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Entry date: 4-12-2024 – And the Wheels Came Off – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


Testing craziness got the best of my little cherubs yesterday.


The wheels came off when they were in music class. Because of testing, our specials schedule is all sideways on test days. When I got there to pick them up, the music teacher had a list of seven students whose parents he was going to call.


These seven have been most of my frequent flyers lately for being in trouble. They got another lecture about respect and self-control. I also through in a little guilt, too, and reminded them that some schools didn’t even have music class, then I reached way down into the guilt well.


As a former specials teacher, I know what it feels like to be excited about a lesson and then have a class I only get to see once or twice a week shit all over it. I reminded them of how hard their music teacher works for them and while I get to see them every day, he only gets to see them every few days. This seemed to work with a few of them.


I’m pretty sure most of them hate him, though. They have said as much. I’m not sure why because he seems to really care about his job and wants them to have a good time while learning about music. If I didn’t need the prep time usually, I might ask if I can sit in and observe or help out.


It’s probably going to come to that, actually. I don’t see some of these young dudes wrapping their brain around behaving in music anytime soon. The pattern is set, and the die is cast.




It’s Friday, though.  All day long.




I have to pick a vanity for my new bathroom. I hate that shit, but I will pick it. They are so stupidly expensive, though. Sheesh. I’m not a fan. Greed sucks.




Flipped a lid or two

In my days of scattered youth

Yet I smile still



And the wheels of

the bus came off and off, off

and off. the wheels



My high school friend, Jerry, turned 16 during our freshman year. If I remember correctly, he had been held back a couple of years early on in school because of an illness or something. It was the 80s and I didn’t care. I liked Jerry and we were good friends for several years.


We took a lot of shit for being “Tom and Jerry.” It was okay. We thought it was funny and would even make a big show of being offended, even after the 100th time some smug high school asshole would say, “Wait…Tom and Jerry? How is the mouse taller than you, cat?” Jerry was tall and skinny, like me, but he was a bit taller.


We endured.


We were in journalism class together freshman year and that’s how we became friends. We shared certain insecurities, the kind that freshmen in high school have, and he was a fairly loyal friend in those early days. I say ‘fairly loyal’ because Jerry was also a bit of an opportunist and if there was a chance to throw me under the bus to make himself look better, he often took it, but he had a car.


This made many of his more irritating features a bit more bearable. He was a good dude, though, at his core and we were friends before he got the car, unlike many of the other people who started showing up to hang out and go to the mall or wherever we wanted to go. I think he knew that I wasn’t just there for a ride.


One of the things we got into doing during sophomore year was record shopping. Now that I think about it, Jerry was the baby of his family and considerably younger than his siblings. He was the “oh, fuck” baby and because of this, he often had disposable cash.


I was a good saver, though, and would work here and there at Easy Street, so I often had record money, too. We explored a lot of great 80s music together and loaned each other our records all the time. Sometimes we even traded them, too, which was always kind of a bummer for me because I hate giving music up for good.


At some point in 1984, he picked up Wire Train’s In A Chamber record. I don’t remember the circumstances of it, but when I listen to it now, I can definitely conjure up the image of kicking back in his bedroom, which was huge compared to mine, and listening to it.


In A Chamber was right up Jerry’s alley. I think he imagined himself to be a sort of 80s new wave rocker and Wire Train was definitely a typical 80s new wave band. They sounded a bit like they were English and had this great song, “Chamber of Hellos.”


I really liked “Chamber of Hellos” a lot. So much so that I got my own copy of In A Chamber even though Jerry would have gladly let me dub a tape. It can be had pretty cheaply nowadays, and I’ve seen copies in all the local record shops here in Phoenix over the last several years.


Something about that song, though, has stayed with me throughout my life. I spin it most times I DJ because it is so damn good. Much of the rest of the record is your basic, early 80s, New Wave. It’s not terrible by any means and I don’t mind listening to side A at all.


“Everything’s Turning Up Down Again” is a pretty good song. It’s probably the strongest of the side one songs, but again, they are all kinda cool in a Fixx meets the good Duran Duran meets the dBs kind of way. A perfect example of this mix is “Slow Down.” 


The song kind of encapsulates the early 80s sound of guitar driven alt-rock. In 1984, I was buying the punkier stuff and Jerry was buying the more new wave kind of stuff. Our tastes occasionally met in the middle, though. Wire Train was one of those places.


There is also some pretty fun little bass lines on In A Chamber. I think Anders Rundblad, the band’s bass player, was probably a big fan of what Sting did with the bass but lots of people in this genre were. There was definitely a punch of Police in there, too.


Jerry is a teacher, too. We drifted a part back in the early 90s. From 1987 to 1991, we didn’t hang out very often at all. I went one way with my interests, and he went another way. I think he got more serious about college than I did, at first, and he also gravitated to some of the people from Deer Valley High that I just had to get away from.


One of the last times we hung out, it didn’t end very well, and I think I may have told him to forget my phone number, but we did connect a few years ago via email and had a phone call that was pretty pleasant We talked about keeping in touch, but we won’t and that’s okay.


We discovered a lot of music together, though, and I have lots of good memories of fun times with ol’ Jerry. Thanks for buying In A Chamber. Wire Train is not a very memorable band, but “Chamber of Hellos” is a great song and In A Chamber is still proudly part of my collection.




See you tomorrow.

Lots to unpack here.

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