W is for Wall

You who are rich and whose troubles are few
May come around to see my point of view
What price the Crown of a King on his throne
When you’re chained in the dark all alone

All in all it was all just bricks in the wall

Robert Frost said famously, “Good fences make good neighbors.” If that’s true, then good walls must make them the best of friends. Heh.

“Howdy, neighbor. What’s that you’re building there?”

“A wall.”

“Wow. You must really like me. Hang on and I’ll give you a hand.”

For me, the bigger the wall, the better. And it should have guard stations at every corner. And machine guns. I want to be the best friend of all – and to as many people as possible.

Bloody hell. Just yesterday I was referencing The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs and today I’m wheeling out a little The Cask of Amontillido by Edgar Allen Poe himself. I’m so literate and well-read. Don’t be fooled – it’s an act.

There was a fair about of debate in the Taker household before this post. What would be done with “W” in the A-Z Blogger Challenge? I was leaning strongly in favor of writing about one of my perennial favorites, namely “work.” In my blog’s tag cloud it is the #2 tag of all-time, preceded only by “poop” and followed closely by “job.” That can’t be a coincidence. It’s almost as if there is an intelligence at work here.

My wife (hey – another “W” word) was not enthralled with the idea of yet another post about work. I think she may have mentioned a horse beaten to death and something about a whiny bitch. After some lobbying on my part, she eventually signed off on “wall.”

Other subjects considered and discarded for this post included Dubya (too gouache and passe) and Winnie the Poop (which I thought was hilarious but the wife not so much).

Unless you live under a brick, you’ve no doubt heard of The Wall, an album and movie by Pink Floyd. In my opinion, The Wall is one of the best albums of all time. I adore it. And, on my behalf, so does the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). I’ve given those greedy bastards my money many times over to own the same music again and again.

The Wall was released back in 1979. I originally owned it as a double album LP. You played it on a thing known as a “turntable” with a needle that vibrated in little grooves on the surface of the record. It was all quite analog and primitive. I wore that sucker out and bought it again. That’s paying twice for the same music.

Then I owned it on cassette tape. And that got eaten by the player. So I bought it again. Then compact discs came out and, since then, I’ve purchased it at least three separate times on CD.

By my calculations, that’s at least seven times I’ve paid for the same music. Funny, but I don’t recall the RIAA ever getting angry about that. Not once have they ever threatened to sue me to give me a refund for overpaying them. That’s quite odd, isn’t it?

So one of the greatest albums of all time when on to become one of the greatest movies of all time. The Wall easily makes my personal top 10 movie list and also happens to be the best drinking movie – ever. When you are feeling grim, foul and down in the depths of your own depravity, nothing beats grabbing a bottle of gin and plumbing the depths with The Wall. It’s great fun.

The Wall tells the story of a rock star who builds a wall in self-defense. The wall is meant to protect but ends up destroying him. The rock star is fucked up. His dad dies in a war and his mother is overprotective. He’s influenced by sadistic teachers.

Each of these traumas become metaphoric “bricks in the wall.” The protagonist eventually becomes a rock star, his relationships marred by infidelity, drug use, and outbursts of violence. As his marriage crumbles, he finishes building his wall, completing his isolation from human contact. (Source: Wikipedia.)

It’s a feel good story that you’ll love over and over again.

You know, there’s another story that prominently features a wall that I’d also like to share with you. It’s The Cask of Amontillido by Edgar Allen Poe. The plot here is fairly basic. Our hero has suffered a “thousand injuries” at the hands of Fortuno and vows revenge. He knows that Fortuno fancies himself a wine connoisseur and invites him to sample some Amontillido. Of course, it’s stored down below and way in the back of a damp wine cellar in the catacombs below our hero’s palazzo.

Lured all the way in, and already drunk, Fortunato is chained and locked in a niche, as described by Poe in this key moment:

β€œHe is an ignoramus,” interrupted my friend, as he stepped unsteadily forward, while I followed immediately at his heels. In an instant he had reached the extremity of the niche, and finding his progress arrested by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered. A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite. In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet horizontally. From one of these depended a short chain, from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it. He was too much astounded to resist. Withdrawing the key, I stepped back from the recess.

After that, our hero begins to build a wall while Fortunato is helpless and still very much alive. Ah, the wonders of the English language never cease to amaze me. There’s actually a word for this! πŸ™‚

Immurement – a form of execution where a person is walled up within a building and left to die from starvation or dehydration. This is distinct from being buried alive, in which the victim typically dies of asphyxiation.

Oh, Edgar. You’re still teaching, even after all these years.

The Alan Parsons Project marvelously brought this story to life in a song:

And, in closing, you can’t explore a “W” post without an appearance by Willie West of Wonderful WINO radio. Enjoy.

This is my “W” post for the A-Z Blogger Challenge.

9 responses

  1. I have both of those songs firmly engraved in long term neural storage and I’m certain that long after my sensory register has degraded to no more than a few milliseconds I’ll still be playing them back through my audio cortex.

    Now, believe it or not, I also have Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” album and Def Leopard’s “Pyromania” in there. This is because the turn table we had in the basement didn’t have any other albums on it, and that’s where the ping pong table was. Over and over those albums played. I can still hear them, punctuated, of course, by the sound of ping pong balls to the rhythm of the beat.


    1. I also owned Pyromania. It was a good album. And it’s funny how some songs can transport you to another place and time.


  2. I am a fan of Mrs. A’s work and am one of the legions awaiting a comeback but…

    …come on, Winnie The Poop? How can she suppress art like that?


    1. Something tells me she will ride again. It’s just a matter of time.

      I won’t even bother to tell you the rest of the Winnie the Poop story as I envisioned it. Let’s just say that posting it would shame even the likes of me. It was that damn good. πŸ™‚


  3. I loved Carlin but spent more time wearing out a Steve Martin EIGHT TRACK baby!


    1. Wonderful WINO is a classic bit of comedy and took an amazing amount of talent. Of course, I played all my Steve Martin albums until I was able to steal practically every bit when life situations so dictated. “I’ve gotta get a pair of cat handcuffs…”

      Strangely enough I never flirted with 8-track. Not even in college.


  4. It’s been ages since I’ve seen The Wall. I’d probably appreciate it much more now that I’m older.


    1. It holds up pretty well. Parts of it show just a bit of wear, feel a little dated and silly. But overall it is still quite the thrill ride. Now where did I put that tequila?


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