Bits and Pieces


Clockwork Orange bar

“Kelly told Alice that she thinks you are cute”

Stereotypical high school grapevine courting. It happened all the time to everyone. Except it had never happened to me. I’d forever been in the role of passing on this kind of message but had never had it directed towards me. Of course I always dreamed about what would happen when my number finally rolled around. When one of the oh so many girls who I stared at for endless hours in school would finally notice me. One of them, which one I hoped it would be changed often enough that it really could have been any of them, but one of them would realize that right there in front of them was the guy that they were dreaming about when they at home singing smiths songs. I never liked the Smiths mind you, but they all did. It would be like turning on a light in a dark room filled with furniture, suddenly everything would make sense and we’d both know it. We’d instantly know everything about each other and understand every thought the other had. We’d do things that people who were dating did like hang out and go to the mall together. We’d hold hands absentmindedly while doing something else – just for the comfort of knowing the other person was there. We’d snuggle up on a couch and fall asleep next to each other while watching a movie. We’d probably kiss. Then we’d have mountains of sex. We’d live happily ever after. It was just a matter of time before all this came to pass, either that or I’d grow old and die alone. But one of those things was sure to happen. It was just a matter of time.

“Who’s Kelly?” I asked.

She wasn’t one of the girls I currently (or recently) had had my sights on, but no matter because she was one of the girls. This was happening slightly differently that I’d expected, but these were variations I could deal with. It turns out that Kelly was one of the girls who from time to time would sit at table during lunch which meant she was at least a friend of a friend. But let’s be honest here, we’re talking about Bradenton, Florida so anyone who was the least bit weird at some point ended up stuck with the rest of us. You didn’t want to be one of the weird ones in Bradenton. You were supposed to want to fit in, to play sports and have rich parents.

Her name wasn’t even Kelly. I’m not changing it to protect the innocent or anything like that, I just can’t remember it. If I really cared about creating some historically accurate document I suppose I could find a yearbook and look her up, but I don’t really care. That, and I threw out all my old year books a few years ago. So for this her name is Kelly, but really it doesn’t matter. This story isn’t about her name, it’s about her and me and it’s about the events of these few weeks.

The next time I saw her I went out of my way to say Hi and be friendly, without being obvious and without letting on that I’d heard the scandalous rumors that she thought I was cute. That would ruin everything. Besides, I wasn’t the one who thought she was cute so I didn’t have anything to worry about. But she was cute, in a weird kind of way. I’d just never noticed it before. Or maybe now that I had this insider information I looked at her differently. I noticed her anyway, which I hadn’t before, so there’s that. She was smallish, both in stature and weight. Her short bleach blond hair was plastered down to her head with some kind of plastering hair product or matted from unwashed grease, I couldn’t tell which. She touched it and looked away and smiled nervously. Her white T-shirt was at least 4 sizes too big and her arms looked toothpicks sticking out of the sleeves. She wore boys jeans with what was probably her fathers belt. Her super pale skin was harshly contrasted by the dark red lipstick she was wearing, or had worn many hours ago because it had turned black and caked up in the corners of her mouth and edges of her lips. I assumed it was lipstick anyway, it might as well have just been remnants from a lolipop or something. She was awkward on every level, and I thought it was fantastic. How had I not seen her before?

Bits and Pieces – Wonderful

I was introduced to punk rock in 1987 while attending Cistercian Prep School in Dallas, Texas. Actually it was a year or two earlier that I’d gotten my first taste of it thanks to a Skate Rock compilation produced by Thrasher Magazine. I just didn’t realize it was an actual genre of music so much as something scary to freak out the grown ups. I mean, when a magazine with a monthly column called “skarfing material” (that was really just a collection of snack recipes calling peanut butter and jelly sandwiches “bloody guts and vomit bread” ) released a collection of bands with names like Suicidal Tendencies and Red Hot Chili Peppers, it had to be a joke right?

Bits and Pieces – Big Truck

The first Hot Water Music tour was as DIY as it gets. I feel confident saying that because I booked it myself, mostly through contacts I’d made either through selling records or hanging out on #punk on irc. Also, we didn’t even have a single vehicle big enough for everything we had to bring so ended up in a convoy consisting of a small van and a pickup truck. The pickup was the lifesaver because not only could we put the amps in the back, but if you were riding in the back you could actually lay down flat and stretch your legs out straight which was something you couldn’t do in the van because it was just too small. In reality we probably could have all crammed into the van, but our friend Canaan had just bought the pickup truck and volunteered to join us on the tour as part driver part roadie and we all liked him so there was really no reason to say no.

Yes that’s right, on the first Hot Water Music tour we spent many an hour sleeping in the back of a pickup truck while it was speeding down a highway somewhere along the east coast. That’s an awesome story in and of itself, but this gets even better.

We’d left town almost immediately following a show in Atlanta because we needed to be in Hot Springs, Arkansas the following evening. I admit when booking the tour I paid more attention to making sure our route was a continuous loop starting and ending in Gainesville with little or no doubling back on itself and less on how far individual shows were from each other. It was the first tour I booked, what can I say.

Bits and Pieces – It all starts somewhere

The first business I ever recall being involved in was probably around 1979 while I was attending the Burgundy Farm Country Day School just outside of Washington DC. I was in Kindergarten. Burgundy Farm is a “progressive independent” school on a former dairy farm that had classrooms actually built inside renovated barns. To a kid my age this place was kind of a wonderland. The classes were held inside, but with all the doors and windows open it seemed like outside, and everything we learned pulled art and creativity into it somehow. There were farm animals and a stream running through the campus where we often found crayfish and I distinctly remember once building a fort out of fallen leaves and sticks that you could climb inside of – it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen in my life. Us kids used to get bused in from miles around in our parents hope of us getting our first prep for the real world. If we were lucky the bus driver would stop at a 7-11 during one leg of the trip and we’d rush in like sex starved sailors at port to buy whatever candy we could afford. My favorite thing to buy was this mini hamburger shaped thing that was actually bubblegum.

In unrelated events, this was also the time of my life when I was convinced I was a robot pulling a big scam on everyone else around me who thought I was just a normal little boy. I confided this in one of my classmates once who responded by telling me he was an alien but I could tell he was a big fat liar.

Bits and Pieces – One night in [bang] Cork (pt.2)

Continued from part 1

I looked back and said “I think that was it back there…”

“Yeah, I’m just looking for a place to pull over.”

Usually a comforting thing to hear except when the street is full open parking spots you are being driven right past. This was the worst excuse ever.

“I can just jump out at this light, no problem” I said.

“Don’t be silly, I’ll get you there” she replied and kept driving. Driving away from the hotel. About four blocks away she made a left and started driving up a hill “Since we’re over here I just want to show you something” and kept driving up the hill, away from my hotel. Half of me was trying to figure this out, perhaps there was a good view from somewhere on this hill, maybe there was some area of the city that a traveler might never see? The other half of me was quietly freaking the fuck out and knowing that something was very wrong and getting worse by the minute.

Bits and Pieces – One night in [bang] Cork (pt.1)

I didn’t really know if Tabitha was her real name, she and I had traded only a few e-mails over the previous weeks. I never asked for her last name and mostly just talked about the details of my visit. I’d been introduced to her after mentioning online somewhere that I was planning to visit Cork on my next trip to Ireland and was hoping someone might have some recommendations. A few people suggested things to see or places to stay, and someone suggested I meet up with a friend of theirs who could show me around. The introduction was brief but as the date of my trip got closer we talked more frequently. Mostly loose planning– I’d email her once I was settled in my hotel and we’d meet up for drinks later that evening. It wasn’t a date, simply she and some friends often met up near where I was staying and I was welcome to join them in wherever the evening might lead.

Bits and Pieces – The Guns Of Bradenton

My first job, the kind with assigned hours and a regular paycheck was at a crab restaurant out on Anna Maria Island. I was a dishwasher, and I’d either just turned 15 or was about to. I performed a bit of circular logic explaining that I needed to get the job so that I could afford to buy a scooter, which I obviously needed to have in order to get to the job without having to get a ride from someone else. Thinking back I don’t know how anyone bought that half assed story, but they did and I went to work. The job was a nightmare, and it literally gave me nightmares, but I got paid and saved up and was able to buy the scooter of my dreams. It was a red 180cc Honda Elite and it maxed out around 45mph.