Tag Archives: Miami

Living in Shit with The Copyrights (Song Stories #1)

If you’re anything like me (and for your sake, I hope the similarities start and end right here) certain songs trigger memories for you. On our drive down from Jacksonville, late Thursday night, I had the iPod on shuffle and a few songs came up that I hadn’t heard in a while but gave me an idea that I thought might make for a cool series of entries on the website. Here’s the first in my (remarkably cleverly titled) series of Song Stories.

Song: “Prove Me Wrong” by The Copyrights
Time: June 2012
Place: Miami, FL


It backed up. From wall to wall, the floor in our little shitbox of an apartment was now seeped in toilet water. And yeah – when I say “toilet water,” I’m talking about a lot more than water. We had no cleaning supplies and no car to get to the store. Normally, I’m happy to walk but this was Miami in June and I was in the midst of heroin withdrawals. I felt about as awful as a human being can feel. Besides, we didn’t have any money to buy cleaning supplies anyway. And you can fucking bet that – whatever money we were going to scam up – it sure as shit wasn’t going to pay for paper towels and Lysol. I did the same thing any “sensible” person would do in my position: I took the comforter off the bed and threw it on the floor. It stayed there like that until we left town a few weeks later.

I hated being in that apartment. Actually, to call it an “apartment” paints too grand of a picture. It was a fucking room. And it felt more like a coffin. I felt trapped all day and night around the clock. I wished I were dead. But I wasn’t going to walk out the door for anything. Anything but drugs.

My memory’s a little hazy but if things were as I remember, I’m too ashamed to spill all of the details. You don’t really need to know the source of the money anyway. Suffice to say it was a process that involved more than one felony and ended with a Moneygram or Western Union transfer. I braved the outside world to go pick up the cash, so I could hop a train to Overtown and finally get some heroin. Not enough to overdose and kill myself (what a sweet dream that would have been; I fantasized about it constantly) but enough to make the hurt go away for a few hours. That was enough. I calculated the exact minute that I could expect the money to be ready and left so as to arrive just in time.

But it wasn’t ready. I waited. And waited. And waited. And it still hadn’t come in. Because the people that I was counting on to send it were also drug addicts and – you know – they’ve got their own schedules.

So I sat on the sidewalk outside of the CVS, calling and texting, trying to find out when the money would become available. It started to rain. And I just sat there, clinging to my hope that they would eventually come through. I shook and shivered and sweated. I prayed not to be recognized – after all, this was the same CVS where I’d steal $80 boxes of allergy medication which I’d then return to Publix or Walgreens for store credit. (On the rare occasions that I ate, this was one of the ways that I got food). I’d have walked down the street and looked suspicious elsewhere but I just didn’t have it in me to care that much. It all hurt just a little more than I could stand. Sitting there in the rain… I don’t know… maybe I was paralyzed or maybe I was punishing myself. Maybe I enjoyed my squalor and tragedy on some sick, stupid, self-destructive level.

In any case, that was my evening. And as I sat on that stupid fucking sidewalk in the rain, I listened to music on her phone. The battery was low and I shouldn’t have done anything to speed that process up but I couldn’t help it. Those songs, my songs, were all that kept me from laying down in traffic some days. There was one that stuck out and that I’ll forever associate with that night.

I told you there was a time back then when I still believed
You asked “believed in what” and I said “in anything”
Well the world’s still spinning, and we’re still grinning with cold drinks in our hands
But you’re grading on a curve while we’re sitting on a curb in a cold and callous land

And you tell me there was a time I’d laugh at this dramatic trash
That was coming out of my mouth after too much sour mash
I say the world only spins when I shut my eyes and it goes too fucking fast
But then I’m free to dream about the frequent smiles of a not-too-distant past

You will always run into creeps like me
Who love to swim and drown in negativity
But we want you to strongly disagree
Ignore all the surface signs and prove me wrong

Reminds me when I first saw the Pacific in a sunset glow
Or when we came through the Holland Tunnel for our first New York Show
But if the winners like these are fewer and further between now
The losers like us are too stubborn to ever forget how
to compare and contrast to the best of days
in competitive, unfair, and bullshit ways
instead of just putting our arms around someone we love
you gotta let it go

Please make sure to remind us
Our best days are not behind us


“Prove Me Wrong” by The Copyrights comes from the compilation LP, “The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore.” You can buy the LP from Interpunk. And (I was under the impression that it was only released on vinyl but) it looks like you can also get it on CD from It’s Alive.

So Smart I Got Life Lessons Dripping Out My Asshole

"I'm So Smart I Got Life Lessons Dripping Out My Asshole (Also: Charm) Pay Me (...?)" 2/16/13. Acrylics and resin sand on cardboard. 12x14".
“So Smart I Got Life Lessons Dripping Out My Asshole.” 2/16/13. Acrylics and resin sand on cardboard. 12×14″.

So smart I got life lessons dripping out my asshole (also: charm); pay me (…?)

Expressive art. Self-deprecating humor. The ninth painting of ten in my series, “The Weak End.” If you’re at all familiar with my work, you’ve already read everything that I could possibly say about this painting or the two days over which I worked on it.

I do, however, have a new (almost-finished) painting that will be featured here soon. In presenting it, there are three stories that I’ll want to share. Were I to include them all in a single entry, it’d be a little overwhelming. So…


The true story of my afternoon on April 28, 2012.

We met in a treatment facility that we had both transferred to from others. It was from her previous rehab that she knew Bill. He wasn’t a patient of theirs, he was an employee. He had clean time. (Emphasis on had). He started using yesterday.

J had a habit of not counting his money until he was back in his car. We didn’t have any money, but if we could find someone to throw in a hundred, we could pad the twenties with small bills to make it look like as much as three. We called Bill and he met us with a hundred dollars cash.

We had shorted J before but only by twenty or thirty and we’d always eventually (sort of) paid in full. In any case, we bought from him everyday. We were junkies; he knew we weren’t going anywhere.

I made the call and with her by my side and Bill in the backseat, we met up with J. As soon as we made the hand-off,  I put the car in gear and drove off as quickly as I could without raising suspicion – but it’d only be a matter of time before he sat down and counted that money. He called within a minute. I had (I thought, slyly) taken a residential street so that he wouldn’t see us in traffic, but before I knew it, he was there. He slid around us, cut off our path, and was out of the car. I floored it in reverse, struggling to keep the car from backing into any of the others parked on the narrow street. He chased after us and almost grabbed hold of me through the window when I swung the car out into the intersection and into drive. His girlfriend had taken the wheel when he got out and she picked him up. They were right on us immediately and we proceeded to play bumper cars across the streets of Delray Beach, running every red light, driving on the wrong side of the roads. Our car was already beat up but his was really nice. Or had been earlier that day anyway.

As soon as J was back in the car, he was back on the phone. As we swerved around and into each other, I tried to reason with him. “It’s only two hundred dollars. Report the damage as a hit and run and turn it in to your insurance. This isn’t worth it.”

“This car isn’t insured or registered. It’s not even my plate. You owe me a lot of money – and the dope – and I’m beating the shit out of you.”

“I’ll get you money later in the week but I’m not giving the drugs back so you might as well give up now.”

I got us to the on ramp for I-95, but  our car was old and slow. We didn’t stand a chance at outrunning him. Smashing the fuck out of his car hadn’t deterred him so I had to get creative. I swerved around other cars, trying to lead J into an accident that might actually slow him down.

“I’m gonna flip your car and kill you,” he said.

“That’s the only way you’re getting the drugs back. Chalk it up as a loss and give up before it gets any worse.” I was pretty bold for someone shaking so badly.

I tried a new technique: slamming on the brakes to take us from 90 mph to a dead stop in the middle of the interstate – counting on the cars around us to prevent J from doing the same. After a couple stalemates, where he pulled onto the shoulder up ahead to wait, knowing we had no option but to start driving again, I started to lose hope. How had we not passed a cop yet? How many other drivers must have called this demolition derby in by now? It was only a matter of time before this all ended very badly – one way or another. And my fucking fuel light was on.

“My boys are getting on at Lantana and are gonna light you the fuck up. You and your girl are as good as dead.”

I guess he didn’t notice that we also had Bill in the back seat. (Quite an experience for someone so freshly off the wagon, huh?)

Eventually, somehow, I was able to lose him. After an exit, I tore across two lanes and into the grass back toward the off-ramp at the last possible second when I’d be able to do so and J wouldn’t without losing sight of us for long enough for us to turn and leave him guessing which way we had gone.

J didn’t follow and when I got to the first red light that I wouldn’t be running that afternoon, I eased into a stop with a police car right next to me. My headlight was dragging on the street in front of the car. The front bumper was partially detached and the back bumper was smashed in. The light turned green and the distance between us and the cop increased until I was able to exhale.

And then I laughed. We all laughed. A lot. It wasn’t funny but it was amazing in its way. As fucked up as all of it is in hindsight, in that moment we were triumphant and I was a hero. (Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, but it felt that way). We had no right to be alive. It defied all logic that we were driving away, unscathed and with heroin. I dropped Bill off at his car and drove back to the trailer park where she and I were renting a windowless room with no door to the outside. I left the car at the opposite end of the park and we got out to walk. We lived at the entrance of the park and J’s house was only a mile down the road; I didn’t want to run the risk were he to go out looking for us.

We walked into the trailer, into our room, shut the door, and shot up. I don’t remember anything that happened after that, but the next day, we packed our shit to leave for Miami.


“The Weak End” series:


  • 11×13″ prints of this piece are for sale in my webstore.

Jail (This Time I Turned Myself In!)

"Jail." 3/5/13. Pen on property inventory sheet. 4x6".
“Jail.” 3/5/13. Pen on property inventory sheet. 4×6″.

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 BUT it 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.