Has it really been a year since I peed on this here tree? It has been a long strange trip indeed. As I write, it’s a Tuesday, the first day of March 2011. That number, 2011 seems so freakish to me. A mere 4 years away from Marty McFly dropping in to Hill Valley to help his son make the right decision. Alas, no flying cars and hovering skateboards in my neighborhood, what a gyp.
2011…what the fuck happened to 1997? Why can’t I seem to remember a single thing that happened in 2003? And who’s that fat guy that moved into my bathroom mirror?
So as I sit here, a goblet of Malbec, the whir of the dryer in the background, and the soothing strains of Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue providing the ebb and flow of the wordsmithing (what? go on…), I reflect on the juxtaposition of my life vs. the rest of the world…in the year of our lord 2011.
As alluded to in the last words herewith, we brought our beloved Metal Lessons Radio internet radio broadcast, or rather webcast, back from the dead, in fact, alive, err live. We spent a few years honing our craft, recording, editing, and listening to playbacks of the show. It took something like five nights a week to get it where we wanted, then we eventually got sick of the work, a seemingly thankless task, in that there was no real-time gratification, no organic reaction, no interaction. The airings occurred all over the clock. So we brought it back live, one night, one show, and it is worth it.
One night, during a show in early summer, we received a phone call whilst we were on the air. Our friend and former drummer, Curtis Beeson, was diagnosed with a massive brain tumor. It was right about the time my father was fighting off a very aggressive melanoma on his skulltopper. After surgery and rehab, radiation…Curt’s bills started rolling in. A lifelong musician that dabbled in cab driving to support his drum habit, he didn’t have adequate health care insurance, which is to say he didn’t have any. In true underground fashion, the local metal scene decided to try and take care of their own!
“We’re getting’ the band back together….we’re on a mission from God!” – Elwood Blues
Several years ago, whilst attending an emotional roundtable discussion, I blathered on in a Cabby Savvy-induced weep about my dream of having one more shot, one chance to front a band. Not just any band, but my guys, a once fierce force of metal know-how and spare time, Fester. I mused at how interesting it would be to once again be on stage, with life experience, and a better sense of performance. After all, I had to teach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the Macarena once, so I don’t embarrass as easily anymore.
Somewherez around Christmas time, I was dispatched to a top secret meeting at a clandestine location. We all met at Hooters and hugged, chatted, and committed to performing at what would be dubbed the Curtis Beeson-Kill The Cancer Benefit held in Ybor City on February 11, 2011. After twenty years, we were a band again, and had six weeks to prepare for what would be thirty minutes on a bill that included some 8 bands, including Tampa heavyweights Obituary and Deicide, and headlining was Curt’s other band, Nasty Savage.
Commence the rehearsal. As we slogged away trying to figure out the hours of our collective youth, the football playoffs moved silently in the background. That was the feeling! It must be like that first heroin rush that the junkies keep reaching for. Making music with those gents is a sensation I won’t even begin to try and explain. Pure aggressive magic.
The show day arrived, the old school metal scene responded better than expected. For most of us, it was our college reunion. 500 or so people packed into the Crowbar to help raise money to combat Curt’s immense medical-bill-mountain. We raised over $10,000 to get him started, but the night meant so much more. For us, it put away a lot of ghosts that had been running around our conscience for a coupla decades. It did a great deal of healing for anxious memories, answered a lot of questions, and raised a few new ones…what if?
There we stood like men amongst men, a compliance officer, a postal technician, an insurance agent, a disabled electrician, and a cancer-fighting cabbie. Inciting the muse of days gone by, the band roared through twenty years in a single half hour. The response, and the pure magic has inspired us to give it the old college try once again. Metal has never had to grow up before so, middle age really is a new suit for the music to try on. What the hell 45 is the new…40, something like that. Anyway …
I joked on my birthday that I wasn’t 42, I was on my second lap at 21. While at 42, I’ve refinanced the mortgage, sat for state insurance licenses in property, casualty, life, health, and variable annuities, and fathered three amazing children, I get to be 21 again. I get to enjoy the experience of joining a band again, writing songs, and being part of something built on mutual respect, rare in this world. On a mild Florida friday night in February, I took to the stage to throw a musical tantrum right after Deicide and Obituary left the stage, on a day that started with Dad’s-n-Donuts at the catholic school!
The juxtaposition? Well, according to the media, facebook, and word on the street, the world is in trouble. The economy, crime, pills, the government….a heep of mess. And for me, it’s a quirk of timing that I seem to excel when all else is falling all around us. In the midst of all this decline, I’m alright. I love my wife, I’ve settled into a career, there’s room in my life for two music habits, I’m in a good place with my faith…I’m comfortable in my own skin.
Now, it’s time to live vicariously through my son, as I share with him one of the sacred scrolls…Van Halen I. Another generation of…lives ruined by music.