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Figbuck Chronicles...


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I know, go on. What is the alternative? On that.



OK... breath in ...


breath out. I'm not cold, I'm not wet and I'm not hungry. I have lots and lots of problems, but somehow I have to let go of them and forge ahead. I'm pretty sure I know what I want to do. The question for myself is, do I have the guts to do it?

I'm going to have to cowboy up and get with the program. The first thing to do is change my thinking. Completely. Let go of everything that is left, then start over... again. I ain't gonna talk about I'm just going to do it.



Hey do you feel the wobble? We are tipping back right now. It's all downhill from here, the days will get shorter. Around and around we go... where it stops...


That is the $64K question.


Canby was 99% fun. I got to talk to a bunch of people I didn't know, still don't know who they were... except they were into Datsuns! I met some Ratsunistas for the first time and even the weather was not horrible. The only thing that ruined it for me was running into Steve "Slodat". Hey Clary how is it going????? Are you kidding me? Good thing you walked away from me... before I could get to the part about how lucky you are! Steve... "Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk???" I was in a band with a black chick who used say... "You cain't bullshit a bullshitter."


Yeah, Canby is cool because we are all in a "brotherhood" or sorts. We drive around and see another Datsun, we know that somehow that person is like us. We never met them but we could understand where they are coming from. Then you pull up to a Datsun in a gas station and the stories and laughs start. We are in the Brotherhood.


I am a member other Brotherhoods too. I'm a musician. I'm a saxophone player. I'm a fucking Tenor Sax player!! I play Selmer Mark VI saxes. I play Otto Link Vintage New York Super Tone Master mouthpieces.


I was in the Army. I grew up in a neighborhood. I went to schools, I'm a woodworker... I also rode motorcycles and put in enough miles to be a lifetime member of the brotherhood of riders. Who knows. I may be able to ride again. I still think about riding every day... even though I can't go to the closet, suit up, roll the bike out of the garage, Helmet, sunglasses, gloves, fire up, saddle up... all that stuff is gone. I feel like a rider. I'm still connected.


When you ride a bike, every motorcyclist you see give you a wave or points, nods his helmet... some form of acknowledgment. Except for Harley riders... they are off in their own brotherhood of bikes that are not fast or quick, can't brake and can't steer. Reet.


I have been hundreds of miles out in the middle of Arizona or Eastern Oregon, someplace remote, and not next to nowhere, it is nowhere. I'm stopped to hydrate and stretch. A couple guys on sport bikes stop to see if I'm OK. We start to talk and get right to MotoGP and WSBK and how the new FJ is badder than an ST... dude have you seen the new Ducati Super Mono... you know? I never seen these guys before but they are my brothers. They would go out of their way to help me... as would I!


I could go on and on with stories of meeting up with riders on top of a 10K Foot pass in the mountains, talk about what length pre load spacers they are running, how they set their Ohlins or Fox Twin Clicker for rebound and damping... Spring rates?? I never got there names, where they were from. But we were the only humans on this planet on that beautiful day who well and truly ripped the bloody asphalt off the top of that mountain. Come to a junction at the bottom... with smiles and thumbs up I go one way and they wheelie off in the other direction. It's been real my brothers!

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OK... breath in ... breath out.


I'm not cold, I'm not wet and I'm not hungry.


I have lots and lots of problems, but somehow I have to let go of them and forge ahead. I'm pretty sure I know what I want to do. The question for myself is, do I have the guts to do it? I'm going to have to cowboy up and get with the program. The first thing to do is change my thinking.

Completely. Let go of everything that is left, then start over... again.


I didn't know Gary Jaehne personally, but he was a brother. I watched him race Open-Class motorcycles in AFM club racing at Sears Point Raceway for years. He was a New Rider instructor and helped so many guys understand how to go fast.


I did a bunch of track days put on by a guy named Dennis Pegalow. They called it DP Safety School. Yeah right, safety. If you want safety... don't ride a motorcycle! But if you want to go fast, the race track is the safer place.


Track days are like the most fun you can have with your clothes on. One of the few times Dennis rented Portland International Raceway, about fifteen of us guys who were all pitted together were eating lunch. One rider says, "Riding a bike is better than sex!" A bunch of guys, laugh and agree. A second later, some squid says, "Well you ain't getting the kind of pussy I am." And three guys go simutainioulsy, "Dude that is becasue you are fucking slow!!"


I said, show of hands... who thinks screwing on the throttle is better than screwing chicks? 15 to 1 for motorcycles on track.


Most of the riders doing track days are guys who own high performance motorcycles and want to ride them the way they were designed. There are always guys who think they want to go fast enough to race, so it's an inexpensive way to find out you are just in reality... slow. Some guys are fast club level or even privateer national caliber riders, wanting seat time to test suspension and set-up stuff. Dennis always had a half dozen teacher/coaches who would ride with these guys on track to coach them. Where else could a regular guy like me ride sessions with National Champions like Donny Green or Willow Springs Motorcycle Club fast guy and Cycle World editor Don Canet back to back.


One of the teacher/coaches I met at PIR was a very fast Oregon rider named Keith Pinkstaff. More on Keith later. I was really lucky to get feedback and be able to follow and be followed by these guys, then talk to them about lines and braking points, etc. I got to ride with Gary Jaehne and talk to him both at Laguna and Thunderhill a number of times.


I should not even talk about this, but there was a group of fast guys that had sort of a secret club... in that, unless you were in that group you wouldn't know where or when they did their rides. They began to be called the Squid Hunters. I was out in the hills fucking around, when a group of suberbikes pulled off in the vista point where I was taking a drink. A couple of the guys knew me from DP, and I ended up riding a 200 mile loop with them in less that three hours. Total hooligan outlaws... just like me. Speed junkies.


Not that I was slow, not that I didn't know the reads, not that I couldn't ride a quick pace in control, in a pack. I just never felt comfortable enough for it to be fun.


That was it. No more riding in groups on the street. I was always a loner, I'm going to be a loner.


It's a hazy memory, but I seem to remember Gary Jaehne had hit a big deer up in the Seirra's somewhere going 100mph plus, and totaled a new superbike. He said when he knew he was going to hit it, he gassed and it split the deer in half. He said, he was throwing up because he was covered in deer guts and shit. A buddy had to give him a ride two-up a couple hundred miles home all stinky.


I remember he had like three deer stickers on his helmet. I think he was the guy who first hit a deer coming down into turn four at an AFM race at Sears?? After that, they had green John Deere flag at the corner marshal's flag stand. The wildlife flag always got mentioned at the mandatory rider's meeting on race mornings, in case there were deer or rabbits running across the track up there.


I think I first remember seeing Keith Pinkstaff thrashing on a blown Honda engine in the back of the paddock at the AMA National at Laguna pitted with all the low buck privateers. I noticed he had Oregon plates on his van. I sort of followed him for a few years when he ran a Kawi for Zlock Racing before he stopped pro road racing.


When I moved to Oregon he lived four blocks from here. When I heard what happened to Keith a couple of years back, I had just sold my bikes and all my stuff to try and save my contracting business. Not because I ever wanted to stop riding!! I have this sense of loss, a little constant pain, when I think how long it has been since I was on a motorcycle. Maybe someday again...


or not.


Keith Pinkstaff


The late afternoon of Saturday September 24 will be regarded as a dark day for the local motorcycle community of the greater Portland area. A greatly respected senior and founding member of OMRRA and PSSR, a riders rider, a champion on and off the track, was lost to us all in a fatal motorcycle accident Saturday. At this time details are not complete. Keith was riding near Vernonia alone and it is understood that there was a truck involved.


If this is the first you have heard of the loss and are a close friend, please accept my regrets for not allowing you to learn of this from a personal call. However as you surely apprecieate, Keith had so many close friends, that contacting everyone personally would take far longer than the events will allow. I thought it better to learn here from a friend, than from a news report.


A brief bio From the PSSR web site: Keith is the fastest/ bestest rider I know well. How do I know? Because he is one of the very few guys I could never finish in front of when I road raced! He is a multi-time #1 plate holder at OMRRA & WMRRA, with over 350 race wins and approximately 40 Season Points Class Championships.


Keith was also a nationally ranked AMA roadracer. He raced for twelve seasons in the AMA Nationals 750 Superbike class at all the major events. He accumulated many top ten national finishes, including a 7th place finish in the Daytona 200.


He also won the North American Superbike National Championship in 1995. What he brings to Pacific Super Sport Riders is the ultimate in racecraft experience to share with you. See Keith for intermediate to advanced instruction, racing questions, how to go fast safely & have fun. He also happens to be an attorney, so keep your shredding confined to the racetrack!




Scotts Valley motorcyclist dies after accident in San Mateo County By Cathy Kelly - Santa Cruz Sentinel Posted: 05/20/2012 09:44:46 AM PDT Updated: 05/20/2012 10:00:45 AM PDT PESCADERO - Gary Jaehne, a 57-year-old Scotts Valley man well-known in Bay Area motorcycle racing circles, died Saturday after his 2008 Kawasaki plunged about 70 feet down an embankment in rural San Mateo County, authorities said.


It took more than an hour for rescue teams to retrieve Jaehne due to the steep terrain and the remote location between Pescadero and La Honda, Cal Fire officials said,. California Highway Patrol officers believe Jaehne was riding east on Pescadero Creek Road in the Loma Mar area when he lost control of his motorcycle about 12:20 p.m.


He was conscious when paramedics -- using a rope rescue -- found him, a Cal Fire engineer said. He had been riding with a group, the official said. Jaehne was flown by helicopter to Stanford Hospital, but later succumbed to his injuries, the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office confirmed.


According to posts on the Bay Area Riders Forum, Jaehne was a longtime California road racer who was a mentor to many younger riders. One friend called him a "250 legend." Jaehne authored a book called "Sportbiking: The Real World (The Advanced Riders Handbook.)" Per a review on Web Bike World, he had competed with various local and national organizations and served as an instructor at DP Safety School.


In a 1999 Saratoga News story about high-speed riding on Highway 9, Jaehne was described as a full-time high-tech employee and part-time motorcycle racing safety instructor. Even though he was a safety instructor, Jaehne said danger is inherent to the sport, Steve Enders of Saratoga News reported. "Guys know where the dangerous spots are, know where the cops are," he said. "Most guys ride careful up here, but even with me, it's competitive. You know, if I pass someone, then he passes me, then I pass him again, I'm not going to let him pass again. I can't help being competitive."


A motorcyclist who died after his vehicle went off a roadway in unincorporated San Mateo County has been identified as Gary Jaehne, 57, of Scotts Valley, according to the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner. The California Highway Patrol says they believe Jaehne was riding east on Pescadero Creek Road in the Loma Mar area, west of Loma Mar Road, when he lost control of his motorcycle and went over the south side of the roadway, down a 50-foot embankment. Police responded to reports of a collision around 12:20 p.m.


Because of the steep drop and remote location, it took rescue teams hours to rescue Jaehne, according to Ari Belay, battalion chief for the San Mateo County Fire Department. The road where Jaehne crashed is "one of the most remote locations in county," Belay said. Jaehne was alive when rescue teams reached him and was flown by helicopter to Stanford Hospital, but later succumbed to his injuries, Belay said. The CHP said the incident is under investigation, but it does not believe that alcohol or drugs were a factor. Copyright Bay City News Posted May 19, 2012




On my trip to the Bay Area in February, I visited a guy named Steve Yelick who I went to high school with and we had a nine piece horn band that kicked ass. Steve played Hammond B3 and piano too. He was taking lessons from Tom Coster Ex-Santana keyboard player, founder of the garage band of all Fusion bands Vital Information (search Tom Coster on YouTube), when he was a junior. Steve went on the road for a while and ended up in Holland where he lived for many years. Worked in studios, built a studio, built a recording business, produced major records, had night clubs, restaurants and a villa in Portugal where he went to play golf.


Anyway Steve could play the B man. When his mom died, he came back here so his daughter would be a citizen and grow up here. He built a studio out in Pescadero and has been living there for about ten years. It's fucking paradise! Of all the dreams I ever had, I wanted to live and a shack under some drippy redwoods over in Loma Mar. When I fucking die I want some of my ashes spread all down Pescadero Road to the ocean.


We spent two days and a night catching up, man... brothers in the funky groove. We played in a killing big band at College of San Mateo too, then he left. We saw each other once at a gig I had about '79 when he was here to buy equipment for his studio.


He played me a bunch of demos he has been working on. Wow, what sound system, and what great vintage keyboard instruments he has had forever. Anyway, it looked dried out and dead in California from no rain. August in February. Scary shit man. I remember when it used to rain like it does in oregon, down in San Mateo County.


We are sitting in Steve's living room drinking coffee and a storm starts in off the coast. In a few minutes it is dumping fire hose style. It actually set record totals for a time period and was all over the news. Well, we weren't watching the news, and I was going to drive over to Menlo Park to hear my friends 20 piece big band. I drove over Pescadero Road and La Honda roads in the old Datsun through the worst monsoon I ever remember. Big branches and tons of leaves and shit was falling out of the trees. There were lands slides in all the right hand corners, creeks and ditches over running the road depositing mud and rocks. It was insanely windy and pitch black.


So, I since I converted my drum brakes to Klotz Midnight Performance Products brake system, I had not really tested them out. It was like driving a sport truck. Experimental sport truck though. Since I found myself on the "Top Secret Coastal Mountain Test Course"... well, I just like to go fast.


There was no traffic and I was hustling the old Datsun as quickly as it would go, driftng and hydroplaning through all that tight twisty stuff. I was thinking... here is where I hit the deer... here is where I high sided my Interceptor on a bald rear tire... here is where I saw the guy on a full dressed gold wing end up on the dining room table of a Winnebago... the place where my squidly neighbor dropped his brand new bike in front of me... here is where a lady ran me off the road on my VFR, rolled down the window of her Honda as I was laying on the ground and asks, are you OK? I go, no. She rolls the window up and leaves... on and on...




I went right past the place where Gary Jaehne died too. I guess my new brake system passed a test. I'd rather be lucky than good... luck than smart. On that.



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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

i got bored so i printed out everything Sir Figbuck has said so i can read it while i'm in class, or in the car or whatever. i am only about 1/3 of the way through and i absolutely love your writing, and am glad you wrote your stories. these stories give me somethin too look forward too, a life of interesting things, and yes i know it will be alot different than your time cause of how the times have changed. but know i know what i am taking on the roadtrip i have been planning for the last few years. my Datsun. thank you for the inspiration



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being relatively new to the site, i am continually and pleasantly surprised at the mass of information and knowledge that has accumulated here. especially when i come across something like this thread. i have only had a chance to read a couple stories, but will definetly be following it, and trying to catch up from the beginning.

mr. figbuck reminds me of a friend i have in fremont that i haven't spoken to in a while, i don't get back as often as we used to since moving to sacramento, and getting caught up in this crazy thing we call "life", but i will be making an effort to contact him very soon. reading these stories makes me miss "razz" and his magic.

thank you sir, very much

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  • 4 weeks later...

All i can say is WOW. I could relate to many of your stories. You tell them with heart and eloquence. I read it from start to finish but have one question? What happened to your Mom's tricked out 510?


My first car was a 73 Datsun 620. I've ridden motorcycles most of my life. Porsches were an addiction. Loved the Al Holbert IMSA & Porsche IndyCar segment. I still have an old vintage Fosters Porsche indycat blue suede jacket hanging in my closet. Ive also hung with Eddie Lawson in a local so cal strip club...lol. Eddie is a local legend and i've chilled with him and drove his old 560SEC years ago. He can wring out anything with wheels from IndyCars to bikes to go-carts. Keep on posting Fig! Thanks again....


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  • 1 month later...

Thanks guys. My Mom's 510 is a not a good story. I don't know what happened to it. She was completely insane. When my Dad died she pissed away millions of dollars. My brother took care of her for ten years when she was finally broke. I never had a reason to talk to her.


I see that this thread is coming up on 20K views. Back a few years ago, when the forum software changed, I went back to the beginning to fix some characters that didn't translate well. I have never read the whole thing. I have some great Datsun stories. Some of them were in not so happy times. I would rather be happy. It's hard to watch the events in our world and stay happy.


Here we are spinning around out here again. Our earth is wobbling back the other way.  The days will start to get longer again. Whew. I have to remind myself to breath. The shit has been gettin' deep. no? Heart crushing reality in our world. I try to get up every day...


uh, and...


yeah. I try to get up every day.


Some days are better than others. Remember to keep breathing. I hope the cosmic vibrations will begin to get us back in the groove again. We seem to have lost the Mojo. I know I'm messed up in some bad Juju. I just don't know about anything anymore.


Hot day in August, I was playing my horn under the Morrison Bridge. I can make all the noise I want with all the traffic overhead. Generally joggers and dog walkers leave me alone. Some even drop a buck or change by my case.


I was leaning up against the guard rail on the river wall, playing with my eyes closed. I love the echo I get off the bottom of the bridge. All of a sudden, I can tell from the sound bouncing back at me, that something is right in front of me. I open my eyes but keep on playing.


There is a young guy, early '20s, holding a cell phone right up in front of my face. He had a big shit-eating grin on his face. I thought he was going to take my photograph. so I just kept on playing. I even tried to close my eyes once hoping he would go away. But the guy seemed obnoxious, and it kind of scared me for a second.


I stopped playing and ask, "Please don't take my photograph." He laughed and said, "Keep on playing man." I ask him again not to take my picture, but he kept on filming me until I honked the horn at him.


He turned and said, "I was going to put you on YouTube you fool." Like he was doing me a big favor or something. I said, "I really don't need to be on YouTube." He turned and kicked my case about ten feet. I said some choice stuff to him and him to me.


He turned back and came at me. I had my back to the railing and started to move sideways. I have the horn strapped around my neck and all I can think about is how to take it off and put it down so it doesn't get dinged. I took a couple of awkward steps backward, when the guy hit me in the head with all his might.


I went tripping backwards onto my back, cradling the horn so I hit the ground and not it. I kind of blacked out for a second, then remember a bunch of people pulled him off me and he ran away. A guy on a bike and a two women joggers both called 911 and some other people were asking me if I was OK. I really wasn't and needed stitches. 


The phone callers told the cop three men pulled the guy off me, because he was beating me on the ground. I don't remember any of that.


One second I was in outer-space playing my little musical game, juggling the three balls of melody, harmony and rhythm. Then I'm so messed up, I won't be able to play for a week, I need stitches and have a concussion. Good thing my horn survived with very small scratches! 



That was just the beginning or the continuation of a bad episode of trailer park zombies meet punk-rock biker vampires... a love story. So much other messed up stuff has happened through the Fall, and now Winter has only started! I guess the end of the world didn't come yesterday. How do we know? 



I don't know what to think about anything any more. I remember my Dad at this age say that he felt like he was just getting dumber every day. It wasn't that long ago that I was a functional person. Things were not going well, but I felt like trying to get back on track. Getting beat took the joy out of stuff for a while.


In February I will have owned my Datsun for forty years. My warranty card gives the birth date as January 31. I'm pretty sure I didn't actually take it off the boat until February. I remember that day it snowed on the beach in Norfolk Virginia and made the news. It shut the town down for three days.



There have been times this last year where I was so broke that I could see not being able to hang on to it. I used it as a dump vehicle through the '80s until it stopped running and sat until '95. I rebuilt it and have tried to keep it running as my daily driver. It is alarming having to need glasses to drive now, and I don't enjoy driving at night at all. I don't even enjoy driving any more. I can't remember when that happened either.


I can see not being able to drive any more. It's a scary thought, but I have lost so much stuff in the last few years, stuff matters less to me anymore. I'll figure out something else. One of my best friends never got a driver's license until he was 32.


I was thinking about my friend Big Bill and wondering about what happened to all of his guitars, amps, records, CDs, music and library of books and magazines when he died. I don't want to know what happened to it. To painful to think that anybody deserves to posses any of his stuff. I sure he never thought that far ahead either. At some point someone will own my saxophone, my guitar and my beat old Datsun truck. 


Our other friend Ted told me when he knew he was dying, "We are only caretakers of this stuff. I built my house and took care of it the best I could. Somebody else will have to take care of it." 


During the summer, I was so broke that I was driving my poor truck into the ground. I had to rig a long extension cord from the back porch to the car port. If I wanted to go somewhere, I'd have to open the back door, move the recycle bin, plug the cord in. Then get my charger out of the bed. Plug it in, put it on 75 amps so I can start my dead battery. Then plug in the little carpenter's compressor in the bed, drag out some hose and fill my back tire with a slow leak. 


I had to let the compressor fill up so when the tire went flat, I could still get home. Towards the end there, I couldn't shut the truck off or I had to park on a hill. For months it would charge and maybe start the truck the first crank... but if it didn't fire, that was it. You know... running on fumes.


I finally scraped a couple bucks together to find a 235/60/14" used. Hard to come by some times. Can't buy them new anymore. Then I got a new Interstate battery that was $140. Yikes. 


The truck is running great now. I need all new tires, brakes and clutch could use clean fluid. Other than that, most stuff has been kept up. Well... ugly front seat, dash-board and shitty radio. But the cab don't leak, heater works, can see out of the new windshield, wipers work, mirrors work, lights and turn signals too.


I have put hundreds of thousands of miles on this little truck in 40 years. I have had so much great sex in this truck. I ain't even bull-shittin'  you.


Which makes me think about an old Datsun story... 

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  • 5 weeks later...

It looks like today is the official birthday for my old Datsun truck. I looked outside this morning and it's sitting in the rain with a flat driver's side tire. It's probably been like that for two days. I haven't been able to go out. I have been chasing my tail trying to do things on this messed up laptop and PhotoBucket that sucks. I hate wasted time. 




Look at that, 1-30-73. What the fuck were you doing that day? Speaking of wasted time... I got drafted into the Army for two years, and like a dumb shit, I believed the lying recruiters and enlisted for an extra year... so I could pick my MOS and avoid combat. I swear, combat never seemed that interesting to me. But, there I was stationed in the Army in Norfolk Va. I was trying to get the paperwork together about that time to pay for the the truck through Dragonetti Datsun in San Mateo, California but take delivery in Hampton Rhodes, Virginia.  


I am very depressed and disalusioned. The weather had been pretty bad. I got no gas, no money and really no place to be. I should have been trying to play my saxophone, but I'm wasting my time messing with the laptop because I want to record versions or a tune I'm writing. If I had two nickels, I could get it handled... but I don't.


I have to keep reminding myself to keep breathing.   


I'm very upset. Two drunk motherfuckers tried to beat me up last week. I got in a couple good swings, but as the saying goes, I'm getting to old for this. I still want to fuck them up. That is what upsets me. I could have fucked them up. But then what, I go to jail? I was minding my own business. I think they thought I was somebody else. They were talking like I had jumped the one guy with a bat. Crazy situation. I just wanted to leave. It was not a fight I needed to pick. 


So, I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness. It hurts. I don't like the subject. I wish I could just let it go. It sucks that these worthless fucks sucked the energy out of me.  


I looked into the big cardboard box of photos I have. I found one of the earliest photographs of my truck that exist. If you have read my stories here, my friend Paul, took the train to Virginia in 1973, and he and I drove to Washington DC, where I bought my two saxophones. It was just a week after I got the truck off the boat. He hung around for another week, and the whole plan came together. I got my orders to my duty station in San Francisco, 2 weeks leave and $279 travel money. So Paul and I made our epic trip across the country In the new Datsun. Not one single photograph. We were having too much fun. Different day, different time. Neither of us had a camera either. Hey, cameras and film were expensive. We were poor to begin with. 


Eventually, I was levied overseas to Germany. I could have been sent to Viet Nam or any other hole in the ground that had a band. I lucked out and played in one of the show bands that traveled all the time. It was endless work. I kept a journal in a Blue Book with a fountain pen for that year. I contracted Hepatitus and was Medivac back to Letterman Hospital. I then spent the last months of my enlistment at Fort Ord in Monterey, California and lived in a little cottage... 1125B Olympia Ave. Seaside, California. What A dump, but it wasn't on base. I could go home. My own pad, my own place. Crank the stereo and play my horn day or night.


While I was I Germany, I bought a Pentax Spotmatic II 35mm, and started learning how to take photographs. Paul in the mean time, dropped out of college and became a nomadic wood cutter/bum, with a beat up F150 4x4 and a chain saw. He ended up on a ranch west of King City cutting fire wood. One weekend he drove over to visit me. In the Spring of 1975, Fort Ord was changed from a Basic Training Facility to the home of the Seventh Division-Light Infantry Fighters and Artillery. There was not much for the band to do for weeks but get ready for the big change of command ceremony.


All we had to do was be in formation at 7am roll call, eat some breakfast, band rehearsal at nine, cofffee break at 10am, the get dressed and ready to get on the bus. At 11am the called formation and we were inspected by our platoon leader and squad leaders, to make sure our horns were shiny, shoes shiny, brass shiny, all starched, ironed, and our hair cut. We got on the bus standing tall and looking good. By 1PM this bullshit should be over and we had a four day leave. Paul came with me and shot these photographs of me.




Look right in the middle. My head is behind the Sousaphone bell with the tenor sax strapped to me. Paul is jumping up and down next to the reviewing stand, trying to get my attention. The band is always the last to parade in front of the reviewing stand. A million muther fuckers already passed in review and I bet all the Generals and dignitaries were ready to cut the ribbon and hit the booze at the reception.




I crack up just as I see him and he snapped this shot. I think this was the beginning of my undoing... well maybe not the very beginning... just more unravelling. Look closely at these photos. Everybody has a black tie on. It's called a uniform. Look at me squinting sideways, cracking up at Paul. Poor guy stuck out like a sore thumb... or worse a looong haired cowboy attired weirdo at a Military Ceremony. 


So here is my friend Bruce from Topanga Canyon. This cat could play the fuck outta the piano and went on to graduate from the SF Conservatory of Music. Hard to get in, hard to graduate. Here he is putting his considerable musicianship to it's fullest military potential... playing the cymbals. I guess it better than marching with a piano around your neck. Me and Bruce were playing in a smokin' Monday night Rehearsal band. That is a 26 piece big band that was chocked full of the best musicians in the Monterey area. We played gigs all the time... some for money some for charity and the receptions/parties. 


The night before this the band played at the long ago torn down Hotel DeAnza in Old Town Monterey for a Black-Tie charity fund-raiser. No host bar and three sets? They were throwing hundred dollar bills on the piano for us to keep playing. I know I don't remember driving home, but when you are 23 years old you can drink and still show up at the crack-ass of dawn no problem. Bruce and I were probably still drunk at roll call.


Paul snapped this shot, just as my Commanding Officer, Platoon Sargent, and Squad Leader all yell, Specialist Philipp!!!! at the top of their lungs. Just as I was thinking... we're done, we are outta here, back to the crib... eat lunch, pour some Tequila and fresh Grapefruit juice. Bruce had a Parlor Grand Piano in my kitchen. Set up amps and jam on the blues...



I'm just starting to look over and the words on my lips are WTF. Bruce is looking down. They didn't call his name, leave me out of this... I know nothing! The XO yells at me, "Philipp, Where is your tie?" I instinctly reached down and there is no tie. I got a sax strap but no tie. I was blown away. I had no I idea what happened. I remember getting dressed and fooling around with my tie... but I don't have one on now! I look at these pissed off Sargents who don't like me in the first place. I guess the Generals on the reviewing stand saw that I didn't have a tie on, and let it be known that the shit was about to rain in every direction... a troop out of uniform on my watch!!!!!????? Hell to PAY!


All I could think of to say was, I blew it. It's not in my pocket, sometimes if we have to travel we do that. Hey, it's not completely my fault!! I look right at the OX and go, "You inspeced the band after the First Seargent did... and after my squad leader did too... and pointed to him!


Fuck I had 'em. It was on them for not doing their jobs. So here I am, after skating on sliver tongued skates out of a sticky situation.





Check out Bruce's 1200 Delux. It was forest green, just like the one Susan and I had. Notice the absence of tailgate. There were these new bumper stickers that the Army put out as the Draft ended and the new VOLAR all volunteer Army began. It said, Join those who have joined the Army", or something like that, on a camo background. I was getting really 'short', meaning I only had weeks left before my discharge. I cut up a couple stickers so it read, Who'ed join the Army? I stuck it on my tailgate and ran on and off base all the time. It never got noticed until the day before, sitting in the Band Building Parking lot. Shit rained down behind that too. In the next few weeks, I got two Article 15s and was fucked with endlessly until my discharge. But that is a whole 'nuther story.


In fact. I have decided to read the journal I kept while I was in Germany, there at Ft. Ord and then my Dad died and I got discharged all within a few days so it ended. I started to read it after thirty years, and it was just to hard for me to read. I only made it through a few pages. In 2015 will be 40 years since I wrote it. If I was going to write a book, I think that is the story I should tell. It could be a twisted little movie too.





Peace Baby! I mean what else is there to say. You know what I'm sayin'.

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"Look at that, 1-30-73. What the fuck were you doing that day?"  Married five months and freezing ass off in the middle of an Ontario winter. Would gladly have traded lives with you.



Familiar story.  When I was in the Air Force I had a young Second Lieutenant from Hawaii assigned to me in Montana.  [He had never sen snow!  More to come].  He went back to the Big Island and married his long time girl friend and brought her back to Montana, [big sky, big change!] and shortly therafter we had to send him Temporary Duty [TDY] to Minot North Dakota.  He decided to take his new Hawaii raised wife with him.  THEY GOT SNOWED IN FOR 5 DAYS!  The quarters assignd to them were one of the very few in Minot AFB not connected to the mess hall and the rest of the base by the underground tunnel system.  So we wound up paying him for his honeymoon.

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Figbuck, I was at Watsonville High in 75 when you were at Fort Ord.

I have very fond memories of a friend named Gary that took me to a strip joint called Jake's #2 in Seaside that year. I was 17 and had been crying in my beer about some girl friend that had dumped me,  I forgot all about her in less time than it took me to write that.

Good to hear from you.

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  • 1 month later...

okokokokok... ok. Here we are, spinning around out in this part of the galaxy once again. Equinox, daffodils, trees blossoming... hope springs eternal. I have been playing that great Clifford Brown tune Joy Spring every day now.


My poor truck needs tires badly. I'm driving around with a pancake compressor in my bed to keep a back tire with a slow leak from going flat. I can't find a leak. I sprayed it with soapy water and no bubbles. Oh, well that is... actually after I pulled a #12 wood screw out if it a few weeks ago. Then I used one of those T-handles reamer-patch tools to fix it. I fixed it too. Don't understand why it's going flat again. It doesn't even go flat at the same rate either each day. Valve stem seems fine. Patch doesn't bubble.


It's a pain in the ass when I want to go somewhere. Open the patio door, plug in the extension cord that runs to the carport, plug in the compressor, fill the tire, fill the tank up too. Walk back up, unplug, close door. This was my best tire. The last one from the original set of Dunlop Qualifiers. All the rest are used $30 off brands.


There is only one company that even makes a steel belted radial 225/60r14. No more Dunlops, Bridgstone/Firestone, BF Goodrich or even Goodyears. You can spend big bucks on specialty race tires, but the only place I have found is Tire Factory that can get 225 14"  in a Chinese brand you never heard of, for $80 each!


Well, I don't have $80 or $8. I have been looking for 15" wheels but I haven't been lucky yet. Everybody makes great tires for 15" and even cheaper too! So I have been buying used tires from these fly-by-night used tire places in SE Portland. It's a very hard size to find at used tire places. The places on the west side all know my voice on the phone. You guys got any 14" tires??? ... like 225s??? Aren't you the guy who bugs us every week?


It makes me feel pathetic to see my poor truck get run into the ground again. It sucks being poor, so I try to think about music. It's the only thing that care about anymore. It's spring time. I should be thinking about dirt bikes, motorcycle touring, racing, track days, new gloves, helmets, brake pads and tires. Sticky tires.


In the spring time... young mens minds...  are filled with thoughts of pussy, horespower/torque, and sticky tires. Not always in that order either. Expensive and dangerous toys... dangerous and expensive toys... that puzzy will lay you to waste.


No money, no motorcycles. Can't think about any of that at all. Not that it makes me crazy. I am already 'crazy'. But why abuse myself further with thoughts of stuff I can't have anymore? Or at least don't have right now... and don't have a prayer of having again at this point. I just don't think about it. Just like I don't go to Titty bars after work and drink anymore either.  


I don't go into motorcycle dealerships, guitar stores, record stores. Well any store for that matter. I don't have any money, no point, no reason.


Racing seems like another world now. I don't appreciate it anymore. I still understand it, but I don't love what it has become. The Daytona 500 was a great made for TV event! Certainly entertaining, and what was that popping niose right after the checkered flag? It was the Champagne corks going off in the DMG, France family corporate suites!! Hooray we got through the whole race... well, Danica got through, without having the BIG ONE... america will give nascar it's blessing. burp... racin'





As far as following the Daytona 200 motorcycle race... I can't even tell you what or who the teams are in AMA Racing are this year. Who would have ever thunk it. I don't give a shit about motorcycle racing or even know what happened with ALMS in the 24 hour Daytona. 




Anyway... fuck me. I'm an idiot. Why am I angry and bitter with corporate America and the corporate media. What do I expect?


OK, RANT ON: There is a new TV commercial for amazon.com that features the old Top 40 hit, What is Hip? by Tower of Power. My favorite band, soul music for 45 years from Oakland, California. The last guys I would have expected to "Sell Out". I don't know, who knows, maybe they don't own the rights to the song? I notice there is another ad produced in the same way with and classic Earth Wind and Fire tune. And another one with James brown singing Papa's got a Brand New Bag. It's a commercial for ready to heat pork roasts in a bag. They chopped up the tune just as badly to fit those commercials too. Is nothing sacred?



One of the verses in Tower's, What is Hip?, is:


Hipness is what it is,


Hipness is what it is,


Hipness is what it is,


But sometimes hipness is what it ain't.





I should stop watching TV except that that is how I practice guitar is watch TV with the sound off. 


Did you happen to see the the interview with George Lucas, talking about the museum he wants to build? He said a cool thing;


"In the end, you look at world with cynical eyes or through idealistic eyes."



I need glasses, but I'm so broke that I can't afford them. I go to the dollar store and get readers. I don't like having glasses on my face, so most of the time I walk around in a blur, unless I really need to read or see something up close, I kind of prefer not to see most stuff very clearly. You don't see the dirt, imperfections, and patina of crust that covers everything, if you look closely enough. It's shocking to put on glasses sometimes. Shit is scary! Rather not see it you know? It's like looking at an impressionist painting. I get the overall idea and the colors are nice.


So I don't know how anything works any more, what anything means, or why anybody does any of the shit they think is hip... or why I think something is hip, or not. All I know is that music is a set of vibrations that effects people emotionally if it happens to resonate with them. It works every time for me too. Either there is a resonance or not. It is not something that needs explanation... it is the explanation. 


Hey Anthony, let me tell you this story bro. The first time I knew about the University of California Berkeley Jazz Festival was 1968 when I was in high school. A friend's older brother was going to school there and told us to get tickets because it was Animal House on a big scale. That was an under statement. Are you kidding me Berkeley, California in 1968! I digress.


I got to see the real deal OG jazz cats at those concerts every spring for about a dozen years. We all looked forward every spring to the jazz festival at the Greek Theater. Kind of a spring ritual for a while there when shit was going crazy in the world.  Twelve thousand people in a classic bowl shaped outdoor auditorium... with a view of the sun setting over the Golden Gate and San Francisco as a back drop. The first rock band I saw there was Frank Zappa and the Mother's of Invention in '69. I digress.


My friend Susan recently reminded me of a Datsun story I completely forgot about. I went to my cardboard box of ticket stubs and programs to find the line up of what we saw. Either you get how music got to where it is today... or you don't. My faux-step son in 34 and starting to be a pretty good guitar player. He just stumbled on Robben Ford for the first time, and ask me if I knew who he was. I made him a CD of MP3 bootlegs I made in 1979 of Yellowjackets and '96 Blue Line, at the old Yoshi's Nite Spot in Oakland. He is going back and mining all the guitar players from the '70s, '80s and I'm going back listening to guitar players in the '40s and '50s! There is so much music in the world, I learn something every day. We all do, at what ever level our ears are working at you know? Every person hears differently.


Susan had friends who lived in a cool old Victorian house in Berkeley. They were doing graduate work, and got us tickets for the whole festival. We parked the Datsun in front of their house on a Friday morning and left it there for the weekend.


Friday night's concert was at the Berkeley Comminuty Theater. Art Blakey's band was first with a very young Wynton and Brandford Marsalis on Trumpet and Tenor, and a Joe Ford on Alto. Then a Diva of the highest order Betty Carter. The headliner was Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass with Ray Brown on bass. All these world class artists were in their prime at this time. This was mind bending shit for our young 1980s ears. 


Saturday morning we got up early, had coffee and breakfast with Susan's friends. They ask us if we didn't want to sleep in the house, because we had slept in the camper of the Datsun. We had done so much camping, backpacking and traveling in the Datsun, that it was completely decked out for mobile survival. It was comfortable. Why drag out sleeping bags into the house? We went to Moe's books on Telegraph, she looked for used books, I looked for used jazz records in the basement.


We got a cooler and picnic basket together, then got up to the Greek Theater in time to miss standing in line and still got good seats half way up. The sound and view is pretty much the same everywhere. The first act was Andy Narell a steel pan player who figured out how to play scales, chords and use the jazz idiom to great advantage. A great original player who always played with hot BayArea musicians. Saw him at Keystone Korner a couple times.


The next band was called Stuff. They recorded two LPs, and names aren't listed on the credits, because they were all on different labels. This ledgendary all-star funk band called Stuff was these all we knew about therse records.  They were musicians musicians. The guys who laid down all the famous tracks on the hits, and were hired to tour with the stars. Stuff was; Cornell Dupree on Guitar, Steve Gadd on drums, Eric Gale on guitar, Richard Tee on bass, Gordon Edwards, Christopher Parker. These cats played gigs like on the Tonite Show Band, from the Stones to Jimmy Smith, James Taylor to Grover Washington Jr. Played with everybody, as they say. It was a very rare live performance by these guys and it was unbelieable.


The next group was Chick Corea and Friends. It was just after much success with Return To Forever. I could go on and on about all these guys. If you don't know who they are or have listened to their stuff, I'm wasting my time. Chick is a fucking monster. Was then, has been, is now. Then the headliner of the show was and All*Star group made up of label mates from CTI records; Ronnie Laws. Hubert Laws, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Ritanour, Harvey Mason, Ralph Mac Donald, Abe Laboriel and Jorge Dalto. A burning hot group of LA based studio cats.


We go back to the friends place and crash because it is really late by the time the concert is over. We fall asleep so fast. The next thing I remember is that I'm dreaming in a far away place, where I'm wrapped in pink cotton candy that is so sweet... it's so delicious... but somebody is talking. It seems far away, but it's getting louder... oh, my head feels like cotton candy. We should have stopped drinking at midnight.


Wait, who is talking, why are they talking that loud and... wait, where am I. Man am I hung over... yhaaa, it's bright out there! There? Where is there... and then Susan pokes me in the back... "Look out there, Who the fuck are those guys!"


Guys? I get up on one elbow and pull the curtains aside. WHAAT the?? I instantly get sea sick. I'm looking at the scenery outside moving by... making it seem like we are moving backwards! I'm looking at the side of a house going buy six inches from the truck!! It feels like the truck is rolling!


I'm panic stricken and Susan is pulling on me trying to get up. She is freaked out, I am freaked out! Just then there is a voice standing right next to the truck and the guy bumps the truck, then says, "That was close man", and then the snap of a walkie-talkie, "10- 4 on that, how are we doing on the over head lines?" Susan looks out the back window of the camper and says, "They are moving a house down the street and there is a guy sitting the the roof lifting telephone wires!"


Scared the fock outta me. We had no idea what was going on. Such a weird sensation. I had forgotten that incident until Susan ask me if I remembered seeing Sundays concert. We got up, took a shower, then went to the store to get a bunch of food and drinks for all day. Then we got large coffees, muffins and the Sunday San Franciscon Chronicle to read while were were in line. We thought we were hard core music fans, but I guess not.


There were 200 people in line by 8:30 when we rolled up. It was a glorius Spring morning, we read the paper, had stuff to eat, and finally they let us in early. We got down where there were rows of folding chairs right in front of the stage. Most people were running down there. I figured it would be better to be on isle seats about ten rows back so the sound would be better and we wouldn't feel trapped.


We got to watch the sound checks with John McLaughlin and Santana jamming with Stanley Clarke... wow we are right in front of these guys listening to the most kick ass sound system!


It was one of the best concert series ever. But like all things that are too good to be true, they never last. There couldn't be any thing like that today. Everybody would have their hand out to make a buck off it... instead simply that, music is fucking cool... why not have a big party, and listen to music at the Greek Theater to celebrate the Spring?  Really, it was about that simple.


It started off with a young local sax player named Peter Apflebaum & the Hieroglyphics Ensemble. The next act was the Art Ensemble of Chicago who were insane. Then a most killing trio McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, Al Foster. What is there to say? If you don't know this music, then nothing I say about it means shit.


The next artist was Guitarist John McLaughlin fresh from Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis fame. He played a great acoustic and electric set.


The headliner was Stanley Clarke, with Herbie Hancock, Jon Lucien, Devadip Carlos Santana and Alphonse Mouzon. Sunday ticket was $10.50.


I must go play the horn. I close my eyes and can't see through cynical or idealistic eyes.

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thought about you again on the solstice, glad to see you did not dissapoint. your stories when you check in have become somewhat of a bi-annual ritual for me that i truly look forward too. i really hope you understand how many people out here appreciate your stories and are sending out good vibes for you.


i grew up in fremont/newark and have been to the greek numerous times, the view and the sound, wow!. this morning, you have taken me back to a few of those nights as a teenager, young adult, and "grown up" (haha), and i just got the best set of chills and emotions come over me as i remember sitting near the top of the huge conrete "seats" watching the sunset in the distance above the stage with my wife at Norah Jones,(i know, i know) or my buddy at Van Morrison. Or down on the floor for the White Stripes, wow what a show, X and their light show, straight forward, stripped down, in your face!. Or the Flaming Lips, great 60 minutes, just sad they came on late and had to cut it short. Or cruising around the top of the grass to have a beer and a "smoke" during intermission waiting for Pearl Jam to come on. Just a short moment in time, sitting at a picnic table, enjoying the view, maybe some small talk, nothing really significant or memorable about it specifically, but unforgettable just the same.


The Sunday Chronicle! and the pink section! wow, forgot about those lazy days laying around just reading the paper and savoring those pink pages, looking to see who was coming to town so we could plan our nights off at the restaurant in advance and get tickets, or looking for reviews of albums and shows, or restaurants and day trips. i would stop by "the bottle shop" in irvington after work and hanging out saturday nights/early sunday morning on the way home down the street becuase they got their newspaper deliveries super early, right around 2 or 3 so if you were lucky you could buy your paper and beer for the next day just after last call. perfect when there was football to watch, didn't have to leave the house.

oh, i forgot, that was when i was driving my 81 280zx, after i wrecked my 87 sentra hatch sport coupe......wow...


i thought you were going to say that the truck was rolling down the street while you were still asleep!!


What is hip?

Tell me, tell me, if you think you know.

What is hip?

If you're really hip,

the question, "Will it show?".............


While you're striving to find the right road,

There's one thing you should know,

"What's hip today, might become passe'"...................


What is hip?

I'd like to know........


cynical for a while, leaning towards idealistic now that i read and wrote...

thank you.

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  • 2 months later...

That's a great thing to hear, because I feel like I'm in a long slow motion tank slapper. I know it's happening. I'm losing the bike... I'm going to crash because I have lost it... but I'm still trying to steer it as hard as I can and save it. Still on the throttle as hard as I can twist it... because, if I'm not on the gas, I'm not going to get it to hook up again I'm not quite yet to the part where I've had the bars wrenched out of my hands, high-siding and flying... or pushed the front, so I just slide a long way. In either case I don't want to hit anything or have it hit me. Like the speeding 480 lb. bike I just dropped. In any case, I'm in a very limited traction situation right now. I'm a reluctant passenger sort of... 


Have I talked about crashing motorcycles? I'm not going to. It is the most beautiful spring day. I am a lucky guy.




You know? Here we are again spinning around in this part of the solar system. We are not really in the same spot though because the galaxy in moving, so stuff is relative. I popped out into this plane of consciousness 61 laps ago, around this place... more or less over in here. I don't get all excited about my birthday and I haven't for a long time. In fact, it is a really sobering day for me today... as in I have to keep taking long deep breaths to deal with the waves of anger, frustration and helplessness I feel.


My friend got railroaded by a way over aggressive DA and investigators and is going to prison for ten years in two days. Ain't shit I can do or say. I'm blowing it by even talking about this, but it seems so unfair that I am at a loss to process any of this. Ten years was a deal he had to take or spend life.


Imagine coming home from work all hot and dirty. You are thinking seriously about getting a cold beer. Gotta strip off your boots, sox, pants... OK that enough, start for the kitchen, but the doorbell rings. Two detectives are at the door. They have a warrant. They come in ask him some questions, like do you know so and so, were you here, were you there. You say, yes that is all right,  how can that be a problem. They say, you have the right to remain silent, cuff you and you never see your life again.


There has to be two sides to every story, but the two sides of this one are; even if he was premeditated and totally guilty of all charges... 30 to life is not fair IMHO on this one. He didn't kill anybody, no violent crime or theft, fraud, not selling drugs... where you see far less sentences. Repeat drunk drivers who killed people getting out in ten years.


I guess I don't know what to think about anything anymore. I could go on an on. More bad sitcom stories from the trailer park. Plots so bad that you could never sell them in a scrip. Reality is always far stranger than fiction.


So here is my Datsun story for today. How I spent my summer vacation. Well, I was going to camp but it is a struggle for me to get through each day. It seems like I never get anything done anymore. I never have the thing, the part the widget, gizzmo, the right idea, hot-set-up thing... whatever. It's always some stupid simple thing too. It takes forever for me to get things done anymore it seems. And I do crummy work and don't care either.


Last year I washed my truck before Canby. I cleaned out the back, changed the oil. I was going to camp, but like last year and the year before, I wussed out and drove home to sleep in my own bed. This year I thought about washing my truck but, nah it's Ratsun. I have driven it every single day but one or two since last year, and all I did was change the oil and get a couple of used tires.


I cleaned out the back, got my sleeping bag, went shopping, bought $25 worth of food, $25 worth of gas. I got up at the crack ass of about 9AM, made some coffee and a peanut butter and jam sandwich for the road. I think I got to Canby about 10:30 or so. Two great day of Oregon weather. Man, we earn nice days like these enduring some wet and gloomy shit.




I'm not anti-social, I just have very poor to non-existent social skills. Plus any more I can't see shit so I don't recognize people. If I had any money I would get glasses. If if had and brains I...


Right about here, I started tripping. Oh shit how much money do I have? Uh, $11 and a plastic bag full of change. What if they raised the entry fee for Canby? Lucky me. Still five bucks. So I ended up with a buck... my life savings. Pretty funny. Just not funny ha, ha. 


I'm a horrible picture taker. I walked around with my camera last year and took 6 oics. This year I did better,  but I don't really pay attention, and I don't care either. I came up shooting black 'n white and color film. You have to be on purpose. Digital cameras make it so you don't have to care. Sometimes the goofy images turn out to be cool somehow or one accident or fortunate time and place made the shot special.


When I used to go the the races and take oics, I ended up with boxes of picture of cars on track that didn't mean much. I got into taking pics of the drivers and stuff that happened in the pits. After 20 years of something, the images acquire a different significance. So here is my Canby Photo Essay.


It was great to meet and talk to all the people that I did. The best conversations were with people I never met before, I still don't know who they are. I saw people I wanted to talk to, but never got around to it. or else all we did was say hi.


Canby is cool because it is so laid back. I dig it because I have to live vicariously through all of you guys who work on your rides and live the dream. I don't know what the fuck is going on. I'm lucky. Just not lucky enough to have more than a buck and a bag of change. I know where you can buy a brand new Ford F250 work truck with racks, a nice big trailer all stock with tools... ready to go to work!!! Could get it really cheap too. My friend isn't going to use it anymore.


I was really great to have my Ratsun brothers tell me they like Figbuck Chronicles.


I had this grand idea that I would go around take pictures of everybody giving the Ratsun salute of something... but then I see guys going nuts taking serious oicage or is that spelled with two c's? OICCAGE? Major oics, so I...


went over to the Canby Skate Park and played my horn for a few hours, went home drank a cold beer and played guitar.




Trippy place.




Nice effect to play the horn in the middle of these pools. I had a good time. Playing sax is one of the only times when I can shut off the noise in my head.




Here is the Figbuck 620 parked for the afternoon shade.






That RHD Ute was sooo cute!! And badd-assed at the same time.  Ratsun-style.








Camping out? Maybe next year. But that is what I said last year, and the years before.




So, it was nice to go somewhere. I haven't been on the freeway since last year. I went to the beach in September and once I made it up to North Portland.




There were a lot more cars later on and you already probably saw tons of pics from Sunday and the judging. Lots of trucks and a couple of really nice wagons. 




We should have had a Ratsun group OIC. WTF?


I was thinking about this Sunday afternoon. I stopped at Knights Bridge Park and sat down by the river, had something to eat and played my guitar for a while. We should have had a Ratsun tent, flying the Ratsun flag. The Ratsunistas could bring parts and swag to Canby and we could have a blind auction or raffal the shit off like the NW Datsun club does. Then use the loot to fund the forum.




So that was about it on the oics. Purdy piss poor huh? I tellin' ya... I'm hanging on for the ride and trying to keep remembering to breath. 



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  • 3 months later...

I see just over twenty-two thousand views of this thread. Here we are once again spinning around and tipping back towards the short days. I made a conscious effort all summer to enjoy every day. If I haven't said it before, I am responsible for creating my own reality. Every day I wake up, try to summon up all the emotional energy that I can, and take a swing at the things I want to do or accomplish in life.


It seems like the best I can do is to hit about .500. Mostly it's lucky little bloopers or walks that get me on base, I haven hit a home run in years, no triples or doubles. I'm lucky to hit the ball at all... and if I do, it's foul or an easily caught pop-up. Mostly I'm striking out. But I feel pretty lucky overall to be able to keep swinging.


This is loosely a Datsun story and also Figbuck mythology. I'm not exactly proud that I made the decisions I did, but in the end I was lucky. I dodged some lethal bullets. I'd always rather be lucky than good... but I did finally make some better choices, and was very successful going forward.


A long time ago in a far away place, I was attempting to fashion a reality where I could play music every day, and maybe make enough money to live on. I never really thought much beyond that. I wouldn't tell this story, except that all of the people in it are dead now, except me.


The first time I saw Ron he was sitting on a big boulder in front of our high school playing a jumbo Gibson guitar with finger picks. It was the first day of school. Ron was a Freshman and I was a Junior. He was a Japanese-American kid, a little plump and not too tall, wearing rimless spectacles. As I got close enough to hear, he was sounding like Doc Watson or Merle Travis. The juxtaposition of what he looked like and the rapid fire finger picking that poured out was pretty weird. Another day I saw him again, this time playing the fuck out of a banjo.


I came up playing piano and then clarinet, studying "legit" music. I had not really been exposed to any Folk or Country music yet. Ron had started taking banjo lessons at this little "hole in the wall" music store from a guy named Jerry Garcia, because he was the only banjo teacher his Mom could find in the area. It was Garcia's influence that got Ron into playing the guitar and listening to the Blues and Jazz.


By the time I was about 25 or 26, I was playing soprano, alto, tenor saxophones and flute. I took any kind of gigs that I could find. I played in bar bands, pit orchestras, wedding bands, jazz combos, rock bands, studio demos... anything to play and get out on the professional scene.


I met this drummer named Greg, while I was subbing for another sax player on a horrible Top 40 gig down on Airport Row. There were a bunch of big hotels and restaurant bars that got built south of SFO on what was San Francisco Bay when I was a kid, but all got filled and developed.


We started at nine and played 4 sets, an hour on and 15 minute breaks. The hotels usually had a room for the band to take their breaks. The first set was usually empty. Then we went upstairs and smoked some dope.


The second set a few people began to come into the lounge. We played as hip a set list as we could get away with. Mostly R&B and jazzy funk sandwiched between covers of the crap that was on the radio. People would get up and dance, because we played three song medleys. A tune to get people up, a slow dance and something for them to rock out and get sweaty to. Then the singers would tell jokes, comment on the dancers, and let them sit down to order more drinks.


People would dance and be partying, but they never clapped. Greg had a cassette recorder that he plugged into the PA system. At the end of a medley, he reached over with a drum stick and hit play. He had recorded people clapping wildly and shouting. It never failed that everyone would clap along with it.


When we came down for the third set, it was like a switch got flipped. All the people who worked at the airport, the restaurants, hotels and car rental places would start to get off work. They had a huge free buffet and the place was packed until last call at 1:45 am.


We called all these bars the "meat racks". This was way before AIDS, Disco was just starting to take over, and people went out every night of the week to party and hunt for sex. Sex, Drugs and Rock n' Roll was a relatively short period of time, only a few years. If you didn't live through it... it is hard to imagine the culture at the time. I talked to a young musician who never played in a smokey bar.


Anyway, Greg was into playing jazz and fusion, so was I. He said, I know this hot guitar player, we should get together and jam. Greg rented a small office space next to the railroad tracks where he could make all the noise he wanted. It had a small kitchen and a shower in the bathroom. Hot-set-up for $175 a month. That is where I met Ron. By this time he looked like a Japanese Troll Doll. He had straight black hair down to the middle of his back and wore rose-colored glasses. He always dress in black. Black T-shirts, black Ben Davis pants and played a black Les Paul Custom with gold hardware.


It was a trip because while we didn't really know each other in high school, we had many friends and acquaintances in common. By this time Ron was a smoking guitar player. He could shred rock shit like a mutherfucker, and then play Joe Pass/Herb Ellis style chord melodies over standards. I can't even remember who the bass player was that night, just that Ron, Greg and I clicked. We started to look for a bass players and jammed at Greg's as much as we could.


I was working full-time framing houses and remodels. But we really wanted to put our own jazz/rock fusion band together in the worst way. We knew that we could probably get gigs at the meat racks. Send an audition tape of some Top 40 Disco shit... and then play what ever we wanted... nobody gave a fuck what we played just as long as there was a bass and drums going bumptybumpty, bump.


One day Ron called me and said he met a bass player who had good connections for gigs and could play a bunch of styles. This guys name was John and he was looking for guys to start the same kind of group we wanted to form.


John lived in a really nice house in an older neighborhood with his Dad. His Dad was a Union Masonry Contractor. The story goes that John started working for his dad summers during school, then joined the union and made good money working on big commercial projects and public works jobs. After a couple years, john was working nights as a bass player and running  jobs for his Dad too. One day he got up on some scaffolding that had just been erected, and stepped on a plank that was not placed right by the scaffolding contractors. He fell, broke his back and was in the hospital for months.


His Dad's company sued the contractor. Workman's Compensation helped him out with disability payments and the Union retired him with benefits for permanent disability.


It took two years before John could function again. John's mother died as he started to get better. Then it was just him and his Dad living in this beautiful big house. I got to know John's Dad a bit. He reminded me of my Dad, same age and workaholic personality. He was very well off and could have retired easily, but with his wife gone and his son gone from the business, work kept him going. He got up early, then went to a neighborhood bar after work to hang with his boyhood friends, drink... watch Giants baseball, Warriors basketball and 49-ers football on TV.


The first time we went up there to jam in this beautiful house, it was full of antiques, wonderful furniture, carpets and paintings. But it looked like somebody threw a kegger and just trashed it. It was more like a kegger every night for years.

In the formal dining room, all the furniture had been moved into the garage, and all of John's musical equipment that had been in the garage, into the dining room. We played for an hour and then John ask us if we wanted to smoke some dope and take a break... like he wasn't sure how cool we were about that stuff.


He produced a shoe box full of big buds and said, there are papers in the drawer of the coffee table. This beautiful interior was a mess, empty cans, bottles, fast food bags and overflowing ashtrays. John asked, want beers? and went into the kitchen. Ron and I sit down on this fantastic old mohair davenport. I'm looking at the sculptured oriental carpet with drinks spilled and cigarette butts on it. It must have been worth twenty-five or thirty thousand dollars. What a shame. The glass covered coffee table was an exquisite old piece of furniture that someone had left burning butts on. As little as I knew about woodworking and furniture back then, I knew it was tragic what was happening to these rooms.


Ron opens the drawer and sifts through the mess to find a pack of Bamboo papers. He picked up a big baggie with a couple ounces of exotic colored weed, then another different one. We look at each other with wide eyes, then see three big bags of white powder, maybe four or five ounces in all... Holy Shit!!!


Ron puts the stuff back and rolls two perfect fat joints. I notice that all the edges of the glass table top were caked with white sparkly powder. John comes back from the kitchen with some cold beers. He puts on a record and lights a joint. Just as it gets passed to me, John's Dad walks in the entry door. Ron, Greg and I didn't know what to think and were a little freaked out.

John says, "This is my Dad... Hey who won the game man?" His Dad is nonplussed by us sitting in the living room burning weed. He goes, the Giants lost, good thing I didn't go to the game. A little drunk he heads upstairs. I'm going to bed John... See Ya!  Wow, that wouldn't have been my Dad.


John asks cautiously, hey you guys want to do some lines... it's really pure... not any kind of crap. Ron and Gregg go fuck yeah. I'm thinking, I don't want to stay up all night, I got to be at work at eight.


John goes over to the mantle and picks up what looks like a softball on a stand. Like how you would see memorabilia displayed. There were so many objects d'art littered around the room, his Mom had both taste and money. I didn't really notice the softball, because of the magnificent chime clock and cut crystal vase on the mantle.


John put the softball on the glass top and rummaged in the drawer for some stainless steel surgeons knives, a small stainless steel screen and a hundred-dollar bill rolled into tube. The softball is a single giant crystal of pure cocaine. He chops off a bunch of crystal and proceeds to chop and screen it into four fine powder lines about a foot long.


John snorts half a line in one nostril and the rest in the other... he wiped the remaining powder onto his gumbs, then hands the roll to me. I sniff barely an inch and just about sneezed my eyeballs out. Not to be a pussy, I snort some more in the other side, and just about blew the top of my head off. I handed the roll to Ron and he did a little better that I did. Same with Greg. We spark the other joint, finish our beers, take another little toot and watch John Hoover all the remaining coke.


We played for a long time and it really felt like we were playing great. I remember getting home at about two am and crashing like a ton of bricks. At six, my little eyeballs popped right open and I was wide awake. No hangover.  Wow so smooth that you could go to sleep on it. I jumped into the shower and got to the job ten minutes early ready to make sawdust.  Just as I got home, the phone was ringing, it was Ron. He goes, want to go play again tonight,  John says his percussionist friend wants to play.


And so for the next few months we played all the time, with the intent of putting a great tune list together and to start gigging. Over time we played with all kinds of singers, keyboard players and conga players. John's friend was a red hotConga player who grew up in the same 'hood I came up in, the Mission. I'm not sure if I even knew his real name. John called him Chuey and they had known each other since playing in garage bands in high school.


We got two sets worth of material working pretty good, but it seemed like the same thing would happen every night. We would play through the first set, get high, and then play the second set. Get high and then just jam, never really working on more tunes. We never really wrote anything down or tried to rehearse parts. Not like it was a waste of time jamming and trying to make something out of nothing. That is the magic in playing. At that point in time we were doing the same thing a million other musicians were doing. Chasing their tails.


After a while, partly because john's friends would always be around or show up about break time every night.  Chuey told us this story.

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