Soul survivor J.J.

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I just ran into J.J., one of the REAL old-timers, survivors, of the Telegraph street scene. J.J. goes all the way back to the ’70s when he was a drinking partner with the legendary Gypsy Catano.

“Ace!! GOOMBAH!! How you doin’, my brother!!” said J.J..

Which is how he always greets me. I’m not even sure what “goombah” means. But J.J. is a Puerto Rican guy from New York City and he knows I’m an Italian guy from Passaic, New Jersey. So I guess it’s an East coast street thing. And I assume it’s a compliment (though maybe I should look it up just to be on the safe side, ha ha).

“How you doin’ J.J.?” I said.

“I just had my birthday. I just turned 73.”

“Well happy birthday, my man. I’m gonna be 63 next week.”

J.J. is a little guy. Still walks with a bit of a swagger, though it’s getting to be a bit more of a stagger at his advanced age. Wears a black eye patch (lost the eye about 10 years ago). But otherwise doesn’t look much different than he looked 30 years ago. For many years J.J. was a drop-dead street drunk. Drinking 24-7. Lurching down the Avenue with bottle in hand and unfocused eyes. Passing out in the gutters, etc. A guy you figured would NEVER make it to 40. But somehow he managed to right his ship. And here he still is years later. You just never know. What the fates have in store for any of us.

After some more small talk, J.J. headed off down the sidewalk, to buy some pot at the pot club down the block. And then off to his home, some little apartment in downtown Oakland, just below San Pablo. Where he’s lived quietly for many years. But he always comes back to Telegraph regularly to check in. Because this is his real home. And always will be.

As I watched J.J. walk off i regretted I didn’t take his photo. It occurred to me I might not get many more chances. Him or me.

The building formerly known as Cody’s Books

 

Narayana has been hanging out by the old Cody’s Books building lately. She hangs there just about every evening, usually all evening. Sitting there leaning against the front door of the vacant building for hours, blankly staring out at her world. And at the end of the night she usually takes out her sleeping bag and crashes there. Often a couple of other street ne’er-do-wells hang out there, too, one on each side of her. And crash there at night. I’ll often pass them late at night on my way to the liquor store, laying there on the sidewalk in their sleeping bags like three bumps on the logs.

Like so much of my life these days, it’s a stark reminder of what once was, and now is. And such a bring-down from what once was. For many years Cody’s Books was one of the cultural centers of Berkeley. This dynamic hub of constant action and excitement. While today it’s mostly just the home for a couple of weary street people, sitting there killing time.

And for nearly 20 years, that Cody’s Books corner was one of my favorite hang-out spots. I used to half-jokingly refer to it as “my corner” (but half-serious, too). That corner was like my living room, my clubhouse, and my bar, as well as my work place.

When I pass that corner now it’s hard to even remember what it was once like. The countless dramas we enacted over the years on the stage of that corner. It’s so different now. It seems like it was all just a dream. A hallucination. Like it never really happened. It was nothing but a fading memory in the back of my mind.

My heroic confrontation with The Man

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We were talking about dealing with the police. And how it can help if you can look at it from the police’s perspective. If only to keep one step ahead of the police. Now Berkeley isn’t the easiest town for the police to work in. I’ll give you an example.

Back in the day I used to store all my vending stuff in this City building across the street from where I set up my vending table. I started storing my stuff there when I got hired by the City to do this art project. And when the project ended, I just kept storing my stuff there because nobody noticed that the project had ended. And it was great, it was so convenient having all my stuff stashed right across the street from where I set up. And they had this big, locked gate in front of the building so nobody could get at my stuff.

So anyway, one night around midnight I was drunk and stoned out of my mind, like I often was back then, and I wisely figured it was time to pack up all my crap and get the hell out of there. So I carry my vending stuff over to the City building, climb over the gate, jump down on the other side, and stash my stuff in this outdoor garage area where I kept it. And I grabbed this big bag of other stuff that i also stashed there to take with me.

But as I was jumping back over the gate to the sidewalk — and this was almost a scene right out of a classic comedy — I happened to land right in front of these two cops who just happened to be casually walking down the sidewalk.

Now naturally the cops were startled when this dark and shadowy figure came jumping over the gate of a locked City building, after midnight, carrying a big bag of stuff, most likely drunk and stoned out of his mind, and landing practically right on top of them. So the police had every right to ask me a few questions. Like, what the fuck are you doing, boy?? So I had some ‘splaining to do.

But then, these other people, who also happened to be walking by, saw me getting rousted by the cops (The Man!!). And they immediately surrounded the cops and began angrily pestering the cops with questions. Like: “Why the hell are you fucking cops hassling this poor innocent guy, man!!” They’re doing the righteous Berkeley activist “Fuck The Police” shtick that was popular in certain Berkeley circles back then. But fortunately, right before one of them was about to voice the dreaded P-word and REALLY escalate the situation, I was able to calm the situation down.

“No, no, everything’s cool,” I said. “The police are just asking me a few questions.” And, under the circumstances, they had every right to do exactly that.

And I managed to explain the situation to the cops. And we all managed to live happily ever after without anybody getting beaten or tased or locked up in a little cage. THE END

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Craig

 

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I was hanging out at my usual spot by the Cody’s Books corner when Craig walked up to me and said, “Hey Ace, are you interested in buying a 20 dollar bag of meth? If you got the dough, I got it all lined up.”
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“This isn’t going to be a complicated deal?” I asked.
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I always asked that question with Craig. From painful past experience. Having waited around for 6 or 7 hours on a dark street corner waiting for Craig to get back from one of his other “simple easy deals.”
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“No, I’ll be right back! I got it all set up in the Park!” insisted Craig, with that air of frantic urgency that Craig always had when involved with all things crystal methamphetamine (arms jerking up in the air as he talked, legs pacing back and forth, etc.). “I got a 20 myself. And with your 20 we could get a big sack and split it.”
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I hesitated for a moment and then said, “Okay.” As I made that sometimes disastrous commitment of pressing the $20 bill into Craig’s hand.
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As Craig bopped off towards the Park, I flashed on the memory of another time and a similar circumstance when  Craig walked off with my 20 dollar bill. Only to return six hours later, empty-handed, alas. But at least he returned my bill THAT time — a minor miracle in itself.  But what was odd was the bill itself. It was crumpled and wrinkled almost beyond belief, with this strange, glossy sheen to the surface of it. As if Craig had been frantically rubbing and caressing and folding and unfolding the bill non-stop, with enormous finger pressure for the entire 6 hours the bill was stuffed in his pocket. Crystal meth is a strange drug.
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About 15 LONG minutes later, Craig did in fact return.
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“Lets go for a walk,” he said
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“So how’d it go?” I asked as we walked down Haste Street, still not sure if he’d hand me back my bill (in God knows what condition) or the drugs (in God knows what amount and/or quality) or whether some strange, new complication had arisen calling for a private strategy session and a Re-thinking of Our Options. “Did you get it?”
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“Yeah, I got it,” said Craig. “Lets go somewhere and let me snort a line for scoring for you.”
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Craig handed me the little bag of meth as we walked side-by-side down the street. I quickly eyed the size and feel of the bag, sizing up the amount and the potential quality before I  jammed it into my pocket. I’m eager to get this transaction over. You can go to jail for this stuff after all. And annoyed by the unexpected complication of sharing a line with Craig (evidently he hadn’t had a $20 after all, so this was his way of getting a little something out of the deal).
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“Man, I hate this shit,” I muttered, letting Craig know I wanted this part of the transaction to be as short-and-sweet as possible.
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We’re both making slightly manic small-talk as we walk side-by-side down the street. I’m nervous and giddy with hopeful anticipation at the prospect of actually getting HIGH (my life has been so low lately, for so long), and, of course, we’re both trying hard to “act normal” — which flies in the face of our normal, abnormal behavior. We sing a few odd lines from songs by Lou Reed and the Rolling Stones (in retrospect, I guess it should have been “This could be the last time . . “). And I say: “It’s a whacky world, Craig.” An inside joke between me and Craig, told and re-told during the course of many previously-shared scenes of whackiness over the last 13 years on the scene. Ahh, the things we have seen, me and Craig. Two damaged, fucked-up, but eminently soulful, bums on the streets of Berkeley. Sheesh. (If you could look at some of the real-life movies that played out from behind our eye-balls you probably wouldn’t believe some of the scenes. For people like Craig live at that juncture where the surreal, the crazed, the bizarre, the demented, and the horrific, is the norm.)
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Craig led me around the corner and up the steps to the side porch of the First Presb Church. We both sat down on the floor, our backs resting against the church building. It was a fairly safe spot, we were blocked out of the sidewalk traffic, and we’d be able to spot anybody coming from any direction before they got to us. Craig — as crazy as he was — was a genius in that sense. In the middle of the most crowded city streets, he could ALWAYS find some little covey-hole, some safe little haven, where you could get high. A skill no doubt honed with animal grace by thousands and thousands of previous drug-related manuevers in the urban jungle. (Reminiscing after his death, virtually every person on the Berkeley street scene had cherished memories of “getting high with Craig” or “going to jail with Craig” And sometimes both, getting high AND going to jail with Craig). If there was a Tweeker Hall of Fame, Craig would certainly be a first-ballot inductee.
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“Lets be quick about this,” I whispered, handing Craig the tiny, zip-locked baggie.
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“Gimme your lighter, Ace.” He took my lighter and rolled it over the bag of meth, crushing the little rocks into a snortable powder. (“So THAT’S how you do it!” I thought. Previously, I had taken the meth out of the bag and crushed them with an exacto-knife — sometimes causing parts of the rock to go pinging off the mirror and into the unseen distance — always fun searching for those long-lost crumbs of meth, two days later, when you’re down to your last line. But leave it to Craig: the Expert. He was in fact the expert on all things Drugs. He had virtually dedicated his life to the pursuit, the study, and the consumption, of drugs.)
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Craig quickly poured out a line. “Gimme a dollar, Ace.” Craig expertly rolled up the bill and took a big, nostril-burning snort. AHHH!
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Craig handed me back the little bag of meth. “Give me back my dollar, too,” I said, a little too quickly. And I always felt bad about that, regret it. Because it was a cheap thing to say. But at this point, I had already given Craig $20, and now HE was the one getting high, and I STILL didn’t know how much was in the bag or if I’d gotten burned — still hadn’t had a chance to take a good look at my little, covert prize. So, at the LEAST, I wanted my dollar back. But its weird how these mundane interactions take on more of a resonance — and this haunted feeling — because they’re your LAST interactions with the guy. So it’s like I’m magnifying them. Searching for clues at the scene of the crime.
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We quickly got up and scurried down the steps (and now, EVERY time I pass that spot by the First Presb Church, I flashback to that last time with Craig, sitting there, crushing the meth with my lighter, etc. and for a moment I’ll think about ole’ Craig).
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Craig was strangely subdued as we walked back to the Ave. I could feel the heaviness of his spirit. He wasn’t his usual, herky-jerky self. In retrospect, I think he already knew. He had already made up his mind. To me it was just one more mundane afternoon on Telegraph, in a seemingly endless expanse of them. Isn’t it weird how we always think its going to last forever?
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Craig walked off and disappeared down the street.
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”Where’d you and Craig go?” said Psycho Joe with a leering, knowing grin on his face.
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“Nowhere,” I said.
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All the nosy bums on the corner had been watching the interactions between me and Craig — the whole crazy dance — and they all knew. Which was embarrassing. Because crystal meth is such a degenerate drug. And I was embarrassed that everyone knew about my degeneracy.
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“Its a good thing you left,” said Psycho Joe. “Because while you were gone the cops were just here busting those guys hanging out on the corner.” (Which just shows you how slim your margin-of-error can be on the streets).
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As I walked back towards my office, for some reason I started thinking about the whole mystique of the drug scene. Craig was kind of a Keith Richards-wannabe. And I was kind of a John Lennon-wannabe. And we had both bought into that whole trip. I thought about all the drug-related books, records and magazines of our youth that we had both avidly consumed. William Burroughs. Jim Carroll. Lou Reed. . Iggy Pop. Jim Morrison. William Blake.  All the great drug heroes of our youth. And all the exciting descriptions of their drug use. Mind-tripping to all these strange and taboo realms of reality. And the whole outlaw mystique that we bought into, hook-line-and-sinker. And the whole desperate need to just simply feel GOOD. To feel happy, to feel sensual pleasure, to feel contented, to feel love, to love and be loved. In a world that mostly seemed to offer pain, emptiness, and unfulfillment. Except for this fleeting thing we could sometimes grasp in a little, tiny, zip-locked baggie.
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I holed up in my office for 48 hours, snorting the speed and obsessively making these weird collages. Crystal meth has this bad combination of affects. It makes you incredibly stupid.  And it gives you this incredible amount of energy to act out your stupidity. So it’s a double whammy. The collages I would make while I was tweeking are a prime example. I would cut out all this photos from magazines and scotch tape them together into bigger pictures. I would reshape and alter the photos with my scissors and pens  and I could create virtually any picture that I could conger up from my demented imagination. And they’d be layered with all these layers of scotch tape, which made them glisten and shine under the electric lights adding a surreal affect. At some point, the collage would actually look incredibly beautiful. But as I got more and more wired I’d get more and more obsessive. If the photos weren’t lined up EXACTLY right, if they were a fraction of a millimeter off, I would re-cut the picture and re-line it up, and re-tape it, over and over. For hours. In an attempt to get it EXACTLY right. Until finally the collage was nothing but a big hopeless mess.
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So I’d toss it in the garbage and start on a new one.
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Anyways, after 48 hours of this non-stop manic stupidity holed up in my office, I finally collapsed in a heap and slept for a whole day.  I finally woke up the next afternoon with a splitting headache. I emerged from my hole and went back to the Ave looking for Craig. The meth had turned out to be pretty good, so I wanted to give him a 5 dollar tip for his trouble.
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When I got to the Cody’s Books corner I noticed Psycho Joe was talking with Fat Bill. Joe was holding up a little potted plant.  “And we could plant it in People’s Park,” he said, “and plant it right in Craig’s favorite spot where he always liked to hang out.”
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“What are you talking about?” I said.
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“Didn’t you hear?” said Fat Bill. “Craig stepped in front of a train yesterday morning.”
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I walked down the street feeling dizzy and stunned. My mind immediately started racing through the quickly-fading memories of my last interactions with Craig, searching for something, anything. Like holding each word we had said under a microscope.  Searching for clues. Was there anything I could have done differently?? Everything seemed very real and very unreal at the same time.   Nothing made sense. Well, one thing I was sure about. I wouldn’t be able to give Craig that goddamn 5 dollars.  That’s for sure.
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Gypsy Catano

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Gypsy Catano was a legendary Berkeley street person in the 1970s and 1980s. “Gypsy always reminded me of Charles Manson,” said my friend Vince. Gypsy was a cocky, swashbuckling little guy who walked with a swagger and the air of a charming rogue.

Gypsy was homeless back in the day when there was plenty of available housing in the Bay Area. “Gypsy was homeless because he wasn’t housebroken,” explained a girlfriend.

“I never dropped out,” said Gypsy. “I was never in.” Gypsy was born on the streets. And the street scene was his natural milieu.

One of Gypsy’s favorite panhandling routines was to have one of his friends stand on their hands while Gypsy worked the crowd like a carnival barker. “Help me get my down-and-out friend back on his feet!!”

Gypsy’s favorite thing to do was to drink and to fight. And when he was in a bad mood he could be a holy terror. And Gypsy was a natural leader who was usually surrounded by a gang of buddies. Some of whom were hulking lunatics who would crack your head open for kicks. So Gypsy could be a formidable force.

But he could also be very charming. And he often charmed normal, straight mainstream people who enjoyed Gypsy like an exotic pet. While Gypsy — ever the hustler — angled them as marks.

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Illustration by R. Crumb, from a photo by B.N. Duncan.

 

 

The first time I met Gypsy Catano in 1982 in People’s Park (his natural habitat) as he swaggered up to me I was struck by the malevolent, mischievous leer in his eye. And the home-made necklace around his neck that was made from the teeth of some wild animal. And he also had a fur stole wrapped around his neck. Gypsy suddenly grabbed the head of the fur stole and waved it in my face. It was the head of a dead dog. “I skinned the dog myself,” said Gypsy proudly. Then he did a puppet show pantimine with the dogs head for my amusement. “ARF ARF!!” he said, opening and closing the dog’s mouth.

Naturally, Gypsy Catano died a sudden and electrifying death. As befitting “as ye live so ye shall die.” If I remember right he choked on a chicken bone and had an epileptic seizure. Hundreds of people showed up for the memorial on Telegraph Avenue. A local newspaper covered the story and they were amazed that so many people, from all different walks of life,  would show up to pay tribute to a guy who was basically a “homeless bum.”

Go figure.

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Narayana

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Narayana (pronounced nuh-RYE-in) has been on the Berkeley street scene seemingly forever, at least since the 1970s when she first hit town as a teenager. Small and girlish, Narayana is the eternal waif, even now as she’s pushing into her mid-50s.

Narayana is slightly retarded. Or maybe more than slightly. Suffers from some kind of brain damage. Stares out at the world with a cross-eyed and unfocused expression. She’s not really capable of making coherent conversation. I almost never see her talk to another person. She’s mostly a complete loner, living alone in her own strange, strange dream world.

Mostly Narayana is soft-spoken, exuding a child-like innocence. But periodically she turns “witchy,” incessantly talking to herself in this angry, guttural, incoherent rant.

My friend Duncan was enamored with Narayana back in the 1980s. And he would buy her art tablets and pens and they’d have drawing sessions together. Narayana would scratch out these crude, animalistic portraits of different people, working from photographs. And Duncan would publish the drawings in his TELE TIMES zine.

 

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To this day I don’t know anything about her background. Where she came from, or who her family was (if any). I don’t think anybody does. Including Narayana. She is a person without a past.

Periodically one of the social service agencies would get Narayana a cheap room in a welfare hotel. And she would be indoors for years at a stretch.

But sooner or later, she’d be back on the streets again. Slowly wandering from nowhere to nowhere. Staring out at the world with childlike wonder. Lost in her dream.

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A painting by Narayana — a self-portrait — on the People’s Park mural.

Sunshine

 

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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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K

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I was thinking about K for some reason, this crazy street chick I used to know.  This one specific moment.  When we were walking down this wooded path on the Berkeley campus.  I had dreamed about it last night, which is probably why I woke up thinking about it this morning.  It seems more dream-like than real in my hazy memory.   It was the sky that I remember most of all from that afternoon . . .

It was some time in early 2000.  How symbolic that was.  One century was ending while another century was beginning.  I was 43 at the time, so I was no longer a young man, but not quite an old man yet.  It was near the end of the Winter rainy season, or near the beginning of Spring.  It was still early into my relationship with K.  I was still making a play for her in my own inimitable and spastic way.  Still viewing her as the Girl of My Dreams (and all that nonsense).  Still hoping I could “save” her and make her mine.

I forget the exact circumstances of that day.  K had been panhandling on Telegraph earlier, huddled under a ratty blanket.  And I offered to buy her a cup of coffee.

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(I think this was the day after that emotionally-charged night I had spent hanging out with her at her main panhandling spot on Shattuck Avenue.  As a gift I had given her a laminated photo that Larry the photographer had taken of her when she had first hit Berkeley a year earlier as a runaway.  17 years old.   It was a beautiful portrait.  When she looked at the photo of herself, K burst into tears.  “My green jacket!!” she kept saying.  “My green jacket!”

It was the jacket she had been wearing when she first came to Berkeley.   I could tell it aroused these feelings of sort of painful nostalgia.  Looking back at the jacket, and the person she had once been.  And how far she had fallen in such a short time.  Later that night we got into an intense conversation where K kept trying to make sense of her life’s dilemma..  “Its so hard to explain!!” she kept repeating over and over.  “It’s so hard to EXPLAIN!!”

She wasn’t yet completely ruined at this point, and there was this small part of her that was still “save-able.”  It was that brief moment when she was still trying to pull herself up, and I was trying to offer her my hand.)

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Anyways, the next afternoon we sipped coffee on the steps of the Student Union building.  She was groggy like she’d just woken up, or was sanded-down from coming off a speed-binge.  We made sort of dull small talk.  Me, just madly in love with this person for some stupid, hopeless reason.  This 19-year-old elf.  How did she used to describe herself?  “I’m part troll and part wood nympth.”  Exactly.

Then we walked throught the wooded part of the campus towards Shattuck.  She was going to meet somebody by the BART station.  And I was headed to my office.  Just a mundane afternoon.  Two lonely people walking amongst the crowds of faceless city  people.  One of those moments, just a slice of time cutting through the dramas of our unfolding lives.  Our karma.  Our destiny.

A rain-storm had recently ended, so everything was still wet.  And the clouds were just beginning to break and little patches of blue sky were just beginning to appear, along with little slivers of sunlight that would occasionally peak out from behind the dark clouds.  So it was perfectly symbolic.  It had been a long, hard Winter. But you could see the first little,  promising signs  of Spring, and hopefully better days.

For some reason I vividly remember that sky as we walked down the wooded campus path towards Shattuck.  I guess because we were walking directly into the glare of the sun. It was around 4 o’clock and the streets were just starting to fill with people getting off work, and the sun would be setting over the Pacific in another hour.  That feeling you get in the Bay Area during sunset when it seems like the sun is setting on all of Western civilization.

We were two little, mundane human beings, walking through the afternoon of our weary dramas.  And the incredibly dramatic sky over head  —  with its purples, blacks, grays, blues and shards of  yellow, shining sunlight — made me feel both grandeur and insignificant at the same time.  The drama of the heavens above us, as we trudged through the wet dirt of planet Earth.  That feeling I sometimes get when the sun is peaking down from behind the clouds, like its God Himself hiding up there in the heavens, looking down on me.

Its hard to explain in words.  It was one of those quasi-mystical moments.  And a mundane moment at the same time.   As K put it:  “It’s so hard to explain.”

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Ace Backwords 1994

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A seemingly youthful Ace Backwords before all the malt liquor started kicking in.

I stumbled across this photo of myself from 1994.  And then I’m doing the math in my head.  “Holy shit, that was 20 years ago!”  And I think:  “How can that be possible?”  Because it seems like just yesterday.  But the math never lies.  20 years.  7,120 days.  Give or take a couple days.  60,880 hours ago. . . .. It doesn’t seem like that long ago.  60,880 hours ago?  Seems like only about 50 thousand hours ago.  But that’s the strange thing about time . . .

Tick tick tick.. . .

And I don’t know if you do this.  But I look back on my Youthful Self … And its like looking back on somebody else.  I barely even remember who I thought I was back then.   Let alone who I actually was.  I have to assume it was me. The Ace Backwords of 1994.  Even though I can barely remember who I was, or who I thought I was, at that particular juncture of history.

Part of me wants to look back on my Youthful Self like I was a cool guy.  Because, well, frankly, it was me.  So I’m sort of rooting for myself.  Even as another part of me looks back at my Youthful Self as a total asshole. Because I was certainly that, too (and I could catalogue all the fucked up shit I did, if you really want the details).

But the strangest thing, re looking back on my Youthful Self, is that it really feels like I’m looking back on somebody else.  I barely even remember who that person was.  The Ace Backwords of 1994.  Even though I have to cop to the fact that it was in fact me.  Same social security number and finger prints and DNA. Even as, I swear to god, its like looking back on somebody else.

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