The Austin Chronicle

My Clone Sleeps Alone

By Raoul Hernandez, July 25, 2008, 12:28pm, Earache!

Pounding breakers open into the now classic rock funnel cresting on Top 40 radio a month prior to Ronald Reagan’s first presidential innauguration on Jan. 20, 1980.

Your love is like a tidal wave
Spinning over my head
Drowning me in your promises
Better left unsaid

What a “Heartbreaker” – dream maker, love taker. A foxy cover of John “Cougar” Mellencamp’s pleading indiscretions, “I Need a Lover,” followed on both LP and FM radio, melting further fire and ice off this petite firestarter from Brooklyn named Patricia Mae Andrzejewski. “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” Trish.

On the new Pat Benatar, Ultimate Collection (Capital/EMI), disc one cements its unlikely progression of 1980s perfection on the third track, with the deliciously noir-lite title cut to “Heartbreaker” sponsor and debut album, In the Heat of the Night. Benatar’s trademark come-on/back off materializes out of the shadows of femme fatality as hot and bothered as Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People.

In the heat of the night
When you know it ain’t right
But you do what you want to do
You do what you feel
No one can feel like you

In Heat of the Night shook down a seven, “Heartbreaker” and the tousled tag-team of “If You Think You Know How to Love Me” and “We Live for Love” through “Rated X,” but only one other neon number surrendered its secrets under duress. The sole aural celluloid personally missed from this otherwise Ultimate Collection. A tune that unknowingly fueled the Chronicle’s sci-fi issue this week as irrefutably as one of the genre’s Mount Rushmore men, Arthur C. Clarke.

Ray Bradbury’s bonfire of inanities notwithstanding – Fahrenheit 451 being required high school inoculation – and later devouring the author’s cable-ready carnival Something Wicked This Way Comes, my lone alien encounter went down in the late-1970s. Somewhere I picked up a 50¢ paperback of Arthur C. Clarke’s A Fall of Moondust and got the message, instantly and for life: technological advancement feeds human drama. An intergalactic tourist cruiser suspended in a deepest dead sea of Moondust was straight out of disaster conundrum Airport ’77, only the book had been published in 1961. Awestruck over Clarke’s obit in The New York Times in March, I searched in vain for a mention of Moondust, suddenly full of regret for never having picked up another sci-fi pulp, no Heinlein; Asimov, nyet.

Clarke and his League of Seers’ almost unfathomable steerage of civilization collided head-on with a Chronicle editorial brainstorming soon thereafter, when my suggestion of an all-S/F special issue met with glinting irises. The irony being, of course, that for me sci-fi lives at the movies not on bookshelves. 2001: A Space Odyssey, John Carpenter’s Dark Star, 1982-fer Blade Runner and The Thing; even here the genre means no more to me than any other video rental classification, “adventure” (The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai in the Eight Dimension), “romance” (Spaceballs), “historical fiction” (Planet of the Apes). Pierre Boulle who?

And yet, Tropico’s “Love in the Ice Age,” 1984, always gave me a vaguely sci-fi chill. (The Thing tore me a thing for the Antarctic.) Paralleling In the Heat of the Night as Benatar’s second best LP and Ultimate Collection disc two opener, Tropico runs off five straight post-world love songs, most compilation entries since 1980 sophomore smash Crimes of Passion (“Hell is For Children”). Sequencing of the Gods gets no more complex than chronological album hit clusters and the right deep disc snip (Precious Time’s regatta de guitarist Neil Giraldo “It’s a Tuff Life”). A pair of closers from 1993 cut-off Gravity’s Rainbow suggest a long lost sleeper. Quibble, tribble: They could’ve included all of Tropico. They should’ve brought In the Heat of the Night up to tropical standards with a fifth Ultimate Collection-aire, “My Clone Sleeps Alone.

Pity Blade Runner came after Pat Benatar’s song, one of two compositions by the singer on her heated Chinn/Chapman debut. Daryl Hannah’s replicant more than Sean Young sometimes seeps into my visual cortex when the tune’s playroom piano tickles Benatar’s kittenish come hither that, “You know and I know, my clone sleeps alone.” Giraldo’s guitars go mano-a-mano with his wife's earthy vocal, and while nowhere near the tidal backwash of “Heartbreaker,” when pressed between the thighs of “In the Heat of the Night” and “We Live For Love,” non-Ridley Scott tie-in “My Clone Sleeps Alone” delivers a mercenary tickle giggling at the outer limits of the science-fiction continuum.

Philip K. Dick once wondered Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Only when their fierce little brunettes used to be sewn into black body suits on MTV.

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