Acid Heroes

July 10, 2015

Life on the streets.

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:11 pm
Tags: , ,


 One of the stressful things about living on the streets; it’s a constant series of re-adjustments.   You might have a scene that’s running smoothly for years at a stretch.  And then all of a sudden, overnight, it can get all jammed up.

For example, for years I had a favorite stash-spot on the Berkeley campus, this big hedge.  And I’d stash my cans of cat food and my jacket in the hedge so I wouldn’t have to carry it around with me in my backpack all day.  Worked great for years.  And then last week I showed up and the groundskeepers had pruned the hedge down to sticks and branches.  So much for that stash spot.

And my favorite late-night hang-out spot got jammed up recently, too  It was a great spot, hidden away on this big second-story balcony on the campus.  It had a roof to protect from the rain.  And almost nobody ever went back there after business hours.  So I had the whole place to myself.  It even had an outdoor socket that I could plug my cellphone into.  Allowing me to babble on for hours to all my Facebook friends and enemies while I pounded my 40s of OE.  Then a couple months  ago this Cal employee started hanging out at all hours of the day and night in this office inside the building right where I hang out.  The guy could see me sitting there every time he looked out his window.  So much for privacy.  I figured he’d eventually go away.  But no such luck.  And I couldn’t figure out what he was doing in there.  He’d be there after midnight. He’d be there on weekends.  He’d even be there on holidays.  The guy was friendly when we interacted.  He even turned out to be a fan of my comics when he found out I was “the Ace Backwords” as he put it.  But for some reason he always seemed nervous whenever he saw me.  Then it finally dawned on me.  He was secretly living in his office.  Here I had been worrying that he might call the cops on me.  While he was worrying that I might call UC on him.  At any rate, I decided to abandon that beloved hang-out spot in search of a more private spot.

Then there’s my favorite social scene on the streets; People’s Park.  It’s often a pleasant and stimulating, as well as bizarre, place to smoke a few cigarettes and shoot a little shit with the local street characters.   But then that got jammed up for a couple of weeks.  First by this lunatic who kept threatening to kill me every time I sat down.  And then by this person who was attracted to me and kept forcing her presence on me every time I showed up. (I couldn’t decide which type was harder to deal with;  the ones who hate you or the one’s who like you)

And then I went through a period of about a year where I was constantly getting jammed up by the cops.  Every time I turned around, some cop would be coming at me for one reason or another.  I couldn’t figure out what the deal was.  Did they have a photo of my face hanging up at the police station or something?  With a caption:  “Him.  Ace Backwords.  He must be stopped!”  I ended up getting like 8 tickets in one year, for everything from “open container” tickets to “littering” tickets (I happened to throw a cigarette butt off this balcony and a cop happened to walking along the trail below me and the butt almost hit him in the head, which he took very personally and hit me with a $480 littering ticket for one cigarette butt.)  (The cop also got pissed when he asked me if I was drinking and I bitterly complained:  “No! I already drank it all!”  Which was the honest truth, I was pissed that I was out of beer.  But I guess it came off as a little wise-ass to the cops).  But now, for the last two years, I haven’t had a single problem with the cops.  So at least my cop scene is running smoothly nowadays.

And then there’s my campsite scene.  That’s been a pretty problem-free scene for the last year.  And then the other night I go up to my campsite, and some asshole had dumped out all my camping gear that I had stashed in two garbage bags hidden behind a tree.  And it’s strewn all over the ground.  Nothing was stolen, oddly.  And even stranger, there were piles of miscellaneous electrical equipment strewn amongst my stuff.  The next morning as I walked down the path I noticed this guy sitting across the creek, nonchalantly smoking away on a meth pipe.  Now if there’s one thing that can turn a scene upside instantly, it’s a lunatic speed-freak in your midst.

So the next night, as I walked back to my campsite, I made sure to be carrying a big, hard can of cat food with me.  It’s not only a delicious treat for my kitties.  But it also serves the dual purpose of smashing lunatic tweakers in the head if they happen to decide to try and fuck with me while I’m trying to sleep.

Fortunately, there was no sign of the tweaker that night. Or the next.  So, at least for the moment, my campsite scene is running smoothly.  But that’s what it’s like on the street scene.  Every now and then, I’ll get all my ducks in a row.  But it very rarely lasts for long.  If I can get any 3 out of 5 of my different scenes working smoothly at the same time, that’s about the best you can hope for.



  1. You seem pretty happy with your choices. I couldn’t do your lifestyle. Last night I was lying on my puffy mattress, perfectly comfortable in the AC, my kitty purring by my side. I’d just popped a valium and I was reading a book about Buster Keaton. Wagner on the hi fi, and the rain started outside which shut the Dominicans up for once. Total peace and comfort…but then I have to go to work every day, get filthy, drink too much coffee and stress out about stuff to pay the rent.

    Comment by hardears pickney — July 10, 2015 @ 11:13 pm | Reply

    • It’s weird. Living on the streets can be a living hell. And I’ve seen countless people destroyed by the streets. You actually see them disintegrating in front of your eyes. But I guess I’ve been on the streets for so long, it’s like second nature to me. I think I’m like my feral cats. I’m more comfortable viewing human society from the safety of the bushes or the back alleys. . .. I’ve done my share of 9-to-5s and that can be hell, too. Though a different kind of hell. I don’t know hardly anyone, from any walk of life, who’s had a particularly easy life.

      Comment by Ace Backwords — July 11, 2015 @ 8:08 pm | Reply

  2. When I was homeless I used to like to mix it up by throwing a big rock through a window every few months or so. Not recommended if one is trying to keep a low profile. Then there was the endless shoplifting. Also probably not the best idea, and I cut it out once I got a job and shit.

    Comment by Smidgey Smudge — July 11, 2015 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

  3. That kind of living must keep your mind sharp & senses keen. It sounds like a lot of hassle, but I always wonder if it beats the 9-5 (now a days 9-9) b.s. I have never enjoyed mixing with co workers, but on the streets your still forced to mix with oothers, but nonetheless, I envy your freedom.

    Comment by Jon — July 11, 2015 @ 8:00 pm | Reply

  4. I think you write a good blog
    I think you can go back to your private place on the second floor where you can charge your cell phone. that guy who lives in the office will leave you alone. Don’t be inappropriately paranoid. it is good to be sharp and alert, but you don’t have to give up your good spot.

    Comment by Head For The Hills — July 15, 2015 @ 6:04 pm | Reply

    • I appreciate your comment. I baled from that spot not so much out of paranoia but a lack of privacy. . .

      Comment by Ace Backwords — July 15, 2015 @ 9:35 pm | Reply

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