Tag Archives: berkeley

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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Tender(loin) Memories

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I just remembered I did this radical electro-thrash-punk project in 2007. We played gay bars in the Tenderloin and purloined drinks off of old chickenhawking men. It was pretty rad from what I remember (not much). Think Le Tigre with a couple more sex changes and some PCP.

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CLICK THE PICTURE TO LISTEN TO SOME JAMS AND TAKE A TRIP DOWN MYSPACE MEMORY LANE!

An Excitable Boy Reminisces*

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An Excitable Boy Reminisces*

I became obsessed with Warren Zevon in college, although I first heard him when I was just a boy. My father loved “Werewolves of London,” which was the biggest hit Zevon ever had. My old man used to get especially excited at the line “I saw a werewolf drinking a Piña Colada at Trader Vic’s—and his hair was perfect.” He thought that was just the best. And so did I, which makes this instance one of the only things my father and I have ever agreed on.

By the time I made it to Berkeley, I had become a werewolf of sorts myself. I preferred straight rum to Piña Coladas and my hair was far from perfect, but I would find myself transforming into a beast rather frequently nonetheless. Empty bottles were my full moons, and Warren Zevon became my patron saint of lycanthropic alcoholism.

The first friend I made at Berkeley was a Zevon enthusiast and he quickly converted me. We were both artistic and misunderstood (by our own reckoning), and we related to Zevon, whose creative genius and reckless exploits we worshipped. The two of us talked about Warren as if he were a close friend of ours; we felt like we knew him intimately and that he was with us in spirit at all times. Despite the fact that Zevon had been dead for years, his cult of personality was alive and well in Berkeley, and we even started our own religious order in his honor: Zevonism.

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Pistolwhip’s Passing

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Pistolwhip’s Passing

(In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day. Written in 2006 or 2007 at Kip’s in Berkeley on the spot to impress a girl. Pistolwhip was a moniker I used to use.)

Drank himself a grave at twenty-one.
He loved his mirth, he loved his fun.
He loved his mum and he loved his dad.
He loved the good, he loved the bad.
He loved the rich and he loved the poor.
But the sad truth is he loved liquor more.

Shipwrecked Hearts

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Buccaneer beat poetry composed and recorded in Berkeley in early 2007. I believe it was the second composition I ever did.

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In The Well

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(Dated 12/26/08.  Clearly, I didn’t care much about final exams.)

I skipped school again to go to the bar.
Playing hooky in a juke joint on Golgotha Street.
There’s hockey playing on the television
above the bottles and
blaspheming barkeep.
But I ain’t interested in all of that.

Drinks are never on the house
and there’s a hard-knock, well-whiskeyed waitress
who will never go home with me,
in spite of all my well-meaning charm
and respectful winks and liquored, loving looks.

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For William: Expostulation And A Sigh

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(Dated 2/9/09, written during a bus ride).

Why, Sterling, on that old Greyhound,
Thus for the cost of half a ride,
Why, Sterling, sit you thus so down,
And think of places to hide?

Where is your spirit?–that mind unsheathed,
To Ideas depraved and forlorn!
Down!  Down!  And lay that funeral wreath
On your enemies and their scorn.

You look forward to your comfortable grave,
As if it’s the drive that ails you;
As if you were the favorite knave,
And none as despicable as you!

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