Thursday, March 7, 2013

No. 455 – Prisoners of Rock ’n’ Roll

Performer: Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Songwriter: Neil Young
Original Release: Life
Year: 1987
Definitive Version: Year of the Horse, 1997

When you own a house, a few things happen. First, if you have any fears of animals of any type, you get over them fast, because you kind of have to to function outdoors.

I had a big fear of spiders before Debbie and I moved into our home in 1997. It didn’t matter what size; I didn’t like them—even Daddy Longlegs, which aren’t really spiders but fit in that grouping. However, when you’re out in the garden, you’re in their territory, so if one runs across your hand, you just kind of go, oh, and keep on going about your business.

Debbie didn’t like snakes, and when we moved in, we had one. I liked having a snake around, because it would keep the rodents away (just like spiders wipe out bad bugs). Besides, we’re talking just garter snakes here—not anything poisonous. It’s good thing, too, because the snake bit me one day.

I was working under the Rose of Sharon bush out front and saw the snake no more than two inches from my hand. It was looking at me intently and I returned the stare. Then I got cheeky and reached over to touch its snout, and he chomped on my thick garden-gloved finger with its toothless mouth before zooming away into its hole.

The second thing about houses is you have more room than ever before, so you can do more things, such as properly display your collections. Of course, I planned to enshrine a Baseball Room before we moved in, but I already had a mini Baseball Room in our Gahanna apartment, so the new one would be just a larger scale version of something that already existed. But after a while, I realized that I also had an almost entirely open basement and decided that was a perfect location to display my beer-can collection.

I started collecting beer cans when I was 8 or 9 and when it was really hot to do in my neighborhood. I kept at it for several years until the cans all became drab aluminum and the big consolidation of the market sharply reduced the number of labels in the late Seventies. The real culmination of my collection was when Jin and I went to England in 1980 to visit my Uncle Jack’s family when they lived in London. I came back with four boxes full of empty European cans (including doubles), which made it fun going through customs.

When I moved out of The Condo in 1986, I put my collection, which had been on display in the basement, into boxes that ended up stashed in Dad’s garage attic until I moved back to Columbus nearly a decade later. They then stayed boxed up in the basement of my apartments for the next 3 years.

Finally, after 11 years, they were going to see the light of day again. I set up a makeshift shelf and pull out only the best steel cans of brands that time long has forgotten, such as Utica Club, ABC and Oertel’s 92. As the dulcet tones of Neil Young & Crazy Horse tearing it up shook the boombox, I began to stack up my collection.

At one point during this project, I noticed a wolf spider against the wall. Now, if you aren’t familiar with wolf spiders, they’re big and ugly. They always have freaked me out, but I wasn’t freaked out this time. I wasn’t going near it, but I wasn’t freaked out. Instead I made a stomp motion towards it, and it disappeared into a crack in the floor.

That surprised me, because I always had been led to believe that when cornered, a big, ugly wolf spider would leap at your face, climb into your mouth and suck out your brains unless you subdued it with a baseball bat first. Instead, all this one did was beat a hasty retreat.

Awhile later, I looked over, and I saw two legs and a bit of the spider’s head poking out of the crack to see whether the coast were clear. I made another stomp, and it disappeared, never to be seen again. Huh, it was as afraid of me as I was of it. That pretty much ended my fear of spiders (although I reserve the right to leap 50 feet if I were to ever wake up with a big, hairy tarantula walking on me).

I was pretty proud of my handiwork when I finished the stack. It looked good, and after I put the rest away, I had Debbie take a picture to document it. All Debbie kept saying was how the stack was compelling her. When she saw it, all she wanted to do was crash into it and knock everything over.


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