Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hagar or Roth? Good chance you're wrong.

Earlier today, while half drunk at 11am on a random Thursday wine tour with my wife, I asked via the facebook: Hagar or Roth?

Some responses were alarming.

I understand that is a subjective question, to a point. So let's discuss this in an adult, open-minded manner.

My initial question, obviously, was referring to the frontmen of the rock and roll band, Van Halen. Outside of Van Halen, I really don't care about what either artist has accomplished. So let's start there. And in addition--remember that I have been drinking all day. So that means that I am uninterested in Googling facts and "researching" any written or recorded proof that may lead someone to lean towards one lead singer or the other. I'm simply writing what I know. And I know.

I'll start with saying this: I do like Sam. But he has no business being in a band called "Van Halen".

The name Van Halen was born from, of course, the brothers Halen--Edward and Alex, along with Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth. They were all formerly called Mammoth, back in their house party-playing days and then moving up to the L.A. club scene. Roth, digging the way the name, "Led Zeppelin" sounded, suggested the band be called Van Halen. This name would also counter-balance Roth's enormous ego, centering much of the attention to his highly skilled guitar player and equally adept drummer--the Van Halens. Roth would later create his own niche as one of--if not the, most extravagant, entertaining rock and roll frontmen in history.

After being discovered by The Demon bass player for KISS, Mr. Simmons, the Halen quickly gained a reputation for being a hard rocking party band referred to as "mighty". After this point is when the general music-listening public may start to become familiar with VH.

The first sound you hear on Van Halen (the band's first album) is a car horn that will make you frantically look in your rearview mirror, followed by Michael Anthony's low bass thump in "Runnin' With The Devil". From that point forward, this album takes you on a rock and roll journey that was, and is, different than anything recorded prior. Sure, the handsome, boisterous lead singer coupled by the quiet, classically trained guitar player had been done--Led Zeppelin. But with VH, you got an entirely different mood...and sound. The "brown sound", as some of you may have heard, is what Ed's guitar creates when he feels like playing it.

Okay. So meanwhile, you've got an established "Red Rocker", formerly with a band called Montrose, who has found himself enjoying a very successful (and deservedly so) solo career. "Heavy Metal", "Crusin' and Boozin", "There's Only One Way to Rock", and of course the classic-rock radio hit to this day, "I Can't Drive 55".

I'll be honest, I never listened to much Hagar. What I heard was pretty cool, but it didn't blow my skirt up. I liked "Heavy Metal", which was the title track of the animated movie of the same name, which is equally as cool. I miss you, John Candy. And then he had some radio hits that were kind of poppy, but not bad.

But let's get back to band that my question revolves around.

Van Halen, or Van Halen I, as most call it, was ground breaking. Sure, I was four when it came out, but that's beside the point. The diversity of the style of tunes, from Ed's solo, "Eruption" segwaying into the Kinks' cover of "You Really Got Me"--to the end of the album with "Ice Cream Man" to me is not only ballsy, but confident. It shows equal parts of Ed and Dave. Another track, of Dave's persuasion, was "I'm the One", which is a "boogie" style of a tune, as the band describes it, and would later be the foundation for "The Full Bug" and the more popular "Hot For Teacher" well as others that I'm probably forgetting. Remember--been drinking.

The following five albums released by the original members of the band would go on to be equally as fun, diverse, and entertaining--all in their own right. The band itself (like it or not) paved the way for essentially every 80s hair metal band to follow. VH was the main catalyst in creating a new genre of music--a genre that drank excessively, partied non-stop, humped a ton of chicks, and sang about cool shit like...well, all those things I just said. Spandex was also popularized around this time, quite possibly by Roth, which I do not have a problem with. For bike riding, no. For rock and roll entertainment, yes.

Roth, of course, was a major part of all of this. Roth-style VH was raw, energetic, and still poetic at times. While listening to Roth-VH on headphones, you can hear laughter, inhaling, exhaling, bottles clanking, and fuck-ups that went unfixed--all in the background. That, in itself, still portrayed them as real and honest to me. Roth himself--although undoubtedly an asshole--carried himself and his band to quick stardom by knowing exactly how to entertain an audience. I've seen Roth in concert, I've seen Van Hagar in concert, and I've seen the resurrected Van Halen (with Wolfie) in concert. For my money, I'll take Roth in a wheelchair over Sam any day of the week. But I digress, we're speaking only of these frontmen while with VH (albeit I may stop the conversation at 1995's (96?) Balance--Hagar's last bit with them. Then on to the Gary Cherone debacle.)

Here's the reality of it: I would probably get along with Sammy a hell of lot better than I would with Dave. Sam seems down to earth and easy to have a drink with. Dave is uber-eccentric and full of himself. So if we're all in a bar together, I'd probably end up having shots with Sam, and probably avoid Dave just to steer clear of disappointment. But that's not the premise of the semi-vague question: Hagar or Roth? The premise is, and I should have specified, who's the better frontman for Van Halen?

Let's take a look at Sam's time with the band.

As a 6th grader in 1986, I received the cassette tape, 5150 for Christmas. My parents, knowing that I was a young, but avid fan of "Jump", "Panama", "Hot For Teacher", and 1984 in general, bought me this as a gift. Granted, I did like it. I at least liked the first cut, I believe called "Good Enough"--the one that starts out, "Hello, baaaby!" Then came the synthesizers and some guy trying to sound like David Lee Roth. Although there were some decent tunes, this pretty much went on for the next ten years.

What Roth did with Eat 'Em And Smile was much more appealing to me. He kept a fantastic guitarist in Steve Vai, and added a substantial rhythm duo with Billy Shehan and Matt (Greg?) Bissonette. It was fun, kind of crazy, and ten times more energetic than 5150.

From that point on, there were three different bands that had existed. There was the original Van Halen with David Lee Roth; A band that created a new and powerful sound and image. A group that any other band in the entire world would hate to follow if on the same bill. And a band that, to this day, is considered part of the foundation of rock and/or roll as we know it. Then you've got Roth-solo; He had one, maybe one and a half good albums. I dig Roth, but don't care to listen to his solo attempts. After the 80s ended, he fell head-first into obscurity. Then, finally, you've got the second coming of Van Halen with Sammy Hagar; Hagar made a match with the other three members of the band due to the direction that they were heading at the time. Radio, synthesizers, over-production, seriousness, ballads--all unentertaining things to me.

It comes down to entertainment value. Sammy cannot jump over a set of drums on an eight-foot riser. Dave can. Sammy cannot hit that high note scream that defines the early Van Halen sound. Dave can. Sammy cannot write songs about wanting have sex with his teacher. Dave can.

As far as the singer for Van Halen goes, Sammy Hagar may as well of not even existed. If they wanted to call the band something else, like The Van Halenishes, or The Suckrealbads, or The Synthesizerballadqueers, then I'd be okay with that. But you can't continue to call yourselves Van Halen if you decide to stop having fun and start playing music that our parents like. "Why Can't This Be Love?"--jesus. And don't even get me started on that Crystal Pepsi song, "Right Now"--fuck. I'm just happy that they've decided to try and save a little bit of their pride by bringing back Dave to play the good stuff (after Dave splits for reasons still debated about, hiring Sam, firing Sam, reuniting with Dave briefly, telling Dave to go to hell, hiring the singer for Extreme, kicking him out, bringing Sam back again and firing him I think, kicking out Mike Anthony, hiring Ed's kid, then bringing Dave back once more).

The years 1978 through 1984 are Van Halen. If you disagree, then you like some other band.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Love Creates Serious Blog Posts.

I've had a marvelous past few days. I've started some new friendships, rekindled some old ones, and created some pretty dang good memories. Last weekend is certainly not going to be forgotten anytime soon -- for many reasons.

My friends Andy and Katiy got hitched up in Estes Park on Sunday. It was a breathtaking setting, with wonderful people. My two friends are truly in love, and it certainly showed this weekend. Nice job, guys.

Friends and family from all over made the trek to attend, predominantly from the Kansas City area where my wife and I lived for a few years before heading out to Colorado. And it was great to see all the familiar faces from KC--some with new significant others that were welcomed into the old circle with open arms, much like I was about six years ago.

My wife, April, lived in KC for a few years before I made my way up there. She had a circle of fantastic people that she spent the majority of her time with--mostly co-workers. That's where she met Andy, as well as several others that were in attendance on Sunday. This group of friends has treated me with the utmost kindness and respect since I came into April's life. By entering April's life, I entered theirs. And although they were my wife's friends before they even knew that I existed, I honestly consider each of them my friend now.

Andy's dad, Mickey, whom I have met a handful of times prior to this weekend but never really got the chance to know, was Andy's best man. Andy has a very close relationship with his dad--obviously--much like I have with mine. Not only family, but great friends as well. I got to know Mickey over the weekend--several cold beers, a glass or two of whisky, a competitive game of washers, and some unforgettable comradary with Andy, Mickey, and their circle of friends. It was genuine, and appreciated.

Another old KC friend in attendance was our friend, Bob. Once again, April knew Bob as a co-worker well before I entered the picture. But like Andy and the other members of the KC circle, Bob welcomed me into the gang without hesitation. And although Bob and I probably didn't get to know each other as well as we would have liked to during my time in KC, when we do cross paths we're both genuinely happy to see an old face that we both consider a friend.

Bob's dad passed away unexpectedly about a week before the Colorado wedding. And for that--I honestly don't know what to say right now.

But I got the chance over the weekend to talk to Bob, and to express my condolences. He said that when he was young, one of the vacations his folks would take the family on was to Colorado. He said it's a wonderful memory. So, in a sense, Bob felt it meaningful--and possibly symbolic--to load up his beautiful family and come out to Estes for his friend's wedding during an incredibly difficult time. That, in itself, I find truly admirable. And I know for a fact, while watching Bob swing his two little girls around on the dance floor at Andy and Katiy's reception, with ear-to-ear smiles and laughter, that it was the right decision. Sounds like Bob and his dad had a close relationship--much like Andy and Mickey...and Matt and Rick.

Honestly, I'm not positive where I'm going with this story. All that I can tell you is, while wiping my eyes, is that the events over the weekend touched me in an extremely powerful way. Powerful in a sense that there was an incredible amount of love expressed by people that I know.

Husbands, wives. Old friends, and new. Moms...and dads. Celebrations of old memories. And celebrations of future ones.

Whether it's friendship, bonding, comradary, a great first impression, or a deep love and respect--it was all expressed over the weekend.

People reading this, wondering what the hell I'm getting at...

Don't take anything for granted. Not love, not your wife, not your kids, not your dad, not life...not anything.

Good shit, man. Good shit.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm going to buy a pair of K-Swiss, even though I don't need, nor want them.

If my dad sees a terrible commercial on TV, he boycotts that particular brand. I think Hardees or KFC had a commercial a year or two ago that just sucked, so my dad refused to eat at these places.

If he sees a great commercial, he's much more apt to support this company.

I, like my father, appreciate a great commercial. So next time you see me, I just might be reluctantly wearing an ugly pair of K-Swiss Tubes...just out of principle.



Tuesday, September 14, 2010

dude on a bike has a bad day.

On my way home from work today through downtown Denver, I noticed traffic backed up more so than usual in the far left lane. The closer I crept past stalled traffic, I noticed a couple cars stopped, thus backing up traffic immensely. What appeared at first to be a rear-ending--which is a common occurrence during my commute--ended up being a hit cyclist.

The road biker, clad in red spandex from head to toe, lay on the sidewalk next to his bicycle grasping his knee while a concerned party (presumably including the driver of the car with the now dented front bumper) of three or four leaned over him in a worrisome manner. It had to of just happened, I'm assuming, due to the traffic not being backed up near as much as it probably was 15 minutes after I drove past the ordeal.

The biker, whom I guessing was "sharing the road" with thousands of rush hour automobile commuters, more than likely got his back tire bumped by a Chevrolet and took a pretty healthy spill. Obviously the accident was moved from the road--unless the sidewalk was where the victim ended up landing after the bump. People weren't running around frantically, screaming or anything of an extreme nature. I didn't see any spleens or pancreases on the sidewalk, and there was certainly movement from the biker--albeit a squirming, writhing-in-pain, oh why me God!?-type of movement.

Now, I don't wish pain and suffering on anyone..... Let me rephrase that. Now, I don't wish pain and suffering on too many people. I surely don't feel any sort of satisfaction from seeing that poor person rolling around on the sidewalk, unhappy with the result of his bike ride. But it does make me ask a few questions.

Allow me to preface my questions a bit first.

In Colorado, we have an abundance of folks that really, really enjoy riding their bikes on the road. I have friends that ride almost everyday. With my job, I converse and interact with serious cyclists on a consistent basis. Shit, Lance Armstrong trains in Colorado. You've got the climbs, the switchbacks, the altitude. So needless to say, where I live is a mecca for road cyclists. I don't have a single problem with people getting joy from riding their bicycles. I have a bike, and more times than not when I ride it, I enjoy myself.

But there are a few things that do bug me.

Sure, the spandex is a given. But I think the main thing is the attitude that non-riding folk are given. If you are walking or driving, you had better get the fuck out the road biker's way because they are road biking and they are serious! They will yell at you to "Watch out!!" while you are walking on the sidewalk or pedestrian path through the park. They will give you the bird while darting around you and shooting through a stop sign if you don't give them enough room to pass.

It's difficult , too, at times to socialize with a cyclist if you, yourself, do not cycle. They constantly describe their rides as "long rides" instead of just "rides". They speak of them in terms of calories supposedly burned, as in "a 4600 calorie ride". No arguing, it's science.

Of course, these acts don't reflect all road bikers--I don't think.

It's funny to me, but understandable too, I guess. All like-minded groups of people or enthusiasts or subcultures all talk in their own language. They all share a common interest. They all encourage one another. But there is also always an unspoken competition. It's that way in climbing. It's that way in fly fishing. It's that way if you're in a band. And it's definitely that way in cycling.

Back to my questions on the downtown bicycle accident.

Why, why did this person decide it would be a good idea to ride his bicycle on perhaps the busiest road in the state during rush hour traffic? Speer Boulevard is laden with stoplights, traffic jammed in-between stoplights, and zero shoulder. Let me also add that there is a BIKE PATH that parallels Cherry Creek which Speer is built along. The Cherry Creek bike path was mere yards from where said biker was rolling around on the sidewalk, looking like The Flash just got his ass kicked.

I realize that this person may have just been commuting, but commute on the bike path--or even the sidewalk. Worst that could happen there is getting rear-ended by a bum. But you know what? Even if he was commuting--why the outfit? Why the spandex? To make you go faster? On Speer Blvd? During rush hour?

Wasn't a very long ride, was it?

I beg of you, road bikers claiming ownership of Colorado's paved by-ways--please stick to your climbs, and your switchbacks, and your altitude. I know I would if I were of the spandex-clad brotherhood. Please don't put us poor souls that are restricted to automobiles in a position of swerving to constantly avoid you on our hour-long commute home.

Friends and business acquaintances who regularly cycle the streets--please do not take offense. This has been an ongoing battle for quite some time with the "bad apples" in your circle. If you know of these few that ambush pedestrians taking a leisurely evening stroll in the park...that scoff at the thought of traffic lights, stop signs, and all rules and regulations of the streets...that decide to "train" on very major Colorado roads during the absolute worst times possible--please tell them to stop.

Cool. Thanks.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I don't get it. I was in the strangest mood yesterday--good strange. It's a mood that rarely visits me anymore, and I'm not sure why it decided to now.

I couldn't have cared less about anything at all yesterday. I wasn't to the point of endangering myself or someone else. I didn't drive with my feet or anything. But I very well could have lost my job, deeply offended a member of the consuming general public, or caused my wife to deck me in the jaw.

It was the type of feeling that is usually drug-induced (I'm assuming...), whereas there is a numbness and consta-smile attributed to it. Nothing at all was making me bristle, which is extremely odd. You see, I like to portray the type of cool individual that lets absolutely nothing get under his skin. But in all reality, I've got somewhat of a quick temper, a loathing and constant stewing for stupidity as I see it, and others would probably describe my daily persona as "grumpy", "cynical", or "always pissed at something". So this feeling that had come over me was obviously something to behold.

If you didn't already know, I work in the service industry--which is a nice way of saying "I deal with assholes everyday." Actually, I sell jackets...and other associated items. But yes, dealing with assholes is a daily occurrence in my profession. This is not only a contributing factor to my bitterness, but probably the root of it. Each day that passes, my employees place wagers on when I am going to snap, and who is going to receive the brunt of my well-thought out "I fucking quit!" exit routine. And sadly, it doesn't include an inflatable airplane slide.

So when I showed up at the store yesterday...whistling, singing, dancing to the muzak...people knew something was awry. I felt drunk, or high, or roofied. I actually had to address my mood to my employees just to cover the fact that I was NOT drunk, high, or roofied (nobody had access to any of my beverages prior to my arrival at work, therefore I dismiss being roofied). Customers would ask their same ol' ridiculous questions, and instead of staring at them, gritting my teeth, taking deep breaths through my nostrils...I laughed it off and answered their dumb questions--admittedly, with a touch of sarcasm though.

I laughed hysterically at non-hysterical things. I danced in front of employees and customers--not trying to be obnoxious, just felt like dancing. I did not bullshit one person the entire day, which is a very rare and gratifying accomplishment at my place of work. I was clear-headed and very aware, not cloudy or "off". If someone drugged me, please do it again.

The "mood" lasted the entire day. It was glorious. And I still can't understand where it came from or what triggered it. Did I have an amazing dream that had me waking up a new person? Was there some sort of residual effects from attending the Willie Nelson concert the night before? Was I just overly pissed that I had to work yet another Labor Day, and my psyche revolted? Did my stress level finally start an inferno and that was how my brain extinguished it? It's hard to say. All I know is, I want more.

Today was a different day. I still maintained a better-than-normal amount of perk, but nothing compared to yesterday. Today was back to reality. Back to fake smiles. Back to eyes that tell customers "My God, you're an idiot". Back to the mundane and the meaningless. Back to not much fun.

But I know that I've got it in me now. I just need to dig deep and harness the energy. And once I've learned to harness that power, I need to control it. Once I have the power and can control it, I've got to use it to fight evil. That's all there is to it.


Friday, September 3, 2010


The humidity seems to be gone. Of course it is 6:30am.

The water droplets on the grass, the morning haze covering the sky, the birds already busy. I step outside to load my fly rods into the car before heading to work and am greeted by a clean, briskness that I haven't felt in months. My cotton t-shirt isn't an efficient insulator for this morning. So I put my fleece on. That's when I smile. Brisk morning, hot coffee, soft fleece.

Let's put in a few hours at the office, then plan our escape. I'm thinking a three o'clock whistle, quick visit to the beer store, then meeting my wife and retriever at the lake in the mountains. Yea, that'll get me through the day.

It's going to be a swell Friday.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

I Almost Crapped My Pants Today.

I almost crapped my pants today. Literally.

Of course I immediately blame it on my morning commute. Each pothole, acceleration, turn, and brake magnified. Every stoplight seems like time is suddenly going in reverse. It’s been an hour since I left my house this morning – so it’s bound to happen one of these days. Neat, I manage to get behind the one person that decides to try parallel parking for the first time in their life this morning. “Jesus, hurry up!” Don’t lose your cool, man. You need to be concentrating. My toes are curling under and my feet start to go numb. I begin using muscles in my body that I didn’t know existed.

I try not to think about it. Go to your happy place, dude. Fishing. I think about fishing; how I’d love to be out on the water right now, alone, away from everything. The sound of the rushing water, cascading down… Stranded without facilities; bound by chest waders; paperless.

Okay, not helping.

I think of alternatives. A gas station? Man, I don’t know. I’ve been fucked one too many times by thinking that I’m home free at the 7-Eleven. My muscles start to relax the closer I get to the door. My sighs of relief and triumphant smile are suddenly washed away by the door being locked! “Occupied?? Shit! Hurry up, dude! Emergency!”

Or even worse, “Out of order?? Are you kidding me? S’cuse me, sir? Can I use it anyway? I’ll fix it! Shit.”

So no, I’m not going down that road again. I’d just be setting myself up for disappointment and possible disaster.

Okay, so what’s my game plan? We’re almost there….if this MORON would drive! Stay cool. Providing I can actually stand erect once deboarding my car, I’m thinking a swift, steady three and a half block walk to my employer’s front doors. Need to time the crosswalks perfectly so I’m not stopping. I’m walking, I’m walking, I’m walking. Don’t make eye contact with anyone. They’ll know.

Two blocks before, I’ve already got my key in hand, holding it exactly the way that I do when I unlock. I’m prepared.

An employee is waiting for me as I approach the door. When within earshot, I announce as a caution, “I’m two seconds away from shitting my pants.” He realizes the severity of the situation and gives me plenty of room for door unlocking.

Alarm off, briefcase down. My body knows what’s coming. The evil wants out. It wants out now. It can sense a john nearby. It has some sort of evacuational radar. I am actually alert enough to check the paper situation before the sit down. Focused.

The most difficult part is always the unbuckling of the belt accompanied by the simultaneous “pants-drop sit-down”. But it was executed flawlessly. Toes uncurled. Eyes rolling into the back of my head. My entire body quivers. And an over-vocal sigh to release every ounce of tension. It only takes a minute, then normalcy sets in. We did it.

I almost crapped my pants today. Almost.