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Bon is gone but Brooklyn rocks on

A long time ago a girl I liked at work had a denim jacket with a “Riff Raff” button pinned to it. At first I thought it reference to the AC-DC tune, and then I figured it a character from Rocky Horror Picture Show, but I believe it was actually from a Ken Loach film about a recently-released Glaswegian prisoner. On this I could be wrong too .. it’s been known to happen. The phrase “riff-raff” comes from the medieval French “rifle et rafle” which referred to the plundering of dead bodies on the battlefield and the carrying off of the booty. By about 1470 the English term referenced citizens of the “common order” and several decades after this it came to mean the dregs of society. Riff-Raff was also the name of several bands, a magazine, and a character in the animated TV show “Underdog.” The first part of the word, “riff” means a short melodic phrase or chord progression. I think this was part of the gist of the AC-DC tune as Angus Young has always been the undisputed King of the Guitar Riff.

A tornado touched down in Brooklyn the other night, which I find infinitely more fascinating than a tree growing here. It occurred in the middle of a torrential downpour that hit the borough with violent force. I did the only logical thing and made my way to the roof, seeking out the highest point on a water tower ladder to see what was going on. Upon informing my brother of this move, he suggested I might want to do some “reading up on Ben Franklin.” Though such research has potentially life-saving ramifications, it would also cut in to my understanding of things like the definition of riff-raff. And whether you venture to the roof or not, sometimes you can’t help being at the center of the storm. (8/10/07)

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