Monthly Archives: June 2011
I’m doing a series of interviews with kids who do awesome stuff. My first interview is with a 12 year old up and coming musician, Beck Vontver.
A little bit of history- I met his mom, author/illustrator Leslie Patricelli, as she was getting her first book published. When I first met Beck, he just a little guy, 3 or 4 years old, listening to Michael Jackson on headphones and matching the beat on his dad’s drums. By the way, his dad, Jason Vontver, is no slouch of a musician either. Their home is such an amazing environment for fostering creativity that I am both awed and completely jealous at the same time.
Now let’s get to this interview. Ladies and Gents, meet Beck Vontver.
Question: How old are you?
Q: Are you currently in a band? if so, what’s it called?
Beck: No, But I was, it was called Voltage!
Q: If you were naming a rock band, what would you call it?
Q: What will life be like in the year 2025?
Beck: Flying cars, super-suits, etc.
Q: What is the longest you have ever been grounded?
Beck: I’ve never been grounded ha!
Q: Who is the coolest person ever, dead or alive?
Beck: Ringo Starr or Zach Galafanakis
Q: What instruments do you play?
Beck: (BIG INHALE) drums guitar piano bass ukulele spoons banjo trumpet (BIG INHALE)(BIG EXHALE)
Q: What are you most proud of?
Beck: Being able to play all those instruments
Q: How would you survive a night in the jungle while being hunted by cannibals?
Beck: With marshmallows, Dr. Pepper, and a MAC-11.
Q: What is the coolest thing about your family?
Beck: We all play instruments
Q: Would you drink a bottle of ketchup for $100?
Q: What is the easiest class you have ever taken?
Beck: Pre-school math, count the cookies!
Q: If you had a pet alien, what would you name it?
Q: Would you rather have carrots for fingers, or have your head on sideways (the right ear would be on the top of your head)?
Beck: Carrots for fingers, definitely
Q: Besides music, what other kinds of art do you do?
Beck: Paintings, and i love to draw.
Q: How much do you get for allowance?
Beck: I don’t have one
Q: What do you spend your money on?
Beck: New instruments and video games.
Q: If you could change anything on earth, what would it be?
Beck: To not have money. That would solve a lot of problems.
Q: Do your parents make you eat your vegetables?
Beck: Yes (sigh)
Q: What is lame about grown ups?
Beck: They do chores all day.
Q: What is the most valuable thing in life you’ve learned so far?
Beck: To learn from my mistakes.
Check out some videos of Beck in action below.
Thanks Beck! You seriously rock.
(And if you have any suggestions for future interviews with awesome kids, please send me a note.)
Beck at 2:
Yeah there were a few crashes. But with the crashes came some really cool titles. Totally worth it in my opinion. By the end of the afternoon, I found myself riding with the Daredevil Boss, the Tough Club President, and the Wild Man King.
I went up to Vancouver last night to watch the Canucks win the Stanley Cup in game 7. Didn’t happen. I didn’t have a ticket, but they had a giant screen set up outside where over 100,000 fans showed up. I had considered bringing Zach along for this once in a lifetime experience. I’m so glad I didn’t. I didn’t get to see the hometown win, but I did get to see them riot. Police cars were overturned, cars were set on fire, windshields were smashed… you know, the usual.
The last riot I attended was in Seattle during the WTO meetings (was that in 1994?). But this one was way freakier. You’d be walking down a street and groups of thugs would run out into the streets and just start punching people. And then another group would come out and attack them. It was like a bar brawl, street festival style.
A police officer recommended that I leave the city quickly, but many of the sky train stations had been shut down. So I went to a mexican restaurant and ate very spicy chipotle shrimp tacos that needed to be washed down with constant beer. I watched the mayhem from the safety of my barstool, and philosophized about it with a guy in his early 20’s who was studying psychology and anthropology at a local college. For whatever reason the bartender generously gave me free drinks.
My little flip camera was not the camera for this event. I didn’t have super zoom, and I didn’t feel like getting right up there in the mix just to get some good shots. Here’s another guy’s vancouver riot photos that are really good.
All in all, I’d give the entire experience a C-. And I would say that it was totally worth it, even though I wanted to be part of a massive celebration and I ended up attending a riot. That’s a chance I would take over and over again. Opportunities to celebrate on this scale don’t come around here very often.
This is a ticket I got on the way to my friend’s birthday party. I was totally drunk and trying to drive with my feet. Just kidding. I was talking on the phone and not wearing a seat belt. And maybe speeding a little.
The officer was a merciful and kind man and he only wrote me up for the seat belt violation, which he said was the cheapest way out for me.
For the record I’d just like to say that I always wear my seat belt. I just put it on very slowly. I guess somewhere along the line I got a bit lazy in my habits. But no longer. The $124 lesson was learned. From now on, even if the shoulder strap is annoying while sending text messages from the road, I am officially an immediate buckler, no matter what.
Abby went to Germany night at school dressed up like Gretel. This video cracks me up. But it also reminds me why I have to have my daughter-daddy time. Abby is right in front of the camera, and somehow Zach still manages to steal the show:
So here’s a li’l tribute to my girl:
(just for clarification, at the end of the video- neither of my children like me filming them. ESPECIALLY when they are playing together and actually getting along.)
There is no such place as Clayton Beach. It’s a trick. Zach and I tried to find it but couldn’t. The trails we followed took us over train tracks on a blind corner, down steep rooted muddy ledges, and eventually within 3 feet of a cliff that offered certain death-by-barnacled-beach-rocks. Danger danger danger, every step of the way. It’s a miracle we made it out of there alive.
Heeyyy. Wait a tick. Maybe this isn’t a trick beach at all. Perhaps it’s something far more sinister. Was all that danger there on purpose? Who knows, but it’s possible we just escaped from the mouth of a real live tourist trap.
Saturday afternoon I packed up my bike and took a ferry to Lopez Island. It was as spontaneous as it gets, so when I stepped off the boat at around 7pm, I had no map, no reservations, and 9 bucks. I love this kind of stuff.
After riding for a couple hours, these were the things that stuck out:
1) Light, sweet, clean air.
2) Silence- I heard the sound of an entire field of cows chewing grass.
3) Brilliant views of the San Juan islands and old forests and endless fields of wildflowers.
4) No neighborhoods. Just neighbors. Every car that passed, without exception, every driver waved. No joke.
It was almost 9pm and I still needed to find a place to sleep. I took a road next to a forest, and not too far into the woods i saw a couple cliffs up near the tree tops, maybe 80-100 feet high. The top looked like it might flatten out a bit, so I stashed my bike, took my bag and went to get a better look. There were some steep little deer trails that I took to the rocky area, where the real climbing started. There was a rock wall about 35-45 feet high, and as vertical as anything I’ve ever attempted to climb without a harness. At this point I knew I wouldn’t have enough daylight to go back for the tent, so I was thankful to find a relatively easy route up. There were rocks to grab onto so I wasn’t really freaked out, but still- it was a good challenge to climb this thing.
When I made it to the top I was completely stoked. It was a conquest with an unbelievable reward. There were a few tiers of long, flat rocks, about 6 feet wide, that were covered in 8 inches of soft, completely dry yellow moss. I picked a ledge that was out of view from the road. It was a scene from a fairy tale. Below me there was a giant field of white and yellow flowers, then a rolling forest hill with beach cove bookends, then the water, the islands, and a pale orange sky. I bet natives camped here. This was a powerful place.
Birds were singing songs I’d never heard. Frogs joined in as the sun went down. Then the moon set, the stars came out, the frogs went silent again, and the only sound came from a flock of birds that had spread out throughout the forest. They sang like a chorus, in harmony with note to note precision. The song sounded like a cross between rippling water and a ufo shooting lasers. Trippy.
The whole scene was so amazing that I didn’t want to sleep. I watched the Big Dipper slowly work its way around the North Star. I heard a pod of breaching orca whales, splashing their way down the west coast of the island. This night was sacred and profound. Maybe I should just leave it at that.
I spent Sunday wandering around the island, exploring and writing and picking up rocks on the beach. I was completely lost until just before my ferry ride back. I didn’t have a clue where I was. But of course the road showed up, just in time to lead me back home. How could it not? If there was any lesson here, it was this: fate will take care of you every chance it gets. Not only will it take care of you, it will enchant you- sometimes with stuff like the road back home, and other times with starlight and moss and clifftop orca symphonies.