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Pinback: The Rise and Fall of 'Lawn Chair Larry'

Pinback's leader, Rob Crow, has carved out a distinct identity as a storyteller with a unique sound — as heard on solo records, in numerous side projects, and in bands such as Heavy Vegetable. "Walters," from Pinback's recent Autumn of the Seraphs, tells the story of Lawrence Walters — a.k.a. "Lawn Chair Larry," who in 1982 famously took flight in a homemade contraption made of a patio chair and 45 helium-filled balloons.

Walters had always wanted to fly, but bad eyesight prevented him from becoming a pilot. So he came up with a plan to tie weather balloons to his chair and bring a pellet gun with him to shoot the balloons when he needed to hasten his descent. He'd hoped to rise 100 feet, but instead soared to about 16,000 feet, which quickly attracted the attention of the authorities. Walters was ultimately able to shoot himself down, but he landed on a power line, causing a 20-minute blackout in a Long Beach neighborhood.

Pinback tells the story brilliantly on "Walters," capturing the innocence and amazement of a man who lived his dream in spectacularly audacious fashion. But Crow doesn't leave out the real-life Lawn Chair Larry's sad end: In 1993, Walters ventured out into the woods and shot himself in the heart — or, in Crow's words, "went out on a hike and he never came back again." Throughout "Walters," the band captures both the thrill of daredevilry and the letdown inherent in the mundane life that so often surrounds it.

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Copyright 2008 KEXP

John Richards
John Richards is the host and producer of The Morning Show with John on 90.3 FM KEXP Seattle, and online at . He is also KEXP's assistant program director.