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Sick But Beautiful: A band or the story of my life.

January 19, 2010 By: nooccar Category: Reviews, School

Back when I was in high school one of the cool things to do junior and senior year (read: after I got a car) was to hit local shows. I knew several guys in bands back then, and Friday night’s usually found us at the Lithuanian Country Club. What it really was was a small track of land off a windy road near a highway owned by some Lithuanian club (think Elk’s Club but scarier) of old guys. They never used it at night and would rent the basement and barn out for shows. So come the weekend we’d find ourselves in the smoky basement or out in the chilly barn (where there was more room for more talented acts.. & bigger audiences).

After two years of this and bands coming and going, I went off to Penn State and began following bands like Velveeta and Jealous Sun (my first website I ever developed was for this band, now way defunct. Look for Jeff VanFossen, the lead singer, online). More smoky bars (no more basements for me!) and good, raw music. Then I grew up. I moved to Arizona and Dan and I hit the local scene. At first, it was supposedly all about Scottsdale (sorry! Don’t sue us. We weren’t locals then.) We saw Rock Lobster, and they were cool. Then we saw Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, and I was really confused because wasn’t that a Refreshments song they were playing, and then I finally got to the point where it didn’t matter; Roger rocks, and that’s it.

But then it was less and less about the shows and more about the music. We got old. Fridays and Saturdays were about sleeping after 4am mornings all week, and we had kids. Kids who didn’t understand that 4am on Saturday or Sunday was still 4am!

Now, it’s 2010. I am going to be 36 this year, and a few months ago I had the opportunity to see Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers of the first time in a few years. I almost blew it off, but something dragged me out there. I took my camera and shot the whole show, and I loved it. Something about being up there, the music, the people, everything.

When one of my students asked me to come out to his show, I actually didn’t give a lame ass answer of NO. I considered it. This was a cool guy who I knew has so much potential, so I checked when, I checked my calendar, I checked who could go with me, and I paid for the tickets. I asked if I could bring my camera, and I eagerly agreed to shoot the show. The band is young and needs promo pics and a demo, so I was willing to help out (didn’t even consider asking for money, as I know they don’t have any… hell, maybe they’ll make it big and pay me in 10 years).

Friend backed out but I was still on for the show. It was a strip mall store front. Looked like the place, called The Clubhouse, in Tempe bought a few stores and broke down the walls between them and then painted the front glass black. Not too much to look at, but for $10 and five bands, I was there to support. In line, I felt like a sore thumb. I could tell who was a parent pretending to not know the dark dressed emo/skater/thrasher/whathaveyou kid nearby. The kids behind me were pulling half smoked cigarettes out of an ashtray and burning the butt ends to get rid of germs before smoking them. (Was I ever that lame in highschool?)

I got in as the band took the stage. Sick But Beautiful is the name Alex picked for the band, and he told me he played guitar and back up singer. It was more like screamer, but it wasn’t that Screamo crap I hear about. This was more like way edgier Linkin Park with Shinoda and Bennington upfront. I was surprised. Not because I didn’t have faith in Alex, but because I was actually enjoying the music. This was one of their first gigs and they went on first of the night, so they only had about four songs. I shot straight through their set through some terrible lighting (had to punch down the iso to 3200 just to get some shots), and I even leaned against the stage so the moshers who kept running into my back wouldn’t jar my shots.

After the show, I hung around and pretended to care about the next band. They were in the same vein but I didn’t have anything invested in them, so I snuck out. Then I remembered who I was. I called the wife from the car to see if the kid was asleep, and while I did that, club security knocked on my window to make sure I wasn’t some kid doing drugs between sets in the parking lot. Ah, how fun it was to drive back to adulthood.

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I can never go back: A New House

April 27, 2009 By: nooccar Category: Adams, holidays, House, Parenthood, Pittsburgh

Ok, I think it’s time to comment on this one. One day in 1984 I was walking home from school and my parents drove by. I waved them down and hopped into the car. They told me they were off to look at houses because before that we’d been renting, and it was time to move on. We went to this three story cape code on a major highway. The former former occupant had died on the first floor master bedroom and the basement had nice wood paneling. The next day I wrote the address on my wooden desk at school. This was midyear. Within a month we were moved into this new house on Curry Hollow Road. I finished grade 4-6 at two local elementary schools and spent junior high and high school in that house. I can begin to tell you some of the stories in that house, and some others will never leave my lips. I visited home through undergrad and then moved home (into the dead lady’s room) for all of grad school. My brother has lived there for 24 years now. My sister about 20. I lived there for a good part of two decades myself. The house isn’t the largest, the yard isn’t the biggest, and it’s on a highway. In 1993 I became a man in that downstairs basement. Through the early 1990s my cousin courted his now wife and mother of 3 children while spending most weekends living in that same basement. In early 1994 I got my largest tattoo to date on my parent’s dining room table in that house. In spring of 1995 the house caught fire. The basement was destroyed, half the first floor. That same basement where I was sleeping on a December morning in 1994 when I was informed my grandmother was dead. That same house where I lay in an upstairs bedroom with fever and chills in 1988 and was shortly diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. The house where I met with my tutors through Jr High when I couldn’t go to school. The same house from which we all three graduated from high school. The home to which my sister headed after a stint in Colorado and, years early, my brother after another in South Bend, Indiana.

My parents are getting older. Dad has bad knees (over weight, skied for four decades). Mom has bad knees (baker’s cysts), bionic hip and a terrible back (sciatic and discs). Did I mention the house has three floors? You can’t even get to the living room without going up a flight of stairs or two… and in the snow and ice, it’s even worse. They need one floor.

Now, I come to say this. It looks like I will never ever be in that house again. Never. Ever. My parents are selling it. They too are moving on like Donna and I did a decade ago. They aren’t going as far. My parents are prepared to put in a bid on a single story (with a huge basement) large home in Canonsburg, PA. We shall see if they get it.

When they talked about moving, we always told them to go for it! Curry Hollow has always been small, too small for two dogs, three children, two parents, a parade of boy friends, girl friends, friend friends, and our own families now. Mum began looking more earnestly after Christmas (now that the economy sucks and you can get a good deal); she liked the Thomas Road house, but I didn’t realize my father would run our the day after tax season to look, too. When he’s ready, my father acts quickly. Too quickly almost for me right now.

My uncle (Dad’s little brother) is in town. They all went to view this Thomas Road house yesterday, and today my parents began packing our house. Yes, Ours, still. I’ve not lived there in a decade, but I am really town now between being happy for them to have the room they need and the lack of stairs, etc… but it’s like I can never go home now. There will be nothing familiar at all with it. No sleeping on the back porch in the summer, listening to New Kids on the Block and getting my ear pierced when I was 12, or the pond where I froze my snapping turtle to death by accident. Nothing. When they say you can never go home again, now I really get it.

This feels like it’s becoming a reality. We talked about new carpets for 15 years and they are doing it now… to sell our family home. We talked about new bathroom model. Now, they are doing it. The basement acoustic ceiling has been falling down for 15 years, my uncle and brother replaced it today. Today. Took 1 day. I waited 15 years, and I will never see the ceiling, the hardwood, the paint. I will get off the plane at Christmas and go to someone’s weird unrecognizable house.


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