First Date

I admired you through a telescope for 18 years.
Somehow, this shooting star fell into my backyard.
I asked, with bated breathe,
“Will you go to an improv show with me?”
My stars were aligned and thank heavens, you agreed.
Car-less, you picked me up in your Xterra
I said hi with a hug–
touched your freshly-lotioned, muscular shoulder,
inhaled the lavender cascading down your hair.
The music was thoughtfully turned down, so we could talk.
you regaled me with your trip from the stars down to earth.
I tried to impress you with any story I was proud of–pushing the limits of truth,
cause I wanted you to like me so badly.
you smiled and giggled, like a Geisha without fear.
a smile like kryptonite to my doubts and inhibitions.
your giggle–a kiddie-roller-coaster,
gently moving me in spirals,
up and down.
Though I hadn’t seen this white-dwarf
since she flew in a different constellation
light-years away, eons ago,
we collided so naturally–generating our own black-hole,
where nothing we let into each other that night, would ever leave either of us
not even the light gleaming from her eyes.
We sat with excitement, to see the performers–
none more than the performer sitting next to us, to see if each other were as talented
as we dreamed we could be.

Improv is not for everyone,
but she was smart enough to get it
quick enough to follow the tangled storylines
funny enough to laugh without pretense
and fun enough to laugh when the jokes made no sense.
Our first adventure was so synced
what we both needed,
what we had yearned for.
The whole world was magic,
every molecule appreciated,
the possibilities were on fire.
Our hearts skipped a beat
but then danced to catch up.
the air was so intoxicating
we asked for autographs from the volunteer performers
on the stubs of our free tickets.

We walked to the truck
hand in hand,
with the organic ease
of an old couple walking down the beach they were married on
50 years past.
Of course I took your hand–it fit so perfectly in mine.
Off course I took your hand–you were so
open and sweet
like a perfectly ripe peach
ready to eat.
like you loved me all along,
my hand just followed your lead.
There was no question at all,
that this night was pure bliss
and we both wanted to end it
the way it began
on fire–
though we had no plan,
when both knew just where to land.
I stopped you before
you could fork toward
the driver’s side door.

I let you get closer, slower–no need to rush.
We both knew we wanted to touch more
than we’d ever before.
I looked at you plainly–
no sexy smirk, no tricks, no questions or smiles,
just peaceful eyes–
smiling as they do,
touching just to say ‘hi’ the way eyes do,
to say “it’s time,let’s savor the moment, as you let free your lips”.
We floated deliberately to meet with a kiss.
a kiss so sure.
a kiss so brave–you let me touch your most vulnerable private part–your lips.
and I held them with mine
to show you you’re safe.
I held your face in my hands
so you wouldn’t escape
till I painted my love for you
with kisses on your face.
We both knew immediately–it was love at first bite.
It seemed foolish to say out loud,
but we both knew this was true love.
The star I had wished on
had fallen from heaven to let me orbit her, and worship her,
bask in her life-giving light.
As she’s basked in mine
since that very first night.

Jenniverse

I want to see you,Without skin,

Without shields or friends to hide in. 

See you like god sees

And know you as the devil does.  

Yesterday, I thought I found the seed of your soul

Then it bloomed and 

I must admit 

Terrified me. 

The colors popped so violently

They blinded me. 

I wanted to take a pedal from your heart

As a keepsake,

But the delicate leaf profaned my grabbing hands. 

I want to see you, Jenn, 

As you wish you could see yourself

Empty

Clear

Shed of time. 

Your legs so bright

And tummy so pooch-less 

And laugh, like bait, for my heart’s shark. 

The first time, we passed, unaware of our destiny,

Caught in webs we had yet to weave,

Unaware of the tininess

Of the train track between chicago and Carbondale. 

Oblivious to dreams our minds overthought,

We spoke like saints till your boyfriend drove away. 

And we wished each other’d stay

But our day was delayed. 

Then what, Clow?

How did we fix the universe in which

We had just nearly missed?

Simple,

We had decided to be stupid 

And let our OKness, all up to Cupid

The net was our trap where we snagged true love

And the pain of mediocrity was cured by your love

And the fallacy I lived was made truth by your love

And the way I believed was pure faith in your love

And your love, Jenn, was justice

It made me stronger than I. 

And the way that you let me grow so high

I could fly. 

I wanted you since before you knew

I wanted to see you 

Without skin. 

And now I can,

And now I have. 

And to see you, as god does, 

So warm and new

From the bird view that led me to pray just for you. 

You held me and told me you’d wait till I’m through. 

And god gave me sight and insight and justice and truth

Cause god gave me the universe 

When god gave me you. 

Hard-on Myself

I’ve always been extremely hard on my self. Unforgiving. I think most people are, but I mean—I really, really like to kick my teeth in, when I’ve got nothin’ better around to kick. So sometimes, when I get soooo hard on myself it’s masturbation, and I’m about to explode, I have to look myself in the eyes (with the help of a mirror) and tell myself: “You made a mistake. You fucked up. You were weak. That doesn’t mean you ARE weak. And it doesn’t mean you have to keep being weak—But you will be again, at some point, and that’s one of the many reasons you have so many fierce, beautiful warriors in your life—to be strong for you when you can’t be—but don’t worry, that will be rare. Very rare. Because you learn. And you grow. And you get better each day—but that doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy. You won’t be able to lay your head in your momma’s lap and daydream tomorrow here. You will have to work hard. Harder than you thought was possible, or fair. But you will. And it will be worth it. and it will be Astounding. And YOU will be there to witness the Witchcraft!”

My cousin passed away this morning. I loved her. Love her. Still in shock, and without an original impulse in my blood, I’ll try to express what I’m feeling as a love poem, though not literally addressed toward her, or a lover, but more toward life, personified.

The Love that Binds

we will get fatter
and fatter
year by year.
your skin will fold and your breasts will unravel.
my sharp corners will soften and sag.
you will contract a disease that is virtually incurable,
but little will it matter, as the crash will kill you.
but long,
long before that,
i will accuse you of being a lying, backstabbing cunt,
because I found two wine glasses in the dishwasher,
as I unload them,
like you sweetly asked me to.
before the hospital stays,
you will wonder if you can ever feel safe around me,
as my drinking worsens,
and my glass marbles for eyes
are so lifeless that you are both angry and scared.
before you the doctor asks if i’d be willing to give you my kidney–
just one–
you will see an ex boyfriend (technically a fuck-buddy, since he “just wasn’t into monogamy”–which somewhat made him the-1-that-got-away)and wonder long and hard why you traded those exhilarating adventures, for the grocery shopping and wednesday missionary routine we defaulted to?
And before I heard our blood-types don’t match
that my kindey was safe,
i asked you, for the 1,872 time
why you think that I can’t tell when you aren’t being honest–
and why you think you can’t be (which, sure, is a self-fulfilling prophecy).
And those trifles, and penises, and crumbs,
will boil away
and the presidents, we grew up thinking were eternal, have all died
the lonely deaths we will.
and our families have left, violently, slowly, peacefully, surprisingly, expectedly.
And I will see you fade,
atom by atom
one layer of skin
breezing into the stars,
as I sit in the lay on the carpet, broken hearted,
broken stomached, crying an absurd song That I fake,
Because I think that That is the Proper way to Honor You.
And I don’t Honestly have any idea
Where to Begin.
But when the terror of living, reckons,
when the wisdom of mystics catches us,
and the castle we built is sieged by time–
when the weapons we’ve tried are destroyed by love
and the cold wind dies, as it always does,
I will call send you a text
hoping you’re still up,
just to say hi,
bracing for the next text.

Intervention

Just had a long talk with my immediate family about the next steps in attacking my depression. (I like how “attacking” sounds. Like, “fuck you depression! This shit is over with! Come at me, Bro!” Then again, can you really fight fire with fire? I mean, depression is so nasty and violent, maybe I need to gently apply cool water to my depression until it has no more air to breathe—wait, drown my depression doesn’t sound any better. No, actually it sounds worse. And dangerous, frankly.) Anyway, the point is, we all gathered to make plans. I’ve tried it all before. In-patient, Outpatient, counseling, prescriptions, 12 steps, 2-steps, masturbate. None of it ever seemed to last much longer than a few minutes. I guess, that’s the point, you have to devise a complex netting of various fail-safes that each bounce you up in the air just long enough to keep you the float. Still, it’s not a great motivating to get ready to do something you have already tried before. Everyone is pushing me toward the option I’m most afraid of, 1-2 months in a psychward—all day, all night. Everyone keeps asking me questions I’ve answered a hundred times, which really gets my shit boiling like lava on a hot stove. After someone asks me how am feeling, I yell out, half angry, half crying, “I feel like shit! Why the hell do you think we’re all here?!?!” 

Two things happen. My sister explains, “That’s the first time you’ve actually told us that—It’s been pretty clear, based on what’s been going on with you, but that’s the first time you’ve actually said it. You always just say ‘I’m fine’, ‘I’m alright’”. I’m pretty sure I’ve said it a hundred times, maybe a thousand times, or, maybe I’ve never said it. I honestly don’t know. The love of my life once told me, after I had cheated on her, that she just wanted to know I was sorry, and similarly, I was annoyed to the point of anger—“I’ve told you a thousand times that I’m sorry! I don’t know what else I can say!?” Maybe I didn’t really divulge how terribly sorry I felt. Maybe I just told her, that I had told her? It truly never occurred to me until this moment, that I never said a lot of things, that I thought I said. That I should of said—like, I Love You, and not just reciting those three words but really fully saying it. Or even saying how unhappy I was and not knowing if I want to be in the relationship anymore—at least that would have been honest and fair. I’m so scared and resentful and in my head, and nervous about how I feel, I tend to think I’ve told someone something a hundred times, and I have, but only in my head. Anyway, That’s how I ended up losing the love of my life.

The other thing that happened when I whooped out in pain…my grandmother began sobbing and hopped over to hold me and pet my arm, which of course pushed me over the edge into cry myself a river town. This was a bit of a surprise, not that I didn’t expect her to be in pain by seeing her grandson in pain. She constantly showers me and every sole she meets will love and unbelievable compassion, like a little Mexican Buddha. It’s just that she is from the fix-it generation. She didn’t grow up with Oprah and Dr. Phil—You got a problem, solve it. When a problem arises, grandma’s first question is usually, “who do we call?” So I guess I wasn’t prepared for break-down just yet, but we both lost it instantly. Which was a good thing. Quite cathartic. It was much easier to move our family’s conversation forward from there. I certainly wasn’t any easier be in those emotion, in that place, but it was possible to finally give some meaningful, healing exchange. 

Another variable now enters the fray. Many of my family are also my ‘friends’ on facebook and a frustrated post from earlier that day is now being texted to my immediate family, with whom I am now entangled, and it’s not making the conversation any easier. That’s a good thing though, because tough is where the growth comes from. Although for a while, the conversation did devolve for a solid fifteen minutes of my phone ringing, followed by grandma reading the name of a doctor from the phone, followed by a family member getting a call, “how about Doctor Johnston?”, “Grandma, we’re trying discuss how we feel about..”, “There’s a psychologist on Pulaski…” ring ring ring…

But we all got on the same page and were able to build a very productive plan. Just because something doesn’t work the first time, doesn’t mean it can’t work—I didn’t land the first kickflipped I ever flipped. I’ve heard it is darkest just before down…The only way out is in…you got to be in it to win it…well, that last one may be from the lotto—I can’t remember—either way, I am definitely in it now, and that’s a good thing, cause I am gonna win it. A huge thank you to everyone who’s holding my hand as I keep walking.

Not a cry for help, just a cry

also, I hope no is too worried. This wasn’t a cry for help as much as a cry. One of my biggest problems has always been putting the comfort of everyone else before my own needs, even when it didn’t make sense. Even the great things that happened, I often wouldn’t communicate well, because I didn’t want to seem like a brag, or whatever. As a writer, I definitely see now how dramatic that last post really was. I am in great pain. It is true. More importantly than that, at least for today’s posts on Facebook, is just me learning to spread my emotional wings and allow myself to feel more fully the emotions, thoughts, and pains, with which I have building a big fucking dam–instead of a bridge. Not to mention, I think in our society in general, there is a huge problem with pressure to always “don’t worry, be happy”–Terribly unhealthy–but there I go again worrying about the world’s problems and focusing on how I can fix, and ignore my own vulnerability, etc. etc… so fuck y’all. Y’all can worry about toppling capitalism right now. IM

gonna go feel like shit and like it!

I want to die

I want to die. Actually, dying seems like an extremely painful thing to do, so I guess what I want, is to not be alive. Not to alarm anyone–though I have had some uninspiring “suicide-ideation”, I am not suicidal. Just really fucking depressed. And I’m not writing this to be dramatic, or fish for all of y’all’s “Thoughts and Prayers”, But it’s just what I’m feeling and thinking and have to process somehow. I don’t know why simply existing is painful for me? I don’t know why just putting one foot in front of the other to get to the shower three feet from my bed, puts the same overwhelming stress on me as my most important final in college. Much less read all the proof that climate change is about to create Water-World-War I, much much less the fact that millions of people are legitimately voting Trump for president. I don’t know why meditation and trying to sleep are so terrifying to me, to be alone with my thoughts, so scary that I rarely do either. I don’t know why? I am so lucky, for so many reasons. It just makes me feel even more guilty and shitty that I’m so depressed, when so many people have it so much worse off than, but find reason to go on. But so many people had it so much better than me too: Robin Williams, Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger Whitney Houston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Prince, and the line goes on for more pages than my macbook can store. (though aren’t all necessarily declared “suicides”, living in such a way that they killed their hearts before they killed their brains is just semantics) They didn’t just have unlimited supplies of money and the various resources and experiences that brings. No, The also had tremendous talent that aloud them to fulfill their dreams to nth degree and give their life purpose. Even with their armies of doctors, medicines, awards,…. 

I wonder if the Neanderthals went extinct, not because they could not survive, but they were just solitary creatures instead of social animals like humans. And when they learned, like humans, that life is hard as shit, then you die, (also as humans have discovered) but being solitary creatures with no one to miss them, no one depending on them, stopped trying so desperately to fight another day. Probably not; it’s just a thought that came to mind. 

And here’s another one: Alcoholism is one the oldest diseases known to humankind. In fact, we knew bout alcoholism before we even knew what diseases were, yet it’s one that we have not even a start to a cure for. As far as I know, there aren’t even studies being done for the cure. Not to diminish the importance and power of AA, therapy and other groups, But it is a Physical disease with genetic, and biological causes. Support groups for newly diagnosed cancer patients are also important and powerful, but the doctor’s don’t ignore the surgeries, chemo, and radiation. 

This doesn’t really have a point and doesn’t make much sense. I just have to rant about how impossible it seems to find that sweet spot where life hurts just a bit less and makes a bit more sense. Anhedonia’s a bitch.

A brief History of the Universe


There were birds

That flew

There were rocks that crashed

There was life that knew

And stuffs that didn’t.

Some could spell well

and some could lift 10 times their weight

And some were ships

And some were freight.

Some said “hello”.

And others were gas in a giant black hole

Life began here

And continued there.

Time itself bent on the turn of a screw.

Scientists discovered

republicans laughed

Lots of us killed

While a lot of us died

And the same rocks made us fight for and give up our lives

Molecules coalesced and evolved

Rocks became solar systems

And atoms became bodies

And everything, more complicated due to entropy

And then people died

Cause that’s what life does.

And rocks still spun

’round their respective suns.

I loved you,

You know,

As I always have—

Before you were born

And after god died.

Energy danced till the illusion of mass

Made it seem as if we were Not just thoughts and gas,

As if objects were real

And the universe was not one

gigantic bullet in the brain of a gun.

The dinosaurs drank tea with Othello

And a fellow who saved the whole world

By hanging from metal.

The planets spun faster to run

From disaster

And the faster we chattered

The more we each mattered.

And each time the needle skipped on the turntable’s platter

We danced as if Coltrane had planned on the clatter.

We waited

For something

To happen.

We waited

To read

A book

That might

Inspire us

Deeply.

But

When

Nothing saved us

We thought it

A good idea

To be lazy.

We fell in love on purpose

Cause we knew how obvious it was

That the only cure

for boredom is love.

So we kissed and

We fucked.

We had sex and more sex

We asked the girl in 3B

To join us in bed.

We fondled each other like wrapped Christmas gifts

And we kissed every hole as if mystery exists.

I Drank so much whiskey

You called the police

Who removed my pistol from my abandoned teeth.

I felt too intensely

the pain was too deep

and suicide was my one last attempt to find peace.

Technology soared into worlds unimagined

Cars flew as if bees

All disease was deceased

And your doctor brought me back to life

–with the help of a priest.

So, even giving in, hadn’t worked after all

Which was fine, cause the sky was beginning to fall.

Milky way was colliding with Andromeda.

The Universe was having a fart

That only effected those who were living–

And some who had passed.

And the ephemeral mass was returning to gas.

And a universe that once flaunted shapes and designs

Was proved just a matrix of concepts of mind.

Nothing Was,

That Was not.

Though we almost forgot,

That stories exist without names, but not without plot.

The universe, god, time and what not

Was all one infinitesimal thought

Only as real as the dimensions we chose to give it

No longer than the moments we crammed into minutes

No more beautiful than the house that we built and lived in.

So that’s why we got up and loved to the limit.

Birds flew

Once again

And cows chose to chew

And again space grew

Blacker and vaster

And everything that just had zero matter

Once again mattered.

The sad teenage scribblers wrote poems in notebooks

The sun burned hotter than before it was extinguished.

And the ATM worked

And the stars formed new pictures

And the poor became poorer

And the rich became richer

And it looked so familiar

But what could we do?

We pretended that everything was different and new.

That we had never met, or died, or cheated

Pretended the hurt that destroyed our hearts

Had never happened or could never.

We pretended that life was as lovely

As we hoped it would be

Cause it was

And is

And it always will be.

Till we all fall apart at the seems

And the dream

We all dared to dream

Gives in to the pressure

Of much lighter

Things

Thank You Ms. Reeves (rough draft) 

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This is a small excerpt from a chapter of my forthcoming book–a micro-story in itself:

I grew up poor and neither of my parent’s finished high-school, so the idea that I would one day go to college never even crossed my mind, really. It just wasn’t something we did in our family. College was something that my brain knew existed, but my heart felt was a fairy tail, like a moderate republican. Even community college seemed out of reach and too expensive, until one random day, stocking shelves in Jewel, my friend’s mom came into the store and we began to talk.

“Phil! It’s so good to see you. What have you been up to? Are you taking classes at OCC?”, Ms. Reeves asked me.

“No. I can’t afford college. And I was never a decent student anyway. I’m just working.”, I explained to her.

“But you were always so brilliant. You absolutely have to be in college. There is no excuse. Listen, tomorrow, you are going to go to Oakton Community College and sign up for four courses. My son just signed up so I know enrollment is still open. Put down my address for the bill and I’ll take care of it.” Ms. Reeves laid out plainly.

I felt awkward and didn’t know how to respond, but my instinctual reflex was, “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly ask that of you. I really, really appreciate the offer, I just..”

“Phil. You’re not asking anything of me, and I’m not asking you either.” She clarified, wearing a very stern face. “Now you are too damn smart to not be in school. You just got in trouble in grade school cause that school was too easy for a smart kid like you. College will be different. They will challenge you and nurture your mind.”

I always was a troublemaker in school, since I was a kid. A class clown. I was such a poor student, as far as report cards convey, that I internalized my identity as a poor student and felt like I wasn’t meant to be in school. The ironic thing, that I’m not sure I realized at the time, was that one of the most rewarding experiences in my life has always been learning, and being intellectually stimulated. I always loved being shown knew ideas and ways of seeing the world. It’s the same reason I love reading and love seeing a Magic trick. It’s why I love debating ideas (Often to the chagrin of my less interested friends), and love making love to someone for the first time—discovering new movements and textures and feedback. As much as I loved learning, I always hated class and did everything from writing raps and drawing in my Black Book ,to joking and passing notes to distract me from the teacher’s presentation. I couldn’t help but concede, “Ok. Thank you so much Ms. Reeves. I’ll pay you back as soon as I can. I promise.”

“Nonsense. It’s a gift. My art has been going really well lately. Don’t even think about it.” And with that, my college career began the next day, at Oakton Community College. Though she didn’t exactly remain with me throughout my whole college career, her gift was a pair of good boots that set me up for the long, steep journey through the mountains of higher education—a journey I never would have dared to begin without her love, kindness and a gift, not of money, as much as faith.

High-school, LSD, and Chicago Underground Hip Hop

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As a kid, I did a lot of crazy things, like skitching home down busy streets, diving into pools from 3-story diving boards at midnight, etc. This story is about a day when I did multiple crazy things.

High-school, LSD, and Chicago Underground Hip-hop

In high-school, one of my friends sold Acid, not citric acid, lysergic bliss. So it wasn’t a big hoopla to drop a tab here or there when seeing the world in 3D wasn’t enough dimensions to intrigue us. One fine day, while his parent’s were at work, we decided to go to his house and have LSD for lunch. DJing was our favorite shared hobby, so we went to the basement and started scratching and beat juggling our favorite hip-hop records. Just as Q-bert’s Wavetwisters was starting to scratch us back, his highly conservative, severe parents came home early because of a problem at the plant that shut down production for the day. In a panic, I snuck out the back door and drove away, leaving him to have what I imagined to be a very terrifying, unintelligible conversation with his parents. Unable to go home, for fear of having that same conversation with my guardian, I wasn’t sure where to go or what to do.

For those of you who have never tripped, it’s worth noting that it is very much like teleporting to backwards-land, where everything is hilarious and nothing makes sense. It is a feeling and state of mind best enjoyed in a very safe place, where there are no expectations of you, except to periodically laugh uncontrollably for no reason at all. Unlike marijuana, which you might enjoy sitting in a dark theatre watching a movie, or alcohol, which you may enjoy sitting in a kitchen with friends telling jokes that aren’t funny, and fighting over who loves the other more, a good trip has a very small Venn diagram where attention span and not-freaking-the-fuck-out overlap.

I decided to go to Gramaphone records, my favorite record shop, which always turns me on to great new music—sounds like a great time! I forgot the little detail of having to drive for an hour in rush hour traffic to get there: Hell. As previously mentioned, the two things you do NOT want to do on acid is pay attention to anything, or any task that could end in your death, like driving in Chicago. 2,456 near car-wrecks later, I actually make it to gramophone without any blood on my hands, but I’m so tense and my nerves are so wracked that I’m not very excited to be there.

As I’m listening to records and talking to some of the DJs that work there, I mention how big a fan I am of a certain rapper, when It becomes revealed to me that I am speaking to that rapper, who will remain nameless for reasons that will soon become apparent. Like wide receivers, all rappers have huge egos and are suckers for flattery, so he invites me to the back to smoke a blunt and talk hip-hop. Since I’m tripping balls, I assume he is messing with me, but he eventually convinces me he’s serious and I follow him to the back. We sit on some Salvation Army tier couches and smoke up, listening to a PNS Fresh Produce mixtape.

A few months prior, while attending an Atmosphere concert at the Metro, I asked DJ Dibbs, as he walked of stage, if I could have his shirt, to which he responded, “What? We’re selling them at the merch booth.” To which AAHHYY responded, “No, I want the one that you’re wearing!” To his credit, Dibbs was super cool and acquiesced to my request, took off his shirt, and walked off stage topless. Not only was it very nice of him to literally give the shirt off his back to a random fan for no reason at all except that I was weird enough to ask, but, being as overweight as he was, how self conscious he may have been about rolling off stage with his rolls exposed was not lost on me. Anyway, the point is, back then, The Metro’s backstage passes were stickers and the shirt I received from Dibbs had the backstage pass still on it. There was a date stamped on it, but I decided to act confident to the point of abrasive, and cocky my way backstage—This is no small feet by the way, since my Native America, hairless baby face, and  boney frame make me look 13. After successfully getting myself backstage, I came back for my friends as well, “There with me.” I’d explain, nonchalantly. So, for a very nice couple of months, my friends and I enjoyed free backstage access to Dashboard Confessional shows, Sunny Day Real Estate, Alkaline Trio, and Aesop Rock shows. We didn’t even have to buy tickets, or worry if it sold out, or stand outside in line for a good spot on the floor. AND, we could have all the free food and Heineken we desired, which, at 19, we actually thought was a good beer—How could we know it was Busch light in a green bottle?

–back to the present of the story: I kept the shirt/pass in the trunk of my ’89 Buick Century, or B&C studios as she was known by lunchtime freestylers in high school. After discussing the various states of local, underground, Chicago hip hop, I told him the Metro backstage pass story and he explained that another local crew was gonna do a show that night and it would DEFINITELY, be a good idea to check it out, “It’s funna be taaahhhhght!”.

Hoping that this event would lead to dropping a track with one my favorite Chicago MCs, I agree that this is a great idea, despite my current inability to look anyone in the eye, or complete a full sentence.

He drives us to the metro, he freestyles in the car to some Molemen beats and I am in hip-hop heaven. As we walk in, I say to him, quite coolly, “just follow my lead, {wink, head nod}” As I skip the line and walk past the doorman, the doorman asks, quizzically, “What are you doing?!” To which I respond, careful not to embarrass him by questioning someone with a backstage, someone as important as myself–after all I don’t want to get the poor guy fired!, “Oh, I’m with the band” I respond, pointing to the well worn sticker, wearing a facial expression that says, “Oops, it’s cool. I forgive you”. What I didn’t know, but the bouncer was quite happy to explain, was that the backstage passes had recently been changed from stickers to lanyards and he didn’t know how I got that old sticker, but I was officially banned from the Metro for life.

This didn’t go over terribly well with my new friend, who was very excited to see this show. What I also didn’t know is WHY he was so excited to see the show. As the actual musical talent showed up, loading up from the alley, my new friend walked briskly toward them, but instead of doing that half hug/half hand shake that tough dudes do, he decides to start screaming instead. Apparently, they had battled each other at some party and one said some personal shit and a few underground mixtapes later, There was more beef than a rodeo.

“Nigga I know you didn’t think I wasn’t gonna find yo ass!!!”

“Fuck yo bitch ass nigga ass!”

“You crossed the line Homie (this was circa 1998 and people still said “homie” without a shred of irony). I ain’t gone stand for it.”

I don’t do well with confrontation on a good day, I hate it, and believe me, tripping balls doesn’t make it any more enjoyable. One of them breaks a bottle, bouncers come out of the back door, and my dude pulls out a machete from his pants, which is scary because it is a dangerous weapon, sure, but even scarier because…Who the fuck carries around a machete?!?! What. The. Fuck. Honestly, if he would have pulled out an AK-47, I would have been less freaked out—it’s more dangerous, but at least I would have been like, “yeah, that makes sense as a decision between weapons to defend one’s self with {shoulder shrug}” brandishing a Machete is just fucking crazy! And how was he chilling and smoking and DRIVING, with a god damn Machete in his pants!?!?!?

My freak out level is up to eleven and I can’t remember the details, but I wouldn’t be surprised to one day stumble upon surveillance footage of me sucking my thumb in the fetal position. After a few more threats, the performers say to me, “Yo. your boy’z crazy, fuck this shit, we got a show to do.” And move inside. The cops are called and as the sirens begin to squeal, my new machete friend runs off into the night.

Now I am standing alone in an alley, tripping on acid, as cops are coming to my location, and a whole crew of people are feet away who think I’m with the guy that’s trying to cut them in half. Not a great place to be at the moment, so I decide to walk away casually. My car is still at Gramaphone, so I have to take a bus back to it. Thankfully, by now I’m coming down, and ready to just relax and go home. As I near my car, I’m looking out the bus window and I see my dude eating ice cream at a Baskin Robin’s, with the look on his face of a 5 year old without a care in the world. I think to myself, what the fuck just happened? Is this real life?

Ever since then, when one of my dude’s songs comes on my iTunes, I remember that day, and laugh at how invincible I thought I was at that age and how desperately I sought adventure. I have had a whole lot of adventures now, and depending on the day and my mood, and how invincible I feel at the moment, sometimes homeboy is my least favorite rapper, and sometimes, He is the best.