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Entry date: 5-14-2024 – There is Always a First Time – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

Something happened yesterday that I never would have imagined. One of my students brought a vape to school and apparently, they were vaping with another student at our afternoon recess. It wasn’t even the Cocaine Baby.

 

As I think about it, I wouldn’t have ever thought the Cocaine Baby would do that. He’s self-destructive in other ways, of course, and wants to burn it all down, but he’s smart enough not to do that shit. He’ll probably smoke weed within three years, but for now, he’s still kind of a baby. In fact, yesterday he was telling me about the action figures he wanted for his birthday but didn’t get.

 

One of the students who was involved, it really doesn’t surprise me that she would be up to some foul shit. She desperately wants friends and will glom on wherever she can. She’s a little manipulator, too, and milked the “new girl” thing for a long time. She was my last new student for the year, but she’s been more than accepted by the class.

 

I’m guessing the perpetrator might get suspended for the rest of the year. It’s really too bad, too. She and her vape partner, who is the type of kid that will always be on the fringes of trouble, but ultimately has a good heart, are going to miss out on some fun this week and next.

 

Hopefully the Cocaine Baby doesn’t get any copycat ideas. He just about broke my heart yesterday when he was telling me how his dad’s girlfriend spent his birthday with him because his dad couldn’t make it off the couch.

 

Motherfucking asshole. Give the kid a damn birthday.

 

*****

 

There is a kinship among musicians that I wanted to talk about for a minute. I suppose this is found in any profession, really, or group of fellow hobbyists. I’ve got a lot of acquaintances out there that, when you are backstage or wherever you are before, during, or after a gig, you are in it together. You are slogging it out for art’s sake.

 

I felt this with Mike Sversvold, AKA “Bam Bam” and many, many others. On Sunday night, I saw that a guy I had played a show with many years ago at Hollywood Alley, Dege Legg (formerly of the stoner punk band, Santeria) had died of self-inflicted wounds recently. It set me back a bit.

 

We weren’t close friends or anything, but we did keep in touch for a long time. He was a good dude. That universal kinship of musicians got a little less friendly and a lot less talented with Dege’s death. I will miss him, too.

 

***** 

 

Like many people of my taste, the death of Steve Albini was a tough one to understand. I probably don’t know as much about him as many people might think I do, but I was definitely a fan of both his music and the work he did on the other side of the console. He seemed bigger than life, in a way, and the world needs good, passionate, and honest people to take that role more often.

 

I’ve written about a few of the records he recorded already, but one of my favorites has always been Pod by The Breeders. As a Pixies fan, I was very intrigued when I first heard about the band, which is led by former Pixies bassist, Kim Deal, and was formed by her and Tanya Donelly, another favorite of mine. I had to check them out.

 

Pod is short and sweet and to the point. Deal has a lovely, yet powerful voice, and both Donnelly and bassist Josphine Wiggs contributed some great backing vocals. It’s sad, too, in ways that are purposeful and smart. Much of the subject matter, lyrically, is pretty tough on the soul.

 

From the first notes of “Glorious” through the semi-cacophonous “Metal Man” which closes it out less than half an hour later, The Breeders take full control of the situation. Often, it’s a slow burn, too.

 

“Glorious” feels like it is going to explode any second but remains restrained and thoughtful. Donnelly’s guitar sounds like it is going to burst into a fiery hot ball of flame and melt your face off, but never quite does. It’s perfect.

 

There is a solid cover of “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” by the Beatles, but things don’t really take off to what I would consider “Amazing” until the band plays “Hellbound.” I think that one kind of shows what The Breeders’ sound could really be. Drummer Britt Walford really drives “Hellbound” in a fantastic way, too.

 

I’ve always been very partial to “When I Was a Painter,” too. Again, it’s the drums that make me very happy here. This one seems like it has the stamp of Donnelly all over it, too. “Iris” impacts me on a similar emotional level, but mostly because of the way the vocals kind of dance on the shoulder of the guitar parts. Walford is pretty tasty on this one, as well.

 

The Breeders really were like a supergroup on this record. Not to take away from later incarnations, but Donnelly’s guitar and Walford’s drumming were top fucking notch on Pod. Albini made them sound both stripped down and huge at the same time. The man had an ear.

 

“Lime House” is a fun one, too. I know I’ve skipped over a few, but every song on this record is ultimately listenable and you might even sing along. I can’t believe I’ve never gone to see The Breeders live. I need to rectify that before the opportunity is gone.

 

One more thing about the production of Albini. I was reading that he refused to let the band do more than two takes on any of the songs. That blows me away.

 

Can you imagine?

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



Dege Legg was from Louisiana.

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