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Entry date: 3-13-2024 – Wacky Wednesdaddy – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

 

Happy middle of the week. Today is a day of endless possibilities. Today is a story telling day.

 

*****

 

Yesterday was quite a day, too. Michael C. and I went out to the Scottsdale Mountain Preserve and hit the Granite Basin trailhead. What a nice hike that is out there. We saw several rattlesnakes, too. That was unnerving, to say the least. Those fuckers let you know that they are not happy.

 

I didn’t get bitten, though. I was very nervous about a little dog that we saw getting nipped. It just seemed like the perfect size dog to get killed right quick with a bite from one of those slippery sun hogs. Even though the snakes were out, it was still a great walk. Felt good to get some exercise.

 

Michael and I had a great talk and then we had some lunch afterwards where the chat continued. He always gives me a good perspective on things. I appreciate him a ton. I have some new goals, too.

 

*****

 

We talked a lot about bike riding and Michael shared some things about mountain biking with me. I really wish I could mountain bike. It seems like a ton of fun, but I have no luck with two-wheeled vehicles.

 

Looking back, I have very few pleasant memories of two-wheeled vehicles. This includes scooters and motorcycles, too. I fell. A. Lot. I have scars.

 

Sure, yes, I know, everyone has scars from a bike ride. There is probably a better chance that a person will have a scar from a bike riding incident than not in my age group, but still. Statistically, I probably have been way more successful in my bike riding than I am willing to admit, but the truth is, I just don’t feel super comfortable on a bike.

 

When I think back to my childhood, I can remember a lot of spills on bikes. I know I rode home a lot when nothing happened, but I can think of a few mishaps on Butler Drive, for example, and then the biggie when I lost my sense of smell. That was in Deer Valley. I can remember laying down my friend Jason’s scooter trying to take a corner too fast at Deer Valley High School, too. That tore up my ankle pretty good.

 

The only bike that I don’t have bad memories related to riding it is my beach cruiser. Those are just not good for the type of riding I wish I could do. I want to ride through the forests of Maine, for example, or at Dreamy Draw. I want to do the mountain biking thing, but I fear it would be the end of me.

 

 

 

***** 

 

When The Father Figures got started in 2009, we picked a few covers that we wanted to jam on during our initial practices. One of those was “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver” by Mission of Burma. I’d been a fan of the song for a while and as the band was forming, their EP, Signals, Calls, and Marches from 1981 was a key guidepost for how I wanted The Father Figures to sound.

 

As I think about this EP today, I realize that it was guiding me way more than I thought in those early days of the band. We only messed around with “…Revolver” a few times before concentrating on songs the three of us had written, but it was fun to play and every once in a while, in those early years, one of us (usually me) would bring up the idea of revisiting it.

 

I have the 1997 Rykodisc version of this record on CD which has two bonus tracks, but even with those, it’s just short of a half an hour long. Short, sweet, to the point… Signals, Calls, and Marches represents a couple of things for me. It’s one of the finest pieces of American post-punk music there is and it also represents the Boston sound about as well as any band does.

 

As much as I love the Phoenix sound, I think the Boston sound might be my second favorite “city sound.” Bands like Mission of Burma, The Freeze (and the This is Boston comp bands), The Modern Lovers, The Cars, The Proletariat, and Pixies are all favorites of mine. If you add in some of the other New England bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh, you have the makings of a dynamite festival. I’m sure I’m forgetting some heavy hitters.

 

Mission of Burma is right there for me, though, and Signals, Calls, and Marches is just a fantastic record. One of the other really cool things about it is that the best-known song from it, the aforementioned “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver,” is probably the least interesting song on the record and it’s still a great song.

 

On bass, “…Revolver” is really fun to play. I think that was part of the reason that I kept bringing it up over the years. If you listen to some of my bass lines, they are definitely influenced by the school of Clint Conley. He wrote this song, so that might be another reason why like to play it. The lyrics are great, too, though and it’s a powerful song.

 

“Outlaw” is noisy and disjointed in all the right ways. It’s got a bit of DEVO in the guitar and bass interplay. The dynamic that Conley, Roger Miller (guitar), and Peter Prescott (drums) created was so good. There was another dude, Martin Swope, who is credited with loops and percussion on the record, but I’ve never learned too much about him. I’d be curious to know what he was up to, especially since you typically only see pictures of them as a three-piece in those days. “Outlaw” is so great, though.

 

“Fame and Fortune” has a really anthemic quality like “…Revolver,” too. It’s another thing I admire about Mission of Burma. These guys really knew how to create a killer dynamic in a tight package. I can see why they are influential to many of my other faves including Fugazi. “Fame and Fortune” has a nice little decay part that starts to build up with the line, “The beginning, at the ending” before going back into the verse/chorus part. Brilliant. Listen to it.

 

There are a lot of great guitar pyrotechnics on “This Is Not a Photograph.” Miller was really great at coming up with some wild parts. I don’t think he gets enough credit at all. “Red” kind of sounds to me like a lost X song. It has that feel to it, in a way, and I wonder if the guys in Mission of Burma were big fans of theirs back in the day. I think it has some of that sort of indirect love song desperation that X are so good at doing.

 

All good post-punk bands need to have a killer instrumental on their records and “All World Cowboy Romance” fits the bill here. Sonically, it’s super interesting and allows the band to show off a little bit. It might not be quite as good a song as “…Revolver” come to think of it, but it’s just as interesting. Either way, I dig it.

 

No, I’m going to change my mind again. “All World Cowboy Romance” is fucking great.

 

Originally, “Academy Fight Song” and “Max Ernst” were released on a 7” record and not part of the original issues of Signals, Calls, and Marches. The CD I have included these, though, so I am going to discuss them. “Academy Fight Song” is the type of song that I bet people gravitated to a lot in 1980. It’s still great now, but I bet seeing this live in Boston in 1979 was particularly inspirational for a few other Boston musicians. I need to talk to some of my friends who were there in those days.

 

“Max Ernst” is a song I would have liked to have heard the Jesus Lizard cover. I don’t know why, but I think it would have been great. It’s a bit noisy, maybe, and with the extra muscle the Lizard could have added, it would have been spectacular. There is also darkness here that I like a lot.

 

Fire up the time machine. Let’s go to Bean Town on a Saturday in 1980.

 

*****

 

I should probably get over the biking fear.

 

*****


Wednesdaddy sounds like the name a drag queen that does Jenna Ortega. This would make for a good character in a book.


*****

 

See you tomorrow.



I'm small compared to

you my new giant cactus

friend and I like you.


What memories do

you have of people like me

who see you looming?


Are you entertained

or do we make you feel

lonely a little.


I hope you feel

proud my giant friend. Hover

with pride amid love.

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3 commenti


Mountain biking is my church. ❤️

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... and the Moving Targets, whose "Burning in Water" LP is personal fave of mine and your old bandmate Bobby's.

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I don’t know that one…

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