Acid Heroes

July 12, 2018

One more reason why I make a point to avoid eye contact in public

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:05 pm



Another wonderful day at the Berkeley Library. The guy sitting down at the cubicle directly in front of me, two words out of his mouth and I got him pegged as the Just Out Of The Joint type. White guy about 30 with a tight, black ponytail, long-boned, chest and arms covered with tattoos showing through his sleeveless t-shirt. Plops down his huge frame backpack and immediately gets into it with this old guy sitting at the cubicle next to him.

“What you doin’ staring at me, boy?? Is this some kind of faggot shit. You got no right to look me over like that just because I’m wearing a tracking device!!”

The old guy looks back at him, completely perplexed. Like: How did I get myself into THIS? There I was just minding my own business . . .

Now the guy is glaring at the old guy with daggers. “You look at me one more time and I’ll take you outside and cut you up. You thinking I’m playing? You don’t know me. I’ll cut you up. You wanna go outside?”

The old guy stands up and backs off, you can tell he’s pissed that this complete asshole is going off on him in public for no reason, but you can tell he also doesn’t want to escalate the situation.

Then three library employees, including a burly black security guard, are hovering over him, trying to calm the guy down..

“Are you telling me I gotta leave??” he says. “I wasn’t doing nothing. You just heard the second part when I was going off on that white cracker. But you didn’t see the first part when he kept staring at me and my tracking device. . . No I’m not leaving until I talk to my parole officer. I gotta check in with my parolee whenever I get into a confrontation.”

He takes out his cellphone, calls his parole officer and tells him the same basic story he told the security guards. I can faintly hear the parole officer’s voice squawking on the other end in an official tone, no doubt offering sage, sensible advice that translates in the real world as: “Don’t cause any more trouble, you stupid fucking asshole.”

“OK, I talked to my parolee and now I’ll leave,” says the guy. He hoists his big frame backpack on his back, and another big pack on his chest, and the security guards escort him down the stairs and out of the building.

I think he had been in the library for less than a few minutes before he got into his confrontation . . . Guys like that, you wonder how they make it to the end of the day.




July 9, 2018

Everybody’s good at something

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:53 pm



Charles Bukowski spent nearly 60 years as the consummate alcoholic. And the empty bottles and cans of alcohol would endlessly pile up at the Bukowski household.

The garbage man that worked in Bukowski’s neighborhood would marvel at the sheer number of empty bottles and cans that amassed at the garbage can outside of Bukowski’s home. One morning, while he was hauling off Bukowski’s garbage, the garbage man happened to run into Bukowski in front of his home. “Man, you are one powerful drinker!” said the garbage man.

Bukowski said he felt strangely honored by that comment. Ha ha.



Childhood Greatest Hits

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:48 pm




When I was a little kid we considered this the height of risque comedy. We’d go up to another kid and say: “Sing the Yankee Doodle song but start every word with an F.”

“OK. Fanky Foodle fent foo fown a fiding fon a fony. Fuck a feather . . .”

“HAW HAW!! You said a dirty word. YUCK YUCK YUCK!!”



Hate Man’s coffee bottle

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:33 pm




Hate Man’s legendary coffee bottle, which he always dolled up with colorful objects. Hate was one of those people who drank coffee all day long throughout the course of the day (I used to be like that back when I was a productive citizen — now I’m just one large coffee first thing in the morning to kick-start my engine and that’s it). So his coffee bottle was never far from his side.

One time Hate Man asked me to get him a large black coffee to-go at Peats. “And take a second cup to the condiments table and fill that half-way up with sugar.” Hate Man liked a LOT of sugar with his coffee.

Guy lived to be 80.


Superman with a close, personal friend

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:31 pm



July 8, 2018

“Telegraph Avenue” by Eddie Monroe

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:40 pm



Hate Man and his stuff: Part 2. Hate Man tells the University to stuff it

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:35 pm



When Hate Man moved to People’s Park and set up Hate Camp there, his battles with the police and the University over his “stuff” really intensified, and became virtually a daily form of warfare that was waged for over a decade. It wasn’t uncommon for Hate to have a dozen “stuff”-related tickets at any given moment. Virtually all of which Hate defeated in court.

The problem the police had with nailing Hate over this issue was that there was very little legal precedent to go by, as well as the difficulting of exactly defining what “too much stuff” entailed. A fact that Hate was able to exploit in court.

The cops would arbitrarily attempt to come up with different definitions — one was “you could only have as much stuff as you could carry.” But Hate would argue that this discriminated against older, smaller, weaker people who couldn’t carry as much as younger, bigger, stronger people.

Or the cops would try to give street people tickets for having chairs, which they considered a form of “lodging.” To which Hate countered that this discriminated against the homeless, because normal people were allowed to bring lawn chairs to the parks when they had their picnics.

Hate had an excellent legal mind. And he enjoyed using it. He enjoyed the gamesmanship of the battle. And never took it personally against the police or the University. He saw it as part of his life-long mission to learn how to deal effectively with nemeses and people who were in opposition to him. And most of the cops didn’t take it personally either. Aside from one or two who REALLY hated Hate Man’s guts and went out of their way to make Hate’s life miserable.

And to be fair to the cops, it was necessary for them to periodically crunch the homeless street people over having too much stuff. Because many of them compiled huge masses of crap and made huge messes. And if the cops didn’t periodically prune the herd, they’d turn our public parks and public spaces into private squats and homeless shanty towns.

Hate Man, though, was in somewhat of a unique position. He served as sort of a communal store and trading post for the street community. And among his stuff he’d have things like a “medicine chest” where street people could get things like aspirins and cough medicine and band aids. And if you needed to borrow a screw driver or an extra blanket or the proverbial cup of sugar, Hate would usually have it among his mounds of stuff. And Hate also let other street people store their stuff alongside his stuff — he’d keep an eye on it while they had to take care of some business. Which added to his mounds of stuff. And, of course, he usually had several big garbage bags of recycled cans and bottles.

Every now and then I would ask Hate if it was really worth it to go through the daily grind over his stuff, and wouldn’t he consider “flexing” and lightening his load. But Hate Man was always adamant about living his life on his own terms. And if society wanted to stop him, well, good luck doing that. Ha ha. Hate was never shy about pushing the envelope. And wherever the line was drawn, he’d extend it by a couple extra feet. And it would be from that point that he’d be willing to start negotiating. Ha ha.

Finally, in a last-ditch attempt to get rid of Hate Man and all his stuff, as well as all the other homeless people who were basically living in Peoples Park, the University arbitrarily came up with a ban on all cardboard and tarps in the park. Hate Man, realizing this would make it virtually impossible for street people to exist in the park, decided to go on the offensive. And he — and his noisy band of fellow street people — set up a big 24-hour-a-day protest on Bancroft Street, at the foot of the campus and directly in front of the University police station. And he managed to create such a public uproar, that after several weeks the University backed down and relinquished the ban.

And Hate Man prevailed once again. THE END



July 7, 2018

Modes of communication on the World Wide Web!

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 6:45 pm



I enjoy talking to people over the internet. But it occurred to me, this is a relatively new mode of communication. Where we can type out a comment, and then, almost instantly, any stranger with access to a computer can read and comment on what you’ve just said. So I guess we’re all just kind of learning how to use this new technology this on the fly.

Now my dialogues with people on the internet often follow a naturally progression (or regression): They start out as 1.) discussions, then turn into 2.) debates, and then into 3.) arguments, and finally into 4.) insult-fests. And i can enjoy all four modes to varying degrees.

“Discussion” is probably my favorite mode (though there’s a lot to be said for “insult-fests,” too). Especially when the other person comes to the discussion in good faith. Neither party is trying to “win” anything. Its merely an “exchange of ideas.” And we usually both end up learning something new by being exposed to new points of view that we hadn’t previously considered.

“Debate” can be a livelier and more exciting mode. Because your point of view is actively being challenged. But this can be dynamic, like a hotly-contested athletic contest between two equals. The verbal equivalent of a fencing duel. And you can become sharper in your thinking from the exercise. But alas one’s opponent often doesn’t come to these exchanges in good faith. Their primary concern is to “win,” by fair or foul. Often they’re motivated by a need to show the world how “smart” they are (so naturally they don’t actually listen to what YOU’RE saying — they already know everything). Or else they’re urgently trying to advance some agenda that they think the world at large urgently needs. So any dirty little debating trick they employ is justified by the greater good of their agenda being advanced.

Which usually leads to the third mode, “argument.” By this point both parties are like radios: they transmit but don’t receive. And it usually just degenerates into who can shout the loudest and the longest (use all CAPITAL LETTERS if necessary).

Which leads to the final mode, the “insult-fest.” Which can also be enjoyable as we each access our inner Don Rickles. As well as serving the purpose of putting the whole exercise to a quick and merciful ending.



The surgery to get my cat fixed went relatively fine aside from one or two mishaps

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 6:39 pm


Hate Man and his stuff: Part 1

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 6:28 pm

Hate Man at the center of his universe.


Hate Man had an ongoing battle with the police and the University for over 25 years over his “stuff.” Quite simply they felt he, as a homeless person living in public spaces, had “too much stuff.”

The battle first started in the early 1990s when Hate Man used to like to hang out and set up his Hate Camp at the first two benches at the entrance to the Berkeley campus. And he liked to keep all of his stuff in his beloved shopping cart, named “Gilda,” which he parked nearby him. The University felt his raggedy-ass homeless shopping cart despoiled the scenic beauty of the campus, as well as attracted other motley bums to set up shop. So they demanded he get rid of it. Hate refused. The cops gave Hate a bunch of tickets. And i think they even arrested him at one point.

But Hate — a battler by nature — decided to battle back (“Life is a battle, its a war!! was Hate’s eternal mantra). So he consulted with lawyers and devised all sorts of legal strategies to battle it out in court (Hate would have made a great lawyer). He also had good skills at manipulating the media, and the press couldn’t resist a story about a wacky Telegraph Avenue character who had a shopping cart named “Gilda.” So the University was subjected to reams of embarrassing publicity.

Finally the University realized they were no match for the wiley ways of Hate Man and conceded defeat. And Hate Man and “Gilda” lived hatefully ever after. (Later, when I put on an art gallery showing of “street art” I mounted Hate’s shopping cart on a dais, like a sculpture, and placed it in the middle of the gallery, a living piece of art.)

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