One For Hank Hedland

Write like you are writing to a friend. I’m writing to Hank Hedland.

Hank Hedland,
The accompanying mind dribble is sent to you without vindictive intentions. I have nothing but good purposes mixed with a needy desperation to find a destination for this writing. I need to pass it to someone before I put it away forever. Like a pink elephant gift.

As a member of To Live And Write In Alameda I’ve been trying to get into the habit of writing and one prompt in this regard has been the written advice of the sadly recently departed Tom Wolfe. His tip to fledgling writers was along this line. “Write as if you you are writing to a friend,” he said, as I recall. “Why me?”, you may ask Mr. Hedland. Here is what I wrote. It touches on your and Tom’s podcast Talk About The 80s content, a little bit. So that’s why.
Oh, and I don’t know what Mr. Wolfe would advise about my run-on sentences. And I don’t really know if heavy metal bands are an 80s thing. Which, if they aren’t, could be a bit awkward for my reasoning.

………start…..

My bedroom window opens up to a view of my neighbor’s backyard. In that yard is the beginning of the construction of a new little cottage. It was begun with the laying of a cement foundation. That is how they start.

This story, Hank, tips again and again. This cement foundation story tipped from my window view. Then it tipped onto other things. Next paragraph please.

In doing this foundation a hose full of cement fed from a cement truck. No more wheelbarrows needed it seems. I watched as the contractor poured cement from the hose into the framed foundation sections. I looked for a bulge in the long hose but I saw no Jimmy Hoffa lump in it.

OK, this isn’t about Jimy Hoffa. And you have to remember who he was to make any sense of it at all.

It’s a Hoffa free foundation here, anyway. Hoffa was pretty fat and needed a deeper flooring to rest in. Some parts of him would be likely to pop out of the surface of the cement for sure. It wouldn’t  work for the little cottage as you’d be sure to see some of Hoffa’s parts like chocolate chips on the surface of a chocolate chip cookie. Probably Hoffa’s remains reside nearer to Chicago anyway. Cleveland is where I would have planted him. In deep cement. Maybe his body lies in the sub-flooring of the Rock and Roll Museum there in Cleveland. I don’t like Cleveland. Been there once.

Yes, I hope Jimmy Hoffa’s body is buried in the cement foundation of the R&R museum in Cleveland. Maybe some speaker system blasts out a recorded loop of an AC/DC song there today. Loud. Over and over. It won’t wake Hoffa but that’s a good thing. Highway to Hell? Perfect.

The band AC/DC is a heavy metal band which was my first encounter with the heavy metal shouting and guitar string screeching genre. I saw them at the Cow Palace sometime in the 80s. Someone in the crowd tossed an empty whisky bottle my way that night. The bottle came dangerously close to my head. It nearly provided me a memorable concussion I suppose. The girl it hit survived.

Is there a study, Tom and Hank, about the current status of heavy metal players from the 80s? This might be a suitable topic for Talk About The 80s. Your podcast. Are the metal musicians maintaining their heavy attitudes and comfort levels in regard to their own aging. Is the aging that these musicians are experiencing bringing about any kind of, say, call it reorientation with them in their senior years? Have their values chaged from handgrenades on their belts to something softer, more grandfatherly?

Bands that still tour and have any of the original members could be of interest to your podcast audience.  This might depend on whether the veteran hard rockers  have any memory and perspective. If they are just robots of their former selves then there may be no sense inquiring. There may be “no body home” as they say. I saw Patsy Cline on her last tour and she wasn’t digging very deep.

Some musicians have a way of finding something meaningful in their music and it’s performance. Believe it or not, I think Keith Richards has a light shining still. I may be wrong.

I’m talking about values that the music talks about. What does a band like MegaDeath talk about? It basically talks about MegaDeath. That kind of thing.

What does the band AC/DC talk about? Look at this list of AC/DC songs that boast, ne threaten, of death defying power in their fearless metalness: Highway to Hell, Black Ice, Iron Man, Stiff Upper Lip, Ballbreaker, T.N.T., Shoot to Thrill, Shot Down in Flames, Sin City, Big Gun, Bad Boy Boogie, Dog Eat Dog, Shake Your Foundation, Danger, Heat-seeker. These guys, in their earlier days, were on the way to leading us into World War III.

Obviously AC/DC had no interest in projecting a soft cushy image. Back in “the metal days” I’d say the bands competed with many other to be the most “metal.” Some used fire and other pyro effects. It’s a wonder they didn’t come on stage with machine guns and bull whips and leave the stage bleeding after the encore. I mean, they had that image to project. That was back then. But do they live up to their desired image today? Are they, the guys in the bands, “heavy” now? Are they “metal” now?

Could it all have been just an act?
How are they keeping the steel in their metal?

What’s the current story on these guys?

So I Googled up a few metalic players to get an idea about their ethical stamina in their senior citizen days. Here are a few to note.

First, let’s not get all wussy about original AC/DC lead singer and co-song writer Bon Scott who drank one to many an incendiary alcohol doses which caused him to flame out back in the early years of his band. He was on fire. A kind of spontaneous combustion. Call it “pyro.” And it turned out he wasn’t immortal.

On second thought, I’d rather not compile a list of rock musicians (all genre musicians performing anywhere from soft lounge acts music to plutonium grade nuclear bombs music) who exited the scene with early-stage or late-stage or anywhere on the spectrum-stage dementia. The amount of drugs consumed in the interest of having a good time in rock music across the category is monumental. And outside of rock music too. Cute puppy loving “pop” musicians did much the same too. Dozens of band members and their roadies have slipped over the edge from their unhealthy use of any number of substances. At the autopsy of any 80s musician the precipice to demise no doubt can be perceived to have been met and exceeded by overdose after overdose.  Post concert mayhem was sometimes too much. A toll was paid back in those metal days and if not, a toll probably needs to be paid after some years of medical mitigation.

Aspiring to be “heavy” has left a bill to be paid for many an artist.

With so many spikes and nails in the heavy metal band member’s ears, nose, arms, genitalia and just about anywhere else it is no wonder things are blurring the X-ray  pictures. Doctors, nurses and interns will make diagnosis of dementia often. Analysis by the medical professionals may be challenging in the hospital emergency rooms. The perception of doctors who missed the metal years would be understandable. They are most often doing this lab work without even a faint  recollection of Keith Moon in any of their background studies. Keith should be a classic case if you ask me.

Another band transition, to use a polite term, is the replacement AC/DC singer Brian Johnson who exited the band. AC/DC is now in self-tribute mode when it tours. Johnson left in 2016. It seems that he needed to coddle his prissy hearing system following the advice of his audiologist. My image is this. Doctors advised this AC/DC veteran to alternate his current and he shorted out on his fans. To the doctors, Brian Johnson should have flipped them “the finger” and crooned, hollered, sang, shouted or whatever the lyrics of Bad Boy Boogie turned up to full volume. But, alas, I’m not shocked.

Another questionable move coming from the power force is backup singer Cliff Williams taking a “retirement.” Retire! Not even Marilyn Manson retires. Where does one retire to after singing songs like “Decapitate” and “Morbid Angel” for dozens of years. What assisted living community would even take them in?

Come to think of it, I have a great idea for a TV sitcom Hank. How about a “residential living senior center” exclusively for post metal players?  Dining room conversations would be hilarious. Locate it in Seattle or Los Angeles.

One can hope to learn soon that Cliff Johnson is gearing up for a world tour titled Heatseeker’s Revenge. We cannot wait. Early tickets available to AARP members.

Again, let me ask, what place is there in this world for a retired heavy metal musician? The gray hair won’t finish these guys off. The only gated residential places to suit these guys come with wardens and bars.

Let me be fair; some of my idols from my rock listening years where “snowflakes” and I still like it that way. After all, Elvis had Heartbreak back in that hotel. And he rocked! Did Elvis even have tattoos? Doubt it.

Indeed, at least I wasn’t suckered into the pop music world of Pat Boone and Patty Page. Alas, some were.
And, I’m proud to say that some pretty scruffy types including Jerry Lee Lewis “Great Balls of Fire” and Gene Vincent* “Woman Love” hit our jukebox. I bet Lewis has tattoos, even.
(Note, *One song of many of Vincent’s has some kind of 80s grit I think and actually has a point. Starting lines are:
Well I’ve led an evil life, so they say
But I’ll outrun the devil on judgment day)..

Now that’s heavy. And you know, I think Gene was the real thing. He did, I’m betting, outrun the devil!

 

….leftover

Was heavy metal an 80s thing?
Was there ever a rockabilly heavy metal band?

I’m going to start a list of all the “metal band” names with those boastful hammering killer names that probably hid the cream puff softie wannabe rockers. I’ll start with the band MegaDeath. Promises, promises! Yes, that’s a crock, I bet!

I’ll start this after I complete my list of All the Lies Trump has Told.

 

Grandma!

My grandmother’s hairpiece was the usual “bun” that so many gray haired senior ladies had in those days. Grandma was what I called her. I had a Nanny too, but she lived two blocks from me in an apartment behind where the cars parked. She didn’t have a car I don’t think. I think that Grandma had a car that was always parked in front of her house.

Grand Ma was almost always dressed in white. That was my expectation and it almost always was just so. This had to do with her work as a nurse I suppose.

Because I can’t remember her actually arriving to where I lived in a car, I guess she must have had one even though I don’t remember being in it. I suppose that when she came across town to my house she either took the bus or got a ride from someone or drove. Probably she drove.

As a kid in those days I never wondered if she did anything in particular. Her job was working as a nurse. My job was being a kid.

Her head had this round “bun” of gray hair in a doorknob shape. I bet she wouldn’t have liked me to grab it and turn it.

My Nanny would ask me how I was doing in school. Grandma Dacey didn’t ask me any questions that I can remember. But she was alright and I liked visiting her because she had almost always just made angel food cake right before I would visit her. Usually slices of strawberries were on the side and top placed into the frosting, which was white. The sink drain board in the tiny kitchen was where the special treat would be placed, on a big platter.

Grandma was my father’s mother I was told. I can’t say that I remember them being very close as I grew. I guess that they were close, but I didn’t see them visiting much, if at all. Eventually Grandma Dacey had her brother Joe living with her. He didn’t talk to me ever, it seems to me.

Anyway, I don’t know what I would have to say to them. Probably at Christmas when Grandma gave me a shirt or something I would thank her very much.

Because I am now older than my Grandma ever lived to be it may explain why I don’t remember much of her, except the angle food cake. And the bun and the white dress. But I wonder if anybody in that side of the family was as uninterested in my as it seems to me upon thinking about it.

My nanny used to offer me a candy sometimes when I visited. Paper wrapped butterscotch candy. It wasn’t my favorite but it really reminds me of Nanny.

I think it is fair to say that different grand mothers and nannys are tossed out to kids just like different grandchildren are tossed out to the parents of our mothers and fathers. Obviously. Some kids probably ask a ton of questions to grandmothers and some don’t. Somebody was shy. Somebody is shy. Hell, they all may be shy.

I don’t think that I ever asked grandma how she liked her work. But, after she died and her house was sold, she left me $2,000 which I used to buy a used 1957 TR3 sports car. A red one. If she had asked me I could have told her that that car was just the car I wanted.

So thank you very much Grandma. I had a wonderful time with it in those days. It was perfect. And your angel food cake was great too.

Satisfaction on a Sunday Morning

In an email one Nick Weaver asked me if I would like to write a review of his product, my newly purchased eero system wifi extender. He asked me in an email yesterday. So I don’t mind. It seems to work fine. I suspect that Nick, “Co-founder and CEO, https://eero.com” is hoping that I would write a good review.

And he can be pretty fairly comfortable asking because I had answered his earlier email questionnaire a week ago. My response was conveniently abridged in 5 easy button selections. And all my selections were all positive. I checked all with the 5 button indicating “Very Satisfied” buttons in all cases I pressed SEND.

Yep, I’m a pretty satisfied customer. Somehow I keep forgetting the product name though. Is it aaro or is it eero? Are business running out of name choices? When it grows up will it use a capital letter? Is this a “branding” issue Nick? No biggie.

Bet Nick doesn’t send any followup requests to the guys who are unsatisfied in even one of 5 categories found in the customer opinion email. So I am pretty much a sure thing. Let’s see if he is satisfied by this.

Really, getting good reviews is tuff as we all know it is easier to want to complain about something you bought than send a nice message for positive results.

I think it’s something like 8 times more likely that a complaint will be sent than a good review on a product purchase. Somehow Amazon.com has figured out a way to defeat this human trait, apparently.

Then again, maybe Nick has only satisfied customers. Wouldn’t that be nice.

You know Kick gave me the chance to start the day in a positive way and I’m pretty sure I didn’t kick a cat at any time that morning. Thanks Nick.
The start of my Review for Amazon, to which Nick provided a convenient link:

So here you go Nick. My Amazon Review of eero system:

This aaro system has been working out just fine at home since I installed it. I only needed to call tech support on a Sunday morning and a very nice person answered and guided me until I realized that I had forgotten to select my new WiFi network. Tip: always makeup a new name for the new network that eero makes. Could be confusing later, otherwise.
The old WiFi network was weaker and wouldn’t range into the back bedroom well. Checking email in bed was “such a problem!” So, after being reminded, I clicked on the WiFi symbol at the top of the screen to select my newly setup network. Of course I had named it differently. It was the step that I had forgotten and it was a cinch, after it was pointed out. Thanks Sunday morning guy.

aaro info (advertising) suggests that you buy the 3 unit system (called an eero and two eero Beacons) to reach around all corners in a 1,500 sq. ft. house or office. At over $300 thats a lot of money spent for buying a lot of invisible waves that might be here or might be there, or not. But the aero app shows great power everywhere so now I don’t have to get out of bed. And bonus, I can even download to my laptop while it’s in my back yard. I need a hammock.

MY REVIEW, it’s working fine. Satisfied customer.

Meeting Howard Cosell

First trip to the New York Subway System
Stamford Train Platform

It was my first visit ever to a New York Subway platform, I walked up a stairway from the metro parking lot to purchase my ticket. The “platform” I climbed to was actually in Stamford Connecticut but I understood it would take us to the New York subway. That would be about 40 miles away.

I was with my cousin Richard who was a local Stamford teenager just graduated from high school. I was about 10 years older than Richard.

My visit to Stamford Connecticut was just beginning after my first night “crashing” at my uncle’s house there. My VW bus had been my sleeping place for most of the nights between the San Francisco Bay Area and Stamford. I drove to my aunt and uncle’s home in Stamford the afternoon before Richard’s and my New York tour.

I was excited to be about to be shown New York City by Richard. It would be fun to get to know him better along the way. And it would probably be far better than getting a different tour from his parents, my aunt and uncle, for sure.

Continue reading “Meeting Howard Cosell”

Following Breakfast, Lunch

I’m not complaining, I promise. After a very leisurely breakfast we had our chance to catch up on family stories and travel stories. It wasn’t long before the comfort food was being ladeled out from the kitchen. The kitchen is to the rear in this picture.               Ajiaco, Colombia’s ultimate warm and welcome dish. The corn, chicken, peas and potato in a broth was a very satisfying start to our trip.

 

Morning in Bogota

It’s a warm gathering for breakfast that we just finished in Zoraida’s family home. Eggs and bread for us and caldo (broth) for “nonita” (Abuelita, Mama).

The house has two levels and we were provided again a nice ground floor room filled with niece Margarita’s clothing, college books and more. The room has a large window which gives a fine view of my brother-in-law’s carpentry shop in the covered yard. He took it over from his father over 30 years ago. Oscar has an employee today helping finish a large wood shelving piece which will be moved later today in a rented truck.

When it starts to rain the weather predictions are proven correct. Colombia has had the rainiest year in recent memory. There rains have reduced flower production and been the cause of disastrous landslides in three spring.

 

I am getting ready for a two week family trip.

The details are the regular mundane insanity.

  1. Plane departure time has been rescheduled which shortens the connection time interval leaving too little time for finding our way around any airport without a pretty big chance we could miss the second plane.
  2. A new, earlier flight is arranged for and the clock alarm must be set 2 hours earlier than the original plan.

________________________________

Citizenship

Working under the tent roof there was the reek of hot plastic. But the work had to be done.

When all was said and done, Senator Eugene McCarthy had sent his last campaign mailing to his most fervent supporters. And sent it also to the most generous party donors on a specific list provided that day. There were just over 20,000 letters. 20,105 according to the stamp count, leaving on the fold-up tables in the tent covered work area just 95 unlicked and on the volunteer tables. Piled next to the remaining blue George Washington 43cent stamps and a couple hundred empty letter sized envelopes with the Senator’s white hair flowing in his official photo with the return address on the left corner top. Under the tent no one thought to keep any un-mailed letters as souvenirs of their day’s work. Surely there were many indications that this mailing and the resulting inflow of cash would carry the Senator into the convention with renewed energy.

Under the work tent it was hotter than it had been when the work began, and there was still the reek of hot plastic.

. . .

Pizza. The offer of free pizza could always draft a sufficient body of undergrads to the activity room of the dorm. Even in Palo Alto where pizza was just about as plentiful as Starbucks and many students had deep enough pockets to buy all the pizza they could ever eat, pizza could attract a lot of volunteers. even if they didn’t want to admit it. So the hungry student with the stated aim to support the white haired candidate to stun the system and upset the moderates who had always failed the nation, lined up at the pizza boxes and to sit at the computer spaces. And if a volunteer had no interest in pizza, a selection from the tray of Bahn Mi would be an acceptable substitute for the pizza.

 

Emily, the party coordinator, explained that the correct password would access a party site. She explained that this page linked to a brainstorm page. Here they were to put their most creative contributions. They should check the targeted recipient’s age range.

All of these ideas would be passed to “national” in the effort of generate the identification of the most current issues that would spark outcomes including donations, phone bank volunteers, increased attendance at candidate and party meetings, donations and those kinds of things.

“You know we are going to have to work very hard in these last few weeks,” Emily said to them all as they prepared to leave the room. “They don’t expect us to make it.” Actually the effort was ended in just a few days.

A tan T-shirt with the candidate’s name and picture was provided to all who attended.

. . .

We wondered if there would be another election. How could it be held? There were no photos of the candidate for obvious reasons, as explained by the blip-text. We would find voting convenient as it was coming in the same form as had this message. All votes should be counted and the results would be sent after 25 hours. Check your mailbox.

Proper log-in is, of course, required. Code and finger ID. Blip-text gave 60 seconds for voting before closing so citizens should be ready. 100% participation is expected. Since the terror bombings of the recent months and the subsequent travel restrictions, all votes would be electronic and would indicate citizen participation. Failure to vote would indicate non-citizenship, which is illegal.

The apartment smelled of marijuana. At least we could still find some dope out there.

Because our vote was required, and would give away some information that could reveal too much, we were living in a moment of heightened purpose. It had been awhile since we struggled to avoid the new reality. Mostly people disappeared after trying to put an end to the organizations said to be watching to protect the citizens. It didn’t matter.

We slipped on our rubber gloves, filled the canisters and walked casually with our backpacks to the corner.