So today, the news of the day and the quiet time following the recent
holidays have driven me back out on the sound on my trusty craft,
The Aimless. Haven’t been out here for several months now, so time
to enjoy a one or two-day cruise on the North Sound. It never fails to
clear my head and redirect me.
Is it cold? Hell yes. Is it uncomfortable out here? Sometimes. Is it worth
it? Always. On days like these, I try to get the tent really warm with the
stove, ( to warm up these old bones…) get some hot coffee and a sandwich
going, light a candle or two and see how close I can come to perfection on
the Sound. It’s never up to me to achieve that perfection… the weather
Today, for instance, it’s quiet and calm on the water, reminding me how calm
my life is now, how easy it has finally become. Oh, I appreciate it, believe me…
like most of you, it hasn’t always been easy. A few quick memories is all it takes
to remind me how great my life is today.
Today, for some reason, I’m remembering crazy things I’ve done, crazy
places I’ve been… unlikely events in an otherwise fairly normal life that
stick out and ask to be revisited. As I remember some of this stuff, I
realize there’s an interesting story attached to nearly all these memories…
like the circumstances of how & where they took place, and what the
aftermath of these memorable events might have revealed.
Sitting here next to the little stove, I’m trying to figure out which of my
unusual experiences is the best, the most unlikely… one of those times
that you could tell your friends about and they wouldn’t believe it, or at
least be fairly amazed… not so much because what you did might have
been very unusual, but that you did it! Many of you have had some of those,
right? And I bet the stories around them are as fun as the events themselves.
Once my memory gets going here I can remember 3,4… hell, at least six
different times and places of things happening that, to my mind, at least,
are somewhat outrageous.
For example, I’m almost stuck in the very narrow and steep staircase of a
3-story walkup in Rovinj, Croatia. I’m dragging a heavy suitcase up this
crazy staircase to our room, and I’ve had to stop and rest on the 20th, of over
40 small stairs, holding onto the suitcase for dear life and trying to catch my
breath, wondering at the moment, “What the hell am I doing here?”
Not all that unusual, but when you isolate the beginning and the end, it gets
fairly amusing and somewhat bizarre. In this case, the answer is, “Because you
asked Karen Matarangas in an email, if her sister, Betty Ann, were still alive.
She reluctantly said yes, gave you Betty Ann’s email address, and now, six
years later, you’ve been living with Betty Ann and traveling the world with her.
And to take that idea even further to the longer view, we start with a little kid
growing up in a small town in Montana, who is now, at 74, stuck in this insanely
steep and narrow staircase somewhere in Croatia… pretty funny!
Here’s another quick one. It’s 1994, about midnight, and I’m in a small
camp on the backwaters of the Amazon, 30 miles from Equitos, Peru, sitting
on the floor behind the little bar in the dining area, with a Peruvian guy who
can’t speak a word of English, singing and playing Peruvian songs for me
while we drink warm beers. We’re sitting on the floor because the bartender
has told me he’s not supposed to play his guitar or sing while on duty,
let alone feed free warm beers to a gringo! He doesn’t want the camp
manager to see us, so we’re hiding down there, singing and drinking,
having a great time! I love this memory, it’s a warm and fuzzy for sure…
and anyway, I’ve always loved Peru!
Now that i think about it, several evenings later I found myself in that same
camp, in a small bamboo hut with a half-naked American lady, trying to dry
out my $800 microphone with her hair dryer. What in hell was I doing there,
doing that?? Well, I’d been out on the river in a dugout canoe earlier in the
evening, recording some nature sounds for the job I was working on there,
when a big, dark bird dive-bombed me, grazing my cap. I ducked at the
contact, dipping my mike and boom into the water.
Now water is terrible for a microphone, and I still had a week to go in Peru,
so I paddled back to camp, trying to figure out how to dry the mic, and its
diaphragm off without doing any damage to it. I go into the bar to get a
bar towel, and the woman sitting there finds out what I’m up to and suggests
I try her hair dryer. I listen, and hear the camp generator still running, so I
know we have electricity for now. So we go over to her room and I sit on
the bed, drying out my mic while she “gets comfortable.” Well, it is hot
on the Amazon… oh, by the way, the hair dryer worked, and the mic
still records beautifully to this day!
The longer view of this memory goes back to meeting a very good friend
in Atlanta back in ’73… Sandy Fuller. A photographer, cinematographer,
adventurer, he once worked for National Geographic, and has climbed
Mount McKinley, now known as Denali. He helped me get my first job in
Atlanta back then, with Viscount Productions, a small corporate film group.
Sandy set me up in his basement which would become my very first recording
studio. He taught me the basics of being a location sound recorder and got
me on many of the jobs he took, this Peruvian gig being one of them. To this
day he calls me “E flat.” And to this day I’m most grateful for all he did for me.
I know I didn’t have to get out here on the Sound to start having those
crazy memories… could’ve probably done just as well from the comfort of
my big chair back home on the cove. But whatever… it sure is fun
to remember some of the wild and unusual stuff we do during our lifetimes.
It’s a nice reminder that we’ve truly lived, and enjoyed to the fullest, this
wacky adventure called life!