Saturday, February 27, 2010


One warm evening when I was seven (I think) my brother, mom, dad and I were driving with the top down in our little Morris Minor. We were at Forest Park Blvd. and Skinker. I remember the Washington University building looking like a castle in silhouette against the sunset.

I asked a question that would haunt me for the rest of my life. “What does divorce mean?” After it was explained to me my folks asked us how we would feel about it happening to our family. My brother and I put on brave faces and told them if that’s what they wanted it was okay with us. It wasn’t of course. For years I thought I gave them the idea.

I’ve lost people I love very much over the years. Bad things have happened to good people. I don’t think anything hit me as hard as that. It still hurts if I let it.

I loved both of my parents and couldn’t accept anything tearing our family apart. Kids need that I think but what doesn’t kill you…….

There had been a lot of fighting and yelling. I know now that it was an impossible situation for my mother. It had to happen. I made a silent resolution that this would never happen if I had kids.

It happened! When my ex told me our marriage was over I couldn’t believe it. I was in a fog for months. She talked me into taking antidepressants.

I told my old girlfriend Joanie about it. My emotions must have been pretty close to the surface. “Someone finally got to you,” she said. I didn’t want to sound like a complete jerk by telling her I wasn’t that hurt by our breakup. It was the loss to our kids.

Friends tried to keep me distracted. I went out a lot. Let me tell you antidepressants and booze don’t mix. I was a complete ass!

My buddy Steve took me to Beale Street one night. I remember the band was great. That’s all I remember. The owner of the club wore an eye patch. Steve later told me I kept calling him patch. Later that night he joined us at the bar across the street and asked Steve who his a$$hole friend was.

I almost went back to apologize. I found myself doing that a lot in those days. I’ve always thought bad behavior under the influence was a glimpse of who you really are inside.

One afternoon we were having a barbeque on our deck and Kim’s folks were there. I was incoherent from pills and booze and decided to start a religious argument. They considered themselves biblical scholars and were incredibly offended by my remarks. It didn’t help that I was mixing facts in my delirium.

After (what was becoming too commonplace) my apologies the next day I began to do some soul searching.

The pills were incredibly easy to get from my doctor. I’d been on a few different types for a few months now. It occurred to me their purpose was to keep me from dealing directly with my problems. I realized things really were that bad and I needed to feel every bit of the painful truth. Instead of being incapacitated by my troubles, I really did become stronger.

I stayed at the house for a year before moving back to the city. It took a long time for us to get the courage to tell the kids. We were all in tears. I got really angry when Kim hugged the kids and said, “We’ll make it somehow.” I saw it all as her fault.

That night, as I lay in the dark in bed devastated and still in tears, Kim came in and sat at the edge of the bed.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“That’s life!” I replied.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Oil and Water

It can be downright bizarre where life will take you if you let it. Of all the relationships I’ve been in, the only person I had absolutely nothing in common with is the person I married and had kids with. We were both miserable in our marriage.

Kim is from a suburban, church going family with a lot of structure. I must have known there would eventually be issues because I warned her I would never have money, I would always be obsessed with music, and I would never stop sky diving. A year into our marriage we had an argument and she complained about all three of these character flaws. “I told you that would be the case before we got married!” I said. She said, “I thought you would outgrow them!”

It reminds me of the old saw about women wanting to change their man and men wanting the same girl they married.

I should have seen it all coming right off the bat. We had to have two separate weddings. I believe this compromise might have been her idea so I have to admit she gave it the old college try. It really underscored how different our worlds were.

As all my friends know, mine was a sky diving wedding. Our preacher was a Viet Nam vet friend of mine named Dennis Jett. He was a classic old hippie and I suspect the church he was ordained through was some kind of California mail order deal.

The ceremony itself was probably an omen of things to come. Our 14 person party jumped right into an ice cloud. Ice pellets sand blasted our faces and even drew a little blood. My buddy Rob Walsh said it was the worst sky dive he had ever experienced. To make matters worse, Kim’s parents came to watch. Kim had the most spectacular tumble when she landed. She was four or five months pregnant and I think her dad wanted to kill me! The party that night was great. I bought a half barrel of beer and that was it. Kim thought she should bring a cake but no one touched it.

By contrast Kim’s wedding was a big church deal. Her folks were big members of St. Norbert, a church at the end of the world in Florissant, almost at the Missouri river. Her dad helped build the place. Our individual groups seemed to divide into camps. My friends and family were on one side and hers on the other. My friends were a little too loud. Her friends struck me as uptight. Although we shared the sky diving buddies who seemed to be in a camp of their own.

The alter was a very solemn affair except my buddy Stephen Martin (my best man) was totally disheveled in an old green suit and tennis shoes. I think I saw Kim wince.

My friends Margaret Bianchetta, Mary Dee, and Monica Casey performed as a wedding gift. As well dressed and pretty as they were, even they seemed out of place in this environment.

Another omen of things to come was the reception. We had friends who live at the river. We were supposed to party around a huge bonfire at the river’s edge but we got hit with another ice storm. Kim’s folks got us the church gym. I took a great photo of the girls performing under a basketball hoop. I thought it was so funny I framed copies and gave them to the girls for Christmas presents. Monica says she’ll lend me hers so I can post it here later.

It seemed like any time my world was introduced into hers, they collided. I don’t know, I honestly don’t think I judged her world but I probably did. She made it clear my world was strange to her. Nothing my friends did for us turned out well.

I remember running into my friend Tory Starbuck at the supermarket. I was showing off my newborn baby to him. It didn’t occur to me that his totally painted body, wild hair, and eye makeup wearing man might strike Kim as strange but you should have heard the way she described him to her friends. Tory had been in nothing but “The Cure” drag for years and I if you knew him you just took it for granted.

Our kids were both baptized, in spite of my atheism. My buddy Tracy is Dylan’s godfather but Chloe has two godfathers.

I asked my friend Fojammi to be Chloe’s godfather. She would be baptized at St. Norbert. I gave Danny directions but I totally forgot he didn’t drive. He made it all the way out there on a bus! He didn’t make it on time either. Our party was gathered around a little swimming pool the church has for these ceremonies. Everyone was ready but there was no sign of Danny. My friend Jim Havey stepped in to take his place. That’s Jim behind me in the pic of the ceremony. I glanced out the window of the church and saw Danny out there smoking a cigarette. I interrupted the ritual and ran outside to get him. He said it looked like something important was going on and he didn’t want to interrupt. Anyway Jim stepped aside and Danny took his place in the ceremony. These kind of things always happened with my friends and tolerance is not one of Kim’s greater strengths. I don’t know if you can make it out but I’m wearing a Three Stooges tie in the picture as I’m holding Chloe.

I’d also like to add that I’m Danny’s daughter, Chauntasia’s, godfather.

I would have braved absolute Hell to make sure my kids had a stable family life, but mercifully Kim got fed up after eleven years of marriage and threw me out. The kids were the only real thing in all that time. I have my life back and I fell really lucky.

I was tending bar at the Venice CafĂ© when I got married. Before I did the bar’s owner, my friend Jeff Lockheed told me, “You’re going to absolutely love those kids, but you’ll come to hate that woman.” I asked him about that a couple of months ago. “Did you foresee that in our relationship?” I asked. He said, “No, it just happens that way to everyone I know!” Talk about a confirmed bachelor!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Gras

Wow I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since I posted about my daughter’s birthday being Valentine’s Day. I was going to write in the political blog this morning but I’m just not in the mood for anxiety. It’s my daughter’s birthday.

I’m also lucky enough not to be alone in this world on Valentine’s Day. These celebrations really rub loneliness in the face of people that are.

This year we get Chloe’s birthday, Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras. Last year I promised my son I’d take him to Mardi Gras this year. I told him he’d be old enough. I had totally forgotten the promise and didn’t realize it was going to be Valentine’s Day weekend too.

Not being sure how to handle the situation I called my ex. I was pretty much asking permission to take Chloe too. My ex was not all happy about the idea. Fortunately Chloe had no interest in going. Dylan and I went, leaving Chloe at the apartment.

Here’s my review:

Bo-o-o-o-ring!!! Dylan did get to see one woman flash for beads and there were a few dancing youngsters. Most were kids walking around with cups advertising some kind of product. They looked absolutely bored or perhaps too drunk too early. We made our way down to the parade. I was surprised to see so many kids with their parents. “Good,” I thought, “It’s family friendly.”

The floats arrived an hour late and were 15 minutes apart! They were all corporate casino floats with employees who looked relieved not to actually be at the casino. Instead of alcohol they had giant coffee makers and seemed to be on their best behavior. They threw product endorsement beads that were wrapped in plastic bags. The whole thing was roped off.

The last time I was in the parade I was on the Lohr Distribution float. In spite of the fact that it was corporate the beads were generic, we got drunk, (we even had a porta potty on the float) and the crowd surrounded us. In fact near the end of the route my friend ‘Drea pulled me off the float and into the crowd where I partied totally forgetting the parade.

Kids just don’t know how to party these days!

My son was satisfied though. We went home and grabbed my daughter and my girl friend Valerie. We took Chloe to the Bleeding Deacon for her birthday meal. It’s a great place for vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. My son was the only one of us who isn’t.

This story is going to take a detour but I promise it will make sense.

When I was in 4th and 5th grades I went to Mullanphy School in the Shaw neighborhood. Everyone remembers Reagan counting catsup as a vegetable in the school lunch program but it was actually Nixon with the Vita-Lunch program. We were supposed to bring a quarter and we’d get a red plastic token you were supposed to turn in for a nutritious lunch.

I wasn’t interested in that at all. I took my quarter to the local pool hall where I was able to buy a bottle of cream soda and a Moon Pie. I still twitch thinking about the sugar rush. You couldn’t beat the combination of junk food and local color.

Back to the present----

As we sat at the table in the restaurant Valerie presented us with Valentine’s gifts. I got this lovely gift bag with a Mexican bottle of Coke. You know, real sugar, glass bottle with rounded lip! I also got a Moon Pie.

The other picture is Chloe February 14th 1996.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


One sunny afternoon when I was in 4th or 5th grade my mother decided it was time for my haircut. She had a giant professional vibrating clipper set. I remember looking out into the gangway from the second floor window between our 4 family flats in the Shaw neighborhood.

I remember a vibrating buzz at my temple, everything went yellow and I fainted.

Years later, when I was 16 or 17, my buddy Dominic and I hitch hiked to New York. While we were there we visited his sister Monica in her tiny Village apartment.

We were having a great time. I remember something struck us as incredibly funny. I felt a little woozy and had to get water. She had the classic NY apartment with a tiny sink over a really tiny refrigerator.

The next thing I remember is Monica hovering over me saying. “Don’t move, there’s broken glass everywhere.” My upper row of teeth ached.

The people in the room said they watched my face turn expressionless; my body folded slumping into the sink. My upper row of teeth pulled the sink and all its dishes crashing onto the floor.

Monica said, “Wouldn’t it be strange if you just discovered you were epileptic?” This was the beginning of a series of seizures that lasted into my mid twenties. Then, almost unnoticed by me, they stopped.

Some of them were quite spectacular and they were all brought on by something that got me really excited.

There was a series of art films in the late 70s at Washing University. This was where I saw all the early John Waters films. I saw Pink Flamingos and Female Troubles there. They had one called Flicker that was just black and white frames strobing at different rates. My seizures were well enough known by then that my buddies Tony Patti and George Crider advised me not to go.

I was originally going to post a story about my dear friend Theo Johnson but I remembered one of my seizures he was a part of. I’ll get back to Theo later.

One night Theo, Dominic (I think) and I were coming back to my West End apartment after a night of partying. The ground was covered with a deep blanket of snow. My body decided it was a perfect time for a seizure.

I remember Theo wrestling me to the ground and eventually carrying me by himself up to my second floor apartment.

He threw me on my roommate Marge’s bed. As I lay there staring at the square patterns of acoustical ceiling tiling, they began to undulate. It was beautiful! This was when I learned first hand that reality had to be constantly reinforced chemically to exist.

One beautiful sunny afternoon my buddy Benet and I decided to drive out to the country. He had a VW Microbus. I remember a long line of cars behind us honking because we couldn’t take hills very fast. We visited a sports field of the school I went to my brief time living in the country with my dad.

Somehow we ended up at Washington State park. As the sun began to set we found ourselves surrounded by several bats. It seemed like there were hundreds of them. I actually felt the onset of a seizure. I was aware enough to lie on the ground to meet it. It passed over and through me very calmly and quietly. I’ll always remember this as my favorite attack.

The very last one I remember was when my friend Sharon and I were at Faces “East Side” in Illinois. The combination of a small vial of isobutyl nitrite and strobe lights had me writhing and twitching on the dance floor. I gave everyone a better show than the drag show that was happening upstairs.

I was probably 25 then and haven’t even had a hint of one since. Good thing considering how fully I would throw my life into skydiving a few years later.

The only way I can describe seizures is to imagine your brain is a computer that has an electrical short circuit.

Seizure Buddies circa............

Theo and Me at an attic rehearsal, disco Sharon and me at a Canadian lake 100 miles north of Montreal, and lifeguard Benet.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Boy Scout Dave

My son came across this photo the other day. It’s the only picture of me as a Boy Scout. It was taken by my best friend Jeff Knoll. To be honest I was only a Boy Scout for one day. Jeff and a couple of other friends got me in just in time for this camping trip.

I remember learning to tie several kinds of knots before they’d let me go.

It was some kind of giant Scout jamboree. The kind they had on the Flintstones. It seemed like hundreds of different troupes camped in clusters and they were very competitive with each other. There were buglers, flag poles, and everthing.

The first thing we did when we arrived at Camp Beaumont was throw our pack on our backs for a ten mile hike. I was in 6th grade and full of energy but the hike almost killed me. I think it was the hills. Come to think of it didn’t help that I was chubby. My buddies called me skinny. We thought it was funny.

Jeff and I were a bad influence. As soon as we pitched our tents after the hike we gathered our friends and took them into the woods to smoke grape vines.

That night as camp fire shadows distorted the features of our Scout leaders we were taught the old Indian chant “Owah tahgoo siam” to fend off evil spirits.

Jeff and I crawled into our tent just as it began to rain. I’ve always loved listening to it rain while I was snug and dry inside a tent. This was one of those old, stinky canvas tents too. I don’t know what compelled me but I had to touch the ceiling of our tent which caused a leak of course. Our sleeping bags were those old cloth ones too. We were drenched and shivered through the whole night. The smell never did come out of our gear.

As daylight broke I decided I had to build a fire. The Scouts were only allowed matches. We couldn’t even use paper. We were supposed to start a fire with kindling. I think they would have preferred we rubbed sticks together. I remember seeing some kind of bow looking thing, the string of which wrapped around a stick. That spun, causing friction at the point where the stick touched kindling. (Forget that!) It never occurred to the elders that we might cheat. I had a cigarette lighter and found a can of lighter fluid. We called it Girl Scout juice. Soon I had a roaring fire. I didn’t care about rules, I needed warmth.

Later that day, at some kind of military-like ceremony, I was given a special commendation for starting the best fire.

Sadly, when my son was old enough to become a scout I wouldn’t let him. He wanted to join several times when his friends had. I was furious about their intolerance of gays. I guess it’s ironic that I’ve become so intolerant of intolerance.

Fortunately my son has the depth to agree with me now and doesn’t feel he’s missed anything.

Although I was only a Boy Scout a short time, I have a long history with the Cub Scouts. That fascinating story still to come! Not to mention my adventures with my buddy Jeff Knoll.

I have to add this post script--- After I posted I was driving to the studio when they announced that it was the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America on the radio. Totally coincidental!!!