Wallis and I were parked in some lot when three cop cars surrounded us. I’m not gonna say what we were up to just two minutes prior to their arrival (’cause I’m a GENTLEMAN) but I will say that Wallis was still very much naked when they started in on us with their lights and questions.
Anyway, it was a shockingly brief encounter and we both made it out alive and handcuff free. And considering my last run-in with police, just earlier this week (see Facebook screenshot below), I think it’s safe to say that I’m on a god damn trouble-free roll.
Tomorrow I’m gonna try to set up at/near the May Day Parade and then at the show at Pork Avenue. Monday, I’m super excited to see Unwelcome Guests play at Memory Lanes. My exhibit at Instinct Gallery ends in just a few days. You can read a killer review of the show from The Wake and you can go buy something Tuesday through Saturday between noon and five (and Thuraday ’til 8pm).
I started the band Extra Day For Riots in 2003 when I was seventeen. In the summer of 2004, we went on a short tour. At our show in Jackson, Tennessee, we noticed some cop cars parked out by our van. As the hours passed, the cops didn’t. They just sat there. We were never up to any good but hadn’t done anything (on that day) that they’d have any way of knowing about, so we did our best to pretend they weren’t there. Finally, one of them came inside. “Is there a Samuel North here?”
I stepped forward. “We need you to come outside,” they told me. I had no idea what was going on, but I went.
“Are you the owner of this van?” Yeah. “Were you at the Old Hickory Mall earlier today?” Yeah. “A woman filed a report that the driver of this van, before entering the vehicle and leaving the mall, exposed his penis to her.”
What the fuck? I told him I had no idea what he was talking about. And then it hit me.
My belt had broken and, earlier that day, I was complaining about it to the other kids as we were getting in the van. “Check out how ridiculous this is,” I told them. “The waist of these pants is so worn out that I can make them drop just by clenching my butt.” I demonstrated, letting my pants fall off my waist without the use of my hands. Then I pulled them up and we left. At no point was my penis exposed (I was wearing underwear) but I guess my friends weren’t my only audience and – for whatever reason – this person reported an exaggerated version to the police.
I explained what actually happened, but the cops didn’t believe me. “Seriously!” I pleaded. “Here, look.” With my arms out at my sides, I let my pants drop. The one cop eyed me with contempt: “Pull your pants up and go inside,” he said, “we’re done here.”
Right around the time I started drawing just for the fun/fuck of it, I thought of that night for the first time in years. I was sitting inside Tranquil Shores, waiting for group to start, and I picked Alexis‘ notebook up off her chair and scribbled out an even more exaggerated version of what happened.
Wanna see me and little Hembrough playing a high school talent show TEN YEARS AGO? Well I just so happen to have a video of Extra Day For Riots’ performance at Sarasota High School during the ’03-’04 school year. (Hembrough plays bass in Rational Anthem now, but back then he played drums; I sang).
August 1, 2012. I landed in Miami and rented a car. The cops in Overtown had been seriously on my case. I couldn’t go into the neighborhood without getting hassled (or worse). On one occasion, after putting a gun to my head, pulling me out of the car, and throwing me onto the pavement, they had actually made me pull down my pants (right there, on the street) and hold my butt open so that they could look inside my asshole for drugs. Again – this wasn’t back at the station – this was on a public street. That was before my car had been stolen. Having to enter the neighborhood on foot had made matters worse. I don’t “blend in” in Overtown. But I had a rental car now, so I was willing to take my chances.
I copped successfully and once I was sure that I wasn’t being followed (which had been the case several times prior) I pulled into a Wendy’s parking lot to shoot up. Normally, I’d insist that we wait until we were safely back in our shitbox apartment, but I was alone now and I wasn’t putting this shot off any longer. It had already been far too long.
The plan was to collect my things from the apartment (assuming they were still there – and that my key still worked), drive to Sarasota, collect some more of my things, and drive to New York, where I would live. I didn’t have any idea where specifically in the city I’d even go once I pulled into town, but I guess I thought I’d figure it out at some point in my eighteen hour drive up the east coast. I was going to get a job in a law firm as a paralegal, take the bar exam, and get a job in a law firm as a lawyer. And I was going to stop shooting heroin. This shit in Florida – this was just a “last round” sort of thing. I believed this. Sincerely.
The next 17 days were a blur. I could probably piece a lot of it together if I sat down and “timelined” it all out, but it’s not all incredibly relevant to this particular part of the story. What is relevant is that at some point in those 17 days, I got into a car accident.
I was driving to my drug dealer’s house, but I was already high on heroin and xanax. I made one stop on the way, at Liggett, to buy more needles. When I came out, two guys were standing by my car (the car I had borrowed from the Owens). “What do you have in the bag?” they asked me. What the fuck is this… I wondered… “It’s my prescription,” I lied, “my antidepressants.” “You’re fucked up,” they told me. “You ran up onto the sidewalk three times and almost hit us twice. What’re you on?” I had no idea that I had driven up on the sidewalk (or almost hit another car). I told them that I had been texting and that I was sorry. They said they couldn’t let me drive. They offered me a drive to wherever I needed to go. I put on my best sober and in control act and somehow, eventually, convinced them that everything was cool.
About five minutes later, I crashed into another car. Luckily, nobody was in it. That’s probably because it was parked – not on the street, but a good deal off of the street in a driveway. The people came out of their house. I apologized profusely and recycled my lie – saying that I had been texting. They wanted to call the police, which I assured them wasn’t necessary. “I’m really sorry, but I can’t wait around that long. I have a doctor’s appointment to go to and I’m moving out of state tomorrow. If I miss it, I won’t be able to get my prescriptions filled before I leave.” (I was planning on leaving, but not the following day – and there was no doctor’s appointment). I gave them my information. Well, not so much the information, but the actual documents. To convince them that I could be trusted, I gave them my driver’s license and the vehicle registration and insurance card from the glovebox (it wasn’t my car, it had been loaned to me after I returned the rental). And I had them call my phone right then so they could see it ring in my hand, verifying that it was legitimate. I assured them they didn’t need to call police and hit the road. I said I’d come back for my license and other papers later.
The calls started coming in. They called the police, who wanted me to come back. I pretended I couldn’t because I was at my appointment, but when the vehicle’s owner called me (having also been contacted by the police) he told me that if I didn’t go back, there’d be a warrant issued for my arrest. But that if I did go back, I’d just get a citation. By this point, I had already injected even more heroin, but I convinced myself that I could pass for straight, stashed my lockbox full of drugs and paraphernalia, and drove the smashed up car back to the house where I had hit the car.
I pulled off the act successfully. No one suspected (or at least accused) me of being under the influence of anything) and I just got some tickets… and a summons to appear in court. For “leaving the scene of an accident without giving information.” Which was obviously a totally bullshit charge considering the tremendous extent to which I had given my information BUTit was a fuck of a lot better than being arrested for DUI and possession of heroin.
I cut a deal wherein I had to pay some fines, take a driver improvement course, and do some community service hours. By the time I went to my courtdate, I was already in rehab again, but they didn’t need to know about that. But here’s the one bit of information that I’m actually trying to get at: I (unknowingly) failed to satisfy one of the criterion in some way, so when I got out of Tranquil Shores (seven months after all of this even happened) I found out that there was a warrant for my arrest. Unless I wanted this shit hanging over my head, I’d have to go down to the jail and turn myself in.
It was a bummer but I kept an incredibly positive, upbeat attitude throughout. Even when I found myself handcuffed to a wall in a hallway, for hours, waiting for them to even begin the process of booking me. (Translation: I could have been sitting in the lobby, I could have just been outside – but I guess that’s not how that shit works).
I even stayed positive when – having asked for permission to draw (and been granted it) – another officer came and took my pen away. (And this was at the phase of the game where incoming arrestees are all filling out paperwork so we’re not talking about a “no pens allowed” policy). Which isn’t to say that any of this is a tremendously huge deal or “totally unfair.” But it is the sort of thing that “the old me” would have found to be a TERRIBLE INJUSTICE and lost his shit over. I didn’t do that though. I smiled and thought about how I was grateful to be in a position where I wasn’t caught off-guard – where I was able to arrange for my bail to be paid ahead of time – and grateful that, so long as I stayed on the path I was now on, this would be the last time I’d have to deal with this kind of shit. This would be the last time I’d have to sit handcuffed to a wall.
So this is my self-portrait from the last day I was arrested.
Post-script: Obviously, I never made it to New York. I checked into rehab on August 17th. Also – fun epilogue: From the scene of the accident, I went to trade in the (now totaled) car for a motorcycle… which I also managed to crash (just thirty minutes after being issued the tickets and the summons!) – impressed??
The original drawing is no longer available, but if you ask Bill Pinkel (one of my favorite artists) really nicely, maybe he’ll let you take it out of the frame and see what I had with me / got marked down on my property inventory sheet. Either way, it is available as a 4×6″ print – numbered, signed, and sealed.
has borderline personality disorder and a heroin problem. In 2012, he got clean, discovered art, and traveled the country, painting and writing. Three years later, he went back to heroin and quit painting. He's currently hard at work trying to get clean or kill himself (depending on the day).