Kent, Ohio was made infamous by the 1970 May 4th shootings of 4 college students on campus, and Neil Young, backed by Crosby, Stills and Nash, coined the song “Ohio”, which forever rang in the consciousness of Kent residents. Ever since then it was one of the premier hippie spots in the Cleveland/Akron area.
In the center of this hippie culture was Brady’s Café. Brady’s Café was right next to the Kent State University Campus, and was upheld by hippies who had been around Kent for a long time. It attracted a new generation of hippies… Gen-Xers and Slackers who listened to Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins, as well kats who were into the Grateful Dead, Phish, and the more widely accepted Dave Matthews Band.
Duane and I were drawn into the scene of Brady’s, and were introduced to it by his older friend Brenden, who often sold us dope. At least once a month, a band called “The Black Hole Jokers” would play there. They were mostly a Grateful Dead cover band. I had my “initiation” into the Brady’s scene at the ripe age of 15 when the Jokers were playing.
You can imagine the kind of scene a Grateful Dead cover band drew in. A synchronistic plethora of freaks, circus clowns, dopers, hippies, Frat Boys, Goths, Wiccans, Transexuals, Preppy Kids, Metal Heads, Harley Riders, Bisexuals, Satanists… you name it, were all there in their respective haze of choice to enjoy the surrogate psychedelic sounds. I was just a kid, and no doubt got stoned on weed that was stronger than what I was used to at Brady’s. Now I was hanging with college kids and adults in the drug scene. At times, it was more than I could handle.
I spent many nights at Brady’s sick from something or another. One night I was just ill and spitting up by the ledge on the outside of the café. It may have been that I had been taken hold of by some bad pipe greens that were laced with something nasty.
We literally used to buy drugs in the upper floor of Brady’s from crazy dudes we didn’t know. One dealer was named “Seff”. He was a bi-sexual nymphomaniac, and a heroin addict. He would sell Duane and I weed, sitting right in the middle of the coffee shop on the upper floor. Looking back I realize I could’ve gotten into some weird situations that I didn’t understand or know how to prepare for. Someone transcendent was looking out for me…
They turned Brady’s into a Starbucks years later…