The other day Sammytown called me up said that the guys from Fishbone had a flat on their trailer and needed to park it at my studio for the night. I was like cool, they came over and we all hung out for a bit and then they split. After they left, Sam and I were talking about the first time Fishbone played Ruthie’s Inn, a night club in Berkeley booked by Wes Robinson. It was 1982 and I was 11years old. The punk scene around Ruthie’s was my whole world. Bands like Bad Brains and Fishbone and men like Wes meant so much to me. There were not a lot of black and hispanic people in the scene at that time.
Ruthie’s Inn was two blocks from my mom’s house on Mabel Street where she lived with her boyfriend Brad. Brad was a dirty ass hippie who lived in a place that was more squat than house. There was garbage piled up everywhere and dog hair on top of that. Dirty dishes, rotten grease and maggots were the norm.
One night around ten o’clock I got a call from Wes. Wes originally knew me because his son and I went to grade school together. He called me down to the club to pick up my mom, she was piss drunk and making an ass of herself. I was maybe nine or ten at this point and can fully remember the shame and embarrassment of that night. Wes showed mercy on me. He told me to take my mom home and come back and I could clean up around the club and he would give me some food from the kitchen. I took my mom home and put her to bed. This process always took some major doing. In case you have never put your drunk ass mom to bed, it was always half wrestling-half hugging on the floor for a good ten minutes before you could get her into the bed. Then I guess the room would start spinning for her because she would always start cursing, then pass out. Every now and then I had to do the same thing for her boyfriend but once I got him in bed and he was out, I would punch him is his fucking face as hard as I could.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Ruthie’s was like a cacophony of sound. The smell of clove cigarettes permeating the air and almost everyone and every band seemed like they where trying to push the boundaries of creativity. It was the only place on Earth where I could be myself and feel accepted. I remember one time sitting in the backstage room of Ruthie’s watching Mike Ness from Social Distortion sniff what I think was speed off of an album cover. Some chick was like, “Don’t do that in front of the kid.” He looked at her, then looked at me and signed a copy of Mommy’s Little Monster (a fitting title), then handed it to me. I looked at the chick and told her it was ok, my mom does it all the time. This was a place where I was not some freak with a crazy ass mom and that kid with the uncle who would shoot it out with people in front of our house, then come inside and sit down like nothing happened. I was home in the scene and everyone around me looked on the outside like I felt on the inside. If you were walking down the street and you saw another punk, you said “what’s up.” If someone tried to jump another punk and you were there, you were supposed to stand the line. It was more to me than just Rock and Roll.