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Entry date: 3-2-2024 – Peter Tork Anomaly – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

A day can make all the difference. Sometimes, it’s even less time than that, too. A moment. A few minutes. An hour. These can make all the difference.

 

Yesterday was tough in a lot of ways. As I’ve vaguely alluded to, things are a bit wonky in our household due to an unforeseen event. I’m not ready to talk about it and, because it really isn’t my story to tell, I may never. I do appreciate that people have reached out and are there to help, even when they don’t know what’s going on.

 

Everyone is safe, that’s the main thing. We are a family of resilient, stubborn, and smart people. We will get through this and be stronger. We enfold ourselves around each other in times like this and it makes me proud.

 

There were a few small moments yesterday that made it all so much better. I am very thankful for the small things in life, especially the trust my students give me. It’s pretty fucking cool.

 

*****

 

One thing that became very clear to me on Friday was a pattern I can now clearly see with Cocaine Baby. Maybe some of you regular readers and “fans” of his have already realized that he melts down on Fridays. Perhaps it is the impending uncertainty of being out of the only normal routine he knows. I can’t say for sure.

 

I got to see him in a quick burst of real aggression with another student and it was alarming and surprising at the same time. I have another student who is a little bit on the timid side, or so I thought, who is a little bigger than Cocaine Baby. As we lined up to go inside for recess, my class was next to the exterior wall of our school and as I was looking down the line from my rightful place at the front, I saw Cocaine Baby pushing this other boy up against the wall roughly. The timid, slightly bigger boy’s head went back into the brick wall pretty hard, so I started moving quickly down there.

 

As I’m approaching, I see timid boy react and pretty convincingly throw Cocaine Baby to the ground. Timid boy was PISSED. This riled up Cocaine Baby and he started to go after the other boy, but I got in between them in time, and everybody chilled like little Fonzies. Apparently, Cocaine Baby was messing with another of my timid guys and my other timid guy didn’t like it, so he got involved.

 

I would never have thought something like that would go down with him. Cocaine Baby, sure, but Timid Guy, no way. I was proud of him in the way that we are proud when someone who regularly gets overlooked or looked down upon stands up for themselves. I also had no idea he was so strong. Cocaine Baby is not large, but he is solid.

 

The situation got diffused and we were able to finish our day without incident, but I noted that Fridays are often really tough for ol’ CB. I’ve only got 10 more Fridays with him, so I need to act quickly to see how we can dance this mess around.

 

*****

 

David Oliphant is a cool dude.

 

*****

 

Stoner rock was a big thing in my life for a while. The first of the stoner rock bands I really gravitated towards was the early Monster Magnet stuff. Specifically, their first EP, the self-titled, Monster Magnet EP. I have the Glitterhouse Records CD version, and it is epic.

 

They were fucking great in those days. I saw them in 1992 or 1993 at a place called the Library Café. They were heavy and great. Clutch opened the show and that was before I had a reason to not like them. I thought Clutch was good that night, too, but Monster Magnet…just wow.

 

I’m going to go ahead and put out there that I don’t like Monster Magnet became. Once the major labels got ahold of them, they became too slick and the records sounded way overproduced, but the early stuff is good. It’s the kind bud.

 

“Snake Dance” is so fat and fuzzy on that first EP. They redid it on “Spine of God” and it didn’t sound quite as good. There is an element of Mudhoney on that first Glitterhouse CD that I just happen to love. The songs are just fat and happy and John McBain (who was also in the excellent band, Hater) played a mean lead guitar.

 

McBain just blisters his way through “Tractor,” for example. It has a super Seattle sounding tone to it, but Monster Magnet hailed from New Jersey. Dave Wyndorf’s voice is perfect for what they were doing on all the Monster Magnet stuff, because it’s his band, but he was at the top of his game from the beginning.

 

When “Nod Scene” kicks in, it’s pure sludge-y, stonerriffic goodness. The Wah pedal is cranked up to 11. They played this song when I saw them the first time and it was epic. I think McBain leaving the band was a major blow to them, to be honest. For me, it was never the same.

 

When a band like Monster Magnet is firing on all cylinders, it is really hard not to just bang your head along with them. I wore this CD out when I got it in, I think, 1992. I remember being newly sober at the time and thinking about the irony. Here I was, listening to these super stony jams, and I wasn’t drinking or doing any drugs. I think I may have been one of the ten or so sober people at that Library Café show.

 

“Freak Shop USA” keeps the party going after “Nod Scene” and, again, sounds like a Mudhoney riff. I could totally see Mudhoney covering this one and just tearing it up. You could probably convince someone who didn’t know better that it IS a Mudhoney song.

 

I’ve always liked “Lizard Johnny” a lot, too. It’s a McBain song, like “Nod Scene” and “Freak Shop USA.” It’s no wonder McBain moved to Seattle then ended up jamming with an early version of Queens of the Stone Age. All three of the middle songs on the EP are laden with the whole grunge aesthetic.

 

Come to think of it, there is a parallel here between Monster Magnet and White Zombie. I remember hearing about how White Zombie was this cool underground New York band early on and then sold out. Monster Magnet was definitely a cool New Jersey band and then sold out. “Lizard Johnny” has a little White Zombie-ish vibe with the vocals.

 

“Murder” is the ender and if not for McBain’s lead guitar, it would be the weakest song on the record, but it merely ends up being the least memorable. It’s not a terrible song by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not as good as any of the previous songs on the disc.

 

I need to dig through my CD collection and make sure no one stole this one. I don’t remember seeing it lately. Sofa king good.   

 

Looking back, this one was definitely a game changer for me. Each of the first three Monster Magnet releases had a huge impact on my musical taste for most of the early 90s. I should probably go back and listen to more of the later stuff from the band. I might hear it with different ears now.

 

One thing is for sure, I’m digging out that Hater CD. Stay tuned.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



Dev was (and still is) a cutie pie. She used to say, "Look into my eyes" then wiggle her eyebrows. I don't know who taught her that, but it was pretty darn cute.

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