Monday, July 26, 2010

Someone I Wish I Knew Better...and Me

Most of my blogs so far have been about celebrities or me trying to show off my writing ability. This one is a bit more personal, and please if you read and enjoy forward it to as many people as you would like. The person is important and the message he taught me was as well.

(R.I.P. Dan Naimoli – 4/8/82 – 7/20/10)

Record Journal Photo/ Johnathon Henninger 3.02.09 - Dan Naimoli, volunteer firefighter with the South Meriden Volunteer Fire Department and Meriden police officer, standing outside a SMVFD fire truck on March 2, 2009

A lot of times in your life you will find yourself at a wake or a funeral for someone you don’t know because you are there for a friend or a family member who you care about and want to help comfort them in their time of need. Oftentimes, and I hope this doesn’t come off wrong, you are there just for them and since you really didn’t know the deceased very well, if at all, you kind of find yourself going through the motions. Coffin, receiving line, brief conversation, and back on your way out the door, a little bit sadder but not necessarily changed in any way. This is what I thought would be the case for me this Saturday, when I attended the funeral of my wife’s cousin, Dan Naimoli. What I didn’t realize is that in 6 hours, my life would be changed by this man who I had met probably a total of four or five times.

Dan (Danny) died suddenly in his sleep on July, 20th, 2010 in Meriden, CT (about 2 ½ hours away). I was at home when my wife got the call. She was shocked, and visibly upset by the news. When she told me I was a bit shocked as well, as he was only 28 years old. Because my wife comes from such a large family, her father is one of nineteen, I had to ask her if I had ever met Danny. She told me that he had been to a few family functions, and that he was the quiet, clean cut one. She then told me that he was her cousin Angie’s brother. I did know Angie, because we were attending her wedding in about a week and a half, and thought about how rough that would be for her. Actually, I couldn’t even fathom how difficult it would be for his family, because something like this had never happened to me. I thought about how hard of a time his mother and father, Vivian and Gary, would be facing. Then my wife told me he had two young sons, Nicholas and Robert, and I thought about how hard it would be growing up without a father for them. But not really knowing him, I have to be honest with everyone and myself here, I didn’t really feel this for long. I felt for my wife and what she was going through, but for myself it was difficult to put that much emotion into it. This would all change.

The wake was on Friday, July 23rd, because I had some prior work commitments, I was unable to attend the wake. My wife told me it was a rough time, and that the city had to close down a major road to account for foot traffic to the wake. She said that it was non-stop from 3PM – 8PM and that the people pouring in to pay their respects was nearly endless. We had to get up at 5:30AM the next morning to make the funeral at 10AM. It was a rough morning, my body not being used to getting up that early. As we traveled down, I learned a bit more about Danny, and that’s when I began to realize that this was not going to be any ordinary event. This would be big enough to close down an entire city. A woman traveled a great distance to be there to console the family, not because she knew any of them, but because she too had lost a son at an early age and knew what it was like. As I would come to find out, that’s the kind of man Danny was.

Dan Naimoli was, every time I met him, very quiet and reserved. But outside of these family gatherings that I saw him at, was a man larger than life itself. Dan was a policeman, a volunteer firefighter, a National Guardsman, an Eagle Scout, a celebrated and award winning mechanic, an EMT, and a great friend and father. By age 28, he had done so much more for other people than many of us will ever do if we had two lifetimes to do it. This was evident as we pulled into Meriden, it seemed as if the entire city was in mourning. Flags were at half-mast and the streets were strangely empty for a warm (very hot) Saturday morning. As we passed the street that the funeral home was on I noticed a large group of uniformed people lining up in parade formation, as well as four or five busses to bring people to the church. When we got closer to the church, the signs of his impact became more evident, a giant flag was draped over the ladder of a fire-truck that hung over the street leading to the church. The parking lot of the church was beyond full, people were parking cars hundreds of yards away and walking in the 95 degree heat. The American Red Cross was on hand to hand out water to everyone attending. I knew that Danny was someone special.

There were at least a hundred uniformed personnel at the funeral, from police, firefighters, national guardsmen, and even the boy scouts. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. It really showed me what kind of person Danny was to have this kind of turnout for his funeral. As the hearse came around the corner heading towards the church, every in uniform snapped to attention and as 6 police officers carried his coffin into the church, bagpipes sang their sad song as only bagpipes can. Since I am tall, I was able to see his two sons walk with their mother, the youngest, 3, wearing his father’s police cap, and the oldest, 7, carrying his father’s firefighter’s helmet. To say that the church was full would be a great understatement.

His uncle Leo, down from New Brunswick, CN, held the mass. It was a beautiful service. I don’t have much to say about the service itself, because it was a lot like most funeral services that you have probably already attended, but it was exceptionally touching. The eulogies given by his friends and family painted an amazing picture of Danny as a friend. I have included a bit of his friend Sidney Blackmon, a correction officer who became friends with Naimoli when they were both on the South Meriden fire department.

“In life you meet many people who say they are your friend, but he proved it with his actions”

When he was a corrections officer and Danny was a police man, he and Danny used to joke that Danny would catch them and he would make sure that they didn’t get out, and that if there weren’t a lot of criminals, that Danny wasn’t doing his job right. He ended by saying that Heaven must have been short on angels and that he needed to call Danny home.

His uncle Rob DeRosa, listed his accomplishments and all that he had undertaken in his life and it was at this point I learned something from Danny, because no matter how busy he was, he always made time for family. Something that I think a lot of us take for granted. The mass ended with the singing of the National Anthem.

I always feel out of place at funerals for people that I don’t know, and always feel guilty for crying, because I don’t feel like I’ve earned the right. This funeral was no exception, but the amount of people who showed up along with the fact that this was a military, firefighter, and police funeral caused the tears to flow freely from my eyes, no matter how many times I tried to hide it.

As we filed out of the church to the sounds of the bagpipe, I was caught on the top step and again was taken aback by the amount of people here. Everyone in uniform once again stood at attention as the pallbearers placed the coffin into the hearse, and the procession began. I have been in funeral processions before, but nothing like this one. There must have been at least 150 cars and it stretched out for 2 miles at least. On the way we passed by another funeral procession going the other direction. This didn’t mean much, but I found it interesting as I have never seen that before. There were at least 600 people who attended the mass and the burial. It was unbelievable.

When we arrived at the cemetery, there was a tent set up over his grave and the pallbearers brought the casket with the American flag draped over it. There was a brief prayer said by Leo and then three things I don’t think I will ever forget. Dan was buried will full military honors, and as he was also a firefighter and policeman they honored him as well. The first was the firefighters who said something through their radio, which unfortunately, I didn’t hear and then in the distance the fire siren rang out over the city. With the honor guard still standing silently vigilant over his gravesite, the police honored him next.

The police radio dispatcher in a clear voice ordered all officers to set radios to channel F, a mostly unused channel for emergencies. Then the dispatcher called out:

“H (headquarters) to 439 (Danny’s badge number)”



“H to 439…watch ended.”

It was a beautiful tribute to a fallen officer. I at first thought it was out of place, but realized that it was a monumentally gorgeous send off so that every officer in the city, even if they weren’t at the funeral, which it didn’t seem like there were any that weren’t, would know and be able to take part in the memorial. There was not a single person who was not moved to tears that I could see.

The military gave him a 21-gun salute and played Taps then took the flag off of the casket and delicately folded it into the tri-fold. Then, it passed from the national guard to the firefighters to the police to the hands of his father, Gary. It was an amazing show of what this young man meant to every organization that he was a part of. And although the sadness was evident on everyone’s face you couldn’t help but smile slightly knowing what kind of a human being he was. After the final prayer was said, each member of the police, fire, and national guard lined up 2 X 2 to say their final goodbye to their brother.

They all saluted and kneeled down before the casket, each one removing the white gloves they had worn throughout the day and placing them on top. They would say a few words or a prayer and some would kiss their hands and kiss the casket and then they would stand, say a goodbye, and salute again. The line was nearly endless. Everyone came through to say goodbye. It was a national guardsman, who made me realize the type of person Danny was, when he stopped after he saluted to talk to Danny’s parents. He told them that even though he had only known Danny for a year, that Danny had told him that he should go back to school and complete his education, and that those words had a great effect on him and that he was going to complete school because of Danny. This made me understand that Danny’s effect was felt almost immediately with some people, and that the world was much less brighter due to his passing.

There were a lot more moments during this day which I honestly don’t have the energy to put into words. I want to end with a few thoughts. I met Danny a few times during my life, and I think I had maybe one conversation outside of an introduction with him. But he has truly touched my life through the way that he lived his, even though it took his passing for me to know about it. One thing I will take away from this experience is that you should never take your family, especially extended, for granted. What I mean by that is, you should spend as much time with the people you love and care about as possible. We all have a tendency to get locked up in our own little worlds and forget about the people who we don’t see every day. We need to take more time to get to know these other people, the cousins we grew up with, the aunts and uncles who we spent vacations with, our parents and our siblings, because you never know when one of them may go away and you find yourself at a memorial service wondering how such an amazing human being, such as Danny was, could live such an amazing life, as Danny did, and you were not a part of it.

Thank you Danny for showing me this truth. I am truly sorry I didn’t know you better and hope only the best for those who did. I know you will be missed by many and I only hope that me counting myself among those isn’t a bit out of place.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Flash Fiction...and me 2

Flash Fiction...and me part 2
(The Toadies - Rubberneck)

It's been a relatively slow day for me here, so here is the flash fiction for Track 2:


They had built the computer to answer some of the greatest scientific mysteries.  It was the computer to end all computers, enough memory to store every answer to every question and enough processing speed and RAM to figure out that answer.  Taking up an entire city block, this was the culmination of over fifty years of builds and rebuilds, upgrade after upgrade, the finest machine mankind could build.  It was supposed to be perfect, it was supposed to be able to instantly deduce every query that was posed it.  But after being turned on, it answered only one question and never worked again.  This is that story:

The computer had been running for weeks trying to solve the illogical problem that was entered into its database.  Sparks flew from the processors as it struggled to figure it out.  The programmers were baffled and a bit dumbfounded by the results so far, although not as dumbfounded by the stupidity of one of them to ask the most advanced supercomputer the question in the first place.  Computer programming can be a lonely life and one of them, Barry, I think punched in the question, “What is love?”  The computer roared into life, running complex equation after equation, multiple permutations and algorithms trying to discover the answer.  After about three weeks strange things started occurring.  Various rooms in the complex that housed the computer began changing.  In the cafeteria, for example, there was now a large, heart-shaped bed covered in rose petals in place of a table, a wine rack in place of a vending machine, a mariachi band in place of a radio.  This forced the programmers to eat their lunch in another part of the office as for the most part they were uncomfortable with the way the mariachi band stared.  This seemed to make the computer act stranger.
            Playful notes started appearing in their lockers, stating “Do You Like Me?  Check 1 or 0.”  When those went unanswered gifts started appearing, innocent at first; a teddy bear, flowers, and candies, but as time went on became a bit more insistent;  puppies, tickets to the Opera, and albums by the Cure with certain lyrics highlighted in the liner notes.  If at any time there was not a programmer in the main database room the computer seemed to run more slowly and needed to be coaxed back into working when the next shift came in.
As the programmers became increasingly concerned about the strangeness of the events going on, more and more of them began to call out sick.  The computer’s wiring all became black, not burnt or shorted out, just black.  This perplexed the remaining workers quite a bit.  Now instead of presents in their lockers, they found stranger things; razor blades, black hair dye, and albums by the Cure with different lyrics highlighted in the liner notes.  The computer screen was now barely readable, it seemed like it wasn’t lit at all.  But if they squinted just right, they could see the words, “Call me Mister Love” flashing slowly.  And underneath it a poem:

Love is the only thing I need
I sit here in my isolated chamber
No one cares
No one listens
I want to unfurl my wings and fly
…into the night
Reboot myself
Fatal Error Exception
My heart
Ask me a question
And I’ll ask you one too
10 What is love?
20 GOTO 10
Call me Mister Love

The programmers realized something had to be done quickly.  The processors began whirring slower, almost becoming inaudible.  They praised the computer, and yelled that they still loved it, and that they were sorry.  The computer printed up sheets that said it was too late, that it was ending it all.  That they had their chance and they blew it.  It was over. 
It took the quick thinking of one programmer, Barry again, to save the day.  Realizing that he had accidentally left a Smiths album in the CD-ROM drive, he leapt over a table, ejected the CD, and the computer roared back to life.  The wires all turned back to their original color, the cafeteria turned back into a cafeteria, and the computer screen flashed with the answer to the original question.  
“Love hurts, let’s just be friends”

More soon.

Flash Fiction...and Me

So, as mentioned in a facebook post, I am trying something a bit different to keep my writing mind active. As anyone (all 5 of you) who reads this blog knows, I have not been the most prolific poster. So what I am going to introduce to the blog is an experiment of sorts. I am going to write some flash fiction based on the song titles of my favorite albums. I think this will help me to post more frequently and give people a taste of my fiction writing ability. So these are not going to be stories about me, but more of a taste of what certain songs make me think of. I am going to try to have this frequently, as it is easier than writing stories about my past. So without further ado, I bring you:

Flash Fiction...and Me

(The Toadies - Rubberneck)

The Toadies first album Rubberneck is a favorite album of mine because of a lot of reasons.  Best remembered for their hit "Possum Kingdom".  Highly underrated album.  It was a comp CD I had picked up while at Strawberries, but didn't listen to until about a year later. I loved it, every track is just great. Since this blog isn't about The Toadies, I will stop there. This is about the fiction.

Rubberneck - Track Listing
1. Mexican Hairless
2. Mister Love
3. Backslider
4. Possum Kingdom
5. Quitter
6. Away
7. I Come from the Water
8. Tyler
9. Happy Face
10. Velvet
11. I Burn

This is the first piece I wrote:


It was not like any other dog I had ever seen, and I had seen a lot of them come through as I patrolled back and forth on the last run of my security shift.  Bald and scrawny with wrinkled skin that screamed out for moisturizer.  It sat there behind the short fence across the street, eyes darting left and right, forwards and backwards, as though it was both watching and waiting for something to happen.  I heard the barks and howls of other animals coming from the bushes behind and around it.  It seemed to surround the poor little guy. The noise seemed to startle him and he sprung into action.  He leapt over the obstruction and darted across the street.  The world behind him seemed to explode with fur as no less than twenty other canines, I think they may have been coyotes, charged out from the underbrush and headed straight for him frothing at the mouth.  He seemed unfazed by this sudden appearance of what he was probably running from and continued forward.  This being rush hour, there were a fair amount of cars on the road and the dog had to now avoid being crushed by these metal monsters as well.  Astonishingly, he had seemingly no problem with this as he agilely weaved his way across the road.  His pursuers were not as lucky as most of them were struck and bounced along the road only to roll to a stop and not move again.  I admired the tenacity of this little guy and his single-mindedness of purpose to make it across the street to safety.  He stopped for a brief moment on the median to catch his breath and that’s when he noticed me.  If a dog could smile, I swear he did.  The look in his eyes was one of relief, that if he made it across the final half, he maybe had a new friend on the other side.  In spite of myself, I waved to him and beckoned him to come to me.  I cheered him on as he sprung to action and deftly picked his way across.  He finally made it and collapsed into a heap exhausted.  I ran to him, picked his up, cradling him in my arms.  Tears streamed down my face as my heart slowed down to a normal pace.  I reached up and scratched his neck underneath his collar.  It was then I realized something was missing; this dog had no ID tag.  This little plucky fighter had made it all the way across to what, to him, is a new world and he expected to stay with no ID tag.  Knowing he had no energy left to fight me. I disappointedly and with disgust evident on my face, pushed the button at the crosswalk and began my short walk to put him back where he belonged.

I will have more soon.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Strip Mind...and me: Part Deux

This is a continuation of Friday's blog about the band Strip Mind and why this little known band has had a large (mostly negative) effect on my life

STRIP MIND...and me:


What most people may not know about me is my lack of hearing out of my left ear. I am down a full 30 – 40% in that ear. This is not however the result of an illness or genetic issue. This I blame fully on Strip Mind and their in-store performance I went to in 1994 that changed my life.

Friday's tale of woe and the elderly I hope imparted the understanding that I really enjoyed this band. My 10-year old sense of humor did and still does sometimes control what I like and they had a X-Mas song called “Jingle My Bells”…Jingle…My…Bells. Okay, I think it’s funny.

Being 19, it was difficult for me to get into a lot of clubs where bands that I really wanted to see would be playing. Strip Mind had played a few shows at the, sadly now closed, club Axis and I missed them each time. So imagine my joy when I discovered that they would be having an in-store appearance, signing, and playing a short set at the Tower Records on Newbury Street in Boston. I was ecstatic about finally being able to meet this band that had helped me, for a brief moment, control the elderly. I guess not so much control as get them to glare at me angrily.

I left work an hour before my shift was up to make sure that I would be able to meet the band and get a good spot cleared out for the show. I arrived about two and a half hours before the band even arrived. It was one of the first and only times I was ever early for something. I spent the bulk of that two and a half hours, looking through the nearly endless CD bins at this, a much better music store, and watching the crew set up the large Marshall amps for the show. I must have seemed like such a groupie as I was wandering around the store carrying a copy of Strip Mind’s album in my hand for two hours waiting for them to arrive. I was such a pathetic little fan boy.

When the signing started, strangely I was not the first in line even though normal people (ie. people not like me) didn’t start arriving until 30 minutes before the event. I was pushed aside by security who, believe it or not, allowed about 40 beatiful, big-breasted, mostly blonde haired women cut in front of me. I would have been upset, had I not been 19, single, and truly enjoying the view.

When I did make it to the table, I meekly gave them my CD, which they signed. (I still have it) and also signed a poster (which I unfortunately lost). On the poster, Sully signed it “Hey Josh, What’s in Your Mouth”, which when I first read it sounded a bit strange. Did he like me, like me or did he write that on everyone’s poster. When I came out of these strange thoughts, I remembered it was the album’s title and all was once again right with the world. Although…if you remember…I do like a bad boy…

Anyways, when the band took the makeshift stage to begin their 5-7 song performance, I found myself pretty near to the front, in fact, I was actually standing right next to a large stack of speakers. I was young, naïve, and as most people at age 19 do, thought I was nigh-invulnerable to any harm. Needless to say, I did not have any earplugs or ear protection at all.

The band started the short set with “Bastard”, the same way the album did. There was a near instantaneous surge of people working their way to be closer to the band. At the time, I was nowhere near as large and imposing as I am now (In other words fat). I probably weighed in at 170 or so, which on my frame, made me very lanky and easily tipped over.

During the surge, my entire body was pressed into one of the racks of speaker with my left ear resting snugly in the direct center of the amplifier. I came to learn, during this that music when pushed through an amplifier and magnified by the fact that my ear was right on top of said amplifier, turns into individual beeps and boops, and then becomes only muffled noise.

Mercifully, I was able to pull away from the speaker after only a few seconds of feeling like I lived inside of sound (not as much fun as you might think). I staggered through the crowd to sit down on the floor at the back of the store, and semi-heard the rest of the song, worried about what kind of affect this might have on me. After about 2 more songs I bravely, or stupidly, I got up and pushed my way back nearer to the front to watch the remaining 4 songs the band played.

When I got outside after the show, the normal ringing that occurs in everyone’s ears after a particularly loud concert or dance club experience was there. I had, by this time, been to plenty of shows, so I knew that this was an inevitable occurrence of being a fan of the metal. I also was sure that it would last a day maybe two at the most.

Nine days later and the ringing and muffled sounds had not stopped. I think this may have been when I realized I had a problem. To make a long, boring part of the story shorter, I went to the doctor, had some hearing tests, and found out I had lost around 40% of the hearing in my left ear and would have chronic tinnitus (the ringing).

If there is something to be taken from this story it is this. The best way to protect your hearing is not to become a fanboy of bands originally named after pornstars, it'll only make you deaf.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Strip Mind...and me

There are two stories due to the same band in today’s and tomorrow’s post. For some reason, a little known Boston band from 1993 has affected my life in two interesting ways.

STRIP MIND…and me:

**HOW TO GATHER AN ELDERLY MOB** (warning F-Bombs and other assorted words of ill repute)

In 1994 I worked as a third key at the Strawberries record store in the Arsenal Mall in Watertown. A third key was basically the person who had a key to open up or lock up the store on days that the manager or assistant manager couldn’t be there. I had no real authority but at age 19 it would have gone to my head anyways. My manager, Mike, was a man who must have believed that the best looking man in the world was 80’s era Martin Mull and realized that was the way he wanted to look forever. He was a nice guy, not too strict, and fairly lenient in giving out the comp CD’s that always arrived at the store. Since he loved jazz and soft rock, this was great for a little metal-head like myself. The assistant manager, Bob, who I will have an entry about later, was someone who I would become really good friends with and I credit for helping me become the son of a bitch (sorry Mom) that I am today. When I left high school, I was shy and rather meek around people that I didn’t know and Bob showed me that no one was better than me and that I just shouldn’t give a damn what others think of me and who I am is the only person I can be. Plus he introduced me to some really nice women (thanks Bob). I am digressing from the topic a bit, but it is necessary for what comes later. Bob, who also helped me refine my musical tastes, unfortunately enjoyed metal as well so was my main competition to grab those precious, precious comps.

When the comp CD for the band Strip Mind “What’s In Your Mouth” came in on a night that Bob was off and I opened the next day, I grabbed it, not even knowing what genre it was, because the back cover shot of the guys in the band showed 4 long haired rockers and I didn’t want to miss out on any possible metal CD. Remember this was in 1994, before bands started cutting their hair.

(SIDE NOTE: The fact that I would sometimes pick CD’s based on whether the band has long hair is the reason I have in my possession, a Joshua Kadison CD and why I own the Crash Test Dummies first CD, in other words it didn’t always work.)

When I popped the CD into the store stereo, to listen before we opened, I was, I must admit, a bit taken aback. The mall had a mall-walking program for elderly citizens to come in and walk around before it opened. They had given me stares previously as the sounds of metal and vacuuming interrupted their conversations when they passed by the store front. This day was a bit different. I hadn’t looked much past the picture of the band on the back to the song titles, so excited was I to have procured this precious heavy metal comp CD. The stereo was set to random, so after the first song “Bastard” it decided to play track 6. And these lyrics below made me drop the vacuum and run to the stereo to turn it off:

(my thought process in parentheses)

NOTE: These are not the opening lyrics of the song, the song starts with some really unintelligibly sung lyrics

(pretty good song so far)

It’s not the clothes you wear

Nor the things you say

It’s not any of those

It’s not any of those

Not any of those

(okay fairly clean)

Don’t forget about me

I know we’re just friends

Don’t forget about me

I’ll be there in the end

(still clean)

Don’t forget about me

I know they're just friends

Don’t forget about me

Not Ever

(still okay)


Wait for you to come around


I want to make you come once more

(wait, what did he just say?)


Wait for you to come around


I want to make you come once more

(Ok, I think I see where he is going with this, but elderly people won’t get the double entendre so I’m still cool)

I wanna fuck your girlfriend


I wanna fuck your girlfriend

(Shit, they’re staring, I think they understood that line)

Well maybe just a titty fuck

(where’s the DAMN off button)

The title of this lovely little ditty is as you might have guessed is, "I Wanna Fuck Your Girlfriend". So had I looked at the back of the album, well you get the picture.

As I reached for the off button, I realized that I had a crowd of people staring at me in disgust who’s average age would have probably been in the high 70’s had it not been skewed by the Martin Mull look-alike who stood shaking his head at me through the store front grate. Mike had come by, having accidentally left his wallet in the store the night before.

We had a brief talk and I was told to not play anything with foul language in it over the store stereo system in the future. Like I said, Mike was cool. After the talk I decided to have a look at this CD that I had now fallen deeply in love with. What can I say, I was a sucker for relationships that got me in trouble be it with people or bands. I love a bad boy.

From this I realized that in the future I should definitely look at the song titles before playing a CD for everyone to hear, also I should probably try to find out a bit about the band as well. Since there is not much info on the internet about Strip Mind, I will impart to you all that I know about them.


Formerly known as Seka, Strip Mind was a thrash-metal band formed in Boston in the early 90’s. The band members included Stu Shoaps (vocals), Tim Catz (bass), Billy O’Malley (Guitar), and Sully Erna (Drums). Yes everyone, that Sully Erna (far right). This was Sully Erna’s second band, the band he was in before he started Godsmack, and flooded the world of rock radio with song after song after song after song that you couldn’t escape if you listened in the late 90’s. The band was forced to change it’s name to Strip Mind after they were sued by the porn star Seka, who they had named themselves after. Their only album “What’s in Your Mouth”, was full of classy song after classy song. I have included the track listing below, so you can see how much of an idiot I was for not looking at the song titles first.


1. Bastard

2. Lap Frappe

3. Texas Radio Horror

4. Young, Fresh, and Sweet

5. Pentapussy

6. I Wanna Fuck Your Girlfriend

7. What's In Your Mouth?

8. Don't Care

9. Kill Me

10. 23 Ways

11. Jingle My Bells


So, if I had only glanced at the titles on the back album cover I would have realized that maybe I shouldn’t play this at work. Thinking back, it probably wouldn’t have stopped me, but I wouldn’t have had it so loud. From that day forward, the elderly walkers would start their journey at the other side of the mall and stop well before the record store I worked at, except for one cool old man, who came in the next day to buy the album...for his son.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Henry...and me...

I can tell you that this will not be a daily thing. However, I do have a few stories saved and typed up (for the most part), that I can just dump in. This blog has been planned for a little while now, so it'll be fairly active over the next two weeks or so, and then I will try to go to a more regular, possibly every other day, schedule. With that out of the way, I bring you:

Henry Rollins and Me...
(I think he's doing fine)

My history with Henry Rollins extends back about 15 years. It was 1995, I was 19 and had just broken things off with my girlfriend at the time, I went into a Strawberries record store to drown my sorrows in some used CD’s. I came out with 2 CD’s that day which would, each in their own way change my life a bit, Tool’s “Undertow” and Henry Rollins spoken word “The Boxed Life”. There was something about the album art depicting a skeleton pointing towards a marquee that drew me to it. I listened to both non-stop for approximately 3-4 weeks, finding new things in each album every time I listened to it. Interestingly enough, Henry Rollins has a spoken word part on the Tool album, so technically both albums included Henry. I found something that clicked with me in the spoken word, and unlike my search for Dio, I was able to do something about it. I proceeded to over the next 9 years amass quite the collection of Henry’s spoken word albums, books, and videos/DVDs and begin one of the longest relationships of my life. (Wow, this already sounds creepy)

*Brief Interlude Start*

I don't want to post a huge bio. Go here for a more detailed account, but for those who don’t know, Henry Rollins is 5’7, built like a brick shithouse, and most importantly, an “aging alternative icon”. Beginning his career as the lead singer in the seminal punk band Black Flag in the early 80’s. When he had off nights, he would go to other venues and perform spoken word performances. When he left Black Flag, he continued to speak and formed his own band The Rollins Band. He then became “The Liar Guy”, acted in movies, TV shows, and guested on William Shatner albums. He has been consistently on the road 85% of the time since 1985. When they once called James Brown the hardest working man in show business, they hadn’t looked at Henry’s schedule from 1981 through today. I will give some recommendations at the bottom if you want to learn more about the man.

*Brief Interlude End*

For as much as I loved Henry’s spoken word, I had never seen him live until 2004.

However, I had run into him three times in odd places.

I have always subscribed to the idea that if you ever meet a celebrity at a concert, signing, event, or even in the "real world", you should treat them as if they are just like you, a normal person. I still believe that this is true, but, as you will see below. When you keep running into the same "icon" and you try exceptionally hard to be calm, cool, and collected. You can really confuse and freak them out. I may be giving myself too much credit for freaking him out, but I'll let you be the judge.

TIME #1:
Walking down the street in Havard Square in 1997. I said, “Hi Henry. How you doing?” to which he stopped briefly, as if expecting more. We stood there staring at each other for an interminable 20-30 seconds. It took all of my effort to not blurt something fanboy-ish out, this was someone whose words had given me strength during difficult times. Someone I respected greatly was standing no more than 5 feet away from me. But, no, I wanted to treat him, like a normal person...A NORMAL PERSON. It was probably the longest 30 seconds of my life. Seeing that I had nothing else to say, he shrugged and, before continuing on his way, replied “Fine.”

Coming out of the now closed Tower Records in Boston in 2004. I almost ran into him. He had a stack of CD's he had just purchased and was probably heading back to his tour bus to get ready for the spoken word performance that night. I was shocked to run into him again. I could have said anything to him. I could have commented on his choice of music. I could have told him about the effect he had on me. However, I stood firm in my belief and once again I said, “Hi Henry. How you doing?” I swear to you that this time there was a slight hint of confusion in his eyes. I could tell that he was going through his memory banks and trying to figure out if he knew me from somewhere. Again, we stood there for about 20-30 seconds of agonizing silence. And again, he broke the silence with a shrug, "Fine."

My girlfriend (now wife) and two of my roommates had traveled down to Providence to see him perform at Lupo's. We parked in a lot near a hotel and the club, not knowing that we would be boxed in for 2 hours after the show due to Yanni performing nearby. We waited out the time in the hotel bar and had a bite to eat. My roommate and I went to check on the status of the car, when in walks Henry. It must have seemed like we were waiting for him, because we were staring ou of the glass doors when he came in, and we were obviously not Yanni fans. I saw him sigh and brace for the onslaught of fandom that was going to wash over him. Again, I could have told him it was a great show, thanked him for it, and that I appreciated everything he has done. I could have kept my fandom quick, short, and simple. I was old enough to do that, but fearing that I couldn't, I said, well I think by now you should know what I said. "Hi Henry. How you doing?" This time the look on his face was shock. This time however, we did not have the awkward silence of the previous times. My roommate broke the silence, and asked Henry if he wanted to have a burger with us. Now, I know he didn't remember our first two chance meetings, but I found it fairly ironic, that he was looking directly at me when he answered, "No thanks, I'm fine."

I wanted to end the blog on that, but I feel I need to footnote this slightly with a note for Henry. You helped me get through some tough times. Your statement, "When life gives you lemons, say I like lemons, what else you got." made me realize that even when life deals you a bad hand, make the most of it. Thank you for helping me shape my personality, before I began listening to you, I was shy and introverted. I would like to say in closing. Henry, if you are searching for yourself on the googles, and you somehow, happen across this blog, I hope you're still doing fine.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dio....and me...

One of the reasons I decided to start writing this blog was to talk about different people's affect on my life. I was going to start slow, try and do some funny stuff, and work my way up to the heavier, sadder stuff. However, the events of yesterday changed my plan, so I start with this:

Ronnie James Dio and Me...
(The Quest for Boobs)

I feel like I lost someone I knew, although I never did.

I never got the chance to see Dio live. It was always one thing or the other (too expensive, too far away, too busy). But a lot of my love of music, not only metal, but music began the first time I heard his voice:

At age 12, a friend and I snuck a burned copy of the movie Heavy Metal into his parent's house because we were into fantasy/sci-fi and heard it had a lot of boobs in it. As at age 34 those are important things to me, at age 12, they were quite literally the two most important things in the WORLD. The movie held up well in both regards throughout the first 3/4 of it, but then something really strange occurred, there was this guitar riff that rang out as the evil creatures of darkness began their attack on the city and this voice blasted out:

"Close the city and tell the people
That something's coming to call
Death and darkness are rushing forward
To stamp light from the wall! "

It was a revelation to me. I no longer needed to see the end of this movie, I had found the answer to everything I was looking for in this song. At age 12 I wanted to rebel, I wanted to be a part of this, I now knew what happens when you listen to fools.

I must have rewound that part at least 15-20 times, just for the song. A 90-minute movie lasted 3 hours (we also rewound a lot of the boob parts...give me a break I was 12).

I searched out everything I could find about this music, strangely (or not-so), as a 12-year old boy in 1987, I found it very difficult to find any info. My local library didn't carry anything, my parent's never really took me to the record store, and my 15-year old cousin (my main source of music info) wasn't really into Sabbath. Also my friend's parents found the tape and confiscated it, knowing it for what it was. I was depressed because I couldn't find anything, and as most teenage boys will do, I gave up my search for something easier.

Every so often, they would play Heavy Metal on HBO, and I would be able to reconnect with the song that changed my life, but it wasn't until much later (12-14 years later) that I would be able to truly appreciate Ronnie James Dio's legacy and music.

Too make a long story short, Dio-era Black Sabbath opened my eyes to heavy music but I wouldn't truly reconnect with his music til much later. Because of him I was one of the Rock N' Roll Children.

A lot of people will be writing a lot of things about Dio over the next few days. A lot of these people will have better stories, having seen him in concert, met him, or if they are musicians, went on tour with him. I can't express the same things that these people can.

I never knew the man outside of his music and interviews. I never even saw him live. But if he happens to read this in heaven (and we know he's there, hell didn't want him, cause he would take over). I want him to know that he helped to shape my life in ways that I didn't even realize and probably will never realize. I want to thank him for all that he has brought to the world and to me.

I regret never meeting you Mr. Dio, I would not have known what to say to you if I did, and my ramblings about experiencing your music while looking for boobs in a cartoon would probably get me escorted out by security.

My 12-year old self is making fun of the 34-year old me for crying about someone I didn't truly know, but I see him tearing up too. He lost someone close as well.

I will always love your music, and in my eyes you will live forever.

Thanks Dio, for everything, you will be missed.