One of the problems with doing drugs is, you only get one brain, and if you screw it up you’re in trouble

 

I’ve been around drug and alcohol people for most of my life. So I’ve seen my fair share of damage over the years. Usually the damage is a cumulative affect over a period of years. Like this guy who was on the scene for awhile who went by the unlikely name of Happy Dave. About every year or so Happy Dave would have another drug-related stroke from doing too much crack cocaine. It’s like every time I saw him it was like another part of his body had become paralyzed. First he got around with a cane. And then a walker. And then a wheelchair. And then finally Happy Dave got so immobile they had to haul him off in an ambulance to god-knows-where. And that was the last I ever saw of Happy Dave.

But one of the more disturbing things is the people who burn out practically overnight. It’s like one moment they’re normal. And then suddenly they’re just not all there anymore. They took a batch of poorly-mixed drugs, or took too much of the wrong drug, and instantly and permanently burned out a part of their brain. You can actually SEE the brain damage in their eyes. This glazed, dulled, dead-eyed look.

I remember this one kid who was on the scene for awhile, went by the street name Booger. I forget his real name, it was a Latino name like Ortiz or something, though he looked completely Anglo. Fresh-faced young guy, All-American kid, stocky with boyish good looks, 18 or 19. Usually wore a black leather jacket. Always smiling. I didn’t know him very well — he hung out with a mostly younger crowd, the gutter punk kids who were prominent on the scene at the time. But he also hung out on the periphery of Hate Man’s Hate Camp scene on the campus, so I got to know him a little bit. He was usually full of enthusiasm. He hadn’t been on the street scene very long, maybe a couple months, but he seemed to be enjoying it. Young guys often hit the street scene for awhile, in between deciding what the want to do with their life, drawn to the “endless party” aspect of the street scene. Getting high, getting drunk, getting a little wild, hooking up and having sex with some of the wild street chicks, grooving to a drum circle, banging on guitars, howling at the moon, and all of that. There’s a certain freedom to the street scene. Booger liked to sometimes do chalk art on the sidewalk in front of Cody’s Books by our vending table, and he had some artistic talent. Did this one really nice cartoon drawing of a wild-looking punk guy will studs and a big mohawk and a maniacal grin, holding up a bottle of booze. I published a full-page photo of it in the “Street Art” issue of the TELEGRAPH STREET CALENDAR. And that was my only real connection with the guy. Just one more of the thousands of people who come and go on the Berkeley street scene.

Then one day I noticed Booger was sitting by himself on the steps of the Student Union Building with his head down. And he had been sitting there for quite some time. Even odder, it was the middle of the winter and yet he was wearing nothing but a t-shirt.

The next day I noticed he was still sitting there. And the next day he was still sitting there, too.

So a couple of us went over to talk to him to find out what was going on. He couldn’t even talk. Just sort of mumbled incoherently. And he seemed to be in some kind of partial catatonic state, like he had withdrawn into himself and couldn’t pull himself out. But who knows what had happened. And he certainly wasn’t going to tell us. We hustled up some blankets and draped them over him, and left him there.

For the next couple weeks I would see Booger staggering around from place to place like a zombie from a horror movie. But mostly just sitting by himself staring off into space. Sometimes he’d hang out with us at Hate Camp, sitting there in a silent stupor.

None of us really knew him. I think he had been living with his grandmother in some little town north of San Francisco before he hit the streets. But who knows. One person said he thought he had been snorting paint and his brains went snap, crackle and pop.

The other thing about the street scene. It’s very Darwinian. And when you start going down — unless you have some real close friends — there is usually nobody there to catch you when you fall. It’s like everybody on the streets is treading water just trying to stay afloat, so if someone starts sinking there’s not much you can do to help, and they might drag YOU down if you try to keep them afloat.

Booger ended up staggering around the scene like that for a couple more months. Sometimes they pull out of it and recover, especially if they’re young. While other times the damage is permanent.

After awhile Booger disappeared from the scene. Never to be seen again. And was pretty much instantly forgotten. His artwork and his photo in our calendar is probably the only mark he left on the scene.

The Great John Lennon Toronto Peace Festival — the festival that never was

In the wake of the great Woodstock peace ’n’ acid festival, John Lennon took one last stab at the great Peace Guru role. His latest caper in 1970 was to produce the great John Lennon Toronto Peace Festival. Feel the vibes. Which would be “bigger than Woodstock,” naturally.

Lennon hooked up with his latest guru — this big, fat nut named Dr. Hambrick. Hambrick claimed to be “in contact with supernatural beings from another planet who would arrive on earth to save us from our own self-destruction.” Hambrick’s goal was to “capture The Beatles because The Beatles would be the earth force by which the supernatural powers could act in concert to bring peace to our chaotic planet.”

So Dr. Hambrick had a sensible plan for bringing about world peace.

And Hambrick had indeed captured John Lennon with all this talk. Lennon was enthralled by all this stuff, about getting to meet supernatural alien creatures from outer space (Hambrick would personally introduce Lennon to the critters), and especially his exciting new role as Savior of Humanity.

So John ’n’ Yoko and the whole crew went off to Denmark for a big “retreat” to plot out the big John Lennon Toronto Peace Festival. The whole crew decided to trip on some REALLY STRONG ACID to help align their vibes to the big task ahead of Saving Humanity. So they passed this little dish around with “some black sticky stuff that smelled like medicine,” and they all ate it and they all got high.

“Like really high, like a completely nonphysical feeling,” said John Brower, the Peace Festival promoter who was along for the ride. At the peak of the acid trip, according to Brower, Lennon suddenly had a Major Revelation. He pounded his fist on the table and exclaimed to his manager Allen Klein: “HITLER WAS RIGHT. YOU’VE GOT TO CONTROL THE PEOPLE!”

Only now, instead of like Hitler controlling the people for war and all that bad stuff, John Lennon, the Great Man, would control the people for peace. Cool.

Then Dr. Hambrick laid his next brain-storm on the tripped-out multitudes. Hambrick had invented this amazing “two-passenger car that looks like a plane that goes on the ground or flies in the air, and it never needs fuel, its powered by psychic energy.”

Well, this is just the coolest. So the big plan now was for John ’n’ Yoko to fly one of those psychic-energy planes right over the crowd at the freakin’ John Lennon Toronto Peace Festival, and right up onto the stage. How’s that for a grand entrance (let’s see Paul McCartney top that one!). And even better, they’re gonna’ mass-market these psychic-energy cars, and you had better believe that those babies will sell like hotcakes, because you don’t even need fuel to fly them And, best of all, all the profits from the psychic-energy cars will go directly to the John Lennon Peace Foundation!

So this is just the coolest of all. Awesome.

What a guy. John and Yoko would hit the stage (to thunderous applause) and bring peace and love to earth. Restoring the cosmic balance of the cosmos, saving the world, and bringing harmony to humanity. All in a day’s work.

Now keep in mind: They actually believed this stuff. And, considering that John Lennon’s real life had already been so spectacularly unbelievable, I guess anything could seem possible to him at this point. And when you factor in LSD, with its peculiar messianic, hallucinatory, and exaggerating properties (as if Lennon’s life wasn’t already exaggerated enough) it’s little wonder that Lennon ended up having no IDEA which end was up. Myth or reality? Christ, just gimme’ some truth, he cried. Whatever that was.

Alas, the great John Lennon Toronto Peace Festival collapsed in a sea of bad vibes and organizational chaos (Lennon changing his mind with every new drug trip didn’t help matters). In a desperate attempt to save the sinking festival, Lennon wrote an impassioned plea to ROLLING STONE magazine — that crucial organ for all your latest Lennon updates — entitled: “HAVE WE ALL FORGOTTEN WHAT VIBES ARE?”

In the article, he wrote:

“Can you imagine what we could do together, one million souls (plus TV link-ups) in one spot, praying for peace. We could change the balance of energy power. On earth and therefore, in the universe.”

So it all made perfect sense.

But alas and alack, the people had indeed forgotten what vibes are. Darn. And, like so many of the hippie pipe dreams of the ‘60s, the great John Lennon Toronto Peace Festival went up in smoke.

November 11, 1968

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“Number 9, number 9, number 9 . . . 

On this date in history 50 years ago — November 11, 1968 — John Lennon releases his solo album “Two Virgins.” . . . Later in the day Lennon met privately with President Nixon in the White House to personally give him a copy of his new album. And to inquire about the possibility of being deputized. as an undercover agent in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, specializing in the confiscation and testing of illegal narcotics.

Drug addiction

 

I spent decades dabbling with all the different drugs.   God knows why.  Probably an attempt to deal with my chemical imbalance.   Or maybe I just have a natural propensity towards head-tripping.

But out of all those drugs, the only drug I ever actually got addicted to was caffeine.

I used to drink coffee from the moment I woke up until I went to bed.   For a couple decades.  Then one day I decided to see what would happen if I didn’t drink any coffee.  Within a couple of  hours I started to sweat.  And I got a pounding headache.  I began to pace back and forth in a highly agitated state.  The slightest inconvenience or discomfort caused me to explode with a rage that veered on the homicidal.   I wisely decided:  “I better drink me some of that fucking coffee before I kill somebody.”  Ha ha.

So I quickly guzzled down a cup of coffee.  And instantly reverted back to normal (or whatever the hell passes for normal in my neck of the woods).

I realized:  “Holy shit.  I’m actually physically addicted to this stuff.”

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People who died

 

Remembrances of people past from good ole’ Uncle Ace.

Wayne-With-No-Brain got his nickname because he burned out his brains on speed.  You’d often see him shuffling around like a zombie late at night, dressed in rags, his eyes like two pieces of burned coal, staggering from nowhere to nowhere.  Near the end of his life, Wayne got straight and cleaned up his act.  Some agency got him a little room in Oakland. You’d see him on the Ave and he was always wearing a brightly colored, brand new tie-dye t-shirt.  And he did part-time work for one of the street vendors, helping them load and unload their vending stands.  But it was a little too little too late.  “The doctors told me I got two kinds of cancer,” he told me.  “I got a brain tumor and lung cancer.  So its kind of a double-whammy.  They told me there’s nothing they can do and I got one month left to live.”  “Man, how are you dealing with that?”  I asked.  “Well, I do get a little depressed some times late at night when I’m lying on my bed.  But what can you do.”  That was the last time I saw Wayne.

Frannie had been on the scene a long time.  She was probably around 50 but she still looked very cute and girlish.  “Cute as a bunny,” is how people described her.  She seemed pretty solid at first, but then I think she got into substances a little too much and it was like over-night she became daffy.  You’d see her sitting on the sidewalk surrounded by her big piles of stuff mindlessly pawing at her possessions (Frannie was famous for being a pack-rat who compiled big piles of stuff everywhere she went, usually piles of brightly-colored pastel-colored clothes, which was her trademark, and other tweaked out flotsam-and-jestsom that she’d find on the streets).  One day somebody told me that Frannie was in the hospital with some kind of disease.  And that was the last we saw of her.   I’d look at the spot in the Park where she always camped, and now she was gone.  And it was like she had just gone “POOF!” in a puff of smoke.  That’s often how it is on the streets.  Here one moment, then gone.

The Bubble Guy was in his 40s.  But he always reminded me of a big kid.  A lot of street people are like that.  Perpetual 17-year-olds.  Bubble Guy wasn’t so much an outlaw as a prankster.  He was the guy in high school that would blow up mailboxes with cherry bombs.  And he never out-grew this sort of outsider hostility towards mainstream society.  Gruff but congenial, with a sardonic sense of humor.  For many years Bubble Guy had a cute girlfriend with sad, puppy-dog eyes who followed him around silently everywhere he went.  Bubble Guy got his nickname because he had this soap-and-water-and-wand kit where he’d make these huge bubbles.  He’d stand on the balcony of the Student Union Building and blow these beautiful bubbles into the air while we did our Hate Man drum circle below.  The bubbles were multi-colored and sparkled and twinkled as they floated gracefully in the sky, adding a magical touch to many nights on the scene.  And when he was done he’d always dump his excess soapy water into the Sproul fountain, which turned the fountain into a huge bubble bath.  The campus authorities hated that, because they had to clean out the fountain every time, but for some reason it took them years to figure out who the culprit was.  And Bubble Guy ended up getting banned from the campus. . . The last time I saw Bubble Guy I remember shaking his hand and I was shocked that the skin on his hand was as hard as a rock.  It was from some kind of disease.  I guess the disease got him.  Because that was the last time I saw him.

Stairway was a street musician in his early ’60s.  He had been on the street scene for a long time.  He kinda’ looked like Santa Claus with cowboy boots and a Southern drawl.  He was a hardcore alcoholic who would get the shakes in the morning if he didn’t have that first beer waiting for him to calm him down.  One time he was sitting on the bench in the Park and he had just opened a fresh 40 when a cop swooped down out of  nowhere and gave him a ticket.  That didn’t faze Stairway in the least.  But when the cop started to pour out Stairway’s 40 he went ballistic.  “NO!! YOU BASTARD!!  YOU WORTHLESS COCKSUCKER!! GIMME’ THAT BOTTLE!!”  He actually lunged at the cop and tried to wrestle that beer out of his hands, like it was his very life-blood itself.  I thought the cop was going to taze Stairway, but I guess the cop could tell that Stairway was just old and feeble.  But man did Stairway curse that cop out the whole time the cop was writing up the ticket. . .  I remember another scene on that very bench.  I don’t know what caused it — I think Stairway was refusing to share his beer with this young gutter punk ne-er-do-well.  So the punk cold-cocked Stairway.  Punched him right in the head.  Stairway went down like a sack of shit.  Laid there face-down on the ground for some time, until some of his drinking buddies finally helped him back on the bench.  The street scene can get sordid like that, especially the alkie segment of it. . .  Stairway was sort of a bullshitter.   Always making up stories.  Though more blarnie than con-man.  “I was good friends with Lowell George,” Stairway often mentioned.  “I wrote half the songs on the first Little Feat album and recorded with them in the studio.”  Stairway told his stories so many times, I’m sure he believed them.  He wasn’t a great guitarist — generally he’d learn one or two lines and a couple of chords from a song, and then just scat-sing the rest of it.  But when Stairway showed up with his guitar and his 40s you knew the street party was going to get rolling. . . . The last winter in Berkeley finally got to him.  He’d pass out in his sleeping bag and lay there all night through a pouring rainstorm.  On top of that, he’d usually piss himself in his sleep.  So those wet, cold nights finally wore him out.  Shortly after Christmas when he got his SSI check, he bought a plane ticket to go back to North Carolina to see his family one last time before he died.  Which is how it went.

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POPISM: THE WARHOL ’60S: A book review

 

POPISM: The Warhol ’60s by Andy Warhol is literally a year-by-year account of Warhol’s experiences in the ’60s, starting with 1960 and ending with 1969.  It’s also an interesting history of how America’s cultural mores evolved (or is it devolved?) during that seminal decade.  As well as a fascinating behind-the-scenes account of how Warhol’s art career developed turning that period.  (He started the decade constantly asking his friends, “Do you think Picasso has heard of me?”  And ended the decade as an international sensation who would be mobbed like a rock star at art gallery openings.)

Needless to say, Andy Warhol was a peculiar fellow.  I’m a Warhol fan, myself.  He was a clever, brilliant, sharp-minded, industrious, entertaining, funny, soul-less zombie.  Ha ha.

The “soul-less zombie” rap came from a certain bloodless quality Andy Warhol had.  Or, as Warhol put it, “Now and then someone would accuse me of being evil — of letting people destroy themselves while I watched, just so I could film them and tape-record them.”

Warhol had this weird quality where he’d get more demonstrative over the  latest gossip (“Did you hear what so-and-so SAID about so-and-so!!!”) than he would about the news of one of his latest Superstars committing suicide (which he’d usually just shrug off with a pithy one-liner and then never mention them again).  TO be fair, Warhol displayed the same nonchalant attitude towards his own suffering.  When he was in the hospital recovering from a near-fatal shooting, he said, “I was very moved to see that people cared about me so much, but I just tried to get everything back to a light, gossipy level as quick as possible.”  So who knows if Warhol’s seeming indifference towards the suffering of the people around him was a sign of cold-bloodedness. Or just a coping mechanism to detach himself from suffering in general.

Let’s just say, there was a reason people called him Drella. (“‘Drella’ was a nick-name somebody had given me that stuck more than I wanted it to, they said it came from combining Dracula and Cinderella,” he explained.)

People often speculated on how much of Warhol’s act was for real, and how much of it was a put-on.  Who was the REAL Andy Warhol, after all?  I suspect his act was basically who he was.  But he no doubt exaggerated and camped up certain aspects of it.

One part of his act that was probably fake was his “innocent, naïve, star-struck waif who was just stumbling through his life” façade.  In fact, Andy Warhol was a guy with a great amount of “functional intelligence.”  He was one of those guys who could walk into any room and instantly sum up the situation correctly.   He was one sharp dude.  And as for being “naïve.”  Try getting some money off of him (and good luck with that).

One of his famous quotes was:  “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol just look at the surface, of my paintings and films and me, and there I am.  There’s nothing behind it.”  And, like so many of his quotes, it was clever, funny, thought-provoking and completely false.  In fact, Andy Warhol was a highly conceptual artist who’s primary concept was to pretend that there was no concept to it.  Ha ha.  And he was savy enough to know that by projecting no meaning himself onto his artwork and his life, that allowed his audience to use his work like a Rorschach Ink Blot and project any meaning they wanted onto it.

Warhol constantly played up the idea that human life in human society was mostly an act, a form of role-playing.  Life is a stage.  Therefore, the ones who admit they’re fake are the most real.  Ironically enough. (I think that’s why he liked drag queens)  Life is nothing more than a really weird movie.  And the only

POPISM: DIARIOS (1960-69). ANDY WARHOL / PAT HACKETT. ALFABIA (Libros de Segunda Mano (posteriores a 1936) - Literatura - Narrativa - Otros)

important thing is that you put on an entertaining show (the worst put-down in the Warhol circle was that you were “corny”).  Humans were merely a collection of masks.  One mask on top of another mask on top of another mask.  All that mattered in the Warhol scene was constructing a cool mask.  Everything was on the “surface,” after all, as Warhol put it.  Warhol rarely speculated as to what, if anything, might be behind our masks.  Which was probably the weakest aspect of Warhol’s world-view.

Like most people, I have my own personal standard as to who I consider a great artist.  And one of my standards is:  They have to do it more than once.  Anyone can get lucky and be in the right place at the right time and be a one-hit wonder.  But Andy Warhol did it repeatedly.  And in different mediums.  Having his first big hit with his Pop Art paintings — the Campbell soup cans and all of that.  And then he did it again with his underground films and the whole bizarre Factory scene.  And then he did again with his collaboration with Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground (Warhol personally paid for the recording sessions for their first classic album).  And then again in the ’70s with his unique spin on fame and celebrity and the jet-set crowd with his INTERVIEW magazine.

I was always fascinated with the whole Factory scene in the ’60s.  The artists, the bohemians, the creativity; rubbing shoulders with the street scene, the druggies and the crazies.  It reminded me a lot of the Berkeley street scene we had going in the ’90s; the Telegraph street scene and the Hate Man’s Hate Camp scene in particular.  Though, if anything, we were even more wild than the Factory scene.  For we were right out there on the streets which was completely free-form and unsupervised.  As opposed to the Factory scene which at least took place in a building and had a certain structure to it.

Probably the most endearing thing about Andy Warhol was his sense of fun, his sense of play.  When you look at those photos of Warhol working with his assistants on  some huge canvas on the floor of the Factory, you get this image of little children playing together with their crayons.  And his movies, for all their decadence, were like little children play-acting.  “Let’s play pretend!”  And even the sex aspect, which seemed so shocking in the ’60s, looks more like a pajama party today.

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One of the many odd things about Andy Warhol:  After he died (at age 58) they went to his house to figure out what to do with all of his stuff.  And they were shocked to find that virtually every room in his four-level house was crammed from floor-to-ceiling with boxes and boxes of stuff that he had bought over the years.  Almost all of the stuff had never even been taken out of the packages.  They were sitting their in their original bags with the receipts, un-touched.  His entire house was crammed with this stuff.  In every room.  Stuff he had bought and never even used.  His house was more like a storage locker than a home.  It took them MONTHS just to inventory all the stuff.  Weird.  Andy Warhol.
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Twilight of the godless: Five minutes in People’s Park: a verbal snapshot

Take a walk on the weird side.

It’s 7 PM, dusk.  I often find dusk to be slightly eerie and witchy.  That twilight period where it’s transforming from day to night; light to darkness. It’s like reality is up for grabs or something during those in-between moments of twilight.

Anyways, for lack of anything better to do I go to People’s Park to hang out with Hate Man.  I buy a cigarette from Hate for 50 cents (Virginia Slims, naturally), light it up, and survey the scene.  This hulking guy I call the Walrus — because he always wears 4 pairs of pants, 3 of which are always inexplicably hanging around his ankles — is sitting on a log across from Hate Man.  I smell something odd in the air.  Look around to see if somebody is smoking some weird drug.  It’s the Walrus.  He’s flicking his cigarette lighter across the back of his head, setting bits of his hair on fire.  That acrid smell of burnt hair.  Dude’s a little peculiar.

Another wingnut is pacing back and forth aimlessly, pointing his hands as if he’s holding a rifle, aiming them at the people in the park as he pretends to shoot people dead.  Everybody needs a hobby, I guess.  Another nut is staggering around in circles, talking to himself.  Cackling wildly.  I think to myself:  Why did they do away with mental asylums.  It seems like such a valid concept.

“Oh fuck a fight just broke out,” I said to Hate Man.  Across the way on the other end of the park this black guy and this black woman are facing off against each other, shouting and cursing.  The woman lands several solid punches to the guy’s head (excellent boxing form).  Then she picks up a big rock or a stick.  The guy is backing away with his palms up.  “They’re a couple,” said Hate Man.  “I think they’re married.  She hits him all the time.  And if he hits her back she calls the cops on him and has him arrested.”

“PUSH FOR A CIGARETTE, HATE MAN!” shouts the Walrus.  He suddenly jumps up from the log, starts moving towards Hate Man, but loses his balance, tripping on the pants around his ankles, almost falls down, hops and staggers and bounces to keep from going all the way down, before he retains his equilibrium.  At least for the moment.

I put out my cigarette in the dirt.  Wondering what the hell I’m doing here amidst all of this.  Worse possibility, I belong here.

I get up in search of a quieter place to drink my 40 of OE.

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Regina

One of the unsettling things about the street scene.  You often see people disintegrating, practically right before your eyes.

I was thinking about this street chick I used to know.  Let’s call her Regina.  When she first hit the Telegraph scene in 1992 she must have been around 16 years old.  Cute as a bunny.   This adorable, red-headed, little waif.  Right out of Little Orphan Annie.  And she was an orphan, too.  Raised by adoptive parents in a nearby suburb.

Like a lot of orphans, Regina had “issues.”  Abandonment.  Rejection.  Low self-esteem.  Unworthy of love.  The usual.  But the real root of Regina’s tragedy was this “woe is me” attitude.  “Things never work out right for me,” was her eternal mantra.  An attitude that tends to perpetuate itself.

Regina had already had her first kid by age 16.  Which she put up for adoption.  Another pattern that tends to perpetuate itself.

Then Regina fell madly in love with this cute, hippy-boy acid dealer named Paul who tooled around on a skateboard.  He was following the Grateful Dead tour.  Regina was convinced that Paul was the answer to all her problems.  The solution to this state of unrequited lovelessness that she wallowed in.  “Paul, Paul, Paul.”  For awhile it seemed like the relationship was going to work out.  But, well, you guessed it.

Of course, Regina was crushed when the relationship fell apart.  Never really recovered from it.  Regina was one of those people where their latest tragedies were kind of like their favorite hobby.  It was one of her few interests.  Her problems.  That and drugs.  Periodically Regina would try and roust herself from her downward spiral.  But it was like she was an empty vessel who lacked the inner resources.

The thing I most remember about Regina was this blank look that was often on her face.  Her eyes were like two buttons that radiated no light.  She reminded me of the Raggedy Ann doll.  Pliable and wispy with no solid foundation.  And she had this constant neediness.  That she could never fill.

The last time I saw Regina was around the winter of 1999.  I ran into her on a street corner on Shattuck Avenue.  Her front teeth were missing.  Some asshole had punched them out after Regina burned him on a speed deal.  “Oh well,” said Regina with a hapless, toothless smile.  “At least it helps me when I’m panhandling because I look so pitiful.”

Periodically I would get Regina updates.  “Regina’s living in San Francisco in the Mission.” . . .  “Regina’s a junkie and a prostitute.” . . .  “I saw Regina sleeping in this back alley, she looked really skinny.”

And then, after awhile, there were no more Regina updates.

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Political issues

Spread Anarchy!

I enjoy having political opinions.  It’s a great way to make new enemies.  And it’s great for weeding out people who we’d both probably be better off not having in our lives.

So it’s frustrating to me when there are certain “hot button” issues that a lot of people get all excited about, but that I have a hard time coming up with opinions on.  I feel like I’m missing out on the action or something.  For instance:

1.)  GUN CONTROL:  I’m all for keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally-unstable, but I have no idea how to do that.

2.)  ABORTION: If you want an abortion, have one. If you don’t, then don’t.  Aside from that, I can’t think of anything else to say.

3.)  BALANCE THE BUDGET:  When I can wrap my head around a figure like “100 trillion dollars” I’ll get back to you on this one.

4.)  IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM:  The nuclear tooth paste is out of the tube.  Getting it back into the tube poses certain logistical problems beyond my ken.

5.)  OBAMA-CARE:  I spent 40 years where I almost never went to a doctor.  So I have no idea what our current health care system is all about, aside from the fact that it seems like a mess.  So I have no idea whether Obama-care is an improvement or not.  Generally speaking, I’m not in favor of the government taking over about 10% of our economy in one fell swoop, considering their general level of incompetency, as well as all the greedhead/whores at every level of the bureaucracy.  But who the hell knows.

6.)  DRUGS:  No matter what anybody says, the prices keep going up.

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Drug experiences

Its weird considering all the different drugs I’ve dabbled in over the years.  But the most damaging drug experience I’ve ever had was on pot of all things.

I was hanging out in my office one evening, it must have been sometime around 2005.   And I had this water pipe — which I rarely used — and a ten dollar bud I had just bought from a friend of mine on the Ave.  So I fired that bud up.  And to this day I don’t know what happened next.  I don’t know if the weed was tainted with some kind of weird chemical.  Or if I had inhaled a water bubble into my brain.  Or what.  (If any of my readers have any theories I’d be happy to hear them)

But the next thing I remember I’m lying on my side on the floor of my office in the fetal position.  And I couldn’t move a muscle.  I was completely paralyzed.  I had slipped into some weird kind of coma state.  But the weirdest thing of all was, my mind was still functioning normally.  I was completely conscious and vividly aware of everything that was happening.  I just couldn’t DO anything about it.  Except watch in horror.  I couldn’t even yell for help.   It was sort of like when you conk a radio and one of the parts gets disconnected and the thing won’t turn on.  It was like I had conked my brain with some kind of whack to the head and I had somehow disconnected the part of my brain that sends out signals to my limbs and makes them move.Image may contain: sky and outdoor

 I don’t remember feeling particularly scared.  I mostly remember feeling dismayed.  Like:  “Ahh fuck, what have I done to myself THIS time???”  And desperately wishing i could somehow go back in time and un-do what I had just done to myself.  But unfortunately life doesn’t work that way.  And I remember thinking;  “I’ve suffered some kind of brain damage.”  And that alarmed me.  Like maybe it was permanent.   Maybe I’d never come out of this coma state.  I’d spend the rest of my life lying here paralyzed on the floor of my office.  Along with this other odd thought;  “For crissakes, Backwords!  You can’t do ANYTHING right!   You couldn’t even OD on drugs right!  NOBODY ODs on marijuana.”

I must have laid there in that paralyzed state for at least 4 or 5 hours.  Thinking many, many thoughts.  Finally, I began to gradually get some kind of body movement returning.  I had my “guru altar” set up near the wall where I used to meditate.  So I figured maybe it would be a good idea if I could get to  it and lay there and pray to God to get me out of this fucking mess that I had gotten myself into.  “No atheists in foxholes,” after all.  So I’m crawling on the floor towards my guru altar.  But there are all these boxes of crap that for some reason were piled up all over the floor of my office, blocking my path to my altar.  So I’m trying to push them aside while I’m crawling on my belly like a man in the desert desperately trying to get himself to water.  Finally I make it!  And I flop down there for about an hour thinking many, many thoughts.

It must have been around 4 in the morning when I finally regained enough strength to actually stand up.  I felt a strong need for some fresh air in the hopes of clearing the cobwebs in my brain.  So I put on a pair of moccasins and stumbled downstairs and outside to the street in my jeans and tee-shirt.  University Avenue.   It was December and there was a drizzling rain and the streets were soaked and cold.  But I didn’t care less about that.  I trudged down Shattuck Avenue in sort of a zombie stupor for a couple of blocks and then circled back to my office.   Completely ruined my moccasins.  And I only hope that’s the only thing I ruined that night.

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