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.

Bass Blowing My Mind: Milt Hinton

The other day, I was driving around in my now classic Toyota Prius, yes, listening to jazz and drinking coffee thus making me not just the perfect example of stuff white people like but also a quintessential specimen of the soon-to-be extinct species, the tenured college professor, when I had to stop for a minute and wish that I could start a song over.

Continue reading

iPod Time

For the first time ever, I now own an iPod. In the wake of last week’s huge show and a general feeling of unease (which must be the comedown after all the hard work from such a large even), I went through a strange sensation of needing to clean stuff up in my life. The first target was my bedroom.

I am not one to hang out in my bedroom and I am not sure of the last time I really cleaned it. As a general indicator, I did find an ex-girlfriend’s sock, the owner of which I have not seen in over three years. I did find some other interesting things, like old books and elementary school pictures, but most importantly, I found an iPod. It must have been my father’ s from the playlist, but now it is mine.

I have never owned an iPod. I am probably the last person in the first world to make this move and it was only accidental. It is not that I have some moral standpoint against it, I just never got around to buying one and have subsisted thus far on borrowed iPods and a small FM radio that I’ve probably had for a decade.

Continue reading

Prime Cuts of Primus

Prime Cuts of Primus

I don t believe in Pinochle

And I don’t believe I’ll try

I do believe in Captain Crunch

For I am the Frizzle Fry”

Primus has been one of my favorite bands since I was a kid and I try to expose everyone I know to their music. The majority of people cannot handle it for more than a couple songs saying it’s too intense or busy or even just lying to me and saying they just want to hear something else.  I feel bad for these people as I think everyone could like them if they put in the time. Or not. Ultimately, I don’t care who likes them as they are one of the most unique bands to exist and we are all lucky to have them here on Earth. Their funky style of heavy rock draws from countless sources and sounds like nothing else out there. Their fans are diehard and some of them are scarily dedicated to a truly cult band. People love them or hate them. Primus sucks and this is why.

As a side note, many people yell “Primus Sucks” at shows because they very much do not suck. This is what I assume anyway but I read on the Primus blog recently that Les wants this to end so we will see how far that goes. It’s the thing to do, like yelling “Hot Fuckin Tuna” or “Freebird”. If this entry elicits any interest in the band, please take  some time getting to know the band as I am sure you will at least come to admire them. Also, I intend to give a synopsis of the band in four lines or less to fill in your own gaps. Primus has been around over twenty years and is headed by the mammoth bass player Les Claypool and  Larry Lalonde as the guitarist from the beginning. The drummers have changed continually with Jay Lane now in the line up. Their music is hard to identify genre wise but it’s all based around Claypool’s unreal bass playing and eclectic lyrics. Ok I lied, it was five lines.

My first memory of Primus is vague. My sister’s friend Carl, who actually was my brother’s friend first and who apparently wanted my sister but was significantly and creepily older than her, brought over a Primus VHS that started with “John the Fisherman”.  I think it wad that song anyway and there was a boat. I must have been 7 or so as I look at the dates and I remember instantly loving the bass heavy music. It was unlike anything I had ever heard and I remember bobbing my head along with the music. It didn’t have the typical guitar lines with a bass line that followed with root notes and the occasional flourish. The bass was out front and the drums were going apeshit while the guitar made various cool noises. I didn’t know any of this jargon at the time but as I look back, these are the things that draw me to the band. It must have been a collection of videos taped off TV because I just watched the video for the above mentioned song and that’s definitely what I saw. It’s still cool almost twenty years later and I see why I still love the band from that first vague glimmer.

I vividly remember hearing “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” on my sister’s boom box from the new “alternative” radio station from the city not too far from our rural home. This station was sick at the beginning: they didn’t play any commercials and it was music you would no hear anywhere else at the time. This is way before iTunes and YouTube and I didn’t get to hear this song again until my sister bought the album, the one and only Primus album any of my siblings ever owned. Maybe that’s another reason I liked them so much, albeit subconsciously. I always took my brother’s cds and this was one I took from my sister when she realized she hated every other song on the disc. Her loss and my gain as this the song is one of all choice cuts. The high pitched noise reminds me now of pigs squealing and the guitar solos are clearly Jerryesque. Nothing I love more than some farm animals and Dead homage’s. That sounds a lot weird written out then it did in my head. As a final note, I am still not sure if this song is a euphemism for female genitalia or an actual reference to a beaver.

I didn’t get to really like Primus, like super fan style, until towards the end of high school. A good friend at that time, who later ended up spending some time in a federal penitentiary, had been going to Ozzfest since it’s inception. I went to ’03 with him and and still have the scars on my knees to prove it.  He had caught Primus in 1999 and been a diehard fan ever since . he would always play the Brown Album over and over in his piece of shit Oldsmobile that he always drove at the top speed it could handle without rattling apart.  Specifically, he dug on “Shake Hands with Beef” and would always yell the lyrics along with Les and pound his fist on the crumbling dashboard.The whole album is good, albeit different than other Primus albums in content and sound.  But every Primus album is different and that’s another reason I really like them. My friend is still in trouble with the law and I rarely see him but I hope he still likes Primus.

College was really when I became the super fan. Even more so than high school, I think college is really where you become who you are and discover your true tastes. I also met Adam sophomore year and he was a huge Primus fan. The fall we became friends, we drank a lot of beer and talked a lot about music. One weekend, we ended up going back to his apartment after a party and alienating all the people who we were with by putting on a DVD of the 2003 Tour De Fromage.  . Primus’s music can be very abrasive and dissonant, coupled with some downright scary lyrics like the tale of killing a man with an aluminum baseball bat for having bad breath in “My Name is Mud”.  It just isn’t for some people and I think this is one of the many reasons I like the band. It would become a regular thing throughout college to listen to Primus after drinking all night and once I found my girlfriend that I with for 75% of college, she also became a Primus fan. This only fueled my growing fandom of the band.  Adam has turned out to be one of my best friends and rarely does us hanging out not result in some Primus being played or at least discussed. More on him next paragraph.

So I didn’t get to see Primus until 2010 but I got to see them twice, once in Vermont and again in Boston. They are now in a permanent position in my top five favorite bands. I’ve seen Les Claypool five times and he has some various extremely talented musicians back him up on his solo material on instruments ranging from the cello to the vibraphones. Perhaps I’ll write about Les solo in the future, but now I want to focus on Primus. All the Les shows were precursors to the truly soul shaking experience of seeing Primus. Both shows were seen with Adam and we were like two little boys jumping up and down for two hours, completely ignoring the multiple friends who joined us in Vermont and full on converting the one friend in Boston. Les commands your attention without being obnoxious, literally making your chest and head pound with his funky and thunderous bass lines. Larry’s guitar playing, coupled with Jay’s frenetic drum beats, leaves a deep grove that you can’t kick post show. Some day I will write about my top five favorite live shows and I can assure you Primus will be near the top. Word is a new album is coming out and they are touring everywhere except the Northeast this summer, a total bummer, But I’ll see them again, that is for sure.

I like Primus for a variety of reason. First, not a single other band sounds like them. That means more than anything to me in this world of listening to top 40 hits and not knowing when the songs start or end. I look for truly unique music and love when I can find it. Their funky and heavy mix of sound appeals to me because it has a way of getting into you and making you move. I was literally jumping around my office area two minutes ago while listening to a live cut of “Tommy the Cat”. Second, not a lot of people like them. Is this one of those I like them because I want to separate myself from the popular pack? No, it’s because it takes time and can be difficult to listen to this band and other true fans have put in the same amount of time as I have. Whenever you meet a fan, it’s like you’re instantly friends and I find that to be a great honest feeling. Third, I love the bass and have been playing one for the past year pretty much so I can try and be like Les, some day anyway. I can play two Les riffs and counting. Fourth, I find Les ’s lyrics to be very funny and at times, very identifiable to me and my own life. I mean the fishing, redneck, and car references. I also mean the song about the Department of Motor Vehicles and the endless other idiosyncratic lyrics. A lot of people refer to them as nonsensical but I doubt they know enough to really make a viable comment on the matter. Lastly, their live show is amazing, absolutely riveting and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I probably seem like a semi obsessed freak at this point but I don’t care. Everyone has a band like this, just look at my brother and They Might Be Giants,a similar band and motive in why he likes them so much. I end this post with one of their trippier cuts that kills it live and the message that if you like a weird band, embrace them and spread the word.