Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 5, pt 1(Austin)
I wake up to a knocking sound. Why is there a knocking sound? Why am I being called Mr. Kendrick? I’m in jail, but it smells like cheap potpourri and bug spray. Wait, I’m not in jail. “Damn, it Steven!” BANG, BANG, BANG, on the door. “Oh, hey I’m taking a shit.” “For 30 minutes?” “I’ll be right out.”
Fuck, I fell asleep on the bathroom floor at work again. God, I hate working on Saturday mornings at LawnChem residential and commercial lawn care providers. It fucking sucks. I was up all night on Thursday with John at the Velveeta Room and our fellow LawnChem employee, Matt who tried stand-up for the first time and then I was doing blow all night in my room Friday night. I was starting to notice that most of my comedic heroes did cocaine. I was beginning to wonder if cocaine was a key that opened a special door in the mind of a comedian. I was beginning to believe that I could control my cocaine use since I’ve haven’t smoked it now in a month or so. I’m just doing lines, I bought two bullets. Not for a gat ha ha, no two bullets for carrying around. One metal bullet for weed and then a plastic bullet for coke. Do I have to explain to you what a weed bullet pipe is? I think that they still sell them. It’s small, metal, the top screw off, there is a rubber mouthpiece, and you can hit it for a long time if packed well. The cocaine bullet is different of course. It is made out of plastic and it has a tiny little lever on the side that will load up a single hit of blow and then you just sniff it out. You go to the bathroom, pull out the bullet, flush the toilet with your foot as you snort up a little hit of blow, then you go back to your desk and work incredibly efficient and with a smile on your face. Keep a Mountain Dew on your desk to make people think that you are amped up on the Dew. Unless of course you forget to bring your coke bullet with you to work on a Saturday morning and you start to crash hard. Then, you get woken up by the loud banging of a pissed off manager at LawnChem during a 30-minute unauthorized bathroom break.
I was so fucking stressed. Thursday night was a motherfucker. Our friend Matt was hilarious, and we had been trying to convince him to try his hand at comedy. Misery loves company. Matt loved Mountain Dew, Taco Bell, and Motley Crue. He knew every word of every Motley Crue song, probably backwards, plus he had this great natural rhythm and cadence as he talked, we just thought that it was a riot when Matt would go off on a 20-minute Motley Crue tirade. Matt drank Jack Daniels. Nothing else. No weed, no beer, no coke, nothing.
Now, if you read the last post you saw that there were two Howards. Kremer and Beecher. They would almost work in tandem to make sure that every new comic felt some hazing during the average Thursday open mic at the Velveeta. It was brutal, but also hilarious. John and I were always so excited to go to the Velveeta Room on a Thursday and this Thursday we were taking Matt in order for Matt to try stand-up comedy for the first time.
Walking towards the old building that houses the Velveeta Room, next to an always perpetually busy Esther’s Follies was insane, especially while coked-up, high, and with a few drinks in me. There was usually an array of Ester’s character actors parading outside on the sidewalk in front of the huge windows that created this living, dynamic, ever-changing stage backdrop that makes Ester’s Follies, unlike anything that I’ve ever seen. The audience sits in theatre type seating staring towards the stage, but the backdrop behind the stage are those huge windows that open the entire performance space to the hectic, bustling, sometimes accidently funny, ever-changing landscape of that 10 yards of the 6th Street sidewalk. In order for a comic to get into the Velveeta room, when Ester’s Follies was busy, you literally had to wade through a barrage of Ester’s performers as they are engaged with their audience, while on a public sidewalk. There are performers in these extravagant costumes and even some civilians get caught up in the show. In addition, almost every night there was an older man spinning flowers on the tip of his fingers just to make the show and experience complete. Wow, what a trip.
I was probably going over my poorly constructed bits in my head while John, Matt, and I trekked to the Velveeta Room as the sounds of 6th Street filled the air and swirled down the street. My senses are filled by the smell of a worn out stretch of black-top that has been soaked with the faint smell of vomit and urine deposited throughout the ¼ mile or so of clandestine watering holes that have endured decades of weekend partiers from all over the globe. The sounds of the various door-men screaming out their establishment’s nightly specials, bands that are performing, I get handed a flyer for a show, sorry no time for that. I don’t go to shows, I perform shows. I’m a comic. We’ll not really. I’m an open mic comic.
The Velveeta Room is packed that night of course, it was usually busy on a Thursday night. I’m doing a little coke, smoking weed out of my bullet and then blowing it out thru a bounce sheet paper-towel tube that I have hidden by the exit. Howard Kremer is onstage, and I hear his “How to Learn Dirty Words in Spanish” cassette tape that he was selling for $5 and then he and Chip Pope, another Velveeta Room comedy heavyweight begin to do this impromptu sketch and at one point Kremer says “Well at least I ain’t a can of paint.” Howard Kremer holds up this can of paint and the lids falls off. Paint spill out of the can and now there is paint all over the stage. Howard and Chip end the skit and both bail the stage. “Your next comic coming up to the stage is a Velveeta virgin, please welcome Matt StevenandJohn’s friend from work….” Or something like that. Our friend Matt goes up onstage and he starts right into his material. He is actually doing very well. He just has this great natural comedic cadence to his voice and he’s in his routine for about 2 minutes and then he steps into the puddle of paint and busts his ass. Not, just a slip mind you. He went ass over teakettle, just spectacular as if it had been planned. I can still see it so vividly and in slow motion now 20 years in the future as it happened in front of my eyes that evening. Matt gets up and wonders what the fuck just happened to him. He has this red paint all over his shirt, his jeans, and his boots. Holy shit, his boots. I told you that he like Motley Crue, well Matt had these snake skin boots. I’ll give you a minute to picture that like a Kodak insta…ma..tac..-Biggie.
See, our friend Matt from work was in the greenroom getting ready for his set. There wasn’t a monitor in the greenroom so that the comic could see the performance that was happening before their set. This was in the mid, late 90s. There was barely a fucking greenroom. Matt had no idea that there had been paint spilled just minutes before his name was called and he rushed up onstage with his body filled with pre-show, first time, anxiety. When he slipped in the paint he got really mad about his boots. John and I chased Matt down and kept him from charging Kremer. We calmed him the fuck down and John specifically helped keep that from getting really bad. Matt had stabbed someone before and he always had his knife on him. Always. Matt told me later that he had followed Kremer after the shows for a couple of nights after that incident, but he never got an opportunity. He then just blew it off, but it took a while.
I’m 27and I’m not suicidal anymore, but now I think that coke can make me funny. I’m throwing up every day and I quit my job at LawnChem. John and I get a regular gig at The Continental Club in South Austin. I fuck it up.
When my new next-door neighbor handed me that small bag a coke, well it was 1.7 grams, which is called a teen, I guess that I should say that it was once called a teen, it probably still is, but with the changes in slang I can’t be totes sure. When he handed me that free coke, I knew that I was in trouble, but there are two kinds of trouble with cocaine. There’s the sniffing trouble and then there’s the smoking trouble.
I could have some issue with doing a too much blow when I was just doing lines, but for me at least, when I crossed over and started to smoke crack, it made doing lines just a pit stop, not the destination. I now knew that it could be that good, brain-dick type of shit, so if I got really drunk…the party was going to end up there, but it didn’t happen like that at the one bedroom that I shared with John, it was when we got to the two bedroom and we moved next door to the coke dealer Jason. I saw Jason again shortly after I had been to the grocery store, so I was walking in with some groceries. We talked a little, but he seemed kind of fucked up and I needed to get the frozen pizzas in the freezer. There was a knock on my door about 20 minutes later and it was Jason. He came in, sat down and asked if we had a plate. Jason breaks out some coke and we’re doing some lines, drinking some vodka that he brought over, and he kind of mumbles out a question asking me if I liked to party, party. He said the word party twice. What the fuck does he mean by saying party, party? So, doing coke was party, but party, party? “Smoke it, rock it up?” I now know that not only is my neighbor a dealer, but he likes to smoke it also. This is right next door to me and Jason invites me over and asks if I have to work the next day. We both laughed after my answer was no and then went to his apartment, which is on the same floor as my apartment. The entire floor only housed four apartments total and we are two of them. Jason was younger than me by five years or so, had a young, hot girlfriend named Tracy, that he lived with, and then he also had a couple of “girlfriends” around town that he tried to keep a secret from his current girlfriend, Tracy. Jason has a really nice apartment with a big television, huge stereo system, video game console, but he also has a big serving spoon bent up on his electric range. Jason starts cooking up some coke and invites me to sit down on his couch and smoke some rocks. I haven’t smoked cocaine for a while now, so I am in kind of a dilemma. Do I just be a very rude neighbor and say, “Fuck you and your drugs buddy!”, no…I can’t do that… it’s love thy neighbor…and thy neighbor’s coke. In all seriousness though, it has probably been a couple of months since I was smoking at Mike’s Enfield Drugs and I have felt so strong and sure that I would never do it again, but I just sat on that couch and stared at the glass-topped coffee table that I would be sitting around smoking crack at for about a year. I can see the linear scratches from a razor blade etched into the glass.The tell-tale sign of the ghost of parties past. Fuck, It’s all starting over again.
I’ve admitted to the world that I used to smoke crack, but what I say next is one of the biggest regrets of my life.
I was bullied a lot in high-school and you probably already have read that post and I really don’t like bullies now. That is what makes this so terribly difficult to admit publicly, but here goes. I am so ashamed to admit it this, but I became a bully after I began to get a few laughs. I bullied fellow comics and I bullied audience members, I was just a dick. And it felt really good. I mean it felt REALLY, REALLY, REALLY good. I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t feeling good. I liked to offend people and to ruin their nights out on the town. I liked the feeling of being a complete dick to other comics and just people in general. I was really 100% fuck you or at least as close to that as I could get, and I am deeply regretful for many of the words that I said to people during that time in my life. I hurt some really nice people, but at the time it was fun. It was so much fun that it would be hard not to repeat it all over again. I can see why bullies bully. It makes you feel so fucking cool and powerful while you are bullying another individual. It really does, and I was a bully. I now have a degree in psychology that only enhances the depth of personal regret that I feel towards my past behavior. I am so truly sorry.
I’m so ashamed that I became the same person that I wrote about earlier. But it’s true. I could sit back, coked-up, and ruin a comedy night by screaming at the audience or fucking up the set of another comic with a special brand of drunken, coked-up heckling that comes from someone that has done too much blow and seen one too many drunken viewings of Bill Hicks screaming “You’re a drunk cunt!” at the audience. I was just a mess and I deeply apologize to everyone that had to witness that part of it. I’m sorry. I’ll talk about some individual examples of this behavior later, but I do have a moment where I wake up naked after a party with a dick drawn on my forehead. It was a party for comics.
I’m 27 years old and I’m just being a dick. It’s fun.
“Dude, is that shit laced?” I would honestly get asked that question by people older than the age of 21 after they had smoked weed using the bong that I had made. Laced. Ha ha, yeah buddy, it’s laced. I’m going to put some really expensive drugs on some not so expensive drugs and sneak it to you for free, you bet. Laced all day long. Double laced like old-school Kaepa tennis shoes even. That weed is two-laces ahead of you, Jack.
This bong was the shit though. I’ve never smoked out of anything that got me higher than that bong that I made for dirt cheap. I found the glass body of it at Goodwill. The glass part of it that held the water and smoke was made from an old, kind of oddly-shaped liquor decanter and it had a long, clear, hose that was attached to the top, right next to the bowl. The stopper that went on top of the decanter was made from the plastic shot glass that comes with Nyquil. I just drilled two holes in it, inserted two brass tubes, one for the bowl to slide in and the other for the hoes to fit on so that smoke will shotgun into your lungs, and then I duct-taped that motherfucker up.
Holy fucking shit, this thing was a killer. A motherfucking masterpiece. I know that there are people still around that remember that beauty. They may still be high from it. Ha ha. That bong trapped a lot of smoke in the top of that liquor decanter, plus the decanter could hold lots of water and then the way that the decanter was shaped, it was almost like this huge inverted funnel or strange beer bong, but for weed. It’s was truly amazing, and I should be celebrated for building it, where’s my parade on 420 for the construction of such a masterpiece? It was so good that after I used it for smoking crack I overdosed. I’ll get to that though, because it didn’t occur to me that I should try my glorious bong to smoke rocks until much later than the first few days partying with Jason, my new next-door neighbor drug dealer.
That first night at Jason’s apartment we smoked a lot of blow, drank a lot of Sky Vodka, took pills, ate shrooms, and listened to Grind, by Alice in Chains, over and over and over again. Lots of young people were coming by Jason’s to party or to buy coke. These were pretty, young people too. I of course I didn’t fit in, but Jason seemed to like me. Jason had a sweet RX7 convertible and pictures of his family’s ranch on the walls. He and his friends dressed well, went out on boats, to the rodeo, concerts, etc. but while either doing lines or smoking rocks. That group of crack-heads were the most functioning set of crack-heads that I’ve ever seen. These were all either young professionals or they were older students getting ready to graduate from college, but they either snorted a bunch of lines and/or were smoking rocks. WTF? My mind was totally blown. One of the regular partiers at that apartment worked as a salesperson for Dell Computers in Round Rock, Texas. Are you fucking kidding me? I swear to you that she would come by his place during her lunch hour and smoke rocks up until she had to go back to work and then she would come back to Jason’s apartment the second her shift ended for the day. I was absolutely amazed at her ability to just look natural. There wasn’t any visible redness to the face, eyes, nothing. You couldn’t tell that she was all cracked out. It was just insane. This person is actually still alive and well and works as an executive in corporate America. She may still do a lot of blow. You’ll never hear her name from me though. Not now, not ever.