Black Mass – Boston Den Of Iniquity, Aerosmith And The Last Child “Get Your Wings”, Plus The Law Of Extracurricular Activities…
Urban Legend #1 – Within this article…
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I know you probably read the title and thought hmmmm….that’s not grammatically correct. But no, you read it right it’s messed up for a reason…as a matter of fact this whole story which takes place over thirty years within one half mile in a West Boston Neighborhood is all messed up. So messed up in fact that shit round here is going to get dark, real dark, and real fast. You may have to take a bath after this one; I’m not kidding.
Moving to Boston was a bit of a culture shock. You have to be somewhat crazy to live there in the winter because it can get crazy with the weather. Being used to lots of snow and ice helps residents to begin to bridge the divide where they literally begin to lose their minds and teeter on the edge of borderline psychosis. Everyone has heard that people in Boston are tough and scrappy, with that said, it’s a wonderful place to live and visit. As in every city there is a dark element, and if you live on the fringes you’re bound to bump up against that fine line at one time or another. If one uses common sense it’s easy to avoid certain situations that can get messy, even if you are an innocent bystander and witness something that never fully goes away.
The first apartment was gross because there were tons of cockroaches, whenever you turn on the light they scatter along the walls. One night sleeping there was a small tactile feel of pitter pattering of feet up the arm. In a reflexive action the other hand on the other arm swoops in and cups whatever it is in the dark so that fucker can’t get away. Flick the lights on and upon removing the hand trap, out drops a large cockroach onto the floor, subsequently a foot lands on the sucker to smash it before it gets away. It could be worse though at least there were no rats in the cellar.
One day the boys were drinking some beers and smoking some weed having a good time. It was summer in the city, not a super hot day but there are hints of humidity moving in or leaving. To be honest it could have been spring or fall, anyway it was sunny and warm with a slight breeze, and everyone would hang out on the rooftop where the students would humorously come out and play their brass instruments at all different levels of musicality. There was the trumpet, and at times it would sound jazzy, eventually trailing of into some kind of trippy hallucinogenic tangle. There was a tuba as well on another roof and they would riff off each other whenever they found themselves out at the same time. It definitely brought a smile to the face and sometimes even laughter. It was the perfect spot for students, there was a huge liquor store just steps away, with an amazing selection of imports and kegs at the ready. Across the street from that was a chicken rotisserie which sold meals to go for very cheap. One could smell that chicken basting from miles around, no doubt. Grab the T right there into the center of the city for a token. Right around behind the chicken place was an infamous club which had been there for decades. It was a dive bar and every night there were shows going down. Aerosmith had lived around the corner as well on Commonwealth Avenue when they were starting out, as well as playing at the club in the 1970’s among many other famous bands that were starting out.
When the beer had run out early in the afternoon, a decision was made to hit up the liquor store. Walking down the front steps to Commonwealth Avenue, Bang…Bang…shots rang out and running like wildfire around the corner and down the side alley seconds after was one of the bouncers from the club behind the chicken place who was not working at that early hour. As the feet hit the bottom of the stairs only to turn and see a girl around twenty on the ground shot and blood all over her and the pavement. Someone was trying to tend to her wounds applying pressure but she was already dead. All there was to do was just stand there in shock as a small crowd of people gathered with occasional screams from those who seemed to know her. Within a few minutes the police arrived and they seemed to know who they were after as some of them ran down the alley to a block of buildings behind the compound.
Everything was going so fast and soon after the coroner arrived and the police could be heard saying that the suspect had run into his apartment and committed suicide, that he had barricaded himself in his residence and shot himself in the head. It was impossible not to notice every time walking by for years after, the exact spot where the blood had drained off the sidewalk liberally over the curb and into the gutter.
Even though this was the city, many got to know each other in the neighborhood, so everyone knew who or of the girl that had been killed, as well as the person who had done it and then done himself in. The next day, reading in the paper the story went that he was a skinhead that worked at the club around the corner and that his neighbors said that he was known by the police in the past to kill his cats and other animals and skin them for pleasure. Also it supposedly was a crime done out of jealousy as he was dating the girl he had killed and something had gone wrong, very wrong. To make matters worse this person was known to the boys, not just from the club, but from years earlier in a high school outside of the city. Everyone knew him as the guy who had been arrested years earlier for getting caught extracting his blood in a restaurant with a syringe, in front of a crowd of people. Then he proceeded to squirt his blood into a ketchup bottle, putting the cap back on and placing it back on the table. Yes, evil if you believe in that sort of thing, for some unsuspecting person who used the bottle next. He was arrested for it, definately psycho for sure…as they say you can’t make this stuff up.
At some point the boys decided to move to another apartment a few blocks away on the opposite side of Commonwealth Avenue. It was a large place with five bedrooms a large common area with four couches and a kitchen. This time there were no roaches but they would soon find out they were walking into another kind of crazy. It was a front walk down basement apartment. It was full of students rotating in and out and every time someone would move out, they would find some unknown to move in to share the rent. A big giveaway that there would be trouble was that all five rooms had their own door, each with a personal deadbolt. Shortly after moving in the history of the place would make it’s way down in confidence from one roommate to the next that the apartment a few years earlier was a crack house. Further a deal had gone sour between two gangs, one who had been living in the house selling and using crack and another who would still drive by occasionally in the middle of the night, and unload a few bullets into the bricks above their basement door. No wonder it was so cheap to move in there, you get what you pay for. Just the idea that this shit became normal to everyone was whacked.
Guess it’s safe to say that there were a lot of drugs being used there as well…no need to list them all. There was however a peculiar thing about the drugs…there was one guy from India who lived there, finishing up his Doctorate in Pharmacology and he would bring all types of crazy pharmaceuticals he stole, from fentanyl patches to liquid dilaudid to pharmaceutical methamphetamine and he would never take them himself. He would give them to all the roommates and take notes on the dosages taken and ask all kinds of questions harping on “How is the drug making you feel now?” He would ask everyone this over and over…then when say the fentanyl would run out after a few days he would put everyone on Catapres patches to help with the withdrawals, taking close note as to how each individual would do suddenly without the particular drug. He would get befuddled and angry when everyone would just get ripping drunk and stoned on other substances without a care because he said that it was “Skewing his results of Controls Confounded” from “Concominant drug Use.” Yes this guy was trying to run his own clinical drug trials, it’s not a stretch to say this had reached a whole new level of ‘ethics and efficacy’.
Another thing that will give you an idea of how nasty things were getting is when a few of the gang knocked on the door of the mad doctor pharma, he opened his door and it was in clear sight that he lived amongst a mess in his room. There was a mattress in the middle of the floor and clothes and papers all strewn around the bed. What freaked everyone out was seeing that for months he had been chewing on sunflower seeds in the shell and spitting them wherever they landed in the room with no regard to cleanliness. Piles of shells everywhere it was disgusting. The thing that took the cake though was that there also where full gallons of piss with no caps on them, in what were at one point empty gallon milk jugs, and there were several of them just sitting around his room. The guy was so lazy he did not go to the bathroom to take a piss. Really it was fucking gross…hairs stand up on the back of the spine just thinking about it.
Anyhow it was now time to take things up another level of douchebaggery. One of the older roommates who sold weed, like lots of weed as in pounds, as in many pounds or elbows. He would bring these trash bags stuffed full into the apartment every couple days. At some point right before he moved out, he comes in the house with four or five full trash bags full. He then went into his room after unlocking the deadbolt and pulled his mattress off a large sheet of plywood and proceeded to dump the bags onto the wood surface. After emptying the bags the pile had to be five or six feet high. He then goes on to tell everyone that he is taking off. Everyone looks at each other like WHATTTTT!?!?! You’re taking off what…it then clicks that he is blowing off his source. The conversation then turns to what do we do when his source comes looking for him, he just said there would be no problem, that the guy deals in hundreds of kilos. What an ass!
Well sure enough he’s gone the next morning and a few days later the source shows up with an entourage and he wants answers. One of the roommates who knew him better than the others said he was from Upstate New York but that’s all anyone knew about him. These guys get on the phone and within an hour they have tracked down the guys parents in New York. The entourage leaves and says they are going to track down his family. You’ve got to pay to play….he was nailed. Never hearing anything further on the matter, everyone was just happy that this responsibility did not land on them harder. Thinking back, it could have been so much worse, the gang could have held everyone in the house responsible. This could have been a severe reality except for the fact that the source was hellbent on taking care of this guy personally. Another moment of luck if you believe in that sort of thing.
At that point it became normal that everyone was packing heat. It was bizarre looking back on it because when the roomies would take of their jackets everyone would have those shoulder slings with pistols in them as they walked around the house high on blow. It was scary stuff…there would be times friends would stop buy and see all the guns and they would be out of there as soon as they could make their way out with any excuse to leave. With faces white as ghosts they would scurry out of the house. Very thankful to not have to carry guns anymore.
It was about this time that a few of the boys would begin working at the infamous club alluded to earlier. It was during one of the reggae nights that one of them would be doing security at the club and while walking across the packed dance floor one night, one of the guns fell out of the holster four feet to the floor in the middle of the pitch black dance floor. There was a feeling somewhere between scared shitless and lucky as hell that the gun did not go off. When the gun hit the floor he froze, inching his feet around slowly while pretending to be in the groove and landing one foot on the pistol about two feet away. Then slowly the pistol was slid toward his body with his foot in the dark crowd with music and lights bouncing everywhere. Once the gun was directly below his body, when the time was just right, he slid down slowly to pick it up and put it back in the holster and continued on as if nothing had happened. Very, very, very lucky…so many horrible things could have gone wrong destroying the lives of many people.
One evening at the compound while a keg party was raging and everyone was tripping hard on psilocybin, one of the roommates comes over and introduces everyone to this guy who says that he lives in the building that Aerosmith lived in across the street. The fact that the band had lived in one of those buildings was well known but no one knew which one. The guy who lived in that building then said that if a few wanted to see something cool, to come on over to his place. What could he be talking about they wondered, but how could anyone turn this invitation down.
So after walking across Commonwealth Avenue the group went into the building as he obviously had keys. Everyone is lead down to the basement and it is immediately obvious the significance of what was there. On the wall was painted the Aerosmith logo and the first question was did Aerosmith actually paint this on the wall or was it painted by someone else after they moved out in homage. He said that no one seems to know but what was even more interesting when Aerosmith first lived in the building in 1970, Brad Whitford was not in the band yet. So at the time the other guitarist beside Joe Perry was Ray Tabano.
Ray Tabano was the guy who designed the Aerosmith logo, so it would not be a stretch to intimate that he ‘could have been’ the person who painted it. This is probably a good time to contact and ask him if he knows how it got there, ya think. Ray eventually was replaced by Brad Whitford on guitar in 1971, who also moved into the apartment at that time. Ray Tabano was originally a friend who grew up in New York with Steven Tyler, and he did continue to work with the band, creating the fan club and designing and handling their merchandising. He also was responsible for writing the fan club newsletter amongst other things. Ray was eventually fired by the band’s management in 1979. So if the information is ever uncovered it will be posted here. It’s safe to say that it was definately one hell of a trip to keep all wondering if this urban legend will ever be solved. As has been said it’s probably best to contact Ray in hopes that memories from that time would not run into the realm of hazy as could be expected.
Well back at the compound the craziness was always being brought to new heights of insanity. There was a major problem, someone was breaking into the house and stealing small things, but all thought it was someone looking for drugs. There were six or seven times, that everyone knew of, that someone had entered the house without anyone knowing. Over time people began thinking possibly it was an inside job or some old roomate who still had a key. It became apparent that there was actually a good reason that everyone had deadbolts on their doors. A few months later the mystery was solved when one of the roomates went into his large closet which was located in the main common room and did not have a lock. When he was moving his clothing on hangers to the side he saw a ray of light from behind the racks. Clearing the items out of the way revealed a large hole smashed through two layers of drywall which led to a hidden back staircase going to the basement from outside the apartment. Someone had been freely coming in and out of the house without anyone knowing and not leaving any trace of a break in except for missing items. At that point the only thing that was in the common room was ashtrays, empty pill bottles, and the four couches. Pretty crazy stuff.
It’s hard to know how this apartment did not at some point get condemned. It was pretty nasty…there would be some who tried to keep it clean only to find it was a lost cause with others not pulling their weight. Upon moving in it was gross how dishes would pile up, so the only way to remedy that would be to go out and get cleaning supplies and sort everything out. The dishes would get cleaned as would the kitchen but others would not do their part and eventually they would pile up and start to get moldy…so it was time for drastic action. Someone who will remain not to not be named here decided to put all the dishes in trash bags and put them out for pickup. One of the roommates realized this after the fact and was pretty furious, but the rest of the guys got a good laugh out of it. Oh well, se la vie, remember to ask for paper plates and sporks at the takeout.
Here’s another story from that time that was definitely interesting. There were always people selling all kinds of drugs but everyone was selling marijuana and acid to pay the rent. One day a friend said that she had some guys that wanted to buy an ounce of weed and was it possible to deliver it. She said that the guys lived next store to her and were cool, so no one thought a thing of it being a bad idea. Remember though at the time weed was still very illegal so everyone had to be careful to who they sold to.
Anyway the boys went over to her house nearby and after drinking some brews and smoking some weed, she asked if it was possible to sell that ounce to her neighbors. So after knocking everyone met one of the gents that lived there. After walking up a stairwell into the living room it became obvious that they were all as high as everyone else, as they were blowing lines on a large mirrored table top. They offered for everyone to partake and handed out beers. After some indulgence it was time to make the transaction for the ounce of weed. So the dope was handed over and money changed hands and no one thought anything of it so everyone just continued to party. A short while later the girl says that the two guys that had bought the weed wanted to show everyone something, so everyone gathered around them and the next thing you know they pull out badges and say that they are cops. The room went dead silent…the conversation continued with them saying that they were state police officers. Everyone was like ‘no way’….’yeah way’….’no way’…’yeah way’, you could imagine that this bizarre and uncomfortable back and forth continued for about five minutes but felt like an hour. They said ‘don’t worry, no one was in any trouble,’ and ironically come to find out that these staties were just hard partiers…just like everyone else, but cops. That sure was a first…and the last time ever seeing them.
There are a thousand more incidents that could fit into this piece were it not for not wanting to drag this mess out. It is what it is, and these are the first that come to mind and stand out the most. Sooner or later everyone moved out as the bulding was eventually condemned after months of everyone living there for free. The slumlord had taken off and lost the house to foreclosure. It was time to move on and get better living conditions, the things people do when they’re young too get by. As everyone was leaving, the space was buzzing with houseflies like something out of The Amityville Horror…this hell had been driven into the ground. It was only right that the place be torn down and rebuilt from the bottom up as nothing was salvageable. The house really was a black mass and a den of iniquity the needed to be smothered, if you believe in that sort of thing. That was the last any of the roommates would see each other and it was probably for the best. So everyone had earned their wings and the street smarts would help to keep everyone alive for many years later. It could never ever get any worse than that, well that is at least what everyone would like to think. It certainly could and would.
For a moment, as has been said, none of this at the time seemed remotely abnormal but through gentrification and all the squatters being purged, it was the end of the era of the last child. A kind of D*sneyland coming to Times Square or Little Buddha comes to The Combat Zone sort of complex…no more XXX rated shops with fluffers and viewing booths adjacent to Mc*Donalds. On one level, yes, you can bring the family there now but it’s impossible to not miss the days of old grimey streets covered with soot and boarded up storefronts…and the looters and weeks of trash bags and dead appliances piling up. The burned cars, ohhhh it’s not easy to let go of the stripped and burned out cars on the streets. On another level it was quite Lord Of The Flies-ish or in others eyes there were definitely rats in the cellar. Definitely, rats in the cellar.
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