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Entry date: 4-7-2024 – Perfectly lovely Afternoon – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


Yesterday was a really nice Saturday. Can I tell you about it?




I woke up and was planning on working in the backyard, but Rhondi said that the laundry room needed some attention, so I focused on that once I got properly motivated. This required the making of some oatmeal and a blueberry bagel that I ate plain because some poophead finished off the strawberry cream cheese. (Cue Alan Tudyk saying, “This is some bullshit” from Resident Alien)


While I was eating, I watched the end of the new Roadhouse which I have been watching a little bit of here and there. I liked it a lot. It’s campy and big and dumb. It didn’t quite capture the B movie magic of the first one, but it had its own thing going, too, and there were enough nods to the original that will make any fan of it feel good. I could see how if I had cable TV still, I might find myself getting sucked into this version about as easily as I can get sucked into the old one.


After making some good headway in said laundry room, I took a whore’s bath (since we are still without a shower of our own) and headed over to Changing Hands to meet my old co-worker and friend, Sue, who is now fully invested in helping people like me write more. It was so great to catch up with her.


It’s funny how you click with people in your life in different ways. I remember meeting Sue when I was doing a speaking gig for Casa many years ago. We talked and I thought she would be a perfect person to join the team and she did.


Sue is incredibly smart, passionate about helping children (and making the world a better place), and just one of those people who helps restore your faith in humanity. She’s also a realist, which I love, but a problem solver, too, so you can’t stop her.


We ‘click’ in that cool way where we can meet up after a number of years (six or seven, we thought) and pick up right where we left off. At least it felt that way to me. We fought the good fight together for a number of years and it’s always good to be around someone you know that ‘gets it.’


I feel very grateful that she took a couple hours out of her life to chat with me about this crazy thing I’ve been doing here at Ergonomic Mischief for the past few years and offered to help with me with some resources to make achieving my next round of writing goals that much easier. (It won’t be easy, but I’m writing it anyway)


Today seems to be the day of “asides.” Let’s see how many parentheses I can drop in this here blog. (I hope it’s not too many more…I’m already tiring of it.)


(but I do love to run things into the ground)


Sue gave me a lot to think about, especially when it comes to how I use this site. There will be some changes coming to the ol’ ErgMis. I have to wrap my brain how to make it do what I want it to do. This will require my inner Luddite to shut the hell up for a while and let my inner problem solver do its thing.


We headed over to Doug’s to celebrate Ashton’s birthday not long after I got home from meeting Sue. Rhondi did all the prep (with help from the kids) to make some homemade pizzas. These things are really works of art. We had two kinds of chicken, ground beef, spicy sausage, pepperoni, several cheeses, and the works when it came to veggies.


It’s really overwhelming. I’ve learned that I like to make my pizza in quarters and do four different flavor experiences on one 10” (or so) pizza. It was fun making them for everybody after they picked their toppings, too. Felt good to be a part of the process.


Dad and Lori came, as did one of Doug’s old childhood neighbors, Meyer, and his wife, Beverly. They are really nice people and it was a lively conversation. We were missing our boys, for sure, as Liam had to work, Hayden’s in New York, and Ryan was in Mexico, but it was a good birthday celebration and it really seemed like Ashton was enjoying herself.


One of her friends came, as did her aunt, Priscilla, and it was just mellow and nice and a beautiful day.




(The Bet)


So, one of the things that Sue shared with me was that I really should not put this story online if I want to try and get the final product published one day. I have some soul searching to do about this. We talked about some possible ways to continue to do this and still protect it in a way that would not make a potential publisher (and I’m a long way off from this, but… you never know) say, ‘No, we don’t want something that people have already read,’ but it was definitely food for thought.


One thing that we talked about was me setting up a page for members of Ergonomic Mischief only where I would continue to share, but you’d have to be logged in to see it. There are also a few other options that might allow for something similar. I’ll figure it out ASAP, though, and I appreciate your patience.




Whenever I find myself holding a copy of the Tijuana Poker Sharks CD, The World Famous Tijuana Poker Sharks, I have to listen to it. This happens every four or five years. I’ll ‘rediscover’ this hidden local gem and play the shit out of it until some other CD finds its way into the player.


It was fun to be on the periphery of this band back around 2000. My guitar player, Steve “PapaPill” Landos introduced me to these dudes because some of them were playing in his other band, PaPa, and I just dug’em a lot as people and as music makers. The bass player of the Poker Sharks, Ray Benza, ended up playing guitar in Hillbilly when Steve needed to step away, and then we made the last Hillbilly record, Lies As Told by the White Man, with Ray and Steve on guitar.


Mike Comunale, who has a pretty locally well-known alter-ego that dabbles in a little bit of weed, played trombone and sang for the Tijuana Poker Sharks, ran 56th Street Records, and also played some trombone and spit fire with Hillbilly sometimes, too. He is tall, striking dude who was fun to make noise with and the crowd loved it when he would join us. I did, too.


Then there was Zack Carmichael.


Zack and I played in The Freeze together in 2018 and that didn’t end real well for me and the band, but I still have lots of love for the guy. He was the bad ass drummer of PaPa and the Tijuana Poker Sharks were, I’m pretty sure, the first band he played guitar and sang in at the time. He’s a very talented musician and he really shined on this particular CD.


I didn’t know Kevin Bentz (guitar) or A.D. Adams (drums), but it didn’t matter. Between their songs being great and what I knew of the other dudes, I really liked The World Famous Tijuana Poker Sharks a lot. The songs have held up over the years quite well, too. Many other bands from that era have not been so lucky.


The opener, “Happy” is one of those songs that just works. Between Carmichael’s excellent lyrics (and a great delivery of them), it’s a catchy song. Comunale’s trombone adds a really cool layer of texture, too. Thanks to Adams, who is one of the best drummers to ever hit the skins here in Phoenix, when the Tijuana Poker Sharks want to kick it into another gear, it seems effortless and feels completely natural.


The song is about one of the harder sides of loving someone. It gets me in the feelers on several levels. I’ve been that guy that Carmichael gives voice to and I also know the words come from the heart because he is a friend of mine. What a fortunate thing to be able to feel and experience.


“Forcefeed” is the second track and it’s pretty rockin’.  It has this sort of odd but killer beginning with just drums and trombone. You don’t hear a lot of trombone in rock and roll, I guess, these days unless it is some shitty ska band (that’s not nice and I sort of take it back). Either way, though, I’ve always loved how this song sort of just rolls into itself thanks to Comunale.


Carmichael has this great line in there, too: “I don’t need what I don’t have/I can’t see what’s right in front of my face.” More people should remember this sage advice when it comes to the ‘want monster’ that lives inside us all sometimes.


If any of the songs on this debut CD come off as a little dated at all, it’s “Sunshine,” but only in the beginning. Benza does some fancy funk bass and then there is some heavily wah-wah pedaled guitar. Those volume pedals can do a lot of funky shit, I suppose. This song takes me back to going into Trails or Headquarters, two classic Valley head shops and looking at all the bongs and tye-dyed shirts.


“Wrinkles” is another of their songs I really like still to this day. It oozes Phoenix. Carmichael was in another band, Thee Unfortunates, with our mutual friend, the late, great Vince Bocchini. This song reminds me of a song Vince would have loved.


It flows nicely into the next one, “Icebox,” which features some more Adams’ badassery on the drums. It’s got a bit of a Stone Temple Pilots kind of feel to it, but I like it a lot more than anything they ever did. Solid.


“Oscar” ends the originals on this disc. It’s another very “Phoenix” sounding song. It has a little of the quiet/loud/play with the dynamic’s thing going on. This only serves to build the anticipation machine in my heart, and I start wanting to rock out and sing along.


I don’t remember when these guys decided to stop playing, but it would certainly be nice if they wanted to have a little reunion show. I’d go. I suspect it would be great, too, and quite a bit of the burgeoning over-50 rock and roll scene would be there.




See you tomorrow.

AI paints beautifully, doesn't it?

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