April 3, 2017
April 2, 2017
April 1, 2017
They both have the exact same food.
“Two can play at that game.”
March 27, 2017
I always get a wistful feeling when I walk by this corner. I’m so haunted by my past in a way. And a thousand random memories might pop into my brain. Some happy. Some funny. Some bizarre. Some heart-breaking.
Just now as I passed I was thinking about the Summer of 1982. Remembering dropping off a big stack of TWISTED IMAGE #1 — hot off the presses! — and leaving it with the other free newspapers by the front door of Cody’s Books. It was my first real success in the world, age 26. After mostly fucking up, up to that point. So it was a triumphant moment. And it was the first (and certainly not the last) time I would leave my mark on Telegraph Avenue. It was kind of like a dog marking his territory by urinating on the corner. I guess that’s what I was doing, dropping off a big stack of my newspapers on that corner (“I’M HERE, WORLD!”).
Or — like Billy Pilgrim traveling in time — my mind might suddenly fast-forward to December of 1990. And the CBS News film crew is there to interview me and Duncan about the latest issue of the TELEGRAPH STREET CALENDAR. And I’ll think back to all the characters that were on the scene back then. And wonder where they all went. And why the hell I’m still here. . .
And it’ll keep going back and forth like that in my mind. Until I finally get to the next block. And I can stop thinking about all that crap.
March 25, 2017
I lived in this apartment building on University Avenue in Berkeley for 13 years. 1982 to 1995. I had a studio apartment on the 2nd floor. That’s my kitchen window in the upper right corner.
I used to smoke a lot of pot back then. But I always got a little paranoid when I smoked pot in my apartment. Because the manager and his wife lived right next door to me. And I was paranoid that if they smelled my pot, they might report me to the owner of the building, who was extremely conservative, and I’d get evicted from my apartment.
Stan and Rose Mary was the name of the manager and his wife. They were a little, old gray-haired couple. He was about 70 and she was about 60. And pretty straight-laced. And back in those ancient days there were a LOT of strait-laced people who looked down on pot. It was definitely illegal back then, that’s for sure. And a LOT of people thought pot was just as bad as heroin or any other drugs.
So whenever I smoked pot in my apartment I’d always open up all the windows. And I’d blow the pot smoke out the window. Fan the smoke a little. And I never smoked by my front door, lest the pot smell leaked out to the hallway and into the manager’s front door.
For most of the years I lived there I was a pretty good tenant (aside from being a pot-smoking drug degenerate). But then in 1994 I got 4 months behind on my rent (I cleverly was sinking every penny I got my hands on, into recording and manufacturing a CD that I was convinced was going to be a big, big hit, but ended up barely breaking even).
So now I was DOUBLEY paranoid about Stan the manager. And I would dart in and out of my apartment hoping he didn’t catch me.
But then one day he caught me just as I was walking into my apartment.
“Uh, Ace, could I talk to you for a second about your rent?” said Stan.
Oh fuck! Busted!
“Yeah, I know,” I said. “I’m four months behind on my rent. I guess if I can’t come up with some money pretty soon I’m gonna have to move out.”
“Ace, this is what i think you should do,” said Stan.
“Say what??” I said.
“That’s right. You should grow pot,” he said.
Now out of ALL the things I expected Stan the manager was going to say to me at that exact moment. That was probably just about the LAST thing I expected he’d say.
“Yeah, there’s a LOT of money in pot,” he said. “I’ve been growing it myself for years. And I even set up 8 other people around town with the grow-room equipment so they can grow it in their closets. And I supply them with primo seeds and plants to get them started. Then we pool the profits.”
“You’re kidding??” I said.
“Heck no I’m not kidding. Wait right here.”
Stan dashed into his apartment. And then came back with this big plastic container of green butter.
“We turn the buds into pot butter. This is pure THC. Then we turn it into edibles.”
Stan’s wife Rose Mary popped up behind him with a big smile on her face. “Here, Ace, try a couple of these,” she said, handing me two big oat meal cookies. “They’re from our latest batch.”
“Geez!” I said.
“But you might want to only eat half of that cookie,” she said, proudly. “They’re pretty strong.”
I guess I should have known. Stan often did walk around the building with a big, glassy-eyed smile on his face.
“I can set you up with all the grow-room equipment you need,” said Stan
It turned out Stan even subscribed to HIGH TIMES magazine and had seen my comics in there. Which is why he thought I’d be a good person for the job.
But it was the weirdest thing. It was like being strapped down into an electric chair to be executed. But then right before they pull the switch you get a call from the Governor, who not only gives you a pardon, but tells you you just won the Lottery.
But that’s the weird thing about living in those old apartment buildings. You just NEVER know what the people next-door are really doing behind closed doors.
March 23, 2017
Everyone in my family is short. My 4 brothers and sisters and mother and father are all around 5-foot-6 or shorter. Except for me. Somehow I ended up 6-foot tall.
And I was short most of the time when I was a kid growing up. In 8th grade I was about 5-foot tall. I remember the 8th grade graduation ceremony. They lined the whole class up by size for the ceremony. I was like the 5th shortest kid in a class of a couple hundred people.
But then when I was 16 I inexplicably shot up and started to grow. I always suspected I actually WILLED myself to grow tall. You see, my big dream as a kid was to be a professional basketball player. So I really wanted to be tall. So my mother put a tape-measurer on the side of the doorway leading to the kitchen. And every couple of weeks I’d put my back to the tape-measurer and measure myself. I’d write a little line on the doorway with a pencil, of where the top of my head was, so I could see how much I had grown in the last 3 weeks.
And by the time I was 17 I had made it to 6-feet tall. I really think I WILLED myself to grow. Measuring myself over and over (don’t under-estimate the power of auto-suggestion).
So anyways, I had a bad relationship with my mother (she didn’t like me and I didn’t like her — long story). So for most of my adult life I never saw my mother or had any kind of relationship with her.
But then a couple years ago we started hanging out a bit. Every couple of weeks we’d go out for coffee. Stuff like that. And whenever she saw me she’d always say the same thing:
“You’re so TALL!!”
She’d sort of gush about it with this big smile on her face. Part of it was because most of the time when she knew me as a kid I was small. So it surprised her that I was now tall.
But after awhile it started to annoy me that she gushed “You’re so TALL!!” every time she saw me. I realized it was mostly perfunctory. She wanted to make a big show that she liked me and approved of me and was impressed with me. So she’d constantly compliment me for being tall.
But after awhile I realized that was the ONLY thing she could think of to compliment me about. I mean she was never impressed by any of my artwork or any of my accomplishments or any of my other allegedly sterling traits. But she could always say how impressed she was that I was tall. “You’re so TALL!!” It was her “go-to” compliment. But after awhile it started to feel like damning-with-faint-praise (like I said we always had a lousy relationship).
But anyways, I still to this day believe I WILLED myself to grow tall. Measuring my height over and over.
Though it could just be recessive genes.
Or it could be the milkman we had before I was born. I heard he was about 6-foot tall, kind of gangling, always wore a baseball hat, and they say he had an odd love for feral cats. And he was always delivering the milk to our house when my father was off at work.
So they could explain it too.
I’m never really satisfied. Sometimes I’ll be petting one of my feral cats. And the cat will be purring and purring. And I’ll think: “Is that it??”
March 22, 2017
.The one thing I really miss, since I stopped drawing cartoons back in 1995. Isn’t drawing cartoons. I don’t miss that at all. But I miss being a “cartoonist.” It was like belonging to a really cool club. Fellow cartoonists. It was like a secret brethren. You meet another cartoonist. And you instantly recognize them. As One Of Us.
Of all the feral cats at my campsite (there are 7 at this point) I think Mini Owl is getting to be the most attached to me.
His favorite nesting spot is about 20 yards down the hill from my campsite. It’s a cool little spot. Nestled among the bushes. And it gets a lot of direct sunlight. So Mini Owl likes to lay there in his personal nest, basking in the sun.
All the other feral cats. They like to hang out with me at my campsite. But eventually, they eat their breakfast, and hang out for awhile, and then head off in different directions to their personal, private nests.
(All these years I’ve never been able to figure out where their nests are. When I thought Scaredy Cat had popped out a litter of kittens, I tried to find out where her nest was. But I never found it.)
But Mini Owl sets up his nest (his pad) just 20 yards down the hill from my campsite.
So every morning, after all the other feral cats have split, and I’m packing up my campsite, Mini Owl (whos hanging out at his nest) will hear me packing up and come trotting back up from his nest to say goodbye to me.
Usually I’ll give him an extra treat before I go. This morning I had this big, leftover turkey leg to give him. So he really scored.
I think he’s a little more attached to me than the other feral cats. Because he lingers around right to the last minute before I leave.