Acid Heroes: the Legends of LSD

May 27, 2017

Gamemanship

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 12:42 am

 

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One of the things I truly loved about Hate Man was his sense of playfulness.

For many years he would dump out big buckets full of sticks and buckets and metal objects And we’d all gather in a circle for a drum circle. And just bash away. To make a hellacious racket. For the pure fun of it. Just like a bunch of kids playing in a sandbox. I cherish that.

Hate Man had a sense of gamesmanship. Even when he was going to court and dealing with heavy legal issues. He always looked at it as a chess match. A game.

Hate Man had his serious side for sure. ‘It’s a battle! It’s a war! All that is other than me is out to DESTROY me!!!”

But he didn’t have a grim, battle-to-the-death outlook. He always respected all of his opponents and enemies and nemesis. Like sports. They were the other team that he competed against. Never took it personally. Looked at life as a game and a riddle to try and figure out.

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“That was psychic of you,” Hate Man would some times say

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 12:22 am

 

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Me and Hate Man always believed in a lot of that “psychic” stuff. “Supernatural” stuff. The stuff some people consider “superstitions” or the “occult.”

Like, if we were trying to decide: “Should I do this?? Or shouldn’t I do this??”

And at that exact moment a car alarm went off. Or a siren went off.

We’d both conclude:

“I take that as a sign not to do it.”

And we wouldn’t do it.

It didn’t make any sense on a rational, logical level (and both me and Hate Man were fairly rational and logical people with fairly sharp minds).

But we always acknowledged: “There is more in heaven and earth than our philosophy holds.” And we always respected that there was this greater, mysterious Force that was operating in this Universe of ours.

For example, this probably seems stupid to most of you logical, rational types. But both me and Hate Man had “magic numbers.”

His magic number was 12.

My magic number was 26.

And, in one of those odd “coincidences,” I was born on his magic number, September 12.

And he was born on my magic number, September 26.

We always believed that that explained why we got along so well over all the years.

Even as it doesn’t make any logical “sense.”

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May 25, 2017

I seriously considered teaching this lout a good lesson!!

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 10:01 pm

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Now I’m at Subway’s TRYING to eat my sandwich. And for ten minutes straight there was this car parked on the curb about 10 feet away from me. This beat-up jalopy. And the engine is running non-stop, which is making this loud, hideous, rattling noise. And even worse, it’s spewing out this stream of noxious carbon monoxide that is permeating the entire restaurant. I’m practically gagging as I’m trying to eat my sandwich.

So I’m glaring at the car. And I want to KILL whoever is responsible for this travesty.

Then I realize the car-owner is at the counter of Subway’s ordering his sandwich. He’s obviously left his car running because it’s such a piece of junk he probably won’t be able to start it again if he turns it off. The guy is about 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, wearing a tank-top, and his upper body is covered with tattoos.

I decide not to kill him after all.

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A Memorial Day story

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:03 pm

 

No automatic alt text available.It’s weird. Memorial Day is a day for remembering the dead. But I remember a guy I knew who actually died on the day of Memorial Day.

His name was Mulligan. And he was part of the People’s Park street scene for awhile about 5 years ago. Mulligan was your typical weasel junkie. He was about 40, skinny, with long, frizzed-out, prematurely gray hair. His most distinctive feature were his eyes, which always had a look of fear and paranoia, like somebody was out to get him (they probably were). Like a lot of junkies, Mulligan always reminded me of Gollum from the Lord of the Rings. You could easily imagine Mulligan rubbing his hands together and licking his lips with a yellow-eyed smile as he repeated over and over “MY PRECIOUS!! MY PRECIOUS!!” as he lurched off in pursuit of his drug of choice. Which, in Mulligan’s case, was just about any substance that would stimulate some kind of flicker in the burning embers that were his brain cells. He was a hell of a guy, Mulligan.

Mulligan’s basic M.O. was to bound over to you with a big smile and this fake positive act. “Hey brother man, what’s HAPPENING?? How are YOU doing today, man!!” And then shortly thereafter he’d hit you up for a cigarette, or a hit off your beer, or a hit off of anything else you might have going. And always moving fast and herky-jerky, like he’s watching his back like somebody is out to get him (they probably were). And his haunted eyes would always be darting back and forth, like he was constantly casing the joint for anything he could steal (he probably was).

And whenever Mulligan showed up, things would suddenly turn up missing all over the Park.

“HEY, SOMEBODY JUST STOLE MY BICYCLE!!”

“YEAH! SOMEBODY STOLE MY BACKPACK LAST NIGHT WHEN I WASN’T LOOKING!!”

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Pretty soon people would make the connection between Mulligan’s appearance, and the disappearance of their stuff. And more than once I saw another street person get in Mulligan’s face and physically run him out of the Park. Myself, I was always cold and strictly formal in my relationship with Mulligan, so as not to give him any openings to attach himself to my world.

Anyways, this one morning, early in the morning, I happened to pass Mulligan on Telegraph. He went rushing by me in a hurry, like always. But as he passed me I noticed his entire face was battered. It was all black and blue and purple with big welts and swellings. I just figured ole Mulligan had ripped off the wrong person and paid the price, and didn’t think any more of it.

But then later that night, we’re all hanging out at Hate Camp at the top of the Park. And this small posse of cops and plain-clothes detectives descended on our scene.

“A guy got murdered across the street last night in those bushes over there on Haste Street,” said the detective. “So we’re just making the rounds seeing if anybody saw anything or heard anything last night.”

“He was a 19-year-old college student from Sacramento. A black kid. And pretty straight-laced from what we’ve learned. Didn’t seem to have any involvement in the street scene. So it’s a mystery how he ended up here in People’s Park. The last anybody say him was last night around 2AM at closing time at Pappy’s, the sports bar on Telegraph. He was in town visiting with some friends for the weekend. And one theory is that he met somebody outside Pappy’s who offered to sell him weed or something. Then they lured him over there and tried to rob him, And then it went wrong and he ended up beaten to death.”

“This morning, at first everybody just thought he was a homeless guy who was sleeping. But then somebody realized he was dead and contacted us.”

None of us knew anything. And probably wouldn’t have said anything to the cops even when we did (that was sort of the code me and my street crew lived by).

But then later it occurred to me. “Ya know, Hate Man. Just this morning I saw Mulligan and his face was all beat in like he’d been in a bad fight. And now it turns out there was a bad fight the night before, just a half a block from where I passed Mulligan. You don’t suppose the two things are connected. . . .”

I could see the gears whizzing in Hate’s brain. “You know, you might be on to something,” he said. Hate knew Mulligan all too well.

“Maybe he showed up this morning to get something he might have left as evidence at the crime scene.”

“That sounds plausible.”

Well, Mulligan almost never showed his face in park after that. “And the few times he approached me,” said Hate, “he would never look me in the eye.”

It’s like Mulligan knew that Hate Man knew.

A week after the murder, this crew of young men from Sacramento showed up at Hate Camp one night. They were friends of the guy who had been murdered. And they were distributing fliers offering a reward to anyone with any information that would lead to the arrest of the murderer. And from how they were talking about the guy, you could tell he had been a really cool guy and that all of his friends really missed him and wanted justice for him.

I took one of the fliers and put it in my back pocket. And I kept it for a couple weeks. Mulling over the situation. But eventually decided against getting involved. And who knows. Maybe it WAS just a coincidence. There were plenty of guys on the scene who wanted to beat Mulligan’s ass.

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But now here’s the weird part. About a year later, it’s Memorial Day. So I hit the Park around 4 in the afternoon. And I notice they had roped off the entire lawn part of the park with police tape. And in the middle of lawn were these big blankets that had been fashioned into sort of a tent.

“What’s going on?” I asked Hate Man.

“Two guys that were under the blankets died around noon,” said Hate. “It looks like they ODed or something. So the cops roped off the area so they could investigate it as a potential crime scene. The two bodies are still under the blankets. They’ve been lying there all afternoon.”

“That’s creepy,” I said.

“Yeah. And one of the bodies Is Mulligan.”

“You’re kidding?”

“No I’m not.”

According to the newspaper reports later that week, they had died from acute alcohol poisoning. Apparently they had an incredible amount of hard liquor in their system. And, knowing Mulligan, he had probably mixed it with other substances.

“But the really weird thing is,” I said to Hate Man. “Mulligan is laying there dead in People’s Park, just about 30 yards away from where that other dead guy had been lying across the street.”

“Yeah.”

“It’s almost as if the dead guy’s soul had been haunting that area. And Mulligan got too close to that vortex. And he got him. The dead guy put a curse on him and killed him.”

“Yeah, that wouldn’t surprise me,” said Hate Man. Like me, Hate also believed in all that sort of supernatural stuff.

“And that it happened on Memorial Day is even more eerie,” I said.

I guess Memorial Day is a day where we remember the dead. But maybe sometimes, some of the dead are also still remembering us, too.

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May 23, 2017

Twisted Image #1: “Punk Rockers for Christ”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ace Backwords @ 11:20 pm

 

No automatic alt text available.The front cover to Twisted Image #1. Published in July 1982. I was madly in love with this chick at the time, who was into punk rock. So I put the whole thing together in the hopes of impressing her and therefore I would get laid. I was 25 years old. And could barely think of anything but sex back then.

The headline on the cover was “PUNK ROCKERS FOR CHRIST” and “SID VICIOUS DIED FOR YOUR SINS.” It was a half-assed attempt at satire and really doesn’t make much sense and is hardly profound. I was just trying to come up with an image that would grab people’s attention.

When the issue was printed — Twisted Image #1 for those of you keeping score at home — I dropped off big stacks at all the happening punk rock clubs at the time. The Mab, the On Broadway, the Elite Club, etc.

And I remember this young punk guy with a mohawk coming up to me at the On Broadway and vigorously shaking my hand.

“I LOVED that cover!” he told me. “I’m a punk rocker for Christ myself! I love punk rock and I’m ALSO a born-again Jesus freak!!”

I decided against mentioning to him that I meant the cover as satire.

But I realized at that moment: You throw your art out to the public. And the public is gonna react to your art in their own unpredictable ways.

PS. I did end up getting laid eventually. But it took me another 10 years before I finally impressed that punk rock chick.

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May 17, 2017

Bill Clinton comes to Berkeley

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:32 pm

 

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Bill Clinton gets to meet Dan McMullan.

Probably the last great moment for Cody’s Books was when Bill Clinton came to Berkeley to sign copies of his just-released autobiography. I forget the date. 2004? And I forget the title of the tome. Something very original like “My Life.” The thing was something like 900 pages. I couldn’t imagine anybody actually reading the thing.

But a HUGE crowd showed up for the event. We were all thrilled that a major celebrity and actual historical figure like Bill Clinton was visiting our humble little burg.

I was stationed at my usual spot on Telegraph and Haste. And I immediately spotted Bill Clinton when he made his entrance. He was a block away. But you couldn’t miss him. He had the white hair that shown like a spotlight. And this unmistakeable aura and glow. A lot of celebrities are actually “smaller than life” when you actually meet them. Not Bill Clinton. He had that unmistakable star power. That you can see from a block away. As soon as he stepped out of his limo he was surrounded by a mob of fans. He was like the center of a hurricane as he waded his way through the crowd.

My friend Danny — who is a savvy motherfucker — figured out in advance exactly which side entrance of Cody’s Books Clinton would likely enter on arrival. And stationed himself there. Which is how he got this great shot of him and Clinton right before he disappeared into Cody’s Books.

Event on 6/29/04 in San Francisco Former President Bill Clinton autographed his long-awaited book about his presidency today at Book Passage book store in the Ferry Building. The event drew a huge crowd of admirers. Chris Stewart / The Chronicle Photo: Chris Stewart

The line of people waiting to get their books signed stretched all the way down Haste Street. And down the next block. And up the next block. It was a HUGE crowd of people.

Somebody actually offered me 50 bucks if I would wait on line with their book and get it signed. And as much as I was intrigued at the once in a lifetime chance to look Bill Clinton in the eyes. I passed (I HATE waiting in lines).

So a huge crowd of us are milling around outside Cody’s Books as Clinton is inside signing books. We’re all waiting around hoping for a brush with greatness. But after about four hours they announce the event is over. Clinton has to move on to his next scheduled event at some other bookstore. So everybody outside is disappointed. There are still hundreds of people waiting outside hoping to get their books signed.

But then suddenly out of the blue Bill Clinton comes walking out of the front door of Cody’s Books. And we’re all in a state of shock. THERE HE IS! It’s actually Bill Clinton himself walking amongst us. Walking amongst the crowd. And he looks just like Bill Clinton. So it’s a surreal moment. But a totally joyous moment. Because we all realize we’re getting a once in a lifetime moment to breath in the same air as Bill Clinton.

Clinton is methodically working his way through the crowd. Quickly signing as many books as he can. And it’s one of those “above and beyond the call of duty” moments. He knows all these people have been waiting and hoping to get his autograph. So he’s trying to accommodate as many as possible before he’s whisked away in his limousine. But you can also tell Clinton is loving it too. He’s lapping it up. That he can’t get enough of being in the midst of this adoring crowd of people. The whole thing is like this big love-fest .

And Andy Ross — the much maligned owner of Cody’s Books — was right by his side. In his best suit and tie. Escorting The President Of The United States through the crowd. Andy Ross was one of Berkeley’s favorite villains at this point. But you can tell this is his one last shining moment (Cody’s Books would go bankrupt two years later).

It was hard to get a good look at Clinton as he was milling through the crowd. But I happened to have one of my folding chairs from my vending table. So I climbed up on it so I could get a good look at Clinton. This black guy that was standing next to me asked if he could climb up on the chair to get a good look, too. And I said “Sure” and I held the chair steady so it didn’t get knocked over by the crowd as he gazed at Bill Clinton in the flesh.  And he had a big smile on his face. And it struck me that there were a lot of black people at the event and Clinton was one of the few white people that black people actually liked.

And then I looked up and noticed all the Secret Service agents that were on the roof of the apartment building across the street from Cody’s. Keeping an eagle’s eye on the crowd. As Clinton made his way through the throng. And they no doubt had their fingers on the triggers of their guns in case anybody did anything weird. And I reminded myself not to make any sudden movements.

And then Clinton got in his limo and was gone.

And we all felt joyous and thrilled and buzzed. It was a bit of an extra kick than the usual afternoon on Telegraph Avenue. Seeing Bill Clinton hanging out on the corner of Telegraph & Haste.

 

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May 16, 2017

Tis better to have petted and lost, than to have never petted at all

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:20 pm

 

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Cats are a fairly complex creature.
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Scaredy Cat used to like to lie on my chest for long periods of time being petted. She was one of the most affectionate cats I’ve ever known.
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Then last month she got sprayed by a skunk and stunk to the high heavens.

So every time she tried to climb on my chest I’d go “UGGHH!! NO!!! GET OUT OF HERE!!”

Scaredy Cat would look at me with this hurt expression, like, “Whatever happened to our special love??” And slink off into the woods with her tail between her legs.

After about 3 weeks the skunk smell finally faded away. So I welcomed Scaredy Cat back to her rightful place on my chest. “C’mere you, you big fat cat!”

But Scaredy Cat would walk just within arm’s reach of me. And then when I’d reach out to pet her, she’d give me this haughty look.  Stick her nose in the air.  And turn and trot of into the woods. It was the classic spurned-lover move. “You can’t reject ME! I reject YOU!”

So this went on for about 3 weeks. Until this morning. When Scaredy Cat finally decided to lie back down on my chest. I guess she’s forgiven me.

Cats. Ha ha.

May 15, 2017

A St. Paul story

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:39 pm

 

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“JERRY GARCIA!! GRATEFUL DEAD!!”

St. Paul was one of the more well-known Deadheads that used to hang out on Telegraph Avenue back in the 1990s.  An impish little guy, you’d often find him hanging out on a street corner with a drug-addled look on his face, endlessly repeating his eternal mantra: “JERRY GARCIA!! GRATEFUL DEAD!!”

The story on St. Paul was that he had raped an underage Deadhead chick on the tour. So to get back at him they dosed him with a massive amount of LSD (laced with something) that permanently scrambled his brains. I don’t know if this urban myth is true or not. But his brains were definitely permanently scrambled.

St. Paul was banned from virtually every establishment on Telegraph because he could be so annoying and obnoxious. But — typically — he was the last to know. He’d happily walk into a store announcing the good news of “Jerry Garcia! Grateful Dead!” Within minutes he’d be getting the bums rush out the door. “GET OUTTA HERE YOU!!” St. Paul would just merrily walk down the street, stick his nose into the next establishment, repeat the same formula,  and get run out of that joint, too.

Anyways, one evening around 1996 this movie company swooped down on Telegraph. They were making a fictional movie about the Grateful Dead parking lot scene. So they needed to round up a bunch of hippie-looking extras to be the background Deadheads. They offered us 50 bucks each for a couple hours of our time. So about 200 of us ended up on the movie set. And if they crowded us together in the shot we could simulate a crowd scene.

Naturally they chose St. Paul (talk about “right out of central casting”!!). And St. Paul must have thought he had died and gone to heaven. To be paid money to be a Deadhead was probably a dream come true for him. And probably the only job he was remotely qualified for. So he had an even more beautific and brainless and stoned-out smile on his face than usual. “JERRY GARCIA!! GRATEFUL DEAD!!” he announced to one and all, over and over, flashing his trade-mark, two-handed peace signs.

They were filming in this abandoned arena in Oakland. And they posed us all hanging out in the hallway looking suitably stoned, as the main character — this young ’90s hippy boy type — went running down the hallway.

Then they filmed a big scene where the hippy boy goes into the restroom and he’s tripping on acid, and when he looks at his face in the mirror he freaks out big-time. “AARRGGGHHH!! he screams in psychic agony. Bummer, man.

Then he comes running back out to the hallway. And they needed a couple of extras for the close-ups. So I was surprised when they picked me (I used to wear these round Lennon sunglasses back then that had these tinted, rainbow-colored peace signs on the lenses that you could see when the light hit them just right — so I guess I looked like a goddamn hippie back then).

When it came time to pay us the 50 bucks the producer said: “We’re on a tight budget so if any of you are willing to volunteer your time and do it for Jerry that would be appreciated.” None of us took him up on that. We all wanted our 50 bucks.

On the ride back to Telegraph, St. Paul was in ecstasy. It was like he could barely grasp the awesome magnitude of what he had just experienced. Needless to say, he repeated his eternal mantra “JERRY GARCIA!! GRATEFUL DEAD!!” the whole way home.

Years later, somebody told me they actually recognized me in the movie. I never got around to seeing it. I got a VCR video cassette copy of it stashed in my storage locker somewhere. But I don’t think I’ll be getting around to viewing it any time soon.

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May 13, 2017

One less mural in Berkeley

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:55 pm

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For at least 40 years there used to be a big mural on this wall. I walked by it a zillion times in the decades I’ve been in Berkeley whenever I’d cut through the parking lot on my way to the campus. But now they’re tearing the lot apart to build a building. So the mural is history. One more piece of Berkeleycana that is going going gone

I remember the first time I saw that mural back in the summer of 74 when I first came to Berkeley as a 17 year old boy. The mural seemed to symbolize the whole vibe of Berkeley back then. This cosmic psychedelic thing. Which was a rare thing back then. And one of the things that made Berkeley such an unique and distinctive town. “The Land of the Hippies.”

It was brightly colored when I first saw it. But over the years the colors faded. Just like me. And now it’s about to be destroyed.

I know I have this weird obsession with clinging to the past. Which is futile. Because impermanence is the way of this world. And everything keeps changing and always will keep changing.

I guess I’d find it easier to accept all the changes if most of the changes weren’t for the worst.

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May 11, 2017

Life is like a weird play where everybody improvises their lines

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 10:48 pm

 

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Odd scene on the bus right now. The bus driver — a black guy — suddenly stops the bus. Calls out: “Hey you in the back! I can’t believe you’re drinking beer on my bus! Put that beer away!”

This hulking young white guy is pounding a 24 ounce can of malt liquor in plain view. The bus driver walks down the aisle and confronts him.

“You gotta get off my bus, man.”

“Hey I’m just tryin’ to get to where I’m going, man,” he complains angrily.

“You gotta go man.”

After some jawing back and forth the driver escorts him down the aisle. But when the guy gets to the open front door he still won’t leave.

“If I was in Arizona I could do what I want,” he says, glaring at the driver. For a second it looks like it might come to blows.

“C’mon go.”

“Nigger. Racist.” says the guy.

Finally he stomps off the bus. And the driver starts the bus back up again.

“I’ve heard that word so many times it just rolls off my back,” said the bus driver. “How can he call me that and call me a racist?”

And everybody in the bus bursts out laughing.

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As I was getting off the bus I said to the bus driver. “That was the line of the day. I liked how you handled that.”

The bus driver laughed. “Thank you boss.” And headed down the road.

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