One of the weird things about being a street person, and relating to a lot of different street people: You rarely know much about a street person’s past (where they came from), or their future (how they ended up). You usually just get this very dramatic present moment. And then you have to guess at all the rest. It can be very disconcerting. It’s like watching a movie where you get the middle of the movie, and then it cuts to the middle of another movie, and then it cuts to the middle of yet another movie. And you never get the beginning or ending to the movies.
But every now and then you stumble upon the entire story. I’ll give you an example:
It was around the summer of 1982 when large groups of punk kids first starting hanging around on Telegraph Avenue. Later to morph in the ’90s into tribes of crusty “gutter punks” (but that’s another story). And there were these two young punkettes that really stood out from the pack. They were 16 years old, identical twins. petite, cute and girlish, but with wild cat eyes that often flashed with anger. The Twins (as they were known), with their shaved heads and big multi-colored mohawks, and studded black leather jackets, were kind of the ringleaders of this gang of young punks that were like a pack of wild animals. If you were at a punk show at the Elite Club or the On Broadway, and bottles were being thrown and people were getting beat up, The Twins were usually right in the middle of the action, if not leading the charge. Tim Yohannon Himself once complained to me, bitterly, about what a “disruptive force” The Twins were to “the punk rock community” (so-called). They definitely had “anger issues.” But god only knows what the source of that anger was (like I said, you get the present, but rarely the past or the future with street people).
At any rate, I was intrigued by The Twins and their crew. So I took a bunch of photos of them, which I published in the first issue of Twisted Image, along with a poem by one of their friends. And they respected me enough, that when one of their skinhead pals wanted to beat me up for being a hippie, one of The Twins shrugged and said: “Nah. He’s cool.” (So thanks for that) . . . Anyways, after awhile The Twins disappeared from the scene. But I always kind of wondered in the back of my mind whatever happened to them.
So I was surprised when, about 10 years later, I was leafing through an issue of PEOPLE magazine (of all places) and I came across a big story about The Twins. It turned out The Twins’ parents were both drug addicts who had abandoned them. The police found them when they were 6, living in an abandoned building in Oakland, living like wild animals, basically . . . So they ended up getting adopted by this respectable UC Berkeley professor. But instead of living happily ever after, the Prof started molesting and raping The Twins practically from the moment they moved into his house, until they finally ran away from home at 16 (cut to the middle of the story, with brief cameo by Ace Backwords).
To make a long story short, the true story finally came out about the Prof’s dirty doings, he ended up getting arrested, tried and convicted and thrown into prison. And, in an added twist, The Twins ended up as the owners of his big, fancy house as part of the civil suit settlement. And that’s how that all worked out.
So that was one of the rare times where I actually got the beginning, middle and ending to the story.