Taking shrooms and going to 6th Street on Halloween had always seemed like a cool idea, but I was usually working. I did however go one year, and it was such a fucking trip. Thousands upon thousands of costumed, drunken revelers turning in this circle, not unlike a zombie version of Nascar racing, just all of them turning left and then going in a circle again. I’d see all kinds of costumes and if you’ve never been to 6th Street in Austin for Halloween, you probably just shouldn’t. It was a fuck-story back then and it’s probably worse now. We used to call those nights, amateur nights.
Those nights when the drinking amateurs would feel the need to join the rest of us out on 6th Street in Austin to party would just be both loved and hated by the group of workers on 6th Street. The employees would love making extra money and seeing the tip jars get filled up, but there would always be issues such as more fights and altercations during those busy annual event type nights. Those tip jars though would get really full and you know, every once in a while, some dumbshit would try to steal a tip jar off of the bar. Sometimes you would find an empty tip jar in a bathroom stall or if you did catch the thief? Damn, I saw a dude steal a tip jar once off of a bar on 6th street and as he was stealing the tip jar one of the bartenders saw him, but didn’t yell at the guy like “Hey! Stop stealing that tip jar!” or anything close, he just kept his mouth shut and grabbed a security guard. They just grabbed this dude and through him down a flight of stairs. Those busy nights like that could just get crazy.
My first experience with working on 6th Street was when I got my very first job on 6th Street just before Maggie Maes. I don’t like to talk about it much, but I worked at the Daquiri Factory on 6th Street for about 6 months before I got fired for showing up late and then telling the boss to fuck himself. That’ll do it. I did work my first Halloween on 6th Street while at the Daquiri Factory though. I wasn’t sure what to dress up as, so I went as the porn star John Holmes. All I had to do was stuff a tube sock with other tube socks and then stick that in my pants to make it look like I had a huge dick. I put a name tag on that said “John Holmes” and I went to work on 6th Street. Actually, I couldn’t drive with the sock dick, so I had to remove it in order to properly use the pedals on the automobile. Shaq must have a chauffeur for the same reason. “Sorry bro, can’t drive. Huge dick, can’t work the pedals.”
We’re going to go back up that hill and get back to Austin during the late 1990s really soon. I promise, but I’ve been listening to a lot of WordStar Hip Hop lately. I have to be honest I’m not sure if WordStar is the label, producer, or channel, but I just see that on the screen before the videos. Then YouTube takes over and starts to recommend that I listen to other rap artists. I like most of it quite a bit and on YouTube you can find the instrumental version of most rap or hip hop and I really like the use of sampling and the different drum machines. I find it fascinating. There can be such a range from very intricate, to just a very simple beat, being made from the same type of drum machine. So, fucking cool. I bought a Korg Volca Sample. It’s so much fucking fun. You can use your iPhone to capture samples and then load them into the Korg. It was like $160 new, which isn’t cheap, but once again…in college textbook or cocaine money…$160 ain’t shit. You can smoke $160 worth of blow pretty fucking fast and $160 will sometimes get you an entire textbook, sometimes. Maybe buy it used. It’s tough to buy used cocaine, so the correlation ends there.
I would mention some of the artists that I like of WorldStar, but I don’t want to accidently start a beef. I’m not built for that. There’s that one label though with Lil Xan. I could beat up Lil Xan. Not too worried about him. Unless, he knows martial arts of some sort. Damn, I’d hate to be on Youtube getting my ass kicked by a jiujitsu Lil Xan. I do like all that independent looking new stuff in hip hop though. I love that hustle. I admire it a lot. These motherfuckers are just making music and posting music. Not asking permission. Plus, that mumble shit is not only catchy, but very replicable. You really don’t need to know the words and I’m not completely convinced that Lil Xan knows all the words to his own songs, even though he has very publicly stated otherwise. “I remember my shit though.”- Lil Xan
I slept a lot yesterday. A lot. I just felt so exhausted from all of the worrying, studying, and the depression that seems to correlate with the unknown. My unknown future and my dynamic identity. For 15 years or so I knew who I was. I was Steven Kendrick the fledgling comedian that drank too much and had a cocaine problem. That’s who I was. I wasn’t happy with who I was, but at least the identity was known to me. I could see my face or name on various comedy show flyers or tickets and know exactly who I was. The comedy poster told me who I was, the ticket reminded me. Those nights of drinking, hanging out with other comics, talking shop at the bar with other comics, talking mad shit about a comic while they are onstage, just to tell them “Good set man!” when you see them at the bar just following their 5 minutes of fame. “Good set.” Doesn’t that seem like a relatively transparent phrase? “Good set.” I have seen someone get punched for saying that to another comic, because it was said in jest. As sarcasm. I really miss those times of just hanging out and bullshitting with other comedians. I miss that more than the stage time probably. The stage time though gave you the best high. That high is really good, there were nights where the high of being onstage was equal to the high of crack. Not now. I felt that in San Diego, but never in Austin. I just wasn’t that great when I was performing in Austin. I wasn’t great ever. I was good though and being good at stand-up comedy takes a lot. I was unfortunately only good for a short time. You can run a funny engine on alcohol and cocaine, just not for long, but without the booze I couldn’t perform. Too nervous. I was having a conversation with one of my MBA professors, a brilliant professor holding a PhD in management and we were discussing my past academic failures and she asked me a question. “What was different? How can you do it now?” I knew the answer immediately. Efficacy.
Being up on that hill in Austin during the late 1990s, just as if the world doesn’t exist, just the comedy clubs and the partying associated with my lifestyle. I’m doing more shrooms and acid, sitting on the roof watching falling stars and meteor showers, playing Frisbee golf, denying my growing alcoholism and trying to only snort blow, not smoke it. The trek up the unknown path that young artistic types sometimes take can be so contradictory at times. It can feel so carefree when the bills aren’t due, but so fucking restricting when the money is tight and the refrigerator is empty. You can get away with that lifestyle as long as the variable of youth is still present in the equation. When the equation of life begins to omit the variable of youth, then that lifestyle of a carefree existence becomes a cage. A cage of living with roommates until you are in your 50s. There’s nothing wrong with having roommates in your 50s. Probably. I have to be honest though, the only example that I can think of off the top of my head of that being remotely successful was the Golden Girls, but admittedly I haven’t seen many episodes.
Life isn’t fair and comedy isn’t fair. If life was fair Sean wouldn’t have been in so much pain. If comedy was fair Sean would have had his own fucking plane and his own fucking mansion. He was that funny. Fuck. I hate getting the news of a friend passing away, but when it’s a friend that’s also a comic that I’ve worked with it just seems to hurt a little more sometimes. Now, don’t get the wrong idea. Sean was never calling me up to join him on a show, but he was nice enough to perform in some rooms that I booked and through that we became the type of friends that would talk to each other when we saw each other out and once in a while on the phone when we were really fucked up. We didn’t talk very much after I quit drinking, but that happened with quite a few people, it wasn’t just with Sean. Ugh. The stories that start floating around in your head and all the laughs. Fuck. Not everyone takes the comedy path that leads to personal chaos but it’s so easy to just jump in the party mode and not get out for a long time. The party mode to some isn’t really a party, but just a pain numbing mode. Sean had so much physical and mental pain going on all of the time that I don’t know how he lasted as long as he did. Sean Rouse passed away recently, and I wasn’t one of his closest friends, but close enough that he had crashed on a couch of mine in Houston and in San Diego. We had partied multiple times together and I was in awe of his talent. I was jealous as fuck the first time that I saw Sean perform and honestly, I was a little jealous of him every time that I saw him perform. The jealousy wouldn’t last long though, usually dissipating extremely fast once I caught a quick glance at Sean wincing a little in pain. That look on someone’s face when they are trying to not show the world that they are hurting is tough to see and it can take any jealousy out of the equation. Maybe jealousy is the wrong word, but maybe it’s not. I have a feeling that his really close friends never felt jealous at all regarding Sean’s comedy, but I’d be lying to say that I wasn’t. Who didn’t want to be that fucking funny? Who didn’t want to be able to wordsmith their way around punch you in the fucking face topics? Fucking innocent looking face, like a choir boy, but when the jokes started to come out, just holy fuck. I saw Sean perform many times throughout his life and at just about every stage of his comedy career. To see Sean Rouse and Doug Stanhope performing back in the day was just amazing, I’m not quite there yet in my Austin story, but with the recent passing of Sean I just can’t get that era out of my head. It was such a destructive, drug filled, booze flowing, time during 1998-2002, while I was in Austin and just a few years away from moving to Cali.
I lived up on that hill with Teddy and then in multiple places with Man-Boobs after he was fired from KLBG. At one point we lived in a huge house just a few minutes from Cap City Comedy Club, where one of our roommates worked answering phones during the day and waitressing at night. There were parties at the house with famous and not so famous comedians almost every weekend with mounds of cocaine on a silver platter in the kitchen. Seriously. That was where it peaked in Austin right before I left for San Diego. I’m jumping so far ahead right now, and I will go back on the next post, but my mind has just been fixated on the macro sense of it all right now.
Seeing comics like Doug Stanhope and Sean Rouse back in those days was just insanity. Capital City Comedy Club would be this crazy environment for the week of shows, Tues through Saturday night, and there would be two shows on Saturday night followed sometimes by a midnight show. Fuck yeah. The midnight shows. Holy shit. I loved those shows. The Tuesday night shows would usually be slow for any comic, I believe that there were less than 20 people for a Dave Ahtel show on a Tuesday during that era so that is a good base to work with. Ha ha. I just thought about how I’m going to need to use the term baseline instead of just base, when describing anything in a scientific or statistical manner. I use the word base to mean a couple of things during this blog. Base is either smokable cocaine like freebase or base is a baseline as in finding something to use for a comparison.
The week of shows during those days were so much fun. The first time that I opened for Doug Stanhope was at Capital City Comedy Club. Doug was hilarious, a comic named Boris featured and I… well, I wasn’t very funny. I just hated not being very good, but who gave a shit? I was going to a strip club with Doug Stanhope and partying that week. That alone was worth looking like an idiot in front of a few hundred strangers that only know me as that one guy that sucked on stage that night. Whatever. That was all such a crazy time in life and Sean Rouse would come through Austin a decent amount during those days, just tearing the roof off of the place.
Later on, Sean was really proud of my academic success though. He told me that one night when I was still drinking. He was actually asking about how to apply for FAFSA. I’ll talk about getting to know Sean better later on when I’m writing about San Diego maybe. Maybe not. I just wanted to say something about that time in my life and also how much I’m going to miss Sean Rouse being in the world, just being Sean. And the hacks seem to just fucking live on forever and ever. It’s just not fair.
“Hi, Welcome to the Messy Omelet Café, is it your first time here?”
“Yeah, this is my roommate Steven. He wanted us to come here.”
“Oh, and why is that? Do you love omelets?”
“No, he wants to bang one of your waitresses.”
Damn it. I can’t believe he actually said that to the waitress. This is what keep it on the dl means? Fuck.
“Oh, my God…Which waitress? They all have boyfriends except for two.” The waitress impatiently asked.
Living with a bunch of roommates can really suck sometimes. Especially when they think it’s extremely funny to watch me go into anxiety attacks. I’m laughing at it now, but I remember being so pissed off at my roommate. It’s not Teddy, but the other guy. Tall lanky motherfucker. Nice enough guy, but he loved pretending to be a douchebag, either that or he was just a professional cock-blocker. He worked at a costume shop in South Austin called Lucy in Disguise and through that connection we had a strange hookup of costumes if we ever needed them, which when mixed with mushrooms can make a boring afternoon groovy as fuck. It was such a fun time being broke when the bills weren’t due, but my lingering addiction and anxiety are just always there as if they are my other roommates that I just always kind of live with. I found myself outside one morning smoking some crack that I had cooked up in the bathroom. I had been doing powder that night, just snorting key bumps in multiple bathrooms while on 6th Street and then I had cooked up some of the coke after I had gotten back to the duplex, driving while all fucked up of course. I didn’t have enough coke to do a good job, just enough to make my body want to go all in and drive around town looking for a good rock or two, but I fight the urge to drive around hunting for crack, not because I don’t want to smoke a lot of crack, but I am scared of the street-level crack score. I’ve had some close calls, and an arrest, but I’ve heard of worse shit happening to people and I’m content with just hiding behind the duplex smoking a few hits of poor quality home-cooked crack cocaine. It’s so lonely to be that guy, that fuck up, that person who is crouching down, hiding behind bushes putting the hot crack pipe to your already blistered lip, wondering how to explain the sore on your lip in the morning or hoping that no one will say anything. I then just go and sit in my car that is parked under the carport. I just sit there and think because there are still people awake in the duplex, I’m cracked out, depressed, and I really suck at comedy, but I am getting better, but not fast enough. The possibility though that comedy offers is kind of fun. The possibility of fame, the possibility of greatness, the possibility of stardom, the possibility of fortune, which by all of my calculations will equal personal happiness, fulfilment, and finally goodbye to all of my anxiety. It’s just that easy. Whisper quiet.
There was a building on 6th Street with a rooftop access door where Teddy and I knew someone that worked in that building and we would gain access to the roof. We would sneak up there, sometimes with a friend or two in tow, smoke a joint or a few bowls of usually kind of shitty weed and listen to the chaotic noises of the crowds of people on 6th Street, while we were all just above them, smoking a joint or bowls and being kind of hidden in within all of the madness, just relaxing and giggling away at Teddy’s Darth Vader impression. The up moments of hanging out with my friends, all of us so sure that one of us will make it big someday and then bring us along with the others. Drunken nights eating shrooms and then going onstage sometimes telling other comics about what we were doing and sometimes not, just to see if anyone calls us out on it. Those fun moments of being a shitty comic, without a real job or a real chance of making it, but without ever taking a probability class at that point in my life and relying heavily on the hope and dreams that seem to come with those outlier stories of comics that make it, I still believe that I have a shot. Those rare stories of comics that make it can keep those shitty comics like I was, hunched over a plate of cocaine, doing lines with each other, laughing hysterically at things that aren’t really that funny, and feeling like motherfucking coke fueled comedy geniuses until the night of hard drinking and drug consumption wins over the desire to stay awake, and then the comic that’s full of drunken ambition and cocaine passes out on the spot on the floor that is next to the mattress and falls asleep. The mattress belongs to someone else that pays more money for rent than I do. I just get this spot on the floor. That’s cool.
Damn, I’m about to get a little bit of cash.