Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 15, part 1 (Austin)

Part of a series…please click here to start from the beginning

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.”

I’m 29

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.

I’m 29

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA… I would have been the hated parent in the story told (not part of the series)

I’ve never had children… during the years of life when that generally takes place I was performing on small dive bar type of comedy club stages, usually located in a small bar or restaurant that built a stage in order to provide entertainment… karaoke one night, comedy, trivia, when the bar-back gets married it’s a reception hall type of place, those places began to feel like home to me. I could walk into a dive bar that I had never been to before and it would feel so comfortable… same type of feel as so many others… not a lot of pretty people, not some polished bartenders… no, the staff at these places have seen a thing or two, not the type that you find working at a large chain restaurant / bar or any place that might do a drug test or background check.

Hell, even after the cleaning crew leaves in the morning you might still be able to find a tiny, jewelry sized discarded coke baggie lodged somewhere in a bathroom stall, corner of a booth, tucked into a piece of missing brick in the DJ booth, it’s weird where you can find those things sometimes … those places, those stinky dive bars that did comedy one night a week became my safe spot almost.

The schedule and lifestyle that parallels being a drug addict / alcoholic who also has some jokes is so much fun at some points, so healing in some ways… laughing until tears are in your eyes multiple times a week, being around other comics… I miss those parts, but my desire to go deep into drug abuse, deep into alcoholism, numbing everything that I could so that the tears wouldn’t find their way out was too strong… the tears that were still there from childhood, from being scared, from being misheard, misunderstood, and unable to fully communicate with others… never being dealt with, just band aids made of substances, bottles, and some jokes.

I was around someone not too long ago that grew up with an alcoholic, drug addicted mother. Just bringing her up filled this persons face with color, bright red… anger and embarrassment changing the hue of his face, describing her issues, telling brief stories… the stories that keep those anchors embedded into the deepest foundation so that they are firm… never to release. Nothing could change the past and with those stories… the hurt that is still present was just adding more dirt, mud and rocks holding this anchors in place.

I kept thinking of how I would have become that so easily. The hated parent… “We just don’t trust her to be alone with the kids…” “She calls sometimes… sends cards… little too late.” I just nod and feel very bad for this person who is sitting in front of me describing the absent mother, the drunk, the addict… and I can’t help but think that they are describing me, not her.

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 14, pt 1 (Austin)

This is part of a series… click here to start from the beginning

No, you’re out of order! I’m not sure how I skipped over it, but I did a perform comedy one night at Maggie Mae’s on 6thStreet. I don’t think that I’ve mentioned this yet and honestly there’s no way for me to remember each little thing that I’ve written about so far. Memory just doesn’t work that way. Memory is such a motherfucking… ahhh I forgot what I wanted to type. It’s so fucking cool and scary. I couldn’t remember what I wanted to type a few words ago, but I can remember a song from 20 years ago, if I only have a trigger of some sort such as just hearing a few notes playing from the stereo of a passing car, or by seeing the obituary of a passed musician on the news or online, so many things can trigger memories, it’s just fascinating. Korsakoff’s Syndrome should scare the shit out of any alcoholic. That might have been the thing that really got the ball rolling for me as far as being able to quit drinking. Man, when I heard about that shit while sitting in a psychology class? Korsakoff’s Syndrome is a type of dementia brought on by alcoholism. A type of dementia brought on by alcoholism. Dementia by alcoholism. Dementia. And you did it to yourself. Fuck me. Nothing scares me worse than that. You want to see me cry? You want to see me really scared? Just mention the mere thought of me forgetting the last 7 years of school because of my former drinking and drug abuse. Fuck man. I gotta take a break for a couple of minutes now.

I’m serious. I don’t even like my brain having to think like that. I’m…just…nothing scares me worse than that. Nothing. That’s one of the reasons why I try to eat good (brain food) I guess, food fats, proteins, I eat a lot of unsalted mixed nuts. Yep, get that laugh out you children. Steven loves those nuts. C’mon keep laughing. Straight up though. Let’s be adults now. Now, repeat after me. In my diet, I will try to include a handful of just random nuts at least once a day.  I love unsalted mixed nuts. I eat of a lot of bananas and apples also, and I love blueberries, but blueberries are one of those foods that I can eat WAY too much of them…and I seem to have very little or no self-control over myself around them. I can eat a pint of blueberries without much thought. It’s just an awful spectacle really. Don’t stare at the blueberry eating freak, children…

I have kind of an addictive personality sometimes and for some reason blueberries are a type of trigger for another weird uncontrollable addiction. Is that addiction bad though? Am I going to have to enter a rehab for blueberry addiction? Am I going to be found dead in a seedy hotel room with empty boxes of blueberries found scattered around the room with a blue stained mattress shown in the background of the autopsy photos readily found online when people search (Berry Scary Overdoses?) Am I scared regarding a blueberry overdose? Think of someone eating way too many blueberries. Who do you see? See how that just triggered Willy Wonka? Now Wilder and Depp. Now, the Oompa Loompa Song. The brain is so fucking weird.

So, how the fuck did I skip the night that I did stand-up comedy at Maggie Mae’s on 6th Street in Austin? Now, if you go by Maggie Mae’s today, you might not be that impressed. It’s still a big place and the original pub is there, which is a great old bar, but that place used to be massive. It’s not the biggest bar that I’ve ever worked at, that would be Cane’s in San Diego, right there in Pacific Beach, CA. Canes’ was fucking huge. Maggie Mae’s was pretty fucking big though back in the day. If you are standing in front of Maggie Mae’s now, you’ll see the pub and then to the right will be a courtyard type area with an upstairs deck. Back in the day it also had that other bar that completes the building all the way to the corner. It was just huge.

I had just begun doing comedy, so I didn’t have that many shows under my belt and it had been a while since I had worked for Maggie Maes, but when I was doing real estate I dated for a short time a girl that worked at Maggie Maes in a daytime business manner. She was nice enough, not about her. The general manager at the time asked me about my comedy once when I was taking my girlfriend for lunch one day. I probably told him a lie like “It’s doing great. I’m getting lots of laughs.” Or something along those lines because the next thing I know he’s offering me a gig at Maggie Maes opening up for a band. I was so excited to have a gig, working with a band, even if it was a cover band. I even knew the cover band. It was the Be-Wires. The Be-Wires were a cover band that was incredibly entertaining for what they were doing. They played a lot of R.E.M along with a megaphone type horn to do that one part in Orange. They would bring a lot of women into the bar also which was also good for business. You know what’s not good for business? Having a young, inexperienced comedian named Steven Kendrick do a set between bands. I was supposed to do two sets. Hmmm. That turned into a nope really quick. I did one set that was almost a fight starter. It was my fault. I made a lot of mistakes that night.

  1. I should not have accepted the gig. I didn’t have the material and when the gig was offered to me, the GM said “You can do half an hour right? Bah hahaha. “Yeah, of course.” I should have said. Fuck no, not even close. I got 7 minutes. Maybe.
  2. I asked a group of about 20 people what town they were from. I then started to bag on their town. Hard. They of course, got really mad. They were actually from a town that I’ve been to many times that I really like, but on that night I was less than respectful. They said. “San Antonio” and I said “You call that a river walk? It looks like an open sewer, I flushed the toilet at Dicks Last Resort and the flow of the river walk changed for a few minutes.” My joke was met with a loud wall of BOO! BOO! “Fuck you!” I might have heard a bottle break in the distance. I’ve got a microphone screaming at them, they are getting mad. Shot glass wizzes by. The band is nervous for me, they are kneeling by the stage trying to just start their next set. The bartenders are watching customers pile out of the (might be a bar fight atmosphere), bartenders are then yelling at the barbacks and security to get me the fuck off of the stage and then I get kind of ushered by security into the pub part of Maggie Maes where my girlfriend was in tears.
  • Never bring a date to a comedy show to watch you perform if you still suck as a comic. This rule is so underrated keep your date and your comedy completely separated. Not being funny and dates don’t mix, you’ll find yourself in serious shit. I’ve seen it happen over and over since I did it. Nobody wants to be the date of the sucko comic. Nobody. Which comic are you dating? Oh, you got the one that is awful. Good for you. What’s it like to be born without a funny bone? Do they make prosthetics?

Here’s the funny thing about comedy though. I was the only comic at Maggie Maes that night, so I was all alone. I could have gotten my ass kicked. But if that was in a club…like around a roomful of comics…I’m not concerned at all. I’ll tell you why. I’m not sure that this is true for every comedy club or comedy room, but I’ve seen this exact phenomenon play out in several different comedy venues.

For some reason, every blue moon some audience member would try to punch or hit a comic either while the comic was onstage or just after the comic did a set. I’ve seen it happen on multiple occasions all with very similar responses. The audience member barely gets out alive. If you touch a comic in a threatening way, punch or hit them, the other comics in that room or going to lose their fucking minds. Not all of them, but enough to where if it’s late enough in the evening and enough booze has been flowing…watch the fuck out. I can’t wait to get to the time that happened at the Comedy Store in La Jolla, but that is a long way away. I just met Man-Boobs form the morning show back where we left off during the last post. Man-Boobs in the Morning…On Austin’s Rockin’ Roll Connection…KLBG FM…

Is it the lying that makes suicide remind me of drug addiction so much? The dirty little secret that is being kept from others until the news is made public. Some argue that they are the same. That drug addiction is a form of suicide. It must be oddly similar behavior to an addict as they are preparing their own suicide method and even up to the moment just before they pull the trigger or slowly nudge the stool away with their big toe. This little piggy gets none. I wonder if that reference ever goes through the mind just before? It’s got to feel close to the same as when they are fixing a hit in a needle or when cooking up a batch of cocaine, well not during the early, fun days of addiction, but after addiction has stopped being a little dirty secret and no one is whispering any longer. Holiday party invites cease. Christmas card collections dwindle. “We’ll just take them a plate later.”

“They’re an addict.” “They have committed suicide.” Those two sentences. If those two sentences were people, they would be the best of friends. They would reminisce about their adventures while going through old photographs. They would have matching hats, favorite brunch spots, love the same movie quotes. Photographs…so fucking weird, aren’t they? They represent a moment in time that has been captured perfectly, now in digital forms that can be shared by email, but photographs used to be printed on authentic Kodak paper, that would begin to yellow at some point while residing in an old photo album, that was used to being flipped through, while an anxiously, happy grandparent was visiting to see the new baby or whatever the case may be. Photographs seem so permanent, but I swear to you that the appearance of a photograph can change almost instantly right before your eyes, morphing almost from a picture into a window once suicide enters the picture. Suicide seems to change a photograph. Suicide lets the eyes see the photograph different now. Do your eyes see the photograph change? I’ll just mention the name Robin Williams. Just to preface, Robin Williams wasn’t my favorite anything. I didn’t like his comedy, not a huge fan of his movies, I liked Mork, but I was a fucking child. But ever since his successful suicide attempt, I can’t see a picture of Robin Williams without seeing a really sad, lonely, person. Ever picture is like that. Robin could be smiling in the picture. Doesn’t matter, he still looks so fucking sad. Here’s Robin next to a thousand people. Robin looks completely alone. Here’s Robin laughing. Nope, you can see the tears, behind that laughter. Every picture.

But that’s life isn’t it. Ups and downs. It’s funny to me how life can seem just like a speedball sometimes. A speedball being heroin and cocaine of course. Heroin and cocaine dancing together in a spoon, being mixed together and placed into a syringe purposely in order for the user to feel up and then down, up, down, just like life, just like life in the macro sense and just like life in the micro sense. I’ve only shot up a few times in my life, but those few instances put me in a category of individual who said “Sure, I’ll share a needle. Sure, I’ll knowingly inject a foreign substance into my arm, into my body, not knowing if I’ll die, but knowing it’s an option. Yes, I’ll partake in this activity that I’m ashamed to be participating in. I’ll participate in playing pharmaceutical Russian roulette tonight. Fuck it.”  That scares me to know that I can just say “Fuck it” so easily. That’s not a practice that needs improving.

The senseless loading of crack into various pipes throughout those years of my not so young, but somehow ongoing youthful indiscretion period that has no real probable end in sight, brings immense bursts of pleasure and confidence to me, but they all keep facilitating my out of control sense of survival, my suicidal drug intake and decisions that you’ve read all about, so I won’t repeat them. Those lost, depressed moments hunched over a hot, soot covered spoon in the kitchen trying to not skip any of the crucial steps of cooking up a rock of cocaine, keeping the secrets of my spiraling addiction from the ones that loved me the most, just living a secret life almost, with so many people who love me being completely oblivious at times, but so concerned at other times. The loneliness of an addict just builds as the layers of deception accumulate day after day and the evolution of being able to lie right to someone’s face naturally occurs without any real practice or ha ha formal lessons, but soon the lies just slip out so easily in order to cover up the addiction that they aren’t really lies, are they? No, they aren’t lies. An addict doesn’t really lie as much as that the addict in question is just making sure that the language used can be rationalized according to the particular circumstance where the addict must call an audible and change the operational definition of the word in question.  You say tomato, I say “I’m fine. I’m actually on a break from partying right now.” (pager goes off in pocket…it’s my dealer. Looks like break time is over.) Now, that’s graduate level rationalization right there.

The depression associated with addiction can bond with the immense guilt with an ever-multiplying, almost like some cruel compounded interest, that just keeps accruing mass until one day that depressed, drug addict lets the bad days win the battle just that one time. All it takes is that one slip. That one mistake. It’s not fair that a heavy weight fighter, a heavy weight addict, a heavy weight human being, can have a good run of being able to cope with depression and addiction and can have years of success but then with one knock-out punch just be out on the mat as the countdown hits the last numerical digit. And this is what I write after I take a week off. See, I really just needed a moment.

I must admit that when I look at the quantitative aspect of age mine just doesn’t make sense to me. How am I so old, yet I still feel so incomplete, so unfinished, so new to the game, when I’ve been here the entire time, but not really. I was pretty drunk for a lot of it. But looking way back why could I not handle the stress of bullying? Those moments in high school seem as if they should be able to be managed, the bullying seems less traumatic now somehow, and when I finish a blog entry, I feel very embarrassed regarding my adolescent behavior and lifestyle at by all accounts an adult age. For fuck sake’s I was in my latter twenties at the time. What a loser.

“I want them to have the childhood that I never did…to have things and opportunities… (wipes tears) …that I didn’t have.” (Camera pulls back, and sad music starts to play.)  It almost seems like the American dream and perhaps this is relatively universal, but the overall goal is to allow our children to be children a long time. The age of marriage gets pushed back and the stories of the hardships endured by our parents when we were kids can send a child into a moment of disbelief. “You didn’t have computers?” “No, kid. Typewriters, and onion film. Then liquid paper became the delete keys.”

Still though, wtf? How was I in my late twenties and still such an immature idiot? I’m not really sure, but let’s go through it really quick. After I flunked out of college for the first time I just had no idea what to do so I just did. I just did…life, things, jobs, gigs, parties, depression, anxiety parties, gigs, depression, anxiety, life, things, didn’t get married around the same time as most of my peers, bar back, parties, depression, lack of confidence regarding my future, comedy, jobs, gigs, parties, depression, anxiety, the thought process of “I don’t feel like an adult.” becomes very prevalent.

When everyone seemed to be getting real jobs, getting married and finding their work cubicles I was becoming some type of comedic, drug addict, night owl that worked and lived during the late hours, while my former college classmates clocked in day after day. The biggest need for me was a bedroom window that would be covered completely so that no light could come through and I could sleep during the day. Not all comedians live this way but the ones that do have a tendency to find each other. We may not be roommates, but we will find each other and spend many nights in the comedy trenches waiting for our turns on the list.

“Where’s the list?”

“Have you seen the list?”

“Who made the list?”

“Who’s in charge of the list?”

“Who books the show?”

“Can I get a guest spot?”

“How did he get that spot? He fucking sucks.”

The list was everything and when I was running a show with either Rabon or whoever, it seems like the list would always get fucked up somehow. Rabon and I would only book sober comics when we were getting a case of beer from the bar for each show, and then later on I would fuck up a list by booking too many comics or some comics would go long and then we would have comics that wouldn’t be able to go up.

I was drunk and doing blow pretty much as a constant pre-show ritual around this time, such a tragic mess, but with hope. I had some hope that I would become a famous comedian. Just having that ludicrous dream in the back of my head during the day, then just add some booze and cocaine during the night, and that daydream has some legs to it. All that dopamine, bump after bump in the bathroom stall, flushing the toilet with my foot as I sniff a really big bump off of my “little-pocket” key that has taken up an almost permanent residence in my Levi’s coke pocket. You mix all of that with steady shots of laughter from being in a comedy club and it will add years to your life while robbing you of others. What a mind fuck. What a speedball. It seemed like the only time that the cocaine and alcohol would stop was when I was sleeping, but then I started to drink in the middle of the night when I woke up because I needed to throw up or if I had to go to the bathroom. I’m hiding the extent of my drug use to Teddy and my other roommates, but they seem to be suspicious of my behavior and one night I almost get caught.

I had been doing pretty good and laying off smoking crack, but I ended up scoring a bag, doing some and then cooking it up in the bathroom.

I’m 29

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 13 pt 1 (Austin)

This is part of a series. It is suggested that you start with the first post, post 1

“Hey, do you think that they would get mad if I wore the milk jug costume?”

“Do you care if they get mad?”

“Good Point”

I look back at my days in Austin frequently, reminiscing in my mind sometimes feeling so glad that I left, moved to San Diego, then to Houston, and who knows where to next, and at other times I’ve felt so sad that I ever said goodbye to that city. I’ve never seen the level of creativity and original comedy at an open mic, than what I witnessed during those first few years at the Velveeta Room.

The Velveeta Room now seems to me to be a present to the city of Austin from the lovely people of Esther’s Follies and a present that hasn’t always been appreciated. There was such a variety of comedic styles on any given Thursday that you might see just regular stand-up comedy, then maybe a quick musical act, at least one guy taking off his shirt, or a sketch comedy routine, it was just so comedically random at times that being able to describe a typical night at the Velveeta Room during that era presents quite a few challenges. Sometimes there would be a decent sized audience there and of course as the saying goes “If it’s packed, do your act.”, but then sometimes it was really slow, without much of an audience in attendance and believe it or not those were sometimes the best nights. No, you wouldn’t experience a room full of strangers laughing together, which is just amazing, but there was a certain sense of freedom when there were very few audience members there. It was almost as if you could get away with pushing the envelope a little more, since there weren’t many witnesses and at that time in the historical timeline of recordability, we were still at the camcorder days, and not a lot of broke comics had video cameras. Some did, but not a lot.

There was a sense of expiration to the evening. Once the night was over, it would be done, no video to post online, no tweets to send, no evidence at all. Just do whatever the fuck you want to do, and for the most part we did.  The original and creative comedy wasn’t done by me of course. I still sucked as a comic during this time, I’m just not that good yet, but I did get good later, when I was working at the Comedy Store in La Jolla. I was good then. I was really good for a little while, until my demons took center stage. We’ll get to that. Eventually.

The Velveeta Room was its own place, original in so many ways, differentiating itself from other comedy clubs even without really trying. It sits on Austin’s 6th Street right there next to Esther’s Follies, where Esther’s could help make sure that the bills at the Velveeta got paid on time etc., since there’s just no way that the room itself could make enough revenue on its own merit business wise. Are you fucking kidding me? I would love to hear the stories of how they juggled those two rooms, Esther’s and The Velveeta Room sometime, especially since I’m about to have a master’s degree in business.

The small nature of the club, the door guy Michael who barks down the street. “C’mon in and make her grin here at the Velveeta Room!” trying to make eye contact with the lively 6th Street crowd, “Free admission with your Esther’s ticket stubs!” Mike will advertise as the perpetually sold-out crowds from Esther’s pile out onto the street or right into the Velveeta Room via the side door at Esther’s only to be ushered right past the Velveeta Room stage, almost shocked to see a comedian performing so close to them as some of them sit down to enjoy the performance, others just walking by the stage as fast as humanly possible in order to escape the possibility of being engaged into an type of conversation with whoever the comic was onstage at the time.  

There is one guy that is probably the best all-around comedian that I’ve ever seen work a crowd. His name was Charlie Shannon. I saw Charlie Shannon do things with what might be considered a bad audience that was just amazing. An audience so bad that it would make other comics scratch their names off of the list, but not Charlie. Charlie wasn’t scared of a fucking thing. I would love to fill a few pages with nothing, but Charlie Shannon jokes and I’m so tempted to, but it would almost seem wrong to do so. There are several reasons why, but I’ll just name the top 2. The first reason is that he and I weren’t really close at all. He was nice to me and gave me advice occasionally, but I knew him better another way. And the second reason is that Charlie could be so unscripted, that if taken out of context, some of his jokes may not seem as funny. You just had to be there. Charlie seemed to be able to sense things in an audience that other comics couldn’t see, and he just knew where to take them. He didn’t follow the rules. Charlie’s fashion sense was almost as if he went into Goodwill and asked if they had any clothes that weren’t as fancy as what they had hanging on the racks. He wasn’t trying to find an outfit to look his best on stage as the rest of the majority of comics that I’ve known have down at least once. No, Charlie must have just not given a shit, because I guess, and this is just a guess, he knew that his jokes were his fancy suit perhaps, or again maybe he just couldn’t give a fuck. Man, he was good. No, he was the best.

He wasn’t the only bad ass though. I’ve mentioned the two Howards earlier, Beecher and Kremer, but there was a group of really good comedians there. I mean really good. The following comics are not listed in any particular order, but these were the funniest, at the time, according to me. Eddie Gosseling was one of the funniest motherfuckers that I’ve ever seen period. The dude was a fucking beast. He wasn’t screaming or yelling, he was just calm as fuck, but he could just blow the fucking roof off of the place. He went up with this puppet one time…never mind. It was so offensive, but so fucking hilarious and I’ll never mention it again, but all of the Velveeta Alumni know exactly what the fuck I’m talking about. Blew the roof off of the place and it would never happen in the present day comedy scene. It was too edgy.

They also did a roast of Eddie Gosseling when he left for Hollywood, where he ended up being a writer for the Daniel Tosh tv show as Daniel Tosh would be around Austin a lot in those days. But during that roast there were some of the funniest moments, that I once again, I’m just not going to discuss the material, because it could be taken the wrong way if you were not in the room at the time. That’s one of the things about really edgy comedy like that. You have to see where the room is allowing you to take it, but every once in a while, you get an audience of straight up deviants that just want you to take it as far as possible. Try that set the next show, you’ll start to walk the audience. Laura House is a comic that is in LA now and I’m not sure how often she performs, so if you ever see her name on something, Go See Her! Laura House is about as genuine and funny as you are going to find in a comic, and I believe that she has done some acting and writing. Tom Hester was a comic from Houston that was older than I was, but we got along very well. Tom is such a great storyteller that he can just get an audience to go wherever he wanted to it seemed. When Tom is in his zone you can hear a pin drop while he is onstage, the audience is so captivated, and then when his punchline drops…watch the fuck out. Nancy Reed was an absolute powerhouse as well. Nancy always reminded me of what Bonnie Raitt would have been like if she picked up a microphone to tell jokes instead of to sing while playing her strat.  There was also Chip Pope, who was a very original, kind of like a Beastie Boy, swear to God the dude looked like he should be listed as the lost Beastie Boy that got kicked out of the group just before they made it big. I’m pretty sure that Chip went on to be a writer. There was a comedy team called Scott and Stacy that were kind of nerdy funny, and they would do these great quirky sketch comedy routines that were just so amazingly creative and original that I would just find myself mesmerized by their performances. There was also the very funny J.R. Brow, who never really liked me after I fucked over Rabon, but he is still working the road and telling jokes. There of course were others that either got good later, or that I’ve just forgotten about, but those were the top ones that I remember from that time period. I apologize if I left anyone out and I reserve the right to add to this list later. There were others of course that got better later like Matt Sadler and Matt Bearden, but that happened later than the point in time which I’m currently discussing. I know that I mentioned it before, but I really must irritate how much it helped my depression to have a place to go once a week to hear other human beings laugh. There was something about being in a room watching comedy and it sometimes seemed like the Velveeta Room was just kind of a room for fuck-ups to make other fuck-ups laugh.

There were the really funny comics and then there were the rest of us like John Rabon and me that just weren’t that good yet, but we could host a show ok, not anything like Charlie Shannon, but we had been getting our chances around town. At some point we began to do a show at the Ritz Lounge on Wednesday nights. The Ritz Lounge had a movie projector screen and we would show South Park on that big screen followed by live stand-up comedy. We made small hand-bills to pass out that advertised the Ritz show and the Velveeta Room open mic and we began to put together a street team to pass out flyers for shows. I would bar-back after the show at the Ritz Lounge and of course, I would have a lot of fun up in the projector room night after night. I was still fighting depression as most likely I will forever I suppose, but I was making it through and looking forward to getting better at stand-up comedy. The frustration of seeing other comics getting better faster than I was had been getting kind of old, but I was trying to be patient and honestly, what the fuck else was I going to do? I’m fighting the constant urge to smoke crack and it’s really difficult not to. I’m still doing lines of powder coke a few times a week, but it’s not every night anymore. That’s the way my addiction was at that time. I would just keep trying not to smoke crack. I would have dozens of victories, where I would be so fucking strong, but all it takes is that one time when the cravings get too strong and then the cognitive dissonance that follows is just awful. Because if I fuck up just once… one slip-up, one moment of weakness… I’m just a crack head again.

But for now, I’m Teddy’s roommate and Teddy dresses up in costumes all the fucking time. He works at Esther’s Follies, it’s required. Plus, being around someone like that is fun. I’m about to go onstage at the Velveeta room and I notice that there is a milk jug costume inside the green room. Hey Teddy…

I’m 29 and don’t fuck with this milk jug. Check my expiration date. I’ve gone bad baby. I’m bad.

I have about 9 weeks of school left until I earn my MBA. I sat in a classroom last night discussing the Ryanair Harvard Business Case Study with some other MBA candidates and during a break I had one of those moments where my smile seemed like it was almost obnoxiously plastered to my face. To the point where I tried to hide the fact that I was so happy for that moment. I wiped my face, just because. I wasn’t sweating, no crumbs, random spider, nothing. It was one of those “what the fuck is going on?” moments where it’s so pronounced in your own mind, to where you can almost hear it audibly, in fact I caught myself asking internally “did I just say that out loud?” and then quickly realizing that no, it was just a thought. I slowly took a sip of water and thought “Oh, well. I have no idea how life works.”

And then a few minutes later the other students returned so that we could finish our debate. “Would anyone like a Kind bar? I have several.” I like to keep snacks in my briefcase and of course enough to share. I’m not a dick. And if you don’t care about being a dick then put some snacks in your briefcase or purse anyway. Seriously. The Rule of Reciprocity. Look that shit up and study it. For real. It’s one of the easiest, most available, most affective, and replicable negotiating or business tactics that there is. There have been countless, countless, countless, countless, countless, countless, countless, not a typo, countless, countless, and then probably even more experiments performed regarding the power of reciprocity and even in the smallest forms, it can be found to be extremely effective. I’m not going to go through all of the cases, but the items were small like a can of soda, or a candy bar, or even giving more than the usual amounts of post dinner mints to the diners at a restaurant as long as those diners were casually informed regarding the extra mints. “You guys are great, Hey, just for you, two more mints.” It sounds ludicrous, I know. Total bullshit. That is until you start looking at the quantitative data that supports it. The data that is replicated over and over from separate psychology departments across the country, those experiments backing up the findings of the others. The data will tell you what is right. Just trust he data. I love numbers and data now, but I didn’t pass College Algebra until I was 43 years old. And I failed math almost every year since 5th or 6th grade, so just being at the point where I’m still not great, extremely slow, but I eventually get the answer correct, almost, is just fine by me. It’s funny how an “almost” correct answer becomes more acceptable as the math get more difficult. “Oh well, shit man, you were close…that’s an A.”

I wasn’t a good comedian, but I was getting better, but I was unfortunately one of those comics that thought that they were much better than they actually were. I also thought that I had more material and more time than I actually did. For example. “Hey, Steven. How many minutes’ worth of material can you do?’ “I can do 30.”   Right now, if any comedian or former comedian is reading this, they know exactly what the fuck I’m talking about. This is extremely common among new comics. I could probably do 7-10 good minutes, but even that wasn’t consistent. I couldn’t stay on script. I would always drift away to another topic, while I was in the middle of something else. Just a mess. I got better, but still. What a fucking mess of random thoughts interrupting prepared material.

Anyway, I went over to hang out with a newer comic that had been coming around the Velveeta Room where my weekly Thursday night sets were becoming the preferred pee-break for regular audience members, “Kendrick’s up next? I’m going to the bathroom.” and at Capital City Comedy club where I had been starting to get noticed a little bit by the lower management, not the top. Nope. That would never happen, I fucked it up BAD and I’ll discuss it in about a month at the current writing pace.

Well, I go over to this comics house to smoke weed, grill steaks, drink, and talk comedy. This guy was just an awful excuse for an open mic comic. Just horrible. One of the worst that I’ve ever seen, and also pretty much a dick. I was only planning on staying there as long as it took me to eat my steak and smoke enough of his weed to compensate me for my time. There of course was an almost comedically tall, plastic bong with Mexican weed filling the bowl as my host goes on a 20-minute tirade regarding the overpriced good, indoor-grown, weed that he had just last week, but is of course all out of now, and the really nice glass bong that he broke, then swore NEVER to buy glass again. He did all of this in a Saddam Hussein voice. Then he did Saddam Hussein ordering at McDonalds along with a closer. Ah, shit. This motherfucker is doing material on me. WTF, damn it. I just sit there realizing the dilemma that I’m in regarding whether or not to begin heckling this guy in his own living room, and then his roommate comes home and puts on some music that sounds really fucking familiar, but I can’t quite place it. Then it hits me. (Wait, is that the fucking Beastie Boys? No, but wait. That is the beat that they used though. WTF is this song?)

I was just kind of floored to hear the original song where the Beastie Boys had found one of their beats from and I wanted to know more about it. Then the dude said “Oh, my roommate. Hey, do you listen to KLBG Morning Show with Dave Diddly, Brad, and Samantha? Yeah, he was the intern called Man-Boobs.” Holy shit. Fucking Man-Boobs? I was honestly kind of surprised. Man-Boobs was a motherfucking legend in Austin. That’s not the real moniker, but the amount of market penetration that was created by that morning show on KLBG with Diddly, Brad, and Samantha made Man-Boob damn near a household name. I cannot stress to you enough, because at that time there wasn’t access to any level of celebrity like there is now. When you got in your car in the morning you would turn on the radio and in Austin at that time, Jesus…radio was awful. B-93 or some pop shit, KNACK was fucking cool with their PSYcHo Baby stickers, but the absolute leader was KLBG, and the morning show was the most popular morning show in Austin. And Man-Boobs was the intern that got to do all of that intern shit. Running errands, getting sent to this location for a remote broadcast, getting sent across town to another location to get hit with golf-balls while wearing a protective suit, or while in a cage, I’ll have to check with Man-Boobs and touch on the details in a later post. It’s true, that the staff of KLBG kind of abused and beat up on Man-Boobs, but that was also just kind of the gig. He was kind of the clownish, but lovable Man-Boobs. Man-Boobs had his role on the drive-time early morning show Monday through Friday, but he also had his own Saturday or Sunday morning shows, where I began to listen to his radio show years before the day that I’m currently discussing.

I remember turning on my radio one weekend morning and driving to the real estate office where I was going to show an apartment to a prospective tenant. I was shocked to hear kind of a jazz sound coming from KLBG, which usually just played older rock. I really enjoyed the old music and I started to listen to Man-Boobs in the morning when I was awake at that time. Sometimes I was awake, just not fully rested of course. Not awake, I guess. STILL awake, is a little more accurate. Well, what do you know, the actual Man-Boobs is this guy’s roommate. Well, I get to know Man-Boobs quite well, but by this time he had recently been fired by KLBG and they had aired a lot of his dirty laundry, but Man-Boobs and I ended up being roommates and really good friends. For over 10 years Man-Boobs and I had a pretty good fucking time, should have gone to jail a lot more than either one of us did, and when Man-Boobs was drunk he would do a dance in the middle of a dance floor called “The Funky Butt”. Ha ha ha Man-Boobs was a fucking riot.

I’m 29 and I’m about to sit around another coffee table. Fuck, this again?

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 12, pt 1 (Austin)

This is part of a series…it is suggested that you start with post 1

I didn’t smoke any crack in the house while I was living with the dancer. And as I’ve said, I wasn’t even close to having sex with her, and that was just fine with me at the time. Sometimes you know that a pretty person like that just isn’t worth the hassle that might be involved. Even if it is just the act of physical sex. I imagine that is a relatively universal matter among sexualities. The hot fuck vs. having to talk to them during or after sex. Nothing against them, but if there is absolutely nothing in common than it doesn’t matter if it’s a Hall of Fame vagina (consciously avoiding the common slang of G.O.A.T. to avoid obvious possible miscommunication) or an award-winning dick that is up for grabs, sometimes the mere possibility of the hypothetical conversation that might be attached to the otherwise exciting rendezvous just makes it seem not worth it at all. “Yeah, they might be fun to fuck, but then we’re going to have to talk to each other and ugh, I’ve already had enough conversation with this person. We have enough data. Conclusion, it’s just not worth it” I actually had heard from a mutual acquaintance some years later, that she eventually dated some successful lawyer, the relationship had gone sour, and that her lawyer boyfriend had actually paid her $10,000 to leave. I remember thinking that he probably got a good deal and from what I understand now regarding the time value of money, I can almost certainly guarantee that he did. He got out cheap in that deal if the story is true. I didn’t smoke crack there, but I did do plenty of lines though, but that’s a whole different ball game or at least it was for me. You know crack vs. powder. I also smoked a little crack, while I was in my roommate purgatory state, crashing on couches and getting friends hooked up with free cable as mentioned in an earlier post.

Actually, one night I smoked crack under a tiny little bridge with some dude that thought that I was funny at The Velveeta Room that particular Thursday night. It was the weirdest thing. I had done a joke that night about doing lots of coke, (write about what you know, right) and after the set some dude, just a regular, slacker looking dude, that seemed financially comfortable enough that my first thought was that perhaps he was one of the random trust-fund bohemian types of people that were calling Austin their home at the time.  Brand new Birkenstocks, desperately trying to grow dreadlocks, but it’s at that weird (mange) looking stage. He was sleeping on the hard streets of Austin, off (The Drag) or if the weather is really bad he would move his sleeping bag into the back of his three-year-old Volvo, with the dead head sticker in the rear window, that’s parked in a parking spot a few streets over. He only drives it when he has to in order to avoid tickets, towing, or to go shopping. He could spend countless hours and his dad’s credit card just spending the day going through the different Goodwill stores in Austin, scooping up the best looking clothes, helping to insure that the lower-economic based shoppers of Austin won’t be looking fashionable during their days at work or school. Nope, not as long as he’s there to find the best shirts or vintage pants. He can get them both, he doesn’t have to choose.

He was smart though and insisted that his father buy him a car that the back-seat folded down to expose the trunk from the inside of his vehicle. That one feature really makes it easier to sleep in the car on rainy nights, un-noticed, when the harsh realities of his street life kick in. He brags about his Volvo Condo while asking me if I have a Bic lighter. He left his in his car. He is the outlier among homeless youth, most of the homeless young adults that I’ve seen are not sleeping in a Volvo during a rainy Austin night. Well, this guy came up to me after the show, as I said, and he stated that he had a couple of rocks of great crack and he knew of a spot right around the corner or so where we could smoke it. It sounds so crazy to me now, trying to understand my decision making back then, but for whatever fucking reason I was completely down. “Sure, strange person that liked one joke of mine, let’s go smoke crack in an undisclosed location, probably seedy as fuck.”

It didn’t disappoint. We smoked crack under a bridge. Oh, shit how cool, cue up the fucking Red Hot Chili Pepper music, sounds cool. Yeah, don’t start pushing play too fast on that Flea music just yet playa, because this was a nasty, tiny commuter bridge where we were kneeling really close to turd lake, or whatever it was, some small stagnant pond that had been used as a toilet. I wouldn’t go there in a million years today, as an MBA candidate, but 20 years ago you fucking bet. All I needed was that trigger to be set and once my addiction switch, as mentioned in a previous post, was flipped to the ON position it was too late.

But this makes sense though about the switch being flipped up causing me to go crazy. Hold up and just hear me out. See, I didn’t know this back, when I was a crack head, but when I was getting my Psychology degree at the University of Houston, I paid motherfucking attention. I was addicted to the material. In at least two of my psychology classes, at the absolutely beautiful campus of the University of Houston, Go Coogs!, the lectures ended up at some point covering the following experiment. Here, follow me really quick it’s simple. The rat or mouse is in a box that has an open top. There is a small light in the box, that can be turned on or off by the people conducting the experiment, and there is a hole in one of the sides of the box where a pellet can be dropped in. So, we have a box with a mouse in it. The mouse is in the box just chillen, doing mouse things. The mouse now sees that the tiny light, located inside the box turns on. Wow! Now, a food pellet falls into the box and the mouse eats the food pellet. “That’s pretty fucking cool.” thinks the mouse. Then, the mouse finishes the food pellet and is just chillen again for a while. Some time goes by and then the mouse sees that light turn back on and holy shit! Another pellet falls out of the hole and this behavior repeats itself over and over. Ok. You got that. Mouse, light turns on, pellet of food dropped into the box with the mouse. Ok, so here is the question. At what time during that sequence is the brain of the mouse showing the most activity?

Meaning, when is the mouse the most excited about the pellet?

A. When the mouse is sitting there with nothing, just chillen?

B. When the mouse sees the light turn on?

C. When the mouse is actually eating the pellet?

When I learned the answer to this question something happened in my own thought process. It wasn’t some huge monumental catharsis, but it was something. It was enough to begin to start putting some things together in my own mind regarding some of my own decision making.

I can’t even begin to describe to you what a trip it is to get a bachelor of science in psychology during your 40s when you have the past that I do. What a mind fuck. There were times in class when I would have an eye-opening moment and occasionally I’d find myself even gaining some understanding of maybe the reason why I felt so damaged as a young adult or even the thought processes of my abusers, which led to the doors of forgiveness to, not really be opened, but the old, iron locks that bound the doors were becoming unlatched perhaps. It a strange experience to sit there and wonder if your abuser had been abused as well. Wondering how they were tricked. I’m not talking about the bullies in high school, I’m talking about my other abusers. I was sexually abused at various points in my childhood, starting with a friends older brother when I was under the age of 5. It didn’t make me feel dirty or filthy or anything really. He said that he would play games that I wanted to play later if I let him play with me in a sexual way. He of course didn’t use words like sexual, but those were his intentions. So, I let him do what he wanted in the hopes that I would have a friend. I was just a stupid little boy. I didn’t know what he was doing at the time and he may not even known himself. He was most likely just modeling the behavior that was taught to him by his abuser. Mimicking the moves on me as they were done to him before. It’s difficult to be mad at another victim when you’ve just made an A on the exam regarding the material. In psychology class I would find my thoughts drift to a point where I would begin to have tears begin welling up in my eyes just thinking of the horrible hypothetical abuse that my abuser might have also endured. It’s the academic mind fuck of an experience that can leave a 44-year old junior shaking and crying in a bathroom stall on the lower level of Melcher Hall, wiping away tears and adjusting the U of H hat that I wore so proudly. I still do.

I’ll discuss the history of my abuse at some point later on, as it deserves not only mentioning, but even perhaps its own blog or book, but I’m discussing my addiction now. However, since my addiction seems to be correlated with some early trauma, I have to at least mention some of the abuse that I endured and how it’s ok to feel a little damaged. Don’t try to bondo over it and slap on a cheap Maacco paint job, trying to cover it, nope…rat rod that shit…show off those dents and rust with pride. You can’t fake a good patina, dents, or good rust.

Oh, the answer to that question was C.

The mouse or rats brain is its most active between the time after the light goes off (trigger) and the time when it’s waiting for the pellet. Damn, the Rocky Horror Picture Show was right…it’s all about antici…

Hey, have you ever eaten a bunch of shrooms and then climbed up on a roof with other motherfuckers that are shrooming, just to watch a meteor shower? That’s what we were doing at Teddy’s on the hill.

I’m 28 and shit’s getting trippy

“Dude, there’s a meteor shower tonight.”

“Cool, man.”

“We’re doing some shrooms on the roof and watching them.”

“On this roof?”

“Yep.”

I didn’t know how to use Microsoft Office until I was in my 40s. Isn’t that crazy? I didn’t know any of it really. I just learned it over the course of my education and I’m certainly not an expert now, but when I think of what I can do with it currently, I do have a tendency to smile almost as if I know a secret. The multiple regression models that I’ve helped make and the quantitative analysis that follows just makes me fucking laugh so hard sometimes. That Boss (guitar nerd) Loop pedal in my head sometimes just gets stuck in this giggling mode lately when I think about my education. It’s just so motherfucking funny to think of a crack head receiving an MBA after dusting myself off so to speak from the dirt that was collected on my pants and shoes because of the particular grimy, dirty, dusty path of life that I sometimes chose and at other times it almost looks like I was destined to be an addict, kind of thrown into the self-medication lifestyle. It’s just so funny how education is this huge eraser that can just wipe away the shame and maybe even alter the stigma associated with various youthful or in my case not-so-youthful transgressions. I wasn’t a kid, I was 29 years old, but my brain felt 20 or 21 tops when using metrics such as my cognitive abilities at the time. Look, I was a really late bloomer as was the case with my speech impediments, I was short as a motherfucker growing up and I’m just a few inches away from being able to dress up as Prince for Halloween and nail the height variable precisely.

I was denied the first time that I applied at the University of Houston. They wouldn’t let me in because the GPA from my Southwest Texas State University days brought down my overall GPA that much. Yeah, it was really bad. I had to actually graduate from Houston Community College before they would allow me to become a student at U.H., which I am so glad that they did, but at the same time, it was so long ago, and they even changed the name of the school. It’s now Texas State. My history is with S.W.T., not Texas State. My shit should just get pardoned or something like that.

It’s much nicer than being called a crackhead, you know…being called a college graduate. I never thought that it would be me. I mean honestly, and from what you’ve read so far has there been ANY time that you’ve thought to yourself, “What this boy needs is an education?” Fuck no. You might have said that I need rehab, jail, religion, to join the military, all of which are really bad to fuck up with and I was a fuck up. I would have fucked up in jail, which leads to more jail and/or death in the jail. I would have fucked up in the military and that’s not suggested. I would have fucked up religion also. I would have taken advantage of those relationships in some way. Matter of fact, here’s a scary thought. I would have been executed, shot in the fucking streets, if I was living in the Philippines.  I believe that I’ve mentioned that though, and you are most likely very aware yourself about the current Philippine policies regarding the treatment of drug addicts. I never would have even seen Houston Community College and an MBA would not have even been a dream.

So, living up the hill with Teddy was almost like camping but in a duplex. The electricity or other utilities might go off for a day or two days, shit maybe a week at times, but it’s just not that huge of a deal. Everyone had shit jobs, except for Teddy who worked as a cast member at Esther’s Follies and Teddy was just cool as fuck. Teddy is kind of a big dude and he just looks like a buddy. Seriously, he could have played the third-wheel buddy role in any type of TV show or movie where the good looking guy and the good looking girl are the two main characters, but each of them have a nerdy side kick that isn’t getting any until the end of the movie where they end up meeting another nerd and they start nerd fucking. Teddy could have played that character to a motherfucking T.

Teddy was such a good guy around the duplex, never wanting any drama and since he was all into the Ren Fair lifestyle, he would always hear of somebody going out to fucking Bastrop or some shit and coming back with a lot of shrooms. Dude. Seriously, it was just what I fucking needed. I had been around Mike, back on Enfield and then I lived next door to a fucking coke dealer. I had been in these environments that were toxic in just about every sense of the word and it was completely different at Teddy’s. There wasn’t anyone about to get pistol whipped or beat down. There weren’t rides to go pick up bags of coke or anything like that. It was just silly jokes being told, really low-quality Mexican weed being smoked and people chillen. I needed to sit back, smoke some weed, eat some fucking mushrooms, take some acid when it was around, and just think about some shit for a while. And that’s what I did. Of course, unless the one roommate was drunk. The girl roommate. She was a tiny thing too. I mean I’m short and I could just dunk on her all day long if we had a short basketball goal. But she drank so much that you just didn’t know if she would pass out before it got too bad or was, she going to just keep going? I would NEVER think of giving her cocaine. Fuck that. She needed to just pass out and sleep it off. We all just felt so sorry for her.

So, later that night we all climbed up the ladder and onto the roof to watch the meteor shower while shrooming. Everyone just giggling away and saying funny shit, Teddy’s doing his Sean Connery impression, but you can tell that it’s actually an impression of Will Ferrell doing an impression of Sean Connery. Teddy keeps going as the other roommates laugh. I don’t laugh though. I hate impressions. Everyone is laughing and Teddy notices that I’m not laughing also. Teddy doesn’t get mad, he just seems at first confused as to why I’m not also laughing, and then like I said he would just give me this look as if he felt so sorry for me that I wasn’t able to see the funny like the others. I would just say the same thing “I hate impressions” and then Teddy would wave his hand at me in a dismissive gesture and start his show all over again for the roommates, doing his version of Sean Connery on Jeopardy. Teddy did really good characters. He’s a hell of a talent.

We would do that on multiple occasions where we would find ourselves, as roommates, congregated together on the roof watching meteor showers or falling stars, sometimes shrooming like tonight, but sometimes just smoking a blunt or a couple of bulging Mexican weed joints in order to complete the rooftop party. Teddy just got along with people extremely well it seemed. He had friends from childhood that he knew, and he had buddies form high school, theater, Ren Fairs, and of course he knew everyone from Esther’s Follies. Teddy also liked me. That was not only really cool, I desperately needed someone to be nice to me.  I had already really fucked up my reputation around the comedy scene and I was making it worse by being the train wreck that fucked over John Rabon, has been evicted, arrested, thrown out of bars, and kicked off of couches, but Teddy didn’t give a shit as long as I was cool with him. Teddy was and is just a really good dude, that for whatever reason loves Ren Fairs. I have to be honest regarding Ren Fairs. I don’t get it. I really don’t. It just all looks so completely stupid to me, but I’m so glad that there are places for people to do that. I’m sure smoking a bag full of crack sound crazy to a lot of those Ren Fair people. Come to think of it maybe that’s why it wasn’t a big deal for the utilities to be cut off. Teddy just kicked into the Ren Fair part of his brain and pretended that we were back in the days of yore. As in yore lights don’t work you broke motherfuckers! But eventually Teddy would get paid and the lights would come back on. Thanks Teddy, yore, the best.

I’m 29 and I’m about to meet a guy they call Man Boobs on a local radio station. Seriously, he’s a legend in Austin, but I changed his moniker.

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA… Did Hard Drug Use Help Me Cognitively?

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA (not part of the ongoing series) to read the ongoing series click here

I’ve made it through graduate level classes like statistics, accounting, finance, and too many math based…quantitative classes to mention here but my brain didn’t used to work that way. While earning my bs in psychology I learned about plasticity and how the brain can heal after severe damage. Stroke victims, trauma patients, head injuries, not always of course, but sometimes there can be amazing healing done as the brain makes new connections. Please excuse my generality… my undergrad in psychology was geared towards business, I/O Psych….that type of thing and even if it wasn’t, the depth of an undergrad psychology education requires that no diving signs be posted everywhere.

As the name of my blog suggests yes, I used to smoke crack, but I gave that up for the most part years ago while still using powder cocaine and living as a semi-functioning alcoholic. I was using booze to help with anxiety and well… that plan went to shit. I used to do this blog a couple of years ago, but stopped because of depression related issues…I haven’t had a drink in almost 4 years since I originally quit and I’m just trying to get through life as a non-drinking, no cocaine, no pills, alcoholic / addict.

I have an MBA now, but I barely graduated from high school and flunked out of college before diving deep into hard drug use and alcoholism. I thought that I was probably below average intelligence and just not wired for learning in an academic setting, not book-smart, not a math-guy.

When I say that I wasn’t a math guy I’m not being flippant. I was in summer school every summer…for some random math related class or another for what seems like my entire jr. high and high school careers with absolutely no hope or chance of ever passing a mathematics based class the first time during the regular academic year. No way that was happening. It seemed like I needed extra help just to barely pass a math class even if it was the second or third attempt at the same material. Usually in summer school bitd they would have tons of extra credit opportunities to assist someone like me to just get through the class by the skin of their teeth.

While I was at my darkest and deepest drug use I remember having a difficult time choosing the right words to say, trouble expressing myself, math had become something that my roommates would help me with when it was time to tip the pizza guy, but I was convinced that I would never be a quantitative type of person. I didn’t even know what the fuck quantitative meant until I was in my 40s.

As the hard drug abuse days were slowly fading in my rear view mirror I felt like I had probably experienced some cognitive damage due to my heavy drinking, multi day crack binges, the few dabbles in heroin, the countless just grab a few of whatever pills that were offered, found, stolen, sometimes just no memory of how they were obtained, just a mess of club stamps on my hand and some pills in the “coke pocket” of my jeans.

Mostly pain killers at the time…opiates…but the point is that cognitively I just felt… well pretty stupid. I didn’t know simple grammar rules such as your, you’re… they’re, their, there, math was a myth wrapped inside of a mystery… or the other way around. I was also drinking a very large amount of alcohol and as my drug habit began to decrease my alcoholism ramped up and pretty soon it was out of control. I would find myself drinking as early as possible on the weekends and drinking as much as possible during the week… my daily routine like being on time was just a mess with no real rhythm other than my morning ritual of throwing up whatever I had poisoned myself with the night before…or on the weekend as it was normal for me to get drunk enough by noon to pass out and then wake back up around 8 or 9 pm for a second round, especially if I had a little blow on me. Which in those days I might have a 1/2 gram or so once or twice a month… and compared to where I had been it was a huge improvement. I had slowed my drug use down quite a bit by the age of 41 and just rarely got coke, but sometimes I would. My drinking was out of hand, but my worst days of hard narcotic abuse was over… and my crack days were a decade behind me…I had made it through.

I decided to take a Spanish class to prove that I could make it somewhere on time, learn some Spanish, and make my parents proud by trying to improve myself. I ended up making an A and then I went full-time and eventually graduated, but I hadn’t taken any real math based classes yet other than intermediate Algebra where I barely survived…and then College Algebra….making a B for the class. I made an A on an exam during my college algebra class that brought tears to my eyes, yes…I was that proud…and also 42 years old.

I enjoyed my time at Houston Community College and made the Dean’s List for the first time, which was so strange to earn academic accolades of this caliber, and I began to study psychology, taking two classes before graduating and transferring to the University of Houston where I majored in psychology and minored in business administration. I was a research assistant and made the Dean’s List again…graduating and then earning an MBA… the point is how did I do that? Hmmm…

Hypothesis: I was a dumbshit… did a bunch of drugs damaging my brain…. brain heals through plasticity and reroutes my brain better than before.

Before drug abuse: Shit Student

After drug abuse: Dean’s List

Of course there is the variable of age. Depending on who you ask, going back to school as an older student either helps because of the maturity that comes with age, meaning that since I was older, I knew that an education was important, therefore I needed to study, prioritize my time etc., or it hurts as others might point out that I most likely was already in cognitive decline due to age alone…not even considering the drugs. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” vs. “It’s never too late to learn” seems to be a contradictory battle of common sayings, none of this being even close to the scientific method or anything other than pure wondering thought of an addict, could be argued with enough success I suppose.

I have these two friends, one a former junkie, standup comic and another is a former tweaker that writes a blog and I’m going to get together with these two individuals and see what they think regarding the cognitive abuse and repair of former hard core drug addicts like ourselves.

Smarter than before? No difference? or Drugs made me stoopid?

I’m looking forward to our conversation next week…I’ll post the video and notes

This post is not part of my ongoing series…to read it, just click here

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 11, pt. 1 (Austin)

This is part of a series…it is suggested that you start with post 1

I always had a small notebook in my back pocket in order to write down jokes, but then I also began to write down things that weren’t jokes necessarily, but just my feelings in general. I would keep that notebook with me at all times and when it was full, I would throw it in a dresser drawer or in a large, brown paper grocery bag, whatever my living arrangements dictated at the time, but I still have most of them. Those notebooks were probably more crucial to my survival during that time than I ever thought back then. Back then those notebooks were just a place to write a joke down, “You never know when that one joke gets you on Letterman!”, but as I think about it now, those notebooks were also almost like having someone listen to me any time that I wanted to bitch about something or if something made me laugh, because that’s when my notebook would come out, when I either laughed out loud or if I stood there asking myself “What the fuck?” and then I would start shaking my head. If either one of those two events happened, I’m getting my notebook and then asking, “you got a pen?” damn it. I always was searching for a fucking Bic of some sort. Either a Bic pen or a Bic lighter. Bic makes a fine fucking product, let’s just admit it. Bic rocks!

I spent a decent amount of time just go to the Botanical Gardens in Austin just in order to get  out and have a place to think to myself. I had gone there on field trips with the school, when I was a kid, all of us carrying our sack lunches with a can of soda, that had been wrapped in aluminum foil in order for the can to be a few degrees colder or at least I think that was the theory. I’m pretty sure that my mother even used the term tin foil to be exact. As a young adult I would find myself at the botanical gardens for several reasons. It was free, it was outside, but also shady in spots, and you could smoke a joint in your car and just walk around the garden area high as fuck, just relaxing and looking at flowers and shit. I remember thinking how lucky the settlers were that they could just build a log cabin and call it their house, not having to go through the hectic schedules that are expected from society today. Those thoughts are just so silly though, because if for a minute I think that I would have been a success in those “settler days” I’m just daydreaming using ridiculous imagery. The missing variable between success and I, wasn’t just a variable regarding time and it’s just shortsighted and irresponsible to even hypothesize that. I was just a fuck up for a long time. I didn’t have any confidence that I would ever be able to do anything other than maybe, stand-up comedy and that lifestyle was killing me. Does every comic follow the same path? Fuck no. I’m an addict and I got addicted to performing and getting that rare laugh. I was getting better at comedy, but I still wasn’t very good and even when I was funny, it was extremely sporadic. I’m just a fucking mess, but with flashes of being very good. Unfortunately, I’m still Steven Kendrick. Ask anyone, I’m a fuck up.

I keep asking myself if there was any way to stop my addiction or to even slow it down, at any point before it began to happen or during it’s worse days, and until the day that I finally stopped drinking, which correlated heavily with my cocaine use. If I wasn’t getting too drunk, I wasn’t using coke. The problem is that I knew that I had developed a cocaine addiction, but I was absolutely certain that I wasn’t an alcoholic. Drugs are a motherfucker and crack kills, but alcohol, c’mon playa, what the fuck are you talking about? I got this. I got alcohol. I can quit ANY time that I want. I just don’t want to. End of story, next question. Let’s just discuss the real issue at hand. My cocaine use. Let’s discuss it over a beer.

I stay with a friend for a few days and I’ve got an interview lined up for a regular type of job, I borrowed a suit from that friend, because I don’t have any clothes that would be appropriate for an interview unless I’m interviewing to work in a bar. Every suit that I’ve ever worn feels like my mother is making me wear it and this suit is even worse. It’s slightly too big and I’m short to begin with so… “Who’s wearing his daddy’s suit trying to play grown up?” is playing over and over in that mental Boss Loop Pedal (guitar nerds) that resides on the pedal board in my head just playing over and over. I can feel my anxiety going through the roof, but I make it. I make it to the interview, in my 1983 Toyota Tercel, with a proof of liability insurance that is only valid in appearance, having stopped paying monthly payments a long time ago, only really just wanting the slip of paper to show a cop in the off chance that I get pulled over. Who the fuck pulls over a Toyota Tercel? No one. That car was never pulled over in its life as my vehicle. That Tercel’s last hurrah did involve the cops, but they didn’t pull it over, they caught up to it. And that’s a different story, in a different state, that you won’t read about that one for another year. Sorry I brought it up, won’t mention it again until then.

I remember being so excited about this interview because it was a sales position with no drug test and I knew someone that worked there. I get to the interview early and I’m sitting in my Tercel smoking a cigarette. I get out of the vehicle and I can feel my anxiety a lot. I’m walking through the parking lot and onto the sidewalk, opening the large glass doors and trying to find the interview room. I’m nervous, but I can handle this. It will just be me, the interviewer and then it will be over. Maybe I’ll even get the job. I had a shot, I figured, because my friend was pretty much a dumbass like me and he got the job. I find the room and when I open the door there is a medium sized conference room filled with maybe 20 different applicants and my anxiety goes through the roof. I hadn’t really experienced anxiety that sudden or massive in an interview type setting before, and like I said, I had been feeling decent about the interview, even talking myself up about it a little, but when I saw all of those other applicants I knew that I had no chance in hell of landing any job if I had a roomful of competition. The truth is that every job that I’ve ever been given most likely had many applicants as well, but when I saw them and had a visual representation of my competition, it just seemed like they were all so smart, well dressed, educated, pretty, handsome, and they all knew that I was stupid, borrowed suit, bad shoes, white socks that don’t even match and one of them barely passed the smell test.

My suit is stupid, I’m stupid, I suck so fucking bad and now it is so crystal clear, just hold me up to the light next to any one of these other applicants. Can’t you see how I look so low-class, smelling like Camel Reds and stale socks, sweating like a bitch-ass punk, not even knowing where to put my hands, not being able to choose between in the pockets, or just outside of them. My inner voice does all the damage needed today I really only need the presence of others for inspiration. My inner voice will tell me all of the things that the people in that room would never say to my face or may never even think them at all, but in my brain they all know the truth. I suck. The truth is that they probably barely even noticed me as I stood nervously shaking towards the corner of the room, tightly clutching my two-pocket, tri-prong, folder containing my older, poorly executed resume, typed, with a Bic pen edited, pager number written in where my parents phone number had previously been typed, recently covered with two brush strokes of liquid paper. Fuck, now I’m rolling that folder, because I’m nervous and it’s going to look like shit.

I’m so stupid if I think that I’m going to get a job if all of these people want it to. I leave, because at least this loser knows when to give up. I started to leave the building and I’m having a difficult time walking upright. It sounds so weird, but I couldn’t stand vertical, or at least not all of the way. I’m having to use other cars to lean on as I make it to the Tercel, but other than that I’m ok I guess, other than I’m shaking a little, but I do that when I have anxiety attacks sometimes, so that’s scary, but it’s not as scary as the feeling of not being able to walk correctly.

Someone moves out of my friend Teddy’s duplex and I’m invited to stay there. There is a spot on the floor with my name on it and sometimes there is a spot on the couch available. It’s on this huge hill in South Austin and it’s a lot of roommates, with varying backgrounds. I’m told that Gibby Haynes was found all fucked up in the backyard once. What?

I’m 29 and I’m about to do a lot of psychedelics and not so much crack, but then a lot of crack.

Sometimes it almost feels as if my addiction gives me an advantage. I know that sounds weird but I’m serious, especially during a really good moment, like after I make an A on an exam when I had been going over the material an insane amount of time, being able to listen to the same lecture over and over, without it bothering me. In fact, sometimes the repetitious nature of listening to the lectures over and over is somewhat comfortable, and almost complimentary to me other addictive quirks. Yes, there is the destructive side, but once that side is tamed, the rest of my addictive personality is quite fun, and furthermore I have no intention of suppressing it.

My addictive personality allows me to get so involved in a project at school that the time can just pass by, and when I finally get my head out of whatever has been fully monopolizing my time at the moment, I’m usually happy with the result. It took me so fucking long to be happy with the result and to stop listening to my doubtful inner-voice loop pedal that seems to be stuck in my head, telling me that I’m stupid. That voice got silenced pretty much. Not by me mind you, but by the University of Houston. Once I made the Dean’s List, I was like “Hey, inner-voice, why don’t you shut the fuck up for a minute and read these grades with me. Oh, it says that I made the Dean’s List while majoring in psychology and minoring in business administration, being a research assistant, and also being in an honors level course.” “Yeah, but it’s not a top-tier univer…” “Shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down, inner-voice loop pedal in my brain. I’ll listen to the PhDs at the University of Houston over you.”

Or at least I will try. I fucking love school. Go Coogs!

Do you remember the story that circulated years ago about the monkey that mauled its trainer over some fucking birthday cake? The trainer gave a birthday cake to another monkey and this one monkey, that the trainer had been around since the monkey was a baby monkey, attacked the fuck out of the trainer, mauling the trainer’s face and shit. I thought that was a perfect analogy of my addiction and the monkey that lives on my back. My addiction monkey loves me and is content, but it wants cake. If that monkey sees me around other people with monkeys that live on their backs and those people are feeding their monkeys cake, I better either feed my monkey cake or get the fuck away from those other monkeys, or my monkey is going to maul me, because my monkey wants cake also.

My past drug use also makes it so much easier for me to rationalize an unauthorized spending splurge. Like I’m really going to be worried about spending some cash now, when A, I spent a ton of money on drugs, that are just gone. And B, I could die tomorrow from said drug use, like a lot of my former acquaintances did.  And that’s how I got a Fender butterscotch blonde Telecaster named “Half Ounce”.

I’m not sure which part of my life fucked up my perception of money worse, drugs or school.

I paid a lot of money on drugs, but I’ve also paid $300 for a fucking Astronomy book. No shit. I remember being at the bookstore and buying my Astronomy book for $300, which just went on my growing student loan debt as if the money isn’t real, and just kind of laughing thinking of how much blow I could have once purchased for the same amount of money.

When I moved into my new living arrangements with Teddy, a performer at the absolutely amazing and world-famous Esther’s Follies in Austin, I was just thankful to just have a place to stay. Teddy was and still is a really nice guy and he sees the good in anyone. Thank God, because that is exactly the type of person that I need to be around right during that period of time in my life. Teddy is funny, always down to go hang out, play disc golf, smoke weed, eat shrooms, L.S.D.?, Y.E.S.!

Teddy could have $20 in his pocket and he would go buy $20 worth of Jack in the Box for everyone at the duplex and never ask for a penny in return. Teddy was such a talented performer, but always so shy and dismissive regarding compliments. He would work long hours during the week preparing and practicing for his shows, helping build props or backdrops, bitching under his breath at the little mistakes that no one else would ever notice, and not ever really receiving the spotlight, almost always a background or supporting player. He was excellent though, diving into each character throughout the week, in the living room, where the higher-ups at Esther’s would never see all of those hours of preparation that Teddy gave of himself.

Teddy of course was performing in Esther’s Follies right next door to the Velveeta Room on 6th street as mentioned in an earlier post. The huge windows of Esther’s Follies behind their large stage. Those same huge windows provided the stage backdrop during much of the Esther’s Follies performance. The chaotic and dynamic nature of the bustling 6th street crowd intermingling with various Esther’s cast members as the live performance seems to dance along with the natural habitat of the present evening’s 6th street patrons.

The duplex that we shared itself was a shit-hole, but it was our shithole. Well, it was Teddy’s shithole and from what I understand Teddy lived there for a long time and he eventually only had one other roommate, but when I was there the duplex had at least four regular roommates. But the couches could have people sleeping on them at any given time also. Teddy couldn’t say no to strays and we were all strays it seemed. Maybe not a stray in the current micro sense as in Teddy and the others had a roof over their heads but strays as in the macro sense. None of us really fit in. Teddy had been, and I think still is highly involved in the renaissance fair lifestyle and would wear these pants that kind of looked like maybe pajamas, but then some that were just odd patterns, but always sort of cartoonish. They were odd, but not like, grab your kids and lock the car doors odd, just like seeing a funny cartoon odd. Teddy was a character and I’m convinced that for 24 hours a day there was a stage in Teddy’s mind, and not only was he singing his own musical loudly in his own head, Teddy was also feeling a bit sorry for the rest of us, who for whatever reason, just aren’t able to jump in his world with him. It must be a magical place.

Teddy doesn’t give a fuck. Teddy is going to put on a costume, dance, sing, be a pirate one night or a football player the next, whatever the script calls for at the time. Teddy is the success among us professionally. Teddy works for fucking Esther’s Follies for fuck sake. He makes a living doing play-time for real, but he makes sure to never brag about it or mention it really other than to gripe about the regular work day gripes that are prevalent in any industry.

I can honestly say that being around Teddy at that point might have really saved me. I needed to be around a good person and if I would have, at that time been around a sketchy motherfucker instead of Teddy, I could have gone down any number of pad paths built with the labor of bad choices. As I said, the place was a shithole. The carpet was so dirty and muddy, it might have been used as a place for concert goers to wipe their feet during the original Woodstock concert in 1969. It was just awful, it actually had these tiny little dreadlocks forming, just dreadful. The living room had this huge glass door that would slide open towards the backyard, where the house next door was not only visible, but some boards in the fence had been removed in order for the two neighboring properties to be joined in a way. Teddy was good friends with the neighbors, and they would all hang out and BBQ together.  Every once in a while, a startling Bang! Bang! Bang! would occur from one of the neighbors, cop knocking on the sliding glass door, scaring the shit of whoever was high on the couch at the time.

There was a tall, kind of dorky, funny, but also a real asshole at times roommate, who just kind of bagged on everyone’s mom constantly. It was funny, but every answer from the guy became extremely predictable. If you asked Cody a question, the first answer, maybe even the second or third answer will be the same answer every time. “Your mom.”

“Hey Cody, where are you guys going?” “We’re going to your mom’s house.”

“Hey Cody, what are you guys grilling?”

“We’re just making a batch of your mom burgers.”

It just wouldn’t fucking matter. It was repetitive, predictable, and it still makes me laugh just thinking of it. It was just so stupid.

There was a female roommate that probably wasn’t technically insane, but probably…maybe? She was a short, nice, quiet, kind of shy person, unless she was drinking and then she became a different person that was mean, vicious, and maybe the worst part, mostly unapologetic the next day, when she sobered up. She usually just rationalized her behavior by pointing out how the rest of us had also fucked up, then she would storm down the hall to her room and slam the door. Then the air would be filled with that unique crackling sound of an inexpensive, older turntable with the shitty built-in speaker, start to play. This girl loved old, old, records that would be turned up so loud, spilling Billie Holliday throughout the house, out the door, into the yard, past my Toyota Tercel, down the long, rapidly descending, black-top driveway that spilled into south Austin. I’m so glad that I hadn’t yet taken my “Jazz Appreciation” class at the University of Houston as I did some almost 20 years later.

That’s when I learned of Billie Holiday, you know? The life of Billie Holiday, how she was ushered into prostitution by her own mother at an early age, singing with the voice of struggle and abuse, fighting both personal vocal limitations and also record company bullshit. Listening to the lovely Ms. Holiday singing Strange Fruit for the first time as an adult was such an experience. Sitting there with my headphones on, feeling me heart sink, my throat get tense, my eyes fill up with tears, clearing my voice in order to quickly dam the impending flood from my bloodshot eyes. I’m glad that I wasn’t able to ask the questions to her then that I could ask now as to why she was playing Billie Holiday so loud and was that the reason that she was so mean after a few good strong drinks. She was mean, boy. As mean as they come. We all tip-toed around her a bit. We had to. We were kind of scared to be honest. She was small, but the girl could swing a wrench. Seriously. She had this old, boat of a car, that she was rebuilding, but she wasn’t rebuilding it in the traditional sense. She was converting the gasoline engine so that it would run off of hydrogen. She intended to be able to fill the gas tank with water and then the water would have the hydrogen removed, the hydrogen would burn, water vapor would be removed via the exhaust and we were dicks for any doubtful looks, glances, possible tones to our voice etc. “Sounds cool.”(met by her blank stare, which is slowly replaced by a frown.)

“Fuck you, asshole! No one EVER believes me!!!”

I’m 29 and I’m stuck on a hill.

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 10, pt 1 (Austin)

This is part of a series… it is suggested that you click here to start from the first post

You know that movie Friday? The one with Ice Cube, Chris Tucker? Almost everybody that I’ve ever met loves that movie. “Oh, it’s hilarious.” They will say. 

To be honest though, I don’t really care for it. In that movie a drug dealer is trying to kill Chris Tucker. That movie isn’t very funny when you owe a drug dealer money, and the first time that I saw the movie Friday I owed my dealer Jason some cash.

I was trying to dodge him, but he lived right next door to me, so how the fuck am I supposed to do anything without him knowing it? Fuck. It really sucks living next door to a coke dealer given my propensity to easily justify why I might need coke. The best justification seems to be because it’s the only thing that keeps me going. Cocaine would help me get through my life and I was almost always in the mood to do some self-medication, but that type of medication is really expensive. I would justify spending money that I shouldn’t by figuring out how I could pay it back to myself or to a friend / family member. I ended up coming up with these great plans on how I would make up the financial craters that I was digging with my nose, but after the coke was gone and I was coming down from my cocaine perch of wonderful plans and business ideas I just always seemed to find myself broke and in worse shape than before. I just hated that feeling, but I couldn’t stop. I’m an addict.

I end up just crashing with different friends for a week or so until I have most of Jason’s money. I finally get caught up with Jason and I’m broke as a joke. John is getting married, I’m not sure what the fuck to do, and I’m just making bad decision after bad decision, but at the time it seemed like the only options that I had were from a pool of bad decisions. I was in the middle of the storm so to speak. I would tell myself over and over again that I was going to be ok, right after I got a few deals together or if this gig comes through. There was always a possible hustle of some sort, but never any real substantial hope, I just had pretty much the same comedic dreams as any other open mic comic that was on the list at the Velveeta Room on any given Thursday night. We were all hoping that someone would come in and save us from this pit, just as Mike Judge had done for another comic years before.

That outlier of a chance can keep a comic practicing in the mirror on both their routine, and sometimes a comic might even perhaps catch themselves having those private moments alone when the comic is practicing, in their heads to themselves, what the conversation would be like when they are on the hot late night talk show at the present time, or being interviewed by Oprah. Ha ha, I bet almost every comic has daydreamed similar circumstances while getting ready before a show in the one bedroom that they share with two other comics, or when they are sitting in the car-pool lane, whatever their world dictates for them to accomplish, but on Thursday nights we all just waited for our 4 or 5 minutes onstage and hopefully we wouldn’t hear the Ding from George the bartender’s bell. When you heard that bell, your set was going to hell. It wasn’t the “Man, that’s a great joke”, bell.

The bell meant that every comic within earshot was now going to have a reminder that someone onstage is sucking it really hard. The sharks begin to circle. I still to this day have no idea why I ever did comedy in the first place other than I was just trying to find something to do. I really didn’t have any good material for years. I was just awful, but I kept going. Somehow the stage really bothered me, but the boos from the audience or the “you suck!” just didn’t hurt very much. I later would yell at the audience, because well, it felt good to yell at another human being while holding a microphone. You should really try it. Go buy a Shure SM-58 microphone, a microphone cord, and a Kustom brand 50-watt PA system, which is brand new for $99. Plug that shit in and use it to yell at the wall. It feels great. Tell some jokes or some stories. It’s fun as fuck. Then pack it up and return it within 45 days, if you don’t love it, of course. I’m kind of kidding, but I’m kind of not. Honestly, though when I was in some of the worst days regarding my depression, when it was mixed with my emerging alcoholism and drug use, being around other open mic comics saved my ass. Most of us were broken is some sense and I hate using the island of misfit toys bullshit analogy, but there is a reason why it was used so often. We were all broken comics it seemed at the time, all hurting from something, it just so happened that we were all there on a Thursday night, hearing the bell go off at the Velveeta Room, feeling the hair tingle on the back of the neck, looking to the other open mic comics that were part of the small group of comics either smoking together outside, doing a mind-eraser at the bar with Beecher, or waiting in the greenroom to go up. You hear that bell and some crowd heckling, and the same question gets asked in each comic subculture just listed. Ding! “Who’s on stage? Let’s go see.” And then the comics would slowly gather with their own patented “so, you’re a new comic” comedian confidence killers… “Do your good stuff!” … “Take off your shirt!” … “Not that joke, you did that last week!” … or the sound of God from the back microphone as I mentioned in an earlier post. “This is God. I’m sorry that I made you. You suck. Quit comedy.” The open mic comics, including myself just howling with laughter. The laughter of which we could never create on our own from an audience, but when a new comic was eating shit onstage, during those days, I’ve just never seen anything like it. It was a motherfucking comedic bloodbath. I’m so embarrassed regarding how I treated some other individuals while I was there, but it was motherfucking comedy war. There were no rules there. You didn’t even have to be funny. Really, most of us weren’t that funny. Stand-up comedy can be an excellent example of both confirmation bias and groupthink.

Like I said, stand-up comedy and the Velveeta Room in particular really helped me during those times. It’s so exciting when you’re young to have an impossible dream that seems so likely, when enjoying the confirmation bias and groupthink conferences that were the smoking sessions after shows. Everyone discussing their upcoming gigs, past triumphs, biggest laughs and worst ever performances, both of the comics own doing, and some stories of comedic failure that were blamed on a really bad audience, complete with drunken hecklers. Those late-night stories and comic-only parties were a really fun place to just be a fly on the wall.  The laughter in the Velveeta Room was such a life saver on some nights. When I was on that stage, I was so fucking scared and petrified, that I didn’t worry about my life, my problems, my debts, my impending eviction or my upcoming marathon of couch surfing. No, I was just concerned with how I was going to make some stupid jokes funny enough to inspire laughter from complete strangers. I always felt so out of place there, but I’ve felt out of place most in most situations. I just do and I’ve actually grown quite comfortable with it, but that didn’t happen until my 40s unfortunately. Until then I was just very lost and just drowning myself in booze and propping that drunken mess up with some cocaine. It seemed so “rock and roll” at the time, well at least the rock part.

I’m 28, but I’m about to crash with a stripper for a while.

If you ever see John Rabon at the Velveeta Room, and he does still perform there, PLEASE do me a solid and ask him if anyone has ever told him that he bears a striking resemblance to the former bay area rapper by the name of Mac Dre. It’s an ongoing joke that has no reason to exist at all. It’s just so stupid. John is hilarious though and he’s been through his own shit. You’ll have to have him tell you his story though and I really hope that he does some day. John is an amazing and talented person.

That being said we had a lot of just random fun being roommates that I will always treasure. John slept on an inflatable air mattress for at least 6 months and EVERY night he would have to blow it up using his mouth. Every time that John inflated that air mattress, starting with the first night, I would sit back on the couch and make sounds like I was getting a good blow job. John would get so annoyed and I would just cry laughing like I am now 20 years later. Holy shit that would piss John off, but I would just keep going. Hahahahaha. Tears are in my eyes, just thinking of him “Damn it, Kendrick. Is it really that fucking funny? Making blow job noises while I’m blowing up this air mattress?” Tears in my eyes.

John was with me when we were at the Ritz Lounge, with a local comedy legend when the legend slipped, while walking down the stairs, and fell ass over teakettle, knocking himself out in the process. John pulled his car around to the entrance of the club just in time, as the cops had already been called and were on their way. John and I sat up with the local comedy legend all night to make sure that he didn’t die. I’m sure the fuck glad he didn’t die that night, because honestly, what the fuck were John and I going to do? We would have just stared at each other saying “oh fuck!” while our friend died. We weren’t qualified to do much else in a medical emergency. Maybe go through the deceased’s pockets looking for cash? Look for beer in the refrigerator? John and I would head into our early Saturday morning Lawnchem jobs hung-over, but sometimes needing to stop to look at a customer’s yard in order to prepare a lawn care estimate for a monthly service program. Usually, one of us would be so hung over that we’d be throwing up, either on the side of the road, outside of the car window while on the highway, or even on that poor customer’s lawn. Yes, I did throw up on a customer’s lawn while John and I were working together at Lawnchem. “I think we found the problem with your yard sir; you have some yard corn and half-digested frozen pizza looking fungus developing right here.” What a time to be alive.

I fucked up John’s rental history, credit, and I used his rent money for drugs. What do you mean I’m not an usher at your wedding? Actually, John’s wedding was a small ceremony where I wasn’t really in either party. I had been fucking over the groom and the bride absolutely hated me. Of course, John’s girlfriend, then fiancé, then wife hated me. Smart girl. She saved John and he was smart as fuck to get out any way that he could. I stood there in attendance at John’s wedding and remained rather quiet. I was happy for John, but I knew that our friendship was going to be done soon. I congratulated him with the best fake smile that I could muster, trying not to give him any signals or non-verbal communication of any sort regarding the financial standing of the lease to our apartment, or all of the lies that I had been telling him in order to perpetuate my fraudulent behavior and actions. John and I laugh now, he has his own scars and stories, and it seems like the time that we were roommates lasted a lot longer than it really did, perhaps because we started comedy together, but I love that guy. I really do. I love Mac Dre.

I had been making phone calls for a while trying to line up a roommate situation because I couldn’t get an apartment on my own. Matter of fact, I couldn’t be on the lease, or gas bill, the electric company hates me, water, yeah not so much. How about the cable bill? Ha ha no. I do however know a guy that has a hard hat, a ladder, a vest, and he used to work for the cable company. That connection gets me a few couches to crash on until I find the one person who is willing to take me in at the time. Her name was Kim and I don’t remember her last name. Kim was a dancer at a local strip club where she was entering the twilight of her career and she had a slight smell of Brasso about her.

Kim was a vegetarian, unless she wasn’t that day, a regular juicer, only shopped at Whole Foods, and was just getting bored living all alone by herself and her dog, in South Austin behind the Continental Club. Oh, shit. I’m back in that area, but now I’m living with a stripper. A stripper that I’m not fucking. I’m not even close to fucking her. I’m just living in her upstairs, used to be an attic, loft for $200 a month, which I paid for in coke. Kim knew people at the Continental Club, some very well, and she knew a lot of musicians. Everyone from Herman the German to Bob Weir was on her list of musician friends that were not necessarily fucking her. Some might have been, but from what I saw most of the musicians that came by her house seemed to just want to hang out with a pretty woman, that wasn’t 21, as Kim was in her 30s. Honestly, that is what is seemed like. It was a surreal experience to have Bob Weir calling the house, but that’s what happened. Kim had been in some national commercials, she had done some light acting, had been fucking a local comic, and had been given a horse as a present by one of her musician friends. Seriously, dude gave her a horse. “Nice BJ. Here’s a horse.”

The horse lived in some stables just outside of Austin and I would go with her to take care of it on occasion. Kim was a beautiful woman, driving a silver Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce, with an odd convertible top that appeared to have been crafted by Dr. Frankenstein himself. There were the normal, patterns of stitching that one would find on a convertible top, but then there were all of these other random, some short in length, others longer, but at least a dozen places where an artisan had performed a type of emergency, convertible top stitch-work surgery after a horrible attack with a mountain lion that was accidently locked in the Alfa Romeo overnight.

I asked Kim about the repairs to her convertible top and she just says, “People don’t like smart, independent women.” “I’m sorry, what?” “I get my top cut a lot in parking lots!” Kim explained impatiently. What the fuck was she talking about? It soon became quite clear.

We were on our way to Whole Foods in Austin, not the original building, but right after they built the new one, and after we parked, I began to witness why her convertible top looked like it had been installed by Edward Scissorhands. There are many words that I could call Kim that would both be accurate and justifiable, but I’m not going to use them though. I don’t want the obscene nature of those words to distract from the way that Kim acted towards other people. As soon as we walked into Whole Foods, Kim started to treat people like shit. She was condescending to employees, rude to other customers and kept telling people to “just shut up and do your job.” Holy shit, what the fuck did I get myself into? She acts entitled and rude to everyone when she is out in public if they are working in the service industry, unless they are a bartender. If you are a barista, you suck. I witnessed it over and over again. I was terrified by her explosive behavior towards others and I was very concerned regarding my own preservation. Because, if I piss this girl off, I’ll be homeless in a motherfucking second if she chooses. Within a few days of living with Kim I realize why she is so lonely all of the time and why her best relationships seem to be with people who are only in town when their band’s tour bus pulls into Austin. She’s a really pretty girl, but she’s just an awful human being at the moment.

I only spent a couple of months at Kim’s house before she kicked me out of her house for being late giving her my $200 worth of coke. It was getting more difficult for me to get coke now because Jason had moved out of his apartment about 2 weeks after I moved out of mine and I wasn’t sure where he was. I’m now getting shitty coke at an even shittier price. Fuck. That’s really not good as it’s disturbing my supply chain.

I begin to take small amounts of mushrooms on a daily basis, which a buddy is getting really cheap, and I start riding the bus a lot. I just sit by myself and ride the bus. I have to get off at the stops every once in a while, when the bus gets too busy, but I really like riding it when it’s slow and there aren’t that many people using it. I find it oddly relaxing.

I’m 29 and I’m about to move in with an Esther’s Follies employee.

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 9, pt 1 (Austin)

This is part of a series… please go to post 1 to start from the beginning

I earned my MBA in August 2018, but I didn’t walk for graduation. I can’t. Oh, they would let me, it’s nothing like that. I just couldn’t. My anxiety sometimes keeps me from participating in activities like that. I just can’t do it. It’s a combination of things really. It’s the large amount of people. It’s also all of the unknown elements such as where to park. Wait, did I lock my car? Where do I sit, where are the bathrooms, will there be a snack-bar or should I bring something? Are those chairs for someone else? Do I have my paperwork? I should check. It’s been 10 minutes since I checked. Was that my name that was called? I thought that it might have been. Oh, my degree plan stands here but in alphabetical order…wait are you sure? It just goes like that sometimes. I walked for my graduation when I received my Associate Degree from Houston Community College and it was an awful experience. I’m actually smiling and giggling a little under my breath now, when reminiscing, as one might do when remembering a slightly traumatic experience once it’s in the rear-view mirror. Other people seemed to handle it just fine, they were smiling, hugging each other, taking pictures with fellow classmates, family etc. Not me. I was sitting by myself having an anxiety attack just praying that no one sat next to me or asked me a question. I started to cry.

Oh, no…please not now. Please don’t start crying now. I may actually be having the heart attack that it always feels like. Oh, my God, I’m going to fucking die right here in… and then, after several minutes it starts to go away, slowly. It starts to feel better, but then the embarrassment, followed by the cover-up of the incident. The careful, strategic, wiping away of any tears that somehow made it through my clenched eyes, sometimes looking at my phone as if something was funny, so funny that I would have tears, or just trying to get to the bathroom, whatever the situation calls for at the time. I sure as fuck didn’t walk for my undergrad from the University of Houston. I couldn’t even watch a two-year old UH graduation video of motherfuckers on Youtube, that I don’t know, without starting to cry and feel an attack coming on. The mere thought of it terrifies me, but everyone says the same thing “Oh, you have to do it…for your parents.” Yeah, right…what’s going to happen? I’ll disappoint my parents? Ha ha ha ha ha ha there’s not enough memory in this MacBook Air to hold the amount of laugher….hahaha disappoint my parents. Oh, man that’s an opener and a closer for a comedy set right there. HBO fucking special: “Kendrick disappoints Everyone!” I did that for decades. It’s one of the only things that I was consistent with throughout my young adulthood it seemed. I don’t have to explain the feeling of letting down family members to fellow addicts.

But fuck that shit now. My parent’s disappointment has been replaced by their sense of pride. I made it all come around. It’s possible. I promise that it is. The degrees that I’ve earned are framed and live right on the walls of my parent’s house. They can look at those whenever they want. I ordered two copies of my MBA diploma. One for them and one for me.

God, I love education. I love school. “Hey, Steven really fucked up his life. I heard he was a crack head.” “Oh, yeah but did you hear that he got a Bachelor of Science? MBA?” See how powerful education is? It can turn a crack head into a motherfucking scholar. I may get a T-shirt with my degree on it and wear that shit around for a year! Believe me I’m happy, but that wasn’t even in my head back then. School? Are you fucking kidding me? I already tried that as a kid and flunked out. I’m stupid. I’m dumb as shit. Ask any former boss, just ask anyone. I even live right next to a community college while I’m living with John Rabon. I can see the fucking parking lot from my balcony. It never occurs to me to try school again. I’m just a drug addict that thinks he does comedy, but I’m really just kind of in this purgatory stage where I am trying to find a shitty job, but I’m very limited where I might be able to work. I got fired or I quit, or we both had a mutual understanding from the Lawnchem place, but I haven’t found anything since then and I can’t just work anywhere. I’m looking for a certain organizational culture, where management will see my potential…hahaha what the fuck ever playa, I need a fucking job without a drug test and where an occasional nosebleed won’t be a deal breaker.

Found it. I’m now bar-backing at The Ritz Lounge. Fuck yeah. I don’t have to be at work until  late at night, so I can sleep in, and I can do drugs in the projector room as much as I want. Plus, I get to wear a Ritz Lounge Staff shirt. I liked working at The Ritz Lounge, it was just kind of a neat place and I was meeting people. I felt strangely at ease in that building. I could sit in the booths without having anxiety and I had made some cigarettes that had a little weed pocket in the middle of it. I made this little plastic thing that would allow me to unpack the contents of a cigarette, so that I could repack that same cigarette with tobacco and a little pocket of weed hidden in the cigarette. At the time you could smoke cigarettes in bars and it would be so funny to watch security run around a bar, looking for the person who was smoking weed and I’m just there smoking a Camel Red. “Hey, you guys looking for the dude smoking weed? I think he went that way guys!”

I had gone to a party at a friend’s house a couple of weeks ago and this one guy tried to kick my ass for what I thought at the time was a stupid reason, but I see it a little different maybe now with the eyes of a much older man. I basically made a small joke and he was the punchline. Yeah, that shit can get you beat up. Why did I do that? I was an idiot. I was drunk, and I confused a party for a comedy club stage. I was trying too hard to be funny. That shit might work at a nice little get together, but this wasn’t that type of party. There were most likely guns under some jackets at this party, as one of the guys who was throwing the party had an affiliation with a large group of individuals that would be considered dangerous to fuck with. I was meeting a lot of people, but not substantial relationships, just actors rehearsing their lines so to speak haha. Lines of blow. I was starting to sell small bags of coke at parties and I actually was successful at that for a few months, maybe.

One night at the Ritz Lounge I saw the guy that was wanting to kick my ass at the party and I said hi. He asked if I knew of anyone holding. He was asking if I knew anyone therethat had blow on them currently for sale. I told him that I might, but I wasn’t sure. The truth was that I had some on me at the time, but I wanted him to think that I was having to go through someone else. I wanted some space between him and I. I’m not sure why. It just felt right to do that. Well, some time goes by, I start getting in trouble at The Ritz Lounge occasionally because I’m getting a little too fucked up. I’m breaking too many glasses while I’m washing them. I just kind of fuck everything up. It just doesn’t surprise me at all that I suck at this too. Why the fuck would I be good at it or at anything else? I’m steven Kendrick and I suck.

That same dude who wanted to kick my ass at the party starts to become a regular at the Ritz Lounge and I’m working there now on a regular basis, even though I still get into trouble for being too fucked up while working. I can’t separate the party from the job it seems. Oh, well. Don’t get a job that you’re not willing to quit.” That guy becomes a regular and he always wants coke. Always. He’s getting a decent habit and it’s obvious that I’m not the only guy he’s getting coke from. One night he’s there all night and his friends all leave, but he’s coked up and looking for more. I’m way too drunk to drive and I’m currently out of coke but, I think that Jason is awake, and he offers to give me a ride home. One of the bartenders at the Ritz Lounge actually drives my car to his place so that my ‘82 Tercel doesn’t get towed. Perfect.

Well, we get to my place and I see the lights on at Jason’s apartment. Man, I can just feel the dopamine receptors getting all ancy, not really of course, but every former coke head knows exactly what I’m talking about. That feeling when you think of it too much. There seems to be a slight “coke” like rush. It’s the weirdest fucking thing. We park and go up to my apartment. I tell homie to just wait at my place and I run down the back stairs, loud so that he hears me go down the stairs, and then I walk quietly up the other stairs and knock quietly on Jason’s door. I’m so smooth. CIA like moves, a crack head ninja. Jason opens the door and I pay him what I made that night plus some more that I had saved from the other shifts that week. We are squared away and he fronts me more coke, but even more coke this time than usual, because my buddy wants some.

I get back and we start doing some lines and drinking some shitty beer that we had in the refrigerator. My buddy starts to talk about how his friends sometimes cook it up, but he’s only done it a few times. He asks if I know how to cook up cocaine. I hardly ever get to host a fellow crack head so I’m actually kind of excited. Wow, this is kind of special. I put on some Alice and Chains and I get some chips and dip. I throw a frozen pizza in the oven. I begin to get out my big stainless-steel spoon that I found at Goodwill, while I was looking for a bowling shirt. Shut up. It was the late 90s. Go watch that movie Swingers. You’ll understand what was going on with bowling shirts at the time. Well, I noticed that my buddy was watching me intently as I was cooking up the coke. It felt really good to be asked questions regarding the process. I liked the feeling of sharing the knowledge, and just the general respect that I was receiving as a teacher, as a guide, on how to cook up cocaine. As I type this as a 47-year-old man, I’m ashamed that I taught another human being how to destroy themselves. I’m just so ashamed by that indiscretion and I really wish that I would have been able to understand the possible issues with that, but it’s important to have regrets I believe. My past failures might just help keep my present and future success grounded. You know, keep me in check.

We smoke a couple of rocks after the rocks dry, which is the longest 10 minutes or so ever recorded as it feels like a 10-minute eternity, and then it hits me. My bong. This is a special event, my first crack party around my own coffee table and I’m the cook. I go to grab my bong of the devil. I’m not going to describe the bong again. It’s described just fine in two other posts, but it’s a bad motherfucker and I eventually smashed it into many pieces. It’s dead like Zed, baby, but this night I go to grab it out of the back of my closet where it has just sat hidden inside of some paper bags from HEB, and then those were tucked into a duffel bag. It didn’t have any water of course. You dry-bong crack, when using a bong to smoke crack. Duh. I load up the bowl of the bong with kind of a small hit and hand it to my buddy. When his smoke clears, he is back on the couch almost twitching, but not in a painful or unpleasant way, there is a smile on his face after that first initial shock, that he has just experienced for the first time dissipates. “Dude, what the fuck?” I hear as I’m holding in my hit from the bong. Now, I exhale and fall back.

I’m 28 and I’m going to overdose tonight.

“Dude! Dude! Hey! Hey! Wake-up man! Hey!”

I wasn’t sure where I was. I had the strangest sensation of having someone yelling at me through some type of dense fog and I seemed to of had no sense of self for just a little bit. It wasn’t bad necessarily, but it wasn’t a high either. I don’t know if you’ve ever been shrooming and then did a huge line of coke, where you are tripping, but then when you do a huge line of coke it kind of brings you out of the shroom trip for just a bit. It felt a lot like that, but with another layer of just random disorientation and confusion. I got up from the floor, because for some reason I was on the floor, but I can’t really get up. My friend tells me to just sit down and relax. I then pass out. I wake up hours later and I’m on the floor with a blanket on me and that dude has gone through most of our coke. He’s gone. I have no idea where the fuck he is, so I take some Vicodin and some over the counter sleeping pills, go grab a beer, and guzzle all of that before passing out again. I woke up later and I had no idea if it had been two hours, two weeks, two months, or two years. I was just kind of as close to a zombie as you can be without eating brains. It took me a few days to get back and going but I would do a line or two every few hours, and that was really just so that I wouldn’t feel so lethargic. No, I didn’t go to the doctor, but that is what I call my overdose. Something happened during that binge that really knocked me the fuck out.

I feel pretty bad about that binge, not just because of my overdose, but because I ran into one of the roommates of that one guy who partied with me later on and supposedly he had become really strung out on crack. I always felt really bad about my contribution to his addiction. I was having so many issues of my own that I was just in a cloud most of the time, but I’m still doing open mics, even though I’m cracked out. Matter of fact, I smoked crack one night at the Velveeta Room just to see if I could get away with it. I did. I even went onstage one night and blew out a crack hit just before I went out. I just stood there and kind of mumbled shit. I actually got some laughs that night and I remember thinking that would be a funny act. Man, I really went overboard that night and I smoked too much coke with homie. It took me a while to feel regular again.

I’m now having an issue with work because I cut my hand bad, while washing glasses at the Ritz Lounge. Yes, I was drunk and broke a glass, which then cut my glass-washing hand. Fuck. It’s a bad time to be broke because when I ran through all of that coke with homie, he left before chipping in his money for it. I know, always get the money first. I made another rookie mistake. Fuck, that keeps happening.

Remember the other neighbors that I met at Jason’s that one day? The ones that are into the rave party scene in Austin. One of the guys has this laser for raves, it projects shit on the walls basically, but this laser was really expensive for some reason. We get all fucked up one night and we’re using the laser to post some designs literally miles away on the side of an IBM building. Holy shit, they are about to start doing rave parties with this laser and their DJ buddy. Now, they have a lot of Special K on hand and I’ve never done Special K, but it sounds like a pretty good time and I’m told that it’s just a cat tranquilizer. Well, then I want some right meow! I bought just a little bit from them and went back to my apartment. I actually really liked it, but there was a point where I was so fucked up that I really couldn’t move. I was just frozen on the big, blue, dual recliner couch for a while, and for the first and last time that I can remember, I really didn’t care about much. I remember thinking that I couldn’t really move, but I didn’t give a shit. Matter of fact if I did need to poop, I would just poop right there on the couch. Fuck it.

I’m actually starting to get some gigs in the comedy world, but mostly just headliners that either don’t have a car or they are looking for someone to get them high all night. That’s fine with me. It’s show-business. So far drugs have helped get me friends, women, and now comedy gigs. Yay drugs! You are helping me out a lot and I really appreciate it.

I hook up with Jason by giving him some money, but he extends me a larger line of credit. I promise him that I will pay him back after I go to this party and unload some coke to people that I know. The party is at a bartender’s house from 6thstreet and he’s got a bunch of people there. His friends, plus he has several roommates, and they have music blaring, people are in the pool, the grill is going, young adults are doing keg-stands, the smell of marijuana spills out from the room that was designated to be “the smoking room”, where anyone that smokes weed on 6th street is crammed in this small room that has the smell Mexican weed and an incense burner on the window sill of the window that is just slightly opened.

The Black Crowes Amorica album plays in the background and I get up from the smoke session and stumble my way outside to find my buddy that wanted a ¼ ounce of cocaine just for him, which since my guy was out of baggies, the cocaine is contained in 4 cigarette cellophane packs and closed with a twist-ties. I see him on the other side of the party across from me, by the BBQ pit, and just past the swimming pool. I’m making my way to my buddy, dodging people, just trying to be careful and then a girl stumbles while drunk and her huge boyfriend tries to save her, but she actually ends up bringing him down crashing into me and sending me right into the swimming pool. Oh, man. Everyone looks at me and there is a second of silence followed by the biggest group laugh per capita that I’ve ever heard outside of a comedy club. Holy shit everyone thought it was a riot. Everyone except for me. I was trying to get the fuck out of the pool. I had someone’s cocaine in my pocket and my brain was already picturing its inescapable demise. I could just imagine the water beginning to penetrate the loose twist-tie bond that wasn’t designed for this particular application. The water mixing with the big chunks of cocaine, just slowly rinsing the cocaine out of the packages, not all of it, but that sale is now done. I get out of the pool and I give my buddy such a look that he already knows that his coke was in my drenched pockets, but he thinks that they are in little Ziplocs, not cigarette cellophane. When he hears the news, he doesn’t really care. He just went and got it from someone else. I’m now fucked unless I jump back in the swimming pool and someone drives a dump-truck full of baking soda in there with me.

I’m 28 years old and I’m about to get evicted.

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 8, pt 1 (Austin)

This is part of a series. Please start with post 1 in order to start from the beginning

John said no. Thank God John said no. If John would have said yes…holy shit man, there is very little chance that I would be here.

John would occasionally smoke weed, but he never did coke. He drank a decent amount and that is by my standards, but John kept his head on straight for the most part during those days.  Thank God that he did, because I was already over the edge and John was still on the cliff.  If he jumps off of the edge of that cliff alongside of me, we are both fucked. Someone has to stay on that cliff to help the other one get back up to safety.

I was at Jason’s one day and John had just come home from work. I had been there for a while, smoking some crack, just kind of hanging out and John knocked on the door asking if I had seen his lighter. Bahahahahahaha of course motherfucker. Was it a Bic? Then it’s mine. Here take five of these plastic, free with a pack of cigarettes, pieces of shit lighters in exchange.

John sat down on the couch and started to complain about having a bad day.

“Dude, John. Do you want a bowl?” Jason asked. As I said, John usually didn’t smoke a lot of weed, but this day had been a motherfucker and he was ready to smoke a bowl. Jason hands John the bong and John just kind of stares at it for a minute. I’m not really paying attention, but then I notice that it is really quiet. I look over at John and he is just fixated on the bong. He looks up at me and asks, “Why is the bowl white?” I looked down and Jason had fixed John up with a huge bowl of freebase cocaine. “That’s cocaine.” Jason clarified. John had a really bad day, and smoking crack was an acceptable group norm in Jason’s apartment. He could have easily just hit that bowl of crack, but he didn’t. He looked up and said, “I don’t think that I want to do that.”

John said no. He just said no. As I said, John was no boy scout, we did smoke some weed together and we probably drove intoxicated back and forth from the Velveeta Room on 6th street to our north Austin apartment a hundred times or more, who fucking knows, and then of course all of the fun that we had at the Ritz Lounge, but thank God John didn’t go balls out with me on the coke thing or we…fuck. We’d probably be dead. No shit.

Oh, man, I loved going to the Ritz Lounge on 6th street, which is now the Alamo Draft House I believe. For those who don’t know, Alamo Drafthouse is a chain of movie theaters and the location on 6th street in Austin is housed in a historic movie theater that used to be called The Ritz. Well, the building has the lower, regular street level establishment, but there was also an upper level where the theater balcony used to be, the projector room, etc. Well, they turned that upstairs space into “The Ritz Lounge”. This was during the swing music phase occurring in the late 1990s. The Ritz Lounge had its own separate door next to the regular Ritz club, with a long, skinny set of stairs that would ascend to the top where the Ritz Lounge would be so alive and jumping.

The live band, sometimes The Recliners were playing, girls were dancing behind them, the dance floor was busy, and people were sitting in the booths that were scattered among the elevated, theater-style seating that accompanied the space which normally would have been reserved for the movie patrons, who had been watching movies there from the balcony just decades before. Just picture it in your mind. Picture yourself in the balcony seating of an old theater, with the projector room up at the top, as they traditionally are and then just lower than that the stairs and seating would spill down step by step, all the way down the wood floors of the dancing area with the bar just to the left and the stage to the right. It was a small, intimate, yet busy place. Total occupancy might have been 100 people. It was a small club, but it had one feature that we all loved. The projector room. It was the unofficial VIP room for the Ritz Lounge and only a handful of us knew about it. So, fucking cool. How did we know about it? I knew one of the bar-backs that worked there and then I became friends with one of the bartenders, and that bartender loved coke. I ended up just trading him small amounts of uncut, or at least not cut by me, cocaine for a bar tab. That’s when he showed me the projector room and how to open the door without a key, of course asking me to keep it a secret. Sure, buddy. I’ll keep it a secret for as long as I can. Oops. Just told everyone that I know.

It wasn’t but just a few hours before I noticed that there were only a few people that knew about the projector room and it was motherfucking wild. At the time in Austin there was some amazing opium going around town. It was this beautiful dark red color that would just melt over a bowl of weed in this thick red bubbling mess not unlike the melting and prep of candy apples. The smell and taste of the opium is something that still resonates in my olfactory senses and in my taste buds as if it was just yesterday. There would be a group of between 3-6 people sitting in the projector room on some nights, just smoking these huge joints that have been spiked with opium. It was just so fucking amazing to watch the smoke fill the small, projector room and then to watch the smoke slowly spill out from the hole in the wall that was initially intended for the beaming light from the hot, flickering, movie camera with its reel to reel noise humming away, but instead our bloodshot eyes would gaze out of that small opening in the walls high above the partying crowd, oblivious to the real, opium and cocaine party that was occurring just above them as they danced and drank their apple martinis. I was becoming kind of cool and meeting new people, but this wasn’t me that they liked. I was just a depressed mess of a human being that was being propped up by bumps of cocaine and my alcoholism, that had matured enough by this time that my vomiting feels so normal and so violent in the morning, but stopping this lifestyle isn’t even in cards right now. I can’t stop.

The drugs are killing me in the macro sense, but they are saving me in the micro sense. The drugs help me make it through the day and get through the depression, but they are taking years off of my life. I’m just completely fucked, but the opium is so good and when mixed with cocaine it’s fucking great. So mild and relaxing but with the dopamine rush of the blow. I try to crush some opium up and I mix it with cocaine. Now, I’m snorting pink lines of “fuck this whole thing” and I just want to go harder. I am now going out almost every night and every night is becoming the same thing over and over. Go out, trade coke for drinks and party like crazy. Wake up the next day, go make sure that I didn’t wreck my car, have a shot of vodka or a beer, do a wake-up line of coke, and get ready to go out. I’m meeting some women, because some women like coke, but those relationships don’t even last as long as a gram of coke and they tend to be a lot rockier. There really isn’t any end in sight and my finances are becoming much worse.

I can’t pay rent on time and John is getting really pissed off about it. I just can’t stop and I’ve got my bong at home waiting for me.  I’ve already used it once to smoke crack out of, but I just tried it that one night and I woke up the next morning feeling really weird. I haven’t tried it again, but I’m about to go on a two-day binge with an acquaintance that was just trying to kick my ass at a party, not two weeks ago. He’ll never be the same after meeting my bong. Never the same.

I’m 28 and I’m just completely fucked.

“Hey man, do you have any of that cash?”

“No, Jason. I had some shit come up. Can I go ahead and re-up though and I’ll just make it up?”

“No problem, but when I need my money, I’m going to need it quick. You know I have to re-up myself.”

“Cool”

I was not a good drug dealer. I just can’t stress that enough. Like I said in a previous post I made a lot of just fundamental mistakes, but the scale was a big one. That awful scale. I just can’t stress enough how important it is to have a consistent measuring device when working in the drug industry at any level of it. Even my punk-ass level of it. I just was an idiot when it came to that. A nice digital scale was kind of expensive at the time, but I should have just bought one. So stupid. Jason was hooking me up with decent blow at a decent price and I had been selling to just a few people that I knew. It wasn’t enough to offset the amount of blow that I was personally consuming and now I’m starting to have the occasional nose bleed. I haven’t tried to smoke out of that bong of the devil since I became scared of it, but it’s still around, hidden in my closet.

I enjoy going to the Velveeta Room, but I’m not good enough to get weekend gigs and I’m kind of beginning to unravel from the constant drug use. I’m going too fast. The shows at the Velveeta Room end early every night. The bartender is in college, but in his 40’s so he wants to get the fuck out of the doors as soon as he fucking can. Ding! Velveeta joke. The problem with that for me is that I’m drinking way too much and even to the point where I’m starting to get cut off at the Velveeta Room by the bartender and when a comedy club cuts a comic off… So on any given Thursday night, I leave drunk from the Velveeta Room, but I have a few lines worth of green-room key bumps up my nose.  I will now hit 6thstreet after midnight and I will either meet fellow drug addicts out at the clubs, or I’ll risk running into the numerous independent, freelance, crack salesmen walking the streets of downtown. The crack-switch in my brain looks just like a light-switch when I try to picture it in with my imagination. It says Crack at the top and No Crack at the bottom and there is a toggle switch in the middle. Once that switch is flipped, look the fuck out. I don’t care what lie I have to tell, what party I have to disappear from, or what illness I have to fake, but I’m accomplishing the mission of smoking crack once that plan is set into motion. That being said, that switch would not get flipped every day, but sometimes it would just get stuck on the Crack setting it seemed, just stuck in the Crack position, where it would just stay for a while.

My parents are obviously wondering what is going on with me. I’ve never told them but I was doing coke around them on visits, right under their noses. (cough) My father works close to my apartment. Way too fucking close. Close enough that he can just pop by if I haven’t called in a week or so. Well, my father knocks on my door one day and I am cooking up some rocks at that exact moment.  I was just cooling it down and stirring it up, waiting for the crack rock to form on the end of the butter knife that I had been using to stir my freebase liquid.

I am trying to stay so quiet, but I’m so ashamed at my actions. Knock. Knock. Knock.  Tears start to roll down my face and one hits the spoon that I’m cooking the cocaine in, I move away from the stove and kneel down in the kitchen, on the floor, as if that will add more layers between my father and my crack face smeared with a little bit of black soot from the underneath of the spoon that I’m cooking the coke in, and the middle of my lips are slightly blistered from an ongoing binge and the repeated motion of a hot crack pipe burning my lips. I’m blowing on the mixture and the rock is forming.

Knock! Knock! Knock! My father keeps knocking at the front door and with every knock I feel this immense guilt just resonate inside of me like this kick bass drum just pounding with every loud knock. Then it’s gone with my father as he walks to his truck and rushes to grab some lunch without his son, who has disappointed him, yet again.

I smoke my crack while crying on my kitchen floor. I wake up the next day and I’m on the floor in the adjacent laundry room. I don’t have to worry too much about John finding me on the floor as he has been staying with his girlfriend more now and so I’m all alone. I actually kind of like being alone while I’m smoking crack or freebasing, whichever term you prefer as I’m sure that you’ve noticed that I used them interchangeably. I really liked the isolation while I was freebasing, it was nice and private and no one judging me or looking at me weird. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Jason just fine, but I never really fit in and that weird guy that karate kicks towards my face has been there a lot. He has a really pretty girlfriend whose hair is getting really thin from what one would guess would be contributed to her escalating use of hypodermics but that’s just a guess. They were the ones that brought the needles around or in my case he brought the one needle that we all shared. I don’t really feel comfortable around him and he seems to like kicking the air around my face too much.  And as I stated I just don’t fit in with them, but I have to see them occasionally to pick up blow, such as now, when I’m running out. I smoked too much the night before and I’ve got to sell some at a party later.

I knock on Jason’s door and he opens the door. Karate kid is there and so are some new people that actually live in the same building just one flight of stairs over. They are two guys that live together as roommates and they ask Jason if I’m cool. I don’t think that I have to explain this, but I will. When the guy asked Jason if I was cool, he was asking if I also did drugs etc., not if I was just a good guy. He was basically asking Jason if he would vouch for me. Jason looked at him and says “Yeah, he’s cool.” As simple as that they invite me over to see their place.

When I open the door of the apartment it kind of smelled a little like weed, but not too bad. Apparently, they had turned their bedroom into a grow room and they were waiting for their big pay day. The set-up was about as basic and old-school as you could get. It was basically plywood, plastic tarp type material, a water pump, and these really cool lights that were on a track. I remember wondering if they were going to be able to actually harvest or if the smell was going to get them busted.

Neither one of those guys freebased and only one of them did any coke at all. They were really into heroin and special k. I didn’t even know what special k was, but at that point in my life if something was supposed to knock me out enough to forget that I’m Steven Kendrick I’ll take it. I just hate being me that much when I’m not using. The come down is so psychologically painful that I’m learning how to do smaller amounts of blow, just much more often. I start to go back to carrying a daily supply of cocaine everywhere with me. I experiment with a few different methods, but I always end up going back to the bullet. I mentioned those plastic cocaine bullets in a previous post and they were great for small micro doses of cocaine. By doing small amounts of cocaine throughout the day I’m able to avoid the come downs and pills help me sleep. If I can’t get good pills, I’ll just take a lot of over the counter sleeping pills and knock myself out. I’m also starting to make myself pass out during crack hits. That’s right, I hold in a crack hit and play the pass-out game. And I say that I’m not suicidal anymore, just depressed. Wow, how crazy that sounds when I’m 47. What did I hate about myself so much? It’s almost baffling to me know, but back then it was so real and so deep. It hurt. John’s the lucky one. He gets to escape this. He gets to begin planning his wedding soon. I’m stuck here alone, and when John finds out that he hasn’t been paying rent he’s going to really be pissed off. Yeah, John has been staying with his girlfriend so much that he just paid me his rent directly instead of giving it to the apartment complex office.

You are fucking hilarious John and thank you for the trust and support, but at the age of 47, I have to ask…What the fuck were you thinking? You were handing hundreds of dollars to a crack head. Oh, yeah. You were treating me with respect, and I fucked that up. I’m so sorry John. I truly am. I used all of your money on drugs and you’ll never know how bad that makes an individual feel. (cough)

I’m 28 and I’m breaking the bong out of retirement after I sling at this party.