Monday, March 2, 2015

The Wilderness Years - Hit the Ground Runnin' Part 1

As the rented Crown Vic wound it's way back over the flat fields of eastern Maryland and towards the hills of Pennsyltucky our hero was slumped and comatose in the passenger side of that rented car, fucked would be a bit of an understatement, the Jager and weak junk still kicking it's way out of his system, occasionally our hero, or more correctly moi, would sit up and suck down some Gatorade or water, attempt to eat a peanut butter cracker, check on the driver and then pass right the fuck back out, of the 8 or so hours it takes to drive from the cesspool of tourist town to the city of iron i was out for a good 6 plus of it, finally pulling it together enough to drive the last hour or so in and wind my way to my new home, my co-pilot or more correctly pilot on that trip was a fellow fry boy and friend of mine, in fact he had helped get me the job there a few summers back, a good guy who i can only imagine was more than a bit pissed at having to drive almost the whole way back while i snored and drooled and twitched like the derelict i was, i myself was oblivious and like the selfish prick i was i concerned myself more with getting back and getting my shit settled cuz on that Monday, September 11th 1995, my 25th birthday i would start my new gig, humping boxes and delivering useless crap for a party store, another stint in another warehouse cuz that's what the derelicts of the world do, we move shit from point A to point B and make sure it's in the correct spot on the shelf or in the system, we are the neanderthals of the lumpen prole, i was to make a whopping $6.40 an hour...

Under the shimmering streetlights of late summer i pulled to the curb in front of my new place, an old three story brick house with worn red oak doors, a set of cement steps with the weeds thriving in the concrete followed by a set wooden steps and a small porch painted baby shit brown and peeling from top to bottom, my place was on the second floor and i hit the buzzer and waited for the good Doctor or his woman to let me in, it was two city blocks from my old place and there were two bars within spitting distance, a classic transient neighborhood, a place where most people lived for six months to a year, until they could find something better, or they never left, shuffled from one dump to another, a neighborhood populated by halfway houses, immigrants, foreign exchange students, low-lifes, thieves, con-men, in short just what i needed, as i stepped out and watched the sky turn dark blue in front of a fading pink sun, a sun that was dipping behind the hill that was home to the biggest hood in the city, downtown just beyond that... but it didn't matter, it could have been fucking Pluto over that hill far as i was concerned, i was back in North Oakland, the first place that felt like home since mine had went poof and tumbled over like a straw palace...as i climbed out of the Crown Vic i could feel the sweat drip down my ass and stink radiate off me, i was a fine fucking mess after the last 48 hours or so but here i was, standing in front of a run down old brick house and smiling...

When the good Doctor opened the door he grinned and handed me a beer, he was my best friend in those days, a brother, we lugged all my shit up some creaky steps with threadbare carpet, the place had old stain glass windows that had begun to buckle just a bit and a wooden banister worn smooth by decades of hands, at one time it had been a single family home, back in the big steel boom town years, but now was divided up into three units, with us in the middle, a mixed-race gay couple on the first floor, and forty-something sister on the third floor, the apartment door led straight into a living room with a small kitchen on the far right, two bedrooms to the left, one for the good Doctor and one for his lady, a step in and there was a hallway that ran behind the living room, oddly it had a powder room right next to a small full bath and in the very back, behind a heavy, old wooden door was my room... the door was a good two inches thick, it had to be the only door in the whole place that was still original, they didn't make doors like this anymore or you didn't see doors like this in the shit holes i'd been living in, it was big and thick enough to break fingers if they were unlucky enough to be caught and on the other side was nothing... a 9x6 rectangle.

It's an odd habit i have, the memories of the rooms i've lived in, some seem a blur and some hold this place of almost mythic proportion, for the next three years i would live essentially out of this room, it was a sanctuary, an office, a fuck pad, a library, a studio, it was a carefully organized shambolic mess, a rectangle with two small nooks cut by the chimney that ran up the side of the house, on this first day there was nothing in it but a beat up, tiny three-drawer light brown wooden desk, a desk that looked lifted out of the late 50's, it was set between two windows that looked out onto a small backyard that was bathed in the shade of urban arbor, there was an ancient armoire that had been left, it was the first thing you saw when you walked in, the door being all the way left and the room going right, it was the armoire where i'd tape up the flyer i ripped off a bulletin board at CMU after seeing Allen Ginsberg read one night, it was the armoire where the triple beam would make it's home, but i'm getting ahead of myself, a rickety white nightstand sat pushed into the far right nook, for the first few weeks i slept on the floor until the good Doctor told me to grab the mattress and box spring out of his room, seeing that he and his lady didn't need two beds, it was promptly tossed on the floor and pushed against the wall where it would stay the whole time i lived there, i could actually walk into my room and fall into bed and over the next three years that would come in handy...

Now having been living as a student and then a migrant tourism worker for the past few years i had a habit of attempting to travel light, the funny thing was all my clothes, winter-spring-summer-fall were packed into a trunk and an old suitcase, the rest of the my possessions amounted to a decent sized portable stereo, a few boxes of books, my old electric typewriter and a few plastic milk crates of CD's, i had always listened to music but over the last 6 years or so had cultivated the habit of voraciously reading... i set the trunk under the left window and put the stereo on top of it, kept the desk where it was in the middle, the armoire was a such a giant old beast it was not to be moved and it sat near the left window with just enough space to cram my suitcase and a few boxes of shit next to it and out of the way, i wasted no time in stealing some bricks from a building site and grabbing a few wood slats and making myself a make shift bookshelf that sat up against the outcrop where the chimney ran, i snagged an old chair from a junk room near the main door of the apartment building and bought a nice window fan to put in the left window for the hot months, in a matter of weeks it was my own little slice of heaven, separated from the rest of the place it gave both the good Doctor, his woman and myself the space we needed...

The best part was it felt like mine, like my own little home, it was just the space i needed and my best friend was right down the hall and the bars were close by and i worked a block away from the place, a main artery ran a 150 feet or so away from the apartment but with my room in the back i mainly heard birds chirping and neighbors laughing or screaming or sometimes screwing, and the sound of Baum Blvd. would ebb and flow and sound almost as lovely as the Atlantic surf i had just left, but the real cherry on top was the room itself, when you're broke and living in poor places as the song says, the rooms are stifling hot in the summer and freezing in the winter, in the summer the sun would rise and and pass over my room before noon, the windows had these natty, thick curtains that looked almost quilt-like and let in just enough light when the sun was shining but by noon my room and the backyard were bathed in shade, with the window fan sucking in the cool air my room would be ten or fifteen degrees cooler than the rest of the place, in the winter it was just the opposite, i lucked out and the heat blew strong through my vent and i could shut my door and the room would be ten or fifteen degrees warmer than the rest of the apartment, no space heater needed, and so why so much about the apartment? the room? because they were characters in and of themselves, they gave me a foundation, a base in which to build from, besides like Jarvis once said about the supermarket, i had to start it somewhere... so it started here...












Saturday, February 14, 2015

Last Thursday after dinner, listening to the radio

William S. Burroughs once stated that the closest you can get to junk is being really stoned on hashish, having walked down both those roads i can tell you that Bill was pretty spot on and while they are not the same by any stretch of the means there are some distinct similarities if you know what you're looking for, and so it was that last Thursday after i was done cleaning up the dinner dishes and before taking Nick Disaster to the rink for hockey school that i heard this song on the radio, it was the first time i'd ever heard this version, i'd heard Warren Zevon's original version years ago but this one fucking smacked me in the face, the symmetry of a warped history coming back up the pipes like so much mental backwash... so i'll connect the dots cuz it entertains me...

A long time ago i wrote what i consider one of my favorite pieces called August and Everything After, about how i used to sit in a bar on Wicomico round the corner from the Fry Hut, a scant three blocks from a fried chicken stand and also the place where i heard the album in which that piece was titled after, an album i've gone on record as admitting to loving though the indie rawk kids of the world would revoke my hipster card for admitting so, but fuck those indie rawk hipster kids, all hair gel and no substance and more likely to develop a habit than a disciplined low life shambling through a life that at the time was part Munch and part Monet, soft and fuzzy around the edges, hard and terrifying and beautiful in the center, and so while sitting on a bar stool or tucked in the corner and watching the tourists walk by i came to study and appreciate that record and what it meant to me at that time of my life, a topic that's been well covered over the years here from my stool at the lounge...

Of course that post may have been the first piece to introduce to the story our lovely Heroin, it was first obtained and taken in that little place by the bay off of 2nd St., so imagine the look on my face while i watched the snow begin to blow in and my youngest boyo run through the house taking imaginary slap shots with his curly mop wildly flying about, i was a bit dumbfounded listening to the voice of the guy i sat and listened to that summer as i stared into a beer or through dilated pupils, singing about my old new bad habit and though i was strung out back then it wasn't on smack but more life in general... but as i stood watching the small specks of cold and biting snow fly through the air i was suddenly back to that hot apartment with the little windows where if you sat right next to them you could catch a decent breeze, of sitting in that room pinned out and listening to the sounds from the park and the birds from the bay, my beer getting warm and leaving wet rings on the old hardwood floors, a poorly rolled joint sitting in the ashtray, it was the first place i'd lived in five years that had cable tv, every now and then i'd roll out and watch the weather channel for a bit but mainly i hung about that room with the typewriter and my various drugs and drink, our Heroin was just the latest sweetheart to show up...

Now if you were to ask me if there was ever a drug i had respect for i'd smile and say all of them of course, and you'd have the definitive right to smile right back and say bullshit, and you'd be right, but i'd spent too much of my youth reading drunks and speed freaks and tea heads and particularly junkies, what's that saying about knowledge being power? and so i had strict rules when it came to Lady Day, i knew her voice was warm velvet and so i had to be disciplined no matter how many sweet nothings she whispered in my ear, and so the rules were laid down and for someone as undisciplined in most aspects of his life as i was at the time (and most likely still am) i maintained and did not break, never two days in a row, preferably three or four between tastes, be cautious when trying new gear, and above all respect her power for she do not fuck about dig? and so i got on with it...

When i'd left my fair city of iron in June of 94 i was more than a bit tuned in to the happenings in the East End when it came to the topic of contraband and when i left that horse wasn't even on the track, not for the kids anyway, yes it was around but it wasn't as easily obtainable as when i'd return just over a year later in September of 95, in what i'd call the first wave of good cheap smack, the years from 95-99, suddenly it became easier and easier to obtain, hell even the kids from the burbs could get it and the media hadn't yet started it's crusade,  i had scored a job in a warehouse a block from my place when i got back and right off there was a cat who had more than a little habit going, within a week he had scored for me, i stuck to the rules, the gear made the stuff at the shore look like dog shit, this had the classic marketing of stamp bags with all the names and flavors, the local weed game still lacked that, there was dirt, brick, middies and kind, every now and then you'd get a name for a strain but mostly it was classified as one of those four, it was a study in need when i used to ride around with my co-worker, he'd have us rushing through deliveries so that he could cruise his local haunts to try and score, the worry and need rising every time he struck out and couldn't cop, the worry and need rising when he had to lift money off his girl or his mom, his total jubilation every time he scored, his whole spirit lifting and him laughing and joking and singing...

There was the Burger King two blocks from my apartment where you could cop in the parking lot, there was a occult/record store in South Oakland where you could score from the sinister minister with his own wicked habit, there was Mitchell's Tavern in North Oakland, my old haunt, where the junkies sat nervously biting their nails and waiting for the pay phone to ring back so they could slip out and score a half block from my old apartment, the place where i'd meet Maggie and Martha aka the Glimmer Twins, there was the bathroom at Chief's, clandestinely passed stamp bags under the bar at the Luna, my hood was awash in places to score, when i felt like scoring i saved myself the trouble of doing it myself and helped out my co-worker, when dealing with people with habits you know they're going to fuck you a bit, it just depends how much, and i knew T. Rex (my co-worker dubbed so cuz he loved glam) was tacking on a tax but i didn't mind, he knew i knew and i knew that in this game nothing is done for fucking free, i'd usually toss him a bump as well cuz these were the days of the snorters and smokers, the shooters were out there but it took awhile for most to graduate and for some the hassle of scoring needles just added to the mess so they stuck with what was easy, so T. Rex would get a cheap bag and i'd get mine, his would be gone by morning, mine would last a week or two, discipline my friends discipline...

And while the song was playing i kept thinking of the education that i received, the up close and in-depth look at what people would do when in need, the loose collective of the hooked, how they spent almost all of their time trying to find places to score, alternate places to score, cheaper places to score, how if one could cop when it was dry they'd help each other out, to a point of course, they'd do what they could for their pals who had cash but whoever the lucky dope fiend was who found the gear got to tax everyone they scored for, usually enough for an extra stamp bag or two, then they'd try to pinch some from the other bags, try to weasel a bump out of the "friend" they scored for, hell even when it wasn't dry it was like that or if someone was short it was the usual game of bag now getcha back later, this wasn't like the weed dealer running out, this was a physical and psychological need and as the clock ticked you could watch them slip deeper, the sanity stretching with each nauseous tick of the clock, i watched Maggie's boyfriend one day, he was sitting and gnawing his hand as the ice melted in his drink as he waited for the Glimmer Twins to come back with the gear, the sweat beading, the eyes jumping around the bar, the promise of relief and the smiling monkey making him hand over his car keys knowing full well these two might be gone for hours, without the discipline, the respect, it was a full time job, and frankly i already had two full time jobs back in those days, i didn't need another...

And the truth is there are alot of people from back then who didn't make it, in those days it seemed every week or two you'd hear of someone dying, some i knew, some i knew of, some i knew well and one i knew really well, the only one that i had any emotions about, sad and bummed but not shocked when i got the call, but that cat and others will show up in the Wilderness, now it was just hearing that song sung by that guy, and going back to the end of that summer and a rented Crown Vic and winding my way back to me barrio and a set of unpainted, rickety wood steps and  the beginning of everything else... then the I-mac aka Stretch came bopping by and hugged his old man before bopping away and behind me i heard Nick Disaster make a whooshing sound and raise his arms in the air as he scored another imaginary goal...







Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Wilderness Years- Raskolnikov's Blues Pt. 7 Out with a Whimper

And now we come to the electrifying conclusion or more aptly, out with a whimper, the days would grow warmer but the nights were still cold under the towering pines and Pennsyltucky stars, some nights the air dry and stinging and others dank and damp, under the shadow of the forest it was coming to a close and i had still yet to see a bear or slay the beast and of course why would i want to do that when the beast was in me as the song says, i had scraped and saved a few hundred dollars hustling my shit weed and washing the occasional dish, i had managed to stay relatively drunk and high for a few months living on a shoe string budget, by thieving from the local supermarket, by the kindness of women who would feed me, by the kindness of a woman who would feed me, get me drunk, sleep with me and buy me drugs, i had failed and flunked out, there would be no career as a professional student and the options of a career in general were becoming rather slim to say the least, not that i was all that interested in one to begin with, i would go east and make the fries, i would sling roast beast at tourists and work more hours in a summer than all my previous working days combined but i began to count down those last days, to take long walks and look around knowing that i would most likely never see this place again and being a summer away from 25 i had spent the better part of 5 of the last 6 years roaming it's quiet and sleepy streets...

And what had happened in those years spent wandering the little hamlet of Podunk U.? I had shown up a hot shit basketball player,  arriving in my mom's old puke green '78 Olds Cutlass Supreme, a lovely hunk of rear-wheel drive death machine, a car that would slowly fall apart, a car i'd melt the engine in one day while drunk and  highed-up and driving country roads, and you wonder why i marvel that i still have all of my fingers and toes, that's if we're keeping track of course, the place where i'd quit playing hoops and start reading too many books, where i'd spend my 21st birthday sitting alone in my apartment and studying for a test and at midnight walking across the courtyard to a guy named Blotto's place and doing bong hit after bong hit while he blared Psychic TV and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult until the wee hours, (then acing said test), from shaving my head (after seeing Perry Farrell on the cover of Spin, 1991?) to leaving the place with a natty rat's nest of dreads, learning and thinking and writing and going from C student to A student, watching my nuclear family splinter apart one night over winter break while i leaned against the kitchen counter, seeing the most stable relationship you'd ever known get annihilated like a sand castle caught in a wave, i'd spend a lone year in the city slinging bagels and weed, i'd sit one day in Podunk bars drunk off my head and crying as i learned the news of the demise of one Henry Charles Bukowski, the big-haired bartender and her friend casting nervous glances at the man-child in tattered corduroys and flannel shirt downing scotch and water as the tears rolled down his face... i'd drop out and flunk out and fall out, i'd come unglued and then put myself back together and then come unglued again until like a mad scientist i had all the puzzle pieces properly arranged... or so i thought, i went from bright-eyed boy to broken-hearted kid, i went from apathy to nihilism to cynicism to just plain motherfucker, i learned to laugh at the pain, i fucking grew up and out and where once i thought things could defeat me i began to learn that i was the only one who could do that, and if i didn't let it? insert maniacal laughter here, concentrate on that three inches in front of my eyes, left foot right foot foot in your ass... and when the last day came...

There is a strange gap in my memory, i don't know how i got from Podunk to the shore, i'm pretty sure it was the good Doctor who gave me a ride, threw what i could fit in his car and left the rest, gave away some stuff, i spent the last week or two having a good time and saying goodbye to the few souls who mattered, most of those souls i'd see again, except Sam, it would be years before i'd hear from him, he got my email address from the crazy ex-roommate who was convinced we were soul mates, the one who thought i'd look into her eyes and fall madly in love, Sam had found some copies of old poems i had written and wrote to say hello, i had kept tabs on him through mutual friends, he had taken his assistantship and then fell off the wagon, one night while blind drunk two guys he met at the bar went back to his place with him to hear his poetry, of course you know where this is going don't you? Sam, drunk and oblivious, he didn't realize it until one of them jumped in his lap and tried to stick his tongue down his throat that they weren't interested in his poetry, the one had to smash a chair over him to get him to stop kicking the ass of the other, they ran out and he grabbed a rifle and fired a couple rounds, needless to say he was tossed out of school and if not for Sam's gift of persuasion (he told the judge that as an ex-paratrooper that he knew what he was doing, that if he wanted to kill the guys he would've) and a judge sympathetic to vets he'd have found his ass in the slammer, so back on the wagon he went and the tool belt and hard hat got pulled out of retirement...

It's safe to say that i didn't look back as the good Doctor's car pulled onto the highway and led me out of Podunk, it was back on the familiar route towards the blue-black Atlantic, through the city of motels, past the rolling hills of Pennsyltucky and the shit side of Maryland, past Frederick and memories of Audrey (see the Wedding Proposal post) and then the suburbs of Charm City and DC, over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and what seemed like a land of liquor stores, past outlet malls and regally named old money towns and into the flat eastern seaboard coastal plains that led to a cesspool of sunburned tourists and redneck locals, the sign with the seagulls welcoming me to one more season in the sun, Podunk nothing but a fast fading memory, the summer waiting in front of me, lugging my shit up the three flights of my soon to be condemned shit hole, frosted-hair frat boys a floor below blaring horrible music and being fucking boneheads, i was here to to dig myself out of a hole, to work and drink and take drugs and save money, it was a beautiful mess, an old manual typewriter set up on a wooden table next to my bed, over roughly 110 days i had two off and that was because i walked into a shelf and had a concussion, somehow i managed to bang out poorly typed stories, through thumping bass from a floor below, through an apartment filled with drunks and psychos and morons and acid casualties, with barely any time for sleep i sat and banged out poems and stories, a beautiful mess indeed...

Of course i've been over most of this summer, things always pop back into the mind, like a box of lost Polaroids now faded and discolored they fall to the floor here and there, sometimes they're so clear it sends a shiver, like popping wheelies on my bicycle high on acid and riding down 28th St., laughing and shirtless and the metallic taste of cheap beer and LSD in my mouth, the hours spent sitting on the deck behind the Fry Hut and listening to the surf and the gulls, a book in my hand, sticky with sweat and Vans covered in grease, eating at the mission, wandering to the back of the arcade on break and playing Donkey Kong for a quarter and keeping my high score up damn near all summer, on my own things were so simple but of course there was also the hellhole, a complicated and strained relationship with a girl and with my roommates and with damn near everyone i knew except for my boss and the crew i worked with, dubbed the Chemical Crew we were a fine sight to behold.. but we'll get to that, for now the sun had set on my aspirations in academia, it was roughly another 10k tacked onto my tab, in a box a thousand miles a way there was a piece of paper with my name on it, a very expensive piece of paper, i just wouldn't be adding another pricey slab of papyrus to go along with it, oh but it was money well spent, as an education went it had served it's purpose, hell it may have even been a steal, i learned far more than i could have ever dreamed when i had show up here... and now it was  just the three inches in front of my face and one foot in front of the other...



Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Wilderness Years - Raskolnikov's Blues Pt. 6

5 full posts... are we still here? you should have left this train wreck ages ago, like some horrible fucking one man show where our hero is up there doing god knows fucking what and calling it profound when it all looks and smells and probably tastes like a hot and lovely turd... and yet here we are, nowhere fast as they say, still wandering the same small town streets and listening to the click of the streetlights and hum of old electric signs... and yet i've conveyed nothing of the madness i felt, nothing of the mind spinning and sputtering, the way i'd pace that first floor room like a caged panther and even when the cage door was left unopened and i'd wander out there was nothing to hunt or kill or chase, just the click of the streetlights and shit bars with shitty classic rock from burnt speakers and flat beer and i'd willingly walk back into my cage so i could at least pace in relative peace behind the locked brown wooden doors, as the days wound down i'd sit in my cage eating mushrooms or acid, laying on my bed and letting the boring small town breeze flutter past me, i'd watch the alley cats fight and fuck, sometimes i would sit in the dim light of the kitchen, staring at the sink full of dishes and overflowing ashtrays, i'd suck on 40oz. bottles of cheap and strong malt liquor or i'd spend my night running with a complete maniac, an ex-ironworker with a serious drinking problem, did i forget to mention him? did i forget to mention my headlining gig at the coffee shop where i got drunk and read shit poesy to the pre-hipster small town kids and old hippies? well i better get on with it now and keep this show on the road...

I had spent the better part of the year running with Sammy Hagar Man dubbed so because when he first showed up he had a mop that resembled early era Van Hagar, we'll just call him Sam and Sam was a good fucking guy when we wasn't shit-faced and the problem was that when Sam decided to drink it would go and keep going until Sam finally just passed out wherever he was, much to everyones relief and then a few hours later he would wake in a fog and wander home, it was actually quite an amazing thing to behold, he'd smoke two or three packs of cigarettes in a night, recite poetry and passages from books (Blood Meridian being one of his favorites) at will all while being black-out fucking loaded, he was 13 years older than me and had spent his youth as an army paratrooper then raising hell and hanging iron, the stories he would tell made all my wanna be gangsta shit and rooming house blues sound like the laments of a nancy-boy, he was a different animal than i was used to, he had an immense intellect and yet still had a bit of backwoods naivete when it came to certain things... mainly he couldn't handle his liquor and when he was drunk no one could handle him, he was ironworker strong, he'd make a joke and punch or shove your shoulder and you'd end up on the floor, Sam hovering above you slurring and laughing and offering a hand up, a great guy but not someone you'd want to tangle with especially when he was out of his mind...

He'd always been around but i had never talked to him until a friend of mine had me meet him in the bar one afternoon at the end of my last year of undergrad, back then i was running the apartment poesy scene at Podunk U., organizing readings, having people show up and read their stuff and drink and hangout, back then the local dive used to refer to us as the Art Crowd, we were living the beatnik undergrad dream of self-pretension and self-deception and self-importance, running down to the bar for quick 7 &7s that you'd have to choke down and quarter beers, our high-minded bullshit being interwoven with the local's tales of gutting deer and secret fishing holes, then racing back to apartments to smoke tons of grass and eat acid or mushrooms, to woo women as Mr. Keating would say, among all this i got Sam to come down and read, he was the only one of us who wrote with rhyme or meter, i was nothing more than a Bukowski rip-off who read a little to much Robinson Jeffers, he was the order in a world of free-verse and i can honestly say his stuff was good, and back then i was the most arrogant of pricks when it came to art, real po-ems had no rules... ah but the days and nights were living, breathing entities unto themselves, a few of us carving out a scene on our small campus in the middle of nowhere, the wine of youth as they say and here was Sam, a good deal older than us and after that first night i could tell he was living his dream, reading his stuff and hearing the response, he damn near floated out the door he was that elated...

When i returned for grad school Sam was in his last year of undergrad and had accepted a full teaching assistantship to attend grad school at a well known university, the readings didn't start back up but Sam and i still spent a fair amount of time getting shit-faced and trading poems, running shit back and forth, bouncing ideas... but mainly we got fucked up... one friday i had to shoot down to the city to score, it was one of the rare times i stayed for the night and went to the old stomping grounds, when i returned early the next afternoon my place was destroyed, i went looking for the my roommates, all female, to find out what the fuck was going on, the girl i was with came and told me how Sam had shown up blind drunk and destroyed the place, at the time another of my roomies was dating an impotent late forty-something alcoholic who lived a tent, he had been sitting around smoking homegrown when a super drunk Sam showed up with what was left of a pint and a 12 pack, when the girls got back Camper John as he was known, tried to warn them that Sammy was fucked and out of his mind by sing-songing not so cryptic messages, Sam sat and slurred and snarled at Camper John and basically threatened to beat the shit out of him if he didn't scram and so Camper John did just that, his girlfriend coming with him and leaving mine at the house alone with Sam...

Now i had only known Sam to ever date one girl while he was at Podunk U., Ariel Williamson was her name and she was a beautiful girl, built like the proverbial brick house, her family owned an electronics store and were one of the more affluent families in town, when they found out the heiress was dating a guy close to 15 years her senior they freaked and she was forced to break off the relationship and a bit of Sammy's old heart with it cuz though he was a tough motherfucker on the outside he was a teddy bear on the inside when sober and sane, the reality was that Ariel got her kicks dating the grizzled older man who was a star in the English dept., her doe eyes glistening with fool's gold when she spoke about him, her concern and sadness rang a bit untrue... besides within days she had taken up with a guy somewhat closer in age though maybe an even  less appropriate companion for an heiress, a well-known stoner and musician who was on the 7 year graduation plan, even a year or two later and just uttering the name Ariel in his presence could about make the mountain man crumble...

That night Sam roamed the halls of my creaky, old house and terrorized anything and everything, tossing cats out doors and following my girl up to her room where he stood frozen at the door's precipice, slurring away at how beautiful she was and how he wished she was available, she told him he needed to leave and that she had to get up early for work and that i'd be back first thing, trying to placate and tell him to fuck off all in a soothing yet stern manner and when he stumbled back down the stairs she locked the door and attempted to bar it, of course the phone was downstairs back in the pre-cell phone era and so she was trapped, she sat by the window and hoped a neighbor would come home so she could call for help, Sammy began tipping over chairs and eating uncooked frozen pizza which he then tossed on the floor, he attempted to make some pasta, tossed that and then passed out for an hour or so, woke-up, grabbed the rest of his booze and stumbled out the door...

That was what i walked into the next day, quarter pound of shitty weed stuffed in a duffel bag and the memories of a fine night in the city, now complete chaos when my mind was already in complete chaos, when my roommates told me the story i was livid and scared shitless, i had to talk to him but i also didn't know what to expect, if it kicked off i'd have to hit him with a god damn brick and hope i knocked him out otherwise, the long and the short, i was proper fucked... but here were the three fair maidens i lived with all incensed and upset and so i did my best macho strut as i paced the worn green carpet of the kitchen and cracked a beer, somewhere in my head i heard Theo G. whispering "and when you step/ step with care and great tact/ and remember that life's a balancing act", a razor's edge between setting things right or being pulverized beyond recognition... and so i drained the beer and cracked another, stashed the gear in my room, took a deep breath and dialed the phone...

He picked up, i got straight to the point, i asked if he remembered anything from last night, he laughed and i heard the lighter click as he lit a cigarette, naw man he said, tied one on why?... he was my friend, even then i knew that this was it, that all the good times were over, hanging out and talking shit and reading the stuff we wrote and boozing, it was done, i told him what had happened and what he had said and done, i couldn't have hit him harder if i'd have used a brick, his voice going low and sad, he apologized to me and my roommates, i told him that though i wasn't thrilled with his antics that in the end him and i were cool, i knew he was a good guy he just needed to learn when to stop boozing, when to call it a night and head home, the roomies though, they didn't want him anywhere near the house, didn't want to speak to him, he begged to let him buy and cook them dinner but they wanted no part, it was their right and from what i'd seen and heard there was nothing to say, in their shoes i'd have felt the same... there was only a month or so left of the semester and then i'd head to the beach and he to that big university, Sam started going to AA meetings and i kept running further down the rabbit hole, we hung out one or two more times before we headed different directions, but the balance was off, he was sober and i was a fucking wastoid, at the time i needed every fucking substance i could find or afford, he just needed to straighten out...

The last time i saw him i was at his place, school was about to end and we sat around his place and shot the shit, i asked how his meetings were going and told him to keep it up, that he was to fucking smart and talented to piss it all away, we drank some coffee and had a cigarette, it was a good talk and as i got up and walked out the screen door i stopped on his porch and wished him good luck, he smiled and let out his fucking wild man laugh, it was the first time i had heard it since the night he murdered the frozen pizza, you better keep that luck motherfucker he laughed, you're gonna need it more than me, i smiled, gave a final wave and made my way up the sunlit, gravel street...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Olde Gayng Sign

I'm drunk... and stoned... i used to hang out in bars where you could walk in to the men's room to take a piss and bask in the glow of bum-shit, while said bum shit in a door-less stall on a metal jailhouse toilet cuz the bum shit used to break all the porcelain ones, today i drank at a suburban brew pub, it was the whitest place i've ever been, the beer was good but the ambiance was like the food court of a shopping mall, i've been the only white guy in a bar full of African-Americans and today i was the only black guy in a quasi bar full of Wonder Bread, they smell nice and talk nice and are fucking nice and i don't fucking do nice, i do menace though... and so i sat with my back to them all and stared out the window and pondered the uselessness of it all, pondered the inane shit that was being spewed from the pie-holes of the comfortable, pondered the phrase "he was like in the poverty", uttered by some asshat who most likely lost his virginity well into his twenties and most likely had to pay to do so... but that is life in the lily white... but the beer was fucking good and i had fun digging into my coat pocket for a stray smoke, just cuz a bunch of lily white assholes decided to pile all their coats on top of mine and then look appalled at me while it looked like i was rifling through their pockets, i smiled at them, none of the beards had the balls and i was hoping to point out that their etiquette was quite fucking lacking when it came to where they hung their expensive and aromatic jackets, i could have informed that they were perched upon the cloak of the lumpen-prole whose jacket smelled of smoke and tacos and beer and puke and snot (if snot smells)... and then i wandered home and listened to this tune and thought how fitting it was to the state of mind i most often occupy, part Pavement part Fall part Norwegian novelist part me sleeping on the sofa in the soft glow of the yuletide tree cuz i am the asshole of the world and i am here to give you light... because as the song goes, i am the bonfire of human bones... i am the bonfire of human bones...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Peace on Earth... or The Milk of Human (Un)kindness

Dumb and dumber, shit luck, bad luck, no luck at all, the holidays are a strange animal, on the one side there is the overwhelming joy i feel while hanging out with the boyos, doing X-mas type shit and laughing at the man i was and am no more, the one who spent large portions of X-mas's past crawling out of the gutter and loving every minute of it... but mainly just enjoying the moments i have now before the dissipate into the timelessness of memory... and then of course there are the never-ending reminders that humanity is a house occupied by countless fucking shitbags hell bent on being the most fucked up species on the planet and doing their damnedest to prove we are a detriment to civilization and the universe and each other...

And so it was that i went to get a pizza... an innocuous event in and of itself until of course i came pulling down the pitch black street to see Dumb Criminal walking up my neighbors front yard and towards his car with a couple of packages, Eddie you ain't okay as the headlights washed across him, i exited my car and watched as he just kept walking fully aware he'd been seen... you see there is a houseful of transients living out here in the lily white, a bunch of guys working for a captain of industry who decided it would be a good idea to cram 16 or so people into a house and let them stay there, a few families of the workers, single guys and their visiting or live-in girlfriends, it's all rent free so the more the fucking merrier right? Except of course if you live next to it and you catch one of them lifting shit off the neighbors porch...  undeterred Dumb Criminal tossed the stuff in his SUV and drove off... i shook my head in amazement and went inside...

About an hour later my neighbor who is a dead ringer for Frank Stallone came driving up and began looking all over his porch, i walked out and asked if he was looking for some packages, he said yes what do you know about it, and i took a step back cuz this motherfucker is a tad unhinged, he reeks of ex-cop, think undercover narc squad, and for a minute i thought he was gonna punch me, so i told him what had happened and he went steaming to the White Trash Motel and pounded on the door and i went back inside... a few minutes later i could hear his wife screaming at the top of her lungs to "get that asshole back here now or i'm calling the cops", who pulled up within minutes surprise surprise, of course the back story here is that the denizens of the White Trash Motel used to let their kids run amok over the neighborhood, i'm talking 3 and 4 year old kids and unsupervised, one fine day one of them (Dumb Criminal's daughter) ran their bicycle down the side of Frank's brand spanking new, shiny black truck, so there's a bit of history between them to say the least...

I sat waiting for the knock and fretting that in my front room was a cabinet that smells something like an Amsterdam coffee shop and debating in my mind what to do, opening the cabinet would definitely not be a good idea but the fact is now and then you can catch the beautiful scent of Jah's good herb and the last thing i wanted was suburban five-O getting a whiff, i began doing shit to confuse the olfactory system just in case, you know make things a bit less defined when it came to what the nose knows and not minutes later came the knock and the officers came in and we went over what happened and then Dumb Criminal came driving up and out went the Fuzz and i got my ID which they had requested when asking if i had a problem testifying, not that they thought i would have to but just in case...

Now let me say i'm not a huge fan of law enforcement, i spent a huge part of the Wilderness Years actively avoiding them, i also felt a bit of a moral dilemma about my actions, was i ratting Dumb Criminal out? no one likes a rat especially someone who spent as much time in the game as i did, a rat is someone who sings to save his own skin at the expense of his fuck-up but i figured i just alerted Frank Stallone and he took it from there, part of me also knew that i live in this community and if some moron was walking off the porch with my shit i'd want my neighbors to say something, maybe i'm just justifying my actions in my head, maybe i'm the shitheel that Dumb Criminal and his wife accuse me of being, of course Dumb Criminal claimed that he was just holding them for Frank Stallone, a guy who wasn't his friend and didn't know his name, and felt the need to drive away with them instead of leaving them next door at White Trash Motel and leaving a note saying as much (a fact the fuzz pointed out to him), of course Dumb Criminal and his lady felt the need to look inside the packages hence his free ride to the station to be booked on petty theft while his young daughter danced around the car and it dawned on me then that this wasn't the first time she had seen daddy taken for a ride in the shiny police cruiser...

I won't even go into the conversation i had with the police about the Megan's Law web site and the fact that he told me to punch in the address next door, something i did and about hit the ceiling but it seems as if our local sex offender is/has already moved out...  a guy living with a bunch of children which apparently is perfectly legal and where Dumb Criminal and wife willingly left their children because apparently it was to much of a hassle to take care of the kids themselves...

And so the next night i needed a beer... among other things and so i shuffled off to the local when everything at the shack had quieted down, i sat and chatted with the usual crew of punk rock kids and yuppie lawyers, it's an eclectic place to say the least, i drank some fine and strong stout, a couple of PBRs and called it an early night, i walked out and headed for the corner when i heard the shouts of a man screaming from his car "call the police, call the police, she needs a PFA!", a guy on the corner was frantically pulling out his cell phone and i rounded the corner and saw a woman sitting on the ground and a guy hovering over her who began walking away when he saw me heading his way, he began to soliloquize, "she's fine, i'm the one who's been abused for 14 years!!! the fucking whore has been abusing me, she's fine with all the strange dick she gets", he was headed for the apartment building above the boozer and when i got to the woman i asked if she was okay, of course she said yes and began running down the street in her heels screaming "i love you baby, i love you, i didn't screw anyone", all the while choking back sobs, i could hear the sirens and had just left the boozer and figured it best to make myself scarce, i know how this story ends, i'd seen it to many times in the city and i was quite sure they'd both end up in a clean suburban cell when she attacked the cops for trying to take her man away... joy to the world indeed...

So the world of my quiet little cul-de-sac has been thrown asunder by the White Trash Motel and it's denizens, it's brought a new found solidarity to the peaceful little hood and has got this big lug out talking with his neighbors more than he has since he moved in... so i was talking to one of my neighbors, she lives across the street in the biggest house on the block, her husband and her are from South America and he's a doctor with a few offices and they own 30 some odd rental properties, the boyos are friends with their son (they also have two older daughters) who's a grade ahead of the I-mac and they often play futbol or basketball or whatever catches their fancy on the given day, i was discussing how the hot shit Zoning Enforcement Officer had suddenly become the world's biggest pussy, one minute talking much shit about what he could do when i was in front of him and then bailing on being able to do anything when i contacted him later, basically putting on a show and then basically being called out on it, i should really post my email stating unequivocally that he was full of shit and that i didn't appreciate the asshat wasting my time, it was then that she looked at her son and then asked if i noticed that his father had not been around, i said i had but that i knew he worked a lot and figured i just hadn't seen him, then she told me that he had bailed, fucked off back down below the equator and didn't plan on coming back...

Later that night while i sat talking with the I-mac about what had happened i explained to him that sometimes money and success and power don't amount to fucking jack shit, or something along those lines... i asked my neighbor if is she was alright and she said she was okay, she was more worried about her children and had them in counseling cuz as i knew this wasn't just a marriage breaking up, i'm a child of divorce, i know it sucks but i was fucking 20 or so when that shit dropped on me but this was more, this wasn't dad moving out and getting an apartment, this was dad fucking off to another continent and seemingly not giving a shit about anything but his money and what i could only imagine was his new, young plaything, i understand that marriages break-up but what kind of fucking scumbag abandons his fucking kids? fuck that asshole, i looked at his son and how his mother had just told me how freaked out he was by what had happened in the hood and now i learned his old man had fucked off to La Paz or Lima or somewhere and all i could see was the fear in the kid's eyes, i went over and talked to him and told him that this was his neighborhood, our neighborhood, and that if anybody from the WTM fucked with the boyos or him or any other kid who lives on the street that they were to come get me and i'd handle it, that there was no reason to be scared on your own street and that i'd see to it that they weren't, i wanted to hug the poor kid... while i was talking with the I-mac that night i told him to be cool to his buddy, the I-mac looked at me and said he never got to say goodbye to his dad, i looked at my son and said what? he said that he didn't know that when he saw him over the summer for what he thought was a vacation that that would be the last time he'd see his dad and that he didn't even get to say goodbye... goodwill towards men, what a fucking laugh...

It was a strange and draining 72 hours or so, i sat and explained to the boyos that the human race as a whole was a bunch of flawed and selfish individuals, then i stated that it was my job to make sure that they were less flawed and more unselfish than most, i told them we are not a perfect species and that their old man was as flawed as they come but that i tried real fucking hard to do the right thing by them cuz they were the two most important people on the planet to him, that didn't mean i disregarded the rest of the opposable thumb crowd, i didn't want to tell them that i did my best to avoid most people and that the skeptic and cynic in me still didn't keep me from seeing the beauty and unbridled joy that i have for my one go round on this ride but that those traits did help me to weed out the bullshit artists, fuckheads, drama queens, asshats, selfish pricks and general all around assholes that one comes in contact with on a daily basis, hell i'm sure i fall into all those categories some days... but the last few days had driven the point home even more, i told them they were to young for Vonnegut and Twain and Celine but that i had a few primers for them to read when it was time, but as it said way up there it will say down here, i don't have much faith in humanity, somewhere out there i like to think there is a higher intelligence, you know, fucking aliens, and they laugh at this shithouse and the folly of our silly lives.. and now back to our regularly scheduled program...


(Up With People- live)



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Wilderness Years - Raskolnikov's Blues Pt. 5

It's been said that bad luck is better than no luck at all, and had i still been in class i'm sure i could have attempted to get my fellow professional students to debate the merits of such a statement except i had given up on even bothering to attend class anymore, it was a strange feeling, i had failed, at times i'd sit and wonder what the fuck i was thinking about when i hatched this plan but there was also a part of me that felt that shit was just about to get interesting, of course at the time those were fleeting hallucinations and harder to grasp hold of than water but sometimes as i slumped stoned and drunk and out of my mind on controlled substances it was like Robert Nesta Marley was across the room laughing and singing "eveyting's gonna be allll-right", then i'd walk over and run head first into the fucking wall but for a few seconds anyway, well maybe it was gonna be all right, the rest of the time i wanted to fight the moon and sky...

And again there was the kindness of women... now that i was an official drop-out i kept a low profile, i stopped going to the university library for fear of human contact with the future of academia i had attended class with, worse yet contact with the virus that was the Piled Higher and Deeper, it was time to hide in plain sight... or at least attempt to, i spent hours wandering and studying the patterns of the little worker ants known as students and figured out the least used and therefore best entrance for me to sneak relatively unseen into the cafeteria, it was a back door and the middle-aged woman who worked the register by the door took a shine to me, after i had paid in crumpled ones and change a few times she began to say good morning, i would mumble back but try not to say to much, at this point i needed the student price whether i was officially one or not, i wondered if she hadn't seen my type before, sheepishly creeping in at the off times and then using the back line and hiding away in the corner, slumped but facing out in case i needed to make a quick getaway, soon she would ask how i was doing, she would smile, and then one day she told me to just go ahead, she began letting me in for free, i began to talk a little more, i thanked her and she told me to wait around for when no one is at the entrance and then come in, stop and say hello, pretend as if i paid or hand her a small bit of change and then go on in, i never asked why, our conversations never lasted more than a minute, two minutes tops, did i remind her of a son or an old ex-boyfriend? i'll never know... i do know if not for her kindness i would have been a lot hungrier...

So a few times a week i would wander up and look for my Guardian Angel, she was usually always there and even told me when she would be taking off, on the days i did go i'd go around 10 am and get breakfast, i'd bring a backpack with books and my notebook, i'd sit and read and write, i'd stare out the window, i watched the days turn from snowy to breezy to wet to warm, i'd sit through the end of breakfast at 10:45 and then daydream my way into lunch, a typical day was a few hours all told, a couple of free meals, then a good walk through the backstreets of town, then it'd be either a few hours washing dishes or sitting at home and hustling, though i was with one of the girls at the house i still had my own room on the ground floor, it was right off the kitchen which meant people could come in the back door and right into my room, like most businesses it's about location but in this business and it helped to be in a non-descript high traffic area, i was in a row with a couple houses all occupied by students and always bustling, i was not about to get nabbed by small town cops, a bust of a few ounces would have these mall guards on the front page of the local weekly looking all serious with their shiny boots and boners, to these clowns it would be like nabbing El Chapo or some shit, still that was no excuse to get sloppy or stupid or lazy and so i kept a close watch and tried to keep traffic spaced and to a minimum... but of course nothing can ever be fucking easy...

It shouda coulda woulda been a iron tight grip on the fucking market, a quarter pound shoulda grown to a half woulda been an elbow if the gear had been decent, it should have been the snowball effect, an effect that would have caused more than a bit of paranoia in a town this size but it would have been a short run, a 3 month stint, a stop gap for the stoners and their hero but alas it was a disaster... In the beginning the Guido Frat Finance boy swore up and down that he always had good shit, usually a few different grades, in theory, there's that fucking word again, it should have been gravy, instead it was shit, if it was his connection really going south or him pawning off the shit no else wanted on me cuz i had no other choice i'm not sure, i'd take what i could get but i knew if one other sidewhow showed up anywhere in Podunk i was fucked, i'd sit on this garbage and be out $400 or so, and to me at that point $400 was more like 40K, even better Guido Frat boy began moaning about his costs rising which would have to be passed on down the line, the price went up 25 bucks eating into the margin even more, how the price of dogshit could rise i'm not sure but it did, it got so bad that even the biggest potheads were bitching, i remember one girl, a sexy brunette and textbook stoner telling me that the shit did nothing more than give you a 10 minute buzz and a headache, to call it crap would've been a compliment, still it was the only game in town, but the three bills was now more like a buck twenty-five, that's what the net was when it was said and done, crime fucking pays huh?

There were a few good weeks, time to put enough money away for a deposit at the beach, a deposit on a place that would be condemned a month or so after i arrived but i've been over that, meanwhile i slid deeper in the muck, i began chasing around a wealthy Indian princess, the kind of untouchable, unattainable, and doomed endeavour that only the Don Quixotes of the world will even fathom... and yet there was that glimmer, she had an interest, we'd sit at the bar and talk , she'd ask if i wanted to stop by her place and have a drink, it was slow but i could feel it, she'd sit on the couch next to me with her silky black hair falling around her shoulders and brushing up against me, her leg wrapped in expensive jeans rubbing up against mine, i'd sit trying to hide raging hard-ons, trying to calm down enough to make some definitive move and yet every time i thought the time had arrived it was like a Bollywood movie, we didn't get up and do a dance number but we might as well have, a roommate would show up or a phone call from home, she'd sit in a chair across from me speaking a foreign tongue and i'd be mesmerized by those beautiful white teeth, the hypnotic sound of her voice... but there was no luck or not enough lust and the protocols of a culture i knew nothing about and one fine day someone sat there and asked if i was the guy who sold gear and lived with 3 girls, i nodded as i watched the smile fade from her face, within 15 minutes i was politely yet icily told that something had come up, it was the last i'd ever sit on the couch or admire the smile... and yet i had a girl who claimed to love me waiting just blocks away, a girl who fed me and tried to look after me knowing full well it was a hopeless cause, when one makes up their mind to slide into cesspool you must go all the way in, i was staring up through the muddy water, deep and getting deeper, toss the gas around then flick the match on all of it, hear the crackle but feel no warmth, then slide out the back door and into the darkness...