Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Behind the Wall of Sleep

After working 12 1/2 hours yesterday and then riding my bike home, I was pretty beat. I was also restless so I decided to watch something on Netflix. After syphoning through most of the garbage in the "TV" section of their website, I decided for the "go-to" of the music category. I joyfully discovered a newly posted documentary on perhaps my favorite band of all time, the original - and in my opinion the only lineup worth taking the time to write about - Black Sabbath. 

There's so much to say about these four Birmingham blokes who have time and time again come to my rescue and lifted me up. In my mind, they are the masters of all things musical, and highly misunderstood for those not in the know. Written off by many as simply a heavy metal band that either worshipped the devil, sang about the occult, or doing drugs, many didn't give them a chance, especially the press. I feel sorry for all of these people, and as for the press, by ridiculing Sabbath they helped the band achieve mass success - suckers, everyone knows that bad publicity usually earns a band respect and notoriety, especially among fans of this band. 

Lyrically, topics varied from politics and war (Wicked World), pollution (Into the Void), religion (After Forever), government propaganda (Electric Funeral), addiction (Hand of Doom), isolation (Wheels of Confusion), self empowerment (Under the Sun, Children of the Grave), labor (Killing Yourself to Live), space (Planet Caravan), greedy corporations (Cornucopia), love - that's right - love, (Sabbra Cadabra, St. Vitus' Dance), heartbreak (Changes) ... the list goes on.

And the rhythm. I dare anyone to contend that Geezer Butler and Bill Ward weren't two of the tightest bass and drum players ever to have played together. Listen to the constant changes in Sabbath's music - even a popular and overplayed song like Iron Man seethes with originality, as the song just goes from one place to another ... suddenly you're riding the wave and in control, then it grabs you and picks you up, taking a journey to outer space, ultimate chaos, and the unknown. Then, it comes back down, sometimes gently, other times crashing, but either way you're right back where you started. Much of Sabbath's music did this, as they were all about the adventure of which music can take those with open minds on. All one has to do is simply close their eyes and listen, really listen, and experience the chaos, confusion, sadness and sense of hopelessness - humanity. Sabbath didn't hide behind the flower power movement or the positive outlook that the revolution was supposed to bring in the '60s. They knew it wasn't working, they know it still isn't working, because a song like War Pigs is just as relevant today as ever. It always will be.

Then there's Tony Iommi, the man missing two fingertips, the master of all guitar riffs, and undoubtedly one of the most influential players ever. Other members of Sabbath always stand behind the belief that Iommi was usually the one to come up with the great song ideas. Most of it was never planned. It was created from the gut, with feeling, on the spot, and the rest of band fed off of the energy and made some of the most memorable songs in history around it. 

Heavy most of the time, but oh so sweet and gentle at other moments, their music creates nostalgia, for a time when the earth and its people lived in peace, if there were ever a time. 

I will forever remain young, good or bad, because of Black Sabbath. Thank you for the journey fellows, I hope there are many more to come, and when I move on from this world, I am able to "sail through endless skies ... bathed in cool breeze ... as the silver starlight breaks down the night ... and pass on by the crimson eye."

Bonus live show from 1970, the year I was born. The band in their best form, most likely.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sipping Jetstreams and Tearing Down Walls

Taylor Steele has been making great surf films for more than two decades. He gets better with each production, as he always captures not only the incredible surfing by some of the world's best, but gives viewers a look into the areas explored to find the waves on which they perform. It is in this way that, in my opinion, he is breaking down barriers between people around the world and silencing stereotypes that run rampant among Earth's dwellers. Take for example this clip from Sipping Jetstreams. In it you get a surreal glance of Morocco - not just the fabulous waves that line the coast of this special place, but of its people. They are just like you and I, living in order to live, breathing in order to breathe. There's a place we all need to go, this is one of them I need to go to.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Van with the Plan

The recent purchase of a 1992 Toyota Previa has unlocked something I've been looking for for quite some time - the freedom to roam around the Northwest. After a horrific experience with a Volvo 240 wagon from the same year, I am so far content with the decision. Ample room for play toys like bikes, surfboards, camping equipment and musical instruments, it's a hauler of all things fun - and it forces me to get out of town on the weekends to explore and become more familiar with what this region offers. I have been to the coast twice already to surf and to Whidbey Island to camp with friends.

This past weekend I packed everything, at least what I thought was everything, and Erin and I drove to Hobucks near Neah Bay. After a full two hours of surfing and a few post-surf beers, I realized I forgot two of the most important things needed for camping - our sleeping bags. I packed the tent, pillows, the stove and most everything else, but no sleeping bags. Well, there were $110 cabins nearby, but that seemed pointless, as we were there to camp, not pay for overpriced shacks. We were left with one option - sleep in the board bags. These insulated protectors of all things foam were going to save us from a night of cold Northwest coastal temperatures. Erin slept in the 6'4" bag, with little room to move around in. She was not happy. I slept in the longboard bag - I offered it to her, I swear. 

We survived, albeit we awoke to being incredibly stiff. Her more than me, as she could barely roll over, therefore having to sleep on her back most of the evening. The sun was shining and hardly anyone else was around in what is normally a crowded campsite. I surfed for hours before we packed up and made the drive home. 

The plan and the van got us there, the board bags gave us shelter in a pinch, and we got sunburnt. I call that a successful mission. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I possibly saw the most clueless cyclist ever this morning. She was riding down 15th Ave. of all places (a super busy arterial road in Seattle, which almost all cyclists know not to travel on, as there are mellow roads one block parallel to it), no helmet, giant headphones on and swerving back and forth to the music... I get to the red light at 65th (in the van, I drove part way), she blasts right through the red light in which lots of cars were going back and forth east and west, causing one car to slam on their brakes in the middle of the intersection, the bike rider swerves and rides into the left lane to avoid being hit by another car that was legally turning right onto 15th - that driver then blares his horn at her while passing her, to which she gives the "whoot whoot" symbol with her hands in the air. It was truly unbelievable. In all of my years riding, I think this girl's stupidity tops everything I've seen...

All I could think of was, "Wow, please, someone hit this person. It's the only way they will learn." I know, this is pretty harsh, but in reality, sometimes a parent needs to bust out the belt and give that kid a good old ass whoppin'. It worked for me.