My dad’s wedding was just after New Year’s in 1993, when Oklahoma City got one of their rare snow storms.

But my Aunt and Uncle (Dad’s brother Dave and his sister Josie) both came to town for the wedding so it was a good old time.

So I load up all my recently reclaimed possessions into the station wagon and head on back to Westchester, NY, Taconic Heights, Taconic High School, and that that implies.

I promise myself that I shouldn’t just sneak up on people, as I have been away for just about 3 years, but I can’t resist as I drive past Jim Maddox’s Mom’s house, I see his car in the driveway, and have to go up and ring the bell.

He is a little suprised to see me, being that the last time we had seen each other was when I left him in the little Stinson Beach A-frame beach house with a broken tooth on the Sunday afternoon after our previously mentioned car accident in April of 1991.

It’s now January of 1993 and we’re on the other side of the continent, 3000 miles away, back in our hometown, both living in our Mother’s houses at 27 years old.  C’est la vie des banlieues.

So, it turns out that a certain Mr. Sonny Sharrock, who resides in Ossining, N.Y. is to be playing a gig at some closet sized “performance space” a few towns over in Kensico, N.Y. (down by the train station) that very night.  So I talk Jim into going down to see him, and we manage to see Sonny Sharrock, a spiritual inheritor of Jimi Hendrix, see him playing live during the last year of his life, and when I compare him to Hendrix, I have no right to do this because I am far too young to have even considered seeing Hendrix live, but I must say that I am at a loss as to who else to compare this man to.

He is, without a doubt, the most phenomenal guitar player I have ever seen.  At the time, he had no living peer.  And now he also is gone.

So now there is a new Taconic Heights scene going on, Jim is into smack now, and drives down to the village with Jari (Class of ’84, like Ken Shaunessey and Mitch Caplan, and also living at home).  Jari knows where to score smack over in Alphabetland, which they then go to snort off their keys in the bathroom of the Holiday Lounge on St. Mark’s Place.


And the bar of choice is no longer the homey wooden panels of Patsy’s Pub but the more serious drug scene and pool table of Duncan’s Tavern.  Cocaine runs down to the Bronx are a fairly routine part of a Friday night at Duncan’s.

The nineties have an extremely unpleasant edge that bites.

So one Friday afternoon, I stop by Jim’s Mom’s house on my way home from school to see what’s up for the weekend.  It turns out Jim and Jari are on their way down to the village for a little smack party, so I decide to join them.

I figure that while Jari’s scoring his dope, I’ll hit up some of the Jamaicans along a certain stretch of St. Mark’s Place for a little of the kind bud.  I have already decided that I want no part of the heroin scene, as Jack Nicholson says in “Easy Rider,” – I already got enough trouble, what with the booze and all.

But man, I tell you we are having trouble getting downtown.  We are travelling the well known expressway to the heart of Manhattan’s East Side – the FDR drive, and we are headed down to the 14th Street exit (actually, I believe the exit’s at 15th Street) but there is traffic out the ass, so we get off the FDR and head down Second Avenue, where surprisingly there is much less traffic than the FDR, but we are mostly concerned with getting down to St. Mark’s to get some drugs.

So we score our respective stashes, and get a table at the Holiday Lounge (where it is dark as pitch and the Christmas lights burn year round) and sit happily drinking beer for a while.

As we go to the bar to get our beers we notice that something is happening on the TV.  The bar TV is turned to Manhattan’s Channel 1 news, and it seems that something is happening over at the Twin Towers.  It looks like it’s snowing but I know that it didn’t snow at all that day. Huh!  Anyway, we move on to various other bars in the East Village, and gradually piece together a story of what had happened at the Twin Towers that Friday afternoon.

It seemed that there had been some kind of bombing during the day, nobody is really clear on what has happened beyond that.  But that is none of our concern, we don’t really know anyone who works there right now, and we have more pressing matters on our minds.

Several weeks later, it is a bitterly cold February night, and Jefferson invites Me, Dudley, and Andy Mancini downtown (Hudson St. over by the Wetlands) for one of those $20 all you can drink NYC bar parties.  Nothing of any import happens there, but later on that evening, Dudley disappears with some girl he meets at the uptown bar we end up at, and Andy decides to go to this whorehouse down in Murray Hill on like East 32nd St. that he knows of and takes me down there with him.

Well, not to be ungenerous, but these women are NOT attractive, and I can’t imagine actually being aroused by any of them.  So I pick one who shows me to a bedroom and demands that I strip immediately, then says she’ll be back in a couple of minutes.  It’s cold and unpleasant and about the last thing I want to do is take my clothes off, so when she comes back I’m sitting there fully clothed and she says OK get out then.

So I go back out to the living room, and she says – No, go outside.  I say hey its like 10 degrees outside, can’t I wait here in the living room for my friend and so then the bouncer gets involved and says NO, go outside.

So I go outside and smoke several cigarettes in the doorway, and thankfully Andy emerges not too long afterwards and we go have burgers at a diner before heading back up to Jeff’s place to get some sleep.   Or so I thought.

When we get back to Jeff’s place, Jeff is there with two women, one of whom is for sex, and the other for drugs.

So the three of them are smoking freebase (they make a big point of telling me that this is freebase and not crack), and Andy wisely goes to sleep, but I am not so wise, and take the toke that will keep me wanting more for the next five hours (it is now about 4am).

So we stay up until about 9 or 10am, first five then four then just the three of us in Jeff’s little studio on E. 82nd and as I try to get to sleep after smoking cocaine for several hours I can feel my heart beating wildly in my chest, and I can only think what a terrible mistake this is, and how in the hell did I end up here, with hookers no less! who don’t even turn me on and I can’t believe how unhappy I am, and I have to go back to my Mom’s house tomorrow (later today!) and back to teaching teenagers in my hometown on Monday, and what the hell am I doing!

This isn’t even fun.

(Down East, Maine  September 1998)