Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

Seventy-nine

Posted by ilbebe on January 27, 2012

At the time, there was no sense of needing to up the ante. There was merely the sense of an imperative to keep making music, lest the night catch the day. I am speaking of September 2003.

California was headed toward a recall election. Moneyed machinations had gamed the state game, and nearly 200 candidates were seeking to supplant Grey Davis. Casey, Shawn, SosD, and I had been at a machine gun range in Nevada earlier in the prior year and heard an employee, upon reviewing our IDs, remark “Heh. GAY Davis.” Now that man was being made to seem sage. I was working at a hotel front desk, and I was somewhat perturbed that I had not seized any earlier opportunity to buy a gun. Arnold Shwarzenegger was poised to become my chief executive, and I was feeling the gyre begin to slip. The only possible balm was music; wild, blue-blooded shit. Here’s the rundown:

9-6-03: Stupidummerfest 2003. Garrett, Erin, Sagar, and Adrienne’s apt., 16th and H, Apt. Ben Affleck’s Worst Nightmare. No joke, one time I thought I had turned into a minotaur at this apartment. Strange powers slept unstill there.

The Summerfest festival was in its second or third year at that point. Summerfest was a corporate-ish “big summer festival”-type show held out in Willow Creek, CA. Kottonmouth Kings were a perennial at this festival. I didn’t give much of a shit about Summerfest.

Bummerfest was in its first or second year at that point. Bummerfest was organized and curated by the reigning local booking queen as a completely unnecessary “response” to Summerfest. This is not to say Bummerfest was a bad or misguided event. It was great. But it was like eight bucks. Eight bucks in 2003 dollars equaled four-plus forties. So what if there were eleven bands? ‘Eureka sucks’ was one of our passwords.

So Stupidummerfest was our unnecessary protest against Bummerfest, and to make sure everyone understood we weren’t taking ourselves seriously, we held Stupidummerfest three weeks after Bummerfest. Read: There was no conflict of interest. Yet somehow, my gang’s limited pull in the scene was radically exaggerated in non-attendee’s disregard of Stupidummerfest. It was as if it was just a fucking party where a bunch of party animals made music and fucked around. Perish the thought, cherish whatcha ought…

The opening act was a group called the Stupid Kids; an ambient sound trio from McKinleyville. I don’t remember much from their set, and the only part that survives on the recording is their final sound clip; Cookie Monster saying ME ONLY WANT COOKIE!

Next up was Nick B performing as Gas Station Burrito. He played breathless Bright Eyes-style covers of TV theme songs. It was wonderful. Cubbyhole was supposed to play a set after him, and about two-thirds of the way through Nick’s set, a call came in to the apartment’s landline from Rachel, the guitarist/singer of Cubbyhole, saying she wasn’t going to make it home from Hayfork that night. Hayfork was/is a very small town in Trinity County, about four hour’s drive from Arcata. Upon getting the news, Gas Station Burrito exclaimed “I said Hay-Fork!” It remains a moment in time I recall when I just need to remember that shit is hilarious. However, JRho didn’t think it was too funny; he was anxiously awaiting the opportunity to prove himself musically in front of the apple of his eye, Bethany. This was a spanner in the works, but don’t worry, there is a happy ending. Nolan Samhain Cowan Rhodes will be three in ten days.

Nick B as GSB finished his set with a rousing rendition of Theme From The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and then it was my turn. I poured a pint of Great White Courage off of the keg, plugged into Rachel’s strange old Fender amp, set down my set list and lyric sheets, and let it loose.

I turned in a fine performance, if I do say so myself. It all starts with me commenting on the SubwayTM value meal, imploring G-funk to not interfere with my artistry, and then recounting a sorry tale of being irate over a perceived debt of less than fifty cents that G-funk owed me when we were roommates our Freshman year of college.

The set proceeded through an eclectic mixture of songs; some recent originals, some old originals, some brief jokes, more covers. The performance is decidedly uneven, but Goddamn, it rings true to the time. I forgot the words to I Don’t Want To Grow Up. ‘Nuff said.

The recording of the evening concludes with G-funk manipulating people to come inside the apartment from outside by yelling “The Cops are here!!” This ingenuous strategy was solely for the purpose of fostering an environment suitable for a massive sing-a-long of “Do You Love Me?” Poets wax poetic, and the crooners croon, but never was there ever an’ting more poetic than that song ‘neath the moon.

I heard Josh and Bethany made it all of two blocks away before making out rolling around on the sidewalk at Sixteenth and J, across from Arcata High. Young love, it makes the winds…

9-13-03: Party at me and Tom’s place, 15th and H, Apt. C. That’s right, I took the lightbulb out of the socket in the front room and invited everyone.

The following Saturday, the Junior Night Ranger gang from back home came up to rock a party I was hosting at my apartment. I put screws into the ceiling to hang mics for recording purposes. I designed a flyer which used the upcoming recall election sample ballot as a template. I was drinking like a fish and still working at the hotel. The promised post-Labor Day slowdown was already materializing, and I was starting to get worried about the accompanying cut in hours that all employees had been notified of. I was avoiding weed because I was expecting a call back from the post office any day about a better job. I was in need of another good party, and it started out well when some of my visiting friends started wantonly cracking a whip in the parking lot outside.

Set ‘em up, knock ‘em straight back to Manila. I drank beer from a trumpet during ‘Art Fag’, and it was a massive night. I recall my downstairs neighbor threatening to punch a visiting friend in the face for his untoward advances. I don’t recall falling asleep. I’ll tell you more about this party one day, when yr older. When there is frost on the tepee in the morning, the squaw will sleep alone.

9-21-03: Panda Tears – At A House On 14th and J in Arcata, across from the Arcata Vet’s Hall. I voted at the Vet’s Hall while I lived at the Carriage House Apartments. It always made me feel good, like something was working as designed.

Panda Tears was an idea that had been fomented in the sick, sick allegiance of G-funk, Errin, Ces and KaySo when they wanted to record a killer cover of ‘Part of Your World’, from Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The first recording of this project dates back to June of the preceding summer, and also includes an original composition, ‘BBC’. ‘BBC’ was written by Ces and KaySo while pursuing a car with two cute boys in it down US-101 in southern Humboldt County. It was meant to mean ‘British Boy Car’. Its lyrics are pretty literal.

In any case, G-funk had decided that a fuller sound was needed, and so with my aid we assembled a larger cast of characters in his living room to record as much material as possible on this Sunday evening in September. Six weeks later I would go to the Vet’s Hall and cast a vote for my friend C-Note in the governor’s recall election, and today is his 31st birthday. Happy birthday, C-Note. I never once forgot you. C-note wasn’t present for the Panda Tears session that became the album 9-21-03, but here’s who was: G-funk, myself, Rachet, JRho, Bethany, Ces, Errin, and towards the end, Christina Antipa.

We cut fourteen tracks that added up to just under a half-hour’s worth of music in slightly more than an hour. I swear I’m not just being lazy when I say that this music is better heard first, before anyone tries to tell you what it’s like. Google “panda tears 9-21-03” and click on the first link, or copy and paste this link into a new tab in your browser:

http://www.boontdusties.com/journal/2005/09/16/born-in-the-hospital-a-lull-compiliation/

Catch the mystery, catch the myth. Back so soon?

I hope you now see what music meant to me then, as it does now and shall forever more. My fondest wish for all of y’ on this lovely Friday is more friends and family than fortune and fame. More first Fridays and unforced freewill. More focused fraternity than frankincense and fault.

Much love!

Peace.

-12:56PM, 1/27/12, home, weary but not faltering. Matthau but not Waltering…

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