One Fish, Two Fish, Three Fish… Bees – The Weird Hobbies of Rock Stars.

The life of mega-famous rock stars has got to get tedious after a while. Drug-fueled backstage orgies with supermodels undoubtedly begin to grate on a person’s nerves after a few years, and it makes sense that some famous musicians long to escape the fast-paced life of rock stardom.

A lot of famous musicians use their wealth in predictable ways, spending it on fancy cars, and buying castles and slaves. However, many have opened non-music related businesses on the side, just in case 1950’s critics were right, and that “rock and roll thing” turns out to be a fad, or if their second giant money room needs filling.

A few of those rockers have turned to ventures involving the natural world, and the animals that interest them.

That’s why…



Six Joints!

Ween 2

And fishin…





Ian Anderson practices calling the salmon using flute magic.


Bees… Bee like the Bees…

1. Roger Daltrey Owns a Trout Farm

When not singing as the frontman of “The Who” and filling stadiums, Roger Daltrey is an avid fisherman. That’s why decades ago the rock legend designed and created a trout farm in Dorset, England, which he owned for almost 30 years.

Daltrey has been quoted as saying that “When I go fishing, I come away feeling like I’ve smoked half a dozen joints,” which in the language of rock stars means that he enjoys fishing a LOT. Despite selling millions of records and being voted by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the top 100 rock vocalists of all time, Roger Daltrey considers his four lake, twenty acre trout fishery to be the “proudest achievement of his life”, making one wonder if The Who was always just a day job he used to fund his passion for trout farming.

If Roger Daltrey had written most of “Tommy” instead of Pete Townsend, the rock opera about a deaf, dumb, and blind kid that plays pinball might have had the main character casting a fishing rod instead. Come to think of it, Daltrey’s iconic fringed leather vest from his Woodstock performance kind of looks like some fishing lures. Coincidence? No, probably not.

It should be noted that any Who completists would also have to hunt down a copy of “The Underwater World of Trout Vol. 1” which has the rock superstar dispensing wisdom on fishing for the creatures he so obviously loves.

2. Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull is a salmon farmer.

It turns out that besides being one of the few stars to bring the “Rock Flute” into heavy use, Ian Anderson also long ago invested in salmon farming as a way to fund the upkeep on a summer house. His timing was perfect, as the industry was just beginning, and after twenty years, the venture has become the UK’s biggest independent smoked salmon firm, employing more than 400 people.

Anderson claims that salmon farming is similar to rock and roll since both involve “a bit of theatricality”, but unless that means he dresses his salmon in little stage costumes, I’m going to assume that Mr. Anderson is hitting the same six joint regimens that Roger Daltry recommends for fishing.

No one could argue that Jethro Tull was an unsuccessful band, but with their heyday long passed, it’s likely that Anderson makes more money from salmon farming these days, than he does from touring behind “Aqualung.”

And these two Brits don’t have a stranglehold on fish-related side gigs.

3. Dean Ween of Ween is a fishing Guide.

I’ve been a big fan of Ween for over 20 years. They’re one of those bands that are big enough to be legitimately famous, but not so much so that they’re a household name. They’ve managed to put out an enormous catalogue of stylistically diverse music, and enjoy a huge cult following.

Mickey Melchiondo AKA “Dean Ween” or “Deaner” is the pot-fueled duo’s main guitar player. While probably not at quite the level of success as Roger Daltry or Ian Anderson, Dean has been a successful recording and touring artist for decades, and it’s presumable that he gets by OK without a day job.

But he has a day job.

He’s a fishing guide for his business “Archangel Sportfishing”, which operates offshore in New Jersey, as well as in the Delaware River. Judging from his websites and interviews on the subject, Deaner considers his fishing business a personal passion that he takes at least as seriously as his career in Ween.

He even cautions his potential customers that since they may be fans of Ween, that while he’s fine with talking about the music questions they may have, that they should spend more time trying to catch fish. Yup.

A few years back, the band released an album of nautical themed songs called “The Mollusk”, and at the time that seemed like a strange direction to take. It all makes sense now.

4. Steve Vai is an avid Beekeeper.

Pyrotechnic guitar slinger Stave Vai stumbled across his insect based passion after a swarm of bees attacked his wife’s garden one day. Attacking the problem in the same way that he attacks exotic guitar scales, Vai dove straight in and now maintains five colonies of honey bees. While not exactly a commercial venture, the hobby is a serious one, and Mr. Vai harvests the honey himself and auctions it off, donating the proceeds to charity.

Whether or not Steve Vai plays the bees blazing guitar solos is unknown, but let’s face it…he probably does.

I’m not sure why it’s surprising to me that these rockers all seem to have deep passionate interests involving the natural world, but it is. They’re just human beings after all, they don’t exist solely on stage.

But I don’t know too many regular people that are as interested in fishing or beekeeping. It’s pretty weird. 

Oh well, Avril Lavigne is a hunter and Iggy Pop likes to garden, so I guess we really can’t draw many conclusions about a person based on their musical careers.

Bankers & Lawyers Playing Tough Guys – The Problems With American Motorcycle Culture Today.

I own a couple of American-made motorcycles. More on that a little later.

Riding a Harley or custom chopper automatically bestows certain expectations upon a person. The Harley Davidson brand has particularly cultivated its image over decades, and that image is hard to shake even if you want to. Most people that buy those bikes don’t seem to want to, but I find the weird patriotism and “off the rack rebel” imagery to be…pretty stupid.

For a country that seems to generally reward people that don’t step too far out of line, America really seems to love the image of rebellion. I suppose that the image of a rebel, living outside the rules of conventional society is an appealing one. Since the 1950’s and especially the 1960’s, the image of bikers fits that bill nicely. Just watch any of the old exploitation biker films from the late 1960’s, and it becomes obvious that many Americans were both frightened and fascinated by the idea of “Outlaw Bikers.” Media coverage of stories concerning the exploits of those biker gangs created a modern mythos, and somehow in the last 40 years or so, the homogeneous image of American bikers became popular with mainstream society.

Yeah, the actual dangerous biker gangs are still active today, essentially having become crime families. But most people you’ll see dressed in stereotypical biker garb, riding a Harley are more likely to be middle aged yuppies than scary gang members.

I still remember my old band being on tour, and pulling into a huge truck stop one early morning after a show. We were still wearing gear from the night before. Since that was pretty freaky looking, and since our band included attractive women, I was concerned to see a huge crowd of Harleys occupying a big chunk of the parking lot, surrounded by what looked like a scary outlaw biker gang,

My fears were dispelled as we got closer, and I saw that no one in the group looked younger than 55. Although dressed head-to-toe in leather, and riding choppers, the whole crew looked more likely to be doctors and lawyers than meth-slinging outlaws.

In fact, we were far scarier than anyone in that gang, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

But what the hell is up with comfortable fattened suburbanites dressing like the cast from “Hell’s Angels on Wheels”? I get it, it’s a safe way to try to look like a bad ass once firmly in the grips of middle age. But it looks kind of desperate and lame too.

Besides, when I see an older guy wearing a leather vest and chaps, I don’t usually think “Bad Ass Biker.” I think “that guy likes to have anal sex with other men.”

Nothing wrong with that if it’s your thing, but something  to consider if it’s not.

Also, for a bunch of “rebels” (or even yuppies playing rebel dress up on the weekend) the typical biker costume makes them look less like individuals that will fight the system and live outside of conventional norms, and more like a bunch of wannabe poseurs that all shop at the same costume shop. It’s the opposite of rebellion. You want to rebel on a Harley without actually becoming a criminal? Be a heterosexual male and wear pink or something. Wear a leather vest or some of that other junk, and you’ll just look like another old guy playing fancy dress up.

Then there’s the weird patriotism/snobbery that many Harley riders seem to cultivate. Harley Davidsons haven’t entirely been made in America since the early 70’s. Yep. This isn’t news to people that investigate such things, various parts are outsourced from many countries, and are assembled in the U.S.A. This isn’t something only H.D. is guilty of doing, of course. Our global economy has dramatically changed and reduced the number of goods that really are made entirely in America, but H.D. definitely promotes the hell out of being considered an American company. And they ARE, but their bikes are built from a lot of parts made elsewhere, and have been for years.

This is significant only because the company slathers almost everything they sell with the American flag, and so many people that own Harley’s develop a shitty attitude about any other motorcycle a person might choose to ride. In my opinion, someone driving a 50cc Chinese scooter every day is more of a biker than the leather clad dude that rides his Dyna Glide a few miles to show it off on weekends. That guy probably has a bunch of Chinese parts on his bike too. Anyone that’s tried to buy Harley accessories lately will see “Made in China” on those parts as often as not.

There’s even the occasional sneer directed towards people that own Sportsters, which are the smaller bikes that Harley builds. a lot of “bikers” consider them “girl’s bikes”, even though they can often perform better on streets than the bigger motorcycles in the Harley lineup.

So what do you do if you want a Harley or some kind of Harley style custom bike but don’t want to seem like a hypocritical asshole wearing a goofy costume to your “Tough Guy Club” parties?

Well, just don’t be that person. Don’t be a dick when you pull up to a guy riding something else, and consider dressing to ride rather than dressing to look like a dumb stereotype. That would be my advice anyway, but I’ll be the guy you see pull up on a custom chopper wearing a pink shirt.

Well maybe not. I don’t actually own a pink shirt, but I damn well don’t dress like a cookie cutter biker.

Oh, one last thing. For god’s sake don’t wear a bandana on your head unless you have some valid reason to. That looks so incredibly lame, and makes most of us just wonder if it’s disguising a receding hairline.


“Biker” – The reality much of the time.


“Bikers”, the legend.


A “Girl’s Bike” apparently…

The Walking Dead is Not a Zombie Masterpiece.

Seems like everyone I know has gone all wackadoodledoo over “The Walking Dead” television show.

I occasionally watch it, I admit. Enough to keep up with most of the major plot points I suppose, but I can’t say I understand the people that are super-fans of the show.

Yes, as a lifelong horror movie fan it’s interesting and a little weird to see a normally hyper-violent subgenre of horror somehow translate into a huge hit with mainstream audiences.

There is part of me that is uncomfortable with such mainstream popularity. I can admit to myself that part of that may be snobbery, but part of it is the fear that zombie fiction will get messed up if it continues to cater to mainstream tastes. The last thing I want to see happen is zombies to become modernized like vampires have. Between Anne Rice and role playing gothtard nerds, vampire are hardly monsters anymore. Instead they’ve become vinyl clad bisexual superheroes that hang out at underground dance clubs. Shudder.

Vampires got screwed even worse when certain individuals decided that they are actual real life vampires. No, you’re not. You’re either delusional or play acting. Let’s get that straight. While the idea of some losers deciding that they’re “real” zombies and shambling around trying to eat other people is sort of a fun thought, I don’t think that’ll happen.

It seems unlikely that the rotting walking dead could get that kind of shitastic romanticization, but who knows? Anything’s possible when too many people get interested in a certain style of fiction.

I’ve been watching zombie movies of one kind or another since the late 70’s, when as a young child I was lucky enough to catch “The Night of the Living Dead” on TV one Halloween. It was a game changing moment for me. I had been watching horror films from about the time I could talk, but that movie seemed a lot more “real” than anything I’d been allowed to watch previously. Most horror movies that I’d seen featured patently unrealistic monsters or were kind of silly. Nothing wrong with that, but George Romero’s take on the reanimated dead just seemed much more grim and somehow possible than most horror made prior to the late 1960’s. I was probably only 10 when I saw the film the first time, but I could tell there was a lot more going on in NOTLD than in most monster movies I’d seen.

That experience ignited my love of horror movies even further, and to a certain extent it made me try to seek out the “harder stuff” – the films that were more intense and modern in their approach to scaring people. Fortunately for me, I was a kid during an era when horror films were going through a golden age. The late 70’s saw a lot of amazing movies that had a nihilistic realism at their core. That continued into the early 80’s, which welcomed the slasher film into the mix. Some of those being decidedly bad, but a lot were pretty intense for the time, and still are.

Somewhere during that time I was fortunate enough to see the uncut version of “Dawn of the Dead.” I knew that it was the best zombie film ever made, and one of the best horror films ever made. It still is, by the way.

While George Romero made intelligent films that used a background of a zombie apocalypse to tackle serious social issues, a lot of imitators (especially the Italians) just took this new monster and churned out film after film. Some, like Lucio Fulci’s “Zombi 2,” managed to be extremely entertaining and transgressive, even if the subject matter was mostly used to show nudity and extreme violence. I can honestly say that I still haven’t seen much that rivals the underwater scene where a guy in zombie makeup fights a huge and very alive tiger shark. It’s amazing.

So what am I getting at in regards to “The Walking Dead”?

I guess part of my problem is that I hear a lot of super-fans acting as if the series is wholly original and the quality is top notch. They’ll reference that it’s based on these really good comics (I admit, I haven’t read them), and that’s supposed to impress me as being revolutionary for some reason. It’s not. They may be well written, but they’re far from the first comics about zombies. In the late 80’s there was “Deadworld” and even earlier zombie action in comic magazines like “Creepy” and “Eerie” in the 70’s.

When I step away from the irritating fan people that try so hard to convince me that “The Walking Dead” is amazing, I have watched enough of the series to have mixed feelings about it. It IS entertaining from time to time, although I would say that like a lot of episodic television the quality varies greatly from episode to episode. I get that, it’s not rare or necessarily a bad thing.

The acting is mostly good, or at least as good as television acting gets. I can’t say anything bad about the actors involved.

The special effects are top notch. The people at KNB Effects are the best in the business, and that shows.

My main gripes are that the plots I’ve seen explored feel pretty uninspired and unoriginal. I feel like I’ve seen these stories, or ones very much like them before.

So fans? Say what you will about the show being entertaining, but please don’t tell me it’s got an original bone in it’s ravenous and decaying body, because it just doesn’t.

Then there’s the weird way violence is handled. I know it’s aimed for a mainstream audience, but there’s a LOT of graphic violence. I’m cool with that. I like it, actually. But I find it kind of lame that in a series that’s gone multiple seasons and that has lots of people coupling up, sex and nudity is absent entirely, but they will show a person getting their skin torn off by dead people.

It’s not a matter of wanting to see these actors naked exactly, it just strikes me as a very American and stupid take on this subject. Almost every episode features a level of violence that would’ve resulted in an X rating a couple of decades earlier, but no one ever walks around without their incredibly grimy looking clothes. If I were one of these folks, the first thing I’d do upon stumbling into one of the safe houses they always seem to find, is to strip down and hop in a tub, preferably burning my disgusting clothes and finding some new ones.

Anyway, the comic book hyper-violence seems weirdly out of place in a show where characters can’t even say “fuck,” much less show one of the couples engaging in that activity. It makes me think that the producers of the show have no problem with the graphic violence, but still think American audiences will prudishly freak out if a set of naked breasts were to end up on film.

The only other thing I can think of is that they’re trying to market the show to people of all ages, which makes me wonder why anyone would let a kid see a violent zombie show. I mean, I watched that stuff as a kid, but it wasn’t sanctioned by any responsible adults around. It wasn’t shown on television and relentlessly marketed either.

Mostly, the problem I see in a long running zombie series that’s trying to be gritty and realistic is that we’re going to see the same basic plot setups over and over.

Our band of survivors will stumble across some shelter, then internal conflicts and scumbag outsiders will screw up the sanctuary and they’ll have to flee, probably being scattered in the process. Then they have adventures apart until they eventually find one another again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Occasionally some semi-beloved character will get killed, and that’s about the drama cycle that will be milked. In the context of a movie, this can work well. But seeing it played out over and over just doesn’t.

There’s also the problem with characters that make obviously stupid decisions. Trust “The Governor”? Sure, that seems reasonable. Go to some outpost called “Terminus”? Why not?

I’m surprised they haven’t milked “Dawn of the Dead” completely and just set up shop in a giant mall, although the boring prison season came close.

So that about covers my gripes. I support the idea of a hyper-violent TV show about the zombie apocalypse. I just don’t think “The Walking Dead” is the masterpiece that so many fans tell me it is.




“Ghost Adventures” Goofy Frat Boys Hunt Spirits Without a Talking Dog.

I’ve watched many major cable channels make a turn away from real, documentary-style programming towards the supernatural and the weird over the last several years. The History Channel once was dominated by World War II and Vietnam documentaries, to the point that it was often referred to as “The Hitler Channel.” Now, it seems to be almost entirely broadcasting weird reality shows like “Pawn Stars,” “Ax Men,” “American Pickers,” and “Swamp People,” begging many questions – what do those shows have to do with history, and why do so many Americans seem enthralled by the shenanigans of often angry working class dudes with unconventional jobs? I work as a meat cutter, if I want to see some dumb ass screaming at another at work, that’s common enough. It’s not what I want to view in my off time.

Most of the other more serious channels are following that trend, too. They’re all turning their backs on the types of shows they once aired in favor of the more popular reality shows, which we all know are pretty much fake, so that’s really strange. If one of these cable channels does broadcast programs about real events like WWII, you can almost bet it’s going to be “The Secret Nazi UFO Connection” or a show about the supernatural. Why? Because that stuff is more interesting to the average boob tube viewer than history or reality. The real reality, not the scripted stuff.

And I understand the appeal. I’ve watched plenty of those shows over the years. I’m into weird stuff, I’ve studied the paranormal and the occult. I’m down with Bigfoot and the Mothman, those things are fun.

But there are a few shows that I really can’t stand, and the ones that irritate me the most are the currently popular ghost hunting series.

“Ghost Adventures” seems to be the most popular, but there are a couple more. They all seem to have essentially the same basic format. A group of ghost hunters go to a reportedly haunted locale and proceed to do “tests” that prove otherworldly beings are present. On “Ghost Adventures,” this is also accomplished by the ridiculously-dressed leader Zac Bagans, who runs around like a drunk frat boy yelling and trying to goad restless spirits into proving they’re present.

Who knew that the only things a person needed to do to stir the departed into action was an Affliction t-shirt, a bad hair cut, and some gauges to measure electrical activity?

Oh yes, about that scientific approach they use (before all of the yelling starts). Since the vast majority of hauntings these clowns investigate are inside occupied buildings of one kind of another, it would seem that finding areas with electrical activity would be pretty common almost everywhere. Same thing about temperature fluctuations. Besides, at what point did people prove that any of that stuff indicates the presence of ghosts? It’s like a bunch of folks collectively decided to believe that we can measure paranormal activity with devices that were never intended for that purpose.

They also use sound recordings to capture the voices of spirits, although in nearly every example I’ve heard, it all sounds like total crap amid a sea of static.

As for all of the running around and loud taunting of spirits that occurs in every episode of a Ghost Adventures – what the fuck, guys? I’d like to believe that ghosts really do exist, and maybe they DO. I don’t know.

I do know that if I was a ghost and had any power in the material world at all, I’d love to snatch Zac Bagans and feed him to Satan’s demonic hoards, just because screaming dorks wearing bad fashions and over-gelled hairdos irritate me. Sadly, I have my doubts that the afterlife works in such ways.

Occasionally, these groups of ghost-annoyers bring along a psychic or two, who almost always proceed to cold read people that have witnessed ghost activity at the site. Again, maybe there are real psychics out there, but these cable spirit-hunters definitely seem to have a flair for the dramatic that borders on acting. Another show (whose name escapes me) consists of a group of college-aged kids, and they generally have an “occult expert” among their dopey ranks. This expert seems to dish out pseudo-Wiccan expertise and uses such brilliant techniques as using the cross to scare off malevolent spirits. Mind blowing.

In any case, I get the appeal of these shows. The production costs involved with following around a few overly dramatic clowns while they psych each other out and run around screaming in the dark HAVE to be about as low as they get, and people love these dumb shows.

And that’s fine, I think lots of silly stuff can be fun to watch from time to time. I just wonder how many viewers actually believe the stuff they’re watching is real. It’s appealing to see “proof” that ghosts are real, because that would verify that death is not the end, and that’s a very appealing idea for most people.