Acid Heroes

July 29, 2016

The end of the Koerber Building era

On this date in 2007 I was just on the verge of getting kicked out of this office building that I had been secretly living in for 9 years. The Koerber Building on University Avenue. It had been a great run. I had been paying $125 a month to rent out this little 6-foot-by-13-foot office. It was about the size of a big walk-in closet. But it was ideal for my purposes. It had a high ceiling. So I could stack boxes with all my stuff against the walls. And, best of all, it had a bunk-bed that I could sleep in. And it was hidden in the back of the building. So almost nobody even noticed that I was there.

That 9-year run was a productive period for me. I produced some of my best work. I wrote my SURVIVING ON THE STREETS book. And the first drafts of ACID HEROES. I co-published the last 6 issues of the TELEGRAPH STREET CALENDAR. And I recorded hundreds of hours of original music on my mighty Fostex four-track recorder. Among many other projects.

And then a new owner bought the building in 2006. He immediately sent out a letter to all the tenants telling us how much he looked forward to working with all of us. Then he started throwing us out, one by one. He was renovating the building floor-by-floor starting with the top floor. So he kicked all the tenants in the top floor out first, and worked his way down from there. I was on the second floor (the last floor with tenants). So I was among the last to go. The last man standing. For that last year I pretty much had the whole building to myself. Which was a good deal for $125 a month.

But it was also depressing. The building had once been this dynamic place, bustling with creative and hard-working people. And then I watched as it gradually was reduced to this dark, empty shell.

And it was a metaphor for my life during that period. Everything seemed like it was dying. At the same time, Cody’s Books (my main hang-out), also went out of business. And  that once-dynamic scene was replaced by a boarded-up, burned-out, shell of a  building.

My main publisher, Loompanics, also went out of business during that period. So it was like, “Three strikes and I’m out.” I remember I kept thinking back then: “”Everything in my life is CONTRACTING.”

On August 1, 2007, I packed up all my stuff into a storage locker, handed in my keys, and left the Koerber building for the last time. I had turned 50. So it was one of those moments when you knew quite clearly that one part of your life was ending, and another part of my life was beginning.

Up to that point, my life, and my artistic career, had pretty much been on a constant upward spiral. But now it was like the arrow had pointed downward.  And everything kept getting worse and worse. And that was pretty much how it would go for the next 10 years. And, well, here I am.



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