Spring I guess it was. Fuck, I think so…maybe 1991. The humidity makes it all kind of stick together, but I was on my way out. Out of my life as I had known it….broke and fucked-off after having a nice run for a couple of years. I had it pretty rough when I moved to Austin in ’86. Floating around, and finally being rescued by my Grandfather, and doled the princely sum of $25 per week to live on.
I was rolling. For a while. $25 per week kept me in peanut butter, jelly and Ovaltine. It was humble, but honest.
Then, I got all wise, and started doing pretty well I figured, selling Mexican brick weed and quit Jr. College to roll around on my BMX bike full-time and slang sacks. It was great for a time. Nice apartment to myself, sleeping a lot, amassing a sweet BMX collection, and sifting through some of Austin’s fine underground female talent. Real sage moves.
I had been out of a place, and on the couches of friends, and so the independence of dealing, and the success and apartment I had was really a big swell to the ego. I felt great. I had a really good network of buddies. We traveled, rode, and had a really fine time together. Then the weed dried-up. I was screwed.
Tried working, wound up crashing where I could, and relied on the kindness of friends. It was a great blow.
So, yeah…I guess it was spring of ’91, I would up in North Austin. I somehow found a roommate referral to this older cat…hell he must have been in his THIRTIES! He was one of those Texans with the old fashioned names, I think it was Odell. Fucking Odell. Who the shit names their son fucking Odell? He had Coke bottle glasses, no chin and thin mousey brown hair in a shitbox ponytail. He was a pasty, dumpy hippie with a middlen size set of moobs. He would have been an early round draft pick for a typical eugenics program. Just roasted from the get-go. His weak-ass East Texas drawl emanated from his inverted grey krill filter-like teeth. Inverted teeth make the wearer appear rat-like and untrustworthy.
I had been building my reggae vinyl collection with the help of Alejandro Escovedo over the course of a couple of years. He had worked at the Warehouse, and later at Waterloo Records…and he would set aside the choicest pieces, knowing I would roll through and pick up fat stacks of what he had culled for me. He knew my collection, and was a really helpful friend in making my dream of having a respectful reggae collection happen. He would make sure I scored the killer James Brown reissues on People that were fetching triple digits he had in shrink for face value.
One of the killer pieces he laid up for me was the Itals LP, “Brutal out Deh”.originally released in ’81. The original pressing had issues, and there were tracks that skipped when you played them. It was frustrating because the album was head and antlers above what was being released at that time. Sure, the Congos were killing it, and Black Uhuru were great…but, there was something so rootsy about the Itals that their authenticity made them feel the most REAL. I had this unwieldy, large, heavy collection of records that needed to be kept in a cool, dry environment…and I was homeless in a hot, humid town without a pot to piss in.
BRUTAL OUT DEH.
Shit was brutal…I was hurting. It was so hot one day, I was scratching myself in my bedroom at Odell’s. The granny rug in my room’s stripes seemed to oscillate, the air was so musty and thick, I just couldn’t understand what the fuck was happening to me. I was smoking grass as I always found myself doing, but I ITCHED. I’d scratch, and it didn’t abate. I just itched. I kept scratching, and looked down finally at my arm where I was scratching…
I couldn’t get my mind around what I saw. Why is this crabby thing on my arm? What the fuck is it? Wait…there’s something ON me?
Yeah…I had the fucking crabs. And no money. I just picked ‘em off of me by the hundreds.
I was having a fucking meltdown.
Odell’s buddies came by about that time. I fucking couldn’t stand them. They were know it alls who wouldn’t shut up. A lame weak dude, and an ugly girl who ran around in denim overalls at all times. She was slender, with you guessed it, thin mousey brown hair in a shitbox ponytail. Pasty with saggy tits….just a fucking nightmare. I had the Itals playing on my turntable.
I was dying.
What the hell did this mean? Did I have a disease? What was happening? Why am I itching so badly? Why are my eyes all fucked-up? HOLY SHIT…the fucking crabs are in my eyes? How the fuck is that possible? Are they gonna fuck up my vision? What?!!
“HOLY SHIT!! That’s the fucking ITALS!!! Oh my GOD!! Is that the reissue without the SKIP?!!!” Ugly Girl squealed at maximum volume as she charged into my room beyond the closed door into my personal lowpoint as a human.
“Uh…yeah….how about you get the fuck out of my room?” I queried cooly.
She thought I was gonna actually let her fly with my precious Itals vinyl. In my darkest hour. I looked at the shitty press board fake paneling on the manky walls of my room…trying to escape her frantic whining…
“Just fucking go.”
I turned to stone and just vegged-out until she actually tried to take the record off of my turntable. Odell freaked-out when I screamed at her. Like I owed his friends the use of my personal, delicate things? Hickoid East Texan hippie scum in denim overalls? Oh fuck that shit. For the remainder of my stay there…I was persona non-grata, and treated disdainfully. I had somehow failed the communist share the wealth one for all test with my personal property and more offensive protection of it. Oh, it was foul that I owned the record. So foul she had to have it…
I fucking hate hippies. They want everything for free until it’s their turn to share. Could that broad have picked some nits? Talked me off my mental ledge? Something? Performed some “freak-out tent” heroics on my behalf? Perhaps earned the right to ask for such a favor?
But, I was beyond trust after that moment. Simply trash. I would NOT be featured on their cable access cooking show…SURELY!
They had a cooking show? I didn’t have a TV so…hey, wait. HIPPIES who want shit for free have a TELEVISION SHOW? What the fuck? Media savvy, self-promoting hicks trying to cash in on god knows what? What the fuck was next?
Yep, again…you guessed it. Odell moved-out stiffing everyone on rent with his freelove bullshit, stealing my answering machine in the process…the one I bought with my honest dope dealing money.
Cause, you know…hippies need to stay in touch.