After my Father wrecked or sold ever car he owned. He began using his Mother Veronica’s decade old, beat up car to get from A to B and not much further. The trunk was so dirty that your hands would instantly turn black once you unlocked it. The seats were torn and tattered and the floorboards were often covered with debris and weeks worth of empty fast food containers. Regardless, we were able to fit my Father’s 6’4 frame, our dog, myself and up to eight kids piled up in the backseat. The Hawkins brothers Keith, Petey and M.J., Glen, Tommy and whoever else would risk the trip on that day. (Aside from those named. The cast would always change depending on the day and who was willing to brave the back seat.
Once there, we would often disperse into two separate tribes or war parties as my Dad would set up camp and build a fire to roast hot dogs, marsh mellows or whatever supplies we manged to gather before our voyage. In the few hours we’d stay we’d play war, burn tires and grab whatever we could from the abandoned cars and the nearby railroad tracks. In truth, there was no Tarzan or nearby water to be found. For the life of me, I may never learn how or why it came to be called “Tarzan Island.” But as I would come to learn at the time and many years later. It was what everybody called it. Year later, I’m talking decades. I returned to Sunnyside Queens to seek out the area. The train yard itself was still there, but it had been closed off and closely patrolled. Whoever said, “You can’t go back.” was probably speaking from countless heartbreaking attempts.
As I’ve returned to many of my original stomping grounds, I find that most things are best left to memory and the mystique many things and places held when we were young impressionable and somewhat fearless. Things definitely felt a lot bigger back then. Something that helped us grow up and mature. And while there’s no diminishing the risks we took and the element of danger we were always drawn to. I feel very lucky to have taken chances and not letting those fears get the best of me. In the end, I’m happy to be able to recall so many adventures from younger years. Like my wife always says. “Maybe one day you’ll write that book.”
It never fails. Whenever I enter a record store, it happens. Something, whether it be a song, a record, a shirt or any exchange regarding music. A connection is made. From my days as a teen working in a record store or m\y visits to record stores in any town, city or country I’ve visited.
During my first days in Seattle I found myself in a small record shop talking to a native New Yorker who did time on the early New York Hardcore scene. He pointed himself out in a Live DVD of the first Bad Brains show at CBGB’s. Later on that week I struck up a conversation with another employee who used to volunteer at the legendary Gilman St. Project. Just last week I was pulling records out of the bin when I learned that the clerk behind the counter was also originally from New York City and worked at a record store just a few blocks from the one off St. Marks St. where I was working nights.
Then there was this Sunday when I visited a record store a mere block away from where my wife and I had just devoured delicious servings of chicken and waffles. I had been to this particular store numerous times when I first settled in the area and had always found something to my liking. On this day, as I took my stash to the counter. I noticed the clerk was wearing a shirt from the surf rock superhero band Daikaiju. I pointed out the shirt and asked when/where he had seen them. Adding that I had had the pleasure of seeing them up close at a bar in Brooklyn, NY.
In late 2017 I found a kindred spirit while talking music with the record guru at a local West Seattle record store. and found myself in deep conversation could go on and on with countless stories regarding friends and relationships that began while visiting record stores or going to shows, but I’ll spare you of my never ending tales of geekdom. Instead, I offer this images of the mighty Daikaiju from their show at Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn, NY.
I had just arrived at my boxing class when my trainer asked me about my goat shirt and where I picked it up. While I was readily eager to share my love, appreciation and understanding of goat’s contributions to society. I could not recall the name of the market where I picked it up. “Oh, you know that art market they have in the airplane hanger.” was all I come up with at the time. The truth is, that since moving to Seattle in June of 2017. I’ve left most of, it not all of the weekend driving to my wife. Though much of my driving during the week has me within the Columbia City, Downtown and West Seattle areas. The weekends usually take us far beyond the areas mentioned. And while I retain minute details of the places we’ve visited. I can rarely remember the names of the towns, cities and businesses. Having visited the same market just a week ago. I still never bothered to remember the town, military base or the name of the market. Who knows, maybe it’s a subliminally intentional thing. If life has taught me anything. It’s that, the less you know…
I took this image as we entered the market. Let me know if you recognize the place.
As we parked the car about a block from one our favorite breakfast spots. I noticed this awesomely cool pick up truck parked in one the nearby drive ways. While I have definitely gotten away from the pratice of taking my camera with me everywhere. I haven’t lost the desire to stop to capture a moment or document something that I find particularly inspiring or eye catching. Whether you notice or not. I did a little cropping ss to obscure the license plate. I took this one this morning at around 9:30 am. with my iPhone. As of late, perhaps due to the size of my new camera bag and array of lenses to choose from, I’ve gotten lazy. That or I’m just not thinking about picture taking when I’ve got Johnny Cakes and bacon on my mind,.
Earlier today I took a short, yet rewarding trip to Gas Works Park . As I entered, the early afternoon sun was almost blinding (Definitely not the best time of day for taking picture.) Just ahead of me was a large hill where a number of families were enjoying one of the most beautiful days Seattle had seen in months. The sight of a Father and son flying a kite refreshed a moment from my childhood that, though I may not have recalled in more then thirty five years, had a profound effect on me and my respect for my Mother.
Now, I haven’t flown a kite since I was around ten. However, something about what I was suddenly paying close attention to brought back a very important day in my life. I remember it being Mother’s Day and my Mom wasn’t too happy about spending the day with her highly dysfunctional in laws in Corona, Queens. So, instead of spending the day cooped up with Ella, Al and the rest of mentally challenged. She excused herself and me escaping to nearby Flushing Meadow Park where we were able to clear our minds, enjoy the fresh Flushing air and learn to fly a kite. Picture, if you will an uncoordinated Mother and her clumsy son not only trying to get that just purchased kite in the air, but trying to keep it there and look as if we had even the slightest idea what we were doing. I can assure you, it was not a pretty site. Regardless, we had a lot of fun.
And though we tend to look back on that short, yet agonizing time and the negative hold it had on our lives. There were still many little moments that are still worth looking back on. Ones that brought us closer together, made us stronger and still make us laugh so many years later. I’m grateful to have so many stories and memories to share with her. Proud to say that with all the things we’ve been through. We can still enjoy one anothers silliness. Thank you Mom. Thank you for making me the man I am today and the man I hope to be in the future. Happy Mother’s Day. Love, your son.
I’m lucky enough to have a Mom and a Dad who are both healthy and alive. And while I seldom give my Mother a break about her considerably bad taste in music. Both have played a major part in influencing and supporting my never ending obsession for so long. While I’ve learned to avoid conversations about religion, politics or any sociological topics. A good bull session about music is a great way to pass the time while helping to avoid any bloodletting during any visit or phone call. Though his love of the blues and New Orleans jazz can never be questioned. A conversation regarding Tom Waits, Frank Zappa or the Night Tripper, Dr. John (Gris-Gris) can go on for days. Some of my earliest memories revolve around sitting among my parents combined record collections. Strange how it remains one of the very few memories of my parents being together. Sitting within a pile of my parents record collection. No more than four, maybe five years old. Completely freaked out by the cover art of records like Leon Russell’s “Stop All That Jazz” Frank Zappa’s “200 Motels” or Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”. Album covers that told stories I might not be quite ready to read. One’s that might have me checking the closet or under the bed that night. A few years later, as my ear for music began to form. My Dad would sit me down and play Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton’s Blues Breakers, and for me, the most painful torture a nine year old can suffer, Frank Zappa’s 79′ release “Joe’s Garage.” Years later though, many of the records and artists my parents introduced me to reside in my own record collection. Artists such as Frank Zappa, Hendrix and especially Tom Waits get countless play on the turntable and all my other modes of music enjoyment. I pick up just about every Leon Russell and Frank Zappa I see and being drawn to record based on it’s cover art remains crucial to many of my crate digging adventures. Still, I can recall sitting in my pajamas among those piles of records, How each cover either told a story or inspired me to create one,
As I was going through years of medical records that included but were not limited to CAT Scans, M.R.I.’s, and visits to the emergency room. I began to feel overwhelmed and somewhat depressed. While I understand that medical, W-2’s and tax returns don’t tell the true story of the lives we’ve lived and led. Seeing much of your experiences and struggles on tax return or hospital discharge can be quite the mind fuck. So when I found this envelope resting within years of hundreds of files deemed “important”. It was the life preserver that kept me afloat emotionally. While I often beat my chest about my disdain for living in the past and preserving memories by constantly reliving them. I am quite an archivist.
I have a couple of books filled with everything from published articles to concert ticket stubs to notes passed to me in the eighth grade from my first big crush. My decision to keep or discard often come down to how these things made me feel originally or their importance to a specific time or experience. For christ’s sake, I still have the hollow point bullet my Dad gave me when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure there was a life lesson attached, but for the life of me. Neither myself nor my Father can remember. In no way am I a hoarder. I’m quite neat and organized. Often taking time to purge the less important things. Still, I’m often amazed by the amount of moments I’ve managed to save.