Friday Full-Length: Monster Magnet, Milking the Stars: A Re-Imagining of Last Patrol


monster magnet milking the stars

Well that was some week. I’m not gonna do the usual review-in-hindsight/then-blather thing today, but the basics about the above real quick: New Jersey’s true rock and roll treasure, Monster Magnet, released Milking the Stars: A Re-Imagining of Last Patrol (review here) through Napalm Records in 2014 as a follow-up companion-piece to 2013’s Last Patrol (review here), taking tracks from that record and reworking them in various ways. A Hammond here, a long winding space jam there. It’s one of two such releases the band did, the other being 2015’s Cobras and Fire: The Mastermind Redux (review here), which did took on 2010’s Mastermind (review here). To be honest, if we’re going on a level of basic preference, what I might reach for any given day, I’ll take Cobras and Fire over Milking the Stars, the former bolstered by the cover of “Ball of Confusion” and “Watch Me Fade,” and so on. But “The Duke (Full on Drums ‘n’ Wah)” and “I Live Behind the Clouds (Roughed Up and Slightly Spaced)” from the 2014 outing were kicking around my head, so I rolled with the impulse. Turns out it was “No Paradise for Me” my brain was seeking.

What I admire about Milking the Stars and Cobras and Fire both, though, is the willingness to fuck with what’s been done before. The extension of irreverence to one’s own work, even as it maintains reference for aesthetic itself. The flexibility to look at a batch of songs already ostensibly finished, recorded, pressed, released, and to say, “Well, maybe I can screw around with those some more.” The playful fuckall of it.

Monster Magnet have a cool announcement on the way I think later this month. If you’ve seen some of the band Poobah‘s social media posts, you already know Dave Wyndorf and company recorded a cover of one of their songs. They were also the first band I would’ve seen whose show got canceled when the Tri-State Area (NY, NJ, CT) went into lockdown. March 18, 2020. Brooklyn. Monster Magnet celebrating Powertrip with support from Nebula. Almost a year now. Somewhere in the great expanse of multiple universes, there’s one where that show happened and I went and had a real good time.

In this universe, my kid fractured his skull this week. We were going down to the basement to change over the laundry. I walk in front of him so that if he falls, he falls on me — he’s three and very active; he falls constantly and 99 percent of the time gets right back up and ignores it — so my back was turned, but I heard the crash. He must’ve slipped on the stair and falling in the space between the railing and the stairs themselves, from about five or six steps high, onto the concrete basement floor, through a pane of glass that just happened to be leaning on the staircase the way things end up leaning on other things in basements. When I heard the crash, I turned and saw him flat on his back surrounded by broken glass. He looked immediately in shock. Me too, probably.

I yelled “Jesus!” in that way that I do when something is actually wrong and my wife heard. No cuts on the kid, which is more fortunate than I can say. I’m extra paranoid with him and glass — unresolved trauma on my part; when I was seven-ish, I sliced open the inside of my right thigh by sitting on a large glass fishbowl and received no less than some 300-odd stitches for my trouble, more inside than out. My father saved my life that night. I did eventually get to thank him for that before he died.

I didn’t have to apply pressure to any gaping wound in the back of our son’s head the way my father did to the open folds of flesh in my thigh while we waited for the ambulance to come. There was no ambulance. We stripped the kid to get his glassy clothes off, then went upstairs to assess. When he started to nod off — something he’d never do in a million years under normal circumstances; he fights sleep like Batman fights the Joker — we took him to Morristown Memorial Hospital, to the pediatric ER. They admitted him so he could get a CAT scan.

It’s a short process in text, but it all took hours. This was Tuesday after dinner, near bedtime. He fell at 5:45. We went to the hospital at 6:15 or thereabouts. It was 10PM before the three of us went upstairs. Only one parent could stay overnight because of COVID restrictions, so I stayed and sent my wife home. They’d done the CAT scan by then, showed us the crack in his skull, said there didn’t seem to be a bleed, but they were admitting him to keep watch and to do an MRI in the morning to be sure. We were terrified. Asking about brain damage to your three year old. Sit with that and wait overnight for who knows what answer.

Blah blah MRI. I went down with him to imaging. They put him under general anesthesia. I was holding him, caught him when he conked out. I ran home to shower while The Patient Mrs. stayed in case he woke up in the next hour and a half or so. I got back before he was up, then we went back up to his room for more waiting. Results came in: no significant bleed, we could go home once he could hold food down.

We gave him a couple fruit pouches that he likes and he puked it all back up. Effect either of the concussion or the general. Doesn’t matter which. That bought us more hours at the hospital. In the meantime, shift change brought in Dr. Escobar — and yes, that’s the real name because fuck it — who was the nighttime attending and who told us that we couldn’t leave. When we pushed back on that saying the MRI was fine, she told us a “final read” vs. the “preliminary read” of the MRI showed a more significant bleed happening.

This turned out to be a lie. Just a lie. Simply not true. Dr. Escobar said that she talked to the pediatric neuroradiologist and the pediatric neurosurgeon and they said we needed to stay because there was a chance he might throw a clot and stroke out.

Again, just not true.

At the time, we were furious because we’d then been misinformed that he was out of such danger. I asked what the hell “preliminary” and “final” meant and why would we have been informed if someone hadn’t all-the-way examined the test results. I did curse. Dr. Escobar excused herself and did not come back. The nurse was duly apologetic and understanding. The pediatric neurosurgeon would be in in the morning to check on The Pecan and make sure everything was okay. He needed more neurological check-ins — which he already hadn’t had since the morning — overnight.

If the doctor had said, “Looking at the imaging, we think your son should stay. Better safe than sorry,” we would’ve stayed of course. That’s not what was said.

The pediatric neurosurgeon in the morning told us she was surprised to find we were still there. Others coming back on for the dayshift were too, until we told them what had happened with Dr. Escobar. A few more people came and went, The Pecan threw up again, so that was a delay, and we went home sometime later in the morning yesterday. Follow-up next Friday, back to school on Tuesday probably. He and The Patient Mrs. took a long nap in the afternoon and he kept dinner — which was ice cream cake — in his stomach before bed. He was up later than he should’ve been, but I expect that’s a combination of had-a-nap and the back of his head being sore.

Take your left hand and put the pinky line — the flat part of your hand, not your palm — about halfway between the middle and the side of the back of your head, and that’s where the crack in his skull is and about the proportion of it as well. It was a significant fall. His grandmother came down from Connecticut to help us out, got him a nightlight, more Daniel Tiger books — all of which we read in the hospital bed — and other such and sundry. My mother and sister got him balloons and a bear. Child Life Services — the woman’s name was Meaghan; she was incredible — gave him a new garbage truck and a truck from the movie Cars with the racecars in it. He’s never seen the movie, but likes the racecars with faces and knows Lightning McQueen by name. He got to ride in a red cart on the way out of the hospital as well, and was stoked on that.

He’s less tired and headachy this morning than he was last night, but still whiny and hair-trigger. I’m sitting with him now. He’s in the tub taking a bath and lost his shit when we were out of bubbles to the point that The Patient Mrs. ran down the road to the grocery store and got some. She’s playing with bath foam now, making letters on the wall for him to do the alphabet. He’s started to spell words — “stop,” “go,” “on,” “zoo,” “yes,” “no,” as well as his name — and knows the alphabet by heart. He can sight-read various words as well — “love,” “cat,” “go,” “yes,” “no,” etc. We’re getting there.

We’ll move forward. I’m still angry at being lied to and have set about composing the email in my head to send to the hospital administrator. Nothing to sue over, obviously, but if I was in charge of a group of medical professionals, I would want to know that one of them decided to be House M.D. to the parents of a toddler patient. Shit ain’t ethical.

That’s where I’ve been at today is an eight-post day to catch up. Back to whatever is normal on Monday.

And if you reached out on any form of social media in response to one of my posts on there about this situation, please know you have my deepest thanks and appreciation. It was incredibly humbling and touching to hear from so many people around the globe wishing well and being happy for us when we got to go home. Sharing that adventure, which is the word we’ve been using, helped keep me grounded to the extent I was through the whole thing. And thanks to my family as well for their constant support.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Stay hydrated. Watch your head. All the best.


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9 Responses to “Friday Full-Length: Monster Magnet, Milking the Stars: A Re-Imagining of Last Patrol

  1. JohnArz says:

    Much love to the Pecan and to you and the Patient Mrs. We’ve been in a similar situation, although with far less traumatic an injury, and it’s no goddamn fun. In about five years you’ll feel your body finally relaxing.

    • JJ Koczan says:

      Actually dude I haven’t slept so well in months. We came home on Thursday and Thursday night I don’t think I even rolled over. I was out before 8PM and up around 5, solid sleep the whole way through. Felt like a miracle.

  2. Aron says:

    Glad the little dude is OK, can’t imagine how stressful that whole thing was for you and the Patient Mrs.

  3. Ea Gregory says:

    Crazy out-of-nowhere injury – so glad the fall through glass wasn’t much much worse! I’d file a complaint with the Dept. of Health in your State, sorry about that doc, there’s a few bad eggs here and there, who knows your compliant might actually do some good. Hug the little guy, it’ll make a good story when he’s a bit older!

  4. Mark says:

    Was so sorry to see this on the socials. Been there with kids and hospitals… Just glad all OK and back home.

  5. Bill says:

    Sorry to hear about the pecan. Glad hes ok. Out of curiousity, was there a rush to get home? I only ask because if that were one of my boys, Id have them run every dam check to make sure theres no bleeding or anything else wrong. Sorry again this happened to you.

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