EBP 2: Use Your Illusion

The above picture was taken sometime during the aftermath of the Blizzard of ’96, deep in the woods off of Union Mill Road in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. The rabbit in the picture was named Harold. Here’s the story. Fall of ’95 I got my heart completely broken into a million pieces and I figured the only way to get over it was to go completely insane. At the time, that meant wearing only vinyl rain slickers (preferably blue ones with yellow ducks), black Reeboks, making stop-motion animation films where I was attacked by porcelain cats, sitting on the top of my car while it coasted down a dirt road, driving construction vehicles at night when no one was looking, the 20oz Wawa French Vanilla, Strawberry Frosted donuts, falling into a frozen creek (once), re-reading the Hobbit (twice), Black Sabbath (in general), taking photos of Wawas and Tastykakes and mailing them to a girl in California whom I only met once for ten minutes, getting “accidentally” locked in after hours at the Cherry Hill Mall (twice), running naked with friends during a snow storm down a suburban street and calling the activity “The Children of the Moon” (once with snow storm, twice without), experimenting with CK1, becoming obsessed with one-dollar mail-order cassette demos, nonsense-collages at 2am Kinkos, Sebadoh (in general), trying to train myself to clap my hands louder than anyone (Josh Carr clapped the loudest), stealing golf balls from winter golf courses, singing songs into unsuspecting answering machines, dyeing my hair black even though its really dark as it is, Coca-Cola as a Lifestyle, waterskiing but instead of water there’s snow and instead of a boat its your friends car, drawing a comic with Nick called “Johnny’s Cat Is the Coolest Cat” about a cat who drives a convertible and hangs with weasels who have mohawks, and last but not least: Harold.

Here’s how Harold happened. One day I was driving randomly with Beatles. What would happen is sometimes me and Beatles would be so bored we’d just drive randomly, meaning we’d come to a street and I’d say “What do you think,” and he’d say, “I think left is the answer you’re looking for,” and so forth. We were making our way through some bland neighborhood in Marlton and at the latest intersection he said, “Making a right: clearly your destiny,” and so I did, and at the end of the dead end was a pile of garbage and in the middle of it a five-foot blue and white stuffed rabbit whom we immediately named Harold.

“We’ve got to save Harold,” I said.

“Indeed we do,” Beatles said.

So I shoved Harold into the back seat of the car and we drove off. Our first dilemma was where to put him, because he smelled.

“Not only does he smell,” Beatles said, “but he has lupus and is an alcoholic. Meaning I’m not taking him.”

I didn’t want him either, but we couldn’t just leave him to die. We settled on a place at the edge of my neighborhood, past some old power generators and deep in the woods. We propped Harold up against a tree and bid him farewell.

I started to visit him frequently. Started out innocently enough, with friends who came to pick me up. I’d insist that before we headed off we had to stop and pay Harold a visit. My baffled friends and I would tramp through the hard-packed snow and there’d be Harold, face down next to the tree. I’d dust off his coating of snow and prop him back up, explaining that all the heavy drinking gave him frequent blackouts. They’d all shrug and we’d head back down the path towards the car.

I knew the Harold obsession was getting out of control when I took my current girlfriend, who couldn’t make heads or tails of why I truly felt it was necessary to walk into the woods in the middle of a frosty night to show her a five-foot tall stuffed blue rabbit. “I’m his caretaker,” I said in all seriousness. “His wellbeing is my duty.”

But it wasn’t until I started to visit him by myself that I knew things had burst headfirst into the Realms of the Truly Weird. God help me, I was even beginning to talk to him.

April brought warmth and rain to suburban South Jersey, and this was the last time I went to visit Harold. Grass was already beginning to sprout along the worn dirt path and new brambles made the way difficult. I was wending my way towards Harold’s tree, prepared to prop him back up and urge him to quit his heavy drinking, when I realized he was gone. There wasn’t any trace of a recent human presence anywhere to be seen. It was like he had just up and walked away. I called Beatles that night, to tell him the news.

“I know,” he told me. “He quit drinking.”

From left to right: Frog, the Mess, Cotton Candy, and Fort Saint Davids. Delco ’97.  I saw Cotton Candy recently. He handed me his phone, which was ringing, and said “Talk to Dave Navarro.” Dave Navarro didn’t pick up, but I got his answering machine, so I told him the URL for this blog. He’s bound to have it bookmarked by now.

Big Dryw when he was Little Dryw, 1997, at 709 S. 6th Street aka the Show Pony. The beverage seen was the long-since-discontinued (and sorely missed) Wawa Raspberry Lemonade, aka THE OBSESSION. Pretty sure it was Andy Johnson who got us hooked on THE OBSESSION, which was more of a Lifestyle than an actual Beverage. Way it went down was: we tried to drink as much Wawa Raspberry Lemonade as possible. We were getting up to four, maybe five of those big-ass plastic containers a day. EACH. You’d come home, and there’d be old Andy Johnson, sitting on the couch, clutching one of those plastic containers, finishing off the rest of its acidic contents.

“Holy fuck,” Andy would hiccup to no one in particular. “THE OBSESSION.”

It started getting bad. All of us began to get these mysterious stomach pains, maybe not so much of a mystery considering all that acidic raspberry lemonade was probably eating our stomach linings away. On top of that we strictly ate Wawa Mac&Cheese. Johnson had a list of the numbers for all the local Wawas, which he addressed by their street intersections.

“I called 2nd and Wawa,” he’d say. “No Mac&Cheese tonight.”

“What about 8th and Wawa?” I’d offer.

“Calling now.”

The guy at 2nd and Wawa was onto us.

“Mac&Cheese again?” he’d say. This was before the little automated touch-screen thingys. You had to go up to the guy behind the deli and say, “Let me have four Wawa Mac&Cheeses, please.”

“That’s right,” Johnson would say. “Wanna make something of it?”

“You guys keep eating that much Mac&Cheese,” the dude behind the deli would say, “and you’ll BECOME Mac&Cheese.”

“Brother let me let you in on a little secret,” Johnson says. “We are Mac&Cheese.”


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