Irish and Italian Associates Make Strange Bedfellows For Organized Crime In Boston in the 1990’s… [First Pass Edit]

This excerpt is inspired by true events. Some of the characters , names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been changed for anonymity purposes. Any similarity to the names, character or history of any person is purely coincidental.

 

The Conclusion of Part 2 – Canada Unleashed: Montreal to Vancouver…Is coming up in the subsequent post. Thank you for your patience!

 

With the universe as my witness, I write because I have to. It is just how writers do things, 48674493wkpand as we know it does not have to follow any sensible guidelines…it can be about some pretty fucked up shit. It does bother me sometimes that the focus is on the frailties of others, sometimes even of those we look up to. It’s further strange how we as people find ourselves fascinated by movies, stories…any medium where we can find ourselves sympathetic to the villains. Music, Cinema, Photography, Art…just about anything, especially when there were real lives connected and destroyed by monsters. We laugh, repeat and mimic lines (whole scenes even), over and over again…we reset the knife or a bullet to the head and chest. I’m not passing judgement, just making an observation. The way violence plays out in real life is worth a shit ton of money, only the victims loose any sleep over it…pretty messed up when you think about it. Dollars drenched with tears, there is blood on our hands. We don’t cause the accident, but we can’t look away either.

It’s very easy to romanticise the days of old in the ethnic neighborhoods of any city, you know before all the gentrification happened and ruined it all. The world governments saw a powerfully lucrative stranglehold of an oportunity to legislate control of their own brand of organized crime. In the past “problems” were handled locally along familial, ethnic, and cultural lines. Now these problems are handled administratively by jurisdictional governmental law through taxes, fees, and for profit institutions.

Go to the neighborhoods now and a fascade of the old country still exists but it does not have the same soul. If the violence was part and parcel of the family ties, part of what gave the neighborhood soul, then I guess it’s better that we have all moved on in the last few decades. Although it did not mean to start out that way, with the eventual corruption of “Respect” and the “Code of silence” by power and greed, with the responsibility placed rightfully on the perpetrators — as that “silence” evolved into sociopathy, this led to everyone singing like birds in last ditch attempts to survive. After all it was one of the most famous gangsters in modern history who said, ‘To get where I am today, I had to burn every bridge that I ever crossed to the ground’…clearly there must have never been any intention of going back. Just as black on black violence has become perversely acceptable, warehousing of the mentally ill and addicts in prisons tolerable, white on white ethnic violence being the only slight outlier, nonetheless all of it was and still is an unholy and unacceptable terror.

I must have had a lot of misconceptions about my environment at the time, but it was the 5766489mn“beloved” neighborhood. It’s only been in recent years that I have been able to fully understand what was really going on around me, things that I had no control over. You know how it is, one hopes to feel good about the neighborhood they choose to move into…it’s only natural to look the other way. There was so much bubbling under the surface that I did not know of, nor would I want to know for that matter. It’s just striking to think that in the middle of all this awesome culture and family and worldy seamlessness, that a large part of what held it all together was so dangerous. It was obviously a case of naiveté on my part, not in the sense of lacking street smarts, as I was aware of organized crime. I actually knew that some of my friends families (over many years) were involved in it, not any specifics…it just was just “unspoken knowledge” if you know what I mean. Gruesome violence was always overshadowed with, “they had it coming kind of vibe”. Catholics and Christians really have it lucky in this arena, you know “The Jesus Christ Option”, all you have to do is ask to be forgiven on your deathbed and whamo…heaven sent! No time at all in Purgatory, what a bargain (That is if you believe in that sort of thing), No!

In the Italian section of the city, there were no supermarkets or big box stores and it was wonderful. In the morning after a couple of espressos, I would head to my local butcher, who would hack the section of meat desired off a fresh carcass in cold storage. The cleaver would come out to section chops or ribs right in front of me. For burgers and meatballs he would grind, also right in front of me, 70% beef and 30% pork to order. The reason for mixing the pork (aside from it’s amazing flavor) was to add some fat to the ground beef. The beef was so lean, that it needed some pork fat to not come apart when cooking a burger on the grill. Assorted Dry Salamis, Sausages, Prosciuttos, and Cappocola hung from the ceiling for the taking. After a little bit of everything wrapped in butchers paper, it was time to move onto the cheese shop.

If I thought the butcher shop was great then the cheesemonger formaggi was divine. Here I would get the finest aged extra sharp Yellow Italian Provolone and while it was being sliced I would taste test the ripe Gorgonzolla, Fontina, Asiago, and Parmesano-Regianna. Grabbing a block of each as needed, the store also served as a local Latteria, so I would also get some local sourced Raw Milk, Mozzarella Di Bufala, and a bucket of Ricotta. After getting what I needed and tasting a world of flavors over a few minutes time, I would stop at the pizza shoppe right next door for a huge slice of Ricotta pizza…their specialty. The Ricotta baked onto the pizza shell was an inch thick and was cooked to exactly the right moment when the surface of the cheese would just start to thicken and brown into a carmelized slice of heaven. The pizza pulled from the oven at just that moment of perfection so as not to burn. The slice could be eaten without care from one hand as I walked to my next destination, the perfect balance between savory and sweet.

The Panaficio was right around the corner and I would purchase my desired breads and pastries. Some Scali, Focaccia, and Ciabatta for Panini’s (sandwiches) and occasional Lobster Claws and Pistachio Macaroons. Right next store to that was the Vegetable Market where I could get the best (just harvested and/or in season) Cilantro, Carrots, Onions, Broccoli Raab, Basil, Red and Green Peppers, Red Potatoes, and Romaine Lettuce. I would also grab assorted fruits: Plum Tomatoes, Olives, Peaches, Pomegranates, Green Beans, Bosc Pears, and Eggplant. Every year I would pine for the time of year, the arrival of the fresh and slightly ripened green whole figs to slice and eat the green gooey flesh…a whole bag sometimes until it gave me a stomach ache. That shit was some serious natural candy.

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Johnny Depp – “Black Mass” Movie [Warner Brothers Promotional Photo]

These days some might think, what a pain in the ass to go all these places for your food. I can assure you that it was not, and is one of the best experiences one could ever have in life. Exactly the way it’s still done in many parts of the world…you got to know and talk to the people, actually see the hands that helped you to gather and select your provisions. The proprietors would clue you in on a seasonal or new gem that had fallen into their hands. We the locals got first dibs and a taste test of everything bought, and more importantly might desire to buy. I have never bought a tomato in a supermarket or big box store that had that distinct heirloom tomato taste, NEVER. The nightshade family, oh an ode to the nightshades…did you know that Potatoes, Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant are all in the same family as Tobacco (Nightshade Solanaceae)? Did you also know that all of these nightshade varieties contain small amounts of nicotine, even more when unripe? This is why nicotine is known to be one of the most effective and safe pesticides. This naturally stable form of nicotine is what helps keep pests away from the fruit. Oh how do I long for those days again.

There were several execution style murders right in front and in the area of my butcher shop, within the stretch of only one or two years. It was very strange how when a shooting would happen it would blow over so quick. White on white gangster crime obviously not a big priority for the police. I remember walking down the street after the bodies had already been removed, the shop owners would be outside washing their sidewalks with pressure washers as the blood ran in the gutters to the storm drains. The incidents would not even make big news…like page six at best.

I actually did not know that some of these murders were literally right on the sidewalk directly in front of my butchers’ street facing store front window. I had noticed right after the killings that the butcher shop had drawn closed steel garage doors, but because it was afternoon I just thought he had closed up for the day. The next morning while getting some stocks he told us what happened. That he was tending shop and all of a sudden bap bap bap, three shots and three dead people right in the street in the light of the day. He said it was over before anyone even had the time to register that something this crazy had happened. Their were just dead bodies lying all over the street. At that moment, a lot of shop keepers including him closed up shop for the day. Precisely the reason why his steel safety garage doors were closed so early in the day.

My flat was in the direct cross roads of the North End, in between Prince and Charter Streets. Not far from my door stoop was the Old North Church, famous for Paul Revere’s ride (“One if by Land, two if by sea”, in reference to the British Invasion of the US). Looking South was Haymarket Square and Faneuil Hall. At the time Boston’s Big Dig Construction Project was in full swing and was a major demarcation point separating the North End from Downtown Boston. It was early in 1990 and I was working two jobs to make ends meet. One was at the Fish Pier by day and the other I had begun in 1989 working at all the clubs on Lansdowne Street. I was tasked with local concert crew and band/ stage/ venue security.

Coach was dealing weed out of the flat at the time, but we were small fish, just small amounts of green to people who we were friends with (mostly College Students…none of whom lived in the North End). What was strange though was that as anyone who smokes weed knows that at times there would be “dry spells”, meaning that for many possible reasons…that a city or a whole state (or region) would have times when there was no weed to be had. The suppliers higher up on the food chain would be completely out or “dry”, unable to supply the street level dealers. This would cause minor panic within the weed community because they were unable to get their daily high. I remember one particular dry spell which lasted several months because a major dealer had been pinched by the feds for trafficking cocaine and marijuana. The thing was that Coach’s dealer never hit this dry spell so we always still had weed, but again Coach did not sell to anyone in The North End. The word that was going around in the neighborhood was that it was impossible to find a dime bag of weed, but heroin was plentiful everywhere for a mere five dollars a bag (and it was extremely potent). I’m sure you can see where this was heading, right down the tubes, and fast.

I remember one day hearing commotion outside my apartment window, dogs were barking, kids and people were whistling and screaming. So I head over to the window overlooking the street and I see a young guy who I knew was a local. He was rolling and falling onto the hoods of cars, obviously extremely high on heroin. He kept nodding out and waking up again over and over falling on to the sidewalk. Next thing I know, I see his elderly mother come around the corner with a broom screaming at him about being a “Waste” and a “Junky”. Next she starts beating him with the broom, first with the brush part then the wood handle. I was thinking this is crazy…and as usual whenever something crazy like this happened in the neighborhood, you could feel the eyes of all the people living on the street focused on what was going on from the awkward comfort of their flat’s living rooms. It was very sad, someone must have called emergency services because a few minutes later an ambulance pulls up and scoops him off the sidewalk to take him to the hospital. That’s just one example, but incidences like this were happening with more frequency.

It was normal each day to walk past the old timers sitting out in front of their stores, homes, or social clubs located in the basements of the packed together row houses. There was one guy in particular that stood out…he was often by himself sitting out in front of his building and although he was almost always alone…he seemed to interact with everyone in the neighborhood from his sharp little corner. I always greeted him everyday and he was very cordial in response. One particular day I walked by him and after saying hello, I continued on as usual. Next I went down to one of the local haunts in the tourist areas of downtown to sit and have some pints of beer.

The bartender who I knew pretty well from my patronage at his bar, was complaining that day about back pain. Somehow we got on the topic of pills, percosets to be exact, saying he needed to pick some up when he got off work. I half-jokingly asked if I could get a few as well, he affirmed and just had to make a phone call. Like ordering pizza, the only difference was that they did not deliver and that I would have to go get them from someone in the North End. Hmmm…that’s a strange coincidence. Not only that but he said that I could go get them right away if I wanted. He explained to me where I had to go and as luck would have it…I was going to get them from the guy I passed every day on the corner and had been saying hello to for like forever. Of all places to send me in the city, the bartender was an Irish guy from “Southie” (South Boston) directing me to my own neighborhood in the Italian section, the North End to pick up the pills.

I quickly finished my pint and got on it. It only took about ten minutes to walk there. So I cautiously walk up to the guy and I say, “So and so” sent me to pick something up. Without pause he yells out the name of a woman, then proceeds to tell me to go inside the door behind him…to walk up to the apartment at the top of the stairs and just knock on the door and give her the money. So I did as he said and after knocking on the door, an elderly woman opened it up and said a kind hello. I then gave her the money and she gave me a plastic bag with all the pills in it. That was it and I left just as I had come, walked back to the bar and divided up the goods, all were happy.

Sometime in the next month we decided to do it again, he made the phone call and then said I could go, but this time he had different instructions for the deal. This time I had to go inside a particular store and ask for a specific number of pills using a particular “code word”, and that they would hook me up. So I again walk over in short time and walk inside the store as instructed. There were a number of people inside doing actual business as it was the middle of the day. Again I did as was told, said the number followed by the codeword and within thirty seconds or so I was handed my merchandise. As soon as I received the goods, I noticed everyone scrambling in the store…someone ran to the store front window and flipped the “Open” sign to “Closed”, just like you would see in the movies. I thought for a second was this a raid…no…I did notice a car had just pulled up that was double parked on the one way street. Then someone ran over to me and said “off you go”…ok, that’s odd.

As I walked out the store, I noticed I was the last one out besides the store workers, who stayed behind. As I’m walking out the storefront, just as I’m about to turn right out the front door, I noticed a man get out of the vehicle that was double parked. Another man was walking toward the store with him, however I could not take my eyes of the first man, he was creepy looking. I remember vividly thinking the guy looked like a psychotic leprechaun. He had shades on and was bald on the front and top with shiny grayish blonde crown of hair from the sides to the back. I could not get the look of that man out of my head, he was all business and projected the body language of person with zero fucks given. I don’t know why I got that idea or feeling from him, but I did. I also felt the sudden urge to get as far away from the area as possible immediately. In all seriousness I was not scared just a little creeped out, again I did not know who he was but his face is burned into my brain to this day. It was also not a big scare to me because I had walked amongst gangsters before. It was common knowledge that if you keep to yourself and show active - BULGER Wanted POSTER.PDFrespect you will “most likely” get the same in return.

Several years later, after I had already left the city and was traveling on tour with bands, I read an article in a newspaper and there were a few photos of a particular gangster who was near the top of the US Most Wanted list. The article was about, and photos were of that man (in a different incident and location), who I had cautiously passed that day near that store front. I quickly realized after some research on the internet, that it was the one and only “Mr. White” (J.J. “Whitey” B.). There is a lot more to the story for another time and another day. Not common for an Expat Icelander living in a US Italian neighborhood taking advice from an Irish Bartender in an Irish Town…while running into a famous Irish Gangster (who lived in the Irish part of town) in the Italian section of Boston. Go figure…fahget about it…what a tangled web we weave.

 

 

 

For those who want a larger overview, separate but surrounding this piece visit & read:

http://bostonmobscene.blogspot.com/2005/01/mob-in-boston-1990s-until-early-2000s.html

 

 

Thanks For Reading & All Your Endless Support. My Readers Are Awesome!

Cheers and Bless!

CM ☕

Please do not reproduce this article either all or in part without the expressed written permission of the author who can be reached via the “Contact” section in the header menu. You may link to the article if you wish, all that we ask is that you give credit to the respective author…”Christmachine” wherever you post a link. Thank you.

Copyright © 2015 Christmachine. All Rights Reserved.

©2014 – 2020 Christmachine ☕

Snoop Doggy Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound : From Dogg Food To Doggystyle… Urban legend #2…

Snoop Doggy Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound : From Dogg Food To Doggystyle… Urban legend #2…

 

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Snoop Dogg Promotional Placard 1993 Doggystyle ©Christmachine.com

I can remember listening to Dr. Dre’s – The Chronic and Snoop Dogg’s – Doggystyle when they were first released and I was blown away.  Truly, just stunned at how captivating they were.  These were brutal skills on display, and despite all the controversy, it was and still is a reflection of the dreams or lack thereof…and realities of inner city minorities in overcrowded cities of the US. The E Funk or aptly rebranded West Coast G Funk Era introduced a whole new generation to the melodies and beats, to the pioneering legacy of the artist George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic and many others who had come before.  The main difference, besides sounding timeless, was the resulting crossover to white and latino audiences first in the US and then around the world.

 

One need not look far to find groups like N.W.A and Pubic Enemy, rappers such as Ice T, and farther back to Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Dj Cool Herc, and Africa Bambaataa. How much influence they had on the genre as a whole is undisputed but as to their individual influences on the artists who were at that time on Death Row Records is unclear.  With that said all the artists mentioned here set in place the ground work for all of the hip hop and a lot of the popular culture that we see today.

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Snoop Dogg Promotional Placard 1993 Doggystyle ©Christmachine.com

When I was living in San Diego, San Francisco, or traveling to Los Angeles or the world touring, I spent a lot of time with friends in San Clemente and San Pedro.  I cannot remember which town I heard the urban Legend in, and at the time did not pay much attention to it but I think it was San Pedro.  The story went that during the recording of Tha Dogg Pound’s 1995 multi platinum selling album Dogg Food on Death Row Records “dog whistles” were used in some of the tracks.  Sounds silly I know, and I’m still not sure I believe it to this day but we all had a laugh at the time at the ramifications of doing such a thing. What would that be? Obviously nothing major, except for the fact if you had dogs in your house going bonkers to the music whenever it was played.

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Snoop Dogg Promotional Placard 1993 Doggystyle ©Christmachine.com

When I first heard this about the album Dogg Food, it actually had not been released yet and I remember the story being told to a group of friends in the context of heavy anticipation for the record.  Anyway when it was released I remember walking down to Tower Records in San Diego and brought it back to my place and put it in the player and began to groove…I loved it right out the gate.  As I was listening to it very loud something strange happened as I was lying on my bed I noticed that there was a lot of dog barking coming through the music.  At first I thought it was random samples on the album but with further listening I noticed that they were not swinging to the beat or completely out of time with the music.

I remember I got up of the bed and walked over to one of the windows in my bedroom and opened it.  I loved that window because right outside set against the backdrop of houses and the setting sun were a few palm, blood orange, and kumquat trees. Breaking the silence was all the neighborhood dogs going absolutely nuts with their aim right at the window I was standing in.  In that moment the rumor about dog whistles in the music came right back to mind.  It was not just two or three dogs but I imagine as much as twenty that I could directly see and more barking in the distance.  Shit was this real?  So my first instinct was to stop the music and see what happens.  Right after I shut off the music the barking began to stop and I watched for about five minutes to see the dogs reaction.  It was obvious they went back to doing whatever they were doing before.  After that five or so minutes, I turned the music back on full blast and within five seconds the dogs were losing it again.  It’s like they had gone rabid, I could not believe it but there it was right before my eyes.

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Snoop Dogg Promotional Placard 1993 Doggystyle ©Christmachine.com

So I turned the music on and off several times and the same thing happened.  I remembered also hearing that Snoop Dogg had a lot of Pit Bulls at his place so I wondered if he ever had experienced this.  If “the dog whistle” rumor was true he had to know about it as he is featured on the album.  In my opinion it would be a funny gag to pull to have the dog whistles on the tracks but I also know that in the style of all the West Coast Death Row albums there are a lot of crazy sound effects with lots of high and low transients on the recordings that are not supposed to be within the realm of human hearing range.  Really that is what I still attribute it to, but who knows. I would think Snoop, Daz, or Kurrupt…would definitely know.  Whether they would tell us is another story…having an urban legend about someone probably would not be a good idea to clear up if it was not negative, as it would continue to contribute to the myth about the music and the artists as well.

 

So if I ever find out I will post it here.  Try it out for yourself but use the CD because if you use a compressed format or someplace like youtube you will not be getting the same sound that I had and furthermore as we know compressed formats remove a lot of the sounds that we ‘supposedly’ cannot hear.  No need for me to go into a diatribe about that as you all know how I feel about lossless formats. Cheers!

Tha Dogg Pound - Dogg_Food_(Cover)

The Dogg Pound – Dogg Food (Album Cover) 1995

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading and for all your kind words and support!

More Interesting Articles and Reviews to come.

Cheers and Bless Bless!

 

CM ☕

 

Please do not reproduce this article either all or in part without the expressed written permission of the author who can be reached via the “Contact” section in the header menu. You may link to the article if you wish, all that we ask is that you give credit to the respective author…”Christmachine” wherever you post a link. Thank you.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2015 Christmachine. All Rights Reserved.

©2014 – 2020 Christmachine

Almost killed / Locked Up Abroad. Escape From Mexico…A Country I Love, Part 1 Of 3…

Almost killed / Locked Up Abroad. Escape From Mexico…A Country I Love, Part 1 Of 3…

Today Up On Christmachine Audio Reference Music Server :

DISCLAIMER: DO NOT SHOCK YOUR SELF WITH ELECTRICITY OR DO WHAT I DID AT HOME, YOU COULD BE KILLED. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH. I UNDERSTAND ELECTRIC CURRENT PROPERTIES AND WAS TAKING MEASURED RISK. AGAIN DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. I KNOW IT’S BIZARRE THAT I EVEN HAVE TO WRITE THIS. RAWR !!!

It was another beautiful day in San Diego California. Every day is beautiful in San Diego, 4563rtwell that’s not completely true, but for most of the year the weather is fabulous.  One of the things that people from Southern California like to do is go south of the border into Mexico / Baja California.  I have a great fondness for Mexico always have and I always will.  The people, the food, the culture…what’s not to like.  Some people say that Baja California does not give you the full Mexican experience, and I agree with that.  Comparing Mexico City to Tijuana is a whole different ballgame for sure.  For us though, to walk over the border was a fun escape to another world.   Today also would be one of those days where I would come close to death but who would have thought.  I have been to Mexico many times, before and after this incident…and I will always continue to go.  This day though would be one I will never forget.

So on that morning we walked to downtown San Diego to the West Broadway Train Depot, and caught the next trolley for the short ride to San Ysidro.  San Ysidro is the end of the Trolley line and also adjacent to the US / Mexico border.  When we got off the train everyone would just head en mass to the maze of stairwells and tunnels that take you into Tijuana.  Sometimes we would go farther south to other towns like Ensenada where you could get a hotel and all you’re food for the day  for 20-30 dollars US.  In fact we knew a 76687juTurnCRPfew Americans who would live in places like Ensenada and come over the border to San Diego every day for work.  The reason being that you could live so much cheaper there than in the US.  Anyway walking over the border was an easy experience at the time, as immigration did not check our passports leaving the US, only when coming back from Mexico into the US.  So no hassles at all…smooth like butter.

So after traversing the maze of tunnels we would come out to a large open square made of granite stone and instantly on the other side of the square we are bombarded with people holding signs to try and get you into there stores selling everything from pharmaceuticals to souvenirs to alcohol “For Cheap”.  All the seasoned visitors know that this is not the place to but any cheap goods, they get cheaper the farther you get into Mexico and everything is up for negotiation.  You walk away after a bit of interest and they will drop the price often down 75% or to what you are offering.  With that said there are a lot of counterfeit goods, just as there are on the streets of New York City.  You have to know what to look for in quality so you don’t get taken.  Most of you already know this though I’m sure.

After you get through the square, you come to a taxi area that looks like some scene reminiscent of Mumbai, India.  Hundreds of cabs and their drivers all vying for your business.  Since it’s a short walk to Downtown Tijuana, there is no need to take a cab.  Next comes the walk over the footbridge which is a bit sad because there are young children selling things like packs of gum and pulling on your arm as if you did not notice them.  Their mothers sit in the crevices of the footbridge watching that there children are persistent. It’s not overwhelming but it gives you a real indication that you are in a whole different world in terms of poverty.  The footbridge goes over a large dry aqueduct (like the type you see in movies in LA) and is the real demarcation between the US and Mexico.

After walking down the street southward we come to “The Arch” that welcomes you into Tijuana proper.  This is where we come to the main drag which is a left turn into the bustling city, reminiscent of Downtown Istanbul with with a Spaghetti Western flair.  This is the main marketplace and you can find just about anything here, again everyone vying for your business and aimed toward the college students or people trying to avoid the official drinking age in the US.  Loud music is blaring from the different clubs and bars 24 hours a day…it just never seems to end, kind of like a more lawless version of Las Vegas.

As we stroll we look at all the goods for sale and stop if we find something interesting, but our real aim is the food.  Rule #1 always drink sealed bottled water and stay away from anything that contains ice. Bottled beverages are always the way to go, that are kept cold.  Avoid ice sold at the street vendors in anything from drinks to shaved ice…I have broken that rule before and did not get sick, but I have seen too many people that have so take it as you wish.

We then arrive at our favorite hole in the wall taco stand.  We know it’s great because it is packed as always and the cooks make your food right in front of you either at the bar or in the several booths inside.  The food moves quicker than they can sell it, it does not have a chance to sit out in the open for more than a few moments.  There is another station where a woman is cooking fresh corn and flour tortilla floutas.  The smell is glorious.  So as we walk in we grab either a bottled water or a Mexican Fanta made with real cane sugar, in those old style soda bottles with a cap that needs a bottle opener (Or the lighter trick).  There is a bottle opener conveniently on the wall right by the cooler.  We order the carne asada and carnitas tacos with everything, and tell the waitress to please keep them coming.  They come quick and fit perfect in the hand. Topped with melted cheese, red onion, cilantro, and lots of fresh squeezed lime juice. There are two large self serve 45635lkCRPsalsa’s on each table one with salsa verde and the other a roja salsa caliente…do you like it hot or hotter, hmmm choices, choices.  Latino music plays in the loud and there are three people just randomly dancing in the small ailes.It is then one realizes that they are immersed in a fabulous culture.  It’s heaven Jerry, just heaven!

So after wolfing down as many tacos as possible we ask for la billete and it comes in at just under 20 dollars US.  Where can four people eat all the endless fresh taco’s made right in front of you, with water and sodas for under 20 bucks in the US?  So after we pay our bill, we head out to wander the streets in search of the unique sights, sounds, and aromas of this amazing country.  Sure some of it is a bit camp and touristy, but the deeper you look…the more you find things that you do not need but must have.

As we walk down the boulevard  we came to familiar bar, another hole in the wall where there is someone outside trying to convince us into drinking alcohol there.   He obviously gets a commission to get takers down for cheap drinks.  So as my three friends were into getting some beers at some point. The bids start at 1 dollar US per beer and we haggle down to 50 cents US, and then comes the kicker as always…”The Walkaway”.   We notion we’re not interested and as we start to walk away he yells out’ “Let’s make a deal!”  As we were piqued with interest, a disheveled looking fella walks out of the bar to us.  He is carrying a car battery on his chest slung over his neck and arms with leather straps.  Protruding out at length from the car battery’s terminals are two long wires attached to a makeshift connection on the other end to two metal handlebars sawed off and connected, one for each wire.  He says to us in broken English, ” If one of you can hold these, one each hand…past red line”, as he points to a dial and voltage meter that has a red line pasted on it…”, then beers 25 cent, if not 75 cent.

Well we all looked at each other to gauge a response, I lit up inside, he did not realize that he had come up against a shark for this type of challenge.  Everyone was like no way, forget that…crazy talk! So I asked my mates if they want, I will do it.  I wasn’t even going to be having beers.  As I said though I had an angle and one caveat, free sodas for me…and they agreed.  As soon as we agreed he handed me the handles one for each hand as he began to chuckle and he referred to us now as, “Mis amigos y amigas favoritas”, I had a chuckle as well.  It was showtime and my friends were all pleading with me not to do it.  I insisted as I said just trust me on this.

So before I took the Pepsi Challenge for 25 cent beers and free sodas, I ask for your patience for a moment as I explain and digress from the matter at hand.  Winding back several years earlier, I have a DJ set up always in my flat.  My place always has long wires leading to power sources around my space. I would spin vinyl, and as I still do just mix and beat match continuously for hours and hours.  I spin everything from Electronic, Dinosaur Rock, Rap, Pop, Metal, Classical, and Alternative as well as all things in between.  Right below my old skool wood and fuzz super heavy DJ Coffin, I have a five foot high JBL Bass Rig on wheels for my setup to rest on.  The wheels allow my complete setup to move around the house as needed. Down by the wood floor I always have a small matrix of power cords just under the bass rig.  One day when I was spinning my bare feet happened to land on the wires and I got a good shock as I had not noticed one of them split. I did notice shortly before that there was some strange noises in the mix as if there was a grounding issue but it came on so gradually, I did not notice till I got shocked.  Something happened though I kind of liked  the way it felt.

I know some will find this crazy and bat shit but I noticed when I got shocked, the hair would stand up on the back of my neck and I would get goose bumps all over.  So like an idiot I did it again and again, until I was standing continuously on the damaged wire.  I was not worried about shorting my equipment as the wires fed into a power conditioner that just trips if there is a surge.  Yes, rationalization I know, but it felt really good. Over a short period of time I got used to the strength of the voltage and any fear which I initially had faded away.  I continued doing it for a few days off and on, and at some point when I moved my rig I swapped out the damaged wire for a new one.  I eventually forgot about this experience, until one day at a family cookout someone mentioned how they got 65768uiCRPshocked and without missing a beat I told everyone what happened to me.  The looks I got were epic, it’s as if everyone was looking at a ghost.  Until someone broke the silence with some consternation and a laugh…I had never thought to much about it.  My family begged me not to do that anymore, but it was still met with some measured laughs.

So here we are at the moment of truth, the man at the bar hands me the two handlebar terminals one in each hand, asks me if I’m, ready.  Go for it I egged.  He started out with a low voltage turning the dial to 25% of the way to the scratched red line.  It then occurred to me that if by mistake he turned it up all the way I could be dead. Putting that out of mind, I just began to meditate a bit and see if I could ride it out.  He then went to 50% and I was still fine.  I could feel the electricity coursing down my arm and into my head and belly but it was still fine.  Then he went to 75% and I had to clench my teeth and I could feel my muscles all over contracting.  My arms began to quiver as I gripped the handles but could barely feel them any more, I thought I was going to drop them.  Then as everyone on the street was gathering around watching what I was doing, with my mates worried as all heck. They did not look comfortable even though I was doing the heavy lifting and the crowd was cheering me on.  Then the man said he was going to red line it and I had to hold for ten seconds, he looked convinced I was going to fail.  He slowly raised to the red line in the center and the crowd began to count…Uno, Dos, Tres, Quatro….it was as if time stood still.  My teeth began to rattle. cinco, seis, siete…I was definitely at the end of my line, just hoping the handles would not drop, as I said I could no longer feel them but I knew they were hot somehow.  Ochooooooooo, Nueeeeeevvveee, Diezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, once I realized we were at 10 he began to lower the voltage. I had done it.  Everyone was 343456hjCRPcheering, it was pretty wild.  So we went inside the bar and my friends got their 25 cent beers. I was the man of the hour, exhausted, and the fun had not even begun.

We hung around for a few hours while the friends got their drink on. Then we realized there was about one hour till sunset, and decided to walk around the city, even going off the beaten path, which i would later come to realize paradoxically that our luck had run out and fully kicked into gear at the same exact time.  So we get back to the beginning of the main drag and we noticed there was another road with vendors that veered of the main road going downhill but it was heading North West, kind of in the direction back towards the border. We decided to wander on down this road as we entered painters light, my favorite time of the day.  I noticed the first vendor was a woman who owned a statue store and the front was open like a garage filled with lots of statues mostly religious in nature but there was other things as well.  They seemed to be made of cheap plaster but they were still pretty cool.  On the cobblestone street in front of us where statues both painted and unpainted, many I noticed where oddly balanced on the top of round stones, and as the wind was picking up they would wobble a bit back and forth. In the moment, I did not think too much of it as we all just were browsing.

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Photo Courtesy Of Doc!

Next thing I know, I hear a small crash behind me about fifteen feet back, It then dawned that one of the unpainted statues had fallen over and smashed on the street.  We all looked at each other confused and thinking why the hell are these statues set up on round rocks and I felt bad for the woman…next thing we know she starts yelling at me that I owed her, “150 dollar cash”.  I tried to reason with her, it was then all of us knew we were being set up.  It was quite clear as I had not even come close to that statue.  As she began to yell at me in Spanish, which I understood she was yelling at other vendors to come stop me…I said let’s go this is getting crazy.  As we were walking away I could see a group of men forming at the top of the street pointing me out and beginning to head down the street after me.  Shit was going downhill fast and I could tell they figuratively wanted my head on a platter as they began to scream “Policia, policia!!!”

I had heard of shit like this before and there was no way I was taking the fall for something I did not do.  I had also heard of people being thrown in a Mexican jail for stuff like this and it would take a cash bribe to get out.  I then looked at my mates and I said quickly and quietly, “I’ll meet you guys at the border, just take the main road back.”  I continued “I’m heading for the border on my own, and then we can take this up with customs officials.”  It was my only hope as they we’re coming after me.  I bolted down a side street and once I did It looked like I had entered a demolition zone, a back street full of rubble, smashed bricks, stray dogs, feral cats, and trash…something that you might see off the beaten path in Beirut.  I was scared shitless, and it was then my “Jason Statham caught up in a Liam Neeson Movie” persona kicked in. Adrenaline full on!  The street ran parallel to the main road back to the border but it was still a dozen blocks back to the crossing.  I dodged and dived around all kinds of obstacles, climbing over fences…it looked like construction was going on as well but there was literally not one person in sight.  Ever hear of a back alley in a different country, with no people on it the likes of which someone encounters in a bad dream.  Well I had found it.

The gang that were chasing me cut over to that road as well but as I said it was full of obstacles so they were slowed down as well.  I thought to myself, although they were coming they were not fast or gaining on me, so as long as i kept up my pace I would make it too the border before them.  After a few blocks I ducked below a damaged wall as I waited a few moments, looking around the corner to the road we originated on and as I predicted my mates walked by and I cut back to them thinking maybe they had given up.  So I walked up to them again and they looked worried.  I told them if they pop up again I would take off (again) and meet them at the border as originally planned.  Just as i finished saying that I looked back up the road and they where running, yelling, and now I noticed several of them were carrying guns and waving them in the air.  After seeing that I took off again cutting back towards the same road I had been quickly navigating through those obstacles. Now I knew for sure this was definitely not going to end till we at least got to the border.  So I soldiered on not knowing if I was going to get out alive.

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Photo Courtesy Of Doc!

Slowly but surely I made my way back towards the border. Next thing you know it sounded like firecrackers going off, however when I noticed puffs of dust coming from the sides of the cement walls and the dirt being kicked up, I then realized, holy shit they’re shooting at me.  I just kept going with all that  I had in the tank as i continued to hear the sound of bullets going by just like something you would see in the movies.  This can’t be real I thought, I’m going to fucking die here.  So I don’t know if anyone has ever had something like this happen to them before, but I can bet even if you have not, you can imagine what it would be like.  Not pleasant…I did not have time to think, I was going on pure instinct at this point.  Ducking and diving, surging and backing off for a moment to mark my path, it still seemed they were not gaining on me.  I was sure as hell they were still coming though.  Luckily the shooting was sporadic and jagged (not constant), and I took advantage of that fact.  Not only that they seemed to be bad shots because they were not even getting close. Who knows, they were probably just trying to get me to stop not actually hit me…I could not be sure.

I realized next as I came around a bend that I was only about three blocks from the foot bridge…I had a bad feeling that this was where they were going to cut me off and catch me.  I had to stay positive and I can assure  you it was not easy.  I could not see the gang behind me anymore but I could here them yelling.  I made a break back to the main road and when i got to the footbridge I ran faster than I ever have in my life and made it to the main square at the border.  I wanted to make my way over to the main stairways to the tunnels and bridges that led over the border to immigration.  One great thing that I realized was the square was filled with people, so I stopped running to not stand out…hoping that I would blend in.  I still did walk very fast though.  When I got to the walkways I stopped to get my bearings and wait for my friends…a few minutes later the mates come around into the square and I yell and wave to them.  As they made their way over to me, there was a small moment of hope that this could be over.  We, for a moment (prematurely) hug and talk about what just happened. That moment did not last long.

About a minute later the gang came crowding into the square, and this time they had the freaking police with them…communicating on radios as if they were calling out an APB.  I could not believe it…this was insane.  Again (for the third time) I said to my mates, “I have to go”…yes, they were stunned. So I bolted up the stairs and ran through the tunnels as fast as I could and eventually I came to the straightway where I could see the the US Immigration turn styles but was gutted because their was a frickin’ line.  I could imagine the Mexican Police grabbing me before making it through and claiming jurisdiction.  So I took a deep breath, opened my passport, and just kept calm in the line about ten deep.  Surprisingly the que went quite fast as there were a few lines open at the same time.  I finally got to the customs official and he asked me a few questions.  I had to weigh instantaneously in my mind saying anything about what had just happened versus just getting back into the country.  I could not hear the angry mob anymore and just went for it.  I answered the questions truthfully and he let me pass.

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Photo Courtesy Of Doc!

When I got outside of the border crossing station in San Ysidro,  I walked over to the trolley platform to wait for my group to catch up with me. I was elated, I could not believe I had made it.  After about ten minutes they arrived and we all hugged it out.  What a mess…so much could have gone terribly wrong and yet being back in my home country…I was overcome with the feeling of safety.  It was finally over.  I can tell you this, it was the topic of conversation amongst our friends and family for a while.

Since then I have safely gone into Mexico both the Baja Peninsula and the Mexican mainland and would never encourage someone not to go.  It was just the luck of the draw on that day in that moment.  I can also say I have been in other life defining situations in the US as well as other places in the world.  So I’m not singling out Mexico…as I’ve said it is still one of my favorite places in the world.  The Mexican people are a wonderful and  hospitable culture.  I just happened upon an anomaly.  It’s fun to be on TV but I can say without hesitance that I would not trade my freedom and safety for a go at an episode of National Geographic “Locked Up Abroad”, and by the way do you think getting shocked for 25 cent beers and free cokes is really worth it? I do.

 

Thanks for reading and for all your kind words. Your patience with my insubordination is greatly appreciated. Thanks for all your support!!!

More Interesting Articles and Reviews to come.

Cheers and Bless Bless!

 

CM ☕

 

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San Francisco Sublime, Sushi On A Green Day, And Fast Cars With Tracy Chapman…

San Francisco Sublime, Sushi On A Green Day, And Fast Cars With Tracy Chapman…

Today Up On Christmachine Audio Reference Music Server :

I know, I know…I’m crap with deadlines.  You can be sure that something is always 46657bCRPcoming here, exactly when…well, that is a different story.  Be assured that I have a thousand more just like this. I hope you enjoy and many thanks for all your support and kind words. Respect! Respeto!

I have already told you that I lived in different places on different continents between tours, but I fell in love with California quite easily as you could imagine.  It was easy to go up and down the West Coast of the US very quickly when work became available. The two cities I established residencies in were San Diego and San Francisco.  San Diego for when I wanted to chill out in the amazing weather, and San Francisco when I wanted to be a night crawler.  It was the 1990’s and there was an explosion of creative expression on many fronts, but specifically in Art, Music, and Cinema.

After spending quite a bit of time in San Diego, I got restless and all it took to move to the Bay Area was a kind invite from a girl I met in San Diego to move into her home in San 65574fCRPFrancisco.  The relationship with her would always remain a platonic one, we just became good friends.  Not only that, one of the things I loved about California was how laid back and friendly the people were.  She invited me to live at her Mothers large rent controlled apartment after only knowing me for a few days.  Things always worked out like that in Cali, people were always so open to new, or even unconventional ways of living.  It was very communal in many ways, but as we know although I could easily make my way into new groups of people, it was no utopia as some would like to think or imagine from what they see in the movies. Whatever group one would become part of would also quickly inherit the flaws, idiosyncrasies,  and burdens of which that group had to bear.

So I was in San Diego and I thought to myself why not take up this invitation to live in Frisco for a good while. After returning from Europe to San Diego, I brought with me two 87866hCRPDanish girls, one who I was in a relationship with and her friend, who I also got on quite well with.  They wanted to go to San Francisco anyway before returning to Denmark. So we packed up my car and head up to the Bay Area, and booked into a Hotel in the Marina District for a few days.  It was a lot of fun walking around the city with two tall beautiful natural blondes on my arms, literally, they were intimating to people that we were in a three way relationship.  Brunettes don’t fret, we love you too, it’s the imagery of the situation that was quite amusing.  I just went along with their fantasy, although I was only in a relationship with one of them.  I vividly remember the two Danes dragging me into a large high end store because they wanted to pick out some cologne for me.  They fell in love with one scent and I bought it because I liked it as well.  After spritzing some on my neck and wrists, the Danes became overtly turned on and were literally attacking me with nudges from their lips on my neck.  I did not 25344hgstop them and of course continued to play out our sexual tension to their hearts content.  They were so erotically charged….there was no way I was not buying that cologne.

After a few days of wandering the city, I rang up my friend Anna, who had invited me to move in with her family, and she said I could come by whenever I wanted.  I had the address, but I would see the Danish off at the airport first before going there.  I have a thing similar to George Costanza on Seinfeld where I believe that sometimes it was crucial that two worlds did not collide and this was one of them.  I wanted a fresh start in Frisco, and it was essential that I send off the Danes in style.  So we went clubbing the night before they left and I basically dropped them  off for their flight back to Copenhagen on no sleep and I remember them being quite hung over as well.  We said our goodbyes and promised to keep in touch which still holds true to this day.

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Mission Dolores Park ~ It’s not usually this packed…You must go!

So the same day as the girls left for Europe, I went to the address Anna gave me to her home.  I was instantly blown away by the location on 20th Street off Guerero, just a half a block from the Scenic Mission Dolores Park and a few blocks from Mission Street.  After parking my car, I went to the front door and rang the bell.  I could hear Rap Music blasting from the house I was ringing.  The house looked beautiful from the outside, one of those row houses that you see in Frisco, thin and tall with ornate woodwork.  After a minute or so a black dude around my age opens the door and after looking me up and down and then up and down the street in suspicion he asks me, ‘What’s up?’ I told him I was a friend of Anna’s and she had invited me to stay.  He said, ‘ Oh yeah, she mentioned you might be coming by, C’mon in.’ He introduced himself as Jae (Pronounced, Jay), and said that Anna was at work, so I came in and we sat in his room listening to some great Rap Music I had never heard and smoked a blunt.  We got to talking and he told me worked at a the Radio Station KMEL which was big at the time for Hip Hop. He was a really cool guy…it was as if we had known each other for a long time.  At some point a month later Jae brought me to a party down in  LA and I got to meet Tupac Shakur and Suge Knight which was very cool because I was into Death Row Records at the time.

Anyway Jae had many friends of his coming in and out over the next few hours, smoking a blunt with every one…I abstained after the first one I did not want to be toast by the time Anna came home from work.  After a few hours she arrived and we were both excited to see each other.  She showed me to one of the many rooms in the apartment and said I could stay in there for as long as I want.  Anna showed me the rest of the flat there were five large rooms with very high ceilings and it was kept up well.  There was no bed in the room I was staying in but I was fine just using a camping pad and sleeping bag on a the hardwood floor. I was easy…I didn’t need much to settle in.  I was also curious to ask Anna how Jae had ended up living with them.  Anna told me that they had become friends and he 267549ggcame from a crazy home outside the city and he, over time, just became part of the family.

We hung out in Jae’s room for the afternoon to shoot the shit…we were having fun just chillin’. A few hours later Anna’s Mom came home we were introduced.  I was a bit thrown off that this was the first time Anna had mentioned to her mom that I would be staying with them.  She was real nice about it, when I got her alone in the kitchen a while later I told her I wanted to chip in for the rent…she said “Just give me 100 bucks a month.”, I gleefully agreed.  The mother had lived in this house since the 1970’s and thus had cheap rent because of rent control.  Anna’s mother was real cool she was a hippie from the 60’s and had lot’s of cool stories to tell about Frisco when it was a really happening place.  She recounted the earthquakes vividly and that their house had had been largely spared.  She pointed out the buckling of the pavement in the streets and the cracks in the foundations on the street…which I could have missed if I was not being observant.  She also told me what it was like to be a hippy in the 60’s in terms of art and music…I learned a lot from her.

I was told to turn my cars front wheels in toward the curb, standard  in Frisco, in case the car brakes let go…got it.  I was told I might run into Anna’s Uncle who lived in one of the rooms, and they left it at that he was a bit of an oddball.  Anna showed me around The Mission, so I could get my bearings in relation to downtown.  Jae had friends over a lot and we would have barbecues on the sidewalk just outside the house.  Everyone would be drinking and smoking blunts.  One of the first nice things I realized about Frisco was that rich people lived next to poor people and most people got along quite well.  That is at least in my neighborhood…I don’t know about the rest of the city.  Gentrification was spreading like it does in every city and had not hit my area yet.  I think today they call my neighborhood, “Dolores Heights”, I heard Mark Zuckerburg lives there nowadays.

 

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“Tracy Chapman 3” by © Hans Hillewaert. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tracy_Chapman_3.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Tracy_Chapman_3.jpg

Another thing that was fun about their house was they had a large front stoop with a lot of stairs and we would all sit out all day long with the neighbors and just enjoy the nice weather.  I know Frisco can be cold and rainy for long periods but it was winter where I came from and it was 70 degrees Fahrenheit almost every day.  They would tell me that I lucked out…that this was not normal.  Every morning I would walk down the street to my favorite rustic coffee shop called “The Club” and get some brew and then head back and enjoy it on the steps.  Also every morning a woman would walk past our house with her dog heading toward Dolores Park and I was intrigued because she looked very familiar to me, but I could not figure out why.  After a few weeks It popped into my head, she looks like Tracy Chapman…the dreadlocks and her face. One day I asked her and she said yes…it blew my mind because, years before she had made it big, I had seen her often outside the Underground (The T) in Cambridge (Near Boston, MA), playing her guitar and here she was walking by me with her dog every day on the opposite side of the continent.  Small world!

As Anna had a normal job, I would be left during the day to hang out with Jae and his friends.  Often I would walk up to Mission Dolores Park and sit there amongst huge palm trees and sun, and write voraciously in my journals.  Kids and dogs would be running around having fun, in my opinion the most beautiful spot in the city.  There was a guy who would walk around with a rolling ice box and sell those frozen 100% fruit pops and I always got the banana coconut every time.  If you sat on the benches at the top of the ascending green landscape of the park you could see the downtown part of the city uninhibited.  It was a miraculous site, I often could not believe how such an amazing view could be free.

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© Faruk Ateş https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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©WendyHarman https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

When Anna would get home we would often wander down to Mission Street to shop or grab a massive burrito at one of the many Tacquerias in the area.  The food was cheap and portions massive, but it was a seedy area.  A lot of drugs being sold out in the open, lots of homeless people, and gang territories…I felt right at home. Walk a couple blocks back towards our house and it was very safe.  If you wanted chill, you got chill….If you wanted action, you could get that too.

So after a while I had begun running into Anna’s uncle, he was a pretty cool guy. He was a big reader and had a crazy good collection of old books.  He told me he worked at a pirate radio station in the city.  If I wanted he said I could come play the guitar on his show, as I had been playing coffee houses around North America.  He also talked about how he was a part of a city artist collective as well as the maker of baked goods laced with pot for the downtown Cannabis Buyers Club.  Now this was the 1990’s and pot was not legal anywhere in the US.  It was the first medical marijuana dispensary in the country, even though it was not legal to even have such a thing in Frisco or California at that time.  I went with him a few times night to the Art Collective on Mission Street and met a lot of really nice people.  They were all doing all kinds of artwork…I was once again amazed. Everyone brought tons of amazing food to eat and Uncle would always take the leftovers to our place. There was always 30 or more cooked salmon steaks in our fridge and I would just put them between two pieces of bread and munch away.  I was living large!

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Photograph by ©Robert A. Estremo Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

After we would hang out at the Art Collective everyone would go to a local dive bar nearby, and it was there where I met Bradley James Nowell from Sublime.  He was only there one time that I can recall and he had Lou Dog with him, yup in the bar. In the US many states make their own rules depending, in California, in The Mission, In that bar, If you had to bring in your dog, they let you bring it in.  Next, remember Sublime was not huge at this point. Bradley and the band were still struggling musicians and hadn’t broken worldwide. I bought him a beer and we went out front to smoke a dube. I remember thinking to myself, Sublime, having seen them live already, where a very good band. With that said I knew many very good bands that never made it.  I had no Idea of what was to come.

Uncle also was a bit of a hippy as you could imagine.  He would make the Cannabis treats which he called “Mariposa Munchies”.  He would extract the THC from pounds of pot in our kitchen, the whole house reeked for days after as if we were a cannabis factory. After making hash butter and the aforementioned treats, Uncle would freeze them until they were needed at the dispensary. He told me i could help myself, but to be careful as a half of one treat would get someone rocked a full would turn you into jelly.  I ate a whole and he was right, total body high…unable to move and numb.  I asked him if he could get me a sample eighth of the Cannabis Clubs finest as I was just hyper curious to see the quality they were selling.  He said he was not supposed to but said he would this once…so I gave him 30 dollars and later that day had a nice bag of kush.  Quite cheap for the quality, I remember thinking how cool that the Frisco Authorities looked the other way and let the buyers club go about it’s business, downtown no less…I think he told me and I remember seeing it on Market Street.

Another day Uncle comes in the front door and leaves it open walks to the rear of the flat and opens the door wide out to the back yard.  I noticed there was a large box truck parked out front.  Next thing I know there are ten people walking through the house with over ripe fruits and vegetables in full boxes and placing them on a large pile in the back yard.  All I could think of was what the hell was going on.  I asked Uncle what all this was for and he told me it was for his compost garden.  Ok compost garden….yah….that’s one serious freakin’ compost garden.  Se la vie!  Now I got why others thought of Uncle as odd, but he also was a very resourceful guy.  One really awkward moment I had with him was one day I ran into him in the hall and asked him innocently what he had planned for the day…He replied happily, “I’m just going to chill out all day in bed.”  I returned with the comment “I wish I could do that as well.”  He looked as if to hit on me, and said, “Well you can.” It instantly dawned on me that he was talking about being ‘With Him’.  I politely said ‘no thanks I have a lot to do today’ as if I was oblivious to his offer. I walked away, no harm no foul and that was the end of that.  You see I already knew he was gay, but I’ve had many gay friends, and I surely was not gay.  After that we just went back to being friends. Too funny, for me anyway.

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Photo Courtesy Of Doc Keyaza!

One early evening I had made plans with Anna to check out this new sushi place, everyone was talking about how amazing it was.  It had only several tables so it was hard to get in and we would have to wait in line…which was fine with us.  It was right near where we lived, on a street north of Mission Dolores Park heading towards The Castro.  So we get there and there are about 20 people in line in front of us but it was a beautiful evening and the sun was setting colors everywhere.  A few minutes later I hear some commotion behind us and walking up to get in line right behind us were the three guys from Green Day.  Now you have to remember that they were newly famous and I thought they were going to skip the line.  They did not, we got to chat with them off and on for a half hour. It was pretty cool because everyone obviously knew who they were but no one bothered them. I found out that San Francisco in terms of Rock Star worship was much different in San Francisco than it was in L.A. Every other day we were running into famous people in Frisco and people for the most part went about there business.  It was quite refreshing.

Another time I got to be an extra in a film Sean Penn was Starring In.  They were filming near the small park at the bottom of the hill to North Beach and Chinatown, near the famous City Lights Bookstore.  It was just a car driving scene where Sean was in a vehicle with a large camera attached to the front windshield facing into the car. They did the scene a few times and within an hour it was all over.  I just happened to be walking by at the right time and next thing you know I’m an extra. It was pretty sweet, I don’t even know what film it was.  I should probably check to see if I made the cut.  He He! One of the things that I loved about San Francisco is that it is such a walkable city.  I walked everywhere from every angle and 223443dtgot to know the city like the back of my hand pretty quickly.  I loved walking over the Golden Gate bridge into Marin, breathtaking for sure.

One day I stumbled upon a Blue Angels show over the Golden Gate near the Presidio.  I loved how downtown they would shut down the streets in the center for the Bike Brigade to take over…Awesome.  I went to the Gay Pride Festival to check it…wow, I said wow…wild!  It was fun to catch new breaking bands at Slim’s.  Hanging out on Filmore and Haight at the foot of Golden Gate Park.  The Tibetan Freedom Festival in Polo Fields.  The Botanical Gardens.  My first time at The Registry of Motor Vehicles in California to get my Frisco drivers license.  The Palace Of Fine Arts Monument, where Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane were all famously photographed in the 60’s.  The Albino Alligator at The San Francisco Zoo. Walking “The Sunset District” to hang out at Lands End at Pacific Beach.  So much history….so much culture!  I could go on and on but you get my drift. If you have never been to Frisco, you must go if you ever get the chance.

Now on to the difficulties and sad memories of my time living in San Francisco.  Even though there are things that turn out to problems, they are often quite worthy of recognition because as you know many difficult situations just give one more life experience and that which does not kill only make us stronger.  The first problem I encountered was getting half decent sleep when there are lots of drugs being consumed right in front of me.  Jae would have his friends over, up all night blowing lines of coke and I wasn’t into that scene anymore.  All I had to do any of those nights of snow, was to get up and walk in the next room over and partake and I would of had a great time.  I had done so much cocaine over the years, I was bored as shit from it. Not only that I was done with burning my nasal passages…I was just over it.  I still run into peeps doing coke off and on and I can have a good time without it and not wake up the next day with regret.  I’m lucky that way I guess as so many I’ve known just can’t stop.

Then there was the nights I had to deal with crazy violence.  I came to learn that Anna’s Mom had a a boyfriend that was addicted to crack and he kept falling on and off the wagon.  Her Mom would tell me he was a great guy, that was trying to clean himself up.  Often I would be awaken at three or four in the morning to them in physical violent fights, screaming and glassware being smashed against the wall.  I would gauge whether I should get up and beat the shit out of this guy but I was always stunned that no one else had any intention of stopping this chaos.  I would always be surprised the next day when I would see Anna’s Mom and she did not look to have any wounds and she would make  comments to justify his actions.  I think If I had seen bruises I would have killed the guy.  I realize now it’s the inner wounds that hurt the most.  Again I was always surprised no one stood up to that asshole…I knew when the violence happened that he had to be high on crack.  No telling what he would do…I really can’t say to this day if I made the right decision to stay out of it.  If it was my mother the guy would be toast.  The house would be full of supposed gangstas but they would never intervene.

Against all of this madness, I still found that I had a spiritual experience in Frisco.  One night while I was lying in my sleeping bag and the light was still on in the room.  I would find myself scanning the bookshelves in my room. I remember spotting a copy of the 786657ghseminal book by Aldous Huxley…The Doors Of Perception.  I took the book from the shelf and looked at the date of publication and found that it was a very rare first edition.  I knew of the book before that but had never read it. This was the book that Jim Morrison got the name for his band “The Doors” from.  I began to read and I could not stop, I read the whole thing within one day. I remember reading about how because of how plentiful food was to our generations that we tended to avoid spiritual experience.  I knew what Huxley was talking about when he described the spiritual journey one would undergo as a result of deprivation of modern comforts.  I had been there before in small doses, in large doses when alluding to mind expansion with psychedelics and how the experience could be similar with said deprivation.  I know it does not sound fascinating but I recommend the book even to those people who have not indulged in psychedelics as it explains ways to reach these heights without taking drugs and similar methodology used by many cultures around the world.

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Label from a Sublime Soda I bought. I tried to find a Sublime image to use but there was such tight copyright control it was no go.

One of the most bittersweet experiences I take from those days was the destruction of a band that had not even made it famous yet. Sublime was around for several years already throughout California.  Although they were from Long Beach, even before they hit the big time they were huge in California.  They were constantly gigging trying to get a record deal, and you have to remember that before they blew up in the rest of the country after the death of Bradley James Nowell, they were the quintessential Southern California Party Band.  It was twenty five years before the whole Bro movement that we have today, that many find annoying.  It was before people were sick of hearing Sublime all day every day on their local radio stations.  I got to see them three times before Bradley passed from drugs and alcohol, and before they released there major label debut and blew up across America.  I’m not here to defend Bradley’s ideologies, as everyone knew they were all about partying and good times as much as they were about anarchy and other unsavory ideals, it’s not my place.  As I said earlier, I got to meet Bradley and Lou Dog when they were in San Francisco for a show and although he was a prickly character he was no doubt a true artist.  Bradley and Sublime wrote many of there songs off ideas they got from music that had preceded them. If you had been there you would know that it was not about ripping others off, it was about paying homage to the music that drove them to be musicians.  It’s sad that we will never know what could have been, but with that being said there was a lot of great music left behind.  I remember the day, hearing that Bradley overdosed in a motel on Pacific Beach in San Francisco.  It also saddened me with the rumour that he had copped drugs in The Mission where I lived. Heroin, really shitty to have for a drug buddy.  Lou Dog Lived on for several more years. RIP.

As much as The Mission got it’s name from being an oasis of healing and love for centuries before, it was also a fine line or the same side of an eery coin where the angel of death would wait in alleyways and doorstops for people to succumb to their weaknesses and failure to thrive. It was a fascinating look into the microcosmic sub climates of the human mind. Yes, it really was like the movies, the only difference was that the good guy did not always make it out and many of the faithful would find themselves irretrievably in wait for their savior who may have already come.

 

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More Interesting Articles and Reviews to come.

Cheers and Bless Bless!

 

CM ☕

 

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