This new pain I discovered while screwing the back panels in place on Phil Lesh’s bass cabinets was something altogether unpleasant – excruciatingly so. I mean I Know I’m not bullet-proof anymore, but how the hell can it be that I cannot haul equipment all day without some kind of physical meltdown? You see the disconnect here, I hope.
Seems I had forgotten the oh-so-critical life lesson from 2 years prior…
Around this same time, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. As with most things in life, there is a yin and yang (a + and – … A good and bad) to this diagnosis. Sure, arthritis is missing a lot of fun components (like ALL of them) but it did keep me from being shoved into the jungle with a target on my back somewhere north of Da Nang…
Skip ahead a few years past living in LA, working in Production for JBL & being a Technical Engineer for Motown Records. It’s the Mid-70s and while horsing around with a friend & running half a block, I feel like I’m about to hack up a lung… OK. In the interest of full disclosure… BOTH lungs.
Now I’d never been exactly what you’d call an athlete (in point of fact, I’d done everything I could think of to AVOID physical exercise in high school) but it seemed like I should be able to dash half a block without needing an ambulance. Right? So this was another nexus point. The exact point in time where I became aware of my lack of fitness. More like wimpness, actually. And I decided I wanted to get in shape. But might this 2-1/2 pack-a-day habit get in the way? Or have something to do with my inability to run across the street?
But let’s not rush into anything here, shall we?
So fast-wind ahead about a year to 1976 in Marin County, where we had relocated. I walk into a Karate dojo in San Rafael one sunny afternoon and inquire about taking lessons. The big burly black belt who’s job it is to turn wimps into welterweights pokes the bulge in my shirt pocket and says “The first thing you have to do is get rid of these.”
“What a crock…” I think to myself as I trudge back down the stairs with my tail between my legs.
And this is the third nexus point. Where I decide I do need to quit this nasty habit, get rid of the persistent smoker’s cough and improve my chances of surviving past 40. So after some false starts, I quit cold turkey and, after being a complete asshole for about 2-3 weeks and gaining 20 pounds seemingly overnight, I’m fairly clean. No more cigarettes – and my charcoal-colored lungs are working their way back to a pretty pink.