Monday, January 30, 2012


My great uncle Ralph once had a boat, which he could afford because he was a fireman for a very long time. Because he was a fireman for a very long time, he couldn't afford a big boat, but wee Randal & siblings (just one, actually) & cousins & their acquaintances various & sundry nevertheless got to oft motor (as passengers in hideous dayglo orange vests, natch) the north coast from perch-laden Catawba to mini-burg Port Clinton & back.

One fine spring day, Joe Carter, Cory Snyder & Chief Wahoo graced Sports Illustrated. They were twenty-three games out of first at the all-star break.

Still makes me chortle.

Staying absorbed in a Van Halen mixtape was just the opportunity one fine summer day needed to help refine my brilliant on-the-fly plan, the cosmic candy Erie whizzing 360°, the wind-whipped clouds & Kelleys' sun-smacked quarries starboard gifting further confident glosses. Come see your children, yeah, they're lighting up the sky/you won't recognize them anymore. So back on shore, my cousin pouring everyone some Cokes, & bolstered with a ballsy yet earnest confidence that came & went like a comet, I attempted to dazzle her two friends (especially the brunette) via performing a couple of card tricks. I'm guessing card tricks still break no deadly iceberg, though being an awkward, fourteen-year-old dork is an albatross heavier than any ill-conceived scheme. Comets are also known portents of doom, so I should have known better.

Mouse Island hermitage was momentarily considered.

But adolescent naivete, rocketing stop-start power chord bravado, & a truly refreshing beverage on a hot noontide prevented such rash decision making. En plus, no electricity meant no this:

Ain't no song sans that.

Catch as catch can't.

Yeah, blah humbug, heard every backhanded dis under the party-time arena rock G-type star from SST cultists to pop slicksters to art freaks. If metal was Satan, serial killers, nuclear war, naught but dear Mr. Fucked-Up Fantasy, a beyond beyond grasp choked with psychotic frost giants, unholy cabals of movers & shakers, the truly screwed-in-the-skull, not protest music but, in mythic terms, the world as is, fallen & most important, irredeemable, then Van Halen was something else, fast-talking three-ring grit, the wise, worldly elder brother who knew about players, prostitutes, & pimps; dealers, divas, & dregs; imbroglios, insouciance, & infidelity. & yes, the occasional boy-meets-girl heureux dénouement. Lastly, the brothers Halen hailed from the Netherlands, home of red light districts, pot, & Cruyff. This was heady stuff to a Parmastan kid.

Played like Johan, technical, sharp, beautiful, ruthless.

Strolling back to the islands (I feel like a poor man's poor Kennedy), let's get a little Spaceballs minus former roommates for a moment. Joined by the granddaughter of my great uncle's cottage ex-neighbor, the two of us partook of kicky footie (no keepie uppie, her control was far greater than mine) in the big field next to the roller skating rink, her blond ponytail swaying in back-to-back-to-back summers behind a face of dark, inscrutable mien, the whip smartest chick I knew for a good long while. Take that + claymation burgers + book geekery at Gem Beach + birdwatching [ed. note: Drop Dead Legs being particularly effective when heron hunting] & darkthroning (before I knew what that was) at Crane Creek, all rolled into a sublime three & a half minutes:

If you, gentle visitor, are noticing a theme, your reading comprehension membership is good for another year. But pigeonholing is for pigeons, & music is the finest of palimpsests, a new memory of an inside joke easily layered upon an accurate pass, a strong trap, a whiff of sand, that everything, for a moment, is pretty fuckin' cool.

There's a new Real Van Halen record next week, first in nearly three decades. Whether it's good or not doesn't really matter. Plus ça change, plus I'm still a dork, et plus those albums are still spun.

Dealers, divas, dregs, & that wistful crap 
we all wanna punch in the face but secretly love anyway. 
Don't worry, the odds are that tomorrow will suck more than today.


MRMacrum said...

And the odds also are that a new Van Halen Album will not re-capture the past, ill spent so long ago.

Prunella Vulgaris said...

it's about damn time you posted some serious nostalgia tripping! Even though I heard this semi-verbatim, it's still a pleasure to read.

Randal Graves said...

mrmacrum, likely not, but did you really have to bring up the fact that I foolishly spent summers being a punk kid and not stuck in a fast food joint, learning the vagaries of the daily grind like a good little worker?

duchess, according to The Google, that field now appears to be anything but. Goddamn Illuminati.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Don't worry, R.G.

A few more years under your belt (with onion, of course), and you won't remember these painful events at all.

zencomix said...

Bottoms Up!

Demeur said...

You gave it away with the Parmastan reference. A Bourgeoisie wanna be masquerading as some hip punker? Come on we're smarter than that. Think we were born yesterday? Don't answer that!

Jim H. said...

Missed the VH boat.
Youth is done. Nostalgia, meh.
Welcome to my mood.

Randal Graves said...

if, what's painful? I wasn't even aware of the Towering Slab's existence, and that's a beautiful thing.

zencomix, I'm taking my whiskey and going home.

demeur, I never owned a boat, I was never hip, nor a punker, though I did (and do) love Black Flag.

jim, land lubber! Oh hell, everything's done, existentially speaking. Thus, toons n' booze.

okjimm said...

nothing like a little nostalgia. I like mine with mayo and lettuce.

Beach Bum said...

While the new Van Halen CD will probably not recapture the feelings of what I like to believe my teenage years were at least Eddie and the gang do not look like zombies from the Walking Dead like Mick Jagger and the rest of the Rolling Stones.

susan said...

Nostalgia improves with age. You'll still have that even when you can't remember where you left your teeth.

S.W. Anderson said...

"being an awkward, fourteen-year-old dork is an albatross heavier than any ill-conceived scheme."

Riveting insights, ineluctable truths and pearls of wisdom like that make all the rest worthwhile. Profundity becomes you, Randal. Well done.

Randal Graves said...

okjimm, no cheese? Isn't that treason up yonder way?

BB, the moral of the story, then, drink more, shoot up less.

susan, certainly not, I'm simply going to subsist on applesauce and creamed corn so I can freak the whippers snappers out my ceaseless gumming.

SWA, simply stating the obvious, my friend. Save for the rare genetic mutant, we've all been there.

Life As I Know It Now said...

I am getting old enough that I forget what I did and felt at age 14. Hey, that is probably a good thing!