Archive for the ‘Sh*t Andy Says’ Category
When I tell people I have never been to Disney Land, I usually get an astonished look and silence from the person I’m talking to. Then usually a follow up “You have never been to Disney Land?” As if I didn’t quite understand the question. “Nope” And I’m sure as a kid I would have loved it. But as an adult? Frankly, it sounds like my nightmare. I’m not a fan of crowds. The only way I choose to tolerate them recently is country shows and rallies to protest infringement on my constitutional rights. Standing in a line for 40 minutes in 90 degree weather to go on a 3 minute ride with crying children about, isn’t my deal. Now I’m not saying its bad or wrong to go to Disney Land, I Have friends that have been taking their kids. I’m just saying it’s not for me, and it most likely won’t be for my kids either. No sir, what my family does for vacation I’m sure some would consider to be a bit “weird”.
Growing up in California my brothers and I would always look forward to summer time. We would fly back to Minnesota and Wisconsin to see our family. It was always great to see our grandparents our cousins and our uncles and aunts. We learned how to catch fire fly’s, fish, shoot, canoe, water ski, you name it. We experienced beautiful sunsets, violent thunderstorms, mosquitoes, loons, humidity and the occasional snapping turtle. Those places and times are part of who I am today and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
When we couldn’t get back to the Midwest, or sometimes when we had family come visit us we would go to another beautiful place here in California. Visiting Yosemite became a strong family tradition that continues to this day. I won’t even begin to try to describe what it’s like to be in that place. My words can’t do it justice. John Muir himself can barely put it into words. You just have to experience it yourself. It truly is the valley of light.
Our favorite time of the year to visit the park became the fall. Besides all the beauty that comes with that time of year, there are far less people in the park at that time. (Yea now that I think about it, none of us like crowds). The last few times we have gone to Yosemite we stay in the tent cabins at Curry Village. Curry is right in the middle of the valley, below glacier point. You just can’t beat walking out your door to see half dome looming over your world. Now if you have never been to Yosemite, or out in the woods for that matter, there is a rule there: DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS. Many park goers adhere to this important guide of conduct, but some just do not. I don’t want to call them idiots, they just don’t know any better. Let me break it down for us all, in case any of us need to educate one of these people.
One might think that feeding cute mister Deer is helping him out but in the long run it is not. Its really just a real world example of Pavlovian classical conditioning. A few humans give cute mister deer some food. He no longer is weary of humans, instead he now associates humans with food. So instead of going out and foraging for food out in the wild, he just hangs around where the big tour buss’s come through. Then cute mister deer passes this knowledge to his offspring. Now you might be saying “well he’s a harmless deer, so what?” Well what happens when bears associate humans with food? Go to Yosemite, you will find out. In the curry village parking lot, the rangers have on display a real (destroyed) vehicle that was broken into by a bear. It’s a warning to park visitors that black bears mean business, and yes they know what a cooler is.
So another rule that must be followed in the park: Never leave food in your vehicle or your tent. Instead throughout the park there are bear boxes or lockers to keep your goodies in. We adhere strictly to this, as I don’t want mama bear coming into my tent in the middle of the night. Now in this blog I have cool ranch Doritos in the title. You may be wondering where does that fit into the scheme of things? Do Yosemite animals prefer the cool ranch brand? Well here we go.
We as a family had gone for an early afternoon hike along the Merced River and returned to curry village to have a snack and some lunch. So I opened up the bear box in front of one of our cabin’s and placed some food on top of it. I went inside to put my gear down, I was in there for maybe one or two minutes, when I heard my mother yell: “OH NO NOT THE COOL RANCH DORITOS!!” I ran outside to a sight that had me doubled over laughing along with my brothers. 1)We had no idea our mom loved cool ranch so much, as the nacho cheese variety remained on the bear box unharmed. 2) The raccoon that had stolen the giant family bag of cool ranch was dwarfed by its size, so the bag appeared to be propelling itself up the mountain at an alarming rate.
It is a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life. On our family trips a few smiles and laughs are shared whenever the coveted bag of cool ranch is produced for consumption. I am happy to report we haven’t lost a bag since. I will leave you with a John Muir excerpt. Cheers!
“……the good-night-alpenglow; the stars; the solemn gazing moon, drawing the huge domes and headlands one by one glowing white out of the shadows hushed and breathless like an audience in awful enthusiasm, while the meadows at their feet sparkle with frost-stars like the sky; the sublime darkness of storm-nights, when all the lights are out; the clouds in whose depths the frail snow flowers grow…..”
What is it about a sunny January day in northern California that makes me realize why people love to live here? Maybe it’s because my family in Northern Wisconsin would laugh at us for feeling that we are at all cold. But even today in this early morning it’s in the lower 40’s and maybe my family can give me a break when I say it’s a bit cold, for California.
I’m taking a walk with a good friend and his 4 month old black lab/mastiff puppy. We are trying to run the energy out of this surprisingly well behaved young animal. We are walking from my home to the American river only blocks away. As we move along I feel that maybe I should have worn another layer. A strong wind seems to be coming off the river and is delivering to us a bone chilling reminder, that we are in fact very alive. Opie the young animal with us, doesn’t seem to mind at all. He is so well behaved at his age that we have him off the leash, and looks to his owner for an indication of where he should proceed next. I look over and he is finding interest and curiosity in everything we pass. Smells of course, and puddles, and to his owners dismay mud. Sticks and leaves are quickly ravaged with a quick whip back and forth in his mouth. Then in a proud trot, looks to his owner for approval.
We find our way to the river side, and I take my friend and canine on a trail less traveled. It’s the kind of trail with mud in places, overgrown bushes on each side, some with thorns. We have to lower our heads for fear of running into the branches overhanging. We both agree that Opie is in paradise, and may dream of this place often. The trail gives way to an old levee built in the 1800’s, an artifact and reminder of how we get our energy. But for now it’s an opening in the woods for the sun, giving us a much appreciated window of warmth.
I have walked this route many times. Mostly alone. Sometimes in the dead of night, after having a few ales. Sometimes in the afternoon when the sun is nearly highest in the sky. If I am really lucky a lady friend that accepts me, and forgives my appreciation for the mud, moon and trees. And Of course can understand that when I hear traffic moving about the rainbow bridge it ruins my moment. At this time of the year the river is in a unique state. It isn’t at all like the woods might be high in the sierras at this time. There it is very quiet. The animals are asleep, the only sounds are your own feet (or snowshoes) disturbing the snow. Though the trees at the river are bare, it still teems with life. Birds move about on the river and in the trees. As if they have found a place that never grows too cold, or hostile. The river itself seems lazy and half awake. Only a shadow of the flow it has in the spring.
We cross to the other side of the river and let our young canine friend explore his new surroundings. I have taken this walk countless times, but to watch a young animal experience it for his first time makes me feel like it is my first as well. He romps through the tall grass taking the biggest gallops he can. Sometimes failing and taking a fall, but he takes his momentum and rolls out of it acting like it never took place. He looks at his owner for approval and continues his exploration of the river edge. No puddle or standing water would be undisturbed or lapped up by this young lab. But he would never keep us from our brisk pace. I turn on my speaker to play some tunes, Waylon Jennings. But I have a feeling from somewhere inside me that only silence should be beside us, so I shut it off. I’m sure Waylon would more than understand.
Why is it in these simple moments that life makes sense to me? And makes me feel very much alive? Maybe it really is about the people we surround ourselves with and share in the moments that make us who we are. Or that I know the friend I’m with would do anything for me, and I would do anything for him. Maybe it is the innocence of an animal with us that knows nothing of the human hardships of the world. All he cares about is the bond and love he feels for his owner. In any case, I hope to take more walks by the rivers, lakes, mountains or oceans with all the people (and animals) that I truly care about.
Now for the second list. Even though I would prefer to listen to any music with proper headphones, sometimes it’s just not in the cards. The songs I’m going to list now just have production quality and attention to detail, for example harmonies that deserve to be listened to in the right way. They have some aspect to them that just get’s lost if you don’t have the right gear.
Now the band has given me derision for being the guy that stays up in that last part of the early morning. Who waits until everyone else is asleep to crack my last beer, to enjoy the silence and solitude, and sometimes put my headphones on and get lost in whatever music I’m feeling at the time. I remember being on tour and this happening several times, where the rest of the crew would go to sleep and I would remain outside looking at the stars and thinking about the people I loved and missed (I found sleeping (or passing out) on top of the van was a great way to do this, until a thunderstorm or random tweeker wakes you up). Even now at home a similar routine takes place (No tweekers fortunately). Proper headphones, a favorite illicit substance and a cigar might be some of the most selfish indulgent moments I have ever had, I almost feel guilty sometimes, ALMOST. A window opens to my consciousness that just isn’t there in my normal waking life. Things that seem so complicated can be explained in a telling fleeting moment, only to be interrupted soon after by an uninvited negative wave of thought. The type that brings reality back. For that incredible moment though, music can bring you there. To that first concert, past lovers, that game you won. It can remind you of certain seasons, movies you cherish, memorable parties, family and of course for me summers on the lake. Music and singing has been a powerful force in my life, that has had a profound affect on the way I view the world. And more importantly for me a way to express myself and feel some sort of worth and contentment.
I am very proud of our new album and it’s message. Liberty, Life, Death, Family and Love.
So this second list is comprised of songs that should be listened to with some good audio equipment if possible, you will thank me later.
-Can’t say no
-Right in Two
(This album has Stevie Ray Vaughn (SRV) on guitar!)
-The sound of Muzak
-Strip the Soul
-The Sky is Crying (live)
-Leave my little girl alone (live)
-Walk of Life
-Last time I let you down
-This Broken Heart
-What a Crying Shame
So I have been listing lyrics off to my favorite songs from these lists, but I felt that was a bit boring. So I have some clips of me SINGING parts of the songs. You can check out the lyrics for yourself if you really want to.
The Mavericks -Missing You
Just found out about this band. They are amazing, the singer Raul Malo has one of the most talented voices I have ever heard, as in Roy Orbison incredible. Here is my attempt at this beautiful, somber tune.
Looking back on my previous post I think I should clear a couple of things up. First of all in no way am I hoping for a full on economic collapse. Although I think some sort of large event will take place. I don’t want to read by candle light or get around on a horse and buggy for the rest of my life, I don’t fancy that. When I talk about power consumption I want to be clear that I use all of those things I listed as well. I was just making a point about how we take our modern way of life for granted, and if power costs doubled over night things would change in a big way. Lastly I realized that I didn’t talk about a big part of having a good walk. Listening to some good music!
I’m a big fan of silence. “Study to be Quiet” is one of my favorite phrases. A line that continues to resonate with me. This phrase was inscribed over the doorway of a church Sigurd F. Olson would go to. He wrote about it in “The Singing Wilderness”. I know I’m with a true friend when at some point in the conversation we can sit in silence with complete comfort (preferably drinking beer). Neither of us willing to just fill the air with meaningless chatter. When a thought of substance makes it’s way to cognition, the conversation can continue. Of course, more beer will continue to be consumed as well.
And It’s been years since I threw a party and eventually blasted Tool’s epic “third eye” through my P.A. system. Fifteen minutes of progressive rock destroying and tearing apart my neighbors’ quiet evenings. Like a rhythmic pulse of flaming sound burning through their walls. Wondering who in their right mind would be listening to that music? Let alone at that deafening level? How big of a stereo does that guy have? And how did that kid get on the roof? Yep, those days are over. I have found a different way to listen to music, where silence gives way to audio indulgence. Headphones. The white ear buds are fine when your out walking, running or in the gym. But if you really want to get the full experience some good studio headphones are the way to listen to an album.
So I’m going to give you two lists of songs, with lyrics from two of my favorites. The first list is white ear bud tunes. The second will be Studio.
-After the love has gone
-Water of Love
-Wild West End
-Be my crutch
-One way track marks
-The dissent of man
-Robert plant Radio
-Rose in Paradise
-Waltz me to heaven
This is actually a Hank Williams song, but I like Waylon’s version. It’s a lesson about wealth, love and happiness. Without love your just living between empty walls.
-Mansion on a hill
Tonight down here in the valley
I’m lonesome and o how I feel
As I sit here alone in my cabin
I can see your mansion on the hill
Do you recall when we parted
The story to me you revealed
You said you could live without loving
In your loveless mansion on the hill
I’ve waited all through the years love
To give you a heart true and real
Cause I know you’re living in sorrow
In your loveless mansion on the hill
I took a walk today, home from work I could have driven but I just felt like walking. Walking through the suburbs is an interesting thing. I keep off the main roads as much as I can. But inevitably I have to take some thoroughfares on my route. As people speed by me, I will sometimes out of my own curiosity look at the driver. Some people don’t seem to notice me, they might be on their phone. Eating, singing (I love to see that!) and many times the driver sees me and curiously turn their heads in spectacle of a grown man walking (Without a little yip dog). I always wonder what people think. Maybe they think I’m just passing through town. I do have a grey Jansport backpack circa 1983 on my back. Maybe cops figure I have a couple of DUI’s under my belt (I don’t). Maybe people ask themselves when it was the last time they had a proper walk.
When crossing the street I always assume the driver does not see me. Yes I have almost been hit a few times. Then sometimes people patiently give me the right away. I give them a friendly wave and they do the same. I worry about those folks. I worry about my fellow Americans and our way of life. Our shiny Suv’s the power lines I walk under, buzzing, sending all that power to our air conditioning units, our light bulbs and of course our T.V. screens. Good people just going about their day flying by me without a thought about where we are really going as a (semi) sovereign country.
I’m sure in these uncertain times people are worried about their family and friends, as I am, because at the end of the day. At the end of our short time on this planet THAT, is what really matters, what we do for them.
I carry a 1oz Silver Eagle everywhere I go to remind me what real money is. What I feel, and what many before me is the cause of the middle class decline. To remind me that we have all been lied to and that a currency based on faith and paper without a tangible asset behind it (Besides the blood and sweat of American workers) is unsustainable, and history proves it. To remind me that we are all being robbed by a hidden, malicious tax referred to as inflation.
If the mighty dollar loses it’s prowess as the world reserve currency I figure many of those people I see speeding to wherever they need to go will be walking a bit more with me. Frankly I wouldn’t mind the company.
At the end of my walk I realized that the leaves are beginning to fall from the trees. Fall is my favorite season. On September 24th when we play Folsom live for the first time, I hope the nights will be much cooler. I hope the night will have that smell I love that suggests rain and winter are coming.
When I’m on stage singing about love and our American Landscape, maybe some in the audience will swear they recognize the singer from somewhere………
“Is that the Vagabond on the side of the road with the disgusting mustache?!”
The only thing better than having one of my favorite micro brews, is having it at the brewery where it is produced. Many times breweries will have beers, or variations of beers that you can’t find in stores or that are very limited in release. At certain times of the day and week (You should call in advance) breweries offer tours, and if your lucky some free tastings. This weekend I had the pleasure of going to Lagunita’s Brewery in Petaluma Ca., yes a brewery in the middle of Wine Country. Because “It takes a lot of beer to make great wine”. Lagunita’s is known most popularly for their IPA which accounts for 70% of their sales, but they have many other good beers as well.
They continue to expand as their high gravity, aggressively hopped beers become more popular. They have recently built a new taproom, and are building an outdoor amphitheater, because live music goes so well with a cold beer. Who knows maybe the next time I go it will be to do a gig with the band. Cheers!
The daily grind of work, driving, household chores and dealing with people you would care not to can be exhausting after a while. In the city we lose our connection with nature. Many of us don’t even care to glance out at the stars at night. And who can blame us? Light pollution from street lights and lamps, office buildings and maybe all the blue screens in our living rooms obscure the Milky Way. Can any one tell me what phase the moon is even in right now?
When the City runs me down the woods is where I can retreat to and recharge. Where we tell time by the location of the sun in the sky, and judge dinner time when the wind dies down on the lake and the temperature drops.
It probably sounds silly to a lot of people, but the woods of the high sierra is my temple, where I feel a more spiritual connection than in any Mass I have attended.
When we were writing American Landscape, we wrote many songs that did not make the final cut. Here is a song that I wrote about Spirituality and the Woods.
House of Light
It’s the random way the wind blows, leaves off the trees
Infinite ways they fall all around me, in a silent song sang only to me
An ominous wave of energy is washing all over me
A prediction, a whisper, see
And the storm closes in
Here in a place more spiritual than any cathedral the world has ever seen
I don’t need a priest or a bible or someone to lead me
I have my own intuition to guide
It’s the way the blue green flame dances in front of me
throwing smoke and ash up through the trees
Finally it’s coming to me, I can see so clearly
And never before have I seen so clearly
Many of the people close to me know that for the last few years, if I was in control of the music being played on the stereo, it was going to be country. I’m not talking about Taylor Swift here, the good shit. Waylon, Willie, Haggard, Shooter, Cash, All three Hanks’ some Jamey Johnson and what a good friend boldly calls America’s Greatest songwriter: Kris Kristofferson. I love the sad songs when I’m happy and especially when I’m sad. They remind you that no matter how bad you are feeling, someone else has also felt your pain, and they survived. Sometimes certain songs capture a situation or a feeling so well, you don’t have to explain yourself, you can just play the song for them.
Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite Kristofferson tunes. I saw him play the song live, and literally the whole theater sighed, some actually wiping tears from their faces. Music has a powerful way of eliciting a memory or feeling from another time. We all have good days and our bad days. Luckily, I have my sad country songs no matter how I’m feeling to keep me company and sooth my soul.
For The Good Times
Don’t look so sad, we both know it’s over.
But life goes on, and this old world will keep on turning.
Let’s just be glad we had some time to spend together.
There’s no need to watch the bridges that we’re burning.
Lay your head upon my pillow.
Hold your warm and tender body close to mine.
Hear the whisper of the raindrops,
Blowin’ soft against the window,
And make believe you love me one more time,
For the good times.
I’ll get along; you’ll find another,
And I’ll be here if you should find you ever need me.
Don’t say a word about tommorrow or forever,
There’ll be time enough for sadness when you leave me.
Lay your head upon my pillow.
Hold your warm and tender body close to mine.
Hear the whisper of the raindrops,
Blowin’ soft against the window,
And make believe you love me one more time,
For the good times.
This Week we did a photo shoot for our new album. The theme as you will all see is us dressed up in various presidents masks after robbing a bank. I always envisioned that we were robbing the federal reserve bank of New York. Stealing the newly printed money Ben Bernanke created this week to bail out Goldman Sachs. Instead we would use the stolen money to help our neighbors pay their mortgages.
All of us picked our various presidents for different reasons. Although Nixon is infamous for many things, I chose him for a different reason than you may think. In 1971 Nixon ended what is known as the Bretton Woods agreement. It eliminated the convertibility of the dollar into gold, making the dollar what it is today. Full fiat money, backed only by the faith of the Federal Government.
This move made the dollar the world reserve currency, and freed the the Fed to print indefinitely. In fact today Bernanke said the Fed was ready to continue its stimulus, if the economy stagnates. QE3 Anyone?
So the next time you hear about Quantitative Easing, thank good old tricky dick for setting the precedent.
Summer time in Northern California, it’s the reason people love to, well, live and work in California. It’s also the season of summer tours: Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Deftones, Kris Kristofferson and Allison Kraus are just a few of the shows you can see from national touring acts. Sacramento has acts come through to the city itself, with Reno and San Francisco short drives away.
With our band looking to officially release our album American Landscape in August, we are planning to take advantage of the summer touring season to see some of our aforementioned favorites. Having an album completed, with only rehearsal of our show set leaves the band members with some extra time on our hands. Whether it’s: fishing, spending some extra time with our favorite canine, camping in the high Sierra or even playing some golf (badly), Breva band members will be taking advantage of the place we love to call home. Hopefully we will see you out there. Cheers