Good day lovely blog readers. Yup, you guessed it, it's that time again, time to get into the SHI*....
We are going to skip a few years and move on to 1991. Stop complaining, it’s really not that much time, we are talking about four years approx. (you didn’t miss much, frikkin trust me). This is where the musical shit really started hitting the shit fan for me (god rest John Dunsworth’s soul – Jim Lahey from the Trailer Park Boys). What does that mean you ask? This essentially means that this is where I started breaking away from the likes of my “mom’s music style” and started incubating my own musical identity. This year was huge for me, so many things happened, and I promise that it’s going to be hard to choose a few of the top 5 events or whatever to include in this week’s “episode”.
Looking back on life, being an only child at 9 or 10 years old, in the country, was a tough thing for me. I didn’t realize it at the time because it’s all I knew, but 30 years later, I realize that I didn’t really have much to do or much going on. Please remember, back then we didn’t have publicly available internet, cellphones, tablets, etc. My schedule basically consisted of finding time to use a pocketknife to whittle away at sticks, carve guns and other things, and shooting down bottles and random pinecones with a bb gun. I had trees to climb, big ass animals to throw snowballs at, etc., etc. Historically, I never had many friends who lived close, all of our neighbors were at least a few miles away or more. I did however develop a really close relationship with the wilderness, what I now call the universe, and the numerous mountain bikes that my mother would get me for my birthday, about once a year, or whenever I broke them (god bless her heart).
1991 was a monumental year because we actually moved to a little town called Libby, Montana. This was a huge upgrade for me because there was an ice-skating joint at my school AND we lived on a street that actually had kids. So, yes, this means that I started making friends and they were literally at my house! Not that it had never happened before, but I actually started feeling “normal” for a lack of a better term. As mentioned previously, we didn’t have very much when I was growing up. This year was especially epic for me because we lived in a house that the local kids referred to as “the shoebox”. To be honest, I didn’t really give a shit. Kids were brutal back then (worse now) and the more I think about it, fuck them (flipping the bird at 10-year-old d-bags right now).
My mom did the best she could back in the day (and always did) to put a roof over my head. No matter how big or small the residence, it was, and will always be very appreciated. We had a big yard at the shoebox (from what I remember), where she let me build a fort (we will talk about that in a min) and it had this really cool, creepy kind of “off the beaten path” pathway to a river that was about 30 yards behind the west side of our house. If you have ever seen the Disney movie Tangled, the outlying areas of our yard were like the trees and bushes that hid the tower where Rapunzel was hidden. Believe it or not, this river was famous. I didn’t know this till many years later, but after we moved, just a few miles up the road was one of the locations where Hollywood filmed a movie called A River Runs Through It with Brad Pitt. We will catalog this as “another dumb random fun fact of Preston’s life”, like when I lived in Beaufort SC. (many years later) and they filmed Forrest Gump there… MOOOOVING ON, or else I will go down another ‘bunny hole’.
There were other super crazy things that happened in the short period of time we lived in the shoebox. I almost died rock climbing at Kootenai Falls (2nd fall before the walking bridge), we may or may not get into the scar on my forehead from the fall I took there, nor the death of my godmother. Let’s see how this post turns out before I start promising anything. One thing I remember from this year is that there was a murder of a young neighborhood boy about 100 yards up the river from the shoebox, right on the riverbed. You see, when the snow melt from the surrounding mountains would slow down, the river would stop raging as it normally would during the higher snow melt seasons. More rocks would be exposed, and the river would start running at half-speed/volume. The water would lower, and the trees were just incredible, providing a canopy over the river. Moving on. Some D-Bag dude decided to grab a kid, handled his ‘business’, and then beat the poor kid to death with a big rock. Luckily, I never saw anything, but it was the talk of the town for a long while after.
FOCUS PRESTON! Moving on to the music side of this blog. My mom (as usual when she had a couple extra bucks I am assuming) picked up this random Slaughter tape for me. I am literally playing “Fly to the Angels” right now, and just listening to the first 8 bars of this jam the hair on my arms legit lights the frick up. What does this mean? Goosebumps and hair standing up on end is what that means. The “Stick It to Ya” album was a really interesting experience for me. I swear on everything that is holy, the first day I had this album, I feel asleep listening to it with some old cans (over ear headphones) on my head and by the next morning I knew the lyrics for every single song. No lie, and we are talking about 19 songs burned into memory. That had never happened to me before. I experimented and tried to do the same thing later on in life but didn’t achieve the same results. Maybe it was a flook? Who knows, but it for sure happened to me with that album.
The shoebox (going based on very old memories) couldn’t have been much larger than 600 to 800 total living sqft. It had a very small kitchen area, small living room, and to be honest, I don’t remember if my mom had a room to herself (I am almost positive that she did, else, she was sleeping on the couch). What I do remember most was the attic (or potentially the storage area of an old remodeled garage) of the house. Why? Well, that was my room. It had this 100% vertical wooden plank ladder that had 7 rungs built from stained 2x4s on it. I was in heaven! This was any country kid’s dream because it was like having an indoor tree house! When you would climb the ladder and get to the top you had to be careful because there wasn’t much space and you could fall down to the floor (approx. 8ft) below. If you could get past that part, you were solid. The space was tight with an A shaped roof, including one little tiny square window at the end of the room. I had my bed, my posters, my radio, space for my clothes etc.
This part of life is burned into my memory because just about a year or so before I was told that my dad (Mr. Lee F**** - PII masking applied to protect the innocent, personal identifiable information protected-literally LMAO!) wasn’t really my dad. I remember he came to the shoebox and, now that I look back on this situation, he really wasn’t there for me. Rather, he used me as a tool to try and get back with my mother. Again, MOVING ON!! (trying to avoid distractions…)
A couple of days after getting the Slaughter album I had finished my homework, dinner, bath etc., and was going to “go to bed”. This usually consisted of me putting on my cans and just falling asleep in my bed to the music. This night was a little different than usual because when I laid down, pressed play on the tape deck, popped on the cans, staring out of the window at the sky filled with brilliant stars, I saw something unusual. Something I hadn’t seen before. Son of a biscuit. There was a purple, white, and pink flickering circular light in the distance. A perfect circle or globe looking shape. Having an over-active imagination as a kid (ADD), I swore to god that I saw a UFO. The lights were so bright it couldn’t have been Jupiter or another planet (in my opinion, at the time). It had to have been a UFO. I just kept staring at the light until I inevitably fell asleep. After many more star gazing sessions in my 38 years of life, I now realize that what I saw through the window was, in fact, not a UFO. Rather, Jupiter blazing away in the night with zero light interference.
This year, previous years, and a year or two more to come, my mom was with a dude named Steven Os**** (PII again… Literally Laughing out Loud), who had an incredibly awesome mother (from what I remember). From the stories told, she had some cash and on Christmas or on my birthday this year, she got me my first pair of rollerblades and a helmet. EPIC/DECENT! I would strap on my blades and just cruise the streets. Rolling around, falling down like bubbles in his Germany marathon (another “Trailer Park Boys” reference – but the “Outside of the Park” series) just without the hokey gear. I loved those blades and who would have known that this love for rollerblading would turn into a 15-year addiction that included aggressive street skating, Vert Pipes, rail grinding, and broken ankles (more info in future blogs).
One random day my mom came back to the shoebox with the Guns and Roses “Appetite for Destruction” tape. This album, for real, changed my life. There was something about how Slash would jam out and Axel just belting out his vocals, it hit a spot in my soul for a lack of a better term. I was addicted to this group as soon as I heard “Welcome to the Jungle”. After listening to this album a few times, my mom and Steven started coming back to the house with random lumber full of nails; 2x4s, sheets of ¼” plywood, etc. So, one day I asked my mom if I could rip apart the “bone yard” and start making my first fort. I used to see framers building houses, and not sure why, other kids wanted to be cops, firefighters, doctors, etc., but Preston? He wanted to be a framer. I immediately had this love for building things. My mom, so kindly said, “You know where the hammer is, go handle your business.” HAAAAAA!!!!! Preston is going to build a freaking two story fort!
I hadn’t had any experience in building structures in the past, but it was almost like a higher power was guiding me. Around the same time that I got the “Appetite for Destruction” album, Mr. Big had just released their “To Be With You” single (go play that song if you haven’t heard it, freaking love this single still to this day). I didn’t even see the video for this song until a few years later, but I would BELT that song whenever it came over the radio. This is a whole other bunny hole that we will not go down (good job focusing, Preston!). Back to building the fort. We had a lot of random lumber, nails, some pieces painted, some not etc. A total lumber junk yard. My mission was to pull all of the nails, try to keep them as straight as possible while pulling them out of the wood they were stuck in. If one would get bent, Steven (mom’s bf at the time) showed me how to straighten them out (finally not a dic*). I would put the nails that I pulled out into an old coffee can, they were like gold.
After spending about a week or two pulling nails, organizing lumber etc. My construction “phase one” started. I had a couple of friends when we lived in the shoebox, and I immediately enlisted their help to build the fort. Idea, team, etc. created and completed, Phase One finished. This was EPIC for me because I knew that I loved building stuff, I just hadn’t done it yet, like “officially”.
My friends and I scoped out the property and we decided that the back-right corner of the property was the best place to build the fort/homestead. After moving all of the lumber over to the far corner of the yard, taking inventory, making a plan etc., we knew what we wanted to build. On the music side of the fence, Firehouse (band) comes into the story about now. Same with White Snake and Steelheart with their “I’ll Never Let You Go” song. Now that I look back on it, or when I ‘think about it’, my musical identity was really based on or created by 90’s hair metal (butt rock) bands. I really dug Poison, Bon-Jovi, Motely Crew, etc. I didn’t like these bands because of the perceived bad boy image or anything like that. I just loved how they could make their guitars ‘sing’ (remember I had been playing guitar since I was 6 years old. This year was also the year that my mom got her first two electric guitars (that meant I had two guitars LOL)… more to come). Did it potentially have anything to do with the fact that the chords were called “power chords”? Did I like that name because, up to this point in life, I was 100% power-LESS? I really couldn’t tell you. All I know is that I felt like I was invincible, almost like a superhero, when I listened to these bands. BACK TO THE FORT!
We started building the walls on the first level of the structure. It was a very simple design, square, with a half second floor and a flat roof. Remember, all we had was plywood and 2x4s. This allowed us to create the walls, the second floor, and the roof, with an open grass floor on the first level. My first house project, that I lead, was a success! Who would have known that, many years later, I would go to trade school, obtain a carpentry certificate, and then one day, own my own framing company? (more to come in future blogs).
We are going to stop here (for now) and pick up where we left off next week! Thank you for the time that you spent reading my life story! Until next Friday, “Live strong and create bad a$$ music!”
Thanks again for the time you spent to read. don't forget to share, like, and add comments! Especially if you have ever made your own fort as a kid from scrap wood!
And most importantly, Thanks to my mom for making 1991 awesome!