Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tagged!

I've been tagged. This is my first tagging, so I'll give it a shot. The rules are:

1. Let others know who tagged you.
Gagdad Bob at One Cosmos, who was tagged by The Gates of Vienna
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.

3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.

4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.
I believe most of my list has already been tagged; I'll try extending it to Wit Nit and DeepThought.

1) As a kid, I wanted to be an Architect; I used to build models of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings and of the World Trade Center out of balsa wood and plastic sheeting. Of course my standard teen side then kicked in by lighting them on fire and blowing them up with firecrackers.

2) I pulled out of going to school to be an architect, when after a year of drafting, I realized I'd go insane spending hours drawing detailed sketches of pea gravel and rebar. I sometimes wonder how life might have changed had CAD (computer aided design) been widespread at that time.

3) I went to college at UNLV looking for Prof Kingsfield from The Paper Chase “I’m going to take your skulls full of mush, and teach you how to think… like lawyers”, but found a collection of uninspiring high school teachers with bigger rooms instead. So, still intent on gaining an education, I left college and joined a band full time.

4) Our first real booking was going to be 3 weeks in Lake Havasu, with entry into other circuits. We had friends help pack up all our gear into U-Haul trucks and trailers, drove down there, and the bar people recognizing us from our trial show a month earlier, said "Hey! Good to see you guys - what are you doing here?"

That was not the greeting we were looking for. Seems new ownership took over the week before, chose a new direction for the club & cancelled all bookings. Unfortunately for us, we'd all quit our day jobs the week before as well. Back in Vegas, we tracked down the agent who 'handled' us - large knife handles conspicuously displayed from our pockets (they were actually butter & table knives, but they looked impressive), and managed to get a smattering of scattered bookings for the next few months, but we were in trouble. Scattered bookings in Nevada, can mean driving hundreds of miles to such scenic wonders as Tonopah (200 miles), Ely (400 miles), Reno (400), Kingman Az (100 miles), Winnemucca (500), Needles Ca. (115 miles) & Various desert parties (Kegs, generators & flatbed trucks out in the middle of nowhere), etc.

5) The Drummer and I were splitting a house rental in a less than savory area of North Las Vegas, where we practiced in the living room - we supplemented our 'income' by throwing open the doors to neighborhood friends (roadies & groupies) to watch us practice & hangout - price: food (loosely defined, mostly hot dogs & popcorn) and beer. Ma & Pa Harvey were less than impressed with my plan for upwardly mobility, but were amazingly wise and supportive about it. Course they didn't know about Steve's plan to help supplement our income - he took it upon himself to begin growing a massive pot plant, seemingly crossbreeded with a strain of sequoia.

Luckily after he made a few profitably prunings, some of our neighborhood 'friends' discovered the red leafed sequoia & harvested it while we were out - roots and all. Steve was devastated, I was relieved, and we focused on a new method of income supplementation - wearing our "LiveWire" band trench coats to various all you can eat buffet's on the strip, always walking out several pounds heavier than when walking in. Amazingly capacious pockets in those old ankle length army trench coats.

6) The day job I quit was as a lathe operator at Cardinal Steel, making stainless steel bolts for nuclear power plants. Nothing like having slinky like spirals of steel whipping out at you, showering you with cutting oil for 8 hours a day, to make you eager to quit your day job.

7) I've pan-handled for chicken franks in San Deigo. Another less than effective agent, booked us into a club whose stage wouldn't even hold our drum set, let alone the full band. We fired the agent, and decided to stick it out there, if you're going to be stranded and out of work, on the beaches north of San Deigo (at least as it was 20 years ago) was the place to do it. We did the ol' get out the guitar's & lure the locals to support the new poor starving artists. It worked, and we made that our home for June through December. A very interesting time.

8) I am amazed that, even taking into account all the things my kids don't realize I know about the things they think they've managed to keep secret from me, how they've managed to do much better than I did in general, Academically and even friendship wise. And how strong my parents were, and smart, knowing when not to try to 'save' me from my choices - the area of North Las Vegas I first moved out to was far from the upper middle class world they raised me in - and how effective the most profound lessons they taught me were, simply by living as they did, and being who they were. I was one lucky kid. Hopefully I'll be able to pass those lessons on.

9 comments:

Robin Starfish said...

Van -

Great back story! I know all those NV places well. Idaho's "Big Backyard".

Do any recordings exist of the old band?

#8 is the key. Lessons from folks who were strong and wise enough to let me walk through the flames somehow got me through too.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Van,
Speaking of CAD, computers were just beginning in the art world just as I was leaving school. Someone showed me something made on one of those old Macs with the 9 inch black and white screen. I thought it was the worst thing I’d ever seen. And wrong, like it was almost wrong to use it to make art. If Past Rick could see how Present Rick makes a living (if you can call this a living.)… But you know what really turned me around on this was I needed to ‘discover’ this tool for myself. Sort of like what your parents had the courage to let you do for yourself. I hope I have that courage when the time comes.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Well answered random thoughts, Van!

In ref. to #1: LOL! Did anyone else know?
Are you related to JulieC's firefighter and pyromaniac friend perchance? :^)

You would make a great Matlock caliber lawyer, only better!
Certainly you would do better than most lawyers without even goin' to law school!

Whoa! Sequoia gold! Higher than high!

Are you sure you didn't do stand-up? :^)

If your kids are doin' better than you did, I would say that you are a Trophy Dad! Wait one. Let me rehrase that: you deserve a trophy for Best Dad!

maineman said...

". . .how they've managed to do much better than I did in general, Academically and even friendship wise."

Exactly, and I keep wondering how, if the world is going to Hell, which seems so obvious, my children and most of the young 'uns I know are so thoughtful and considerate and mature in their perspectives for their age. (Hi, Van. Wandered over here from OC for the first time and got pulled in by your culture riff from last week.) And when I travel, I'm astounded by how nice and well behaved almost everyone is, whether in Europe or Northeast D.C., where you'd think that my being a person lacking of color would engender some mistrust at least.

I'm suspicious about the discrepancy. Are we possibly doing better than we know? Is there something about what's being reflected back to us in the aggregate that is misleading?

One initial thought is that there is a perfectionistic meme out there that constantly portrays the glass as half empty. And that worries me, because perfectionism can (literally) be suicidal.

Van said...

Robin Starfish said "Do any recordings exist of the old band?"

Just one, a video made in the month before we decided to call it quits - you can see Ray & I looking like "who are these other people, and why am I here again?", not one I'd want anyone to think was how we were.

sigh.

That #8 kicks in a lot, doesn't it?

Van said...

Ricky Raccoon said "I hope I have that courage when the time comes."

Tell me about it! I think it's the toughest one of all for parents to do - or not do....

Van said...

Ben said "Are you related to JulieC's firefighter and pyromaniac friend perchance?"

I thought of that when I read JulieC's too!

;-)

Van said...

Maineman said "One initial thought is that there is a perfectionistic meme out there that constantly portrays the glass as half empty. And that worries me, because perfectionism can (literally) be suicidal."

I think you're on to something there. It is a trait of Western Civ in general. It's part of what keeps us on top, always improving, but as you mention, it can also be extremely demoralizing if not countered with a perspective such as you mentioned.

That might be one to trace out later.

P.S. Welcome!

Van said...

I am SO late for work! Arghh!