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Entry date: 3-8-2024 – Why Don’t You Just Tell Me What Movie You Want to See – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

Except for a lovely dinner and a bit one alone time with the birthday girl directly after, yesterday felt like that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer’s phone number somehow was e close to the MoviePhone number. At work, I felt like saying, “Why don’t you just tell me what you want to tell me.” For the students, it was very much the same. I was telling them what I needed them to do, and they just couldn’t seem to get it.

 

In many ways, it was a very humbling day. My students are just not getting the math right now on a level that suggests that I am failing them. I hate this feeling. I’ve got to start cutting it into smaller chunks for them.

 

Luckily, we had a very nice dinner with the J’s and S’s and then Rhondi and I took a little walk in the rain. I had an excellent mocktail at The Churchill. It was some orange, ginger, carrot thing and it was delightful and very refreshing.

 

Then, of course, after getting home, I put my ‘dad’ foot right in my dumb ‘dad’ mouth again. It wasn’t on purpose, but still. I will forever be the bad guy when it comes to my kids, I guess. Some days you just can’t win.

 

Music, though, swoops in to help except when the lyrics to the song you are listening to reminds you of what an idiot you are. I was trying to write about a record last night and instead of feeling good about it, it just kept piling on to the misery of the moment.

 

*****

 

I wish I had some good Cocaine Baby news, but that was a pile of steaming crap yesterday, too. I saw an entirely new side of him. He fabricated this whole story for his father about how the only reason he said, “Fuck you” to me twice was because he was dared by a couple of mean students in the class.

 

Supposedly they gave him the dare in a note, and it was in his desk. I couldn’t find any such note, but Cocaine Baby did come in while I was talking to his dad and that lie was uncovered in real time.  

 

It gets more convoluted from there, but the short story is that the Cocaine Baby is probably not going to be back in school for a few weeks. Just when I get used to my class running semi-smoothly, he’ll be back to take another giant dump on it.

 

We had a fun exchange, though. It went like this:

 

“Mr. R?”

 

“Yes, C.B.”

 

“If I do good on this paper, can I have my brain break back?”

 

“What?”

 

“If I do good on this paper, can I have my brain break back?”

 

“No.”

 

Dirty look from CB.

 

I asked him to come over to my desk.

 

“So, you want me to give you back your brain break (which is a 10–15-minute recess) for doing your school work.”

 

“Yes.”

 

I was flabbergasted but decided to go on with the charade.

 

“You wanted to shoot me on Monday and then said, “eff you” to me on Tuesday and Wednesday and today you misused your iPad and you want me to be nice to you for doing your job?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“No.”

 

CB rolls his eyes.

 

“But if I do good on my writing…”

“No. After all you’ve done this week, I’m not going to reward you for doing your job.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Life doesn’t work that way.”

 

“I don’t get it.”

 

“Let me ask you a question. If I went to the principal right now and said, ‘I taught my class today. Can I get a raise?’ Then she should give me a raise?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“But all did was do my job.”

 

“And she should give you a raise.”

 

“But she’s already paying me for that. How could I ask for more money for doing what she’s already paying me for? It’s not like I did anything extra.”

“Well, she’d be doing you a favor.”

 

“Oh. So, you want a favor?”

 

This caused him to make a really funny face.

 

“No. I don’t want a favor.”

 

“What do you want?”

“I want you to give me my brain break back for doing a good job on my writing.”

 

“But that’s your job.”

 

“But I don’t get paid.”

 

“You get paid with good grades and feeling good about what you did…”

 

He walked back to his desk shaking his head.

 

“C.B.?”

 

He just turned and looked at me.

 

“You going to finish that paper now?”

 

“No.”

 

About 15 minutes later, the office called, and Cocaine Dad was there to pick him up. Not sure when I’ll see him again.

 

*****

 

Easily one of the best punk rock compilations, Hell Comes to Your House was one of those records that eluded me for a long time. I heard it for the first time in 1985, I think, and I wanted a copy of my own so badly. At one point a year or so later, I did manage to get a cassette copy from someone and that was quickly absconded with after a party.

 

For years, I thought I was destined to not have one of my own and then I found it on CD.

 

That wasn’t ever really good enough, though. It wasn’t until about five or six years ago that my friend, John, gave me a copy on vinyl and I felt like my record collection had inched incrementally toward, if not completeness, then true coolness.

 

Social Distortion starts the party off with “Lude Boy” and an early version of “Telling Them.” I think it might be one of the few places you could hear “Lude Boy” for a long time. It’s one of my favorite Social D songs. I also like the slightly raw and grittier version of “Telling Them” here, too. The vocals are not quite perfected and Mike Ness’ voice wavers a bit here and there in a perfectly imperfect way.

 

Legal Weapon’s “Daddy’s Gone Mad” is up third. It’s a fine punk rock song. I’ve never seen Legal Weapon, but I kind of wish I had. They were scorching on this song. The lead guitar on “Daddy’s Gone Mad” just oozes SoCal punk rock.

 

As a tried-and-true fan of Redd Kross, it’s easy to admit that “Puss ‘n’ Boots” is not their best effort, but it is a quintessential piece of the band’s illustrious lore. I’m a Neurotica guy at heart, but I do have a lot of love for the early stuff. “Puss ‘n’ Boots” is a lot of fun, that’s for sure.

 

“Out of My Head” by Modern Warfare is another great song. I don’t know much about the band, but I’ve always liked how this track restored the manic punk energy to the record that Redd Kross failed to bring. This was probably by design, on both accounts. Modern Warfare sounds like it was an East LA-style band, but I guess they were from Long Beach. “Street Fightin’ Man” is not what you think it’s going to be, but it’s fucking awesome.

 

The two Secret Hate songs are pretty fucking boss, as well. “Deception” starts off with some drums that sound like they were recorded in a closet, but once the guitars kick in, it matters not. Another Long Beach band that just slays. I bet they were good live in 1981. “New Routine/Suicide” is a pretty evil little mindfucker, too. The beginning of that one has made me feel uncomfortable in a great way for almost forty years now. When the “Suicide” part of the song kicks in, it really blasts off.

 

“Suburban Bitch” by the Conservatives is pretty meh compared to the rest of the record, but maybe because the chorus is kind of lacking. Great riff, though. This album really had a great feel to it. “Just Cuz/Nervous” is a much better track, in my opinion, especially when “Nervous” gets going. I love that riff.

 

To me, the style of this record is as punk as anything else I will write about (or have written about) this year. Hell Comes to Your House is just a great punk rock record. I used to love it when someone would play this at a party. Such a great soundtrack to a good time.

 

Side Two starts off with threesome of 45 Grave’s coolest songs: “Evil,” “Concerned Citizen,” and “45 Grave.” The middle one, “Concerned Citizen” started off as a Consumers song, but I didn’t know that for the first decade or more that I listened to it. Man, I loved 45 Grave something fierce in my teenage years. Nod to EAC.

 

This was the first place I heard Christian Death, too. “Dogs” is not their best song, but it’s a great one for this comp and keeps the flow of the second side going really well. I was definitely intrigued by this one and when I met Michael S., I was easily converted to being a Christian Death fan. Slow, creepy, and psychedelic in a shermy kind of way, “Dogs” is tasty.

 

Probably my two favorite tracks on Hell Comes to Your House come after Christian Death does their thing. “Reject Yourself” flows so well out of “Dogs” that whoever decided on the track list for the comp deserves a pat on the back. 100 Flowers (or Urinals) kind of sound like they are doing weird for weird’s sake here, but they pull it off. “Reject yourself and your family of ideals,” is a great line.

 

“Marry It” by Rhino 39 is just about perfect. It sounds like it is sloppy, but it is not. It is some top notch playing. We briefly tossed around the idea of covering it in The Father Figures, but alas, we gave up. I love the use of the delay pedal here. It might be just some really heavy echoplex. Whatever it is, it sounds great. The outro of “Marry It” is the bombfuckingdiggity.

 

Super Heroines close out Hell Comes to Your House with two more great death punk songs. I always thought Super Heroines were overlooked, but I think maybe that’s only because I wasn’t friends with too many hardcore death punkers. From what I’ve learned over the years, they are seen as being pretty legendary. “Death on the Elevator” is a really fun song, but “Embalmed Love” is the real deal. I’m glad they picked this one to close things out.

 

Some people swear by Hell Comes to Your House II, but I’ll take the first one every day. I’m more of a death punk guy than a cow punk guy, but I do love the Joneses and Tex and the Horseheads always kind of fascinated me, but I digress.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



This was a good day.

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