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From The Beginning.


Editor's note - for the first entry on, I thought I would publish Jailbird's first letter to me during this period of incarceration.  He has been sentenced to a year and a half in state prison.  In this letter he details his plan for a blog.


First of all, dude, your letter smelled delicious.  I don't know if it was you or the lady who sorts mail but I'm imagining it was you.  Do you still have a beard?

This place totally blows.  I'm sure you know why I'm here, it's neither here nor there.  It is what it is, Hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn for Sega.  I'm kinda disappointed nobodys tried to rape this "SWEET THANG" yet.  I'm starting to get a complex.  I got the tightest pants I could from the quartermaster.  Not that I really want to be raped, I mean who does am I right!?  It's just nice to be wanted.  If I ever do get approached about a raping I'm going on the offensive and try and rape the guy back.  "I'm raping you."  "NO, I'm raping YOU."  Kind of like a dog chasing it's tail only there's two dogs and they're trying to put their dicks in each others ass.

Anyways, books.  I got Tree Of Smoke.  Awesome book.  If you haven't finished it, you really should.  It gets a hunfred times better through the second half.  People going crazy, nobody trusts anybody, delusions, prostitutes, etc.  Good shit.  I'm really glad you introduced me to Denis Johnson, he's one of my top ten writers now.  I'll take any book written by him.  I'm especially interested in the post-apocalyptic one he wrote that starts with an F.  I can't remember the name.  Of course any and all books you send are appreciated.  The book of his you sent me in county jail is the one I got the line I put in the Detroit Love Muscle song, "Just for me she puts on blazing rage, high-heeled shoes, fake jewels and blazing rags."  Paraphrased of course.

I read a bunch of John Irving, they're really good.  I also like John Updike (or Dyke or what-fucking-ever).  Check out Run Rabbit Run.  I was reading a lot of Sam Harris, C. Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins out on the streets but that was mainly to score with semi-hot college chicks.

The selection of books here in prison S-U-C-K-S.  There's a black dude in the cell next to me whos like, "The guy with the books."  I like to call him, "The guy with the suck books that have all the pages missing where folks are getting it on."  Actually, I call him Chris.  Weird name for a black dude, right?  I asked if I could call him Lexus or Champagne but he said those were girl names and took his books back.  Jokes on him, they sucked anyways.

Most of that's a lie, he does have shitty books though.  He says to me, (yelling from the 6 inches his cell is away from mine.) "Hey mang, dig.  I gots some Patterson, dude's out COLD, and I gots some Mary Higgins Clark, she awwight.  OH, I gots some Daniel Steele (yeah he called her Danny Steele) that motherfuckers a FREAK!"  He also had, in his words, a LAME book called The Count of Monte Cristo.  I took that one as I'd never read it before.  It was really really good.  If you haven't read it you should or at least carry it around.  You can probably pull some hipster tail that way.  Don't carry it around in prison unless you dig wedgies in the chow line.

Okay, so let me know if this sounds like a cool idea.  I was thinking of having you start a blog where I would send you an entry every couple of weeks or so detailing life in prison for a year and a half.  It would be both funny and brutally honest.  I'll leave nothing out.  Maybe a good idea would be a question and answer section.  Ask inmate 370987 or some shit.  I'd answer questions about love and life from an incarcerated viewpoint.  Let me know if you have ideas for topics.  Racism, sissys, guards, fighting, food, etc.

Editors note - The rest of this letter is personal stuff directed to me that isn't important and wouldn't make any sense out of context.

A Date That Will Live In Infamy

Editor's note - This is the first excerpt from Ryan's first official blog post.  He decided that he doesn't mind his name and inmate number being posted.  The rest of his first letter will be posted soon.

Ryan Martin 370865
Macomb Correctional Facility
34625 26 Mile Rd.
Lenox, MI 48048-3000

As soon as the judge told me he would be giving me the mid-guidelines to my sentence my heart dropped.  My years of drifting through the system were over.  I wasn't surprised.  I wasn't grief-stricken.  I was fucking pissed.  They can't do this to me!  I'm too fucking slick.  Since the mid-nineties I'd been skating by with county jail time.  I'll tell you, there is such a thing as too late.  It's just that we don't realize it until we've been hit on the head with it.  It's a common fucking theme; I'm pretty sure it's the premise of Tolstoy's War and Peace, but to be honest I've always lied about reading the whole thing.  I've been a closet Dostoyevsky fan since I came out of the womb.

So, thirty months.  Not the end of the world.  With 333 days time credited it adds up to about a year and a half to do.  The time isn't so much the issue as the fact that I'm going to fucking prison.  All my life, (since I was 14 anyways) I had been looking forward to prison.  Acting hard in the softest county jail in the fucking world, Livingston County Jail.  I used to think, and to a certain degree I still do, old paradigms die long, painful deaths, that being a tough guy was all you needed.  I thought the person who came up with the adage "It is better to be respected than it is to be feared"- I think it was Yosemite Sam - had never been feared.  To be feared is a respect that few ever accomplish.  Ask America, she knows.  It's a proud, glistening wet thing, and it feels like a large constrictor snake.  It was the pinnacle of my night to be drinking  and hear a story told to me about how "bad ass" Ryan Martin was and the person telling me the story having no idea I was him.  I know it sounds egotistical, shit it is, but I had enough false modesty to 'aw shucks' the fuck out of it, and That, my friends, will pull some serious tail.

Well, now I'm in a place where 80% of the people here had the same idea.  Let me tell you, of those 80%, 65% of them are cold-blooded killers.  That I ever thought I was mean is just so much peacock feathers.  There's an old saying, - "All roosters are chickens, but most men are hens."

I got in a van with a certain amount of trepidation on December 7th, 2011 headed to Jackson State Prison.  If you're not from Michigan, Jackson might not ring any bells, but if you do happen to be from the mitten it's Dante's 7th ring of Hell which, if my memory serves, is for the treacherous.  All that modestly bundled up in a tight little package.  Fuck.  It's an old prison and the majority of it has been closed down as it is too expensive to run.  If you have Google Earth, look it up if the system will let you.  Of all those walls, only one is operating, and that's as a quarantine before you're shipped off to one of the many prisons Michigan boasts.  The first thing you see coming off the expressway is a wall.  I'm talking about a fucking WALL.  I'm not sure on the stats, but I'm gonna say it's between ridiculous and retarded tall.  the only thing that takes your attention away from this wall is the razor wire and the small cemetery just in front of the fence.  they're small, ancient looking tomb stones as crooked and random as barroom teeth.  It's the most depressing thing I think I have ever seen.  I once watched some videos on the internet of some children being blown up in some sandy country and it wasn't half as sad as this small grave yard.  These men died in what was once one of the most violent few acres of Michigan.  This thought wasn't the worst of it, they died imprisoned.  The children in those videos probably had breakfast with their families that morning.  they probably pulled their sisters' hair or broke a barbie doll.  There was a semblance of freedom there that even in a dictator-run third world country made it a death with meaning.  The men in that cemetery were told how to move and when to move every minute of every day.  And in between these demands they were wearing armor made out of semen-stained nudie magazines so the handmade knife didn't hit a vital organ, or trying to not become what is the majority of most mens fear, a woman.  These men had to tuck any feeling of fear and compassion between their legs like a transvestite ready for the town.  They had to be something that they weren't to keep the people that they hate at bay.  And they lost.  They died and were buried and were forgotten.  It wasn't a warrior's funeral, and it should have been.  I watched this cemetery go by and it dawned on me - sometimes you don't leave prison.  There are no grave yards outside county jails.

We pulled in to the gates and the walls were so high you couldn't see tops through the windows in the transport van.  Every man with me had on a mask of indifference, myself included, but we all had to have had the same thing on our minds.  "WHAT THE FUCK HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?"

“. . .Learn Fast Or Spend A Week In The Hole Learning Slow”

If you've never seen cattle herded for butchering this will be hard to explain but the intake process was a lot like it.  the men are scared, if only of the unknown, and defiant because of it and the seasoned guards are tired, fast, and pissed.  As soon as you enter you're directed to a large room where you're instructed to take off all your clothes.  Slippers, socks, underwear, everyfucking-thing.  You're asked to lift your balls, tongue, and spread your ass cheeks.  Now I hadn't thought to bring anything with me in my ass but apparently number 5 in line did cause they took him to another room.  The word was he had dice in there.  Dice are used for gambling and in prison are worth $35 for a set of two.  I'm not sure about you, but I wouldn't put an easy-fitting 35 dollars worth of bills in my ass, let alone two square lumps of plastic which I would later have to pull out, wash, and convince someone they weren't in my ass, and that they were worth 35 bucks.  What if because of supply and demand there was an influx of ass dice and they were now only worth 5 bucks?  Hardly worth it.

We were then given jumpsuits, all 2 sizes too small, so we looked like slaves chained together, pant legs up to mid-shin wearing slippers.  We sat and looked at each other with tough faces that to me reeked of as much honesty as a ten year old trying to look tough waiting to receive a shot at the doctors office.  Within a minute there comes a loud shout of, "NEXT" from across the hall.  We all look at eachother and a shout comes again, "I FUCKING SAID 'NEXT' ARE YOU BABY-RAPING PERVERTS DEAF??  ONE OF YOU GET THE FUCK OVER HERE!"  It was time to clip my nails and have pictures taken of all my tattoos.  I have a lot of tattoos and they draw a lot of attention.  Attention is something you do NOT want to draw from intake guards.  Besides being woman-beating assholes they consider themselves comedians.  "Look at fucking this.  You look like a two year old colored you with a crayon.  JEE-SUS-CHEE-RIST!  Do you fuck men?"  I'm not sure what the latter has to do with Jesus Christ, but I assure you, as of this writing I do not, in fact, fuck men or Christ.  Now this didn't shake me.  I've been used to dickhead guards for years.  Boredom and a false sense of security has made them jaded and prison guards are actually the better behaved of the bunch.  Knowing that a man has 20 years and nothing to lose tends to make you less of an asshole when push comes right down to fucking shove.

It was the uncertainty that made it maddening.  Prison is a new ballgame.  Here you are expected to be a grown-up.  Unlike county jail, where everything is attended to, everything is explained and structured.  Prison is learn fast or spend a week in the hole learning slow.  There is more free movement within the walls and you are expected to know where you can be and where you can not be.  I'm assuming telepathically, although after a week you've pretty much figured out it's smarter to just go where the people who are dressed like you are going.  It doesn't matter where you are, even if the individual doesn't know whats going on or where he's going, the herd does.  even if it's at the expense of the few at the front.  In the butchering business, they're seen shivering under the eyes of the "Judas Cow."

We were sent to stand against a wall, now holding a plastic bag containing one stamped envelope, a bag - yes bag - of juice, and a peanut butter sandwich.  This was the line to wait for the psych.  "NEXT!"  Nobody moved, "Christ" i said, "go around the fucking corner."  I'm a Judas cow extraordinaire.  There's a rattling of questions mostly pertaining to how violent you think you are and if you would like to kill yourself.  The glass-walled empty room outside the doctors room looked like the place they would put you to do it if you said 'yes'.  There was either blood splattered all over it or shit.  Either way, I'm glad I've never been suicidal.

None of this happened fast.  Well, the interviews happened fast, in between was hours of sitting, waiting for someone to scream "NEXT!" from some unseen area.  We were finally directed to the quartermaster where we were to receive our state issue clothes  and where we were first introduced to a prison hustle.

The quartermaster is a fenced-in area inside of the old gymnasium.  There are convicts working inside this cage with a cutout of your prison number to paint onto the back of everything you own.  Three t-shirts, nine pair of tighty-whiteys, two thermal tops and bottoms, four pairs of socks, three sets of prison blues, two towels, a coat, a pair of gloves, stocking hat, and some state shoes, one size too big.  All of these items are marked 370865.  I'm a number.  While you're waiting for these items the inmate workers are beckoning you with alleyway gestures.  "Extra socks for that stamped envelope."  It begins.  Nothing is free on Planet E, especially in a state correctional facility.

You might be thinking none of this sounds particularly bad, and physically it isn't.  Mentally, it's much different.  Just the confusion, uncertainty, and the idea that you haven't even gotten to your residential unit and you're already exhausted is too much for some.  Some break down while they're lacing up their state shoes.  My only saving grace is the act of this process isn't new to me.  I've been gently molded into accepting and adjusting to this kind of environment for years.  this is an admittedly new level but essentially the same.  So far.

We are given a sea bag to load our property into and made to line up looking at the inside of the giant wall.  We are issued our I.D. cards, which is a picture and our inmate number, and directed to our unit.  I am told to go to 1 SOUTH.

I enter into the door apprehensive.  I can hear the men from outside, a deafening echo against the interior wall.  As I enter I see a set of stairs winding farther up that I can see and a desk with three guards staring at me.  I receive a roll of toilet paper, a green bar of lye soap, and instructions that when chow is called I have 4 seconds to open my cell door or no chow.  It's my responsibility to be at that cell door.  I'm cell 6 gallery 2.  There are four galleries with fifty cells on each gallery.  To see the fourth gallery, one has to literally have his head in the fully reclined position.  Men get thrown or jump off this gallery at an alarming rate each year.  One man, a child molester, ziptied his dick to the railing and jumped.  I didn't see it, but I believe it.  Once you enter this place, all things are believable.  My neighbor is doing 25 years for shooting an old man and then fucking the corpse.  It takes all kinds.

I shoulder my sea bag and begin climbing the stairs.  As I pass the cells I vaguely notice the wolf-like predatory eyes looking out of them.  Looking into another convicts cell is akin to peeping into somebody's windows at night, only the people in these houses WANT to catch you.  I get to my cell and I'm surprised, genuinely surprised, at how they managed to stuff a bed, locker, desk, chair, toilet, and sink into a room this small.  The convict dimensions are this - I can stand in the middle of my cell and outstretch my arms and touch both walls (I'm 6' even) and it's about two baby steps longer than my bunk.  About ten or eleven feet deep.  If confined spaces and condensed fart aren't your thing I don't suggest you start robbing old ladies.  I made my bunk, put away my clothes, and laid on my bunk.  I started listening.  The white noise of 200 men talking, yelling, and screaming began to clear.  I could hear the black kids being tough and making fake gun sounds.  I heard somebody crying, hushed conversations between cells.  All the voices are ghostly and skewed as the wall of the unit is only 25 feet away and directly across it echoes all conversation from the four galleries seemingly into my cell.  It's a haunting sound that takes getting used to.  It's true, a man can get used to anything.  I couldn't sleep the first night.  The noise, the crying, the worrying I'll miss my door at chow, the angle the building sits and the razor wire that makes the slightest wind outside scream like maddened banshees unable to carry away the dead.  Now, 35 days in, I sleep too easy.

“Man Can Get Used To Anything”

Editor's note - Ryan's father passed along some important information. "'For those sending books, bear in mind it can take another two weeks to get from prison office to Ryan's cell. And thanks for sending them, of course'. ~Kemo's Pappy" Thanks for the update. Information regarding books sent to Ryan can be found here.

I am hoping to have more entries on the story of my past soon (if there is interest) but I have to steel myself for becoming totally honest, and to be honest, I'm not there yet.  So to add some weight to this blog, I want to discuss the human condition.  That also isn't true.  First I want to talk about my good friend and the creator of this blog, John.  Most of you reading this are familiar with John.  He's one of those people who always, not sometimes, do what they say they are going to do.  This isn't an affront to anyone, only a truth which sadly, I am not guilty of.  John is also annoyingly smart; annoying because he's smarter than me.  Mostly I just want to thank him for the great books he sends me and for getting this set up so fast.  He's also the reason this is so readable as my spelling is as bad as my penmanship.  So, with all dick-sucking aside, back to THE HUMAN CONDITION.

It is true that a person can get used to anything.  Prison being the least horrible in the grand scheme of horrible things.  I think where prison fails in it's attempt to rehabilitate is it's misunderstanding of this most basic condition.

It has to do with the ease of living the longer you're here.  A man who has his arm cut off is in agony and pain, then he will most likely become severely depressed, especially if this happens to be his primary arm used for jerking off, or had the sweetest tattoo, or simply because it's HIS fucking ARM.  Then comes an acceptance and, the most important thing here, adaptation in his lifestyle to fit this change.  This is a permanent change.  This guy has to buy all left-handed cups, re-learn how to drive his manual-transmission car, or *gasp* stop riding his motorcycle, learn to have a gentle, loving hook touch, etc.  Christ, wiping his ass will now be an action that has to be considered before just jumping in.

All of this is after he has screamed and cursed God, pounded his chest and claimed everyone within shouting distance to be at fault.  It's after he hides in his house and contemplates killing himself quietly because his pride doesn't allow open talk of such a taboo subject, not to mention the logistics of one-armed suicide.

Only after that comes acceptance, if he's lucky.

This is where prison fails.  It takes you through the pain and anger, the shame and depression.  It then gently guides you through the five to twenty more years of acceptance.  the problem here is that you begin to accept an unacceptable lifestyle.  You are surrounded (mostly, anyway) by deviants and degenerates for those years, and the acceptance is an acceptance of deviancy.

Nobody reading this could ever contemplate knowing or talk to a child rapist and murderer.  this is almost unfathomable to most people.  Here, you could be living in the same 10 foot by 16 foot room with him.

Now, some people hear stories about how these people are the lowest scum even in prison and are not tolerated.  I'm here to tell you that is bullshit.  While they are unpopular and easily spotted, (usually with wet, predatory eyes and a bible clenched to his chest like God has a soft spot in his heart for child molesters. Well, evidently he does if you think about it.) they are fucked with less than most.  Half from the stigma of the crime and half because they're fucking weirdos and nobody wants to have a conversation with a mouth breather discussing the merits of Jolly Rancher bait piles.  For the most part they are treated like your common purse snatcher.  After months you're discussing what the menu is at chow and how much of a bitch your wife is.  My point is that the most degenerate become the norm.  Man can get used to anything.

A Badge Of Honor

Okay, I finally received some questions, so I'm excited to answer those but first I want to apologize for not getting to the point in my last post.  I didn't realize it until I had sent it and have been kicking myself since.  I meant to wrap that up with the fact that we come to accept our life of incarceration and then become comfortable in it.  That is what makes rehabilitation impossible.  After a couple of years you don't "hate" prison, you accept it.  And just like any other situation you adapt and make the most of it.  In fact, the majority of men in here actually like it.

They wont admit it openly, but for some this is a badge of honor.  Media makes it that way.  If you're in prison, you're automatically tough (not true), a guy not to fuck with.  Free men respect it and unfortunately a lot of women are turned on by it.  I could get into the biological reasons behind this but it's nerdy and unimportant.  TV and movies portray the lonely rebel who didn't do it, or was imprisoned for an unjust amount of time and must overcome the odds and the animals.  Even if this were true, that still only makes one innocent man out of thousands of animals.  You think you picked correctly, girls?  Let me know how being on 48 Hours works out for you.  

Again, I'm straying.  Acceptance and rehabilitation goddamn I'm going to say it.  Prison is too easy in the long term.  Like I said, humans can get used to anything.  The first year or two here is hell.  There is a lot to learn and nobody to teach you.  If one could be dragged through this hell and then surprised with, "Okay, fucker, time to go.  Try to keep your hands to yourself and you won't have to have someone looking at your asshole every time you switch buildings."  we might have fewer returns.  Probably not.  The death sentence doesn't even deter crime.

Maybe acceptance has nothing to do with rehabilitation per-se as much as it has to do with forgetting.  It's easy to forget how much that first year sucked, that you wanted to die you missed your children so much.  Acceptance must be a form of forgetfulness.  I've forgotten what life was like with two arms.  I wouldn't even know what to do with two fucking arms.  (I would wipe my ass in tandem and grab two boobs at one time.  Wait.  Two different things, two different times of day.)

It's why heroin addicts return to the needle after countless times being sick, shaking with sweat and splintered bones.  It's easy to forget the hard parts when life gets soft and comfortable.  I guess I'll stop with this philosophical bullshit.  It'll lead me nowhere.  On to the fun questions.

Question and Answer

I am super excited to get questions already.  Fast for me, anyhow.  I realize it's a billion years in internet time.  Please bear with us as John has to send the questions to me and I then have to write and mail them off.  John then has to try to read my mess, transcribe it onto here, take out the garbage, go to work, ride motorcycles, send me sweet books, lift chicks by their nips.  No end to things, it's a process.  We're lucky John gets it done so expediently.

Anywho, question #1
What's the most ridiculous thing you've seen since you were incarcerated?

This is a good one, as I could fill pages with funny, crazy shit.  I was once bunkies with a guy who thought Jesus gave him the power to shoot lasers out of his eyes.  I've seen the biggest, hairiest men try to look like ladies with Kool-Aid and M&Ms.  Man did those dudes GLIDE.  More goofy crimes than I can recount, but I'll tell you about the most ridiculous introduction I have ever overheard.

While I was in quarantine waiting to catch a chain out to my permanent joint I was a porter.  I was let out of my cell from 6am to 2pm to take a broom and other cleaning supplies to the other convicts while they were locked down.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  I'm out of my cell for a while which is nice but I hate stupid people and there is no shortage here.  I want to clear up that statement by saying that I'm not an asshole, some could say I'm stupid for being here and it's true.  I'm talking about good, old dyed-in the wool stupid.  I would get questions from young guys that went like this.
"Hey, porter."
"Hey man, you think the mats gonna be comfortable in the joint we go to?"
No lie, real question.  So anyways, I'm doing my job and there are two guys outside of their cells waiting to be let back in after a call-out.  As I approach I hear them talking.  This is the part I heard, verbatim.
"Hey, man.  What's up?  You remember me from MTU?"
"Naw, man.  I haven't been to the "U" in ten years, man."
"I'm Scraw, man, remember?  I was the guy that got raped by those four dudes."
"Oh yeah, man.  I remember you.  What's been happenin'?"
"You know, not shit, back in this bitch."
That, my friends, is seriously ridiculous.  The fact that a man mentioning being raped by four dudes is not affecting either of them is the exact definition, I think.

Question #2
I'm curious to know what he did, but I'll also understand if he'd prefer not to tell.  Also, how do movies or TV (I'm thinking Shawshank Redemption / Prison Break) compare to the real thing?

Two parter, trying to catch me slipping.  I'm here because I took advantage of a dog.  I didn't get a first degree luckily but what they don't know is there was premeditation.  I knew exactly what I was doing when I got that peanut butter out of the cupboard.  No, really, I'm here on a probation violation.  I was re-sentenced to the original crime from forever ago which was a third drunk driving, driving while license suspended, and possession of a switch blade.  John will link my OTIS info on the site.  How a probation violation got me prison time is something that I will go into further when I get more into my history.

As for prison being like TV or movies, it's not.  Crazy shit does happen in prison, don't misunderstand.  Lots of crazy, unfulfilling bullshit happens here, the thing is in between those times is mind-numbing boredom.  I'm not talking about what should I do for an hour before I go to the gym boredom.  I'm talking about eight to ten hours of day-dragging, wanting someone to get stabbed just so there's some excitement.  On TV, things are always happening, something's shaking.  The reality is it could take a couple of hours waiting just to run the numbers for a football game to another unit.  The "REAL THING" is hours, days, months of waiting.  the thing is the waiting is deadly serious.  Everyone is on their toes which makes day to day living tense.  Some guys have been waiting longer than you may have, so an accidental bump or simple eye contact can break an already tight string.  People get to scrapping over literally nothing in here, it's just as easy to get stabbed because you looked at someone's tray of food too long as it is to not.  But between all this are long periods of tense quiet.  Not good TV, I guess.  I'd watch it.

Things Are Tough All Over

Before I begin all of this, I want it to be known that I no longer blame my behavior on my upbringing.  I used to and up until recently still did.  It was so easy to use my past as an excuse to fuck up.  I thought it was a birth right.  My father was a fuck up, so why can't I be a fuck up?  There are studies supporting this idea and, just like any study, there are just as many that claim the opposite.  I don't pretend to know who is right.  I don't care.  I understand everyone's had it tough.  As it was put in the bastard novel of youth, The Outsiders, "Things are tough all over".  This is just what happened to me personally and isn't some shit-stain whiny attempt at sympathy.  I was told it would be a good idea to fill you all in on how I got to where I am.  I trust and value this person's opinion so I'm going to throw some shit at the fan.  And you try and not get any on you.

I was born in the late 70's when crimes weren't as heavily prosecuted as they are now.  When I was two, my father left to grab that elusive pack of smoked some father take to looking for when things get heavy.  Some fathers never find them and I'm sorry, I really am, I'm lucky that mine did.  After some years of foraging, he contacted me when I was 18.  After a severe asshole move on my part we've gotten pretty close, but I'm putting the balls before the dick as they say.

After my Da left, my mother and I stayed with my grandparents for a short while.  My grandparents are the greatest thing in my life but it couldn't keep me from the degenerate I was to become.  If you believe in fate or destiny understand that they are not always words attached to movie themes of rekindled love and finding lost puppies.  If there is such a thing as predestination, I stomp on the face of God.

My mother was raised well enough.  Not rich but not too far from poor.  A condition so many are familiar with, we'll call it  a normal upbringing.  She was born to my grandparents who met and fell in love shortly before the Korean war.  My grandfather is a tall handsome man with an unshakably optimistic but realistic disposition and the infallible wisdom of someone raised on a working 30's and 40's farm in rural Michigan.  He came from a respected family who weren't in the business of making sure everyone and their brother knew it.  They just were, and as a prize a road was named after them.  More than that was the utter simpleness of a related group of people who were good without show.  It sounds simple on paper but it's the type of people they write books like The Grapes of Wrath about.  I'm not the only person who believes my grandfather is the pinnacle of good men.  There are still well-respected men in my town who seek his advice and is one of the reasons my life choices are so shameful for me.

After he returned from the Korean War, he was reunited with my grandmother who is a piece of steel in her own right.  Meaner than a bear with babies she could come up with one sentence that would make any man question his gender.  I'm talking about a woman who had no problem making you kid cry in a restaurant.  She was strong for her own reasons and is as lovely a woman as you could meet.  She came from a moderate family of three sisters, born to a mother I don't remember and a father I also came to respect immensely.  Her father helped start the union at G.M. where he retired and I loved him very much.  I loved how fucking tough he was.  He was tough in a scary gangster of the 40's kind of way.  There are stories that I hear whispers of now and again that solidify this idea, but like any whisper you never get the whole meaning as that's what hushed voices are for.  I loved the fact that this great Hemingway-like man would hold me and give me butterscotch candies.  It was like he was a great unmeltable glacier.  I have old pictures of him wearing his sharp gangster-cut suits and felted fedora hats, stocky-built and straight-razor gaze.  I always wanted to be a split between my grandfather and him.  His bent boxer nose was the most worldly thing I think I ever saw.  We lost him not too long ago, along with my grandmother's sisters.  In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, "and that was that."

So, through him my grandmother was no nonsense, sometimes cruel, but unwavering.  I can't explain the complexities of this woman, I wouldn't even try, but I can see why my grandfather always held an unmovable love for her.  She was never one to compromise and neither was my grandfather.  They married and had two kids, my mother first, followed by my uncle an couple years later.  My grandfather left the farm but we were never far from it.  I have great memories of spending whole afternoons picking up rocks out of the field in return for rides on an old swayback horse everyone loved named Dawn and salty homemade ice cream.  I know it sounds too romantic to be true, but there it is.  I have some good memories.

My grandfather took a job at the Sheriff's Department, but at the time it paid so little that he had to supplement his income by working with a tow truck company part time.  He got to police an accident, then clean up the fucking mess.  He worked hard and kept his gun belt on the back of a kitchen chair.  He worked and he raised his children as well as any man could.

My mother has told me that they daughter of a cop is either really good or really bad, I won't say which she was but suffice it to say she didn't end up wearing a habit.  So, as Harry Chapin would sing you, she was raised up in the usual way.  She received a diploma and married my father shotgun style.  It lasted for two or three years and I don't know enough of the history to relate it here but I guess we all know what happened.  Sometimes people marry for the wrong reasons and nobody's really to blame.  Not really.

We moved in with my grandparents and that's when I started being what I am I guess.  While my mother was sleeping I put a whole jar of Vaseline in her hair, which she always kept long.  If you're not hip, Vaseline does not come out of hair.  As punishment for this act my mother still shows people pictures of me wearing superman undies.

I want to stop and say that this recollection of my early childhood may not be 100% accurate as  I don't remember a whole shit ton of it.  I'm writing from accounts told to me for the most part.  I don't really remember too much from 2nd to 6th grade in any kind of linear fashion.  Also I have only been sending out first drafts because I hate to write longhand, so if this becomes a little jumpy well, sorry and fuck you very much.

Jailhouse Ingenuity

"Less batteries and make sure your tube's warm when you do hot rails"

This is one of the numerous things I don't understand that I've overheard here.  I now know it pertains to making meth or some shit but it leads me into my ramble on jailhouse ingenuity.  That and I thought the sentence sounded beautiful, futuristic, deadly.  I like the way it sounds in my mouth, unlike, "if you mix ramen noodles, potato chips, and some random state ingredient, etc. it tastes vaguely like Taco Bell."  That, my friends is a lie.  a dirty, foul lie.

Convicts on the whole are terrific inventors and how can they not be with someone making up quotes like, "Necessity is mother of invention."  We really love to make the most out of nothing in here and you have no idea what you'e missing until you electrocute yourself making hot fucking water with a pair of fingernail clippers and an electric fan cord.  The funny thing is the state provides you with everything you need to make everything from a lighter to a passable version of a pussy.  You just have to figure out how to put the pieces together.

Take a simple AA battery (non-rechargeable).  How many things can you do with it besides using it to power ironically-retro CD Walkmans?  If you say "make meth" you're cheating.  We've already covered that above.  If you have a small amount of Brillo, or copper wire like you'd find in headphones, you've got a lighter for your three-dollar cigarette wrapped in toilet paper wrapper.  Hold one end of the wire on the negative terminal and the other to the side of the battery.  If your wire isn't too thick it should be scarring your thumb and forefinger right now.  Get that poorly-rolled smoke in there!  What do you do when that battery runs out of juice and you have to wait three weeks for a store order to come or worse, you don't even have money to order any?  Re-charge the fucker using the AC adapter you can buy on the yard for three bucks worth of noodles or soap.  I won't go into details how to do this in case some kid blows his face off.  If you really want to recharge non-rechargeable batteries the hard way, look it up.  You're already on the fucking internet.

Just so you don't think I'm an L7 I'll teach you how to make a stinger.  This is the electrocution device I mentioned earlier used to heat up water.  It's very simple and extremely effective.  All you need is a lamp cord and a set of fingernail clippers.  I'm going to try and explain this as accurately as I can but so you don't blow all the fuses in your garage impressing your buddies I'll include a diagram John can post if he wants.

Okay, take your fingernail clippers apart.  If this takes you more than 30 seconds, punch yourself in the face and stick to Legos.  You wont need the metal post that hold the shear to the lever.  Now the lever has a hole the post went through and the shear should have a hole that you would normally use to string a keychain through, or your dick, or whatever you put through holes when you think no one is looking.  These holes will have a wire threaded through them and tightly wrapped so a good connection is made.

You should now have a lamp cord with the shear half of the clippers attached to one wire and the lever half to the other.  You now have to acquire four zip ties and put the halves together as close as possible without letting them touch.  The best way is to put two zip ties around the lever half to create a plastic barrier and then zip tie the lever half piggy back to the shear.  Please don't do this until you've looked at the diagram, at least don't plug it in until then.  If you do, take video and send it to John, I wanna see it.

Okay, the two halves shouldn't be touching.  Once you've established that, get a cup of water that you want to heat.  Put the clippers (now your stinger) into the water and plug her in.  You should hear it humming to heaven.  You should also see all the nickel plating come off.  Let it go for while and start over.  The plating is only going to come off once.  DO NOT STICK YOUR FINGER IN THE WATER TO SEE IF IT IS HOT.  DO NOT USE A METAL CUP.  It's ok to hold the outside of the cup if need be to check the temp, or you can simply unplug it and test the water.

Now you're ready to add you cheap instant coffee or cook a beef stick while some guy gives you a tattoo and Hep C.  Good job!  Make sure you hide it well and don't let other convicts know you have it.  If you get caught with your stinger it's a dangerous contraband ticket.  You might as well have made a noose or a shank.

Respect: OR How To Get The Shit Kicked Out Of You In Prison

Everybody who's seen a prison movie or watched Locked Up knows it's all about respect in prison.  You've heard about how if you don't show respect you'll be full of holes and have a lock embedded in your head.  If you really and truly envision this, it becomes an absurd comedy.  (I really wish I had a dictionary to write down the correct definition of respect to really drive this home.  Before you go any farther look it up.  I'm gonna guess on it.)

Respect, to me, is a mutual understanding and a general get-along-ness a pair of, or group of, people acquire for each other after learning each has something of value to offer the other.  By 'value' I assume you know that I don't mean monetary value.  I mean intellectual and or industrial.  Some shit like that.

When you hear people complain that they don't like someone but they respect them they are lying.  They fear that person but can't or won't admit it.  That person has or knows something that is potentially harmful or threatening to the other.  Plain & simple, tits & ass, black & white.  It's fear, a quasi-respect that I'd like to talk about.

There's many ways to get the shit kicked out of yourself in prison.  No end of things.  The subtleties are of a culture all to itself.  In regular society, small almost undetectable facial gestures convey the whole spectrum of emotions, conveying feelings and intents before a word is even spoken.  In prison, you spend your whole day deliberately trying not to look at people.  Every intent is displayed through action.  ABSURD action.  Think of those brightly colored birds who dance around each other for hours in a brightly-decorated pseudo-threatening display.  It takes forever because one bird is scared and the other is glad of it.  Funniest of all is that, by the end of it, neither one gets laid because the female said 'fuck it' and let the raven hit it.  AM I RIGHT, FELLAS!?  Huh, huh?  Moving on.

In prison there are so many alpha males that civility is unattainable.  These men would like to be respected, but few have anything to offer so they confuse the word with fear, which they can offer, even if it's just brightly-colored feathers.  These men will puff up their chests and walk around as purposefully as possible, ideally with a couple of smaller dudes in tow.  Now say I'm walking down this hall and I bump into one of his feathers, (i.e. his massive freight-truck arm).  Correct protocol here is to say 'excuse me'.  this would be called 'showing respect.'  Now, I say it isn't.  There isn't anything mutual here.  Had the situation been the other way around I would not be shown the same respect.  Dick and nuts to me.  So, in turn I would be obliged to say something disrespectful to show I should have deserved the respect of an 'excuse me.'

So, now the feathers are out.  In most cases after some words it would be decided that I will get and 'excuse me' next fucking time.  You see how absurd this is getting?

The scenario could have become a fist fight very quickly, but more times than not it wouldn't.  What is being confused for respect is this throwback's want for recognition.  He wants you to acknowledge that he is there, that he matters.  The thing is he doesn't care if you want the same thing.

Now, in most cases everyone who walks by each other too close will say excuse me,  It's a general acknowledgement.  I see you, I know you exist.  If you're not on your toes, if you're not aware of your surroundings, it's possible to get hit in the face with a lock,

Another funny idea of respect in here is the politics of a fight.  Now, don't get me wrong. A lot of times there are no politics.  One minute you've got your dick in your hand pissing, the next minute you're snoring on the ground with your pants around your knees because you jumped ahead in line for the microwave.  It happens and usually you wont see it coming.  When it comes to fighting, it's just like anywhere else: nobody wants to be punched in the face.  It sucks and it hurts.  Most people stabbed or punched here never saw it coming.  Getting the upper hand is essential, especially when 80% of the guys are lifting weights all day.

When there is a face to face conflict more times than not it wont end up with fists flying.  What you're really establishing here is fear.  You;re letting this man know that you have no problem mashing his potato and he in return is letting you know that scrambling your egg wouldn't bother him any.  It's all barking through the fence.  This guy knows you're not easy prey and if he's going to get honest with himself he's come to terms with the fact that he'd probably get punched in the face during the fight, and we've already established that nobody likes to get punched in the face.  You now have a mutual fear for each other.  Congratulations!  This also serves as a warning to others that you, in fact, will be taking no shit.  Does it work?  Sometimes.  Depends on how convincing you are.  You can bark all day long but if you're 130lbs and your voice cracks at any time you might want to think about locking up or hitting the weight pit.

Oak Crest Trailer Park

As I'm writing this, Dee Snider is hosting House of Hair on the radio and I'll be Goddamned if it doesn't remind me of the trailer park I grew up in.  In middle school I moved with my mother and brother to a little hidden armpit called Oak Crest.  I had been placed in to a self-contained classroom for badass kids who can't play with others.  To say that I was failing to adjust is an understatement on the order of saying that Whitney Houston had a minor drug habit.  Oak Crest was a small trailer park in the middle of the woods.  It was, in fact, a glorified camp ground.  The trailers were all too old to live in and in the Summer you could hear the neighbor beating his wife to the soothing sounds of Bruce Springsteen.  There was a camp speed limit of 10mph that was strictly enforced by a near-sighted manager with a shotgun and bricks.  Because of the fear of being assaulted and the help of his three sociopath sons we had to meet the pizza delivery driver at the mailboxes that marked the trailer park entrance.  It wasn't a strange sight to see these psycho degenerates throw rocks at a first-time visitor's car while screaming death threats.

The people who lived there were my kind of people.  they were all people who had nowhere else to go or just didn't fit anywhere else.  There were musicians, Bill Cosby (that was his real name) would ride around on his ten speed while playing the guitar.  He had the biggest metal hair I'd ever seen.  There were drop outs and burn outs.  I learned that values of rock and roll at fourteen sitting with these guys at their picnic table in the summers, drinking their beer and listening to everything from Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention to old Library of Congress recording of blues men.  They never treated me like a kid, never.  I felt like a roadie for a working bar band.  My proudest day was when I was knighted the official joint roller and was given permission to change records.

Living there was bittersweet.  My mother was dating a man at the time that I couldn't understand.  We never did quite jive.  I'm not sure how it was decided but he thought he could straighten me out.  This is where I believe I started to be my most rebellious.  Rock n Roll told me I couldn't be broke, but they would fucking try.  For the slightest infraction I would be punished.  It started out innocent enough.  I'd break a rule and be grounded, except the groundings became increasingly worrisome.  I could be grounded to my room and sometimes just to my bed for months.

You may not think this is all that bad but let me explain something to you if you've never had the privilege of living in a trailer made in the sixties.  They're tin cans.  They seem to hold in the heat (or cold, depending on the season) so well that breathing or moving becomes sluggish and just not worth doing.  It was like a fucking country video, the ones where you see some hot broad fanning herself on a porch in daisy dukes and a halter top.  It was like that only there was no hot chick, just the misery of the heat.  My room was so small that to make space my mother's boyfriend made loft beds that were so close to the ceiling you couldn't sit upright.  Being grounded to that bed, a foot and a half from the ceiling in the Summer for a month was torture.  It was too hot.  It was like being water boarded with thick air and what made it worse was that I could see and hear the other bad-assed kids playing from the six inches of window I had up there.

Over a period of time I would be grounded like this for the slightest of infractions and what made it worse was that my brother got hip to this.  My brother and I were never close.  We have different fathers and we're different people.  My mother's boyfriend seemed to like my brother and in the end he could really do no wrong.  If I pissed of my brother it was guaranteed my mom's boyfriend would get wind of it.  I would be punished.  Not that it fucking mattered.  I was literally being punished because I ate BBQ chips we had in the house.  Apparently, I just couldn't get my shit together.

I understood we were poor.  We lived off of small child support checks and my mother's low-paying job.  I remember always being embarrassed and ashamed.  We'd go to the Rec Center and get our WIC rations of dried eggs and powdered milk.  there was also a can in there that I think was pork.  It had an outline of a pig on it at any rate.  We got all our clothes second hand, the usual uber-poor kid shit.  The thing that bothered me was my mother's boyfriend didn't grasp that we were poor.

There was  no denying the man was talented.  He was smart and a phenomenal artist and like most men who are he didn't understand the value of money.  He only worked odd jobs at odd times and was usually paid in junk we didn't need i.e. a boat, a projector TV etc.  What really pissed me off was that while I was eating powdered milk on my corn flakes this mother fucker (literally) had BBQ chip and I'd be damned if I wasn't getting down on that.  Even if I did have to pay.

I didn't respect him, I hated him and I believe the feeling was mutual.  If it wasn't, then it sure as fuck was when he started to beat the Christ out of me.  By the end he was beating me with the hard plastic tube off of a shop vac, really laying it into me.  I didn't tell my mother and I didn't let him break me.  If I was going to get grounded for a month or beat for not getting home fast enough when he fucking whistled I was sure as fuck going to have a good time while it lasted.  I drilled this into myself and it became my downfall later in life.  I learned to live in the immediate now, to enjoy the instant because you could be worn out in the next.

I did learn how to take a hit and used it to my advantage.  I started fist fighting with the local degenerate kids and that overlapped into school.  For a long time I had a hard time keeping my hands to myself.  There is a certain power in kicking the shit out of someone.  I understand how my mom's boyfriend felt.  Unlike him, I had a sick amount of empathy and never became a bully.  In middle school I was bullied excessively but that all turned around in a fucking hurry.  Bite one ear Mike Tyson style and those pansies found easier prey.  Instead of bullying, I got my fistfights in by warring with the bullies.  I found mutual hate with the punks and we'd fist fight with the jocks constantly.  These weren't playground scuffles, they were well-orchestrated rumbles.  We'd meet in a field and beat each other senseless.  There was always blood and bashed noses and broken hands - it was exhilarating.  I felt like I was somebody, that my pounding at this asshole's face made him acknowledge me in a way he wasn't used to.  This guy was forced to accept my existence and if it took stitches and swollen eyes then so be it.

Abeunt Studia En Mores OR: Don't Let A Hustle Become A Habit

There are men in here who fuck other men. Some do it because it's what they did on the outside, kissing dudes was their thing. It's hardest here for those men. They're the object of torment and ridicule. Men hate men who fuck other men. It's not the fucking. Men don't particularly care what they fuck. It's how immasculating the act is. Plus, it's gross. I could give a fuck. Someone once said, “You shouldn't care what one is doing with his dick, unless you're sitting on his lap.” He's right. It does bring me to the idea of absolute morality or, rather, the lack of an absolute morality. I believe that anything considered immoral right now can quickly become moral.

Moral: 1. of or relating to the principles of right and wrong 2. Conforming to a standard of right behavior; also: capable of right and wrong action 3. Probable but not proved 4. Perceptual or psychological rather than tangible or practical in nature or effect.

I don't believe morality has so much to do with right and wrong as it does with what best benefits a society. Deeming what's moral collectively seems to keep the train on the track.

Don't murder folks. Obvious. The Society does not feel comfortable if someone's just merc-ing people all willy-nilly. Of course, it is morally acceptable to murderize someone from another country.

Don't steal shit. Pretty good one. This also tends to piss off the collective. You worked hard for something you're not just going to let some degenerate take it. You'll kill the fucker first. You are more than welcomed to do this in Texas and Arizona.

Let's see I guess we can include not fucking things that don's belong to you. Adultery. You married it, it's yours. If someone else fucks it, it will be considered stealing and grounds for murderizing. Happens every day.

And, of course, homosexuality. I'm not sure exactly how this negatively effects society, but I do know God is not keen on you putting the innies with other innies, so that gets a nod. Although I never did get why not. Nobody can deny that two hot chicks getting it on is hot. NOBODY. I'm pretty sure the bible is strictly prohibitive of dudes fucking but I didn't see anything about chicks. God's a freak. I can understand it, though. The woman's form is beautiful, there is not one redeeming feature in a dick. Not one. It's an awkward bit of flesh that seems almost like an afterthought. Like a vestigial tail that you're always showing off and certainly nobody asked you to wiggle.

So, these things and a host of others are considered immoral. Now I say that these things can all become moral or at least acceptable in a very short time.

If every woman on this planet were to kick off all at once, dudes would be fucking dudes within the week. Don't believe me? It happens just like that in the microcosm of prison. There's no women here, and a lot of men will resort to fucking another dude surprisingly quick. Now, not every dude is doing it, some don't have enough time. Some just aren't into dudes – which I understand – but a lot of them are. They like to justify it and rationalize it. You are not considered a fag if you're the one doing the fucking. Isn't that awesome?! If you're not the one being put into the position of the feminine it's okay. If this is so then – who is the feminine?  There just isn't a rash of homosexual criminals and even if there were, who's going to say that he's a bottom anyhow? Somebody's got to fucking do this so there are some men so inscrutable that for a price they will be the chick. Some are pressed into it - usually a young man with gentle features who can't fight back. Some, most, will do it for a price. They claim to not be gay. Maybe they're not. Who am I to say? But once you start dressing like a woman and prancing around, you might be fooling yourself some.

Don't get me wrong. I know you've got this image of a guy all dolled up and ready for a night on the town but don't get it mixed up. I have seen a sissy knock a motherfucker out. Knock him out and then take his ass just to hurt his feelings. Sissies aren't about no games. They're paid handsomely and are not at all fucked with, generally. The guys in here who, at the same table, will talk shit about a fag will also have good things to say about a sissy – unless, well, you know.

And even if you take the sexuality out of it, men in here form close relationships akin to marriage. It's how I found my Jeffery. It's a close platonic relationship that becomes almost as burdensome as marriage.

It's imperative that you find someone you click with or it all gets too heavy. You have to have positive interaction with another human being or it all comes crumbling down. It can't be all stalking and warring. The constant pressure in here to stay alpha male is a considerable, though manageable, thing. Having that one other person to bitch about the other animals with can mean the difference between a good day or a stabbing. I am not joking. It gets to be almost surreal with all the posturing and cock-walking. I find myself fighting mad about twice a day on average.

I know I will not make this 16 months without fighting. I like to fight when I'm not in prison. I feel like this place lets me sharpen my claws. I would be in the hole already if it wasn't for the companionship I found with one guy. It's a guy I went to school with and had been friends with until he went to prison. He's just finishing a twelve year sentence. He's nervous and I'm nervous for him. You can probably tell that I feel uncomfortable writing this, but I said I'd do it. I don't feel any desire to see his penis, that's not what has me uncomfortable.

He's kept me out of two fist fights in the short time we've been here together. He's jumped right in between the two of us screaming, so close we were spitting on each others faces, and pulled me away. I see this man watch me and pace like a tiger at the zoo. When Davey leaves we'll probably fight. I'm ready for it. I want it.  It wont prove anything. If I'm as good as I think I am, I won't get caught - unless he tells. That's a reality, but I don't think he will. It will be fast and brutal and bloody. It's much like the release cutters must feel.

There isn't going to be anyone to tell me this is a bad idea.

A Dude Died; His Mom's Probably Sad.

Remember when I told you that some people never leave prison?  Two weeks ago, this statement couldn't have been more true.  I witnessed a convict die in a sallyport.  He was in an ambulance.

It's really difficult to kill a person.  You really have to mean for a person to be dead, especially when you are stabbing him.  I've been stabbed, seen stabbing, and done stabbing.  It's a tough business made more difficult with the limited materials we have available to us here.  Out in the world, you could slice someone up with a fancy Buck knife but still be denied a kill.  The bones and muscle of the human body make for great armor.  While you can make someone look a mess, killing them would only come after a sliced artery or the puncture of a vital organ.  The latter is made difficult by the position of the rib cage, which seems to be the area most often attacked, second only to the back.

Good sense would tell you to attack the softer tissue of the stomach on the sides just under the rib cage, or, if using a thrusting weapon, up and into the armpit.  The reality is that when you get to stabbing good sense goes out the window.  A primeval enthusiasm comes over you and in the frenzy you end up mostly slicing up your target's hands and forearms.  While this would be more than adequate in the world, to leave some body in that state in prison guarantees reprisal.  You wont see it coming and it wont necessarily be the guy you attacked in the first place.

In prison, people will mostly get stabbed because they probably would have won if it had been a fist fight.  Some would argue that there isn't a good reason to stab someone.  I wont say that I agree with this or not, but I will say that the reasons in here are cowardly.

Say you've run your mouth to a guy hoping that would end it - only it doesn't.  Guy now wants to kick the shit out of you and you're rethinking this because you believe that the dude most likely will kick the shit out of you.  You can't say you're sorry, you know you can't.  So you go get that "situation" and while the dude isn't looking, you get to stabbing him.  If you're doing it right, you'll be trying to kill him.  There isn't a reason to be stabbing somebody if this isn't your objective.  You probably wont, though.  Nine times out of ten he'll survive with some sweet scars.  Chicks dig scars.

Every once in a while someone does die.  The ambulance comes in and out of here on a regular basis.  You can hear the siren wailing down 26 Mile Road and then hear it snap off when it enters the parking lot.  I can only guess as to why they do this.  Maybe it's because as soon as they get to the prison it isn't an emergency anymore.

On this particular day I was out on the yard when I heard it coming, screaming it's pretense down the road.  It quieted suddenly and I knew it was for one of us.  I watched it pull around back and stop at the gate to enter into level four.  There's a sallyport there where all the vehicles have to wait for a gate to open, drive in, then wait as the gate closes and the vehicle is searched inside, outside, under, and in the engine compartment.  After 20 minutes they are let through to go pick up the stabbed convict.  They collect him up and the process is reversed in an agonizingly slow manner.  While the guard nonchalantly searches the ambulance, the radio is screaming and the paramedic has a blood bag.  I can see them racing around the ambulance and arguing with the guard.  I then hear the radio, "Never mind, he's gone." and the paramedic stops arguing with the guard.  The guard just finishes his search as if it was a store truck, only instead of produce it's carrying a corpse.  Just some convict.  I'm sure he had a family of some sort, or people who at least vaguely cared about him.

I wasn't sure how to feel.  I have a peculiar view of death.  I don't feel so upset about death anymore.  I used to, but you had to be close to me, really close.  Now, it's just more of a condition.  It's something that makes the living pitied.  Death, to me, is just a thing - a burst of a bubble.  You're here, then you're not.  POP!  I just don't have any feeling for it anymore.  I don't think I really did to begin with.

I just wanted to reflect the point that an alarming number or people are still being stabbed and beaten and even killed in prison.  You'll never hear about it.

I apologize about the last two posts being dark.  I've been in a weird place.  I promise to lighten it up with the next one.

I won that fight, by the way.  By a landslide.  And Dad, I'm working on your addiction question.  Love ya guys. - Ryan

Meghan's Amendment

I need to make an amendment to my last post or, more specifically, just explain it a little better.  I forget that there are people who read this blog who are more expert than I so my explanations can sound incorrect because of my inclination toward brevity.  FYI - I made that sentence deliberately hard.

My cousin, Meghan, is an EMT in Rhode Island and will, hopefully, be a member of the Providence, RI Fire Department one day soon.  She sent me an email through J-Pay explaining that when she goes on calls to prisons that passage from the prison is expedited because there is a guard that rides in to the prison with the ambulance, making the time spent in the outgoing sally port shorter as the need to search the ambulance is negated.  She also states that  they would continue to work on the man after he "coded" (died) all the way to the hospital unless there was a "catastrophic failure to the head."  (That's a term I made up for 'decapitation.'  You can use it, Meghan.)

Now this is a positive representation of the Providence, RI medical teams.  They seem to be caring, well-managed, and thorough.  I'm not hip to the variety of standards from state to state, but Michigan does not give a shit about it's inmates.  I'm sure the paramedics do and are probably driven apeshit every time they have to come here.  Most of these guards have a shit-assed superiority complex and if you need something done fast, the guards will do anything in their power to throw a stick in your spokes, even if a paramedic is rushing to get to a dying man.  The guards' behavior fits with the slave / master analogy --  t states that the most negative effect of slavery wasn't on the slaves but on the slave owners.  These men became accustomed to treated people as something less than human.

They encountered a culture that they didn't understand and out of fear and confusion treated them like animals.

Guards are just as much inmates as the men they are assigned to guard.  They spend a great portion of their lives working here.  They adapt to a convict's surroundings and they learn how to play the game.  Guards aren't like your typical TV or movie guard.  Some come just for the paycheck and they're perfectly agreeable people.  They talk to you like a person and aren't always in your ass.  They are also less likely to be stabbed in the face and receive the most respect from the convicts.

Then there's you "BAD GUY" guard.  The person who was probably a bully in high school or couldn't stop eating TV dinners alone long enough to pass the police physical.  These men and women are just as, or more, dangerous than the convicts.  They make already tense situations boil over.  They are the person who thinks it's their job to punish you, to make your life miserable, because they place themselves higher than all other people.  Prison is the punishment; nobody told them they're just the babysitters.

Anyways, it's these assholes more times than not who will be manning desks and sally ports.  The assholes who think it's their job to make everyone's lives miserable, their wives, their children, and any civilian who is unlucky enough to cross their path.  Guards are a whole subject unto themselves.

While I can't speak for the paramedics who I'm sure were doing all they could, I can tell you what I heard.  I heard the guards radio claim the man was dead and that, in effect, slowed the searching guard down.  They sat in that sally port for 20 minutes.  When the gate opened, the ambulance wasn't in a hurry.  The lights stayed off.  Does this enrage me?  No.  Just like the infallible Pink sang, "Sometimes it be's like that."

Meghan enjoys Saul Williams, tattoos, good beer, and gently carrying obese people down 17 flights of stairs.  How do they get up there to begin with?  Tell G I said 'hi' and I'll send John her story to publish. - My favorite G has asked me to write her a story about a mouse who lives in prison.  Coming soon.  Leave your tib-fib unbroke, girl.

-Ryan Martin

You Can Label Just About Any Horror Under "organic" or "for prisoner consumption" And Get A Pass From The FDA.

The food here S-U-C-K-S.  It's a sad state of affairs.  I'm conflicted on this, though, because  - I'm in prison.  What should I expect?  I saw a show on National Geographic about a prison in Peru where armed guards stood next to a putrid pot of porridge and the inmates literally fight to get half of a scoop.  (As an aside, Putrid Pot of Porridge could be a sweet band name.  Any of you feel free to use it.  My personal favorite for a band name is THE UNDERWATER HANDJOBS.  You may not use that one.)  The prisoners there are on another level.  Here we have Block Reps who are convicts and are fucking elected to discuss with the warden our rights, such as being able to have our shirts un-tucked (which we now can as per policy) and bringing to their attention that the suckiest movie, REAL STEEL, has been playing on a loop for two weeks.  Just when I get to thinking this place is the worst, some third-world country has to fuck it up for me.  Since I don't live in a third-world country, I'm going to continue bitching.  It's my fucking right.

If you're not a vegetarian, you've probably never had to suffer soy.  If your girlfriend or wife is a vegetarian (which makes you a vegetarian) you most likely have.  It is next to impossible to make soy something it's not.  What soy is NOT is good.  As in - soy is not good.  Fuck.  You get it.  It tastes like earthy nothing and shame. You know, it tastes like how I'd imagine the soil in the far corner under high school bleachers would taste.  The corner with the condom wrappers, a ripped letterman sweater, two beer cans (one Black Label, one Milwaukee's Beast), and a mildewy social sciences text book.  If you're thinking - "Eww.", you've hit the nail on the head.  That's what it is - EWW.  Now, mix this with cabbage, random veggies, and a side of beans every meal and you have your basic dish.  Sometimes we have a meal of fake poultry chunks and that's a delight.  Same shit, minus the soy.  If it's a really good day, we get some breaded bread with a vague fish or chicken flavor.  For sides it's always either salad, carrot sticks, or cole slaw.  There's dessert of cake or a fruit which is usually a bait-pile apple.

I want to interject again.  I'm listening to Miles Davis' Kind of Blue album and I think it might possibly be one of the best things recorded.  Really.  It's being piped into my head as we speak, or read, or whatever.  It was left to me by another convict leaving, which is it's own subject that I'll be writing about.  I remember reading something about it being one of Duane Allman's favorite albums.  He said Miles and Coltrane were about all he listened to for a couple of years.  I believe it.  He's the rare "rock" guitarist who could one-chord solo with such melody.  Anyways, based on that I jumped at the chance to grab the album.  I also got Tom Waits' Heart Attack and Vine, one of my favorite Waits albums. these two albums have been keeping me company.  Also, if you're curious, they are cassette tapes.  While they are old and somewhat nostalgic, the sound quality blows.  If you happen to be rocking the Sony Walkman cassette player to be ironically cool, we all know you're a wet spot and could give a shit about hearing the subtleties in the rhythm guitar on that Smashmouth album you're rocking.  Dick.  In conclusion - purchase Miles Davis' Kind of Blue and immediately rock the B side.

Food.  So, we've established that the food is gross.  There are enough calories there to sustain you but it's the regularness that kills you.  There is a two week menu.  X for lunch, Y for dinner.  (Breakfast is a moot point here.  It's always grits and toast or oatmeal and toast.)  Then when two weeks is up, Y becomes lunch and X becomes dinner, repeat ad infinitum.  Now there are some old 1 and 2 numbers here who like to talk about the good old days when the menu was much better, but given their state one can hardly rely on this information.  (By the way - "1 and 2 numbers" denote older convicts.  The older your prison number, i.e. a 123xxx to 299xxx number, the more times, or the longer you've "been down,"  therefore, more knowledgeable in general bullshit and rumor.  Ridiculous, but that's the way it is.)

Now to counteract that, we have a prison store that you can order from every other week.  It has your basic candy and chips but it does have some decent survival food.  Tuna is one.  Mackerel is another.  There's assorted freeze-dried beans and, of course, Ramen noodles.

You know what?  I'm going to save my wrist and send a copy of the store list for your viewing pleasure.  Notice the inflated prices.

 In theory, this is to go to our "inmate fund" which pays to have REAL STEEL play on loop.  If I haven't mentioned it, it's a REAL TURD.  Just a couple of months ago, the movie The Green Lantern was stuck on the menu screen for a week.  Another suck movie.  February was a joy, too.  It was a random documentary from the 70's on Apartheid in South Africa.  WTF.  At least hit us with The Color Purple or something.  Isn't that the one with the retarded pregnant chick?  the Oprah loses her shit when she sees the white dude on the carriage.  He knocked her up?  I dunno.  So anyways, the way you can receive this store is to have some solid people on the outside.  (Alison keeps money in my account which is something she's always done while I've been locked up.  Thanks, Al.)  You can also buy store from your state draw, which is the paycheck you receive once a month if you've got a job.  Now this is kind of a trick.  The most you make is $3 a day.  that's what I make.  I work five days a week, so it comes out to about 60 bucks a month.  The trick is if you owe any court fines, they take half.  So I get 30 bucks a month. RE-TARD-ED.  If I owed restitution as well, they would take it all.  So if you don't have somebody out there putting a few bucks in your account to supplement this, you're fucked.  You basically need to resort to finding a hustle to get by.  This could be anything from making greeting cards, to gambling, to fucking.  There is no end to hustles.  It's just one more stress to stack onto all of the others.  But like I said in the beginning, this place is no Peruvian prison.  Guys in there have M-F'ing hand grenades!

Love, Peace, and Hair Grease,


Prison Glossary

John gave me an idea for a prison glossary.  I think this is an excellent idea.  One of my favorite things about prison, about the world in general, is slang.  I just can't blow my wad at once, so to speak.  John suggested adding just a couple per entry.  So here goes.

Jacking rack - v. - Anything that can cause you to fuck up the good thing you have going. i.e. parole, being at a good joint, etc.  Example, ". . .I know he only got me for one soup, I should just let it go but I swear to God if he even talks to me I'll jack rack beating the brakes off that cat."
I'm not sure on the etymology of the word, but I'd assume it would be pertaining to jacking off your rack, just like out on the streets if you did something stupid you'd say, "I really jacked that off."  Or maybe you wouldn't, depending on how classy you is.  The "rack" would pertain to the thing you perceive as valuable.  Your "rack" is your bed.

Beating the Brakes Off - phrase - This is a term used when describing how bad you're going to kick the shit out of someone.  I have no idea what it really means but I love this one.  I use it all the time even on the streets. Maybe it has to do with how hard you have to beat old drum brakes to get them to break loose.

Press Your Bunk - phrase - Something you would direct the person that your are going to beat the brakes off of to do.  You're essentially telling him to go lay down somewhere and shut up.  Example, "You better press your bunk before I come over there and beat the brakes off you."  Usually followed with "bitch ass" and a cool walk-away walk.

"There are no moral phenomena at all, but only a moral interpretation of phenomena" - Nietzsche OR: "I used to do drugs.  I still do, but I used to, too." - Mitch Hedberg

I think I became addicted to drugs by accident.  I'm not sure anymore it's been so long.  I was 14 or 15 by the time I was on my way.  The drug use of my youth was sloppy at best and very unrefined.  There was the usual pot smoking and beer drinking, you dig, the kid shit.  I wasn't even clear on what addiction was.  Well, addiction at it's most polished, anyhow.

Now I want you to know right off the bat that this isn't going to be some "drugs are bad for you and now i'm righteous, motherfucker."  That's not what this is, but I feel I probably need to foreshadow some to get to the place I'm headed.  I warn you, though, I'm going to wherever the opposite of a beautiful tree-covered lane opening onto a wide, beautiful field goes.  The polar fucking opposite.

Like I said, I wasn't sure what an addiction really was, but i knew in my soul that drug use at it's base was at least romantic.  I really thought this and I still kinda do.  I've always been drawn to filth, to degeneracy.  I've always thought that this, people at their most mad, was the place where we do our purest living.

I felt the most comfortable in basements full of speed freaks and hookers.  I loved to get high and watch their movements, how they hustled and glided and interacted with one another.  It was like watching hyenas and lions fight over a zebra carcass.  I was mesmerized when it seemed like they were biting at each other's faces like dogs who try to eat out of the same bowl.  I felt at peace in the middle of all that chaos, and I admit that sometimes I can't get comfortable still.  I am rarely comfortable.

When I was 15 I started to take morphine.  I was in it's liquid form and very strong.  Some friends of my mother were prescribed the drug and we took the shit out of it.  I was a warmth that I had been looking desperately for at the time.  I didn't feel constantly nervous.  My muscles weren't constantly tense.  I didn't hate, and lash, and punch.  I felt at peace and all the filth that came with it, well that was a bonus.  The liquid became the pills and there was so much of it that it never occurred to us to stop taking it. And when we did it didn't occur to us that those flu-like symptoms were withdrawal.

Withdrawal.  Motherfucking withdrawal.  I wish I could explain my love-hate relationship with this thing, this creeping, holding thing.  I really don't want to get poetic about it, which is what I seem to automatically lean toward.  It's the unexplainable-ness of the thing.  I guess in one way it must be like giving birth.  It hurts like a bitch but once it's done you forget about it enough to do what caused it again?  That's entirely too simple, but fuck, isn't that the thing?  There's no big payoff in the after.  There's nothing and you're  never really better.  Not really.  I think it's a reminder of how tough you really are.  If I'm going to get right at it, dig righ into the sore, that's the truth of it to me.

Withdrawal is the love of the thing.  It lets you know it still hurts, that everything's still real, and pain is a slinking, spidery beast that wants to scream and beat it's chest at you.  Your job is to not flinch too much.  That might make it charge.  You lay on a jailhouse floor or sweat through a mattress and curse gods and children.  You curse every breath and movement and drip of sweat that streams like an electric eel sliding down your torso.  Shower water is like small, hot needles worming their way to your core like an Albert Fish X-ray.  The same if you try to drink.  You can't move but you have to keep moving.  Have to keep squirming.  You can't talk much but you don't need to, the conversations in your head are the arguments of the gods.  A great tug-of-war, the push-pull of guilt vs. salvation.  Salvation never wins out.  It never has in thousands of years.  We will continue to indulge our every pleasure.

Your face doesn't feel attached.  It feels almost too loose on your skull.  Any pressure to it or any part of your body is like a small, steady current.  You can't hardly touch your dick - pissing is torture and if you do luck into some minutes of drool-laden sleep, you're sure to wake up having cum all over yourself.  Only this is no solace, no ray of light in the storm.  It's cold and sad and it's like a wet dishrag left in a corner with all the small bits of food stuck in it to stink.  It's the whore shivering in the couch.  There's no end to it.  You tell yourself only four days.  That's the worst of it, four days.  You;re only deep into day one now.  Besides that, you think about your drug.  You pine and shiver for it.  You don't tell yourself you'll never do this again.  You tell yourself this is payment, this is a sort of toll.  Nothing is free.  The greatest pleasures to your mind and body must be paid for.  Ain't shit free.

The thing needs to be paid, it will be paid.  You never end up owing.  You see this in the movements of junkies and whores.  The imperceptible jerks of the eye to look at and focus on the tab.

Once you've completed this you can get high again.  Withdrawal happens for a couple of reasons.  Either you can't pay for your dope or you're trying (or forced) to quit.  Both are inevitable.  It will happen and the withdrawal is never any easier.  It's only when the sickness outweighs THE SICKNESS can you contemplate stopping.  You'll think about it and talk about it and try to convince your loved ones that you have a plan.  It's all smoke.

I'm having a hard time here.  This is really so hard to explain, to get right at.  I want to tell you how it really is, put the rock right up against the roll, but at what cost?  I understand now why everything I've ever read by an ex-addict who is now sober sounded like utter bullshit.  It was.  So to avoid lying I'm going to sort of move on to where I'm trying to go.  I'm sober now.  I have to stay that way.  I could let the spider eat me, I just can't throw certain people into the web.  I can't, so I have to let that be my drive.  I have to keep telling myself that, even now, because I still want to go back.  I can't though.  I need to keep my children out of the web.

When I was 18 or so, I moved to Detroit to pursue my career as a drug addict.  I was living off of State fair on the East side because it was close to Tony.  I went to school with her and her mom died of M.S. leaving her a two-family flat in Ferndale.  Tony had been getting high for as long as me but she was smarter.  She had looks as well and started selling ass.  Her operation was this: get seven girls of good quality, move them into the house and charge a percentage of the ass that they sell in exchange for room and board.

These were top-class girls, not the wild-haired, Garfield shirt wearing, two different shoes on, type street girl.  I started going to her place to get my dope.  Tony, who was familiar with my propensity for violence, asked if I wanted a job.  I would drive the girls to their dates and wait outside with a burner until they were finished and bring them home safe and sound.  I got $20 a trip.  This was a mostly 24/7 gig, so I made excellent money, sometimes clearing $500 or more in a 24-hour period.  roughly $400 went to dope.  This, my friend, was where it was at, as far as I was concerned.  Tony was a fucking hustler.  She was a sexy pit of despair sitting on a toilet seat, blood running down to and dripping off of her knuckles with a belt tied around her arm.

She was slicker than owl shit.  She would take a trick behind the water heater downstairs in the basement.  She would kneel down in front of him and as she started to unzip his pants she'd start to cry, I mean really turn on the water works.  She'd claim this was her first time, that she didn't know if she could do it.  Half the time the guy would run off embarrassed leaving her with the money.  The other half she'd just get slapped and have to work.  Either way, she cried, but 50% is good odds.  Workable odds.

These girls got to be like sisters.  I know it sounds like too much, but I got protective.  I never slept with any of the girls.  For me it wasn't about that.  It's like working at McDonald's and never wanting to see a french fry again.  Well, almost.  It was an inescapable circle of dirty, lusting madness.  The men who came around amazed me.  Their demeanor captivated me.  These men were either infants again or large, imposing, hurtful fathers.  Some had wicked smiles that never left their faces.  I kept a close eye on these ones.  Some had almost no expression at all and they were the most worrisome.  I filled my days and nights trying to keep these girls safe and I never succeeded.

I walked in on a guy prodding Tony all over while she was passed out.  She was spread eagle on the bed and this guy was kneeling in between her legs just poking and prodding like some filthy doctor.  It seemed like a degeneracy I'd never encountered.  It stirred emotions I had stopped having.  It seemed like an affront, but I didn't know to what.  My first reaction was to shoot him, then I moved to pistol whip him, but that would have led me to shooting him.  Instead I just got to beating him.  I beat the man until it woke Tony and she freaked out on me.  By this time the other girls were in the doorway, but they looked restless, they just looked tired.  This made me sad, that and Tony yelling at me for beating this guy because, as she put it, he was an honest man, that he would have paid.  I looked at him where he laid in between the wall and the bed and he was fucking nodding in agreement like a beat child.  I was furious.  I was enraged.  I was sad and sick and shivery.  If she got paid that means that i would have gotten paid.  I stopped working there not long after.  It all went to shit.  i left those girls to be poked and prodded and I just hope that they were honest men.



Did You Just Hit Me With A Fucking Lock?

Remember when I mentioned that I got into a tangle with another convict and won?  Well, you never really win.  Yesterday, Thursday the 19th to you, I had just gotten off of a really good visit with my cousins.  Alexa brought Meghan, my cousin from RI, whom I've previously mentioned, up for a visit.  We drank coffee and bullshitted and gossiped.  They left and Officer Handsy got me naked while talking about his wife and himself going to see the movie, Mirror, Mirror.

I left out of the shakedown room in a fairly good mood aside from the shame of spreading my ass cheeks so someone can look at your asshole and proceeded to hit the bathroom for a piss.  I was minding my own business, staring at the wall and whistling "Hoodrat Friend" by The Hold Steady when lightning went off in my head.  It staggered me some and the momentum made me surge forward and, as a result, piss all over myself.  I knew I'd been hit.  It's not a sensation that I am unfamiliar with.  I spun around while trying to stuff my stuff back in and expecting more.  If you're not knocked out snoring there's always more.  Now this next part is surreal, or was to me.  I saw the guy I'd fought with's friend standing there and he was kinda just looking through me, looking at some place back in my head.  His lack of forward moving aggression stopped me from advancing and I asked him calmly, "Did you just fucking hit me with a lock?" which was a stupid question as he was standing there holding a sock with a lock tied to the end.  (NOTE: Locks are rarely stuffed into a sock for hitting.  When you get to swinging it like that it will shift around inside too much making it less effective.  The lock is either tied to the end of the sock or to a belt.)

He had only hit me with a glancing blow not causing too much damage.  There was the usual head wound blood but he didn't put me away like he'd hoped.  He stood there looking at me and then just like a comedy movie he did the quick turn around and RAN.  SHOOM, he was out.  I took off after him but it was a short race.  You come out of the bathroom and can go left, which will run you straight into the guards, or right which leads you down a short dead-end hall lined with our cells.  He juked right and b-lined for his cell.  And made it.  It was a situation that, had I not just been hit with a lock, I would have laughed at.  As I rounded out of the bathroom he was trying to get his key into the lock on his cell like a b-movie actor in a zombie film.  By the time I got there he had shut his cell and just stood there looking at me.  Are you fucking kidding me?  As I stood there looking back at him a random guy comes out of his cell and says, "Hey honkey, you're bleedin', bro."  Uh, no shit.  Now, I wanted to scream  and yell death threats at this dude, (the dude who hit me, not the observant convict.) but if I'd done that the guards would get curious about the commotion and come down to check it out, ruining any chance I'd have to get at this asshole.  I wagged my finger at him instead in a 'well-played, sir." type of manner and went to wipe my head off.

There wasn't an excessive amount of blood at all and it left only a small nick.  It was the point of the thing that really pissed me off.  In my mind I was planning to kick the shit out of him at the next available chance.  In his mind he was probably thinking, "This honkey's gonna stab me."  He'd be correct if this was a situation where I had any more than just a year to do.  That would definitely be something I'd consider.  Not in this situation, though.  He did out fox me.  He didn't leave his cell the rest of the evening and after lock down he shot a kite requesting to be put into protective custody.

The only positive thing I can say is he didn't snitch (even though it would just be on himself).  His bunky told me that he wrote that he owed out too much money on the tables.  (gambling tables: a no-no, but generally overlooked)  I was at his cell waiting for him first thing in the morning.  He was already gone.  The most positive thing to come out of this is that there's nobody to retaliate against.  The guy I'd originally fought had rose out to another joint because of an unrelated incident, and now this guy's locked up.  If I had retaliated, and I would have, there's no way around it, it would have become an unending circle.  I mean it really would have got to sucking.  So at least it's over.  I can piss in peace.  It did ruin my good visit but as I'm writing this I know Al is bringing my boys to see me tomorrow so I have that.  That and probably total enlightenment on my deathbed.

18. Fan Mail

Hey, Guys.  Sorry for the wait (if you weren't waiting, sorry for the presumption. I had messed up my store order and had to wait a couple of weeks before I got stamps.  I have them now and I also have a fan.  Yup, you heard right, mother truckers.  A fan.  I got my first piece of unsolicited fan mail a couple of weeks ago from a gentleman named Chris.

Chris just turned 50 and rides an old VT1100 and says prison rape and Hep C aren't subjects that he finds funny.  I think that we can all agree on that, Chris.  He also says that he has a "soft spot for fuckups and that goes double for skeevy types with a righteous vocabulary."  So, Chris, your redemptive qualities certainly outweigh any lack of humor you may or may not possess concerning rape.  I thank you for you letter and I'm going to include some of the questions you wrote.

#1. Which tat was first?  What's the next one going to be?  Best story connected to one of 'em?

Okay, Chris, this is three questions but that ok because they seem to be grouped in the same category and therefore show promise.  The first tattoo that I got was a spider that I let a friend tattoo on my knee after I had gotten out of a foster home.  I was 14 and my best friend, Derrek, had just gotten out of a boys home armed with this new talent.  I thought I was bad-fucking-ass.  I thought that as soon as the chicks saw it I would be building a fucking castle out of poon.  The most I ever got was a, "What is that on your leg?  Ewww."  14-year old girls blow.  Now that I think about it, 14-year old girls molded my opinion of women forever.

My next tattoo will probably be another My Little Pony.  I am getting a chest plate and neck crest that consists of nothing but My Little Ponies.  There's gonna be so much pastel and glitter tattooed you'd think I murdered Easter.  I guess this sorta leads in to the last question in your series although it's pretty subjective as to it being the "best" but I'm getting them solely to destroy the pride and emasculate future opponents in a fist fight.

#2  How is your brother doing?

Ummm, I don't know.  Pretty good, I guess.  He usually does.  I mean I don't think he's sucking dick for bus fare or anything.

#3.  I wanna know more about John, too.  He's added nothing at all about himself on the blog page.  You suggest he rides but the reply I got from him on Reddit, plus the cool domain name from your blog, paint a more respectable picture.  More's the pity.

Okay, first we have to dissect and take this one piece at a time.  You say "you suggest he rides, but the reply I got from him on Reddit, plus the cool domain name for your blog paint a more respectable picture."  I can't say exactly what he wrote when he responded to you, but I can safely assume that it was indeed respectful.  John is an overtly respectful person, so much so as to be delightfully soul-crushing in his dialog with people.  They never see it coming and this is in direct relation to his intelligence.  On the other hand, it's probably safe to assume it's not because he rides.  If my memory serves, John also used  to ride an old 1100.  That fucking thing was like one of those bulls you see on the Wrangler Bull Riding Tour - a big, fearsome beast ready to kill you any time you fall off it's back, which I'm sure it was trying to do.  He held on though and I think Steve got it next and I then raped the clutch cable for my bike so I could ride on my bachelor party night.  Please excuse the rape joke, Chris.  It wasn't on purpose.

As far as the first part of your question, I think you're absolutely right.  I think John should contribut to this blog or at least indulge your request.  John is a first-class writer and is full of razor-sharp wit.  I sincerely hope this provokes John into adding some posts of his own.

#4.  How much like your dad are you (personality / temperament)?  Irish lineage (you called him, 'Da')?

I didn't meet my dad until I was 18.  There's an incredibly long and weird story that goes along with this timeframe.  He flew me down to visit him in NC where he lives and I pulled a "Bob" for lack of a better term and also to maybe get a chuckle out of him.  I'll relate that at another time.  I am told by other people that I am exactly like him in personality and temperament, also we have the same sense of humor.  He is now an alcohol counselor of sorts and still lives in NC with my sister and step mother.

We are indeed of Scottish and Irish lineage.  I may include at some point a family account, or excerpt of it anyway, from a letter my "Da" sent me mapping some of it out.  I'll need to get permission, of course.

#5.  I saw no mention of your mom - is she still walking the Earth?

Yup.  She has three cats.

#6.  Had any jobs (on the outside)(other than dealing) that you really liked?

When I first read this question, or misread it anyhow, I thought it said "had any handjobs (on the outside) . . ." and freaked out a little.  I then saw the page of lolcats you sent with the letter and thought, that can't be right, and lo and behold I had indeed misread it.

Nobody likes jobs, my friend, that's why they have to pay you to do it.  Coincidentally, it's also why school's free.

#7.  Is there any particular chow item worth eating or worth looking forward to?

No, Chris.  Nothing.

#8.  Did you ever "own" nine pair of underwear at one time on the outside?  I don't think that I ever have, but I'm not that into clothes, anyway.

This is by far my favorite question, Chris.  BY FAR.  I'm not sure why you put "own" in quotations, though.  Are you inferring that I probably borrowed them?  Maybe it's a typo but Chris, I hope it isn't.  I can tell you that no, I have never "owned" 9 pair of underwear but I can tell you that it's safe to say that I've probably worn one pair for nine days.  I'm not all that into clothes, either.

#9  Which song lyric has turned out to be truer, or more applicable to your life, than you previously expected?

"She said 'always remember never to trust me...'  She said that the first night that she met me.  She said, "There's gonna come a time when I'm gonna have to go with whoever's gonna get me the highest."  Hornets! Hornets! by The Hold Steady from the album Separation Sunday.

#10.  Any ghosts or paranormal activity in that place to report?

Okay, you just got a little weird on me, Chris.  Ghosts?  I don't believe in ghosts, but some people do and who am I to stomp on that?  This prison isn't very old and from what I can gather, people most associate ghosts with old places.  Maybe for the mystery of it.  Who knows.  I do hear chains rattling from time to time.

#11.  Go Tigers?

Certainly, Go Tigers.  I believe that anything that's more likely to eat you before you can shoot it should be commended.

Thanks for the letter, Chris.  I really did enjoy it.  People like you are the exact people  I believe make it easy and restful to live.  Jack K. likened you to Roman candles.  As my friend, Chryssa, would say, 'Stay same.'

I am going to include the page of LOLcats you included for the enjoyment of the others.  I hope you don't mind.

19.  Number Nineteen, In Which Our Author Hops Trains And Kicks Teeth

I got a bug up my ass to travel once.  I had close friends who used to ride trains around the country and I thought that was where it was at.  I still envy these kids, I really do.  It almost killed me.  By the way, that's literal, not a cheap THS rip-off.

My close friend, Shad, was in town on a break from travelling.  He'd brought this ugly scary chick he'd found at some homeless camp in Canada.  She was filthy and built like an ox.  Her face looked like a child crying in a sandbox and her pores looked three times as large because of the coal dust crammed in them.

She was a masterpiece and so goddamned ugly I could appreciate the women of the rennaisance paintings.  Our idea was to ride a train out to West Hollywood to meet up with some of Heather's friends.  After about four bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 I came to driving through Nebraska in my mother's car.

None of us had any money or food or clothes.  I had about five days worth of morphine which I made last a whole three days.

Even being sick and having stolen my mother's car, this was a great time.  Like outlaws we stopped in small town off the map and stole gas or we'd wait behind a pizza joint at closing and the teenage kids would give us their throw-away pizza.  You can also go through the garbage of a fast food chain and dig out a bag, take the receipt inside and claim you didn't receive a couple of the items.

I saw a lot of the country with zero dollars.  Always staying off the expressways if we could, listening to the three crust punk and one Willie Nelson tape that we had.  At this time, right around Georgia, Shad wanted to get back to riding trains and the gorilla he'd brought with him was thinking the same.  As much as I wanted to I did have my mother's car and just didn't feel comfortable leaving it on some Georgia back road to be accosted by gypsy moss and the slow, dragging heat.  It just didn't seem fair.  My conscience works overtime at the  most inconvenient of moments.  We agreed to stay together till Hollywood.  I told Heather she could get out at any time and that she was ugly to boot.  You remember the movie Cry Baby with Johnny Depp?  She was Hatchet Face with tangled brown hair and shaped like an odd dwarf, everything proportionate except her short arms and personality.

We decided  that we wanted to stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico after we had a grand old time in Denver and New Orleans.  (I didn't even want to talk about New Orleans.  Alison and I went back there not to long ago and it was a much more relaxing time, except for the stupid phone call that I made to Eron.  I apologize still, not only to Eron, but to Steve, EJ, (Was EJ there?) that chicks tight pants and her husband.)

Denver, though, was beautiful as was the Garden of the Gods.  All those rocks with flowers planted around them by people who aren't gods.  I should think that the gods would be less concerned with pretty areas of land and more concerned with the amount of retarded babies they're making.  Besides my cynical observation it was beautiful and we got drunk as fuck up there and probably left a few bottles of King Cobra around to prove it.  Nobody gets mad when there's a 40 bottle laying on Mack Ave. even with it's extraordinary architecture, but leave one King Cobra bottle among a bunch of rocks and flowers and you're a real piece of shit.

On our way to New Mexico we needed to stop for gas and the only place that was close enough was this fucking huge mega truck stop.  I pulled in and it was chaos.  About five acres of trucks in the lot, 15 pumps all being used, and last but not least - four cops parked outside a restaurant attached to the service station.  All of them were inside but I was still nervous.  Nervous like an altar boy.  No, it was less sexual than that.  I was nervous like a child who has thought about returning the candy bar to the store shelf but said "fuck it.  In for a penny, in for a pound."

Anyways, we're all scared shitless and nobody wants to pump.  I decided to do it because it's my mother's car.  Where I came to the moral or ethical decision that I should be the one to pump the gas just because I was the one who had stolen the car, I'm not entirely sure, but I started pumping.  Okay, so rule one when stealing gas is to look nonchalant.  Now, if you're within view of four cop cars I DARE you to look non-fucking-chalant, especially if you look like I look when you're just regular old chalant.  Needless to say, I was shook and because of this my reasoning told me to just put in a few gallons, like that made any goddamn difference.  I then gently took the nozzle out of the gas hole (that's an Eron term. "Get your nose hole away from the gas hole," regarding me smelling how much if any gas was in Pinky.) like any small click or noise would alert the guards, and then rested it on top of the pump itself.

Fact:  If you steal gas and then hang up the nozzle it will beep inside to let the cashier know that you're finished pumping.   Don't steal gas, friends.  Listen to that little cop on the sticker on the pump.

I got back into the car and Shad and Heather were crammed in to the back seat like I was a fucking bomb or something.  I told the to stop being pussies so I'd stop feeling like a pussy and tore off a little too fast and a little bit in the wrong direction.

I ended up lost in the lot full of semi-trucks and I couldn't figure out how to get out.  It seemed like I circled that lot for an hour thinking that those cops would be blocking the entrance if I ever found the fucking thing.  Every lap or so I could still see the cops parked at the restaurant.  I finally found a hole and took it.  It wasn't necessarily an exit hole but it got us out of there and, just so you know, a 90's Lumina can take some serious air and be okay.  We entered into traffic Dukes of Hazzard style with an impressive fishtail that fizzled out too quick for my taste thanks to front wheel drive, ran a red light, and jumped on the expressway like five gallons richer.  For forty minutes we thought the State Police would be behind us at any minute.  That little restaurant in New Mexico must have had some really good food.  I don't think that any of those cops budged unless they were some elaborate decoys or something.

We made it to Albuquerque.  We were there to meet up with some of Shad's train-hopping buddies for some R and R and general rowdiness.  I'd never been to the desert before this and I'd probably be okay with myself if I never do again.  If I ever hear somebody say "Yeah, it's hot but it's a dry heat." I'm gonna punch their face and say, "Yeah, it's a punch, but it's a dry punch."  So, it's hot and there's no grass yards.  People rake their dirt.  I'm not shitting you, these people are all crazy.  The one plus is that all the bars and shit are outside and they have this system where it mists on you from pipes hung overhead.  It's so hot that you never get wet, it just cools you off.  If you don't have any money, you can walk along the sidewalk and benefit from this mist - and get drunk snatching drinks off the table while the people at it are staring at your friends' facial tattoos.  Win-win in my book.

We met up with Sid, John, and this other kid - I can't remember his name.  They were part of train gang called The Outlaw Rail Riders.  I can tell you with all honesty that these kids are 10 times more scary than any colored gang or motorcycle club by far.  These guys and girls leave home at 12 or 13 years old and live on these trains going town to town like goddamn hurricanes.  You don't know much about them and you've probably never seen one unless you live in a major city.  They're rarely dangerous to anyone that's not a traveler, but among themselves their like warring tribes.

Now if you consider the normal gangs, they sound dangerous.  They are, and that's why we love them, just not out loud.  It's just that their danger is more mythical.  These big gangs can become infamous as the result of one publicized incident and ride that out for years with just small pockets of violence to keep the myth rolling.  These train kids, they're the real deal and they don't want you to know it.

In the life there's different castes, so to speak.  Train kids who just like to travel and are crusty and dirty can be violent and drunk but they're not always murderous.  There's hobos, these are the original train hoppers.  Some are absolute wet heads from drinking wine that comes by the gallon for so long that they're harmless in a scary insane way.  Then there's the others who would kill you as soon as look at you.  Lastly, there's the train gangs - young, indiscriminate killers but also, coincidentally, really fun to party with.

These guys live in a way most will never experience and that I only got a glimpse of and ultimately was at the receiving en of.  One minute we're partying, having a good time, the next someone's gulping for air with that scared, long away look and everyone's slowly walking away.  There was no argument, no screaming and fighting, and no "fleeing" the scene.  There, in fact, was no scene because we were literally in the middle of nowhere because the train had stopped in the middle of nowhere.  There are hundreds of faces on milk cartons that at one time matched the scared, gulping face of a kid who just didn't know what he'd gotten himself into.  When the young murder, it's more primitive than moral.  It just is and it feels that way.  When you see it, it feels like a ritual in some way.  Like Inuits pushing the elderly out onto ice floes.

Sid, John, and the guy who's name I can't remember were alright, though.  Shad had traveled with them before and they had a pretty good repoire.  They were still pretty stand-offish with me for a while, especially Sid.  Sid was 16 and his face was completely covered in pseudo-Maori tattoos and random train signs everywhere else.  This kid had absolutely no regard for anything, living or dead.  It was like walking around with an untrained and un-diapered spider monkey.  It was an example of barbarism that can only be exercised by hungry youth.  We spent two days together camped out in the back yard of some crazy guy who walked around with a grocery cart full of junk and claimed to be the manager of GG Allin.  It must have been true, he DID have a GG Allin shirt.  In those three days I witnessed Sid punch two college kids for no reason and got into a rumble with him one night drinking Early Times.  Sid was on my team.

The six of us had stolen a fifth of Early Times at the grocery store and were sitting in a circle, passing it around.  an hour or so into this peace pipe-type drinking session, four kids happened along.  Among the train kids they're called House Punks (the punk rock kids who have homes). and the ones who want to be more but try too hard are considered "oogles".  They are hated.  They are from a weaker tribe, an invading tribe.  These kids sat down and we drank and things got impressively tense.  One of the guys had no shirt on, a pair of suspenders, and the word "oogle" spray-painted on his back.

After I've been drinking I can become violent.  There's never any doubting that.  When I am violent it's usually over a slight I've perceived as being at myself or a friend.  I had been with these people long enough. I started to become entrenched in their ideology.  The mindless violence for violence's sake.  The way these kids would tattoo their faces and become murderously violent unprovoked might have been a preemptive measure.  It might not have.  I do know it was contagious.

For no reason I got up from the circle we were all sitting in and with my steel toed Carolinas I kicked that oogle dead in the mouth with a football-style punt.  His mouth exploded and he tipped over backward, bleeding and choking on teeth.  Before I could even decide what to do next, this kid's friend and I were fist fighting.  When I think back on it I'm glad someone cared enough to risk major bodily harm to keep his friend out of a coma.  If this guy hadn't jumped up and started swinging at me I'm sure I would have continued to stomp and kick at the downed kid.

Now here's where the unflagging loyalty of like people shows itself and has been something that has never left me.  While I was one on one fighting, the downed kid's friend and his other friends had circled me.  they had no time to accomplish revenge.  Sid had already smashed the whiskey bottle over my opponent's head and was moving to the others.  There was a general melee that happened faster than I can recall and then they all ran, Sid and John not allowing them to collect their fallen friend.  This guy I'd kicked, unprovoked, in the face was dragged and left in a ditch.

Being so deeply entrenched in this lifestyle I felt no remorse for him.  I wont lie, I still don't.  Men fall, some don't.  It could have just as easily been me.  As a matter of fact it was me.  I was probably left worse.  We're not there yet, though.

20. In Which The Author Finds Soul In The Glow Of A Crack Pipe, Reflected From The Mascara Running Down A Dude's Face

Okay, guys. where were we?  Leaving New Mexico I believe.  I really liked New Mexico.  It was all really hippy.  There were these co-ops where aging hippies would buy you all this food made from twigs and brush and shit.  As if any of us need any more difficulties, add sandy bowel movements to the equation and it was a laugh-a-minute.

We met some interesting people and did a ton of illegal things and then left before they caught our scent.  Shad and Heather were in a hurry to meet up with some of her friends in West Hollywood. and I was game for anything.

We took off into the desert and it is not as cool as the tv would lead you to believe.  It's hot and miserable and I was worried that we didn't have nearly enough luxuries like water and gas.  The towns were so small and far between that it took almost two days to get through the fucking thing.  We couldn't really steal gas because the towns consisted of five dudes with shotguns, so we'd limp in and beg a couple of dollars here and there to lube up the tank.  God, it sucked.  Do you put $3 in the tank and (hopefully) get almost to the next level of Dante's inferno or buy a couple of slushies to cool your dick off in?  I tell you it was ridiculous and surreal on a Dali level.  Time melted and just sitting in those gas stations for hours was murder.  My head baked and constantly throbbed and after a time you'd just have to laugh cause the heat made you delirious and nobody within 100 miles even wanted you there, sitting on the curb telling dirty jokes with a biblically-ugly linebacker with tits.  It was like Young Guns when whoever says, "Why ain't they killin' us?" and then what's his face says, "Cause were in the spirit world, asshole."  It was like that but without the sitting on the couch, comfortable and wondering why Emilio Estevez didn't change his name to Sheen when everyone knows that his acting chops couldn't carry his pretentiousness.  Yeah, it got confusing like that.

We did finally get out of there, though, and it was good.  On the third day, there was West Hollywood.  Holy fucking West Hollywood.  Remember when  told you that I loved crazy people?  Well gang, this is where they're all from.  It was like a drive-through insane asylum.  They really know their crazy there.  We got into town and kinda drove around aimlessly because we didn't know where the fuck we were.  Heather had talked to her friends on the phone and had come up with a vague meeting place by a YMCA that we had no idea even existed let alone where it was located.  The logical assumption here would be to find YMCA-y type people.  While this is ultimately the best case scenario for me, it was frustrating for Shad and Heather.  I drove until we found a relatively quiet residential area to leave the car and decided to walk a bit.

Did you know that there's two Melroses?  OH Christ.  There's Melrose Place and there the Melrose we found that kinda looked like Detroit's East side but with trannies stumbling around on broken heels with balls hanging out of their short skirts.  Trannies with five-o'clock shadow and leg hair, deep voices trying to 'come hither' you.  Would you have guessed the glow from a crack pipe reflecting off of the mascara running down a dude's face could be soulful?  It was the Devil's Ray-Bans.  It was getting late so we found this squat (an abandoned house or building filled with degenerates, deviants, and the all-around maladjusted) and decided to hunker down for the night.  Now we had no idea that on the other side of the large brick wall next to the squat was an elementary school, nor did we know that these guys had been throwing dirty needles and shit over it, but the cops did.  We hadn't been there a couple of hours when they raided it full-on Cops style.  There was fucking helicopters shining lights everywhere, guys in riot gear screaming and chasing trannies and junkies all over hell and back, bull horns squelching and blaring.  It was chaos and blindingly bright.  That's what really made it something - how bright it was.  You don't ever really grasp how dark a place is until someone shines a light on it, usually unannounced and uninvited.  It's then that you see the things you'd have rather not seen.  The dead and rotting body of a rat only feet from where you were laying.  The used and sad condoms and bent needles discarded only because they were so clogged with infected blood that they refused to work any longer.  All the receipts for nothing but the cheapest beer or wine in the largest bottles, broken bracelets that had been unwillingly torn from somebody's wrist, four kittens huddled in a corner, too scared to even mew.  These are the narrow places, gang, it's where it gets really heavy.

We were all rounded up and sat down.  The cops asked if any of us had ID then laughed and began to give us all a lecture on the virtues of adulthood while wearing riot gear and pointing assault rifles.  I know there's something poignant or maybe ironic there but i'll be damned if I'm going to give it a go.  I'd probably be wrong anyways, who am I the fuck to say, right?  Everything ever worth taking has always been done so and the end of a gun, but were they taking of giving?  Can someone in the depth of such a state be drawn back to the realities they've hoped to run from with threats?  These equally violent overweight brutes couldn't possibly have had more guts than us.  This guy who's teaching a class here in this prison would probably call this deluded thinking.  So far he'd lay it all out as that, but I don't know.  I don't think it's so simple.  I ask questions in his class but if the answer isn't in the manual that they gave him after his hard won two years he seems awfully vague or directly hostile, but I guess that's not what we were talking about.

We moved on and found this little place where Hollywood Blvd. ends at the 101 that feeds the homeless and sometimes gives you clean works if you're a junkie.  Mostly it's a safe place for younger runaways.  It's clean and the people who worked there were pretty up & up.  If parents called looking for their children the place kept it's word of anonymity and wouldn't tell them if they were there or not, but would take a message.  Nobody looks too hard for lost children, though.  I found a note on that board from my aunt Cindy, though. I never called here based on that note but I always did wonder how she found the place.  That woman helped me through some heavy places, but that's a different story I suppose.

Shad, Heather, and I used that place as our base of operations so to speak.  The gave you something to eat a couple of times a day and it was the one place we knew we could go to regroup.  Shad and Heather would go out to find her friends and I'd leave to wander around and find the twists and knots.  There's a hotdog stand that's run by transvestites.  Mustard with grilled onions and a bitching place to score meth if speed and tough hand jobs was your thing.  Most of the liquor stores that were in the "inside" (kind of a behind-the-street street, dirt swept under the rug) all had small walls outside to sit on so you could drink your beer and argue with fat Mexican girls.

I never looked for Marilyn Monroe's star but that whole town was her grave, only every time air from a grate blew up a dress I swear to Christ there was a dick under it.  I have to stop here.  I'll continue next with meeting Shad and Heather's friends and some other fun and gross shit.  Till then, hugs and kisses.


21.  The Road To Good Intentions Is Paved With Self-Righteous Shit Heels.

I'm going to stop from recounting the shit I've done in the past and really get to the scab of how I feel about a couple of things.  No matter how I spin it or try to make it funny, prison is a horrible place filled with swine and murderers, child molesters and monsters.  This is a place I wouldn't send my worst enemy, let alone a friend.

I want to talk about the situation that got me here or mostly I'd like to talk about the people who would have gladly taken a hand in it if they had gotten the chance first.

Now, we know that in a fit of anger my wife showed my father-in-law a picture of me holding a pistol.  Based on that photo, my father-in-law lost his shit and went to my probation officer, "to see if he'd straighten me out." i.e. throw me in jail.

Who gives somebody the right to judge what I'm doing with enough authority to take away my freedom?   Whether it be 2 days, 2 weeks, or 2 fucking years?  This is the question I will discuss.  There is never any shortage of people who think they know how best to deal with or save somebody who isn't them.  The same people who get into or on their vehicles after a long night at the bar or smoking weed or whatever else in their homes and cars.  These sanctimonious fucks who, under the justification that they've got their shit together enough not to get caught, think that they have everything put together enough to judge someone else.

I want to explain my big crime that I seemed to have committed previous to my coming in here that tempted others to want to call the law on me before my father-in-law did.


I was working full time.  When I was around my children I devoted my time to them.  I became a member of a motorcycle club that I had wanted to become a part of for years.  I spent a lot of time with the club, I admit, but because every tubeworm likes to just assume, they failed to understand why.  I'd also like to mention that "a lot" consisted of Friday and Saturday nights and a couple of hours on Wednesday after work.

I have a brotherhood that can't be explained.  We don't make any money doing illegal shit but you know what, when push got to shove it was my club who paid for an attorney for me.  It's my club who has money in the safe for whenever I need it.  While I have a couple of friends who would do this to an extent, it was the club who, when my bike wasn't working and I couldn't afford to get it fixed (because of all the drugs I wasn't selling), gave me a custom Softail  to ride, indefinitely if I needed it.  All with nothing owed.

Nobody would know this because nobody cared to fucking ask.

One visit up here Alison said to me that before her dad had done anything there were people who told her they were going to do the same thing - call the law.  BECAUSE THEY WERE WORRIED ABOUT THE DIRECTION I WAS HEADED!  Are you fucking kidding me?  You people act like I'm out on a corner shooting dope and robbing old ladies while walking around in shit-soiled jeans.  Who the fuck are you?  Who the fuck is anyone to judge how my behavior is effecting me based on whatever Alison has told you?  I'm sure she was upset when I'd finish work, give the kids a ride around the yard on the motorcycle a few times, do what needed to be done and then go up to the club house for meetings or to get shit together for an event.

Now, I'm talking about the club a lot here because I know it was Alison's biggest bitch so I'm sure that's what the people she bitched to (the ones who also wanted to call the fucking law) heard the most about.  I told Alison before I even probationed that they first year or two would be very busy.  I don't have to go into detail about why to you, but she knew and agreed.  She knew how bad I wanted it.  But just like anything else people are agreeable to, something once said can quickly become untrue.  The transparency of people or at least the translucency of people disturbs me.

I know a lot of my friends only want me around them tentatively.  I can tell none of them ever really feel comfortable around me.  I sort of interjected myself into their lives and they, more than anything, tolerated me.  The only real and close accepting friends I've ever had were Matt and Jessica and Mikey.  A third of that group is dead.  Before them I had some close friends but due to circumstances within my control they accept me around in a 'hows everything going' kind of way.

I live my life the only way I know how.  I don't do anything just because I think it might be impressive or with any regard to how it will look to other people. I haven't written any fiction in this blog.  I am really and seriously uncomfortable all the time.  Getting through the days are a struggle for me.  I have to live life in a way that I'm not so banged around that I can't bear it.  It isn't up for debate and it certainly isn't anybody's fucking decision to take my freedom away because of it.

THAT IS NEVER AN OPTION, person who has never spent a day of life in a jail cell.  Who is the person who thinks it's ok to take a father from his kids because you perceive that I'm "going downhill"?  How do you do that without even consulting me first?  It never once ran through anybody's head to talk to me about how you felt?  No, that would put a wedge in your prejudiced mind.  I am hardly speechless.  Who gets to do these kind of things?  I am here because of a woman's vengeance and a father's (you know, I was going to call it love, but it's not) fury.

Alison talks too much.  We all know that.  I have never laid a hand on her.  When I got pay checks I signed them over to her.  I got through the week on a $20 bill here and there.  If I was living a miserable existence, what business is it of yours?  Alison wasn't the only one unhappy.  If I had come bleeding my feelings all over the fucking floor, would the answer have been to "man the fuck up you cry baby"?  I believe it would have.

Whatever happened or happens in my marriage is not anybody's concern.  I didn't abuse my wife.  I did things that my wife didn't like.  Just like in any young marriage, she did things that I didn't like.  So fucking what?  If anything was going on that needed immediate police action, me having a picture with a pistol isn't it.  The picture wasn't even for Alison, she broke into my phone to find it because she thought I was banging everything with a pussy.  Even if this was true, IT STILL ISN'T ANYONE BUT MINE AND ALISON'S BUSINESS.  YOU DON'T GET TO MAKE DECISIONS FOR ME.  Especially when it comes to my freedom.  They wanted to give me five years minimum for that picture.  I got 30 months.

I sit in this fucking place and I hate.  I am stuck in a cattle lot for another year as of this writing.  You, on the other hand, have a hard time relating, doing whatever Summer time demands.  You go to the beach and drink beers, I constantly have to look over my shoulder for flying locks and shit in public.

I've only been in here for nine months and if Alison's phone rings her mother says, "You don't have to answer that." and if she's going to bring my kids to see me, her dad says, "You don't have to go up there."  I don't know who the people are who would have been the ones to "do this for my own good," but I'm certain I'd never hear from them because it wasn't for my own good, it was just a good way to get rid of me.

Out of all my friends and family, I converse with four people on a regular basis.  Besides Alison, Jeff (when I can get him to answer a phone), Alexa, Meghan, and John.  My club brothers also answer the phone anytime I call.  I know it's tough out there, there's lots going on.  It'll be tough when I get out, too.  Real tough.

I also want it to be known that the excuse, "I didn't think they'd give him that much time," won't fly.  Taking away two days of my  freedom is unacceptable.  I have to say these things.  I'm not sorry if it hurts feelings.  I don't want anybody thinking that doing that is ever ok.  If that the way you think, then call the police the next time you see one of your friends smoking weed.  The next time a drunk friend argues with his wife, make that call.

I just need to reevaluate some things.  If this was ready to happen before, it will most certainly happen again. They were never my friends nor were they enemies.  They were simply another pig-masked face in the crowd.  I'm not sorry.  I can't just change my being and be you. I can't and I won't.  The way I live my life is hard even for me.  I have terrible short-term memory loss from repeated skull poundings.  I don't think or act in commonplace ways.  I act and think and live to excess.  I've lost too much and gained too little.  I try to make my way forward every day and sometimes I just don't get anywhere.  I have weeks of lucidity that are always followed up by storms of madness.  I am always uncomfortable.  I miss and I hurt and I live the only way I know how.  Some people know that and I do not ever bind anyone to me unwillingly.  Anybody is free to go at any time without the threat of violence.  At any time.  After years of having my freedom taken because of myself I will not have it taken by others.  EVER.  I don't care how high the horse it, how sharp the chip may have gotten.  As I write this, my grandfather is recovering, tentatively, from brain surgery.  I can't touch him and on the phone he asks me, "Where are you?  Why aren't you here?"  I can't tell him that somebody thought this was in my best interest, that the way to fix somebody is to place them in a cage with monsters and hope he come out better for it.  I spit on your faces.  I've made amends with the people that deserve it, it's nobody's business.  I know few people lose sleep but believe me, sleepless nights will be had. If my grandfather dies while I'm in here for your righteousness, Hell will be your haven.

Part Three - Liberace Minus the Piano and a Dog Named Broccoli

I'm in West Hollywood, where the Boulevard ends.  Shad and Heather found Heather's friends, We go down to this - believe it or not - swanky YMCA and go inside to wait for this real faggy dude, "Faust", to get dressed.  I've never met a more conceited male in all of my life.  Ever.  He was a slight, good-looking guy but gave off an air of cockyness that made you want to murder him.  He knew he was the King Little Shit of this enterprise or hustle that he had going.  There was him, a Giant Mexican named Angel, and this really hot Korean chick who was his girlfriend and the Nemesis of Shad's hideous girlfriend, Heather, who had, "no use for the bitch," as she put it.  I knew it was because she was into Faust.  I'm not altogether certain as to why, but it probably runs along the line of reasoning my friend Chryssa has on the subject.

His hustle was this - he and his cronies would dress up in fashionable punk rock gear, as in the style please-kick-my-ass punks would wear in the eighties.  I guess the correct term would be, "fashion punks."  Anyways, the hustle was simple.  Tourists paid $5 to have their picture taken with them.  It was ingeniously called. . . Pictures With Punks.  My-fucking-God it was annoying.  While it screamed W. Hollywood, it made me want to gag.  If it wasn't for this tiny pretentious prick, Faust, I could almost get behind it, but he was a half-assed Little Richard without the cool and Liberace minus the piano.  Angel and the chick, I believe, were on the same page but as with all little Hitler-type monsters, the literature is so good it doesn't even occur to you that you're slaughtering your own soul.

Oh, this fucking guy.  What really pissed me off was that Shad's missing-link girlfriend thought this dude was some sort of Sid Vicious Elvis Jerry Lee Fucking Lewis and that we needed to hang out and listen to his bland, cauterized blurtings.  It was incestuous dribble and self-masturbation, kinda like these writings, but there just wasn't a laugh.  There was no punchline.  These guys sat around him cross-legged and he just couldn't give them anything.  He was a goddamn Baptist preacher with a really well manicured mohawk.  Christ on a stick if it wasn't for the gorilla-sized Mexican, Angel, he lugged around with him I would have smashed him.  Goddamn Angel was big.  I mean the big sort where it doesn't matter that you've "got this motherfucker right here."  That you've used your face and fists.  It just doesn't matter when you face a Mexican that fucking big.  If you find yourself in that situation, slowly back out of it, certainly don't do what I did, which was to try and fuck Faust's hot Korean girlfriend whose name I can't remember.

It was one of those names that, like most Asian names, sound like a question when you say it.  She was really pretty and I wasn't taken or anything.  I had actually just gotten out of a long relationship with Shad's sister not long before we left.  I wasn't looking to be with anyone, or to remember their difficult as fuck name.  I'm going to tell you right now that I didn't bang her.  It might be anticlimactic (haha, in a very literal way) but in the interest of honesty I just couldn't pull it off.  We'd all been drinking and I must have been not my normal drunk self because she suggested we walk off.  I remember that part because I remember wanting to venge-fuck her to piss off Faust.  I distinctly recall thinking that while my eyes crawled around on her.  I also remember thinking, "no-fucking-way," when she escorted me to a gross abandoned house while everyone was listening to Faust's loutish ramblings.  I vaguely remember my really bad attempt at night talk, trying to sound fascinating and original.  I had nothing.  I had a gut full of cheap malt liquor and this really hot Korean girl whose name I couldn't even pronounce.  Everything was dirty and wet.  The floor of the squat was strewn about with random pages out of a hard core pron magazine.  I remember being really drunk and frustrated that this wasn't what I wanted but was really so much of what I wanted at the same time.  I wanted all this filth, I actively spent my life looking for it, hunting it down like the red-eyed dogs that frightened Ralph Steadman so badly.  I remember the conflict and then I remember nothing.  I guess I let it be too much.  I don't remember the things I was saying.  I only have this faintly over-romanticized idea of what it should have been, of the things I should have said or done.

Instead, I woke up behind the dumpster outside of the house with my head in her lap.  I had began puking and passed out and there, she said, she'd found me.  She said she couldn't move me, so she put my head in her lap to keep the maggots off of me.  She said that - I wish I had made it up - with the tenderness of a housewife who's kept her husband's dinner warm for him, knowing he'd be home to eat it.  These unfailing burdened duties women women feel obligated to do for men.  For drunk men who can't get it up out of overindulgence and fear. . . I just sat back to try to figure out how to finish that sentence and it all seems like so much contrivance.  It's so fucking hard to give your experiences adjectives that express the fear a man can have laying in the lap of a stunningly beautiful woman just feet away from the things people throw away.  It just feels like it should mean more, but it really doesn't.  It just didn't mean anything more than a woman too stupid to walk away from a man who's passed out in his own puke.  It;s a goddamn horror and may all the Christ Gods bless these women for the extra steps they allow men like us to take.  I remember I felt like death and more than a little ashamed.  I was also bummed that I'd missed my chance to bang Faust's girlfriend.  Isn't that what it really amounts to when you get to the meat of it?  That missed chance to invade your enemy's woman.  The old folks would say, "C'est la vie."

We spent the day not saying much to each other and sat outside of a liquor store begging for change to catch the bus back.  When we got off the bus at the run-away shelter we just kinda looked at each other to acknowledge my ineptitude and went our separate ways.  Heather came out and gave me the third degree about where I had went and that if, "I'd fucked that bitch," she'd tell Faust.  I couldn't take her seriously.  One, I was too fucking hung over and two, I had apparently tried to tattoo her face the night before and stopped mid-tattoo.  It was fucking hideous, this primitive-type design that I had probably talked her into that was her whole chin and some shit in her sideburn area and on her goddamn nose!  All she was missing was a plate in her lip and a harpoon on her side.  Shad was so pissed he said they were headed to the train yard and that was that.

While I was deciding what the fuck to do next, I met a girl named Sada.  I had talked to my mother finally to confirm that I had stolen her car.  I'm not sure how she'd managed it, but somehow she knew some ex-special forces guy or maybe a helicopter pilot who lived in the area and he came and disabled the car.  Now, I'm not making any of this up, maybe she can fill us in in the comments section, but I have no clue how this dude found the car.  None.  I got to it and it wouldn't start.  This guy had gotten the hood open and took a fuse that was vital to the car starting.  He wasn't that fucking smart, though.  I just replaced it with the air-conditioning fuse.  Game.  Set.  Match.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though.  I guess I've got to take you through this brief romance I had with Sada. I met Sada at the runaway shelter.  I was sitting out on the bench smoking cigarette butts and trying to decide what to do next.  I looked up and there was this mulatto chick wearing Carhartt bib overalls, a tank top, and those stupid fairy wings five-year old girls prance around with.  She sat right down next to me and introduced herself.  It was a really surreal experience.  She was one of those girls who had a gentle naivete to her, one of those rare people who can talk to anyone like they've known them years.  She wasn't stunningly beautiful but she was excessively pretty.  Carmel skin and dark eyes with long tightly curled hair.  Her father, she said, was from Kenya and her mother was Canadian.  I didn't care, I was enthralled with her.  It was her easy nature that captivated me.  It's hard to be that naturally easy going and child-like when you;re living on the streets.  It was almost like she pranced and slid around.  She leaned over the overpass railing and looked at the 101 like she'd never seen a car.  After all that filth and degeneracy I think, at that moment, I needed to be around something that seemed this. . . I hate to say it, pure.  I was tired and worn and my faith in civilization was at a breaking point.  Sada bandaged that for a while.  It, of course, was all smoke and mirrors but like all good magicians, if the illusion is good enough then what the fuck, right?

We wandered the city the whole day, her talking ceaselessly and me listening without saying much.  She told me about the shitty poetry she loved and the medieval act she was passionate about.  She adored that savagely straight noses all the people seemed to have.  We stopped at a laundry and burned a hole through the machine you buy bouncy balls from and filled a bucked with them.  We smoked cigarettes and ate free tacos at the clown head place because she knew the boy who worked there.  When it got dark she took me back to the place she live, and she lived in the old TAV building.  The TAV building was where they used to film Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.  I don't know if that's true, but we climbed a fence and went in.  She explained to me that I should stay close to her, that she lived a few floors beneath the street level in one of the old studios and it was dark.  Godddamned if she wasn't right.  I've never been anywhere darker.  I remember worrying her flashlight would fail and that we'd be stuck in an eternal purgatory that smelled like wet concrete and asbestos.  She led me down hallways and through actual walls that the drywall had rotted off.

There were wine bottles and beer cans everywhere.  It wouldn't surprise me if more than one bum had lost their way or if I'd kick their bones.  Sada explained that some really nerdy runaways had found the place and had electricity.  About the time I started thinking she had taken me to the spot she planned to kill me I could see an outline in one of the walls.  I realized the outline was light around a steel door.  She opened it up and it was like a fucking apartment.  (At this point I wouldn't blame you if you thought I was making this up but I assure you I am not, there are hidden nerds who live underground.)  There was light and bean bag chairs and  two really classically nerdy-looking guys.  They were maybe 19 and obviously unhappy to see me.  It was a disappointment that stung of theft or betrayal.  Sada either ignored or was oblivious to it.  She tornadoed  into the room and introduced me like she'd just brought her boyfriend home to meet her brothers for the first time.  We stayed two nights and the guys and me maybe said 10 words.

She led me to her "bedroom" which was a huge group shower room that must have been for the employees. It was nothing but these tiny tiles, a sleeping bag, and miscellaneous things girls tend to collect.  Shiny bits of glass she intended to use to make something arty, a stuffed cat, jewelry that didn't match, a small collection of books.  All these things made me desperately sad.  She hung up her fairy wings like a jacket after a hard day at the office and plopped down cross-legged on the sleeping bag.  As I stood and looked around the most enormous thing that hit me was the hear.  It was terrifyingly hot in there and the only way to cope with it was to be still.  Any movement caused your body to pour sweat, it seemed like I was slowly being suffocated but it passed eventually.

You just had to be still.  We weren't physical that night, or the next.  If it wasn't the heat it was the immensity of the thing, the coming together, for no apparent reason, of two people who don't know where they are or where they need to go.  I know it all seems too romantic.  Maybe now in retrospect it is, but fuck , it was something.

That night I sat there and Sada played her violin.  The instrument had seen many dark places or the player had, either way, she or it sounded beautiful.  I couldn't tell you what she played, I never could get into classical music, but it was soft and she would play these long notes where it seemed to take forever for the box to complete it's stroke.  I was amazed and awed, this seemingly over-bubbly creature was capable of this music that, in the cave-like atmosphere of the shower stall, sounded like a wet smooth stone.  It bounced off the walls and wet my ears.  We fell asleep without ever touching one another.  Maybe it was heat, maybe it was something else.  I just hope it doesn't sound too much like a Pat Benatar song.

We woke up some hours later and assumed it should be light out - it was hard to tell down there - and made our way out to the street.  We wandered and talked more, we held hands like sophomores.  Sada comandeered an Irish wolfhound puppy and named it broccoli an we dragged that gigantic-pawed brute around the rest of the time I knew her.  The dog had no personality.  It must have only been a couple of months old but already it was the size of a regular dog.  It would walk for about a mile and then just give up. The beast would sit and refuse to move, no amount of coaxing, begging, or yelling made a differance.  I would carry the thing through it's tight places, the places where it gave up.  I didn't feel like Jesus though, I hated the mongrel.

We needed money.  Sada told me she played her violin outside of the very famous rock clubs in Hollywood but that she'd make more money by herself.  I agreed and dragged Broccoli with me and sat outside of a not-famous nightclub.  I planted myself on the sidewalk and begged for money with the 50lb puppy on my lap.  It worked like a 17-year old hooker.  Drunk chicks looooove puppies.  I was getting fivers all night.  I cleared 80 bucks.  It was nothing compared to Sada's night.  When we met up she had $275 and some change in her violin case.  Un-fucking-believable.

I'll try to finish this story with one more entry.  My hand's tired and there's a good amount left.  Next will be my bringing Sada to Howell and my trip to meet up with her in N.Y. where I get beaten to death.  Sweat dreams, XOXOXO.

23. Guts

Well, gang, just when I thought nothing interesting was ever going to happen in this shithole again, low and behold I got to see some guts.  Guts guts, the insides.  I had to go over to the medical building to get a vaccination on Thursday.  The medical building is a sort of neutral territory placed right in the middle of levels one, two, and four.  (Michigan got rid of level 3's some years ago.  I'm not sure why and I don't specifically care, just sayin'.)  There's an officer that sits at a desk while convicts of different levels sit in the plastic chairs against the wall like a tiny DMV.  Just like any DMV, everybody is angry and most don't have the correct paperwork and will be sent back to their unit empty handed.

The guard has everyone's ID and call-out sheet and when your number is up he'll direct you to either the doctor or the dentist.  It's a cattle call and very efficient.  There's no time wasted (for them) but you may sit there for hours.  Usually, guys from separate units will pass contraband back and forth and gossip.  Christ, the gossip.  I thought broads liked to gossip but there is no grape vine like a prison grapevine.  It's all who is snitching, or who's got basketball numbers for some double rape / homicide, (basketball numbers are when you get a sentence with so many years that it resembles the score for a basketball game.)  who's not paying whom, this guys a broad because he said something disrespectful to some other guy, but the disrespected guy didn't do shit, so they're both fucking broads.

There's no end, it goes on and on and it drives me batshit.  I don't feed into or spread gossip in the world and I thought, in general, most dudes didn't.  I was wrong.  It's like a bizzaro episode of Days of Our Lives but with stabbings and tons of ramen noodle soup.

Anyway, the escorting officer brought us into the medical building (which is blessedly cool.  There's no air conditioning in this prison.  It's a goddamn sauna in here.) and the guard behind the desk says, "You might as well take 'em back.  we got a couple of cutters from 7 block coming in."  The escorting guard replied, "Fuck 'em, they can wait.  I'm going home."

So we sat in the little school-style chairs against the wall and the boys commenced to gossiping.  Then they brought in the cutters.  7 block is the unit where all the crazies are housed.  I don't mean your average bi-polar or drunk, I'm talking about shit-in-a-box-for-a-pet type crazy.  They wheeled them in with wheel chairs and the first guy had cut himself pretty good up and down both his arms and legs.  He was a real bleeder.  If you've ever seen a significant wound caused by a razor blade you'd understand.  An inch-long cut can spread double that wide.  There's the white just beneath the skin and then a vivid yellow layer of fat followed by tendon and muscle.  It's vicious and bloody but not usually life threatening. unless you're digging for arteries.  The longest cut I saw was about three or four inches long and lay wide open along the top of his thigh.  He was trailing a spectacular amount of blood and it left tracks from the big wheel chair wheels.  It looked like a couple of ten speeds had been drag racing.

Then they brought in the show stopper.  This guy was a notorious cutter / puller.  He had cut open his abdomen on a separate occasion and had been caught pulling at his intestines.  They took him to the hospital to get fixed up and stapled but he had managed to pull the staples out and was digging around in there again. When they brought him in, the guards had handcuffed his hands to the arm rests so he wouldn't be able to keep pulling his guts out but he still had a significant amount of intestine hanging out.  The smell was the worst of it.  I can't describe the smell of the inside of a human's abdominal cavity and I'm sure you wouldn't want me to try.  It could have been from some infection he had developed from his previous gut tugging but I'm not sure that it wouldn't have smelled that way anyway.  My cousin Meghan might be able to fill us in on that.

What amazed me most about the scene wasn't the wounded men but the one's watching.  The exasperated and bored and irritated looks on the guards' faces.  The convicts who tried to look bored or just looked outright terrified.  There was no screaming and yelling, the nurses just casually walked out and spoke to the cutters by name in a kind of disappointed motherly sort of manner.  The blood was immense, more from the first guy than from the Puller.  After a minute it was a confusion of boot prints, wheelchair tread marks, and small, child-like sneaker impressions left by the nurses.

They ushered the men through and all that was left behind was a bunch of gore.  The guard let out an exasperated sigh and mumbled something about, "these goddamn lunatics," and got out a spray bottle of 2% bleach and started to wet the blood, turning it an instant black.  He looked at us and said, almost apologetically, "I like to spray the blood before the porters get over here cause most of them don't have blood-borne pathogen certificates."

It was all over except for the tar-black bleach-soaked gore that the porters came in a started squeegeeing off of the tile.  I got my poo-monia vaccine and kept it moving.  Fucking prison, right?


PS - I gossiped about it as soon as I got back to my unit.  Nobody was really impressed.

24. Prison Glossary pt. 2

The Thriller; That Situation; The Stunner; Banger: n. 

Slang for a shank or a peeko (I guess a peeko is slang for a shank, also.).  If a convict is wearing a winter coat in the yard in July, he's probably got 'that situation.'

Honeybun Hit: phrase

If you pay somebody in store items to take care of business for you, it could be called a honeybun hit.  I love this one because of the absurdity of beating or stabbing somebody for 10 or 20 dollars worth of commissary items.  Awesome.

White Meat: n.

This is what is referred to when someone is cut to the bone or the bright fat under the skin.  "Dude got at him with the the thriller and cut him to the white meat.

Sweet As Bear Meat; Wouldn't Bust A Grape If His Middle Name Was WelchesSoft As Charmin (sometimes with 'twice as absorbent' if you want to throw in a gay 'slip'): phrases.

Used in reference to how soft or weak a guy is.  Not really effective, but really funny.

Slip: v.

This is the act of sliding in a gay innuendo on a guy during conversation.  If you pull it off, you've effectively 'slipped' him.  Men tend to have an inherent ability to act gay or accuse each other of being gay, so the act of 'slipping' shouldn't be foreign to many of you.  EX - "Dude talked slick to me, but I handled that shit." "I bet you handled it, probably two-handed with a masterful stroke."

Predadactyl 3000s: n.

I came up with this one myself.  It's a reference to the glasses that the State Of Michigan will issue you if you have no money.  No matter how cool you are, once you have these on you automatically look like a predator / cho-mo (Cho-Mo: n. Child molester.) ready to swoop down on somebody.  They're better than those Groucho Marx glasses.

Punt Faked or Pump Faked: v.

To trick somebody into acting a certain way by deliberate deception.  Lets say that the guard announces to the unit that there's going to be a shakedown (cell search) and you dispose of all your contraband.  If the guard never shakes down, you've been successfully 'pump faked.'  "That bitch pump faked the shit outta me."  "Yeah, it's going to take forever to collect all those dick pictures and ass lube again."

That was a pump fake into a slip demonstration.  Later.

25. Part Four - Back To Howell and Off To Jail

Okay, I have to close this because I keep forgetting where I am and because of my hate for writing long hand.  I can't bring myself to write as long or as detailed as I'd like to, anyhow.

Sada and I crossed back over the desert the same way I'd come.  Because of the "puppy" and the violin, things went much more smoothly.  There is something to say about the persuasions of women.  It's easy, too.  A set of tits will get you money for gas long before a set of testicles.  Even if you can do cooler shit and pick up heavier stuff.  It's a fact and it's never been overlooked, we get it.  You can stop bitching about the raw deals you get and ease the lighter away from the lace.

The trip home was much loftier but nothing close to love or lust.  It;s difficult to explain the way that this woman was, maybe because she was much like me.  We found the same things irreverent and sometimes that can be much better than having too much in common.  It definitely make for easier lengths of time staring out into the desert, tossing around the same doubt.  Dear God, do you remember the Doors?  What was up with them?

We discussed going to New York to meet up with her friend, Neva.  We made a plan too tentative, everything was all very nihilistic.  She didn't drink.  I did -- to excess.  The ride through the desert was very Raoul Duke in my mind.  In her's it was most likely very annoying and boring.  A Lumina is no shiny convertible, but it will still shudder at speed, threatening to turn you ass over tea kettle into the cold desert where the scorpions with sting you just to sting you, like a woman bored with the years and indifference.

We made it back to The Mitten with some gas to spare and I was in a hurry to show her my beloved Detroit.  I was home in these neighborhoods.  I pointed out my favorite spots and houses and buildings.  She mostly just looked sad and far away and lost.  The city can turn you off of humanity or turn you on to it's ugly truth.  There was a famous smart man who said, "Nothing human ever surprises me."  He'd never been to Detroit I'd wager, never been offered a blow job by a 70-year old black lady in a BP gas station parking lot.  Never been nervous at a stop light.  The rob children and rape reverends and vice versa.  It is din.  Everyone wants and nothing gives, they are ankle to eyebrow deep in the boiling Grand River of blood.  An old black man at a liquor store told me something I'll never forget.  His mouth stank and his teeth hung by threads.  "That woman," he chuckled, "crossed me like Mack crosses Woodward."  (for the uninformed, Mack crosses Woodward twice.)  Pointing at a thick-thighed, stretchpants-bound woman wiggling across the street.  I don't know what she did, but ain't that the truth of it?  Detroit in a nutshell and woman to boot.  The old man downed his beer and threw it at her overhand, showering the avenue in ghetto diamonds.  I left before she could stab us both.

Sada was unimpressed and uninspired, and it was the sort of let down you feel when a small child opens a present he doesn't like.  A half-assed almost appeasement  and then discarded in retrospect.  You can't make somebody lick a urinal and expect them to tell you that it tasted good.  On the other hand, you can make them lick it, and you can make them tell you it's not so bad, but there's no hiding the bad taste that's left in their mouth.  That, my friends, is an analogy of my relationship history.

We got to Howell and I dropped the car off behind Mancino's and let my aunt know where my mother could pick it up.  I couldn't deal with her yet, I still had some shit to do.  I hadn't finished whatever it was that was pushing me over these brinks.  I couldn't see the end yet, but I think I knew what was there.

We spent a few nights at a friend's house where I overheard an acquaintance in another room ask why there was a nigger sleeping on the floor.  We settled it outside but the fight I wanted didn't happen.  I didn't want to be back in that town.  Too much about Howell has turned me against her but I can't leave.  I'm weak.

We had no money and little direction and slept outside waiting for the train.  Hour after hour can pass waiting for those fuckers and I waited an hour too long.  While we slid in and out of sleep, police approached us and I had a warrant.  They took me to jail and I told Sada to go ahead, I'd catch up to her in New York.

I'm sitting here thinking about what it was that I went to jail for, what I had done to accrue a warrant, and for the life of me I can't remember.  I went and spent about a month though.  During this stay my mother forgave me like mothers do and I got out and kept it moving.  I got a job with my friend Chris doing some tree work to earn a few dollars to get me to New York.  I talked to Sada on the phone and she told me she'd found Neva and that they were on the Lower East Side.  Fair enough.  I put a pack together and I went.

26.  Part Five - How A Resurrection Really Feels

I got to the city and headed to Thompson Square Park where Sada had been spending her days.  I wont go into any diatribes about this city because there's nothing interesting there.  It's all too impersonal and big.  I guess I like my filth and degeneracy condensed, I don't know.  New York didn't impress me.  I met up with Sada and I knew right away that everything was different.  Sometimes it's just that simple.  There just wasn't anything there and it was okay.  We wandered the city for awhile and she told me she was staying across the river with some nice cocaine dealers who offered her a place to stay.  Good for her.  We wandered and saw colorfully interesting people, all oblivious to everything around them.  We broke into a door in an alley that we thought might make a good squat and it happened to be the downstairs to a bar.  All this liquor was just there behind a chicken wire cage.  I emptied my pack of the unimportant stuff like clothes and food and loaded it with whiskey.

I'm sorry if it seems like I'm being intentionally vague about New York, but to be totally honest I only remember it in fractured segments.  I either died or came close to it that night and everything directly before it is pretty fuzzy.

I drank, I got drunk.  I was a stumbling mess.  Sada told me nobody was allowed to stay with her on account of the cocaine dealing.  She told me I could stay in the East River Park and that she'd see me the next day.  I recall walking around the park and running into some other travelling kids.  It turns out they were a train gang out of West Virginia called Back Alley Ruckus.  Fucking brutes.  They guy who seemed to be the leader talked with me for a while and I became drunk sober.  A state you can come to while drunk when a situation becomes incredibly tense.  He asked if I'd ever been to prison.  I told him I'd been locked up a good deal.  He asked if I ran with the Aryan Nation.  I told him that I look out for myself.  He asked if I was a good boxer.  I told him, 'fair.'  He asked if I could take 'him', and pointed to a blonde-haired hulk and I didn't say anything.  Before I knew it, I was in a fight.

We had each other by the throat and we were both punching, hammering, the other's face.  It went on for what seemed like forever, just punching away at each other with little scuffle or movement.  If left alone he would have surely won.  He outweighed me and stood taller, his pain tolerance the same as mine.  It wasn't left that way, though.  They descended on me like a pack of feral dogs kicking and punching.  It was like being tossed around in an ocean wave - moments of clarity only to be pushed back under where everything gets hazy.  Then there was nothing.  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

I usually refer to this as 'going to my happy place' or being knocked out, but it wasn't a sleep.  It was a nothing.  Just no goddamn way to explain it.  Nothing.  I probably was just knocked out, who knows?  I couldn't have been all the way dead because I'm writing about this but it wasn't anything I'd experienced.  Not the unrememberance of overdose or the hazy in-out of unconsciousness.  No floating, no sense of weightlessness.  There was no color, no emotion, no wonder, but I remember it.  Does that make sense?  I didn't find gods or demons, nor answers to questions.  I just all of a sudden heard a girls voice say, "Leave him alone, he's dead already."

I heard that and all the devils inside me responded.  Not me, not here, not at the hands of monsters like me, made like me, smelling like me.  No fucking way.  I was awake and with it and got up.  I got to the big fence separating the park and the freeway when they noticed me and returned, beating me into unconsciousness vicious knees an kicks.  I woke up again sitting on the sidewalk with blood pouring between my feet in a river.  It was like a never-ending faucet and a kid sat my pack next to me and told me that someone called an ambulance.

I don't remember anything until the next day.  I woke up in Bellevue feeling like I'd been hit by a train.  When I did move, it was in a sort of dried blood everywhere crackling sort of way that busy doctors leave you in when they believe it's your own fault.  Medical tape plastered everywhere ripping my hair out wherever it was stuck.  The nurse came in and told me that six of my ribs were broken, as was my nose and cheeks.  My ear was ripped along with my scalp.

Nobody offered me a mirror, but I could feel every place on my face distended and swollen.  I could see my cheeks and lips from the swelling.  I was, as they say, a fucking mess.  I was informed that they didn't have enough bed space to keep me, but I could stay until I felt that I could walk without falling.  They had cut off my clothes and offered me donated clothes that were too big even for my swollen body.  There's no revelation here, it's a clear case of you win some, you lose some.  Who could I even be mad at?  I'd left people in the same condition.  Sometimes dogs bite each others' faces.

The pain wasn't the worst but I was far from okay.  I was given a prescription of Ibuprofen to be picked up for free from the hospital's pharmacy.  After looking for what seemed like forever I gave up.  My chest felt like fire and I had to drag my pack.  I walked outside and rolled a cigarette and gently sat down.  People walked around me like I was the elephant man.  I had to have looked like him, all lumpy but with dried and caked blood to boot.  Fuck'em.  I just sat and smoked.  I made the 15 blocks back to Thompkins Square Park.  I met up with a cold and distant Sada.

I tried to see it out, sleeping on the park bench trying to heal.  I couldn't do it.  After the third day I called my grandparents.  I just couldn't move.  It took me 20 minutes to sit up.  Walking was almost impossible, the pain had quadrupled now that it had all set in.  I couldn't tough it out and it made me angry.  I called my grandfather and he just said, "Where are you?"  I told him and he didn't sound exasperated.  He just said, "I'm coming to get you."  He and my grandmother drove to New York City, came through the traffic and the picked me up.  No questions.  He just came and got me and didn't question it.  I'm crying right now and I can't explain the enormity of that action.  His saving me.  His unwavering love for me.  I crawled in to the van and I slept all the way back to Michigan.  My uncle has never forgiven me for having my grandfather come get me in that city.  I don't blame him.

My grandfather is the bravest man I know.

27. Retaliation

I'm anxious all the time, now.  This isn't much of a change except for the constant persistence of it.  The prying, holding weight that's constantly pressing into my chest.  A sense of foreboding that's relentless.  I create my own nervousness, my own delusions and realities.  It's been less than a week since I pounced on a man in his cell and beat him until he whimpered and bled onto the fire-resistant mattress.  A mattress that doesn't allow blood to soak into it.  The fluid just puddles and holds in the indentations my knees make as I straddle his chest.  Both of us breathing heavy, my arms splattered to the elbows.  I am not proud.  I'm shaken and upset.  I'm shaken because my brain is working overtime, a million scenarios at once; how do I leave this man's cell unnoticed, is he going to lay in and take this like a man or tell, did I really beat this man like this over $5 street money or was it the $100 prison money it was worth?  How do I proceed from this spot?  I get off of him like a spent lover dismounting.  Maybe it's more like rape judging from the look I'm getting from this man's one open eye, his breathing heavy and sort of mewing.

How did I get to here? I thought that this would turn out to be a blog about the actions of others, a reflection on a prison life I witness while I wait out this bit.  Things haven't turned out like I hoped.  I can't beat my nature, I can't out-maneuver it.  I feel like a monster and I can't deny the power of that feeling. It's exhilarating.  I imagine it's how a lion must feel strolling the veldt.

I was never like this.  Don't get me wrong, I am not a stranger to violence and I'm handy in a fist fight, but I never felt like I was an instigator.  I never felt like I was a predator.  I never felt boss.  Situations were always dealt to me as a matter of fact, things fell my way and I dealt with them as I felt appropriate.  I have never been directly confrontational.

I feel like this place may be changing me fundamentally.  It isn't good and I'm in a sort of confused state of remorse and excitement.  I've got to decide that this animalistic behavior is a barrier to my return to civilization.  If I keep at this I'm afraid that it might be too hard to return to normal operations once I'm released or a non-issue if I'm fucking killed.  I'm not exaggerating.  I'm going too far.  I won't explain about what's going on in depth, but most of you know already.

As to that, from here on out I'm shutting it down.  What I though was easy money was anything but.  Ain't shit free on Planet E.  I thought I was providing for my family, but at what cost?  A few dollars for my soul?

I can't piss in peace.  I shower ready for anything.  My enemies have become numerous.  These things aren't what scare me, though.  If you can believe it, it's the thought of never seeing my children again.  OR if I do, I'm afraid I'll be caught in the perpetual motion machine of the Michigan Prison system.  I don't want that for them.

I push through the week just to see them on visit.  To hear their stories and 5-year old perceptions.  It just isn't an option to fail them any more than I already have.

So I've decided to tighten it up and get my shit together.  There might be some backlash but I don't foresee much aside from maybe some revenge, maybe not even that.  With my confession and plan for change out of the way I'll discuss some nasty little particulars.

If you've been owed money or whatever for a sufficient length of time and when talking isn't getting it done, it is recommended that you use violence.  Unless of course you decide to cur up and get out of whatever hustle you've just gotten beat at.  Anyways, if violence is in order you have got to prove a point, if not to the surrounding inmates then to the person of interest and to yourself.  If you don't plan on stabbing the person you had better make him wish you had.  What I'm saying is that you  have to make this person scared to retaliate.  You have to have him so scared of another beating that he either pays or keeps it moving.  This is sometimes hard to come to terms with because it's so personal.  The person in question is somebody you obviously thought was cool and probably kicked it with often.  For whatever reason he's decided that paying you wasn't going to happen so you have to make a move.  You can not let this go.  It's impossible to stay in operation if you do, at any rate.  The best way to go about this is to play it cool.  You have to be a good actor.  You pretend to be friends, reassure him you believe he's going to pay you, continue to play cards or dominoes or what have you.  This can be referred to as, "rocking him to sleep."

If the guy is bigger and stronger, my advice is to catch him at his most vulnerable, preferably while he's showering or taking a shit.  You can also use your ID as a key, break into his cell, shake him and ask him if he's woke, and then beat the living shit out of him.  This is one of the better ways.  You've got a lot more time to commence to ass kicking and there's little chance of getting caught.  Keeping risk to a minimum should be of utmost concern.  You have to understand that you can't just give the guy a couple of jabs and walk away.  You have got to make the man scared.  This part is hard because the guy in question is not going to want you punching away at him.

If he's laying in his bunk, straddle him and try to hold his power arm at the shoulder.  Most likely, this will be his right arm.  Holding the wrist isn't as effective as the shoulder, as this is where the power of a punch is generated.

NOTE: When in a bar fight, wrap the shirt up at the right shoulder of your opponent with your fist and swing and continue to advance with your right.  Remember to focus on his shoulders while punching at the sides and lower jaw and neck.  If you try to look right at what you're trying to punch, you'll miss it more times than not.  My dad can probably fill in the mechanics of this to anyone interested as he boxed.  I only try to go with what works best for me.

Anyways, with your opponent's power controlled and using the leverage you have by sitting at his waist, start punching.  Hit all the soft delicate spots.  Nose, eyes, temple, chin, and lower back half of the jaw.  You need to do this even after he's begged you to stop.  It's probably safe to quit once he starts crying; you've got to use your judgement here.  The point is this guy has to fear  you.  He has to be so upset by this ass-whipping that he second guesses retaliation.

Retaliation by his friends is a non-issue if you don't fuck with gang bangers which, as a general rule of thumb, is a good idea.

So much for my third party testimonies.  I have sent myself  the cease and desist order and hopefully I can do it.  I've always lived reckless but this is becoming something that is actually making me stop and consider or weigh the amount of Monster to Man ratio that wasn't there before.  It all seems so easy until there's a knock on my cell with the offer of a $100 Western Union.  I try to trick myself into thinking things will be different this time.  It's like a fucking battered woman movie on Lifetime.  The underlying theme there is always the same.  He's going to continue beating you.  He won't change.  He can't.

I've been on a huge Bruce Springsteen kick lately thanks to John.  I've especially been into the Greetings From Asbury Park album.  There's a line that's been stuck in my head since I heard it a couple of weeks ago.  I've been moving it around in my mouth and it tastes fine.  It has nothing to do with anything I've written here, I guess I just feel like sharing it.

"You're not man enough to hate, you're not woman enough for kissing."

After writing it, maybe it does pertain to me.  I might be that middle of the road ambiguous not much.  This isn't a self-deprecating statement as much as on of fact.  I don't feel like I'm that bad but I'm really not that good.  Being in the middle is probably worst of all.  Who knows, thanks for all the confusion, Bruce.  I'll be thinking on it some more.

PS - I received a really great letter from my dad recently and I'm wanting to share it (with some things omitted i.e. Lauren stuff) but I'd better ask permission, so with getting two birds stoned in mind (a Trailer Park Boys reference John should enjoy) I'm asking for it here.  I've only got four stamps till the next store.  It's a very enjoyable piece of writing.  It should also show where I get my unique sense of humor and cynicism from.

Night.  XOXO,


28. I Was A Jailhouse Cyrano

I apologize for the breath, gang.  I had to get some shit together in my head and clean some filth up for storage.  I've kept my deviancy to a minimum but old habits die hard.  Really hard.  Maybe it's a commitment issue, I'm sure some of you would agree with this but I don't know.  It's hard to fight your nature.  The thing is, you don't hear much complaining when it's in your nature to strive for medical school credits or perfecting that note that you can't quite seem to grasp.  It's in my nature to be cynical and teeter on the edge of what most people would consider ugly.  I've been trying to change it.  I really have.  That's why I've decided to write about my latest prison hustle.

I have, for a price, been writing love / freak letters for some of my fellow convicts.  As of this writing I've been quasi- love birding most of Southeast Michigan.  It started with my bunky who can't read or write.  He got some young guy in here to convince his mother to write him.  As much as I'd like to, we won't go into the general fucked-up-edness of this situation.  Every two seconds, he was asking me how to spell, "where," and asking advice on how to woo this mother with the written word.

I finally told him to hand the pad of paper over and I wrote a short letter pontificating on the carnalities of level one prison life.  Some real tier-one shit.  I tickled her chin and stirred her martini.  Here, dip your whiskers in this, kitten.  I guess it worked as I began to, annoyingly enough to me, help him keep up the charade by answering her lonely letters.  Here's the rub - my bunky's a couple months from the door.  He's going to get out there and this woman's going to be in love with an illiterate hillbilly.  Don't get me wrong; my bunky is a great guy.  This woman has been reading a language that  isn't his.  The only poems he knows are dirty limericks.  I'm not overly conflicted about this, but it always sets up about an hours worth of musing about human nature.

Through conversation, my bunky told a couple of other guys about our deal and now I have a steady job wooing about 10 guys' women.  There's demand for more if I could handle the extra work.  I didn't think that I had a hand for the night breath, but they keep writing.  I get a new kind of dirty now.  Not a sexual dirty.  I've never been into that kind of dirty.  I have the secret pleasure of peeking into windows that aren't mine.  I get to look through all these lonely women's dressers - I know Kathy makes shitty tips and isn't getting by, Stacy's son is shooting dope and she just doesn't know what she'd do if she came home and he was dead.  I know Nancy is so goddamn scared and lonely that killing herself has become an option, sometimes.

The letters don't start that way, of course.  It always starts with shiny costume jewelry words, shitty poems, and pseudo-proclamations of love that sometimes raises bile to the back of my tongue.  I have run out of adjectives to describe penetration.  Ugh, that's the worst.  Their association of sex with love is appalling.

I have a guy who wants me to write nothing but freak letters.  I wrote the opening letter for him to a potential pen pal.  He gives me his information- name, age, likes, dislikes, some random thoughts or ideology and I write them into a semi-coherent letter.  Simple enough until she wrote back.  The very next letter he wants me to write is a freak letter.  Who am I to say?  The most that I can ask for is that this woman acknowledges how creepy that is a discontinues writing.  She didn't.  I now write these laughably horrible Harlequin sex scenarios to a 300-plus pound black woman.  I never look him in the eye when I hand him the letter and he hands me five dollars in commissary.

Is it weird that I listen to The Hold Steady exclusively when I write these letters?  Freaky or otherwise?  I hope I don't accrue some horrible association every time I listen to them in the future.

So, now I feel like weird imaginary prostitute.  I technically don't exist.  I didn't plan on having to continue these letters.  I could just stop.  I don't need the money.  There would be a good number of women out there that believe the convict they are were writing had some Sybil-like personality shift and stopped writing them, that would probably be best.  Those are some terribly broken women.  These are some enormously predatory men.  I just get to be a mediator of filth.  It's good work if you can get it.


  1. WOW...what a fucking life and what fucking skill you have with turning a phrase. Wanted to highlight some of your phrases/sentences that struck me as being really inventive and compelling, but would have ended up highlighting the whole damn thing.Fuck the blog shit and write a book.

    I am...Annie's Asshole

  2. Your style is strikingly similar to Hunter S Thompsons. Which is pretty hard to do and probably why I enjoyed it. Good job!

  3. 1/2
    Good stuff, man. Glad you're out. Monster to man ratio is a helpful phrase. A lot of men, maybe even most, feel similarly to how you do.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Celtic heritage had something to do with it. I'm about half and I feel like I'm fighting my nature every day just to get along in civil society. It makes sense if you consider that we were artificially selected to produce individuals that think get naked and painting ourselves blue to attack the Engles with broadswords was a grand old time (and it does kind of sound like fun, even today, doesn't it?) and now we're supposed to strive for top marks in med school, take it slow with women, and be civil to the English (who remain fucking royals to this day!).

    A history of savage survival violence does produce an intelligent and strategic mind, many of which have profitted the world greatly, but I think also makes a tendency towards ADD and for lack of a better word anxiety when it's not engaged in some struggle or hustle. The Sherlock Holmes model of opiate use.

    No way to wind down. It sounds like you've found it with your children, and maybe that's the key, but you're not alone in the journey.

    You did some bad shit, you know that, especially kicking that kid over the campfire. Sounds like you got your karma for it in New York and have otherwise paid your debts, more or less. For myself I was not as randomly violent, though I think that is only bbecause I am smaller and had a much nicer childhood, certainly our imaginations, talents and priorities have much in common. I did 11 months in county over some dumb shit, drug violence to be brief about it, so I have the barest image of how much your time was a shitty one. Luckily I didn't have to deal with the "social" aspects since I was having psychosis and withdrawal issues the whole time and was in ad-seg. They called it the hole there too so I guess I was one of those, I refused offers of a roommate because I could only deal with one crazy cellmate at a time.

    Anyway it worked! I've been clean and sober since the day of my arrest, not even marijuana (though I ate the wrong batch of my brother's brownies once by accident) nor a single cigarette. I can't tell if I've got permanent damage from the drinking and drugs but I do still feel foggy at odd intervals, alternating with times when I can show by objective means that my coworkers are being morons and not listening to my better ideas haha. Alcohol withdrawal doesn't have shit on the heavy-duty crazy pills, by the way, it was in the deepest depths of medication that I finally resolved to change my behavior for the better (lest I return to a similar single-person box of hell again) but I hesitate to correlate them directly. Sounds like you were brought to the same epiphany by the last described beating: the final and sudden illumination of the pattern obvious to all others but ourselves, if we continue thinking and feeling in the ways that are familiar and natural, we will, certainly, return to this undesired position again, if we are not killed first.

    So I changed (my behavior at least, the mind remains the same), and it was rough, but a year and a half out I got put on dexedrine by a perceptive VA shrink who pegged me for the ADD and not depression or PTSD or schizo or whatever. That stuff has been a miracle for the fog and the stress of resisting myself, and if you can get it for free / afford it at all it might be worth having some professional head-sessions so you can give it a shot. YMMV of course, and I speak from the privileged position of complimentary VA mental health care.

  4. 2/2
    I know it's been a while since you posted (and I guess this website is actually run by John, and you're a good man for doing it, sir!) but I saw you were discharged in 2014 (same as me) and want to send you some good vibes. I had some hard times recently that put my mind back to during and before and on the chance it's a biannual thing I'd like to share with you the hope that things can get better.

    As a side note, I second the motion for a book. I've found that writing is a nonpareile way of organizing my thoughts, truly it is thinking in a different language, one that I find easier to speak than what my mind seems to resort to, most of the time. So I put out articles and opinion pieces, either transmitting something I learned or in an effort to increase understanding between the different factions of my social network. My friends and family network loves my stuff as I think yours and the world has with regards to yours. I get calls for a book too and I'm working on it... just figuring out how to write one with some fiction and the like, really. It's not easy, but it feels like The Thing I Must Do.

    Anyway best wishes to ya my friend, and happy holidays. Hope this finds you well, if it finds you at all.