Acid Heroes: the Legends of LSD

June 27, 2017

Duncan Logic

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:42 pm

 

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My pal Duncan did just about everything in his own weird and unique way. I used to call it “Duncan Logic.”

For example, one time Duncan was in this xerox shop, xeroxing off the pages of one of his zines. And whenever he got a stack of pages copied, he’d pick them up off the xerox machine and carry them across the room to his box. After watching Duncan doing this 3 or 4 times, walking back and forth from the xerox machine to his box, I said; “Duncan, wouldn’t it make more sense to bring the box over HERE to the xerox machine so you wouldn’t have to keep walking back and forth?” “Oh. Yeah,” said Duncan. “You might have a point there.” Duncan Logic.

Another time, Duncan was walking around wearing this old shirt that was really raggedy. So I got him a nice new shirt. “Oh, I couldn’t wear that shirt,” said Duncan. “Why not?” I said. “Because it doesn’t have breast pockets. I have an elaborate system where I keep all my personal items in my different pockets. My four pants pockets, my two jacket pockets, and the two breast pockets of my shirt. The shirt you gave me doesn’t have breast pockets, so it would throw my whole system off.” Duncan Logic. He ended up wearing the rags for the rest of the month until somebody gave him a shirt with two breast pockets.

Duncan’s hotel room at the Berkeley Inn was practically like living in a storage locker. Boxes and boxes were stacked up everywhere, from the floor to the ceiling. With this narrow path leading from the door to his bed. Which was also half-covered with boxes. One day Duncan lost one of the boxes that had copies of his TELE TIMES zine in it. Those copies were very precious to Duncan. So he was pretty upset about it. “Did you look in all the boxes in your room?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. “I looked in every box, except for that one box down there in the bottom of that pile.” “Well, why don’t you look in THAT box?” I said. “Because that’s my last hope,” Duncan said. “And if they’re not in that box then I know they’re really gone for good. So I’m afraid to look in it. Because I’ll be so heart-broken if they’re not in there. So I’m waiting until I’m in a real strong and stable mood before I do it.” Finally, two weeks later, Duncan mustered the courage to look in that box. And the copies of TELE TIMES, thankfully, were indeed in there.

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Duncan used to borrow money from 30 or 40 people every month, through the course of the month. Sometimes he’d get just a quarter. Other times in might be $20 or $30 bucks. Everyone who knew Duncan was well familiar with his endlessly repeated mantra: “Ahh. You couldn’t loan me a couple bucks until the first, could you?” Then on the first of the month, when Duncan got his check, he’d go to the bank with 30 or 40 envelopes and fill them with the money he owed each person. Then he would track them all down and pay them all back. The problem was, by the time he paid everyone back he would have used up all of his check and be broke again. So he’d have to borrow from 30 or 40 people over the course of the next month, to get by. So usually Duncan started out every month already broke and having to borrow. It was like a Myth of Sisyphus deal, where every month Duncan would start out at the bottom of the mountain all over again. I said to Duncan: “You start out every month with the same amount of money whether you borrow or not. So you’re not getting ahead by all this borrowing. And you waste an enormous amount of time and energy every month looking for people to borrow from, and then searching for them to pay them back. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just budget your own money?” Duncan said: “Well, uh, By finding all these people who are willing to loan me money I’m also finding supporters of Duncan. People who are willing to help me in other ways too.” So Duncan had developed this network of supporters. And they would often give him clothes and food and other thing as well as money. So he had his own personal collection of patrons of the artist. So there was a method to his madness. Sometimes.

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One other thing Duncan was famous for. He carried this big cardboard box around with him everywhere he went, curled under his arms and pressed against his chest.. People sometimes wondered what was in the box. He had all of his vending stuff in there, and his art supplies, and his food, and whatever books and comic books he was reading at the time. And God knows what else. The thing weighed a ton. Often Duncan would put crap in his box and forget it was even in there and carry it around for months (or years) before he realized he didn’t need it in his box. Sometimes I would say to him: “Wouldn’t it be more practical to carry your stuff around in a backpack like everybody else?” Duncan said: “Oh. No. I don’t want to learn how to use a backpack.” As far as I know, you didn’t have to read an instructional to learn how to use a backpack. But that was Duncan.

Finally, in Duncan’s last years, when he was getting weaker physically, he did finally switch over to a backpack. And he carried the backpack everywhere he went, curled under his arms and pressed against his chest.

Duncan Logic.

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June 25, 2017

Food is love

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 11:38 pm

 

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Off to the races.

It’s a battle to keep coming up with all the food for my feral cats every day. But I really enjoy it and get a lot of pleasure out of it. So I guess I’d call it more of a game than a battle. And in the 10 years that I’ve been feeding the little rugrats, there’s only been 2 or 3 days when I didn’t have enough food for them. On those days they looked at me like: “What the fuck, dude??” So I had to patiently explain to them that, no matter how many times they meowed at me, I still wasn’t going to be able to materialize any cat food out of thin air. But almost every other day I stuff them full of food.

Today I fed 5 big cats for $1. That’s the ideal. I like to keep the cat food budget at under $2 a day, or about $50 bucks a month. The feeding session started last night. Moo Cat was waiting for me at the foot of the trail by the road. And she really scored this time. I had a leftover dish of pasta from this Italian restaurant with big chunks of chicken slathered in this rich, gooey cheese sauce. As I was getting the food out, Moo Cat kept rubbing against my legs and purring loudly. And when I put the food down on the ground, Moo Cat was so excited she jumped right into the dish. Ha ha. I had to sit there along side her while she was eating to keep the raccoons from bullying her off the food. I work hard enough to get the food. I’m gonna make sure the damn cats get it!

In the morning the regular crew — Scaredy Cat, Mini Scaredy, and Mini Owl — were waiting at my campsite for their breakfast. They usually start meowing at me to wake up and feed them before it’s even light (and to hear them crying you’d think they were starving to death!). As much as I spoil my cats, this is the one area where I draw the line. You drink as much beer as me every night, you’re gonna wake up when you damn well feel like it. So I’ll pull my blankets over my head to drown out their anguished pleas and go back to sleep. But they’ll keep pestering me — their favorite trick is to sit right on top of my head — until I finally drag my carcass into an upright position.

Scaredy Cat always jumps right on top of my backpack where I keep the food. And I have to patiently explain to her that I can’t get the food out until she gets her fat ass off my backpack. First course today was a ground-scored chicken calazone. They went nuts for that (I think my cats have a little Italian in them). And then some leftover McDonald’s scrambled eggs and a sausage patty that someone had left on top of a garbage can (it’s amazing how much discarded food there is in this town). Then I dumped out some dry cat food (I buy a big bag of it at Safeway’s every month at bulk prices so it only costs pennies per serving). And for final course I opened up a 15 ounce can of mackerel that I get for a buck at the Dollar Tree. The salty, oily juice that comes with the mackeral is one of their favorite things to eat and they always go for that first, and lick up every drop. They’re not crazy about the mackerel, but they’ll eat it. I also had a carton of milk that I had found in a discarded bag lunch. And they lapped that all up, too.

Then Fatty showed up off in the distance. She’s afraid to come within 30 feet of my campsite because Mini Scaredy doesn’t like her and always runs her off. So I flung her a couple of ham-and-cheese sandwiches that I had ground-scored. That should keep her busy until the other cats were done eating. Then I took Fatty the leftover dish of food that the other cats didn’t want.

Then Moo Cat showed up off in the distance (like Fatty, she’s been banished from the tribe). So I brought her a plate of food. And again I had to stand guard while she ate because the wild turkeys were lurking and they’d run her off the food if I wasn’t there. Then Mini Scaredy came trotting over. She was already stuffed with food, but she wanted to run Moo Cat off the food just out of spite. Ha ha. So I had to shoo her off (poor ole Moo Cat, she gets shit from every direction).

And that pretty much ended the feeding session for today. But you can bet they’ll all be waiting for me again tonight.

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When me and Duncan used to do our vending table in front of Cody’s Books, our friend Christeen — who lived in the apartment building next door — used to often bring us food in the evening. Christeen loved to cook, and she was a great cook, so she’d bring us these delicious home-cooked meals. Food for the street people.  Feeding the feral humans as it were. And she even developed this pulley system, where she could lower the dishes of food (wrapped in tin foil) down to us from her 4th floor apartment on a rope. And when Christeen’s head was hanging out the window of her apartment, looking down at me, I’d often get this image in my head of: “Rapunzel, throw down your golden home-cooked dinners!!”

Christeen always reminded me of this book title I once saw. “FOOD IS LOVE” (and you know what they say, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”). I always thought that’s how Christeen looked at food. As an expression of love. And I guess that’s the deal with me and my goddamn feral cats, too.

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June 24, 2017

Anthony

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:54 pm

 

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Back in the late 80s, early 90s, Anthony was one of the best street musicians on the Telegraph street scene. Always reminded me a bit of Sly Stone. Could hit that funk rock sweet spot of melody and beat. And he had the gritty streets of Oakland ingrained in his sound. But he could play to the white hippies too. Whenever he was busking and I passed by he’d start playing “White Punks on Dope” by the Tubes in my honor. Ha ha (it was an inside joke between us).

In 1995 one of the DJs at KPFA radio invited me and all my street musician friends to come down to the radio station for a 4-hour late night jam session (I was promoting the release of the TELEGRAPH STREET MUSIC CD). So about 30 of us showed up at the radio station. And we did interviews and played live music and played cuts from the CD.

Anthony showed up with his guitar and his hot girlfriend (he was on top of his game at that point). And while he was waiting for his turn to play live over the radio airwaves he went into the KPFA restroom to get into the mood. But whatever he was smoking in the boys room set off all the fire alarms. Ha ha. The general manager of KPFA had to come running down to the station in his pajamas at 1 in the morning to investigate what the disturbance was. Ha ha. He was pissed.
But whattaya expect inviting a bunch of crazy street musicians into your radio station in the middle of the night?

I recorded the 4 hour radio show off their board (excellent sound quality). I haven’t had a chance to listen to the tapes in 30 years. But I’d love to hear it. To see if the show was boring. Or if it was as fascinating as it is in my memory.

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June 23, 2017

New experiences

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:56 pm

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Of my many character flaws, one of them is that I don’t like to have new experiences. I basically like to do the same thing, day after day. Year after year.

I’m not sure exactly why I have this animus towards new experiences. Part of it is that I’m a nervous person, and a control freak. And I hate being in unfamiliar situations where something unexpected, and potentially unpleasant, might happen.

Also too, I have so much madness and turmoil churning around in my head. My inner world is so unstable. That I at least like to be grounded in a dull and predictable outer world.

One of my least favorite experiences in this life is when I have to knock on somebody’s door, and meet somebody new, and put myself in a new situation. I DREAD that like you wouldn’t believe. I guess I would have made a piss-poor door-to-door salesman.

And whenever I go to a bar or a restaurant, I always want the seat in the back, with my back to the wall. So that nobody can sneak up behind me.

People often say to me: “Ace, what’s happening?” And I’ll say: “Nothing. And that’s a good thing.” Because when something is happening, it’s usually bad. Ha ha. (“No news is good news!”)

I often think to myself: “It’s a fine line between a rut and a groove.” And my life usually feels like both at the same time.

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Sunshine

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:17 pm

 

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Sunshine on my shooo-ders makes me happy . . . .

This is long-time Berkeley street person Sunshine. And what a little dumpling of love she is.

One of Sunshine’s favorite routines — for years and years! — was to call 911 to call for an ambulance. She used to do it 3 or 4 times a week. For YEARS!!

We’d all be hanging out on the street scene. Next thing you know ambulances and fire trucks are rushing towards the scene. Siren blasting and lights flashing.

“What’s going on?”

“Sunshine. Again.”

“Oh.”

And the paramedics would all go rushing towards Sunshine, who was on the street corner waiting for them. “What’s the problem?”  “My tummy really really hurts. I feel really really sick.” So they’d strap her to the stretcher. And haul her carcass off to the hospital.

I’m not sure what the psychology of it was with Sunshine. I guess she liked being the center of attention. And having all these people rushing to help her. And sometimes she’d get a warm bed for a night at the hospital. So she’d pull this routine 3 or 4 times a week. For years.

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“Hmmm. . . Let’s see. I could take the bus to the hospital, which is only about 15 blocks away, and get there faster than if I called an ambulance. And it would save the city $5,000 . . . NAH! I’m taking the ambulance!”

It used to piss me off. Because I heard it cost the city something like $5 thousand bucks every time the ambulance came. So I hated the waste of it. But I guess the ambulance people didn’t care. They were getting paid

So anyways, one night I’m at my 25 cent book street vending stand. It had been a long hard day dealing with one customer after another. But it was 10 o’clock now. And things had finally quieted down. And I could finally start to relax. I poured myself a big cup of Olde English. And took a big hit off my joint. And just as I was kicking back and making myself comfortable, and turning my radio on to a nice relaxing radio station. I noticed good old Sunshine headed for the payphone right behind me.

“Oh no. She better not be. . . ”

Of course she was. Next thing I know my peace and quiet is shattered by sirens blaring. And lights flashing. And paramedics and cops rushing towards me. And Sunshine saying “My tummy really really hurts.”

And the whole mad scene went on for at least an hour (seemingly) before they finally hauled Sunshine’s carcass off to the hospital.

The next day I told Sunshine: “DON’T YOU EVER PULL THAT ROUTINE AT MY VENDING TABLE EVER AGAIN!!”

And out of respect — or fear — for me, she never did. Sunshine would always use the payphone at the next block.

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June 22, 2017

A young woman goes nuts. Literally

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:05 pm

 

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The scene of the crime.

People seem to be flipping out more and more these days.

So I’m sitting there at a cubicle in the library, at a computer, screwing around on my Facebook page, and minding my own business (what could possibly go wrong?). The person sitting at the cubicle next to me is this little chick with a shaved head. She looks like she’s about 17 or 18. And she’s got all of her stuff in one of those luggage-on-wheels things. So I got her pegged as a homeless teenage runaway type. But who knows.

So anyways, when her session at the computer ends, she suddenly bolts up from her chair, knocking her chair over, and then she slams her luggage thing to the floor, which makes this loud WHACKING!! sound. That gets everyone’s attention.

Then she takes her cellphone and some other stuff on her table and throws it against the wall. She’s got tears in her eyes, she’s crying, she’s obviously upset about something. Did she recently suffer a traumatic experience? Or is she just nuts? Who knows. All I know is that she’s nutting up right next to me.

She starts to leave, slamming her luggage thing on the floor with every step. But then she comes running back to her cubicle (and at me). Takes some more stuff from her table and smashes that against the wall. She repeats this process 2 or 3 more times where she starts to leave and then comes rushing back to smash up more stuff.

I’m giving her a sympathetic look. I feel bad for her, and wish there was something I could say or do that would make her feel better. But I’m also looking to make sure she doesn’t have any sharp objects in her hands.

Then she takes out a big bag of un-shelled peanuts and starts throwing them at us. This old guy who is sitting across from me — who is taking the brunt of her peanut assault — starts to complain.

“Hey! I’m just sitting here at my computer! I don’t deserve to be pelted with peanuts!”

But that only pisses her off even more. She throws some more peanuts at him, shouting over and over:

“YOU THINK YOU’RE INSULTED?? YOU THINK YOU’RE ASSAULTED?? YOU THINK YOU’RE INSULTED?? YOU THINK YOU’RE ASSAULTED??

“Quit it,” whines the old guy. “Where the heck are the security guards when you really need them?”

She smashes one more item against the wall for good measure. And then FINALLY makes her exit. I hear her going down the steps, loudly whacking her luggage thing on every step.

And I went back to screwing around on my Facebook page.

June 20, 2017

I always had a little streak of wildness in me

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:41 pm

 

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I always had a little streak of wildness in me.

When I was 16 I spent the summer working as an assistant to the janitors at the local elementary school. Doing stuff like scraping the gum off the bottom of the desks, and mopping the floors, and painting over the graffiti in the restrooms. (That was a real eye-opener the first time I went into the girls restroom. The graffiti in the 8th grade girls restroom was even dirtier and more obscene then the graffiti in the boys restroom. Up until that point I had assumed that girls were “sugar and spice and everything nice.” I would never be fooled by that one again.)

Anyways, one day I happened to be in the basement of the elementary school. And I discovered boxes and boxes of all this army surplus stuff. Sleeping bags and backpacks and tents and all kinds of stuff. It looked kind of old, like it dated back to World War II. And God only knows what it was doing down there in the basement. But it looked like it had been sitting down there for a long time. And that nobody had much of a use for any of it. So I decided to take some of it as fair compensation for all my hard work as boy-janitor.

So when nobody was looking, I stashed a bunch of it in the bushes behind the school. And the plan was to pick it up later that night when nobody was around.

So later that night — in the darkness of night — I drive up to the elementary school. And as I’m driving I’m smoking a bowl full of pot — which was another stupid thing I liked to do back then. And I drive up the driveway of the school, and get the stuff in the bushes, and stash it on the front seat of my car, and pull out.

But as I’m driving out of the driveway, a cop car that happened to be patrolling the area, spots me and drives over towards me.

I panic — if I had kept my cool I probably could have talked my way out of it. But instead I hit the gas and revved my engine as fast I could go, and went blasting down the road. With the cop car in hot pursuit. I had a good head-start and just wanted to get far enough ahead of the cop to throw all the stuff — and my pot (which was probably the more serious offense back in 1973) — out the window. Which I managed to do. And then I tried to out-race the cop. Who was gaining fast on me.

I was on the main road, which was a long straight-away. But after I was about a mile down the road I could tell that my clunker car was no match for the cop car in a straight drag race. So I took a sudden left turn up this side street to try and ditch the cop. But as I was going up the hill my car really died on me. And the cop car blasted ahead of me and cut me off. So that was that.

I forget what they charged me with. Speeding? Reckless driving? Evading the police? But I had to appear before the Judge. We had this little courtroom in the local City Hall building in the suburban town I lived in. So I go to court one evening for the first (but certainly not the last) time. And the Judge is sitting up there in his black robe. And I remember Karen Massaro — this girl in my high school who also had a bit of wildness in her — was also sitting there among the defendants.

So I’m standing there before the Judge. And he’s all pissed at me, he’s giving me this long and angry lecture. A real tongue-lashing. And the one line I remember was: “As a minister’s son we’d expect you to behave at a higher level of conduct.” And THAT pissed me off. That didn’t seem fair. Just because of my father’s job I’m held to a higher standard than everyone else?

But at least the Judge dismissed the charges and I didn’t have to do hard time in the slammer, on account that this was my first (but certainly not my last) offense.

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June 19, 2017

Some random thoughts for Father’s Day

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:45 pm

 

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Like a lot of people, I have complicated feelings about my Father. And when I try to describe those feelings, it’s like a FLOOD of feelings. An over-load of emotion. Like a radio that’s picking up 10 stations at the same time. And all you can hear is static.

My Father’s parents were Italian peasants from Sicily who immigrated to America in the 1920s. Barely spoke English. Owned a little home in Passaic, New Jersey. Every now and then when I was a child we would visit them. My Grandparents. They always seemed like they were sluggish or in a stupor. I don’t remember them ever saying a word to me. And everything in their house seemed old and covered with dust.

Both of my Dad’s two brothers (older than him) saw some of the worst fighting in World War II. I was always struck by the irony of that. My family coming to America for a better life. Only to be shipped back to Europe to be ruined. They spent most of their lives in mental institutions. And my father would always watch over them through all the years, acting as their caretaker, to make sure they were doing all right

My Father was probably the first person in my family to graduate from college. Went to New York City to be a commercial artist. Worked in advertising for awhile. Realized it was a soul-less occupation. Took a stab at developing a comic strip. Finally opted for a career as a Methodist minister. Had his own churches where he preached every Sunday for 30 years until he finally got kicked out of the church for various scandals.

I was enormously critical of him for many years for his various human foibles. He was a very nice guy, always meant well, deeply cared about people in his own way. He was a “hail fellow well met” type (think Ed McMahon). Always happy to meet you and greet you. But he was a bullshitter on another level. And wreaked all sorts of havoc on his family

But I respect that he came from nowhere — this sort of Italian peasant stock with a strong strain of mental insanity to it that was our family tree. And pulled himself up. And developed elevated interests in art and literature and religion and etc. And made a life for himself.

Plus. He created me. So I suppose I should be grateful to him. The bastard.

He’s around 85 now and still hanging in there.

Happy Father’s Day everybody!!

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June 18, 2017

Happy Father’s Day

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:53 pm
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What do you get the God who has everything?

My father was a Methodist minister.  I hated the guy for years.  But that’s another story.  Anyways, when I saw this card in the window of the card shop, I had to send it to him for Father’s Day.  It was appropriate for several reason.  Because he was a minister.  And because he used to paint versions of this painting back when I was a kid.

Generally I found my father’s preaching pretty dull.  But he did develop one good schtick. Before he was a preacher he’d been a commercial artist.  So he had artistic skills.  So he used to put on these special church services called “Chalk Talks.”  He’d be up there on stage by the pulpit with his easel.  And during the course of the hour-long service he would do a chalk drawing of a Biblical scene.  He had it timed so that he’d have the chalk drawing finished just as the service was coming to a close.  And while he was painting, different people would get up there and read Biblical passages or give testimonials, and musicians would play songs, and the choir would sing.  So it was a pretty varied show.  And it was kind of fascinating for average people to see a piece of art being created right before their eyes.

Then, after he finished the chalk drawing, the lights would go out.  The church would go completely dark. And then my Dad would start turning on different lights attached to his easel.  He painted the picture with fluorescent-colored chalk.  So the picture would change before people’s eyes as the different day-glo colors popped up.  Then for the grand finale, my Dad would utter a few solemn and profound profundities (ha ha).  And then the lights would go on and the crowd would go wild.  Followed by backstage scenes of groupies, drugs and debauchery (kidding).

But all and all, it was a pretty effective bit of show biz.  And different churches in the area would hire my Dad to do the gig at their churches.

So anyways, Happy Father’s Day to the all the Fathers out there!

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June 16, 2017

Donald Trump announces his candidacy and the N.Y. Times is there to cover the story!

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:33 pm
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On this date 2 years ago Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President. Which the New York Times dismissed as “improbable.”  And that his chances of winning was a “remote prospect.” Adding that Trump’s “presidential posturing has seldom been taken seriously, and for good reason.” The Times went on to speculate that Trump was probably just running to get attention and promote his brand.

Meanwhile, Trump took time out from his speech to “ridicule John F. Kerry for having broken his leg in a bicycle accident.” Ha ha.

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