Acid Heroes

July 30, 2017


Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:05 pm



VICTORY IS MINE!! Everyone who knows me knows I’m famous for hating waiting on lines (I have the patience of a flea). So I was just at the Dollar Tree. And there’s a pretty long line, like usual. This elderly Asian lady is at the end of the line. So I take my place alongside her. I did that because that’s how the line usually works at Dollar Tree. The line veers right at that point, because if I had taken the spot directly behind her I would be blocking the flow of traffic in the main aisle.

So then this woman with a kid shows up. She ignores me and takes the spot directly behind the Asian woman.

When the Asian woman steps up towards the counter I immediately step up behind her.

“EXCUSE me!” said the woman with the kid. “I’m waiting on line here.”

“I was in line before you,” I said.

“No you weren’t. My kid was here,” she lied.

“Oh. . . OK,” I said. And I move behind her. I’m pissed. But what can you do? Make a big ugly scene over something trivial? (I momentarily considered that option but then thought better of it).

But then as luck would have it, a Dollar Tree employee calls out: “This other cash register is now open!”

I whisk to the head of that line, pay for my groceries, and as I prance towards the exit I can’t help glancing over at the woman with the kid. She’s still waiting on line with 2 people ahead of her. I give her a happy little smile. She glares back at me like she wants to kill me. And I exit stage left.

And, for once, justice prevails.



July 27, 2017

One fine afternoon on Shattuck Avenue

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 6:58 pm

Yesterday I spotted this woman casually hanging out on Shattuck, enjoying the afternoon.  Wearing no pants.


July 24, 2017

Meet my new neighbor

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:13 pm
 14370280_1571775182840019_4133743059190937246_n.jpgI was thinking how cruel it is that Mini Scaredy keeps running the other feral cats out of “her” territory. But then, off course, I do the exact same thing. Any other homeless people that think they can camp at “my” campsite, soon find out that they can’t. And it doesn’t matter if there are four of them and only one of me They are going, going, gone. i may not run them up a tree, like Mini Scaredy does. But I metaphorically run them down the trail. (and usually they leave a huge mess behind for me to clean up)

So anyways, a couple of mornings ago i packed up my campsite and headed on down to the creek (which I consider part of “my” campsite, by the way). The creek has been bone-dry lately — and it will be for the next 4 months. So I set up a make-shift “watering hole” for the local critters — this aluminum tray that i embedded into the dry dirt of the creek bottom, and I fill it up with a jug of water every morning. But, much to my chagrin, I discover this guy is camping down there by the creek. This young guy with horned-rim glasses and paranoid, worried eyes (here we go again, I think).


Now generally, I don’t say anything the first time somebody camps at my spot. Usually, they’re just passing through, and they’re gone by the next day. So I just let it play out by itself.

“I’m bringing some water for the critters,” i say to the guy, gesturing with the jug of water. I walk past his sleeping bag and fill the tray up with water. But with my body language, I’m also passing on this unspoken message: “I consider this space MY space and not YOUR space and I’ll traipse through it whenever I feel like it.” I also put out an unfriendly and unwelcoming vibe (hoping they get the message). Along with a slight hint of menace. This “I-very-well-may-be-a-crazy-fucker-so-you-might-wanna-keep-your-distance” vibe (a vibe I put out naturally and easily, ha ha). And head on down the trail.

The next morning I’m chagrined to discover that the guy is not there, but he left several large tarps splayed out on the ground. That means either a.) he’s planning on coming back (he’s an idiot), or b.) he just left some of his crap behind for somebody else to clean up (he’s an ass). Naturally I’m hoping it’s the latter.

So I wrote a message on a piece of paper: “NO OFFENSE BUT THIS IS NOT A GOOD SPOT TO CAMP. THIS IS PART OF MY CAMPSITE.” I put the paper on top of his tarp and weighed it down with a rock.

The next two mornings, the tarp (and the message) are still there, but no sign of the guy. So I figure he’s gone. I leave the tarp there for one more day (just in case he wants to come back and get it). And then the next morning i go down there with a garbage bag and pack up the tarp so I can get rid of it (the last thing i want is some obvious sign of a campsite which might alert the authorities that I’m there).

But as I’m packing it up, somebody calls out to me from up the hill on the other side of the creek: “HEY DON’T STEAL MY TARP!”

“I’m not stealing your tarp, I’m just packing it up. I’ll bring it up to you,” I yell. The guy has set up his campsite about 40 yards up the hill (I consider the other side of the creek, NOT my campsite, by the way).

So I climb up the hill. I’m eager to get a good look at this guy so i can get a read as to where he’s coming from. I may well be living along side him for some time to come. So if he’s trouble (which they usually are) I want to find out what KIND of trouble. So I’ll know what to expect BEFORE he makes the trouble (that way I’m always one step ahead of the guy).

I make my way up to his campsite. He has junk laying around all over the place, And five pieces of clothes hanging from a tree branch, clearly visible from the road (not a good sign).

“How ya’ doing,” I said. I hand him his tarp and shake his hand. “No offense, but I consider that spot by the creek part of my campsite. That’s where I hang out and feed my feral cats.”

“Oh, OK,” he said. “I saw your note. And I couldn’t tell what to make of it. Whether you were inviting me to hang out at that spot or not.”

(That’s a bad sign. How he could interpret my simple message of DON’T CAMP THERE to mean I’M INVITING YOU TO CAMP THERE is bizarre. This guy’s brain obviously interprets information with it’s own confused logic. Right now I’m intently gauging every word he says, studying the meanings to try and figure out where this guy is coming from. I’ve pretty quickly got him pegged as a nut. Now the only question is whether he’s a.) a harmless nut, or b.) a dangerous nut.)

“So how you been doing?” I said.

“Oh it’s been terrible,” he said. “I’m just trying to find some food to eat that won’t make me sick. I’ve got a big bag of bread with no nitrates in it. You want to come up and see it?”

“So are you planning on camping here for awhile?”

“Oh it’s been crazy around here lately.”

“What do you mean?

“Didn’t you hear the big crazy scene that was going on the other night? It all started with this woman I know from Gainesville, Florida. G-ville. They poisoned her and she ended up dying from alcohol poisoning. And then when I tried to get to the bottom of it and figure out what really happened things really started getting crazy. And then these other people –”

“Oh really,” I said. I cut him off mid-sentence because I could tell he was ready to launch off into some long and crazy story that made no sense. “Have you noticed if that other guy who’s been camping on this side of the creek is still around?”

“I have no idea. I’ve been too busy trying to keep from being crucified. I almost died just from the fumes of the Kentucky Fried Chicken that were leaking into my room.”

I’m quickly realizing this guy is completely nuts. Every simple question I ask him is met with some complete non sequitor. And the fact that, in the course of a short, casual conversation he throws in several references to violent death is not a particularly encouraging sign.

“Well, you take it easy,” I said. And I headed on down towards the road.

Meet my new neighbor.

July 23, 2017

Life on the streets

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:22 pm



Life on the streets: I go to People’s Park this morning. At the top of the park this young woman is lying on her back in the gutter. Her eyes are closed and her arms and legs are splayed in a weird posture. At first I think she’s seriously whacked on drugs. Or dead.

“Hey are you right?” I said.

She opens her eyes just barely

“Hey are you all right?”

She nods her head weakly.

“Hey you should get out of the gutter. A car could pull over to park and run you over. You should lie on the grass there by the sidewalk.”

She lays there stiff as a board not moving a muscle.

“Hey are you all right?”

She nods her head again.

Jack, a park regular, is sitting on a bench nearby. I go over to him and ask: “Do you know that woman.” “No,” he says.

I head back to the young woman in the gutter. Another woman is standing over her talking on her cellphone.

“Are you calling 911?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “Do you know her?”

“No,” I said.



Image may contain: tree, grass, sky, outdoor and natureA small crowd has gathered around her. The woman with the cellphone reaches down and strokes her face. Somebody else offers her a bottle of water. There’s nothing else we can do now except wait for the ambulance. Which always seems to take an eternity. I put a cardboard box in the road ahead of her just to make sure a car doesnt pull over, and wait off in the distance.

The ambulance pulls up and eventually she’s able to stand up by herself and sit on the stretcher with her hands in front of her in a praying posture. And they haul her off. And that’s that.

She’s been on the park scene for awhile. She’s an odd duck. Sometimes I’d see her standing for long periods of time in weird, contorted yoga postures. It was hard to tell if she was on some weird spiritual trip or on drugs or in some kind of catatonic state. Some people’s minds just work differently. She’s also very pretty in a girlish way.

Mostly she hangs out all day at the bottom of the park at a picnic table, quietly drawing away on an art tablet along side this older black man she’s befriended who’s also an artist. I’ve never seen her speak. And I’m not sure she can.

All kinds in this world of ours.



July 21, 2017

Fatty vs. Mini Scaredy, Round 47

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:38 pm

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I slept down by the creek last night. Mostly because I wanted to make sure Fatty got some food. She’s been banished from my campsite (Mini Scaredy runs her out every time she shows up). So I camped in Fatty’s neck of the woods in the hopes of getting her some food.

Sure enough, first thing in the morning Fatty comes running down the hill to where I’m camping. I had a big bag of chicken and other treats for her. Which she gobbled up happily.

But then, right on cue, Mini Scaredy — the alpha female of the tribe of feral cats — shows up. She immediately charges at Fatty with murder in her eyes. Fatty turns and runs for her life. Just barely manages to elude Mini Scaredy by running up a tree. Mini Scaredy follows her half way up the tree. But that’s usually how the feral cat fights end. Once they’re up a tree there’s nothing they can do. Because if they try to take a swipe at the other cat with their claw, they fall out of the tree (they need all of their claws to hold onto the tree). So at least the fights usually end non-violently.





July 18, 2017


Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:55 pm

Image may contain: cat, outdoor and nature

In a way my life went down a dead end. That can happen. I’ve seen it happen with other people’s lives.

I first noticed it happening around 2004. “EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE IS CONTRACTING!”

That was the phrase that popped into my mind.


And that exactly described the process. All the things in my life that had been working, stopped working. All the relationships in my life that had been working, stopped working. One by one they all died out. It was a gradual process. But a relentless process. It was sort of like watching a lush, beautiful piece of scenery gradually drying up and turning into a barren desert.

It was somewhat of a shock and surprise when it started happening in 2004. Because up to that point my life had been fairly expansive. Each project led to new projects. Each relationship led to new relationships. One door closed and two doors opened.

And then things just stopped developing. My life, my options, kept getting narrower and narrower. It was as if I was painting myself into a corner that got smaller and smaller.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why. Sometimes it can simply be a physical decline. Or a spiritual decline. Or you get locked into a pattern that worked for awhile, but then the world shifted, and you couldn’t shift or adjust with it. Or sometimes you just get hit with a traumatic experience — or a series of traumatic experiences — and it knocks the wind out of your sails, and you go down and you can never quite pick yourself up again. That’s probably what happened to me.

I’m not complaining, mind you. Or asking for help. Because I’ve had a pretty amazing life basically. It’s more of a wistful feeling that I’m feeling. This probably sounds corny but I saw my life as a rocket blasting up into sky. Blasting towards the stars. And it was a hell of a ride. But at some point you run out of fuel. Your forward progress stops. And you slowly start drifting back down to earth. . .



July 17, 2017

Life decisions

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:32 pm





I was just at the liquor store buying a 40 of Olde English malt liquor. This wholesome young couple on line ahead of me are buying a big bottle of orange juice.

So I’m looking at their bottle of orange juice. And my bottle of malt liquor. Sitting there on the counter, side by side. And it’s an odd juxtaposition.

The orange juice is bright orange-colored. And it seems to radiate health and sunshine and goodness.

While my Olde English is piss-yellow colored. And it seems to ooze with degeneracy and darkness and derangement.

Every now and then I can’t help but question some of my life decisions.

But what the hell. Later tonight I’ll be convinced I made the right decision.




July 15, 2017

The end of the Serial Flusher

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:21 pm



They finally ran the Serial Flusher off the campus. And I was surprised to find that I missed him. Even though I had had only two interactions with the guy over the years. And they were both bad.

The Serial Flusher had been hanging out on the Sproul Plaza area for at least 20 years. Mostly sitting by himself staring off into space with a contorted expression on his face. In all these years I never once saw him talking to another human being. He was an odd duck.

My first encounter with the Serial Flusher, I just about wanted to kill him. I was sitting in a restroom stall in the basement of a virtually empty building early one morning. Quietly taking care of my business while I recovered from the night before. When suddenly there was this EXPLOSION of toilet-flushing sounds. And it went on, non-stop, for several minutes. And I could hear the nut, the Serial Flusher, giggling like a schoolgirl as he romped from toilet to toilet, urinal to urinal, flushing each one over and over and over. Later I got in his face and told he better not EVER pull that shit ever again when I was in the restroom.


Years later he pulled that shit on me again. And I REALLY let him have it that time. He got the message that time. And, as far as I know, he never did his toilet-flushing routine again.

I guess I miss the Serial Flusher, as crazy as he was, because he was one of the last links to the 1990s when the street people ruled Sproul Plaza. And there would be hundreds of us hanging out every day, all day long. And all night too. And after midnight we pretty much had the entire run of the campus all to ourselves. It was like our personal playground to romp around in.

But over the years, one by one, most of the Sproul Plaza street people died or moved on. To the point where there were only a hand full of quiet, loner types like me and the Serial Flusher who were still around. And now one more is gone.

Oh well. *sigh*

Maybe tonight I’ll flush a few toilets in his honor.



July 14, 2017

Tent City, U.S.A.

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:37 pm


About a year ago, when I went down to the flatlands of Berkeley (the warehouse district) to pay the rent on my storage locker, I noticed this make-shift tent had popped up on this side street. And since then, every month when I go down there to pay my rent, there are more and more of these tents and make-shift structures. And more and more homeless people. This ever-growing tent city of homeless people.

And it is highly symbolic in my mind. Because I’ve been following the homeless scene for 40 years, since 1976. And from my eyeball perspective, the homeless problem has gotten worse and worse every year. And the homeless population has grown bigger and bigger every year. For 40 years.

But here’s the really weird part. For 40 years I’ve heard the same people coming up with the same “solutions” that haven’t worked for 40 years. And they’ll probably continue to chime in with the same useless “solutions” for the NEXT 40 years.



We haven’t even been able to SLOW DOWN the problem. Let alone SOLVE it. It’s obvious our “solutions” to date haven’t worked.


Now if a patient keeps getting sicker and sicker, unless it’s a terminal illness, it’s usually a sign that the Doctor has MISDIAGNOSED the problem. And the patient will continue to get sicker and sicker until the Doctor comes up with the correct diagnosis.

It’s obvious we’ve MISDIAGNOSED the homeless problem. Nothing weve tried has worked, after all.

It’s obvious we need to come at the homeless issue from a fresh, new perspective. And see if we can diagnose the actual cause, and the actual solution.


Here it is a month later. Growing and growing and growing.





Love Truly Sucks

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:09 pm

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