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Rock & Roll Ain't Noise Pollution

For Those About to Rock

A salute to an old friend and his family

I was about 12 years old when Chuck Craig moved into the neighborhood. We both just finished seventh grade and our birthdays turned out to be only one day apart. We instantly became great friends.

Chuck moved from Walnut City, California (about 20 miles east of Oakland) where everything was cooler than our mid-sized, midwest town of Jackson, Michigan. While I introduced him to a few of my more mundane activities like caddying, being in our annual raft parade (see the accompanying photo), and camping in my backyard, he introduced me to awesomeness from The Golden State.

Chuck taught me the most amazing things, like how to cook a hotdog in the microwave (we didn't own a microwave). How to cover the hotdog with mayo NOT ketchup (talk about a paradigm shift). And how to eat the hotdog in as few bites as possible (my record was three).

This was all new to me and the Craig family was so cool. They had a huge, outdoor hot tub made from real wood with multiple jetsprays that they kept open all year long (I had never seen one before). They had two big, hairy Huskies that lived mostly inside the house and drank water from the toilets. As a 12-year-old, that was awesome. Chuck had long hair, parted in the middle (I adopted the look in eigth and ninth grade), an entertaining little brother, an especially hot mom, and a cool, pipe-smoking dad who owned a topless Jeep and took us to Indy car races featuring Mario Andretti. To top it off, they also had HBO and we were allowed (kind of!) to watch "R" rated movies. Chuck seemed to know so much more than me about so many things, but that was especially true when it came to rock and roll.

Picture this: it was the late 70s, two 12-year-old boys are walking through the streets of a quiet, rural, middle-class neighborhood. One boy (Chuck) has something called a "boombox" on his right shoulder and it's cranked up loud, blasting AC/DC's, "She was a fast machine! She kept her motor clean! She was the best damn woman..." well..., you know how it goes. I wish I would've had a video of that. Funnier still, I liked to write down the lyrics to songs. Guess who found the words to Shook Me All Night Long on the dresser in my bedroom? Try explaining that one to your mother. "Well, you see Mom, it's about a boxer who gets into the ring to... well, to take another swing. That's why the walls were shaking and the earth was quaking... " Yeah right. AWKWARD!

In addition to classic AC/DC, Chuck fostered my thirst for rock by introducing me to other great artists like Van Halen, Rush, and Pat Benetar, among others. In 1984, one of my early bucket list wishes was fulfilled when I saw Van Halen in concert when Diamond David Lee Roth was still lead singer of the band. Get this, the tickets were a mere $13.50! It was worth the big ticket price, although the air smelled kind of funny that night at Cobo Hall in Detroit; not sure why...

While my taste in music has expanded significantly since those days, I still love cranking out some of the old favorites. There's something about music and the times in our life that make an impression. Somehow, it sinks deep into our flesh and bones, becoming a long-lasting part of who we are.

Thanks for the memories Chuck. I liked being your friend and I'm glad you were in my life. Thanks for teaching me that "Rock and roll ain't noise pollution," because, well, "to me, it makes good, good sense. Good sense, yes it does."

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