Archive for March, 2012
Hey, everybody! Two vids + a special bonus feature this week.
The first video will give you no insight on anything whatsoever. But I had fun.
The next one takes a bit of explanation. Calin, my eight-year-old stepson (whose voice you heard in the “Duck Duck Sauce” video) saw a couple of my vids and became obsessed with doing one of his own. So he came up with little vignettes and asked me to film them. The first little bit is his interpretation of something I did, but I must stress that the rest was entirely his own idea, improvised on the spur of the moment.
I don’t know where he gets this from. Anyway, if cute kids make you ill, don’t watch this. But I love it.
Special bonus: I was at a charity event (which I may or may not talk about later), and this actually happened.
Much love to one and all!
MY WIFE AND I WENT ON OUR HONEYMOON AND ALL I MADE WAS THIS LOUSY VIDEO.
A million laughs. Here’s my video report from Kaua’i, the northernmost island of Hawai’i. Since Chauncey features fairly prominently in it, it’s good.
Which is a good thing, since I was covered with hives nearly all of the trip (which didn’t ruin anything – I just slept a lot), and nearly all of what I filmed the first three days was rubbish – finger in shot, wind blowing too loud, me blathering away with no clue what I was talking about because I was full of drowsiness-inducing Benadryl. This was, in other words, the best I can do.
Hope you all enjoy it. Oh, and by the way, upon careless consideration, this site will not change its name. So thanks for that, Jack.
OK, I decided to add this one, because I like it much more.
Hello, kind person! If you are reading this, then I must have some knowledge of you, which means you have already captured a special place in my heart. Because you deserve it.
And I’m a bit of a slut that way.
My wife and I have just returned from seven days on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, and one day in Los Angeles. The latter was wholely unintentional, but fortuitous (though we certainly didn’t feel that way as we were handing over one hundred forty notes for a hotel room we hadn’t planned on booking). The story, on the surface, isn’t particularly fascinating, but I’ll tell it anyway, dammit: our flight from Lihue (pronounced like a French person hocking a gob) to Los Angeles was overnight, scheduled to arrive at 7:00am on Sunday. Then our flight from Los Angeles to Dallas was to depart at 7:45am. Cutting it close, but they were only two gates away…what, besides the exceedingly obvious, could go wrong?
At least American Airlines had the decency, via their automated system, to call us in advance and inform us our flight from Lihue would be over an hour late. (It should be noted that we’d run a 5K race that morning – at 7am – and we’d checked out of our hotel thereafter. We were just killing time until a flight which would now depart at 11:45pm.) So we call up and find out that the earliest we can depart Los Angeles is now Monday, the day AFTER we’d planned…and I’m departing at 6:20am and Chauncey’s on a flight an hour later.
Anyway, the upshot of all this mess is as follows: Chauncey’s best friend happens to live in L.A., and she’d had a baby (a boy) just a week before. So, not only did we get to SEE the baby (and, for you cynical single males who “hate babies”, I’m not saying you’re wrong; I’m saying your opinion is irrelevant), but we had the honor of attending his bris, hosted by the parents of the father in Beverly Hills.
The following is my video report…
Hello, Earth people! Two new vids this week. I don’t think I’ll be able to upload anymore until at least March 18, as my wife and I are going on our honeymoon! Yes, it can happen to you too. All you have to do is get married.
I’m sure I’ll get some special frotage while in Hawaii. In the meantime…
This first video only exists because others who are interested have probably already seen the second. It’s the “quantity”…even though it’s only 67 seconds…
This second one has been posted elsewhere. It’s the “review” of the March 5, 2012 Radiohead show in Dallas. As I’ve noted elsewhere, I think it’s my best video because my wife is in it. “Quality…”
Even though my life has been in chronological order, this story is not. We’re starting at the end here. The present day. So when you read all of this and think, “Man, how could anybody survive all that messed up stuff?” just know that I did. I lived to tell the tale, the tale I’m telling now. And it is some heavy business, man. So I hope you’re ready.
This is an autobiography, which, according to the website where I found the definition because my dictionary is keeping my kitchen table steady, is “an account of one’s life written by the individual who lived said life.” But when I think about the things that I’m going to put in here – the debauch tales of debauchery, the days of ick and the long putrid nights of swollen candor – I feel very far removed from the person I’m writing about. I share his face, his race, and Social Security number, but in every other respect I am different. In other words, I’m totally better now. I’m the kind of guy who can be trusted to another 50-song deal or perhaps another series of advertisements. I can rinse myself, I can properly pet cats from front-to-back, I can even ice a chiseled jawline. These were things I never could have done before, because I was all messed up. I lived in the private island of my little shell, and could only see in triplicate. I was really useless. But now I’m not. I am, in other words, ripe for a comeback.
Over the years, my relations with the press have been rocky, to say the least. I’ve been called a “no-talent should-have-never-been”, a “flaxen mascot of the underskilled”, an “overbearing crybaby with a stupid moustache”, “annoying”, “really annoying”, and “that rapper from Cilantro who totally sucks.” And that was all in one review. It is funny to me, though, that the things I’m most notorious for never actually happened. They are all just suburban myths, made up by the legal entities pressing charges. The real mess was the real me, if you get my meaning. I was such an emotional wreck that I engaged in all sorts of self-destructive (and, it must be admitted, band-destructive) behaviors. These things were kept from the public eye by my well-meaning but now-fired Public Relations expert, Gail Isopropyl, about whom I will talk in ridiculous detail later. And these events, all of which are totally true, are the things which I will now bring to light.
For instance, there was the time I was supposed to be writing the words for what became “What’s A Guy Gotta Do To Be A Lady?” Feeling the pressure and cursing the fact of my birth, I ingested a bottle of fabric softener. Not its contents; it was an empty bottle which I ate with penne pasta in a rich garlic butter, and it really got me corky. I ended up purchasing a dozen Twinkies, dressing them up as professional wrestlers, and re-enacting a grudge match between Hulk Hogan and the Iron Sheik from 1987. This is just one sample of the depths to which I sank myself.
I’m setting the record straight in this book, not because treatment centers are mad expensive and I owe a crapload of money, but because I thought it would be good. I want people to see where I was, and where I’m at now. It’s not about public relations. If all I cared about was good public relations, I’d be a greeter at GinorMart. Having said that, I’d like to thank my new publicist, Rhonda Fatback, for her support and valiant efforts in getting this book published. I’d also like to thank the people who end up publishing this book. And, most importantly, I’d like to thank the fans who, even though they enabled me by giving me money which helped keep me wasted, which sort of makes everything all their fault, also gave me all their love, as measured by the money which I used as a security deposit on my new apartment. That’s the kind of love that nobody can buy.
2. In The ClUb
Cincinnati, Ohio. Five blocks east of the river. Sootstained redbrick ex-factory danceclub. I’m in the all-white green room. The contest is in full effect. So is the drug I was just introduced to.
Is the crowd really chanting “kick his throat!”? Or am I that wasted?
I want to cower in the corner and huddle up with a bottle of Luv-Ur-Scalp. There’s something about its dandruff-fighting power that beckons me whenever I’m off my head and about to try and deal with the real world. But there’s not a decent convenience store for blocks. So it looks like I’m going to have to settle for my rabbit’s foot, laminated four-leaf clover, autographed Bible, and magic 8-ball. I do a blast from the latter. It ups my chutzpah, and makes The New Stuff kick in.
What was I thinking? Trying a new drug tonight, of all nights. This is my first free-style rap off. The drug is called Lysdexia, or DSL. According to the guy(?) who sold it to me, it just hit the street. Up to now, it had been exclusively the domain of the Pentecostals, some of whom use it to speak in tongues. Apparently, it’s a form of isotonic that alters the region of the brain that processes signifiers. The result is that a person on DSL is unable to use the right nouns in speech. As the man who sold it to me said, “You may not see God, but you’ll sound like you have!”
That’s what this crowd is expecting – the voice of God. All I have to do is open up my voice and let the God out.
I space out of the room, and step backstage. I have to remind myself the curtains, pulleys, lights and police officers aren’t all narcs. Onstage, the Dayton-born Bare Witness (the naked rapper) is up against the best of the best: DJ Industrial Avg., the Gangsta Who Bought Manhattan. Everyone in attendance seems to be watching Bare Witness with an expression one might use when listening to a man describe how he cheated the Special Olympics. The tension is culpable, as is revealed by the increasing desperation of Bare Witness’ rhymes:
“DJ Industrial Avg! What up with that?
You go up and down like a drawbridge,
which is insulting if you think about it.
But I bet you won’t. You don’t know!
You don’t flow! Go show mow hoe bro toe spo
And I don’t wanna rhyme that no mo! It’s my
prerogative like Bobby Brown – what?
What you lookin’ at? I never smoked nothin’ with Whitney.
Stop shootin’ me that look! You think you’re so great!
What? What? Seriously, I got a booger or something?
Bare Witness dropped the mic. DJ Industrial Avg. looked at him for about eight measures, and then flashed his ice grill.
This was no ordinary ice grill, you understand. It was made out of diamonds mined from Saturn. Each fragment was bound to his teeth by an adhesive that cost the equivalent of the annual Gross Domestic Product of Honduras. In addition, there were little CZ studs, as well as shards of glass. A true “mixed grill”. When DJ Industrial Avg. flashed that grin on you, it could render you sterile for three weeks. Judging from the expression, and other reactions, of Bare Witness, that’s just what happened.
“Oooh!” the crowd roared, as Bare Witness collapsed. I’m pretty sure he’d have peed his pants had he been wearing any. I might have as well, were I in his lack of shoes. DJ Industrial Avg. was the man.
Thank God I was only going up against another local, King Stunna. I could see him near the front of the stage, waiting for his name to be called. Suddenly, I had a profoundly visceral sense of power, like I was the master of all I surveyed and could without provocation rip the heads off every dandelion in the tri-state region. Adrenaline surged within me like the insides of a cherry tomato waiting to escape onto a diner’s white clothing at the touch of a fork. Yes, at that moment, I knew that I was going to win this rap-off, and start down that path that would ensure my proper place in history. At long last, people would pay attention.
“Alright alright! Y’all feelin’ it? You ready for some more? Alright, please welcome to the stage: King Stunna! Yeah! Tonight, he’ll be going up against some new blood, y’all. Making his first appearance on any stage, please welcome: Paypa Pl8!”
That’s me. It’s time. I step out onto the stage, which razzles and heaves violently. My pupils trilate. The audience is just a sea of faces jammed together, making indistinguishable noises. Well, not really a sea. This wasn’t that big a club, and I certainly don’t want to exaggerate. It was more like a lake. A small lake. Maybe a grotto, or lagoon.
The music starts: a heavy, pulsing beat. The 808 kicks resonate through every subatom of my structure. King Stunna holds the mic up to his mouth. I guess that means he’s going first. He turns on the auto-tuner, and begins singing in a pretend Jamaican accent:
“Oh babylove ya know my clock say nigh
I’m never never gonna leave ya dry
Oh babygirl give you and me a try
I sing it to you jus’ like Air Supply
Yeah babygirl you know I need you now
Yeah won’t ya lemme come and show ya how
I wish my superhero name ‘Kerpow!’
Yeah…weezum zizzum zeezum zow”
He was singing all this to me.
My turn. My heart throbbed in my eardrums in perfect tempo with the turntable scratches. My eyes stung. My fingers twitched. My right foot left. I held up the mic, feeling the DSL coursing through me, and let it all loose:
“Underwear on cabbage! Heliotrope!
You never let deciduous Fritos conflagrate.
You’re eczema divided by Boolean searches.
I’ll bust your muscles into corpuscles.
Don’t indemnify your cerebellum, naugahyde!
Why don’t you embellish asterisk limited liability
Dear God, I thought, what am I talking about? I shot a look out into the crowd. Before I could gauge their reaction, I was letting out another torrent:
“Pliers! Ill connectors! Bouffant hairdo’s!
Shake directives left to lunch.
Transitory ecumenicals distort your enchiladas.
You ain’t crepes!
Squeegee microwaves while symbol red jalopies.
Oh, also and on top o’ that: yer mama!”
I dropped the mic, not for effect but because I was sweating so profusely that I could have been used as an industrial lubricant. The crowd went wild. King Stunna’s crestfallen expression told me all I needed to know. There was a vote taken, by applause meter, but we all knew the outcome. I had won my first rap battle.
That night, I experienced my first real taste of fame – and pain. The fame, and its rewards, came later that night as I hung out with some friendly people in the crowd. We went back to their place and stayed up really late. But there was also the first real taste of pain, and it was painful. It wasn’t because I passed out in front of the good people’s apartment and woke up to find myself upside down in a holly bush. It’s the fact that, when demonstrating an Irish jig on the balcony, I leapt up and successfully kicked myself in the scrotum. I blacked out at that moment, and I’m pretty sure that I must have fallen, which is how I ended up in the holly bush.
Looking back on it now, I realize that the high I experienced that evening – from the jubilation, and the drugs – was what I chased for the next few years, while performing with Cilantro. After all, I had been on stage before. And I’d certainly been on drugs before. But I had never had everything come together: the adrenaline rush of performance, the thrill of victory, and the zozziness of chemical alteration. That night, it all came together perfectly. I had always thought that evening was the beginning of something. And it was. But it was also the end. The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning. Either way, it began something as well as ended something. And isn’t that always the way with beginnings and endings?
3. Early Childhood MemorieS
I have come to believe I was destined for addiction when I was seven years old.
I was running through my neighborhood in Blue Ash, Ohio, playing as children do. I was pretending to be a secret agent, attempting to solve the Case of Where All My Friends Ran Off To. It was a nice September afternoon, which I specifically remember because it occurred to me that I had homework I was supposed to do. The next thought that entered my fragile eggshell mind was: “You’re too young to have homework yet!” In that moment, I realized I had a choice: I could do what I was supposed to do, and be part of a system I never agreed to, or I could choose to keep playing. So I went back into the woods and played hide and seek.
Four hours later, I gave up trying to find myself. I was cold and dyspeptic. It was dangerously close to dark, and the sewer pipe I was hiding in smelled grosser than I remembered. I climbed out, slowly for maximum effect, and emerged into the evening, cursing the fouling air and the fact of its birth. I looked all around. Other than the squirrels and insects, I was alone – utterly alone. Alone, do you hear me!? That was the start of the abandonment issues that would plague me throughout my days.
I don’t think anyone can really understand the pressures of being a white male in America. Having said that, I don’t wish to be racially insensitive: I realize that Whitey sucks. But because there are no barriers for white males, there is the assumption that there are no obstacles. This simply isn’t true. There are the internal struggles: laziness, apathy, rebellion, ennui, hygiene issues, and ignorance. Anybody can have these problems, and these things have plagued me like a mosquito buzzing past the eardrum of my soul since Day One.
My mother, of course, had a hand in ruining my life. She was the head foreperson on the assembly line of a ruler manufacturer’s. She expected precision, and needed to be in control of everything. If you don’t believe me, listen to this: to this very day, if she’s driving along a residential street and her cell phone rings, she pulls the car over to take the call. That’s jacked up¸ yo. And that’s not the third of it. She would always send me to bed at the same time every night. She would make us eat with forks which always, suspiciously, had four tines on them. Later on, I wondered (aloud, during an interview) if she used the same number of toilet paper squares each time she went to the restroom. This incident, along with many others, strained our relationship.
Then there was my father. He was a firefighter in Cincinnati. It always seemed he cared more about other people than his own family. For instance, in the middle of dinner, he would get a call, and rush out the door, just to put out some stupid fire and save people’s lives. I firmly believe that I took up smoking as a subconscious attempt to get attention from my father. Who wouldn’t?
Of course, I acted out in every way I could think of to get attention – attention from anyone at all, whether it was my parents, teachers, other students, or electricians. Positive or negative, it was all the same to me. I ate crayons. I caught tantrums. I wore clothes to school. I would spend literal minutes using a Pogo-stick on the escalator. I would use unnecessary and gratuitous polysyllabic words such as “ambivalence”. I bit the hand that fed me. I stole the cookies from the cookie jar. I shot the sheriff. I even let the dogs out.
Of course, I also started using drugs.
The drug use began on a Boy Scout camping trip when I was eleven. Our troop was staying at Lake Whodathunkit, site of the infamous Navajo Casserole of 1839 (which, according to www.himgotheapnativeamericaninfo.gov, occurred when some lost trappers ran across some natives who shared their possum casserole, resulting in at least three vomitings.) I had become separated from my troop after being dispatched into the woods to locate a left-handed smoke shifter, and after about an hour in the blazing heat of the Midwestern morning and desperate for water, I licked the condensed moisture from the back of a toad.
About ten minutes later, I remembered hearing from my friend’s brother that certain toads secreted hallucinogenic substances. Three seconds after that, weird things started to happen all around me. Tree branches moved of their own accord. The lake melted and turned to water. My skin began to grow hair where none existed before. Mustard turned into wine. Before I could move a muscle, I became the magistrate of a neo-Cubist town of musket-shooting omelets who erected a statue made of clothespins in my honor. I fell to my back, and it was August.
Look, I don’t wish to glamorize drugs. But drugs are awesome. They make a person cooler; this is scientifically proven in countless (and I mean countless) Cheech & Chong films. They are the perfect escape from the bland, flavorless life of suburbia, where you don’t get the excitement of carjackings, drive-by’s, mass evictions, and all the other things young teens crave and can only get in violent anti-social video games. If you feel happy, sad, angry, depressed, or emotional, just add drugs and you’ll feel buzzed as well. Super buzzed. Hyper-duper buzzed. How do you not love that?
By the time I started sixth grade, I immediately started hanging out with the “bad kids”. We would each come to school with the prescriptions we had stolen from our parents, or had been inflicted on…oops, I mean prescribed to us, such as Hydrosome, Velociraptor, Terrapin, Liechtenstein, Bibble, or even Kilimanjaro. Then we would all play Dispenser Roulette, where we would drop one of each type of pill in a dispenser, and each of us would have to choose one and swallow it blindfolded. Then the other kids would pants me, steal my wallet and shoelaces, and run away laughing hysterically while I lay discolored and forlorn. This made me feel different from everybody else. I have since met many adults who felt the same way when they were kids.
As my drug habit began, my attention lapsed. I couldn’t quite seem to concentrate on my studies. Of course, I believe I’ve always had ADHD, because whenever I’m exposed to something I’m not interested in, I totally zone out. But ingesting loads of bizarre chemicals certainly didn’t help. Especially in seventh grade, when in an art class we were told to sketch a self-portrait, and I was so drunk off wheatgrass I couldn’t actually remember what I looked like, so I drew three monkeys robbing a shoe store. Later that same year, I was caught behind the school smoking baseball cards, and suspended for a week. From the flagpole. My father could have gotten me down, but he refused to, saying, “You play with matches, you get burned.” Ha ha, Dad, I thought. All you ever think about is fire. So I went home and urinated in the cat litter. Nobody noticed.
By eighth grade, I had very nearly been almost reprimanded severely by my principal twice. It was clear I was headed down the wrong track. But I felt there was nothing I could do – I already believed I had made my choice, and I had to lie in it. Little did I realize how true that self-fulfilling prophesy would be!
I’ve given you a little bit of my early history so that you can totally understand why a kid like me would turn to drugs. But I had one other outlet as well; an escape that soothed my lower intestines, that helped free me at all times and became my single source of solace: music. I’d like to talk about that now.
Before I do that, though, I am legally obligated to state that none of the medications I mentioned earlier, nor their manufacturers/importers, had anything to do with the ridiculous things I did at the time or later in life. Each of these medications is nothing short of God’s gift to humankind, and they should be enjoyed with family and friends whenever and wherever possible. Thank you.
4. The NotEs Of Music
Chicago, Illinois. Interstate-90. Cilantro has just played a gig before literally dozens of yelling fans. I’ve been up for 36 hours now on Ikeyyah, a drug which makes an individual want to redecorate everything by building furniture using palm-destroying allen wrenches, then threatening anyone who comes near them. (“You touch my stuff, and Ikeyyah!” What? Don’t groan at me. It’s what people do. I’ve seen it.)
Now I’m up. Up on top of the tour bus. I’d crawled out the little sunlight which was built into the lavatory. I’d decided to get a little fresh air for the two obvious reasons. I turned over on my back, looking up at the unblinking stars, barely aware of the speed I was traveling. Then, I heard the voice of Bob Marley preaching in my head: “Get up! Stand up! Stand up for your right!” Yeah, I thought, I’m not just gonna lay here like a sheep! So I rose to my feet and turned to face the road ahead.
At once, I must admit, the profound stupidity of what I was doing struck me. I could feel the wind ripping hairs from my eyebrows, blowing bugs into my nostrils. All the things that could go wrong crowded into my brain and glowed like charcoal briquettes in the barbecue pit of my smoldering skull. What if the bus stopped? Took a sharp turn? Got hit by another car? What if I just keel over? Need to go to the bathroom? What if the cops see me? So many reasons why I should not be doing what I was doing. Yet, something inside me – the drugs, probably – kept screaming “F that! Don’t be afraid!” Besides, I knew that someday this would make a killer story for my autobiography.
“I’m Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf!” I shouted at no one in particular.
Just then Pitch White, our guitarist, stuck his head out. After emitting a long stream of profanities in my direction, he asked what exactly I thought I was doing. “I’m being awesome, that’s what I’m doing!” I shouted back. This I truly believed, until he pointed out that we were fast approaching an overpass, and suggested I might be relieved of much of my awesome value if I didn’t figure out some way to handle this situation.
There was plenty of time for me to hit the deck, and easily go under. However, I was in full Matrix Reloaded mode, like that scene where Keanu’s on top of that train and there’s about a half-hour fight sequence where he battles the population of Connecticut or something. You know what I’m talking about? It’s pretty cool. Anyway, I decided that I could leap over the bridge instead. Using my keen instincts and empirical timing, I poised like a cat on a wet lawn, and at the crucial moment, leapt.
I landed feet-first on the overpass, severely deflating my verticals and damaging my bovine insecticide, and rolled across the pavement. I stopped on the other side, and stared up at the sky. The contrast between all the motion I had just experienced and the steadiness of the man in the moon astounded me. I stared into his face as he looked down on me calmly and called me a dickhead.
From the very earliest age, I knew rap music was the thing for me. I think the seeds were sown by nursery rhymes, with their powerful and subtle ability to explain profound truths. For instance, thanks to “Humpty Dumpty”, I learned that somewhere in England a cannon fell off the wall of a castle. That kind of information can really crowd a young child’s fragile eggshell mind.
I also enjoyed the poetry I was taught in elementary school. I was particularly influenced by the more whimsical works of acclaimed marijuana consumer Sol Shufflebotham, whose book I Lost My Piñata To Pirates! was a childhood favorite:
Shiver me timbers!
Jolly me Rogers!
These pirates with whiskers
As rough as cucumbers
Have taken my beautiful, bountiful booty
And left me with nothing but barrels of boozy.
In elementary school, there wasn’t a real outlet for rapping, so I would try out for our scaled-down versions of popular musicals, such as Salmon!, Jimmy Jammy Jolly Jangles, I’m With Smiley, and The Great Gams Gal. I always went for the lead role, as I couldn’t be bothered with the lesser parts. Every year, I auditioned with the same piece: an early rap mix of “Rock Your Tailpipe” by Skweel. I was ahead of my time – too far ahead. I was never selected. In fact, one year, I was told during my audition that there would in fact be no show, as it conflicted with a Sumerian holiday. Well, that turned out to be a lie. There’s no such place as Sumerian.
I feel that this rejection – and that’s totally what it was – contributed to my need for recognition, which manifested itself in the ugliest way two years ago when I jumped onstage during the MTVMA’s, grabbed the Crunkest Video Of The Year award out of the hand of Miss Demeanor, and declared myself to be “the voice of everyone who’s heard of Lou Diamond Phillips” before having the award grabbed right the hell back from me by Miss Demeanor, who used it to bash my abdomen.
By middle school, I wasn’t trying out for musicals anymore. Instead, I joined the lighting crew, where I would get to climb up the catwalk, which had a passageway onto the rooftop. From there I could look out on the nearby police station while attempting to smoke Mexico before going back in to shine spotlights on those cast in lead roles, pretending that I could melt them or make them burst into flames. (Of course, I knew that my father would just come along and put them out, do-gooder that he was.)
It was clear early on that my drug habits and my musical career were going to be inextricably linked when, at fifteen, I started my first band, The Drug Addicts. We were a punk band inflected with a healthy dose of incompetence. It was my friend Cough Syrup on drums, Albert Toids on bass, some guy named Jerry Whittaker on guitar, and me on drugs. This venture was, unfortunately, short-lived, as we only got the chance to play one time, in my basement, for one song. The band then told me I should leave the group on the basis that, in their estimation, I sucked rocks. I left, while they went on to play for the rest of the night. In my basement. They later went on to sign a six-record deal with Hazmatic.
Eventually, that same guitarist came to me and tried to help me while I was at one of my lower ebbs. He might have succeeded, if only I had recognized that I was at bottom. Oh, he tried his best. He pointed out the mess I was making of my life and all the ways I was hurting those around me: my cavorting in baseball stadiums without buying team merchandise, my habitual travels to American cities with a 13th Street to try to start craps games, my 184 U.I.P. citations in nine months. “It’s downright repulsive,” he said. “You need to get it together before somebody rips it apart.”
“Do I know you?” I inquired. I was full of Upchuck Frøzen Jägerbomber.
“I’m your brother, you idiot.” Funny thing, life. You can live under the same roof as someone for eighteen years and never even notice their existence. Crazy.
Anyway, as I said, my life certainly would have been different had I listened to him. However, I was so wrapped up in the tortilla of my own private burrito that I couldn’t see a word he was saying. I believe I told him to do something rather graphic to what I now realize was our mother. Not that my alcohol-stirred brain would have been able to do the math on that. Anyway, he spat upon me and went about his business. Years later, I found myself begging for his help, and he would refuse then as well. Abandoning me. Like father, like son. You see how these people are? I’m telling you.
The Drug Addicts were the first of seventeen bands I was in. I learned something from each one, namely, that people are royal jerks. But it was the last band that mattered: Cilantro. With them I would ride the bucking bronco of sweet success, and with them I would land face-first in the cattle droppings of sickly despair.
5. The Big BanD
The story of the formation of Cilantro is long and tortuous, with many tangents and irrelevant details. I am including them all here, partially because this is a tell-all book, partially because I’m just that fascinating, and largely because it’s my autobiography. You can’t stop me.
At the age of sixteen, I was still using my real name on stage. I had not yet started rapping; punk was still the style I felt most comfortable with. The band I was in, called Congress Is A Joke, had survived longer than two weeks – a personal best for me. We even had a minor playground hit: a skate-thrash song called “Math!”
I hate this multiplying.
I hate this subdividing.
I’ll kick your exponentials.
Cos I’m so differential…
Guess you had to hear it.
Anyway, that band finally split up when two members got expelled from school for dropping “stink bombs” down the toilet. The next day, I heard about the rap-off that I described at the start of the book. So I went down and signed up, using the pseudogram Paypa Pl8, which I’ve had ever since. Many well-intentioned but dim-headed fans have speculated on the origins of my stage name. I will explain it now, once and for good: my mother used to buy a subferior brand of paper plates and, as anyone who has owned these can attest, separating two of them can be a nightmare. I was attempting to do just such a thing when I gave myself a paper cut on my apex that could have left a scar to this very day were such a thing medically possible.
While that open-mic was my first performance, it wasn’t actually the first time I’d been an MC. I had a friend whose older brother, Jeth, was a high school senior. Like so many friends’ older brothers, he introduced us to many bad habits and/or vices, including: blasphemy, smoking with cigarettes, rocking the casbah, eating cookie dough, watching television “events”, hard drugs, wearing ironic t-shirts, and so on. Being young, I looked up to him; of course, I didn’t realize what a toolio he was until much later in life. For instance, I remember one time when a couple of us had just taken 130 milfs of F, and were totally engrossed in the horror film Is That Blood? It was just after the part where the girl fills out her organ donor card when Jeth, who had disguised himself as a ceiling fan, yelled “Boo!” We shat each other’s pants, and I shall never forget that embarrassment, though I have of course obviously forgiven the jerkface loser creephead.
However, the upside to Jeth’s miserable existence was his friend, Brad Sandwiches. Brad had what seemed to me the coolest job ever: he would DJ dances at assisted living centers and other senior citizens’ events. He was “two Victrolas and a megaphone”, and all his equipment was vintage. It certainly looked odd, seeing him haul that gear around, but when I first heard him leading the crowd on with his mixes of the “Charleston” and the “Toasted Oat Rag”, I got the itch and wanted to join him.
One day, I finally got the courage to approach him. I told him I liked what he was doing, and wondered if he would be up for getting together for a little “jamming”.
“Are you on drugs?” he asked.
“Yes. Why?” I said.
“Oh. Can I have some?” he replied. From that moment on, our partnership was forged.
We met in his room. He set up the Victrolas, and handed me the megaphone, but at that point I was still too shy, so I crawled under his bed and rapped into a Dixie cup with the bottom ripped out. I had no concept at that point of what to rap about, and because I had self-esteem issues, I didn’t feel that my personal experience was of interest to anyone. So I just improvised based on the objects in Brad’s room.
“Sock! Sock under the bed here
There’s a there’s a sock
Looking at your digital clock
The time is π
You need to do your laundry…”
…and so on. I knew it wasn’t my best stuff, but I didn’t care. I was just so excited to be playing with anyone else after years of playing with myself.
To be able to play along with Brad at his next gig, I took a week studying the slang of the 1920s. I learned how to describe things as “jake”, when to end a sentence with “you follow?”, and even “don’t crack wise with me, flatfoot.” Having returned that movie, I felt I was ready to go. However, in what would become a recurring motif, the night before the gig, I got drunk on Alabastard and Kilakov and slept for three days. So that’s how my rap career started: missing my first show. Brad never chastised me. Later I found out that’s because he was a total enabler.
However, once I had done the open-mic, my confidence soared. I felt ready to take on the world, one bite at a time. I had a talk with Brad and discovered that the only reason he used the equipment he did, or indeed played the gigs he did, was because he simply didn’t have the funds to get better stuff. So I got a job after school selling staples door-to-door to raise enough funds to buy him two new turntables, and a microphone and PA system for myself. I found out just how productive I could be when motivated, because I made the money in about eight days. This is also fortuitous in that on the ninth day one of the doors I knocked on happened to belong to a crack dealer, to whom I traded all my staples and bicycle in exchange for five rocks. When I brought these back to my boss, he yelled at me in a scary way, fired me, and threw the rocks out the window. While I would love to tell you that a giant beanstalk grew from them, I never gave them the chance because I found them and took those little white diamonds of highness right back so that I could get all kinds of messed up.
Looking back on it now, I realize that was another instance of “dodging a bullet”, in that I never really developed a taste for crack. I just didn’t enjoy it as much – pills seemed to be my thing, along with alcohol and various solvents. And hallucinogens. Oh, and the weed – that too. It wasn’t until I was in the treatment center that I discovered that you were supposed to smoke crack. Had I known that…
After playing a few shows as a duo, under the name Sandwiches On A Paypa Pl8, we decided to register to play at the Mouthwest Festival, a huge musical event in a ski-resort town in Colorado. I was angry when I found that we were booked to play at one of the clubs at 9:00pm on a Friday. Who in God’s name goes out on a Friday night? The competition was intense between the acts. To get any draw at all, bands would do anything, from burning their names in the snow to standing on tables in restaurants extolling their virtues in public. Some would or even – sad as it is to think now! – hand out flyers.
We performed our set to about forty people. It went over fairly well, and a remix of “Math!” seemed especially popular. Brad and I really enjoyed it, and it all seemed to end too soon, probably because we had only prepared four songs. We left as the Dutch synth-pop band Jonge Bols took the stage, and consumed all of their hash brownies before setting out into the snowy evening to catch another act.
Down the street, at a venue called the Three of Clubs, the marquee advertised a band called Mashie Niblick. I mistakenly thought this was a Scottish restaurant and, since Scottish food is my favorite, begged and pleaded and cajoled and harassed Brad to go in with me so we could get our haggis on. I have since learned that the best ideas are generated through accident – like the story of how Post-It Notes were created because a 3M scientist came up with a batch of glue that seemed to be useless. Or was that Liquid Paper? Well, in any event, it was certainly a batch of accidental genius for me to drag us into that club that night, because in Mashie Niblick we found not only a fabulous bass player, but also a first-rate drummer.
Of course, the band had other members. Trust me when I say they sucked. Big time. If you were to create a suckiness scale that was similar to the Richter scale, with a 0.1 being what happens when you pull open a stuck drawer, and 7.0 measuring the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, these guys would be Chernobyl. But I was not paying attention to them. I was mesmerized by the bassist’s ability to stay perfectly synchronized with the bass drum, and the drummer’s dramatic hair-flips between the bridge and chorus of every song. I looked at Brad and said, “We have got to have those guys!”
After the set, I brought each of them a drink. They looked at me a little strangely, but accepted the drinks. The drummer sipped his and said, “Did you slip something in this?”
“Yes,” I said, “I want to talk to you about something important and I can’t afford to have you saying no.”
“Did you just give me Pox?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“You know that’s just a headache reliever for turtles, right?” he asked.
I didn’t know that.
He pulled out a medicine bottle and dropped a leech on the table. “Now, if you want something that’ll get you ripped, my friend…slip one of these into your drink!” To be honest, I was terrified, but I really wanted this guy in the band, so I popped it into my Breezy and swallowed it in one big chug. He stared at me and started laughing hysterically. “Dude, you’re an idiot!” With that, I knew I had his respect.
That was my introduction to drummer Snake Skins. A lot has been said about him in the media, and it’s usually negative. They call him arrogant, pushy, misogynist, full of himself, an egomaniac…I don’t think all these things are true. I just think he’s misunderstood. For one thing, it’s not that he’s an egomaniac. He just thinks he’s better than everyone else. Which is pretty hard to dispute: he’s a good looking guy who plays drums really well and attracts women of both sexes. Since it was his image that helped Cilantro in our formative days, I would be hard-pressed to speak ill of him. Certainly anything he ever did to me, I must have deserved, and I will gladly co-star in any of the movies he’s currently being cast in at the drop of a cat.
Diametrically opposed to Snake in terms of personality was bassist Harold Pitz. I related to him immediately. He was small, pimply, gangly, slightly smelly, and had been the butt of the jokes of cruel toddlers all his life. But he had learned that the best revenge was living well or shoving people down one. He had chosen the former by learning to be an astonishingly acceptable bass player. I knew he was the man for us.
We played together the next day for a few minutes before Snake and Harold had to catch a plane back to Boston. In that jam, there was enough a hint at greatness that everybody, even Snake, got on board. His glam-rock, hair-band drumming style was perfectly punctuated by Brad’s scritches and wiggi-wiggis. Harold’s bass, a steady thud that rattled ashtrays and bongs alike, brought the funk Brad and I had been lacking before. Inspired, I was far less inhibited in my rapping, and found myself in freestyle speaking of the joys of life and all things good and happy. It was all coming together. Now, I thought, all we need is a guitarist.
Two days later, we had one.
To explain how we got Pitch White in the band, I should explain that after our initial jam, when Snake and Harold went back to Boston, Brad and I were to return to Cincinnati. However, I told Brad that I didn’t want to lose our momentum, and I thought we should go to Boston as well. Brad balked at this, on the basis that we hadn’t been invited, didn’t know where we’d stay, had no money, had people waiting to pick us up at the airport in Ohio, and probably some other objections. That’s kind of how he is. I responded to all these by saying, “Fine. Be a little wuss.” So I exchanged my ticket, flew to Boston, and stalked Snake and Harold for two days. I found out that Snake was a bouncer for a country bar, and Harold was a professional slacker. I followed them to a party, and in an attempt to blend in, began to talk to a guy with a Boston accent so strong I couldn’t understand anything he said. It all sounded like “Kib bin to da bah-buh, aaahh?!” Later that evening, I watched him pick up an acoustic guitar and play it with a completely unique style, sort of like if you ran a belt sander over the strings, but funkier. This is it, I thought. This is the guy. I dragged him over to meet Snake and Harold, who were more than a little surprised to see me, and tried to explain that I had found us the perfect guitar player. I was having a little trouble talking because I had been sniffing a hot glue gun and had sealed my nostrils shut. Fortunately, this made me completely intelligible in that part of America.
“You think you’d be willing to jam with us?” I asked. He just smiled and said, “Kib bin to da bah-buh, aaahh?!” I took this to be an affirmative.
I called Brad, made him fly his sorry butt out, and immediately rented a garage for us to rehearse in (and myself to sleep in.) Pitch White was, in fact, the perfect element to bring us all together. I loved working with him not only because I respected his guitar playing, but because he was a great guy to bounce lyrical ideas off. Perhaps this was because both of us enjoyed “pushing the envelope” on drug use. He was the first person in the band whose drug habits exceeded even mine – and the first to sober up.
Our rehearsals were awesome, and soon all of us were dedicated to getting the band into a position where we’d get lots of gigs, make lots of money, and enjoy lots of excesses. We gelled in so many ways – at first. But then that gel turned to liquid, and we got wiped up by the towel of the corporate machine, with its diabolical intertwining threads of greed, polyexcess, and stupid.
I would now like to take this opportunity to debunk several of the myths about me.
Let me start off with the shooting of our video “The Universe, Man”. Much has been said about how I micro-managed the project, insisting that all the film stock be made of hemp, or that every person, place, and thing in the video be the exact same shade of turquoise, or that I banned chewing gum on the set, or made everybody stop at 1:37pm to face northeast and listen to a recitation from the It Ching. These things are all true. However, I had two good reasons:
1) I was wasted; and
2) Unlike any of our other videos, where I was perfectly content to do what the director said, I had a vision for this one. I knew exactly what I wanted to express, and I didn’t care if others thought it was “good” or if it “made sense” or was “possible”. I just wanted freedom of expression, which is what any artist wants. The fact that it was not granted fed my paranoia, and made me think there was a vast conspiracy against me personally, led by some organization which I could neither see nor smell, but could definitely taste. And foul was the taste.
Which brings me to the thwarted concept of the video. We had already recorded the song, and one night, at a party in Encino, I had a conversation with a nutritionologist which completely changed the dietary course of my life. “Don’t you mean a nutritionist?” I asked. She explained that no, she was a nutritionologist, and was legally required to make that distinction. She then told me that people don’t eat right, and I jokingly said, “Why? Because they use their mouths?” Then I leaned over and did a big rail off the coffee table. Seeing that she wasn’t amused, I said, “Seriously, tell me more.” She did, and since then, I follow religiously the vague recollection I have of what she said.
Basically, what I have worked out is this: since the particle-string theory indicates that our quarks are never moving at the same precise universal coordinates (since our bodies move, the earth rotates and revolves, as does our galaxy, etc.), it is imperative that they are kept cleansed and aerodynamic at the tiniest scale, and the only way that can happen is to ingest “cleansing cultures”. These cultures work essentially the way dental floss does on our subatomic elements, scraping away any unwanted detritus and making them nice and gleamy.
What are these amazing cleansing cultures? Minibiotics. These foods, or occasional ointments, are deciduous barks with mosses that tend closer to the grey scale than green. That’s the layman explanation, you understand. You can’t just go clomping around in the woods eating bark. That would be stupid. Minibiotic barks must be selected, and they all come exclusively from one company’s orchard in Northern California, which is the only place on earth where trees with exactly the right properties can be found. (Until last month, when the company had denuded nearly all of its timber and discovered that another forested area with the exact same properties was available for sale in western Montana. So we’re all lucky in that respect.) I start every day with two bark smoothies. I’m certain it is what’s allowed my body to recover from all the nasty things I’ve done to it.
However, there are certain things I have never done to my body or otherwise. For instance, I have never – and I don’t know how this story got onto www.musicaljackassery.co.uk – swallowed a snow leopard. That’s completely random nonsense. First of all, it was a picture of a snow leopard. Second of all, I was making a political point, the gist of which was, if I remember correctly, that it makes no more sense to eat a picture of a snow leopard than it does a picture of a cow. Third of all, I was messed up when I did it, so I don’t see how that can be held against me. So I think I’ve proven my point there.
Additionally, I would like to state categorically that I am not the reason contraception was invented. It was around long before me. I think this rumor was started by a certain reviewer at TMI whom, to be honest, wouldn’t know his butt from a hole in his head. It doesn’t make sense that people would change their sexual behavior because of me. I don’t even know what that means.
Speaking of which, it is most certainly not true that I sired a Galatian waif eight years ago. Trust me: this would be impossible. Not because I haven’t done it or anything. Because I totally have. With women, too. I have. You just wouldn’t know any of them, that’s all. I don’t really want to talk about that subject anymore. Alright? Fine.
As I said before, I find it interesting that all these myths are out there about me, yet the craziest stories, which are completely true, went unknown or were downplayed thanks to our Public Relations department. For example, there’s what’s known in the band as “The Vancouver Incident”, so named because it took place in Vancouver, which is in Canada, which is named after the Iroquois word for “village”, which is why we always did a Village People cover whenever we played a Canadian location.
We had finished our show, and were getting really drunk in a bar called Get Drunk Here, and feeling the buzz, I started telling a story. “Hey, you guys,” I said, “let me tell you what happened. I was hanging out with Jungles, Samosa, Lambic and E, and they were all like, ‘Hey, let’s play cards!’ So I said, ‘OK.’ Then I went into the bathroom, and I had these two pills, right? And one of them was blue, and one of them was red. So I thought, OK, I could take the blue one and stay here, or I could take the red one and see how deep the rabbit hole goes. But then I wondered, what would happen, right, if I took both of them? So that’s what I did, and dude…I got so wasted.” I sat back, smiling and nodding. I thought it was quite a good story.
Snake was evidently not so impressed. “That’s it? That’s what happened? You got ‘so wasted?’ Pl8, that’s not a story. That’s barely a lead-in to a story. Let me ask you something: do you have any of those red or blue pills with you right now?”
“No,” I said.
“Then that isn’t a story!” he raged. “Why in God’s name do I care about a situation in which you got a buzz, unless there’s a chance I might get one too? OK, here’s one: I woke up this morning, smoked a joint, and got sooo messed up! Not exactly the most interesting story in the world, is it? Don’t ever tell a story like that again. In fact, don’t ever exist in my sight again!”
With that, he reached over and belted me in the face. I laughed, and smashed my beer bottle over his head. Brad and Harold ducked under the table for cover, while Pitch said, “Hey, you guys frakkin’ mah-duh da uvvin’ kah, aaaaaaahhhh!” Snake then threw a pool table at me, which is what he does when he gets in one of his moods. I shrugged it off, stuffed a bar olive in my mouth, and spat it at him. It hit him square in the forehead and he fell to the ground, screaming. By then, the local authorities jumped on us, and hauled us all off to jail. Realizing that we were all intoxicated, they booked us overnight.
We may have stayed longer, but our Public Relations manager, about whom I will talk in more detail soon, bailed us out. She then explained to us that while there was no way of keeping the incident from the press, their plan was to claim that there was a real rift in the band, and that this may therefore be our “farewell tour”, allowing them to start charging double. (Little did we realize how much truth there almost was in this.)
The next show was in Whistler. The ticket increases were enforced retroactively, so even people who had bought tickets were forced to pay an extra $20. This, we were told by our manager, about whom I shall also speak soon, would preclude scalping. With the extra money we earned that night, we all bought a cue-ball of musk.
And we got so wasted.
Events like this demonstrate how wild I had gotten. I certainly was wild. Crazy, too. I lathered and rinsed without repeating. I refused to shake well. I was a borrower and a lender who had lost all interest. I removed under penalty of law. I didn’t mind the gap. I stopped refrigerating after opening. Eventually, I even got to the point where I wouldn’t wash my hands before returning to work.
I could see how far down I was going. But I didn’t know any other way to live – or, more precisely, I didn’t see any other way that would validate all my anguish. I didn’t want the life I had, but I didn’t want to be the “good boy” society wanted. After all, how would society know how they screwed me over if I behaved? All of this was subconsciously going on in my mind when I wrote the lyrics for one of our biggest hits, “I’m Wild”:
I’ll draw a line in your sand and demand you keep me fanned
Because I’m hot and you are not because
I’ll beat you once upside the skull and cross your bones up
Make you listen to Jethro Tull
Wild and I’m crazy I’m wild and I’m crazy…
Of course, at the time, it all seemed like harmless fun. This was especially true as the band started to gain momentum. Yes, for awhile we were all sailing on gossamer wings. But then the gossamers turned into albatrosses (or albatri?), and dumped us into a polluted sea blackened with the oil of our own filth.
Before that, though, it was lots of fun. Let me tell you all about it…