Blog entry

nature is unnatural

Song of the day: Caught A Lite Sneeze / Tori Amos
Word of the day: Troika / Carriage drawn by three horses

After weeks of sunshine and summer-like weather, it's snowing again in Colorado, even down here on the flat irons. Beautiful. Yesterday I layed on the trampoline outside with my daughter for hours, in t-shirts, laughing and playing in the golden glow of a perfect day. Today it's downy white everywhere, and I love that about Colorado. It's like Minnesota in the sense that the weather changes from day to day, keeps it interesting, but unlike Minnesota the weather is not literally trying to murder you every other day with an ice storm, tornado, lightening, hail, blizzard, or flood. it amazes me i made it through ten years of touring being based out of minneapolis. one thing i'm clear about is how much i love that city, but i also know it's a perilous love. you're basically in an abusive relationship if you feel any affection for the land of 10,000 lakes (by the way it's closer to 15,000). minnesota is a state that was settled (read: stolen by force from indigenous people) by legions of scandinavian protestants who wanted to live in an external climate that mirrored their inner sensibilities, some place that would be incredibly beautiful (God's country), and punishing to its denizens. it only takes a few months in Minnesota to feel like something personal is under way, like nature knows your name and would love nothing more than to erase it.


one of my earliest memories of growing up in Minnesota is hiding in the basement while apoclyptic twisters criss-crossed our county, snorting houses and buildings into their furious sky-nostrils. once my brother and i foolishly snuck up stairs to take a look at what was going- we just had to get a peek at the action, i remember the air pressure in the room upstairs felt weird on my ear drums like i'd taken an elevator up 80 floors. when we looked out the window across the street, we saw a boat- still attached to its trailer- spinning around a few feet in the air for a second or so before it crashed into the walls of our neighbor's garage.


another time i nearly died in a flash flood when i dismissed dire warnings from local weather men, and radically underestimated the power of water when i took my little ford bronco 2 to my girlfriend's house cuz i was really horny. she lived way out in the country, and the closer i got to her house, the more i realized i had really miscalculated. at first it was fine, just an awful lot of rain, but in four wheel drive i thought i was safe. then, out of nowhere, literally just right out of nowhere, the entire road disappeared and i was driving in an immense black void, no idea at all where the road or ditch or anything was. i'd driven right into an enormous stand of water, submerging the road and in the night it was just a black void. i hit it going 45 or 50, and was instantly slowed to a few miles an hour, drifting and turning, and when i came out the other side i was almost in the ditch in the oncoming traffic lane. "holy fuck". i had no choice but to keep going, as there was no way i was going back through that huge lake again. problem was, there were several other big lakes between me and my girlfriend's house, and each one got worse. when i finally hit gravel roads, crossing the torrential rivers got really risky. my little truck was being tossed and floated and pushed all over the place. when i finally got to my girlfriend's mile-long driveway, i could only make it about three fourths the way up, and i just didn't want to drive any further, the truck wasn't going to make it. like the helpless dolt i am, i thought i'd be better off on foot. because my skinny little legs would have less water resistance, right? brilliant. i started walking up to the house, the water got deeper and deeper, the current became insanely strong, and by the time i got to about 40 yards away from the house, i literally could not move a single step. i knew with certainty if i lifted one leg even a little bit, the racing current (now up to my thighs) was going to instantly sweep me away and slam my body into the dense woods a few dozen feet away. i would be knocked unconscious, and would drown. it was a moment of absolute clarity, one of those real insights you have a few times in life, where a voice or an intuition or whatever just tells you something and you know it is really, seriously fucking true, and mine said: "if you move, you will fucking be killed". so i sat still, totally still, freezing to death in the biting chill of the river i was standing in and the rain that was falling, and i waited. a few minutes later, my girlfriend's dad came down the driveway, driving a huge fucking tractor, one of those tractors with tires that are seven feet high, and he drove it right up to me, the whole time screaming "don't move, do NOT move". when i finally climbed on, the river was raging so intensely i was sure it was going to flip over the entire tractor, and both of us were going to be killed. i had never heard my girlfriend's dad swear, but the first thing he said to me when i got on was "you know this is fucking insane, right?" but the way he said it, it was like 'you realize, you were very literally about die just now, right, and you risked my life too, you realize that, right?' he didn't talk to me for days after that.

cryogenic sports:

another time my brother had very nearly died when his truck broke through the ice on an ice-fishing excursion. he and a friend were happily tooling along over the ice when it suddenly cracked wide open, swallowed down his 1968 Scout plunged below the surface, and had to fight their way out of the truck and swim to the top, then walk off the lake in wet, frozen clothes to find a house and call for help.

spark it:

i simply cannot even count the number of times i've shit my pants because of lightening. once, two friends and i were walking out of a club with a guitar case in each hand, a bolt of lightening struck a tree directly across the street from me, and the slap back from the bolt was so loud all three of fucking collapsed onto the sidewalk. it just scared the living shit out of us, it was so bright and loud, and you could physically feel the air pop when it hit. another time i drove through a lightening storm so ridiculous i had a laugh attack from the anxiety. i stopped counting at over 100 lightening strikes, hitting everything all around me -the trucks on the highway in front of me, trees, the ground- it went on and on and on, and just like i do in every lightening storm, i obsessively review everything i know about physics and conductivity -now, my tires are rubber, i'm safe in the car unless there is a loose wire that grounds the vehicle, even a direct strike does not harm a person in a car because BAM!!!!- ahhh!!!!. all of this was not helped by the fact that i have a friend who was hit by lightening -and i kid you not here- she has been struck by lightening THREE times in her life. once you get hit by lightening, the grotesque beauty of it is you are thereby somehow become an attractor for it, you are many more times likely to get hit by lightening if you've been hit by lightening. how's that for a rip off? and this woman was hit three times. it really, really fucked her up. now a storm comes and she's got to hide in a lead room beneath a mountain. once of the bolts actually hit her while she was on the toilet, came up through the pipes and blew her clear off the stool and across the room. no. just...NO.


yet another time i destroyed my own car in an ice storm. in one of minnesota's famous deep freezes that strangely -impossibly- includes RAIN, my entire car was ensconced in a one-inch solid carcophogous of ice. bumper to bumper, top to bottom, the thing was perfectly encapsulated. i had a gig to get to. i needed the money bad. there was no way in hell i was going to get into the car, much less move it, unless a good deal of the ice wrap was removed, and after trying many objects (ice scraper- pointless, hot water- utterly impotent, salt- hopeless) i did what any brain damaged boy scout would do, i got a fucking hammer and began to smash away at the thick, thick ice, and happily it began to flake into enormous fractured pieces, which i further pulverized into bits, until i almost had the entire windshield turned into powder. i proudly began to sweep away the dust with my arms, laughing snidely at yet one more human victory over the forces of nature, till i got a peek at the windshield below and saw that i had -OF COURSE- also turned the entire glass surface into a fractured, pulverized mass of garbage. oh, yeah. glass is fragile. i was hitting it with a hammer. you win this one, ice...

cold kills...

ice is cold, but it's not the coldest. once while on tour in northern minnesota, i was doing a show in Bemidji, and the temperature hit 42 degrees below zero. that's NOT including the wind-chill, which was hovering between 60 and 65 below zero. it was seriously the coldest thing i'd ever experienced, and it was so cold that even people in northern minnesota, the life-long residents of Bemidji, were stunned. it was so fucking cold shit started to break. shit like trees. fucking tree branches, weighed down with the downing weight of ice, were busting right off the trees. i'm not talking about twigs and shit. i'm talking about that big branch your kid builds his tree house on. forget it, your kid is dead, his whole ensemble just dropped right out of the sky cuz it was so cold the trees are being dismantled, disassembled atom by atom until their fucking ARMS fall off. not good.

locusts... biblical locusts...

no, we don't have swarms of locust. you know what, we WISH we had swarms of locusts after two fucking seconds of summer when every cursed inch of our humid, forested parasitic petri dish of a state becomes the blood-letting play ground for trillions upon trillions of little winged vampires. you have not tested the limits of your resolve until you've tried to eat a hot dog in the park after sun down on a minnesota summer night. did i mention these precious members of the eco system also transmit lime disease? have fun figuring out why your body aches like a crucifixion and you have heart attacks at the age of 22. just a tiny insect trading its toxic saliva for your life force.

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Not since Bob Dylan burst through has Minnesota produced such a confident and creative songwriter and social observer.

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