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Entry date: 2-13-2024 – Once Again (the Bet) – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


Verizon is worthless. That’s all I have to say. Don’t get their internet. Don’t do business with them. I can’t wait for our contracts to be finished with them so we can tell them to take a flying leap.

 

Last night I was speaking to a lady from India who lied like a Persian rug. She’s going to make things “more better” for us. She was really nice, though, after I called her out on her lie. I should have been less judgmental. She stayed on the phone with me and tried to fix our internet from India.

 

I hate them, though. Time to light them up.

 

*****

 

Yesterday, Cocaine Baby was pretty much a fuckhead. At the end of the day, he was asking students if they wanted to smell his thumb. He went to the bathroom at least three times in the last two hours of school, so I can only imagine what his thumb smelled like. He was probably sticking it right up his ass.

 

I don’t mean to be crass here, but jeez. That was just the end of a long line of his ridiculous behavior. On a brighter note, I did get to have a short interview with his dad yesterday, too. He asked me to teach Cocaine Baby how to add change. It’s a second-grade skill, but why not? I don’t have 28 other students to worry about.

 

This is the business I’ve chosen.

 

*****

 

When last we heard from The Bet, Friday was headed to Malibu to meet with her parents. The scene is going to shift today…and then the next record.

 

*****

Jonathan blinked his eyes a few times. He didn’t understand what he was seeing. There were lights everywhere and he was naked, laying on his back in the middle of some sort of hospital or something.

 

Where am I, he wondered. He almost said it aloud, but realized as things came into focus, he was on a…could it be? A movie set.

 

A man walked up.

 

“That was great, Z. Perfect, really. You got another one or twelve in you?” asked the man.

 

Jonathan just stared at him.

 

The man continued, “It’s okay, babe. Take 20 or so. It’s going to take us a bit to get things straightened up to go again. (Then shouting to the side) Can somebody get Z his fucking robe?! Let’s get this shit cleaned up and ready to go again. We role in 20.”

 

“Okay, Ron, on it” said another mail voice.

 

A young man ran up and handed Jonathan a navy-blue robe. It was plush and felt really good as he slipped it around his shoulders. Another man walked up and looked at Jonathan. He had a big smile on his face.

 

“Jonny! Can I call you ‘Jonny?’ Oh man, nice take! I’m Bobby Valencia. Vince couldn’t be here today, but he wanted me to welcome you to the team. Can I walk with you to your trailer?”

 

Jonathan was confused. He looked at Valencia’s face closely and finally said, “Sure. I appreciate it.”

 

Valencia helped Jonathan to his feet.

 

“You might want to adjust that robe, Jonny. The ladies are going to be looking and you’re packin’ some heat,” said Valencia.

 

“Oh, shit. Sorry,” was all Jonathan could muster as Valencia tugged at his elbow and walked him out of the soundstage.

 

When the two got out of earshot of anyone else, Valencia leaned in closer and said, “I bet you’re a little confused. We didn’t expect you and we don’t know who you are, but you’re going to make this movie way better than we thought. Let’s go talk.”

 

*****

 

Local boys done good. I was very proud of my friends in Trunk Federation back in the day. This record, The Infamous Hamburger Transfer, really impacted my life and I think it still holds up really nicely.

 

One of the things I enjoy about this one, because all three of the full-length Trunk Federation records are really good, is that it is fucking rockin’. There is a lot of angst and anger layered throughout the record. The lyrics are biting, and the riffs are crisp, angular, and disjointed enough to make a non-fan cringe and a true fan beam with joy.

 

My buddy, Alex, recorded this one for them, so I got to hear about it from different angles back in the day. The Trunk guys were navigating an indie rock world that probably would have been a bit more accommodating to them around the time they stopped being a band, but that’s like crying over spilled (neutral) milk (hotel).

 

I could be very biased here, and I am, but I think this record sounds great. “Sweetbread Viscera” is kind of where I get really excited when I listen to The Infamous Hamburger Transfer. That’s not to take away from “Quality Burn” or “Original Uptight.” I love those songs, too, but “Sweetbread Viscera” has it all going on. Good vocals, excellent guitar work, and the drums are fully engaged and wide awake.

 

Chris Kennedy is one of my all-time favorite drummers. The guy is such an amazing dude and a stellar musician, but on the drums…holy hell. I’ve dreamed about rocking out with him many times, but I also know that we are probably way too different in how we approach things for it to ever work. Plus, I’m not in his league.

 

The drums on all the Trunk Federation are top notch. “Bad Dog-Reject” is perfect example of how Chris can just take a song over and take it to new heights. It was so fun to watch him play this back in the day.

 

It doesn’t hurt that Jim Andreas understands how to punctuate Kennedy’s drumming better than anyone probably ever will. They are of one mind when playing music and it’s a beautiful thing. Their current outfit, No Volcano, is another of my all-time favorite bands. When I pop the music these guys make into the ol’ CD player, it rarely comes out for days and days.

 

I don’t want to leave out Mark Fronstin, who played bass on this record, or my man, Jason Sanford on lead guitar. They both brought all the goods to Trunk Federation, too. It was a great thing for Phoenix when these four decided to become a band.

 

“Young Cherry Trees” is another favorite of mine. I love it when they do their version of a soft/loud Pixies transition in the middle of the song. Whichever lad came up with this idea deserves a nice hug. It’s always been one of my favorite moments on the record.

 

The Infamous Hamburger Transfer really does deserve to be celebrated. The guys may have fonder memories of other records, sure, but I sincerely hope they are proud as hell when they look back on this one. With any band that has a little success and gains some attention from people looking to monetize their art, there is a lot of bullshit to wade through. They waded through their fair share (and it’s their story to tell), but they made this little masterpiece.

 

“Match” has this great part where Andreas repeats, “You set me up” that always gets me in the feelers. It could be Sanford’s guitar riff that follows it that is just so wistful and full of the type of aching sadness that matches the tenor of the song. Sanford is so good at using his guitar to convey emotion.

 

Even when the band was getting kind of arty and weird on “Alright,” they still made it so damn interesting. Listen to the song if you don’t believe me. It’s not really a tribute to their former label head, but it’s also kind of charming in a noisy, heavy, plodding way.

 

“Over Rater” is another stunner, though. You get lulled into a false sense of security by the opening riff before the band says, “Hey there! Fuck you.” Andreas really brings the feeling of frustration to light. The lyrics related to me then and still do now. That feeling of getting older and figuring out things aren’t what you thought they were is very real.

 

“Used to..pop a wheel/ Used to…suck!!” is a great ending line.

 

I’m still in awe of how the boys brought The Infamous Hamburger Transfer to a close. The last four songs are just phenomenal. “Edible” is charming and supremely memorable with its “Jello” chorus. “Pinhead” is another set of great lyrics. Andreas has my rapt attention from the first line and keeps it the whole song.

 

The soft spot in my heart just swells when I hear the opening notes of “St. Francis.” I love Fronstin’s bass line on this one so much. It is kind of understated, but it has always caught my ear. When the guitars step into the spotlight around the 90 second mark, Mark’s back there just keeping it all together. I love it even more when it happens again around 3:15. It’s easy to get lost in what Jim, Chris, and Jason are doing, but Mark just keeps the song driving forward. Bass players are always the secret weapon.

 

For a record to be truly exceptional for me, it better have a great last song. The Infamous Hamburger Transfer has “Beanie’s Soft Toy Factory” as the caboose. I used to play Fronstin’s bass line in Hillbilly practice sometimes when I thought no one was paying attention. It is just fun to play, but this is really Andreas’ song. I love how he approaches it.

 

I’m very proud to call these men my friends, but I’m also a fan. It’s nice when you can be both. Thanks, dudes, for making this piece of art. It’s gotten me through a lot of tough times and inspired me to make better music.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



I may have been buzzed.

Beers flow in Maine like water.

Double chin's don't win.

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Finally did my homework ... great read Tom and I need that record!

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Awesome. Hope our paths cross soon.

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