Monday, November 28, 2011

But if you try sometimes, you just might find....

If the Buddhists have a notion that pervades all their thinking, it is impermanence. And the older I get, the more I think they have that one right. Some stuff just dies on the vine, and you can't do a damn thing about it, except treasure the things that stick around a little longer.

Let the bad things (and people) go, and enjoy the ones who matter. In fact, usually it's the people that matter.

A few years back, an old friend of mine called me up and told me that he had about ten crates of albums (vinyl) to give me as long as I was willing to drive the 550 miles to his place to pick 'em up. OK, I said, not thinking too hard about it. He is an odd duck and it didn't seem too strange that he would be dumping thousands of dollars of albums on me in some kind of mad house-cleaning exercise. Little did I know that he was in the process of shedding all his friends (not a long list) in some sort of cosmic dump of all his old life. This guy was a two-pack/day smoker for years, and has, in the ensuing time, I learned, quit smoking, taken up trail running and generally started over.

Except, as far as I know, he is still a lonely bastard.

I have given up trying to figure that one out.

But I think, by and large, I have given up trying to figure *any* of it out. You cannot control people and their behavior. You can just try to pick your friends carefully.

Which brings me to the impending wonder of what we call "band camp."

Bands are funny things. They are utterly dependent on both a solid group dynamic and the foibles/oddball tendencies of the individuals. Have one disruptive character in the group who isn't riding the same train as the others and, no matter how good you sound as a group, that kind of band won't make it to its first anniversary, let alone go for the long haul.

So when the same people have gotten together once a year for the last 25 years to meet in a cabin, in the woods, sometimes in Maine, sometimes in New Hampshire, sometimes in the dead of winter, sometimes at the close of fall, but always to celebrate the wonder of life, the universe and everything through loud, cathartic music, well.... it's pretty fucking special.

Yeah, the characters rotate a little -- except for my brother who, to his unique credit, has managed to be there every year of those 25 -- but it's mostly the same guys over the long haul. And the music we bash out has morphed from some kind of Giant Sand/Neil Young/Uncle Tupelo twangy grungefest into more straight-up punk rock.

And it gets a little more important every year.

Last year took a turn toward the primal, as my and my brother's newfound primal eating led to a near-constant crockpot full of meat simmering away in the kitchen. And there's always some stomping around the woods in the snow on a hike or two. But the important thing is the people. So, while the music changes here and there, and the food gets a little meatier, while the beer gets harder and harder to drink as much of, the conversation never wanes and the value of this trip keeps growing.

Oh yeah.... We don't actually head out on this year's band-camp adventure until February. But "songs we should cover" emails have begun, and the greatest cover band you have never (and will never) hear is revving up its engine for yet another year. Oh, and I have a feeling the meat consumption will be epic.

25 years, motherfuckers. You can't place a value on that. Band camp rules.

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