Boulder, CO – Fatty J & Not Eric – February 9, 1998

So I guess I’m staying.  Boulder, its flatironed red mountains stabbing at the sky, holds something mysterious for me.   I rented a 2nd-floor apartment at 9th and University and converted the porch overlooking the cemetery into a makeshift bedroom hanging some found fabric on the windows.  The first night I moved in, there was a mound of rubbish outside my front door.  As I moved my furniture in, I moved someone else’s garbage out.  My desk in, someone else’s broken TV out.  My CD collection in, Someone else’s smelly hefty bag out.  As I was nearing the bottom of the stack of trash something in a glass terrarium moved.  I thought it was a rat and nearly fell down the stairs backward.  But it wasn’t a rat.  It was a softball-sized hedgehog some a-hole had abandoned.

“People do that,” explained the vet I rushed the spinny orphan to.  “They buy hedgehogs as novelty pets, over feed ‘um and when they realize they can’t pick ‘um up or play with ‘um they abandon them.” 

“Well that sucks,” I said.

“This one is about two times the size it should be.” She said, donning gloves and retrieving the critter from the terrarium.  “They’re supposed to curl into a ball when they’re scared but this one is way too fat.”  Indeed, as she hoisted the little guy up he gave what looked like a lazy abb crunch but nothing that much resembled a ball. 

“He’s got parasites too, see?  He’s losing a bunch of quills.  You’ll have to buy a pair of gloves and feed him a dropper of medicine every day.”  So, I took the pathetic little beast back to my new apartment and named him “Fatty J” after the all-night stoner pizzeria down the street.   

The floors in my living area are so wrapped that after a day of classes (I signed up for at CU Boulder in an attempt to finish my college credits) my furniture migrates into the center of the room.  Fatty J is always buried in the center of the pile and I make a game of finding him while peeling back tables, armchairs, and rugs to their original positions.  He’s a free-range hog.

I took the gig with “Mary Sister Reload” and we’re now calling ourselves “Not Eric.” Rehearsals are weekly.   I’ve since washed the orange plaid jacket from the ceiling insulation and wear it with pride every freezing practice. 

Last week we recorded an assortment of songs at The Red Door Studio.  As we arrived at the back-alley studio, ½ frozen flakes the size of watch faces were just starting to litter the air.  We took turns laying down tracks, stepping over each other’s semi-reclined bodies to get into the clenched fist size of a control room.  There we drank skunked beer and re-listened to parts we’d just played.  We made up band names.  Steve, engineering the session suggested, “Big Head Sally and the Monsters.” Dave offered “Naked Trout” and Rob suggested the alteration “Just Trout.” Names were thrown around like spaghetti at a wall: “Emotional Blender” “Sounds Good Naked” & “Spudboy”.  We laughed, we ate, we drank, we recorded, and repeated until 12:30 at which point I was wasted, exhausted, and back in the damp snow.

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