The Scene

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.

Friends

Recently I went up to Portland to see the guys. I would like to start by saying that these are the best friends I have ever had in my life. They have endured my bullshit for years. Why they stand by me is beyond me.
I am still in the process of getting permission to write about them and all the bullshit I put them through. So let me start here with Todd and Dave. Todd is a college graduate; a professional social worker in San Francisco. Dave is the guy in the middle of the picture who got the shit beat out of him. I also heard that he got his drivers license recently.
Todd has been my guardian angel for years now. I always tell him if I had to kill someone and needed someone to help me move the body, it would be him. I say this as the highest compliment you can give a guy from Boston. You know Boston, the birthplace of our great country and the home of keep your fucking mouth shut.
I can’t tell you how many times Todd has taken me to the psychiatric ward for intake; more than ten, less than fifty. The best was when I was transferred to his work at a dual diagnosis live-in facility. It is basically a homeless shelter for people who are a danger to themselves and to others. So I was like cool, I get a bed and Todd and I can hang out.  Let me put it lightly: he did not feel the same as me.
I could go on for hours about the crazy shit I have put Todd, Dave, Matt, Ben and Alex through over the last sixteen years, but it would offer nothing in the way of the immense humility and love that I feel for these friends. I too often gauge my self worth by what I think people think of me and it is usually someone who does not even like me. I should pay attention to the people right in front of me who care for me. A couple of days before Christmas I talked to Todd. He went to the store and got shit to make sugar cookies for my boy to give to Santa. We climbed on my roof and hung Christmas lights. On Christmas day, Ben texted me letting me know he was thinking of me and my family and to keep my nose clean. The day after Christmas I went up to Portland again to see Dave and Matt and to have dinner. On New Years Day, Alex was the first one to text me that it’s a new year. Some friendships are formed in school and some friends are there by default.  I feel that the friendships that I have today have been forged in fire and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
 


Interview with Neurosis, Thrasher Magazine 1997

Writing this article was such an honor. i had known these guys since i was a kid and loved their music. We met one day at a Chinese restaurant in Berkeley and caught up on old times and taked a little bit about what i was going to write. They gave me full creative authority to write this article from an historical perspective of the band.

Green Eyes

 This is the Homey Green Eyes I love this guy Because he is one of the funniest most engaging characters in my neighborhood. We meet one day when he was in the garbage room digging through the recycling and we have been friends ever since. One day I ran into him by the dumpster and I was like, “Where you been?” He was like, “I gots shot. Been in the hospital for ten days. Then they put me in rehab, but I was like fuck that shit. You know you cant hold a player down. You wanna see where they shot me?” I was like, “Yeah, let me see that shit.” Next thing I know he drops his pants right there on the sidewalk with all the ease and comfort that your cell mate would have about taking a shit with you lying on the bottom bunk next to him in a 4 by 10 cell. Now here I am standing on the side walk being flashed Dirty Bum Balls. He pulls his dick and balls to the side to display where the bullet went in. Then he says, “You want to see where it came out?”, and I was like, “Hell no! I seen enough blood. ”

Green Eyes

Green Eyes

This is the Homey Green Eyes

I love this guy because he is one of the funniest most engaging characters in my neighborhood. We met one day when he was in the garbage room digging through the recycling and we have been friends ever since.

One day I ran into him by the dumpster and  I was like, “Where you been?” He was like,   “I gots shot. Been in the hospital for ten days.  Then they put me in rehab, but I was like fuck that shit. You know you can’t hold a player down. You wanna see where they shot me?”

I was like, “Yeah, let me see that shit.” Next thing I know he drops his pants right there on the sidewalk with all the ease and comfort that your cell mate would have while taking a shit with you lying on the bottom bunk next to him in a 4 by 10 cell.

Now here I am standing on the sidewalk being flashed Dirty Bum Balls. He pulls his dick and balls to the side to display where the bullet went in. Then he says, “You want to see where it came out?”, and I was like, “Hell no!  I seen enough blood.”

Elder

Elder

I was 26 years old the first time I ever stopped using junk. There was this old junky who used to hang around the liquor store near where I was staying on Fairview Street. He said he knew my mom and my uncle from back in the day. He could have been lying for all I knew but I still enjoyed his company or maybe I just felt more comfortable with him than I did in normal society. I told him once that I stopped getting high for six months now. He said that was good, that’s real good and he had been thinking about stopping himself. Who knew that I had opened the door to that good old ghetto public humiliation that I did. I could be clear across the street and he would yell out, “You still clean?”
I would yell back, “Ya.”
Then he would yell, “Good! Don’t be fucking around now!”
It was all love though.
I don’t know how it came to pass that one day he ended up in my house sleeping on the floor of my living room. All I know is that he left this piece of paper on the floor and I have kept it ever since. It reminds me of what was and what can always be.