D-D-Day, Drop Dead Legs and the Sausalito Sausage


Daedalus Howell/Index-Tribune


Today marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the seaborne invasion of German-occupied Normandy that proved a decisive Allied victory but with 4,414 confirmed dead. D-Day is called such for the same reason H-Hour has its name (and in print both look like a stutter). One might suspect there are also an M-Minute and perhaps an N-Nanosecond but alas …

According to the U.S. Army Center of Military History, the redundant abbreviation “designate the day and hour of the operation when the day and hour have not yet been determined, or where secrecy is essential … When used in combination with figures and plus or minus signs, these terms indicate the length of time preceding or following a specific action.” So, for example, D-3 is when this column was due, but it arrived on D-1.

Keeping with the WW II theme, I told my editor that the column was late because I drafted it on an Enigma encryption machine and then lost the decoder key. To wit, if you’re reading this in English, the code has been cracked because, frankly, I couldn’t make any sense of it.

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Today also marks the 30th anniversary of my purchase of Van Halen’s final album with David Lee Roth, “1984.” On cassette. I was 12 and freshly loosed into the hothouse of puberty; the psychic gulag of junior high loomed at the terminus of yet another endless summer, and Van Halen was a sonic salvo. This was the year Orwell thought would be such a drag, and yet here was some scissor-kicking, oversexed rodeo clown with a belting baritone and a blond mane that hung down to his assless chaps. David. Lee. Roth. Big Brother wasn’t watching us. He was covering his eyes.

Fast forward to the last song on side one, “Drop Dead Legs,” the big-bottomed walk-down that ably secures Roth’s status as the poet laureate of ‘80s hard rock. The lyrics don’t sound “written” so much as improvised upon the notion of a woman’s legs, which, despite the song’s title, rate only a single mention. From this thesis statement, Roth digresses into a surreal monolog that references the undead, dentition and a beloved Depression-era cartoon character. Sure, the lyrics don’t make any sense on the page, but in the ear … actually, they don’t make any sense there either. But Roth made it sound convincing.

The entire second stanza should be put through the aforementioned Enigma machine — I suspect that lines like, “Dig those moves, vampire / Set me loose, get it higher / Throw my rope, loop-de-loop / Nice white teeth, Betty Boop,” might actually be cipher for the Meaning of Life. Or at least the meaning of middle school. Worked at the time.

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Spied the I-T’s own Bill Hoban in San Rafael, clicking off semi-pro baseball shots, and got the impression that he didn’t recognize me out of context, which, in our case, is namely within emails. Though I try my best to look like a dhowell@dhowell.com, I’m not actually that symmetrical in real life.

Triple A minor league baseball. Like being in a Robert Altman film during his “Nashville” period – braiding plotlines, rapt crowds, patriotism and dread. Though the last two might be one and the same, depending on who sings the pre-game anthem.

The Pacifics won, but the Stompers presented a formidable challenge, not least of which in the “best baseball name” category. Not in terms of team names, mind you – both are wanting to my ear – but the names of individual players. The Pacifics have a winner in Chase Fontaine, who has long enjoyed the best nom de le baseball in the league. That said, the Stompers’ Jayce Ray sounds equally convincing. If he doesn’t become a baseball star, he’s a lock for space opera superhero. Can’t beat monosyllabic, assonant rhymes.

One also can’t beat the names on the snack bar menu, some of which read like the nicknames we had back at SF State. The “Sausalito Sausage” and “2nd Base” are standouts, particularly the latter, which is apparently a bowl of chili poured over pasta. Shame on you Marin. In Sonoma, that kind of culinary affront to the senses is actually illegal within 10 blocks of the Plaza.

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Daedalus Howell celebrates DH-Day at DHowell.com.