Truck Stop Troubadour Volume 9-The Origins Of Frankenstein Dog (Part 1)

If you've read my posts on social media up until a few days ago, you may have noticed that I have been reaching a peak in my life in all areas.  Lots of gigs, a beautiful new guitar, great family, super income, respectable credit score, an excellent review of my new record...just everything coming together.  
I'm not entirely sure if it's conscious or unconscious, but there always seem to be people who, observing how great things are going for you, will do anything in their power to provide some ballast to bring you down closer to the mud where they reside. In fact I'm even a little suspicious of the way some people act if they even notice that you are simply striving for a better life.  I wonder if it's just the contrast that scares them.
To be fair, I will also propound the theory that quite possibly, early in our childhoods we may actually set a foundation of how much loveliness and joy we are willing to accept.  It could be possible that we are fitted with some kind of hedonic thermostat that will kick off if the room of our experience gets a little too cold. Perhaps we choose to focus on whatever will bring us down when we feel our balloon is getting too close to the sky.  Your guess is as good as mine.
Regardless of what the phenomena actually is, I have been thinking about my formative years as a performer and the people I was surrounding myself with when this all started to go down.
When I first started attending SUNY New Paltz I had a great life affirming situation going on.  I lived in the "art" dorm with artists-people whose sole purpose was to create.  I loved it there.  Dorm mates Tom Lenz,,  Evan Day and Mark Albright were painting great stuff.  I couldn't paint but I had everything I needed to record anything I could imagine.  An electric guitar, a Tascam four track, every Boss stompbox that was important and a casio keyboard with drum pads.  At this time in my life I was turning against the two and a half minute hardcore song I knew for so many years and trying crazier and more esoteric things.
 My friend from home, Michael Bergeman, recorded a song in high school called "I'm Coming After You With An Axe" which was sheer genius. It was part of his teenage masterwork Seizures and Candybars. "Axe" was incredible because Bergeman dragged along all of his knowledge from performing in the Catholic church as a child and recorded a pipe organ piece with extraordinarily believable hymn-like monastic harmonies and canons singing repeatedly "I'm coming after you with an axe; coming after you..." It was the sort of thing that could get you in near hysterics as it just continues so true to form over and over--every so often a new vocal key would appear and you'd start laughing even harder.
One night at SUNY there was this girl I met at the cafeteria who came back to my room and decided to remove all of her clothes. I did not sleep with her, I just audio taped the whole debauchery and superimposed it over Bergeman's song.  She wasn't terribly thrilled when she found out and admittedly it was an awful thing to do to someone, but it made great art. 
One of my friends who heard it thought it was simply wonderful...and then slept with that very girl the next day. He was the kind of guy who slept with everyone he possibly could.  It wasn't too difficult for him.  He was this Irish cat who was well over six feet tall with dark curly hair and piercing blue eyes.  
If there was another human being on this earth who would've been worse for me to become best friends with and try to compete with, I couldn't find him.
So after the smoke cleared from the "Axe" incident, I decided to snub all of my high quality friends from Bouton and partner up with this bottom feeder at Lefevre Hall--the dorm best known for illicit sex, parties, bongs and the last stop for dozens of Long Island kids before starting their next semester at the community college after being sent back home. 
There we were; he with his collection of Bob Dylan CD's (which I absolutely despised with a passion) and his never ending string of different bed partners that he discussed in detail every chance he got, and me and all my home grown Long Island dysfunction.
The new semester started and I met a freshman girl whose name I will withhold because she has a very unique name and we are still Facebook buddies. But this girl was, what I thought at the time, the most incredible and beautiful being on the planet. I spent about six months--an eternity at the time-- doing anything and everything in my power to get her to date me.  I was living in the purgatory that is commonly referred to as the friend-zone, but eventually, as George Costanza once said, "I wore her down."
Now I am not going to make too much of this and I am going to attempt to be as clear and succinct as possible: for a young man with the upbringing I had--an upbringing that netted a low self-esteem, super egoist, sometimes egotistic and terribly insecure disaster, having my first long term relationship with a girl like this actually set in motion what could only be described as the perfect shit storm.
And when we broke up the week I was to graduate, I remember experiencing feelings I never have either before or since. I spent a week as a drunken, incomprehensible, suicidal, empty, cold sponge of nothingness that wasn't even too sure how to inhale or exhale at times. 
This room mate of mine was planning on a trip cross country in a puke green Volkswagen van and one night back on Long Island, in lieu of killing myself, I called him and asked if it was still possible for me to tag along. I needed to get away and see new things because there wasn't a single minute that elapsed in weeks where I wasn't completely consumed with thoughts of her and the very idea of seeing her with someone else sent tears streaming down my cheeks.
So there I was blindly hurtling toward the west coast with about $800 on me.  It was at this time that a serious transition began to take place.  All of those Dylan songs that I recently could not even stand listening to were describing this hell I was in more accurately than anything else I listened to in my entire life.
Yes, the Iggy Pop stuff was rebellious and the hardcore songs captured the essence of what it felt like to be outcast and angry, but this was something on a completely different level.  It was as if Dylan was there with me, experiencing the exact situation I was in  and explicating every shade of dark emotion it triggered to  the most minute detail. I didn't just start loving his music--I actually decided that my life's work was going to be spreading it everywhere I could.
Luckily Curley had a cheap Epiphone Acoustic with him that he could not play and by the time we hit a campground somewhere in New Mexico, I was teaching myself "All Along The Watchtower" and "Tangled Up in Blue".  I was still enveloped in this dark death like pallor but now, once or twice a day I smiled. I felt something happening inside of me but I wasn't too sure what it was.
It wasn't too long after that that we wound up in Tempe, AZ looking for an apartment.  Truthfully, I was just going along with what was happening.  Curley was making all the decisions and I was almost surgically attached to that Epiphone.  By the time we got into that apartment by A.S.U. I was penniless. Like "could I borrow fifty cents for a pack of Ramen" penniless. But it was ok because we had new neighbors in our complex and being summer in Arizona, everybody was at the pool. At this point, I knew about six Dylan songs and I would play them for the neighbors and always wind up with a meal for my trouble.
More than being fed, the Epiphone was also providing me with admission into people's lives.  I was getting new friends, I was learning about the area, getting crucial tips on where to find work and more meals to keep surviving.
Curley had a different trip going on.  Everyday for about forty five minutes he'd be in his room, whispering to his mother over the phone. Truthfully, I found it a little spooky, but every week he'd be down at the western union picking up a check .
One day I walked in the blazing sun up to the Chevron station to ask for a job.  I'm pretty sure it was a lead from a neighbor.  At this point, I was in arrears for a few hundred, so I had to start working.  My first couple of checks were already spoken for. The manager of the station promised that he'd call my references and get back to me.  I walked the two miles home in the 102 degree heat thinking about the air condition floor I slept on, my ex-girlfriend and if it'd be possible someday to get back together and the guitar I'd be playing soon.
I walked into the apartment and Curley wasn't there...and holy shit! ...neither was the Epiphone.  I sat there in a negative spin cycle for an hour, thinking about every possible terrible thing I could when the door finally opened.
I looked at Curley and he spat back, "I had to pawn the guitar.  My mom couldn't send me any money this week."

To Be Continued

2 comments

  • Eileen

    Eileen Brooklyn

    Fuck yes! I remember this story! I love reading this stuff.

    Fuck yes! I remember this story! I love reading this stuff.

  • Butch

    Butch Here for now

    Brilliantky said, bro

    Brilliantky said, bro

Add comment