Oh, fucking hell. In a world of screeching guitars and screechier vocalists, Soundgarden was heavier, with more of a Sabbath-influenced sound, and they eschewed guitar shredding for emotion and momentum. They were my first baby steps out of the classic and hair metal rock genres, which dominated my high school years, and pointed the way towards my future tastes. Seasons was one of the key songs of my later college years, and still remains one of my favorite all-time songs. I’m sad to see him gone.
I read an article last week ranking the best entries in a book series about seminal albums in music history, and I got curious. The series is called 33 1/3 (RPM for LP vinyl, you whippersnappers) and it covers everything from the Rolling Stones to Public Enemy. The authors are different for each volume, and there are (as of this writing) 120 books in total. Intrigued, I looked through Amazon’s listings, found that Paul’s Boutique was rated highly, and bought a used copy.
The books themselves are small, but there’s a pleasing amount of information per page. Dan Le Roy, the author, starts out at the launch party for the album and then resets the clock to the end of the Licensed to Ill tour, explaining where the band was creatively, why they moved to L.A., how they eventually met the Dust Brothers and a man named Matt Dike (the unsung third producer of the album), smoked a mountain of weed, somehow recorded the album, and details the aftermath of the release (which bombed). The end of the book is a track-by-track runthrough of the album which goes into short detail about the stories, samples, and background of each.
I was not a fan of Licensed to Ill when it was released; all the proto-bros in my high school loved it, which didn’t compute (these were the same casual racists who hated rap and loved Slayer) and I couldn’t stand the nasal whine of their delivery.
Paul’s Boutique is a touchstone from my college years, after I’d been exposed to De La Soul, Tribe, and Jungle Brothers, and found that I did, in fact, like hip hop. The first time I heard it I was blown away by how different it was from what had come before. It was the soundtrack of most of the parties I was at in the latter half of college. It stands as a monument in my life for a time of optimism, poverty, boundless creative energy, and a sudden discovery of who I was and what I was good at for the first time in my life.
Holy shit, this is genius.
I had a bit of an argument via text with the bro, who showed up late last Tuesday to mow the lawn before our appraisal, and then asked for more money because it started to rain while he was working. When I pointed out to him that it didn’t get done the previous weekend, and that we had standing arrangements to mow every week, he started arguing with me. Fuck that. He showed up late on Saturday with his mower, knocked on the door, and left (I know this because Jen was making dinner and told me he was out front; by the time I got to the front of the house he was halfway down the sidewalk). What the fuck? Then he texted me his address and asked me to drop the cash off at his house. Fuck you. So I’m going to dust off the POS mower I bought 13 years ago, clean the varnish out of the carb, and finish out the season myself. We’ll look for someone new to handle brainless labor for us next year.
Speaking of the appraisal, it went exceptionally well, and we’re closing on the refi sometime next week. This is fantastic news for our family, and I’m so relieved we’ve gotten this far.
On Sunday I walked out to the pile of felled logs in the backyard and started clearing out the small stuff toward the back. We’ve got a small amount of dry wood left from the elm we dropped in 2005 but the rest of the cradle was empty. I started moving the small pieces onto the cradle, and decided to chop the bark off as I went. When I hit a couple of pieces with the ax, they split cleanly. This was surprising. So I got Dad’s orange maul from the garage and started splitting. By 2PM the old cradle was full and I’d barely made a dent in the pile.
I then built an identical cradle with new wood and Finn helped me dig some level ground to place it behind the first, and then we transferred the wood so that the front cradle was empty. Then I split some more wood while Finn stacked. By dinnertime I was pretty beat so we cleaned up the tools and came inside for a delicious dinner of collard greens and cheese grits. Cold beer has rarely tasted so good.
Some of the rounds out there are five feet in diameter, and there are scores of them. I’m going to need at least another cradle or maybe two to fit all this wood, and that’s after splitting it with two of my neighbors. Not a bad problem to have…
On Saturday, Jen and I sat down and had a chat with Finn about what’s been happening in the latest news cycle, and tried to make a teaching moment about a presidential candidate grabbing women by the pussy. We figure she’s going to hear about it from some kid at school, and we’d rather she talk it through with us instead of get bad information through the second grade grapevine. She handled it pretty well, I think. We’ve had the talk with her before about people saying bad things or trying to touch her where they shouldn’t, so it’s not a foreign concept, but it sucks to have to explain that the possible future president of our country is such a fucking douchebag.
How awesome is this? in August, a guy from Arkansas played Tears For Fears’ Everybody Wants To Rule The World on hammered dulcimer and posted it to Facebook, where it got a lot of hits. In September, Curt Smith and Jamie Wollam from Tears For Fears traveled to his house and did another version with vocals and drumming:
I love stories like this. In light of all the horseshit happening right now, it gives me hope for humanity.
I got an email late Tuesday with the subject line “Grab your umbrella and a dour attitude”, which meant that the stars have aligned for me to travel to London at the end of this month on business. I’m going to be shooting video for a series of interviews about the New Climate Economy. We’re planning on a 3-camera shoot in front of a backdrop, and then adding animation in post-production. I’m a wee bit nervous because I’m going to rent a bunch of gear in London and handle the logistics myself, and I have no idea what the inside of the venue looks like (so there’s no advance scouting). It could mean that I’m recording the former President of Mexico in a coat closet. But, London! Video production! I can’t wait.
Friday evening we were invited to a friends’ birthday party with a standing invitation to bring an instrument and jam with the host. I’d known about this party for a couple of weeks, and I was nervous to join in, especially after we arrived and I heard the guys playing. There was an older guy playing drums in a flailing Buddy Rich style, an excellent keyboardist who was doing double duty holding the bass line down, a guitarist, and a saxophone player who was staggeringly good. I hung out for a while, drank a few beers, and when I had my liquid courage, I got my bass and amp from the car and set up.
They were taking a short break, but everybody assembled again and the drummer asked me to lay something down. Nervously, I started a very basic figure and the whole band picked it up. From then on out, we played whatever anyone could think of, from improv noodling to a couple of songs– Sympathy for the Devil was fun as hell to play, and I was just locking into the groove of Stevie Wonder’s I Wish when it wound down. It was exhilarating, and when another guy sat down at the drums, I found his style easier to lock in with. Three hours later, by the time we had to leave, my right index and pointer fingers were numb but I had so much fun I didn’t care. A bunch of the players walked up and thanked me for sitting in, something I wasn’t expecting but very much appreciated, and all I did was gush back at them in awe. I don’t know if he’s thinking of doing that as a regular event, but I’d love to learn some standards and go back to play again. And I’m definitely going to pick up the Stevie Wonder songbook, because that was fun as hell to play.
The shutters are now installed on our front windows. The only thing left to do after priming and painting them was to get full sets of hinges, and I’d pulled four off of our existing windows. Not looking forward to another day on the ladder, we took a drive back down to Second Chance and I dug through their boxes to find only one complete shutter hinge. On a hunch, I walked back to the shutter section and hunted around until I found a pair of shutters with the hinges I needed (male hinges with intact pins) and bought them both. By 5:30 that evening all four shutters were hung, and the house looks much better, if I do admit.
Because we got a late start Saturday morning, Finley and I missed most of the yard sales in the neighborhood, but we did look at one that was right down the street. Sitting on a barstool I saw a beat up Emerson 544 radio and offered the lady $10 for it, which she took. The woodwork on the face is in rough shape, but the rounded shell is still OK, and I think I can find a way to make a new dial cover for it. So, for the first time in years, I’ve got another radio to work on.
In other musical news, Finn had her second piano recital on Sunday afternoon in the church across the street. She did really well as the 4th of about twelve kids to play, and Bear brought Auntie Christi to listen as well.