Exercise and exorcise.

A lot of heavy emotions are like ghosts. It’s like you’re haunted and you need a exorcism. The funny thing is that one of the things that can help to remove these ghost like negative emotions is to do yoga, or walk, run, go to the gym and physically exercise. Is it just me that sees a link between these words?  Exercise and exorcise.

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Star Dog Champion

I stood outside of the phone booth at Franklin and Highland (not there anymore), it was late. My new friend was making a call to the dark dark side to see if he could acquire “something”. We went back to his apartment and he played this album by a band from Seattle called Mother Love Bone. It really put the hook in me. The rock music scene by then had become SO corporate. This new-ish sound was so refreshing and REAL. I should have known. But I didn’t. Looking back now the music scene was ripe for a complete hostile takeover. But it was still so strong. The metal scene in LA that I had grown to dislike so much was like King Kong. Big and unbeatable. I really championed this new band and then BOOM the singer (Andrew Wood) died. I thought it was over like a match in a dark room. Just a flash. But it wasn’t over it was the beginning. Next thing I hear that moves me is some strange band called Nirvana. The first time I heard them was on KXLU Los Angeles 88.9 FM and I said WTF is this?? In 6 months I saw King Kong (the LA music scene) fall to its knees. It was like someone had dropped a bomb. It was so fast and it spread like wild fire. The monstrous LA rock scene was leveled with one punch, and by the time it hit the ground, not a single person was watching or listening. The truth and strength of the Seattle movement was HEAVY and its success was a surprise to everyone. It seems like those who created that magic may have had to pay a price. Every one of the singers is dead now. Andrew Wood, Kurt Cobain, Layne Stanley, Chris Cornell. Eddie Vedder from San Diego kind of replaced Andrew Wood if you know your history. He’s the last one. But of course he was not from Seattle. Andrew Wood was Chris Cornell’s roommate before all the “success.” Careful with that fire, friends, or at least always be aware of which way the flame is pointing.

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Scream

It’s an argument that swings in the black hearts of chaos.
Warm, like rats leaving wooden ships that burn in the dark soul of human terror.
Like the first monkey to scream, stop! stop!
He’s eaten by the snake that crawled through the dark of night hunger to pluck him from the tree.
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Rainy Day

It was the rainy season and we sat under the freeway overpass most of the day. Some smokes cigarettes and we talked about the good things in the past and  we talked a little about the future. But we never talked about the present. How could we? We passed a cheap bottle of wine that gave some of us a headache but, if nothing else the pain gave us something else to focus on.

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Praying for rain

The locals went mad. They had never experienced humidity in this part of the world. They sat naked on their balconies with 3 day beards and two day hangovers praying for the drops of rain that cooled them like drinks with small umbrellas in them.

 

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Sea Monkeys

I had them as a child. They got really big. Eventually they became our slaves and would clean the house and change the oil in my fathers car. But one day they revolted and killed everyone, and raised me as one of them.

We (me and the sea monkeys) eventually started a company called Shrinky Dinks. It got so successful people took notice. They said “Monkeys cannot run a company… especially Sea Monkeys.” The company was taken away from us. The Sea Monkeys tried to explain I was human and the real owner of the company. But the sea monkeys only spoke pig Latin and I hadn’t shaved in a long time.

The Sea Monkeys were very angry at this point. I couldn’t blame them. There was a small uprising in a northern section of Ohio in the early 1960’s. The Sea Monkeys were quickly destroyed. The remaining few of us were made to pick up the trash as help on the trash trucks of Cleveland and surrounding areas.

In 1967, a movie came out called Planet of the Apes based on the short-lived sea monkey rise to power. It was such a tragic disgrace to the remaining sea monkeys. We all gathered together and ate pop rocks and coca cola. The emergency room would not admit us, being sea monkeys. Eventually it was found out that I was human and they took me in to the emergency room and pumped my stomach.

I am the only survivor.


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1991 Gibson Les Paul Standard (Lestat)

Serial # 90921344

This is the fourth Les Paul I have owned.

It was the mid-90s. I’m bad with timelines, sorry. I had just left a band that had been taken out to dinner by all the major label A+R guys and girls. It was strange leaving the band because it was my band. I really thought we were going to do it. But the closer we got, the more heroin and cocaine our singer shot into his arm. He was talented, but the destruction of himself and the people around him outweighed his gifts as a singer and front man. A fact I only recognize in hindsight.

I had started a couple of other bands and was staying low-key and independent, which was actually quite fashionable at the time. One afternoon I get a call from the ex-singer. He needs to get out of town quick and need some cash. He wonders if I would like to buy his black Les Paul nicknamed Lestat for 450 dollars. I had played the guitar a couple of times and thought it was a decent instrument. It had all original parts except the tuning keys had been replaced with Sperzel tuning keys and the truss rod cover that originally said standard had been replaced with a cover that now said Lestat. I said I would buy the guitar. But he said there was a catch, which there always was.

He (ex-singer) was at a bus stop several blocks past Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue, then a very bad part of town. He was in front of the pawn shop his Les Paul was in. I would have to find a way down there – I didn’t have a car at the time- give him the 450, he would then go in the pawn shop get his guitar and then give it to me. 450 for a Les Paul Standard was a pretty good deal. I wasn’t doing much else that afternoon so I said yes.

I walked to Sunset and La Brea and started to hitchhike. This was much more acceptable than it seems to be now. I was walking and hitchhiking for a couple blocks when a white jeep pulled up to the curb. In it was the sometime girlfriend of a bass player I had worked with. She was an ex-porn star now supporting herself doing “this and that”. She gave me a ride all the way past Western Avenue to the pawn shop. I was very thankful for the ride and told her so, then got out. Not too long after she gave me this ride she got into methamphetamine. One night she called my then-girlfriend and said that I was hitting on her during the ride.

The ex-singer was sitting on the bus stop. Not on the seat but on the back of the seat, so he was higher up. He was wearing his black leather trench coat that he had worn on-stage so many times after the day he stole it off the sidewalk rack in front of a store on Melrose Avenue. He also had on wrap-around sunglasses. His girlfriend was sitting on the seat below him. They had some old luggage and grocery store bags full of their belongings. They looked like people you would normally avoid.

The ex-singer jumps of the bench and says hello. We small talk a little but don’t make eye contact. I give him the cash and he goes inside the pawn shop. I sit next to his girlfriend on the bus stop. I remember when they met. She seemed so clean and straight. She really loved our band. She barley spoke a word as we sat together. Her hair was really stringy and she looked dirty and despondent. I had tried to help them a couple of times in the past. But there is really not anything you can do. I had spent a lot of times feeling helpless, angry and confused. It wasn’t that long ago we were talking to record executives. I remember realizing I had put all my hopes, dreams and hard work into the same basket as a time bomb. It was a bad joke. I tried to hold it together. You start feeling like you’re bailing water on a sinking ship and you go below and your crew is drilling holes in the bottom of the boat. I grew a little hardened and distant in those moments.  The fact that my friends were now at a bus stop, homeless with a couple of suitcases barley fazed me.

He comes out of the pawn shop with the guitar and hands it to me. We shake hands. His hands are clammy and dirty. I say goodbye, turn and walk away. I didn’t see or hear from him again for a long time. He’s a Republican now and his parents bought him a house or two. But he can’t drive because he’s had a few DUIs.  I don’t know what happened to the girl.

I played this guitar on most projects I have recorded since. Mostly a bunch of  independent stuff you would never have heard of. It has a very dark tone, never bright. Through a Marshall jcm 800 this guitar is magic.

Prague 2am

It could have been anywhere for all I cared. But it was Prague. Might as well have been Mars. I hadn’t slept more than a few hours in the last week or month, it’s difficult to say. I finally arrived at the destination I set for myself 20 years ago and that old phrase “be careful what you wish for” was ringing in my ears. Mostly the left ear, which rings constantly from all the years of playing stage right. The drummer’s crash cymbal is always in that ear.

We arrived after dark, which is how we enter most towns we have a gig in. You learn to sleep a little while sitting in the van. 5 minutes maybe, 15 when you’re lucky. But you never really get rested. In Prague, they brought us to the promoter’s flat (apartment). She had a small dog with one eye. I don’t remember his name. They had a nice spread of food waiting for us. She had chips and salsa. Being a rock and roll band from LA, chips and salsa in Eastern Europe is as rare as precious stones.

We were playing some kind of festival that night. It was 10 pm and we were not scheduled to go on for  for another 2 or 3 hours. You might think that would be a great moment to catch up on a little sleep, but the longer you go without sleep the harder it gets to find any. Like the wanting and desire for sleep push it away. I try anyway.

It’s a one-bedroom flat so I wander into the bedroom – which was supposed to be completely off limits to the guys in the bands. I open the door and my drummer and bass player are in bed. Asleep! How the drummer sleeps is a mystery because the bass player snores so loud it’s like trying to sleep in the same room as a car crash. Complete with screaming victims. I go back out into the main room to sit with the one eyed dog and watch the rest of the rock and rollers party. Alcoholics have athletic endurance.

When it’s our time to go on, two handlers from the club come and get us. We walk to the club which is a couple of blocks away. It’s 2 am and cold. My achy body tightens in the cold air. My feet slip a little on the cobblestone street. I look down and think about the people who have walked on this same cobblestone street for hundreds of years. I look up along the tall buildings and see the winter sky. I can see my breath. I hug myself tight holding my jacket closed. Over my shoulder I see the singer of the Death Rock band I am playing with. He is wearing a black cape with a hood. His face is painted like a Día de los Muertos skull. I laugh a little at the ridiculousness of it all as it freezes as a moment in time.

The club is jam packed. They walk us all directly to the stage. I grab my guitar and turn on the amp. The club is warm, dark and full of moist cigarette smoke. My hands are shaking as I play a little on my guitar. It’s the lack of sleep. The shaking has been with me the entire tour. You learn to play by muscle memory and hope for the best. The drummer counts in the first song and we are on a moving train. It’s like being pulled by your belly into a storm, your head whips back.

I look out into the audience and people are looking at us. I look back and it seems connected and completely disconnected in the same moment. I notice they are all singing the words to our songs. It’s strange. What language do they speak here? We’re playing a song we wrote on the floor of my one-room apartment in LA and a room full of people in some other part of the world are singing along. I smile for a moment which is a no-no in a death rock band, but I’m a rebel. I’m not tired. The songs are nearly playing themselves. My feet hold the stage hard and I feel the rotation of the earth. The earth seems small and large in the same moment.

Still not Enlightened / Further Adventures, pt. 2

I drove to Ralph’s supermarket. Normally, I would have walked, but I had been working a lot and was a bit tired. I don’t shop at Ralph’s all that much anymore. It’s so expensive. There was a time when I did all my shopping there. I was either unconscious or Ralph’s was a better store at one time. I used to live in a one-bedroom apartment just up the street and I used Ralph’s like my personal refrigerator. When you live in a one-bedroom apartment with 3 musicians you don’t leave anything in the refrigerator. So when I wanted to eat, I walked a half block down the street and walked into my personal giant refrigerator and pantry and got what I needed.

Lately, I only buy one or two things from Ralph’s. I do most of my shopping at Trader Joe’s. It’s cheaper and the employees seem happier, which leads me to believe they are better treated or are not drug tested.

Anyway, I park in the Ralph’s parking lot and get out of my car. As I shut the door, I realize – too late – that my keys are still in the car. My car is not idiot-proof, obviously. Anyway, I say fuck it. I have a hide-a-key on my bumper in the event of such and incident. So I’ll use that after I do my shopping. I don’t want to get my hide-a-key out (which is then no longer hidden), get my keys out of the car and then go in. What if someone sees my hide-a-key spot and decides to steal my 17-year-old car that runs a little funky in 1st gear? I decide I’ll deal with it when I get back. I say some curse word out loud to myself and walk in the store.

I grab what I need and walk right past the personless check-out machines. I think people should have jobs if they want them and I am going to encourage this by checking out the old-fashioned way, even if the people working at Ralph’s are not as happy – or whatever – as the Trader Joe’s employees. As I’m waiting in line, a girl walks in the door. She’s on her phone and talking really loud.

I’m a little tired and still a bit pissed about the keys locked in the car thing so I just put my head down and look at my feet. Cause I know me, and if I get a chance, in the mood I’m in, it’s going to be hard not to give her the evil eye and get all judgemental. Which is rarely productive.  Why do I care if she’s on the phone? But the voice keeps getting louder as she walks more and more in my direction. I keep saying to myself, “It’s a semi-free country. She can be on the phone if she likes.” Although I really want to scream. I just keep looking at my shoes. I can’t believe how close she is getting to me. She is standing right next to me talking on her fucking phone. I can hear every word she is saying. Then she says, “Can you hold on a second?” And she takes the phone away from her ear and she says, “Excuse me.” I look up and say, “Yeah?” And she says, “I take the yoga class you teach in the park all the time and I just wanted to say hello and thank you.”

The  first thought that comes into my head is, “Why is god always fucking with me?” I say, “You’re welcome,” to the girl. She gets back on the phone, gives me a big smile and walks away. As she walks away I realize the key chain that is attached to my keys that are locked in my car also has my Ralph’s club card on it. I hate club cards. Can’t they just give me a decent price without having me carry a stupid little piece of plastic with me everywhere I go?  So I ask the guy in front of me – who is just finishing his transaction with a human, not an instant check-out machine – “Can I use your Ralph’s card? I forgot mine in my car.” I say forgot because I felt I would look like less of an idiot if I forgot rather than locked my keys in my car. It seemed logical at the moment and I didn’t have time to come up with a better, less embarrassing lie. He says, “Sure, no problem.” The girl behind the counter, whose job I am trying to support by not using the automated check-out aisles says, “I’m sorry we don’t let people do that anymore.” I say, “Are you fucking serious?” Before she replies I say, “Why the hell does it matter?” She says, “Sir…”. I hate when people call me sir. But she says, ” Sir, it’s the rules!” I clamp my mouth shut, walk out the door, get my hide-a-key, get in my car and drive to Trader Joe’s. If this doesn’t work, I’m going on a hunger strike.

In a world full of lies, Truth is like a naked man standing in the supermarket with nowhere to put his club card.

Terminator seeds

If we eat food grown with seeds that were engineered by Monsanto to terminate or self-destruct, will we–as the people who eat the food produced by these terminator seeds–develop self-destructive terminator tendencies?

You are what you eat.

From Wiki Monsanto terminator seeds

In June 2007,[30] Monsanto acquired Delta & Pine Land Company, a company that had patented a seed technology nicknamed Terminators. This technology, which was never known to have been used commercially, produces plants that have sterile seeds so they do not flower or grow fruit after the initial planting. This prevents the spread of those seeds into the wild, however it also requires customers to repurchase seed for every planting in which they use Terminator seed varieties. Farmers who do not use a terminator seed could also be affected by his neighboring farmer that does through natural pollination. In recent years, widespread opposition from environmental organizations and farmer associations has grown, mainly out of the concerns that hypothetical seeds using this technology could increase farmers’ dependency on seed suppliers.

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