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Entry date: 5-29-2024 – I’m not that nimble anymore – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

Yesterday I was a PE teacher for the first time. I played some “Ultimate Basketaball” with some 5th – 7th grade students for a couple of hours in the morning. It was a lot of fun, but I’m paying for it now. I’m not nimble anymore, I guess.

 

The school camp thing is kind of a bust. About 30% of the students I was supposed to be in charge of showed up. I’m guessing that if this trend continues, they will ask me to stay home. I don’t know if I would mind that too terribly, actually, but if they don’t, it’ll be some extra cash to help pay for the trip east.

 

The rest of the day was spent listening to unhappy people make decisions about stupid shit.

 

I volunteered to be part of the team that makes a recommendation about the music curriculum in my district. It’s been a learning process so far, but 80% of the people on the committee seem devoid of joy. During my short time as a music teacher, I found tremendous enjoyment in it.

 

Does this say more about music teachers in my district or about people who join these committees? I suspect I will have a better answer when the committee is finished in a few weeks. Either way, though, there are a few people in the room I hope to never cross paths with after this experience.

 

At this point, I don’t think I would consider making the move to teaching music again. I enjoy teaching all the subjects and getting to really know a small number of students rather than having hundreds to try and make a connection with as a music teacher. I’d also have to do a little bit of school to get my music certification and if I was going to give that a thought, I believe I would want to just find some sort of research angle and get a Ph.D.

That’s a whole ‘nother thought.

 

***** 

 

I did a little booking last night for the hotels we are going to stay at on the way to Illinois. It made the upcoming trip seem a little more real to do that. I’m excited to be going back to Colorado Springs. I haven’t been there since about 1993 or 1994.

 

It’s hard to believe it has been that long. Granny and Papa lived there from 1983 to 1995. I visited there quite a bit over those years and grew to like it a lot. It’s a really beautiful city.

 

There is a book in there, somewhere, about those visits or based on those visits. I think I wrote about it a little bit in 2022. Who knows. I did a poor job of really documenting what stories I told to what detail. There are some anecdotes, though. I look forward to showing Liam a few of the places we used to go since we can see a little bit of it before we head to Nebraska.

 

*****

 

There is something a tad depressing about realizing I have 216 records left to write about if I am going to complete a year of writing about one record per day.

 

*****

I wonder how many of the records I own came to my collection because of one song. For most music fans, I’d be willing to bet that about 60-75% of their music came to them because they liked one song. Of course, 38% of all statistics are made up on the spot, so there really is no point in wondering about it too much.

 

Back in the Hollywood Alley days, I remember people telling me how “Greg Sage was there” or that “Greg Sage hung out there.” Eventually I figured out who they were talking about because I was not a fan of The Wipers. I had heard of them, of course, because they were credited with being the godfathers of grunge music, but in the early to mid-90s, I had never explored their music.

 

In fact, when I hung out with Sage a few times because he was friends with my buddy, Rob, I don’t think I had listened to them yet on purpose. I realized later that I had heard a few of their songs here and there, but again, they were not part of my musical purview. Even when I spent a few days recording with my band, Smug, in 1999 or so, at Sage’s Phoenix studio, I still wasn’t a fan yet.

 

The beginning of my Wipers’ fandom started with a song that Rhondi hipped me to a while back called ‘Nothing Left to Lose” off of their 1986 record, Land of the Lost. The song is quite the ear worm for me because of the cool guitar line Sage plays that has a little Spanish flare to it. For the last decade or so, I’ve been throwing “Nothing Left to Lose” on playlists and after a while, I started listening to the whole record.

 

While “Nothing Left to Lose” is head and shoulders above the rest of the songs on the record in my opinion, I’ve grown to really like the rest of the songs, too. I feel like this is one of the more underrated albums in the Wipers catalog. I never hear people talking about it in the same way as Youth of America or Over The Edge. Both of those pre-date Land of the Lost, and I like them, but there is something about the feel of Land of the Lost that I prefer.

 

Sage clearly has a knack for great guitar tones. He also does the disaffected slacker vocal as well as anyone. He might have been the first one to do it, actually. On Land of the Lost, Sage sets the tone early with two good, mid-tempo songs: “Just a Dream Away” and “Way of Love.”

 

Both tracks are also pretty clear indications of why so many bands from the Pacific Northwest have been influenced by Wipers. They are just gritty and grungy and solid. “Let Me Know” has a tinge of rockabilly to it and “Fair Weather Friends” has a riff that reminds me a bit of “Hocus Pocus” by Focus.

 

The title track on Land of the Lost is a great riff. Mudhoney has stolen this one a few times and reconfigured it. “Nothing Left to Lose” comes after it and, again, just steals the album. I don’t think I will ever get tired of listening to the song. That opening guitar riff is just killer.

 

The rest of the record is quite good, though, too. There is a bit of urgency to “The Search” and the main riff reminds me a bit of good SoCal punk rock in a way, almost Ch3-ish. The noisiness of “Different Ways” is also a nice change of pace for Land of the Lost. I would actually love to pick Sage’s brain about this one. I feel like there is a deeper meaning going on.

 

“Just Say” finishes things off with Sage putting a tad more emotion in his voice than several of the other songs. Having talked to him a fair amount, I wouldn’t say that emotion, or for that matter, showing emotion, is his favorite thing. Maybe I just wasn’t worthy of it.

 

I have become a fan, though.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



AI..you don't dazzle me today.

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