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Three Dog Days of Summer

It’s hard to say just how cool I thought Three Dog Night’s version of “Mama Told Me Not to Come” was back when it was released and to which I sat listening on the thick shag carpet of my older brother’s basement bedroom playing The Game of Life and surrounded by his LOVE, PEACE and eyeball wallpaper, not to mention Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and maybe surprisingly Steve Gibbons albums passed out on the floor; all this beneath his drop ceiling above which he hid a huge bag of some of the worst ditch weed imaginable – weed, no doubt, actually found in a ditch by some county road near Brainerd and if you really didn’t want to get high you’d smoke a bunch of this shit; and outside his egress-ed window was an old stone wall on the other side of which was a vacant lot where we built an underground fort inside of which we kept a couple of found Playboy and a Oui (French, baby) magazines (back in those days you could occasionally find Playboys or pages from Playboys on the street and I’ve no idea why nor why you no longer do) that appeared to have survived three thunderstorms and burial in dirt for decades and to which the older boys tossed off to now shockingly innocent images lit by candles and choked by incense and the younger boys went inside confused; this fort we decided to protect and what better way than to pound six inch nails through two-by-fours and hide them in the long grass to “catch” anyone trying to get to our fort; one particular nail on which I stomped because I was told to “run and get more nails” and stabbed it up, in and out my right foot leading to nothing more than a tetanus shot and pissed off parents, but 70s parents who then told us,“Don’t be a baby and go back out and play with the others”; and we would walk across the street to Lake Calhoun where there was the Black beach on the north end where they washed and waxed their cars to Stevie Wonder, the gay beach on the east end where they lay sunning to disco, and the hippy beach right in front of us on the southwest side and where I walked with my mom years before and asked, “Why do they all share the same cigarette?” and to which she replied, “They’re poor”, and they looked poor; the lake where I saw a bus stop and 50 Jesus-looking dudes descend down the steps and walk in line in white robes and beards and long hair, handing out pamphlets and clasping their hands in front of them or holding them palms up as if praising the sun or hoping for rain, and looking probably more like one of the dudes from Three Dog Night or Mott the Hoople than the historical Jesus who would have been much blacker; the lake that in those days pretty much no one ran around because pretty much no one ran around anything at all, but we did, and in Converse shoes that totally suck as shoes – unless you’re in some sort of alt-something band and think it’s cool to wear the sort of sucky shoes that we had to wear because that was the only choice besides PF Flyers and they were a little better and while this is when Nike and Pumas and Tigers came out no half-way decent parent was going to pay that much money for tennis shoes for their kids (they’re kids, for god’s sake!); the sort of shoes that we all buy for ourselves, kids and infants now because we’ve become such a bunch of suckers and rubes. Open up the window, sucker, let me catch my breath.

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