The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side

Wait so you think the island is somewhere near Portland? A-a-and meanwhile what was that crazy Clockwork Orange style vid they had dude watching when — Michael? Hell if I know whether he got home or not! But if Ben’s daughter — uh, hello? Oh shit, we’re rolling! Ahem. Sorry about that folks, just discussing that latest Lost with my gang here at Ye Olde FSD Offices. Anywho, so yeah, the above pic is from that Legendary Summer of ’01 which, the more I find myself thinking and writing about it, really was one of Those Summers, like the Summer of ’95 (greatest Summer of my life) and like Summer of ’07 is sure (and I mean sure) to be.

Image snapped at one of the too-many insane parties I found myself at with Carr and friends. Still basking in my newfound unemployed freedom, with a pseudo-girlfriend who was touring the country with a band she’d soon be dumping me for, I headed up the Turnpike to NYC where I flip-flopped between rolling with Carr and Screamin’ Joe, whose bitter end as friends was speedily coming its inevitable nasty conclusion. Screamin’ Joe was living out in Astoria…there was a store down the street where you could cop a deuce-duece of El Presidente for 99c and they had lime chunks for it in a big bucket right next to the door. Joe’s crew then was D.U.G., Colty, and Joey “Fucking” Robinson — Doug plays in Dirty On Purpose now and they’re pretty danged good — and Joe’s favorite line that summer was “You ever fuck with a knife?”

Meantime, Carr was living in an amazing Park Slope brownstone — the “fillet of the neighborhood” — and embarking upon a dreamy dream life that most people, well, dream about. When the sun went down we’d roll with his pal Yong out past the dried up concrete fountain (Carr’s caption for the pontificating concrete Merman was “Dryyyyy!”) to Prospect Park armed with bottled beer, rolling tobacco, and a watermelon, and we’d have ourselves a good old time, carving up that watermelon and talking about the essential stuff in Life. Everything was interesting. Carr and I would sit on the beach on Coney Island and he’d point out far-off seagulls backlit by the setting sun and say stuff like, “You ever get into birds? I mean they can fly.” And I’d nod my head in total amazement. I mean it is kinda crazy when you think about it right? Birds fly.

Up in Lou’s room, perusing books, talking shop, and drinking Delirium, with the Reason, ’01 again. The dudes lived right off of South Street, in a big and strange house where lots of good stuff happened. Wow, the more I think of it, summer ’01 really was the intense-iest.

Off the top of my head, Truly Important Folks I met in that year:

Loren Hunt
Matt Schwartz
Jordanna Rock-Garden
The Reason
Alexander Zahradnik (officially)
Lauren Meade
Scott Kmiec
Sara-Jane Billard
Melissa Frost
Father Gibbs
The Big E
Kelsey Lee Forbes

And that’s just a few. Did you and I meet in 2001? Let me know if we did, this is all kinda blowing my mind right now.

Ocean City Zero One, with the main man himself, Vee. My own OCNJ obsession started way back in 1993, when, having had my heart broken for the first time in my life, I found myself wandering dejectedly along the drizzly boards until I realized that girls asking you for a light (I didn’t smoke) actually just wanted to talk to you. Me and Vee first hit those boards in 1996, because a.)Vee just got a car and b.)I was like, get me out of this too hot fucking city man let’s just go to the beach. Crazy stuff happened. We stole bicycles and rode them across the beach and into the ocean. We found that if you went down the potato sack slides in the evening (when everything was closed) that you didn’t need a potato sack because the night-dew turned it into a kind of water slide. We found that if you stayed up all night illegally sliding down potato sack slides you could just sleep on a bench for a few hours and no one gave a shit. And we also found out that sometimes if you’re sleeping in the back of Vee’s Blazer, and suddenly you wake up to a loud sound, and you realize that what you just heard was someone opening up the back of a tractor trailer that happened to have been parked in front of the Blazer, that the back of said truck could in fact be filled with fresh buckets of Johnson’s Caramel Popcorn.

Which it was. It was Vee’s idea, really. Vee turned the truck around, opened the back up, and said okay get up there and do it. And so I did it. I tossed in as many buckets of fresh caramel popcorn into the truck as I could fit. And that’s a lot, brother, let me tell you. And so, riding back down the AC Expressway, cackling like madmen, me and Vee ate more caramel popcorn we had ever eaten in our lives.

Up to that point, that is. Because what we had on our hands was what could, for one person, possibly be at least four years worth of caramel popcorn. For the first few weeks it was fine. We ate it every day. But after a while we just couldn’t stand it. There you were, sitting in a hot apartment on 6th street, no money to your name, nothing to eat, except, except…don’t say it! Not again!

We started giving it away. We were in a band at the time and we’d have free caramel popcorn at every show. What band does that? None. But still there was more caramel popcorn. We gave buckets away to the homeless. We gave buckets to our parents. We threw buckets at each other. And still we couldn’t seem to get rid of it.

It’s been nearly eleven years now and I still can’t even so much as look at caramel popcorn. I’ve made myself sick just writing this thing. Ugh.


12 thoughts on “The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side

  1. Holy shit, summer 01, the last truly unhinged period of my life before i gave it all up for domesticity and a careerist rock band. After a day spent waiting tables hungover, after band practice at the House of Horrors (for a group that never played a show or settled on a name), we’d wander williamsburg brown-bagging dollar beers and looking for parties where the Liars were always playing. Or make road trips to philly for gigs that Joey Pony had imagined. Or drive out to Coney Island for the batting cages and more cheap beer. Colty and JoeRo. Gibby and the Reason. Bader and Sweet Lou. Goddamn. You think Summer ought-seven can live up to all that?

  2. Now everyone’s going to pretend that they don’t know who Skate is/are. Fine. Fine. Fine. I found out what I wanted to know on my own anyway.

  3. 1987 in Ocean City was My Summer. That was when I first found out about this city called “Philadelphia.” Philadelphia? How’s the crabbing there, I wondered. I knew it existed, because I kept meeting these crazy kids with mohawks and cute girl with those stripey leggings who claimed to live there.

  4. bader!!! even though you and i were just one degree off during these jersey shore times and didn’t quite know each other as of yet, i thank you for these posts as they make my heart swell with my own sweet, sweet OCNJ homeless memoirs.

  5. Off the top of my head, the Major Elements of 1999 are:

    1. The Mopey Stuff/Jessica Berry Saga, documented fairly well in my essay “How Rushmore Ruined My Life.”

    2. The Berry/Bader letters themselves, which have never been published and probably won’t, but all of which tell a good portion of the story as its happening including:

    3. The Lori/Heather apartment in Lindenwald, NJ, where we ONLY listened to “Live in Chicago 1999” and “III” by Sebadoh. Also, Bass Ale, garden burgers, and Nintendo, always.

    4. The Legend of Jenny Supercuffs, the Sports Desk, Rittenhouse as a Lifestyle, Martha and Alex Z. I will refer you to Hillary Rea’s play, the name of which I forget.

  6. Also, Philadelphia poet and National Affairs Correspondent David R. Baxter wrote a number of letters to the City Paper that summer, all of which tell at least one side of this very strange saga.

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