Man Cold

I’m in a bad way. This incredible misfortune snuck up from behind and knocked me across the canvas. Five days in, I’m not sure I’ve seen anything closely resemble a light or tunnel. Yup, I’ve got a man cold.

I know what you’re thinking. No, it’s not Covid. I was tested and received negative results for that virus. Although on a side note, I arrived at the scheduled time for my test at a reputable pharmacy and the place was boarded up like they expected Hurricane Hugo to blow back in. Something about a total system crash. Ugh!

But I digress. It’s a cold. No, a man cold. You ladies with husbands out there totally understand the dire straits I’m in, don’t you? I bet you could probably recite the five phases of the man cold word for word.

Phase one: Sore throat

Last Wednesday morning, I woke up with a slight tickle in my throat that got worse as the day progressed. Oh no! I remember this! This used to happen 2-3 times a year before I had to wear a mask every day! Damn, where’s the Emergency?!

Phase two: Nasal congestion

Guess what I woke up with Thursday morning. You got it. I can’t get a sliver of air up my nostrils. This is good fun. Thankfully, I can shove a tube up there and spray a delicious liquid that forces its way down my throat and to my still very healthy taste buds! Yum!

Phase three: Headache

Well, all that stuff has to settle somewhere, correct? Of course the logical landing spot is my temples. For me, phase three usually hangs on the longest. No, what’s the rush? Stay another night!

Phase four: Runny nose

Well my friends have worn out their welcome in my brain by now and have been asked to leave. Thankfully in this phase, I have the opportunity to impress my future wife (whoever she may be) by walking around with tissues hanging out of my nose. Sometimes I tie two together to make a ring.

Phase five: Coughing

Phase five comes right on the heels of phase four. This is where the perpetrator foolishly goes back to the scene of the crime. Its punishment? To be violently expelled into an empty Pepsi bottle. Yup, for the next few days, I get to walk around with a spit cup. And I don’t even work in NASCAR.

I’m sure I’ll be okay. I usually am. I just hope expectations are tempered for me for the next week or so, ‘cause, remember, it’s a man cold.

Coolidge by Amity Shlaes

Coolidge by Amity Shlaes; Published February 2013

Calvin Coolidge is widely recognized as a cool cat, someone with a dry wit who delivered some of the greatest one-liners in presidential history.  Thrust into action when President Harding unexpectedly passed away, Coolidge quickly became America’s laid-back answer to a fast and furious decade of excess.  A man of modest means who walked the walk in the way he carried himself and lived his life, Coolidge is rarely discussed among the greatest presidents in US history.  However, with the publishing of her book “Coolidge” in 2013, noted author Amity Shlaes brings the 30th president back into the limelight.     

Shlaes delivers a point-by-point timeline of Coolidge’s life from his upbringing in miniscule Plymouth Notch, Vermont, through his years at Amherst College, and during his stint as governor of Massachusetts.  We are there when he experiences the trials and tribulations of being in the White House, some personal, such as the unexpected death of his son Calvin Jr, as well as leading the nation through an extended period of growth.  He was the last US president to leave the national deficit lower than the one he inherited.

When the stock market crashed in 1929, the year after Coolidge decided not to run for another term, kicking off the Great Depression, Americans began looking back and flung some criticism Coolidge’s way for what was deemed a laissez faire approach to politics.  Shlaes, very pro Coolidge in her book, will certainly spark a debate among historians who wish to place at least some of the blame on the 30th president.

Metal Mondays

Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best.  As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones.  I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate!  This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?

NOTE:  I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only.  There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.

This week we will discuss Motley Crue, the bad boys of rock and roll.  These guys made a major impact during the 1980s hair metal movement.  Though the nineties and 2000’s rendered them somewhat irrelevant, they have enjoyed a bit of a renascence with the release of The Dirt movie, a film based on bassist Nikki Sixx’s book of the same name.  I will say that as a kid, Motley was my favorite band and my first ever concert was the band on the Dr. Feelgood tour.  After that night, I was hooked on the Crue and the live concert experience in general.

#9:

New Tattoo-2000

There are some decent songs on this offering, but more filler than anything.  This album is the only Motley Crue release not to feature drummer Tommy Lee, who had left the band the prior year.  In his place is former Ozzy Osbourne skins man Randy Castillo.

Best Song:  Hell on High Heels

Best Deep Cut:  Fake

#8:

Generation Swine-1997

This record signaled vocalist Vince Neil’s return to the group following his five-year absence.  In fact, replacement vocalist John Corabi began the recording sessions for the album.  Generation Swine featured many of the industrial sounds that were hip in the genre at the time.  Some decent songs, but overall,  not a great record at all.

Best Song:  Afraid

Best Deep Cut:  Generation Swine

#7:

Theater of Pain-1985

This was the disappointing follow up to two masterpieces.  It also began a hair metal trend of the power ballad, with the smash hit, Home Sweet Home.  Despite this, and the hit cover of Brownsville Stations’, Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room, Theater of Pain showed a band deep in the throes of drug and alcohol abuse, with many songs I consider filler.  In addition, with the two aforementioned big hits, this is the point that the band was losing its underground feel and going mainstream, not necessarily a bad thing, however, if you read on, you will see what attracted me to the band in the first place.

Best Song:  Home Sweet Home

Best Deep Cut:  City Boy Blues

#6: 

Saints of Los Angeles-2008

A surprisingly strong album at this point in the band’s career, SOLA was plagued by poor promotion and what appeared to be simple laziness on Motley’s part.  Apparently intent on being a nostalgia act, the band failed to cash in on an opportunity to have an actual hit record.  While the raucous title track was a solid choice as the lead single, follow up selections were questionable.  The ballad, The Animal in Me could have been a perfect follow up single, however, has been largely unheard by most people.

Best Song:  The Animal in Me

Best Deep Cut:  The Animal in Me

#5: 

Girls Girls Girls-1987

Wild Side, the title track, and Dancin’ on Glass get this album off to a rollicking start, and deep cuts, All in the Name Of and You’re All I Need are strong offerings, however, there is a substantial amount of filler here, as well.  For me, I cannot get past, Nona, and the cover of Jailhouse Rock.  This tour for this album was cut short due to concerns someone in the band would die if kept on the road.

Best Song:  Wild Side

Best Deep Cut:  Dancin’ on Glass

#4: 

Dr. Feelgood-1989

The first offering from a cleaned-up Crue, with Bob Rock at the buttons.  This was the band’s first #1 album, complete with five smash singles, including the title track, Kickstart My Heart, and Same Ol’ Situation.  Sonically, the record is a masterpiece, and inspired Metallica to work with Rock on their upcoming self-titled fifth album.

Dr. Feelgood was Motley Crue at its creative peak and signaled the beginning of the end for the band on top of the hard rock world.  Following a successful tour to promote the album, internal strife and the changing rock scene toward grunge led to the band’s demise.  Singer Vince Neil would leave the group in 1992.

On a more upbeat note, my first ever concert was Motley Crue on the Dr. Feelgood tour in 1990.  That experience hooked me on live rock concerts.

Best Song:  Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)

Best Deep Cut:  Slice of Your Pie

#3: 

Motley Crue-1994

This was the first Motley album sans Neil, featuring John Corabi on lead vocals.  Corabi’s vocal range and strong rhythm guitar skills technically made the Crue a better band, however, not a more successful one.  Fans could not get past the fact that Neil was out of the mix, and the transition of the average rock fan’s taste toward Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden didn’t help matters either.  Commercially, Motley Crue, the album flopped.

Musically, the self-titled record was a brilliant curveball.  The band experimented with a harder edge, made possible by the talents Corabi brought to the table.  No longer did Sixx need to write songs that fit Neil’s vocal range.  The result was a collection of hard rock, blues, with a little psychedelic thrown in.  If you haven’t given this album a listen, go for it!

Best Song:  Misunderstood

Best Deep Cut:  Til Death Do Us Part

#2: 

Shout At The Devil-1983

Masterpiece!  This was Motley Crue with a larger recording budget and the same hunger they brought with them when recording their debut (more on that album coming up).  In fact, for decades, I would have put this record at number one on this list.  Alas, it’s the instrumental, God Bless the Children of the Beast, and the cover of the Beatle’s, Helter Skelter, that push it down to the runner up position.   I must admit, I hit the “SKIP” button when those two tracks come on.

As for the rest of the album, WOW!  There are classics everywhere, from the title cut, the brilliant Looks That Kill, single Too Young to Fall in Love, plus the amazing deep cuts, Bastard, Red Hot, Knock ‘Em Dead Kid, and Ten Seconds to Love.  The band, to an 11-year-old kid in 1983, sounded dangerous, while still maintaining that raw sound that more commercially successful bands can afford to get away from.  My point here is that there is really something special about this band when it sounds raw.

Anyway, I need to get off this album before I flip it back to number one!

Best Song:  Looks That Kill, but there are plenty of challengers!

Best Deep Cut:  Knock ‘Em Dead Kid

#1: 

Too Fast For Love-1981

The debut.  The album where Nikki Sixx put his vision of what a rock band should look, sound, and feel like forward to the people.  Stunning visuals that attract the kids?  Check.  Pretty boy frontman to lure the ladies?  Check.  Wild and crazy antics, tales of booze, drugs, and womanizing to bring in the dudes?  Plenty.

As I get older, I gravitate to this record when I feel like listening to Motley Crue.  I can close my eyes and feel the hunger to climb out of the gutters to stardom.  These four guys were destined for greatness and in this album, you can feel their desire for doing whatever it took to make it happen.

Too Fast For Love starts out with my all-time favorite Crue song, Live Wire.  While many bands have been known to promote their best song out of the gate, Motley was able to back it up, not only on this album alone, but throughout the next decade.  Some albums were much stronger than others, however, there were always enough hits to get them through.

I love the punkish, almost new wave feel that the band combines with their main calling card of hard rock.  Come on and Dance, Public Enemy #1, the beautifully haunting, Merry Go Round, and Take Me to the Top close out a robust side one. 

Meanwhile, side two is no slouch, containing the underrated, Starry Eyes, the punky title cut, and the ballad turned rocker, On with the Show.  It’s a short and precise record that makes the listener of this new group take notice and anticipate what could possibly come next.

Best Song:  Live Wire

Best Deep Cut:  Merry Go Round

Sunday

Sunday is known as Funday; It’s been called a day of rest; Sunday for some means Sunday dinner; For me, Sunday means one thing; Monday

Yup, for me Sunday brings Monday; Like sore joints bring rain; Like, “We need to talk,” brings heartache; Sunday brings, well, you get it….

Sunday does this to me every seven days; It’s like most of my romantic relationships; It starts out great; a gentle wake up, a more than satisfying breakfast, maybe a soothing ride up the coast; Then BAM! It’s already noon time! It’s more than half over! It rips my heart out! And it’s inevitable that it will leave me! It never turns out to be what it seems

The ironic thing is that the dreaded Monday comes and it usually doesn’t turn out as bad as Sunday seems to make it; What does Sunday have against me to always ruin my weekend?

Any WHY do I look so forward to head toward the next one?

Patience: Not my Strong Suit

I’m an impatient person. It runs in the family. Thanks, Dad! I would rather bull my way through something as opposed to taking the time and getting it right. Im apt to throw in the towel long before giving something a reasonable attempt. I’m even getting impatient figuring out how to end this paragraph!

I have been getting into jazz music lately. A drummer myself, I have always greatly admired and watched in amazement the jazz drummer. Why am I not a jazz drummer? You guessed it.

Recently, I have decided that I am going to go all the way back to square one and learn the art of jazz drumming. I have been giving it a legitimate try, and have figured out it may be okay if I don’t turn in Max Roach overnight. Or at all! The smart money is on the latter.

I have learned that the one glaring similarity between jazz drumming and the styles I have primarily played is that one hits a set of drums with a stick. Man, jazz music goes against everything I have trained my mind to think and how I have asked my limbs to react! What do you mean my left hand doesn’t have to hit the snare drum on the exact beat I close the hi-hat with my left foot??? You want me to alternate the two? Holy hell!

It’s been a rush, and I am learning (slowly) to enjoy the process of trying something new. I’m taking my time. Carnegie Hall is not calling me anytime soon! But I AM improving!

So I’ll keep plugging away at it. And who knows? Maybe I CAN learn photography without having to be Ansel Adams. Perhaps I can dabble in landscape painting without feeling I should rival Bob Ross.

But for now, back to drumming. Time for a happy little swing beat.

Peace and Horror

It’s peaceful here; Nary a human voice hits my eardrums; Only the fabulous songbirds and the occasional chirping of a chipmunk; It’s okay, though; We can coexist up here

Gentle slopes and charming wood lots; Rolling hills and sun drenched meadows; A calm, quiescent brook babbles in the not too distant; I sit here often and soak it all in

It wasn’t always this way; Our descendants experienced here quite differently; Cracks of musket fire and roaring of cannons once drowned out the songbirds of the day; Large trees reduced to rubble; Craters filled the hillsides; Limbs blown off, lifelessness strewn across the meadow; The desperate shrieking of young boys dying in the background forever to haunt those who were just out of harm’s way; When the dust settled, those who were left had to grieve for their fallen comrades all the while carrying them piece by piece off the battlefield

I sit here often and soak it all in; How many took their last breath underneath the rock upon which I sit? How many souls are forever stuck here in their personal hell, a place I come to for peace and tranquillity? How ironic…..

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