Put ’em Up, Not-My-Mom!

Last night I was sitting on the floor in the hallway of Meadow Hill Elementary school with Jimmy’s wife, Liz, and their two youngest kids. We were the first ones on hand for our indoor soccer game; we were lacing up various ankle braces, strapping on shin guards, popping ibuprofen . . . you know, all the preparations adults have to go through before engaging in any kind of serious physical activity. We were just outside the door of the gym where our game would take place. At the moment there was a youth basketball game going on. Suddenly the door burst open and this woman came staggering out and about fell onto Liz and her kids. Immediately in her wake was an older woman who had clearly shoved the first woman out. They were jawing vehemently at each other. Down the hall, another gym door burst open and this guy came charging down the hall, “You don’t talk to her like that, mom! You never talk to her like that!” and he had to be restrained by the first woman. It was quite exciting . . . and more than a little embarrassing.

I walked off down the hallway a short distance while they sorted out their disagreement. 10 minutes or so later the younger couple were back in the hallway, joined by another guy. From their conversation this was the gist of what was going on: apparently, the game was some kind of AAU girls’ team playing a boys’ team from the school. The girls were pretty high speed — they had fancy uniforms, knew the game, and were apparently putting quite a whuppin’ on the boys. It looked a little mismatched; the boys were a motley-looking bunch, one looked like he was only about 5 or so. The family disagreement was complex. There was the husband and wife, his parents (the mom was the one going mano e mano with the wife, his dad was apparently doing a lot of screaming and yelling inside the gym), and apparently a brother on the other side of the contest being waged on the court, or maybe he was the coach of the boys, I don’t know. The whole thing was a classic case of parents taking a youth sporting event waaaay too seriously; throw in that families were involved with different ideas about how things should be handled and we had all the ingredients of a bru-ha-ha.

The crux of the disagreement was that these poor boys should not have to endure getting their asses handed to them by a bunch of girls. Quotes were along the lines of “don’t they know what these boys will have to endure at school if they lose to girls?” and “their egos will just be crushed!” I actually had to walk away because I was amused by the absurdity of it all. Look, if these poor boys couldn’t handle losing to girls because the girls are better players, then the parents are the ones who should be ashamed. I think losing a basketball game is a perfect introduction to the kind of rejection and humiliation that (most of) those boys are going to suffer at the hands of women in the life stretching before them (with parents like the ones described, the boys who are actually gay are going to have an entirely different set of problems to deal with).

So, clearly, misogyny is still being practiced in our nice little city, and our boys are being indoctrinated into it early. Not that I’m surprised, I see misogyny all over the place. It almost makes me want to vote for Hillary. Unfortunately, I’ve read one or two things too many about her that make me just not able to get on that bus. I mean, I’d cast a vote for her to make McCain or Romney cry when they get mocked back at the country club, but I’d rather not have to do that. Then again, I do like to point fingers and laugh now and then. . . .

>What Was I Thinking?

>Saturday afternoon we went and saw the new Stallone, movie, Rambo. I had actually been looking forward to seeing it; I loved Rocky Balboa, and hoped that this movie would put a decent bookend on the Rambo franchise. Back in the day I loved the original movie, First Blood, and a recent re-viewing of the flick showed it has held up pretty well for me. The two sequels after it quickly degenerated into awfulness, even when they first came out. But I’ve always been something of a fan of Sly, so I thought it might be cool.

A glance at Rotten Tomatoes showed it wasn’t doing too well. Sid and his buddy, Will, were eager to see it, so I swallowed my last minute reservations and decided to go after all. I even gave Julia an out to just drop the boys at the movie and we could go do or see something else, but she said she was fine with going. About 1/3 of the way through the movie I was feeling horrible guilt that I’d brought these people to see this goddamn film.

Here’s the premise. Rambo lives in Thailand now. A group of Christian missionaries ask him to guide them into Burma (the word “Myanmar” is not uttered a single time in this flick). He grunts a denial. The pretty woman in the movie guilts him into guiding them anyway. Along the way he has to kill a boatload of river pirates. Missionaries are appalled, but decide to press on. He leaves them at the river and goes back to his shack. Meanwhile, the village the missionaries are helping is brutally attacked by soldiers. Head of church group was from hires mercs to go after them, and gets Rambo to lead them. They follow the soldiers to prison camp. Mayhem ensues. Rambo saves the woman amid even more mayhem. The leader of the Christian expedition who tells Rambo early on that killing is “never justified” even gets into the killing-by-big-rock-to-skull-of-bad-guy, and presumably “gets how the world really works” after all. No big surprises.

What turned my stomach was the level of violence of this movie. We see people — innocents as well as villains — blown up by land mines, stabbed, machine-gunned to pieces, bludgeoned to death, etc. I spent probably half the movie with my eyes averted. It was awful. And what made it awful is that this shit is real.

I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading about just these types of events and where they are actually happening (for a quick and dirty trip through these subjects I highly recommend “50 Facts That Should Change the World” by Jessica Williams; it’s a good starting point). Whether it is the statistics of people killed and maimed every year by land mines; armies attacking villages and forcing children into guerrilla armies; rape and torture, you name it: any horror that you can imagine one person doing to another is being done, whether it is in SE Asia, Africa, Iraq, or anywhere else. It breaks my heart. And here I was in this movie theater, half-filled with fratboy types in backwards ballcaps and t-shirts with either some sports logo or skateboard logo, laughing and cheering whenever some particularly vivid atrocity was depicted on screen — and every horrible one of them was depicted! It could have been the blowing apart of some wicked soldier’s skull or some villager forced to run through a mine field disappearing in a red spray, or women being gang-raped by soldiers, it didn’t matter — they loved it. Many of the people I “associate” with in my various music-related forum wanderings love it. And if the brutal atrocities weren’t enough, they had to make sure and show the lead villain as a homosexual pedophile as well. For me, it was the most disturbing thing I’ve seen in a long time.

What was Stallone’s purpose in making this abomination? Was he trying to show people what is going on in this part of the world, and make a statement that only through violence can we stop these awful atrocities? If that was his intent, he failed utterly. I don’t think the average male American of 15 – 30, which is probably the demographic this movie is aiming for, even knows where Burma/Myanmar is, let alone has a clue that that shit is real, and the movie does nothing to rectify that. If Stallone was just trying to make a big budget splatter flick to get the people off who like that kind of thing, then he succeeded. But he did so by exploiting a very real, very terrible situation in the world, and that sickens me. People argue that “it’s just entertainment” but I don’t buy that. I used to argue that movies and video games and such things are not part of the problem. I don’t think I feel that way anymore. It is just too ubiquitous, and too graphic.

Okay, so I’m the idiot for thinking this just might be a cool action movie, I’ll take responsibility for that. And it did give me an opportunity to talk to the boys about how all that shit — minus the badass “heroics” by machete-armed superheroes — really happens, and that it sucks. I could tell they understood from the looks on their faces. But those fratboy types sure didn’t get it as they stalked out of the theater with their arms all stiff out to their sides. It was disgusting. So fuck you, Sylvester Stallone, fuck you and your views on testosterone.

>Tonight. We Rock.

>At risk of turning this into a music blog, which it isn’t necessarily, I’m still going to point out that the mighty LAZERWOLFS are playing a show tonight, first one since last fall.

It should be interesting; of the 10 or 11 songs we are playing, I think 7 or 8 are brand new ones that we have never played live before. Hell, I don’t know that we even know all the changes yet — I sure as hell don’t know all the words. That’s never stopped us before, though.

Also of interest is that it is an all ages thing at Higgins Hall; aka The Boys and Girls Club. This is great, and weird, all at the same time. These shows can be odd to us, because I think a lot of kids wonder what these freakin’ old guys are doing on stage. They can usually relate to the rock, though, and appreciate the power and volume of our show, so it all works out. The cool factor is reflected in a couple ways. First, it’s a chance for the kids in our families to see us in a “live” environment, which is fun, and it’s nice to not have to deal with obnoxious drunks (though kids can be obnoxious in much more creative ways). And, most importantly, shows at the B&G’s Club are awesome just as a place for kids to go hang out. We had nothing like this when I was coming up through the ranks, neither as a player nor as a fan. I can remember seeing one show at the old skating rink in town (The Talk, which included Erik “Fingers” Ray in his youth; and The Rage), and I can remember seeing bands once in a while at the fair or in the mall or something. Nowadays these kids can go see touring bands there, or start bands of their own and have a place to play. The service Higgins Hall is provides by allowing their space as a venue for music is great, and one of the things I love about Missoula.

So if you are interested and want to get an early start to your night, swing by and say hello. We go on at 7:30 PM sharp, so don’t be late. I think it’s $5 to get in, $3 if you are there early. As in, in time to see us. It will be fun! I’ll be the old guy on stage.

>Lady Space You Like the Way I Make You Feel Inside!

>The other night we were sitting around the dinner table talking about rock shows. LAZERWOLFS have a couple on the imminent horizon, and we were talking about a couple things we might try and do with TATER PIG. I had gotten word from a friend of mine that CLUTCH is coming to town, which is awesome because I love that band, and they are one of the best live shows in the business. Sid remarked that some guy at a pawn shop told him that Ace Frehley is also coming to town. I scoffed, of course. Ace Frehley? In Missoula? Riiight. Still, I was intrigued, because I know he is working on a new record and has done a couple shows out east in the fall and winter, so I did a little research and learned. . . .

ACE FREHLEY IS COMING TO MISSOULA!

Words alone cannot express the spasms this has inflicted on my brain. Yesterday I felt like I’d eaten an entire box of caffeine pills I was so wired. I mean, Ace is 25% of the reason I ever got into rock in the first place, and continue to play; you think it’s easy unleashing this kind of high octane thunder at my age? You try it! Well, actually, since I was never a big Peter Criss fan it’s more like Ace is 33 1/3% of the reason I’m still fighting the fight. Christ, the first album I ever bought was “Love Gun” way back in 1977. Sadly, I’ve only seen Ace live once, and that was on the KISS reunion tour. Seeing his solo outfit will be unbelievable. I was fortunate enough to be in LA last year concurrent with PAUL STANLEY doing a stop on his solo tour, which I saw at the House of Blues in Hollywood. It was, in a word, MIND-FREAKIN’-BLOWING! I about broke out in tears when, after opening with the title cut from his “Live to Win” solo album, he ripped into the classic “Got to Choose”; these are pictures from that very show :

The beauty of the Ace show is that he isn’t the consummate professional that Paul is. The show could be every bit as mindblowing, or it could be a total train wreck depending on how Ace is clinging to sobriety these days, and whether or not he remembers the words and licks to his songs. Still, I can’t wait. Dig this set list he did in New York on Halloween; I don’t see how it could get better:

  • Rip It Out (from ‘78 KISS solo album; also a song Lazerwolfs cover)
  • Hard Times (from ‘79 KISS album “Dynasty”)
  • Parasite (from ‘74 KISS album “Hotter Than Hell”)
  • Snowblind (from ‘78 KISS solo album)
  • I Want You (from ‘76 KISS album “Rock and Roll Over”)
  • Rock Soldiers (from ‘87 solo album “Frehley’s Comet”)
  • Breakout (from ‘87 solo album “Frehley’s Comet”)
  • Into The Void (from ‘98 KISS album “Psycho Circus”)
  • Strange Ways (from ‘74 KISS album “Hotter Than Hell”)
  • Shock Me (from ‘77 KISS album “Love Gun”)
  • New York Groove (from ‘78 KISS solo album)
  • Shot Full Of Rock (from ‘89 solo album “Trouble Walkin’”)
  • Rocket Ride (from ‘77 KISS album “Alive II”)
  • Covers Medley – “My Generation”, “How Many More Times”, “Bring It On Home”
  • Highway To Hell (AC/DC Cover)
  • Love Gun (from ‘77 KISS album “Love Gun”)
  • Deuce (from ‘74 KISS album “KISS”)
  • Cold Gin (from ‘74 KISS album “KISS”)

So the gears have been turning. I need to find out how to contact the promoter but the Wilma ain’t answering or returning my calls. There is no support act listed, but I need to get the ‘wolfs on the bill if at all possible. I know support out east, for at least one show, was some awful Alice in Chains tribute band. That would SUCK if it were something like that. Or, worse, a gawdawful band like that horror that opened for QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE. It would be even worse if one of the here-today-gone-tomorrow local hipster bands got on the bill. The Mighty Lazerwolfs are the band for this bill, bar none.

Expect updates as this saga unfolds. . . .

>So What’s the Deal Here Anyway?

>The fine folks at 4&20 blackbirds actually linked here with an announcement as to the presence of this blog, and I think that’s pretty damn swell of them. They also did so at Shakespeare and Co, and that is equally cool. I guess I’ll have to actually make some decent posts now, eh?

I should probably make more of an effort to explain this site. As some folks know, this is basically Stumbling the Walk MK II. This site has actually been around since January 01, 2007, and started out as a website for my wife, Julia, and I. Almost as long as we have known each other we had been talking about having a little website to address our environmental, social and political concerns and ideas. That’s most of what we’ve done: talk. It seemed time to start walking the walk. Or at least stumbling. So it became . . . Stumbling the Walk!

Essentially this started out as a place for us to write about all the things we are into and think about, and provide a soapbox or stage from which to bray it out into the world. Ultimately we planned to make it cooler than that; we wanted it to be more compelling than just another run-of-the-mill blog of little interest to folks beyond the ones actually doing the blogtificating. We launched the original website concurrent with a big experiment we decided to run with called The Voracious Project.

The Voracious Project (links to PDF) was our exercise in documenting what we buy in photos, and do it for a year. Our Gallery had month to month photos of everything we bought. We intended to shock ourselves into better habits as a result of the project, and hopefully inspire some people to at least comment on our efforts even as they shared their own.

We lasted through June before basically throwing in the towel, at least when it comes to the photos and blog. Taking the pictures and trying to keep the blog running started to feel like too much of a ball and chain, which kind of defeated the ultimate purpose of the whole idea: living life. We also didn’t do too good of a job of getting the thing out into the wider world, but we were a little new to the whole internet blog thing. Promoting rock bands? No problem. Promoting a site with kind of a blurry focus? Not so second nature. Live and learn!

The pictures and everything was just one piece of the whole Stumbling the Walk thing. Our goal is to live simpler, fuller lives than what our society tends to encourage people to do, and that is what we are striving for. We want to focus on our arts; our music, our writing . . . our interaction with our community and the wider world around us. Stumbling the Walk was really just a tool to exercise our creativity and interact with other people in ways that maybe we otherwise wouldn’t. Ultimately it did serve that purpose, because in the six months we were actively engaged in it we definitely made a lot of changes in our lives.

So now in ’08 I have revived it for my own purposes, which are pretty much the same as the original goals. Hopefully I can keep it interesting!

Tater Pig is our Family Band, and we Rock!