Acid Heroes: the Legends of LSD

October 6, 2015


Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:31 pm

Nothing like starting off the day with a delicious cup of coffee and an embarrassing pratfall.

Had an embarrassing accident the other morning.  I was in this crowded coffee shop on Shattuck Avenue getting my coffee.  And I’m usually a little woozy in the morning — one of those bi-products from waking up to 300-plus hangovers a year — and especially before I’ve had my first cup of coffee.  Plus, I’m half-blind form the glaucoma.  So that also makes it difficult to navigate around.

So anyways, they have these small aisles in the coffee shop, in between all the tables and chairs.  And I’m walking towards the cream-and-sugar table with a cup of hot coffee in one hand and a cup of water in the other.  And the idiots also have this big couch in the middle of the room for people to lounge around on.  And (unbeknownst to me) the end of the couch juts out into the aisle.  And when I turned the corner I tripped over the end of the couch.

I went straight down, face-first.  Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of experience falling down over the years (did I mention the 300-plus hangovers?).  So I landed with my elbows up, holding the coffee and water upright.  So I only spilled about a third of the coffee and none of the water.  So it could’ve been a lot worse.  I felt strangely proud of myself.  Story of my life.  I’m sort of a “quick klutz.”  I’ll often drop something with one hand, and catch it with the other hand.

But, needless to say, it was embarrassing, laying there on the floor in a puddle of coffee with everyone in the coffee shop staring at me . . .  I still mostly blame them for the poor couch placement.


October 5, 2015

One of my favorite Charles Bukowski stories

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:51 pm


One of my favorite Charles Bukowski stories:  When Bukowski was around 70 he got deathly ill.  For an entire year he felt like crap.  He went to all these expensive doctors.  They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him.  They basically said:  “Take two aspirins and call me in the morning.  And cut back with your drinking.”

Bukowski was friends with the famous actor Sean Penn at this point.  For most of his life Bukowksi was a skid row alcoholic bum.  But at this point, Bukowski was the Famous Writer.  So he’s hob-nobbing with the likes of Sean Penn.  So Sean recommends that Bukowski sees his personal doctor — this great Beverly Hills doctor.  The doc runs all these sophisticated tests — blood tests, x-rays, charts and graphs.  The whole deal.  But they still can’t figure out what’s wrong with Bukowksi.

So one day, Bukowksi is taking one of his cats to the vet.  Bukowski was a cat lover.  Always a good sign.  The vet had his office in a seedy part of town.  And he dealt with a lot of poor people.  He took one look at Bukowski and said:  “You have tuberculosis.”  He didn’t need any charts and graphs to recognize it.  Tuberculosis is a poor man’s disease.  Which is why all the rich Beverly Hills doctors didn’t recognize it.   They had never even seen a case of tuberculosis.

Of course the Beverly Hills doctor was embarrassed when he realized the vet was right.  So the doc prescribed  some meds to deal with the TB.  And in a couple of months Bukowski was feeling fine.

The moral?  Doctors are cool.  But even the “experts” get it wrong.  ALWAYS get a second opinion.

Or, maybe the moral, as Adam Parfrey suggested, is:  Don’t hang out with Sean Penn.  And only see a vet as your personal physician . . .  Who knows.  I’m sure there’s a moral in there somewhere.


September 30, 2015

Five minutes in People’s Park: a verbal snapshot

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:21 pm

Take a walk on the weird side.

It’s 7 PM, dusk.  I often find dusk to be slightly eerie and witchy.  That twilight period where it’s transforming from day to night; light to darkness. It’s like reality is up for grabs or something.

Anyways, for lack of anything better to do I go to People’s Park to hang out with Hate Man.  I buy a cigarette from Hate for 50 cents (Virginia Slims, naturally), light it up, and survey the scene.  This hulking guy I call the Walrus — because he always wears 4 pairs of pants, 3 of which are always inexplicably hanging around his ankles — is sitting on a log across from Hate Man.  I smell something odd in the air.  Look around to see if somebody is smoking some weird drug.  It’s the Walrus.  He’s flicking his cigarette lighter across the back of his head, setting bits of his hair on fire.  That acrid smell of burnt hair.  Dude’s a little peculiar.

Another wingnut is pacing back and forth aimlessly, pointing his hands as if he’s holding a rifle, aiming them at the people in the park as he pretends to shoot people dead.  Everybody needs a hobby, I guess.  Another nut is staggering around in circles, talking to himself.  Cackling wildly.  I think to myself:  Why did they do away with mental asylums.  It seems like such a valid concept.

“Oh fuck a fight just broke out,” I said to Hate Man.  Across the way on the other end of the park this black guy and this black woman are facing off against each other, shouting and cursing.  The woman lands several solid punches to the guy’s head (excellent form).  Then she picks up a big rock or a stick.  The guy is backing away with his palms up.  “They’re a couple,” said Hate Man.  “I think they’re married.  She hits him all the time.  And if he hits her back she calls the cops on him and has him arrested.”

“PUSH FOR A CIGARETTE, HATE MAN!” shouts the Walrus.  He suddenly jumps up from the log, starts moving towards Hate Man, but loses his balance, tripping on the pants around his ankles, almost falls down, hops and staggers and bounces to keep from going all the way down, before he retains his equilibrium.  At least for the moment.

I put out my cigarette in the dirt.  Wondering what the hell I’m doing here amidst all of this.  Worse possibility, I belong here.

I get up in search of a quieter place to drink my 40 of OE.


September 29, 2015

Art for art’s sake, ice cream for God’s sake

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:39 pm


Ace Backwords's photo.
When I passed this on the sidewalk on Shattuck Ave, at first I thought it was a work of art.  A sidewalk chalk drawing or something.  But then I realized it was actually an ice cream cone that had gotten squashed on the ground and was melting in the 90 degree heat. . . .  Of course, if I say it’s art, I guess it is art.  So I call this particular piece:  “Ice Cream Cone Squashed on Ground.”  Rendered heretofore in the ice creamal medium.

September 26, 2015

Whatever happened to the Class of ’74?

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 10:02 pm

One of my favorite spiritual sayings:  “Strange and mysterious are the ways of karma.”

Was thinking about an old high school friend of mine.  Let’s call him George.  George wasn’t in my main group of friends. He was sort of in the second tier.  But he was a very nice guy.  Just about everybody in our class liked George.

One odd thing about George.  All through our school years he was always one of the smallest kids in our class.  A very tiny guy.  So one tended to be fond of him like a baby brother.  But then his senior year, age 17, he suddenly had a spurt of growth and shot up to over 6 feet tall.  I always wondered how that might have affected him, psychologically.  To go from being a small guy all his youth, to suddenly sprouting into a tall man virtually overnight.

I remember one cherished George memory from senior year of high school.  It was Friday night and we were at a party in a neighboring town, tripping on LSD.  And we were so high, we walked all the way home, about 15 miles.  And as we walked side by side, the whole way we had this non-stop joyous conversation where we babbled on and on about all the profound psychedelic realizations we were having.  And how we were having all these keen insights into our psychological and spiritual problems (we were both fairly troubled young lads).  By the time we made it back to our homes the morning sun was just starting to come up and we had magically resolved all of our psychological and spiritual problems, thanks to the magic of LSD.  . . .   (LSD really is an extremely stupid drug.)

After we graduated I went off to a little college outside of Cleveland.  And George went off to Ohio State to study pre-med.   His big dream was to become a doctor.   He invited me to visit him.  So one weekend I hitch-hiked to see him.  He lived in this dorm on the 30th floor of this skyscraper.   Which was kind of weird.  Ohio State was kind of like a city unto itself.  And I remember him pacing back and forth in the lounge area of his dorm, anxiously exclaiming over and over:  “MY GRADES AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH TO GET INTO MED SCHOOL!!!”  George was very high strung.  And he was always kind of desperate for a success that always seemed to just elude him.

Last I heard of him, George had just missed the cut, re med school.  So he had to go off to a school in Mexico in search of his degree.  And that was the last I heard of ole’ George.  You know how it is with high school classmates.  You gradually lose touch with just about everybody.  At least I did.

But then, around the time of our 40th year class reunion, word started to filter back to me about all my old mates.  It turned out George had made it after all. He became a doctor.  Lived out his whole dream.  The wife and kids and the home in the suburbs, and all the respect and prestige that goes with the title Dr. George, MD.

But then, last month, I got the sad news that George had died.  Age 59.  Under mysterious circumstances.

So I Googled around.  And came across the story.  According to the newspaper articles, a couple years ago one of George’s female patients had accused him of “inappropriate sexual contact” while doing an examination.  He was arrested and arraigned and charged with “fourth degree sexual assault” — which didn’t sound very severe to me (I assumed it was lesser than first, second or third).  But then I was told that refers to when people in authority, like cops or physicians, abuse their power.  So who knows.  George denied the allegations.

And there was George’s hapless mug staring out at me from all the local newspaper articles and local TV news shows.  Nothing like a mug shot to bring out the worst in a guy.  Whether you’re guilty or not, you sure look guilty.  The articles at least pointed out that George had had a “spotless record for 39 years.”  Which is impressive (let’s just say, mine is on the spotty side).

And then a second woman, a second patient, came forth with allegations of abuse.  Again, George denied the allegations.  And who knows what the truth is with these “he said, she said” things.  Not me, that’s for sure.

At any rate, I guess it all got too much for him. So George committed suicide.  As far as I know, it never went to trial.  So we’ll never know what, if anything, he actually did.  And whether he killed himself out of actual guilt.  Or from the public disgrace.  He was no longer quite the same “man of respect” in the community, that’s for sure.  I sometimes forget how important that is to some people.  Their public status.  Because I’ve mostly lived a disreputable life myself. So what do I care what people think of me.  But it’s weird how our dreams can so often back-fire on us.

And it’s weird about the whole sex thing.  Sex can create life.  And sex can destroy lives.  It’s such a powerful animal drive, our sexual compulsions.  And it’s not always easy to control them.  Or to find a socially acceptable outlet for those drives.  And that line that separates socially acceptable from unacceptable can be blurry, as well as ever-changing with the social whims of our culture (just 50 years ago, for example, you could be thrown in jail or the nuthouse just for having gay sex).  And just one moment of weakness can ruin your life.  I think of what Bukowski once wrote:  “We don’t know what to do with sex.  So we treat it like a toy.  A toy that destroys people.”

Of course I was saddened by the news about George.  And the tragic turn his life had taken.  But I’ll always remember him as a very nice, sweet guy.


September 25, 2015


Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:48 pm
Public Garbage Can

Missed it by THAT much.

I hate litter.  And I hate litter-bugs (Ace Backwords — never afraid to take controversial stands!!).

Which reminds me of this one time.  It was a really windy day, and this guy was sitting on a park bench reading a newspaper.  When he was done reading the paper he walked over to this garbage can to throw the paper into the can.  But just as the newspaper left his hand this big gust of wind blew the newspaper into the air.  He stood there, sort of wistfully watching as all the pages of the newspaper went flying off down the street, swirling in the air, and all across the urban landscape.  Then he shrugged and walked off.

And I remember thinking:  “Well.  That guy almost has got the concept down.”


Hangin’ at my 25 Cent Used Books vending table back in the good ole’ days

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:38 pm


September 14, 2015

When the going gets weird, the weird turn to prose

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:22 pm

There’s a famous Hunter S. Thompson story.  He was having trouble coming up with coherent copy for the weekly newspaper column he was writing for the San Francisco Examiner in the 1990s.  The massive amounts of cocaine, marijuana and whiskey that he was consuming at the time might have been the source for his stymied journalistic efforts.

So ole’ Hunter came up with a seemingly brilliant solution to his journalistic dilemma.  He told his personal assistant:  “Just follow me around with a notepad and pen.  And every time I utter something brilliant, just write them down.  And then we’ll string them all together.  And that will be my column.”

And so she did.

So Hunter S. Thompson — a doctor of journalism — would snort a big blast of cocaine.  And then have a revelation:  “THE BLOOD-SUCKING RATS ARE SCURRYING ACROSS THE TUNDRA LIKE THE VILE FASCISTS THAT THEY ARE!!”

And his assistant would dutifully write that down.

Then Hunter would take a big gulp from his legendary glass of Wild Turkey (on the rocks, naturally) and pronounce.  “THE PUKING SIDE-SHOW GEEKS ARE ONE MORE VICIOUS METAPHOR FOR RICHARD NIXON AND THE PERVERSION OF THE GREAT AMERICAN DREAM!!”

And his personal assistant would dutifully write that down (it’s possible they were coming up with a brilliant new form of journalism right before our very eyes).

And, after a couple of hours of this gibberish, they’d have enough words and letters and punctuation marks to send off to William Randolph Hearst the Third (son of son of Citizen Kane senior who was now the publisher of the San Francisco Examiner at the time).

And Hearst would publish Hunter S. Thompson’s gibberish in his award-winning newspaper.  And then he’d send Thompson a big, fat check so that Thompson could buy some more cocaine.  So the whole system worked.  At least for Thompson.  If not for most of his readers.

I don’t remember any of those memorable Hunter S. Thompson columns in the San Francisco Examiner.  And you probably don’t, either.


The human personality — what a concept!

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:46 pm

Persona is derived from the Latin word for mask.

When I was a younger man, I thought the human personality was a lot more pliable than it actually is.  I thought I could change my basic personality with relative ease.  Switch from being an introvert to an extrovert at will.  Resolve my phobias.  Or at least switch to different phobias.   Like that.

I was greatly influenced by the rock star David Bowie at the time.  Bowie was famous for constantly changing his image and his persona and even, seemingly, his basic personality.

So I harbored this stupid notion that the human personality was pliable.  That it was like how actors picked and chose whatever role they wanted to play.  We could pick any personality we wanted.

As Timothy Leary — one of the biggest imbeciles of the 20th century — once famously said:  “You can be anything you want this time around.”   What a WONDERFUL notion.  To bad it’s completely false.

I wrongly assumed that our personality was basically just a social construct.  It was a mask we put on, mostly as a way to function in society.  And that, like with masks in general, we could take them off and on.  I wasn’t even sure if there was anything behind the mask.  It was like the famous Kurt Vonnegut line:  “Be careful who you pretend to be.  Because that’s who you become.”

I spent 40 years trying to smooth out the rough edges of my personality.  With little success.  I spent 40 years trying to un-warp my warped psychology.  With little success.  After undergoing endless therapies, I’m still basically the exact same person I was when I was 17.

When I was younger I was always hoping for a big, cathartic experience.  Where I’d be “born again.”  And heal my wounded psyche.  Become a new person.

Nowadays, I realize, if I can make any changes, make any improvements, in my basic character.  They will probably come in small increments.  If that.


September 12, 2015

Writer’s Block

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:58 pm

I have this weird compulsion.  I really ENJOY writing.

If anybody else likes it, that’s cool.  That’s like icing on the cake.  I’m happy if a byproduct of my personal compulsion brings joy or entertainment to others.  My biggest concern is actually the opposite — that my blather might be toxic or unhealthy.  Words can be powerful after all, and they sometimes have a weird and unpredictable affect.  (One asshole even claimed the pen is mightier than the sword — SURE! — so how come it’s always the ones mouthing off with words who end up getting their asses beat??)

I sometimes hear writers talking about having “writer’s block.”  I have no idea what they’re talking about.  My biggest problem is getting myself to shut up every now and then.


Next Page »

The Rubric Theme. Blog at


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 43 other followers