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Entry date: 3-17-2024 – Green With Envy (or not) – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

Well, yesterday was a day. The service for Oma was really nice in many ways. I’m glad the family got some closure and there were moments of great beauty and love.

 

There were also moments where I was reminded of why I do not subscribe to any organized religion at this point in my life. The hypocrisy of Christians, even when they mean well, is overwhelming. How can so many people who claim to be devoted to the Son of God be so blind to what he supposedly stood for?

 

I just don’t get it. To sum it up in a sentence: Don’t be like Tom Brady and if you don’t give yourself to Christ, you’re going to Hell. Capital “H” hell, too. This was the message of Pastor Lee.

 

I guess I should have known. In the foyer of the church, just outside of the main chapel, was a huge, framed U.S. flag. I love my country, but I also understand the idea of the separation of church and state, too.

 

*****

 

Afterwards, though, and after a short and wonderful nap, we had a lovely dinner and true fellowship with wonderful friends and family. I enjoyed the hell out of it and didn’t have a drop of alcohol or anything to alter my consciousness except good conversation, laughs, and being around people I love.

 

I think that is the stuff that Jesus Christ could have gotten behind. I think he would have been stoked to be part of it and cheered us on. That’s what my interpretation of Christ is and that is love personified.

 

*****

 

Today is the 19th anniversary of the first time I met Rhondi face to face. I look forward to spending some quality time with her as we do round two of memorial services for my friend, Ed. Hopefully it is another beautiful day.

 

***** 

 

When I saw Dinosaur Jr. open for Jane’s Addiction in 1991, I was already becoming a huge fan. I don’t exactly remember when and where I became aware of the band, which is weird because most bands I really like, I have a distinct memory of “the moment.” With Dinosaur Jr., though, I have no such memory except this one show.

 

I was getting very impatient on January 28, 1991. I had just returned from Berkeley and was planning on moving in less than two weeks. Things were definitely a bit strained and wonky between Alexa and I. Part of the reason I wanted to move was that I was a total wimp and didn’t know how to break it off with her, but I also didn’t know for sure that was what I wanted.

 

History, with its usual 20/20 hindsight and penchant for the obvious, proved otherwise, but I needed to see and do different things for a while. I had tickets, though, to see Jane’s and Dino Jr., and by God, I was going to go. I think we went with Brian and someone else, but I can’t remember exactly. For some reason, it seemed like a reasonable thing to drop a tab of acid before the show.

 

This did not help motivate anyone else to get going and be there in time to see Dinosaur Jr. I was the only devotee at the time, and I was having a hard time convincing my fellow travelers that it was very important not to miss them. Luckily, though, we got to our seats just as the lights were starting to go down and the drugs were really kicking in.

 

For weeks afterward, you would have had to use a crowbar to pry the opinion away from me that Dinosaur Jr. had blown Jane’s Addiction off the stage. I had seen Jane’s Addiction a good handful of times by this evening and the first of those shows were in a small club, so I was already jaded enough to not want to see them in a big arena.

 

Dino Jr. was loud. I could feel them, and I was mesmerized. I’m guessing they played for half an hour or so, but it could have been three or fours of my internal clock time. I was ready to leave ASU Activity Center after they were done and had trouble processing that the folks I was with were still interested in seeing the headliners.

 

I have to imagine the set was mostly made up of songs from their excellent 1991 record, Green Mind. It came out a few weeks later and I picked up a CD copy in Berkeley at Amoeba Records. I proceeded to play the fuck out of it for the next few months.

 

The tone of Green Mind was perfect for what I was feeling over my brief time in Berkeley. There is a distinctly lonely feeling to Green Mind that, while present in other Dinosaur Jr. recordings, kind of permeates this record. A lot of people I know kind of shit on Green Mind, too, which I don’t understand, just because it didn’t have Lou Barlow (who I adore) on it. I think this is one of the reasons why the record feels so lonely.

 

J. Mascis is an interesting cat, for sure. I’ve had the distinct pleasure (and I use the term loosely) of interviewing the guy, as well as meeting him backstage after a J. Mascis and the Fog show years ago. He’s got his own thing going on that’s above and beyond his incredible guitar skills. The guy writes great music, but I can’t imagine he is easy to hang with even 50% of the time.

 

If you want to see a peppy side of him, talk to him about the Meat Puppets. That’ll get him going. I know if I ever get a chance to talk with him again, that’s the direction I’ll go. Luckily, the person who introduced me to Lou Barlow when I met him several years ago was a Meat Puppet (Cris), so I got to get some of the real Lou and not “talking to fans” Lou.

 

I’ll stop name-dropping now. It’s lame.

 

Green Mind is my go-to Dinosaur Jr. record still. It’s not the best one, but because it reminds me of a very introspective time in my life, when I listen to it, I can go inward and really feel things. I’m pretty good at avoiding this, but I’m working on being way more present in my life and each moment. As I listen right now, I can feel the progress I’ve made and that’s a cool thing.

 

Let’s dive in…

 

“The Wagon” is a great Dino Jr. song. It’s got a great pace and attack. Murph drums on this one (he’s a fantastic interview, by the way) and drives it to heights that the rest of the album never quite reaches. “Baby, why don’t we?” in the chorus is so hooky. Don Fleming from B.A.L.L. (and producer of all the indie dudes and babes we love) adds a neat little backing vocal, too. I’ve seen Dino Jr. play this song a bunch of times and it’s always great live.

 

I used to always put “Puke + Cry” on mixed tapes for people. I think seeing the name written in my careful scrawl on a cassette tape always sort of pleased me. It’s a good song, too, and lives up to its clever and catchy name. One thing, though, is that I can’t remember ever seeing them play it live.

“Blowin’ It” is one, though, that I have heard them play. It’s kind of a personal one as I can relate to the lyrics a lot. In those days, I didn’t know what to say a lot of the times in my personal relationships, so I often didn’t say anything unless I absolutely had to do so. Talk about “Blowin’ It” but when the song fades right into “I Live for That Look,” you can almost feel hopeful again.

 

I love “I Live for That Look.” It’s one of my favorite Dinosaur Jr. songs. As with most of them, the guitar is just shredding, but I particularly like the outro lead here. The lyrics are great, too.

 

The mood of the record shifts dramatically with “Flying Cloud.” Initially, I was a little shocked by this one as it features acoustic guitar. At this point, the J. Mascis acoustic tour and record(s) were a little way off. “Flying Cloud” is a wonderful change of pace, though, and another song about missing out on love.

 

“How’d You Pin That One of Me” is one of those songs where I sit and think, “He’s playing all the instruments on this. I want to do that.” I’m going to probably be some old, shriveled up shell of a person someday wishing I was able to do this. When I found out what a good drummer Mascis is, I was in even more awe of his musical skills. It must be his incredible ability to focus on one thing at a time.

 

There is something unequivocally “east coast” about “Water” and “Muck” for some reason to me. With all the time I have spent in New England, I often think I will run into the guys from Dinosaur Jr. out and about. I know they play in Portland, ME on tour, but I have no reason to think they would be hanging out in Maine any other time, but I can hope.

 

Those two tracks, though, remind me of being out there. Maybe because there is so much water all around when I’m in Maine and, well, there is also “Muck.” Beyond that, though, I enjoy these two softer(ish) songs. “Water” has the really cool, semi-abrasive bridge part and a huge guitar lead about 2/3 of the way through the song.

 

“Muck” is mellow and kind of gray, like a New England day, I suppose, as is “Thumb.” The use of the mellotron on “Thumb” is pretty cool and adds a nice little bit of flavor to the song. It’s really very pretty. When you dive into the lyrics, you have to wonder if this song is some kind of admission on behalf of Mascis. “There never really is a good time/there’s always nothing much to say/pretty good not doing that fine/getting up most every day.”

 

Another thing that draws me to Dinosaur Jr. and Green Mind specifically is how expressive the guitar parts are. Mascis has a way of speaking with his guitar that just goes right into me. It’s very soulful and most of the time, very tasteful, too. He’s cranking it out, but he rarely overplays.

 

“Green Mind” is such a cool song. The lyrics are quite good, and feel is Mascis is contemplating a break up while enjoying some nature time. Maybe “enjoying” is not the best word here. I don’t know if he enjoys a whole lot based on his lyrics on this record.

 

Green Mind really is a kind of lonely record. I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone who was looking for a pick me up, that’s for sure. It’s a good’un, though, and has stuck with me for over thirty years at this point.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



This is one of Ed's paintings. I stole the image. He was someone I admired a lot but I am not green.

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