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Entry date: 2-29-2024 – Leap Day – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


Well, forgive me for vague-ing out on you today, but yesterday was a motherfucker. The biggest motherfucker of it is not really my story to tell, but I will share this: I love my kids as much as I can love them (and that’s a lot) and yesterday the universe threatened one of them.


You better fuck right off, universe. I’ll come for you.




On a good note, yesterday the Cocaine Baby came through in a way that made some people happy, including me. We were starting a class, and we got an unexpected visit from some higher ups. I asked a question and Cocaine Baby raised his hand. I was quaking on the inside because he often just wants to spout off whatever crazy thing is in his head, but damned if the little man didn’t get the answer right.


I couldn’t even look at the visitors because I probably would have lost it. I did get a nice email later, though, thanking me for doing a great job with him. It makes me feel bad about all the times I’ve wanted to strangle him. (Just kidding. He makes me want to take up sky diving, though)


Cocaine Baby had a pretty good day yesterday. I couldn’t help but share it with people who would get a kick out of it, too. As dark as some of the days have been lately, it made it all worth it.



This whole Leap Day thing made me think about what I was doing the last time we got an extra February day. It was 2020 and we were on the brink of a pandemic. I looked it up and that was the day of the first confirmed US death from COVID-19. It was also a Saturday. I would have been teaching the day before. That year, I finished my day with 6th graders and they were mostly awful.


Those kids are all in their 10th grade year now. I bet a few of them are incarcerated. I wish I were kidding. I’m sure a few of the worst ones have turned it around, but I know a few of them have gotten themselves in real trouble by now. It was awful.


I do remember being pretty concerned about COVID, but nothing was for sure yet. I don’t really think anything is truly that “For sure” now. Like this year, I was looking forward to Spring Break. Little did I know that I would not be returning to work again after Spring Break that year until late July.




 Bathroom update: More demolition happened yesterday. They did put the toilet back, though, which was nice. There are multiple machines drying that part of the house out. The leak was way worse than I imagined.


Hurry up and wait time, now. We won’t get anywhere with the insurance until next Wednesday. Isn’t that nice?




Once you were open

A fortress of solitude

And you were all mine




The Dead Kennedys were huge for me in the mid-to-late 80s. The more I learned about Biafra, the more liked what he had to say and, more importantly, the way he said it. When I learned that he had a collaboration with Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker of Ministry, I was in like Flynn. I didn’t know much about drummer Jeff Ward, but I certainly liked his sound.


The Power of Lard burst into my consciousness like a rocket when it came out in 1989. I was always looking for anything that was heavy and and Lard was there waiting for me. I bought it right away.


“Hey, man! Life is my college.”


What a great line. It’s typical Jello Biafra, right? “Who will babysit the babysitters?” Jello Biafra has always been right up there with my favorite lyricists. I was plenty hungry for a new project of his and Lard was kickass out of the gates. I must have played this CD a hundred times in my apartment in 1989, although I usually only listened to the first two songs.



 The Power of Lard is only three songs, but one of them is over half an hour long. Jourgensen’s guitar work on the EP is pretty stellar and the two opening songs, “The Power of Lard” and “Hellfudge” allow Biafra to really do his thing. The lyrics I quoted earlier are from the former.


At the time, I don’t know if I had ever heard an almost 32-minute song, though. “Time to Melt” is an opus to self-indulgence for the studio musician. Clearly Biafra, Barker (bass), Jourgensen, and Ward had a blast making this EP. They ended up making a really kick ass follow up LP, The Last Temptation of Reid right afterwards that came out the next year.


Once I heard The Last Temptation of Reid, I was able to forgive them for “Time to Melt.” It’s not that I hated the long song, but I could have been a lot happier if the song was about four minutes long.


“Forkboy” and “Pineapple Face,” though, got The Last Temptation of Reid going right off the bat and reminded me of the type of energy that I loved from the Dead Kennedys. “Voodoo Priestesses and interplanetary crack”…such a great line that is delivered over the space rock riff. When I listen to “Pineapple Face,” my blood starts pumping. It doesn’t seem like a six-minute song at all.


The riff, of course, is total Barker/Jourgensen. I wonder how the die-hard Ministry fans feel about Lard. I’ hope they dig it. I know Biafra’s voice doesn’t do it for a lot of people but again, his lyrics are just so damn good.


Bill Rieflin played drums on “Forkboy” and “Mate Spawn & Die,” the latter of which is the third track. It’s probably why these ones sound particularly Ministry-ish, although “Mate Spawn & Die” is a total Dead Kennedys riff. Rieflin was such a good drummer.


“Mate Spawn & Die” is another one that got me going a lot. When I moved to Berkeley for half a year in 1991, I was kinda bummed that I didn’t meet more people who were as excited about Lard as I was. I hoped I might get to see them, but it never materialized.


One of the cool aspects of the Lard songs was they are substantial. They are long, but there is a lot going on in there. “Drug Raid At 4AM” is another bad ass riff and killer opening with a bunch of interesting and hilarious samples about a drug raid. I would love to know what the writing process was for these guys. I have to think Biafra was responsible for some of the riffs, but maybe not. The Ministry guys might have just channeled the DK stuff and made it their own here.


“Drug Raid At 4AM” and “Can God Fill Teeth” are both a ton of fun. Biafra is up to his “acting” schtick, doing funny voices on “Can God Fill Teeth.” It’s a nice little nuggets of weirdness, for sure.


“Bozo Skeleton” is kinda filler, but still way better than Guns N Roses. I haven’t used that line in a bit, but it’s appropriate here. Lard should have sold more copies than Appetite for Destruction.


“Sylvestre Matuschka” is another good one, though, and has some excellent Barker/Jourgensen stuff going on. I kinda love the weirdness on “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” and “I Am Your Clock” is awesome in its own way, too. Biafra is on fire on that one. 


I wasn’t super into the later Lard stuff, but these first two releases are keepers, for sure. If you haven’t checked’em out (or in a while), give them a spin.




See you tomorrow.

My shower.

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Re-pipe as much as you can with pex while you have it open. It'll handle the corrosive Phoenix hard water better than copper.

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Ryan is going to redo the pipes for us. Lucky to have a son in the biz.

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