Tag Archives: oakland

No Nostalgia Sundays: Exorcising The Spirits Of ’77

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.

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

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.

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

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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Pistolwhip’s Passing

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.

Switchblade Intellectualism


Switchblade intellectualism:
that’s the order of the day
in my fucking neighborhood.
Sometimes not even the most reasonable argument
or appealing remonstrance
will save your wallet
at 4 AM on Apgar Street.

I always fancied living in the Wild West,
playing Cowboys & Indians,
watching my back while I saunter down to the saloon
for some sweet whiskey and sour gash.
But I can’t buy a gun for another four years
(on account of trying to play Ezra Pound
circa ’45 or somewhere thereabouts).
And the streetwalkers out in front of the liquor store
ain’t exactly madams.
Besides, I wouldn’t get into a shootout over a 40 oz.–
that would be silly.

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Dakota Slim

Dakota Slim

This is a poem I wrote in 2007 about one of my artistic brother-in-arms and then roommate Dakota Slim (Travis Keats Ross). He is a fantastic musician and is always releasing new albums that you should listen to. Check him out here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/DAKOTA-SLIM/179031043203

Slimmer than a ten-to-one shot
at the tracks on a stray gray
named “Wounded Knee”
when you’ve been drinking since breakfast
and your brokeback bookie assures you
with a comforting twitch
and a revealing itch
that you’re a sure shot.

A real modern-day Doc Holiday
straight outta the movies (the good ones at least):
refined, learned, brilliantly brash,
drunker than a moonshined mountain goat.
“No sir, I’m in my prime.”

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For William: Expostulation And A Sigh


(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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There Are Worse Things (For Danni)


(Dated 2/9/09, potentially written at Sleaze Manor in Berkeley or in Oakland.  It’s all a little hazy…)

There are worse things than learning that
you’re just a phase or
an opening act for a one-hit blunder of a boy.

And that
the girl that you love more than you ever caught on
caught on to a catch she likes more than you,
even though you know it’s a flounder
and she ought to throw him back
with that god damn hook in his lip
for all the other guppies to see.

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Like A Lone Green Gummy Bear Awash In A Sea Of —– (For Natasha)


(Another old one from my Berkeley days.)

You can tell a lot about a person by:
1.  The shoes they wear.
2.  The company they keep.
3.  The records they own.
4.  The candy they eat.

Q: How many poems have been written about the first three?
A: Too many.

But you can never hear too much about sweet things,
like love and liquor and Laffy Taffy.
I’ve written too much about those two (love and liquor),
so Laffy Taffy it is:

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