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Entry date: 2-6-2024 – Never Praise the Universe (without expecting a punch in the dick) – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


Over the weekend, I praised the universe a lot. I was feeling the love after going to the wedding and such and I got a little ahead of myself. I forgot that when you say how the universe provides for you, it will also remind you that it can taketh away. Yesterday it did just that.


It’s a boring, bill-related story, so I will spare the specifics, but sometimes things get way more expensive even though nothing tangible has changed. So, universe, I see you. You are yin and yang, good and bad, friend and foe. Well played, expanse. Well played.




Other than that little hiccup, though, it was a decent Monday. I survived without coughing too much. I’m also coughing up the junk, which is always a good sign for me. When my body begins to purge itself of colorful, chunky matter, I’m on the mend. Hopefully the voice comes back before we play our next Hillbilly show in two and a half weeks. I think it will.




Rhondi made Mexican food the other day and I’ve been enjoying the hell out of the leftovers. Just some simple beans and ground beef, but still. As I have mentioned, I have very simple needs when it comes to food. I can eat the same thing for days and days, so I’m in heaven at the moment. I’ve probably got at least one more dinner of nachos or burritos to go. Hooray!




The Cocaine Baby was on one yesterday. Holy crap does that kid just forget everything sometimes. He started off well, too. He finished strong last week and, stupidly, I praised him for that. By midway through the morning, he had transgressed enough to lose his lunch recess, which punishes me more than him.


I forget, in the heat of the moment, that he probably needs recess even more than a regular student. I need to come up with better consequences for him. Like when he bent over and blasted a huge fart in the middle of the afternoon. I felt bad for the student who was about three feet away from him at that moment. If he comes down with pink eye, I’ll be very sad for him and feel partially responsible.


Fucking Cocaine Baby.




There is a parallel universe out there where I grew up a metalhead. When I first got to Deer Valley High School in September of 1983, one of the things I noticed was how many metal fans went to school there. They had the long hair and the concert shirts and the moccasins that laced up to the knee.


Not everybody, I guess, wore the “hessian” moccasins. A lot of people wore your basic Nike high tops, too, in those days. I don’t think Converse All-stars were quite in vogue just yet for the alternative-types, but I digress. Metal was huge at my new school, and it was eye opening for me. In 1983, I didn’t have a style, really, outside of what everyone in my middle school had worn.


We wore polo shirts and OP’s and plaid shorts. I was a blend of preppy and surfer, I suppose. I don’t think my friends and I cared about rocking the boat, clothing-wise, and I certainly didn’t have the confidence to be myself just yet. I didn’t know I could do that, actually.


I liked music, though, and some of the metal bands were interesting to me. I liked Ozzy Osbourne’s stuff a lot and early on, I embraced Iron Maiden and Motley Crue. I will probably write about all three of them at some point.


The thing is, a few twists and turns here and there, and I’m probably less of a punk rock guy and more of a devoted metal fan. It’s there in my DNA, as my buddy Bobby likes to say about music. Bobby says that some genres are there, and some are not and I get that. In some other universe, though, I’ve played in tons of metal bands and am probably writing about how I wish I could be in a punk band.


Towards the end of high school, I started seeing people wearing Exodus shirts and thought they were bad ass, but I never checked them out. It wasn’t until my late 20s or early 30s when someone hipped me to the sound of the band. They had the thrash metal sound I really liked.


Bonded by Blood is a really great thrash metal record. When New Times let me write a big cover story on the best Thrash Metal albums of all time, I had to include Bonded by Blood on the list. It’s that good.


Funny thing, though, is that Bonded by Blood doesn’t really get going, in my opinion, until “A Lesson In Violence,” which is the fourth track. Gary Holt wrote this one and it is just a scorcher. Sure, the first three tracks are really good, but for me, the album becomes special at track four. “Bonded by Blood” is a great opener and title track, but there are parts of it that sound very “typical” to me.


“Exodus” and “And Then There Were None” are both good, too, but just not as memorable as “A Lesson in Violence.” I think there is an element of the first few songs on Bonded by Blood that kind of reminds me of a suped-up Judas Priest. I am just not a big fan of Judas Priest. They’re still better than Guns ‘n’ Roses, though.


At just under four minutes, “A Lesson in Violence” just hits you in the face. Listening to it makes me want to be in a thrash metal band, like really bad. There is a yearning, as they say, but I don’t know if I could keep up any more.


“Metal Command” is another ass kicker, but the party keeps going for the rest of the record. There are riffs on “No Love” and “Deliver Us to Evil,” for example, that make you almost forget that there were other great thrash metal bands from California in those days.


Speaking of the Bay Area, the thrash scene up there definitely rivaled our scene here in Phoenix. We had a core of devoted thrash metal fans here, but up there…wow. It makes sense, though, with all of the great thrash bands that came from both places. It would be amazing to take one of the coveted time travel trips to see Exodus play before Kirk Hammett left for Metallica. 



“Strike of the Beast” closes things out and seals the deal on this kick ass record. Every time I listen to Bonded by Blood, I just feel ready to go out and fuck shit up. That’s a good thing in my book.




See you tomorrow.

There was a time

when I thought hoop was life

that hoop was beautiful and free

There was a time when the ball spoke to me


and I spoke to it

We repeated ourselves


and lost

and found each other again

we soared.

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