I just want to say real quick thanks so much to everyone who supports the radio show and anyone who has ever read this blog, or listened to the show. It really means the world to me, if you read the previous blog entry you can see how this whole thing started and how special it is that people actually take the time to care.
I’d always like to write more on here, I always enjoy when I do. I always make up the excuse that I don’t have time or whatever, but in all actuality that’s not even true. I have plenty of time. I have plenty of time to do a lot of things that I tell myself I don’t have time for. So I think the “I don’t have time” thing is just an excuse or my unwillingness to admit that I’d rather watch tv or do something else.
The truth is, at this point on a Friday night at 9:52 PM October 1st, 2021 I definitely have time. I tested positive for Covid on Wednesday morning after leaving work extremely sick on Tuesday. Yes, I’ve been fully vaccinated since February, and yes, it is apparently possible to get super sick while being vaccinated. It is pretty disappointing to have been wrecked by this virus after taking the vaccine. I have completely lost all taste and smell, but I am grateful I am not in the ICU. I love the soapy steam smell in the shower and I love eating unhealthy food when I am posted up like this. With those two primary senses obliterated I have resorted to writing in this blog.
I really love October, there is something about it that is so nostalgic for me. In California we don’t really have seasons, especially Fall, but there are definite things that change around me that make me, a California kid, feel like it’s Fall. MLB Playoffs and Sunday Night Football, Halloween decorations and the feeling like school hasn’t just started, like it’s just under way but you kind of know what you’re doing now.
A lot of people have strong opinions about high school, either good or bad. High school was fun for me. I always loved this time of year in high school for some reason, it was like, okay, I’m settled into school and now things can really start to happen. I didn’t have a bad time in high school at all, it was actually really fun for me. I think I definitely struggled at finding my identity from the beginning, balancing the punk and hardcore scene with being a baseball player, and also partying and smoking a lot of weed.
I was really into skateboarding in 8th grade. My best friend Nate Hesse and I used to watch the Flip videos religiously and steal Thrasher and Transworld magazines from Albertsons. Nate died in 2013 from a heroin overdose, he took me to my first show at the Showcase Theatre and he took me in a circle pit for the first time ever. He also taught me how to sew, and he put us all on to rocking leopard print shit and he made everything look so cool. I probably wouldn’t have found what I found in punk and hardcore music if it wasn’t for Nate, honestly, there’d probably be no YLIA if it wasn’t for Nate.
When I look back on it, I feel like I was kind of destined to become the person I became based on the shit I used to enjoy doing at 13 years old. From age 12-18 I lived in the suburbs, my friend Brandon lived right down the street from me and we skated every day. I don’t know what other kids were doing at that age, but we would spend hours upon hours in parking lots of shopping centers. I wasn’t even getting high or drinking yet, in the suburbs it’s not like the city streets, it’s basically neighborhoods of track homes with shopping centers riddled in between.
There were a few shopping centers we frequented and each one had the same exact layout. Grocery store, attached to a strip mall of random stores, gas station and a fast food place. We would get to the Alberstons shopping center after school at like 3:30 and just start skating red curbs, gaps and manual pads. Each of us usually had a couple bucks, we would move into Carl’s Jr and take up a few tables. We might order a chicken sandwich or fries, but that was it, water cups filled with soda and then just sit at those tables and cause a ruckus. We would spin nickels and slam the salt and pepper shakers down on them hoping to make a hole so that when the next person picked it up, it spilled everywhere. We would talk shit to each other, talk about our favorite skaters, flip through Thrasher, talk about what girls we thought were cute and which kids were posers. We’d go back out and skate some more, go behind the store and see what kind of pallets or crates we could find, make our way back to Carl’s Jr and then it’d be 10pm and time to go home.
There was also a spot that Brandon and I spent what felt like a trillion hours skating in those days, Wilson Elementary School. It was probably a two minute skate from our houses, and it was the best close to home spot we could’ve asked for. The parking lot had red and yellow curbs, manual pads, gaps and a small ledge. Inside the school there were a few sets of stairs, gaps and a bank. I only ever ollied the big five stair, and I think the other big set was featured in a Toy Machine video once in an Ed Templeton part. We never thought twice about hopping the fence to skate inside, probably a good notion that I wouldn’t be following many rules moving forward in my life. Where we grew up there was a culture of people we called “bros”. I don’t think the term traveled too far outside of the Inland Empire, but to us they were the lame dudes who wore black dickies, high black socks, SRH, Skin Industries, listened to Kotton Mouth Kings, loved lifted trucks and rode dirt bikes. We were always beefing with some bro from somewhere because there was way more of them than there was of us. One time Brandon and I were skating the Wilson parking lot and this truck full of bros rolled up on us and started talking shit to us, probably because we had long hair and wore tight pants. They were much older than us, and one of them started getting crazy with Brandon, enough to where we stopped and it got serious. The dude was probably 17 and Brandon ended up kicking his ass, we were 13. They got all mad and drove off in their truck and said they’d be back to smash us out, but never showed. We were so hyped, we had like a celebratory hangout in the parking lot that night and I remember feeling like Brandon was the baddest dude on earth. Brandon threw down with a bunch of people in those days, shout out to him he always had my back, and fuck bros still.
We didn’t have smartphones to post TikToks so looking back on it we really just had our friendships, music and skateboarding, and the weird fulfillment of spending 7 hours in a shopping center. I never laughed as hard as I did on those late nights under the Stater Bros parking lot lights, wishing I was Jim Greco and thinking these would be my best friends forever. Skateboarding wasn’t as socially accepted then as it is now, our parents never thought of it as us being productive and active, it was more like we were out fucking around participating in this thing that only drug addicts and stoners did. I’m glad that stigma has kind of fallen away from skateboarding, because amidst the dumb shit we did, we spent a lot of time being active, learning new tricks and skating miles and miles all over town.
We also took the bus to our junior high school, which at that time, wasn’t the norm for everyone as a means of transportation for getting to school. The bus was poppin though, Brandon and I took the same bus, along with a diverse set of friends that lived in our neighborhood. iPods were a big deal to have then, I remember my first iPod mini and all of my favorite music I put on it from Limewire. I was really into 77 punk and classic rock at that time, it was really just soundtracks from skate videos, I also really liked Hole and The Cardigans. I think we were bus 477, our bus driver was cool, she would let Brandon hook his iPod up to the bus stereo and we would listen The Used and My Chemical Romance on the way to school. I was so happy in those days, life was so simple and fun. I had so many friends and every time I was with them I never wanted to be anywhere else.
When high school started I was in a weird place in terms of who I thought I wanted to be. I don’t know about others, but I cared a lot about what other people thought about me when I was 14. Sure, I had developed a love for punk rock and skateboarding, but I also was a talented baseball player who had a bright future playing baseball if I chose to take it seriously. I was burned out on baseball though, I loved the game (see my other blog about baseball), but I didn’t want to play anymore. And then Nate took me to see the Career Soldiers at the Showcase Theatre my freshmen year in high school. Him and some other friends had been going to Showcase regularly and bragging about how cool it was. I always felt left out because I was too scared to ask my mom if I could go. I had started listening to faster harder street punk like Career Soldiers and The Virus, and I loved it. I wanted to be apart of the Showcase crew so I got my mom to let me go one Friday night.
I went to Nate’s house straight from school and I’ll never forget him and my friend Taylor telling me that you never wear the tee shirt of the band who you’re going to see. I have never done that since that day. Nate’s mom dropped us off in front of the 99 cent store next to Showcase and I had never seen anything like it. Mohawks, liberty spikes, studded vests, patches, beer, cigarettes, bondage belts, it was quite the sight to see. I was really intimidated. We walked into get our tickets and Nate immediately started grabbing flyers off the wall. Showcase always had neon colored show flyers on the walls for upcoming shows. That night was so special, a band called 46 short played and a few others I can’t remember, but Career Soldiers headlined and I was so excited to see them because they were a big deal to us and the scene around there at the time. During the 46 Short set Nate put his arm around me and dragged me into the pit. I was so scared, but I realized you just move in motion to the music in a circle and kind of push the people in front of you. I hit the circle pit many more times that night, and I remember the first time I fell down how many people rushed to pick me back up and ask me if I was okay and put their arm around me to keep going. I never looked back. Each time I sing along, mosh and stage dive to my favorite band nowadays I still feel the excitement and meaningfulness of that 14 year old me. RIP Nate, I love you dude.
Lately I’ve been feeling like all I want to do is just make it through the day. Like all the shit I’ve been through since that first circle pit is starting to catch up with me. From that night at showcase, until this night sitting at home battling the virus that has caused a global pandemic, I have been on a wild ride. I shouldn’t even be alive, heroin addicts don’t usually make it past their 20s, let alone have any kind of productive life. I feel so lucky to have made it out. Sure, I have done a lot of work to get where I’m at, but still, the fact that, me, of all people, escaped that life while literally millions are dying, is still unimaginable to me.
I think that has a lot to do with how I’ve felt lately, coupled with the weight of the world we live in. I’ve lost so many people I love. I miss my mom so much all the time. I spend 365 days watching someone build their self and life back from nothing, and then receive a call that they have overdosed and died. I’ve watched so many people I love leave this world and been able to do nothing about it. It seems like I don’t stop to feel that shit anymore. I just push it out of existence and focus on what’s in front of me, justifying the avoidance and forgetting about the pain. That limits my capacity for risk, and my energy for initiating change. I live in fear of not knowing what’s going to happen next so I want things to stay in this small world where I know how it’s going to play out. I am content with what I’ve done, where I’ve been, where I’m going, who’s around me and what my goals are. I just want to live and be free, happy and share the things I love that make me happy, with the people I love that make me happy.
I miss skateboarding outside of Carls Jr with my friends. I used to sit in jail cells and dwell on how bad I fucked everything up and pray to some god to just take me back to high school, and that when I opened my eyes I’d be 13 again. I never thought I’d be able to sit still ever again and be happy. I thought it was all gone and lost forever, all of it. I tried to take my own life twice, because I hated life. I saw no reason to live, there was no circle pit joy anymore, and Nate was dead anyways. Escaping from that kind of mental existence is probably the biggest accomplishment I will ever achieve. I think lately, I have just felt like that is enough for me. I’m scared of leaning into the loss, the grief, the pain, it’s too much sometimes, but the longer I try to smile, the more tired I get and the more afraid I am of everything. At the end of the day, life is fuckin crazy, for anyone really. I’m just happy to have a close group of people whom I love, hardcore shows, true joy, sunshine, Dodger baseball and palm trees. California on top forever, peace till next time..