Rememberies: Year Zero

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Well, I think it’s safe to say that it’s a miracle any of us are still here. Welcome to the new era, dear Slushblog reader, did you bring a towel?

We still have our health, and although the weather has turned seasonably cold, we still have forced air heat and electricity here at the base. Our food rations are high and arguably delicious. Oats for breakfast and plenty of bean soup to go around for dinner.

For all of the literal doom and gloom we managed to find some flowers and rainbows along the way, and let’s try to focus on the individual good, shall we? Lots of beautiful things to celebrate then and now.

What we lost along the way could fill the holes in our soles to keep our feet dry as we traverse our way into the unknown. So let’s cobble together one last long look into the crystal ball of memory.


Did such a time ever truly exist? The young ones think we are playing fast and loose when we assure them that it did. Yes, The Lemons (alternatively, The Lemon-Lime Singing Band) were the featured highlight of the prior decade, and gave one last rousing performance, dirty-dozen style, at the Hideout, a venue we were all afraid of losing to corporate monopolization of nightlight as the Lincoln Yards threatened to encroach upon the no-man’s-land that made the venue such a hard-to-find-hideaway. Of course, those were simpler times when you could support your favorite David against the Goliath of TIF-funded, city-hall sanctioned fun by simply piling all of your friends and musical instruments into a van and playing silly songs to a house so packed that they can’t even hear you in the back because you told the sound engineer you’d all cram around one microphone. That was how The Lemons charmed out the old decade, and in with the new. And so 2020 was born standing in front of the Hideout, having a post-gig cig with Laure. The month of January was a workaday month, 5 days washing dishes and 2 days selling toys and records each week, with nary a day to rest or relax. At the end of the month, we took a road trip to Omaha for a long weekend with the family, with some man-sticking-it-to thrown in there for good measure. Mostly, it was cold outside and warm inside. But Mike Cipp came to town one of those cold nights and had the new and improved Slushy band play with his Cruzer at Reed’s Local for what turned out to be the only show of 2020. If we had known then what we know now we still would have done it exactly the same.


Groundhog’s Day was quite eventful as Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and went back underground, or didn’t, who can remember such trivial details when the real star of the show was the palindrome in the dateline. 02/02/2020 (or 2020-02-02), we hardly knew ye. Much later in the month, The Cowboys decided to go on tour, and did. It was a reasonably non-depressing time, with lots of sitting in the van eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and late-night milk shakes. Keith quit his job got a new (to him, as in used) van with the intention of touring full time. We stopped by Atlanta, and the news was going on about the CDC there, and some new virus that had made its way to Seattle. By the time we made it to Nashville to play a relief show for a tornado that had done some damage there, folks were abuzz with talk that SXSW had been cancelled in order to keep folks from congregating too much. We had just been all around the greater south-eastern portion of the landmass we call home, how were we to know none of us had picked it up and spread it around like clueless incubators? Time to go home and quarantine. Luckily it would only be a couple of weeks.


Actually, I went back to the restaurant for a few days. The weekend of (albeit prior to) St. Patrick’s Day was a test for Chicago. The mayor said: Stay Home. Chicagoans said: No Thanks. They went out, gathered, mingled, swapped spit, as they are wont to do, even without the river dyed green. At the restaurant the following Monday, things were eerily quiet, even for a cold-month Monday at a neighborhood sandwich joint. We did a lot of cleaning in the kitchen, and not a lot of food prep. I got sent home an hour early. The next day when I arrived for my shift, the door was locked. One of the owners showed up and gave me a “What are you doing here??” That was the last day I worked in coming up on a year. It seemed the entire faulty, crumbling structure that props up the world as we had known it was about to come crumbling down. So I went home and asked Laure to marry me, as soon as she finished her yoga. Then we turned on the news, then turned it off. A two-week lock-in could even be kinda fun!


It was starting to get nice out, as we determined by the fact that the heat wasn’t blowing as much. We sewed face masks and bought hand sanitizer, lots of dry beans, some boxes of wine, and whatever few things we might need to see us through the end of the world. Laure started working from home, and I played soothing synthesizer music to calm her nerves as frustrated Canadians complained that their cheaply made yet expensive clothes weren’t reaching them fast enough. And that was our only contact with the outside world. We watched Star Trek: The Next Generation and pondered humanity’s future. This melded into What The Strek?, an album of paranoid optimism. Laure and I also began recording as Beh’Ouai. A musically fruitful lockdown had begun.


I turned 38. Max come down some, since we’re breathing the same air anyway, and we recorded some Lemons-in-lockdown performances for the internet, which we were surprised to learn still existed.


We put our mask collection to good use and joined the mass protests happening outside our door. It felt strangely comforting to be among people, even while expressing outrage.


We started having periodic yard sales because after three months and counting being and staying home, we were sick and tired of looking at the stuff we owned. At this point, there was enough foot traffic on our block, and it was a good excuse to chat up the neighbors from a neighborly distance. Also after three months of no government services, government services resumed, so Laure and I followed through with our intentions and got married at City Hall.


We got a kitten from our friend Autumn whose mother found a stray cat had had a litter in her garage. Autumn had named the kitten Moo because she has the coloration of a cow but we named her Luna because she has the coloration of the moon. Hi Luna!


Occasionally when the weather was nice, our friend Steve would come over and we would sing songs on the back patio. Then he came over and we sang songs inside and we live streamed it for the Internet Open Mic Cafe. That was fun.


We were pregnant for the month of October.


We had a miscarriage at the beginning of November. However bad I may have thought it would be, it was a thousand times worse.


Overall I guess it was a good year because Santa came bearing gifts. We managed to stay up past midnight to ring out the old year and ring in the new one although so far the new one seems to have picked up where the old one left off. We’ll see in a year’s time when we do our next retrospective how year 1 turns out.


Well, that’s it for the calendar view of the year prior, but it really was a year for burning your calendar to stay warm, so I probably forgot where some events landed in the timeline. So maybe there’s a better way to reflect on what has transpired…


For a while, I joined American Breakfast, and Laure joined Slushy, and we were writing songs for 2 separate bands. Then we decided we should just join forces and have one band. While in the van, we decided to call that band Beh’Ouai. It’s a casual way to say yes in French, like “Uh… yeah!” Like, “Hey, should we stop for a hot chocolate?” “Beh’ouai!” It’s pronounced, as far as I can be certain, “Buh-way”. And so we wrote and recorded a lot of songs and add continually to the Beh’Ouai bandcamp page. If you’re a longtime Slushy fan, keep an eye on that as it’s my personal main musical output at this point.

The Wildcat

Of course, American Breakfast isn’t just Laure, it was started and shared with our friend Steve, so we came up another new band to include Steve. It’s called The Wildcat.

The Cowboys

The Cowboys had 2 releases this year, and I am a contributor to both of them. “Room of Clons” was recorded in June of 2 years ago, and “Lovers in Marble” over a couple of months in isolation this past year. Feel It Records released them both. Hi Sam!

The Lemons

Wow, the Lemons almost went on tour last year! And then we didn’t. But then Max and I took part in a few online festivals that you can find on YouTube, and we spent a lot of time working on a new album that will be released this year, featuring all the usual Lemon suspects and a few new ones. I’m really really excited to be able to share this one with the world.


Max really wanted to write some love songs, so we met up one day, turned up the gain, tuned down the guitar and wrote a few songs about noshing. Thus, Nosher. The riffs are fun to play and the lyrics are dumber than anything we’ve ever done, quite the accomplishment.

The Strek

Somedays, you don’t feel like doing much of anything, so you set up the synthesizers to play endless loops. And that’s how the Strek was born. In writing about it previously, I compared it to Eddie Cockroach, where I improvised melodies on the fly, but that’s only half accurate. It’s a completely different synthesizing experience.

Home Work

I’ve really enjoyed my apartment the last several years because I was almost never here. Then all of the sudden I really was here. So I decided to finally fix all of the little things that had been eating away at my soul, like getting a new toilet, scrapping the broken down washer/dryer in the common area right outside my door, painting the cabinets and walls, generally redecorating, tightening screws, etc.


I now have pets and they are cats and I love them.