Stay High

14 02 2016

mc5I wrote “stay high” in one of my stoner girlfriends’ yearbooks in my Jr. year of high school. And she left her yearbook behind in class one day and the teacher opened it and started reading the comments.  So dude called my parents and said we needed to do a drug intervention with me, just because I told her to stay high.

I didn’t do drugs like those chicks.  They were way more mature and older than me.  I started school a year earlier than I should have so I was always with older kids in the same class and I witnessed things earlier than I should have.

They would come to school on Monday, after the weekend talking about taking LSD and Cocaine and having sex with their older boyfriends.  I just listened and let it roll off my back because I knew I was way too young for that business.  But they liked me a lot so they would travail me with these stories of slutty-hood and debauchery.

So I knew they liked to party and they were my friends in school so I wrote, “stay high” in her yearbook and the adults all freaked out on me.  And her too, but she laughed it off because her parents allowed her these luxuries.

But not mine, and not that I would have wanted to do that stuff at such a young age, I wouldn’t have.  They would tell me that I needed to take LSD with them and then they would “take advantage” of me in the bedroom.

Sounds about what every high school boy dreams of, it actually happened to me but I just put it out of my mind because I knew I was going on a mission for Jesus Christ when I was 19 and I had to remain pure as I could.  But I smoked a lot of weed, and drank alcohol and made out with a lot of chicks…I just never went all the way like those crazy chicas wanted me too.

And after the discovery of “stay high” in the yearbook, I was grounded for two months by my parents.  Man, that sucked.  I got grounded a lot, and for long times too because I did some stuff I should not have done, but it was never as severe as my parents imagined, and during lecture time I never said anything, just listened to them tell me what kind of trouble I was getting into for coming home smelling like smoke.

Man, I must have driven my parents nuts in my latter high school years.  They have no idea I was merely the celibate stoner.  I just liked my brain escape from the harshness of home, but I wasn’t out womanizing or anything like my other buddies were.





Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

23 12 2015

ringsAt this Christmas Season I have to give thanks for the greatest things in my life.

It may seem odd because of the things she says about me, but first of all I am grateful for my mom. She taught me some great principles early in life that helped me build a strong foundation up on which I’ve built my life, and my self, and most importantly my testimony in Christ; which is my rock and the essence of my foundation, which gives me strength to stand and move forward with a smile and humor and love

I may seem somewhat rebellious, I’m not really, I just do not conform to societal norms, and that makes me seem rebellious, to society, and to what is generally deemed ‘normal’.

chainsAnd in reality, those are the things that my mother taught me, to stand up for what I believe in and love what it is feels right in my heart despite the pressures of peer persuasion.

So in teaching me that, which was what she did, and it was the right thing, she did not understand that she was teaching me to rise above the expectations of others, and carve my own groove, even if it did not resonate harmoniously with the vibrations of those around me.

Because my vibe is one of peace, that I love, and it’s ironic that everyone who I spend time with loves the time we’ve spent together, yet my family finds my life somehow unacceptable.I know ma ABCs!

But that’s the funny thing about life. We learn to love things in our personal ways that only we understand by having to endure the uncomfortableness and displeasure required to know the joys of life.

And that is why older people are calm and wise and happy and patient and find joy in small and simple things, such as the noise children make or the chirping of birds early in the morning, that used to annoy us as young people.

IMG_1679.CR2I am thankful for my dad. We don’t speak anymore because we are two completely different people. But he showed me by example all my life to be just like him, but taught my through principles and lessons of love to become my own person and achieve those things I love by not being concerned with what other people think of me.

Which is ironic too, because he was always concerned about what I did, because of the way it would reflect on him, but he made me into the unique and somewhat rebellious, flowery, charismatic and creative, artistic person I became whether he knows it or not. In our times of private discussion, that I used to hate because they were arduous and almost abusive lectures, he taught me grit, integrity, strength and tenacity that I couldn’t have gotten on the football field or basketball court or anywhere else in life.

He made me the compassionate badass that I am today, and I am grateful because he gave me the strength to endure the almost unendurable pains of life after divorce, losing everything I ever wanted, to find myself again and have meaning and purpose in life every new day, to wake up, even if I’m alone with a smile, and laugh and make every day worth while.

_DSC0079.NEFAnd I love my sister, Shannon, who I miss so much. We had so much fun growing up. She has a wonderful husband and wonderful kids, I’m so proud of her I can’t even put it into words.

And my friends. You know who you are, no need to give names or a list. We will be together in spirit or in body or on the other side. Get some and Go Again!

maxfeetAnd of course my children. I may not be with them, but I am with them because I made them and I am a part of them, I am in their hearts whether they think of me or not, and they are in mine and we exist because of one another and they give me joy and strength in this life to endure until the next life where there will be no sadness or memories of loss. All joy and love. So that is why I just love them so much, because they honor me by being just like me even though they don’t even realize they are.

They are kooky, hilarious, musical, creative, artistic, brilliant, intelligent, gorgeous, compassionate, unique, beacons of badassery and brightness, just like I taught them to me, each an individual, each of them together as one.

idahomountainsThank God for my life and for my Savior Jesus Christ who made this life possible and who make it possible for me to have the love for these wonderful people I love and that I will be able to love them for eternity.

Merry Christmas. Remember what this holiday season is. It’s not to get presents or eat food or have blinking lights on a tree. It’s to remember that we have a Savior who made it possible for us to have the joys we feel at this holiday season. Without Him, we would not know this happiness. Give thanks, and make the world a better place in 2016.





The Godfathers of Guitar

18 02 2011

There’s a progression in music, much like the generations that pass as we raise our children, pass on our values and go forward into the world, having influence on so much.  We might feel insignificant while we are bogged down in the drudgery and seemingly mundane detail of every effort it takes to produce what it is we are striving for.

But it’s all worth it!  It pays off, maybe not in the peak of our lives as we would like, but if we persist, endure and do it right our lives and what we create become a crescendo that builds a foundation for those who come after us.  What we do is not lost on the demands of daily life as long as we keep our eyes on the distant goal.

Before I get too far off course, I’ll reel my thoughts back in and start talking about a man named Robert Johnson. Robert Johnson was born in 1911 and only lived to the age of twenty seven, but what he did for music is something that cannot be measured.

This brings me to another point of irony; the great music artists who made a huge splash and shook up the status quo of music in their day, dying at the age of twenty seven.  Robert Johnson, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain.  There I go again getting ahead of myself.  It’s all in my head, but I need to lay it out in some order for it to make any sense.

Everyone has heard the story of the guy who sold his soul at the crossroads for talent, fame and glory.  Charlie Daniels brought it to us and told the story well in his classic song, The Devil Went Down To Georgia.  Did you ever wonder where the story of Johnny and the Devil came from?  It wasn’t Johnny and it wasn’t a fiddle.  It was Robert Johnson with a guitar.

Robert Johnson was a good blues guitar player but he wanted more, he wanted to be the best.  He studied with one of the greats of the time, Son House and used to try to emulate his idol but was unable to play as well.  When Johnson was nineteen he disappeared from Robinsonville, Mississippi for several months and when he came back he had a new guitar technique that nobody had ever played before.

This is where the story gets told, that Robert Johnson, for his passion of wanting to play the guitar so well, took his guitar to a crossroad near the Dockery Plantation at midnight where a large black man appeared to him.  The man took the guitar from Johnson, tuned it, played a couple of songs, and gave the guitar back to him along with total mastery of the instrument.  He was given the gift he sought but in return for this gift Johnson exchanged his soul.

This story makes for great PR but there’s another story that is probably what really happened.  Another player of the time named Ike Zinnerman spent a lot of time with Robert Johnson playing in the local cemetery at midnight, reportedly because it was quiet and nobody was around to disturb them.  This is where Johnson honed his mastery of the instrument, and the cemetery isn’t a bad place to come up with a story about selling one’s soul to the devil in exchange for fame and glory.

With the fame and glory came a tragic end.  Robert Johnson had been playing a certain gig for a few weeks and was flirting with the juke joint owner’s wife.  The man offered Johnson an open bottle of whiskey (he had previously been warned to never accept an open bottle but replied to the man who told him that to never knock a bottle from his hand) and he drank from it.  Reports tell us that the bottle was laced with strychnine and over the next few days Robert Johnson fell ill and eventually died.

Robert Johnson did leave us with an incredible catalog of recorded music that artists of the future would learn from and grow with to produce greater and more influential musical creation for us to partake of.  One in particular, and the one who most all musicians would agree is the standard for rock and roll and blues guitar is James Marshall Hendrix aka Jimi Hendrix.

Jimi Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix, November 27, 1942.  When Jimi’s dad came back from Europe after World War II he changed Jimi’s name to James Marshall, after his late brother, Leon Marshall.  I’m not sure where the James came from but I like it because we get Jimi spelled in that unique way.  Maybe it was just time to break from the chaos of the past and make things new.  Jimi always had a bright outlook on things and I think Al, his dad, was instrumental in teaching him correct principles.

On a side note, I had the honor of shaking hands with Al Hendrix in the fall of 1991 at a club in Seattle called the Rockandy.  It was a type of gig the Seattle bands put together to follow a theme of the godfathers of rock and roll and this night was Jimi Hendrix theme night.  Twelve Seattle bands came together to perform two Hendrix tunes of their choice and of their interpretation.  No, we didn’t have Nirvana or Soundgarden or Alice in Chains or Screaming Trees or Pearl Jam or Mudhoney or any of the huge list of big-shot Seattle bands you might wish were a part of this story; yeah, and I wish too!  How would that have been?  To meet Al Hendrix and watch Soundgarden knock out a couple Jimi covers for a six dollar entry?  But it wasn’t to be. Although we did get a dramatic performance from a band called The Sky Cries Mary, an obvious reference to Jimi’s song The Wind Cries Mary.  The Sky Cries Mary had some accolades and even made an appearance on the David Letterman show, but for some reason they didn’t receive the strong and wide spread recognition a lot of the projects coming out of Seattle did, which is a cryin’ shame because to be honest their expression through music was far more complex and layered than most everything else, especially at that time. They were never part of the ‘grunge’ scene, nor do I think they ever had any desire to be. They stood head and shoulders apart from the rest of the dank and dirty rock and roll genre that swept through Seattle at that time..

 
I sat with Roderick Romero, a member of The Sky Cries Mary, that night and we talked of musical expression, the layering of sound and the experiences obtained through the use of mind expanding particles introduced to the creative process. It is a conversation that has stayed with me through my life and throughout my creative endeavors. It was a great night, and I am grateful to have had that moment with him; he is an inspired and remarkable artistic visionary.

And there I go again, getting off track.  When it comes to music and the things I’ve seen, I can talk for hours and find myself down the goofiest tangents.

Jimi’s mom died when he was nine, from complications due to her alcohol abuse, and he moved up to Vancouver, BC for a while.  This is where he acquired his first acoustic guitar, from a pawn shop for five dollars.  His dad got it for him because Jimi had been air guitaring on an old broom stick and playing a broken ukulele his dad found while cleaning the garage.

Eventually Al rounded up enough dough to get Jimi his first electric guitar.  In 1958 he got a white Supro Ozark 1560 S, single pickup from Myer’s Music in Seattle, Washington.  He didn’t have an amplifier but Jimi did what he could with what he had and that’s why Jimi Hendrix is the legend he is today; because he felt it and what he felt, he was able to let out his arms and through his fingers, through his guitars and into our ears for the expansion of minds around the musical world.

Jimi took what the godfathers before him did, like Robert Johnson, Son House and Ike Zinnerman and added a new flavor to the mix.  It’s an evolution, and as society in Jimi’s day evolved in technology and industry, so did music in intellectuality.  Thank God Jimi Hendrix was there with his electric guitar to express this new knowledge given us from The Field in the form of music as the floodgates opened and the new energy rolled forward.  The minds who were paying attention and who would not immediately dismiss this new horizon as rebellion and sedition from normalcy opened to the influence of this musical microcosm that had previously existed only in science fiction and in the fantasies of artists.

He had the audacity to play The Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock, and regardless of what most white collar conservatives, flashing down the street, pointing their plastic fingers at Jimi believe, he did it as a tribute to this great nation, not as a desecration of something sacred as our national anthem.  Just because the squares of the day didn’t get it doesn’t mean his art form was nothing short of God’s grace shedding brilliant talent down on a generation of artists to shake up the status quo.  That’s not to say his lifestyle was anything to emulate; maybe something to be learned from, but the authorities of the day tried to dismiss what he was doing as a mockery when it was merely a new form of expression.  And to dismiss the art because of the artist is a shame.  If we were to do that then we might just as well throw out Mozart, Hemmingway and Van Gogh.

Jimi did live fast and died hard.  On September 18, 1970 at the age of twenty seven, Jimi Hendrix died.  It was that night that he had attended a party in London and was picked up by his then girlfriend, Monika Dannemann and driven to her place at the Samarkand Hotel at Notting Hill.  It was no secret that Jimi had an affection for amphetamines and this night he downed nine Vesperax, a German brand sleeping pill whose dosage was one half of a pill.  A few hours after midnight Jimi began to vomit from the overdose but was unconscious from the high dosage and asphyxiated on the red wine that was in his stomach.  Eeeew!

That’s a tragic end to a lifestyle lived.  God bless Jimi Hendrix and may he be forgiven for any trespasses upon the Natural Law.  He was a man of vision and an artist that many followed after.

And after Jimi came many, and there were other masters who deserve mention as Jimi’s peers.  Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, George Harrison, Jimmy Page and in the years beyond the great sixties and early seventies we had mega freaks like Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhodes, the Schenker brothers and Stevie Ray Vaughan and even some disgustingly, technically perfect, so perfect it’s not even enjoyable listening, like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai.  But then, thank the heavens; we were blessed in the late eighties with a new son of pure guitar art form who played only because it’s the only thing he could do.  Not for the glory, not for the fame, not for the money; he played from the heart and he gave it everything.

On June 25, 1988 Hillel Slovak, guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers succumbed to the horrors of heroin addiction and left a gaping hole in the world of music.  One of their fans, John Anthony Frusciante had been playing guitar since age nine when he became infatuated with The Germs and learned to play along with their record, GI.  Shortly after that, one of his instructors turned him on to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and John proceeded to emulate Hillel Slovak’s guitar style.  John went on to master the blues scales at then discovered Frank Zappa.  At the age of sixteen, with the permission of his parents, he dropped out of high school after taking a proficiency test and enrolled at the Guitar Institute of Technology.  At one point Frusciante was set on trying out for Frank Zappa’s band but heard that Frank wasn’t too keen on chemical refreshment so John decided, as he knew he was going to indulge in the hedonism of rock stardom, not to even give it a shot.

Frusciante had become friends of the Chili Peppers as their shows were more intimate in the early days when the fans would go gangbusters slam dancing (before it was called moshing) and rarely experience the show visually.  There was a band in LA at the time called Thelonious Monster who was auditioning guitar players.  Anthony Keidis was friends with Bob Forrester of Thelonious Monster and arranged an audition for John.  After seeing the audition, Anthony offered Frusciante a position in the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

John Frusciante was eighteen years old and they called him Greenie.  He fell in quick with the band and followed in Hillel’s footsteps without missing a beat.  It was almost as though he had channeled Hillel’s spirit he played the Chili Peppers’ material so well.  As Slovak was greatly influenced by Jimi Hendrix, so was John Frusciante, and like Hillel, John approached the guitar from a minimalist angle, which likely came from his punk and new wave roots.  And I say God bless you John for not being another over playing virtuoso and laying it down cleanly and simply and beautifully as you have for the years.

The music that John has created with The Red Hot Chili Peppers has given me insight into things that I knew were going on within my own life, but I was unable to touch upon them in any coherent manner.  But when I listened to Californication in February of 2000 while driving from Vancouver, Washington to Salt Lake City to look for a new career, and move my family back home as the wife requested, I heard Anthony telling me about parallel universes and that was something of a catalyst to my thinking toward my belief that this band has in fact, paralleled my entire life with their songs, the stories they tell within the songs and all the drama and in fighting, with Dave Navarro coming into the band during that time I was adopting my two daughters, Tayslie and Ali and I did  not treat them right.  I didn’t have the tools or the skills to be a tender and nurturing parent.  But as time has passed I have grown in knowledge and wisdom and I pray that those beautiful young women forgive me some day of the faults of a young man who was trying his best to do what he was told by those around him and echoing the environment in which he was raised.

And here we are today, loving Stadium Arcadium, again following the patterns of my life.  Every song on that recording speaks profoundly to me at some level of my life at the time it was recorded, from my relationships with younger women and She’s Only 18 (and it actually tells the story of my relationships with Jayne Pederson exactly as it happened, and with another girl named Raquel; it just blows me away how precise the words are to us) to Warlocks when I spent my time in Portland with the hedge witch, Tami to the soul touching song Hey, the last track on the first disc, Mars of the Stadium Arcadium masterpiece; that song, Hey tells the story of the communication between me and my ex wife to the T.  And the song, Charlie is totally Marlene, my angel and my healer. And not to mention their unreleased b-sides recordings that speak directly to me with profound exactness every time I stumble upon them.

I could go on and write volumes.  This means nothing to many and it’s just silliness to some, but for me it’s profound and this is my life.  All things happen for a reason.  There is no such thing as coincidence.  All things have purpose, if you have faith enough to believe on things greater than yourself.

So, from Robert Johnson to Jimi Hendrix and on down through the cacophony of glammed up rock star virtuoso guitar players we are blessed with the tenderness of John Frusciante who expresses the truth right through his instrument and into my ears to resonate with me and validate my existence.

I love you John.  Thank you for everything you’ve been through, everything you’ve given us and everything that is to come.  John Frusciante is a master beyond recognition.





Eavesdroppings

6 01 2011

I got on the train this morning and the first thing I heard was a woman talking to a blind man.  She was saying something like, “I don’t put on a dress and ask him, does this make me look fat, I ask him, how does this look, and if he says it looks too tight I say OK”.

Why do women do that to us?  Our bodies get out of shape.  We can’t all stay at that 15 year old physique all our lives and when that perfect slimness and optimal body fat content thing starts to go haywire on us we leave it to others to validate our unsightliness by putting them on the spot with unavoidable questions like, “how does this dress look?”

I don’t talk about anything but the dress.  She asks me, “how does this dress look?”, I talk about the colors I see or the cut of it, I’m not getting involved in any of the “I can see your fat rolls”, or “your kankles are showing”, discussion.  Leave that to the suicide squad.

Now that that’s off my chest…

I went to Karaoke last night.  Not something I recommend if you’re looking to broaden your cultural horizons or if you have any appreciation for real art and music.  But if you like to sit back and feel like a complete snob watching mediocrity fail, it’s a real good time.  I’ve done Karaoke, but when I do Karaoke I go balls out.  I’m not going to get up there and sing Alan Parson’s Project, get the arms waving back and for the Eye in the Sky.  It’s a good song for its time; some say a classic, but for Karaoke?  Who wants to go to all the trouble of getting out of the comfort of their personal surroundings and go watch some dude whose artistic inspiration starts and stops on commercial television?  And that’s about the time I start telling myself, “I’m such an ass.”

Karaokeists are just trying to have a good time, they’re playing around, their friends are laughing, it’s all part of camaraderie and good clean fun; it’s like playing house or having a tea party when you’re four years old.  When you see life through the lens I see life through it’s not that simple.

I see over in the corner of my eye this dude, obviously a dude, and my gaydar is pretty good because last year when the census takers knocked on my door I was given a voucher for a gaydar upgrade and I just had it installed last week, so it’s a guy.  And I don’t even know if this qualifies to be in the gaydar range of discussion, if I’m treading on some homophobia sacred ground of discussion or if I’m just being an ass again, but I’m saying to myself, that dude looks like a lesbian.  You know, he’s got the butch haircut, baby face, he’s kind of chubby, little bit of the man boob thing going on with a puca shell necklace, having a little too much fun sweatin’ to the oldies.  And he’s wearing the same clothes those chicks who are trying to look like dudes wear.  So I mention it to a friend of mine just to check and see if I’m really a total and complete ass or if it’s actually kind of funny, and she starts laughing.  I say yeah I feel bad for saying it out loud, or even thinking it, but look at the guy.  She validates me by saying yeah, you’re right, that’s pretty funny.

Then he starts slow dancing.  It’s not bad enough that it was Karaoke but they took a break and started playing slow songs to give us a little chance at romance, and Charlie Crooner gets on the mic.  It was like American Idol reject clips, but I’m trying to be good about the whole thing.  These people are having fun, no babies are being punched and no new diseases are being designed by our activities, it’s just good, clean, wholesome fun, right?

So This guy is slow dancing with some girl, she’s cute, no big deal, but the whole time I’m seeing this out of the corner of my eye I’m just laughing inside and I lean to my friend and said, “those two chicks are dancing with each other.”  Now, that’s not even funny, it’s nothing to laugh about, two chicks dancing together, no big deal.  But I’m sitting there feeling like such a pompous ass being so condescending to this bull crap music, trying to make it an uplifting and enjoyable time, finding joy in people lip syncing to the worst of the worst of the top forty from 25 years ago, as though they’re doing us a favor dragging us down memory lane with them.

I hated this crap then and you’re not making it any better for me.  It’s like putting miracle whip on a bologna sandwich.  It’s still bologna and it’s still miracle whip, sugar infused mayonnaise.  It’s like the nutrition of junk food for the soul.  And all I can do to keep myself entertained is think how much this poor, innocent, young man looks like he’s trying to fool us into thinking he’s a dude, when really already is.  And the tragedy that he looks like that is something I’m starting to feel guilt for, but then at the same time it’s the only thing keeping me lightly entertained, enough to be able to scrape a little joy off the bottom of this bucket of preservative packed soul junk food, then I look down and in front of me is a bowl of cheese puffs.

It was like a sign from the gods telling me this is where I’m supposed to be.  It’s cheesy and it’s full of fluff with no real substance but if you munch on them long enough you can learn to enjoy.  Somewhere safe, not going to find any trouble, certainly not going to stir up any shenanigans, and I begin to realize that I really like to rock the boat and if it’s not rocking I’m not comfortable.

Then I see lezbo boy again in the corner of my eye and it just hits me and I double over in a fit of laughter and I start clapping and giggling like a giddy little school girl at the silliness of it all and the whole time it’s so loud and there’s so much going on that nobody knows what I’m carrying on about and they all think I’m just joining in and having a good time with everyone crooning to the sounds of rock and roll pabulum.

Then somebody puts on ‘Give it Away’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  And I’m thinking OK, this is a song I can get behind, but he’s reading the lyrics, there’s no soul, no groove, no funk, and certainly to busting out of anything Chili Pepper style and my friends know this about me, that I’m a huge Chili Peppers fan so they’re like, go on out there man this is your song.  But what am I gonna do, go out there and do an Anthony Keidis impression with this guy who started the song?  That’s not cool, to go out there and show him up.  And then I’m back to thinking again, man I’m and ass for thinking that if went out there it would be showing him up, like what I could do would be some ‘in your face’ to his effort at entertaining us.  It’s not a basketball tournament.  So I just sat back and watched it unfold.

Karaoke is a weird thing, it makes me feel squirmy.  I’m such a critic and such a snob when it comes to any sort of art form.  I like to express myself but there are so many people who do it in such better ways than I could with the mediums available, but so often if I had the skill that they had I would do it in such a different way.  And that’s why I wish I could express my emotions through a medium I had complete mastery over.  So it’s time to start practicing again, because it’s time to express things in the right way.

I think it’s important that we all create something of beauty, that we work hard to express what we find colorful and lovely and beautiful around us, to reproduce what we feel; what evokes emotion within us, in one form or another for others to respond to, to bring them life and inspiration and to bring to life that inner spirit that creates and loves what is intangible and beautiful about art and the greatness that surrounds us, that which we all want to be a part of, where we can find common ground and build together.








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