Tag Archives: Mothers of Invention

Drunk and Arrested at Age 15

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Hiatt type 2010 handcuffs. Circa 1990s

Hiatt type 2010 handcuffs. Circa 1990s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was late July of 1996, and “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand” was #1 on the alternative rock charts.  Not far behind was Stone Temple Pilots’ “Tripping on a Hole in a Paper Heart”, a modern psychedelic rocker, and Beck’s “Where it’s At”- an genius hybrid of minimalistic alt-rock and hip-hop done by the white grandson of a Vaudeville performer.

This had been an interesting summer.  My parents, in the midst of their continual fighting about money, had certainly moved ahead financially.  We bought a nicer house closer to the High School in Hudson, Ohio.  It was actually within walking distance.  One positive result of this was my removal from old surroundings.  Some of the neighbors around me who perpetuated my drug habits were now absent from my every day life.

On top of this, our high school band, “Mulberry Tree”, was facing some strain.  Our drummer, Duane, had disappeared from our existence for the summer.  We found later that he was hanging out with his older friends, and had really gotten the love bug for an older girl.  I suppose I would have done the same thing were I in his shoes.

But in our youth, me and the bass player of Mulberry Tree, Mitchell, took it personally.  We started writing our own music, which had more of a progressive-rock edge to it.  We wrote 6 to 9 minute long opuses, which were deeply influenced by prog bands like Yes, Rush, early Genesis (with Peter Gabriel), Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, and King Crimson.  We were also certainly influenced by Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne.

Yet the removal of Duane and his older friends from our little rock star utopian dream world severed us from the ability to acquire marijuana.  We began to experiment more often in the cedar lined shelves of our parents’ liquor cabinets.

Mitchell would come over on Summer Evenings, after playing baseball all day, and we’d conjure up some form of liquor or beer.  We’d fill ourselves with it to the point of buzzing or being intoxicated, and then we’d congregate in my basement, which now had a full drum set, guitars, a bass, amplifiers, a keyboard, PA speakers, and a little recording studio with equalizers and mini-speakers.  It was every thing a young rocker would dream of.  We’d record our original music, with me on drums, and rhythm guitars, and Mitchell would play bass and lead guitars.  We’d mess around with over dubs and share doing the vocal tracks.  We created some great material when the alcohol wasn’t disabling us too much.

We ended up connecting with an older girl named Madeira in our circle of friends.  Mitchell had a love interest in her, and I had a bit of one, but knew that it was only right to allow my friend to pursue his interest before mine.  Our first connection with Madeira was at one of her parties.  Her parents would leave town and her 21 year-old sister would buy enough beer to kill an army of kittens.  She’d invite her sphere of influence into her den of high school freedom, and we’d partake of the spirits.

Now, I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol for two years, and have never been legally drunk, because the only drinking I did past the age of twenty-one was a beer or glass of wine here or there.  I was floored by Ephesians 5:18 that says; “do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.”  I want that fulfillment and joy that can come from sobriety and being filled with God’s presence.  But at the age of fourteen going on fifteen, I dug debauchery.  The dictionary defines debauchery as “excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures”.  This was my M.O.

The first party we attended at Madeira’s house began with Mitchell and I sharing a 12-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, and ended with both of us laying like fools on a bathroom floor, vomiting what seemed to be an endless ocean out of our insides, and professing of our bro-mance friendship love for one another.  People say and do completely silly and regretful things under the influence of alcohol to be sure.

Later, Madeira had invited us to hang out with her and go bowling.  She obtained a bottle of 40 proof (1/2 strength) whiskey and 2 bottles of Boone’s sparkling wine for our voyage.  We made it to the parking lot of Stonehedge Bowling Alley in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Madeira was 16 and drove us there.  Mitchell had a learner’s permit because he was 15, and I had no sort of driver’s license because I had just turned 15.   We certainly had no plans for a designated driver.

We decided to drink the alcohol before going in to bowl.  Mitchell and I drank the whiskey, and Madeira drank the Boone’s.  Mitchell and I managed to finish the entire bottle, which was ½ strength but a large quanitity, especially for 15 year-olds!  Madeira finished both of the bottles of Boone’s.  We stood outside and smoked cigarettes as the deeply inebriating effects began to destroy and flood our minds.  Mitchell and Madeira ended up further away and I was on my own smoking.  I saw them kiss.  Madeira later got so sick that she started throwing up.  We never made it into the bowling alley to bowl…

So we had a serious dilemma.  Madeira was in no state of mind to drive.  Mitchell had a learner’s permit and half a bottle of rot-gut whiskey in him.  I had the same amount as Mitchell and no license.  We collaborated with great wisdom and intelligence to have Mitchell drive us home.  “We’d take a back-road highway- Route 91, and avoid the Route 8 freeway.  That way we’d stay away from potentially getting pulled over.”  So we thought…

Mitchell drove us home as Madeira laid down in the back on my lap.  She was feeling terrible and not in the best place, but still my feelings for her were there…  hidden underneath the surface.  I looked out the window into the beautiful summer night sky.  It was July 29th, 1996.  The stars were out.  What were we doing?  Were we crazy?  I held back my feelings for Madeira.  I hoped that we wouldn’t get in deep trouble.  Things weren’t looking good.

Mitchell drove through Cuyahoga Falls, then Stow, and then we were close to the border of Hudson, Ohio.  All the way he kept turning around to us in a fit of adrenaline.  He spoke loudly with a slur, “I think we’re going to make it!  Everything is gonna be ok!”

When we crossed the border into Hudson, a cop car pulled out of the darkness.  Flashing lights beamed in behind us.  Mitchell began to freak out.  “Oh no! Oh no oh no!!!  What are we gonna do?  What are we gonna do?”  He yelled.  I responded, in my inebriated tone, “It’s all good man, just tell him you’re taking us home and Madeira has the flu man!”

Mitchell pulled over.  The cop shone a flashlight in from behind us, making our adrenaline spike up.  Mixed with the alcohol, the feeling was numbing and terrifying.  The cop came up and addressed Mitchell, “Son, do you realize you were driving without your headlights on?”  Mitchell flipped and started apologizing.  He got out of the car and admitted he didn’t have a real license.

Everything else seemed to flash before our eyes like a nightmare.  Mitchell getting a sobriety test, then getting cuffed and put in the cop car.  The cop pulling me and Madeira out of the car and cuffing both of us.  Two back-up cops showing up and taking all of us separately…  isolated from one another…  They put me in the back of a cop car alone.  I was drunk, only 15 years old for 9 days, and breaking curfew.  An accomplice to under-age drunk driving.  I don’t remember all the details in the haze, but I was definitely weeping like a little child in the back of that cop car.

Later that night at the police station, our parents would come and pick us up.  I was too drunk to remember any of the conversations.  But I do remember when my Dad brought me home, and my Mom was waiting at the door.  It was about 3 am.  She didn’t say a word to me, she just wound up and slapped me hard in the face.  The numbness of the alcohol combated the physical pain.  But the emotional pain and shame were magnified.

I went up and slipped into a drunken slumber.  I would be grounded again for another month.  I would be enrolled into Oriena House for substance abuse counseling.  I would have to serve community service.

“Burden in My Hand” by Soundgarden would enter the soundwaves of the summer of August, 1996.  I would write songs in my month of grounding that were reflecting on my own addiction and desperation.  What would my Sophomore year of High School hold for me?  Would it be a year of reformed salvation?  Would it be a spiral into degradation?  Time would tell, but the words of Soundgarden certainly reflected my current state.

Follow me into the desert
As thirsty as you are
Crack a smile and cut your mouth
And drown in alcohol
Cause down below the truth is lying
Beneath the riverbed
So quench yourself and drink the water
That flows below her head

Close your eyes and bow your head
I need a little sympathy
Cause fear is strong and love’s for everyone
Who isn’t me
So kill your health and kill yourself
And kill everything you love
And if you live you can fall to pieces
And suffer with my ghost

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Taking Mescaline and MDMA and Playing Bad Live Music

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English: Mescaline extracted from cactus, 100%...

English: Mescaline extracted from cactus, 100% all natural. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The spring of 1999 couldn’t have had a weirder mix of popular music.  Songs like “Praise You” by Raver-style DJ “Fatboy Slim” shared billboard spots next to songs like “One” by Creed and “What it’s Like” by Everlast.  This was an era when many styles of music were converging and combining.  It was a melting pot of hip-hop, rock, hard-core, trance, dance music, jungle, heavy metal.  We were a generation on the verge of the millennium, the internet was just beginning to bring the world into one vast social network.  The globalization of culture was at hand.

In the midst of all the popular music of this era, I was a retro-rocker to the core.  If an album hadn’t endured for at least five years in the consciousness of artistic rock n’ roll culture, I probably wouldn’t get into it.  In 1999, I was listening to Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Yes, Rush, early Genesis, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, The Grateful Dead, Crosby Stills and Nash, U2, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Lenny Kravitz, Blind Melon, and more.  I had a blue case full of used cassette tapes that I was constantly popping into the tape player of my blue Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight.  Their was a consistent soundtrack in the background during all of the out of control chaos of my party lifestyle.

Woven into the fabric of the years 1998 and 1999, was participation in a retro-rock cover band called “Kaleidoscope”.  I played bass and sang both lead and background vocals in the group.  Garrett Nevin sang and played guitar, and my good buddy James played drums.  We did a great variety of old-school rock songs like “Time” by Pink Floyd, and “Yellow Ledbetter” by Pearl Jam to name a few.  There was just one problem, neither Garrett nor I could hold a tune vocally!  At this point, my vocal chords were wrecked with smoke and hard living, though I had never really had a strong voice.  Garrett didn’t have a very good voice either.  We could jam instrumentally with the best of them, but couldn’t sing.

We played a variety of safe gigs in Kaleidoscope.  Most of them were for friends that would have supported us if we had tied cats to microphones and pulled their tails.  Eventually, we landed a gig among strangers.

Garrett came to us one day, telling us some news.  “Hey guys, I got us a gig at a huge frat party at Nelson’s Ledges!”  He told us.

Nelson’s Ledges was a huge hippie hideout.  And apparently, a large group of collegiate jocks and beer drinkers had rented the place out to throw a big concert.  I don’t think I was fully aware that I was about to play the most humiliating gig of my life.

When we arrived at Nelson’s, I was with my girlfriend, Jaime.  It was very early in the summer of 1999.  I was done with high school and withdrawing from a large amount of speed that I had done all throughout the winter and spring.  Of course, because I had no intellectual or ethical grounds for abstaining, we wanted to find some sort of hard drug to take.  It was the summer after my senior year, and I still had no desire to abstain from the hard partying scene.  It’s a simple fact of God’s wisdom that “the backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.” (Proverbs 14:14)  One who wants to stray from what is right will receive a just consequence- simply that they will be handed over to the natural end of their pursuits.  God has created the world where no one can float along in an illusion of epicurean selfishness for too long.  There are consequences to all of our actions.

But Jamie and I were ignoring the consequences.  We scoped the scene at Nelson’s Ledges and effortlessly found an older hippie lady that sold us two pills of ecstasy.  She warned us; “These have a little bit of mescaline in them, so they’re going to make you trip as well as roll.”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mescaline)  I only knew that mescaline was found in the peyote cactus and used by Native American tribes to foster “vision quests”.  I had never knowingly ingested it.  Our band was about to go on in 45 minutes.  We took the pills and chased them down with swigs of water.

The next thing I knew, Kaleidoscope was playing live.  The ecstasy and mescaline started to invade my mind like a fire eating up dry brush.  I thought we were playing the best music in the entire world, as the drugs were reaching their peak.  I was tossing myself around the stage like a crazed circus clown, every wave of sound seeming to caress my ears and soul like lavender lotion.  I looked out in the crowd and they all appeared to be just like me, smiling and caught up in euphoria.  I looked over at James and Garrett, who were completely obliterated on hashish.  They seemed to be frowning and barely making it through.  I thought to myself, “man, if only they were on the wavelength I was on, they’d get it!”.

We had a set of 2 hours.  Somewhere about an hour and a half into the set, I came out of the extreme euphoria I was experiencing…

I awoke, though I had been conscious the entire time.  I looked out at the crowd and the noises from the people that once sounded like cheers and shouts of adoration, turned into booing and cussing.  This group of frat-boys were standing with their friends, in a group of about 500 people.  They were drinking ungodly amounts of beer and literally trying to jeer us off of the stage.  We finished the last thirty minutes of the set, and though I was still high out of my mind, I was in reality enough to realize the horror I was in the midst of.

Many people philosophize about the power of drugs and creativity.  It may be true that drugs open one up to the power of the weird and mysterious, and make one desire to go outside of the box in their quest for art.  But this can be done all the same if one desires to tap into the source of creativity- God Himself.  In the end, drugs destroy people’s abilities to perform at anything.  This performance was proof of that.  I was so high that I thought the entire crowd loved our band.  When I came to, they were literally trying to force us off of the stage.  Once, even Noel Redding, Jimi Hendrix’s bass player, said that Jimi was so high while on stage once, that they played through 2 songs and had to cancel the gig, because Jimi couldn’t even make it through the chords of the song.  Though the mystique of creativity and freedom has been thoroughly associated with drug culture, when it comes down to it, drugs destroy a person’s ability to create.  I can’t imagine the kind of music Jimi Hendrix would have made if he would have gotten sober, instead of choking on a pill, drug and booze filled vomit on September 18th, 1970.  This was a man that carried his guitar with him almost 8 hours a day and practiced constantly.  If he would have been off of drugs, he would have truly been an unbelievable virtuoso.  People who associate drugs with great creativity are fooling themselves.

And if I would have known then what I know now, that all the music I created after quitting drugs was ten times better than before, I may have been led to quit drugs altogether much earlier.  But I chose to buy into the lies.  I was an addict in search of the next out of control experience.  I didn’t care if I lived, died, or went to prison.  I didn’t want to stop, and I was headed for more trouble.