Pylon (L to R): Randy Bewley, Curtis Crowe, Vanessa Briscoe Hay, Michael Lachowski. (Photo by Brian Shanley)

The phrase “’80s rock” brings to mind washes of synthesizers, booming drums, big hair, stadium-sized gestures and a plastic sheen. SiriusXM’s ’80s station harks back to “when greed was good, hair was high and everyone learned what a music video was. Prince, Wham!, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper and Culture Club!”

Yet there was an alternate pop-rock narrative to the decade, one driven by minimal flash, tight songwriting, lean production and guitars played with little distortion. Much of this music earned a nickname, “jangle,” as bands embraced Rickenbacker guitars a la Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, whose first hit was…


Illustration by Pat Byrnes

A frog was minding his own business by a riverbank when a scorpion approached him with a proposition:

“I can’t swim, so how would you like to carry me across the river?”

That didn’t actually qualify as a proposition because the scorpion wasn’t offering anything in return. But the frog was a big-hearted amphibian who considered the request nonetheless.

“OK…but wait a minute,” the frog said. “You’re a predatory arachnid with poisonous venom. How do I know you won’t sting me?”

“Because if I did that,” the scorpion replied, “we would both drown.”

“Good point,” the frog said, “though you…


This product art does not constitute an endorsement.

The king and queen had long desired a baby, and when Aurora was born, they threw a grand banquet to celebrate. They asked seven good fairies to be the infant princess’s godmothers, and the first six offered gifts to the baby: beauty, wit, grace, dance, song and goodness. But before the seventh fairy could present her gift, an uninvited evil old fairy burst in muttering, “I’ma let you finish…” She was not going to be ignored. She leaned into Tiny Aurora and cast a spell.

“A great virus will sweep this land,” she intoned, “and you’re gonna get it and…


Illustration by Pat Byrnes

Once upon a time there was a mother pig with three little pigs who she feared would give her the coronavirus. They frolicked a bit too much with the neighborhood’s other animals and didn’t always practice adequate social distancing. The mother pig had a compromised immune system, having suffered a collapsed lung while fleeing the Bacon Patrol, so she sent her offspring out into the world to seek their own shelter-in-place.

The first pig was very lazy. He didn’t want to work and built his house out of straw. …

Mark Caro

Author The Foie Gras Wars, The Special Counsel; coauthor Take It to the Bridge, Behind the Laughter. NY Times, Chicago contributor. Ex-longtime Chicago Tribune.

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