Get Your Rocks Off Podcast: Remembering Rodney Speed

Jake reflects on the life and times of his best friend, Sir Rockin’ Rodney Speed. Jake tells the story of how they meet and fell in love, and recounts plenty of their bizarre adventures. This episode also compiles the complete collection of Rodney’s Corner segments from the podcast, Jake’s eulogy for Rodney, and live set of the Rodney Speed Experience live from the Mercury Lounge in NYC.

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RUNNING FOR RODNEY #3For366

3 For 31. I ran 3 miles every day in the month of January. Seemed simple enough, if a bit daunting. What started as a cool challenge and a fun way to keep in shape after running two marathons in 6 weeks has morphed into a whole new beast. In the middle of the 31 days, my best friend of 21 years Rodney Speed passed away unexpectedly. I kept up the running, and it might have been the one thing that kept me sane.  When the 31 days were up, I decided to extend to 53 days to honor the 53 years Rodney spent on earth with us. Well today is day 69 and I’ve decided to keep this up for the REST OF 2016. ?#?3For366? ?#?RunningForRodney? I’m gonna be making new videos weekly as well as posting and blogging about the adventure. So far it’s taken me across 3 continents, 7 countries, and 15 cities. From sea level to 6,500 feet up. Through one snowstorm in Holland, one massive NYC blizzard, countless rainy days in London, to runs along rivers, through parks, city streets, and even 7 runs on top of a snow covered frozen lake bed in Champex Switzerland (that was preferable to running on steep, winding, icy mountain roads). Through all those changes there one constant. That during every single run I think about Rodney. I’ll never stop thinking about him. I can’t wait to see where else this takes me.

On January 13th, 2016 I lost my best friend, my big brother, my little brother, my soul mate and my inspiration all at once. Rocks Off lost our mascot. The Rodney Speed Experience lost our leader. New York City lost our best DJ. The world of Rock N Roll lost our most loving and lively patron saint and its most spirited motivator and cheerleader… And the universe lost our biggest dreamer and its brightest soul.

For the rest of 2016 I will be honoring his memory by running 3 miles every single day. Godspeed!

Extra special thanks to Kyle Lamont & Adrees Ali for the help with the video and Ginger Wildheart the music. He wrote the song “American Man” was written for the Rodney Speed Experience. Long story which will come later 😉

Caving – The Word Alone Should Send Shivers Down Your Spine

Today I went caving for the 2nd time. Is that a verb? It is now, I guess. The first was a few days back in Chiang Dao. At the time I thought it was pretty cool. Went for a 45 minute loop in a cave with a guide who had a hand-crank powered lantern. We went into what I thought was deep in the side of this mountain – and had a few spots where I had to use my recently honed yoga skills to squeeze through some rocks. But that was nothing compared to what I got into today.

NOTHING like the one I did in Chiang Dao. But I’m so glad I went to the one there because now I know the difference between jabronis hopping off of a tour bus and waking right into a cave and what happened today. Im staying at a place called Cave Lodge which is about 20 bamboo huts nestled on a hillside by a river with a communal lodge full of hammocks and people who are over here in Asia for a LOT longer than me. Of all the weirdos I talked to over the past two days here, my 3 week trip is by far the shortest. Followed by a couple of Canadians who are here for 5 weeks then everyone else I’ve meet is here for spans of 3 to 8 MONTHS. And the odd part is the people who are traveling the longest are by far the oldest. We’re not talking fresh faced gap year travelers. Full grown adults that should ostensibly have JOBS and shit. That’s just bananas. God bless these weirdos.

I thought I had gotten enough of the caving vibe. What I saw in Chiang Dao felt like plenty. OK – I went to a cave. Wheeee. That was cool. Cool enough. So when I got to this place I realized it existed to be a jumping off point for all sorts of adventure treks which were marked by handwritten signs on the walls of the lodge. I signed up to go on a 20KM white water kayaking ride. Given my over the top love for tubing on the Esopus Creek during water release weekend this seemed perfect. However, this twisted Asian universe had other plans for me. When I woke up this morning the crazy Aussie owner here, John Spies, told me they didn’t have enough people signed up for the kayaking trip but instead suggested the “Long Snake Cave” excursion. This guy has literally written the book about caving in the Thai / Burma border so I took his advice. I read the description on the wall that said “Involves some LOW sections, but most is easy small stream passage.” Sounded good enough to me. How hard could *some* low sections be? In Chiang Dao I got so low at one point I even had to put my knee down. And there wasn’t even a stream there. So I said “Screw it. Let’s do it!”

Seven of us piled into the back of a pickup truck for an hour long ride up a steep and winding mountain pass then down a janky ass dirt road for a couple of MILES. Then we got out and hiked down the side of a super steep mountain and then through enough brush for an epic game and hide and never be found. It was wild before we even got to the cave. I don’t have any idea how anyone ever found this cave. My only thought is that some hungry local was chasing down a wounded animal during a hunt and tracked it to the cave where it must have gone to seek shelter. It was THAT secluded..

It took us FOUR HOURS to go through the cave. 7 kilometers – which is about 4 miles. That means we averaged ONE MILE AN HOUR. The sign back at the lodge said “Some low spots but most is easy shallow stream passage”

It should have said “When you get to the first stream, don’t bother trying to jump over it to keep your feet dry, because in about two minutes both of your feet are going to be soaked and they will remain that way for the rest of the day. Oh, and those few low spots we warned you about? What we mean by “low” is that you’re gonna have to get down on your knees and forearms and slither on your belly to make it through these passages. And then at some spots you’re even going to need to exhale while you shimmy forward just to fit between these distorted twists of earthen shrapnel. Sound good? Cool. Let’s get going!”

Ok, so there was that. Then I also should have asked “What are these helmets for? Is there a danger of rocks falling from the ceiling of the cave?” To which they would have said “Ahhhhhh, no such luck sucka the cave is in no danger of collapsing! C’mon man, it’s been here for millions of years. We gave you a helmet because there are a TON of low hanging rock formations and stalactites all over the place. And even though we gave you a headlamp you are going to be SO FOCUSED on keeping your footing and not slipping on any one of these millions of rocks or patches of mud that you won’t possibly be able to look in front of your FACE at the same time!!!”

I must have needed that helmet a good dozen times. (How many medium head traumas does it take to equal one concussion? Let’s find out!) And I’m traveling LIGHT man. Just a small backpack for 3 weeks. So I did NOT have cave shoes. I was wearing my camoflage Nike Roches which have ZERO traction. Completely flat soles – whoops. That meant I was constantly doing the Paul Simon crackhead dance all over the place, just slip slidin’ away! I almost ate shit more times than I could keep count but somehow I managed to stay upright throughout the whole thing. Except for when, you know, I was crawling on my hands and knees. I also have abundance of little scratches and nicks on my knees and legs from all the crawling, and God knows how much bat shit gets spilled into that water, so I’ll be curious to see if I end up with any sort of infection. Though it was a fresh stream so maybe the water is mad clean. We will see. Surely, we will see. Send Lawyers Guns and Antibiotics.

This went on for hours. As I said before HOURS. 4 hours inside of this hellhole. At one point we found a hole that just kept going down, down, down like 80s era Bruce Springsteen. Our guide – who cannot be named because he didn’t even speak enough English to facilitate an introduction, threw a rock down in the hole (yeah I’m making an Alice in Chains reference as well as a Boss reference in the same paragraph. WHATS UP, NINJA?!?!?) we waited for it to hit the bottom and then waited some more. Finally we heard a THUD. Our guide just laughed maniacally and skipped around the hole on the thinnest stretch of slippery mud covered rock and didn’t look back, leaving the rest of us to go our own way (FLEETWOOD MAC too – BOOOOOOOOOM!). How low did that hole go??? I’m guessing that if I had had a rope and a trusty point to secure it to I probably could have rapelled down inside and gotten to shake hands with the devil. Again.

That was about the halfway point and not long after we found ourselves at the spot we had stopped for “lunch” which consisted of two plastic bags – one filled with white rice and another filled with some curry that may or may not have been sent to do serious damage to my intestines. I’m still waiting on the verdict there.

Well at least now we were heading back. You know how sometimes when you go somewhere new the return trip seems to be a lot shorter because you’ve already experienced the new-ness and so the familiarity makes time pass quicker? Well I wondered aloud if that was going to happen with this trip and I soon had my answer. Our guide was obviously not paid by the hour as he set off like his feet were on fire and his ass was catching. This led to a lot more of that crackhead dancing as well as my only bonafide moment of abject terror.

We still had to make one epically wild and crazy climb up some slippery ass rocks. Which would have been fine, if I could have just slid back to the bottom if my attempt was (likely) unsuccessful. Except this was a climb over a deep crevasse where if I failed I was likely going to be in Aron Ralston territory and would need to saw off one of my own limbs to get free. My fear was quickly compounded by the fact that I was the last guy in the formation at this point and I had to watch all 6 of the folks in front of me roughly struggle to make it. My head started to go into panic mode which I knew wasn’t going to help, and in fact only make it worse, and was compounded yet again by my tacit knowledge hat my shoes had less traction than a narc at a biker rally. PMA though, right?

With a bunch short bursting breaths, instead of the confidence of one deep one, I went at it and was looking for footing and flailing and panting and hustling and praying my way up that shit. I finally made it, of course, or you wouldn’t be reading this, but then was told afterwards, by a guy in the group who had told me he was an avid rock climber (and even HE had a hard time with this section) that when I finally made it up to the solid rock face which was the end of the ascent, that I had perfectly executed a move that they refer to in rock climbing circles as “the beached whale” just splaying my whole body against the rock in an attempt at having one continuous point of contact. Fuck it. I didn’t care. I was so fucking scared at that point that if I had found the properly sized hole in the rock face and could have somehow gotten a boner then I would have, in the interest of keeping myself out of that crevasse, tried to fuck it!

After a lot more walking and splashing and slip sliding I finally saw daylight in the distance. And I finally understood how excited those miners must’ve been. Ya know, the ones that the Brothers Gibb so eloquently wrote and sang about in New York Mining Disaster 1941.

Caving. What a fuckin’ TRIP. Next time I’ll pass, thankyouverymuch.

Epilogue – Back at the Lodge:

Someone just asked me “How was your day in the caves?” And I said “It was GREAT! I spent half the day slithering on my belly like some low down dirty crackhead looking for that last piece of rock hiding in the nether regions of a stinky shag carpet!”1936761_10154175411277289_5572861664878199620_n 941057_10154175410602289_1505458040180270076_n 10411924_10154175410572289_8036848518662471759_n 10376842_10154175410462289_9150020856452881564_n

I Mean, Seriously, Who Flies to Thailand to Run a A Marathon?!?! This Ting Tong – That’s Who

What an amazing and exhausting day. A few months ago I decided I was going to run a marathon on every continent – eventually culminating in Antarctica. I had already done Athens, Greece and NYC was on the horizon. And I had been planning to hit Thailand for a vacation over Xmas and New Years.

I’m not the type to sit on a beach so my plan was to head to Chiang Mai and go exploring in the mountains and jungles. So I googled Chaing Mai Marathon and lo and behold it was happening 5 days after I landed in Bangkok. So I signed up. I figured “Hell its only 7 weeks after NYC so I’ll still be in shape, pretty much.” And that was true, pretty much.

After an exhausting 3 months of relentless training for NYC along with a strict diet and no alcohol, I of course slipped out of that regimen after that marathon and when I got on the plane to Thailand I thought I was doing ok, or at least good enough. And I was. Until the that dam jet lag kicked in. I have barely slept since I’ve been here which made the prospect of actually going out and doing the damn thing about daunting. Add to that the fact that NYC has the best crowds of any marathon in the world who are known for the abundance of energy from which the 55,000 runners can draw. I knew this marathon which was limited to 1,500 people would be a different experience.

It had a start time of 4am which I just assumed would be because it was too hot to run in the day. But it turns out it’s more because the people of Chiang Mai couldn’t give a shit that 1,500 Ting Tongs (crazy people) think it’s a good idea to run 42 kilometers so they can’t be arsed to close their streets. They only closed one lane for the duration of the route which meant we were always running alongside an assortment of janky ass scooters, motorcycles, cars, trucks and tuk tuks that were mostly spewing dirty clouds of lung dust.

Beyond that there were literally no spectators / cheering sections beyond the friends and family of the runners at the start and finish line. Oh there were some confused and bemused people who just happened to be along the route, and when I would clap and cheer for them they would get surprised and then smile back at me, so there was that.

Which left me to know that if I was gonna finish this thing it was gonna be down to me and my body and most importantly my brain. Mind over matter and PMA. I about halved my training regime after NYC and was coming off of a monster 2 night rager with The Bronx at Brooklyn Bowl London just 6 days ago which I substituted for my last long training run. Add to that a bunch of stage diving that left my legs pretty bruised and sore too. Whoops!

And out there on the course the first half went OK and then the doubts started to creep in… For the next 4 miles after that my mind was playing tricks on me. Offering up lots of resistance. Telling me that I only needed to finish, I could walk the rest of the way, who would know? And then when I realized I was at the 17 mile mark I thought of how much I could have used Benay Vynerib there with a fresh coconut and her amazing energy. And I thought about the video she filmed of me at mile 17 in NYC and how full of energy and exuberance I was at that point and that’s when I thought to myself “If you really make a push for it for the rest off this god damned race you might actually be able to come close to your finish time in NYC.” And then I thought “You didn’t fly 47,000 miles to the land of $7 60-minute massages to leave anything in these legs – so fucking GO FOR IT!”

Go for it I did. I turned the jets on and started passing mahfukkas left and right. And clapping for and smiling at the people on the side of the road who then had no choice to smile back at what probably looked like a ridiculous pink haired giant tattooed white man who was stomping all over their streets and inconveniencing their Sunday morning. In the end I finished just 6 minutes over my NYC time and did the second half faster than the first half, which especially considering how rough the beginning of the second half went, was no small feat at all.

When I finally crossed the finishing line, after 4 hours and 57 minutes, I started crying. And didn’t stop for about 5 minutes. It all finally dawned on me that I had really done it. That I set a ridiculous challenge for myself and saw it though. Even when at so many points it would have been much much much easier to just say “ahhhhh I’ll just hang out in that opium den down the street instead.” It’s amazing what the human spirit and body can accomplish when you decide to just go for it. I did. And what’s the worst that could happen? Not much, my friends. Not much because I CHOSE to NOT let the resistance take over.

EPILOGUE: I got a massage on Friday. It’s almost impossible to figure out which of the literally hundreds of massage joints will be good – so I just walked along the road til I found the woman woman with the kindest smile. And I ended up getting a great massage. When I finished the marathon I went back to the hotel to stretch and change and hydrate and then headed out to find her again and get another massage. Along they way I texted Karina Rykman who was working our Rocks Off show with CJ Ramone back in NYC. I wanted to check in on the show and make sure CJ was having a good time. He was onstage at that moment busting through a bunch of Ramones classics. When I got back to the massage parlour there she was – wearing a Ramones T-shirt. She didn’t understand why I was so excited and had no idea who the Ramones are and our language barrier didn’t allow for me to adequately explain. But what it shows me was that admidst all the drama and chaos of modern life whether it be in NYC or London or Thailand, the universe has a sense of balance and above all a sense of humor. Look closely at the Ramones shirt and you’ll see what I mean ?

ROBBY * EDDY * MARTY * LOMEOS

ROBBY * EDDY * MARTY * LOMEOS

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Record Store Day

 

Today is Record Store Day. Remember when record store day was at least once a week? Definitely on Tuesdays which was the day new releases came out.  That was fun.

I only ever worked in one record store. But it was THE one. Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. I once thought Flea was a random homeless person and wouldn’t let him use our restroom, and ridiculed Stewart Copeland for not being able read Japanese, but neither of those were my favorite memories of working there. This is: One day I was kneeling on the floor sorting through a new shipment of magazines when my hand got crushed. It was an intense pain and I looked to see a cowboy boot using my entire hand as some sort of steeping stool, maybe to get a better view of Playboy. I still remember this clear as day, and remember it happening in slow motion… I stood up to give this fucker a piece of my mind and rose while eyeing the outfit on this object of my rage. Acid washed jeans were tucked into the cowboy boots, and those jeans were being held up by a belt studded with turquoise stones. Tucked into that was a tight tank top that was stretched thin over rippling, tan muscles. Draped over the tank top was the mane of the Lion of Milan. IT WAS FABIO!!! FABIO ALMOST BROKE MY HAND. I was stunned into silence. My rage vanished. And I got his autograph. And thankfully my hand wasn’t broken because I needed it that night to rub one out while thinking of his cool blue eyes.

So nice to see he has such a strong presence on the web too!!

STEINKOPF Ain’t Just A State Of Mind

 

STEINKOPF Ain’t Just A State Of Mind

I love signs. You might even say I’m obsessed with them. When I see a unique or silly or ironic sign, I just have to take a picture of it.  I also love my friends.  LOVE them.  Without them, what is life, really?  So when I see a sign that references a friend’s name, I snap a pic. Usually it takes a few seconds to take the pic, and a few more to fire it off in a text.  No problem.  Sometimes it’s a little bit more complex…

Let’s back up a little bit… to Botswana.  Amy has been working for the Peace Corps in Botswana for 7 months.  Part of her agreement with them was that for the first 6 months she would stay in her tiny village of Sese.  And she mostly did. But even if she were to escape the confines of her village, she was strictly forbidden from leaving the country. It’s a transgression that is punishable by banishment back to the first world.  In fact, the legend of a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Botswana who snuck off to South Africa for a World Cup game a few years back and was seen on TV by the Peace Corps boss-man boss and was deported back to the States had made the rounds at training, and served to sever the striving of some volunteers to go AWOL for a weekend.  But even if one was to traverse the entire country, the biggest body of water you would come across would be the Okavango Delta, which is really just a muddy and reed-filled expanse the blankets the northern wilds of the country.  Botswana isn’t just landlocked, it’s SANDlocked.  Smack dab in the middle of one of the deadliest deserts in the world, the Kalahari.

Amy is a woman of water. Since she was a child, she hasn’t lived more than a stone’s throw from  the ocean, save for a year in Syracuse, and even then she was sidled up next to Onondaga Lake, which covers 5 square miles up there in the boonies.  So not even having seen an expanse of water bigger than a flooded front yard after a typhoon-like-rainstorm for six months was beginning to wear on her.  At daybreak on March 1, the first day she was technically allowed to leave SeSe we commenced a mad 1,500 mile drive to Cape Town, South Africa.  She wanted to head right for the water, to see the coast, to bathe in the ocean, to be only one degree of water droplet separation across the Atlantic from New York City.

We hit the road and drove hard and fast and figured that if we didn’t take the pedal off the metal, we would be able to make it down into South Africa, and across to the coast on our 2nd day of driving.  We pointed our darling Honda HRV that we christened Jolene in the general direction of Antarctica and made a break for it.  About 500 miles later, we stopped in the dusty little hamlet of Upington, South Africa.  The only thing that separates Upington from the barren expanse between our starting point and it, was a couple of traffic lights, the fact that it had not one but TWO gas stations, and its line of industrial supply warehouses that cater to the vineyard operators in the Northern Cape region of South Africa.  At the fancy pants gas station (by fancy pants I mean the toilet had not only electricity, but also a working lightbulb!!) we bought ourselves an Atlas so we could plan the fastest route to the ocean.

Since the paved roads in Southern Africa are literally few and far between, we quickly picked out the one road that headed west towards the coast, and we got on it.  300 miles away was the cute little tourist town of Springbok – they had a tea shop AND a pharmacy – so incredibly EXOTIC for Southern Africa!!  After fueling up our Sexy Beast Jolene and our bellies, we soldiered on, determined to convene with the sea before sundown.  But then Amy made the mistake of letting me look at the map. All it took was one glance, and the word might as well have jumped off the page and grabbed the steering wheel and jerked it out of my hand.  That word was STEINKOPF.

That may not mean anything to you, but to me it’s a last name I’ve only heard one time.  Attached to the man, the myth, the legend, The Pete.  Pistol Pete Steinkopf.  Pete is my friend, and my musical hero.  He’s the guitar player for one of my favorite bands in the universe, the Bouncing Souls.  More than being one of my favorite bands, they were the benchmark I set for myself when I started Rocks Off.  Before Rocks Off, when I was booking the Wetlands, the Bouncing Souls were my great white buffalo, the one band who I could never get to play the club.  They had played it plenty of times in the past, but had outgrown it since I had taken over.  I couldn’t even get them to play when I faxed their agent Marge-A-Riffic a formal offer of $10,000 (which was a ridiculous amount of money for a punk band in 1999) with the caveat that the play “Appetite for Destruction” in it’s entirety. If they weren’t going to play, I was at least going to make my attempts weirder and wackier just to make sure I was getting their attention, for good or ill.  So when I started Rocks Off, my stated goal was to grow the company into a position to be big enough to put on a Souls show. That seemed like such a far out goal, that I was crazy enough to believe that it could actually happen.  And happen it did. Once, and then again, and again, and again.  We’ve now put on over forty Bouncing Souls concerts.  After we booked them for 6 nights in a row at the Knitting Factory to commemorate the release of their excellent album “The Gold Record” I got my first band tattoo which was their Anchor Heart logo. All that was well and good.  But not nearly as good as becoming friends with the guys.

More than friends.  We became motorcycle riding buddies, tattoo gang mates, and even shared stages. I once sang backing vocals with them on the cover of Cock Sparrer’s anthem “We’re Coming Back” at BB King’s in Times Square and their side project “The Love Cats” opened for Tragedy – my heavy metal Bee Gees tribute band – a few times. Anyone who knows me knows that I would do ANYTHING for my friends. And the Pete is no ordinary friend.  He’s a brother!

So really there was no way I could find myself 9,000 miles away from home and not take a detour of 50 miles to pop into the town of Steinkopf and get a pic with what I hoped would be a “Welcome to Steinkopf” sign, right?  What’s 50 miles I thought, when we were already driving 1,500 miles.  I brought up the idea with the slightest bit of trepidation, and tried to sell it to Amy.  She wasn’t having it.  She was quick to point out that 50 miles was actually going to be 100 miles, because we had to head off in the opposite direction of the coast.  She told me I was crazy.  I couldn’t argue. But I could try and convince.  Slowly, and steadily.  Until she caved.  I mean she willingly entered into a relationship with me.  And there’s no way for someone like me to hide my, ahem, idiosyncrasies.  I think when she stopped to consider it for just a minute, she knew that I knew that it was a ridiculous idea, but that I would end up regretting NOT doing it and would remember for the rest of my life how ridiculous it was that I didn’t push to make it happen.  But rather than cajole and guilt trip her into agreeing to go, I just dropped it and decided that her happiness and getting to see the ocean as fast as possible was more important than trekking 100 miles out of our way for me to get a pic, and I told her so.  At that moment she told me we were going to Steinkopf.  I told her it wasn’t that big of a deal, but she INSISTED.  She wouldn’t take no for an answer, even after I pulled the car over and told her it was crazy and that we should just head for the shark infested waters.  She wasn’t having it and DEMANDED we go to Steinkopf!  So go we did!  Oh what wouldn’t two crazy kids in love do to make each other happy?  It was a regular old little “Gift of the Magi” type of moment.  It’s moments like that that make me really realize how much I love Amy.  And how much I love my friends.  And really, how much I LOVE LIFE!

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Only 30 Kilometers to go. “I can cover that in less than 8 minutes,” I fibbed…

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Amy had a really hard time containing her excitement for our detour!!

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Obviously it’s everything you would hope for when visiting an out of the way tiny desert town!

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“I’ve Got the Whole World In My Hands!”

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“I’m pretty sure The Pete’s ancestors dragged each one of those rocks up into the hills by hand. Or, ya know, forced some villagers to do it in exchange for half a bowl of maize.

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Two thumbs up for two welcoming languages!

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Oh Steinkopf, We’ll never forget being inside of you…