#37 – Pals, or just the good stuff

So a couple of reasons for this one.

  • There’s a reunion of sorts coming up, of which I will speak on more later.  It got me to thinking.
  • The ’90’s, specifically 1990-1996, or more specifically to this subject like ’94-’96, are not always that far from mind.
  • One of the protagonists from that time period said to me recently, and I may be paraphrasing, “Dude, it’s not the ’90’s anymore.”  And I thought that was true, but also not.
  • I talk to my daughter about a lot of things, probably too many things.  Sometimes I forget that she’s only 12.  She knows a lot of stories from those days, not everything but many things.  She asks a lot of questions and I regale her with stories of “the good old days.”

It’s hard for me to believe it was only 2+ years that I lived with all those guys, on the East Side of Milwaukee (or the 414, as I’ve been referring to it).  Two different locations, one year each.  I can’t tell you much of what has happened the past two years, or maybe the two years before that, or before that.  But most of what went on those two years, ’94-’96, burn in my memory.

I won’t lie and tell you it was all smiles and good times.  But for this purpose, I’ll gloss over the bad stuff.  I’m not going to get into the crippling depression, or how I’d sleep all day sometimes, and the guy mentioned above would try to pull me out of bed and I’d basically tell him to go F himself.  Or how I’d lay in bed, wondering how I’d ever get out of where I was, how I’d ever have money, how I’d ever have a house and a family and a life that didn’t include boozing until all hours of the day and night.  Or the drama, roommate and girlfriend and otherwise.

And even though we’ve all made it, all these years later, or at least as far as I can tell, and all the things I thought I wouldn’t have I now have, and even though all of those things, good and bad have helped to inform how I am now, I’m just going to focus on the good stuff.  The fun stuff.  So for no particular reasons, expect the ones I listed at the beginning, here are some of those stories.

  • Like the time me and the guy and the other guy decided it was a good idea to have a food fight in the kitchen in the house we shared on Murray Ave. on the East Side.  I don’t remember how many there were exactly, 5 for sure in the house but upwards of 10 that lived there at one time or other.  But the 3 of us, probably after bar time, took everything out of the pantry and the refrigerator, and threw it at each other, and around the kitchen because we thought it was funny.  I remember a soup can going through one of the two windows in the kitchen.  I remember sticky floor and food everywhere.  I remember taking a bag of flour (why in the world we would have flour I’ll never know.  I don’t recall us baking a lot) and going into the intersection by the house and throwing it as high in the air as I could, watching it fall and explode into a white cloud.  The flour stain remained in the intersection for weeks, probably until it rained a few times.  And the one dude who was upstairs in his room, his room up the back steps and closest to the kitchen, throwing some glass bottle or something down the steps, presumably in anger or to join in the festivities I’m not sure.  What a mess, but we thought it was funny then, and I still think it’s funny now.


  • Or the time(s) we took down the dry wall in the basement, the one that separated the storage areas in the unfinished basement.  We destroyed it, for no particular reason except we were destructive and it was fun.  And then the landlord had them rebuild it.  I don’t recall if she charged us for it, although out of the huge security deposit (somewhere around 500-1000$$) I think we got back 100$$ or so.  So once it was rebuilt, we proceeded to tear it down again, probably with our hands and fake Kung Fu kicks.  I think she gave up after that.  In that same basement, in the corner across from where the band (a lot of those dudes were in a band, of which I was a hangers on, and of which most of our social life revolved) there was a pile of broken glass where we’d throw our beer bottles and 40-ozer’s (Old English only, please) until there was a jagged hill of death in the corner.


  • Or when someone was in the shower, it was mandatory to get a container of cold water and dump it over the shower bar onto the person showering.  You’d think we’d have taking precautions when we got into the shower, but naaa.


  • The time when a squirrel got into the house, probably because we left the door open, or it blew open because we never locked it.  We chased it all over the house.  It was not amused, and we were too dumb to just leave the door open and let the squirrel escape on it’s own.


  • Or the times in the middle room, where we had set up a bar, and we’d smoke weed and dance around.  I remember listening to the band Ween specifically, which is a good band to listen to when you are stoned.


  • Or sitting on the front porch on the couch the city made us get rid of, chucking beer bottles onto the lawn, and the neighbors hated it and put the bottles back on our porch.  And we’d just chuck them back onto the lawn because we were assholes.


  • Or the times I’d play catch with a couple of the guys, one in the yard on the side of the house, one in front and one across the street.


  • And all of the times around North Ave., the bars that we’d go to, Vitucci’s or Von Triers or BBC or the Globe to hear the band and others play but especially the Landmark, which was kind of like our home base and especially on Tuesday’s, which was dollar import night.  And especially the time where we almost got into a fight with an off duty cop.  But never Judge’s or RC’s, because those bars were full of people who thought they were cool but they were not slacker X’ers like we were and we were so much cooler and looked down on them.


  • And then down the road from Murray, down Oakland Ave. closer to UM-Milwaukee.  There were just the 3 of us then but a lot of the dudes and gals still hung out with us when we lived there.  We lived on the upper floor of a house.  The garbage would pile up and we’d be too lazy to take it out, so there was the one time when we lit it on fire and threw it off of the back porch into the yard.  And there was so much garbage in the kitchen, of which the porch was right off of, that the flames reached halfway up the house and the one guy had to go get the hose to put it out because it was teetering on becoming out of control and later we could not believe that someone, especially the guys that lived below us, did not call the fire department or the cops or both.


  • And the times where you’d be sitting in the living room, playing the old Sega Genesis we had, and a bottle rocket would come whizzing across the floor and pop just before it got to you.  Many a bottle rocket got shot across that apartment, and I have a hard time believing we never burned it down.


  • Or at both places, when we’d sit on the roof and drink and talk and watch the world go by, and occasionally yell at passersby.


  • Or the one time we had people over at the 2nd place, and we sat on chairs in the kitchen, which was carpeted for some reason, and drank and smoked and built a tiny campfire in and ashtray in the middle of the circle, which we may or may not have kept lit with lighter fluid throughout the night.  And later, when we moved all the chairs and danced in a circle around the little fire.  We may have been listening to the Meat Puppets, though I’m not 100% sure of that.


  • And all the shows we went to, at the Rave or the Globe or Summerfest or the Unicorn or Shank Hall or wherever there were shows and bands to be seen.


  • And the coffee shops we’d go to, before Starbucks was a thing.  There were a bunch of them, but especially Fuel, where you could drink coffee and smoke cigarettes and talk about books and writing and hang out and be sober and not drink for a minute.


  • Or the one time we piled into the one guys Chevy Blazer and drove straight through to NYC because his now wife had moved there and because it was an excuse to go for New Years Eve.  And we drove all that way just for a long weekend and meant to go to Times Square for the ball drop but we were having too much fun where we were.  And we ended up in a bar that we knew this girl from the ’90s MTV reality show ‘Road Rules’ hung out at and she was there and I talked/hit on her but I was really wasted (because it was New Years!) but she wasn’t having any of it and told me I should lay off of the alcohol (which she may have been right about but bitch, please, it’s New Years!).  And I remember I was talking to this other girl, who helped me approach the MTV girl, and she was cooler than the MTV girl anyway and wanted to give me her number but I was too stupid to see it, and besides I lived in Milwaukee, and besides the girl I was dating (dating?  girlfriend?  I don’t think we ever really decided) had come with us but while I was talking to the MTV girl she was in the back part of the bar making out with the drummer of the band we hung out with.  And I remember being a little upset about that, but not really.  And then later, when we went to the subway to go back to the hotel we smoked something with some guys outside the subway which ended up to be a really bad idea.  And at some point I got separated or separated myself from the group and woke up sitting against a pole in the station missing my glasses and my wallet.  I wandered around sightless for a few hours until said drummer, who was staying with a girl he knew but not my sort of girlfriend came and got me.  I remember being mad but not really but I probably smelled like a NYC subway for a few weeks after that, or thought I did.


  • And the one time we were at a party, and I lit the one guys pants on fire, because we thought the holes in our jeans were cool, and the strings from the ripped part would hang loose, and his pants were on fire (just a little bit) and he jumped up and slammed his leg down to put it out and we all thought it was hilarious except for him, and he had driven to the party and left us there, downtown or wherever, and we were sure he was going to come back for us but didn’t, which was probably ok since I had lit his pants on fire.


  • Or the little game we had, our little ‘grift’, where the girl I dated would distract some guy at the bar and the one guy or I would steal his money off of the bar while she was talking to him.


  • Or how the one guy and I loved the after-bar parties, because wherever we were we’d inevitably make our way upstairs and get some kind of souvenir.  It’s not like we took anything of real value, maybe just a pipe or some small amount of cash or whatever was laying around, just because we thought it was funny.


And the times, all of us or some of us would just hand out and talk or bullshit or whatever, and that something was always going on, day or night, and that for me, for once, I felt like part of a group, felt like I belonged, that I had a bunch of pals.

And it’s ok that it broke up.  It had too at some point.  If we were all still doing the things we did then it would be a little pathetic.  I don’t regret most things.  I led to this particular point and the things I thought I’d never have I have.

But those days are with me still.  Sometimes I hang on to them a little bit too hard.  I’ve learned to loosen my grip on them, and when I do squeeze it’s only to remember the fun and the good times.  I’ve learned from the bad stuff, and I’ve been able, for the most part, to leave it there.

So this will be happening in about a month.  The band that our world revolved around, Big Mother Gig, will be back in town playing a show with a bunch of the bands that they played with and were part of the Milwaukee music scene back in the day – back in our day.  I told the one guy when we were talking the other day that I’m probably not ever going to go to any kind of school reunion, and that this show will be the closest I’ll come to something like that.  And I can’t wait to hear those bands again, specifically BMG, but even more I can’t wait to see all the players.  And I think that most of them will be there, but I know a few won’t, and the ones I’m not sure about will not be there, though I wish they would come.

But if you are in or around Milwaukee on March 18th, or can make it, you should come.  Even if you don’t know my or any of these bands or any of these people.  It’ll be a good time, and we’ll all remember the good stuff together.  Even if you don’t know me or any of them I want you to come.  Grab me and say hello – I’ll be waiting for you.  Check out the link for the show:



Big Mother Gig has a bunch of new music out too, which I think is some of their best stuff.  You can find both the new and the old stuff all over, from Spotify to YouTube to possible you local alternative radio station.  Here’s their best new song below.  I don’t think they’ll mind if I post the video here, and if they do it’s too late.  I’m not sure why they would though.  Rock on!!




Hope to see you Fragas there!!




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#36 – Music Videos will Save the World

NBD but I’ve been out of commission for the past week++, or at least more out of commission than usual.  It was a week ago Friday at work and I started to feel super sick – flu like stuff with a cough and sneezing and headache.  (Side note – I average like one sneeze a month.  In the past week I’ve double and tripled my usual sneeze output.  I’m feeling much better, so to compensate I don’t plan on sneezing until sometime in mid-2019).

Whatever the sickness was it lingered and lingered.  I’d go to work and get some stuff done and then come home and sleep.  A couple days I stayed home.  One day I got all the way to work, pulled into my parking spot, and coughed so hard I vomited into my lap.  True story and super gross.  I didn’t know what to do but I needed to get a little bit of work done.  So I drove to Wal-Mart, bought a pair of pants and wore them out, and chucked my puke spotted pants into the garbage.  I told the lady at the place where you try on the clothes that I had spilled coffee on my pants on the way to work.  I’m not sure if she bought it or not.  I drove back to work with my new pants on, worked for a bit, and called it a day.

So I slept a lot, but even me, who loves to sleep, and loves to sleep because I’m tired but also loves naps and loves to sleep to avoid I could only sleep so much.

And I’m sure in a perfect world none of us would work and we’d all love to stay home and indulge in our hobbies and spend time with friends and live the highlife.

But have you ever had a few days off when you had nothing to do?  Have you seen the state of daytime TV these days?  It’s an abyss, even in these days of technology and Netflix and cable and etc.  There’s not a lot out there after awhile.

I watched a few shows on Netflix.  One was this, ‘Black Mirror’ which is now may new favorite show of all time.  It’s sort of a modern Twilight Zone for the technology age.  I’m not really doing it justice, and it’s more for adults.  I’ll warn you that if you have any interest the first episode is really good like all of them are, but the subject manner is a bit disturbing.  If you can make it through that one the rest are totally worth watching.  I love this show.  (I don’t think this trailer really does it justic either, but it’s on Netflix and you should watch it.)


I also watched a WWII documentary on the Netflix which was depressing as hell.  (I mean, I don’t think just typing numbers do enough justice to how terrible WWII was.  Upwards of 80 million++

Check out China.  Bet you didn’t know about that number.  Japan absolutely destroyed them.  It’s not really talked about enough.

people died as a result of that conflict.  Try and wrap your head around that number.  I also learned that we should probably ease up on the French bashing when it comes to how we perceive them as “giving up” or “surrendering.”  It’s not really fair to what actually happened.)

So I kind of ran out of things to do or to watch after a while.  In addition to Netflix I love love YouTube.  I love the little channels that people have created.  I love that just like other search engines you can put almost anything into the search bar and a video of your search will pop up.  It’s full of crap and good info and garbage just like the rest of the internet.

I suppose there are other places you can find them, but there are music videos all over YouTube.  I’m not sure which was the first one I popped into the search function, but once I watched a few I was hooked.  I watched great chunks of videos on YouTube as the week progressed.

Do you even remember MTV?  I think it’s still around.  Does anyone even watch it anymore?  Unless they’ve changed the format recently I don’t think they’ve played a music video in 20 years.   They should change the name of the channel, I think.

It doesn’t really matter in this day and age, though, with anything and everything you could ever want to watch a mere search away.

I remember, though, when MTV came out, or at least when we got cable TV and started watching it.  There were like 50(!) channels.  There was all kinds of things that I’m not sure I should have been watching (boobies!  violence! bad words!) but we watched it all anyway.  I recall that our 1st cable box had still had a dial in it that you actually had to get up off of the couch to change. But we didn’t care.  It was worth it to get up and flip around until we found some crap or other to watch.

There was no looking back after that, as we got remote controls (the first on I remember was long and bulky and had these rounded silver buttons that stuck up out of the controller) and as the channels increased.

I don’t think I stopped watching MTV until well after I was married.  Even when they started suplimenting videos with original programming I watched.  (I loved early seasons of ‘The Real World.’  I think my favorite season was the one with Pedro and Puck and all that craziness.  It was a hell of a thing when Pedro died.  We also liked the underrated ‘Road Rules.’  That one woman, Kit Hoover who is an anchor on the now Billy Bush-less ‘Access Hollywood,” was on the first season.  And remind me sometime to tell you the story of when I met Allison from that same season in a bar in NYC on New Years Eve in 1996 or so.)

But it was always the videos, and early on we watched MTV all of the time.  I remember especially the summer of ’84 or ’85, when I was going into junior high.  My sisters were young and my cousin Shorty (that’s just what I call her.  It’s not her actual name.  It’s another story on how I started calling her Shorty.  There’s a lot of things in the story that’s I’d have to leave out, though, so I don’t know if I’d tell it.  I didn’t call her Shorty back then.  I’ve called her Shorty for only about 8 years or so)  sort of baby sat them while my brother and I ran wild.  It was that summer especially that I remember watching MTV like every single day.  We’d sit and watch.  We’d do something else and leave it on.  MTV was the soundtrack of that summer, and the videos from the early days of that channel have stuck with me.

I like most kinds of music.  My musical tastes are mostly uninformed.  It’s usually hear music, like or don’t like music.  I’ll admit that country music is not for me, and when I hear country music it kind of makes me want to claw at my ears until the music ends or I go deaf.  It doesn’t mean that country music is bad or if you listen to country music that’s a bad thing.  It’s me, not them, but their twangy voices sometimes makes me wish music was not invented in the first place.

But the past little while, while I was checking out some of the music videos on the YouTube, I found myself looking back to vids from those early days.  I think I have a prejudgment of pop music videos in this day and age, that they are all just women shaking their booty’s while a dude sings about their booty’s, but I don’t really know if that’s the case and it’s probably not fair to say that.  There are probably channels I do not know about that show videos.  I know there is VEVO, an online video channel that has a big presence on YouTube.  So there may be all kinds of cool stuff out there that I do not know about.

I just feel like, rightly or wrongly, that when they started out, the music videos usually tried at some kind of story.  Some of the effects or production values were really awful, but as I watched them the nostalgia factor was off the charts, and the more I watched the more I wanted to watch until hours would go by and I’d done nothing but watch videos.  I forgot about what ailed me for awhile, and I discovered a new way to procrastinate and cure my boredom.

Here are some of them I watched.  There’s no real rhyme or reason to them.  I’ll tell you though, if you have nothing else to do, though, watching a few videos definitely beats staring at the wall.

I could go on but I won’t.  You should check some out.




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#35 – A Biography of You 

If I’m being honest I’m just sitting here in the lobby area, literally staring at a blank white wall while I wait for my daughter’s volleyball practice to conclude.  I seem to do that a lot – sit and stare.  I’m usually thinking, or more likely trying not to think, about the things I should be doing, both the things I have to do and the things I want to do.

I usually will get around to whatever it is I have to do, work or shop or eat or shower.

The things I want to do, though, even though I want to do them, I for some reason avoid like grim death.  It’s a lot of stuff, but most of it seems to revolve around things that would be good for me, like eating better or exercising. Or calling or writing to someone I haven’t spoken to in awhile.

Most of it revolves around this – writing.  I’m not sure why it takes me so long for these, or for stories I write, to go from thought to fruition.  The process is excruciating, and a lot of times I think I’d be better off without it.  The backlog of ideas I have is debilitating, and most will never see the light of paper, or screen.  The vast majority will continue to careen around and pinball in my head until I’m driven to distraction.

If you’ve been following along you know that this is something I’ve discussed at length.  I’m not sure what exactly my problem is.  (There is a list my problems I have that I’m working on.  I’m not sure if I should alphabetise them or list them in order of severity.  Regardless, I should print out the list.  When someone asks ‘What’s your problem?’, which happens more than I’d like to admit, I could just hand them the list.  It would probably save us all some time.)  I mean, I know there are issues, but I haven’t been able to pinpoint one Theory of Everything problem that explains why I am the way I am.

So a big one on that list would be the procrastination issue.  I usually subsist on the bare minimum, doing just what I need to do to get by.  If there is a Kingdom of Procrastination then I am it’s sovereign.  Nothing much gets done in the K of P – we usually spend the day watching TV ignoring the sewers that are dangerously backing up.  We also lead the world in duct tape consumption.

Yeah, but I do have ideas.  Very few of them come to fruition.  So far I have had one tiny little story published on an internet site.  I have this, blog, but honestly even the word blog makes me a little uneasy.  It sounds…self-indulgent, I think.  (Didn’t I write something like that in the #1? I think I did.  Oh well…)

One idea I’ve had for awhile is for a website.  I think I’d call it “The Biography of You” or “The History of You.”  It would be like an obituary site, but so much better.

I like to know the whole story.  I like to know how things started.  I crave etymology, history, causality.

I also really want to know about people.  Sometimes when I’m out and about I’ll see someone and just want to ask them a bunch of questions, who they are and where they come from and what they do and if they’re ok.  I find myself wanting to ask people that a lot – if they are ok.  But of course interviewing a complete stranger is insane and I’m not going to do it.  Probably.

What would be cool to me about this website is that it would highlight regular people.  Just me and you and your dad and your uncle – anyone you wanted.

See, I have heros just like you do.  Famous people I admire or enjoy or envy.  And we all do this thing, especially these days with the interest and such, where we are sad and lament the death of one of these noteworthy people.  And we write books and make movies about them.  Or if they are leaders we talk or write or glorify their achievements and how they influenced and shaped the world.  We remember them, build statues to them, name our streets after them.

And none of that is inherently bad, though I think we should have been and should continue to be careful on who we decide to be exalt.

But the in the history of people, there’s like .000001+++% of those type of people and infinity+++ of us.

It would be really good.  Instead of a tiny little obit that no one reads the site would be dedicated to you.  It would be your story, told in a documentary type format, with pictures, not just from when you were older and shrivled and dead but from as much as a loved one wanted to tell of you and your story.  It would include video and interviews and would look professional and you would be made to look important.

Because you are important.  Maybe you didn’t lead a country through a war or start a movement or make a great discovery.  But that doesn’t mean that you, or me, or all of use, the untold multitudes, being born and living and dying are not a part of this, all of it, whatever it is we call history.  We’re all historical.

I read somewhere once on the internet that after you die it’s somewhere around 100 years before there is absolutely no one left on the Earth that has any memory or knowledge of you.

Think of the untold numbers of people, then and now, born, lived, died.  They are history, and have as much right to history as Napolean or Lincoln or Kim Kardashian  and I want to know about them.

It could have a searchable database by time or country or origin or profession. You could even sign up yourself before you die, be interviewed at different periods of your life, decide how you’d like to be remembered.

Imagine an entire database of your genealogy.  Imagine seeing your grandfather when he was 25 and not just in some grainy picture.

They are just coming out with virtual reality.  They’ll continue to perfect it, and there will be a day where we’ll be able to view events, history, our own personal history in 3D.

The implications of this website would be awesome and every time I think about it I get excited.  I’m sure they have something like it out there, but not what I have in mind.

I’m not going to do it, of course.  But someone should.  It would be cool.

I swear I wrote some kind of story about something like this.  It’s in the attic somewhere.  I should check it out but it’s kind of cold up there.  I’ll do it soon.

I started thinking about it again today because my Great Aunt Edna died yesterday.  She was 97, or somewhere around there.  I hadn’t seen her in awhile, not since her husband died some years back.  She was a nice lady.  But I didn’t know her, not really, and I would have liked to. Maybe just talk to her, see how she was doing, if she was ok.  I’ve done that with a lot of people, relatives, friends, whomever.  Meant to check back in.  There’s always time, until there’s not.  And before you know it they, and you, poof, are gone.

But I’m part of history and so are you.  I don’t know if that means anything important, but it certainly means something.  I think we deserve to be remembered, somehow, someway.

Semi-related, I heard this song on a Netflix show I was watching the other day.  It may have been in the context of the show but I thought it was super sweet.  I think Aunt Edna would approve of it.

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