly a devoted fan, not a heckler. After forty-plus years in the biz, he hasn't learned how to handle this better?

Mike thought that maybe he was just being dry, and I'm not saying he wasn't, but when you're playing the Tropicana Express in Laughlin to a small room full of people who mostly think you're awesome and sexy, you don't poop in the feedbag.

My one hope was that David Cassidy would be enough of a showman that I wouldn't have to be a big fan to enjoy the show. Take Wayne Newton. He can hardly sing a note these days, but his production is great; I'd happily see him again. Davy Jones had some long and not-so-exciting numbers that I'd rather not sit through twice, no matter what my inner eight-year-old thinks, but he had enough patter, variety, and charisma that I still keep tabs on his tour dates. Would David Cassidy prove to be just as capable?

No. And I'm not even counting that one number, the one where he played the drums while his drummer sang The Pretenders' "Brass in Pocket." I hate "Brass in Pocket." And? If you're singing someone else's song during another someone else's show, you are not special, so special.

Like I said, he wasn't unpleasant to watch, and since my appreciation of his work is pretty casual, I think I got my money's worth. Watching the women go nuts was worth half the price of admission. One lady just couldn't stay away from the stage and was eventually led outside for a discussion until the final number. Security and Cassidy had no problem with people approaching now and then for photos, but people who wanted to dance in front of those with front-row seats were appropriately scolded back to their own sections. (In retrospect, this is possibly the best concert security I've ever seen.)

Mike said he would go again if it was free. I said I would also go again.... that is, I would drive Mike to the free show then wait in the car. Cassidy takes himself too seriously for my tastes, but at least he didn't do any fake encores, which you have to respect. In fact, however sick he may be of singing the songs that pay the rent - he did rev up the energy and charisma for the final number:

06 August 2010 |






Carnival Elation (2009)
Carnival Splendor (2009)
Carnival Spirit (2010)
Carnival Spirit (2011)
Carnival Splendor (2011)
Norwegian Pearl to Alaska (2012)