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Entry date: 5-1-2024 – Mother, May I? – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

It’s not hard to believe it’s May already. What’s hard to believe is that time goes by so damn fast. I remember hearing people talk about this when I was younger and the concept was easy to understand, on one hand, but difficult to grasp on another.

 

For example, part of me is tired because it’s been a long school year, but another part of me feels like I just got these kids and need more time with them. I am guessing that most teachers feel this way. I’ve been working with kids for a long time, but this is only really my second-year teaching fourth grade, so it feels really new still. If I had another few months with this lot, I might make a lot more impact.

 

The Cocaine Baby was back at his shenanigans yesterday. He is trying to force his father’s hand and I hope, theoretically, that he isn’t successful. As much as it would make my classroom a much more pleasant place to have him gone, it’s not what is best for him from an educational standpoint. I also know, though, that realistically, the best thing for all involved is to get him the fuck out of dodge.

 

I fear for his safety, for one thing. He’s been messing with a little gal from class who lives in the same complex as him, but she’s got an older brother. I think the older brother might get involved and that is bad for Cocaine Baby.

 

I think I’ve written about this situation before as it also happened a week or so ago. On Monday, apparently, he was hitting her, and she hit him back. She’s gotten physical with him a few times and I can’t say that I blame her, but she told me that she asked her cousin to run and get her brother when it happened on Monday and that caused the Cocaine Baby to run away.

 

Yesterday, though, he was bragging about it in Art class in front of a few students and said that he only ran because he was going to get a knife and come back and kill them. I had to report it to the school, obviously, and call his dad, but I’m guessing that is as far as it goes. I don’t know the young lady’s older brother at all, but if is anything like the typical teenager in that neighborhood, he probably won’t take kindly to hearing this.

 

Today could be interesting.

 

***** 

 

Infrequently you will stumble across a perfect record at the perfect time, and it will change your life. In 1985, I started going to shows and in September of that year, I saw The Descendents play outside at Party Gardens. The Harvest, Joke Flower, and Vandals all played that show, too, but it was Descendents that captured my heart.

 

I was familiar with them due to their record, Milo Goes to College. Somebody played “I’m Not A Loser” for me and that was that. I went out and bought the whole album. That song is a perfect song for early teen boys who are into punk rock. It’s dirty and great and rockin’. It’s everything you need.

 

I played the hell out of the record but seeing the band live was so much better. In those days, they played Milo Goes to College songs a lot in their set. For my money, they’re the best songs the band ever did. There are a few, here and there, from the rest of their catalog that I like, but this batch of 15 songs is just perfect.

 

“Catalina” was probably my next favorite song off the record. Milo Aukerman has a way of delivering vocals that just fits so perfectly into what the Descendents do. I had always assumed that he was the primary lyricist on Milo Goes to College, but I was today years old when I learned that is not the case. Everyone in the band at that point, Aukerman, bassist Tony Lombardo, drummer Bill Stevenson, and guitarist Frank Navetta wrote music and lyrics for the band.

 

“Do you know what I think about you?”

 

“Marriage” is one of those songs, like “Hope” that helped spawned a genre of punk that I have a really hard time getting behind. Case in point, in 1991, I was delivering food for a small, corner store in Berkeley, California called the Roxie Food Mart. One of the places I would deliver food to once a week or so was a ski shop.

 

There was a guy around my age that liked punk rock and we would talk about music for a few music when I was delivering their food. He was nice enough, but he tried to tell me that Green Day had created pop-punk. I had to school him. The line that he just couldn’t get past was this:

If there was no Descendents, there would be no Green Day.

 

I still stand by that. I also stand by another thing I argued with him about, too. He and I went back and forth on whether or not Green Day was better than The Mr. T Experience. I believe the latter band is far superior, but that’s just me.

 

Besides, this isn’t about Green Day.

 

Milo Goes to College is short and sweet. It’s a blast of punk rock fury wrapped in a lovely little package that contains songs that you want to slam dance to and songs that make you want to hug your gal.

 

Lombardo’s riffs on this record are pretty darn great. It’s one of the reasons Milo Goes to College has remained a favorite for me. “Myage” starts with a bad ass bassline and when they would play that song in the mid-80s, I would lose my mind. I think I saw them every time they came to town, which was often from 1985 to 1987 or so.

 

I went to see ALL the first time they came through town, and I didn’t dig it as much. I never bought an ALL record, nor did I ever buy another Descendents record. I ended up with the CD release that has Milo Goes to College and I Don’t Want to Grow Up plus the first EP on it, but I always just sort of stuck to the first record.

 

“Take a girl out/she won’t fuck you, you just bought her a gram of coke/spent all your money on shitty coke.”

 

At the point where I heard those lyrics, I had no idea what a gram of coke cost or, really, why anyone would want it. Within a couple of years, I appreciated this lyric a lot more, but I think this lyric from “I’m Not a Loser” helped me steer clear of that stupid drug for the most part. Thanks, Frank Navetta!

 

“Tonyage” is another one that just sounds great. Fantastic lyrics and a killer riff. This record definitely influenced my desire to make fast, complicated riffs. There are a lot of them on the record. Nimble fingers are needed to play Descendents songs.

 

“M16” definitely influenced a Hillbilly Devilspeak song called “One, Maybe Two, More.” It was lyrical inspiration, but listening to the song, I can hear the Descendents in there now and I never realized it.

 

When a record sticks around in your life for almost 40 years, there is something to be said, I suppose. I still enjoy this record as much today as I did back in the day, however I don’t have the urge to get in a pit like I did 39 years ago. I think standing in the back would be fine, although I don’t go to Descendents shows anymore. Too many people.

 

Jeez. I suck.

 

Not really. I’m just old.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



The Cocaine Baby Grabs A Knife...by AI.

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2 Comments


Agreed! Complicated relationship with Milo. It's nearly the perfect record for a highly specific demographic. And like Bollocks or Machine Gun Etiquette, it still sounds exciting when you hear it almost 40 years later. But, as you allude to, it hath wrought so much contemptible garbage in its wake. Milo turned out to be Chernobyl, mutating strains of male toxicity and leaving an uninhabitable landscape of pop punk and emo.


Like you, I got to see 'em in 85 (actually, I think it was '86) at an art gallery(!) in Grand Rapids. A formative experience, for sure. I listened to "I Don't Want to Grow Up" a few times that year, trying to convince myself it was even a fraction…


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Nope. Last time I saw them was because they were playing with the Replacements at one of those Tempe things. They were good, but not anything like they were in the 80s.


Great stuff!

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