Tag Archives: iron maiden

Road Trip 2008, Days 17-18: End of Days

“Nature is a revelation of God; Art is a revelation of man.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

After our tour of the abandoned Lyman high school (which will someday be “Paul’s Brewery/ Concert Hall / Apartment Complex/ Campground/ Baseball Diamond/ Center”) we walked back towards John’s place.  On the way, we stopped at the only bar in the area, also the only beer retailer in town. Located right next to the bar were three coolers.  We scoured the small selection of brews, yearning for the great dark concoctions we enjoyed the past few weeks, but there were none to be found. Paul decided we should get Coors. He claimed it tastes better since we were so close to the brewery.  I agreed to his logic and lunked a 20 pack onto the counter.    Fully stocked on beers, we walked across the lot to John’s place.

I hear the cream can boiling; it's boiling on the flame, and I ain't seen a cream can since I don't know when.

John’s dad was already at his trailer setting up the cream can.  We exchanged handshakes, his father looking like an older version of John but with a long grey beard and rosy red cheeks.  He opened up the cream can (which is exactly that, an old style metal cream can) and showed us how he filled it to the brim with corn on the cob, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, red peppers, broccoli, asparagus, sausage, and anything else you can imagine. He then walked me through the cream can process. With a couple cans of skunky beer, he filled the container.  He placed the lid on top, set it onto a propane burner, and turned the flame up to full to get the beer boiling.

“In forty five minutes we’ll have ourselves some cream can to eat,” his dad proudly announced, taking a seat in a lawn chair nearby. I liked John’s dad; he seemed so calm and easy-spirited.  Soon, more and more people showed up, the familiar faces I’d met in the past (Doug, Eric, Wes, and Carl) and people I’d heard about in Paul’s stories of growing up (both John’s brothers, Crazy Jimmy, and Frano).  It was a strange experience finally meeting all the crazy characters I heard about in Paul’s stories.  It felt a bit like the funeral scene in “Big Fish” when the son realizes his dad’s stories were all true.

Who knew people like Crazy Jimmy and Frano actually existed?

With the beers flowing smooth and easy, the cream can finished boiling before we had the chance to get hungry.  Jon Jon came out with an aluminum baking pan, and his dad poured the contents of the cream can out. It looked like a shark getting his stomach cut open, with a menagerie of vegatables and chunks of meat spilling out.

We all lined up and dumped the buffet of beer baked food onto our plates. Once seated, I took my first bite from a sausage and couldn’t believe the burst of flavor within my mouth. A minute later the entire sausage had been devoured, forcing me to move on to the vegetables. I’ve never been the biggest fan of veggies, so I cautiously approached.  To my surprise, the veggies tasted amazing, challenging the godliness of the sausage. Why I doubted veggies boil in beer and sausage grease, I’ll never know.

(As a testament to the greatness that is cream can, that summer I told my friends in Iowa about it and they decided we should give it a try one night after golfing.  We used Tony’s turkey fryer, and it did the trick, although not up to  Papa John John’s standards.  My friends loved it so much that we ended up having a cream can a week later when another friend came to visit.)

After eating and filling our stomachs to bloated conditions, a bunch of us guys took seats on the back porch letting the food settle. I’d heard so much about Paul’s friend Frano, and he lived up to the tales.  He had all of us cracking up with his stories.  For some reason I envisioned Frano as a fat little dude, probably due to all of Paul’s stories of going to his house to gorge himself on quality Mexican food.  In reality, Frano had the physique of a stocky wrestler, and even talked of his exploits in mixed martial arts.

Once our food had settled we returned to our drinking.  Many of Paul’s friends who had kids had left already, which seemed kind of rude since Paul rarely comes back home.  Some wives allowed their men to stay, including one of Paul’s best friends Carl, so I couldn’t completely denounce all wives as “evil hags”. The living room became party central with the bugs getting nasty outside.

I talked with Wes for a while, a friend of Paul’s who lived in Omaha during the couple years I also lived there.  We always seemed to get along great when Paul tried mix-and-matching his friends.  After getting his degree at Creighton, Wes returned to his hometown to work in the local hospital.  Paul never understood this move. He always asked, “Why would anyone want to return to small town life when you’ve lived in a town like Omaha?”  I could see Paul’s point, although part of me will always miss the simple-ness of small town living.

When Paul noticed us talking, he joined in and began berating Wes for moving.  Wes tried defending himself, but his defense of saving money didn’t float.  I began thinking about Paul’s future – where he would end up.  I knew he would like to stay in Omaha, but I’d already moved away and then Wes followed suit. It had to be tough seeing all of his friends jump ship just as he finally got his diploma.

Paul harassing Wes for moving as Eric contemplates life in the background.

After a few more beers, a case of the dizzies began to haunt my weary head.  I approached the tray of left-over cream can and began grazing the cold, slimy vegetable chunks. It still tasted pretty damn good.  When the left-overs didn’t stop me from seeing double, I somehow moseyed into John’s spare room and passed out, leaving Paul and his friends to their reminiscing.

The next morning I awoke with a major hangover. I laid there for a while, still in my t-shirt and shorts, dreading the long bike ride home that lay ahead. I thought back to how rough the drive to town had been when I was completely sober.  Then Wes, my knight in shining armor, burst into the room with glorious news.

“Paul’s going to ride his bike back to the farm. Do you want me to give you a ride? We can just throw your bike in my trunk.”

“Yes!” I shouted, jumping up from bed. Suddenly, my hangover didn’t seem so dreadful.

“We have to find my brother’s glasses first though.”

“What?” I asked.

“Oh, you missed the fight. My brother and John’s brother got into it. Crazy Jimmy’s glasses are somewhere out in John’s lawn.”  Obviously I had missed a lot of action while passed out, but I was hurting too much to endure a long-term conversation about what happened.  We wandered around the lawn for a while, squinting and shielding our eyes from the sun’s harsh morning glare. After 10 minutes, the glasses turned up, slightly bent and covered in chunks of grass like a football cleat.

We loaded the bike into the trunk and headed back toward Paul’s.

Once there, I thanked Wes for the ride and wished him luck with his new job.  Back inside the Peterson household, I headed straight to my sanctuary downstairs and fell asleep as Jesus glared down at me with disdain.  I hibernated for a few hours.  When I heard stirring of the farm family upstairs I realized I wouldn’t be able to fit in any more of my nap. I grabbed Dharma Bums and began reading once again.  As Kerouac talked of finding God within the nature of Desolation Peak, I looked up at the traditional version of Jesus staring back at me with his baby blues. When I prayed as a child, I always envisioned God as the same long haired bearded hippie tacked on Josiah’s wall.  But no longer. I knew what Kerouac talked about as he said goodbye to Desolation Peak:

“I don’t know when we’ll meet again or what’ll happen in the future, but Desolation, Desolation, I owe so much to Desolation, thank you forever for guiding me to the place where I and I’ve grown two months older…God, I love you.”

The hour I spent on the top of the Sphinx mountain was the closest I’ve ever felt to God. I saw his face in all of the splendor around me.  I don’t know if what I saw was Buddha, Christ, or an eight armed elephant – the denomination didn’t matter. But I have no doubt that I saw God. In each wild flower, in each jagged rock, in each green valley at my feet.  And as I sat looking at the blue eyed Jesus printed on a piece of manufactured cardboard, I thought about how no artist could capture what I saw with my own eyes – who I saw with my own eyes.

 

You be the judge: who is the imposter?

I went upstairs to find Paul’s mom slaving over the stove, cooking chicken fried steak.  Out in the living room Paul and his siblings sat around busting jokes on each other (mostly Paul making fun of Caleb and his hippie hair).  Paul’s dad sat at the computer, occasionally chuckling at the banter coming from his children.  Soon after, mom appeared from the kitchen with a plate of sizzling fried steaks.  My grumbling stomach yearned for grease to coat its aching walls, easing the drunken sickness churning below.  I’d never had actual homemade chicken fried steak, but I think I have the authority to profess Paul’s mother’s as the best. The steaks quickly remedied my stomach ache, and I even went in for another half of a steak.

With lunch finished, we began packing up the car, preparing for the final leg of our drive.  We had eight hours of blacktop ahead of us, so we knew we had to hit the road soon.  Before leaving, Paul said his final good byes, hugging each of his siblings.  His dad came over and gave him a big bear hug, wishing him good luck on his job search. As the family wishing Paul off, I wondered where his mom had gone. I knew she had to clean up the kitchen, but during the entire visit, she had been cold toward Paul, speaking only a few words to him and rarely spending time in the same room as him.  Just as these questions crossed my mind she came out from the kitchen and approached Paul. She gave him a quick hug, then stood back and smiled.  As she looked at him, I could see she did care a lot about her boy. Sure, he caused a lot of stress and mental anguish over the years, and he was far from being the obedient young man her other sons had become.  Maybe she didn’t understand her son and his love of “devil music”; maybe she couldn’t comprehend his penchant for the unexpected. Despite all that he had done wrong over the years, she still deep down cared about her son – I could see it in her eyes.

I thanked the family for everything, and we headed out, back up the gravel road that led us to what Paul once knew as home.  Our drive across Nebraska would be one of exhausted reverie, thinking back on all of the experiences we had the past few weeks.  We kept ourselves entertained for a while practicing “rock screams” while listening to Iron Maiden, but nothing seemed quite as fun as our foray through the mountains. We both knew the end of our trip would come alongside with sun down.

 

With Nebraska's flatland surrounding us, I entertained myself by playing mouth trumpet on a straw.

At one point Paul put in Destroyer’s latest “Trouble in Dreams” and let Dan Bejar’s nasally voice and morose tunes drive us down the final stretch of endless corn fields, all waiting to be detasseled in mere months.  As the album came to its final song “Libby’s First Sunrise”, ironically during a sunset, I caught myself listening to the lyrics, and quickly realized how fitting they were with the lights of Omaha in the distance ahead.

You’ve been wasted from the day
of wandering, boozing and sleeping outside
Playing the idiot all of your life
and this is what you get
Master of all you survey, but today
You’ve been wandering around
You’ve been fucking around
You’ve been wandering around
You’ve been fucking around – oh
And this is what you get
Now the light holds a terrible secret
The light holds a terrible secret
The light holds a terrible secret
The light holds a terrible secret

The lights of Omaha did hold a secret, although I hoped they weren’t as terrible as Bejar had foretold. What did Paul’s future hold for him? This thought prompted me to ask Paul what his plans were for his job search, and his response was exactly what I expected from him, ” I have no clue.”  I didn’t know what would become of my friend Paul.  I mentioned he could move to San Antonio and substitute for a year, but his silence told me he had little interest in Texas life.  I wondered if he’d stay in Omaha now that so many friends had left the city he loved so much.  With the sun setting on the plains of Nebraska, I looked out toward the horizon and wondered what the future held for my comrade.  A semblance of a smile grew on my face, realizing he would be fine, regardless of what happened. 

2 Comments

Filed under Road Trip Blogs

Mastodon “Crack the Skye”

Mastodon
Crack the Skye
(Reprise: 2009)

8.5

I confess: Mastodon had lost me.  I mean, those dudes were wanking themselves completely off their fucken rockers.  The first thing that turned me off was all these dooshes started loving them (bound to happen when a band hits the big time, and I am stupid for holding that against them).  But then my buddy told me how he saw them live and they all had like 30 guitars and roadies tuning them (and doing everything else) for the band (huge turnoff for a DIY kinda guy).  The big deal breaker was reading that James Hetfield came up to Mastodon guitarist Brett Hinds, telling him he wanted to “pass the metal torch on to you guys.”  James, you pretentious fuck.  First off, there is no torch that goes to the best metal band passed on by the last best metal band.  And if there were a said torch, Metallica would not have had it in its possession for at least twenty years.  Mastodon acting like that was a compliment pissed me off.

Then I heard about the new LP: a concept album about some paraplegic who flies too close to the sun, causing him to go through a wormhole where his spirit goes into Rasputin’s body to warn him of his planned assassination.  Okay… I could handle Remission’s theme of nuclear holocaust and the drummer’s dream of the burning horses, Leviathan’s “Moby Dick” bent, even Blood Mountain’s stories of climbing mountains only to find blood thirsty ogres (and more challenges) at the top.  But this was way too much, if I wanted such progtastic themed wanky meanderings I have plenty of Magma, Yes or Genesis albums to put the needle to (in fact, the theme almost sounded like a rip off of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway).  After a couple of quick listens to parts of the album, I realized I didn’t need it from my once favorite metal-core band (I even heard keyboards!).  AND TO TOP IT OFF: gone were the throaty primal grunt growl scream vocals of past albums.  The boys were now singing, even harmonizing with each other (obviously, I thought, this was what happens when the band brought Brendan O’Brien, who’s done work for Pearljam and Springsteen, in to produce).  My NU-Metal radar was going off like crazy, and I could see that Mastodon were going the way of the heroes, Metallica, and were no longer relevant but completely over-dooshified.

So, last week I almost didn’t go see Mastodon even though they were playing like 5 minutes from my apartment (in fact if Baroness would not have been on the bill I probably wouldn’t have gone).  Would that ever have been a mistake: the boys are so fucken technically and the songs from Crack the Skye so compositionally sick that the show was altogether mind blowing.  After about twenty minutes of them playing Crack the Skye track by track, I forgave them for everything (even the somewhat harmonious vocals).  I began to see it: Brett Hinds’ confined hospital stay led to the astral traveling theme of the album (kind of like a Brian Eno or Robert Wyatt story).  I imagined him in a hospital bed, his only mode of travel psychic (I may be pushing this way too far, but it’s probably appropriate for such a far out album).

Crack the Skye’s seven songs clock in at just over 50 minutes, but I am lost in the maze, never do I check to see how much time is left. The proggy/jazzy time signatures (For the RIYL guys, it’s like King Crimson attempting to be Iron Maiden) have me changing my headbanging routine like every thirty seconds and the riffs crescendo and fall like the Andes Mountains.   Mastodon can be as indulgent and poppy as they want, as long as the riffs keep my fist pumping and my world turned upside down, which they are able to do for most of the album.  Although, I do find myself at times wishing for the harder hitting, death metal screaming band of yore, this is a more than welcome reprise.  And 50 minutes for me to contemplate on what conceptual them the guys will think of next.

2 Comments

Filed under Album Review

Top 100 Albums of 2000 (80-61)

80.  OOIOO – Gold and Green

Yoshimi P-We (of the Boredoms) drops much of the grating no wave and goes for melody and atmosphere (kind of like her main band’s album from the same year in fact).  – Willie Rambo Strider

79.  Broadcast – The Noise Made by People

I have always heard Stereolab too much in Broadcast’s music to get too into it.  Which isn’t fair to them, cos it is pretty darn good electronic Euro-pop made for old spy movies.  Contains some fantastic songs and would rank much higher if I could ever get over how much it sounds like a Stereolab rip-off.  — Songssuck

78. White Stripes – De Stijl

I hadn’t listened to this in at least 5 years.  It just never made me as hard as everyone else.  But I am glad I dug it out, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  Pretty diverse set of songs for a rock duo.  If you liked Elephant pick this up, I always thought this was a better album.  – Ho Chi Unser Jr.

77. Boris – Flood

Like Absolutego, this album is one long track (I know that turned a few off already).  Boris at their most minimalist and serene.  Jimi Hendrix joining a krautrock band and trying to seduce a woman by sending gentle ocean guitar waves her way would sound like this.  But at times one feels as if the waves are a flood of heaviness, albeit not heaviness from loudness, riffs or death metal vocals.  Leave it to Boris to be so good they can be heavy without being heavy.  — Pthestudp

76. Deftones – White Pony*

Deftones: here to show us that rap + metal or nu-metal wasn’t such a bad idea after all.  — Pthestudp

75. Super Furry Animals – Mwng

A largely acoustic offering, void of the electronic studio wizardry and harder rocking songs and sung entirely in Welsh.  Interestingly enough, as this was my first SFAs, I thought they were all like this.  And that’s not a bad thing, even though their organic arrangements and acoustic instrumentation don’t allow the band to really flesh the songs out like on other SFA albums.  I guess the band didn’t put too much time or money into the album (this along with the other aforementioned differences made some critics and fans dismiss this album as a stunt), but that doesn’t keep it from being a really great pop album that you will sing along with, even if it is in Welsh (actually the language barrier for me makes this album more otherworldly and lush and just plain better, I can’t really explain it.  It is just a beautiful language).  Get a version with the 5 bonus tracks, they are good.  – Dr. Anonymous

74. Wu-Tang Clan – The W

Depending on what day it is, I like this even better than Supreme Clientele (although not most days). It makes me sad when I talk to people about 36 Chambers and they haven’t heard this one.  – Dr. Anonymous

73.  Primal Scream – XTRMNTR

Bobby Gillespie recruits Mani (from the Stone Roses, which was an excellent choice, as some of the basslines are just incredible) and Kevin Shields (of My Bloody Valentine) and an army of robot insects for his percussion section.  The first two songs on the album, “Kill All Hippies” and “Accelerator” vie for the top songs of 2000.  But one cannot start off an album so strong and expect people not to be disappointed as it goes along.  If this list was the best two songs to start off an album, XTRMNTR would win hands down.  – Kid Kilowatt

72.  Mirah – You Think It’s Like This But Really It’s Like This*

I’ve read a lot of myths about Mirah.  That she makes nut milk and sells it at the café she runs out of her apartment, that she was born on her parents’ kitchen table, that her full name is Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn, and that she is a gay Jewish hobo hippie.  Who knows which, if any, are true.  Her debut album has been called “brutally cloying” and a “charmer.”  Honestly, I find both to be true depending on one’s mood and which of the 16 songs one is listening to.  The discerning folks at aQ records point out that Mirah could have just as easily done the soundtrack to Juno.  That goes a long way towards describing her music, but it is nowhere as apt of a description as on YTILTBRILT.  You can literally hear some of the songs on the movie, they are honest, endearing and heart wrenching.  Phil Elverum of the Microphones (which Mirah was also a member of) lends his production and instrumental skills to the album, and his presence is palpable.  – Suzy Creamcheese

71.  Arab on the Radar – Soak the Saddle

Yoko Ono fronting the teenage noise punk band next door.  Obviously, for some, or in certain moods this album will be too abrasive/annoying.  But I cannot say ‘No’ to the guitars (although Pitchfork can, they gave it a ‘2.0’). – Songssuck

70.  Marumari – The Wolves Hollow

Supposedly, this album tells the story of a wolf race from outer space.  The wolfemian fed cow brains to a supercomputer in order to survive.  But on April 18th, 1976, the war of the worlds began when earth wolves attacked the wolfemian.  Before the alien wolves were all destroyed, thy passed their music onto Josh Presseisen, who had contacted the wolfemian some years earlier on ham radio.  This all sounds really lame and ridiculous, until one has listened to the album about 3 times.  The Wolves Hollow rewards repeated listens and the otherworldliness of the music begins to shine through.  Then one realizes it could only have come from alien wolves.  – Kid Kilowatt

69.  Iron Maiden – Brave New World

Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith return to Maiden thus reuniting the classic lineup (along with 3rd guitarist Janick Gers) for the first time since 1990’s No Prayer for the Dying (I think, it might have even been 88’s Somewhere in Time).  Maiden sound rejuvenated and ready to kick ass again.  Seriously, if you like Maiden you owe it to yourself to pick this one up.  Not as good as their first five albums, but up there.  Brought down a bit by Harris’ overt progginess that doesn’t work at times, but how many 80’s metal bands still kicked this much ass in 2000?  None.  — Pthestudp

68.  Sacred Steel – Bloodlust

Ever been sad after thinking about the lack of classic metal being produced these days?  Well dry your tears heavy metal warriors.  Sacred Steel are here with 11 songs that sound like it is 1983.  – Pthestudp

67.  Swearing at Motorists – Number Seven Uptown

Dave Doughman and Don Thrasher (dude who drummed for GBV during their especially kick ass period) create some Guided By Voices influenced ditties about coming home for Christmas, vans, wondering where you went wrong, and seeing an ex girlfriend walking down the street.  I love their lo-fi harmonies.  An underrated album from a very unheard band.  – Kid Kilowatt

66. The For Carnation – s/t

Nick Mirov, who writes for the website the Bay Bridged had this to say: “This album is the sonic equivalent of standing on a deserted dock at midnight and watching fog roll towards you with a nagging feeling in your gut that some evil presence is near.”  I bought this album because of its connections with Slint and Tortoise (Brian Mc and Britt Walford from Slint and John McEntire from Tortoise).  Don’t be surprised if you are disappointed if you come to this album for the wrong reasons (it really isn’t much like Slint or Tortoise), as I was for a long time. – Songssuck

65. Boss Hog – Whiteout

Some swampy blues, with a lot of electronics thrown in for extra kicks, from Christina Martinez and her husband Jon Spencer.  Judge this book by its cover cos the music, like the cover is good shit.  – Willie Rambo Strider

64.  Propagandhi – Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes*

John K. Samson left to form Weakerthans and took a lot of the melody & humor along with him.  Propagandhi were much more hardcore and pissed off on this album, “with friends like these, who the fuck needs Cointelpro?”  Definitely worth buying the actual album, a lot of info that blew my mind back then included.  Appropriate that it was one in the bunch that my mother threw away, that’s for sure (although I would like to think that Patti stands against “bullshit politicians,” the exploitation of workers in 3rd World countries, terrorism, and “ordinary people do[ing] fucked-up things when fucked-up things become ordinary.”)  She just really hates hardcore.  Don’t we all.  – Pthestudp

63.  Radiohead – Kid A*

I know I know.  You are tired of hearing/reading about Radiohead and Kid A. But you know what’s crazy?  There are some people who don’t listen to Radiohead.  Dumbasses.  I hadn’t listened to this in like 5 years (Who’s guiltier?).  But seriously, that kind of proves my point: it is overrated.  It has become more of an idea than an album (like a holy grail everyone just looks at and no one drinks from), topping everyone’s best of the 00’s lists.  A good (but not the best from the last 10 years) album that needs to be listened to and not talked about.  So I’ll shut up now.  – Dr. Anonymous

62.  Jackie-O Motherfucker – Fig. 5

Deep in the Psychedelic Forest live a tribe of dwarves.  But these aren’t the type of dwarves you may have heard of.  These dwarves like to party, get fucked up and jam.  In fact these dwarves’ drum circles are so groovy that Albert Ayler sometimes stops by to sit in on the circle, drop some shrooms, drink some dwarf beer and deconstruct and revise folk classics to the point they become avant-garde masterpieces (in fact “Amazing Grace” is pretty much unrecognizable).  Can you dig it?  — Songssuck

61. The Panoply Academy Corps of Engineers – Concentus

If it were not for a album put out by Dischord, Concentus would hold the best math rock album of 2000 title.  Nar Nar Nar/ Nar Nar Nar Nar/ Heeeeeeeyyyyyyyyy! – Songssuck

Leave a comment

Filed under Top Albums Lists