Saturday, April 19, 2008

We Built This City on Rock and Roll? Alert Robert Moses!!!

I'm currently reading "The Power Broker", Robert Caro's massive biography of Robert Moses. This book is literally 1300+ pages long and I'm determined to read the whole thing. I'm currently on page 578 and will post a review when I'm done. "The Power Broker" is, both in length and reputation, the "War and Peace" of biographies.

In case you don't know who Robert Moses was, he was New York City's "master builder" of the 20th century. He built Shea Stadium, Lincoln Center, the United Nations, the Triborough Bride, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the West Side Highway, the Long Island Expressway and a whole lot more ("If you seek his monument, look around you" and so forth). He was also a complete bastard but I'll tell you more about that when I write my review.

Anyway, being a child of the 1980s and having the associative mind that I do, the idea of "building cities" led to me to think of this now-classic song from my youth, "We Built this City (on Rock and Roll)" by Starship (nee Jefferson Airplane). In 2004, VH1 declared this the most "Awesomely Bad" song of all-time. The video, as you can see, is one of the most bizarre, surreal, Felliniesque things ever made. It's pure 1980s schlock. I remember as a kid watching it on MTV -- back in the days when they still showed videos and before they realized they could get higher ratings with hot chicks on reality shows.

This song isn't really about New York or any city in particular. Although the traffic report you hear in the middle of the song here is for San Francisco, various versions of this song has reports for different cities. There was one for NYC but I can't find it. Sorry.

Now admit it: you love this song. As dumb as it is, it's catchy and fun. Grace Slick never sounded better, and it brings our minds and emotions back to that wonderful time of Ronald Reagan and "Family Ties." Besides, how can you not love a song whose catchphrase is "Marconi played the Mamba?" Enjoy!


  1. You're right, it rocks (sorta). I can still hear Casey Kasem reciting the lyrics on American Top 40 during one of his intros.

  2. Freaky! One of the other blogs in my Google Reader covered the very same topic this week:

  3. Great minds (or not) think a like :)


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