He ain’t heavy…..

The amount of energy my father poured into my brother, his first son, is more or less equal to the amount my brother devoted to me. I’m saying it was considerable. He is ten years and ten days older than me. From my father’s first, brief, failed marriage. From an impossibly broken home; some seven step fathers if I remember right.

Trust me when I tell you I had excellent parents. Perfect? No goddamn way. Solid, sound and wise? Yep. Check.

There just happened to exist a window in my development whereupon some original influence could be life altering and existential.

His wind first blew when I was nine or ten. A letter of immaculate script delivered by a sheriff’s deputy. He was living in Phoenix and looking for his father. I was in awe of his handwriting. Looping, consistent and artful. To this day when he takes a pen, it’s a river and a breeze on paper.

He appeared on our porch one Sunday afternoon after we’d gone taunting carp and slow moving trout with corn on a hook at the Carson River. He was a hippie, an idealist and a profound influence in my young life. To say that I admired him is an understatement.

Asleep in a floppy hat and a fringed leather jacket on our astro turfed awning covered deck in front of the new doublewide. Hair past his shoulders and a long mustache. His rusty, primered and bondoed Karman-Ghia, filled with stereo equipment, LPs and massive speakers, sat in front of the mailbox.

He moved into the living room and we made friends. He bought an H0 scale slot car set and performance kits for us to modify the cars. Balsa gliders so we could battle each other. He taught or exposed me to a huge variety of things. Music, art, drugs.

Most people aren’t what they seem. Despite what eventually transpired, I believe he is what he seemed. A loving and compassionate young man who sought the acceptance, love and respect of his new family. He had a charisma that may only be gained from a assload of adversity.

He played music for me and we talked about it. At length. He taught me how to listen, illustrating the role of individual instruments and how they worked to support melody and rythm. Without a doubt, his influence is the the most compelling reason for my pursuit and eventual success as a record producer and engineer. He’s also the reason I’m seriously embarrassed to reveal how much I’ve spent on my own stereo.

He went to work for my father pouring concrete. Most nights after work, he’d shower and we’d drive my dad’s orange Datsun pick up, “The Pumpkin”, to the 7-11 for Doritos and Pepsi. He’d smoke a joint on the way and we’d put on a record when we got back.

Eventually he rented a trailer my parents owned a short bike ride away. I spent a lot of time there. By this time it was my job to select what we’d listen to. I have no memory of us ever watching television. I chose between Joe Walsh, ZZ Top, Deep Purple, Tommy Bolin, Led Zeppelin, Phoebe Snow, The Ohio Players, The Who, The Average White Band, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Supertramp, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac………and I discovered the magical, perhaps symbiotic relationship between records and bong rips.

See, it wasn’t just the music and the drugs. It was the packaging of the LP itself. The way they smelled, the artwork and the liner notes and credits.

Heady and abundant times. He was singularly responsible for opening my eyes to a world I never knew existed. The other side of everything.

By the time I was fourteen. he’d married a wonderful woman that we all adored. It didn’t last. Probably his fault because he went down pretty fast after that. I became de facto marriage counselor one summer. I spent hours on the phone late into night with both of them. I hoped it could be saved. She was beautiful inside and out but she was eighteen. He was at the beginning of the end of growing up and it wasn’t going well. He’d already morphed into a member of a biker gang with a nickel plated .357 magnum in his saddlebags.

Drinks for my friends.

One Response to “He ain’t heavy…..”

  • running Rabbit running:

    They don’t have the mental capacity to read unusual bar codes. I’m none to fond of biker gangs, or drug dealers. But I really hate Arizona! Don’t make the mistake of being unique, creative, or minutely counter culture in a place that can only perceive the mundane. Anything, or person, unpredictable would be to challenging for paradigm. They’ve got no shortage of drug dealers, or beat down druggies, nor noble Wal Mart & gas station workers. John McCains state, the future of America, is less than great…, it offers nothing to rise up to, no opportunities to overcome adversity. Like McCain both it’s economy and consciousness are sadly outdated, not even second place in it’s scope of worldliness. Whatever there told, it immediately becomes a truthful fact in there minds. The past 10 days I’ve been told Barrack Obama was once a drug dealer. Any tangible facts to back this accusation? I’ve been told he is a Islamic, well, not according to him, but I thought America was about diversity and separation of church and state. So his spiritual beliefs aren’t a major concern to me. They complained about the church he’s been affiliated with.., yeah, I think he knows the game of politics in his Chicago community. How dare he, though plan a life above being a cashier, with the machine dictating the amount of change to return. Any one of us could have chosen to be an attorney, and play politics, instead of flipping hamburgers. How dare Barrack Obama, a mixed Black man not be Arnold Schwarzenegger, a foreign immigrant from a country with a history of Nazi affiliations. Basically here in Arizona it boils down to anyone except a Black man. Its a Highway to Hell.., It sucks the light out of the sky and buries it in the dirt! Adversity offers an opportunity for one to rise in consciousness, and I believe Barrack Obama will lead us up, if Americans will give him that opportunity.

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