Category Archives: No Nostalgia Sundays

No Nostalgia Sundays (Time Travel Edition III): Oblivion Buddies

Standard
No Nostalgia Sundays (Time Travel Edition III): Oblivion Buddies

In many ways, the Acid Kid was my soulmate, a kindred spirit that I ended up sharing a very important and sizeable chunk of my life with. We weren’t lovers, although we spent so much time together that others may have suspected otherwise. We just understood each other on a deep, unspoken level and, moreover, were equally fucked up.

The first time I laid eyes on the kid, he was lounging out in front of the student apartment building I lived in wearing a Velvet Underground T-shirt, a purple baseball cap, high top Chuck Taylors, and Harry Potter glasses. At this point, I hadn’t made a single real friend at Berkeley. I had friends in San Francisco and Oakland, but none at school. That particular night, I had been drinking tequila very openly on the sidewalk in front of the building and hurling drunken verbal insults at every college kid that walked past, half trying to make friends and half trying to get myself expelled from college so I could have an excuse to go back home.

When I saw the Acid Kid though, I didn’t insult him; I told him I liked The Velvet Underground very much and that all these other college kids were into lame shit like Nickelback and Creed and that I was probably going to end up murdering my roommate because he would play said lame shit at unacceptable volumes and that it was cool that at least one other person liked ok music at this fucking university. He told me he played piano and worshipped the Beatles. I told him I played guitar and worshipped The Replacements. We were instantly and irrevocably best friends and completely inseparable for the next four years.

Read the rest of this entry

No Nostalgia Sundays: Petty Jealousy, Baby Talk, Mild S&M, Etc.

Standard
No Nostalgia Sundays: Petty Jealousy, Baby Talk, Mild S&M, Etc.

Love ain’t for the birds, it’s for the kids; love is child’s play, a juvenile affair. It reduces even mature adults to children of sorts, and perhaps it is some ephemeral vision of childhood innocence that lovers seek in one another’s eyes or grasp for in an embrace. After all, don’t we idealize love in many of the same ways that we idealize childhood? The aforementioned innocence, wonder, adventure, the distinct feeling that everything is possible and nothing will ever get old—aren’t these the qualifying features of a worthwhile childhood or love affair?

Maybe it’s not as poetic as all that. Even if it is, there are certainly negative connotations associated with childhood that are just as prevalent in love; perhaps love can just make grown adults speak and behave like children: petty jealousy, baby talk, mild S&M, etc. Unfortunately, I’m not immune to this either, and I’m as guilty as the next Adonis-With-A-Case-Of-Arrested-Adolescence of waxing playground when it comes to romance, dig?

I suspect that love, at least romantic love, is only possible with a child-like approach. In my experience, love isn’t rational or logical or premeditated; one is not afforded the luxury of choosing when or where or with whom they fall in love. It just happens, and then it’s time to play. You might end up with a scraped knee and a bloody nose, crying on the tire swing because your playmate turned out to be kinda mean, but guess what: there are a hell of a lot of other kids on the fucking playground, and chances are there’s at least one that wants to play hopscotch with you without pushing you onto the blacktop.

Read the rest of this entry

No Nostalgia Sundays: Of Pizza Pies & Semen Masks

Standard
No Nostalgia Sundays: Of Pizza Pies & Semen Masks

In 2011, I brought my life crashing down around me. It certainly wasn’t the first time and, unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the last. As a result of a few misunderstandings with the local police, I had been placed on felony probation. I had no job, no money, and no prospects. I was twenty-six years old and I was totally drowning.

I had miraculously managed to kick the two-gram-a-day heroin habit I had been operating on for the past two years prior, but I was still in rough shape physically, mentally, and emotionally. Simply put, I was fucking looney toons insane, and I couldn’t pull it together enough to formulate any real long-term plan that would get me out of trouble and get my life back on track. Somewhere along the line, I had lost the ability to think rationally and realistically about anything.

However, I was smart (or stupid) enough to figure out that I should probably seek employment. Aside from heroin hustling and street scams, I hadn’t worked in a year. Not to mention, my employment history was shaky at best and I was a convicted felon. It was irrelevant, or so I thought, that I had two degrees from UC Berkeley. I didn’t even attempt to find employment that would require any kind of skill or focus or talent; no, it would have been far too disappointing when I was surely turned down and, moreover, I knew that I wasn’t mentally capable of hacking it at a real big kid job.

So, at twenty-six years old, fresh off heroin and crazy as a fucking loon, I became a pizza delivery driver.

Read the rest of this entry

No Nostalgia Sundays: Lessons In Greek Mythology And Bleak Pathology

Standard
No Nostalgia Sundays: Lessons In Greek Mythology And Bleak Pathology

I dig allusions. I always have, and I probably always will. I like the idea of metaphorically pointing to something outside of a piece in scope and time and having the reader get a better, fuller understanding of what you’re going for without having to actually spell it out for them, which admittedly can be a painstaking process.

Don’t call it laziness; call it artistic license.

When I was younger, however, I saw allusions a little differently. Allusions were poetic street cred: the more you laid down, the more you were showing that you were down, dig? It works much the same way as namedropping within the music scene: the more obscure bands you know about, the cooler you are. See how that works?

Read the rest of this entry

No Nostalgia Sundays: Exorcising The Spirits Of ’77

Standard
No Nostalgia Sundays: Exorcising The Spirits Of ’77

I’m a punk kid—-always have been and always will be. I may dress a little nicer and hide my tattoos a little better, but at my core, I still hold the punk rock ethos dear. It molded me in my formative years and proved the launching pad for which I got into other schools of music, art, and literature.

When I got into punk rock as a teenager, there was an unhealthy dose of hero worship that came along with it. I wanted to be just like all of the cats that I listened to on wax, particularly the 1977 ones: Joe Strummer, Johnny Thunders, James Chance, et al were my teachers, and I was an apt pupil. Aesthetically, musically, and, most importantly, philosophically, I tried to follow suit as best as I could. In hindsight, I missed a few key things.

For one, most of these guys either died tragically or withered away into anti-prolific obscurity. For two, it wasn’t 1977 and I wasn’t in New York or London, man. That didn’t matter though: I was for all intents and purposes an honorary member of that time and place, at least as far as I was concerned.

Read the rest of this entry

No Nostalgia Sundays (Time Travel Edition II): Welcome To Berkeley*

Standard
No Nostalgia Sundays (Time Travel Edition II): Welcome To Berkeley*

I moved to Berkeley in the summer of 2006 to attend university. I had never been to the Bay Area before, but I somehow knew that I was meant to go there—whether I liked it or not. You see, Berkeley had been the stomping ground of a lot of my childhood heroes, and I desperately wanted to inject myself into that paradigm: Aaron Cometbus, Billie Joe Armstrong, Allen Ginsberg, Jeff Ott, and Gary Snyder all came out of the B-Town existence, and that’s where I wanted to be, man.

To me, Berkeley was where poets and punks came from or, if they weren’t from there, went to do some damage. And I aimed to do a lot of damage.

As a teenager, I collected records compulsively, especially ones by East Bay Punk bands like Crimpshrine, Operation Ivy, and a slew of lesser known Gilman Street regulars. I had hundreds of them, and I would even hunt down different pressings of the same release for completion’s sake. I would spend hours and hours listening to them and reading the inserts, fantasizing about how radical it would be to actually be a part of the whole scene and see all these bands play 924 Gilman Street, which was pretty much fucking Mecca as far as I was concerned. Later on, when I discovered Ginsberg and all those other beat cats, I felt the same wistful longing to be involved with that scene, despite the fact that it too was decades removed from me.

Read the rest of this entry

No Nostalgia Sundays (Time Travel Edition): Oakland Fucking Proper

Standard
No Nostalgia Sundays (Time Travel Edition): Oakland Fucking Proper

My second year at Berkeley, I lived in Oakland. And not Lake Merrit or Rockridge or any of the nicer parts where other college kids or members of Green Day lived– no, I lived in Oakland fucking proper. With the exception of some of the kids in the punk house a few doors down*, my roommates and I were the only white people on the entire street. We totally stood out and I totally dug it. My roommates did too, until they started getting mugged regularly.

I had hated the experience of living in student apartments so much that I made a conscious decision to arrange living conditions for myself that would be as far removed from that paradigm as possible. In Channing Bowditch, there had been rules, there had been order, and there had been write-ups. On Apgar Street, there would be chaos, there would be disorder, and there would be drive-bys.

Three guesses which one I dug more, man.

Read the rest of this entry

No Nostalgia Sundays: New Shoes (And Real Old Poetry)

Standard
No Nostalgia Sundays: New Shoes (And Real Old Poetry)

Summer of 2003 was not a good one for me: I had lost my first love, caught my first pair of handcuffs, and was just generally blowing it all around. I had been an adult (on paper, at least) for just a handful of months and I had already begun to muck things up pretty badly. In hindsight, however, it may have been one of my better summers out of the ensuing decade. Not to say that this one was good, because it totally fucking wasn’t, but the sad reality is that I was merely getting started with my misadventurous journey, the trend of which would be things growing ever worse (and never better).

I had turned eighteen with little fanfare, from others or myself. The only thing that seemed to change for me when I hit that dull milestone was that I became a little more aware of the fact that I was expected to figure out what I was to do with my life, or at the very least make the appearance of doing so. But I didn’t really want to get a haircut and I wasn’t really qualified for a real job, so I had to pick something that was more aligned with my lifestyle back then.

Basically, something that would complement the odd hours I kept and the bad habits I was into, but also had some semblance of respectability. The obvious choice was to become a writer. It seemed to me that writers were encouraged, perhaps even obligated, to live a reckless existence, and I, all of eighteen whole years, was already way ahead of the curve on this one. Yes, I thought to myself, I will make a fantastic fucking writer.

Read the rest of this entry

No Nostalgia Sundays: Pistolwhip’s Passing (And Poetic Parlor Tricks)

Standard
No Nostalgia Sundays: Pistolwhip’s Passing (And Poetic Parlor Tricks)

While attending university, I spent more time in barrooms than I did in classrooms. I don’t think this was a conscious decision on my part, it’s just that classes were held on set days for predetermined periods of time and bars weren’t. Most students seemed to prefer boring places to study like the library or cafes, but I was always of the opinion that bars were the best places to get schoolwork done– even if I’d end up getting so drunk that I’d forget my completed assignments when I left.

The funny bit about all of my bargazing was that I hated all the bars in Berkeley, and yet I found myself at Kip’s and Blake’s and even the fucking Bear’s Lair nearly every day. I mean, the Bear’s Lair didn’t even serve liquor, for Christ’s sake (as in the Japanese wine, which they also did not serve).

I would usually choose Kip’s out of the bunch because it was the scummiest and I preferred dive bars over the more frat-friendly establishments. The bartender there also made an all right Irish Car Bomb and, after becoming accustomed to my drinking habits, would oblige me when I would order two or three at a time for myself. One time though I walked in there at eight AM while the dude was cleaning and tried to do the same. He looked at me funny and told me that he didn’t open for six hours or something and that I would have to come back. I was really perplexed; why would a bar not be open that early? When I moved to Oakland the next year, I found that the people there seemed to agree with me, because the bars were always open around sunrise when I needed to treat some shakes.

Read the rest of this entry

No Nostalgia Sundays: Hanging With Mr. Carter (And The Acid Kid)

Standard
No Nostalgia Sundays: Hanging With Mr. Carter (And The Acid Kid)

My first year at Berkeley, I resided in the Channing-Bowditch student apartments, which was a far less interesting place to live than the co-ops or dormitories. The apartments reminded me of the waiting room at the doctor’s office, only the magazine selection was a little worse.

I composed the following poem my second semester. My first semester had been largely spent doing every conceivable thing I could think of to get expelled so that I could return home with a (not really) valid excuse: I attended class infrequently, got written up for drinking dozens of times (a building record if I’m not mistaken), and acted erratically.

Basically, I was just being my normal, lovable self.

But I didn’t get expelled, and my second semester found me living with The Acid Kid* in room #233. Every apartment in the building had the exact same layout: two bedrooms with two beds each and an adjoining shared kitchen, living room, and bathroom. The Acid Kid and I shared one room, and these two real square kids shared the other. I think they were engineering majors or something equally lame, but they didn’t drink or smoke or curse or fuck or anything. They were there to study and better themselves and were, as you may imagine, not into the perpetual soiree of self-destruction that Acid Kid and myself had going on.

Read the rest of this entry