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11/16/2005: "in a beautiful place out in the country."
REMEMBERING FB THROUGH RECORDS
1. The Orb - "Little Fluffy Clouds"
The scene: Black Rock City, 2001. The sun was setting, in that typically stunning Nevada-desert way, and the sky was purple and red. FB was working on something in the camp, as usual. The dude was always working on something--building shade structures for the camp, toiling on his mammoth wall of LEDs, anchoring tents down with rebar, setting up speakers. I was wandering around with...Beck, maybe, who was drinking from a warm Thermos of Red Bull and vodka. The sky started getting darker. A string quartet, ringed by fire dancers, materialized somewhere near our camp. They started playing "Little Fluffy Clouds" by The Orb, arranged flawlessly for strings, in the middle of the goddamn sand. I immediately thought that FB should see this, but had no idea where he was. Later on in the night, a bunch of us told him about it, and he laughed and cursed himself for missing it. Then his eyes went wide, and he said excitedly: "That's the amazing thing about Burning Man. You would never see that anywhere else. You would never see a string quartet in the desert playing "Little Fluffy Clouds" anywhere else but here." His enthusiasm for Burning Man was contagious.
2. Underworld - entire discography
August 2001. We took I-80 straight across the U.S., and got into some furious fights along the way. Most of the time they were about things that were totally fucking stupid (what music to play, for instance). We got into a big argument in Wyoming about music. I wanted to listen to Exile on Main Street and FB wanted to listen to Underworld. I was exhausted and I was driving and I hated Underworld. Anyway, Exile sounded utterly perfect in Wyoming. FB kinda-sorta fell asleep in the passenger's seat and I was singing-drawling along with "Sweet Virginia" to keep myself awake, as the glorious unspoiled Wyoming landscape swept by. Trying to stop the waves behind your eyeballs.... FB got his revenge later on by blasting Pink Floyd's "Ummagumma" while driving in pitch-black darkness through nowheresville, Nevada ("NEXT REST STOP 279 MILES"). Then we bonded again when we discovered that we both dug The Orb's Orbvs Terrarvm, as the sunlight drifted up over the mountains. We finally got to Reno and marveled at its faded glory and seediness and how everything looked wrong in the raw early light of morning. We stopped at an IHOP in Reno and got pancakes. Even our waitress seemed so very wrong.
3. The Minibosses - "Metroid"
Arguing with FB sucked, but being on good terms was the best thing ever. My friends Droid and Noah and I booked the bands for MIT's Steer Roast festival in 2001. At the end of Saturday night--after all of the bands were finally over--I was feeling exhausted and underappreciated, I guess. I'll never forget how FB ran up to me, shook my hand vigorously, and enthused about what an awesome time he'd had and how much he appreciated the work we'd done. He talked about how much he loved the music--especially the Minibosses. (We raised money to fly the Minibosses--a videogame cover band--in from Arizona, just for the festival.) I was so, so happy that he'd had a good time. He had this incredible way of making you feel special, just by talking to you and paying attention to what you had to say, even if it was just for a few short minutes.
4. The Smiths - "This Charming Man"
Back to I-80. We were zooming through the endless flatness of Nebraska. FB had a Rio mp3 CD player in his van, which was the top technology at the time (the iPod hadn't been introduced yet), and a whole bunch of CD-Rs that were marked "1," 2," "3," 4," "5," and so on--his entire mp3 collection, burned to CD-Rs. We had no idea what was on what disc, or what the song names were (they had descriptive titles like "t01"), so he'd just throw them in at random. He tossed a random CD-R in and The Smiths' Hatful of Hollow started playing. Suddenly FB got all misty-eyed and started singing along with all the lyrics. (He had a pretty voice, too.) I remember that I started laughing. The Smiths just seemed so horribly fey in comparison with FB's badass, no-nonsense aesthetic. Then he opened up that two of his favorite bands of all time were The Smiths and Rush. (I could never quite wrap my head around his fascination with Rush.)
5. Boards of Canada - "Dawn Chorus"
The last time I saw FB before he died was on a beach in Long Island in July, about a week before I left for Germany. He set up speakers on the sand and blasted Boards of Canada into the ocean.
6. Orbital - "Attached"
One of FB's all-time favorite tracks. It's almost as beautiful as he was.
Replies: 11 Comments
I didn't know your friend, but this is beautiful writing, and exactly the right way for you to commemorate someone who obviously loved music and life and adventures. Thank you for posting this.
Frances May said @ 11/20/2005 01:13 PM EST
Regarding Rush. Didn't he work in theater production and lighting in highschool? GEEZ WHAT"S THE MYSTERY!?!?!?! :)
I caught Rush at Great Woods with FB and friends.
We are the priests of the temples of syrinx
Our great computers fill the hallowed halls
We are the priests of the temples of syrinx
All the gifts of life are held within our walls
Lifto said @ 11/17/2005 10:32 PM EST
wonderful how some people touch our lives. sorry abt FB geets.
Arvind said @ 11/17/2005 06:33 PM EST
Reading this brought back Frostbyte in so many ways. I have been trying to think about how to capture that his particular combination of inquisitiveness, naitivity, earnestness, and knowledge. I think you managed to do it perfectly. As others have said, thanks for writing this. It was good to read. Thanks to Dylan as well.
Niko said @ 11/17/2005 03:24 AM EST
"middle of nowhere"! yeah, i remember how much he loved that album, especially the second track--"spare parts express," i think it's called. that's a really great tune.
i was thinking of putting together a mix CD of FB's favorite songs to give to people. does this sound like a good idea? if you could send me your suggestions for tracks, i'd appreciate it.
geeta said @ 11/16/2005 09:45 PM EST
Fabulous. Thanks Geeta, FB was almost always listening to jams, so it's a good way for me to peg my memories with different time periods. If I may add contribution here, let's not forget Orbital-Middle of Nowhere, which he aquired a pre-release copy of somewhere in the vicinity of spring 1999 (from the original version of Napster i think... Back In The Day). That was on repeat, blasting out of room 23 for a very long time. yeah, he liked it. The Underworld/Orbital phase lasted for a good long time, leading to adventures like the road trip to see Orbital back-to-back in NYC & Worchester in July 1999. But then they started to suck.
And right, wtf is up with Rush?? That is something I will never understand. I recall one night in the warehouse, very late when the party was winding down, and FB was feeling particularly friendly. "Dylan, I want to play some Rush for you" he says, and then proceeds to give me a guided tour through their collective works. Oh god, it was awful, but I couldn't stop him. At some point the T started running again and I made my escape.
On some other occasion my brother and I were haing out in w23, and my bro put on some Kool Keith. FB is tapping his toe for a moment, then asks in all seriousness "what's the difference between rap and hip-hop?" It was adorable.
How about the time he got into Fred Fenning's old reel-to-reel tapes that had wound up in some corner of the warehouse. Somewhere in that stack we found 30-year-old original records from the Muzak corporation... yes bona fide Muzak from the 70s. That was entertaining as hell. Then FB got the bright idea of running the reel-to-reel to the line input of his computer that was controlling the Tensor, and he starts doing a real time FFT on a cover of Hey Jude which you might have heard if you were passing through a Macys around about 1978. But you know what? That shit looked GOOD up on the Tensor.
oh boy, I could go on for a while...
Dylan Stiles said @ 11/16/2005 09:13 PM EST
Geeta: thanks for this.
God this is so stupid, all of it, but love is coming from strange and almost-forgotten places, and it's pretty goddamn nice in its way.
Wally said @ 11/16/2005 08:08 PM EST
I remember when Rush was all Frosty would listen to, before he got into techno. This was a very Teply thing (you know, the objectivism).
The last time I got to be with Frostbyte was BM 2004. I was surprised to find out that he didn't mind being called "Frosty" ... someone had told me he hated that, years ago.
When we were in BRC in 2001, I was with Frostbyte in the GRAVEtruck (our kamp kitchen that year ... NO MORE LOVE!) when Dustin appeared and said, "Frostbyte, I couldn't find that Falco album you wanted to listen to."
I laughed my ass off while Frosty looked about as embarrassed as I've ever seen him (which meant he glowered at me even harder but with a hint of shame). I don't know from Falco, but now I want to hear whichever album it was.
Quincy said @ 11/16/2005 07:43 PM EST
Yeah, Geeta: thanks.
Sherv said @ 11/16/2005 07:28 PM EST
thanks for posting this
bam^2 said @ 11/16/2005 07:24 PM EST
...thanks, for the stories and memories.
robin said @ 11/16/2005 06:11 PM EST