Acid Heroes: the Legends of LSD

September 23, 2016

Tigger — the homeless kitten of People’s Park

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:18 pm


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That scarf was no match for the claws and teeth of Tigger — the 3 month old homeless kitty of People’s Park.


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This young homeless guy who’s been camping at Hate Camp owns Tigger. She roams freely, but never strays too far from his campsite.

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Bump on a log.

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Making herself at home, as usual.


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Tigger considers attacking the wild squirrel. The only problem. The squirrel is twice as big as her. So she wisely decides against it.


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Getting into more mischief.

“Did anybody see which way that ‘wascally squirrel went?”


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Stalking the wild Hate Man.



“Hey you!”

September 21, 2016

People have often told me I should take my act on the road

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:50 pm










Talk about nervous. Here I am backstage. Right before the big premiere. Opening night of my Off Broadway one-man show. “Ace Backwords Sings His Most Popular Facebook Posts.”

The critics were all gunning to crucify me. The bastards. But even that gay guy at the New York Times was forced to concede: “I laughed. I cried. I gave it a like.”




September 20, 2016

Cartoonists can be so bitchy

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:04 pm


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The other day I happened to come across across this photo of these cartoonists on Facebook — Chester Brown, Lynda Barry, Art Spiegelman and Phoebe Gloeckner.  So, for the hell of it, I posted it on my Facebook page.

One of my Facebook friends asked: “Didn’t Art Spiegelman once wish you a slow, painful death?”

Yeah. I once got a short and pithy letter from Spiegelman on RAW stationary: “I can only wish you a quick and excruciatingly painful death.” (he was mad at me about something or other).

I used the line as a back-cover blurb on my Twisted Image collection of comics. I figured it might help sell a few copies. Ha ha..

About 10 years later Spiegelman was appearing at Cody’s Books in Berkeley to do a book-signing to promote his latest product. A line of people were waiting in line to get his autograph. So I dropped by to check him out in the flesh, and my pal Duncan took a couple of photos to commemorate the occasion. Art didn’t mention anything about killing me. In fact he looked a little nervous to see me and Duncan (who he had also once written a nasty letter to).

Cartoonists can be so bitchy. But at least we’re not as bad as poets.

Later I happened to mention the Spiegelman death threat letter on the internet. Someone immediately posted: “Hey if you ever put that letter on eBay I’d like to buy it.” Ha ha.
But you know me. I always have to get in the last word. So to get back at Spiegelman for sending me that  letter, I did a cartoon making fun of him. And then R. Crumb — the greatest cartoonist of our times — published it in his WEIRDO comic book. Ha ha.
I really am a little nutty.
“What if underground comix went overground?”<br /><br /><br /><br /> Página 2 de Weirdo #23, del verano de 1988.

September 14, 2016

And there I was, hanging out in my apartment, minding my own business, when . . .

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:38 pm


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This was the first home of my own that I ever had. This studio apartment in Berkeley. I lived there in 1979 and 1980. Rent was $115 a month if you can believe it. It was one of six stucco apartments, side by side, all connected by the same roof. So we all got to know each other. The next-door neighbors dropping by to borrow a cup of sugar. That bit.

Three of the tenants were on welfare. Another one — this Vietnamese guy with a wife and two young sons who didn’t speak a lick of English — ran a car repair business in the parking lot behind the building (made big bucks). And the guy next-door to me was a big pot dealer. Myself, I worked as a San Francisco bike messenger.

I got to know the pot dealer next-door a little bit. I liked to smoke weed myself. So I’d hang out at his pad sometimes getting stoned with him. He looked a lot like the guy on the Zig Zag rolling papers pack — hippie hair parted in the middle and beard — and he had a Mexican accent because he was from Mexico. He mostly sold pot, but he also sold cocaine and heroin and speed and quaaludes and just about anything else you wanted. There was always a steady flow of business going in and out of his apartment.

His girlfriend was this nice, sweet, normal young woman. She sort of played the role of a typical housewife. You wondered how she had gotten herself in the middle of this whole crazy drug-dealing scene. But I guess sometimes you just fall in love with the wrong person and end up going along for the ride.

For the first year I knew the guy he seemed pretty solid and normal. Just your typical laid-back mellow pot dealer. But then — as often happens with these scenes — he started to sample his own wares a little too much for his own good. Started smoking a lot of opium and getting a little loopy in the head. One night he actually fired his gun out of his back window. He told me he was hallucinating from the opium and thought he saw somebody out there that was out to get him.

A remember another odd thing he once told me — which turned out to be prescient. “If you ever shoot and kill somebody in your front yard, always drag the body into your home. Because it’s legal to shoot somebody if they’re invading your home.” I filed that savvy bit of advice in the back of my mind.

Anyways, this one night around midnight I’m sleeping in my apartment and he starts knocking on my front door. I get up and open the door, say “What’s up?”

“Listen, can I come inside you place and hang out for awhile,” he says.

“Aww no man, I’m sleeping. I gotta get up for work in the morning.”

I shut the door and went back to sleep. I figured he was just having problems with his girlfriend and wanted to get away from her for awhile.  And I didn’t think anything else about it.

Until the next day when I realized they had both suddenly packed their bags and left their apartment. Which was weird. So all of us tenants were wondering what had happened. Anyways, the next day I get a knock on my door and it’s two plain clothes detectives. “Listen, we need to talk to you,” the detective said.

Turned out the pot-dealer had shot and killed this guy the night before. What happened was, these three black guys from Oakland tried to break into his apartment with a crowbar that night to jack him up for his money and dope. He got his gun out and chased them down the street, firing at them as he ran. Didn’t hit any of them, but he left a bullet hole in one of the trees (every time I passed by that tree I would be reminded of the incident). After chasing them off, that’s when he had knocked on my door. What he wanted to do, it turned out, was to wait in my apartment for the guys to come back. And then when they tried to break into his apartment he would ambush them from my apartment (and how wonderful that this guy gets me in the middle of a scene like that).

When I rebuffed him, he decided instead to wait in the back of the building with his gun, and ambush them from there. So he hears somebody coming, walking down the sidewalk and he jumps up and opens fire. Kills one of the guys dead. But it turned out it just happened to be two guys who were walking home from a night at the clubs. “They were just walking home, minding there on business, smelling the daisies and the guy kills him in cold blood,” said the detective.

I never wrote about this incident before. Because it’s kind of heavy getting in the middle of a murder trial. I figured somebody might track me down and kill me. But I recently turned 60. So I don’t care that much anymore whether I live or die. It’s like Bukowski once wrote when he was 70 and thinking of committing suicide. “What’s the point,” he said. “At this age there’s not that much left to kill.



Man’s Search for Coffee

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:12 pm


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I’m usually at my worst in the morning before I’ve had my first cup of coffee. I’m usually pretty shattered from all the drinking I had done the night before. And face it. I’m hardly Mr. Sunshine in the best of circumstances. So I usually wake up with this strong feeling of dread and anxiety. As well as my usual mindless rage towards all of humanity.

So my first big challenge every morning is to purchase my coffee at a local coffee shop without killing anybody. It is my first interaction with my fellow humans, so I’m required to maintain the facade of a normal, decent human being (often through gritted teeth). Unfortunately, the slightest annoyance, disturbance or discomfort can trigger an extreme reaction (“WHAT?? YOU’RE OUT OF HALF-AND-HALF?? DIE DIE DIE!!!”).

So anyways, this morning I order my coffee at this local pastry shop. The clerk hands me an empty cup and I work over to the corner where they keep the urns of coffee to pour myself a cup and live happily ever after.

The problem is, this woman is ahead of me and fixing her cup of coffee (selfish bastard). The place is jam-packed with people milling around, so I can’t get to the coffee until she’s done. And she’s taking her sweet time. She mulls over the all-important decision: “Do I want half-and-half, skimmed milk or soy milk? Hmmm?” After several lifetimes she reaches a decision.

And then the same routine with the sugar, brown sugar or honey. Finally she starts stirring her coffee. For at least a solid minute. I guess she wants to make sure that each and every molecule and atom of coffee, milk and sugar is exactly chemically bonded.

Meanwhile, I’m standing right behind her. Either she doesn’t know I’m there. Or she doesn’t care. I’m standing right in the middle of the store, right in the middle of all the on-going traffic. So people on my right are bumping into me as they come into store. And people on my left are bumping into me as they leave the store. So there’s no escape. And I’m getting more and more pissed with each jostle. So I’m fighting the urge to start screaming and screaming and not stop screaming until I’m dead.

Finally, m’lady is done stirring her coffee. Free at last!! But no. Now she keeps taking these little sips. “Hmm. No not quite right. Needs a little more sugar.” Sip sip. “Maybe just a tad more milk.” Sip sip. You’d think she was mixing up an exacting scientific serum.

But FINALLY. She is done. She puts the lid on her coffee and . . .

. . . she takes her pastry out of her bag and starts eating it while she sips on her coffee.

“EXCUSE ME!!!!” I said. A little angrier and louder and harsher than I intended.

She turns around. Startled. Sees me glaring at her. Gives me a look like: “Who the hell is this dirtclod bothering me while I’m trying to enjoy my breakfast!” But she gets the message and cedes the space so they I too could enjoy my morning coffee.

Course later I felt a little guilty about my rudeness (with a little luck I probably ruined her morning). This was probably her first cup of coffee, too. So she probably wasn’t at the top of her game, either.


September 12, 2016

On turning 60

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:11 pm


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This morning as I was walking down the hill from my campsite I spotted a cigarette pack on the sidewalk. Marlboro Lights. I thought: “Wouldn’t it be cool if there were cigarettes in the pack in honor of this being my birthday and all.” And when I opened up the pack there was indeed 4 cigarettes in the pack.

I took that as a good omen. A sign. It was a birthday gift from the gods.

I guess it would have been cooler if the gods had put 6 cigarettes in the pack in honor of my 60th birthday. But you know how it is. The gods sometimes send out mixed messages.

Later in the morning, I sat by myself quietly smoking my cigarette, watching as the smoke curled up in the air, and ruminating about what exactly it meant to be 60 years old and alive at this juncture of my life as a human being on planet earth amidst eternal time and space. But mostly thinking about what I was going to eat for breakfast.






September 10, 2016

So where were you on 9-11?

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:57 pm


I distinctly remember where I was on 9-11.  My Surviving on the Streets book had just been published the day before.  And I would turn 45 on the day after.  I considered my Street book one of the best things I had produced.  So I felt I was on top of my game back then.  And the Telegraph Street Calendar was a hit that year, too.  Everything I touched worked.  And I’d been doing daily kundalini yoga meditation for 7 years years.  With no drugs or alcohol. So I was sharp as a tack, both physically and spiritually.  It even seemed like I was finally resolving some of the demons that had bedeviled me all my life.  And I was actually turning into the person that I had always wanted to be. So I really felt like I was on a roll.  And I had every reason to believe things would just keep getting better and better.  Of course I didn’t know at the time — one rarely does know at the time — that this would in fact be my peak.  And it would pretty much  be all downhill from this point onwards.  And maybe not just for me.  But for America, too.


They say that everyone will Remember Where They Were on the Date of 9-11. The day that will live forever in infamy (or at least until its replaced by subsequent even more infamous days).

It was a sunny morning in Berkeley, and Willow, a middle-aged street woman, came rushing up to me. “You won’t believe what just happened!” she gushed.  “They just bombed the Pentagon!”

“You’re kidding?”  I said.

“No, I just saw it on TV.” She was almost gleeful. Something exciting had finally happened in our boring lives. “I think the CIA did it,” she said.

I walked across the street and looked in the window of Raleigh’s, a local sports bar. On the TV screen above the bar I could see the smoldering World Trade  Center building. Then they switched the picture to the smoldering Pentagon building. It occurred to me that this was all happening live as I stood there.

Later that evening there was a big, candle-light peace demonstration on the campus. A young woman with a folk guitar kicked off the demonstration with a flat version of “Imagine” by John Lennon. (Oh no, I thought, my worst fear realized: this could launch another generation of folk singers!).

My friend Jake was in the back of the crowd, drunkenly raving to himself at the candle-lit demonstrators. “FUCKING PEACENIKS! WE SHOULD BOMB THE HELL OUTTA’ THEM FUCKING AYE-RABS FOR WHAT THEY DONE!” Jake was a long-time, long-haired, anti-cop, hippie radical type. It occurred to me that the battle-lines were being re-drawn. And that this would not be “another Vietnam.”


I took a seat on a park bench to the side of the peace demonstration. Today’s newspaper was sitting there on the bench. September 11, 2001. It was the early-morning edition, so there was nothing in the paper about the World Trade Center bombing. It was like seeing the last note from the old era, before we entered this new age, whatever it was.

The frontpage headline was about a guy in Sacramento who had went on a bloody rampage the day before. He had killed 5 or 6 people and then he held two other people hostage; forced one guy to hold a videocamera and videotape his mad spiel. Than he shot the person on camera and gave the videotape to the second person and told her to deliver the tape to the local Eye Witness News. “THIS SHOULD GET ME ON THE NEWS FOR AT LEAST THE NEXT TWO WEEKS!” he crowed, before blowing his own brains out. (His murderous rampage was inspired in part by the Columbine Killings and other high-profile media killers who he was jealous of).

THE DUMB FUCK, I thought. His story had been completely wiped off the front page by 9-11.  The dumb fuck can’t even do THAT right.


I walked over to Hate Camp, Hate Man’s circle of street people. They were all sitting around a candle, quietly lost in thought.

“So, whats happening?” I said happily.  “Anything much in the news today?”

“Hee-haw,” groaned Scooter.

I dreaded what I knew was coming next: Having to spend the next few weeks listening to everyone checking in with their very important opinions on world affairs (I made a mental note to remember the correct pronunciation of “Bin Laden” and “Al Qaeda.”)

I walked down the street. There was no wind, but it seemed like there was an unseen, swirling madness in the air. The weirdest thing of all was; each person I passed on the street, every person I could see in every direction, I realized we were all thinking about the exact same thing at the same time. It was a surreal, almost quasi-mystical feeling of unity amidst the shattering, fragmented alienation of the day’s events.

I realized that everything had changed just like that. Before 9-11 everything was really, really weird. And now, after 9-11, everything would be really, really weird.

It could have been worse:  My birthday is on September 12, so I just missed it.





September 7, 2016

Blasts from the past

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:30 pm


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The other day I was walking down Shattuck and I ran into this guy I used to know way back when.

“How are you doing, Peter,” he said. (You know its a blast from my distant past when they refer to me by my given name “Peter.” To almost everyone else in the world I’m “Ace.”)

“I’m still alive,” I said with a smile. Gave him the thumb’s up and kept walking.

When I first moved to Berkeley from New Jersey in 1976 as a 19 year old boy, he was one of the first person I had looked up. We had went to high school together in Jersey. He had moved to Berkeley to be a hippie. And I guess I had too.

Back in 1976 he lived in a little stucco studio apartment on 10th and Dwight. It was night-time when I pulled up to his place in the bomb of a ’69 Chevy that I had somehow managed to drive cross-country before it finally fell apart. He welcomed me to Berkeley with a big smile. Lit a bowl of weed and passed it to me. Poured me a glass of burgendy. Put on some records from his excellent record collection (Beatles, Bowie, Dead, Stones, etc). Lit a fire in his fireplace.

I remember feeling like I was in a warm cocoon. For I didn’t know anything about the town of Berkeley — what was waiting for me in the darkness outside the cocoon of his apartment. And nobody in Berkeley knew who I was. Or that I was even there. So his little studio apartment was my entire world at that point. It was a cozy feeling.

I was full of dreams of glory, my youthful hopes and dreams. Wanting to make some kind of life for myself. Find my place in the world. Looking for love and adventures and everything else. You know how it is when you’re 19 and starting out, like a blank slate waiting to be filled. And having no idea what was waiting for me out there in this big ole world. But I was ready to give it my best shot. “Itching like a finger on the trigger of a gun,” as Paul Simon once sang in a song.

And now its suddenly 40 years later. My friend is now 61. He retired a couple years ago. Has a fat pension. Still a hippie after all these years. Still looks pretty much the same as he did in 1976, aside from his blonde ponytail being gray now.

But its so weird. Its like it was all starting. And you blink your eyes. And its almost over.




September 6, 2016

Sgt. Stony: “The few, the proud, the stoned!”

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:42 pm I was a kid in the 1960s I couldn’t afford the more expensive GI Joe action figure. So I got the generic Sgt. Stony action figure instead.  That Sgt. Stony doll was one of my favorite childhood toys. And in my bedroom war-game battles, Sgt. Stony practically single-handedly defeated the Krauts and the Japs. And then later the Koreans (who never got a really cool-sounding racial epithet).

Sgt. Stony only had two movable parts. His arms could swing up and down. They were perfect for delivering devastating upper-cut punches. But not much else.

Sometimes I would take my Sgt. Stony doll into forays deep into enemy territory:  my little sister’s bedroom. And Sgt. Stoney would kick the crap out of her Ken doll. Ken, with his fashion accessories, was no match for Sgt. Stony’s devastating upper-cuts.

Years later I wondered. Did I really have a doll named Sgt. Stony? Or was my memory playing tricks on me?  You know how it is with childhood memories.  Things can get a little scrambled in your mind.

So I just Googled it. And I did.  There really was a Sgt. Stony doll.

So that was a relief.





The meth-od to my madness

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:04 pm remember this one night when I was tweaking on crystal meth. And I suddenly realized I had lost a $20 bill.

So I spent the next several hours obsessively combing through every square inch of my apartment looking for that $20. To no avail.  Earlier in the evening I had been looking through a big stack of newspapers in the corner.  “Maybe I dropped the $20 in between the newspapers while I was reading them,” I thought, cleverly. So I spent several hours meticulously leafing through every page of the newspapers.

Then I thought: “Maybe it fell out of my pocket when I was walking from the Ave to my apartment.” It’s around 3 in the morning by this point.  But I decided to go outside to the streets in search of the missing 20 dollar bill. So I spent the next several hours obsessively re-tracing my route in search of the money.  No luck.

I continued on in this basic mode for many, many more hours. Late into the night and into the next morning.  In between snorting the next line of meth.  Coming up with ever-new and more ingenious theories as to how I might have lost the $20. And then searching, searching, searching everywhere. Until — finally — I collapsed in exhaustion.  And then slept like a rock for the next 15 hours.

The next morning when I woke up. I remembered I had spent the $20 on the crystal meth.

Crystal meth really is a stupid drug.






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