Monday, October 11, 2010

Black Sabbath - 1977 - Medical Lake, Washington

In 1977, I was stationed at Fairchild AFB, Strategic Air Command, nuclear weapons. It was a dark experience for my friends and I, whom I worked with. This was a kind of rag tag group of guys from around the US. Partiers all, or mostly anyway and typically, rocker types. The Southern Rocker types were especially die hards.

These were your basic hard core Rockers who had to play it all on the down low, or end up in jail, where some of them ended up. Dodging the SP's (Security Police, your basic military guard type, who were cool and mostly partiers themselves and would typically only shoot you if you got to close to a Nuke; which we were all for, protecting those bad boys), the LE's (Law Enforcement types, your basic military police), and the OSI (Office of Special Investigations, basically, the Air Force's FBI, in face, they got FBI magazine in their offices, fact, I read it, sitting in their office).

We like hard music, hard parties and hard fun.
We lived under difficult circumstances. Even though, it was peacetime. We had "Golden Flow" (urine testing) once a month. Were openly told, our phones were bugged (even if you lived off base); there were Soviet spies around looking to absorb us into international intrigue and national treason. I found guys in the woods off base, in campers, with many antennae, monitoring the radios on base. Counting the take offs and landings, etc. Mostly, these were Americans who would sell info to, um, whomever. Right, whatever.

Weird huh?

I was on base in the barracks for one month, what we called, "The Zoo". The job, our shop, was "The Farm". Two of my friends moved off base after a year or so because they couldn't take it either. Living in the barracks was nuts. Two to a room, but still, insanity in the halls and "day" rooms where the pool tables and TV's, foosball were.

So one day I went over to Dan and Craig's new house they were renting in Medical Lake, a kind of suburb, or small community just outside Spokane, Washington. What a pit that area was. They had a long house, kind of weird, like a shoe box with a couple of rooms growing off the center of it.

So I go over to visit one day, my first visit to their new abode and I entered through the kitchen. It was weird, you could look straight through the house to the other end. We talked for a while in the kitchen, then decided to go into the livingroom. As I headed to the doorway, Dan says, "Oh, man, be careful. Walk slowly through the doorway."


So, I said, "Why."

They just looked at me. Finally, one of them said, "Okay, you won't believe this, but, the doorway is haunted." I said, "You're right, I don't believe you." Then the other said, "No, man, really, he's not kidding. Like we know its probably the cut of the doorframe or something, but everyone that has walked through that door, hasn't made it on the first time. Usually, it takes about three tries."

Well, there was just a doorframe, no door, they had taken it down, but I felt that was a pretty strange thing to be told. I focused through the entire house, to the front door at the other end. Something seemed odd in the perspective. But you couldn't tell what it was. I examined the doorframe. It was obviously somewhat skewed. I stood back, a couple of paces and took in the entire situation.

"Well, I am pretty sure I can walk through a doorway." They laughed and said to go for it. Which I did. And, you guessed it, promptly walked right into the right side of the doorframe. It was jarring. As my foot landed, to step through the doorway, I somehow just shifted and hit the doorframe. That WAS weird. So, I tried it again. Took and couple of steps and as I was about to pass through the doorway, hit the right side of the doorframe again. Nuts. After the next failed attempt, I just stood there, flummoxed. They grinned.

Craig said, "Well, we know the floor is twisted. Its not flat." Dan said, "And the doorframe is skewed." And I said, "Well, that's it, isn't it? Between the two, it skews your perception just enough, yes?" So, I tried walking through it a fourth time, slowly, examining the doorframe and room beyond, and passed through into a tiny dinningroom. I turned and looked back. That was really strange.

"That kind of thing keeps happening here. In fact, this place kind of weird's us out a bit. I'm not so sure I like living here." Dan nodded agreement.

"Well," I said, "let's move on." They gave me a tour of the house and finally we settled into the living room. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny, cloudless, summer day. A breeze ran lightly through the length of the house. I thought, 'this isn't so bad.' So, we sat and talked for a while. One of them brought out some libations and we started to feel even better. I was looking overt their vinyl collection and noticed a "Black Sabbath" album I had never heard. Being a fan, I wanted to hear it. But they both said the same thing, "NO!" That was odd. I said, "Please?" They, said, "No."

Now, Dan, Craig, my wife at the time, Margaret, saw Black Sabbath at the field house in Spokane. A new band, Van Halen, opened for them. I only got as far as Eddie Van Halen's first guitar chord as he broke on stage and the lights came up. The rest, is history and another tale entirely. And this was all to come, about a year after this event.

Dan said, "Look, we're not trying to be rude, after all, you are a guest and all. But please, just don't ask us to play that album. Weird things happen when we do. We've agreed never to play it again." Craig, being the more sensible one, nodded agreement. Dan was from California and you could tell it from his beliefs and sensibilities. Craig was from Georgia, and basically more grounded in his thoughts. Both of them were good guys, but very, very different types.

I said, "Look, what's the purpose of having an album if you won't play it. Throw it away if you're so worried."

Well, no," Dan said, "who knows what that might bring on." Again, Craig didn't disagree.

"Well, COME ON!" I said, "Please, this is ridiculous. I've never heard this album and I'd really like to hear it."

"Well, its not that we won't play it and its not like we're scared to play it, we just don't like what HAPPENS when we play it."

"Like what," I asked.

"Everytime we play it, a storm comes up." Craig said.

"A storm." I said.

"Yes, a storm," Dan said, "its happened several times now." I looked out side. No way a storm was coming up today, so....

"Look, silence me, and just play it, okay?" They looked at one another, silently agreeing and said, "Okayyyy...."

The album was Black Sabbath.

Black Sabbath is the debut eponymous studio album by English heavy metal band Black Sabbath. Released on 13 February 1970 in the United Kingdom, and later on 1 June 1970 in the United States, the album reached number eight on the UK Albums Chart and has been recognized as one of the main albums to be credited with the development of the heavy metal genre. (Wikipedia)

It is kind of a scary looking album and you might not expect something like what they claimed to happen when playing an album like that. But still, come on.

So, Craig put it on. I sat there, luxuriating in the sounds of track one, "Black Sabbath". It rocked. I looked outside, no clouds. By the end of the track, there were a few sporadic clouds floating by. Track two came on, "The Wizard". I had their Masters of Reality album, which I received in a very interesting way, years before and in a very odd state of mind. This band held a unique place in my mental catalog of bands. Just after "The Wizard" started, the sky got darker on the horizon. Ok, but big deal, right.

But, by the end of that second track, I looked outside again and there was now a dark cloud cover and it looked obviously stormy out, to the point, I felt I should head out to get back home.

"See?" Craig said.

"Great, now its miserable out," Dan said. "Told you this would happen. And it was such a nice day too, what waste."

"Okay, okay," I said, "I believe you and I agree, Weird. With a capital "W"."

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