Category Archives: Childhood

Young Scars (1985)

TBT… The Angry Young me

 

Just a young man

So seasoned at lying

At 17 years old

I

Rob

You

Blind

You believe me when I blame someone else

I piss on your favorite things

I torch whatever I can

Burn it all down

I must be really mad

Why?

You exposed me to sex

When

Was 

Much

Too

Young.

Sacred sex.

You showed me criminality

You stripped my sensitivity away

It was your matter-of-fact fuck it all attitude

that fueled my rage

I rebel.

You purged and cleansed the household of me

Then I’m gone in a drug-induced haze

 

I got high with you and your wives

Listened to your stories

Believed your lies

Then you put me away when I robbed you.

You threw me out.

You wondered why

You introduced me to all.

Sex, drugs, and Sinatra

You lived the life of all that was evil shallow and toxic.

Why do I hate?

Why am I still so fucking full of rage?

I can’t let it go

I don’t want to judge

I can’t stop

So

I

Just

Live with it…

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When Carl Met Mary

April 1959

     Mary Agnes Lydon was a registered nurse living in Miami and working at Cedars of Lebanon hospital. She had come from New York that same year to escape the cold winter. She worked the swing shift. Mary preferred this shift so she could go to the beach with her friends before duty, as well as hang out in the clubs and dance after her shift. This was a far cry from Beach 115th street in Far Rockaway, where Mary grew up. It was comically referred to as ‘The Irish Riviera’ by the locals. Mary had shared a one-room bungalow with her two sisters three brothers and her mother and father.

     Around the same time in 1959, Carl Marcus had just arrived in Miami. He had just been released from Elmira State Prison in February 1959. Carl came up hard in the Bronx. He was raised in a sixth-floor walk-up with his 2 brothers and 3 sisters. At 16 he was convicted. Now he had completed a 6-year bid for a stack of charges including theft, breaking and entering and grand larceny. while he was in prison Carl Had learned from another inmate that you could open vending machines with a simple pair of vice grips. Upon his release, Carl and his friend Hal hit the road. Hal had just done a three-year bid for passing bad money, specifically washers and slugs rolled as coins, real coins on the end of each roll, with slugs and washers throughout the rest of the roll.

     Off they went roaring down the eastern seaboard Route 95 south in a 1959 black Cadillac convertible, hot-wired and stolen by Hal Blake from a Jack Bernstein’s Used Car Autorama (a car dealership in Flushing, Queens). They’d hit rest stops, laundromats, gas stations, hotels, automats (fast food restaurants where simple foods and drinks are served by vending machines), anywhere and everywhere that coin operated machines existed. Carl went into these establishments armed with Vice Grips while Hal stood guard. Carl would pry open the machines with the tools just enough to access the container that housed the coins and he’d empty them quickly and methodically into a pillowcase which then went into a briefcase.

Nickles, dimes, and quarters, bags and bags of coins. In the wee hours, they’d roll the coins in the car, Hal, dosing each roll with the proper amount of slugs and washers. Minutes after the banks opened Hal and Carl would separately hit as many banks and grocery stores as possible trading the coins for cash. They’d quickly move on to the next town repeating the process over and over again. Carl Marcus told me that they cleared about $17,000. Give or take a couple of hundred in loose change.

     In April 1959 mary and her friends were hanging out at the Boom-Boom room in the Fontainebleau hotel. A couple of different guys were hitting on Mary. She was quite the looker, black Irish, brown eyes, long brown hair and dressed impeccably. Carl barreled his way through the crowd. At six feet four inches, sporting a shark skin suit, a gold-tone watch, and alligator shoes. He approached her and gave his spiel said he was looking at real estate ventures in south beach, where he was from, and what his intentions were. They made a date for dinner the dinner.

     The following night Carl picked Mary up and they swapped New York stories, Carl telling Mary how the Irish Catholic kids called him Kike and Christ killer and beat him up on the beaches of Rockaway. He stopped the car and asked Mary if that was what her brothers or cousins did. Mary laughed and said, “yep!” after a walk on the beach he took her home.

     He picked her up two nights later at the end of her shift at the hospital telling her they must go quickly that he had a surprise for her. They pulled up to an exclusive club where Frank Sinatra was about to perform. It was sold out. Carl offered the Maitre’ d $50.00 and they sat at the edge of the stage. Mary was totally in shock, and Carl beaming with satisfaction. After that night they spent almost every day together between Mary’s shifts. One night when they were all hanging out in Hal’s hotel room the cops barged into the room and apprehended Hal for alleged having sex with an underage girl. The police took Carl mary and Hal down to the station. Mary was swept up in the excitement, she had never been in trouble with the law. After a lot of manipulation and lies, Hal, Carl, and mary left the station.

     That night all drove off, back up Route 95 north. Now they were back in  New york at the Plaza Hotel. Carl had a fake line of credit and used that phony line of credit to throw an engagement party for his sister Susan. The next morning the jig was up. The front desk called the room and questioned Carl about the alleged line of credit and the bank in Miami that it was drawn from. He said he would call and straighten it out. He hung up and he and Mary quickly packed and ran down 15 flights of stairs and roared off. They were married and settled in Freeport Long Island where they had two children, Lorraine, born June 1961 and Michael (me) born in 1964.

 

 

 

Little Mikey Maniac

Early on I remember being very bored.

I loved playing with matches. I torched the backyard. Nobody knew it was me. I was a good liar. That was the first of many incidents with flame. Garages, beds, vacant lots, my fingers.  

Stealing was wonderful too.  The shrink said it was to get attention. I disagree. The feeling I got from stealing and burning things was a feeling of power.  I imagine it was the same feeling a stockbroker gets from greenmail or inside trading.  Probably the same feeling a woman gets who marries for money and has young cocky studs on the side.  The same feeling a dictator gets when…well, you get the picture.  

Power is relative from age 5, right to the grave.  

I stole a socket set from a neighbor, Steve.  I pretended I was a mechanic. I lay under the bed for hours, running wires in the box spring, tightening nuts and bolts. Loosening and re-tightening nuts and bolts.  I was so bored and lied constantly.  

My uncle PJ was staying with us.  He had come out of the service.  I don’t recall if he saw any action or not.  Nor was I even old enough to be interested; in war or peace or women or money or masturbation or drugs, gambling, or tobacco and alcohol.  

I just really enjoyed stealing and burning things…  

oh yeah, back to my uncle.  He would sleep in the spare room upstairs.  I remember mom, dad, and sis being gone, Uncle PJ was asleep, I had run of the house. Wow, that still excites me having the run of anywhere. Anyway, I had a G.I. Joe talking doll.  I used to pull the string and hold it up to my uncle’s ear while he slept.

“Up the hill, men”, the doll squeaked.

“A-Ten-Hut!!!”  This command seemed really loud.  My uncle would jump outta bed, grab the doll.

“Hey, what the hell?  I’m trying to sleep!”

I would look at him. Laugh. And walk away.

He smoked a lot of pot at that time. Once I found his pot and fed it to our Doberman pinscher, Heidi.  That really pissed him off. Mom and dad weren’t happy either.  

But the dog seemed fine.  I loved that dog. The first dog I’d ever seen, played with, lived with. Good old’ Heidi. Once I tried to put together a slot car set I had received for Christmas.  

I was told not to touch it.  I didn’t listen. I never listened.  What they knew was slowly killing them–and I was next in line.  

So I attempted to set up the slot car set.  It didn’t work out. The dog chewed up pieces of track. Then she snatched one of the cars and ran.  That’s when I panicked.  There were only two cars.  “Heidi!  Heidi!”  She didn’t listen, nobody listened, not even the dogs. She chewed up the slot cars chassis.  My uncle was plenty mad when he got up.  He put the track together and even the chewed up car worked. He wasn’t too bad, my uncle PJ. But I was on my way to being a nightmare, for all of them.

REST IN PEACE PJ.

‘Lude & Lathargic

Loaded, drunk, and talking teenage shit. Every day. That’s what we did. Just a blurry contorted reality. Surrounded by what looked like an E-ticket ride of the lowest uncommon denominator, which is my favorite.

Hollywood High. We sat on the concrete wall, on the corner of Sunset and Orange.

It was the designated smoking area of the high school.

We marveled at the pimp and hooker and activity across the street at the hotel.

Just weeks ago it was illuminated with lights and cameras. They were shooting a movie with George Segal and Denzel Washington. ‘Carbon Copy’ was the film. I walked over to the set and slurred to George Segal how much I loved Omega Man. He thanked me. We stood and looked at each other for a moment, then I turned and stumbled away.

I was ‘luded or on loads and drunk most of the time. I would leave school for lunch and trip around Hollywood Boulevard smoking cigs, eating Two Guys from Italy Pizza or cheap Chinese food, and flirt with the tourist at Graumann’s Chinese theater. Once in a drunken state, I walked onto a big tour bus filled with Asians and screamed, ‘TOURIST GO HOME AND LEAVE YOUR DAUGHTERS!’

They all took pictures of me. I felt like a star until the driver grabbed me and threw me off the bus.

One morning I stole a full bottle of ‘ludes from my mother’s boyfriend. I ate two and I’m really numb. Dave Petrie comes up and asks me if I’m stoned.

Dave is always asking me this question and never has his own drugs. ‘Yeah man, I took two of these.’

I got a pocket full of quaaludes and everything is all right.

‘Shh, Mr. Munhall will hear you.’ He says.

I hand him two Lemmon 714’s. He chews them up, and then he swallows them.

‘These taste nasty.’ Making a lemon face.

‘Wow Dave, Those are going to hit you quickly.’

Ten minutes later we’re watching a film on single cell amoebas and the like.

Dave whispers, ‘Man, I’m coming on like I drank a six-pack.’

‘Yeah. These things are fucking magical. It is like a beer buzz, without the beer belly.’

‘Wow. These things are fuckin’ cool.’

Munhall looks over at us. He’s sitting at his desk with a penlight in his mouth looking over some papers.

‘Shh, be quiet Dave, fuck man. Shut up.’ I say.

‘Mike, I want to walk around on these things. I got to Get UP.’

‘NO, just sit and enjoy Dave.’ I hate this guy right now, he’s classic blow it case type shit.

‘Fuck that.’ Dave is restless.

Munhall is staring at us now. He has the penlight pointed at dave.

I’m really buzzing. My whole body is numb and the narrator of the film isn’t making any sense. The film is scratched and pops occasionally like a cap gun.

Dave stands up and attempts to walk behind the projector. Munhall follows him with the penlight Dave’s face looks curious, tragic and happy all at once.

I try to grab him. Munhall quickly shines the penlight on me, I quickly pull my arm back. He puts the micro spotlight back on Dave. He stumbles, reaches the projector for support.

It tumbles sideways. Dave goes down with it, Munhall follows him with the penlight. I watch the amoeba change shape slightly.

It shoots across the wall – the image is gone with a loud crash.

The lights go on immediately. New environment. Paranoia.

‘Dave? Dave? Are you all right,’ Says Munhall, whom, by the way, also teaches physical education. Now all eyes are on Dave.

Munhall is a heavy set guy who always wears tight white polyester shorts, has tree trunk coach legs and a potbelly.

I imagine he has a La-z-boy chair and a big color console television in his living room and random trophies in a special cabinet. I also Imagine his wife is totally subservient, she serves him fatty meats and Coor’s beer.

Dave gets up and stumbles. He mumbles something incoherently.

He falls on Michelle Tanner’s desk, she is disgusted with everyone and everything, but particularly Dave.

‘Ewwww!’ she cries bluntly while falling back in her chair while simultaneously holding herself.

Dave is on his belly on the desk. He’s swimming in the air trying to gain his footing. His Converse can’t converse. Like a robot that has fallen sideways, or doing space work like a bad vaudeville act. The whole class is quiet and I start laughing uncontrollably like a Tommy gun.

‘Ah ha ha ha ha, ah ah ah ah ah ah!’ My eyes are tearing and I’m ready to piss my pants. Now Munhall is livid and red-faced he screams, ‘SILENCE!’

I can’t stop laughing and crying. My side hurts, even with all the

methaqualone in my 15-year old body.

I feel his beefy hand on my shoulder and he smells like Brylcreem,

and old spice. I hear his angry voice in my ear,

‘Marcus, God damn it. Shut up.’ I was looking out the window

suddenly wishing I were walking on Hollywood Boulevard skateboarding or bogie

boarding at Zuma, anywhere, but here.

I would like another Quaalude. Munhall walks up to Dave.

Dave is now laying face down on top of Michelle’s desk, he’s given up

the swimming routine. He’s splayed over the little desk table, he

looks dead or passed out and she’s leaning back in horror.

Munhall puts the beefy hand on Dave’s shoulder (which I’m sure has

some sort of death grip if provoked).

There is a long pause.

‘Dave. Are you on medication? Hello? Dave?’

It’s church mouse quite and I’m hoping Dave is passed OUT.

It feels like an eternity, and then,

‘No, I just wanted to get up. I wanted to…’ he’s slurring bad.

‘Dave are you are you on drugs? Have you been consuming alcohol?’ He makes his way to his feet,

‘Yes, Marcus gave me some pills.’

‘Is this true, Mr. Marcus?’

‘I don’t know what Dave is talking about,’ slurring a little. I hated maintaining so much when I was loaded. I look over at Michelle for support she looks back at me with her face contorted, as if she literally smells bullshit, she’s sneering. I flip her off.

‘I think you both need to go see Mr. Whitehead.’ Now he’s writing out referral slips.

‘Why?’ I’m sitting at my desk, hands folded back erect.

‘Because I think you’re both on drugs.’ He says staring me dead in the eyes.

‘This is a bullshit!’ I yell, pointing my finger to the heavens.

A few students laugh, with me, or at me, it doesn’t matter at this point. Mr. Munhall hands me the slip. I get up out of my desk. I hold the slip at my side shaking my head back and forth. We exchange looks and I stop at the door and then I address the whole class.

‘This is total bullshit.’

Mr. Munhall starts walking toward me. I’m sure he’ll punch me. ‘Fine, I’ll go.’

‘I’m going home,’ says Dave.

We both walk out.

‘Dude. You fucking snitch. You piece of shit!’

He starts to run. I run after him, Munhall grabs me from behind, and Dave is gone. He escorts me to the Principal.

As we’re walking up the hallway I pass the multi-purpose room. I open the door and look in. Craig McKean is sitting by himself staring at the ceiling.

‘Craig McKean,’ I say in my best Irish brogue trying to imitate his Father.

He slowly looks my way and I know he’s on something because like me, he’s always on something. His lips move but I have no idea what he’s saying. He moves his hand back and forth. He’s staring at his hand. He’s on mushrooms or acid or maybe dust? He keeps moving his lips and nothing is coming out.

‘MARCUS, GODAMMIT,’ I turn and look back Mr. Munhall is standing in the doorway of the admin office with balled fists.

I walk past him and go straight in.

Mrs. Kratzel, the assistant principal looks me up and down with disgust and asks me to take a seat.

She seriously has the yester-year looks of an Aryan schoolmarm and a slight German accent. Sharon accused her of being a dike once. Nervousness set in, I need another ‘lude. I didn’t swallow and with a mouth full of spit I snuck a pill out of my pocket and put it into my mouth.

‘Uh, Michael’ Mr. Whitehead said as he stood in front of me. He seemed to appear out of nowhere. He was wearing tight beige polyester pants and a grey velour sweater vest. This was worn over a puffy sleeved yellow shirt. So I laughed.

‘This isn’t funny, give me the referral slip.’

We walked into his office at the same time and we both get stuck in the doorjamb.

‘Ha, ha, like all in the family.’ I say.

Mr. Whitehead looks really serious and points a finger at the chair in front of his desk.

‘I don’t want to hear about All In The Family. Where is Dave Petrie?’

‘I don’t know, he just walked outta’ class, he left, just like that.’ Now Whitehead is pissed, he has white dry spittle around the corners of his mouth and he is sneering.

I giggle and he shifts in his chair.

‘This isn’t funny Marcus, you could be expelled for dealing drugs.’ Now I’m paranoid and pissed. I didn’t sell that asshole those ludes, but Whitehead doesn’t even know that.

‘I didn’t sell anyone anything.’

We look at each other for what seems like an eternity and he raises he hand in a gesture of dismissal. Marcus, I don’t want to see you again. I breathe a sigh of relief.

That’s right Whitehead, Petrie’s trippin’ around the gym, the track field or somewhere in Hollywood,

but not here to rat on me again.

I walk out of the admin building to my next class. History class. There is a film in progress, something about Columbus. I nod out on my desk and wake up in a puddle of my own spit.

Just Quickly…My Need For Millennials

Look, I’ve been on the planet for five decades. WHOA! Half a century! If I’m not vigilant as possible, I tend to get real curmudgeonly. Some of my generation is tired, beaten down, or metaphorically pushing a shopping cart on the shoulder of the cyber superhighway. And I get it.

I grew up in a completely different, slower, more physically experienced, educational time. We had rock fights (yes we threw rocks at each other, and nobody ever won, you just ran out of rocks and then gave up). We blew up outhouses with M-500’s. We BMX’d in the gully. We stole nitrous tanks from hospitals and had laughing gas parties, all fun until someone’s lungs froze from ‘Bogarting’ or ‘Lloyding’ (sorry millennials an old reference to Lloyd Bridges in Sea Hunt) the tank. We toilet papered houses, drank quarts of Schlitz malt liquor then played pinball at the bowling alley. We skated and smoked Fallbrook Sess or Humboldt’s finest in the afternoon at elementary schools listening to cassettes of Black Sabbath and Ted Nugent on boom boxes.

We played asteroids and Pacman and centipede and space invaders tripping on L-25 or wet on Sherm. Whoops, I digress! In the last 3 years, I’ve had three very good creative experiences with people 20-25 years younger than me. We help each other, I provide real-life experiences from a time that they obsess on, and learn about on Google. In turn, they help me focus and maintain the structure of the piece we are working on.

I’m a big fan of the youngins! They need respect, they’re going to be here long after us boomers are gone. I grew up hard, ass whoopings, latchkey kid, no real love, or positive reinforcement. You will be able to read more of this when my book comes out on Punk Hostage Press. And I ain’t whining about it fuckuz! I’m saying that I got a deep well of experience and stories that are not boring. But I need help sometimes untangling that shit! And the youngins have no emotional or historical connection to my never-ending well of soliloquies!