I really believe that it is the chemistry between the four members that makes Sigur Ros work. Obviously Jonsi is the focus of most attention the band receives. I don't think Kjartan, Georgi or Orri have a problem with that. Their artistic vision is a shared one. As is usually the case, if you take away one element everything changes. For example, Georgi's bass lines are about as rudimentary as they get. Still, even so, he knows how to exercise the proper amount of restraint that fits so perfectly with the band's one-of-a-kind sound. Most folks might not realize it, but if you ask any drummer worth his salt what they think of Orri's playing you will be surprised at how highly regarded he is...because he has such a UNIQUE style, and it, too, compliments the "Sigur Ros" sound. Kjartan sort of stays hidden behind his banks of equipment, but his soundscapes are essential. It's like, if Jonsi's guitars & vocals are dolphins, Kjartan's music is the water they swim in. These guys are Sigur Ros, every bit as much as Jonsi is.
But Jonsi, Jonsi, Jonsi, Jonsi...that's all you ever hear about. It was that way before, and now that the promotional juggernaut for "Go" has been launched it seems even more prominent. And as much as I really do like "Riceboy Sleeps", it's just not all I want to hear from an integral member of my favorite band. I think it was realistic that I had my doubts about the new album. Even after putting "Boy Lilikoi" in repeat mode right after I downloaded it, I was still skeptical. Don't misunderstand...I think that song is really good. If the entire album is on the same level as that one song it will still be great. And yet, it didn't spark the same kind of excitement an impending Sigur Ros release would have.
Well, that's all changed. I finally sat back and tried to absorb all the many layers of "Go Do". That was the problem, I think: there's just so much going on that you don't "get it" until you listen a little closer. When you do you can't help but get swept away by Jonsi's vocal harmonies. The way he uses his voice as a percussive instrument, right along with the "foot stomping" rhythms, is impossible not to be caught up in. The melodic lines are wonderful and there's just such a sense of joy and abandonment that even a cold blooded cynic like me can't help from smiling. Sometimes I think that the only real joy I ever experience in my life is during some of Sigur Ros' songs, but there's no denying that "Go Do" gets that job done.
So things have changed. Instead of lamenting no new SR album this year I am thrilled that Jonsi has been given the opportunity to create something like this. Indeed, as I said before, the album will be great if it's all as good as "Boy Lilikoi". If it's all as good as "Go Do"? Oh, my God. I can't even imagine how much I will love "Go" if that turns out to be the case.
No, I don't understand a damn thing he's saying... Yes, I realize he's singing in English this time around. No, I don't care. Yes, I'll probably know all the words a week or two after I first get the record. No, I still won't be able to sing along with his angel's voice (much too high). Yes, I will try. No, you don't want to be around me when I do. Yes, I'll give you fair warning.
WATCH the video...
Jónsi - Go Do from Jónsi on Vimeo.
Actually, just LISTEN to it. That's another thing that sort of kept me from enjoying the song as much as I do now. The video is just visual overload. It seems like calculated weirdness...too much color, too choppy, too this, too that...Nothing wrong with a little color, mind you, but the song has more than enough color in itself. You add that with all the rainbow hues in the video and you're left with more than the senses can process at one time. Furthermore, this is Jonsi's breakthrough point. Anyone who hasn't seen that coming simply has not been looking. First impressions are lasting ones, and I would just as soon not hear people saying, "Oh, Jonsi? Isn't he that guy who beats up a suitcase and liberates the birds?" Because THAT is what they're going to remember. Not the awesome voice, or the dynamic music or the originality of the whole process...just the Birdman of Alcatraz who hangs around the aviary so long he morphs into a bird himself. Just plain wacky.
So what would I have done to make it better?
I would have left the video cameras at home. Visuals, as far as I'm concerned, do this song a disservice. Conceptional interpretations fall flat. The man singing in an empty room, that would be just fine. Maybe kind of like Springsteen did with his "Brilliant Disguise" video. Otherwise, I don't care if I ever see it again.
This one is probably my favorite. It's from a solo record, but I chose to give it the name "Atrocity Exhibition" (as everyone knows, "Atrocity Exhibition" is the name of a Joy Division song...or maybe not EVERYONE knows...). I wish I could remember the name of the guy who produced this art. I liked everything I saw by him. I used another of his pieces for what became my favorite of all the Big Sleep flyers I threw together. As for the music on the "album"...basically all done on 4-Track, and sounds absolutely nothing like what you'd expect to hear from a project with a name like "Atrocity Exhibition". A few good songs, though.
From "Enlightenment & Confusion", which, actually, was never a realized project. Nothing but an album title and cover art. Great cover art, though, don't you think? And an AWESOME title. Back then I could probably have written an entire album's worth of songs that would merit such a title. Not so much these days. I guess that's probably a good thing.
This is the first attempt I made at procuring art for cassette tape covers. My band was called Nine Stories back then...long before Lisa Loeb's band copped the name...so there was a certain ambiguity to what I had in mind. We actually took the name from J.D. Salinger's book of the same title, so that didn't really mean anything, either. Anyhoo, I do like this one a lot.
And this one is my least favorite. I don't know...some people might like it. It was made for a recording of the last concert Nine Stories ever played...by that time we had changed our name to Little America (from the song by R.E.M., who were a little infatuated with at the time).
I really don't have many memories of Bud, though I always thought he was a great guy. Once, when I was having some problems with gophers digging up my yard, he gave me some kind of flower bulbs and told me to put them in the holes. They were poisonous to the critters. I think they worked, but I don't really remember.
I wish I had more to say...he really was one of my favorite relatives. He lived a good, long life, but that doesn't change the fact that he will be missed.
My first project was to dub Johnny Bravo's first "album", as opposed to our first recording session, which was only 4 songs long, EP length...I think I've already got it on CD, but I should check. If not, I guess I should have put it on the same disc...Woops. Anyway, it's got 10 songs, most of which were written when we first began playing together. Not to sound immodest, but some of them are very, very good in all respects other than the primitive recording methods. My favorite song from this lot is called "Liberation". Unlike the other ones, "Liberation" was still sort of in it's formative stages when we decided to record it anyway. A real slinky guitar & bass line over some solid drumming and some of the best lyrics our vocalist ever wrote. I can only imagine how awesome this song would have sounded had we the opportunity to flesh it out, polish it up and get it recorded properly. Another track on this tape, "Mozart", sort of got dropped from our repetoire not too long afterwards. That was a terrible shame, in my opinion. Another excellent song with top-notch lyrics and great music to go with them. Everything else on this recording was re-done at a better (ie. REAL) studio in 1996, and those sessions became our one and only CD release.
At the present moment I am transferring a tape from June 1991 onto CD. It's a show I performed with Psycho-Relix, which was the group I happened to be playing with that year (it seems like every year I'm with a different band). The location was Oakridge Home, which was a facility that housed developmentally delayed and/or mentally disabled individuals. I worked there at the time...the people in charge knew I had a band and thought it would be a cool idea for us to play at one of their activities (I'm not sure if it was their idea or mine, but it was a good one). We set up our gear in the cafeteria and waited for the residents to congregate...and when they did, when they heard that first note, let me tell you the place went WILD. We had a crappy little cassette recorder there, for some odd reason, and recorded the festivities. It's one of the funniest tapes I have in my collection. Those guys were hyped up like you wouldn't believe. LOTS of "between-songs appreciation" and the kind of crazy, weird vocal ejaclations you expect from this kind of people. I don't mean that in a bad way...I got no problem with them. Respect them, actually. But there is no denying that when you get 'em together in large groups there is gonna be some serious, and seriously weird, revelry.
…and that reminded me of when I first heard the music of Gustav Mahler. I’d bought an album of his second symphony conducted by Bruno Walter. I saw it in the classical bin at Friends records store. The cover art was really cool and I liked the idea of a “Resurrection Symphony”.
I was actually working at Friends at the time. I used to patronize the store on a very regular basis before I got hired. The owner, Stan, enjoyed talking to me about music. I think he was impressed by my ability to predict which albums would sell a lot of copies. At any rate, he offered me a job without my even asking for one. I didn’t even have to fill out an application. I may have said something before then about how I thought working in a record store would be an ideal job, perfectly suited to me. But I never flat out asked him for one.
Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity. I loved that job, and as you would imagine, I did very well. Some people might get bored to the point of madness having to alphabetize record albums. But I kind of enjoyed it (though it did get a little tedious by the time I got to the jazz section). I liked stocking them. I REALLY liked playing them on the store’s stereo system.
One of my favorite in-store albums was “Boy” by U2, which had just been released. Absolutely NO ONE knew who they were. They were still playing clubs at the time. Their first show in Oklahoma took place while I was at Friends. I didn’t hear about it until it was too late to attend (a similar situation occurred a few years later when REM played the Bowery in OKC---the first show they ever played in the state).
After I’d been working at the record store for a couple of weeks I decided to move to Shawnee, where the store was located. This was just before I got married. I needed to get out of my parent’s house.
There was a four apartment duplex just across the street from the store. It was leased by the same old man who owned the building that housed Friends. He was a pretty nice guy, so I assumed the apartments would be decent. It wouldn’t be hard for me to rent one of them. They weren’t too expensive and I could afford it. He showed it to me and I have to say it didn’t look like such a bad place at first. I was going to move into the unit on the west side, upstairs. Just a one bedroom, one bathroom set-up, with the kitchen sort of joined to the living room area.
I got move in and prepared to do the same with Barbra, my fiancé. Didn’t have much. In fact, all we had to sleep on was an old twin size bed. I’m not a little guy and Barbra was almost as tall as I am, so I have NO idea how we managed that.
I should have known it was not going to e a good situation when the guy who lived in the apartment below us, who looked and smelled like he hadn’t bathed in a considerable amount of time, caught me leaving the house and asked me if I got high. From the looks of things he probably wasn’t offering any…most likely looking, and, even more likely, hoping for some charity bud. At the time I was VERY anti-drug, so this concerned me.
We used to spend the weekends, my days off, with my dad, who lived about 25 miles away. One morning we returned and were shocked to find that the record store had burned down to the ground. It was awful. I’ll never forget it. It was a total loss. There was a charred copy of Springsteen’s “Born to Run” propped right where I’d left it in the window, it’s edges black as coal.. Wouldn’t have done potential looters any good to venture into the ruins for some free records. The building was gutted.
Immediately I walked over to Stan’s house…he lived nearby in a nice house he’d only recently bought when he’d re-located the store from Norman to Shawnee. When he opened the door I could see it in the expression in his face. He was still kind of dazed. He sort of filled me in on the particulars of the incident and told me another building had already been leased. He said we were going to re-open the store beginning the next week. Most folks probably wouldn’t have been able to do that, especially on such short notice. But he had a brother who owned a record distribution company. Stan got all of his product from him before the fire, and had no trouble getting credit to re-stock the new store.
I was told that at the time of the fire that Stan had just stood there in front of the building, staring at it with a hopeless look in his face. Some said he cried, and I wouldn’t doubt that he did, even though he was a very tough guy (a Vietnam vet, even). There were some other people who said he’d set the fire himself, for the insurance money to buy a more suitable building (the one that burned was much too large).
I doubt very seriously if any of those rumors were true. That’s not the kind of person I remember Stan being. It’s not something he would have done.
Anyway it only took one day to get the new store up and running, putting together racks and shelving, as well as re-stocking inventory. I was surprised it didn’t take much longer.
Actually the place we moved into was a better location than the one we’d come from. It was located on a fairly busy street not too far from a main thoroughfare. We were practically next door to Oklahoma Baptist University, and there was a very popular BBQ joint between us and there. Across the road was a convenience store where I would fetch drinks and snacks for myself and whoever was working the shift with me (didn’t have anything like that at the old place, so it was a nice touch).
This is kind of crazy, but sometimes when I was working with Stan I would bring back the latest issue of Hustler magazine from the store during a snack run. He found the magazine quite amusing. He would laugh at the cartoons and thumb, disinterested, through the pictorials. He was very nonchalant about it. It was a joke to him. I felt the same way. I’d grown out of Hustler a long time before that, and was probably in my “only-reading-the-articles-in-Playboy” phase.
Unfortunately I started doing some real shitty things. I would special order cassettes in other people’s names and take them home without paying. One time I even stole a whole box of record albums…at least 30 of them. They had been part of an “extra shipment” that I didn’t think were inventoried. I hand-picked the albums from the bundle Stan had made a deal for. I don’t even remember which ones I chose, other than “The Essential Jimi Hendrix” and a replacement for the copy of Aerosmith’s “Rocks” that I had sold some time before.
Not too much later the store received a promo copy of REM’s “Chronic Town” EP. It was their first record and I fell in love with it (and the band, too). I played it in the store as often as I could get away with…even though we had the promo, Stan didn’t want to stock it, so he didn’t want us playing music that we couldn’t sell. I used to spin Joy Division’s “Still” LP quite a bit until he informed me of the rule. It made sense, I had to admit, but it was a shame that the customers we generally catered to weren’t into the underground and college rock that I was so fond of.
So I decided to take the record home and put it on a cassette tape so I could listen to it at home and in the car on the way to work. By this time my wife and I had moved away from the crappy apartments…the guy in the unit next to ours used to very loudly verbally abuse his wife with his kids in the same room…I remember hearing them crying. We called the law on them once, but all it got us were mean stares from the guy when we passed him. The cops seemed impotent to do anything about it, as it persisted…when it got to the point where we couldn’t take any more, I moved Barbra to a house in the country, about 25 miles from the store.
Anyway, I dubbed it onto a high quality metal cassette (remember those, audiophiles?), along with Magazine’s “After the Fact” retrospective (another one for which we had a promotional copy but no intention of selling).
It was only a couple of days later when Stan asked me to come into the back room with him so we could “have a little talk”. He asked me if I’d been taking stuff from the store. Which, I well knew, meant “are you stealing from me?” I knew he had me dead to rights. I felt pretty bad about it, but I wasn’t about to confess to all that theft.
I told him that I’d taken a few records home and taped them. Of course, he knew more than that. I don’t think he would have minded me borrowing the albums if I’d only asked. But he wasn’t going to press me on the more serious charges. I don’t know why…I mean, he was a very nice guy, but he was also a savvy businessman in a situation where he could have really taken me to the cleaners, as it were. He was like, “Well, you know you can’t do that, so…”
He gave me a choice. He said I could quit, and if I chose to do so he would not put the transgression on my job record. I wouldn’t have a spot on my record when I looked for another job. He was willing to give me a good reference if I made that choice. OR I could just let him fire me, and have a hard time getting a job, as he would be compelled to tell prospective employers that I was a thief. Basically he wanted me to leave on my own accord so he wouldn’t have to pay unemployment.
Of course I quit…
I regret, even to this day, what I did. Not just because it’s such an obviously shitty and wrong thing to do…but I knew I wouldn’t find a job as good as that one. I had decent relationships with the other employees…I knew my stuff, and enjoyed recommending albums to customers, who usually came back to me for more…But maybe most of all I regret betraying Stan. He was a great boss and didn’t deserve to be messed around by someone he trusted. I’m sure he thought of me as a good employee…and this is how I repaid him, by swiping stuff I probably wouldn’t have bought even if I’d had the money.
The fire insurance paid for a nice, new building that was constructed in the original location. Friends did very well while LP records were still the primary medium of recorded music . Eventually I began to do some business with them, and it is a testament to Stan’s integrity that he often came on to the sales floor and spoke with me…never brought any of the bad stuff up. I think I may have told him I was sorry, that I was more or less a kleptomaniac back then, but he wouldn’t hear it.
Things changed when CDs began to make record albums obsolete and independent bands (without major labels) became popular. Stan’s brother had difficulty adjusting to the new distribution methods that became the norm and closed his business. I guess this was a crushing blow to Stan and Friends records in general, because it wasn’t too long afterwards that he closed up shop, too. He leased the building to a copier store and took a job in a managerial position at a factory. I never saw him after the store shut down.
But…when I worked at CD Warehouse almost 20 years later Stan’s son was a regular customer. I remembered when his dad used to bring him to the store, about the time when he was 2 or 3 years old. He would tell me how Stan was doing and I would tell him stories of the Friends records days. That was really cool.
---Listen to how different phrases played of different instruments interact with others. How they compliment or proceed from others.
---Listen for the combination of instruments or instrumental sections.
---Listen to the SOUND an individual instrument makes and take note of the sonic range each one inhabits. Notice to how the higher notes from certain instruments combine with the lower registers of others.
---Differentiate brass, woodwinds & percussion, then listen for how they interact with and react to each other.
---Appreciate the extraordinary talent that is required of anyone who plays this kind of music.
---Forget the word "classical" and don't take into consideration how old a piece is. Those things have their place and can sometimes prove to be interesting, but it's better to take music at face value, on it's own terms, with it's own strengths and weaknesses.
---Take note of the chordal progressions. To the extent that you are able, follow those changes from "home" to all the stuff in between before arriving back home again. "Home" being the key the piece was written in.
---Some people say classical music should not be used as background music. I disagree. The more exposure to the music and it's composers, the better. It will help familiarize the listener with composers' styles and musical types, even if it's only on a subliminal level. If that's all you want to use it for, there's nothing wrong with that. If a person decides to "get serious" and really explore the genre, they're eventually going to sit down and really listen anyway.
---Listen to the works of particular composers often enough that you know which pieces they wrote and how they differ from those of other composers.
---Concentrate on the repertoire of one individual composer until you can hear, with great detail, his methods, his style, all the things that make his music unique to him. For example, commit yourself to listening to a LOT of Wagner or Mozart for a whole month or two. Maybe even do this with one particular piece of music---select a symphony or an opera or something complex and focus on it until you can say you "know" it much more thoroughly than you did the first few times you heard it.
---Forget about anyone else's opinion. Forget about "classical music snobs" or people who say that this kind of music is only for the upper class, or the well-educated. Don't pay any attention to anyone who tries to tell you that you can only enjoy it if you UNDERSTAND it. Knowledge of the music certainly helps, but I'd rather be passionate about the masterworks knowing nothing absolutely at all about it them a person who understands the mechanics thoroughly yet finds himself incapable of enjoyment.
---Open your mind to unfamiliar, or "different", sounds. Don't dismiss, for instance, an operatic vocal just because the singing sounds so different than what you're used to hearing in all other popular music. Even if you cringe at this type of singing, hold up---think of how original and unique it is from what you're used to. Tell yourself that the only thing different is the vibrato (which is basically the truth), then either try to get past that or consciously develop a tolerance for it, because sooner or later you will come around to actually enjoying it. Believe me or not.
---Consider the source of inspiration. Where does music come from? Do you think that the human mind can create something out of nothing (melody, rhythm, sound)? Or do you believe (as I do) that music comes from a higher source/power ("God" or what have you) and that people are simply vessels used to channel it? And that some people have "God-given" talent and ability to do this on a higher scale than others? The classical masters most definitely fall into that category.
---IF you DO think that music comes from "God", or a "collective consciousness", or whatever, consider that by the very act of listening to music (not just classical) you are actively participating in a REAL communion with Divinity. The "offering"---of music, with it's ability to arouse and stimulate practically every emotion given by "God"---via the medium of singers, songwriters and instrumentalists who have received, from the same source, the talent required---and the "receiving" as we take in this GIFT of sound, melody and rhythm, and, in turn, give it a place, to greater or lesser degree, in our hearts and minds...into our lives. In acceptance of this treasure we make ourselves vulnerable to it's purposes. It facilitates a confirmation of all the feelings and emotions we allow it to affect. Which, in my humble opinion, confirms the spiritual source of where it all came from. So you have an unbroken circle. The circuit from inspiration to realization to communion and back again.
What does all that "spiritual mumbo-jumbo" have to do with classical music? Well, truth be told I think it applies to ALL music, from love songs to punk rock, from pop & country to jazz & death metal. But I also sincerely believe that classical music is the "richest", most satisfying listening experience a human being can possibly experience. Of course, that's just my take on it, but I really believe that ANYONE who comes to an appreciation of it will share my opinion. One of the chief reasons a lot of people have a problem with the classics is because there is just SO much within each individual work to take in. It's almost like an overload and it can be hard to process so much at one time. It's very easy to get lost in all the twists and turns you encounter within the pieces. You want to take it all in the first time you listen, like you can do with other kinds of music, but trust me: it cannot be done. You can listen to classical music, from a short Bach cantata to a sprawling symphony by Mahler, a hundred times and you will NEVER hear everything there is to hear in it, no matter how many times you come back for more. Just take what you like out of it. That stuff will all still be there when you return, plus a lot more that you missed the first time around. The more familiar you become with a piece of music the better you can enjoy all these things together and it's like moving out of an efficiency apartment into a grand mansion.
Finally, don't give in to the classical snob's bull crap...classical is just one more topping for your cultural pizza. You don't have to choose between "Smoke on the Water" and "The Firebird Suite".
His dismal state of mind had nothing to do with Terry…in fact, he was puzzled as to why thoughts of her warm body pressing up against his did not cheer him up. Those thoughts were definitely running through his head, but they were squelched by images of switch-blade knifes and motorbikes that made him depressed and hurt his tender feelings. Terry had only known him for one night and already she had told him, at least four times, that he needed to grow some thicker skin. He knew, deep down in his heart of hearts that the advice was sound, but he also knew that he liked to mope and wallow in his depression too much to do anything about it.
“Aw. Fuck…” he said, downing another huge swig of his cheap-ass Milwaukee’s Best beer. “I know what the problem is. I’m just a juvenile product of the working class.”
“Who you talkin’ to, greaser?” The bartender seemed a little confused, but he also exuded the air of a man who was used to his customers talking to themselves.
“I sure as hell ain’t talkin’ to you, you old bastard!”
“Who are you callin’ an old bastard, you half-drunk son-of-a-bitch?”
“I only see one of you behind that bar, and there’s only one bastard in the whole joint, so I guess that means I AM talking to you after all.”
“What makes you think I want to listen to the problems of a man who can’t afford to drink anything better than the Beast? In a bar, no less?”
“I don’t care if you listen to me or not, you self-righteous piece of shit. I didn’t ask you to. I’m perfectly capable of keeping my own self company.”
“Well I sure do feel sorry for you, because the company you’re keeping is a goat fucking asshole.”
“That’s as may be, but will you still feel the same when I pull out my gun and point it in your face?”
“Boy, you pull a gun on me and I’ll rip your fuckin’ head right off your shoulders and use it for a bowling ball. Don’t you threaten me, you lazy, no account…”…he cut off, not able to think of any profanity laced slurs he hadn’t already used.
“Then I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have a gun, doe, ain’t it?”
“What is this shit you’re talkin’ anyway, Timmy?”
“Oh, I don’t know, Fred. It’s Saturday night and I just felt like fighting.” He replied. “You’ve seen me, sitting here all night nursing this Milwaukee’s Best like it was milk from my own mother’s left tit. I swear to you that I am just about as oiled as a diesel train right now, and so far there has been no action to get in.”
“That’s true, old salt.” Fred said, scratching his head. “Slow night. It always is when ZZ Top is in town.”
“ZZ Top’s in town?” Timmy said with acute disappointment apparent in his voice.
“You’re goddamn right, they’re in town. Billy Gibbons even stopped in to have a few Lone Stars and shoot a few rounds of pool. He had this huge glob of tobacco juice all in his beard but I was too scared to tell him about it. Or maybe I just didn’t have the heart? I don’t know…I’ve never been good at dealing with these spoiled rock stars.”
“Oh, Fred, that’s to be expected. After all, he had you under pressure, showing up out of the clear blue sky like that.”
“I guess you’ve got a point there. But damn, the same thing happened last month when Geddy Lee walked through those very doors. I flat out laughed in his face, no reason, just busted out laughing.”
“Now there’s no excuse for that, Freddy Boy” said Timmy, incredulously. “Them Canucks will eat you for lunch.”
“Don’t I know it.”
“I guess that proves it. You got shit for brains.”
“Fuck you, Walrus. I’ll make you eat shit.”
“Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!”
“Goddamn, I love that word!”
With that Timmy decided he’d had just about as much “Freddy” as he could stand. The fellar was a good shoulder to cry on when things got tough, but tolerating him when things started looking up was no easy task.
He walked out the back door, whipping out his cell phone like it was an American Express Gold Card in a stripper club. Dialing the numbers he felt the cold rain drip down his face and no small degree of satisfaction that if Terry were to show up there and then the raindrops would disguise the tears. He’d been crying from the moment he stepped into the alley. He’d seen a homeless man lying in a puddle of his own vomit and felt sorry for him. That was when the dam broke and the tears began to fall. But he knew Terry would think he was bawling for her, so he was glad for the rain. Not that there was any reason he should have been bawling for her, but you know how some gals are. Always convinced that they’re worth crying over.
When Terry answered his call it was all he could do to choke back the despair in his voice.
“Uhhh, yeah, babe. I was just calling to see if you got to the house alright. The moving men were there all day and I think everything is accounted for. Have you looked around yet? Is anything missing?”
“Oh, hey, that’s real nice of you to call. Yeah, I think it’s all here.” She said. “No, wait. There IS something missing. I’ve got this huge jar of pickles that my mom gave me just before she died. I never broke the seal on it, baby. Those gherkins are aged to perfection, I was hoping to break ‘em out on our fourth anniversary. I don’t see ‘em anywhere! What am I going to do?”
“Don’t worry ‘bout a thing, baby,” he said. “Pickles is one thing...”
She waited for him to complete the sentence, but apparently he had said all he had to say.
“Oooookkaaaayy,” she said, by this point confused. She would soon learn that Timmy had a way with confusion that she found alternately frustrating and loveable. “So what are we going to do about the pickles, then?”
“Well, the way I see it,” Timmy began, “we’ve got a few choices. Number one, we can go to the store and buy a new jar. But, then, they would not be nearly as old as the ones you lost…”
”Oh, I didn’t lose ‘em,” said Terry, anger quaking in her voice. “It was those goddamn motherfuckers on that moving crew. I’ll stake my life on it.”
Timmy wasn’t disturbed in the least by this logical observation, although he did silently make a compact with himself that, not only would he no longer do business with this particular moving company, he would, if the opportunity ever presented itself, beat the living shit out of anyone who worked for them. He never trusted people who got paid to do something he could do himself, if only he had a truck large enough.
“Number two,” he said, not hesitating. “We can buy a jar of dills, sit ‘em on a shelf, then wait for our 10th anniversary.”
At this point the realization dawned upon her that they were already talking about anniversaries. Not only had they never discussed marriage, they had only been together for a day or two. “What the fuck am I thinking?” she asked herself. “Either I am a fool in love or I’m one of the biggest, most naïve hepcats in the civilized world.
She settled on the former (although she rather liked the idea of being a hepcat, naïve or otherwise). Love is a funny thing, she understood instinctively, and there’s really nothing more satisfying to a young woman than a hunka hunka burnin’ love.
“I don’t like that idea, either, Chief. I was thinkin’ that 4th anniversary was going to be the special one.”
“Okay,’ Timmy persisted. “Option number three, and I hope you like it, cuz it’s all I got. Number three: fuck the pickles. Just forget ‘em. We can find something else to eat on our fourth. Maybe I’ll take you to McDonald’s, order you a quarter pounder with cheese, EXTRA PICKLES!”
“Yeah, baby dog!” she yelped with the excitement of a young teenage girl who has just been given permission to raid her parents liquor cabinet. “That’s a capital idea! What was I thinking? Burgers are better than pickles! But can I ask you for one favor?”
“What’s that, sweet cheekers?”
“Do you think we could make it Burger King?”
“Burger King? FUCK THAT SHIT! McDonald’s all the way, beee-ahtch. I’m tellin’ you for the first time, and no doubt it won’t be the last time, but me and the Hamburglar are TIGHT! I mean to say we are SOLID. Ronald fuckin’ McDonald, that’s my homeslice.”
“Whatever you say,” Terry said, somewhat disappointed. Her acquiescence, however, was feigned. Deep down she realized a truth that, had she affirmed it there and then, would have saved her a world of heartache, pain and misery. There was no getting around it: Timmy was an asshole of the highest order.
But she loved this asshole. That made all the difference in the world. The sacrifices she made and the hardships she faced over the next few years were, to her, a small price to pay for the joy he brought into her life. He could do no wrong, she believed, and so what if he had expected sex within hours of meeting her? At least he hadn’t broke down and cried when she refused. There was no denying, though, that ever since that fateful night she had been plotting and planning just how she was going to do the deed…if she could ever get him in the mood for it, that is. He had seemed not only disappointed that night, but she thought she saw a gleam in his eye that spelled M-U-R-D-E-R. “Whoooo,” she thought. “Murder! Big word!”
On the other end of the line Timmy yelled at her. “Hey! Where did ya go? Are you still there? Answer me, bitch!”
“Oh, yeah. Hey! I’m sorry babydog. I got to thinking.”:
“Well don’t do it again, y’hear?”
“So listen, I can’t be yappin’ on the phone all day long, and I sure as hell can’t stand here listenin’ to dead air on the other end of the line. Now I don’t know what’s so important that you have to waste my minutes, but I’m gonna let it slide. I gotta go, sweet cheekers. I’m ramblin’ on. I’m going home. You gonna be there when I get there?”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
“Oh, that’s right. You’re my new roomie now. I almost forgot.”
This is your time to shine. It’s your day in the sun. It’s one-of-a-kind, o ye cheaters of death, but this is, nevertheless, your finest hour.
You found a home in war. You entered into a contract with bad company and gave up the rights to your body, your mind, everything but your mortal soul. They took advantage of the circumstance and you wound up deep in a bunk hole, hiding behind the tenuous wall of a manure pile. Bullets whizzed by your ears, fear possessed your frames like a demon taunted by the Lord. Death swooped in to put it’s fear into you, but you all laughed in his face and spat in his eye, turned your back on him without saying goodbye. Perhaps “See ya later” would have been appropriate.
But no matter, husky gladiators. It is time to rest from your battle. It’s time to put away your swords and scabbards, your spears and your slings. Your automatic machine guns and your hand grenades. Your potent strains of anthrax and your agent orange. Surrender your arms, troglodytes. Cast them to the ground below. Consider the clatter they all make as they fall to the pavement. Take it in, breathe it all in, make it yours…
…for it IS yours.
Sorry, we didn’t get around to telling you. It was always yours, we just figured you would find it out on your own if you wanted it bad enough. No, I would agree: that is NOT fair. And I would also say this to you, “Fairness is a relative concept. When you consider the value we placed on you actually knowing this as a fact…well, I think it should be pretty damned obvious. Don’t be a moron, you give all servicemen a bad name when you do that, you know?”
But enough of the self esteem-building fodder all, that is not why I have gathered ye here to-day. Nay, not even close. I have brought you all here together because I wanted to be the first to tell you. You’re all going home. That’s right, you’re homeward bound. Soon you’ll be able to pack your shit and take a southbound train to ride. You’ve lost your minds killing innocent civilians, you’ve struggled to keep your eyes open most nights, as staying awake meant staying alive. But you’re going home! Warm nights tucked between clean linen sheets. Soft goose down pillows to bore your heads into. The smell of coffee in the morning, bacon and eggs if you’re lucky. The prospect of another day that won’t be defined by the number of lives you’ve ended between sunrise and sunset.
The journey home will be a victorious one, indeed. You shall see it from the comfort of a first class seat on the most expensive airliner we can afford! A small bottle of gin or whiskey is only a few feet away and all you have to do to get one is ask the attendant. If you ask nicely I don’t doubt she might let you have more of those little bottles than administrative policy usually allows. But she sees it in your eyes…you’re a grizzled soldier. You’re still warm to the touch from the heat of battle. You know this. This is who you are, it’s what we made you. And she will sense this. It will drive her mad with desire. Her knees will quiver, she’ll blush, she’ll radiate erotic charm…but all you’ll be able to think of is that Vietnamese farmer with the plaid shirt.
A dirty plaid shirt. Dripping with dark, brown mud, he smiled at you from beneath the brim of a straw hat that looked as if it had seen many better years. A smear in the drying clay was on the right side of his face where he’d wiped sweat. His lips were dry and cracked and his nose was a little runny.
The buttons on that plaid shirt were the cute mother-of-pearl finish jobs, the kind that snap shut real easy. How many men would have noticed that? How many of the sharpest minds in the known universe would have missed how his left boot didn’t quite seem to match the right. But you caught it right away and you stored it into that immense data bank that is your United States Marine Corps certified brain.
If only you could forget it, though. Right men? I see a few tears in a few eyes. I know I’m on the right track here, so if you still think I’m not talking to YOU, I have an invitation right here in my back pocket that will entitle the man to whom I give it a 6 month stint in the back of a mess peeling spuds. You don’t want that, now, do ye? What? No takers? I thought not.
But where was I? Oh, HOME, that’s what I was on about. You all have very nice homes, no doubt, and I’d better there’s not a single one of you who isn’t just itchin’ to get back to ‘em. Is it the one you grew up in? Is it one you just bought? No matter, when you leave this place it will either be in a body bag or on the better side Uncle Sam, who looks after all of those fine men and women who have risked life and limb in his service.
So what’s it going to be, worms? Death? He calls often here, and don’t think I don’t know that his is the song of the siren to many a worn out Spartan. But faileth not, loyal comrades.
Will it be insanity? Will the wage of life and death struggle prove to be nothing more than a tug-of-war between lucidity and madness? Yer going home, grunt, why should it matter? Either one’s better than lying face down in a pool of your own guts. Don’t worry about it, just get on the plane. Baby, it’s your ticket to ride.
I stepped onto the tarmac with a firm determination to forget the last 2 years. Maybe even the last 15. I don’t know. I don’t care. I’m just tired of looking for an answer. I’ve listened for the still, small voice of reason and wisdom, but it seems to have stayed behind in the battlefield. Probably where it belongs.
The night was cloudy and the stars shone like pinpricks in a dark black veil that covered the most brilliant light…ha, I almost said “life”…I may not have been too far wrong there. I wanted to cut the cord of gravity, float through however many miles it might take to reach one of the punctured holes. Then I would tear the fabric and crawl into the other side. Disappear into the brilliant aura.
Only a dream, only a wish. I drug my weary frame from the bustling airport to the highway. An old two-lane road, dangerous after dark. It doesn’t bother me. It’s purpose is to facilitate the traversing of distance from one point to another. I could care less about where it could lead me. I only knew that I would not turn back no matter where I wound up, so I stuck out my thumb and waited for someone to give me a ride.
Does anybody stop to give rides to strangers anymore? I wouldn’t. It’s not something I condone. In fact, I have only done it once in my life, when I was just a kid, before seeing “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer”. After watching that seminal film I resolved to never, ever pick up hitch-hikers again. I wasn’t going to help anybody on the side of the road, either. Fuck being a “good Samaritan” if it means getting my brains blown clear out of my skull, flung to the side of the road like a rotten fruit.
Despite all of this I still had my hand stretched out, thumb in the universal position that signifies the need of transportation for the “down-on-his-luck” traveler. I remember asking myself what could be more pathetic. I was reduced, by circumstances beyond my control, to hitching or hoping that someone might be clueless enough to pick me up.
Yet, that is exactly what happened.
A hookah smoking caterpillar sat behind the wheel, and he seemed glad to do a small kindness to me. He could tell I was a veteran of psychic wars. He felt obligated, I was sure.
“Hop in, friend,” he said. “I can see that you’re a little down on your luck. I been there ma’self a time ‘er two. Just throw yer pack in the back seat and climb up here with me.”
I wasn’t shocked in the least that a hookah smoking caterpillar was driving a GMC Jimmy east on Route 66. It did, however, give me quite a shock to think that he would pull over and offer me a ride. I am no fool.
“Off we go,” I said to him.
The road was a long one that took us out of the state. As we crossed the line the caterpillar turned the radio up real loud and started singing along to the Journey song they were playing on the classic rock station.
“Ooooh, wheel in the sky keeps on turning,” he wailed. “I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow!!!”
I turned to him. “You have a very distinct grasp of Steve Perry’s vocal mannerisms. Have you ever sang professionally?”
“Oh no, not me. I could never go onstage in front of a lot of people and sing. I just don’t have it in me.”
“Well, you aren’t afraid to sing in front of me. What’s the difference between one stranger and a hundred strangers?”
“Oh, it’s not that. It’s not that at all,” he repeated. “I had a friend who used to play and sing in a lot of the bars on the circuit between California and New Orleans. It was a job to him, you know? He told me about a lot of the stuff that goes on in those places. He told me how one time he was singing a Roy Orbison song when some pool-shooting loser throws the cue ball right at him. Beaned him on the forehead, BOP! Had to hurt. Said the bruise swelled up so bad directly afterwards that people started calling him “the Elephant Man”. I was a beginner in the days when he regaled me with these anecdotes and mister, I’ll tell you, he put the fear of God in me. I was so terrified of getting conked in the head with a pool ball that I never pursued the craft.”
I felt a tinge of sympathy for his plight. “I’m sorry to hear that. I bet you would have been a star if you’d gone for it. Bigger than Steve Perry, even.”
“Oh, it’s okay. I don’t feel cheated or like I’ve missed anything essential to my happiness. As long as I’ve got wheels, my hookah and something to put in it, I am a happy caterpillar. Remember that: I am merely a caterpillar.”
“I will do that, but you’re a caterpillar who could kick Steve Perry’s ass any day of the week!”
“Wheel in the sky keeps on turning!”
“Damn straight…I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow!”
The caterpillar held the wheel steady and kept on truckin’. He sang along with every single classic rock song that came on the radio. From Kansas to Boston to “Sweet Home Chicago” he knew them all and, to be perfectly honest, he did a damn good job. He belted ‘em out like Springsteen, he crooned like Bryan Ferry, he croaked like Joe Cocker, he wailed like Janis Joplin, he screamed like that dude from Slayer. No two ways about it. This hookah smoking caterpillar had serious talent.
I was curious. “So, mister, what to do you do for a living?”
“My friend, I am a mortician. I deal with death every single day. I do a job that most folks would find distasteful and not a little disturbing. And yet I love my job. I do, oh yes, I do. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the whole world.”
“Sounds interesting,” I said. “How does a man get a start in a field like yours?”
“It’s not too hard, really,” he replied. “You come with me, I’ll make you an apprentice. You lookin’ for work?”
“No, sir. I can’t say that I am right now. Still got a little cache stashed away from military days.” I made a gesture with my hand that signified that I was grateful for the offer, but would have to pass. “Maybe one of these days I might change my mind. I think I could handle it. I’m not squeamish. No, not at all.”
“Oh, I’m sure you could handle it. I can tell by the way you look straight ahead, you don’t look back, you’ve got a grip on everything in this world and you think there’s nothing that could ever shake your foundations, whether it be from the east wind or the west. The north or the south. Do I read you correctly?”
“I reckon you do. I’ve had a hard run most of my days. Experience has taught me one lesson, but it taught me good and well: Nothing is as you really think it is, and it could all be gone tomorrow. ”
Am I to understand, dear Fellow, that you are a man or your word and a true gentleman in matters heroic and chivalrous? Then I feel inspired to tell you about some things that happened to me.
…what’s that? You say you’re too inspired to want or need to listen to my sage words? O, she errs! Behold, see how she errs.
And do you expect me to believe you were the keyboard player for the Monkees’ 30 Year Anniversary touring band? You say you’ve even partied with Mickey Dolenz a few times?
You expect me to believe it and so I DO believe it. What does it matter anyway? It’s the Monkees. It’s Mickey fucking Dolenz! Are you bullshitting me? DOLENZ???
Ah, but my story is much like yours, and I long to tell it to you. Relax, have a seat. Toke a bowl if you need to. Every single word is true.
This happened smack dab in the middle of 1968, as both the Beatles AND the Monkees had huge records on the chart. They were riding high on a wave of popularity and adulation the likes of which have not been seen in over 2,000 years.
I knew this girl and she knew this guy who knew another guy who was dealing dope to the second guy, whose girlfriend knew the girl I knew and said she would pass on some crucial information to the third link in the chain.
Anyway, she was able to procure two good seats at a Monkees show in Philadelphia. Even better…she had backstage passes! You talk about hanging with Mickey D, that’s nothing next to meeting all four of them and shaking Mike Nesmith’s hand. That’s a-what I was-a
Lady Luck must have been stalking me that day, because right there at the show, not 15 feet away from me, were THE BEATLES! Not just one or two…all four!!! And then I saw a mind boggling exchange of words between Peter Tork and Paul McCartney. Never, in my wildest dreams could I have imagined John Lennon sharing song ideas with Davy Jones. Yet there it was, right in front of my very eyes.
I heard it all. I swear I have every word of it committed to memory…
PAUL: So what you’re sayin’ is that the a song like “Blackbird” would sound better with just me and the acoustic guitar, sort of folky, right? You didn’t like the polka band I brought in for the final mix? Or the death metal rendition that Linda likes so much? You gotta be crazy. That stuff costs a lot of money.
PETER: Settle down, mate. Don’t lose your nut just yet, eh, Old Salt? Take my word for it. There’s too much of that thrasher metal out there. The polka idea is cool, just not for this song. Chill it and kill it, Pauly.
PAUL: Okay, Tork, I’m takin’ your word for it. DO NOT let me down.
PETER: Have I ever let you down, Big Macca? Don’t you remember me giving you the idea for the “Sgt. Pepper” concept? Have you forgotten my contributions to the story line of “Help”? You even stole a few from me. None of the good ones, though. Thank God.
PAUL: I’ll do it. By God I am throwing caution to the wind and we are by god gonna do this your way, because it seems to be a good way and because I’ve got nothing to lose. I’ll lay down some tracks along those lines here in a few days. It’ll kill.
PETER: Of course it will. Now quit worrying and slip me a sack of that stuff I smell.
PAUL: You got it.
I was afraid to approach any of them after that. Lennon, especially, as I overheard him asking George Martin to make sure Yoko had all access to the studio while the group recorded. Paul would be furious.
But shit happens, you know? You hear it all the time…shit fucking happens. I hear it and I suppose people think they’re real clever in saying it. I hate that it is a cold, hard fact of life that rings out as true as a parable from Jesus’ lips…SHIT HAPPENS. So it does.
Long and short of it, that is my true story of how the Monkees, not the Beatles, hold the coveted title of “My Favorite Band”.
But what’s that got to do with you, you ask? It’s just to show how my experience with the Monkees and the Beatles trumps your lousy ass night with Mickey Fucking Dolenz. Shit.
It doesn’t matter, though. You know it and I know it, so let’s not pretend while we are alone. What would be the point? None of those things we thought would follow us to the grave…all the tastes, all the tendencies, all the tolerances and all the biases---none of them survive even an age. They all drop away, one by one, the strongest hanging on by a frayed thread.
And she will roll on as sure as the werewolf only comes out on a full moon.
It kills time, though, doesn’t it? Makes the minutes fly by faster. If I only had a package of sunflower seeds and a spit cup I would be in some bona fide business. Crack-spit-crack-spit-crack-spit. That will wile away the hours as sure as Elton John wears a lot of different pairs of eye glasses.
So while I lie here in this vat full of some kind of nuclear engineered ooze, while my mind still hovers just outside of my body, I need to tell you some things. I know, I’ve told you a lot of things. Some things I have never shared with any living soul. You were always there for me. So these things I want you to know. These things I need you to know. These things I wish I did not know.
Like the night when I stole all of my uncle’s Playboy magazines while visiting him on vacation. The folks wanted to stay there for a few days but as soon as I packed those Playboys in my suitcase I pestered mom and dad until they relented, succumbed to my demands: Put me on a Greyhound bus to ride, all the way home to wait for them to return in a couple of days.
I spent the entirety of those days holed up in my bedroom performing what was to become a ritual:
1. Peruse the pictorials first, before anything else. Of course.
2. Go back through the magazine in it’s entirety, noting the article’s names, the subjects, all that kind of thing.
3. Go back through the entire magazine yet again and read all the cartoons. If I’ve got a little time and I'm in the mood I'll take in the party jokes on the flipside of the centerfold.
4. Get aroused by accidentally catching a glimpse of a buxom gal’s nipple on the top page of the centerfold.
5. Repeat step #1.
6. Swallow my pride, retire to the bathroom to “read the articles”.
There had to be at least 10-15 Playboys in that stack of booty.
I was set. Might as well have hung a Do Not Disturb sign on my door. The phone was off the hook. Maybe that was the problem…
ONCE WAS A HOUSEKEEPER
You know it's not worth all the trouble
The stationary on the table
Open the doors to needy families
They need their ice machines
Need their locks and they need keys
And they need chairs and beds and ashtrays
The stationary on the table
Next to the television
I was in the shower
Looking for my soap
The doors were closed, I'm sure
No one knows I was there
Kept it well hidden, then I
Did what I had to do and then I
Walked away and I forgot this day ever happened
It's easy to walk away just turn your head
And forget this day ever happened
It's easy just to walk away, turn your head and forget
That this day ever happened
It's easy to forget, turn around and leave
Wrap it around your sleeve and forget
Forget this day, this day ever happened
Left the ice machine
I left my locks and keys
I left my luggage and my dirty magazines
I left my ashtrays
Left my bed and my buffet
Left my chairs and my keys and
Lord, I left my "Do Not Disturb"
Left my family, left the housekeeper
And I left the ice machine
Left the postcards of the pool
Left the restaurant, left the shower
And the rooms and the signs that say:
"Soap upstairs, stationary on the table
By the television."
I stole the towels and the TV guide
I got into my vehicle, I stole another ashtray
From the bar, by the bed, by the buffet
Sat in your electric chair and thought of children
I was a clerk, I had a "Do Nor Disturb" sign on my head
And the Doors were playing in the background
About the broken families
And the housekeeper at the ice machine
Where she lost her keys, but she never could find the locks
And her luggage and her magazines
Oh, she's on the phone too much, and the pool is warm but it's closed
She's got a postcard
There's a remote chance that the restaurant is still open
But we've got the keys to the rooms
We got showers, we've got signs that say:
"Soap can be found upstairs
By the stationary on the table
Sitting by the television."
Well, I brought back the towels but I kept the TV guide
My vehicle's in the shop and the ashtrays are filled
With roaches and roach clips
And the bar of soap that I stole from the hotel
That was by the beds that were never quite made right
And the buffet that didn't taste right
And we were sitting in the chairs
We were listening to your children
Oh, that purse does not seem to like me much
I said, "Do not disturb my meditations, if you please
Turn that Doors tape off, if you please."
Gotta get home, back home to my family
I once was a housekeeper, I once was a housekeeper
Yes, I was, do you remember when I was a housekeeper?
But I never knew my way to the ice machine
And they never gave me keys so I never knew where the locks were
And I never needed luggage because the only things I'd seen were in magazines
Heard about on the phone - spent some time by the pool
Writing on the backs of postcards, suicide notes
But it's remote- this restaurant will not be the place I do it
I know I need some rooms - rooms with showers
Need myself a sign that says "The soap can be found upstairs
Next to the stationary on the table by the television."
I need some towels but I don't need the TV guide
So I got the TV, yeah I put it in the vehicle outside
Along with a couple of ashtrays
And a bottle or two that I had ordered but never paid for at the bar
Well, the beds were made this time
But the buffet still didn't taste quite right
And the chairs they gave us were much too small
Like they were made for children
But the clerk was not responsive to my complaints
She kept on saying, "Do Not Disturb me
You know the way to the doors."
If I had a dollar for all the families who were expecting me to be a housekeeper
I'd go buy the ice machine
Empty the ice and find the keys
And then I'd go look for the locks
Take my luggage cram-packed with magazines
I've got some quarters for the phone
Brought my swimming trunks for the pool
Send a postcard
But there is a remote possibility
That I might never leave here
But stay here
Eating in the restaurant
Where the rooms are not too cozy
And the showers ain't got no running hot water
We need a sign, there were nothing but signs
I should have been paying attention to the signs
I should have brought my own soap
The thought occurred to me as I walked down the stairs
That's why I need some stationary
I'm gonna sit down at the table
Turn the television off, send back the towels
Open up the TV guide, think about the vehicle outside
…and that reminds me of what may possibly have been the meanest thing I have ever done to another human being. It’s something I would not want to be done to me and I would NEVER do it again. Yes, I wish I had never done it, but there you go…
I was staying at a house in the country. I was sort of watching over it, as the owner lived in a different home several miles away. I thought of myself as “security”, but in reality it was simply a case of a generous man giving a homeless person a place to temporarily stay.
It had only been a couple of years since I’d been released from the Naval hospital, A year and a half since my wife left me. About half a year since I’d stopped taking meds. I’d been booted from my dad’s house by his wife. I wound up at John’s place by chance. I didn’t even know the guy. Seriously, I’d never met him until the night he offered me the place after hearing my tale of woe.
John was the manager of the band my brother was playing with at the time. He owned all of their P.A. system, which stayed at the house, so it actually was a benefit for him to have me there watching over it, keeping it safe from thieves. The house was out in the boonies and it would have very easy for anyone to steal whatever they wanted from it at any time, day or night.
Anyway, I’d been there for a little over 3 months when a guy they called Bear started spending a lot of time at the house. Looking back on it, I wouldn’t be surprised if John had been planning on moving him in to replace me as their “security man”. His wife didn’t like me at all. Eventually I learned that she was convinced I had stolen a gun they kept (hid, they thought) in an unused bedroom. HA! I had no idea there was a gun, where it would be, or even how to use it if I HAD ripped it off.
But that’s neither here nor there. Point is that Bear was the kind of person who grated on the nerves. I was stuck with him on a regular basis. He disturbed my precious solitude, and that was his only sin.
Okay…so there was rarely anything to eat at John’s house. It was almost as if we survived on the Busch beer he left behind. He would stop by every day on his way home from work to check in and see how things were going. He’d almost always bring a 12 pack of beer that he would share with me, leaving behind several for me to enjoy the next day. There was almost always beer. It wasn’t unusual for the refrigerator to have a couple of cases in it, left behind from the band’s rehearsals (which always devolved into parties).
When we did run out of brews, Bear would make up a gallon of iced tea. I never liked tea so he was the only one who drank it.
And this is where we get to the MEAN part…
Bear had been getting on nerves that day. Not that he actually TRIED to annoy me. It just came naturally to him. In fact, I don’t think he even disliked me. There were a couple of times when he gave that impression, but those could probably be attributed to a bad mood. He was a nice guy.
One afternoon while he was gone I took his pitcher of tea, which about half full…AND I PISSED IN IT. I put it back into the refrigerator and waited for his return.
When he came back I was sitting inside the fenced patio, strumming an old guitar that had been left at the house from one of the band rehearsals. I was making up impromptu songs when he joined me. He sat down and listened.
It wasn’t too long until he got thirsty.
He went into the kitchen, found some ice, and poured up a nice, big glass of tea. Then he came back to the patio, sat down…and took a huge gulp. Of course he could not taste it, so he had no idea why I bust out laughing. I laughed and laughed and he kept asking me what was so funny. He didn’t believe when I told him it was nothing. I just dept guffawing.
Then I started playing a couple of chords on the guitar and sang, in a nasally voice and in a manner that assured he wouldn’t understand a single word…
“Pissed in your tea
Oh yes, I pissed in your tea
Ain’t you so pissed off at me?”
I still have this on a cassette tape somewhere, as I had been trying to write some songs that afternoon and used a recorder to capture ideas. It had serendipitously been running during this exchange.
Bear never found out about my practical joke. Which is a good thing, because he was a big ol’ boy, bigger than me, and had very likely been the one who stole the gun I mentioned earlier.
I got booted from the house because John’s wife hounded him to get rid of me. She didn’t think I pulled whatever weight she figured I should be pulling. And the gun thing, of course. I don’t know why she hated me, but, seeing as how I was the kind of person who would spike someone’s beverage with urine, I imagine she had some strong instincts that told her I wasn’t a good ‘un to keep around.
I don’t blame her. They say that “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”. That may well be, but I’d hate to think that my Dr. Pepper had been pissed in somewhere down the road, even if I DID deserve it.
Karma? Oh boy…
Oh...and this is what a fool like me does when the snow is a foot deep on the ground...
My god, what an idiot!
Sigur Ros' website reports that there will NOT be a new SR album this year. Orri and his wife just had a baby. Georgi and Kjartan also have young children to care for. I assume they will not be touring (and that SUCKS!). Jonsi will spend a month in the States promoting "Go", but the chances of him making a stop in Oklahoma are mighty slim. Maybe in Texas, but with finances the way they are now I don't think I'd be able to make the trip. Bad news all around, eh? Still, it's good to have something SR-related coming down the pike. Hopefully it will tide me over until next year.