Acid Heroes

March 22, 2018

A Tale of Two Hate Camps

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 5:48 pm

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Hate Camp went through two distinct phases during the years I was hanging out with Hate Man. The Sprout Plaza years. And the People’s Park years. And i spent about 12 years hanging out at one, and 12 years at the other.

During the Sprout Plaza years, Hate Man mostly hung out on the Berkeley campus. So the scene was more intellectual. There were always some college students and academic types hanging out. As well as some normal mainstream types. Along with the band of street crazies. It was more of a light-hearted, playful, artistic scene.

Whereas the People’s Park years, it was mostly hardcore street people hanging out at Hate Camp. So it was a bit grimmer, as well as more wild, violent, and volatile.

During the Sproul years Hate Man often seemed like a public performer. And the campus was his stage to enact his unique street theater. He’d usually hit the scene every morning wearing brightly-colored clothes — like a stage costume — with his trademark skirt and bra, and adorned with lots of cheap jewelry and flowers in his hat. He was very flamboyant, and a commanding performer, enacting his strange (and loud) public dramas. And always one of the more popular figures on the campus.

But during the People’s Park years he toned his act way down. Went back to wearing pants instead of skirts, and mostly wore black or gray. He was much more in a purely survival mode then. Though he always had a unique style. It was like he went from the centerstage of the town of Berkeley, to a back alley on the fringes. (Things were a lot easier during the Sproul years. We spent most of our time playing. During the Park years Hate Man was much more preoccupied with all of his survival issues — dealing with the constant pressure from the cops, the wingnuts, the weather, his health, all of his stuff. It was like a constant chess match for Hate Man.  Always angling to stay one step ahead of these forces.)



Another big difference. During the Sproul years he was usually surrounded by 8 or 10 hardcore devotees. “Oppies,” he called them. People who followed his philosophy of Oppositionality on a daily basis, and looked at Hate Man as sort of a guru or role model.

But during the People’s Park years, there was usually only one or two Oppies, at most, hanging out at any given time.

I was a bit more distant from Hate Camp during the Sproul years. Because Hate Man was primarily devoted towards his faithful Oppies — or proselytizing to get you to join the fold. And I was on my own personal spiritual/philosophical trip.

But I got much closer to Hate Man during the People’s Park years. Because I was homeless myself at that point and living along side him for a decade. And you know what they say; “You don’t really know a person until you live with them.”

But probably the biggest difference between the two periods:

During the Sproul Plaza years, Hate Man was usually surrounded by a solid group of people. Wiith a handful of street wingnuts circling around him from the outskirts.

Whereas during the People’s Park years. Hate Man was usually surrounded by a hardcore group of street wingnuts. With a hand full of solid people circling around him from the outskirts.




March 20, 2018

The Good Old Days

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ace Backwords @ 6:18 pm

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I’ve concluded that THESE are the Good Old Days. And that today — March 19, 2018 — is a Good Old Day.

In fact, verily as I speak, I’m feeling wistfully nostalgic about some of the things I experienced and felt earlier in the afternoon.

Those were the Good Old Hours!!




Telegraph Avenue 1992

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 6:14 pm
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I think about this a lot. Because its so odd to me.

I first started hanging out a lot on the Telegraph Avenue street scene around 1992. I had mostly spent the previous 10 years sitting at a little desk in a little room, drawing comics and publishing publications. But as I turned 35 I was starting to wonder: “Am I going to spend my whole life sitting at a desk??”

I was itching for some action. And the Telegraph street scene seemed like a good place to find it. Because it was a happening scene back then. I guess because of a convergence of different forces. The Grateful Dead tour was building to its peak. And the Rainbow Gathering and the Rainbow Family (so-called) was going strong. And Berkeley was a prime stop on those tours. So you had these bus-loads of fresh blood constantly being injected into the scene. And the local punk scene was also going strong, primarily centered at Gilman St., but with the residue constantly flooding up to Telegraph, and this new phenomenon, the “gutter punks.”

And the original ’60s generation hadn’t yet reached decrepitude. They were mostly in their mid-40s and still a force to be reckoned with. Along with the newer generations who were perennially drawn to Berkeley to get a hit off of that ’60s lineage.

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So it was quite a stew of characters romping around old Telegraph Avenue back in Dem Days. I remember an endless sea of beautiful young men and women hitting the scene. And artists and writers and musicians and spiritual seekers of every stripe. Bohemians, for lack of a better word. And some of the most colorful and crazy and wild characters I had ever met. It was like every other person you met was this bizarre technocolor movie unfolding before your eyes.

And we all seemed so young and strong and indestructible (that wouldn’t last). It was mostly a light drug scene back then. Pot and beer mostly. With a little acid and crack cocaine on the sides. And speed and Ecstasy were just starting to come in strong from the Raver scene (the E-tards hadn’t yet replaced the acid casualties).

But the odd thing to me when I look back on it. Just about everyone from the Telegraph scene back then has come and gone. They’re all either dead or burned-out or moved on to other things. Except for me. For some weird reason I’m still here. And its not so much that I’m The Last Man Standing, but The Last Man Left Behind.

And I’ll constantly be doing the math in my head:

“1992 to 2018. That’s 26 years. And counting. . . ”



March 18, 2018


Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:08 pm


 “I told my doctor I was a hypochondriac. So he recommended doubling my dosage of placebos.”

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Getting off the streets

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:06 pm




It was a lot easier to get off the streets back in 1978. I had been homeless and living on the streets of San Francisco for a year, sleeping on this offramp on Fremont St. But I started to burn out on that. So I applied for, and got, this job as a bike messenger.

For the first week on the job I slept in the bushes near the bike messenger building. Then when I got my first paycheck I rented out a room at this flophouse on 2nd St. for $17 a week. That’s how easy it was.

And I was off to the races. Literally.



Well, this is a tricky issue, theologically speaking. The guy was praying to God to intervene. But what if the lion was praying to God for some supper?

Filed under: Backwords from Ace,Uncategorized — Ace Backwords @ 9:02 pm


Alec Ndiwane, a Zion Christian Church prophet, was attacked on a safari while trying to show that God would save him in front of fellow church members in South Africa’s Kruger National Park..

Fighting the laws of gravity

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:50 pm

That’s my sleeping bag way down there in the middle of the picture.


I pulled another genius move last night. As many of you know, I camp in the Berkeley Hills. And I literally camp on the side of a hill.

So last night I go staggering up to my campsite around midnight. And I got my sleeping bag in a bag. But I put it down in the wrong place. And it went rolling all the way down the hill. Much to my chagrin.

Its pitch dark. And I’m drunk. But I made a heroic effort to find my sleeping bag. I blindly staggered down the hill. Slipping and falling into the rain-soaked mud on several occasions. But, to my credit, I didn’t break my fool neck.

So, after much pointless thrashing in the bushes in the darkness — and cursing the gods for the cruel fates they inflict on mortal men — I concluded it was hopeless. There was no way I could find my sleeping bag. So i staggered back up the hill. Falling into the mud several more times (several more loud curses at the gods, the bastards) and made it back up to my campsite. On my hands and knees.

Fortunately I had some ratty blankets stashed in the bushes. But lets just say it wasn’t the most comfortable night I ever spent. And at least Mini Scaredy, the feral cat, had the decency to sleep on top of me all night long to add an extra layer of warmth. And the next morning I retrieved my sleeping bag at the bottom of the hill and lived happily — if muddily —  ever after.



St. Patrick’s Day

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:45 pm


blarney stone

I on’t remember too many St. Patrick’s Days (most of them are a blur in my memory by the next morning, if you know what I mean, ha ha). But I remember one.

It must have been around 1983. Because I remember I was carrying around copies of this punk rock tabloid that I was publishing at the time, to show off to people to try and impress them. Ha ha.

The sister of my best childhood buddy was living in the Mission District of San Francisco at the time. And my childhood buddy was going to be visiting San Francisco for St. Patrick’s Day. So she called me up out of the blue and said why don’t we get together for old time’s sake?

That sounded like fun (I was much less shy back then). But I felt a twinge of fear as I knocked on the door of her apartment. Because my buddy’s mother was also visiting. And she always scared me when I was a little kid. She was this big, brassy woman who towered over you. And she was always loudly shouting at, or threatening, her children, or any of the other neighborhood kids in the vicinity of her vocal chords.

Sure enough, as soon as the door opened came the familiar booming voice. “PETER!!! PEEE-TER!!!” (that’s my real name). She had a big smile on her face and she gave me a big bear hug. But I was slightly shocked and surprised at how TINY she was. I guess I was expecting the towering figure of my childhood.

And then my childhood best buddy and another childhood friend showed up. And that was another shock. I barely recognized them. I hadn’t seen them since they were little kids after all.


Market Street

But an interesting transformation took place as we sat there in her living-room sipping on our drinks and talking about the old days. The more we talked, the more I recognized them as the kids I once knew. So after awhile it was like talking to these little kids who just happened to be inside these gigantic adult bodies. Which was cool.

We went to an Irish bar on Market St. And drank many mugs of green-colored beer as we watched the parade go by. Which was fun. And afterwards, as we walked down Market St., I noticed much festive green-colored puke on the sidewalks and gutters. And that’s what the holidays are all about, man! Adding a little color to our day.

And that’s all I remember about that day.




March 17, 2018


Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:23 pm




Me and Scaredy Cat

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:21 pm

.Me and Scaredy Cat spend a lot of time discussing politics and world affairs and how inflation and the latest tax bill in the Senate might affect the cost of cat food.





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