Missin’ Fishin’ May 12, 2010Posted by Matt in Reminiscence.
Tags: fishing, largemouth bass, memories, Spring
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I really like living in a good-sized metro area. We’ve got great restaurants, interesting activities, interesting people, and fantastic music, but there are times, especially around this part of the year, that I long for the small town I grew up in. It’s fishing season.
From about 1995-1996, when I was a senior in high school, until I moved away in 2004, chasing the elusive largemouth bass around our family pond was a favorite pastime. My friend Andy and I would park our trucks on the levee, turn on some good ol’ boy country music and work our way down to the algae-covered waters, carefully eyeing the ground for any hidden water moccasins. We would open our tackle boxes, treasure chests full of fishing paraphernalia that somehow seemed to glow in the spring sun, and carefully choose our lures of choice to begin this session. One might pick out a rooster tail or a topwater lure or a deep-diving plastic worm, but, regardless of chosen implement, there was but one target – the bass.
Largemouth bass are beautiful creatures, their greenish scales with scattered dark blotches glistening with an ethereal sparkle, as though they were touched by the hand of God (or at least Poseidon), himself. Perhaps the greatest thrill of bass fishing is the fight, the pitting of man versus beast in a battle for aquatic supremacy. They pull and yank on your line, sometimes bending your rod to dangerous angles, before leaping high above the water’s surface in their attempts at escape. Though there are many types of fish to hunt for in Central Arkansas, whether bream or crappie or giant catfish, none in my mind offer the satisfaction found in conquering the mighty bass.
And it is this time of year, when the sun is high, the temperature is warm, and the bass are at their most active, that I miss it the most.
Songs of our Lives – Part 2 May 7, 2009Posted by Matt in music, Reminiscence.
Tags: Beck, Garden State, life, memorable times, music, Phish, Radiohead, Weezer
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There are three albums in particular that I equate with my 4.5 years at Harding and strangely they all were released during my first two years of school and each of them evoke distinct memories of that mid-late 90’s time period.
I had really liked Weezer’s debut album that was released when I was in high school, but I had quickly become burnt out on it due to the constant rotation on MTV back when they still showed videos. When Pinkerton came out, I picked it up quickly without having heard anything from it, but with the idea that it would have a similar vibe to their debut. On first listen, I wasn’t quite sold on it, for it was a far cry from their radio friendly songs of a few years prior, but soon it was as though the clouds were opened and a light from heaven suddenly illuminated the barren landscape around me. It was as though Rivers Cuomo and the band were talking directly to me with their noise-filled tales of nerdy angst. My roommate Scott and I listened to this CD over and over again in our little dorm room in Armstrong Hall while no doubt dining on Papa John’s and commiserating about one thing or another.
The second album that brings back memories from those days at the oft-hailed alma mater comes from a band not known for the many albums they have produced over their career, Phish. It was through members of my social club that I first began to really appreciate the jam band genre – of course, there was the Dead and Widespread, but the Phish was the band that really stuck with me then. Their album Billy Breathes was released during my freshman year and hardly a day went by that I didn’t listen to it from beginning to end. Some of my most treasured memories from these days gone by were of my friend Andy and I sitting at the top of Turkey Mountain (well, more like a small hill), smoking swisher sweets and listening to this album. Those were the days.
Third is a collection of recordings that has been recognized over and over again as one of the most amazing ones in recent history, Radiohead’s OK Computer. I remember picking up a copy of the album at the local Hastings in Searcy, not all that sure what to expect after the mellow sounds of The Bends a few years before. Soon, though, any reservations I might have had were put to rest. I recall just sitting in my Dodge Ram with the stereo turned up loud as waves of sonic goodness flowed all around me in some strange, dissonant symphony. It was an amazing personal experience.
The Fall of 2002 was a difficult time in my life. The career choice I had made in college and worked so hard toward had just fallen completely apart, leaving me unemployed for a time and then mired in a really terrible, depressing job. At the same time, Rachel, our first surprise baby, had just been born and I was dealing with the shock of being an unprepared father. I was in a serious downward spiral and seemingly all alone. Then came Beck. Now, I’d long been a fan of our generation’s greatest troubadour, but this release, which eschewed his past style of beats and sampling and phrases that made you reach for the nearest Spanish-American dictionary, really hit home with me at that time. Beck was despairing and alone, his acoustic guitar and downtrodden voice just cutting through the endless gloom and feelings of insignificance. It was perfect. Beck was my partner as we made a path through a dreary existence, looking for some glimmer of hope. Little did I know at the time, things were about to turn around.
It was the beginning of 2004, after slaving away for a year in graduate school while living on a meager income and government assistance, when the call finally came and a beam of light shown through the clouds – after more than a year of rejections, I had been offered a job in Memphis, a city I only knew by past nights on Beale Street. Soon we had made a home in the metro area, a place where we remain to this day. It was later that year that the soundtrack for the great movie Garden State came out and, though it is not necessarily an uplifting collection of songs, it fit the time well. I would often drive through the dilapidated areas of the city with this poignant soundtrack playing, looking at the poverty and desperation all around me, and wondering what, if anything, could be done. It was then that I realized the existence of hope, a glimmer of light in a land of darkness, a ray of goodness in the night of despair. My purpose is to make this a better place, to shine the light on others, to change the world from the ground up.
And so today, five years later, that is what I am striving to do. I came to the realization that it is not about me, that there are 6 billion(+/-) people in the world that should matter more, regardless of their race or religion or economic status or even if they are sworn enemies.
Thoughts? Are their songs or albums or other forms of artistic expression that you associate with times in your life?
And the Band Played On… May 6, 2006Posted by Matt in Reminiscence.
Tags: band, Bush, Everclear, high school, May Day, Nirvana
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Originally posted 5/6/06
Given the time of year it is, the other day I was doing a bit of reminiscing about May Day at Beebe High School – particularly about a certain band that performed there ten years ago.
Being a lover of all kinds of music, one of the things I most wanted to accomplish in my young life was to play in a band – and possibly even play in front of people. Well, during the spring of ’96 – my senior year – that dream was finally realized. A good month or so before that special day four of us – Michael, Andy, Dustin, and I – decided that we were finally going to do it – we were going to perform in front of the entire high school.
We ran into a few problems at first, namely Dustin was the only one of the four of us with much musical talent at all. Andy, who had played drums in the school band through about 9th grade or so, borrowed a drum set from someone, I did a crash course in bass guitar, and Michael bravely took on the singing duties, despite his obvious lack of ability. The weeks leading up to our big performance was one of the most fun times I had during all of my high school years. We tons of practice hours during that time, rehearsing the few songs we could actually play well enough that we wouldn’t feel to embarassed to do in front of a few hundred of our peers, until we finally felt confident enough to step out on that gym floor…
As people filed into the gym that day, we opened with a little instrumental section of the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today,” which amounted to Dustin noodling around on his guitar while the rest of us tried to make it look like we knew what we were doing. Once everyone got seated, the grand show began…
We played three songs that day – the only three we really felt comfortable enough to play in public – Everclear’s “Santa Monica”, Nirvana’s “About a Girl”, and ended with Bush’s “Little Things.” At the time everything seemed great, it’s really not until we watched the video later that we realized just how bad we sounded. But that really didn’t matter because we had finally done something that we had talked about for years – we started a little band and got to play in front of people.
To this day, when I’m around Andy we still joke about this and talk about how much fun we had during those weeks leading up to the “concert.” It’s one of those things I won’t forget…