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The Marked rocks Florida!!!! [Apr. 11th, 2005|11:54 pm]
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I figure out that if you put fresh pans of water in the corners at night, the roaches will climb in for some unknown reason and drown themselves...so each morning, I go around to the 4 corners of the 600 sq. ft. space and "collect" last night’s victims and dump them all in the toilet...the storefront has no shower, so I wash in the sink, using paper towels to dry myself off...(eventually, I will tire of this routine as well, and stop washing all together-my face being the only exception...VANITY!!-I will ultimately make it a full 6 weeks without bathing, finally losing the dank smell of sweat and grime and surreptitiously acquiring a sweet, phermonal type fragrance...mmmm) the other band members have jobs (unlike me), so we only practice maybe 2 or 3 times a week...I have a tremendous amount of time on my hands, so I become an expert at killing it...I just walk down the main street of st. pete, past the "soviet style" police station, past the homeless standing outside the temp agency looking for digging ditch work, the dirty pawn shops, the few tourist related deals, walking on all the way to the water...this is about a 30 min. jaunt, a stroll I make regularly in the 90+ degree heat...because I am ashamed of my birthmark, I never wear short sleeve shirts, for total strangers ask me if I am deformed, or my all-time favourite, "did you get burned?...so I sweat it out in my long sleeve shirts, black being the optimal color (which doesn’t always work so well in the searing, deadly sunshine)...I just go sit on the pier and watch people fish...I am too shy to strike up conversations with strangers...I do not know what to do with myself, but I feel very free, as free as I have ever felt in my life...I have nothing, but that does not make me feel too bad, or self-conscious...sometimes, I go and hang out at this sort of resale shop that sells clothes and records...the guy who owns the place, and his buddies, are nice enough I suppose...they’ll say hello, and talk to me in that condescending way when someone thinks they are better than you, but since you cannot do anything about it they don’t really try to hide their disdain...the owner takes to calling me "nowhere man", after the beatles song, because I am nothing and absolutely going nowhere...having people see me as some kind of loser is hard to swallow, but what can I say, because I offer little evidence to the contrary...just down the block from my home/rehearsal space is another rehearsal space that sits on a corner...I make friends with this guy too, who, like me, is from somewhere else and going no-where in particular...he plays drums, so sometimes we jam and make some tapes...he is not very good, and he says maybe we should form a band, but he is just way too lonely-weird for me...but he is kind, and friendly, so we make friends more out of a sad desperation that any real attraction to each other as people...

When there is nothing else to do, I write songs...Dale, the bass player and original lead singer of the Marked, owns a drum machine...+ I have a little 4-track cassette that I have bought with my pizza delivery money, so I make tapes by myself...I don’t really have a sound in mind so much as I just want to "be" different from everything else...I try on every style I can think of, from Bauhaus and Love and Rockets to Ministry and Sisters of Mercy and even the Romantics (don’t forget the Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, and various ‘raincoat bands’-a term I would later learn from Bono of U2 fame)...I make tapes for anyone who will listen, but I get almost no positive feedback...no one tells me I have a future making music, and most treat it as a consequence of my overall "lifestyle"...you know, I’m one of those guys who looks the part and acts the part but everyone knows he sucks...deep down, I really don’t care too much what anyone thinks about what I am doing...I feel like I am searching, trying to put together this massive puzzle that I only I can see how it is supposed to look when it is finished...at night, I tune into the college radio station, and listen to strange music from the distant past jumbled up with experimental art-type music...I wish I could mix all of these things together, but I don’t know how...I tune into religious stations, and tape the preachers going off about the devil, and hell, and eternal salvation...I stop recording in odd places, so when you play the tape back it sounds all cut-up...music at this point becomes an abstract...I don’t really so much care how to write songs so much as I want to make sound that makes me feel...it all goes in my head like a blender, all this noise and sound and isolation mixes up into a feeling that is elusive, but I can taste it in my mouth...I begin to focus more and more on sound as my paint...even though my voice is disappointing to me, I figure it is a sound like any other, and I just start thinking of it as another guitar...I come to realize that the band is a huge disappointment to me...it is too chaotic...though it gives us a reason to stick together and look and act the way we do, it’s has ceased to be about music...the original idea fades after a point, because there is no energy around to sustain it...we don’t stick with songs for too long anyway, as we keep dumping ones we grow bored with...when we do manage to practice, we don’t have a vocal p.a., so even though we learn each others songs (musically speaking), no one knows how the vocals go or sound until we actually go onstage to play a show!! (if you want to hear yourself sing in practice, you sing into the wall from about 2 feet) Our shows are fairly far and few between, and because the band might only bring in 20 people and drive the 10 that are already in there drinking out, we don’t often get asked back...for these many months, my life is just a haze of wasting space, making demos, walking around, and hopefully, going out at night to some club...I do a good job of hiding that I am in any pain, or lonely, or sad...but I do not feel lost...

a few bouncers that recognize me from playing gigs assume that I am over 21, and don’t bother to ask me for an i.d when I show up at their door...this is how I meet a fellow goth, whom I end up dating/sleeping with...she asks me to move in with her, and because I am so tired of bedding down with the roaches, I jump at the chance...the roommate, her male friend from school, who dances in clogs no less at the amusement park in the touristy "biergarten", doesn’t like me very much, and constantly complains to her that I am far too messy...this arrangement only lasts a short while (about a month or so), as I am not truly in love with the girl but am kinda going thru the motions (although at that time she was very nice to me, and I was generally appreciate of her tenderness, more on her later)...so I end up back on the floor of the rehearsal space with my friends "la cocaroachas"...my body is bruised purple and yellow all over from being anemic and sleeping on the hard, tile floor...I feel invisible, and the need to be "seen" by anyone as a real, feeling person begins to consume me...I meet an English girl, a drinker who takes an asexual liking to me...we become friends, and she begins picking me up at night to go over to her house and just talk...I begin to spend the night often, but we never kiss or touch...we just lay wordlessly in her bed, listening to The Fall, until she passes out...I feel like she just wants someone there next to her, and even though I feel needed, it also makes me sad because there is also a basic rejection in there somewhere, and it just makes me all the more lonely...

it is in this summer of 1986 that I see 2 shows that will have a tremendous bearing on my future (unknown to me at the time)...the first is the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who I see play in a small club with a robust audience of 100 people...little do I know that one day they will play a huge role in my life, and the ultimate success of the Smashing Pumpkins...the other band is a little more of a story...they play outside on a warm, cloudless night...I have never heard of them before, but a friend takes me to the show...I ask what kind of music the band plays, and they say "rasta"...I go, "um, like Bob Marley?"...I didn’t realize that I was going to see one of the greatest shows (and bands) of my life...the group is Bad Brains, a New York group of Rastafarians who played hardcore-speed metal mixed with large doses of reggae...their lead singer is a short, squat man with very long dreads named H.R...Bad Brains would play amazingly intense bursts of prog-metal music followed by a soothing 6 minutes of dub reggae...they were the first band that I ever saw that captured the rollercoaster dynamics that would later become the blueprint for grunge via the music of Jane’s Addiction and the Pixies...towards the end of a brilliant performance, H.R. climbed up the concrete bandshell that the band was playing in front of...when I say climbed, I mean he used his hands to scale the outer rim of the bandshell, so that the end result was that he was dangling 20ft above the band with his back to the audience while he still rocked out! (his dreads a-flyin’ like some Egyptian Medusa) Incredible!!...if he fell, he would kill himself...he hung for well over a minute thru his superhuman strength, and calmly slid himself down, hand by hand until he stood beaming back in front of an adoring crowd...(one day, the Bad Brains would open for the Pumpkins in France, one of the great honors of my life)

I meet a bona fide "model", a 17-year old who has been on the catwalks of Milan and Paris...she drives a fancy French car (a Peugeot, mon ami) and has money...she also is a photographer, and takes some of the earliest "art" type photos of me...(sadly, I don’t have any copies and have never been able to locate her)...she makes me feel special, and desired...I know for every intellectual reason that I should "like" her, but I just don’t...she is very beautiful and pixie-esqe, and seems very keen to hang out with me everyday...after getting to know each other for a few weeks, I start questioning her as to why we never go over to her house...she makes some excuses about her parents, saying they are uptight, whatever...one day she shows up where I live, and tells me she has some "presents" for me, and a "surprise"...I say fine, whatever, and we leave in her car...I do not know where we are going...we drive to a state park, where she parks in front of the outdoor bathrooms...she gets out my "presents", which turns out to be shampoo and some soap...SURPRISE!!!...she wants me to go into the dirty, filthy bathroom and clean up (I am not that dirty!)...I am absolutely offended, and tell her I do not feel comfortable showering at some shitty park bathroom...I tell her that if she wants me to bathe, why doesn’t she take me to her house, where I would feel safe, and it would be clean...she begs off, and the conversation goes nowhere...she makes me feel unreal, like a doll you find on the road but don’t want anyone to know where or how you found it...I stop "seeing" her when she shows up at my next show wearing a burlap bag for a dress...

I make friends with a married couple...they are the 80’s version of the "cool alt" people who are in their 30’s...they listen to the right bands, go to all the best shows, drive an old car...she is a hairstylist who cuts my hair for free so that it will rat up and stick out better...every once in a while I go over to their house and hang out, and they are gracious enough to feed me...I really look up to them as an example of a couple who don’t sell out when you get old...they really seem to support each other, and integrate as a couple in a way that they seem like stronger individuals...they really give me hope that one day I can find the right person for me...I was sad later then when I heard they were getting a divorce...I asked whoever was telling me this ‘Why? What happened? They seemed so happy’... they told me that the husband had been busted for picking up a prostitute who just happened to be an undercover cop...(in the wife’s car, no less)

One cool evening, I run into someone I see regularly out and about...we get to talking, and one thing leads to another, and she invites me back to her apartment...she makes me some soup, and after I am fed full, pulls me into her bed...the lights are turned off, and we start kissing...each time I try to touch her ‘down there’, she moves away from me and tenses up...this goes on for about 10 minutes until I finally ask if there is a problem...she says "there is something I have to tell you", and proceeds to tell me that she is a he...I jump up and flip on the light...she/he says "look, it’s not a big deal, I won’t tell anyone, please stay, I’ll do anything you want me to do"...I beg off politely, saying it’s not really my trip, and I’m *boom* out the door, on the street laughing to myself (how could I not know! Oops...) it occurs to me that I always thought she was a kind of weird looking girl anyway...I walked the 20 minutes home in the middle of the night, and was relieved to get back safe...I go inside, walk to the bathroom and throw on the light, and gasp when I see the massive hickie on my neck...of course, the next day the band is rehearsing, and when they see the mark, ask who I had ended up with...I lie and say it was a tourist type girl who had already left town...after a few weeks, friends start coming up and asking me if I had slept with the he/she...I feign ignorance at the whole matter, but I start to get angry because I felt I had been duped innocently, acted honorably, and now some sort of revenge was being played out...after a couple more weeks of this, I finally pulled "her" aside and said not so politely that if he didn’t stop telling people what had happened, that I would break both his arms and his legs...and that was the end of that...

I’m so desperate for cash that I get up early and head down to the temporary agency...if you stand around long enough, someone will call on you and send you out somewhere to pound nails into a roof...I stand across the street at 7am looking at all the men milling about, wearing work clothes and hard hats and whatever...I am dressed like some sort of wedding reject, with a dress shirt on and pants that are too short...this is the best I can do for "work clothes"...I stand there for 45 minutes, looking at these men, trying to summon up the courage to go across the street and do an honest days work...to me, it is like a line that if I cross, I can’t go back over it...I feel like I am saying to myself that if I go and do this, I am, in some part of my being, giving up on my music...not just as a way of life but as a way out of the fucking rat race, the same rat race all my ancestors lived thru (with dignity, I might add)...I think of my grandma with her rough, sliced up hands (from stuffing envelopes all day) and her messed up back...I don’t want to give in to all that, it is not as simple as whether or not I want to work (I do)...no one will hire me at the places I want to work at anyway, so this is it I figure...after standing, and waiting, and flipping it in my mind 1,000 times, I give up and go back to the space...I decide I’d rather starve...

somewhere along the way thru this mess of my 19th year, somebody mentions that maybe I should try telephone marketing work...this way I will be indoors, not fry in the sun outside, and since I am so good at talking shit, be good at it and who knows, maybe I will make some moo-lah! Alright, where do I sign up? I check the paper, and see an ad for some place that sells something basic, like light bulbs...I think "how bad can it be?" and head down there about 10am...I meet the guy in charge, and he says "please sit down, name, blah blah etc etc"...then he says, "what is your disability?" "huh, excuse me sir?" (long pause)...he says again,slowly "what is your disability?" I catch on quick and realize that you must have some sort of disability to work at this place...so I tell him I am deaf in one ear...he asks a few other basic questions (related to my new found ‘problem’), and this seems to satisfy him (even though I think he knows I am lying)...he blurts "great, you are hired" and I ask him meekly "when do I start? To which he happily replies "well, how about right now?!"...he rattles off the procedures, rules and the like, stressing that calls are monitored and you must ask permission to go to the washroom...he hands me a script, which reads something like this:

hello mr/mrs _____, how are you today? My name is ____, and I am a disabled American working for a living...you can appreciate that, can’t you mr/mrs ____ that rather than sponge off the government, I am a hard working citizen? (pause) we are making a special, one-time offer to you today on our miracle cleaner that can clean anything off of anything, it’s the million and one uses "MIRACLE CLEAN!!" now, how many bottles would you like to purchase today, mr/mrs ____, for the special one-time price of $19.99? (if answer is no, cont.) if you act now, we will throw in a second bottle of MIRACLE CLEAN absolutely free for NO CHARGE!!! Would you like to use a credit card mr/mrs _____?? Ok, are you interested in any of our EVERLAST LIGHTBULBS?? One bulb lasts for ever with a lifetime guarantee, all for the super low, one-time price of $9.99!!! so, how many would you like to purchase today, mr/mrs _____? One dozen bulbs for $39.99...Ok, are you interested in any of our WONDERCARE CHILD VITAMINS?? Just one pill satisfies all the nutritional needs of a growing blah blah blah blah blah...

So "the boss" (who, by the way, is a 30 something stoner, slightly overweight, got the security guard attitude) tears me a strip from the phonebook, where every persons last name is JOHNSON, and says good luck...I sit down in my little cubicle, and dial the first number...ring, ring, (a man answers)...I say sunnily "Hello, Mr. Johnson, this is///CLICK-(sound of dead telephone line bzzzzz)...next call, ring, ring (a ladies voice) "Ah, hello?" "Hello, Mrs. Johnson, how are you today? My name is William, and I am a disabled blah blah" She angrily cuts me off..."are you selling those ‘never gonna burn out’ light bulbs??" I say "Yes ma’am, as a matter of fact I am" She ejects bitterly "Well, let-me-tell-you, I bought some of your shitty light bulbs last year and they totally sucked!!! Fuck you!!!!!" (sound of phone being slammed, air whooshing, compression of plastic against plastic-CLICK!, sound of dead line bzzzz-zzzz-zzz) I immediately start freaking out...not only am I lying about being disabled, but I am selling crap nobody wants...this totally does suck! (I begin to empathize with the lady who has been ripped off-typical pisces) I ask permission to go to the bathroom (funny look from the dude, cause it’s been 5 minutes since I have had the job for only 5 minutes)...I get inside the john, put my back against the door, and start totally hyper-venilating...my mind is screaming "I can’t do this, I can’t do this" over and over...another voice (in my collapsing head) keeps reminding me that I have no money and no way to get any food to eat, so I MUST WORK HERE, and might wanna try to deal...if I could just calm down a bit, go back out, climb back in my little cardboard hole, and try again, everything will be fine...ring CLICK, fuck you ring ring, CLICK, no answer, no answer....I start praying that each call will come up with no one to answer it....no answer, no confrontation!...I start to get wise...if I just call the same number, over and over again, that no one will answer on, I won’t have to talk to anyone! Now I got a plan...I make 5 "dead" no answer calls, and then randomly try someone on the list...To my surprise, I almost make a sale with a nice woman, but in the end she says she just can’t afford it and can I please call back tomorrow? I look nervously at the clock...15 minutes to lunch...I sweat it out, feeling awful, crawl to the lunch break, calmly walk out the door and just keep walking...

After 6 months of living here, and there, I start to get really desperate...I look like shit, my bones ache, my skin crawls, and I feel totally displaced, a child out of time...music begins to seem like my enemy, my captor...I wake one morning, just as the sun is coming up, and make the long, slow crawl to the beach...I sit on a cold wooden park bench, watching the pelicans do their suicide dive into the murky water...the park is totally empty, and the sun is barely just come up...I can see for a quarter mile in either direction if anyone is approaching me...I feel a little scared, because there are addicts and low-lifes in town who might still be up and out at this hour, so my guard is truly up...I have hit rock bottom, tasting the bitter root of my own dumb dream...by coming to "God’s waiting room" (as St. Petersberg is called by the locals because of the many elderly who move there to die) and naively thinking there was something here for me to do...that just by getting up on a stage the life I desire would magically appear...the band is a disaster, my life is a joke, and I have no idea of what I need to do to stop feeling so empty...literally, out of nowhere, a man approaches me (he is only about 10 ft. away)...I feel a little freaked, because I had just looked in that direction and there was no one there...it’s about 6 a.m. now, and he is heading straight at me...for the life of me I cannot figure out where he came from...he walks up to me and hands me a piece of paper...he is about 40, normal looking, smiles, says nothing, and moves on...I look at the piece of paper, and it is a small pamphlet about accepting Jesus Christ into your life ("are you lost? Are you seeking for something true?-I still have the piece of pamphlet-)...I have to laugh at the absurdity of it all...I figure someone is trying to tell me something, but I am not sure what...I watch the guy disappear off in the distance...the entire time I am in the park, which is about 1 hour, he is the only soul I see...

Ron, the drummer, begins dating one of these 2 crazy sisters who we would occasionally hang out with...next thing I know, he is living with them in their parents nice, clean, suburban house...the sisters are 19 and 17, and they invite me to stay there as well...I start by sleeping in the other sisters bed, but nothing is going on...all of this doesn’t seem to bother the parents, (who are the most wonderful and open people) the idea of having 2 goth derelicts in the house, sleeping with their daughters!!...since I have lost about 20 pounds from eating so little, the parents set about making sure I get enough good food to eat, and lend us their car so we can run errands...some nights when bored, we drive down to an old 1920’s hotel that is all in ruins, abandoned on the bayshore...we hop the fence, and go sit in the faded ballroom...it seems like there are ghosts in here with you, and I vividly imagine the life these people had, a life of glamour and style and luxury...it is the kind of life I can only dream of, penniless and disenchanted...we are wandering souls, and our dreams, if we have any, are of going somewhere far away from "here", but there are few thoughts that anyone of us will actually make it...so in that way we truly are "in the moment" (as they say), because the sweet moment we are in (sitting here in a broken down hotel on these starry nights), is just as good as any we might conjure up...

As the pressure in the band continues to mount, we hang out together less and less...weeks go by, and I begin to resent that they don’t seem to care about me, or the band anymore...there has been a hidden power struggle forming as I write more and more songs, becoming the lead singer in people’s eyes...Dale’s voice, which I always liked, seems to turn people off...I defend him left and right, but people tell me to get rid of him and have my "own band"...the typical rumours and gossip get fired up and fly around us, and eventually it all becomes typically unbearable...so after any old normal show, on a normal weekday night, with 10 people in the audience, we just went out to the parking lot, loaded up the equipment, and said what no one really wanted to say, but everyone felt must happen...and the band broke up just like that...no super drama, no tears...I was crushed, shocked that no one wanted to fight for it more (a scene that would be repeated, almost to a tee, in the distant future with Zwan)...it just seemed like such a total waste, all that effort, all that music, for nothing!...and the worst part was I now knew I would have to go back to Chicago with my "tail between my legs", disgraced, broke, broken, and move back in with my father...
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