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Entry date: 4-11-2024 – Serenity, Now – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


What a treat last night was to spend time with the family and enjoy each other’s company. We had a nice early dinner at The Main Ingredient, which is a wonderful little spot on 7th Street just south of Virginia, and then Elise, Skylar, and I visited Granny. That was a hoot.


I got to Granny’s care facility a little before Elise and Sky, so I decided to keep it a surprise that they were visiting. She was so tickled to “see” them. I got some wonderful pictures and video. It’s safe to say a little old lady was made very happy yesterday. I loved seeing her light up like that and I think Elise and Sky both got a lot of warm fuzzies out of it, too.


Life is pretty rad when you can create some great memories effortlessly.


The rest of my day was pretty okay, too.


Two of my students have decided to turn into dickheads, but neither of them is the Cocaine Baby. He’s teetering on the edge of dickdom, but he hasn’t decided to fully cross the border. The other two, though, are really pushing their luck.


The saddest part is that both are good kids at heart. They have just have this little streak of machismo that has to be sated from time to time. Both of them desperately want to be seen as “tough” guys, too. I feel sorry for the day they meet an actual tough guy who teaches them that they are not like him.


As a teacher, I don’t think that students realize when they are kind of backing us into a corner where they are not going to like the consequences. Cornered teachers are not a whole lot of fun, even when we are doing our best to keep all things in perspective. This is a time that nothing in my formal education set me up to be successful in.


Both of these boys don’t have a father in their life.  It breaks my heart because I know this is the biggest part of the problem. Both of their mothers, from what I have been able to glean in a small handful of conversations, are trying to do their best to protect their boys from the hurt they feel regarding the absence of their dad.


They don’t know how to take me. Each of them wants my approval in different ways, but both are also too afraid of being rejected to just accept that I am here for them, even if it is only for a little while longer. That’s part of this, too. I have seen it from many of my students lately. The more I talk about “next year” and how they need to be ready for fifth grade, some of my clingier students are acting out.


I can’t change my colors, though, and I have to remain consistent, or I will fail them. It sucks big time. Hopefully they can look back in a few years (or decades) and remember that I was there for them, and more importantly, feel that some of the things I taught them were valuable.


Time will tell. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to remember that none of their nonsense is truly personal. They don’t even know what that means yet.




On a different note, I’m toying with the idea of freshening up these record things. I have a few ideas. I might even try my hand at weaving a fictional story into their deconstruction. I’m getting really bored, and I’m sure you are, too, of just saying “I love this song” or “This record rules” every damn day.


Having said that, though…




Some records just make you feel like a teenager. When I moved to Camelback High School at the end of 1985, I was still figuring out just who in the hell I was. I had my core bands that I loved (and mostly still do) but I was also a sponge and I sucked up all the new music I could find.


Being the new kid at a decent sized Phoenix high school, I had no choice but to make new friends. Luckily my cousin, Ben, was already going to Camelback, so I had kind of an instant in with him and most of the people he knew. I was also kind of a punk rock guy, so I would have thought I would have been in with the small crowd of them, too, but that never really took.


Where I did find friends was in the, for lack of a better term, alternative/drama/mod/skater crowd. In those days, for my young friends, being part of subculture was not readily accepted by some of the narrower thinking students. Most probably didn’t give a shit what color my hair was or whether or not I wore eyeliner, but they still weren’t lining up to hang out.


Most of the people I started chumming around with seemed to have pretty cool taste in music. I was very fortunate for this and started learning about a whole new crop of bands. My buddy, KJ, had exquisite taste in the tunes and introduced me to her friends, as well, who also had great taste.


After KJ and I started hanging out a lot, she introduced me to her friend, Dorothy, and here was another new (and lifelong, cherished) friend that knew about all these great garage and mod and kinda dreamy bands. It was Dorothy who dubbed me my first copy of The Three O’Clock’s Sixteen Tambourines.


I fell in love with the record one night at a party at Dot’s parents’ house near the Tempe/Mesa border. We had taken LSD (it was 1986, so not for therapeutic reasons) and being enamored with Dot’s records, I was hanging out in her room listening to one record after another. There may or may not have been a lava lamp happening in there and a blacklight, I don’t remember, but I do remember that when I put on Sixteen Tambourines, it seemed to intensify my experience tenfold.


She had already turned me onto the song “Jet Fighter” in a mixed tape, I think, or that could have been from KJ, and I really liked it. The Three O’Clock were kind of punk adjacent and I’d been really getting into a lot of bands like The Jam and Purple Hearts in those days, too, so The Three O’Clock was definitely in a neighborhood I was getting fond of visiting.


I don’t know if I had heard anything beyond “Jet Fighter,” though, on that fateful night in the spring or summer of 1986. It was probably spring. There was probably just enough musical jet fuel in “Jet Fighter” to help kick the speed in my LSD into gear and the beginning of the song is really quite perfect for a psychedelic drug.


If you have never done LSD, it’s a really hard thing to describe. It’s not like anything else I have ever experienced. There are moments when you can literally feel all of the nerve endings in your body waking up, so when a song like “Jet Fighter” meets that neuro-phenomenon, you feel it coursing through your body like, well, a plane taking off.


I distinctly remember sitting on the floor of Dot’s room, which had kind of a purplish glow from the trip inducing lighting, between her bed and the stereo. My teenage brain was just as content as it could be. I was with a bunch of people I really liked and was super stoked to be getting to know so well.


Dot hung out with a great group of punk guys from her school, which was McClintock High, and they had accepted me as one of their own way faster than the dudes in Camelback’s small punk scene. There was also a gaggle of cute girls, too. What could be better? We were safe in a house where the parents were out of town, and we could explore our minds to the fullest.



When “Stupid Einstein” came on, I could feel a shift in the tone of the album and my trip. It was like the 60s were exploding in my head and The Three O’Clock were really great at cultivating the harmonies of those times. Back then, I had no idea what the “Paisley Underground” was and didn’t care, but I wish had because there was a lot of killer music to explore from that particular genre.


“And So We Run” has a lot of really interesting sounds going on thanks to Mike Mariano’s excellent keyboard skills. The whole band is really good at what they do/did. Danny Benair, who I got to interview a few years ago, played some excellent beats and Michael Quercio’s bass playing is often overlooked because of his notable falsetto singing style. I don’t want to leave out Louis Gutierrez, either. His guitars make this one of my favorite records.


Even “Fall to the Ground” is pretty darn trippy, although not as trippy as “And So We Run” and the song directly after it on side one, “A Day In Erotica.”


“Fall to the Ground” shifted my mood a bit and I decided to make myself a bit more comfortable and I stretched out on Dot’s bed. It seemed like a song that one should recline to, I suppose. That move set up a pivotal moment in my teenage life.


As “A Day In Erotica” starts with its sitar-like guitar sound, I started to leave my body. As the song started to kick in, I was rising up and floating over myself looking down at my blissed-out face and body laying on Dot’s bed.


I wish I could say, “Gotcha” or “Just kidding” but it really happened. It was one of the coolest things I had experienced at that point in my life. I was totally calm and enjoyed what I had seen. I tried to articulate it later, but I don’t know if anyone really took me seriously. We were all pretty devoted to exploring the psychedelic world. We called it being “Wiser than Bob.”


I was higher than Bob while listening to “A Day In Erotica,” that’s for sure. It’s a super trippy song, so it’s no wonder that was the time in the record that the acid fully kicked in. I remember slowly going back down to my body and when the song ended and it was time to flip the record, I sat there for a minute and took it all in.


Dot came in shortly after and I tried to tell her about it, but I think we were both beyond eloquent conversation at the moment. I put the other side of the record on, but I don’t remember listening to it then. There were other things to do.


Shortly after the party, Dot gave me the whole thing on a cassette tape and later that year, I found an official copy on cassette. It took me years to find the vinyl at a price I could afford. I grew to love side two almost as much as side one.


The cover of the Bee Gees’ “In My Own Time” is fucking boss. The Bee Gees were ripping off the Beatles and The Three O’Clock did the song even better. It’s a groover, that’s for sure.


Another track I dig off side two, which has a little bit Bay City Rollers meets Bruce Foxton in it is “When Lightning Starts.” It’s kind of cheesy, sure, but there is something really great and fun about it. I love that the band doesn’t really same to take itself too seriously. Towards the end of 1986 or early in 1987, KJ and I went to see them at the Mason Jar, and it was epic. Full bucket lister, for sure.


Sure, every song on Sixteen Tambourines isn’t the coolest or most face-melting thing I’ve ever heard, but it is a fun record and holds amazing memories.




See, that was more of a story.


See you tomorrow.

Love this AI art generator.

Grounded for a week

got home late with large pupils

and a stupid grin

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