Mr. Max’s Message 4/09

I’ve been enjoying two things outside of the music field very much lately. (1) I’m preparing a garden. I bought one of those seed starter sets and got my vegetable seeds germinated plenty early this year. My beans are already almost 15” tall and lots of other future grub is getting mighty crowded in its little cubicles. I’ve been transplanting the ones that have gotten too big, like the beans, peas, and sunflowers. But the lettuce is getting a little out of hand. Maybe I should just eat it and start new seeds. I’m looking to acquire as many different variations of strawberries for my circular strawberry patch. If you’ve got some, I might have something you’d like to trade for. (2) I’ve put up six bird feeders with my patent-pending rope-pulling squirrel defense—it only marginally keeps my furry-tailed buddies away from the bird food, but at least it slows them down. Watching the birds that the feeders attract is getting pretty exciting. I’ve seen chickadees, titmice, siskins, and lots of goldfinches that are rapidly changing their color to a bright yellow, but my favorites are three different woodpeckers. I can’t even find the specific species in the standard bird book. I’ve made a house for the woodpeckers to the specifications they need. I used a real roof shingle for the roof and different kinds of wood I had—I love using up scrap wood. Then I painted an early American design on it, keeping it subtle-looking enough to attract the woodpeckers and not every other bird in the forest—yeah, like I know which ones are attracted to what. I did know to put two inches of wood shavings in the bottom of the house. I figure that’s to make them think another woodpecker actually carved this thing out of a tree. They just don’t know the woodpecker is almost six feet tall (and can’t fly). More on my nature stories as they develop.



My band from 1969, Mr. Timothy Charles Duane, will celebrate our 40th anniversary on Saturday, July 18, at Che’s Lounge on Martha’s Vineyard. We’ll also be releasing our debut full-length CD at the show. It’s amazing how the doors open when you’re asked to be special guest judges on American Idol.

I’ve decided to continue to perform excerpts from my rock show, Why Do We Go To War?, when I play with Urban Caravan. We have three shows coming up soon.
Here’s where we’ll be:
Saturday, April 4, Nameless Coffeehouse (3 Church St., Harvard Square, Cambridge MA)
Saturday, April 18, The Menino Art Center (The MAC, 26 Central Ave., Hyde Park, MA)
Saturday, May 2, Black Moon Lounge (37 State St., Rt. 202, Belchertown, MA)

On Jan. 2, 2008, I‘m working at the computer tidying things up so I can go to Chris Mascara’s 40th birthday party. I can hear squirrels scurrying up in the crawl spaces of Amy's apartment above me. I’m aware of them pretty regularly when she’s away. But then I hear something in the kitchen. I play investigator and find a squirrel in my pantry. I have no idea how he found an entryway into my apartment. I try to nicely convince him to get out of the house but he doesn’t seem to understand my English. I call the Animal Rescue League and the nice woman says it isn't their job to rescue animals out of people's houses. She tells me to shoo him with a broom out the door. I build a little wall of chairs to help force him in the right direction if he does decide to come down. I keep the way well lit and also have to keep the door open, so the cold air is pouring in. I put on heavy winter gloves (for protection) and pull my turtleneck up around my mouth. I know the situation can become dangerous. Those little claws are sharper than cat claws and their teeth can bite through wood easily. So there I am with a broom and a flashlight. I pet the squirrel’s back with the broom and try to keep him calm. He stays put and holds onto the frame of the window in the pantry like he’s got nowhere else to go. I set up one clip-on light in the pantry to free my flashlight hand and then start to nudge the furry guy a little harder. He starts to bark at me. I’m familiar with this sound. I try responding in the nice loving sounds I've heard come out of squirrels. He's still stuck in his one position and is not happy. So I force him to move with the broom handle. He begins to slide down the side of the window frame with the pressure I’m applying. All at once he springs down into the kitchen. I jump. He hops over my makeshift wall like it doesn't exist and runs into a corner behind a bamboo curtain. I force him out from behind the curtain and he scoots behind the radiator. I shoo him from there and he runs behind the stove that's situated in a corner. If I go to one side he moves to the side I can't see. Back and forth we go a few times. Then he finds this little boxed-off area behind the stove that I never knew existed. With the flashlight I can only see his tail. He's sitting in a built-in shelf the size of two shoeboxes behind the stove. I can't even touch him with the broom. I get a long set of tongs and reach behind the stove and yank on the only thing I can see—his tail. I pluck a bunch of his tail hairs and he scoots off around the kitchen again. Each time he runs I have to watch closely because if I lose him I won't know where he is after he stops and freezes. He tries behind the refrigerator, the space under the sink, and now he's back in the pantry, but this time he's on the floor—under about 20 brown paper bags. I slowly start removing layers of the paper bags from the pile while throwing other clutter from the pantry floor into the open kitchen space. My entire kitchen looks like a mess. I finally remove the last layer of bags and I can see just the back part of his body. His head is still under a pile of old Boston rock photographs. I reach down with my gloved hand and hold him by the hips. I'm afraid so I let go. I realize he could easily turn around and bite right through the gloves. I figure I may not get a chance like this again, so I grab his hips once more and lift him up. He reacts by digging into some garbage on the floor—his claws and teeth are occupied as I run toward the porch door. The run is frightening. When I reach the door I toss him toward my neighbor's yard. He flies through the air and flops into the snow. I watch him scurry off. I’m shaking. My apartment is cold. And a big mess needs tending.

T Max/The Noise
74 Jamaica Street,
Jamaica Plain MA 02130

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