Friday, January 4, 2013

Nurse The Hate: The Ramp Incident

The ramp had been built up over the course of three days.  Snow packed onto snow packed onto snow.  Finally a light mist of water was applied to make the ramp as permanent as anything could be that was made out of snow.  As most of us were disciples of Daredevil/pain killer addict Evel Knevel, we were all anxious to descend the hill at breakneck speed and have a spectacular wipeout into the snow.  It was really a shame one of us wasn’t more of an engineer… 

At seven years old your grasp of things like speed and angles are limited at best.  You try to go as fast as you can on your bike/wagon/sled, but a seven year old can only propel himself so fast.  I think it was this lack of experience that really came into play in our construction of the high angle ramp at the bottom of “killer hill”.  Killer Hill, so named for the alleged death of a golfer in the immediate area after being struck by a ball, seemed to be about as big as the Matterhorn.  A sled run took seemingly minutes to complete, and the walk back up the hill with your trusty sled could take a half hour easy.  Well, that’s what it seemed like anyway.

I don’t remember the kid’s name that decided to be the first one to take the ramp.  I think it was Robby.  He was a sandy haired kid with a red knit cap that was a little too confident for a seven year old.  He was pretty fearless though, and launched himself down the hill with a flourish.  By the time he was about halfway down the hill, even the most dimwitted of the gathered children knew the ramp was too radical for this kid at that speed.  When he hit the ice slick runway area for the ramp, it was like a turbo went off on his sled.  The ramp was at such an impossible angle that the sled and probably the air leaving his body made an impressive “thump!” when he hit it. 

As he cartwheeled up in the air, I realized we had somehow so underestimated the distance the sled rider would travel that we did not factor in the cherry tree.  Don’t even mention the height that this poor kid found himself while hurtling towards the tree.  It all happened pretty fast.  The crying after impact wasn’t even a big deal.  No, what was a big deal was the blood that decorated the snow in all directions like fallen cherry blossoms from a tree in winter.  I stood there open mouthed looking at the raw beauty of the cherry blossom snow as an adult materialized out of nowhere to take the fallen warrior back home for bandages and soup. 

The ramp slowly melted during the Spring thaw, the husk a grim reminder of our shared failures as both engineers and daredevils.   

Johnny Cash Project update:  Disc 13:  Bitter Tears-  This is another concept record where Johnny takes on the plight of the American Indian.  As it was 1964, country music and country music radio wasn’t really interested in hearing about the plight of the American Indian.  Johnny had to take out ads in trade publications daring them to play the record, which they begrudgingly did.  The problem is the record is real drag.  “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” is pretty good, and I also dig “Custer” and “White Girl”.  Still, it's hard to get fired up hearing about how shitty The White Man has done the Indian.  Look, I'm here in a subdivision in the Cleveland area.  What am I gonna do about it?  Quit busting my chops Johnny...  Disc 14:  “Orange Blossom Special” is a good one.  Johnny fires the first shot in the Johnny Cash/Bob Dylan mutual admiration society with covers of “It Ain’t Me Babe”, “Mama You Been On My Mind”, and “”Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”.  This has some great stuff.  “The Long Black Veil”, “The Wall”, and “Orange Blossom Special” all became Cash concert staples.  Highly recommended.  You should know these songs unless you have no taste in music whatsoever.  Disc 15:  Johnny Cash Sings The Ballads of the Old West is a double album.  It’s mostly cowboy and pioneer songs, which he does really well.  There’s more of that spoken word stuff, which makes it feel like a Disney Hall of Presidents ride at times.  Some of it has way too much production, with string sections and those fucking backup vocals drenched over everything.  Still, “Hardin Wouldn’t Run”, “Mean As Hell”, “25 minutes To Go”, and “Green Grow The Lilacs” are pretty great.  I dare you to get through “The Shifting Whispering Sands” Part 1 and 2 more than once.  You can see why Columbia released a one LP version of this called “Mean As Hell” that somehow omits “Green Grow The Lilacs”.  They probably sold a lot more of those at Stucky's than the more expensive double LP version.  Disc 16:  Everybody Loves A Nut is a collection of light hearted songs that is actually really well produced.  These are a bunch of Jack Elliot, Jack Clement, and Shel Silverstein songs.  The good news is this is from 1966 and the Carter Family backups are under control.  “Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog” appears on Live at Folsom later.  A lot of these were new to me but fear not as for the most part these are pretty good songs done really well.  Maybe it is just because I was in good spirits when I listened to this, but I really like it.  We’ll find if it bears repeated listening.  Disc 17:  Happiness Is You gets back to what Johnny does best, heartbreak songs.  I really like his two kiss-off songs “Ancient History” and the Gordon Lightfoot cover “For Loving Me”.  “She Came From The Mountains” is really sad.  In these songs, you don’t just lose the girl.  You lose the girl forever and maybe she dies and you are left to live a hopeless life alone with only tortured memories.  Or maybe you die too.  There is no redemption.  If you want to be really bummed out after a bad breakup, you could make a Johnny Cash 20 cut CD that would leave you in tears by the end of it.  I’m serious.  You would vow off even speaking to the opposite sex ever again.  You have to be careful with these records.  They are powerful.  “Happy To Be With You” has this funky calliope organ that is a total departure in sound, but in my mind totally works.  This is clearly a stopgap record, but “Happy To Be With You” still went to #9 on the country chart.         


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