15 Greatest Albums of all time… As of March 2009

Right now on Facebook there is a little thing going around were you post album covers and talk about your faves…   I remembered writing this years ago.  Its in my Facebook “Notes”.  Funny enough… Its still holding about 75% accurate nearly 10 years later.  

15 Greatest albums of all time? According to me!

Think of 15 albums, Singles, CDs, LPs (if you’re over 40) that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life. Dug into your soul. Music that brought you to life when you heard it. Royally affected you, kicked you in the wazoo, literally socked you in the gut, is what I mean. Then when you finish, tag 15 others (or more!), including me. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill.

In no particular order… Take that back… Some order

1. Men at Work – Business as Usual. This might be the only album I can listen to all the way through now… Just like I did then! I bought an extra LP version of it because I wore my first one out… And then proclaimed that this was an album I would share with my kids someday. (I remember this fact because Uncle Steve reminded me of that conversation from 1981) While its not a remarkable album… There were some great songs with a little off center-ness that probably started the ball rolling for me to be on the outside of mainstream music.

2. Duran Duran – Rio – Even if I wasn’t cool… I felt cool listening to this LP. (Yeah, I’m still talking LPs!) I couldn’t dance, didn’t have designer clothes, or even know where to start… But reading about these guys and digging on this album kept me from being a complete hick!

3. Peter Gabriel – So – This was the first CD I ever purchased… Still have it… Back when they made CD’s to last! I rode up to Walton’s on my BMX and picked up a General Electric CD player and “So” with my saved up paper route money… While I was sucked in my Sledgehammer…. It was songs like Dont Give Up with Kate Bush that once again started knocking down the walls of what was considered popular music.

4. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love – WBNQ went out with the bathwater when I heard this one… Music can be this??? Characters, theater, drama… Her wonderfully eccentric voice along with being backed up by some of the greatest musicians in the world. This really opened me up to looking for more in music than what the top 40 was dictating!

5. Ramones – Animal Boy – I’m not a punk guy… Never was… But, the Ramones gave me something to play loud! Violently loud! The songs didnt amount to more than some of the pop music at the time… Except for Bonzo goes to Bitzburg… It was almost a political statement song… But who could take the Ramones seriously for that?

6. The Dead Kennedy’s – Frankenchrist – Oh man… Jello Biafra can write some dialog! These guys had many albums that were punk… But this one was a fine piece of musicianship and lyrical conquest… You just through in the cassette and held on… Singing along to Anti-Anthems! This album still stands up… And you can find plenty of similarities between the Stars and Stripes of Corruption then, as you would now.

7. The Screaming Blue Messiahs – Bikini Red – As usual.. Always a story to go with the purchase… Bob Brown had bought this cassette on my insistence… After listening to it for a day… He said he didn’t like it. We had both agreed that “I wanna be a Flintstone” was a great song… Unfortunately… Nothing else on the cassette sounded like that. WHICH IS GREAT IN RETROSPECT! Its the weakest song they ever wrote! When I heard Jesus Chrysler Drives a Dodge for the fist time.. I was blown away! This guy was making his guitar scream! I have said it before.. And I’ll say it again… If I could play guitar.. I would want to play like Bill Carter. Controlled chaos! Evidenced in their live material!

8. Pere Ubu – Cloudland – Another expansion on what music is. Weird clicks, sound effect and whirrring noises in beat with a great band… Oh, and that singer… What in the world is he singing??? It was always hard to understand the first time through… But their hooks and pop grooves were usually enough to keep me entertained. This was the first of my Ubu albums for me!

9. Oingo Boingo – LIVE 2CD – Total summer music in 1989… I was aware of the band from movies like Weird Science and Back to School (Thanks to Kennedy for that memory update)… But these guys are sooooo much more! Phenomenal musicians… Brilliant lyrics and a wild look. More of a New Wave throwback… I probably caught them on the tail-end of their career. No matter, I dug their whole catalog and still love to listen to all of it today. This album had a great live sound that didnt have the dated keyboards and drum machine sounds.. Probably why I always cue it up first with in an OB mood!

10. Julian Cope – St. Julian – Big time British rock sound with complete lyrical weirdness! I couldnt figure this guy out to save my life… But I loved playing this album loud!!! Pulsar is one of my top 10 favorite songs of all time!

11. Robyn Hitchcock – Spooked – This one is not that old… But it revived for me what an artist can be… Even with an acoustic guitar… You can be clever and relevant. I am not huge on one man guitar shows.. But Robyn sucks you in on this one and you live in his world for a while. I have almost everyone of his albums (Thats a lot!) and this one still holds as his breakthrough for me.

12. The Decemberists – Castaways and Cutouts – I had given up on new music. Resigned that all new music sucks! I was ready to listen to Julian Cope and Oingo Boing for the rest of my life! Thank God for these guys! Lit rock? Is that a term? It should be. These guys breathed air into my CD collection when it was needed most. They are current, but timeless… I suspect I will be listening to their albums for many years ahead.

TIE 13. Lou Reed & John Cale – Songs for Drella | Lou Reed – Magic and Loss – Never a huge Lou fan… I was pleasantly surprised when Jon Etter slapped the Drella VHS in the player. (They did a VHS whole album recording, its not on DVD.. I’ve checked!) Its Lou being tender and soft… Really the beginning of a sound that he was holed up in for the next 20 years! All the songs tell a story and you can feel his love for Warhol and the old gang in this. Magic and Loss was a some of the darkest recordings in my collections. I normally like pretty up music… But the feeling that is brought out in the songs of this album really draw you in. When he is singing (If you call it that) about awkward conversations at funerals… Or taking a boat out to spread ashes in the Atlantic ocean… You feel like you are living it. Lou’s finest!

14. Talking Heads – Naked – Not a typical Talking Heads album… It was more influenced by David Byrnes dabbling in Brazilian music. It totally took me to another place… Letting me open up to artists with a south of the border texture. Once again… It expanded what I new about music. Rio Momo, some Ozomatli…. And a bit of Jobim later… And I can see where that branch of my musical tree came from!

15. The The – Infected – Yeah, that band name is right! OK, Lou wasnt the only downer in my collection. Matt Johnson gave me some gritty stuff that dealt with bad relationships, societal decay, and inner turmoil… All wrapped in a punchy, sometimes pop-ish package. Johnson’s voice always sounds troubled! Johnny Marr played guitar on this and the next album… And they still sound as good today as they did back in 1990 (Earlier?)

Honorable Mentions:

Afghan Whigs – Gentleman
They Might be Giants – They Might be Giants (Debut album 1986)
The Refreshments – Fizzy Fuzzy, Big and Buzzy
Ben Folds Five – Whatever and Ever Amen
The Blue Nile – Walk across the Rooftops
The Cars – Candy O
Counting Crows – August and Everything after (Only meaningful if you have had your heart ripped out!)
Fishbone – Truth and Soul
Goo Goo Dolls – Hold me Up

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Lead Hair

The lead hair. 

Is he the idealistic soldier who steps forward when he hears the call?  Or is he the brave soul who stands his ground while the others retreat?

Would I deny his nobility and strike down his impotence with one quick slice? Do I let him grow and attempt to thrive in a territory that he has been bold enough to settle for himself?

I know that his days are likely numbered. It seems cruel to cut short what we know will end soon through its natural course.

Live another day doomed soldier! 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

School Musical Clip

I didn’t want to film the whole thing… Here is what I grabbed from the show at St. Joes last night. Aiden was great.

Posted in Video | Leave a comment

Video shorts from Spring Break 2018

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tazewell County Litter

If cleanliness is next to Godliness…  then Tazewell County IL is going straight to Hell!

Every year about this time…  We see the first glints of greenery budding on the trees and bushes of Central Illinois.  Its our first whiff of the changing season and it comes with small bit of joy as we feel the sun’s warmth trickling back into our days.

Also, as part of this special time, we get to see what the winter snow melt has left us…  Litter.  Every ditch… Every field.  Its a plethora of plastic bottles, fast food containers and random plastic bags from the mega retailers and the grocers of Pekin.

You might say…  “Eric… Your really nitpicking here if you want to complain about garbage in the ditches”.  Yeah… I agree.  It should seem like a tiny concern in the scheme of things for a county with lots of other problems.  I could be talking about Meth or Heroin overdoses and certainly get more people to agree with the level of concern.   I think it comes from the time change.  With our newly acquired evening sunlight, I see these ditches everyday on the way home.  This is not the first time I have written about this.  I have posted similar articles before… It was particularly bad when I was driving to our old home on Christmas Tree Rd.

Throwing trash out of your car is a decision.  I can recognize the flawed reasoning with beer cans and bottles.  Beer cans are thrown out of your car to subvert the law and save yourself an open container ticket.  Or worse yet… A DUI!  Do not think for one minute I am condoning the behavior…  It’s very prevalent In these parts,  but I would never risk my livlyhood.  Others do even though the penalties are large and life altering.   They lessen their risk by casting their “empties” out the window.

Littering is not like drugs. Its not an uncontrollable addiction.  (Not getting into that right now)(Then again… If online shopping can be an addiction… Who’s to say.)  Throwing trash out of your car is a complete and utter disrespect of the land and shows a lack of consideration for yourself and fellow man.

Take a look at the pictures.  This is one ditch on Allentown Road outside of Pekin.  I can tell you that 5th, 14th and Rt 29 are as bad. Look around and every other road around town that has a ditch looks like this to some degree.

It is so bad that I have to wonder where we are lacking in our roles as citizens and peers.  Was it something in our parental guidance?  Do we not throw this kind of education at our kids in downstate Illinois?  What do people think happens to this garbage after its thrown out the window?  Do people around here lack the sense of presence.  I mean, do they understand that everyday they contribute to this behavior, they are leaving an ugly mark on this earth.  And really… For no reason at all.  There are gas stations with trash bins all over.  There are public trashcans.  Its shear laziness and disrespect to pretend that throwing it out the window is a better option.  Something is amiss here.

A friend of mine saw my Instagram post about this  a few weeks ago (Same Pictures BTW) and said every kid should see the video we had shown between cartoons in the 70’s.  The iconic Indian looking over the wasteland of 70’s urban America.  Lets play it now show we?

We have to start young!  Kids need something like this to latch onto.  I don’t care if its Sponge Bob!  At least they would stop what they are doing and listen to him.  Keep American Beautiful was the Government agency involved with the Ad Council in the 70’s that ran these PSA’s.  I did a quick google search.  They are still around and have moved past those blurry commercials.  They have a chapter in Peoria.  See the links at the bottom.

Also…  What about the old Litter Bug?  I never hear that term anymore.  Time to dig that guy back out!

Image result for litter shaming

I think I am going to see if Aiden has any thoughts about doing an anti-litter program for his Eagle Scout project.  I am honestly interested in helping out myself, but just like everyone else… I have have the excuse that I dont have time!  Maybe when we get these kids out of the house?  I can collect garbage on my sailboat?

Resources:

https://www.kab.org/

https://www.kab.org/sites/default/files/Litter_Curriculum_Final.pdf

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The more things change…

I am noodling here… So, if this is not coherent… I warned you.

Below is a picture of a google image search for “animated trump image” or something like that.

Anyone who knows me…  Knows that my political alliances lie with neither major party, and I generally stay out of the fray when it comes to complaining about the morons who run this country.  (That indie streak has me signed up as a card carrying Libertarian right now, more on that at the end.)  That said… I have a indie streak that runs all the way back to the 80’s and I am loving this newfound vitriol for government officials.  This rage at the current administration has been splattered all over the internet in Instagram, Twitter and Facebook in the form of memes and animated GIF’s.  Some of them are awesome and you have to admire the level of skill it takes to make them.

But is it this kind of artistry newfound?  Looking back over my High School days…  I remember very similar work.  All done in analog.   The digital age makes it easy for anyone to whip up a meme… But we have been doing this for decades.  You just forgot!  Instead of photoshop or imageflip… We used collages and ‘zines done on a xerox.  Were you seeing stuff like the picture above in HS?  Probably not unless you were hanging with the indie crowd.  My friends and I were as anti-establishment as Midwest kids could reasonably get… Even if we didn’t have a clue what that meant.  We would stop at Mother Murphy’s and grab weird magazines.  We would read the liners of all our Dead Kennedy albums and subscribe to the latest Alternative Tentacles ‘zine.  Its so similar.  I almost believe that everything used against Reagan is now being spun on Trump.  It didnt really work back then… It got the ground troops riled up.  But, as we should know by now…  It didn’t stop anyone’s political careers or aspirations.   “There is no such thing as bad publicity” is the new mantra.  It keeps you relevant and in front of peoples faces.  Thus I wonder if Trump’s people even care about all these caricatures.

Maybe… Just maybe…  If you have a problem with this guy… Or the other guys…  Or those gals over there…  (The guys in the bushes look evil too)  You might decide to do something yourself starting at the local level???  Really…  The old adage that change begins within yourself…  Is completely relevant.  How can you really sit there and post Twittervism’s or Facebook posts complaining… When all you do is accept the clowns that are paraded onto your ballot?

Turn the TV off.  Stop reading political news online.  Get out and talk to other human beings.  Try to talk to folks with opinions other than yours and you might find that most of us want the same thing.  You just dont vote that way!  You wont allow it.  You have been brainwashed into thinking that a complete win is the only acceptable outcome.  Compromise is failure.

Here is a good site for you:   https://www.congressforkids.net/Constitution_threebranches.htm

The Three Branches of Government

Delegates at the Constitutional Convention also wanted to divide power within the federal government. They did not want these powers to be controlled by just one man or one group. The delegates were afraid that if a small group received too much power, the United States would wind up under the rule of another dictator or tyrant.

We teach our kids that one party or individual with too much power is a tyrant or a dictator.  But, when we elect our executive leaders…  Both sides…  Want to have absolute rule of law.

Our system of government really only works with compromise.  Flipping switches on executive orders is nonsense.  That is not how the Founding fathers wanted our people ruled.  I believe that they did see the evil that can come from lopsided power and laid out a plan to negate that behavior.  Equal power distribution with checks and balances serves a valuable role in keeping our country from tilting too far in either direction.

Its naive to think that the Reagan and Tip O’Neil working relationship can come back…  Hell, I thought Obama and the Boehner (Was that his name) might have been on to something when they had their beer.   But, that all went sideways as well.  Somebody wasn’t “winning”, and it ended up in deadlock.

It sure would be nice to think that all parties, R, D and Independents could see past differences to knock out what I consider moral subjects like war or government waste.

Until we start looking hard at what we expect from our officials, or start looking hard at who is greasing their wheels…  I think we are in for lots more years of gridlock.

Oh…  Speaking of my indie guys.  I have been putting my efforts behind the local Libertarian Party groups in Central Illinois.  Yes, I called out anyone who complains about not doing anything…  And I back that up by getting out and helping make a change locally.  My guys have a page now!!!

http://libertyplays.com/

Its still a small movement… But as we learned from the last election…  Big things can happen fast!  Seems like every monthly meeting has new members showing up.

And, Tazewell County has a Libertarian group now…  We meet…  We talk about local issues and elections.  We will make a difference!

https://www.facebook.com/TAZEWELLLIBERTARIANPARTY/

Posted in Social Commentary | Tagged | Leave a comment

My Barber is high tech!

For years I have been going to Colonial Barber shop in Pekin for my bi-monthly trims.  During the last twenty years of using this local shop, I have become attached to a few of the guys and gals renting chairs in this monument to hometown values.

Recently, one of my favorites, Tim, took off and left an empty chair.  I found out later that he had moved over to a newer little shop in downtown Pekin called “Jakes Place”.  I was still loyal to the regulars down at Colonial till yesterday.  

Yesterday, one of my employees came back from a haircut at “Jake’s” and passed along a message from Tim that I should stop in.  (My hair must have been really bad on my last selfie).  Luckily enough, I did in fact need a haircut.  During the conversation with my tech… We decided to check out “Jake’s Place” on Facebook from my desk.  

I immediately noticed that a “Book Now” button was staring at me from the middle of the page.  What’s this?  I can schedule a haircut?  Being the mercy of the crowd is part of the routine at Colonial, an appointment would save me the grief of sitting and waiting, sometimes for 20 minutes.   I pushed on through the online scheduler.

 

I was able to select what kind of cut I wanted…  And knew exactly the price of the service I was getting.  I booked it for 4PM that same day.

That was cool enough, but it got better.  

 

Within seconds of confirming the appointment, I got a text message thanking me for scheduling and confirming the time.  Minutes later… A GMail alert came over with a calendar notification.  My appointment was now in my google calendar!  This is all excellent for a haircut.  Some might say its too much… But for me… I need these notifications and alerts especially if I am planning days out in advance.  

The coup de gra came when I got a text one hour in advance of the appointment.  Anyone who knows me and my schedule can attest that I can get wrapped up in something with a customer or car that leaves me wondering where the time went.  The text notification reminding me that I had to be in Tim’s chair at 4 was invaluable!

I made the appointment…  Tim and I geeked out a little about Instagram (He’s a pro at it) and talked about his appointment system.  (BTW, This is not a paid advertisement)  He said the program is run by “Square”.  The same people who do the credit card slider on our iPhone run this software.  The charge a monthly fee and they handle the appointments and card transactions.  

It’s pretty slick, and if this is a sign of things to come… I will never miss an appointment again.

Postscript.

I checked with my current vendor for our online scheduler… My store sends out emails in similar intervals to the texts that the barber shop is was doing.  But, we do not have the google calendar setup or the one hour alerts.  Both of these features make the system top notch in my opinion.  

I will be pursuing this!

Posted in Work | Leave a comment

Sunrise on Deerfield Beach – 1.12.18

Not sure why I never appreciated this type of stuff when I lived there…  But if I had, I likely would not be here in Illinois!  Its a win-win I guess.

Posted in Video | Tagged | Leave a comment

Christmas 2017

https://photos.app.goo.gl/P3vFPJhFyEUX9g8E3

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SCC 2017

Following Stork down Rubicon Ridge

The Fort’s Trail Team ended our 2017 “Season” with one of our favorite events in the TLCA lineup…  Southern Cruiser Crawl (SCC).  SCC has been a “must” event for our group since our first time venturing to Hot Springs Off Road Park in 2013.  It’s a mix of old and new trucks, great food, lots of friendly faces and most importantly… It’s a great off road park.

The event has been building year over year…  What started out as a small club event for Cottonland Cruisers has turned into a nationally recognized destination.  Forts Trail Team has been there to watch some of that growth.  Our first year at SCC was three years ago and we brought two trucks.  This year, we had a fleet of six trucks from Central Illinois caravan down the 8 hour drive south.  Our 2001 Tacoma dubbed “300” amazed us once again by showing its durability in trouble free operation on and off the trails, not to mention the drive to and from Hot Springs.  

Fall in Arkansas this year was hot.  Normally when we do SCC it’s a nice warmth in the sun, but when in the shadow of trees or in a valley… Its cool air.  Combine that with the first hints of fall in the tree colors…  And it’s nearly the best time of year to be there.  This year…  It was lot of dust and a heat everyday.  Highs during the days closed in on 90 degrees.  We are breaking a sweat…  Add to the dust from the truck in front of you and you suddenly feel like it’s Mojave Road all over again!  In all honesty, high 80’s while in the shade are not bad.   If you haven’t been there, Hot Springs Off-Road Park has lots of shade.  Every rolling hill is covered with trees and we are deep in these canopy all day.  Rarely do you find yourself in the wide open sun.

   The event is centered around this park…  And it would seem that three years of hitting these trails would make the event a casual drive.  But that’s not the case.  We brought some new people with us, so that is always a thrill.  We did manage to find some new trails, which I did not think was possible!  And, we did some “Night Wheeling” and managed to get backwards on one of the harder trails in the park.  It was a constant adventure!   

Night Wheeling requires a lot of light!

One notable highlight was when “300” got stuck.  It all happened when its over ambitious driver, Fort’s Maintenance Tech Hunter, decided to follow a line that the rock crawling buggies had just ripped through.  Watching the recovery was just fine for the rest of us…  We got to see a show from a world famous truck.   Marlin from Marlin Crawler pulled up and rescued the Tacoma with ease.  Lots of pictures were taken and lots of jabs have been thrown at Hunter since.  All that was missing was popcorn!

Rescued by Marlin

 

Well, the camping was a highlight as well… As this picture below will illustrate.  Camping with new guys is always an adventure when they have not prepared their gear!

Remember kids… Prep your gear!

This year, as In years past we have used the KOA for camping 5 minutes away from the event.  They have great shower facility and it’s a quiet atmosphere to retire too after running trails all day.  We found out on day two that their breakfast is a pretty good deal as well.  Bonus!  KOA’s have all levels of service.  They have small cabins, RV Hookups and tent space.  We all tent camped.  KOA’s have always been a great value for stops when travelling the country, and this one in Hot Springs is on our good list.  

Mother nature gave us our final wakeup call on Sunday.  The dryest of weekends always ends with rain.  (Because, what fun would packing your tent up be if everything was dry?)  At 6am Sunday morning… And big storm front moved through and made sure everything was soaked.  

Southern Cruiser Crawl happens every October…  It’s on the Fort’s Trail Team to-do list every year.  If you want a fun, end of the year, 4 wheeling romp, this is the one to do.  Let us know if you are interested in going as we always have room for more folks.  Its also worth noting that this event is made for every type of wheeler;  Buggies to stock trucks can have fun here.  Food is provided every night and it’s a big party afterward.  The KOA does book it’s cabins pretty far out in advance…  Otherwise, you can plan this trip around the event registration later in the summer.

Join us!

Posted in Trail Team | Tagged | Leave a comment