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Entry date: 4-20-2024 – Earth Day – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

4-20. Record Store Day. Two things I used to be very excited about. Earth day, too.

 

Today I’m excited about putting bathroom #1 back together. I’m handy today. I’m a handy man.

 

*****

 

Breaking things and fixing things

Making things and making a mess

If I can just stay out of my own way

I’ll be okay.

 

*****

 

When I was younger, I used to hear about how marijuana was not addictive. People would talk about how it was relatively safe, especially when you compared it to alcohol. In many ways, that is true. I’ve done way stupider shit under the influence of alcohol.

 

Weed is addictive, though, and I will argue with anyone that it’s not just psychologically addictive. It’s physically addictive, too. When I use marijuana, I physically crave it. My body needs it. For me, the lure of marijuana is very similar to that of nicotine.

 

I used to really like getting stoned. These days, though, weed is so much more powerful than it was when I was a kid. Now I often have strong feelings of discomfort, both emotionally and physically when I smoke even just a little too much. Some strains are so powerful that one puff is too much.

 

That’s not fun, in my opinion. I do miss the idea of casually smoking with the people I enjoy doing that with. It’s a bonding experience, in many ways, and can foster a lot of creativity. At least that is what the addict part of my brain says, but the truth is in there.

 

Right now, I am afraid to smoke. I don’t know that I would be able to say no to a beer if I were high. It’s hard to admit, but that’s the truth. I don’t like writing it, but it feels like I should so here I am.

 

I’ve taken a lot of inventory and it’s hard to think of a good reason to use marijuana at the moment. I’ve been having dreams about smoking weed, though, and getting high in your dream is kinda trippy. It’s like being re-high.

 

For now, though, I will just be thankful I can’t smell it. As I mentioned the other day, I don’t begrudge anyone for drinking or smoking or doing whatever they feel is right for them. I’m only speaking for myself here.

 

This is the path I’m on right now.  There have been others, though, just as there will be in the future.

 

***** 

 

On a very warm fourth of June in 1988, my buddy, Matt, and I walked about a mile and a half from our apartment to go see a show at the VFW Hall on 52nd Street and Thomas. It was a Saturday and we headed up there after our shift at Pizza Hut delivery. We were call center guys shedding our work skin on the way to a punk rock show.

 

 Pizza Hut Delivery was a way to pay our meager bills. Matt was a supervisor of some sort, I think, or a shift leader, and I was a lowly grunt. In those days, if you wanted Pizza Hut to deliver you a pie (or three), you called the nice folks at the call center, and we took your order on some pretty sophisticated (at least it seemed like it at the time) computer systems.

 

I remember looking forward to this particular show for a while. It featured SNFU who I had seen a few times at that point, I think, and they were great live in those days. It also had Mighty Sphincter on the bill and Sacred Reich, both of which were local bands that I liked a lot. The real draw, though, for me was Broken Bones.

 

UK Subs were the headliner, but I was stoked to see their direct support so much more. I hadn’t really learned to appreciate UK Subs then like I do now. There was something about them that fell a little flat for me at the time, but I’d heard Broken Bones’ F.O.A.D record that came out in 1987 and liked it a lot.

 

Their brand of UK hardcore meets metal was setting really well with me. I looked around when I could to see if I could find one of their records, but luck was not with me in those days, and neither was a whole lot of spending money. If memory serves, one of the things Matt and I talked about on the way to the show was the big bite the $10 each for our tickets was going to put on our beer money for the weekend.

 

Times were tight in 1988. When we got paid, we’d splurge on a trip to the grocery store and maybe buy some ground beef or the occasional package of pork chops. We considered these meals to be the height of dining. Paying $10 for a show was a lot in those days, but I considered it worth it.

 

Our other roommates had balked at the door price and that was understandable. I always justified these types of things, though, by thinking about the fact that I wanted their record and would have paid $10 for it, so why not pay to see the show if I can’t find the record, plus: SNFU, Sphincter, and Sacred Reich. I didn’t mind being a little poor for a couple weeks to see some good bands.

 

I didn’t know anything about the band, either. I had no idea what they looked like or where they were from other than knowing they were English. Those were fun and interesting days, for sure, to be a music fan.

 

As we got to the show and settled in, I could barely contain myself enough to enjoy the other bands. As I think back, I miss how excited I would get to see a band for the first time. I still get a little jazzed to see someone new, but it’s not the same. Shows were an event for me in 1988.

 

It would be a fib to say I remembered what they played. I know they played “F.O.A.D.” and I know I was in the pit for it. If I close my eyes, I can see the band on stage just ripping it up. When they played here again about 15 or 20 years ago, it was a blast again. By that point, I had more than one of their records, too.

 

My favorite is a one that came out in 2005. It’s a compilation called Bone Club, The Very Best of Broken Bones. I scored it on CD on a trip out to the coast to see Mark and Mo at a little record store in Laguna Beach. It was called Underdog Records, but I don’t know if it is still there.

 

It starts off with “Decapitated” and whenever I listen to it, I’m reminded of how much I like their punk/metal hybrid sound. Some of the later songs are way more into the metal side of things, but the lyrics and vocals always stay a bit more to the punk side. Two of the dudes were once in Discharge, so they definitely have that chugga-chugga thing down.

 

Broken Bones is the band I always kind of wish GBH was for me. Like the UK Subs, I’ve grown to like GBH a lot more than I did as a teenager, but in those days, I really wanted to like them. I just didn’t. “Problem” is rad, though. Fantastic second track and the compilation never really lets up at all. Hence “best of,” I guess.

 

I throw Broken Bones on when I want to feel a little rowdy. While this particular comp is not on Spotify, you can find all the songs on there. I’ve made a playlist that’s pretty close. A couple of the songs are not the same as the ones used for Bone Club, The Very Best of Broken Bones, but the alternate versions do in a pinch. They also sound a bit better, too. Whoever did the comp itself didn’t make it sound the best.

 

“I.O.U.” is another fave of mine. It’s got this full-on metal guitar lead in it, complete with a divebomb riff, too, that just slays. The sentiment of “I owe you nothing” goes a long way with me when I’m listening to this type of music.

 

I guess I like it because it scratches that itch that is deep down for a lot of old punks like me who grew up on the other side of the world from the British scene. Part of me always wanted to be some crusty dude with liberty spikes and a leather jacket in big black boots. Admittedly, I never went there completely because I’m way too lazy and don’t want to wear just one uniform, but that desire is deep down inside.

 

“Wealth Rules” is pretty great, too. It’s a nice little diatribe against the rich. ‘Iron Maiden” is another fun one, and so is “Civil War.” I particularly like the vocal stylings of the various singers who made Broken Bones what they were. It’s hard to tell from Bone Club, The Very Best of Broken Bones who performed on which songs, vocally, but it’s all good.

 

“See Through My Eyes” is another scorcher, but it’s probably obvious but “F.O.A.D” is my all-time favorite of theirs. “Fuck Off and Die” is a great lyric, too. Nobby (Nick Dobson) sings on that one and he does it up nicely. I can always get a smile on my face from this one.

 

Walking home from the VFW, we were on a bit of a natural high. I’m sure we found a way to get some beer later on that night. That time of my life was when I first realized that I might have a bit of an alcohol problem, but that’s another story entirely.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



I was there.

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