Saturday, July 26, 2008


The doctor says "MRI reviewed, small full-thickness rotator cuff tear seen over anterior aspect of rotator cuff. No anterior labral tear seen. Possible SLAP from 10 posterior to 1 anterior. Recommended injection of subacromial space with PT to decease pain and improve ROM. If no improvement occurs 6 weeks following above plan, consider dx scope with rotator cuff repair and possible biceps tenodesis vs SLAP debridement vs repair." What that means is I have two problems not one. The injection referred to in his recommendation is meant to relieve the pain (boy would I love that!) but it contributes nothing to the healing. I'll see the doctor in a couple weeks at which time I'll push for immediate surgery. Hey, ski season is just around the corner and I've got to have some time to recover!

The essence of life
Resides within this vessel
Fragile flesh and bone

Cranked up the tunes at my usual secluded roadside party spot and popped in "Rocks The Beer Hall", Van Halen playing first in Toronto, Canada on August 18/19, 1995, with the second half of the second disc taking place in London, UK on June 24, 1995. Absolutely great sound, in that they were in top form and the recording quality was A+! Two hours of rockin and rollin! Sammy does all his songs for the first 3 quarters of the concert, followed by classics from the Diamond Dave era. The difference between their lyrics are dramatic: Sammy puts a lot into the words such that there is a coherent theme to the songs, while with Dave its all about how it sounds. Reading Dave's lyrics often make little sense. Great concert!

Sings anothers words
Sammy recites Dave's poetry
Kicks ass either way

Dave is visceral
While Sammy is so thoughtful
But Eddie's the Man

A beautiful night, warm and largely clear skies, lightning flashing in distant clouds to the north.
After getting through this 2 CD set (at the end of which the truck battery was drained), I popped in another CD and listened to Weezer in an effort to gradually come down off the Van Halen "high". On February 12, 1995 they appeared in Paris, on France International Radio, playing six of their most popular songs at the time. This radio gig is referred to as "The Black Sessions". These guys were contemporaries of Van Halen and the music is very different, rock vs punk, both good to my ears. Based on listening to both of these 1995 sessions, Van Halen clearly played like well seasoned pros, confident and with gusto, another number 1 album having been released. They were near the top of the heap while Weezer was just emerging on the music scene. But the music scene was rapidly changing and the an apt analogy would be the dinosaurs and mammals just before the end of the Cretaceous Period. 1995 was a high water mark for Van Halen, after which the tide retreated ever since.

New generation
They grew up with the old rock
Take it up a notch

Upstarts on the rise
Snatch the crown from the big boys
Junior takes the stage

Sunday, July 20, 2008


The day was spent driving the kids around to various events and social activities. I hate driving on the weekends because of the long commute on weekdays. Needless to say, I got nothing done around the house, other than download a new high quality VH bootleg from 1995.

I spent the evening listening to Sucka's compilation of songs from Van Halen's first and second albums. Live songs in the same order they appear on the albums. Diamond Dave at the helm. Was not thrilled with the product in that the music was chopped up and of variable quality. Give me a good concert, seamless from beginning to end. I'm finding that the Sammy era albums are more rock solid and I prefer them over the early LPs.

Beautiful night with a full moon rising to the east. I'm realizing that these virtual concerts are an excuse to relax outdoors in the evenings, something I historically did while smoking cigars weekend nights outside the house. So although tonight's CD was somewhat disappointing, I enjoyed the experience simply because I was outdoors enjoying the cool air, the moon and stars.

Something amazing happened last night: I got 5 hours of solid sleep in one block of time! WOW! This has not happened in months.

Night after night
Lost in his virtual world
Wonders where it ends

Flees world's turmoil
CD, cigar, a few shots
Friday night's escape

Saturday, July 19, 2008

IT'S 5150 TIME!!!

A busy week leading up to the concert Friday night. Visited the hospital to get an MRI taken of my bum shoulder. I had an anxiety attack upon being rolled onto the cylindrical chamber, saved only when they covered my eyes, undid the strap on one hand and provided me with a tube blowing cool air that I directed at my face. A very noisy experience. I was told the images would be reviewed by the doctor by Thursday. No such luck, Monday being the next opportunity to hear back from them. The contrast dye they injected into the joint made it more painful and reduced the arms movement even more than before. The pain killer that preceded the injection made the arm feel like normal for that whole evening. Reality returned that night when I woke at 1 in the morning.

A house of sickness
The pain and anxiety
Tight as a coffin

Ever present pain
Constant gnawing on the soul
Weakens the spirit

Bad news for my employee with brain cancer. A relapse has her in the hospital again, facing another round of surgery to remove two growing tumors. The positive vibes coming from her good progress over the last two months have been replaced by a grim reality.

Struggles through the night
A matter of life and death
Battle fought alone

See it in her eyes
A future so uncertain
Rides the edge of life

On Friday I learned that a Russian "botware" had infected my computer at work, unknown to me. It apparently was communicating with its master back in the old USSR. The secrets they now have! Maybe they'll use all the soil cleanup standards listed in scattered files saved on the computer.

A life of its own
The Russian botware infects
Computer pen pals

I was tired this evening and so decided to pick a short set list to listen to out on the prairie. Instead of a bootleg recording, I tried something different by going straight for Van Halen's studio release "5150" (March 24, 1986), their 7th album, Sammy Hagar's debut with the band. Unlike earlier albums, it reached number 1 on the US charts, only 3 weeks after its release. With David Lee Roth's departure, the band ran through a list of possible replacements, settling for former Montrose singer Sammy Hagar. According to the Van Halen Encyclopedia:

"Sammy's obsession with cars eventually landed him the job with Van Halen. His mechanic, Claudio Zampolli, suggested to Eddie Van Halen that Sammy would make a good replacement for David Lee Roth, Ed invited Sammy to a "business meeting", which evolved into a jam session. Having found their new front man, the band began recording what would be their first #1 album. In fact, every Van Halen studio album recorded with Sammy Hagar reached #1."

It is a great album. Unlike the bootleg concert recordings, the sound is fabulously crisp and well balanced. It includes some classic songs of theirs that were probably played at every gig thereafter.

Beautiful evening, having rained shortly before sunset, clearing the air and cooling everything down to a nice temperature after a 90 degree day. I would have been huddling in the truck trying to escape the strong cool wind were it not for having a second shirt that I wore against the chill.

Smokes scent in the air
Cheap tequila on his breath
Music rocks the night

Thunderstorm's sharp rain
Passes, gray turning orange
Ablaze in sunsets light

Sammy's lead vocals
Paired with Eddie's hot guitar
Dynamic duo

Studio album
Eddie's guitar sounds so clear
He stands beside me

A rising full moon
Passes through layered clouds
Rimmed with its pale light

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Saturday night and I was back in Amsterdam with Van Halen playing in the Edenhal on June 15, 1979. Very good sounding audience bootleg. Parked the truck in a nearby field and cranked it up. A cool wind was blowing all the time, chilling me to the point where I sought shelter behind the windbreak formed by the truck. The heavy dose of tequila I had consumed did not provide enough warmth.

The band this evening played really well. The early years, when they had the energy and stamina to go full blast throughout the show. Eddies fingers just ripped through his guitar solo. This emphasized how Eddie had changed in later years (mid to late 1990's), trading youthful speed and vigor for a more mature approach, a bit slower, with a little more style and more introspective with the melody/sound. For that reason, I prefer Eddie's guitar solos from the 90's under both Sammy and Gary.

Youths hour has passed
Cracks have begun to appear
Time is catching up

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Another week passes and I relish the thought that its Friday night. Nothing new other than I went to see a doctor about the bum shoulder: more tests needed, surgery a possibility.

The hunt for new Van Halen bootlegs continues to be difficult, limiting me to harvesting concerts from the recent 2007/2008 tour which I'm saving for this Fall and beyond, played as one year anniversary shows that will be blasted from the truck stereo on next seasons "parties on the pass". Very discouraging.

I've been downloading some really good Linkin Park concerts from the last couple years, great quality and great performances. I've also been burning CDs with concerts performed by Weezer, going back to the mid 1990's. Weezer was an emerging garage band (nerd band for geeky punks) in the early 1990's, contemporaries of Van Halen, playing a very different style and contributing to the changing music scene that eventually took Van Halen out in the late 1990's. Sources on the web say this about that band:

"When they first appeared on the commercial pop landscape back in 1994, it wasn't without a fair amount of derision from the indie rock cognoscenti. After all, these guys were copping the indie rock style, using the same pop culture references and the same hooks, but putting it out on a major label with no grassroots support behind them. They had no "cred," as it were. Where did Weezer come from anyway? The answer is: nowhere. Rivers Cuomo founded the band as an outlet for his love of Van Halen, Cheap Trick and Kiss just a year before getting signed. The group was quickly thrust into the spotlight following the mad rush of Nirvana's success, and suddenly "Buddy Holly" and "Undone" were radio hits."
"The Weezer logo was created by Pat Wilson during the mixing of "Jamie", which appeared on a DGC compilation disc. Shortly after, the logo was taped onto the back of Rivers' jacket which he wore around LA until the tape fell off. The logo is a parody of the Van Halen logo."
This nights concert was a bootleg entitled "Factory of Music", the first half recorded on January 31, 1995 (less than a week after Eddies 40th birthday) in Milan, Italy, the second half in Chicago on May 11, 1995. Excellent quality and the band was hot those nights. I'd love to get my hands on the complete concert recordings for both nights. The Milan show was unusual in that they played in a club before a relatively small audience (700 or so people). That'd be an experience to remember! Although bands like Weezer were on the rise, they were midgets when compared to the long established bands like Van Halen.
Dark nights fevered dreams
Pursued by an obsession
Embeds in his mind

Draw our attention
Bright new stars rise in the east
As the old stars set

A music so sweet
Eddie's guitar casts its spell
Our hearts in their hands

Mozart on steroids
Volts amplify the genius
Eddie works the crowd

Mother fucking arm
Doctor offers no advice
Music dulls the pain

Never stops moving
A world that passes us by
It takes no notice

Monday, July 7, 2008


Fourth of July in Wyoming. Breakfast, read the newspaper, hang out and chat with the in-laws. By lunch I was ready to do something active. With a USGS publication and map in hand, my rock collecting tools in the back of the Honda, Eric and I drove out west of town along Zero Road to Emigrant Gap where we turned down a dirt road and followed a ridge line situated in wide open grasslands. Parked the car and we then went on foot, searching for signs of a chert pebble conglomerate lens that is the fossil producing zone. Walking through the grass below the ridge we eventually found loose chert pebbles, traced back to a thin 10 foot long lens that contained fragments of large coiled ammonite shells. We dug around for a while, finding pieces but nothing whole. I had collected nice specimens from a similar location years ago so I was not pushing to find anything special today, the fun simply being outdoors, the sweeping views and the excitement of the "hunt". If I were serious about collecting from this local, I would have to dig up the hillside to expose a larger section of the fossil bed in order to expose bigger slabs that increase the chance of a complete specimen.
After enduring the 90+ degree heat, we returned to the car for shade and water. We hung out for a while, enjoying the distant views. A large cloud billowed upward, providing relief from the sun and its heat. While enjoying the scenery I had a revelation, bringing understanding to why I get so "into" my Van Halen concerts. I'm a geologist, trained to take disconnected observations and somewhat abstract principals to draw conclusions and form a picture of distant historical events. Not unlike my virtual concerts: listening to music and visualizing the band in a way that feels real to me, like I'm right there at the foot of the stage. The ability to take CDs and turn them into something "real" is what keeps me coming back for more every weekend.

Grass fanned by the wind
Blows cross the barren landscape
Clouds billow skyward

Locked in black pebbled stone
Coiled shells speak of their lost times
Grass where there were seas

Scours the grassy slopes
Pick finds the ancient seashells
Lost buried treasure

They see only stone
His eyes reveal their secrets
Visions of lost worlds

Began the ride back, stopping once more to examine a different section of the ridge for signs of another fossil lens. Nothing found. Back to the car, the highway and the house.

A barbecue dinner at a friends house was followed by a trip to the open fields around the Casper Events Center, waiting for the 10 PM fireworks display. I drove past the cops and around a road barricade to find the same location we went to last year, very close to the shows launch site. Eric and I walked a little farther such that we were within a few hundred feet of the technicians launching the fireworks, such that the display was happening right above us. Fantastic! After the show Grandpa knew a better way out, avoiding much of the traffic and getting us home faster. We shot off a few of the fireworks at the house (illegal in Natrona County), freaking out the dog and sending her into the darkness until the following morning. By 11:30 I was free to do my own thing.
Drove to a dark turnoff along the Hat Six Road and dropped in a CD. This time it was December 4, 1992 in Dallas Texas. Van Halen was playing at a free concert, probably during daylight hours based on comments made. Another A+ recording! The sound of the audience was minimal, suggesting it was either a soundboard recording or it was taped from behind the stage. What was neat was that you could sometimes hear the band members trying to decide which song to play next, Sammy confirming they have no set song list established for the show. Although I forgot my cigar at the house, it was unneeded to groove on the show, the tequila being the primary fuel to launch me into that "zone" that ensures time travel.

Back home to where people were still looking for the firework freaked dog. She eventually was found at the neighbors house the next morning. Everyone was in bed by 1:30 AM.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


After a full day at the office, the wife and kids picked me up and we pointed the car north towards Wyoming for a Fourth of July weekend with the in-laws. Just across the Colorado state line we stopped for food, gas and .... fireworks! I was wanting to buy one specific item for future use, but as we went inside the store the kids grabbed a shopping cart and off they went! $150 later we were back on the road arriving in Casper, Wyoming shortly before 10 PM. After doing the social greeting thing I checked the house for my tequila stash only to learn that I was largely out, 1 shot at most being available. I bought another bottle from the nearby bar/liquor store, the Avalon, and then drove off for a dark spot to have my Friday night concert. Found it on the east edge of Evansville (a "suburb" of Casper), not too far from the banks of the North Platte River.

Tonights show was with the band, lead by Gary Cherone, at the Sydney Entertainment Center in Sydney, Australia on Monday April 20, 1998. An excellent soundboard recording, the only problem being that it was an edited version of the show, 8 of their songs on a single CD. An audio recording of the full show must be out there in circulation that I've got to hunt for. Rocked the night away, returning to the house around 1 AM where everyone was preparing for bed, the kids greeting me with "Dad's drunk!" I probably was, under the strickt definition of the law, but I knew I was far from it in terms of motor skills, communication and knowing what the hell was going on. Everyone was in bed shortly before 2 AM, the shoulder not bothering me until later in the morning.