The Riviera Ratt Songbook

Enjoy These not-yet-ready-for-Grammy songs:

Once in A Lifetime is Enough

Born to Roll

Louie Yo

Fun Fun Funky

Baking Away

Click here to slither back into the Ratt Hole!

Once in A Lifetime is Enough - Getting Stampeded by The Moose
by Riviera Ratt (with apologies to Byrne and Eno)
(This article appeared in American Whitewater, 3/4-98.)

You might find yourself
In your boat, upside-down, feeling foolish
You might find yourself
In the midst of a man-eating hole
You might find yourself
Gulping air like there’s no tomorrow
You might find yourself
Hoping someone can help save your sorry butt.
Ratt Boy gets worked. Photo by Nancy Gilbert.
Saturday of Moose Fest weekend, 1997. My virgin run. I looked at Fowlersville Falls, the first drop and an impressive one. It's a whale of a rock slide: well over 40 feet, at a better than 45-degree angle. The route down the left is relatively straightforward--just ride the tongue down through the roostertail at the bottom. I saw no one held, and few rolling, going that way.

Ah, but the right side. That's where it gets interesting. People who were running it had to ferry above the slide through holes and weird eddies over to where the river-left route went. Some ran river right, but there was a bad bad hole there which can recycle a boat for a looong time. At the weekend's low flow, you could punch it far right, but woe to the hapless one who gets prematurely swept over the lip of the slide and runs it sideways. (Watch Steve A. [a way better paddler than I] getting a bludgeoning in Beyond The Missionary Position, a recent Gusic video.)

My group all ran the easy route down the left. Couldn’t blame them, but I wanted some excitement. With the MooseFest crowds, it was tough to get into position into the eddies, but I managed. As I began my ferry, I knew it wasn’t gonna happen, so I headed straight down the right side. Punched through, no big deal.

But it wasn't the line I wanted, so I clumb up to run it again. This time, despite the crowds, I aced the suckah. Made it to river left, slipped right through, Jeff “Pride of Ohio” Simcox was impressed.

Then we all watched three boats pummelling around in the hole. One of the paddlers, out of his boat, kept recirc-ing for several minutes, staying down longer with each submersion. We got concerned. He was in the center, though; no one could get to him. He did come out, and he spent the next five minutes splayed out on the rock, no doubt pondering the Beauty of Breath.

Now on to Sunday. As my buds finished shuttle, I suited up and hit the water. Stu Koster operates a bakery in Michigan and calls himself “Stu da Baker.” Get it? Hahahahaha. He and I were ready to run; we got to the drop, and there was no need to scout. We’d seen it, and if I wanted two runs, I’d have to get moving before my shuttlebuds. So I began.

No crowds to mess me up, no excuses. I just blew the line. I started to get low in the eddy, and got swept over. But this time, I hadn’t bailed out early, so I was in the center. One sweep stroke, and I was pointing downstream. Head on down, punch the hole, and...backender!

Uh-oh. Upside-down, I got sucked in. Uh-oh. Tried an onside (upstream) roll; yeah, right. Rolled up on my off side, and I was in the muthah. Uh-oh. The downstream is aerated, so my brace wasn’t holding me all the way up. And no way, in a steep hole like that, is your lean sufficient; ain’t no one flexible enough for that.
I might ask myself
“How did I get here?”
I might say to myself
“This is not my beautiful line.”
I might say to myself
“This is not my swim-free run.”
I might say to myself
“My God! What have I done?!”
Tow Job
Joe Greiner tows David Graham, of Danbury, CT, to shore. Photo by Nancy Gilbert.
I may not have the cleanest lines, may not always look great or get the best enders, but one thing I have: I can hang in there with the best of’em. I knew I’d need every bit of hangintheredness in this mess. There’s nothing funnier’n a harmless trashing, but this didn’t promise to be the least bit innocuous. And I’ve seen some trashings in my day. The dam that made “Stuey McFlip” (American Whitewater, 11-12/96) famous has held me three times, for instance, terrifying my spectators; and National Falls seems to have my number this year. But this was a hole!

Well, there were guys in the eddy to the right, and they were motioning me that way. You read my mind, I thought. So combining braces and strokes and occasional rolls, I worked my way over, about 30 feet. With my head inches from the water, I was sucking air big time. This was not fun, and I knew that I’d need help once I got over there.
Watching your life pass by
Water flowing all around
Watching your life pass by
Getting slammed by the hydraulic
Into the hole again
Water lapping at your chin
Learning a lesson
Water splashing up your face
Joe The Plumber
Wading to shore. Thanks to our crack photographer, Nancy Gilbert.
Trashed like I never was
Trashed like I never was
Trashed like I never was
Trashed like I never was
Rescue of unidentified boater at Knife’s Edge Rapid. Photo by Riviera Ratt.

I was trying to brace, and these guys I didn't know were looking all concerned and waiting to see what I wanted. When I nodded, one came near. But it’s tough for him and tough for me. He doesn’t want to get too close and get sucked in, and I don’t want to let go of my paddle unless I know I can grab his loop. He didn’t seem close enough, nor did the next guy.

Soon they’d gone to plan B and tossed a rope. For the first time in my boating life, I grabbed it and hung on. Well, guess what! When you’re in your boat, being pulled from the side, your head is under water. That’s just the way it is. I hung in for a while, but it didn’t seem they were making any progress pulling me out, and I was way tired, wanting another air gulp, by now. I let go of the rope.

Not sure what happened next; I may have handrolled up, with the help of the hole. But when I got up, Stu da Baker was there, and I was able to grab his bow. I saw him backpaddling hard; nothing. He tried to shift to backpaddling more in line with the hole, trying to dribble me out the side. The throw rope was tangling with his right paddle blade. He looked very concerned, and I know he was working hard. After a while, he and I were in the eddy. Whole ordeal might well have taken four minutes. I was getting worked, man.

No, I didn’t carry my boat up to run it again.

Have you ever been beaten by a rapid? I mean, really beaten? I knew I was beaten. You know you’re beaten when your buddy’s given you a bow, you can hang on, but for the life of you, you can’t pull yourself upright. Another guy came to the other side and pulled on my boat, righting it. I retrieved my paddle and headed over to join my other buds, noting the pink boat in the hole’s middle, taking a trashing without its rider, who’d long since exited. Poor bastard.
You might find yourself
In the eddy after a trashing
You might find yourself
Hanging onto a buddy’s boat
You might find yourself
Shaky, woozy, confidence busted
You might tell yourself
“Get a grip! There’s a river to run!”
Boat Rescue
...and rescue of his boat. Photo by Riviera Ratt.

That kind of experience shakes you up. I was shaky for a while. Funnel? Shaky. Knife’s Edge (Class V), Double Drop? Shaky, Shaky. Finally, an hour later at Ager’s Falls, I recovered my composure and no longer felt that I had to follow half a boat-length behind someone. The rest of the day went fine, including my first clean run through Crystal, the rapid that messes up many a Class-V boater.

It's also the kind of experience that makes you locally famous. The rest of the day, people were coming up to me: “Was that you in the hole? That was ugly!” Hey, I told them, you think that's ugly? You should see me with my helmet off!

Stu, man, you know what happened. My shuttlecar was at the putin, and you headed home from the takeout. But I owe you that beer, and I’m not gonna forget.

I respect Fowlersville Falls. I knew the risks, I went for it, don’t regret it, will likely run the ferry line again someday. But next time, I’m dribbling down the left with my buds. You gotta show the river that you know who’s boss.

Same as I ever does
Same as I ever does
Same as I ever does
Same as I ever does!

Back to the Songbook Index, Bunky!
Back to American Whitewater!
American Whitewater's Bottom Moose River Description

Born To Roll
by Riviera Ratt(with apologies to The Boss)
(This little ditty appeared in American Whitewater, 5/6-96.) 

In the night we drive to the state campground in beaten-up, beer-soaked vans;
In the morning we run in the hottest sun, workin’ on pre-cancerous tans.
Fresh survivors of a Class-IV shuttle, nerves shot, hungover, and seal-launching into the boil...
Baby, this river wipes the cobs from your bean,
It’s a wild scene, it’s a boaters’s wet dream,
You gotta run it until you get old,
River Rats like us...Baby, we were bo-orn to roll!

Sandy, paddle with me, it’ll set you free
I wanna show you holes and enders,
Point your bow right in, give the crowd a grin,
This spot don’t brook no pretenders!
Together, Baby, we’ll go over the top,
We’ll run all the drops, Lady, we ain’t never gonna stop,
Will you stand here with the video?
’Cause Babe, it'd make an awesome shot,
You might scout it and say it’s Class VI,
But I gotta have that rush
Girl, I need that adrenaline fix!

(Here we suggest that you suspend reading for about 15 seconds; stand up, hum, whistle, or woo-woo some Rockin’ Riffs while playing a ridiculous air saxophone -- go ahead; you’ll feel good, and no one’s watching.)

All over the river is the scattered equipment of a paddler who’s in a bad swim,
His mind is addled - he’ll grab your paddle
When you try and rescue him.
He said he's Class V; it’s nothing but jive,
His roll was simply pathetic,
Let’s tow him somehow to the riverbank,
This boy's gonna need a medic!

(Another Ridiculous Riff-op.)

The river’s crowded with middle-aged rafters
Who act like the place is their turf,
You can see all the holes, you can wait in the eddies
But there’s no room for a real surf;
Together, Baby, in a TopolinoDuo,
We’ll carve up this spot when rafting season’s ooo-ver
Someday, Sandy, we’ll quit our jobs, we’ll live by the river,
and we’ll spend all of our lives
in that mon-ster-ous hole,
’Cause River Rats like us...
Baby, we were bo-orn to roll!

Back to the Songbook Index, Bunky!
Back to American Whitewater!

Louie Yo
by Riviera Ratt(with apologies to Richard Berry)

A fine little river, release from dam
He catch the wave, he get real slammed
He run the Cleavers upside-down,
They carry his carcass into town!

Louie, Louie,
Upper Yo!
YEAH yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah...

He run at high water, he got real balls
Get stopped by hole above National Falls,
His paddle break, it sink from him,
He go and take ignominious swim.

Louie, Louie,
Upper Yo!
YEAH yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah...

He go and head for Heinzerling,
He get too low on that pillow thing,
He surf the hole, what it’s all about,
His boat go flying, get endered out!

I say now,
Louie, Louie,
Upper Yo!
YEAH yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah...

Back to the Songbook Index, Bunky!
Click here to check out American Whitewater's description of the Upper Yough!

Fun Fun Funky
by Riviera Ratt(with apologies to Brian Wilson)

Well, they drove to the river, they were looking just a little disheveled,
And with one look at the gauge, they could tell it was a screaming flood level,
And the ice at the putin was a hazard that would scare off the devil,
And he'll have fun fun fun ’til his honey takes his Dancer away!
Professor Tom
Tom Cronin at the putin. Photo by Ratt.
Well, they peeled from the eddy, they could see all the trees flying by, now,
And they pulled off to have a solid look at the old Butterfly, now,
If you got caught in that hydraulic, you’d be prematurely saying bye-bye, now,
And he’ll have fun fun fun ’til his honey takes his Dancer away!

Well, they stopped for some sidesurfing at the gnarly old Peck Road Hole, now,
And one of them got flipped, and he had to pop an icy-cold roll, now,
It's just a day in the life of an obsessive and a crazed river troll, now,
And he’ll have fun fun fun ’til his honey takes his Dancer away!

Back to the Songbook Index, Bunky!
Click here to check out American Whitewater's description of the Cuyahoga Gorge!

Baking Away
by Riviera Ratt(with apologies to Jimmy Buffett)

When I was a young man,
I believed with a suntan,
I’d attract lots of ladies, and get myself laid,
But I look like the dense guy,
Who got cooked like a french fry,
And I should’ve spent more time asleep in the shade.

Baking away again in Melanomaville,
Lookin’ for my…last layer of skin,
Some people say that there’s no oooo-zone decay,
But I know…that the sun’s gonna win!

Hey, folks, seriously, skin cancer isn’t very funny at all. Wear your sunscreen when you're out playin’, okay? I wear some goopy Banana Boat stuff. I can play all day, and come away deadfish-white! For more information, see:
The Melanoma Patients’ Information Page
The Melanoma Patients’ Network
Mike’s Page - The Melanoma Resource Center

Back to the Songbook Index, Bunky!