Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Wilderness Years - One Car Parades (part 4)

Now i'll bet you'll never guess what Cocaine Mike decided to do once he got me on the team and got things running smoothly? anyone? now if you said something like, i bet Cocaine Mike took Mr. Big's money and started buying cocaine with it in order to flip it before he had to pay Mr. Big big back for fronting him the grass, if you said that i'd be pointing with one hand while tapping the tip of my nose with the other, cuz you'd be right, cuz you don't get the name Cocaine Mike by selling weed obviously and the profit margin on powder is so much higher than grass, that is of course if you don't like to shoot a bunch of that blow like our resident psycho Mike did, or as he put it, ain't nothing wrong with a little IVC, which was his way of saying he liked to shoot blow...

The back story on Cocaine Mike was that he was an army vet, one of the first guys to hit the ground in that little exercise we called Grenada, would show you his hand and his half missing pinky that he lost on the beach there,  he was once married and had three daughters but had done a good job disappearing out of their lives and was currently seeing the mother of his son, a white girl from the hollers of West Virginny who he claimed was fucking a brother in order to piss off her family, she of course had a predilection for a different powder and when visiting his apartment you'd see guns, ammo, syringes, baby formula, toys, more guns and more ammo, sitting on his couch and looking around was such a colossal mind fuck that all i wanted to do was get my shit and split but suddenly Cocaine Mike thought i was his best friend, i didn't have the balls to tell him i thought he was a thieving, psycho fuck who fucked over Jack, mainly cuz he'd kick my ass and then probably shoot me, who knows?  maybe he just enjoyed our conversations...

And so Mike told me how he had gotten the deal of the century, five ounces of flake for five grand, it was pretty good shit and by the time he was done cutting it he'd have close to six and a half ounces, after he took his half ounce of personal out of course, so he'd step on his stepped on coke and would hit the street, he'd cut it up in grams, teeners and eight balls and head to the bar where he'd unload an ounce or more a night, his claim was that he'd have Mr. Big's money back in no time and would be reaping in the cheddar... and he was right, he was moving right along and flipping it before Mr. Big ever knew a thing, he had pulled it off twice, and what was that saying? third time's the charm...

On his third go round of loaning himself Mr. Big's money Cocaine Mike came back to his humble hovel and promptly got in an argument with his West Virginia Baby Mama, and for some inexplicable reason Cocaine Mike left his apartment and went to the bar while he and his Baby Mama cooled off... except she didn't cool off, in what one could describe as karma coming back to bite Mike squarely on the ass his Baby Mama tore open the stereo speaker where he stashed his coke and left five empty baggies lying next to the toilet, the baggies had white residue and there was a note taped to the wall that said, "I hope Mr. Big kills you."  And there it went down the shitter, (not that i believed for a second that she was fool enough to flush it) Baby Mama even took his money effectively leaving Cocaine Mike broke, like flat fucking broke, he had the money in his wallet and that was it, of course Baby Mama didn't realize Mike wasn't the only one she screwed, he called me that night in a rasping mix of sobbing and seething, he read me the note, he called her bitch and whore and contemplated trying to find her in those hollers and shooting her and her whole damn family, rasped that when Mr. Big came he'd be fucking ready, i was already planning on laying real fucking low, the last thing i wanted to be was caught in the crossfire, i was sitting on a pound and a half bought and paid, i'd need to stretch it and hustle for something knew, that was the plan...

The next day i walked in the door from work, my pager had a dozen pages from Cocaine Mike and though i wanted to ignore them ignoring them made me nervous, especially if i bumped into him, particularly because he was a bit unhinged, i walked to Joe's Bar and used the payphone, Cocaine Mike asked for money, he wanted to borrow $300, that he'd get me back, i wasn't about to piss away three bills so i told him i didn't have it, that rent and my loans came due and that i was hustling just to make that, told him i'd meet him and give him what i could spare and so an hour later i walked into Mitchell's and saw him sitting in the back, smack dab in the middle so he could watch both doors, i handed him sixty bucks, said it was all i could swing, he nodded and smoked as his eyes darted, he genuinely thanked me as he told me that if Mr. Big came he'd ice the fucker, he was carrying two 9mm under his jacket and another gun on his ankle, whispered how he wasn't no fucking punk and knew how to use these things and that he'd come correct if the time came, i drank my beer and thought what the fuck am i doing here? i wanted to piss my pants, i wanted to pat Mike on the back and say have a nice life and then get the fuck out, but i finished my beer and had one more than made an excuse to leave, Mike said he was leaving too, and then of course he asked if i wanted a ride, i declined and Mike slipped out the back while i went out the front, i listened for gunshots as i walked back towards Joe's Bar, they never came, and that was the last time i would ever see Cocaine Mike in the flesh...

A few months later, not long before i traded in the pager for my first cell phone, i got a page, it was an out of state number with a message, MIKE CALL, i called the number and there was the old familiar rasp, he was down in Florida, he had scraped together a couple hundred dollars and left a day or so after we met at the bar, threw what he could in his gold Chevette, sold what he could, walked out of his place in the middle of the night and headed south, he had a new girlfriend, she was deaf but Mike knew sign language, how or why i never found out but he said it was going really good and that i should come down and hook up and we could do shit, i wanted to laugh and explain that he's psychotic and a fuck-up and that i was trying to weed those people out of my life but i just chuckled and said i didn't think i'd make it down, he asked if anyone had asked about him and i said no, there had a been a whisper or two but i didn't want to tell him that he wasn't exactly missed by anyone around these parts, he said he was working as a mechanic and living with his new girl, said i could get him at this number, after another minute of small talk we hung up... and that was the last time i heard from Cocaine Mike...






Monday, August 14, 2017

Holidays in the Sun (photo edition) Part 2


del Morro (cemetery)


del Morro


what's changed?


boyos


the street cats of Old San Juan


more street cats of Old San Juan


250th celebration statue


I don't dig religion... but i do dig religious iconography...


personal favorite (cathedral San Juan Bautista)


still hasn't found what he's looking for 
(cathedral San Juan Bautista)


hippie (cathedral San Juan Bautista)


St. Pius (cathedral San Juan Bautista)


Legend (Condado Walk of Fame)


local business

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Holidays in the Sun (photo edition) Part 1

 

Fishing village near Fajardo (taken from the balcony) 


Fishing village at night


Luquillo Beach


mind at ease


World Famous


Waterfall (i swam under)


Rainforest


boyos in natural habitat (Luquillo Beach)


Welcome to San Juan
(view from the balcony)


Home of the Whopper

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Holiday in the Sun (2017 Ed.) The 51st State

Oh dear baby Jesus Rolex motherfucker, the problems of the first world, the utter absurdity of the following post is a major reason why i attempt to stay as fucking high as possible in order to forget or laugh off or accept the complete and total rubbish that modern life has become... i have usurped my working class roots and have become a privileged white boy, a Haus Frau with stubble, and somehow i must come to grips with it, how i don't know, somewhere along the line i've become a granola-eating tree hugger, not the annoying kind with twig headbands handing out pamphlets mind you but an animal concerned with his habitat, i do spend a large chunk of time thinking about how we're fucking up this planet, and so what else would i do but get on a plane (an industry that if it was a country would be in the top seven in carbon emissions) and fly off to some former pristine piece of land now owned and despoiled by the Hiltons or Hyatts or Helmsleys and chock full of faux-native restaurants and local talent singing island hits of the ages...

Now the casual observer might be sitting back and thinking to themselves, man this cat is one miserable motherfucker when in truth i'm not miserable or painting my toenails black it's just that mankind is a detriment to every damn natural thing around it, like the Midas touch but instead of gold we turn it to shit, you see as i was wading through the crystal blue Caribbean Sea i couldn't help but notice how warm the fucking water was, like abnormally warm and not just because all the tourists were pissing themselves in it, no this was something else... i then had a conversation with a nice couple who were from PR and they were commenting on how the sea floor had become so rocky in the last 4 months, that they had been there recently and it was nothing like this, the sad thing i told them was that a good bit of what was on the bottom was coral, dead coral which has been bleached and broken off it's reef, most likely due to the fucking water temp that was a few shades cooler than urine meaning it was about as refreshing as a golden shower (not that there's anything wrong with a golden shower mind you it's just not the sensation i'm looking for when stepping into the sea...) they nodded thoughtfully and looked a bit perplexed but that didn't stop them or me from continuing on our merry holiday in the sun, tortugas be damned... and i quite like those tortugas by the way...

Like i said, i think too much, i worry about shit and when i see the amount of waste and what not all in the name of pleasure it tends to either piss me off or bum me out, i wanted to write a letter to the lovely corporate offices of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel conglomerate about why it was that there was not one fucking recycling bin anywhere in sight? you see the El Conquistador is a Waldorf-Astoria resort, they won't let you forget that as you wander the grounds of luxury, you couldn't score breakfast in this place for under $80 for four people and that was the lowly and quaint cafe, the buffet would set you back 40 a head, champagne and caviar cost extra, still there were nothing but smiling faces and sunburned shoulders and the patrons danced to the music and the booze flowed freely, well almost as you could charge it to the room as easily as signing the chit, needless to say i didn't buy much booze though i did make my way to the local Econo market and scored a 12 pack of Medalla for slightly more than what a one beer  would have cost me from the bar, besides i had a balcony (pic to follow) that overlooked a lighthouse, bio-luminescent bay and quaint little fishing village so there was really no need for me to go wandering about if i didn't want to... and usually after a hard day of swimming with the boyos i didn't want to...

The fishing village mind you was a beautiful muse, i would sit and watch the happenings, there was a park right in the center and some food trucks, a few restaurants, past the park and docks was the village, tiny houses set into a green hill, the Atlantic to the left, the Caribbean Sea to the right, of course i thought of Santiago and his large marlin as i watched the skiffs bob in the cove, how it would be to live there among those hills, a bar at the back end of the park at the of the head of the road that ran up towards the houses, of course it was also the first place i figured i could score weed and alas i was wrong, i did score though, thus keeping alive my streak of finding gear in strange lands...

Oddly enough i didn't go searching for my medicine with my usual gusto, in fact after surveying the place i knew i'd have to go off site and once i got to the little village i kept a keen eye out for what i like to refer to as a friendly face... but there was nothing, that is of course until i found Luquillo Beach and wandered into what i like to call my natural habitat, a long strip of kiosks filled with bars and local Puerto Rican joints serving street food, bottles and cans littering the street, beyond the strip a gorgeous beach, the water deep and blue not ten yards from shore, Breadwinner's tool brother prattling on about how this was an "authentic experience", i was about to tell him he was a knob end but instead ordered a beer and went on the prowl for weed, it was while standing outside a pizza shop, a place owned and run by New Yorkers (and with great pizza), that i struck up a conversation with a sweet girl named Andi who's boyfriend Alex worked just down the way at the tattoo parlor which just happened to be owned by some people from the Steel City, i soon wandered down and told Alex that Andi had sent me and said "Hey Yinz" to the crew, he could hook me up but not for another hour or two and since the Breadwinner was already blowing up my phone and none to pleased with my shenanigans i made my way back towards the car, as i passed Andi she gave the thumbs up and i shook my head no and she then stopped me and said grabbed my hand slipping me the last of a dime that she had, she told me it wasn't much, a pinner most likely but at least it was something, she smiled and said it was the least she could do to help out the old degenerate stoner, (how i described myself when broaching the subject), i told her to tell Alex he's got a gem and to treat her right, dare i say i detected a note of jealousy from the Breadwinner, i laughed as i told her i didn't think 25yr old women with tattoo artists boyfriends are gonna run off with the suburban dad type but we can dream now can't we?

I like getting stoned, always have, the first time was 30 years ago this past May, the Nike Site Park in Parma, Ohio... these days i rarely go a day without toking, vacations being the only time i do at least until i score, the beauty was i looked at it as a good way to clean up for a week, i had that one joint and i waited until my last night in the El Conquistador - A Waldorf Astoria hotel, to smoke it, and it wasn't half bad... the next day i was swimming under a waterfall in a rain forest before 10am, but i'll get to that...

After that water fall i drove the brood into San Juan and once properly situated it was my job to take the rental car back to a hotel which was a short drive and 15 minute walk back over a low bridge with beautiful view of the ocean, i dropped the car and began my walk back when i noticed a little Vice Den, a place that sold nothing but cigarettes, cigars, newspapers, rolling papers, lottery tickets, a forlorn rack of snacks, and of course booze, booze you could drink right there and so since it was hot and there was a Punk Rock Girl behind the counter i bought a beer, $1 unlike the $5 for the exact beer at the El Conq. i loitered, you could say my Spidey sense was tingling, and so i stood and scanned the occupants and was draining my beer, i was getting ready to give up and head back when a young guy walked in, a waiter just getting off work, he bought wraps and headed for the door, i followed him out and politely asked if i could have a word, i told him i noticed he was buying wraps and that i really was looking for a place to score and could he point me in the right direction, he stopped and looked around and laughed and said come here and took a few steps away from the Vice Den door and it's patrons, i sell weed he smiled, fucking excellent i exclaimed, and then Vincent and i had a confab about the virtues of stoners and i bought some gear off him and threw in some extra as a tip, he told me how to find him if i needed more and we shook hands and off i went towards the Hilton Condado to gaze out at the Atlantic, i'd say the Hilton's were wrecking the place but it didn't matter, it was  nothing but hotels and condos up and down the coast, man was gonna fuck this place up regardless... typical hippie can't hold a grudge...(to be cont.)


Sunday, July 30, 2017

When You Wake Up Feeling Old... go to the Rock Show

Every now and then the spring chicken must cop to the fact that he's really just getting to be an old rooster, time just keeps right on marching along and we loose track of the fact that those sunrises and sunsets are finite, hell when they come and go as they do one tends to get the feeling they'll always be there and maybe they will, we're still waiting for Tim Leary to send that letter but until then we tend to not dwell on the fact that we can check out at any time and there are a myriad of ways for us to leave the key card on the nightstand (so to speak), this week in particular has been a motherfucker when it comes to reminding me that i ain't getting any younger...

I've never been professionally diagnosed but i've watched enough ER dramas in my youth and read enough books written by or about the mentally ill to know that i've got what might be termed an addictive personality, or you could just say i liked to party, still do really i've just learned that some things will kill you faster than others and since the appearance of the boyos on the scene i've tried to eliminate most of those things, (see blow, smack, ridiculously excessive boozing, things of that nature) i've gotten back to the Earth you could say, back to my favorite plant and the occasional bit of fungus, you could call it spiritual or you could just say i like to crawl inside my own head and think, where before i used to want to run the streets of dope, speed and fucking now i prefer to lounge on the couch and study the ceiling, and of course i've developed this almost pathological need to work out...

Now i can honestly say that i usually see the wall i'm about to smash my face into and somehow pull out of it, my old friend the Engineer once stated how he was amazed at how i could walk away from things, and usually i could, the diciest by far was our fair sister Charlie Baltimore, my lack of respect for her pretty much bit me on the ass but these days i'm like into healthy living or some fucking thing and i go at these workouts with an almost bizarre sense of duty, doesn't matter if i'm fucking myself up i'll still do them, that is of course until i can barely lift my arm above my head or in the most recent case walk... the kettle bells fucked my shoulder all because i was too stupid to admit they were fucking up my shoulder, i had concocted my own little regimen and at times i half wondered if i hadn't stress fractured a clavicle or something of that ilk, painful, sometimes ridiculously so but not enough to get me to stop...

Now if you'll allow my to digress i'll explain that yesterday i went to the eye doctor for the first time, my eyes have always been fucking great but i realized by night time i couldn't read a book, i mean i could it was just that all the little letters were fuzzy and i spent a good deal of my time wondering if i had the words right, it also wasn't lost on me that by the time i do sit down to read i'm usually Jeff Lebowski stoned and possibly that was the problem, it made it worse but even without Jah's help i still could barely fucking see the words and so after reading all those little lines of letters with this eye or that eye it was determined that i could use a pair of reading glasses... and so now i lay on the couch while the crickets chirp with my NHS specs on and can actually see the damn words, i can read faster too, probably because i can see, i should have done it six months ago but i'm the stubborn type, if there's anything left in to this wine of youth it is most definitely the dregs... and maybe not even that...

And so while i was building Swedish furniture and organizing and sorting out the gaff, per the Breadwinner's orders of course, i couldn't do my normal shit and so i hopped on the Breadwinner's treadmill and started running, figured 3 or 4 miles couldn't hurt, problem was i have this funny left knee from fucking about with Nick Disaster and the football, was doing a right shit imitation of Johan Cruyff when it sort of went all wonky, my diagnosis was a knee sleeve, ice and copious amounts of ganja and damn if that didn't seem to do the trick and the running seemed like a good idea and it came pretty easy except now i realize i was sorta of favoring that left knee which in turn ended up fucking up my right side, or to be more specific what i'm guessing is some sort of problem with the old sciatic nerve, of which i've prescribed heating pads, rest, stretching and copious amounts of ganja...

Let me say that usually a day or two of this regimen would suffice and the pain would subside just enough for my dumb ass to start back at it, the workout being my new crack, but this time i was (and still am) a bit fucked and i had a ticket to a rock show, those crazy kids from DC called Priests, it was in a tiny club and i have a feeling this band won't be playing many tiny clubs in the near future but damn if i could barely fucking walk and so for the first time in my life i was staring down the premise of missing a rock show cuz i couldn't physically hack it, the old man sitting out the young man's gig, i mean i've missed or blown off shows before but that was my choice, this wasn't, this was a blow, and so i lay in bed and heavily medicated throughout the day, of course i forgot my eye appointment which i went to pleasantly gooned, but as the clock ticked towards having to leave or skipping the gig i laced up the shoes and walked gingerly to the car...

So there i was joining the hipster cognoscenti with my uncool shoes, but really what's more punk rock than a suburban dad? fucking nuffin that's what less i have to school these kids on Foucault and Derrida and the philosophy of Deconstructionism, except the kids were alright and there were even a couple of the original Indy kids there, though older and grayer and plumper, but damn if it wasn't a fine fucking show and damn if i didn't feel like a kid as i smiled my way to the car and damn if i didn't blast the stereo all the way home as i sang along to today's new wave hits, a humid summer night and a drive through the city and i'm 16 again... or maybe 25, doesn't matter, what matters is i'm still at it and i think Mr. Jones would agree that just cuz you get old doesn't mean you have to grow up, that staying curious and checking out what the kids are in to spurs the mind and the body... and besides, what else have i got to do?






Monday, July 10, 2017

Random Notes (Suburban Surrealist vol. 2)

To put it mildly i am a horrible suburbanite, i can admit it, there are many things about living in the suburbs that i just don't give  two fucking shits about, and the fact is there is nothing i can do to change that, it's not a question of personal growth or self help or fucking magic tricks it's just the way this noodle is wired, we must embrace and savor our failings just as much if not more so than our victories, somehow i think the world would be might bit more pleasant it if wasn't all this damn blood-lust to be the winner, what's the fucking winner get anyway? because let's face it, as soon as they put that crown on your head some kid somewhere is scheming to knock it off, hopefully while leaving your head still intact but history has shown sometimes that's not the most pressing thing on the mind of the would be new king...

So where do i begin a list of things i'm shit at? first and foremost it's probably my utter lack of urgency when it comes to getting my car washed, what the fuck did you think i was gonna say? this is first world shit here man, you know while i'm wasting shit tons of water to keep my vehicle looking shiny and new Matt Damon is telling me how the rest of the world can barely find enough clean water to drink and cook with, meanwhile there are at least a half dozen automated car washes within a three mile radius of my front door, i know a guy who has the unlimited wash card and his black Denali Behemoth fucking sparkles when the sun hits it, damn thing is so clean and waxed you can see it clearly at night, in fact i didn't know there was such a thing as an unlimited wash card until i asked how he kept his Behemoth so shiny, said he runs it through every time he drives by one of the places, i shook my head in knowing agreement though i knew nada, i figured i'd keep my whole observation about how much of a waste it was to myself, if my mid-sized family SUV gets washed it's because it rained, i do attempt to clean it out and realize how scrutinized and gossipped about it i'd be if i actually ever had another adult in the car but luckily i never do, to me it's just a means of transportation, i'd much prefer a train or a bicycle, Henry Ford said fuck all that...

(Side note- today as Nick D. and i walked up the hill from his futsal session i was stopped by a man mentioning how fast the time goes when you have kids and how his youngest had finished his first year of college and the kid wrote his mother a letter saying how much he missed his mom, then out of the blue he quoted Mark Twain, the one about how when he (Twain) was 14 he could barely stand to have his father around he was so ignorant and when he got to be 21 he was astonished at how much his old man had learned... being a fan of Sam i mentioned how Mr. Twain made a lot of prurient observations, which led him to bringing up Vonnegut, which led me to into a quick sermon on the virtues of humanism and how absurd and insane both those guys would have thought the present day was, he laughed and agreed, his dog demanding his attention and Nick Disaster demanding more of mine we went our separate ways, he was a thoughtfully and expensively dressed man who had the dog jump in the Audi and had headed to the park, i was wearing a Black Flag t-shirt, stained of course, and a pair of Hang Ten shorts i found for $12 bucks at Costco and some shitty old blue Vans, somehow i thought Jeff Spicoli would approve, and yet here we were discussing authors... now if that isn't nice i don't know what is...)

Of course to compound my first world problems i often have men in green golf shirts knocking on my door and telling me they have chemicals that would turn my lovely field of daisies and other assorted non-grasslike vegetation into a lush field of green so comfortable i'd abandon my bed and sleep on it instead, i usually tell them i'm going to try and make my whole front yard a bamboo garden cuz bamboo is great at eating up carbon dioxide, then i politely say no thanks and close the door, i don't need them blatantly pointing out my shortcomings in lawn maintenance and landscaping, now the cat who drives that shiny black Denali Behemoth, you should see his fucking lawn,  i don't mind grafting in the yard but i don't somehow believe it validates my standing as a suburban 'Merican male and i am squarely in the minority on that front...

(Side Note #2- now when i get these fucking lame brain ideas like growing bamboo they tend to stick in my craw, one day i was talking to one of my best friends as we moved my old furniture to the Breadwinner's best friends house because A) i'm sick of filling landfills with perfectly good shit and B) her friend could use the furniture and tight finances prevented her from buying any at the moment, we were discussing the bee population and the worries and wonders of the scientific community which related back to the daisy fields that were our respective lawns and how we were doing Mama Nature a solid by not spraying chemicals all over the lawn and killing the very things that sustained the bees, i'm a fucking hippie in punk rock clothing, it was then i started discussing my bamboo dreams and how it was a shame i couldn't grow it around here, my friend said hold up and drove to this place where he showed me a giant bamboo patch and smiled, shit grows good around here he said, you could do it, which now has me ruminating even more on planting bamboo behind my place and letting it run wild along with that other favorite plant of mine, not in the consumable way but in the let the hemp/ditchweed run wild too, maybe i have too much free time, i think i have just enough...)

Oddly i can't put these shortcomings down on sloth or laziness though i'd very much like to, in the last five years since getting my walking papers from the Big World Bank Machine i've taught myself how to do all kinds of shit i'd never done before, fucking patching my roof and building roomfuls of Swedish furniture, built a retaining wall, looked up ways to substitute for ingredients i don't have on hand when i'm baking cookies for shit sake, but yet my car is not shiny, my lawn looks like a vacant lot, i have no career ambitions or career for that matter, hell i don't even have a paying job, i mean fucking hell i couldn't have planned it better, yes i don't have a job to fall back on when stuck in a room with responsible adult types and forced to converse but shiiiit, it's at those times i like to make obscure references to literature and philosophy, not in a high minded way mind you but in a contemplative and colloquial manner, it cracks me up, the pursuit of money and status and career, it's a fascinating thing to study out here in the lily white, i don't claim to understand it but it makes for interesting nights as i pull tubes in the garage, and maybe all the crickets and bugs are driving me batty, maybe the lack of ground lights allows me to star gaze and realize the uselessness of it all, this sub-conscious cultivation of suburban eccentricity, there is no way but up? or is it down? i don't know... and more to the point i don't care...






Monday, July 3, 2017

The Wilderness Years - One Car Parades (part 3)

I'm the man now, he growled and smiled, i can hook you up, i took over for Jack for Mr. Big, fuckin' guy was getting too fast and loose anyhow if you ask me, his eyes were fixed on me as i took a gulp of my Scotch and water and chased it with swig of High Life, i nodded... need you on the team my man, his large hand firmly on my shoulder, you're the kid who can shift the product man, i know it and Mr. Big knows it, you were discussed my young brother, glowingly he chuckled... i didn't know whether to shit or chew bubble gum, i was carefully trying to parse through the bullshit Cocaine Mike was spewing, it very much could have been true or it could be his cold calculation, Mr. Big knew me and i knew him, this was a different game than the shit i pulled at uni, this was a bit more serious, i was still learning, in one of the few times i was allowed to associate on a social level with Mr. Big, invited to join the conversation at the corner of the bar by Hippie Jack i showed how much i had to learn, the subject of cops came up and in my youthful cool and desire to impress i uttered something like, fuck those guys... fucking cocksuckers, he laughed and told me how much he donated to the FOP and the PAL, how they thought he was a swell fucking guy and big supporter of the local PD, straightened me out to the fact you wanted them to think you were on their side, i was a young hood, this dude was into trafficking shit, i stood silent and corrected...

Cocaine Mike had painted his masterpiece of course, he had not only stolen Hippie Jack's stash and money but he had also stolen his connection, slipped in through the back door, and yes apparently it helped that he knew me cuz Mr. Big liked what i did but he didn't want to deal with a young kid and so Cocaine Mike got the North Oakland account and i got a new boss if i wanted it... what choice did i have? same stuff at the same price and the train keeps rolling right? at least in theory that was the plan but i didn't call this post one car parades for nuffin' now did i?  I was also cognizant of the fact that given time i could easily jump Mike in the ladder, it would take some maneuvering but it wasn't that far out of the question, may not have been the most healthy thing so to speak and you could say i wasn't the most confident of sorts when it came to envisioning a long run with Mr. Cocaine Mike at the helm but for the time being i was working with the scariest, craziest motherfucker i had ever known...

That night i went home and thought, i lay on my mattress and stared at the ceiling as the public radio burbled in the background, this was a bit more delicate, how much did i want to let this crazy bastard front me? i could easily buy a pound plus a half or damn near another whole one in cash but did i want to take that much cash to Cocaine Mike's place, i trusted him about as far as i could throw him and it did not seem out of the realm of possibility that he would point a gun in my face, take my cash and laugh as he told me i had 10 seconds to run before i got shot, i had my nest egg growing in the local bank and a safe that was slowly accruing both seed and play money but i was well aware that this psycho could fuck all that up in less than that aforementioned 10 seconds, and what was i gonna do? call the cops? get a gun and shoot at him? i could get a pound at at time but that just meant more trips to his place, the extra half meant roughly once a week, and people think this shit is easy, all this toil and trouble for five or six hundred un-taxed dollars, it's what makes the world go round...

And so i threw my lot in with a 6'6 inch devil in a brown leather jacket. I didn't see much of Jack after that, i'd buy him a drink at the bar and talk to him in passing, he'd ask me if i was getting anything good and that if i did to let him know, i told him i was working to put shit together but could barely scrape up enough to keep my people happy, it was bullshit, i was still doing my thing but had been told in no uncertain terms to not cut Jack in on anything, the punishment being that i would be out as well, as it was Cocaine Mike was getting 5 or 6 pounds at a time of which i moved 90% of, i didn't know it at the time but Mike picked up and then sat back and waited for me to do my thing, i was still making my money but i was a bit more cautious in the way i tossed it around the neighborhood, i knew shit would go south sooner rather than later and so i banked a bit extra, i'm not sure the strippers or bartenders noticed, instead i got shit done and stayed in my room and out of the bar when i didn't have to work, i read books and listened to records, i put the word out to my customers that i was looking for new connections, just to keep my guys honest i'd say, it's a strange thing asking people who are buying weed from you to help you to find people to buy weed from in order to mark it up and sell it back to them but that's just how shit worked, i had accrued the capital for cash and carry,  so far though i was coming up empty...

Then one afternoon i was milling around the alley that led up to the back of the apartments where Hippie Jack and Cocaine Mike lived, Mike of course was his usual ten minutes late and as i stood pacing an alley of cinders and broken glass i was hoping that Jack wouldn't come rolling out of his place, it was after work and happy hour would be starting and Jack being that creature of habit i was hoping he had caught the early bus or copped a ride, then the side door opened and out he stepped, there i stood pacing with a backpack on my shoulder, the same backpack i always used to grab my gear, he looked puzzled and hurt, what's up man? he said... and what could i say? i told him i was waiting for Cocaine Mike, said he had called me and told me he had a line, i wasn't getting much, shit's been tough i lied, Jack stood shaking his head and told me to let me know if i can get any to spare, i'm just grabbin' a Q-per (quarter pound) i lied again, and just then Cocaine Mike came strolling around the corner, he gave Jack a nod and then slapped me on the back and said, come on in man...Hippie Jack turned and headed toward the bar, later man i said and followed Mike up the stairs to his place...

Once upstairs Mike shit-talked Jack to on end and i sat there and nodded in agreement because it was the safest and sanest thing to do, i liked to think i had some honor among these thieves but who the fuck was i kidding, a month back from the beach and my weed slinging career was a fledgling mess, shit gear at expensive prices from a balding ex-frat boy who was less than thrilled when a tall dread-locked white guy pulled up to his redneck enclave, then a chance meeting in the bar and the rest was history, it was close to two years and in this business at this low-level that was a fucking stretch, it was good for both of us and even though i knew i wasn't the one to fuck up i wanted to show some kind of loyalty, call it being young and idealistic, i was going to be some kind of morally upstanding drug dealer, what a fucking laugh, watching Hippie Jack, a guy i called my friend, shuffle off toward the bar beaten and broken i felt like a dick, a first class fucking heel, and i should have, but a man's gotta eat as they say and this capitalist system is a meat grinder even down here in the gutter, and so i got my weed from Cocaine Mike, i'm pretty sure Jack knew it, what could i do? i had a business to run and strippers to tip and student loans to pay and psychedelics to buy and rent to pay and booze to guzzle... as W. Axl Rose put it, Welcome to the Jungle baby... to be cont.