Born on the Fourth of July


My cat, Roz, was born on the fourth of July. Christi says that the cat is six years old. Where have all those years gone? It seems like yesterday that she escaped from the carboard box I brought her home in, to under the seat of my truck. I think I had to take the seat out of my truck to retrieve her. Or maybe this story grows with the telling. But somehow, I had the idea that the cat would be a cat for Christi and not for me. When I got home, she disabused me and thus the cat was mine. I don’t know what practical effects this has had, except that ourn cats are listed seperately at the vet and that I’m expected to take Roz with me to Connecticut, but not right away.


So Thursday was flute band practice. We spent a couple of hours trying out an acoustic guitarist who revealed at the end of his audition that he couldn’t make the gig. If you know an acoustic guitarist, or better yet, you are an acoustic guitarist, I’ve got a gig for you!


And speaking of gigs, on Friday, we drove to the fourth of July party that Tennis Roberts was booked to play at. The original word was that it was in Santa Cruz and that there would be a large, permitted fireworks display. Then it was revealed that the party was near Gilroy, but a lot of Santa Cruz people would be there. So Mitch, Ed, Christi, Tiffany and I drove and drove and drove and got lost and got unlost and finally met up with Chand. when we showed up, everyone there was wearing black wifebeaters (note to my grown up relatives: this is a type of tank top shirt) covered with white images of bones, skulls and bats (mammals, not baseball). The men had shaved heads and tatoo “sleeves” up their arms and were muscular. The women also had tatoos, but fewer of them and were not so muscular. Many of the shirts said, “South Bay Hardcore.”
Hardcore is a genre of music somewhat related to Norweigan Black Metal. It is charecterized by loudness, speed, virtuosic drumming, practically abusively fast and hard guitar strumming and sometimes also bass strumming. The guitar chords are typically dissonant and may include notes like the 6th. I know this because somebody in my History of Music Past 1850 class did a report on hardcore. I can’t remember a darn thing about what constitutes a reciciative or what the fuge form looks like, but hardcore I got. Anyway, hardcore lyrics are usually angry and often mysogonistic and the followers like to be tough all the time. It’s very hardcore.
Tennis Roberts is not hardcore. We’re wusses. Ack hardcore fans! They’re going to hate us! They’re going to assault us! So we started drinking beer and the organizer started hosing down the hillside of dry grass, in between his eucalyptus groves, so that fires would not start from his fireworks. The first band began to set up. Fortunately, it turned out that all the hardcore people were in the band, Sad Boy Sinister. They started playing as it was getting dark and people at the party started setting off explosions. I put in my earplugs, more for the bombs than the band and was happy that I didn’t bring Xena, since she would have run all the way to Hollister. The band was ok. The singer explained that they were back together after a breakup, which made sence cuz some of their songs were kind of rough. During one song, he stopped the band and said, “I f—ed up, let’s start over.” So the band started the song over again and the singer sang it exactly the same way the second time and then said at the end “I f–ed it up again.” Most of there songs contained the word “bitch.” One of them was titled “The Bitches are Getting Me Down,” apparently complaining about their girlfriends who were sitting up front cheering enthusiastically. Another song had the refrain, “Die bitch, die!” Around that time, somebody launched a firework up over the crowd, but not towards the wet hillside. It landed in the Eucalyptus trees that were next to the long driveway and started a fire. It looked to be about campfire size. A large number of people got up and started running around, trying to figure out what to do because the hose was way too short to reach the fire. I asked Christi, “How do you put out a fire with a shovel?” She became very alarmed (how many people really know how to put out forest fires?) and ran towards the fire. I was looking for a shovel, but couldn’t find one because someone had already grabbed all of them and dragged them to the fire. It was extinguished. The band on stage was confused, “What’s going on?” they asked, and then, “Should we stop or keep playing?” The sound guy told them to keep playing and they did, but apoligizing because the next song in there set was entitiled “Now it’s Time for You to Die.”
Later it was overheard that “had permits for fireworks” meant that the sherrif’s wife was at the party and thus the sherrif wasn’t going to arrest us. Also, apparently, there was a seperate party going on down in the strip mine bellow where folks were watching our fireworks.
So our band was on next. During the setup, there was a massive explosion up on the grassy hill. Apparently whoever had brought the fireworks decided that launching them up into the air might be dangerous, so he had ignited them pointed at the ground. Fortunately, that was the last of them, I think. This was our first gig with amentiies like monitor speakers. Hearing your sound at high volume coming at you is way different than practicing in a basement. The levels were screwy, not because the sound guy wasn’t great, but because we weren’t sure what to tell him. Next time, I think I’ll ask for the monitors to have same mix as the audience hears. I mean, it’s not like there are acoustics dums sounds that we could rely on. It was nice to hear Ed turned up to high volume. Whenever we would play loud dissonant angry things, the hardcore folks would cheer. Halfway through our set, half the audience got up and left. It turned out that they were in the next band. Just about everyone at the party was in a band or came with a band. But it was cool
the soundguy played in the third band. I started making up for my relative sobriety. But, we wanted to go home because it was late and long drive, but we stayed to hear several songs, since we may split a future engagement at 21 Grand with them. They played some coveres and some original tunes. Their songs had some intense, complicated parts that must have taken a lot of practice. They were pretty good.


finally got to bed around 3:00 AM. Chand called at 9:30, very chipper, saying, “Hi! I just got home! I could totally do the gas station gig!” So I got out of bed at 9:30 and started trying to call Yakayo Biofuels. There is a new biodiesel buy-at-the-pump gas station open in Fairfax. Yakayo sais they were going to have some sort of party (originally a bbq, but changed for obvious reasons) at the gas station on the opening day to celebrate, but they didn’t get very much advance notice and put out a call at the last possible second for music, in the form of a stereo and some summertime tunes. I had volunteered the band to play, but the Chand said he couldn’t do it, but now he could, so I was awake and on the phone. When I finally reached everyone that I needed to reach, the gas station guy said that nobody had shown up so far, so we probably shouldn’t bother. But I was already awake. bleah. So we drove down to palo alto. Christi explained that she was unable to hear through her left ear.
We picked up Mitch and went to starving Musician. Ever since Peter told me that professional bassist don’t play out of combo amps, I’ve been feeling sheepish about my bass amp. The bassists in the other two bands had large, much more powerful looking bass rigs. Mine was too little and didn’t sound good. So I tried out bass heads and speaker cabinets, finally settling on a peavy 160 watt head and and 300 watt cabinet. The cabinet gives me room to grow… There were two identical cabinets, both the same brand and both 300 watt. they sounded the same. I wanted to get the bigger one, but Christi said it would be too hard to move, and she one. Size does matter, though, you know.
Bought more stuff in the south bay. Then went to dinner with my dad at a vegitarian restaurant in Palo Alto, named after the place in ancient Greece where the philosphers used to gather and discuss, uh.. philosophy.” our waiter helpfullly explained in quiet yet enthusiastic tones. The food was ok, but not great. Christi and my dad report that the non vegan dishes were very very good. You’d think that a veggie restaurant would have more than one vegan thing on the menu. But it was ok. My dad seemed to be doing ok. Apparently, he never wrote any haiku, which is too bad.


Got home late. And then up the next morning again to go watch a soccer match at Mitch’s house. Christi still can’t hear though her left ear and her throat is sore. But she wants to go out anyway, so we do. I have no idea who won the soccer matches. We brought paper and crayons so folks could draw drawing which will be the inserts to go with CDs that we’re going to sell one off. We have many drawings now. And we learned that Chand fell asleep right after calling me on Saturday and slept for the rest of the day.
Juraj was making apricot dumplings. They seemed pretty complicated. The dough was made out of taters and wheat flour and soft, german cheese and eggs and other things. then it had to be rolled out and then stuffed with apricots that had been halved, stuffed with a sugar cube abd some things. The whole thing had to be sealed, water-tight and then boiled until it floated. He made a ton of these things, switching to strawberries when he ran out of apricots. I didn’t try one cuz they weren’t vegan, but everyone who had one said they were really good. Juraj explained that he wouldn’t normally make so many of them, but there were a lot of people over. For some reason, people responded to this by making fun of him and calling him gay for the rest of the day. Euphamistically, of course. Apparently cooking desserts for your friends isn’t masculine enough? I don’t understand het boys at all.
Then many of us went for food, then I offered Mitch unwanted advice, put my foot in my mouth and made him feel bad. Ooops. So I stole my DX7 back and went home. This morning, Christi awoke with a full-scale cold, which explains her hearing problems and stuff. She’s in bed right now, a place she normally avoid when she’s sick. She’d rather run around until she gets pnemonia, than sit still for a minute to get over a minor cold.

A few days of sun and rain and de-snailing and de-fungussing (is there one or two ‘s’es in fungusing?) improved the state of my xmas tree greatly. It’s in the house dropping needles everywhere, even flinging them across the room. The cats keep trying to explore it, but the dog wants to explore them, so they’re not interacting with it. They probably think it’s a pine scented litterbox. Or is it fir scented? When your father-in-law is a forester, knowing the diference between pine and fir trees can be very important.
I was putting up ornaments yesturday and realized that my mom gave me almost all of them. The last candle that was burning when she was alive burned out yesturday. The holidays suck suck suck. Oh my, do they suck. If you see Santa, please tell him where he can stick his holiday cheer.

I went out to look at the tree again this afternoon. It smells funny. I’m hoping it’s just the orange gaurd anti-bug stuff and we can just wash it off. At least there’s no sign of the snails. I can’t figure out where they might have gone though. The tree is not touching anything and the pot is in a saucer thingee that has a couple of inches of water in it from the last rain. So either the snails are all drowned trying to escape, they jumped for it, or they’re hiding and waiting for their chance at the Coffees of the World gift-pack.
Earlier I described a mushroom as “evil looking.” It’s joined some sort of axis of evil with the snails. The mushroom is two or three inches tall. The stem of it is yellow and textured like a banana slug. The cap is grayish-brownish like American Cheese that’s been sitting in your fridge for too many years with what looks like spots of white mold growing on it. (Can mushrooms mold? Aren’t they already fungus?) No one would go out in the forrest and get confused mistaking this thing for an edible mushroom. Unless it were hallucinegenic or something. (Lord I hope I have not just described myself as growing hallucinegenic mushrooms in my blog.) It just looks poisonous. And dank. And too much in the reality of midwinter festivals like Christmas, but not enough in the spirit.
Christi’s cat is the enemy of all plant life. She chews on everything. We had to put our Poinsettia outside because she was eating the whole thing (and somebody heard a rumor they might be toxic). Would she smiliarly chew on an evil mushroom? And if it were hallucinegenic, would she lead to her death from the highest point in the house, believing she could fly? (I’ve seen anti-drug videos. I know she would have a bad trip or leap to her death if she were tripping.)
If we had a pet Chicken, it would eat all the snails.

The rain around here finally let up, so I decided it was time to drag the Christmas Tree back indoors. It’s a potted tree, now on it’s third year of life with us. Last year we seem to have pushed it too close to a wall, so I discovered all the low limbs on that side are dead and being eaten by snails. It’s covered in snails. Weird little ones. I sprayed the tree with orange oil to get rid of them, but they’re still swarming
(Do snails swarm?). Anyway, it’s weird. Who ever heard of snails attacking a connifer? Maybe banana slugs might. So now the tree is all sticky with orange anti-bug stuff and snail slime of dead and wounded snails (and the little bastards that got away). And I noticed that there is a weird evil-looking mushroom growing on the wall side (henceforth refered to as the dark side) of the tree. I’m all for nature and the slithery slimy poisoness things that lurk in the forrests, each of them playing a major role on in the eco system. I’m even ok with them lurking on my nice patio provided they don’t kill too many of my plants or my dog or anything. But dragging a million snails, bettles, bugs, things that creep in the night and fairy-tale looking evil mushrooms into the house and putting christams presents under there is a differnt story. What if we wake up Christmas morning and gather around the tree only to find the Coffees of the World set I’ve given to Christi is now swarming with slimy snails? Yuck. I’m hoping that the short hours of winter sunlight falling on the now-exposed dark side will chase the slimy creatures away. And another day of rain should wash off the sticky orange oil and perhaps the sticky snail slime. (Can’t you picture this? Precious homemade ornaments in the family for years covered in snail slime because one year the latte liberal of the family decided what we really needed was a live tree complete with live snails!) Arg! This is a disaster! I should spray the tree with my moonshine-sih meade! I used to have a situation with unwanted compost bin inhabitants. Then I had a batch of beer get kind of funny, so I poured the bottles into the compost bin. The microrganisms in the bin were extremely pleased. The creepy crawly things were not. Anyway, all of this explains why the tree has been looking kind of sick all year.