Reflective Retrospective Recollective


AiXeLsyD 🎸 Gasoline Dion 🎸 Ernie and the BertsSo, recently turning 40 has me reflecting on life in general (which is pretty damn great) & on my accomplishments as a “musician” even though I’m not actively gigging right now.

I’m pretty self-deprecating of my musical talents, but I am proud of the major part of the aural art that I helped create.  I compiled and uploaded a few of my favorites after using Audacity to clip out some silence and mp3Gain to try to get all the volume levels somewhat similar.

If you’ll indulge me I’d like to give my thoughts & memories on each of these songs that I was proud to be a part of with AiXeLsyD, Gasoline Dion, & Ernie and the Berts.  If I have any of the stories, names, etc. wrong, please correct me in the comments.  Being that these are punk rock(ish) bands, you may find the content explicit and/or objectionable.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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  1. Gasoline Dion – “Shameless Plug”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy came up with this cool shuffling progression and I played a super easy solo over it.  I believe we kept the first take of the solo even though at the time I thought I could do better.  It’s not perfect, but it’s fun.  It was cool to open shows with this then rip into something completely different. It was called “Tommy’s Jam” until an inside joke on a local message board inspired the new name.

  2. AiXeLsyD – “Wait”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Probably the first song that I wrote that I liked, and probably the first original that we worked on in the band.  We dug on this & recorded it a million times.  It morphed a bit, but was basically the same simple jam.  Ben doubling the vocals an octave lower and the guitar part at the end really fills it out.

  3. Gasoline Dion – “Pickle Farm”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy had recorded this song solo, and it contributed to the itch that I needed to scratch when we formed Gasoline Dion.  I really liked the melody.  I think he stole the lyrics from Space Ghost or Brak.  This song to me is about not being a square peg that’s forced into a round hole.  I liked singing background vocals & playing guitar.

  4. Ernie and the Berts – “Toybox”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin wanted to start a band to play rocked-out Willy Wonka covers.  That never happened.  This did.  It was the first original that stuck, and an early recording became the soundtrack to a friend’s video project.  Dave learned to play drums in/for this band.  This is a nice simple driving groove and is the perfect vehicle for the introduction of Erin’s gnarly gravelly voice.

  5. AiXeLsyD – “Hopeless & Heartless”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I wrote this on the outside of seeing someone with a broken heart.  I thought it was pretty catchy.  The “whoa-oh’s” are overkill but oddly necessary in my humble opinion. I think An-Die, Ben, & I are all singing on multiple tracks here.

  6. Gasoline Dion – “Cold”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | This riff was a leftover AiXeLsyD riff that almost became part of two songs but never really went anywhere.  Mike had some leftover Who’s.Keeping.Score? lyrics that Dave & I re-arranged.  Dave & I work really well on arranging musical parts & lyrics. I really really dig Tommy & I singing together on this one.

  7. Ernie and the Berts – “Fred Rogers”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin supposed that a local hero may not really be a hero on this one.  Maybe he read that weird urban legend.  I really like the guitar part here, although it’s missing some kind of effect in my head.  Wah?  Phaser?  Not sure.  Erin let me just go goofy with background vocals here.  I felt like Danzig or that Not-Danzig guy in the Cult.  I love how this song builds into chaos.

  8. AiXeLsyD – “Stand Up”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | This is where it all pulled together, and it was the last proper thing we recorded.  Ha ha. An-Die wrote the riff & lyrics, I arranged them.  Ben came up with the guitar noodling& octaves riff. I think I came up with the stupid  guitar part for the verse. I really dig my guitar solo here,even though I went too long.  (Oddly, this sounds a lot like “Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You)” by Dramarama as played by Buckcherry.)

  9. Gasoline Dion – “Political Songs (With Deep Meaning)”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I was listening to a lot of the Unseen, I think.  I don’t really write political stuff that often.  This was taking the piss out of that genre.  Dave sounded better on it with vocals.  I scream “feet” in the background and give the creepy laugh at the end.  We lost the original lyrics, so Dave used what he remembered and made the rest up on the fly.  I don’t really think any one ever tried to intemperate a deeper meaning. If they did, they didn’t tell us.

  10. Ernie and the Berts – “Don’t Fuck With Ernie”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | It was hard to tell if Erin was serious or joking a lot of the time. He had a deadpan delivery, and it was hilarious. To deliver this ridiculousness so seriously is hilarious to me.  I think I sort of came up with this riff over top of his bass line.

  11. AiXeLsyD – “Dave Ugly’s Girlfriend”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | It’s “Dave Ugly’s Girlfriend”, not “Dave’s Ugly Girlfriend.”  People always seemed to get that wrong.  Dave Ugly played bass & sang for one of our favorite local bands, Useless Torment.  I don’t tell the story as well as An-Die, but Dave was apparently saying he loved him, and An-Die was playing the “even if…” game, and arrived at this.  I remember being “mad” when Sum 41 came out as a punk band rapping.  I think Boner played guitar on this one and Ben played Drums?

  12. Gasoline Dion – “Bitch Pants Opera”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I don’t know if we could do this one today.  People seem so easily offended.  It’s just a joke.  We don’t really care if you wear girl pants.  We’re not insinuating or implying anything.  We look ridiculous too.  Another Dave vocals song, I am screaming the high parts.  All of us are in the beginning. I think the breakdown was inspired by hardcore /screamo kids in skinny jeans doing the windmill and Peelander-Z’s “S.T.E.A.K.”

  13. Ernie and the Berts – “Ikea”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Dave suggested I try a little more dynamics with space and clean.  Dave is usually right.  You can do a lot with the same 3 chords over & over. This was a slice of Erin’s life, full of his observations.  We almost got permission to go in & shoot a video there.  Somebody must have really listened to the lyrics.  He had “nicer” ones prepared just in case we needed to sell out.

  14. AiXeLsyD – “Love, Hopes, Dreams, & Smiles”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] |I think An-Die hated this one.  I liked the noodling& the melody.  The lyrics are super dumb & trite.  The song was made infinitely cooler when Ben put in that volume swell in the final mix.  That was never there, then we started doing it live after he did that to the recording.  This could probably be punched-up a little bit more.

  15. Gasoline Dion – “Two of a Kind”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy sings like an angel.  I have no idea what in the hell he’s talking about here.  I think Dave & Mike made this honky-tonk-ish.  I played a little solo under Tommy’s vocals at the end because nobody ever told me not to.  The end sounds like the Misfits’ “NY Ranger.”

  16. Ernie and the Berts – “I Don’t Wanna”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin stole this one from a band called Suck-Your-Brains-A-Go-Go.  I don’t know if they ever recorded it.  I should ask the man who wrote it some time.  We made it ours. I think Bengt punched-up some of the guitar & added a bit of harmonies during the recording process.

  17. Gasoline Dion – “Shameless Plug (Reprise)”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Same thing as the first track, second solo take by me with a wah pedal this time. Dave is also on guitar making crazy noises and soloing in between all of my notes.  Ha ha.  If you don’t “get” the speaking part, watch the Josie and the Pussycats movie some time.

I’d love to know what you think, or to read/see/hear your own memories about these bands or in any bands or projects in which you have participated.   Did I miss a song or two that you may have remembered or liked?  Comments (or likes or whatever is deemed social-media-appropriate) on the songs on SoundCloud or YouTube would be awesome and greatly appreciated, too.

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Check out the playlist on SoundCloud:

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Check out the playlist on YouTube:

Can you Dig it?

I think you should be able to download a zip of the collection on Google Drive or SendSpace if you’re so inclined.  If you can’t get it there, let me know and I can email it to you.

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The AiXeLsyD stuff:

The Gasoline Dion stuff:

The Ernie and the Berts Stuff:

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Check out some related posts:

NOTE:  Edited to correct links to YouTube videos, made new ones for some slideshows that were too short.  Also, check the comments!
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Superman.


You all know I’m a Batman fan.  You might not know that I’m not really a Superman fan.  In this instance, I am indeed a Superman fan.  I’m not sure if this is real, in fact the only part that makes me doubt it is the fact that it says it’s a true story.  I’m generally not so sappy or philosophical here, but this just hit me for some reason, & I thought I’d share.

I’m not sure why it was on Lamebook, & not sure if it’s even real.  Even if it’s not real, we can all get a little inspiration from it (I hope). Please pardon my blogging equivalent of email forwards.  I hope this isn’t like the Fred Rogers was a Navy Seal rumor.

I get a few things from it that I’ll share afterwards:

Superman - Secret Identity - Lamebook.com

Superman (lamebook.com)

Superman

Superman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, this is what I got from it:

  • Someone’s always watching you.  You’re setting an example for people around you even if you don’t know it.
  • You can get an inspirational or emotional lift from someone when you least expect it.  It can be form someone you wouldn’t expect, or even some one you’ve never met.
  • Don’t be afraid of those who are different than you.
  • While it’s great to be humble, it’s OK to be someone’s hero every once in a while.

What did you get from it?

POOR DANK SIGN / DANG PRISON OK


I love wordplay, anagrams, and word origins.  Sometimes, I imagine to myself that the subject of this post must be how some people see this sign:

NO DOGS IN PARK

NO DOGS IN PARK

At least, that’s maybe what I hope… that they have some learning disability, a reading comprehension problem, are from a foreign country, or are just flat-out illiterate.  I’d rather believe any excuse over the probable truth;  They just don’t care.

Before we get the animal lovers all riled up… I’d like to make it clear that I’m not arguing against dogs being allowed in the park.  In fact, I think the paths in the park are a perfect place to walk your dog, and that animal lovers everywhere ought to band together to get this rule appealed.

Barring your (and my) personal opinion though, the rule still stands that our canine friends are prohibited from the park.  I mean, that sign is pretty clear.  There’s not really any way to misunderstand the message put forth, and there are plenty of them all around the park.  (If you need to actually see it in writing from an authority, I have done you the favor of finding the Dormont Borough Code online, and you can see in Article I of Chapter 75  [The Animal Code] § 75-2, that animals are prohibited in the park areas.)

I’m not suggesting that the Dormont police patrol the park to hand out pointless citations, as they most certainly have better things to do with their time.

I mean, I get that we were brought up with Fred Rogers telling us all that we’re special and different.  Somehow that may have translated to the belief that rules that you don’t like simply don’t apply to you.  I also get that to a certain extent.  I mean, it’s got to be some kind of inherent human nature to question authority.  When you’re told do do something, you recoil a little bit with an internal “excuse me?” At least, I do.  The reaction is stronger and longer if it’s something that you don’t want to do or something that you don’t agree with.  Perhaps I have just listened to too much anarchy-themed punk rock over the years.

How this translates to the “laws don’t apply to me” mentality, I just don’t get it.  This is just another take on my shopping cart rant, I guess.  The main difference being that that only applied to general guidelines of polite  and decent behavior, and this applies to an actual law… however trivial that law may be.

I’m not saying I’m better than you, or that I never break any laws.  I had a problem a long time ago with collecting speeding tickets, and barring my recent Illinois interstate relapse, it’s common knowledge among my friends and family that I pretty much drive like someone’s grandma these days.  We generally all go faster than 25 MPH in 25 MPH zones (unless we’re on a school campus, busy city intersection, or in front of a police station).  Living in Pennsylvania, I remember the collective sigh of state-wide relief when the speed limit was raised from 55 MPH to 65 MPH.  People didn’t like the law, so they wrote, campaigned, and things were changed.

Perhaps it’s a risk thing?  If I’m speeding, I’m generally thinking the probability of being caught is low… so it’s rationalized as OK with me somehow.  If you bring your dog to the park, are you thinking that there’s never really a police presence in the park, and no one’s going to turn you in so you’re safe?

Is it the classic “well, other people are doing it”?  I can see this one working in someone’s head too.  My wife & I walk in the park probably 5 days out of the week most weeks.  On any given day, we see at least one dog in the park, sometimes as many as 5 or so at a time.  If I were a dog owner in an urban area with access to a beautiful nearby park where other people are walking their dogs, I’m sure I’d bring my dog out too.  Rationale being that all the other dogs are out, so it must be OK.

In fact, not to long ago, we helped a lady corral her unleashed little beagle mix.  He was clearly not ready to go home, and she was in no condition to run after her dog.  Standing and yelling “come here, Casey!” apparently doesn’t work all that well with small excitable furry friends.  He was quite eager to romp over to us ready for more play.  Unfortunately his unconditional offer of puppy playtime was betrayed by us turning him over to his owner.

When I started out, this was going to be another “what’s wrong with you people”* blog with a “what is wrong with a society that stops paying attention to the little rules” tone.  I think the latter has taken precedent, with myself included.

I have just realized that I too would probably be an ass that ignores the sign, and brings my dog to the park until I got that 1st citation.

This leaves me still with the questions of what makes one think that the rules don’t apply to them?  Is it a belief of being “above” the rules?  No fear of penalty?  The thought that if the next person is doing it, it’s OK for you?  The general disagreement with the rule in the first place?  Lack of a presented penalty?  (ie., if the sign also said “$300 fine for violations,” would it deter you?) Is it an aggregate of all the smaller rationalizations?

We’re (arguably) a country founded on breaking the rules… but have we gotten to a point where fighting for a rule change is beneath us, or are we just too lazy to change it?

I’m guessing the NO DOGS IN PARK rule is in place mainly because people don’t pick up the pooch poop once it’s dropped, closely followed by a certain amount of fear of the angry biting dog.  This rule was probably enacted because people weren’t controlling their animals in the first place out of laziness or an “I’m better than you” attitude.  Wow.  It’s just a vicious circle, isn’t it?

As someone who suffers from a severe food allergy, and only somewhat irrational fear of all things shellfish… I can imagine that someone coming to the park with a dog allergy and/or a fear of dogs might have a heightened sense of anger and betrayal at the appearance of a giant hairy dog walking right by the “NO DOGS IN PARK” sign.

Perhaps people ought to get together to create pet-friendly and pet-free sections of the park?  Perhaps the rule could be changed to “pets only on leashes & pickup poop or it’s a $___ fine” rule?

I guess I’d just like to hear everyone’s thoughts on rules like this.

  • Do you think the law is a good one?
  • What is your opinion of those who violate the law?
  • Why do you think they have no problem ignoring the posted signs?
  • What do you think of the lack of the local authorities’ enforcement of the law?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts…

(*Note: Comma omitted per the advice of my grammatical advisory panel, Dave and Kristin!)