Posting My First Novel: ‘CONDITION OAKLAND: Confessions of a Naïve Punk With a Heart Full of Arson, An Oh, How the World Doth Quake & Burn’ – TRACK 2 – CHAPTER EIGHT: Wheels and Gizmos

About ‘Condition Oakland’

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TRACK 2 – CHAPTER EIGHT: WHEELS AND GIZMOS

Chapter 8: Wheels and Gizmos

‘Down With Strangers’ switches off each week, between my basement and Mark’s, so we don’t get bored with the practice space. One of the best things about having friends is just having somewhere to go. Practicing at my house is more convenient, because I don’t have to move my equipment, but mostly I like it better because it seems more like a real practice space. I mean, we have plenty of room, and it has more personality, with posters and writing all over the walls.

We don’t have any shows set up after our church basement experience, but that’s OK because we want to get more songs written and develop our sound before we start playing out for real. I write a lot of lyrics on my own, but we all go over them together and the guys suggest changes or ways to sing them. Most of the music just sort of comes out, without much planning, but the words are more crafted. I’ve always believed that the words make or break a band.

I had never realized how good Sidney is at bass until he started writing parts in a full band setting. He is really creative and free with his bass lines, wrapping them around the guitar parts and creating motion, somewhere for the song to go. Lane is also a really good musician, more technical than the rest of us, and we need someone like that. Mark is good too, solid and steady, the foundation we need in a drummer. He holds his own well. And I think I’m getting better at guitar every time I play.

We write a song that I call “Tribution.” It’s sort of a Velvet Underground rip-off, musically, and I’m sure someone has already written similar lyrics, but they’re new to me. They are pretty dark, but vague enough to be open to interpretation. It’s about how everything decays over time, sort of, entropy basically, but also about something that shines through the decay, like an eternal or immortal essence. And that’s stronger than the decay. There’s even a little bit about Platonic ideals thrown in. But it’s sort of ‘Replacements’-esque lyrically, so it’s totally cool. When I write it I’m trying to remember to be more subtle in my lyrics and also learning how to sing in such a way that conveys more than just the words, flat; in other words, with emotion.

I turn seventeen and my parents buy me a P.A. for my birthday. So now we have microphones to sing into and will be able to actually hear the vocals over the amps. My dad tells me they want me to use this for good purposes, like it’s magic powers or something. My mom then says to me that she has another present, but I have to share it.

“What is it?” I ask, holding a cup of mountain dew with ice.

“Look out in the driveway,” she says proudly.

“Did you buy me that Gremlin I always wanted?” I kid. I crush some ice with my teeth.

“Just look.” I’m already walking to the window.

“Holy crap, Momb! You bought a fufking van!” I say, pieces of ice falling from my smiling mouth and falling into my hand trying to catch them against my chest.   

 “Tim, don’t cuss in my house,” my Mom scolds.

“Sorry. But you bought a damn van! It’s huge!”

“Well, we needed a new vehicle, and I know you can make use of it with your band. So, we got it today. I didn’t know what color you wanted, so I got black. I think it looks regal, don’t you? That‘s what the dealer said at least.” Now she’s kidding around. “I don‘t think he knew what it meant.”

“It looks badass!” I say, turning around and hugging her. “Thanks Mom.”

“And of course it has a CD player.”

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