So I was sitting at the bar in my usual spot doing what I usually do…Slowly sip my Guinness and not talk to anyone. That’s not quite true, I’ve gotten to know a few people there now and we share greetings and some small talk. The owners are cool and make everyone feel really welcomed, they know everyone’s names and always work the crowd making the patrons feel at home. This isn’t a punk bar, its not a metal bar, it’s not even a hipster bar. This is a neighborhood bar that is home to some serious life long boozers. Even at 41 I am generally one of the youngest people in there and certainly the best looking! It’s great for my self-esteem! Anyways…Back to the story…
Like I was saying – I was sitting there doing my thing listening to the two dudes in the corner with the acoustic guitars rock out covers of Tom Petty and the Eagles between wise cracks and talk of pussy and boobs. Suddenly the all too familiar aroma of stomach chunder assaulted my senses. I looked to my right and there, right on the bar was the swirl of beer and fast food soup. The blower of beads had bailed. He did the Technicolor yawn and split (or so we thought). The bartender shrieked out and started yelling for the owner. “Mike!, Mike!…I need help!” The mad spitter had at least tried to contain it. He had tried to puke back into his shot glass! Obviously a shot glass does not hold much and it was totally lathered in creamy, acidic, gut swirl and it was all over the fucking place. Fucking BRU-TAL! Mike quickly came to the rescue and mopped it all up without even a complaint. Not soon after and the assailant returned from the pisser with a huge fuckin’ wad of toilet paper in his hand and even though Mike had already cleaned it all up this wasteoid started swabbing the deck with a mangled mass of shit paper. I was laughing like high school boy in sex ed class as this dimwit made a huge spitwad cocktail on the bar. He was apologizing profusely and saying he was never going to come in again. This is where I can really emphasis the coolness of the owner…He just reached out and shook the dudes hand. “Don’t worry about it. Forget about it. It never happened.” He continued to bro down with the human puke fountain and that was it. The dude left, still with his tail between his legs, but welcome to return. In just about any other bar in the world this idiot would have been drug outside, cursed out and told to fuck off dinner chunks and all.
My friend Nate puked a lot. Smells, stories of uncooked eggs, gory pictures…Just about anything that was a little bit unsettling to the senses could call forth an exclamation of Campbell’s Chunky from his digestive system. It got to the point where you could almost get him to puke on queue. And like many, the smell of vomit makes my stomach do The Twist. He knew this too, I can recall a particular afternoon when he was chasing me with a bucket of his spew and sure enough it conjured incantations from the pits of my stomach that belonged more in Hell than all over my shoes and shorts. Dick.
All this queasiness and for some reason another mans lung butter had no effect on him. Nate would spit lugies onto the ceiling, let them hang and then when gravity finally won out it would drop back into his waiting mouth. He and my buddy Joe got so they would catch each other’s! They even got this thing down where they stood across from each other, kind of like they were going to do an egg toss or something and spit lugies across the gap into each others waiting mouths! What the fuck chuck! That makes we want to do the Technicolor yawn just thinking about it.
When I met Nate he lived in the next town over and we were in high school, this was maybe ’87 or so. End of Story (EOS) were the local hardcore heroes with their eclectic blend of DRI meets DAG NASTY at a backyard half-pipe brand of thrash. There was this house next to the mall in Glenwood that they’d play parties at and like any good punk house it had a cool name (that has been robbed from my memory by Father Time) and after a good party/show was cleaned up by pushing a snow shovel to scoop up all the beer cans and bottles.
I was in the kitchen and Tim was on top of the refrigerator with his foot tall mohawk and tripping on acid and reading a comic book while the band raged on. Tim met some national notoriety when USA Today ran a national story of his fight against the Glenwood PD. He had been busted skating (this was the height of the ‘Skateboarding Is Not A Crime’ days) on the sidewalk and was fighting the city on it. There was a rad picture of him holding his skateboard while sporting his punk leather jacket, no shirt, and big mohawk. The funny thing was that when I came across this article I was in Pennsylvania at a Hotel on road trip with my parents back to New York. How fucken’ rad was it to find this story of small town rebellion delivered to us at our stay over with Howard Johnson. The weird thing is I can remember my Dad order spaghetti for breakfast that day. Why not? It was one of those 24/7 places and he loves spaghetti! Well anyway there was Tim in the national paper…I think it was all a bit of a set-up though because his Dad was a lawyer! Part of me thinks they just wanted to raise a ruckus and maybe get some attention. Whatever…Fuck the “Man”! Skateboarding is not a crime!
Well there was Tim and standing by the sink was this surfer dude Nate. He had it going on! He was a transplant from Southern California and had the build, haircut and look of surfer. Right off the bat we hit it off, he had a great personality. He was funny as shit and laughed at his own jokes all the time, kind of like Emilio Estevez did, especially in Young Guns. To use the clichéd line: he was the dude all the guys wanted to be and all the girls wanted to be with. The guy even had a tattoo when no one else did. He was fucken’ bad ass all the way and over the years we became really good friends.
We used to party in the woods a lot, they were close to town and the cops generally left us alone if got out of the city limits. There was this place called The Pit, it was kind of a…big pit in the ground. We’d start a fire in the “pit” that was naturally protected by the surrounding dirt walls. It was early evening, the sun was starting to drop behind Sunlight Mountain and shade was creeping across the valley. I was probably off taking a piss or something when I came across a deer head. It was most likely left by a hunter but now that I think about it had a rack…Don’t hunters usually save those? Here I was at a “woodsy” with a rotting deer head; it was as obvious to me then as it is to you now what I should do with it. Yup! I grabbed it by the antler and ran back into the party chasing everyone with this rotting, putrid, head. It was fucking vile. Writing this my mouth is starting to water with the warning signs of approaching puke…I played on Nate’s weak stomach and was duly rewarded with Nate’s cry of sour beer and curdled pizza cheese. I dropped the head laughing and ran off to re-fill my beer. Nate could have easily hunted me down and imposed the same punishment upon me but he upped the ante and threw the head in the fire evoking the cries of every person standing around that fire. As the rotten, flesh-dripping skull started to smolder and the wretched stench of decay and death circled around the mostly underage punks innocently sipping their Olympia’s it was as if one queue almost everyone started puking in unison! Oh how that foul, wicked, odor inflicted revenge for the dead causing everyone to hurl. That party was over before sundown.
Like most of us in the Valley of Broken Dreams our drinking and partying started reaching rock star levels and as the fun was fading as the trouble was setting in. Jail, beatings and even death started to make itself part of our scene and Nate was caught right in the middle of it.
Many of us were no longer partiers; we had graduated to becoming drunks and drug addicts laying the foundations of lifelong problems. Nate’s body wasn’t what it was and the girls didn’t hang around him like they once did. His face was taking on a new shape after a few beatings and his happy-go-lucky attitude was fading with stints in jail. On a very early morning the phone rang and I was the only who was apparently awoken by it. Nate was on the other line and was asking for a ride, he was at the hospital in Glenwood and needed someone to come get him. I don’t know whose car I took or how I found the keys but I cleared my head enough of the pervious nights debauchery to figure how to get to the hospital to pick up Nate.
He was fucked up. Mangled. Someone had beat him with a bat, pipe or other blunt object. It was disgusting. One or more people had broken into he and his roommate’s place that night and beat the living shit out of them. They were most likely left for dead and it was most likely over drugs. They both lived but Nate’s face got reorganized and his roommate got permanent brain damage. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation came to town and although the crime was never solved there are many theories out there and I am not going to mention any more of this in this column.
Things just got worse in the Valley as cocaine really dug it’s nails in deep. A lot of weird stuff starting happening that now I as I look back it seems like it was from a movie. It got to a point where I didn’t want to be there anymore. We weren’t having fun, it seemed like the clouds were low and there was a storm that just wouldn’t pass to let any sunlight in. Fatefully I got a phone call about playing a show with BLANKS 77 in Boulder to which I agreed. Problem was my band had just broken up due to that plaguing storm. A few phone calls later and I was moving to Denver to join a recently formed band that needed a vocalist called CLUSTERFUX.
It must have been the next summer, so maybe ’96, and I was back in the Valley for the Carbondale Mountain Fair. I saw Nate. There he was, outside the bar…”Hey bro, can you buy me a pitcher?” That was it, no greetings nothing of the sort. I hadn’t see this dude, one of my best friends, for 9 months and that’s all he could say. That’s why I left…That’s where we had gotten as a “scene”, and I only use that term to describe a group of people that hung out together…
Side note – To illustrate this point further I have another tale to tell. One day I had gotten off of work and I see a friend of mine walking down the street. He says “He did you hear about Adam? He died last night, rolled his car, it decapitated him…But we still have half a keg left and we are going to drink it later if you’re in”. What?!! Adam was this dudes best friend! Some of this had to be shock, and people mourn differently but…What the fuck? I declined and went home.
Back to Nate…Ok, so he just asked me for a pitcher of beer as he is standing there on the sidewalk in July in snowboots, plaid golf pants from the second hand store, no shirt and literally a rope belt, trembling in need of alcohol. I asked him about his shoes, he said those were the only ones he had. I asked about his shirt, he said he couldn’t find it. “It”?? I declined on the beer and went about my business.
A few months later Nate was in Denver to hang out and party for a show. He was drunk as a skunk at the show and starting shit with everyone. He was being an asshole and I guess eventually someone kicked the crap out of him. We couldn’t find him after the show and we all went back to my place to party, but still no Nate. Finally the next day he showed up with his jaw wired shut, someone broke the fuckin’ guys jaw!!! Damn! At least he could suck beer through a straw…
Like I said, he really started to change physically. Not just the loss of muscle tone but even more noticeable was his face. The booze not only wreaked havoc on it but all the beatings from being a drunk-ass were really transforming his facial alignment. On another trip back to Carbondale I was at a show and there was this dude that kept like gesturing to me. When I walked by he’d say “Hi” but I nod and keep moving. I didn’t know this was, just some friendly partier I guess. Turns out it was Nate, he was so disfigured I didn’t even recognize him and he was just socially inept. His brain wasn’t really sharp enough to have normal social skills, he was a drunk.
I never saw him again. I heard he had moved in a with this dude he knew that had some money and a house and wanted to give Nate a chance to get his shit together. This started to work and Nate reached out to his Mom for help so he could go to re-hab. He relocated to Phoenix to clean-up (I guess Phoenix is a re-had destination…I have another friend that moved there to clean up too). Apparently Nate was getting better and had landed a job. He was killed in a work accident. A crane dropped a pallet on him…
Life was weird back then. Horrifically Nate’s story isn’t a one-off situation. There was a lot more death yet to come out of that group of friends. When the fun stopped and the hell started we were all too self-involved to care for one another or too fucked up to notice. We were all wrestling with our own demons and some lost it all. Life is fragile and precious, so are friendships. Woulda’, coulda’, shoulda’…We cant change the past but we can seize the present. Who amongst your friends are suffering? Who could use your friendship, your shoulder your wisdom? Look out for each other…PEACE
- My band, APEX (member of CLUSTERFUX) changed our name to ROÄC. We have an album that is almost done. It kicks ass! Follow us out here: ROÄC
- I’ve been doing a podcast with my homie and we cover all kinds of out there shit. From your basic “conspiracies” to aliens and simulation theory, to any sort of outlandish shit. We don’t know everything so we don’t try to force our opinions as fact, we just discuss the topics and offer different perspectives. It’s fun…Follow us here: Flow With the Go! Or check out http://flowwiththego.net/
- I just saw AGENT ORANGE play in what used to be my elementary school’s gym / cafeteria. That was weird. They were boring but seeing old friends was great and drinking beer in the elementary school while watching a punk band seemed like a good middle finger to the establishment. Especially old teacher that used to fuck with us.
- Hey I got a ditro/ebay store going. I add new stuff weekly. Check it out!