Acid Heroes: the Legends of LSD

January 30, 2016

Homelessness – 101

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 6:27 pm


Ace Backwords's photo.Every now and then somebody will ask me my opinion about homelessness.  What is the problem?  What is the solution?  I’ve been saying the same basic thing for 20 years.  Not that anybody ever listens to me.

The primary cause of our homeless problem is our exploding population growth.  The California population has DOUBLED in just the last 45 years.  From 20 million people to fucking 40 million people.  And guess what?  It’s projected to double AGAIN over the next 40 years to 80 million people.

We’re adding more people than we could ever hope to keep pace with adding new housing.

Until we address that issue, it’s just more useless talk.


And then they’ll ask me about our ever-rising cost of rent and housing.  I’ll make another very obvious point:  “It’s Economics – 101.  Supply and Demand.  Our exploding population growth is causing an ever-increasing DEMAND for more housing.  As well as an ever-dwindling SUPPLY of available housing.  Hence.  The prices go up and up and up.”

Inevitably, a couple people will say to me:  “Yes, Ace. What you’re saying makes perfect common sense.”

But, inevitably, there will also be all these other people who chime in with their “useless talk” (as I call it).  Blathering on and on with their pointless nonsense.  God it’s disheartening!  How so many people just live in a blue fog.


Remember the game of Musical Chairs we used to play as kids.   Where you had 5 people circling around 4 chairs.  And the slowest person ended up without a chair.   That’s an apt metaphor for our homeless problem.

But of course, inevitably, some genius will chime in:  “So you see.  It’s because of their behavior, because they’re slow, that they ended up chairless.” . . .   Well, yeah, sure.  There’s that.  But the main reason is because there are 5 people and only 4 chairs.




January 29, 2016

Those bastard raccoons

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:20 pm


Theivin’ bastards.

Those bastard raccoons got me AGAIN last night at my campsite!

I had brought up a lot of restaurant food leftovers for my feral cats.  A greasy, cheesey tortellini pasta dish and a big steak burrito.  So I figured the smell of the food would attract the hairy beasts.  And sure enough it did.

I also had a big bag of dry catfood in my backpack.  Which the raccoons also really go for.  So when I went to sleep, I used my backpack as a pillow.  That way, if one of the raccoons tried to pull my backpack away from me (which they will surely do) I’ll wake up when my head hits the ground.

But I guess I was a little too slow on the up-keep.  By the time I woke up the raccoons had already made off with my pack.  “YOU BASTARDS!!!”

I put on my shoes and rushed down the hill in the darkness.  The raccoons had left a trail of my stuff that they had pulled out of my pack.  So that led me to where my pack was, about 30 yards down the hill.

But here’s the amazing part.  The raccoons hadn’t been able to un-zip the main compartment of my backpack where the catfood was.  So instead, they un-zipped the front compartment, pulled all the stuff out with their nimble, little fingers, and then chewed a hole in my pack so they could get to the food in the main compartment. . .  I have to give the bastards points for ingenuity and cunning.  They definitely have some smarts, them raccoons.

And fortunately, I had gotten to them before that had eaten much of the food.  So I went back to sleep (with my pack securely beside me) and lived happily ever after.  THE END.


January 28, 2016

Bench One and Bench Two

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 11:53 pm


Bench One and Bench Two on the Berkeley campus.   That’s what we used to call them because they were the first two benches when you hit the campus.  This was Hate Man’s main hang-out spot in the 1990s.  And you’d find Hate Man there most every day, all day long, holding court, usually surrounded by 10 or 20 people hanging around him.  “Hate Camp” as it was called.

And Hate Camp was a pretty eclectic bunch of people.  Street people, artists, writers, painters, musicians, philosophers, druggies, complete lunatics, college students,  high school kids, teenage runaways, gangbangers, blacks, whites, latinos, young, old. . . Just about anybody and everybody would drift into the stew.

Ace Backwords's photo.

Hate Man, 1994.

Hate Camp was sort of part street party, part art happening.  It was a salon, basically.  This non-stop conversation that went on for decades.  And the talk ran the gamut from the latest gossip of the day, to debating the great philosophical and spiritual issues of humanity.  Hate Man primarily saw himself as a philosopher.  A self-styled street guru.  And a therapist.  He dubbed his philosophy “Oppositionality.”  As therapy it was part Primal Scream, and part Gestalt Therapy.  Involving endless arguments and confrontations and screaming back and forth about any and every disagreement.  Until the disagreements were either resolved, or considered “at an impasse.”  At which point we’d revert back to talking about the gossip of the day.

Over the years, there was always a “second in command” at Hate Camp.  A series of different “Hate Boys” as they were called.  Who emulated Hate Man’s philosophy and lifestyle.  Often exactly.  And acted as sort of Sancho Panchez to Hate Man’s Don Quixote.




Ace Backwords's photo.

Crash, 1994.

One of the most prominent and long-lasting of the Hate Boys was a guy named Crash.   Crash had graduated from Yale and was a post-graduate student at Cal  majoring in Rabbinical studies (to give you an idea of the eclectic nature of the Hate Campers).  When he happened to notice the Hate crew on Bench One one day while he was on his way to class.  Crash joined the party.  Dropped out of school.  And hung around for the next 20 years.


“Twisted Image”

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 11:35 pm


Ace Backwords's photo.In 1982 I wanted to publish an  underground newspaper.  Later they would call it a “punk fanzine.”

So I was trying to think up a good name for my underground newspaper.  “Twisted Image” was the first name that popped into my head.  I ran a couple other names in my head.  And decided, “Twisted Image will do.”

I figured it was a pretty original name for 1982.  “Twisted Image.”

Recently I Googled the name “Twisted Image” just for kicks.  There are several tattoo parlors going by the name Twisted Image.  There’s an S&M leather store in San Jose going by the name Twisted Image.  There’s a graphic arts company that goes by Twisted Image, Inc.   And a Twisted Image t-shirt company.

I guess it wasn’t such an original idea after all.  But as far as I know, I came up with “Twisted Image” first.  So all these other people should fuck off.


January 26, 2016

Feral humans

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 11:34 pm


Ace Backwords's photo.

Good ole’ hateful Hate Man.

Hate Man, 79, napping in People’s Park.  He’s got an elaborate set-up of tarps that allows him to sleep warmly and dryly through the worst rainstorms.  Usually Hate Man sleeps completely unsheltered, right under the sky.  Either on the ground in the Park, or on a nearby sidewalk.

Every now and then, somebody tries to get Hate Man to move indoors.  His standard reply is:  “You couldn’t pay me to live indoors!  I like it out here. I like all the action.”

Most people that are homeless are out here because they are forced by circumstances.   Hate Man is the exception.  He could move indoors tomorrow if he wanted to.  He PREFERS the streets.  It’s his natural milieu.  I’m the same way, I guess.  We’re a special kind of weird.  Feral humans.


January 23, 2016

The Berkeley Square

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:12 pm


The Berkeley Square used to be on University Avenue in Berkeley.  My friend Mary Mayhem was the one who suggested we check it out one Friday night in 1980.  “The Berkeley Square is this very cool New Wave rock club,” said Mary.  “You wanna’ check out some bands and drink some beers?”

I certainly did!

It all seemed incredibly exciting and hip and modern.  “New Wave”!!  Mary and I were both in our mid-20s back then.  And we had lived in the shadow of “the Sixties” for most of our lives (all that hippie shit).  But now our generation was finally starting to make some noise of our own. This was like my second or third date with Mary.  So that was  a big kick for me, too.  I had always been a loser with women.  But now all of a sudden it was like: “Hey.  Dig me!  Sitting here in this dark, neon-lit New Wave nightclub with the hottest chick in town.”  It was like I was finally gaining entrance to where all the cool people hung out and where all the exciting things happened.  This Rock’n’roll fantasy.

The featured attraction at the Berkeley Square that night was this band called No Sisters.  No Sisters were kind of a Devo-esque band.  Four nerdy brothers with thick horn-rimmed glasses and skinny ties (remember those?).   And they played up the “nerdy” shtick with their zany antics.  And their music was great, too.  Tight, modern pop-rock dance music with weird touches and humor.  For their encore they did a cover of “Cool Jerk” — which captured their essence perfectly.  The whole packed crowd of cool people were dancing and pogo-ing up a storm in hipster heaven.

Jennifer Holmes's photo.After the show I said to Mary: “Let’s go backstage and interview No Sisters!”   I had this crazy fantasy of being a rock critic or something.  I was too shy to actually get on stage and play music. But maybe I could use my writing as a way to gain entry into the heart of the rock’n’roll world.  I was already writing a monthly column for a local porn paper at the time.  And had realized that if you had a couple of press clippings you could bullshit your way backstage and interview porn stars and stuff like that and get paid money for it.  So I figured it would work in the rock world, too.

“Hey,” I said to the emcee who was loitering around on the stage.  “I work for the Oakland Tribune!  Can I go backstage and interview No Sisters for an exclusive feature?”

“Sure,” he said.  Free publicity for the club.  Which was the name of the game.

And what I said was technically true.  I did work for the Oakland Tribune.  In the phone sales department.  Making minimum wage hawking newspaper subscriptions (“Buy one month and get the second month ABSOLUTELY free!!”).

So we huddled backstage with the band.  “Backstage”!!  The sacred inner sanctum of the rock’n’roll world.  So that was very exciting.  I forget what I asked the guys in No Sisters.  Or what they said.  But I dutifully scribbled down their answers in my little ace reporter’s notepad (all I needed was the hat with “PRESS” written on the side of it for the whole image to be perfect).  And I typed it all up and submitted it to the Oakland Tribune.  Who, of course, had no interest in publishing the thing.

But in retrospect, the whole exercise reminded me of something that this aspiring rock star once said in an interview.  He had been in a bunch of obscure rock bands, and was desperately trying to work his way up the ladder in the rock biz.  And the whole thing seemed incredibly exciting and alluring to him.  Dreaming of making it to The Big Time where all the really cool people are.  So he’s networking like crazy and making connections with all the movers-and-shakers in the rock biz.  And then one day, he’s hanging out at this rock concert, listening to one of the big, famous rock bands of the day.  And after the show he runs into this guy he knows, who knows this other guy, who knows one of the roadies in the band (or something like that).  And he gets invited backstage to meet the band.  Backstage!  He’s beyond himself with excitement.  And not only that.  While they’re hanging out backstage, the guy says: “Hey, you want to go to the really cool place?  Let’s go over there to the VIP section!”  They got this special, roped-off area where only the coolest of the cool crowd gets to hang out.  The inner inner sanctum!  So now he’s really beside himself with excitement and anticipation.  Finally he’s going to enter that magical realm that he’s always longed to be a part of.  Sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, groupies, more!!   The whole Rock’n’roll Fantasy.

“But when I got back there in the VIP section,” he said, later, “I was kind of surprised to find it was mostly just a couple of bored people lounging around, talking quietly to each other.  I remember seeing one of the guy’s from Duran Duran eating a baloney sandwich off of a paper plate.  But that was pretty much it.”

That’s life for you, ain’t it?  So often, our cherished dreams turn out to be a shell game when we actually realize them . . .  Anyways, I think the building that used to be the Berkeley Square is a dry-cleaning place or something like that, nowadays.



A Hate Man cartoon by Dennis Eichhorn

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:12 pm


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Welcome to my blank slate

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 6:58 pm


Portrait of the artist as an old Rorschach blot.

One of my Facebook friends recently mentioned how people she knew were constantly projecting their opinions onto her.  “You’re a this.”  “You’re a that.”  “You’re the other thing.”

It reminded me of one of my favorite Taoist lines;  “When the pick-pocket sees the saint, all he notices are the pockets.”

The point is:  People project their meanings onto you.  And how they see you often says more about them, than about you.  It’s also very revealing of the other person.  Out of the infinite spectrum of traits, it’s very revealing of their inner psychology, which traits they happen to notice and deem significant.

I’m a blank slate.   Feel free to project any meaning onto it.


January 22, 2016

Artistic rendering of Crier the feral cat

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 6:58 pm

January 21, 2016

Artistic rendering of Moo Cat the feral cat

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 11:25 pm
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