I'd go out fishing with my dad on Lake Sunapee in a 14-foot, made-in-the-'40s, very antique, giant wooden 270-pound rowboat that only a Viking could lift. The handles on the oars alone were thicker than Shaq at the urinal. You're out in the center of the lake, sun beating down like the ass end of a camel in the Sahara. You're burning; you can't go any farther. By the time we rowed out to the middle, where the BIG ONES were biting, we all realized we had to row back. We being ME. A-ha-ha-ha! I became Popeye Tallarico. Mowing the lower 40 acres once a week gave me the shoulders to row back to shore (and to carry the weight of the world).

Up in the woods from the lake there were great granite boulders pushed there by glaciers during the Ice Age. There were caves up above the road I lived on in Sunapee with Indian markings on the walls—pictographs and signs. They were discovered when the town was settled back in the 1850s. The Pennacook Indians lived in those very caves. After killing off all the Indians, the whites built and named a 75-room grand hotel after them, Indian Cave Lodge, the first of three grand hotels in the Sunapee area and the first place where I played drums with my dad's band back in 1964—also just a half a mile away from where I first saw Brad Whitford play.

In the town of Sunapee Harbor, there used to be a roller-skating rink. It had been an old barn; they opened up the door on the right side and the door on the left side, and they poured cement around the outside of the barn so you could skate around the barn and through the middle out the other side. As a kid, it was a great little roller-skating rink. And back then, you could rent skates on the inside of the barn along the back wall and buy a soda pop, which they would put in cups that you could grab as you skated on by. Later on they put a little stage where a band could play behind where they rented the skates. By the next summer, not only could you roller-skate, but you could also rock 'n' roller-skate to your favorite band. It was the first of its kind. Across the street was a restaurant called the Anchorage. You could pull your boat up and after a long day of water-skiing, sunbathing, or fishing with no luck, get fish and chips. ... And speaking of chips, no one made french fries better than one of the cooks that worked at the Anchorage—Joe f***ing Perry. I went back there to shake his hand, and there he stood in all his glory, horn-rimmed black glasses with white tape in the middle holding them together. He looked like Buddy Holly in an apron. I said," "Hi, how are ya?" Or was it, "How high are ya?" At the time I was with a band called the Chain Reaction—and little did I know that my future lay somewhere between the french fries and the tape that held his glasses together.

At the end of each summer, I'd go back to the Bronx, which was a 180-degree culture shock. A return to the total city—tenements, sidewalks—from total country—where the deer and the antelope rock 'n' roam. Haven't met many people who experienced that degree of transition. Where we lived was the equivalent of the projects: sirens, horns, garbage trucks, concrete jungle—versus the country—rotted-out Old Town canoe bottoms from the early 1900s, remnants from the last generation who once knew the original Indians. Holy shift! By September 1, all the tourists who made New Hampshire quiver and quake for a summer of fun had fled for the city from whence they came like migrating birds. Welcome to the season of wither. One was grass, green, and good old Mother Nature and the other was cement sidewalks, subways, and switchblades. But somehow I still found a way to be a country boy, so even in the city I could be Mother Nature's son—but with attitude.
© 2011 by ecco, an imprint of HarpersCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.