Take Your Whiskey Home

“Well, that liquor in the nighttime leaves strange memories”

“Take Your Whiskey Home” Van Halen

When we used to go out to the club, one night my cousin said, “You know what I like about you?”, “What?”, “When we get here and Dan takes a walk around the floor and comes back, I ask him what’s going on and he always says, ‘Nothing much.’ When you walk around and come back, I ask and you always have 3 or 4 interesting or exciting stories and it’s only been 20 minutes.”

When I started this blog a couple years ago I thought what if I run out of things to write about. I have virtual sticky notes on my desktop and I wrote keywords or phrases to remind me of people, places and things I would like to write about. I expanded the note to the full height of my screen and still came up with enough ideas they don’t fit and I have to scroll down to read all of them. It’s been over 2 years and I think I have pulled 4 items from the list. The list isn’t boring. I still read through it and think, Yeah, that’s a good one… But before I write it something else pops into my head and I have to write about it. I know a lot of stuff is just shit posting journal rants but a lot of times there are good stories in there that are fun to write. Here is one is one I haven’t thought about in so long it feels like it happened to someone else.

When I was a kid I played in a band. We played all cover songs which back then meant classic rock standards because we lived in hicksville and that’s what people wanted to hear. We grew up with it so we liked a lot of the songs but the four of us were an eclectic bunch and threw in some oddball songs of our own. One of my favorites was “War Pigs” because there were no bar bands playing that but it was the only Black Sabbath song they let me add to the list. I’m trying hard to remember. I was never a big fan of the Rolling Stones but I loved playing “Sympathy for the Devil”. I liked the groove and I could really match the tone of the guitar solo. It’s unique. I know it’s cheesy but “Stuck in the Middle With You”, I only knew it from the Reservoir Dogs movie and the lyrics meant something completely different for me. We would pick songs from bands that were popular but not play their hit song if we thought they had better songs. Shit like that.

We were all good musicians, no phenoms except the bass player, he was a savant. I would hate it. I would spend a week learning a song he had never even heard before, he would press play and 30 seconds later it’s like he’s been playing the song his whole life. He learned the whole Primus album note for note the day it came out. It was strange, three of us tried to start a band before but nothing happened. I disappeared for a while and the drummer, who was my friend since high school, tracked me down and told me the bass player was back from Oregon and they met a guy who sings and plays guitar. He has a bunch of paying gigs lined up but has no band. Okay, I’m in.

I showed up and it was pretty funny. We didn’t know what to play so I said, I just learned the whole “Best of ZZtop” album while I was fucking around at home. (The early one, before they revamped for the 80’s) The bass player was like, no way! I love that. It was totally unexpected because he had much different taste in music than the rest of us. We kicked through that and it worked and the guy who had the 411 had a list of songs. I knew most of them and went home and learned the rest and we were off and running.

We weren’t famous. We played local bars for free beer and $200 to split 4 ways. I wasn’t in it for the money. The bar owners kept having us back because when we were there the place stayed full until last call. I have a few good stories out of that but this is my favorite and I’ve been waiting all day to write it.

I don’t know who knew who, what or where but we ended up playing in the American Legion Post about a hundred yards from the apartment my Joie and I lived in small town middle of nowhere. You had to be a member to go inside or you had to be with a member as a guest. None of us knew any members. Even though we were getting paid to play there we had to wait outside for 4 members to come out and bring us in and sign our names to the list. I still have no idea how this event happened. Just another day in my life.

The place was huge and it was packed though. They didn’t give us free drinks but they might as well have because they were 80 cent beers with a 20 cent tip. Another part of the story I still can’t figure out was how or why I had a pint of Seagram’s 7 stashed in the back my amplifier. I had never done it before or since. There were no liquor stores around, we didn’t keep any booze in the house. I didn’t walk around with a bottle in my back pocket. It wasn’t my favorite drink. Nobody gifted it to me. Where did it come from?

I was pretty fucking discreet about it too. Standing on a three foot high stage sipping from the bottle and chasing it with flat beer from a dirty glass. I’m still not sure if anyone noticed because I think everyone there was pretty fucking shitfaced. People drank at every bar we played and liked us but these people really liked us. I mean, really, really liked us.

We had a long list of songs to play so we never ran out but it started getting pretty late and everyone in the place was yelling for “Sweet Home Alabama!”. We were giving each other sideways glances, shrugging our shoulders, we never played that song before. They kept yelling for it. We took a break or something and of course our singer knew how to play it. I said, I can probably play that song, I’ve heard it a million times, show me the riff.

We debuted “Sweet Home Alabama” I guess. They were fucking screaming! I was laughing my ass off. It was fun though. We did a bang up job. It was pretty easy, the same thing repeating except for the chorus and fake my way through a Southern Rock solo. I enjoyed it. I still remember how to play it.

You think that’s the end of the story? It is, kind of. They kept yelling “Sweet Home Alabama!” That’s all they wanted to hear. I think we played the extended version of that song at least 20 times that night. I was dying, it was so funny.

They wouldn’t let us leave. I don’t think they had a last call. I think last call was when the bartender passed out. Good thing we were walking home because we woke up and the apartment floor was littered with bodies.

They never invited us back.

Happy Days are Here Again

Robot Brain

Wed July 28 2021: I was quite proud of myself yesterday for making it through 2 weeks of the worst anxiety of my life. (that is saying a lot) I was happiest because I did it without drinking (since I’m a raging alcoholic) and only taking 1mg of clonazepam each day, although I am prescribed and and had available 3mg per day. I don’t know how I managed that. Every time I saw the bottle sitting there I really wanted instant relief. That would make the anxiety worse. (as if that was possible) I don’t know why I was so determined. Like I said I was feeling pretty good about kicking anxiety’s ass, until it came back unexpectedly later in the evening. That was scary because none of the techniques I used yesterday were working. My biggest fear was it would go on forever. It only lasted about an hour. Phew! I was getting pissed because it was interfering with the joy I felt sharing in my daughter’s happiness about getting her license and being out there doing her own thing. She is a very different person now.

Speaking of my daughter, she is doing great! She is the first of her friends to start driving and they were waiting in line for her to take her for a ride in her old school black on black BMW. It’s so old it only has a CD player for her music. No phone plug in and certainly not bluetooth. She likes it since she is into retro. She already has a pretty good collection of CD’s and wants to bring me to her favorite music store in Portsmouth. She has her eye on the next one. She has great taste in music. When I visit her the first thing she does is show me what she has added to her collection. I was surprise to see Jimi Hendrix “Are You Experienced” one of my favorites from when I was younger. The first week she was driving she and her boyfriend had a picnic in Prescott Park. I was surprised to hear that. It doesn’t sound like something she would be into. She made him peanut butter and fluff roll ups, his favorite and they had strawberries with sugar. When I left I told her how happy I was she is getting out there and doing her thing.

Tomorrow she is going with her parents, their friends and her boyfriend to see Green Day in Fenway Park! She is so excited. It is her first concert since the virus and she has never been to the ball field. She wanted to take her car but her mom won’t let her drive in Boston. I told her she is going to have the best time! I am so excited for her. Thinking about how awesome she is makes my throat tighten and my eyes start to tear up. It is a new feeling for me. I am so happy!

Not another book review?

I really tried to get through this book. “Just Kids” by Patti Smith. I pushed myself 3 times but only managed to get halfway through. It’s a memoir and I just couldn’t get past all the lucky breaks she had when she was younger. She could have easily slipped through the cracks of history. Don’t get me wrong. She is a great writer and tells a good story.

If Robert Maplethorpe hadn’t scooped on her when she was homeless in NYC, there is a good chance nobody would know her name. Maplethorpe opened the doors to people who helped her career immensely. He got her into “The Factory” and also to many famous or soon to be famous musicians. It was the musicians who wanted to get into her pants who told her she should be a singer. Even though they had never heard her sing and she herself had no desire to sing in a band. I also wonder if she would have ever been published if she hadn’t had an affair with Sam Shepard, a famous playwright at the time. Even Bruce Springsteen wrote her most well known song.

Maplethorpe asked her to write this book to tell the story of their early love for each other. If you like memoirs or autobiographies or even like Patti Smith, you will probably have more luck with this book than I had.

Maybe it is sour grapes on my part but I just couldn’t see past the amazing coincidences that made her life story. I liked her latest book, “Year of the Monkey” better than this one. In fact, that book was the one that made me want to read more Patti Smith books. Now I think I am going to move on to something else. I would recommend this book if you are a fan of her music or her other writings. She still has great style as an author. The only reason I couldn’t finish the book was my personal problem. Don’t let that stop you. Her life is quite interesting and the list of who’s who she met in her lifetime is endless.

Breaking Quarantine

I went to my daughter’s (14) yesterday! It was the first real time I’ve spent with her in 3 months due to my state’s stay at home order. She has put the break to good use. She has gotten a lot better at playing bass guitar which she started recently. She was popping out some bumping bass lines for me. She is a hipster so she learned a couple songs by Sublime and Green Day because she is into ’90’s music and she learned some songs by lesser known artists of today. One band I said I never heard of and she said, I know, nobody has. I guess that’s the point of being a hipster. She also increased her collection of Doc Marten boots to 8 pairs which she buys with her Christmas and birthday money. Still, it is like $1600 worth of shoes. Unbelievable!

This is a picture of one of the more recent pair of boots she purchased. She likes the platform soles. The first day she wore them they gave her huge blisters but she was determined and kept wearing them. Now she says they are broken in and comfortable. I don’t really care what she spends her money on as long as it makes her happy. The next item she wants is a new Fender Jazz bass. They go for about $700. Her birthday is coming up this month and it looks like I am pitching in with her mom to buy it. I hope she continues to play because she is picking it up pretty quickly and is good at it. Also I have been playing guitar since I was her age so I have an interest in the same type of music.

It was good to get out of the house for an extended period of time. The depression I had in the winter has lifted so I can do more than just force myself to go to the grocery store when I run out of food. The store is no fun with all the people wearing masks due to the Covid scare. It was really the only place I could go during the shutdown. It only helped to serve my depressive isolation tactics where I shut out people and don’t leave the house anyway.

Were any of you separated from family during the shutdown? I know a lot of people couldn’t visit their relatives in nursing homes. I feel especially bad for people who passed away with no family with them.

My daughter had a hard time with school being online. She doesn’t want to talk about it but her mom told me she was really stressing about it. She needs some of the in person connection with her teachers. I hope they can open the schools back up for the next year. I don’t know how other kids are dealing with it. I just told her not to worry about it so much and enjoy her time off during the summer. She is a happy kid and that is what matters.