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Entry date: 2-16-2024 - Lost In America: Bummer Edition - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


I had this series of dreams on Wednesday night that has stuck with me. I was driving across the country, which is something I love to do. During this drive, though, I kept getting lost. It was wonderful in many ways. My dreams were leading me through the most interesting countryside and towns.


On the other hand, it was also very stressful, and I kept waking up in a similar state as I do when I have a bad dream. You probably know the feeling, I'm guessing, where you wake up thinking "What the fuck was that? Please let it stop." For me, though, dreams often go right back to where they were.


I remember trying to use my cell phone's navigational apps and either I could get a signal, or I was not able to make it work because I was also trying to drive. The other part that was super weird and discomforting was that we seemed to be stuck in Texas. The towns we (because Rhondi was with me in sort of the dream and Liam was copiloting in another part, although I was also alone for part of the trek) went through were so real, too.


At one point we were in or near San Antonio. I've never been there, but my dream version of San Antonio was quite cool looking. Part of the stressful side of the dream was that I kept getting very distracted by the things I was seeing in my dreams and wandering away from the main objective. I went way out of the way in my dream San Antonio, which was hilly and kind of a cross between Bisbee, Arizona and Augusta, Maine, but bigger, to find a place to eat, for example, and then realized when I finally did see a map that I was hundreds of miles off course.


As I type this, I realize I do this to myself quite often. I get distracted so easily about some things and stay hyper focused on others. This makes the journey stressful, and life IS a journey. Dreams have been really vivid lately. I feel like I am fighting something heavy in a lot of them, but unlike times in the past when I have had similarly stressful dreams, when I punch back or fight back, I am getting somewhere.

 

*****

 

It’s funny that my dreams a couple nights ago mirrored the day I had yesterday. The Cocaine Baby got in another fight yesterday during PE with another student. In the fight, Cocaine Baby gave the other boy a big scratch on his neck. I sent him to the nurse when I picked them up to take them back to our classroom as Cocaine Baby is not the cleanest kid in the world.

 

I think I have mentioned that Cocaine Baby occasionally shits himself. When this happens, he puts his hand down his pants to do something, I’m sure what, with the shit. When I relayed the story last night during Hillbilly practice, Trent mentioned that his fingers were like little Pungi sticks.

 

That was the first of two write ups I did yesterday.

 

As I was walking the students out to the back gate at dismissal yesterday, I saw the little bully doing his thing. I believe I have mentioned him. Now that Cocaine Baby has been kicked out to the daycare he went to, he walks with me in the afternoons, too. I’m waiting for Cocaine Baby and Bully Boy to either join forces or fight. There has to be some sort of mutual admiration thing between them at some point.

 

Either way, I was about 30 feet behind Bully Boy and his usual victim and saw him menacingly approaching so I scooted up quick and managed to get behind Bully Boy so I could hear what he was saying. When I heard, I was pretty shocked. It was a new one for me, that’s for sure. I wasn’t expecting it to come out of the mouth of a 4th grader.

 

“Do you like BBC?”

 

“What are you talking about?” said the noticeably scared student.

 

“Do you like BBC?”

 

“I don’t know what that is,” said the scared student.

 

This is where I chimed in.

 

“What’s BBC?” I asked.

 

Bully Boy turned around and looked at me with the “Oh shit” face. I had him.

 

He muttered something like, “It’s a joke” then “I don’t know” and scurried off toward the gate which was about 75 yards away.

 

“What does it mean,” I asked again. “Does it mean ‘Brownies, Bubble Gum, and Candy?”

 

He looked at me like I was either the biggest dumb ass in the world or maybe, just maybe, I was fucking with him. The victim caught up to me and repeated that he didn’t know what they were talking about but had been asking him for quite a bit of the walk to the gate. Another student confirmed this, too.

 

As I was walking with the student who will probably be told today what “BBC” means and will then feel super uncomfortable and sick to his stomach, I heard Bully Boy and some likeminded mini cretins saying, “Big black cock” and giggling. Hopefully they aren’t tempting the universe to bring a little of that into their lives when they inevitably end up in prison.

 

That’s very harsh, but at that moment, I was wishing karma would smite them. I wrote it up and I’m guessing nothing will come of it. I’d gladly volunteer to go into the classroom and teach a class on sexual harassment, but that would freak out the kids who actually behave like they are 9 or 10.

 

*****

 

Luckily, we had a nice Hillbilly Devilspeak practice, and some demons were exercised. It’s so rad that we can take almost five months off from playing together, walk into room, hug it out, and rock like we had played the night before. Seriously. It was killer. Show coming up next week at Rip’s with Sick in the Head and Puppy & The Handjobs.

 

*****

 

I don’t remember exactly when Alex and I met. He had met my friend, Christina, when his band Fudge Tunnel was on tour with either Sepultura or another band that Christina was working for at the time. Christina did merch and Fudge Tunnel was an upcoming band from Nottingham, England. Either way, it was a very good thing for me.

 

First of all, Alex became one of my best friends for quite a while and someone I still think is pretty damn great. I wish we had spent more time together in the last 20 years, but what can you do? Life is strange sometimes and it keeps people in their respective corners.

 

I think before he came to Arizona, Christina had given me a copy of Hate Songs In E Minor and I fucking loved it. It reminded me, to an extent, of this band I had been listening to a bit for the last couple of years before called Nirvana, but it was so much heavier. It also just kept driving its point right into my skull.

 

Like Cobain, Alex has a guitar sound/tone that just etches itself into your brain. As I listened to Hate Songs, I was really inspired to make some heavy music. As he and I started to grow a friendship, I was starting to get Hillbilly Devilspeak going and he was super helpful to me in doing so, but that’s another story.

 

I will share that the first time we hung out, we went to a Sbarro’s Pizza. I think I went to the house Christina lived in at the time and picked him up and we hit Paradise Valley mall. In the last 30 years, my memory is a little hazy for some details. It might not have been PV Mall. It might have been a Sbarro’s near a music shop or record store.

 

I wanted to ask him so many questions about Hate Songs, but I don’t think I did. I was playing it cool, and it was pretty clear early on that we were going to form an actual friendship. This was way more important and over those first few years, he shared several great stories about how Hate Songs came about.

 

The thing about this record is, though, that it has continued to be highly enjoyable to me all these years. I dust it off and listen to it for a few days at a time at least once a year. Sometimes I reach for the other Fudge Tunnel records, too, this is true, but Hate Songs is the one that keeps calling me back.

 

The opening riff is just pure heavy. It’s so good, too, that they revisit it twice, so you get a regular speed version to start Side A off and then another, slower, more brutal version to close it out. I’ve always dug that.

 

“Bed Crumbs” starts out with a nice little bit of driving bass from the great David Ryley before the guys do their version of something like a backwoods AC/DC riff that has been tortured by angry cyborgs. It’s delicious. Ryley put out the first Hillbilly 7” on his BGR Records label in 1994 and then put out the project Alex and I did, Son of Crackpipe, in 1995.

 

“Spanish Fly” and “Kitchen Belt” are also heavy and full of vigorous riffage. I haven’t mentioned Adrian Parkin yet, but man can that guy hit the skins. I remember listening to this before I actually got to meet those guys or see pictures of them and just picturing these hulking beasts. I mean, they had to be at least kind of scary looking to make this great, heavy music. I was wrong.

 

You couldn’t meet nicer guys. Pretty normal looking, too, although Alex did have some pretty long hair when we met. I suppose that gave him an edge in the early 90s. I tease, of course.

 

I love the opening of “Boston Baby” where Ryley goes off a bit on his bass while Alex lets the feedback ride before kicking in with Adrian leading the way. This song should have been fucking huge because it is fucking huge. Maybe it’s the subject matter. No one wants to chew bubble gum and sing about dead babies. Well, no one except me and a few thousand others who probably still love this record.

 

When Fudge Tunnel comes up among people in the know, it’s always fun to hear them laud the praise on these guys if they don’t know of my connection to Alex. People who know this record revere it and know, I didn’t choose that word because Revere is a town in Massachusetts. I’m not that clever.

 

Hate Songs just bludgeons you with one heavy riff after another. It’s fantastic. There is no real let-up on this record and the band never takes their foot off the gas. Each track just lays down the fucking law. “Gut Rot” is no different and “Soap and Water” just keeps piling it on.

 

For some people, the constant onslaught might be too much, but I’ve always loved how these guys just rode the horse that brought them all the way til the cover songs. I’d be remiss, too, if I didn’t mention that I’ve always loved the chorus on “Soap and Water.” You can really hear some of the post-punk influences I would later learn Alex had (and he would hip me to many of those for the first time, too).

 

“Tweezers” starts with another kind of backwoods-y sounding riff that was probably ripped off by about twenty stoner rock bands in the decade after Hate Songs In E Minor came out. I certainly heard enough of them try to recreate this feel at Hollywood Alley over the years. There is a super stony bridge/breakdown in the middle that is actually way more Gang of Four than Weedeater, but either band would have loved it.

 

In a bit of competitive irony, perhaps, humor, or just a whole lot of “Fuck you because we can!” attitude, the band covers “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream and “Cat Scratch Fever” at the end of Hate Songs. These must’ve been stellar live when the band was firing on all cylinders. They are also just really fucking fun to listen to at loud volumes.

 

Fudge Tunnel eventually turns them both into a volley of mottled noise, grunts, and big guitars. Perfection.

 

Dedicated to the fuckin’ Nuge! Turn this record up when you play it.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



Hillbilly Devilspeak 1997

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1 Comment


I have some homework to do, I'm not familiar with that Fudge Tunnel record. I'll check it out. Glad to hear Hillbilly is practicing, very nice.

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