What does The Clash’s “Ivan Meets G.I. Joe” have to do with mountain climbing? Not a damned thing.
Whenever I hear this song, as I did this evening, it takes me back to Wachusett Mountain, my hometown stomping grounds, and an abnormally mild weekend a few Novembers ago. I had been in town visiting my brothers on the occasion of my youngest brother’s birthday. The drive down to Worcester, MA from Maine was the perfect opportunity to break in The Clash’s “Sandinista!” album, which had escaped my collection up until then (or as the prog-rock geek in me likens it, the “Tales from Topographic Oceans” of post-punk).
We celebrated with dinner and drinks in Worcester the night before, at the swanky (for Worcester) 111 Chop House, then we repaired to a dive bar called, wait for it… The Dive Bar. Nice name. Decent bar.
Anyhow, the next morning, I checked out of my hotel and took a ride up to Wachusett. In November the auto road is closed, but it being a 60-something day and having my sneakers on me, I figured I’d do a brief walk up to about Ralph’s Run and back to the Visitor’s Center. Instead, the day was so invigorating that I decided to just walk up the whole damn mountain. Yes, I cheated most of the way, walking up the auto road, but for the last leg I gave the Pine Hill Trail a shot. Since it’s really only been in this decade of the 2010s that I’ve gotten off my lazy arse and tried to be active, this was my first true venture doing any sort of mountain hiking. I’ve followed up with a tiny bit more in recent years (including a legit mountain hike from the Wachusett base), and am looking forward to doing much more once warmer weather comes back around.
So, what does a song about good ole Cold War nuclear anxiety sung by drummers have to do with hiking? Again, not a damned thing. But I have a distinct memory of that mild November air, that sort of day that you savor because you know they are quickly slipping away. As I was leaving the parking lot, I was back to Disc 1 of “Sandinista!,” and as the opening beats of “Ivan” pumped out of the speakers, it just sounded so damn great as my hand hung out the window as I cruised the downhill of Mountain Road toward the ski area. I repeated the track all the way back to Route 2.
I’ll be back to see you soon, Wachusett Mountain, only with skis in tow this time. And maybe this time I’ll crank The Clash’s “Cut the Crap.” If you see a copy for $1.50 or less, let me know.