Perhaps the biggest thing that happened in 2008 was that my younger son graduated from high school, followed by his older brother quitting law school and moving back to Indy, and finishing up the year with my younger son going through a week of orientation as a Purdue education student calling us to say he wanted to transfer to Ball State. Of course, the first one was an expectation. The second one was not a surprise, but it was an expensive decision for all of us. And, finally, the last one was the ultimate outcome my wife and I attempted to get through his head at the time. Of course, he thought he wanted to follow some high school friends to Purdue, while the more appropriate education was at Ball State, not to mention that his long-time girlfriend (They began dating as high school freshmen and are now married with one child and another on the way, so who knew best?) was a student at Ball State. By the way, you really can withdraw a student from one university on a Sunday, move him out (temporarily to home), enroll him at another one on Monday, AND have him all moved into his new dorm room by 2 PM that very day. It can be done, especially when you have the help of his now in-laws.
When I think back to the days after transferring to Fishers High School to teach, until about 2017 when I had my fourth SCS revision with an up-to-date battery and no other significant health issues, they were a whirlwind. Often, I find it very difficult to place events in the correct order. Additionally, I have a more difficult time trying to remember the names of former students during that time period. It is simply horrible what those meds did to me, and how what happened in 2008 did to completely mess me up that I am still paying for it.
You see, my wife and I were frustrated with my pain management physician. He would give me steroid injections along with a tiny amount of pain killer into the facet joints between the vertebrae. Please bear with this description, because let’s just say it was my second worst procedure ever formed on me. Unfortunately, I had this procedure, and one very similar to it, a total of five times. Hold on! First, you lay face down on a table in an X-ray room. While the doc and his nurse practitioner wear lead gowns, I am butt exposed naked on the table with a fluoroscope aimed at the L4/L5 level on my spine. The doc then begins to slowly maneuver four approximately 100mm needles into my back, then take a X-ray. And he does this until those needles are in position, meaning inside those four facet joints where the two prongs of one vertebra touches the smooth area on the back of the vertebra below it. Once in place, the doc injects the steroid/painkiller solution. And, did I mention that you have to be awake during the procedure to describe how the injections feel by ranking your pain levels before and after the procedure. Then, you are asked to walk back to your exam room and eventually released. This procedure was done three times to me.
Wait a second Keller! You stated that you had this procedure done five times. Correct! But I had a disclaimer that stated I had a similar but more sadistic version completed those other two times. This is the old radiofrequency ablation. This is based on the fact if you no longer had nerve endings in an area, the pain will go away. Basically, the procedure is done in the very same manner, except instead of a syringe of a solution being injected through the needles, the doc threads an electrode through the needle until it is in the joint. Then the doc connects the other end of the electrodes to a battery and flips the switch. Now, the doc and the NP both claim that the battery is only on for 30 seconds to burn the little nerve endings in the joint. But, when you are feeling something exceptionally hot radiating from INSIDE your spine and smell the burning of the tissue in the joint, 30 seconds feels like hours. So, in comparison, the injections were a piece of cake. And, once again, you have to be awake as well. Apparently, one doc thought this procedure was not performed correctly by another, so HE wanted to perform the RFA one more time. Of course, the second time was much worse.
And guess what the outcome was? That’s right! I was still in pain, had back spasms all the time (made temporarily worse by having needles poked through the muscles in my back), and my spine was STILL not stable. So, I transferred to another pain clinic upon the recommendation of the first pain doc. Let’s just say that I now refer to this new clinic as Satan’s Lair. This particular place believes that everyone patient coming in to see them is addicted to pain pills. With me, nothing was further from the truth. So, they made me stop my old pain meds for a week, cold turkey. Then, they were start me on their medication for pain. Guess what?!?! They were NOT treating me for pain at all! They were attempting to make me drug-free. And, they damn near killed me with their new medication regime. I was sick the whole six months I spent with them. And every time I said that I was sick, they give me another medication to mask that symptom. And, of course, the new med made me more sick, until I finally told them that I was going to find a new doc. Fortunately, I went back to the original pain doc, but I had found out that my spine was not fused, just like I kept telling everyone. If you are a future doctor, LISTEN TO YOUR PATIENTS, they will tell you wants wrong with them (advice from a long-time friend of mine who used to be my family physician; he remains one of the most intelligent people I have ever known in addition to being wiser beyond his years).
Stop this crap Keller! We want the music! Okay, okay, all ready! Let’s get this going.
Coldplay – Viva la Vida or, Death and All His Friends (2008). By the time that Coldplay got ready to record their fourth album, they had cornered the market on the soft arena rock portion of the fans. So, this time, they pulled a U2-inspired move by enlisting producer Brian Eno who helped the band discover both their louder and artier experimental sides. It was a brilliant updating of their distinctive softer rock sound that incorporated Achtung Baby-inspired soundscapes, along with more daring uses of sampling of various songs and hip hop-like rhythms to push themselves out of their pleasing comfort zone. This album proved that the band had improved as musicians and were open to expanding their touchstone sound by integrated touches of the modern world into their version of U2.
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes (2008). Once, back in the late-Eighties or early-Nineties, Bono stated that when kids finally tired of relying upon technology for their music, they were revert back to acoustic instrumentation and analog production tactics. As the 20-teens approached, alternative radio slowly began to sound exactly like Bono predicted. Suddenly, over the next several years, more and more acoustic-based bands began popping up all over the place. One of the first to go down this road was a new band on their self-titled debut album Fleet Foxes. They sounded like a country rock band that were suddenly dropped off in Seattle, the former home of grunge. These guys had created what just might be the first Millennial country rock classic of the 21st century. This was just the right tonic for all the pre-fabricated sounds that were ruling the charts. Unfortunately, the band’s success and the Americana genre’s influence petered out shortly after Mumford & Sons won the Grammy for Album of the Year.
Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreaks (2008). After Kanye had the same level of success for his pretty good third album Graduation, Kanye experienced a great deal of heartache in the aftermath. Most importantly, he lost his beloved mother, which sent him into something of a tailspin. In response, Kanye began collaborating with all kinds of alternative artists to create some challenging music on which he laid his most vulnerable vocals covering his painful lyrics but recorded using that vocal treatment of the moment auto-tune. All of this led to some of the most challenging music of his career (though he will top this one soon enough). Drake should be giving Kanye some royalties because much of his career got its inspiration from this album and Kanye’s next album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Kings of Leon – Only by the Night (2008). Chalk this one’s success as a shot in the arm for traditional rock music. Kings of Leon’s musicianship and songwriting had finally bloomed and gave us some of the finest pure rock moments in a long time. The band is loose and having fun, while their songs arrangements are tight and the melodies are earworm-like. You would have a difficult time finding a better 1-2-3-4 punch in the 21st century as the songs that begin this album. And, of those four, “Sex on Fire” was a Grammy winner, while “Use Somebody” was heard about once-an-hour on all kinds of radio formats. Rock & roll is alive and well in 2008.
Lady Gaga – The Fame (2008). In the post-Madonna days, we have been awaiting her heir. Some declared Britney for the throne, while others went with Xtina. Me? I just kept waiting, until one night, while watching one of the few episodes I ever watched of American Idol, I saw Lady Gaga perform in a bubble outfit. Immediately, I mentioned to my wife that this woman would be huge. She has the chameleon aspect of Bowie, the obvious reference in her name to Queen, the glam of all the best artists from the UK circa 1972 (T. Rex, Sweet, Roxy, Slade, etc.) and the dancefloor chops of a young Madonna. Miss Gaga had the same look in her eyes during that performance that reminded me of Miss M’s eyes during her “Like a Virgin” performance at the first VMAs back in 1984. And, so far, Gaga has proven me correct. I would even goes so far as to say that Gaga has much more musical talent than Madonna. Now, if she can maintain the inspired choices in musical directs that Madonna has flawlessly done throughout her career. This album remains a dance floor classic.
Lil Wayne – Tha Carter III (2008). Lil Wayne had been building his career with some fine albums, but it was Tha Carter III that made him briefly a household name. The anticipation for this one was built through Weezy’s use of mixtapes, two solid albums, planned leaks of new songs and talk of a massive number of guest collaborators. Lil Wayne’s rap flows were at his strongest throughout this album, and the album managed to capture the ear of the hip hop world. Unfortunately, Weezy never really reached the heights of this classic again.
My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges (2008). When MMJ fans discuss this album, they argue over its merits. Personally, it remains my favorite one in the band’s arsenal. I love it mainly because the band was striving for greatness, even if others think they stumbled. The band tackles more of a soul/funk bent on Evil Urges, even paying musical and vocal homage to Prince throughout the whole thing. This album includes the song that was the closest thing they ever had to a Top 40 hit in their brilliant “I’m Amazed.” See, jam bands can actually do poppish rock songs if they set their minds to it.
Raphael Saadiq – The Way I See It (2008). Saadiq first came to prominence shortly after he turned 18 when he joined Prince’s first post-Revolution backing band in 1986 for a string of European shows. After that initial dip in the pool of success, Raphael went on to help create an band who updated soul and R&B in the original phase of hip hop with the band Tony! Toni! Toné! After that acclaimed band ran its course, Saadiq began a successful solo career by doing session work for various artists needing a hotshot bassist. But, it was on his fourth album that he put everything together. This is not just a neo-soul artist, but someone who equally steeped in Motown and Stax as he is in Eminem, Jay-Z and any other hip hop artist of the moment. This is another album that looks forward while having its feet firmly in the past.
Taylor Swift – Fearless (2008). For a young lady who was born in the same year as my younger son, she has talent beyond her age. While her debut is the sound of a very talented girl in love with country music, this album is a deliberate show of maturation by Swift creating music that could easily crossover, much like Faith Hill, Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain did a decade ago. Obviously, Swift is no longer a girl but a woman, and her songwriting reflects that change. This album is Taylor’s first classic album, whose Grammy win caused Kanye’s first public meltdown. I should have been astute enough to realize this woman was the real deal, as I was kinda writing her off.
TV on the Radio – Big Science (2008). While TV on the Radio’s previous album Return to Cookie Mountain is a busy classic, I prefer this album to it. I love that the band toned things done a bit that allowed the atmosphere of the songs to breathe more. It’s a shame that one of their members died after a battle with cancer, since it appears these guys are now finished as a unit.
Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (2008). Who knew that Paul Simon’s Graceland would be the starting point for a band of nerdy Millennials? That’s what we have here. These guys play these concise pop/rock songs with flourishes of Graceland sounds through out. It’s as if Talking Heads in their earliest stage began AFTER 1986. That’s what I love about this Vampire Weekend.
And that completes my 2008 time capsule. We are now down to six blog entries on this list. Peace.