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Entry date: 1-17-2024 – Woolly Mammoths and Rice – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

Goals are good things to have. I set them all the time and quite often, I reach them in some capacity. The outcome is not always exactly like I wanted or planned, but that is more often related to my execution and planning more than anything else. Plenty of people talk a good game, but most of us never write down our goals and that is a big help to being successful with accomplishing them.

 

What is my goal for today?

 

I have to meet with about ten parents this afternoon, either on the phone or in person, and I will make sure and tell them everything I need to tell them. I have a couple of tough conversations in front of me, too. I have to tell a few parents that their children are not going to be ready for fifth grade unless they start helping them at home. There is only so much I can do in a classroom of 30 during the day.

 

That is my goal for today. Tough but honest conversations about where the students are and where they need to get to in the next four-ish months. It’s a reasonable goal and I can measure my success or failure when I look at my notes for each conversation.

 

*****

 

I’m struggling a bit with my decision to stop drinking. I think it is my brain fucking with me. I just want to stop thinking about alcohol. It happens way too often, and I keep playing through the different scenarios in my head of how, maybe, I can drink in a healthy way.

 

Perhaps I should pay more attention to the Tao of Bowie book and let this stuff go.  Just be present in the moment and put aside destructive or fanciful thoughts by remembering that there is no benefit to me to be attached to things (or beers) and life is, if anything, impermanent.

 

Another goal for today: Be here now.

 

*****


Woolly Mammoths and Rice

“Dinner” she grunted.

The children didn’t grin.

Smoke could be seen for miles

And that was dangerous.

 

“Dinner” she grunted.

The man came back from hunting.

Dog beasts were following,

Feeling lucky to survive another day.

 

“Dinner” she grunted.

Plurality was not a concept she could glean.

Bummer, too,

Because this Mammoth was tasty.


*****


Somebody I knew, maybe Jeff, had a copy of Let Them Eat Jellybeans, the Alternative Tentacles comp from the early 80s that just rules. The first song on it is “Ha Ha Ha” by Flipper. I really liked that song, so I bought myself a copy of Generic Flipper somewhere around 1989, I’m guessing.

 

I wasn’t disappointed by any stretch of the imagination. It was, and is, a paean to all things made to irk people. I have to believe that Flipper exists out of the desire of the original members to piss people off. You only need to listen to “Life is Cheap” to see what I mean. It’s the second track on the record and it just grinds away.

 

And grinds away.

 

And then grinds away some more. It’s not quite four minutes long, but it seems much longer. Soon after I bought the record, I remember putting it on at my apartment and my friend, Josh, came over to visit. We were sitting there at the small bar that separated the kitchen from my living room/bedroom (it was a studio) and somewhere during either “Life is Cheap” or “Shed No Tears” he looked at me with the, “What the fuck is this?” look.

 

From that point, I became much more of a closet Flipper fan. I didn’t try to play it for people because most either didn’t get it or didn’t like it or both.

 

I kick myself sometimes for not going to see them in 1991 in Berkeley. They played a few times while I lived there. There was one time when they were playing Berkeley Square and I was in the car (the one that the owner of Roxy Food Mart let me use to do deliveries) outside, but I didn’t go in. My friends had told me that it was a bad scene in there and that Flipper shows were full of junkies, so I decided to save the $10 or so I had in my pocket to eat with the next day.

 

Regrets.

 

If people can make it far enough, Generic Flipper really takes off after “Shed No Tears.” The fifth track (and, by the way, I do own this on both CD and vinyl), “(I Saw You) Shine” is a favorite of mine. I like how the snaky little bassline that starts it just floats on and on and on. The song is over eight minutes long of basically the same thing. You can say that seeds were planted in my head with this one.

 

After “(I Saw You) Shine” comes “Way Of The World” which is another slow, grinding masterpiece. Perhaps people need to look at Flipper the same way they look at marathons. If you really want to run for 26.2 miles, you have to have determination, grit, and stamina. It’s the same for making through one side of a Flipper record, let alone the whole thing.

 

“Way Of The World” is another fun little bass line. It’s too bad that Will Shatter died. He would have probably continued to crank out nimble bass lines that go on and on for a long time. Heroin is a bitch, though. If you would have asked me back in 1989, I would have probably picked this one for my favorite Flipper song but some days it would have been the one that comes right after it, which is “Life.”

 

I love the line in “Life” that says “Life is the only thing worth living for.” I have come back to it a lot in my life. It pops up when things are tough to remind me that being alive is a good thing. Not that suicidal ideations are much of a presence in my head, but more that you just have to wrap your arms around yourself sometimes and pull yourself through whatever you are going through at the moment. It’s a simple thought and probably was just a lark for the Flipper peeps, but I dig it.

 

I’ve always wondered if “Nothing” was a little homage to Richard Hell. There has to be some connection there. In fact, “Living For The Depression” also has a bit of a New York/No Wave kind of thing going on, too. I’d have to believe there was some New York envy going on for some San Francisco boys and girls.

 

“Sex Bomb” closes out the record. It’s a glorious little bit of fun with all kinds of noise happening in there. Flipper did a thing back in 1981. I’m glad they did.

 

***** 

 

See you tomorrow.



We played with The Flesheaters in 2019, I think, or 2018. I don't remember. It was fun and it was cool to meet Chris D in person and spend a little time with John Doe again. It was the only time with played with The Brand, too. RIP Sarah.

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