Scratching Post and the Art of Loss/Woodworking 101

The Fillmore East show version is better but it goes on for like 20 minutes and I want you to listen to this jam. It connects to this post and my own life because it’s been a rough winter and I built a scratching post for my cat last Saturday night.

Each year my brother posts about his gardens and our Dad is another time I can firmly say I will never get over the loss of my father. I also do the gardening thing and need to step it up because the winter was long but finally over. I have turned my beds over, taken apart the broken wooden frames that are rotting and dragged them into the garage. I briefly mentioned the garage a few posts back because I have finally cleaned it out and organized it, to some extent, for the first time in over three years. Actually, for the first time ever because I never worked out there with my Dad as I should have. Regret is not helpful though so I am using it as fuel for my own projects.

The old man loved this tune but I think he liked the Bobby Darin version. I also want to be a carpenter. Well, at least a competent handy man.

The wood shop was where my father hung out. He may have kept the house relatively clean, although the more we had our more own homes the more we found fault in our parents’ mode of cleanliness, but the wood shop was a temple of organization. Even after three years of basically nothing being out there and stuff slowly accruing on the benches and shelves, you can still find damn near anything within five minutes. It’s a sad and happy feeling to go searching for tools because everything is labeled by black Sharpie in my Father’s almost indecipherable handwriting. Happy because I can find anything I need and sad because the feeling of him is so strong that I almost think he’s gonna pop into the door wearing his filthy woodworking clothes and spouting some of the worst profanity you have ever heard before cracking jokes on your expense that you will make you laugh for days.

Both my Dad and Merle smoked marijuana and I know he took at least a few trips on LSD, but this song was never about bashing hippies anyway. Merle wrote it making fun of the conservative Midwesterners he knew and my old man loved this song endlessly. In fact, it just occurred to me that part of my love for honky tonk music may have come from listening to this song on repeat in my Dad’s dirt covered Saturn station wagon as a middle schooler.

I have stayed away from the wood shop for three plus years for the reasons I have stated, which can be summed up succinctly by saying I wasn’t ready to be so close to the spirit of my Father even if I sleep in his house every day. Sure, I have used tools for various home improvement projects, but I haven’t cleaned it up and the sawdust on the floor was likely from his final projects. With the loss of my best dog friend Remy a few months back, the loss of Dad loomed even larger. One of the ways I chose to combat this, I got a two-year old orange cat from the refugee league named Hunk. He’s a great cat, although he poops more than I do and he quickly began dismantling an antique chair in my living room. He needed a scratching post fast and I wasn’t about to go buy one when we could build one in the wood shop. But first, it had to be cleaned out so it could actually be used.

I don’t know if my Dad liked the Carpenters, but I bet he did. I want to be a carpenter in my free time and also the first project will hopefully be only the beginning. Lastly, this song is delightfully cheesy, like ELO’S “Telephone Line” but not as awesome. 

With the help of one of my best friends, we cleaned out the garage over the course of several afternoons, removing a trashcan full of dust, dirt and grime off of the floor. We then destroyed several old pieces of furniture, half-made projects that must have been my Dad’s, and did a dump run. We were finally ready to make the scratching post. We sat around the work bench to make a list of materials and as we wrote each item down, we would see it already in the shop. Plywood for the base? There it was, stuck under the bench and half covered in sawdust. A post for the main component of this project? Already cut to length and residing in the overhead racks he had built for scrap wood. A rope to wrap around the post to sustain multiple scratches? Coiled up perfectly on the wall. All the tools we needed were already there, almost eerily set up for our use.

The old man always loved this song too, probably because it had his name in the title and had easy lyrics that he could remember to sing along. Now I don’t believe that ghosts can come back and avenge themselves and I don’t believe that the old man somehow knew we’d lose Remy then get a new cat down the road and need to build a scratching post. I think he just acquired tools for nearly any job and it was just a happy coincidence that all of the materials were already in stock. It did feel nice to feel close to him. 

Once we had cleaned the space and found the materials, building the thing didn’t take long. We had to cut down the plywood slightly using the table saw and then wrapped the rope around the post, putting in sheet rock nails every few wraps to keep it super tight. Then, I sunk a three-inch screw from under the base into the post with three additional two-inch screws to make sure it didn’t move. Lastly, I sprinkled cat nip all over the thing to make it appealing to the cat. We brought that beast right in and Hunk quickly took it on.

He has largely stopped abusing the old chair and spends most of his destructive time on the post, sometimes even sitting on top of it for a better vantage point from which to observe the living room. I’m sure my Dad is proud and I’m proud I got the garage cleaned up and my first project done. The best way to get through any hard time is to stay busy and this proven itself to me time and again. I can only hope to learn some more things so I can show my nephews and nieces some holiday and God willing, my own kids some day. I can’t go back in time but I can design my future.

This song is about nuclear war, but I’m taking it in the literal sense. I’m hopeful for my developing wood working skills, this growing season, and hopefully building some stuff with my family/friends. It’s one of the best ways to remember my Dad and utilizing this space and tools attached to my house.

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Smooth Sailing into Springtime

Queens of the Stone Age’s new album is awesome and apparently it’s their first number one album. This song actually popped up as a commercial and I was incredibly stoked because this band has not always been so popular. This song has a sweet groove to it and the video itself  has a story of a night of debauchery with the lead singer Josh Homme (pronounced like mommy) and some Asian businessmen. I didn’t even know people still made music videos for their songs

 The long winter is finally ending and I couldn’t be happier. It’s been a terrible one and I hope to soon forget it. Like every other season in Maine, we appreciate the nice ones because the bad ones are so extreme. Come to think of it, just winter sucks because some of the best weather I’ve experienced anywhere is during spring, summer or fall. Like the Bob Dylan song says, “they say the darkest hour is right before the dawn”, which aptly describes everyone about two weeks ago as winter seemed to stagger into April.

Now we’ve had a solid week run of good weather and everyone’s faces seem to have lightened up from the permanent frozen scowl so recently prevalent. I took the initiative  and started listening to a lot of reggae and other happy music towards the end of the coldest/snowiest winter in a hundred years in hopes that it would lift my spirits after losing my best friend, human or non.

My good friend Scott has been back in Maine for a few months after being down in Key West for most of the last few years working on various types of boats. Many moons ago, say circa 2002, I got him into Bob Marley and maybe a little Toots Hibbert.  Since then, he has spent considerable time getting into reggae and I now get to reap the rewards of exposing him to it so many years ago. I love this song and have listened to it at least thrice daily for the last few weeks. Also, when one of my students gets angry and almost to the point of throwing a chair at someone, I have her go to another room and take deep breaths. After about five minutes, I go in and play reggae from my computer while reading emails and it continually calms her down. 

In a blog where we have covered Elliott Smith and talked of the therapeutic powers of blues at length, it has taken me a long time to fully embrace the idea of listening to music that is antithetical to what I am feeling as a means to improve my mental state. It’s clear to anyone who has read this blog that we really try to share the ups and downs of existence and how music consumption is inextricably intertwined so it sort of seems like “duh” to write that it took me almost 29 years to realize it’s better to listen to happy music when you are sad because it may improve that situation. A case in point is the continual mourning process for my dog, which is clearly linked to the same process of mourning for our Father, which I have assisted as of late with lots of bouncy reggae and sunshine laced pop hits of the 1960’s.

Easter morning this year was fairly arduous as I had a show an hour south that ended at one so I didn’t get home until almost three with an added stop for a haddock burger at an all night fry spot on the ride home. That, coupled with one more beer than I should have had, made waking up at 9 to go to church a real treat. I know basically everything I know about pop music of this era from riding around as a kid in whatever shit-box vehicle my Dad had running with the golden oldie’s radio station blaring. It amazes me how I knew most of the lyrics to this song after not hearing it for a solid ten years, clearly do to dozens of listens as a youngster.

It does seem obvious to not continuing your misery by listening to sad songs when you are sad, but it is some weird tenant of our Northern upbringing and Scandinavian blood lines where what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Or has the Maine vernacular goes, ” the more times you hit a pig’s snout, the tougher it gets”. Although these philosophies are both useful for overcoming adversity,  sometimes it helps to foster your own happiness and one way I can do this is flooding my ears with happy tunes.

My aforementioned old friend Scott has kept me swimming in new roots reggae while also motivating me to clean out my garage where my Father’s abundant wood working tools have collected dust for the last three years. I never actively made the choice to stay out of that building, I just did it without thinking and two months turned into three years. In the same vein, Scott says he wants to use the tools for his own projects and to help me with some of our own, but he let slip that this place was my Father’s favorite to be and we ought to honor his memory by utilizing these tools.

I love the dance hall vibes here, I totally am getting back into this music that I have stayed away from for some time. Bring on the reggae.

Mainers are not ones to talk about feelings and the like, instead letting their actions make these statements for them. Scott comes from a family that  has been in the area for damn near 300 years, a very old school clan whose Fourth of July party is the only one I know of that doesn’t serve alcohol due to old school Quaker values. They are not touchy feely and work through difficult times by hard work and determination which brings me to my next point, of the power of staying busy to overcome whatever problem comes your way. Besides positive music, the best way to get through any type of adversity is this method and I’ve been pretty steadfast in this, except for writing this blog the last few weeks which I won’t make any excuses for and will just put up more posts. Actions speak louder than words.

I can actually hit these notes now after a month of bronchitis-like symptoms and years of singing poorly. I have posted this song before but it’s been a boon to my psyche as of late and another song that I often heard in the car with my old man. I love childhood memories that keep coming back and are enriching to the life I live now. Lastly, we are playing a retirement party for an old school teacher and we just may try to pull this one off.

Spring time sure helps kick the blues too, probably above all else, because those months lacking sunlight sure are a bitch. My band is getting pretty busy again, school is winding up as we come closer to the end of the year, the time of gardening is near, I need to write more for this blog as we may expand into a new venture next summer and there’s almost never a reason not to be outside. I am continuing to pump happy jams whenever need be and it’s really looking like smooth sailing into spring time.

Obviously, a sweet Toots Hibbert song covered by my favorite slide guitarist Derek Trucks. This version of this song pulled me out of a 102 degree fever in Paris, France once.

Longest Winter Ever

I used this song first for a Valentine’s Day post because it’s about my favorite love song ever,  but I think it also aptly describes the love I had for my dog Remy. I don’t want to harp on this subject because it is painful and I am trying to feel better not worse. This song does coincidentally sync with my feelings with the dog, from my first feelings against him when my parents got him as a puppy to my disapproval because I didn’t think they’d take care of him to getting close after taking over ownership and the dog barely making it through my Dad’s passing to my eventual real love for the dog. I’ll be brief in my writing on the grieving process, but it’s obvious we love our pets in this family and it’s never easy when they die.

This is easily the longest winter I can remember experiencing and I think everyone’s seasonal affective disorder is boiling over. You can see it in people’s faces, from the despair at the grocery store to the five fights at the dive bar last Friday which far exceeds the norm and it makes me happy that I gave up alcohol for Lent so I was not at all involved. Losing my cat and then my dog was the nail in the coffin for this being the worst winter I’ve had so far in my life, except behind my father’s passing three years back in January.

For a few days there, I was the second most depressed that I have ever been, spending much of last Friday night staring at the ceiling. I’m coming out of it now, as time and activity will heal most wounds, as well as my recent acquisition of a two year old orange cat named Hunk from the refugee league who seems like he will fit in well at the Brothers J family compound in Maine. Nothing will ever replace Remy the Golden retriever I inherited from my Dad, but I will slowly not feel so sad and be happy for the time I shared with him.

 

I go back to this song a lot, it’s totally a mantra I say when I get really down about hard times because all things do pass whether you want them to or not. I also sing “Let it Be” in my brain when I get stressed out so maybe I can design and market a whole program os using Beatles’ tunes and solo tracks as a philosophical framework. I’m sure they’d get all the royalties. Lastly, this is a different version than I normally listen to and I dig the horn section.

The times the loss of my faithful friend Remy are most powerful are times of transition, like when I expect to see him sitting there when I get out the shower or when I come home from school and he would wait by the door so I could bring him for a walk. This will pass and I will be left with positive memories, but Spring would sure help this process along. It’s the first of April tomorrow and sleet/snow covered the roads this morning during my commute. This much snow and this much cold weather has literally turned everyone into angry and depressed people who should all change after the first consistent run of warm weather. The Stones said it pretty well.

This is the first time I have heard this song which is very odd as I am a pretty avid Stones fan. I like it, it’s very much like a tune on Exile on Main Street.

It’s funny how fast our perceptions change. I couldn’t imagine living in my house without the dog living there too because that’s how it has been for the last nine years, but sadly enough, I’m slowly adjusting to the cat greeting me instead of my dog. We will all complain about the weather, but after a week of warm temperatures, we will all be talking about how amazing it is here in the Northland and all the rednecks will start reminiscing about how good the snowmobile riding was this winter and how they can’t wait until next year. As stuck in our ways as humans are, we can adapt quickly even if we don’t want to.

“I don’t mind the sun sometimes, the images it shows”. We all need some sunshine now and also maybe softly spoken lies and the knowledge that you never know just how you look through someone else’s eyes.

While the fall is kind of a death knell for the other three seasons, spring is the beginning after a long winter of bone chilling cold that ruins everything from your positive outlook to my furnace which broke down yesterday keeping me home today so it can get fixed on April Fool’s day. Is this sunny day going to be like a giant joke in itself, suddenly turning into a blizzard with negative temperatures, one last cruel joke from that unrelenting force of Mother Nature? I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. I am going to think positive thoughts because one way or another, spring is coming. I miss my dog, but I know that some time I won’t  be so depressed about it and I’ll mostly be able to look back on all the good times I had with him. Everything passes with time and the only constant is that things will change. I just hope we get a few months of sunshine to revitalize our souls and forget how cruel a winter it was.

 

I have been very into this song for a few months, kind of like the mental hip hop vacations I took this winter to relieve some stress. This jam is on like every list for the top ten best rock instrumentals of the 1960’s and deservedly so, it’s a real jam that makes me want to strut around somewhere sunny and forget all the ills of the world. Hell, it makes me want to dance.

 

Saturday is probably the best day of the week.

Obviously this has to be first because of the fact that I listen to the psychedelic breakfast more frequently/rigidly than I go to church. It is the best way I’ve found to spend a Saturday morning and even better when you have someone who is even remotely interested in hearing it. “Sheep” was on this morning, however, I’ve been hearing this track a lot in my head lately. It’s one of the most simple Floyd tunes and this makes it one of my favorites. It’s nice to hear a band known for densely layered arrangements doing something completely different.  Lastly, the sound quality is way up on this video and so are the graphics so props to whoever made it.

We have had a few posts on days of the week, including both Sunday and Monday, so it occurred to me that we have not talked much on Saturday. I think Saturday is the best day of the week if you work the typical Monday through Friday day shift type of schedule. You can recover if you stayed up too late Friday and relish the idea of possibly staying up late again because you can sleep in Sunday. It’s a good day not to be stressed out about anything and not have an agenda if you are the type of person who can just wile away the hours not accomplishing anything at all.

I need structure to relax or at least have to get a bunch of stuff done before I can justify relaxation. Graceland is a favorite record for me to spin on a Saturday morning/afternoon because it’s wide variety of sound and its bouncy rhythms ensure a good time regardless of what you’re doing. It has to be at top volume to hear over my vacuum.

I think the moments of true relaxation that I experience each week are between two and ten pm on a Saturday. Before two, I’m still doing some routine cleaning, occupying myself with stuff I couldn’t get done during the school week, or drinking massive amounts of coffee to offset my possible lack of sleep the night before. After ten, I’m either asleep if I’m staying in or well into whatever I have planned for the evening. We are trying to keep it to two or three gigs a month now with the band, so it’s possible I could be out doing that as well. It’s that sweet Zen time of the week when all is well or at least as well as it will get.

I sing the first line of this song at least a few times a month on or near Saturday and more frequently towards the Fourth of July. One thing I’ve been doing to chill out more than usual as of late is reading books and I just finished one about Little Feat‘s lead singer Lowell George.  The Doobie Brothers recorded some Feat songs and were considered a big band back in the day and although I thought them cheesy for much of my life, I’m totally warming up to the pot loving mainstays of the 70’s pop rock. That black water song kicks ass.

I’m giving up alcohol for Lent so my Saturdays are going to change a bit in the next six weeks and honestly, I’m looking forward to it. I will probably always like having a beer, but I have had the distinct notion that I’m going to be thirty soon and the consumption of alcohol on my part needs to chill. Living in a rural area and perhaps due to the demographics and climate, there is generally a  high percentage of people who consider heavy drinking a part of life. I can slip in and out of these situations, but I know myself enough to say that I should not get into a pattern I see is catching so many people around me.  Right before the big 3-0 is a good time to stop and assess things. Ok, that’s the end of the therapy session

I heard this song on a 90’s show on MVV2 which actually still plays music videos sometimes.  This song always made think of the weekend and although the chemicals rushing in his bloodstream are probably alcohol, it would be darkly amusing if easy listening David Gray was some kind of monster  junkie on the side a la Mike Doughty.

Ultimately, my philosophy is that every day above ground is a good one regardless of what you are going through in life. I get a lot of strange looks when I say that and I think it’s because people think I’m some kind of weirdo. I mean, it is a little intense for a stop and chat conversation, but I see it as a very positive perspective. I do feel for those who work non-traditional schedules like bartenders and nurses who have to take these joys of a Saturday wherever they can get them. Even more do I empathize with those who work overnight shifts because regardless of what day they work, their sleep patterns are fucked up. However, I am sure they are happy they have a job in a bad economy and would agree with my semi-morbid philosophy.

This is a very intense version of this song. Rock and roll rumor indicates that it was probably due to the cocaine and alcohol, but it’s good anyway, if not a little excitedly sloppy. I love the line “On Saturday night, I like to raise a little hell”, totally defining the logic of the rednecks I live with out here in the sticks. I do see some merit in losing control once in a while to maintain a sense of what control is, however, many people out here take it too far and it can be sad to see.

I guess every day then is a good day, but I think Saturday is the best day of the week, or whatever time for you constitutes what I’ve described in this post. Having a job you like, fun things to do, and lots of people who you care about and who care about you do make every day worth living so in this I am lucky. Spring is finally rolling around after one of the most brutal winters of my memory and I’m feeling very positive for the future. So after this Saturday, I hope it’s easy like Sunday morning, another great time of the week.

I heard this song from a girl I work with and I fell in love. The Commodores version with old Lionel Ritchie is pretty awesome too, but something about this Faith No More cover really tickles my fancy. I’ve jammed to it two to three times during the week and an equal amount of time Sunday morning. What a sick tune.

Ideal Vacation

I would love to go on a hunting trip somewhere exotic, however, I only want to kill things I will definitely eat so this would be difficult if I went to Africa or somewhere far away. Also, it’s kind of elitest to go on trophy hunts and since my rationale for not golfing or skiing is my aversion to elitism in any form, this would be hypocritical.

I just got back from a pretty sweet little vacation where I saw my brother, his family, shot some shotguns and spent way too much time on airplanes. It got me thinking about a few things, the first being that I should really take more trips. I have a real job now and my finances are better aligned so money is not the problem. Also, I thought that I have taken very few real vacations in my life, like where you go somewhere tropical and just relax for several days and have no responsibilities or agenda.

I remember one family trip to Fort Lauderdale as a youth where we had cockroaches in the hotel and watched TV Land all night. The only other time I can remember was going to Europe with my ex-girlfriend in college where we traveled around England, France and the Netherlands.  I’m not even sure I could handle a tropical vacation even with the stressors we have as adults in this modern era.

I’ve never been down under but I’d sure like to go. Men at Work has quite a few songs that are good on this album and you should check it out if you can. I have two copies on vinyl, which is probably excessive. 

It got me thinking that I should really take a vacation sometime. I could use the relaxation and the geography change, especially in winter here in Maine. One thing my brother and I often talk about it when it comes to vacations is how so many people take them because they think they “deserve it”. Where does this notion come from? Like, how does one draw the conclusion that because they work everyday, they have somehow earned two weeks of zero responsibilities?

Obviously it’s fine to take a vacation and you certainly have the right to spend your time/money anywhere you want, but no one “deserves” anything in a world where slavery still exists, child labor too, extreme poverty and all the other evils of the world stream on CNN news twenty four hours a day. You get what you get and hopefully you earned it.

I think it’s emblematic of our societal self-absorbed consciousness, wherein we perceive all of our lives to so be so difficult that we need a bi-yearly break from jobs. I disagree and the Elder J does too. I mean if you are a soldier, a cop, a doctor in an ER or any other incredibly stressful job, maybe you do deserve a break, But by and large, I think this whole idea that people “deserve” vacations is narcissistic bullshit.

Clearly, I needed to include some hip hop and it’s even better because this dude is from Maine. I mentioned Spose to my brother while in Texas, his funny rhymes and use of the pan flute. Also, it plays into the idea of people thinking they are so important that they deserve a vacation. Lastly, I am awesome.

Ultimately, everyone has a right to their own opinion and so if they think they “deserve” a vacation, so be it. The Elder and I can silently judge them and move on with our lives. Now the point of this post is for me to visualize my own ideal vacation, apart from heading to Texas to see my brother’s family, which was great. I think it’d be have to be a place of mild temperature and weather patterns. It’d have to have some nice scenery I could gaze at and at least one person I don’t see that often in the vicinity of my travel destination. Furthermore, I’d like to bring my bass and have people around with which to play music, preferably vastly different from the music I play in my band.

Les Claypool, of Primus fame and clearly one of my idols, has started this  countryish duo that tours the world’s smaller venues doing Primus songs, originals and oddball covers like this one. I read an interview where he says that his creativity is like a shark and it has to keep swimming or it will die which is why he’s always switching from Primus to other bands. As he said, no one wants a dead shark living in their brain. This is a great defense for why people need vacations!

Also, I would need activities all the time, at least during the day. This is what attracts me about fishing or hunting trips because you have a common goal with whatever group is involved that gives each day structure.  You get up early, have breakfast, go about whatever the goal may be and then you all go back to a central location at night where you eat dinner, relax and recount the day. This would be the perfect time to pull out some instruments and do some picking, maybe even have a cold beer or a cocktail. I’m not sure I could do a tropical vacation because there is too much time where you are supposed to lie around in the sun. I can’t handle that and I know again the Elder J agrees with me here.

Maybe I just need to go up north in Maine for  a week next year because except the instruments, this sounds like trips of my youth “upta camp”. I just need to get a group of people together. Anyway, Keller Williams is a one man band who uses loopers and various pedals to create unique walls of sound. He was a mainstay of my college years both in jamming out to him in the dorm room and going to see his shows of which I must have seen at least seven. I haven’t looked into his career in a while but I hope he’s still blowing people’s minds.

Besides tasty food and the chance of romantic distraction, I think I have described everything in my ideal vacation. So maybe it’s time Brother that we plan a trip like this somewhere before our lives truly are too busy for even the suggestion of such a trip. Not that I won’t keep trying to come south to visit you and your family, but it’d be cool to take a “real” vacation with some people I’d actually want to talk to for days at a time.

Maybe we could get Professor G and one of my friends who you can stand and start looking at locations so maybe by 2015 we can have at least geography nailed down. No, we may not deserve it, but perhaps that is all in the eye of the beholder. Hey, maybe you can even bring your new gun. I leave you with an obvious musical choice and the message that everyone should take a vacation when they think they need to, even if it’s fifteen minutes with flappy bird.

Yeah this song is bad but hey, it ties my post together. These girls are pretty crazy, check out their VH1 special sometime.

Airport Bar Music

Yeah I didn’t hear this song in the airport bar, but I wanted to include a cover of the John Denver classic and this one was my favorite after sifting through a lot of them. I always loved this jam and seeing as I’m very into hip hop right now, it felt like the right one.

I’ve written about airline music and dive bars, but never about airport bars and the music played through in the background. I’m currently in Texas visiting the Elder J and family, flying in last night from Portland, Maine to Newark, NJ then on to San Antonio. I had a three-hour layover in Newark and as I hate to fly, I naturally had the compulsion to have a few drinks to settle my nerves. I stopped into a Heinekin owned lounge and found no place to sit, so I moved down the concourse and found a NYC inspired oyster bar where I quickly got a table. Instantly and aptly, I heard this song.

The Outlaws are great and the guitar soloing on this track is amazing. This version is my favorite, even above Johnny Cash’s because of the instrumentation. I never saw the Ghost Rider movie but Nick Cage looks pretty bad-ass. I think it was an apt choice because of the flying occurring, not because I am part Native American because this song is about the plight of our Native brothers. Lastly, I am in no way a Native American, 100% Scandinavian. 

I rarely hear songs in restaurants that I like anywhere, much less in an airport so this  is pretty cool. Because of the proximity to NYC and my affinity for bourbon, I chose to order a Maker’s Mark Manhattan. Airports are weird because people generally don’t want to communicate too much and use every distraction available to trick themselves into thinking they aren’t just killing time while in transit. I like to have random conversations with people while traveling, but had picked up Keith Richard’s autobiography on the way to the airport and was trying to get into it. As I settled on the shrimp Po’ Boy, this next song came on much to my surprise.

It’s public knowledge that the Elder J and I love Soul Coughing and Mike Doughty so it was awesome/strange to hear this song sitting in an airport bar. I watched an interview with Doughty a few weeks ago where he blames the other members of the band for all of their issues, saying they bullied him into giving all of them credit for songwriting and kind of glossing over his significant smack habit. Who knows what went down, but I love their music.

I also think back to Fight Club when talking to random people while in transit, the whole concept put forth by Tyler Durden of single serving friends you meet at airport or on an airplane. You will almost certainly meet these people only once so you have ultimate control over their perception of you and the ability to talk about whatever you want. I had a five-minute conversation with a middle aged looking woman about how Maker’s Mark is the most drinkable bourbon and a roughly 8 minute conversation with how silly most airplane safety measures are with a teenager. Lets face it, if a plane falls out of the sky at 20,ooo feet, a seatbelt ain’ t gonna do much for you. I missed a few songs and my second conversation ended as this song came on.

My brother and I obviously love the Pixies and Fight Club so it was pretty cool and coincidental that this song came on at this time at this airport bar. This is one of the best songs by the band and probably my top ten use of songs in a movie which is another post we should write. However, the Elder J is annoyed enough that three days into my Texas visit I still haven’t finished this post so first things first.

I was feeling pretty relaxed at this point and my boarding time was near, so I wandered back to my gate and tried to delve further into Keef’s life story. It was pretty slow at the beginning because he felt the need to recount endless details of his childhood but it heated up as he got into his early love of music and the first time him and Mick Jagger met. I am very into this book three days later and glad I spent the twenty bucks on it. I got onto the plane and was seated next to a harried looking woman and what I assume was her very young son, although the ages didn’t really match up. From the get-go, this kid was running across both our laps so I smiled and plugged my headphones into the armrest like I did the last time I flew to Texas. This song was what I heard first.

The last time I heard about Fatboy Slim was when he did that sweet music video for “Weapon of Choice” with my boy Christopher Walken doing some gravity defiant dancing. It doesn’t surprise me that Slim would have a career resurgence because electronic music is so big right now. I hope he does well and steers clear of  dub step music.

The kid kind of settled down and his father, who was the next row over, bought me and the mother a Jack Daniel’s nip so that made me feel much better. Besides the kid and a terrible movie called Last Vegas, the flight was pretty uneventful. I got off the plane in San Antonio and as I waited for my brother, I watched a man get busted for drunk driving right in front of the airport. He literally had an open Dos Equis in his newer Chevy Sedan  and by the look on his face, you could tell he knew he’d made a grave mistake. Besides that, my trip has been very chill and spent mostly with the kids who now are much bigger and have equally bigger personalities. I love it and it makes me happy to see the Elder being such an adept parent and sad I live so far away. Every time we get into the car, they want to hear this song which I think I introduced to my brother a little while back.

Our enthusiasm for J. Roddy has not waned. I love this band and I hope to catch a show in Boston this spring. It makes me very happy I can enjoy this music with my family while on the other side of the country.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. My brother just brought the kids to school and is hitting the gym while I finish up this post. I only came for a few days and as per usual, it feels like I just got here and I really don’t want to go back to the frozen north tomorrow at noon. We are going to go out tonight after we go shotgun shopping and then I’ll spend some time with the kids tomorrow morning before I get on the plane. I guess I should consider myself lucky for being able to come visit at all and cherish the time I got with my brother and his family whom I don’t see that often. This is what the Elder would do but as I am the youngest of the siblings, I’ve always been the emotional one. So on that note, I leave you with a happy/sad song about the fleeting nature of existence and the advice that you should spend as much with your family as you can because blood runs thicker than anything else. Also, take my other advice and spend some time in an airport bar, I know I will tomorrow.

One of the best shows I’ve ever been to is the Flaming Lips and I highly suggest you all check them out if you have the chance.

Addicted to Flapper Birds and the breakdown of human communication

 I discovered I could play the iPhone  game Flappy Bird on my laptop at the precise time I heard this song on the Palladia channel from that awesome show Live from Daryl’s House. I have always loved this song and honestly had no idea who Todd Rundgren was, but now I do and this version kills it. I would also like to not work and bang on my drum all day, just switch the drums with picking on the bass. The steel guitar flourishes and multiple forms of percussion turn an 80’s pop song into a Hawaiian camp fire tune and it’s even cooler because the steel guitar actually originated on those same islands. Thank you Daryl Hall, the culture of Hawaii and the polar vortex for giving me a day off from school today. 

I don’t have an iPhone and I’m addicted to an iPhone app. I don’t even own an iPod because the one I had cracked and was on it’s last legs anyway. My brother has referred to my lack of new technology as evidence of me being a “Luddite”,  but I seriously think the obsession society has with phones/instant access to unlimited information is destroying person to person to communication as well as the art of conversation. I defend my non-conforming ways by saying I don’t want to be one of these people in public places with their nose persistently two inches from a phone with nary a look around to real people. That and the fact that the NSA uses all of these devices to build individual profiles and companies buy our stolen data so they can target specific ads to our perceived tastes, but I digress.

If I didn’t go to dive bars more often than not, I’d lose it with all the people standing around staring at their phones and not each other. It can’t be good for you and I don’t only mean the lack of human contact.  Watch, in twenty years, all of these heavy iPhone users will have cross eyes or something. 

I played the game on a bus ride to a field trip of outdoor winter team-building activities with my class. It’s been a rough week for everyone and this trip was meant to bring us together, as well as to build our community and team ethic. Although our group has suffered a few losses, we are definitely coming together. One of them was talking about this new game everyone was playing and I asked to take a try. I have a pretty easy relationship with my students so they handed it over and I kept it for a solid twenty five minutes, the whole length of the bus ride! I was hooked, this game is incredibly amusing and everyone, including my co-teacher who is my opposite in every way, thought it was a riot that I was so transfixed by such a mindless game.

I’m not a huge Punk rock fan.  But when I was trying to break it down for myself why I like this stupid game so much,  it occurred to me that it was mostly that I’m pretty stressed right now and like hip hop music, it takes my mind of what I’m stressing about. Hip Hop has substance and a beat though. This game is just straight dumb dumb and clearly some type of digital sedative to me.

I was hooked on this game bad for a short time. I competed against the kids at the beginning and end of the day, briefly holding the highest score in the classroom.  The background animation reminds me of Super Mario Brothers on the NES and SNES which is basically the core of video games I’ve ever played. I don’t play any video games play often and barring the occasional Call of Duty zombie mode foray with an old friend from high school, it is only Sega Genesis or one of the aforementioned consoles. Video games can be a welcome distraction and this is why I’m so enamored with this game. Life is not always easy and you can’t be on point all the time so why not take five to ten minutes to keep a bird afloat betwixt two green sewer pipes at various heights?

Grouplove is kind of like this game for me  but with quite a bit more going on here. The music is very simple and unrefined yet cool and very catchy, kind of like a less morose version of the Pixies. Their drummer Ryan Rabin is the son of one of the drummers from Yes which gives him major points with me. Lastly, I find the flannel plus leather pants look on the female singer pretty hot.

I guess it’s not a real addiction because I just now found out I can do it on my laptop and I run about five minute intervals in between doing school work, shoveling in this storm and other household tasks. I do think our modern population is too dependent on SmartPhones and you can see the effects in the teenagers now.  They don’t express themselves verbally or in writing well most of the time, they’d rather text than call someone and are completely lost if their state issued laptops are un-available for whatever reason. Even teachers prefer to email even when your classroom is twenty steps away.  I think that if things continue as they are, the next generation will be on the road to completely losing the art of person to person conversation. I like teaching because my only real skill is communication so I’m not even sure I’d want to teach in that context. This isn’t Flappy Birds fault, but it isn’t helping either.

I think the breakdown of real human communication is far more dangerous than a stepping razor. Reggae has never been the same without Peter Tosh, my personal favorite reggae artist, but more on that in the very near future.

I get the most joy in life from communication in the real world. My only real skills are of the people variety, barring any minor knowledge of landscaping or bar tending.  Whether it’s teaching youngsters, playing out with my band, or even just shooting the shit with my friends, this is what makes life fun for me. If that ends, I don’t think I want to be around to see it. I do love Flappy birds but my enthusiasm is waning with it as these things do. There is hope I think, but it’s going to take an electromagnetic pulse to temporarily end all telecommunications for us to realize it.