I Flew Once…

July 31, 2012 Leave a comment

For as long as I can remember I’ve been plagued by reoccurring dreams.  There are probably 5 or 6 that I have had since I was a child.  Some I retain and some I don’t, but I always wake up remembering that I had experienced that before.  Some are horrible, some are fun.  One in particular is me sword fighting a man in a black Zorro type mask that takes quite a while.  We parry and thrust at each other throughout various locales for what seems like hours and every time he gets the best of me on the roof of an old Ford Fairlaine convertible while the hard top is retracting into the trunk.  I always wake up from that one feeling a bit drained and thinking that it’s taken about 6 years off my life every time I have it and even though I know all of this has happened before, I still can’t beat this bastard… I never change up my moves.  However there’s one dream that I only had once that I still remember with advantages word for word, move for move.  I recall the smells, the sounds, and the sights of it like it happened to me yesterday although it happened on June 24th 1999.

I was about to graduate college (after a near decade run) and the anniversary of my grandfather’s death had just passed.  I have no recollection if there was something I had eaten that may have caused it because after it had happened, I didn’t think anything of it.  It was certainly a cool dream but I didn’t realize until the next day that it was something special, because I had simply retained all of it as if it had actually happened to me.  Everyone has had a dream like this, I imagine. One so vivid that you could swear it had actually happened to you and it has since had a profound effect on your life.  I also am fully aware that your dreams, while something magnificent to you, are about as interesting as stories about one’s cat to the listener, but I don’t care.  I’ve been re-living this one in my head; desperately hoping that it would happen again to no avail, so maybe writing it down will jog some sort of replay device for me.  In other words, I know you probably won’t care, but suck it… this is my outlet.

In the dream I’m a boy, younger than 10.  I’m standing outside of my grandparent’s house with a pair of overalls on and they’re rolled up to just under my knees.  I have my arms spread out like wings and I’m running around in circles pretending to fly around the yard… like ya do.  I’m stopped short by the sound of a screen door shutting on the porch and look over to see my grandfather jogging away from the house pretty quickly.  I had never seen my grandfather run before in my life so this was a little peculiar.  Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of my grandparents or my father run ever before or since… weird.  But I digress.  I start running after him to see where he’s going, like any intrepid kid would.  We run past their yard and the scenery changes to somewhere I had never been before.  I approached a brook of sorts, a little babbling stream that was somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 feet wide, just in time to see my grandfather landing on the other side after having hopped across like a hobbit.  The water was moving fast and it looked deep so I needed another way to cross it since I was pretty sure I couldn’t make that jump.  I looked down and saw several colored round stones floating in the stream that I could navigate so I hopped on the closest one with my right foot first, making sure it would hold me, and then made my way across the 7 others one at a time to the other side where my grandfather had already disappeared into the woods that lay ahead.

After traversing the stream I run headlong into the woods only to be greeted by my grandfather standing next to a gigantic tree about 20 yards in, triple the size of any surrounding tree, holding two sticks.  He waited for me to get close enough then began hitting these mushrooms that were growing out of the trunk of this tree.  There were several spouting out here and there but he specifically hit three of them in a rhythmic fashion, four taps to the bottom purple thick one, four taps to the one close to the top of the outcropping that was pinkish in hue and flatter than the others, and one tap to one of the mushrooms growing out of the middle which was 4 spores down from the one on the top and looked exactly like the various other ones.  He dropped the sticks and took off again, running out the back side of the woods but not before looking down at the sticks as if to indicate I should do this as well.  When he struck these mushrooms they didn’t make a sound, but as I took up the sticks, which turned into drumsticks for some reason when I grabbed them, the mushrooms made sounds as if I were hitting a drum kit when I struck them.  I’m not musically inclined but I can hum to you the sound it made when it hit them in the same way he did.  I immediately took off after him through the back of the woods.

After about 10 feet of running the woods dispersed into a waist high field of grain as far as the eye could see.  Even though he had run off no more than 5 seconds earlier he was a good 50 yards ahead of me by the time I hit the field.  I could see him well ahead of me and I followed his path through the field, laboring as I went.  I even remember putting my hands out in front of me in a wedge fashion in order to move the obstructive grain out of my way.  He seemed to pick up pace but I was young and managed to catch up to him after about 2 minutes of running.  He had come to a complete stop in the center of the field and he had his eyes closed like he was a toddler attempting to hide from me.  Grain was still waist high on me as I stood next to him for a second, staring at him… waiting for him to move again.  He never did and I never spoke.  Instead of running off he kept his eyes closed and bent down at the knees as if doing some variant of lunges, basically squatting down bending at the knees with his body still up right, eyes still closed.  I watched him do two or three reps before closing my eyes myself.

Now here’s the part it gets weird.  Instead of just closing my eyes and squatting and rising like him, I did it a bit different for some reason.  I have no idea why but after I squatted I balled up my hands into fists and pointed them straight down.  Instead of just normally standing up as he was doing, I almost jumped, pushing my body up but not so fast as to move my body off the ground… just moving my body to its fully upright position as quickly as I could, fists still balled up and firmly at my sides.  My eyes were clinched shut and upon reaching my fully standing position I felt as if I was flying.  My feet felt like they were no longer on the ground, but I continued to squat again anyway.  I thought for a second there that I had perhaps just moved my body up a bit too fast and had actually jumped, which I did apparently because when I finally did open my eyes, I was shooting skyward looking straight down at my grandfather who was now about 50 feet below me, looking up and raising his fists skyward in jubilation as if he had just won the lottery.  He was very excited.  I was not.  As soon as I realized I was flying my fists went from being balled up securely at my side to flailing about my body and my legs, knees still close to my chest from squatting again began swimming through the air in a  hopeless attempt to stop myself from elevating to the heavens.  My assent stopped as quickly as it had begun but by this time I was very very high off the ground and I felt myself go weightless.  I floated for probably a second and had a moment of clarity I had never experienced before or will probably ever feel again.  It’s hard to explain but for that brief second suspended in air, before any panic had set in, I was more at peace than I can ever remember being.  Elated.  I took in a deep breath and exhaled.  The air tasted sweet and smelled like the air from an air conditioner… clean.  You know that smell?  It was short lived though, as my body lost its fight with gravity just as quickly and I began to fall toward the earth like Icarus.  Nothing below me looked familiar, the wooded area, stream and field were gone and I was falling into a city with rolling hills and mountains that certainly wasn’t my hometown but felt as familiar.

I couldn’t aim myself and had no control whatsoever over my descent so I made peace with the fact that I was most likely going to die in this strange land and hoped against hope that I could regain some sort of power of flight to at least make my landing somewhat bearable, but to no avail.  I screamed as I fell fast and hit the roof of a house hard and bounced off skyward like a tennis ball being dropped from a helicopter.  My body shifted and careened upwards then downwards again, appendages flailing about as if independent from my body, when I hit yet another roof.  This time I took off a large section of a brick chimney with me as I bounced off this tin roof and continued my precarious descent down this mountain community toward what would hopefully be a graceful landing in grass.  The sound of my body hitting these roofs and chimneys was terrifying.  I can still hear it in my head.  None of this hurt mind you, it just surprised me and kind of took my breath away.  This was as real as your subconscious allows your dreams to make it and in hindsight I was pretty sure that if you fall when dreaming you are supposed to die as your mind isn’t capable of dying in your dreams, lest you die in real life.  Not for me unfortunately.  I hit another two roofs before skidding to a stop on a dirt road, giving my arm a powerful strawberry in the process.  I also remember after hitting the third roof I could see a man, who I didn’t recognize watching me fall, mouth agape in wonder.  I stood up and brushed off the dust from my body and looked around to try and figure out where I was but I wasn’t scared.  I wasn’t the least bit scared… I had just flown.  My grandfather taught me how to fly.  Standing in that dirt road I balled up my fists again and squatted with my eyes closed in hopes to duplicate what had just happened because I was absolutely sure that if I had kept my knees close to my chest and my fists balled up next to my sides I could somehow control this and fly again… but it didn’t work.  I started walking down this dirt road in an arbitrary direction since I had no idea where I was.  I heard a car coming up behind me and I stopped to see if I could tell who it was.  As it approached, I could tell it was my dad’s car but I couldn’t see him.  I put my head down, like I was embarrassed and began to despondently shuffle toward my father’s car  still holding on to my bloody forearm when I woke up.  I was never able to fly again and I have yet to have that dream again.

I think about this all the time.  I’ve always wanted to fly.  I even remember the next time I went to my grandparent’s house after this dream I went further into the yard toward the back of their house as far as I could in hopes to find some sort of remnant of that dream, some field of grain or a strange tree.  Hoping against hope that I’d run into that stream in real life but I’ve never found it.  I came close to finding it in Vail Colorado but although the stream looked very familiar there were no floating stones.  I stood next to that water for probably 10 minutes remembering that dream.  I’m going to keep looking.  I know it’s ridiculous but I miss my Papaw and I hope he’s figured out a way to fly himself.  It was the greatest gift I’ve ever received, no matter how short lived it was.  That one second of peace will be with me until the day I die.  When I feel shitty I think about it.  If I could bottle it I’d be a millionaire.

Categories: Uncategorized

We’re Inherently Good… But Inherently flawed.

July 26, 2012 Leave a comment

“I wish I had never quit piano lessons.  I wish I never put that cigarette into my mouth.  I wish I had the patience to practice guitar.  I wish I had a decent guitar.  I wish I had better luck in relationships.  I wish I wasn’t so selfish.  I wish I didn’t have to worry about money.  I wish my body could keep up with my mind.  I wish I wasn’t getting older.  I wish I were more courageous.  I wish I respected the fact that I have it pretty good.  I wish I didn’t look so much like my dad.  I wish I would stand up for myself more.  I wish I had a job that I loved.  I wish I was brave enough to look for another one.  I wish I knew what she was thinking.  I wish I didn’t run from every good relationship I’ve ever been in.  I wish I understood my heart.  I wish that I was given the gift of faith.  I wish I wasn’t so cynical.  I wish I wasn’t so filled with anger.  I wish I wouldn’t let that anger out.  I wish I could fly.  I wish I could stop time.  I wish I was right.  I wish I knew what I was doing.  I wish I didn’t let on that I totally know what I’m doing.  I wish that one day I’m called out.  I wish I never failed.  I wish I had a wife.  I wish I was never cheated on.  I wish I had kids who needed me.  I wish anyone needed me.  I wish I could express myself in ANY way.  I wish I had the guts to tell that son of a bitch off.  I wish I wasn’t so frugal.  I wish I went on more trips.  I wish I didn’t lie to people that I love.  I wish I didn’t have to lie.  I wish the truth were easy.  I wish there was someone just like me.  I wish I never saw that dead body.  I wish I never saw that person when they were alive.  I wish I didn’t hear their cries for help after the fact.  I wish I went to a different school.  I wish I stuck with acting.  I wish I went on just one audition.  I wish I stuck with singing.  I wish I didn’t feel so sorry for myself.  I wish I had just one good run.  I wish I didn’t have so many good cries.  I wish I was an explorer.  I wish I owned a kite and hammock shop.  I wish life were no harder than it has to be.  I wish my family understood me.  I wish I was comfortable confiding in just one of them.  I wish I was comfortable confiding in anyone.  I wish I acted on my thoughts.  I wish I invented the things I dream up.  I wish I wasn’t beaten to the punch.  I wish I could throw a punch.  I wish I had been in a fight.  I wish I could win a fight.  I wish I were fearless.  I wish I had more confidence.  I wish people noticed me.  I wish I had the balls to go up and talk to her.  I wish I were so cool that she’d want to come up and talk to me.  I wish I had style.  I wish I could pull off wearing a bowler hat.  I wish I knew another language.  I wish I knew every language.  I wish my parents gave me different parts of themselves.  I wish I could pick and choose.  I wish I understood art.  I wish I understood music.  I wish I had more time.  I wish I didn’t waste the time I’ve already been given.  I wish I could seize the day.  I wish I were more cavalier.  I wish I had perfect teeth.  I wish I had green eyes.  I wish I were 4 inches taller.  I wish I had more muscle.  I wish I had the drive to work out.  I wish I liked more things.  I wish I wasn’t so damn good at video games.  I wish more people would confide in me.  I wish the people who did confide in me weren’t so fucked up.  I wish my friends needed me more.  I wish I didn’t need them so much.  I wish everyone had the same morals I do.  I wish I had better morals.  I wish people didn’t trust me so much.  I wish I had more trust in people.  I wish I trusted anyone but myself.  I wish I could tell my mother everything.  I wish I could tell my father everything.  I wish I were more giving.  I wish someone needed me.  I wish the world knew my name.  I wish I had a legacy to leave.  I wish I could ride a motorcycle.  I wish I found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  I wish I found that Easter egg.  I wish that there was no cancer.  I wish I didn’t have to outlive the ones I love.  I wish they never have to grieve for me.  I wish a giant meteor falls from the sky and takes out everyone on this rock at the same time so no one has to deal with the loss of a loved one.  I wish Space Food Stick tasted as good as I remember them tasting.  I wish there were more people like my grandmother walking around this world.  I wish we made contact with aliens in my lifetime.  I wish I had something to believe in.  I wish I could teach people the good things I know.  I wish I could reverse the bad things I know.  I wish I was a masked vigilante.  I wish I had the balls to destroy evil.  I wish I had the knowledge and power to erase bad from this world.  I wish I knew the difference between the good and bad.  I wish I knew where we came from.  I wish I knew where I was going.  I wish the dinosaurs weren’t extinct.  I wish people wouldn’t hide behind religion.  I wish parent would let their children make up their own minds.  I wish I had perspective.  I wish that someone would look at me like my dog used to.  I wish I knew unconditional love.  I wish there were no heartbreak.  I wish I could put someone above myself.  I wish I were a gentleman.  I wish I could talk to animals.  I wish I had a normal brain.  I wish I was smarter.  I wish I were better at math.  I wish I was more serious.  I wish everything was easy.  I wish I had a million dollars.  I wish we lived for the common good.  I wish charity meant more to more people.  I wish I didn’t get jealous.  I wish more people were jealous of me.  I wish I had a time machine.  I wish I could go back and smack people for doing things that would eventually harm my life.  I wish I had a house.  I wish I had a backyard. I wish…”

“Woah, woah woah…. let me stop you there. When you kicked over this lamp and I suddenly appeared and asked you what you wished for I wasn’t being rhetorical… I wasn’t asking for your fucking life story.  You people are so pathetic.  I’m fully prepared to give you one…”

“The million dollars…”

Categories: Uncategorized

I Have to Move…

June 21, 2012 1 comment

It’s been a while since I’ve moved.  When I picked my current domicile it was out of necessity.  My roommate at the time had decided that he wanted to move to NYC, like ya do, and I had about a month to find a new place and move into it.  In the interest of full disclosure, I fucking HATE moving.  However, at the time, moving was a damn sight better than living in my previous apartment since my landlady was a senile old biddy from Canyon Lakes CA, about an hour drive away from the building she owned.  It was impossible to get her to do anything with the apartment other than take my rent check and she was a truly despicable person.  But this isn’t about her.  It’s about my current situation.

About a year after moving in to my new apartment, I had made the acquaintance of all my neighbors and found them to be nice, if not a bit on the wacky side themselves.  It’s a 6 unit building, not too big and not too small and it’s in a pretty decent neighborhood.  I thought I had found my home.  Then I started to get to know them.  My fellow tenants are good people, just… different.  For example my next door neighbor has 4 very loud parrots, 2 reptiles, a gecko or something, and two retarded Chihuahuas.  I think there’s a spider of some sort in there as well but the less I know about that little sucker, the better.  And he’s not the worst of it!  Another one of my fellow tenants (let’s call her Lindsay) is apparently an animal rights activist.  She’s pretty high up in this militant off shoot of PETA and keeps a couple of cats and squirrels in her apartment… squirrels.  That’s a fact.  She keeps them in her kitchen and puts bath mats under their cages to collect their waste and proceeds to wash these putrid things in our shared laundry facilities, which I thankfully have put a stop to.  She loves her plants like she loves her animals and god help you if she sees you ashing a cigarette near her beloved begonias, but I digress.  One time a few years ago I was awakened by a loud banging on the walls of the apartment so I opened my front door to investigate.  I was met by a half dozen police bashing Lindsay’s door down with a battering ram and hauling her off to jail in the wee hours of the morning for allegedly picketing some UCLA professor’s home at 4am and trespassing.  She was in the clink for about 6 months and she’s 64 years old.  Heavy shit.  And she STILL isn’t the worst.

The worst part of my living situation is a heartless shrew we’ll call Beverly.  Beverly hates noise.  More sympathetic, I could not be, but her version of noise is apparently heavy breathing of footsteps outside her window.  Beverly lives in a house next door to my apartment building and finds any reason she can to come over to our place to complain.  In the short amount of time I’ve lived at my current place, she’s called the cops on every single tenant in my building at some point or another for noise.  So much in fact that the cops basically know when they come to my address it’s probably for nothing.  Here are a couple of the passive aggressive notes she’s left on my mailbox.

Great use of colons in that last one.  Beverly has two little yipping dogs that constantly bark and carry on and she walks them without leashes and has the audacity to complain that other people don’t have their dogs on leashes when her dogs are scared by strange animals.  She also has landscapers come at 7am every Tuesday morning that use gas powered leaf blowers and have successfully re-synced my internal alarm clock that now i can’t sleep past 7 on a Tuesday if I tried.  I’ve learned to ignore her and when she DOES come over to complain to me, which still happens at least 3 times a year, I’ve learned to stand up from my couch and smile while I slam the door in her face.  Makes me feel better and I avoid confrontation, which is really the only thing I want.  She’s really a horrible person but for some reason her and Lindsay have always been friends.  Until last week that is.

I was minding my own business, sitting on my couch watching por… er, the History Channel, when I heard some jingling outside my front door.  When I looked over I saw the two hell spawn dogs belonging to Beverly standing outside my door.  As soon as I make eye contact, of course they begin barking mercilessly and I go outside because I’m 100% sure Beverly is skulking around out there somewhere, probably looking in the windows of the girls who live downstairs who were having a party this night.  I look over my decks and see her in my bushes moving plants around.  She quickly apologizes for the dogs barking and I tell her it’s OK… Just put them inside where they won’t bark.  Then I found out what she was doing.  Shortly after she left, Lindsay starts yelling outside.  Here’s what I could gather.

Earlier that day Beverly had told Lindsay she wanted to move a couple of Lindsay’s plants off her property line because she thought that rats were climbing up the plants to get into the trees and go onto her roof.  Lindsay, remarked how ridiculous this was as the plants were about a foot tall and if a damn rat wants to climb a tree… there’s no way her plants were going to assist or stop them.

Lindsay comes home to find the plants were moved a few minutes later and LOOSES HER SHIT!  She starts screaming “Beverly you fucking whore!  You alcoholic slut!  How DARE  you touch my babies!”  Beverly, not to be outdone, comes outside and starts telling Lindsay that not only do the rats climb up her plants but they’re obviously attracted by the peanuts that Lindsay leaves in a big bowl outside the bottom of our steps for the squirrels to eat.  I’ll let that one sit for a second… Lindsay feeds squirrels peanuts in a bowl.  She’s been told by our landlord not to do that, since at one time she had the bowl on our shared patio and not only did it attract squirrels, it attracted all sorts of woodland creatures which would in turn, turn our shared patio into a varmint toilet.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to step over animal blood, shit and vomit walking into my front door.  But I’m getting off topic.

At this point Beverly kicks over Lindsay’s peanut bowl.  Lindsay doesn’t like this one bit.  “Those peanuts cost me $12 you fucking whore! You owe me $12!”  Beverly tells Lindsay not to yell at her since she’s on probation and threatened to call the cops on her.  Lindsay decides SHE’S going to be the one to call the cops.  For what, I have no idea.  I’d love to hear that conversation with the police.  “Beverly is being handsy with my plants and has kicked over my squirrellies food dish and is being hateful.”  Lindsay is continues her tirade and tells Beverly to get out of her face before she does something she’ll regret.  They exchange hateful commentary and Beverly decides it best to just walk away.  Lindsay comes up to my apartment, which I foolishly left my door open throughout this whole ordeal, and asks me to help her move her plants somewhere off “that slut’s property”.  I oblige under one condition, that we keep it down and not start any more trouble tonight. She agrees and we start to move the plants.  We’re no more that 2 seconds into picking up this fucking fern when Lindsay goes straight to Beverly’s window and screams “GOD FORBID THE CRACK WHORE ALCOHOLIC SLUT BEVERLY, MISERABLE SHREW THAT SHE IS, GET’S RATS CLIMBING UP HER TREE FROM MY FUCKING BABY PLANT” and starts regaling me with how stupid this theory is.  The verbal assault continued as we moved the first plant and as soon as I set it down in my front yard, I see Beverly coming out of her house again to yell at Lindsay.  She gets in her face and threatens to call our landlord, the cops and get Lindsay arrested for assault and for the most part Beverly has been fairly calm in this situation but it’s only because she knows Lindsay has nothing on her.  She clearly has the upper hand and is trying to get Lindsay to hit her.  Which she eventually attempts and I have to physically separate these two middle aged maniacs.  Lindsay tells Beverly that since her plants can be on her property, she doesn’t want Beverly on OUR property at all.  Beverly takes this opportunity to tell Lindsay that the property isn’t hers and she’s merely a tenant and she can’t tell Beverly where she can and can’t go.

They continue yelling at each other until eventually just about every tenant in our general vicinity is outside telling Beverly to just go inside and let it go.  Beverly asks Lindsay why she hasn’t called the cops yet, clearly just being a bitch and Lindsay goes screaming into her apartment and slams the door.  I finally diffused the situation by telling Beverly that the only reason she’s out there was to egg Lindsay on and if she had just stayed inside the situation would have blow over and none of this mess would have happened.  After about 3 minutes of carefully explaining the whole “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” theory, Beverly agreed to go inside and let it go for the night but at this point my night was already in the crapper.  I’ve always been at odds with both of these ladies at various points, but both at the same time was more than Mother Teresa could have handled.  I’m pretty sure Gandhi would have smacked these bitches.  The only bright side to this whole thing is I can now engage in guerrilla warfare on Beverly’s fountain and yard and she’ll never know who it was.  As comical as the whole situation was, I don’t think my sanity can handle this much rage outside of work.  There should be a website that logs problems with apartment buildings and landlords.  That being said, does anyone have a westside properties password they will share with me?

Categories: Uncategorized

Time Travel Will Exist.

August 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Here’s the deal… I’ve been not so secretly working on a time machine for the last 7 years.  I mean, who hasn’t?!  I’ve nearly perfected what will go down in history as the McFly Algorithm and it’s only a matter of time before I’m off to watch Lincoln get shot and try to stop this whole Kardashian mess before it even gets started.  And although I’ve been close for a while, I was getting distressed.  Until I got my proof from Jordan.  It’s right here.

Little Skipper...

Apparently in a few years, I’ll grow so tired of righting History’s wrongs and boning Gretta Garbo that I’ll start going back in time to wreak havoc on my friends.  To be fair to Jordan, if it weren’t for my eventual, er… past interference, he maybe wouldn’t have his insatiable love for Berry Milk (I’m inventing it and taking it back to him) or would have no idea how good Pauly D from the Jersey Shore’s R&B album is going to be.  I’ll have to remember to not take the pictures from him so he can give them to me last week… this is exciting.  Wait till you see what I have up my sleeve for my brother!

PS: Never mind why I had the van… I assure you it’s important.

Categories: Uncategorized

Car Rides from Hell… or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Never Get a Dog.

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m going to miss my brother.  He’s not going to the war or dying or anything drastic like that.  He’s simply getting married… not a game changer but a change enough to take from the me only time I’ve had recently to experience the brotherly bond.  Living 2000+ miles away from my family means that, outside of the occasional telephone call, the only time I have to spend with my brother is the few hours of travel time we share while he shuttles my cheap ass around the 6 states we drive through to visit family for Christmas.  Our relationship is that of legend.  Now that he’ll have a family of his own, I’ve been given a glimpse of the future… a dose of reality that turned what should have been a normal 449 mile, 4 hour drive into a commute of horror and most likely killed our bonding time for the foreseeable future.

There’s something you should know about my brother.  He picks me up from the airport at ungodly hours, he drives me to and from Cincinnati when requested and lets me borrow his car while he’s at work, all without a mention of giving him gas money or one single complaint.  That’s how our relationship rolls.  I’d do the same for him and he’d do the same for a perfect stranger… he’s just better than most people.  So when he picked me up at the airport this past Christmas and told me he was bringing his dogs with him to my sisters house in Charlotte I didn’t say a word, although I was thinking that this was most decidedly a terrible idea.  My brother and his fiancé just got a new puppy.  A beautiful German Shepard puppy they named Lilly.  He was very excited for us to meet and is understandably very proud of his little dog.  His fiancé has a little dog called Aiden… I think it’s a Pomeranian or some variation of the stereotypical little yippy dog you hear comedians complain about.   Their idea was to take their dogs to her parent’s house for Christmas and then drive down to Charlotte to meet the rest of my family on Christmas day, subsequently picking me up in Charlotte to return me to Lexington the following Sunday.  My sister and her family have a dog as well.  A little boxer mix that’s pretty well behaved but three dogs in one house and two on a return car ride back to Lexington gave me some serious pause.  My fears would soon come to a grim reality and change my travel plans for the rest of my days.

To start off, my brother’s dog hates me.  I am usually very good with animals.  Let it not be said that Byron Smith is foe to the animal kingdom.  With the exception of the squirrels, who have had their chance to make amends mind you, I have nothing but love for all of God’s creatures big and small.  We had many many dogs while growing up.  I love them.  But Lilly was not a fan of me.  Maybe it was the beard, maybe it was the residual smell of my cat Ash on me, but for some reason Lilly was very uncomfortable around me from the get go.  Perhaps it’s true what they say about animals having a sort of sixth sense when it comes to impending doom.  I put this aside.  It was almost Christmas after all and I was hoping for a miracle of sorts.

Fast forward to Christmas day.  I’m heading from KY to Charlotte to visit my sister’s family with my mother and stepfather and it’s POURING snow.  A long drive turned into a very long drive and all the while we’re getting phone calls from my brother who is also en route with his fiancé and their furry companions.  My brother is flummoxed because at some point in the trip Lilly has become sick.  She’s throwing up all over the back seat (the back seat I’ll eventually be sitting in mind you) and forcing them to stop every 15 minutes or so for it to spray doggie liquid from it’s orifices.  Rob was not pleased.  He’s got low blood sugar, and that compounded with the sick dog and inclement weather didn’t make him a happy camper.  When they finally got to Charlotte and came inside Lilly proceeded to leak all over the floor and frustrate everyone further.  Aiden is fighting with my sisters dog, there’s barking, pooping, and fur flying everywhere.  My brother in law retreated to God knows where, my mother went to bed, and no one seemed to be in a good mood.  My brother spend most of the night getting up and taking his dog out to be sick and the following day my sister had to take poor Lilly to the vet for some much needed fluids via a doggie IV.

Somewhere along the way the little dog Aiden caught what Lilly had and would prove to be the wild card on the ride home.  We prepared to leave a day or two later.  My brother covered the back seat in towels, his fiancé attempted to keep little Aiden in the front seat with her for the start of the trip but it’s curiosity got the best of it and it joined me and Lilly in the back seat for the trip.  The first hour or so wasn’t too bad.  We were making good time and for the most part, the dogs seemed to be relatively healthy and free of projectile vomiting.  That is, until we hit I25.  The snow storm from the previous two days had left the mountain pass of interstate 25 from Charlotte to Knoxville TN a treacherous one.  The geniuses in the department of transportation must have been thinking to themselves, “Hey, who drives the day after Christmas?” and only managed to have plows scrape one of the two lanes that traverse the already steep and treacherous mountain pass.  The unplowed lane was of course ice by this point, putting my brother on edge once again.  We sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic for the better part of two hours as weary holiday travelers crept along the icy roads, all the while confronted with the definite possibility that at any given moment one of these dogs could explode in a fury of sickness.  It didn’t take too long.

I was sitting in the backseat on the passenger side, Lilly was laying down quietly in the middle and Aiden, who was supposed to be in the floor, was behind my brother.  Aiden, understandably quite curious with the family in the minivan creeping along I25 next to us, stood on the back seat with it’s little paws propped up on the window wagging it’s little tail.  I heard a slight squeak and was immediately confronted with a smell that can only be described as “sin”.  Aiden had sprayed doggie diarrhea all over Lilly while she was staring out the window.  Lilly, clearly as flummoxed by being shit on as any normal living thing would be, immediately jumped up, flipped around in a fury and attempted to make her way into the back of my brother’s Jeep to escape the onslaught of raining poop.  In the process she flung the already precarious projectile diarrhea all over my side in her attempt to flee.  So now we’re crawling with traffic, I’m covered in doggy diarrhea, I haven’t had a cigarette in 4 hours, and we’re officially out of towels and 15 miles away from the only rest area in a 100-mile stretch.  The stench was unbearable, my brother’s poor fiancé was so embarrassed for the situation she’s halfway in the back seat trying to clean everything up, and I’m leaning halfway out the window for olfactory relief.  When we finally made it to the rest stop, I was charged with walking Lilly while my brother attempted to clean up the car.  This dog, knowing full well I was in tennis shoes preceded to pull me through 6 plowed snow banks, effectively soaking my legs from the knees down.  New Balance shoes, although comfortable in every way, apparently have 0 traction in the snow and I felt as if I was water skiing behind this overly energetic German Sheppard puppy with the power of a 6 stroke engine.  When I got back to the car and we proceeded on our way the traffic eventually let up and the animals had calmed down, but the damage was already done.  Our 4 hour drive took in the neighborhood of 7 and my clothes, which I would have to wear to Cincinnati on my second leg, stunk like a doggy whale eye.  My sibling and his fiancé felt terrible but in hindsight probably laugh now about the time I was assaulted by canine fecal matter on what is sure to be the very last time I ride in any sort of motor vehicle with an animal.  For their wedding gift, I’m giving them a luxurious weekend reservation at Lexington’s premier Doggy Hotel… good only for the week before and after Christmas.  You’re welcome everyone.

Categories: Uncategorized

Zero’s and Ones… Thom York is a GOD!

December 20, 2010 Leave a comment

As a RABID Radiohead fan, I have always been a bit cocky when it came to my fandom.  I’ll be the first to tell you that I have loved this band since the first time I heard Creep and have bought a copy of every single album, b-side, one off, and re-mix that they have ever touched.  Hell I even bought the soundtrack to There Will Be Blood by Jonny Greenwood.  But when someone told me that Radiohead had been hiding secret codes and messages in their album covers and songs I was taken aback by how I could have possibly missed the boat on this one!

Radiohead have been notoriously putting little gems and Easter Eggs in their albums for years.   For example, If you bought a hard copy CD of Kid A and cracked open the CD tray, you’d find a little booklet with poems, and strange drawings.  Now weird in it’s own right, but it turned out that the poetry was actually lyrics from songs they would eventually release on Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief… years later!  Sure one of the aforementioned albums was basically b-sides of Kid A but you get the point… they’re always looking for ways to intrigue their fan base.  But I was no where near ready for the mindfuck they’d deliver when they released In Rainbows.  Here’s a rundown…

In Rainbows was notoriously released on a “Pay what you feel like” website on 10/10 in 2007, that’s 10 years after the release of OK Computer, probably the most famous concept album since Pink Floyd’s The Wall.   They announced the album 10 days before it was to be released.  The working title of OK Computer was Zeros and Ones. There’s ten letters in both album titles, there’s a giant X on the cover of OK, the roman numeral for 10.  Flash forward to the release of In Rainbows, if you look at that album cover you can see Radiohead has spaced their cover art to show two “10s” at the bottom.  There’s 10 tracks on both albums as well.  I don’t know who figured it out first, but it turns out these albums, although 10 years apart, can be played as a cohesive playlist and the music and lyrics compliment each other in a way that makes your mind melt.  Honestly it sounds like these two albums, 10 years apart were recorded in one massive session.

Remembering that OK Computer’s working title was Zeros and Ones (01) and In Rainbows represented by Ten (10) the binary compliments each other.  From Puddlegum’s website:  “Consider that In Rainbows was meant to complement OK Computer, musically, lyrically, and in structure. We found that the two albums can be knit together beautifully. By combining the tracks to form one playlist, 01 and 10, we have a remarkable listening experience. The transitions between the songs are astounding, and it appears that this was done purposefully.

The lyrics also seem to complement each other. There appears to be a concept flowing through the01 and 10 playlist. Ideas in one song is picked up by the next, such as “Pull me out of the aircrash,”and “When I’m at the pearly gates, this will be my videotape.”

You just have to hear it for yourself.  To make the playlist take the first song from OK Computer, Airbag, then the first song from In Rainbows, 15 Step following this pattern until you get to Karma Police.  Make Fitter Happier the middle song then continue.  Add (of course ) a ten second cross fade on the playlist, put on some headphones and prepare to have your mind blown.

Here’s the playlist for those of you to lazy to go back and forth…

1. Airbag (OK Computer)
2. 15 Step (In Rainbows)
3. Paranoid Android (OK Computer)
4. Bodysnatchers (In Rainbows)
5. Subterranean Homesick Alien (OK Computer)
6. Nude (In Rainbows)
7. Exit Music (For A Film) (OK Computer)
8. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi (In Rainbows)
9. Let Down (OK Computer)
10. All I Need (In Rainbows)
11. Karma Police (OK Computer)
12. Fitter Happier (OK Computer)
13. Faust Arp (In Rainbows)
14. Electioneering (OK Computer)
15. Reckoner (In Rainbows)
16. Climbing Up The Walls (OK Computer)
17. House Of Cards (In Rainbows)
18. No Surprises (OK Computer)
19. Jigsaw Falling Into Place (In Rainbows)
20. Lucky (OK Computer)
21. Videotape (In Rainbows)
22. The Tourist (OK Computer)

Categories: Music, Uncategorized

The Years Best Music… IMO.

December 20, 2010 Leave a comment

2010 gave us some pretty stellar stuff from old faces and new ones alike.   Here’s a rundown of what I liked and why. Truth be told, I’ve re-ordered and shifted and moved and prodded this list about a hundred and one times.  My musical tastes shift with the wind but what follows is what I believe are ten of the best albums released this year that should under no circumstance be missed.

10.  Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy:  This guy is an insufferable prick.  He starts the year off giving the business to Taylor Swift at the VMAs, unfortunately discovers Twitter, shows up on Ellen with fucking diamond teeth and releases one of (if not THE) best Hip Hop albums of 2010.  Here’s the deal with Kanye… he’s an asshole, but he knows it.  Much of this album is a tip of the hat to his off album shenanigans but for some reason it plays MUCH better than his disappointing last effort 808s.  I rarely listen to hip hop anymore.  Like the multitude of top 40 drivel we’re inundated with, most of it just doesn’t sound original to me anymore.  Not this.  Kanye proves that owing your douchbaggery can work wonders for a record… knowing what the fuck you’re doing sure doesn’t hurt either.  It’s that good.

9.     Black Keys – Brothers:  Seriously there hasn’t been a release from the Black Keys that hasn’t amazed me.  Their last offering was significantly better than this record purely because they had Danger Mouse produce it, something that would not have worked well at all on this one.  Everlasting Light opens up with a grungy guitar thump and on a couple of songs, lead singer Dan Auerbach steps well outside of his comfort zone, almost singing in a falsetto on a track, keeping this BK album as original as their previous efforts.  Any fan of standard blues will totally love these guys and this album.

8.   Black Angels – Phosphene Dream:  This album blew me away.  Think psychedelic rock mixed with 60s Brit Pop.   This Texas outfit, with one of the cutest lady drummers since Autolux, has three albums under their belt but for some reason I just found out about them.  They make the list as a testament to good music always being out there just under the radar.  If you are a fan of the Doors or the Bees, check this out for sure.  Listening to this album (or even just the opening track) makes you think you can kick a giant’s ass.  Dark, moody… deeply talented.

7.  Yeasayer – Odd Blood:  This group from Brooklyn gave us something different for their sophomore album.  It’s really all over the place.  Part techno-pop, part rock, this album plays like a kaleidoscope of sounds with every song taking you to a different part of your very own musical taste, whether intentional or not.  For example, in “Love Me Girl” there’s a techno root there that reminded me of watching Cool As Ice, that Vanilla Ice movie, with my brother in the 80s.  Sure the movie was crap but the memory it evoked by song was more monumental than the actual album.  At any rate, this is a solid effort.  Well worthy of it’s place on the list.  Check out O.N.E. and Rome and tell me you knew it was the same band.  Completely original.

6.     Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest:  A bit more accessible than their previous efforts, this is a Deerhunter for everyone.  Basically every track is great but the standout is the album’s closing goodbye to Jay Reatard “He Would Have Laughed” a multi tiered cacophony of sound that holds on and begs to be played on repeat.  Also check out “Desire Lines” and “Coronado” for the best sax solo in any record put out in the 2000s… I’ll stand by that.  Great driving music.

5.     The Walkmen – Lisbon:  Now don’t get me wrong, this album pissed me off at first.  As a HUGE Walkmen fan, I was disappointed at first when I listened to the opening track “Juveniles”.  During their live shows, prior to the albums release, they would sing this song with their horn section doing the melody in whistles.  It was so moody and dark and awesome enough for me to find flip camera recordings on youtube and convert the audio to wav files so i could listen to it repeatedly.  However, when the album came out there was guitar there, definitely picking up the pace of the song.  This bad taste in my mouth stuck around for about a week until I let the past go and really understood this album for what it was.  A record that starts off a bit slow but builds into something truly monumental by the title track it ends with.  Another solid effort from these guys.

4.     Gorillaz – Plastic Beach:  I was worried at first when I heard all of the guest stars that were taking part in this album but Damon Albarn rarely, if ever, disappoints.  Plastic Beach is more of what you’d expect from the world’s premier group of cartoon rockers with more than it’s fair share of hypnotic tracks and pseudo hip hop to keep your ears busy for weeks.  The sound quality is far superior on this album than any I can think of that came out this year.  Produced beautifully.  Plus, the band has created a brand new album to be given away for free on Christmas day that was created solely on the ipad.  Have a few drinks (or whatever libation you prefer) put on some headphones, and listen to this through… you’ll be blown away.

3.     Broken Bells- Broken Bells:  What do you get when you mix James Mercer of the Shins, and Danger Mouse?  Audio dopeness that’s what.  Danger mouse himself seems to put magic into basically anything he touches but when you add the brilliant song writer of the Shins into the mix you get an album that’s both dizzyingly beautiful and a pleasure to listen to.  On my favorite track, “October” James sings “I know what I know, wont fill a thimble, so let your mind go, straight down the runway”.  A perfect mix of strings, background vocals and spiraling guitar.  Simply a beautiful album.

2.     The National – High Violet:  My love of this Cincinnati to Brooklyn based band is quite legendary.  They’re not for everyone.  Lead singer Matt Berninger’s vocals are baritone so that throws a lot of folks off.  The real draw of the National for me is the pseudo alternate twin language the guitarists speak to each other.  In a DVD released to accompany their previous album Boxer (genius in it’s own right) the brothers worked out the opening to what would eventually be “Terrible Love” without speaking a word.  They simply played respective parts in a near unison until something sounded right and by a simple look in his brother’s direction, they had it figured out.  Literally every single song on High Violet evokes an emotion in me.  This is the true mark of a great album.  When you can remember a time in your life that each and every song relates to, the band has done their job.   Nothing is wasted, not a single song is a throw away, basically every other tracks has been my favorite song at one point or another.  Standouts include… basically the whole album, but if I had to pick one song to sell you on High Violet, it’d be England or Conversation 16.  Perfect background vocals, perfect timing, this is a simply perfect album… again.

1.  Arcade Fire- The Suburbs:   The band’s first effort Funeral didn’t do it for me and I’ll probably catch hell for that.  I understood the appeal, the songs of personal loss, the regality of it. But it didn’t speak to me like it did to everyone else. Neon Bible really struck a chord with me and had me hooked, this outing is no different.  Regine Chassagne and her husband Win Butler are the primary songwriters and do a solid job but Regine’s voice has always bothered the crap out of me on their first two albums with the exception of the cute little French number Black Wave on Neon Bible where I think she finally found her voice.  It’s a bit of a surprise that her track Sprawl II on this album is one of my favorite songs of the year.  But it didn’t stop there.  The album, although not technically a concept record, plays like one.  The Suburbs is an album that every single person can relate to.  These songs are about youth, peer pressure, relationships, and the fear of having to grow up.   On “We Used To Wait” Win sings “Now it seems strange, how we used to wait for letters to arrive.  But what’s stranger still, is how something so small can keep you alive.”  On “City With No Children” he describes his station in life as  “a garden left for ruin by a millionaire inside of a private prison” all with these ethereal background aah’s and oo’s… it’s amazing.  I’ll be listening to this for years to come and probably will never be tired of it.  Kinda like Interpol’s first two records… timeless.

HONERABLE MENTION:

~Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More:  Brilliant debut from this English 4 piece with a banjo player.  Terrific if not moody.

~Hot Panda- How Come I’m Dead:  Blitz of rock and punk mixed up with a bit of technopop… screaming vocals never sounded so sweet.

~Crocodiles – Sleep Forever:  Sounds old school, feels completely new.  Hard to pigeonhole but this album is great.

~Chief – Modern Rituals:  Love this band.  Dreamy guitar driven ballads, harmonies that will make you cry.  For a first effort, this is quite remarkable.

~MGMT – Congratulations:  These kids (20-something) are making rock that is WELL beyond their years.  Psychedelic rock that would make most genre pioneers crap in their pants as to how organic it sounds.

~Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young:  “Out of the Blue” and “Left and Right in the Dark” make my head hurt they’re so good.

~Lightspeed Champion – Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You:  Devonte Hynes folk driven pop melodies.  The only cat I know that can meld strings and a piano etude into a brilliant sophomore album.

Categories: Music