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I am nearly ready to launch a new blog inspired by the writing exercises in Tell it Slant: Ch11, Writing Online. From the Ch11 collection of brain-storming ideas, I decided to pursue this one:

“Eight Weeks, Two Hours a Day.” This would encourage me to stick with the titles schedule, and capture eight weeks worth of practice on my bass guitar. It would be interesting to see how my playing develops over that time… two hours a day over eight weeks would total 120 hours—compared to my current approximate four hours a week practice routine which totals 32 hours. This one I’m actually going to try over the summer.

Since I am blessed to have the summer off, I want to ensure I do something productive with my time and in the process leave a record of my endeavor. And with a little luck, someone in the digital realm might stumble onto my blog and become inspired to learn to play a musical instrument. Maybe one that they’ve been told they are too old to learn.

I invite you dear reader, to come along with me on my latest undertaking– my Bass Guitar Adventures!

 

 

 

#1 Many of us vividly remember the events of September 11, 2001. There are also hundreds of other historical milestones you may remember particularly well: the election of Barack Obama, acts of global terrorism, the Arab Spring when many nations rose up demanding fairer government— in the case of Egypt, with the help of Facebook. Which event of national world importance do you remember most clearly? How did you hear of it, and what did you hear?  What were other people around you doing? What was going on in your own life that this event bounced off of, resonated with, or formed a strange contrast to? Use all of your senses to re-create this memory.

The event of national world importance I remember most clearly is the 911 terrorists attack in New York. I was active duty Air Force at the time, stationed at McChord AFB, Wa. I heard about it like most people, though the television reports.

60347f32-c2c0-42ec-a9a7-848a2a2fbf47I had just pulled into the parking lot in front of my office that morning. Having ridden my motorcycle to work that morning, it took me longer to enter the building where everyone was watching the attacks as they were unfolding on TV. I was taking my time dismounting the bike, enjoying the damp morning air, and quiet time before the base began buzzing with the day’s work. It was a Monday morning, which meant I would be starting the day performing our weekly uniform inspection. Just enjoy the calmness of the morning I thought to myself.

Still on the bike I looked up and noticed one of the Airmen poke his head outside the door asking what was taking me so long—“You really need to see this!” he said to me as he hurried back inside. I remember taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly before getting off my bike and walking inside to what I was imagining being the beginning of a stressful week.24859_111083538902089_1310057_n

What could be the big fuss that I’ve got to see… did Airman White crash another vehicle? Was there a fight between two or more Airmen that I needed to settle? What is it this time? As I entered our long, narrow office building with my helmet in hand and protective riding jacket still on I found not a ruckus crowd cheering on their fighting Airmen, but rather a quiet gathering of sharply dressed Airmen glued to a news report. The television was situated on top of a tall refrigerator in the corner of the breakroom. The report looked like it was covering something in the city—and by the looks of it, not Seattle—Chicago maybe? A moment later I recognized the twin towers and the next moment an aircraft crashing into one of them. “Ahhh crrraaap” I said aloud. Here we go again. I knew this was going to be a long day. What I did not know at the time was how long that day, year… years.

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The event bounced off of, resonated with, and formed a strange contrast with what happened the day before. One Sunday every year a group called the Vintage Motorcycle Enthusiasts (VME) hosts a rally of vintage motorcycles on Vashon Island, called the Isle of Vashon TT. It is the largest rally of its type in the Northwest. The event is intended to encourage riders of vintage motorcycles to actually ride them rather than keeping them in the garage.

Waiting for the ferry to take us home

Waiting for the ferry to take us home

I rode my then new Triumph Bonneville along with a few friends on their Triumphs very early the morning of 10 September to catch the first ferry out of Tacoma to Vashon Island. It was my first ferry ride, which I found very peaceful that early in the morning. Upon reaching the island the sound of vintage British, Italian, Spanish, and German motorcycles echoed in the brisk morning air. The faint smell of oil, fuel and exhaust among the sent of firs, oaks and pine was a sign of something very special happening on the island. I left the rally that evening on cloud nine; a feeling that would mark the end of a happier chapter of life, with the following days 911 attacks marking a much darker chapter.

#6 Write a review of a film or a television show, using specific details that reveal your own voice and vision and that place the show in a larger context.

 This Is Spinal Tap

A documentary, or if you will a rockumentary about England’s loudest rock and roll band is a very special film to me. Released in 1984 it featured many actors who had not quite yet made it big yet— or at least had not become well known enough for me to recognize them at the time.

It was during my summer vacation in 1984 when I first saw the film. I was channel surfing on a very hot Southern California afternoon and stumbled across the film on PBS—the channel known for all forms of documentaries. Therefore, I thought it was a documentary covering an actual rock band. “Great!” I said to myself— then poured a tall glass of ice tea, sat back and enjoyed the show.

There were several popular rock bands in 1984 such as Van Halen and Motley Crue. There were also several huge acts from England as well; Queen, Iron Maiden and Deep Purple to name a few. So at the time finding a documentary about a British rock band called Spinal Tap seemed to be expected, which just added to the illusion that this was a real band.

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But every now and again there would appear a person on screen that seemed familiar. Especially the bands singer—there was something about him I couldn’t put my finger on… But I could see that these guys were actually playing their guitars, where in any other film you could tell right away that the people were not really playing. And the tunes were catchy, but terrible at the same time. While the music was a dead on reflection of what was happening in 1984, the song titles and lyrics were off… but contextually accurate. For instance, Queen had a popular song called “Fat Bottomed Girls,” Joe Walsh was having success with his single “ILBTS” (I Love Big T*ts) while Spinal Tap had “Big Bottoms” and “Sex Farm.” Were these guys real? What was going on?

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 The film followed the band during its US tour documenting all the things that happens off stage. On one occasion in the film the band was at a record store having an autograph session, but nobody was showing up. The promoter was upset and arguing with the shop owner. It all seemed so real. The band members were also perfect reflections of their peers, representing the sex-drugs-rock & roll excesses of the mid 1980s so accurately that I put my suspicions aside and enjoyed the show.

The film was a satire directed by “Meathead;” a.k.a. actor turned producer Rob Reiner. With just a rough story outline rather than an actual script the actors stayed in character while the cameras filmed their improvisation. I had watched the film many times before accepting that Spinal Tap was fictional… but my friends had not yet seen it, so I enjoyed observing them going through the same thing I did when watching it for the first time.

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Much like a good Monty Python film, This Is Spinal Tap is filled with memorable quotes that can be repeated during several different situations. “Hello Cleveland!” shouted by a band mate no matter the city. Upon receiving the initial pressing of the bands newest album “Smell The Glove” they are surprised by the completely black album cover, to which guitarist Nigel Tufnel comments, “It’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.” Then there is Nigel showing off his prized 1959 Les Paul guitar to interviewer Martin DiBergi; “The sustain, listen to it. (Marty) I don’t hear anything. (Nigel) Well, you would though, if it were playing [imitating a sustaining note] you could go out and have a bite—you’d still be hearing this one.”

The combination of it being a fun film to watch, a good sounding band, crazy lyrics, memorable quotes and all the awkward rock & roll situations makes the film one that continues to follow me. In the words of Nigel Tufnel, “There’s such a fine line between stupid, and clever”

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Encore

“…That’s when we became us. I think Rush was born with Moving Pictures really.” It represented so much of what we’ve learned about song writing, arrangement, when we got our band identity. ~ Neil Peart (Behind the Lighted Stage 57:54)

“Moving Pictures” is one of a handful of albums that has been a constant part of my life’s soundtrack. Since discovering the album in school while struggling with my identity as an introvert, “Limelight” was there to encourage me— letting me know that others share those feelings. Through “Red Barchetta” the album’s influence is with me every time I take my motorcycle out for a ride. Even now in my older-but-wiser-student college adventures the album inspires new perspectives such as those found in “The Camera Eye” as I interpret my surroundings from a wider lenses.

Showing off my Geddy Lee bass lines

Showing off my Geddy Lee bass lines

The album remains an inspiration in other aspects of my life— such as my love for making music; I’ve recently began studying the bass guitar thanks to Geddy Lee. Though I can’t yet afford to buy a Rickenbacker bass like the one Geddy Lee played on the album and appeared with in the film “Exit Stage Left,” I continue to work out his lines piece-by-piece on my meager Fender-type bass.

I still find parallels between the songs and daily life— and this, at some 30 plus years after the albums initial release. It is difficult to miss the correlation with “Witch Hunt”…

The mob moves like demons possessed
Quiet in conscience, clam in their right
Confident their ways are best
The Righteous rise
With burning eyes
Of hatred and ill-will
Madmen fed on fear and lies
To beat and burn and kill

…and our desert wars, politicians, special interest groups, disenfranchised college students— and the desires of “…those who know what’s best for us must rise and save us from ourselves.”

Critics— that group of journalists, who rarely had any kind words for the band, are finally beginning to acknowledge Rush and the bands accomplishments. In 2013 After releasing 24 gold and 14 platinum records (three multi-platinum)— ranking them third for most consecutive gold or platinum studio albums by a rock band behind the Beatles & Stones (Wiki) the Canadian power trio was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; an act profoundly resisted by the museums fathers since the institutions establishment. Why now, after all these years? In the Rush documentary, Behind the Lighted Stage, actor and “South Park” creator Matt Stone summed it up this way:

 “And now, it’s kind of like we’re all so old that – even if you hated Rush in the 80s and the 70s – now you gotta give it up for ’em. You just got to. Or else you’re just being an old dick-head.”

It’s never just a song, and it’s never just an album~

“As an album closer, lyrically it spoke well. It was a nice sentiment to end the record. The way it fades, it was quite dramatic. The Camera Eye almost ended Moving Pictures, but we finally decided on Vital Signs. It was all about being aware of your surroundings and rising to your highest level. That said something important to us.” ~Alex Lifeson (Music Radar)

The song opens with a feel very much like the Police. Listen to “Walking on the Moon” (Police), then to “Vital Signs” back to back— again, I think Police guitarist Andy Summers would be smiling.  Later, there are other influences that become apparent, such as reggae. In a 2011 interview with Joe Bosso for the online music resource, Music Radar, Alex Lifeson talks about these influences:

“Neil was a keener listener of reggae than perhaps Geddy was, and I was probably the least. I enjoyed it. I liked Peter Tosh and Bob Marley; I liked what The Police were doing. We were coming at reggae in a more Anglo way, which is how The Police approached it, too. It’s like the way English bands like The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin worked the blues.

Police guitarist, Andy Summers

Police guitarist, Andy Summers

An interview that appears in the August 2007 issue of Guitar World, Alex Lifeson confirmed any suspicions about the influence on “Vital Signs” and the album in general when asked how influenced they were by “New Wave”—the new musical genera of the late 1970s, early 1980s. The interviewer of the guitar-centric magazine was drawing connections between the two guitarists—Alex Lifeson and Andy Summers:

“Lifeson: Yep. That was early Police influence.  Their rhythms, their sounds… It was exciting as when Cream came out.  For us, it was a matter of using those New Wave influences in ways that enhanced, but didn’t degrade, what we were doing. I was very influenced, in many ways.  I cut my hair! [laughs] That shocked a lot of our longtime fans who were used to my long flowing locks.  Also, I started dressing cooler, more au courant, wearing bright, colorful blazers and ties.  I didn’t look like I’d just come from a Renaissance fair. [Laughs]…  We were listening to the Police, and their impact was huge.  We saw that a rock trio could do so many different things.”

Many of the people I know came to discover Rush through the Police. They would say, “Check it out! These guys sound like a mix of the Police and Led Zeppelin.” So for me it was the other way around; I discovered the Police through Moving Pictures during high school—when a few classmates would say, “If you dig that tune, check out the Police!” Being a rock fan in the early – mid 1980s usually included snubbing your nose at new wave, pop, disco, etc. But for me, the thought there was another band that was as good as Rush was to enticing to ignore.

Alex Lifeson; embracing new wave

Guitarist Alex Lifeson; embracing new wave

While I initially found the Police to be a much different band, there was a shared element of substance to them that kept my attention. Then as I listened more closely to their albums I was hooked; I just couldn’t admit it to my friends at the time for they surely would turn their backs on me. Many years later I talked with a few of my close friends from those old high school days and found that they were big Police fans as well, but didn’t confess to it at the time for the same reasons.

Lyrically, it was many years before “Vital Signs” would appeal to me. My mind was elsewhere in high school and during those early years in the Air Force. After the incident in Holland with the squadron commander who wanted to ruin my career I began to pay more attention to the how and why of oppression, group dynamics, and hierarchies.

 

A tired mind become a shape shifter,
Everybody needs a mood lifter,
Everybody needs reverse polarity.
Everybody got mixed feelings
About the function and the form.
Everybody got to deviate from the norm.
Everybody got to elevate from the norm.

Ever since, I have thought of this song as inspiration to deviate, and to elevate from the norm. It complements a similar spirit found in several other albums such as Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” and the Police “Spirits in the Material World.” This concept of free will, freedom of thought, and the understanding that a person can break free has been an influential part of my life. This disregard for the norm is one of the reasons I returned to college—specifically The Evergreen State College—a liberal arts school that has a local reputation as a hippy-college. I could have chosen the normal approach of securing a civilian position on an air base doing the same thing I did when I was on active duty. Those songs inspired me to go my own way, and to elevate from the norm.

“All of this from a song?” You might ask… but as a wise man once said—“It’s never just a song.”

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 “Lyrically, it’s always been a reflection of my times, and the times I’ve observed. But everyone is a reflection of me.” ~Neal Peart (Behind the Lighted Stage)

 The cinematic them is strong in this one, as it opens with the sound of Peart’s cymbals and chimes providing the perception rain. In the background faint voices of a rabble approach from behind, accompanied by an ominous approaching beat layered with the synthesizer that slowly becomes louder with the building of the song– eventually giving way to the sound of guitar and lyrics that continue the ominous mood.

I always thought of the song as commentary on those who are different than the “norm” being oppressed by those who think they know better and desire to rule over them.

They say there are strangers who threaten us,
Our immigrants and infidels.
They say there is strangeness to danger us
In our theaters and bookstore shelves,
That those who know what’s best for us
Must rise and save us from ourselves.

In the interview with George Strombo, Peart explained that the lyrics were his reaction to the same sort of mob-mentality of those days [compared to the news of today]. Camera Eye was also the first song to appear as part of the unofficial, fear-trilogy. In the January 1994 Rush Backstage Club Newsletter, Peart explains:

“The idea for the trilogy was suggested by an older man telling that he didn’t think life was ruled by love, or reason, or money, or the pursuit of happiness — but by fear. This smart-but-cynical guy’s position was that most people’s actions are motivated by fear of being hungry, fear of being hurt, fear of being alone, fear of being robbed, etc., and that people don’t make choices based on hope that something good will happen, but in fear that something bad will happen.

 I reacted to this the way all of us tend to react to generalities: ‘Well, I’m not like that!’ But then I started thinking about it more, watching the way people around me behaved, and I soon realized that there was something to this viewpoint, So I sketched out the three ‘theatres of fear,’ as I saw them: how fear works inside us (“The Enemy Within“), how fear is used against us (“The Weapon“), and how fear feeds the mob mentality (“Witch Hunt“).

 As it happened, the last theme was easiest to deal with, so it was written first, and consequently appeared first on record, and the other two followed in reverse order for the same reason.” ~Neil Peart (“Counterparts” Wikipedia

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The Next Generation

Moving Pictures continues to inspire people and reaches the next generation of drummers.

Here is 7-year old ___ playing Tom Sawyer

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“The sound of it and the perception of the energy on that record reflected that period of time. And it just seemed to be in the right place, the right time with some songs that connected with people.” ~Neil Peart (Classic Albums)

The Camera Eye opens side two, which is one of only three songs. It is a long one however, showing Rush had yet to completely abandon the epic sized songs.

This is one of those songs that I connect with on a lyrical basis more than musical. Here the song opens with the synth—a very anti-rock instrument—played in the style of the early 1980s.  A lot of influences can be heard here— the one that stands out most to me is Alex Lifeson’s guitar sounds much like that of Andy Summers from the Police. So of the albums in the charts at the time this album was released:

Among Billboard’s “Hot 100 Songs” of 1980 were:

 Michael Jackson, “Rock With You”
Queen, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”
Pink Floyd, “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)”
Blondie, “Call Me”
Lipps, Inc, “Funkytown”
Billy Joel, “It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me”
Diana Ross, “Upside Down”
Queen, “Another One Bites The Dust”
John Lennon, “(Just Like) Starting Over”

“We were big fans of the Police–[we] Listened to modern radio at the time… and we soaked it all up and that brought a concision to our playing… but we still wanted it to be hard to play… and every single one of those songs were designed to be played live.” ~Neal Peart (George Strombo)

 All of the songs from Moving Pictures fit in with the overall sound of its time. Yet they were simultaneously so much more intricate through the use of different time signatures, rhythms and varied melodies—and at times all in the same song!

 “One of the things I really love about being in Rush, that were not afraid to do anything on a record, and even if it’s sometimes a terrible mistake, there’s still the willingness to experiment. And I think that’s why the three of us have stayed together, because we feel within the confines of Rush we can try almost anything” ~Neil Peart (Classic Albums)

Another example of the musical influences of the day impacting the sound of the band however, Rush is able to remain true to their sound; a very tricky and difficult thing to accomplish for any artist. Starting out with that 80s feel, the song progresses into a very Rush-style change in tempo building on the synthesized chords of its opening. 3.5 min later the lyrics begin, telling a story—this time commenting on the hectic pace of city life.

Musically it begins to echo the rhythm and pace of Red Barchetta, but instead of racing through the countryside, the listener is taken along on a race in the city. Perhaps that is another change in perspective—pictures of life in the country contrasting pictures of life in the city; Moving Pictures from on perspective to another.YouTube Preview Image

While the rhythm midway through the song harkens to that of Red Barchetta, the other elements of the song make it distinctly unique. Perhaps the synth at the opening represents the urban sentiments of the day.

In an interview with George Strombo, Neil Peart talked about the songs title from a John DePasos  novel of the 1930s, “…a stream of consciousness… the objective camera eye.” Peart also mentioned being inspired by a John Steinbeck quote that asserts every city has a unique quality of light. He then merged that concept with his own experience,“I was learning to wed experience and the universal too. Writing about being in New York, but walking around in a spring rain fall that felt kind of like London where I’d spent an important part of my youth around 19-21 years old.” Doing so enabled Peart to put those experiences into universal images that were translatable through his lyrics.

“Rush all along has been trying to make the music we love. That really is the simplest expression. And then we hope that other people might like it too.” ~Geddy Lee (Classic Albums)

#5. If you were to write a blog in the form of “The Year of Living ___,” what would fill in that blank? Even if you don’t write a blog for that title, it can still be interesting to see what comes to mind as a way to think about new material for your writing.

 #7 Start a blog with the idea of a finite number of entries; “Fifty Ways or “Twenty-Five Views of” or “Thirty Considerations,” etc. Commit to posting at least once a week, no matter what.

Now that I have two Evergreen blogs, I am much more comfortable with the format and know how disciplined one must be to keep up with it. After reading this chapter and its exercises I thought it would be fun to combine two of the suggestions (as shown above).

Mixing the exercises five and seven might look something like

“If you were to write a blog with finite number of entries what would it be? Even if you don’t write a blog for that title, it can still be interesting to see what comes to mind as a way to think about new material for your writing.”

With the two exercises successfully merged into one, here are my responses:

“The Year of Playing Bass.” This is the first thing to come to mind, and is rather self-explanatory…

“A Summer in the Saddle.” This would chronicle a summers worth of motorcycle rides. It could include everything from that time period; maintaining the bike, actual rides, thoughts I have while riding, people I meet along the way, places I intentionally sought out, restaurants, cafes, close calls, and other adventures.

Practice, practice, practice...

Practice, practice, practice…

“Eight Weeks, Two Hours a Day.” This would encourage me to stick with the titles schedule, and capture eight weeks worth of practice on my bass guitar. It would be interesting to see how my playing develops over that time… two hours a day over eight weeks would total 120 hours—compared to my current approximate four hours a week practice routine which totals 32 hours. This one I’m actually going to try over the summer.

“Eight Weeks, Eight Songs.” Creating and posting audio/video clips of songs I intentionally sit down and craft for the blog. Maybe I would include thoughts along the way of making each song—like a diary.

“Twenty Presidential Lies.” A collage of lies our country’s presidents are most in-famous for. This would include quite a bit of research, and I probably would not make it very far beyond the current and previous presidents. Maybe it would be a comparison between the two? It would be interesting to see if each lied about the same thing, or perhaps one actually didn’t lie, while the other did… Since politics tend to bring out my inner-cynic, this is a blog topic I will pass on as I don’t much care for the cynical version of myself.

“25 Comic Book Heroes You Must Know.” Each post would identify a hero and why knowing each is important. What universal truths can be found through Spiderman? Is the Silver Surfer a reasonable model for values a society should adopt? What parallels exist between Bruce Banner’s inner-Hulk and mine? Do I have one? Would it be equal to or grater than Bruce Banner’s? Could the same parallels be made between Banner, his Hulk and our country’s relation with other countries?

The Silver Surfer

The Silver Surfer

Looking at the list of imagined blog titles, it is interesting to see how my thought process evolved from being simple and straightforward to those more in-depth. Is it just a result of brainstorming, or maybe that is just the path my brain takes in creating more inquisitive themes. I am intrigued by the “Eight Weeks, Two Hours a Day” idea and will actually attempt it over the summer if not sooner.

Funny how a thought develops the more you write about it…

Ch 3 “Taking Place; Writing the Physical World”

#7. If you have a travel diary or journal, go back to I now and pull out sections that give highly sensory descriptions of place: the feel of the air, the taste of the food, the sounds, the smells. Type these out in separate sections, then arrange them on a table seeing if you can find a common theme that may bind an essay together. What can you construe as the greater purpose for your travels? How can you incorporate that purpose into your travel writing? What is the one image that will emerge for metaphorical significance?

After looking at the bits of random thoughts I had typed out per the exercise guidance, I put together the following essay/short story. The scraps of ideas took my mind to a place in my past I am quite fond of, and from there I just rode the wave of inspired thought…

I couldn’t get my mind off the weather this morning.

It is a nice soft morning.

I’m looking out the window as my fellow students are deeply engaging each other with their weeks reading. Yet my mind is still focused on the weather. It’s a nice soft morning is a saying I remember from long ago… though I can’t quite put a finger on when I first heard it. A thick, moist layer of grey clouds that seems eerily still, obscuring the sun. As I walked around campus the moisture seemed to cut through my layers and pierced my bones.

Soesterberg, NL

Soesterberg, NL

Inside, the air is stale– nothing like the fresh, soft air and freedom of my current confines. Gazing at the damp trees through the window, I’m reminded of the years I was stationed in the Netherlands. Those early morning walks from the dorms to the squadron were more special than I realized at the time. The weather here, is much like it was there; damp, drizzling rain, heavy mist in the mornings… maybe that was an unconscious reason I wanted to return here once my military days were over.

After spending the morning at the campus library, I crossed Red Square on my way to seminar. The slippery red bricks that make up the square take me back to the same type of bricks so common on the Dutch base, and the slick cobblestone streets in some of the nearby villages. Midway through seminar my stomach was growling.

Soesterberg AFB

Soesterberg AFB

With my mind on the past, I’m reminded how we would often have lunch at the NCO club. It was a pub in the most traditional sense. We would have a hardy sandwich with a pint– maybe two– of Heineken, or Grolsch, before returning to the days task. My stomach still growling, I’m thinking of what lunch will be today. If the weather remains as it is now, finding a local pub would be my goal. Funny how weather can take me back to a time long forgotten. The soft morning and damp trees outside are my view through the window to my right. Ahead, and to the left is the student building with its large collection of orange rectangle panels. Oddly enough that is a style quite popular in the Netherlands when I was there in the late 1980s.

My brain is in a state of time/space flux. 24 years have passed since I was stationed there, though it feels like I’m there now. While the students around me discuss something of less significance I am at once in Cold War Europe and at Olympia’s Evergreen State College.

Two-wheeled fun at Soesterberg

Two-wheeled fun in the Netherlands

The parallels continue… I spent much time at Veronica Radio visiting with my friends in Holland, and now I spend much time at the KAOS radio station here on campus. I rode a motorcycle then (Honda 50), and a Triumph Bonneville now. I zoomed around with my friend in his MINI Cooper then, and now my wife and I zoom around in our own MINI.  When I was stationed there I dreamed about going to college, now I am in the middle of my college days…

The other students are now talking about prison and its similarity to childhood. Their reality is a world away from mine. 24 years ago I am having lunch at the NCO/Dutch pub; I am simultaneously there in the past, and here in the present. The smell of the air is spiced with beer, wood and tobacco. My buddy Ron slaps his squadron coin on the bar—a coin check and I left mine in yesterday’s shirt pocket; beer is on me– four guilders, plus tip. We complain about the sergeant, plan the weekend, and continue to forge our friendship. Bellies filled with a hardy meal and the best of beer we head back to the days work. Francis, the lovely women tending bar thanks us, reminds us to button up our coats. Through her thick, round Dutch accent she comments that, “It’s a nice soft morning.”

Our pub

It’s still there…

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