Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Andrew and Xana's "Freddie The Frog:" The Myth, The Legend, and Why Every Frog With Personality Must Wear A Top Hat

   I know what you're thinking. What the heck does a frog have to do with Grunge music or Seattle bands? Well, let me tell you it has everything to do with it, and if you don't know who Freddie the Frog is, well then you have no business reading this, you're an idiot, and I should fire my publicist. 
  Alright, alright, I will tell the story, but only because my poor little Mexican bird leg hurts too much today to do anything but lay in bed , so here it goes.
    Once upon a time, many, many pink moons ago, there was someone I thought of as a prince and would like to think I was thought of by him the same way. Andy and I had many "toy pets" because we had no way to care for real pets. One of the ones we kept in our bed, that I bought for Andy, was Freddie the Frog. He and Julianne, my teddy bear my aunt made me, yes -the one from the song Stargazer... well they made a pretty cute couple. I had a Raggedy Ann and Andy doll  and some random vintage dolls also,  but Freddie was our guy. 
Of course it is the classic frog story line, the girl kisses the frog who turns out to be a prince, so when you see toy frogs they are usually in prince "style" attire. Ours was no different. He had a gold crown and knickers and little boots and a vest. Very regal. And he was dark green velvet and fairly large, and came with a top hat and cane! 

I have been looking for the video with Andy sitting on our red velvet couch with Freddie. I could not find it on youtube, but I did find this hilarious and actually quite awful photo of me with Freddie in the background (Thank God for the invention of MAC makeup and digital cameras). Also seen in this photo are "Bill the Dog" and Gus, both dogs belonging to The Mustache. No, I will not call him Chris Cornell, I prefer to call him The Mustache. 

 Some of you may remember Freddie, he had even been on one of my many random train trips, I remember once I was sitting by a kid who also had a stuffed frog and a walkman. We exchanged frog stories and although she was too young to share the tequila I brought on the train, she did appreciate me playing a song for her on my guitar I also had. Yes, I travel with frogs (and/or monkeys) and booze and an instrument if possible. Unfortunately, Freddie was stolen along with many other belongings of mine, but he was forever immortalized in the video of Andy holding him, I believe in the Malfunkshun movie, and in the hearts of those that knew Freddie best. 

  Now, as I was saying, there is something about pet frogs that makes you want to dress them up and make them "perform." I suppose it could be a generational thing, and all I can say is if you did not grow up in the '70s and do not know Michigan J. Frog, then you have missed out! Debuting Christmas eve in 1965, in the classic One Froggy Evening, the frog sings pop, ragtime blues, and tin pan alley hits, but only for the man who found him, usually performing "The Michigan Rag."
I remember Andy and I singing it and making Freddie do "The Michigan Rag."  He would even practice his scales along with the cartoon. Needless to say, out of all the stuff we had,  the tons of clothes and knick knacks, the one thing I SHOULD have made sure I had was a camera! Oh what Id give to see him singing and dancing around the house with Freddie! 
So there is one more Freddie the frog that came into my life -- sort of a stranger tale, but another example of how art imitates life. It really is weird how these childhood memories and characters influence one's choices and continue to inspire a person many years later, no matter how bizarre the circumstances. 

So a few years later after my prince left my world, for hopefully a better one in Olympus, I moved to California and I was living in a pretty sad world in Hollywood. I lived alone at hotels and hid from everyone I knew. After Andy died, I had no reason to be in Seattle and I had every reason to want to be numb and alone. 
 Not so alone, though, that I did not still need a Freddie the Frog in my life. So I went to the pet store and bought a frog. Now as far as Pac Man/African frogs go, this was a very handsome one! I got a huge tank for him and he had a throne and a cold side of the tank and a warm side, and he was very good about wearing the Monopoly issued top hat and I think he really did like chocolate milk, which I trained him to drink out of the small metal cup. 
Sadly, that Freddie the Frog met his demise at a room in The Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood when he got curious and hopped into empty drain and was never seen again. 

You may still be asking yourself, what the hell does this have to do with grunge music? Nothing. I totally tricked you into reading my Freddie the Frog story. Do you feel bamboozled!? Hoodwinked even? Well just imagine how poor Freddie felt! Kidnapped, stolen, lost in Hollywood, what difference does it make? It's a lonely world for the rag time singer with a broken heart and no real place to call home. There's only one cure for these kind of blues, so do it for Freddie, do it for Andy, do it for every frog prince,  just do it! Do The Michigan Rag! 

Here we go!