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.”
Though most of my friends and family know. I’ve rarely shared my passion for music or vinyl records on this log very often. Having sold all of my original collection of LP’s, EP’s and cassettes on Ebay in the months prior to my initial three week trip to Japan in 2001. I soon learned that my choice to do so, might have been a bad one. Though having just about everything I sold on CD’s or CDR’s. I did not think that the crates of records and boxes of cassettes would be missed. I later found that my decision might have been a hasty one.
Starting only a few years ago. I slowly started to purchase and collect vinyl again. Since that time, I’ve managed to recollect most of the records I originally owned and sold. I’ve also eclipsed the original size of what I once thought of as too many records. I’m at a point now where I’ve become a bit more selective with what I buy, often reminding myself that I’m getting older and will someday have to pack them up and move. Still, my obsession and my wife’s support of my weekly trips to various vinyl record outlets doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.
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.
For some time now, i’ve been meaning to share my music column with this blog’s readers. I started writing as a kid and wrote my first published article from my hospital bed at the age of twelve. I started and published my first music print fanzine when I was sixteen and well, the rest is history. Back in 2016, as a music blog I co-created was coming to and end. I was offered my own column writing for a website that I was a major fan of since it’s print days. I’ve headed up the column for a year now, writing reviews and doing interviews. Having my own column has given me the opportunity to expand my taste in music, reach out to and engage people who have inspired me with their art and even given me the courage to start writing my own stories. Below is a link to my column, as well as some of my recent interviews for the site.
United By James
An interview with John Lisa (Seeper/Serpico)
An interview with Peter Horvath (GreyHouse / The Anderson Council
An interview with Joe Gorelick (The Hasbros, Red Hare, Garden Variety)
An interview with Fair Panic’s Torry Anne Daines
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,.
For years now, I’ve tried to make meditation a part of my every day life. Quickly, I moved from one of those people who thought “How can I possibly find the time in my busy schedule?” to “How can I not?” Since my early attempts, I’ve used basic breathing techniques to conquer panic attacks, anxiety and overthinking while cultivating a sense of peace and mindfulness I never imagined possible.
Earlier today, as we boarded the Ferry from Bainbridge Island to downtown Seattle. I found the perfect opportunity to meditate. With nothing but the sound of waves crashing alongside the boat, the subtle breeze wafting through the car window and the gentle rocking of the car due to the ferry’s pushing it’s way across Elliot Bay. I found myself removed from the thoughts of the days, weeks and months that have crowded my head and battled for space and permanence in mind. The feeling was of warmth and peace. I became so completely calm and at ease. That I hardly noticed the ferry attaching itself to the dock. As I heard the announcement of our arrival over the loudspeaker. I nodded over to my wife to notice that she too had fallen into the spell. She sleepily asked, “When we could do it again?” I was quick to reply, “As soon as we can.” as we headed home from our day’s trip.
The more I learn about and inevitably embrace meditation. The more I want my friends and loved ones to join me. The most important thing I’ve learned in all this is that you really don’t need a special room, place, pillow or chant to enjoy it’s many benefits. All you need is a few minutes to allow yourself to check out and unplug. I highly recommend it.