So that summertime of 1984 was one of those horrible getting over something/killing time periods, and so we’ll kind of skip over that period of aimless drinking and pick it back up in old Va. the following fall, my first REM show at UHall.  The Reckoning tour with the dB’s warming up, and during the warm up me and Tim Koslowski watched a girl walk out of the crowd and puke on the edge of the basketball court.  Then watched as various concert-goers strolled through it slipping and wondering “What the  -?- ”

But like the first time I see any band, I didn’t know any of the songs but remember “Rockville,” “Gardening at Night,” “Up the Stairs” and the a cappella “Moon River.”  Truly beautiful from Stipe when he had the big bushy head of hair.

And the alcohol poisoning experience of Los Lobos outside in the springtime (’85) – holy mackerel – glad I wasn’t driving that day.  Beautiful Va. springtime, and yelling at the beer folks to bring back those kegs, “They’re still full! What are you doing putting them back on the truck, we’re not done drinking!”

Holy Heck!  The rallying cry of ironic astonishment for in the mid-80’s when the Velvets were the kings in collegetime of old Va. – 17 years late.  “So can we get another 12-pack?”  This was a recent arrival in the NY sensibility.  Up north it was Bud suitcases at $11.76 ($9.99 plus tax and deposit).  Perfect on the 3-way split to drink outdoors in the summertime.

The home-life in college became an exclusively summertime experience except for the haze of Christmas, when 3-4 weeks were siphoned off your life into stoning darkening afternoons and darker colder evenings reserved for jumpstarting the bake and serious nighttime drinking, carousing and trying however unsuccessfully to get laid.

Which, of course, became an excuse for all kinds of late-night boozy excesses.  Getting laid was truly a secondary concern in the after-midnight drink-fest bullshitting about anything and everything.  Those who came home from far away had classes and school-time tales to tell while those who remained in town had local gossip for the drunken homesick ear.

And the REM ruled the roost then – Fables of the Reconstruction of the Fables.  They came to old Va. in the fall of ’84 although I had none of their music.  Some of my friends in NY had listened to them a little the summer before we went to school, I remember Dan showing me the Murmur albumn and saying, you should listen to these guys – REM – rapid eye movement.

But my first REM experience was that fall of ’84.  Stipe with long curls and cat eyes and Moon River a capella.  It wasn’t until the fall of ’85 that I would get Fables and listen entranced.  Fables, always my favourite and found out later it was recorded outside of London.  Though most everyone else still pined for Murmur and Reckoning.

And, of course, everything and everyone was still new then, the group was highly liquid in composition.  Always with new people and new music and someone’s got cash to do something or someone’s got a house we can go to – as the REM says – “A perfect circle of acquaintances and friends, drink another, coin a phrase.”

Holy Hector!  And so the mid eighties, and I must admit was not quite as eclectic for me as the late eighties on the music scene.  The Beatles, Hot Rocks and More Hot Rocks from the Stones, Neil Young After the Gold Rush, Workingman’s Dead and so on and so on along with some Traffic, oh but then also the Who and let us never forget old Elvi, who shall never go out of style, of course Trust in Elvis.

Holy Heckenbock! but then this was also the time I finally got around to putting Quadrophenia on a 90-minute tape while mowing the lawn in the hometime summer, or straight-through listening stoned out back at school.  Yeah! for the Who – QUADRO – Schizophrenic? I’m bleedin quadrophenic.  “I Am the Sea,” and the instrumental “Quadrophenia” still the greatest, and

– Here by the sea and sand, and nothin ever goes as planned, I just couldn’t face goin home, it was just a drag on my own

–  They finally threw me out, my mom got drunk on stout, my dad couldn’t stand on two feet, as he lectured about morality, and I guess now the family’s complete, with me hangin round on the street, or here on the beach

– I ride a GS scooter with my hair cut neat, I wear my wartime coat in the wind and sleet.

Yeah, the mod mod mod sensibility took us over in the suburbs.  Still had the old Style Council tape back then, this was also the beginning of the true mixed tapes.  I had done the 60’s radio show mixes in ’81 off I-95 FM out of Brookfield, CT.  They called it “Ancient Rock Formations.”

Hey, it got me out of bed at 10am on Sunday mornings my sophomore spring.  And then later on, the Motown mix with old Junior, who lived down the street from me and so on and so on.  But the mid eighties was when my records and roommates records added up to an undeniable mixing opportunity.

Holy Hackenzee-deutsch!  Yeah, down at school spring ’85 was the year I became friends with the sun again.  Got infatuated with L.A. and Rachel Ward watching Against All Odds on cable (so that ten years later I would stay in Manhattan Beach during an El Nino January on vacation) and sat in the rays whenever possible.

Stoned to the bejesus, or beer drinkin suntime, or throwing frisbee – or all of the above, becoming brown and warm and just enjoying the shit out of it.  Still single at the time, but just about to come out of a long slump (though sometimes I wish I had been a little more choosy, course then again it was slim pickins and always has been).

But spring ’85, lots of vivarin and vodka and grain with fruit punch or lemonade or whatever ya got, a pint of grain will make it righteous.  So then that stupendous trip to Myrtle Beach with me, Tim K. and Jay Shockey which has been recorded for posterity a la Kerouac etc. complete with cooler noise and caffeine sleep deprived yammerings throughout North and South Carolina.  On crutches for the beginning of that trip (twisted ankle playing basketball).

Springtime so beautiful with the purple trees budding (only want to see you climbing in the purple trees).  Off the interstate for the backroads driving, and the vacation condo developments all over the fucking place in eastern N.C. lake country.

Leaving old Va. around 3am for the sunrise somewhere in Themiddleofnowhere, N.C.  Vivarin with the styrofoam cooler rubbing against the vinyl seat for prime annoyance noisy distraction.  Kamchatka Vodka at the rural Friday morning liquor store – vodka vodka vodka – and more vodka.

This may have been the year I developed that huge affinity for this particular liquor or it might have come before (I recall drinking straight Stoli while flirting outrageously in the Stowe, Vt. senior year ski trip in March ’83).  Either way, this was a spring of indulgence in that particular vice.

So we got shit-faced to oblivion by 2pm on the beach that afternoon and at that hotel where we first parked and pissed and had the bellboys cracking up just watching us trying to stand against all gravity.  This deadly effect of gravity I have always felt akin to REM singing about Feeling Gravity’s Pull and I don’t know if this was their intention or not.

Boozy warm nights in shorts and long sleeves – just the perfect drinking and especially stoning weather.  This period peaking (and freaking) with TJefferson’s B-day in April ’85 with the outdoor Los Lobos concert stoning with 40cent beer and liberal libation with everyone in the sun and bopping around not knowing not caring.

When the Lobos played Tequila, I was wandering through the crowd by myself on my way to get yet another 40cent beer, so I gave the shout “Tequila!” at the pause.  Everyone looked at me like I was some crazed weirdo.  But then, staggering around the Rugby Rd. frat parties afterwards, trying desperately to stand – the others having saved their fire for the evening hours looking on amazed.

This standing trick becoming more and more difficult, culminating the next fall when I would awaken to immobilized arms and finally conclude that this was a result of repeatedly falling and landing on my elbows over and over during the night before.  I saw Gerry four years later in ’89 with the same and only problem and asked him  “Fallin’ down?” and laughed empatheticly knowing.

(Tappan Ferry, N.Y., Summer 1995)

Southern Spring

Comes on slowly,
you expect it after break.

In the greening of the trees and
the yellowing of the bushes and
the browning of the skin
that
March and April bring.

The scents, sights, sounds –
expressions of the
Southern swing
in the southern spring,

as the mountains sing
and the valleys ring

on

through

the warming of the nights and
the knowing that she might
stay and linger
to the coming of the light.

Bringing on the beauty
in the heating of the days,
in the freeing of her ways,

so gently,

gently
wafts the breeze –

she sways

and falls into your arms

and stays.

Sprung, spring is –
’til all is done.

(written in a taxicab between Citicorp Center and Grand Central Station, Manhattan, Fall ’89)

New Wave Abundance

a YouTube playlist

Sometime in the winter of 1985, we decided to go see the movie Diner, which was playing on-campus at the University.  We had just gotten a bag of weed and decided to smoke some before we left.

We had a sturdy no-carb bong that easily filled with smoke.  Getting a couple of those down each, we headed out to walk over to campus.

If you’ve ever heard or experienced the phrase “tripping high,” this was it.  It was a short walk to campus, but what worlds we crossed on our way there.

There were five or six of us walking over – I shared a house that year with Tim Kosloski and Doug Boyd, and Doug’s girlfriend Dana and one of her friends had joined us that night.

I saw the world as a video game.  The roads were flashing red danger areas with the sidewalks the “safe zone.”  There was real joy in stepping in to cross the roadway when no cars were coming.

As we made our way over to campus, the cultural imprint overlaying the physical environment we walked through was almost overwhelming.

So then in the summer of ’85, I started moving furniture to earn some cash and started hanging out more and more with Dudley (aka Mike Sullivan) and Jefferson (aka Jefferson Thomas Stephens Faircloth aka Jeff).  Me and Jeff both were down in old Va. –  Washington and Lee – Lexington, Va. for the man, and me an hour away at UVa. in Charlottesville.  So we have dinner with our old French teacher Steve Henry (affectionately known as “Serge”) then I don’t see Jeff for like the first two months of school.  At some point in October, I get this phone call,

– “Dude, I’m in Charlottesville, let’s party!”

It turns out he’s like ten minutes away at the condo of some girl the guy he drove up with knew.  So I give him directions – come down Barracks Rd. to Rte. 29. Go south like two miles and you can’t missit.

But like the true man that he is Jeff manages to screw it up and ends up driving half-way to Lynchburg before he turns around to come back and find the Business 29 (as the first time around he had turned south on the 29 Bypass).

So, over an hour after I talk to Jeff on the phone and he says he’ll be there in 10 minutes he blows through the door,

“DUDE, WHAT’S UP!  Since the last time I saw you I’ve spent $1500, and all I’ve got to show for it is a dead snake!”

“Oh – well, here’s some acid – take one.”

“O.K.”

And off we went, but not before weirding out on the first and certainly not last freakshow of the evening finding out that Jeff knew this random roommate that my friends Tim and Doug ended up living with (literally randomly drawn in a lottery system) because the guy had lived on Jeff’s hall at W&L for his freshman year (the man known as Inertia – things at rest tend to stay at rest).

So we head on down to Randy Mac – in the Volkswagen Jetta with that guy J.R. driving – so yah, it’s time to head south to Lynchburg – Tacky Party at Randolph-Macon Women’s College.  My very first Women’s College experience – on acid.  So south it is – tripping idiots, speeding through the wilds of southwestern Virginia and on into the night – the night which would never end – and never really has.

We somehow manage to arrive in one piece (Jeff and J.R. had been “drinkin all day”) about an hour later, and immediately hit the hall parties with some vicious, vicious punches (grain, rum who knows…?), a different one on each hall, and that girl we met from Reston, Va. who knew some weird guy we went to high school with in New York (because he had lived in Reston before he moved to N.Y.).

So drinking as many cups of punch as we could handle while simultaneously hiding from the R.A.’s as we were allowed to be up there in the girls’ halls, but not in their rooms (or something) until it was time to go down to the Tacky Party.

One of those mid-’80s all black Virginia oldies and funk bands was playing with beer for sale in the next room.  Well, Jeff knew the girl who was serving beer, so we spent most of our time in the next room right next to the beer (surprise, surprise), getting our drinks for free, wee-hee.

Towards the end of that part of the night, I ran into a girl I hadn’t seen since the seventh grade and ended up talking to her for (what seemed like) an hour or two while we were trying to find a ride back to Lexington as J.R. had taken off at some point in the evening (there was a ten-minute puke break in the middle of the conversation as all that alcohol had finally gotten to my poor acid tortured stomach).

All right, so we got a ride to Lexington, but the car won’t start, we need to jumpstart it.  Shitman, it’s 2am nobody’s still awake, we gotta call AAA.  So, we go back inside the lobby at Randy Mac to call and wait for the AAA.  While we’re sittin there, in comes this beautiful crazy girl, fresh from the Dead show in Richmond where she had been arrested and spent several hours in jail while her jaw was frozen from whipits.  This is the first time I ever see Kathleen Ryan.

But then the AAA guy shows up to give us a jump start.  It takes a good 10-20 minutes to find the battery (under the driver’s seat in a Volkswagen Squareback, I guess this was the night of the generationally opposed Volkswagens).  But the car still won’t start – that is until the AAA guy takes the stickshift out of gear and puts it in neutral, and then bawls us out for getting him out of bed at 3am so he can come and put the car in neutral for us.

(Phillipse Corner, N.Y. Summer 1998)

soft breezes
rustle the August leaves.

lush canyons of fairway
framed by the thin barrier strips of native woodland.

cars rumble by
and are ignored.

There is only the ball, teed up
awaiting the final commitment
to swing.

A whoosh, a pop – then
white on blue, white on green
the walk and
the talk
about your lie
about your life

What would you hit from here?

(Charlottesville, Va., Spring 1987)

Boogie Oogie Oogie

Grooveshark playlist