It’s Friday night. The sky is clear, the weather’s warm and calm. I’m in Massachusetts visiting friends that I haven’t seen in ages. It’s great to be reunited with the old crew. In addition, I have a few friends that came down from Maine along with me. This evening is starting off right and full of potential.
We start off the evening at a local bar in Salem. Throw back a few in the meantime; soon our friends will be performing. There are very few things that I enjoy more than going to a show to support close friends bringing their art forms to life. If you are a painter, please let me know when the gallery’s opening. If you’re an actor, save me a seat. If you’re a musician, tell me the time and date and I’ll be there. And this is one of those precious moments I live for.
After a few rounds we’re starting to get a little antsy. The gang’s all here… When is this show gonna get on the road? Tick tock, tick tock… Not that the waiting really bothers me so much. I’m with a large collection of good friends that I hold very dear to my heart, so it’d be fine if this went on for days. But there’s only so much small talk a person can handle, and an environment like this is not the most suitable for starting up a conversation of dire consequence. The time for the bands to go on is now!
A few more moments twiddling my thumbs and the show is finally ready to begin. There are three acts booked this evening: Frightening Dick Theatre, Due Process, and my friend Chris, who’s subtly in the process of becoming a frightening dick. Chris starts off the show, and what an… ummm… int-ter-est-ing show it is… Chris is an exceptionally gifted musician. In fact I can honestly say he’s the best, hands-down, no question in my mind, best drummer I’ve ever had the privilege of playing with. His talent is extraordinary. But this show is not what I’ve been privy to.
He comes out with a small drum machine and a guitar. He’s got a black sock pulled over his head… why, I don’t know. He starts up his drum machine and it produces a noise like no other noise I’ve ever heard. You may think you’ve heard noises like this before. Perhaps you think you’ve heard it all. But unless you were there, you couldn’t begin to imagine. The drums were so fast and furious there was no identifiable beat in it anywhere! I happen to have a great deal of experience with drum machines and sequencers, and I didn’t know something like this was possible. There was no rhythm. The nature of drum machines should automatically determine a rhythm, but here there was no recognizable rhythm. Perhaps if recorded, slowed down and divided I could’ve discovered a pattern to it’s madness. But to witness this was to know there was no such pattern present. It was disgusting.
To add to its anarchic nature, Chris was playing his guitar in an… undetermined way. In fact, I’m not even sure what he was doing could even be categorized as playing it. He was hammering at it, beating it, stroking his fingers up and down the strings rapidly and without motive. The noise coming out of his guitar was somehow well matched with the drum machine in that it made no sense whatsoever: A horrendous, violent outbreak of noise. For all he was doing he might as well have been setting the thing on fire. At least then it would have had some visual aspect to it. But I suppose that would have taken away from the visual aesthetics he was supplying by flailing his sock-covered head every which way, desperately trying to dislodge it from his spine.
I’d like to take a moment here to reinstate my opinion that Chris is the best drummer I’ve ever played with!! No one I’ve ever played with has the sense of rhythm that he does. He’s a genius! So now back to the matter at hand: This is not an expected display. I’m trying to grasp it in great depth, with limited success. Perhaps it is simply above me, and above my understanding of what it means to be music. Perhaps it is some new-level shit that I’m just not ready for. Perhaps I’ll never be ready for a sound such as this. Frankly speaking, right now I don’t ever want to be ready for this sound! It’s offensive, it’s agonizing, it’s hideous and painful to behold. Perhaps it’s a big FUCK YOU to the music industry, the stage, and maybe even all of us. But above all, I think all present will agree; it’s a conversation piece. Maybe Chris really is a dick.
Next up, Citizen Dick. They come out ready to entertain, and I think just about any band following the previous act would be a welcome change! Shania Twain with Yoko Ono in a new band they formed called “the Glam-Polka Invasion” would’ve even been welcome!! So they were greeted with open arms by all. Now don’t let me lead you to believe that they weren’t any good. It’s true; any act in the world could’ve followed its predecessor, but let the record show that these guys were good. Really good!! They can be categorized as a rock/hip hop project, similar in sound to that of Rage Against The Machine. In addition, they have a member of the band playing the didgeree doo, which gives their sound a certain spacey, psychedelic feel reminiscent of Aborigine tribal rituals. Their MC has a talent for lyrics and a strong political message to deliver. Normally I would be against such political outbursts, but their music is just so damn funky that I can’t help but to get caught up in it!
Now that Chris is no longer poisoning our ears with his display (Chris, I love you man. Please don’t take my review to heart too much!), and Citizen Dick is keeping us jumping and wanting more, the night is taking on a whole new light. We’re all drinking (plenty) and dancing, arms up in the air, bursting with enthusiasm. There is an overflow of welcoming craze. I would much rather be here than any other club or show. This is one of those moments that when you’re in it you know that it belongs specifically to you. You harness it, and hold it close. Surrounded by friends, absorbed by the music that is trademark to our generation, and brimming with the feeling that you could be a part of something great. Who knows what tomorrow holds? This band, this triumphant group of comrades, could be the next big thing! I may find myself years from now being begged by my children to call my old buddy to see if I can get them backstage, because all of their friends love these guys!! I could be backstage myself, taking interviews with MTV News telling the true tale of the band and bumping rails off of groupies’ asses in between film rolls. And I, the lucky lucky bastard that I am, I’m in on the ground floor!!
Citizen Dick finishes out their set with a hearty round of applause, and on comes the final act: Frightening Dick Theatre. These guys are animals! Significantly gifted musicians with a very full sound. I want to say these guys are going to be huge, but as much as I do care for these guys and want them to succeed, I know this isn’t true. They have a long way to go before they’re ready for stardom. There is no question that they are a talented bunch. But I can’t escape the feeling that they are basically creating a display of audio masturbation. Heavy solos, long-winded runs through instrumentals, screaming lyrics that are inaudible. I know they have the ability to be great. There is no doubt in my mind. But before greatness can be achieved, they will have to tame their skills. I’ve known these kids for a long time, so I know they can write some deep, powerful music. And when the day comes that they do I hope I’m there to see it. In fact, I’d even like to be a part of it, playing and writing alongside them. But again, who knows what tomorrow holds.
After the collection of Dicks has ended the evening, it’s off to the Porthole for a nightcap. I’m with a small group of friends: JoeGlo, Webber and I ride together. We get there, take back a few more (by this point well lushed up!!), and finally the highly anticipated inquiry by JoeGlo comes out, as expected:
“Hey, you guys wanna go smoke some weed?”
Anyone who knows Joe would know right off that this was coming eventually. And as naturally as a couple of dogs hearing the opening of a can, our ears perked up.
“Hell’s yeah, let’s do it!” Webber and I say in unison.
“Ok, but I forgot my piece at home. Either of you got a bowl?”
This was another trademark of JoeGlo’s. He’s a scavenger. I love the kid dearly, so Joe if you’re reading this, please understand I mean this in the best way possible: If you were to pull out a hitter box, as soon as you turn the lid open, WHAM! He’d be right behind you goin’, “What’cha got there? Can I get in on that?” If you whip out a bag, he’ll be football fields away and can still hear the crinkle of the plastic! I swear, if you so much as think about lighting one up, he’ll know and he’ll find some way to be there! In addition, he’s stingy about who he shares with. Always a limited number of heads, so to maintain the highest high for himself. Honestly, most people are this way to a degree. No one wants to waste all of their weed on too many heads and end up stuck with no weed and no buzz to boot. But this kid’s different. The difference is that he’ll scam his way into your session and act all needy, but the truth is he has weed in his pocket! And he won’t pull that out under any circumstances. It’s a rare privilege to be smoked up by JoeGlo. I actually have had that privilege a great number of times, so I really shouldn’t say he’s so greedy. The truth is, he’s always been very generous with me. Very generous. But I call ’em like I see ’em. Joe, I love you, kid. Please take no offense. But I still question whether he would’ve asked Webber and me to partake with him if it weren’t for that he didn’t have a piece.
So as per usual, he takes just Webber and myself aside. We head out and I say I might have a piece in my bag. But to our dismay, my bag comes up a waste of venture. So Joe asks two other friends if they have a piece. No luck, and now there’s more heads to include. We don’t want to ask anyone else, ’cause the group is growing larger than the budget. Joe says we can ride to his place and puff up there. Sounds good to me, I say. Webber agrees, and we pile into the Lincoln.
This car was PIMP!! Joe’s step-dad pretty much just bought it. A brand new Lincoln! It was such a smooth car!! As it turns out, JoeGlo’s step-dad had gone out for the evening, and you know, when the cat’s away… So here we find ourselves cruising down the causeway, drunk, and definitely not in the safest condition to be behind the wheel. But I don’t care. I’m in the back seat, not my responsibility! We start driving and I suddenly get a quick jerk of speed in my stomach. It arouses my appetite, and I want more!
“Joe, go a hundred! Let’s see a hundred, Joe! C’mon Joe, let’s see a hundred!!”
I could tell Webber didn’t entirely agree that this was a good idea. Perhaps it’s that she’s in the front seat and the prospect of going through the windshield seems much more real to her:
“Joe, Joe, Joe, no, Joe, NO, Joe…”
“Don’t listen to her, Joe. C’mon, let’s see a hundred, Joe!”
It’s a this point where I know I’m a bad influence and very fortunate that any parents ever let me hang out with their children. But then again, what do I care??? I’m DRUNK!!! The engine begins to roar as Joe picks up speed. I continue to egg him on as car cries through the evening sky. Sixty miles per hour.
“C’mon, Joe. Get her up to a hundred!””
“Joe, Joe, no, Joe…”
Seventy miles per hour. We’re staring to build up our momentum. I can see the fear developing greater on Webber’s face. She’s clearly not enjoying this. But who gives a fuck!! I’m having a blast!! Plus, we’re only goin’ seventy. We go seventy all the time. In fact, seventy is SLOW on the highway! Of course, this aint no highway!
“Let’s see it, Joe! Hit a hundred!”
“Joe, Joe, please…”
Eighty. We’re getting up there now. I know Joe’s enjoying this as much as I am. It’s not so much the speed as it is the luxury of this pimp-ass car that’s thrilling us so much! In fact, it might not even be entirely that. It might be the whole idea of getting away with something. JoeGlo’s step-dad didn’t know he took the car! He’s out of town, and Joe clearly has no consideration. Hehehe… I shouldn’t say that. I know there’s a lot of love between Joe and his pops. But we’re young, and kids will be kids. So up to a hundred we go!!
“You’re almost there, Joe! Do it! Do it!”
“Joe, please, no… please…”
Ninety miles per hour. We are so close, my anticipation is growing rapidly, and I am anxiously awaiting lift-off! The road’s still got plenty of run to it, so no reason to pull out now! We’re so close to a hundred! Ninety-five, ninety-six, ninety-seven, ninety-eight…
“Joe, Joe, Joe, please….”
“Go, Joe! GO!!”
Ninety-nine, ONE HUNDRED!!
“YEAH, JOE, YEAH!!”
Upon hitting 100 MPH, Joe promptly jerks his foot off of the accelerator. Perhaps a little too promptly. As soon as he does this the car jerks back hard as if he had just released a parachute from the rear. The car starts to jerk and builds up a steady bounce to its motion. Joe struggles to regain control of the vehicle, and the car puts up a mighty battle to claim the steering wheel from his hands. We start flowing across the road, one side to the next. THUD!! We hit the curb to the right of the car. The car goes jetting off to the left side of the road. BAM!!! We slam into a Jersey barrier, and the eight-ton wall-piece flies off the road like a paperclip pushed off a desk surface. Back to the right. CRUNCH!! We hit the curb again; the car makes a sudden shudder and sends us sailing back over to the line of Jersey barriers. WHAM!!! Another Jersey barrier goes flying into the distance. And now the car shoots off into a spin.
I’m in the back seat and whoops! Damned if I didn’t forget to put my seatbelt on!! I’m sliding across the seat from side to side. The fresh smooth leather is so new it’s still nice and waxy, allowing me to slide with complete ease and no friction. I’m sliding back and forth, to and fro. My head hits the window, but I hardly even notice. Remember now, I’m completely hammered! Joe keeps his composure and doesn’t say a thing throughout the entire event. Webber is clearly not enjoying this and is scared for her life. I, on the other hand, am having a blast!! I’m swishing across the back seat, feeling like a little boy on a Slip-n-Slide!
The car finally stops spinning and is now flying straight down the road… sideways!! The left side of the car is facing forward and we’re sliding straight ahead waiting for the next slam or twitch we might encounter. Steadily, the car slows, slower, slower, and finally comes to a complete stop.
“YEAH!! Let’s do it again!!!” I holler.
“Is everybody ok??” Joe asks. I admire this about him at the time. His total selflessness and initial concern for our well being.
“Joe, what did you do…?” Webber, perhaps consumed by shock and whiplash, shudders out as she reviews her surroundings.
“C’mon, let’s get out of the car.” Joe insists.
We step out of the once-mighty beast and browse the damage. The wheels on the right side are gone. One is about thirty feet behind us, the other only about ten. Both have the axles still attached to the amputated rims. We peruse the left side, and the body is smashed to hell. In addition, the wheels on this side, with no axles attached mind you, are on a forty-five degree angle heading into the car’s innards. Then we examine our environment. About seventy feet behind us there’s a Jersey barrier with a crumbled face on the opposite side of the road. Even farther down there is another Jersey barrier in the middle of the opposite side of the road. That will definitely obstruct traffic. Thank goodness it’s 2:00 in the morning, hopefully it can be removed before rush hour the following day. Then we look around and consider all the what-ifs.
We hit the curb to the right a few times. Beyond that curb are stones and boulders that roll into the ocean. If we had gone up over that curb, we would have flipped over, dove into the ocean, and if we didn’t die from the crash itself, it’s likely that we may have drowned. Then there are the wheels. The two removed wheels on the right took the axles with them. Which means the wheels on the left side (which would be the front side when considering the direction of the slide) were basically unattached. In addition, they were already on forty-five degree angles. This means that the slightest little pebble could have sent the car flipping, and that would have surely been the end of us!! Suddenly, the reality of the situation was setting in. We really could’ve died!! I can’t believe I didn’t wear my seatbelt!! What the hell was I thinking?!?! We could’ve been crushed, we could’ve drowned, we were so near to our ends… I’ve never felt closer to death, and I’ve never felt closer to God.
Quickly I snap back to reality. We have bigger matters at hand. Any minute now, the police would be here, and we need to figure out a way out of this mess!! Thankfully, there are our two friends following closely behind and they pull over immediately to make sure we are all right. We quickly stuff their hands with our bags of weed and tell them to get the hell out of here!! They fly off into the night, a speck in our vision within seconds. Then on to the empties. We open the car doors and quickly and rampidly fling our empty bottles into the ocean. Then we check the trunk. There are dozens of beers, still full. Still panicking, we start flinging full bottles out into the wide blue yonder. After tossing about fifteen to twenty bottles, it suddenly occurs to us that there’s nothing illegal about possessing full bottles of alcohol. It’s only illegal to have empty ones, due to the chance that they have been drank while driving, which they probably were. It’s all a blur now, I don’t even know. Ugh… So we cease our bottle disposing and start to work on our story… hmmm… Someone cut us off! Yeah, that’s what happened! Someone came whipping by us going as fast as lightning! And they kind of bullied us aside, and that’s when we hit the barrier! Yeah, that’s the ticket!
The police arrive, and we hope we’re ready. They check us and ask what happened. They survey the scene and try to get an idea of what transpired, trying to read between the lines (or lies as the case may be) of our story. The interrogation begins:
“Ok, first, who was driving the car?”
“I was.” Joe says with no hesitation.
“License and registration?”
“Sure thing.” He fiddles around looking for them a little. “Here you go.”
The cop looks them over and hands them to his partner who takes them to the squad car to run the information in the system.
“So why don’t you tell me what happened?”
“Well we were driving along down the causeway when out of nowhere this car came racing past us, too fast for me to make out the license plate, and cut us off! We shot off into the Jersey barrier, bounced around a few times, went into a spin, and here we are.” Joe was calm and collected. I was impressed!
“Can you describe the vehicle?”
“It was a red sports car. It all happened so fast I didn’t catch the make or model.”
At this point the little piggies went back to scoping the scene. They walked around the car, looked down the road, looked closely at the car, probably checking for paint from the other car or something. But perhaps they were looking for something else.
“So… How fast did you say you were going?”
At this, Joe looks over at me with a shrill look of obvious idiocy. We’re both kind of ready to laugh. But it’s obviously not the time. I wonder if the cops caught that sideways glare…
“Thirty-five, huh? You sure you weren’t going faster?”
“Ya know, we may have been going forty I suppose. But right in there somewhere.”
I’m choking on my own snickers. Keep your composure, Brett. Keep – your – composure!
“Well it looks like you were going a lot faster than forty to do that kind of damage!”
“Can you hold your hands out at arms length, close your eyes, and touch your nose with your index fingers, one at a time?”
Ok, now I’m getting nervous. Webber looks nervous, too. I don’t know if we’re going to get out of this clean.
“Ok, can you turn around for me?”
This is when things get bad. The cops take Joe and throw the cuffs on him. Then they walk him to the squad car and lower him into the back seat. Webber and I are getting pretty worried. Are they gonna arrest us too? But they don’t. Other than asking us what happened, at which we gave the same responses as Joe, they seem entirely unconcerned with us. This is shocking to me! When they finally get him into the car, they drive off and leave us stranded in the road! They didn’t even ask if we were hurt! They didn’t check us for injuries at all!! Why the fuck do we pay taxes for these fuckers?!?!
At this point Webber’s a mess. She’s crying, freaking out, and complaining that her neck is sore. I don’t know what to do, but I know I gotta figure something out! Now feeling sobered up, I do my best to bring rest to her mind:
“Webber, right now I need you to be strong. It’s ok. Joe is getting arrested for DUI. It’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened. He’ll be fine. What we have to do is go bail him out. But first we have to get out of here and find a way to get him. How’s your neck? Can you walk ok?”
” Yeah, I’m sore, but I’ll be fine. What are we going to do?!”
“We’re gonna do whatever we have to do. And that means getting to the police station and bailing Joe out. So for starters, we gotta get to the end of this causeway. After that, we can find a phone and hopefully find someone to pick us up and take us to bail him out. Ok?”
“O… K…. ”
“Ok, here we go.”
So we start walking the causeway. It’s a long walk, but it’s good. All this walking and fresh air is calming Webb down considerably. Finally the tears stop running and we’re talking normally, weighing the fates Joe may be looking toward. We rule out jail. He’s a first time offender, and didn’t hurt anybody. Worst, he’ll lose his license. Then there’s the question of what his step-dad’s gonna do when he finds out. He’s gonna kill him!! But there’s nothing we can do to about that. Joe’s going to have to face that raging bull on his own.
We finally get to the end of the causeway and head straight for the payphone. We call a friend over at the house party we were suppose to be attending right now, quickly give them a quick rundown of the situation, and tell them to come pick us up! Within ten or fifteen minutes they’re there, ready to drive with us to the police station.
We get to the police station, and one of the kids that came and collected us ran in to bail Joe out. No need for all of us to go in and make a scene. One, two, three and he’s out of there. We all head off to the party.
When we get to the party I exit the car and suddenly everyone’s grabbing me, freaking out, pawing at my face and Webber’s face as well. They’re all in a complete frenzy! What the hell is going on???
Finally slowing them all down and starting to understand what they’re rambling on about, we discover that our friend who previously took the weed from us at the time of the accident got a little… dramatic is the word I suppose… upon arriving at the party. He told everyone that Webber was dead!! I couldn’t believe it!! He said Webber’s dead, Joe’s in jail, and… get this… my face is gone!! I couldn’t believe it. Everyone was pawing at my face, so happy to see it still intact. I think, the way these ladies are looking at me like a work of perfection, that I’ve never felt sexier in my whole life! Hehehe… I’m laughing my ass off! I can’t believe that kid told everyone all that bullshit!! But apparently no one else thinks it’s funny. Well, I think it is.
The party continued on into the night and we had a ripper of a time. In the morning, I stepped into my kitchen and my mother was freaking out.
“Have you seen your brother??”
“No, but I just woke up.”
“Did you see him last night?? He didn’t come home.”
“No, but why are you so worried? I’m sure he’s fine.”
“I heard that he was in a horrible car accident! I haven’t been able to get in touch with him! I’ve been up all night worrying! I can’t stand this! I hope he’s ok!!”
Oh shit… How is it possible that word spread so quickly to my mother of all people?! And how could it have gotten to her so badly mistaken???
“Mom, calm down. I’m sure he’s fine. In fact I know he is.”
“How can you say, ‘calm down’?! You don’t know he’s fine!”
“Yes I do, because it was me that was in the car accident last night.”
“WHAT?! What happened?? Are you ok? Did anyone get hurt??”
“Mom, calm down. I’m fine. Everyone’s fine. We got into an accident, but it was a clean accident. No one got hurt. There were no other cars involved. We made a stupid mistake but we’re all fine.”
“Were you wearing your seatbelt?”
“WHERE YOU WEARING YOUR SEATBELT?!?!”
It’s a simple lie. A lie that will never make any difference in the world, other than letting my mother sleep better at night. It wouldn’t be wrong to lie here. In fact, I think it would be wrong not to lie!! Yes, I should’ve been wearing my seatbelt. But what’s done is done. Is there any sense worrying her more than she’s had already??
I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t lie to my mother. There was a time in my life where I could lie and not think twice about it. But that time is long gone. Guess I’ve grown up a little. But apparently not enough to know to wear my seatbelt! The thing is, I’m usually really good about wearing my seatbelt, but I was really drunk and it just didn’t occur to me: A simple mistake that could’ve been the end of my rope. Kids, remember to fasten them buckles!!!
In the end, JoeGlo ended up losing his license for three months, no fine. We were all astounded. We expected at least a year. As for the situation with his step-dad, the insurance covered the accident (another breath-taking stroke of luck) with the exception of a five-hundred dollar deductible. After all was said and done, Joe’s pop got a brand new car that he liked even more, and Joe basically got off with a slap on the wrist. Lucky bastard!