Tag Archives: Traffic Street Records

Shitty Children’s first show

Usually, I only stay in a city for a week or so before moving on to the next one. Chris and I decided to post up in Chicago for a good chunk of the summer though so – as long as we were gonna be around – Mike asked if we’d like to start a band with him and Dave.

Chris and Dave had played together before, on Rational Anthem’s 2009 summer tour, back when I was still doing all of the band’s booking. Rational was down two members and I recruited both of them to fill in. Mike sings and plays guitar in Like Bats, whose records I used to release on Traffic Street. Dave also plays in Like Bats these days (bass) and played guitar in my band, Troublemake, on a couple records. Anyway, in Shitty Children, the line-up is Mike on drums, Dave on guitar, and Chris on bass; I sing.

Last night was our first show and we played five songs. One was a Cleveland Bound Death Sentence cover and the other four were things Mike’s been working on for a while that didn’t make sense as Like Bats songs. He wrote the lyrics for one and I wrote the lyrics for the other three. We only practiced the set altogether twice – once the night before the show and then again just a few hours before the show started. I was really nervous going into it. It’s been four years since Noelle got sick and I subbed in as Rational Anthem’s singer one night in Manhattan. It’s been six years since Troublemake played and I sang my own lyrics in front of an audience. But this wasn’t just my first time singing in a really long time, it was my first time singing sober ever. I had never gotten up on a stage before without being some kind of fucked up. I was so nervous last night that I shook throughout the whole set and so out of my element that I was unable to articulate anything that I had wanted to say in between the songs. When one song would end, I’d just anxiously wait for the next to start. Now that I’ve seen the videos of our set though, I feel a lot better about it. I think we actually did pretty well.

Here’s the first of those five videos. We play a short intro before transitioning into our first song, which I haven’t titled yet. (Scroll down for the lyrics though).

The dumb smirk plastered on my face, like the crooked smiles that I paint and all of my clever, contrived slogans, quips, and tag-lines… All the things I do and say are just designs to garner sex and praise. But – sometimes – I really despise the way that I don’t even try at all to hide my stupid pride. My vanity’s embarrassing.

Unpredictable mood swings. No self-esteem.

I’m so in love with myself; I’m so disgusted with myself. I’m a shame and I’m ashamed. I’m a joke; I’m okay. I say I’m living out my dreams, like I have any clue what that even means. I laugh and smile all the time. Except when I’m preoccupied with anxiety. I find relief in suicidal fantasies.

Went back home, sat alone in a park with my phone. I’m  too insecure to just pick up and call you. I wouldn’t want you to think that I might need you. I’d rather sit stuck in my rut between unpredictable mood swings. I have no self-esteem.


We’re gonna record a demo before Chris and I leave town and we’ll probably play at least one more show too. Whether or not the band continues to exist beyond that, I’m not really sure, but there’s no reason we couldn’t get back together every so often to write/record more songs or even go on tour. We’ll see what happens.

Punk Rock Today is Better Than It’s Ever Been

"Punk Rock Today is Better Than It's Ever Been." 5/28/14. Pen. 4½x5¼".
“Punk Rock Today is Better Than It’s Ever Been.” 5/28/14. Pen. 4½x5¼”.

Back in February, I was lucky enough to get to work on a painting and set up a print table at a couple shows some of my favorite bands were playing. On the second night, I asked my buddy Mike (who runs Dead Broke Rekerds) if I could scoop up some records in exchange for some artwork. He picked out a print and asked if I would draw something for a Dead Broke sticker. It took me a while ’cause I was stressing out, worrying about whether or not Mike would like whatever I came up with. As soon as I decided to drop the anxiety and just do what came naturally though, it was done in no time and I had this design. I’m really happy with it – in large part just because it’s so radically unlike the kind of art that a band or label would normally use for a sticker design.

I don’t think I met him just then but the first time Mike and I crossed paths was in late 2006. His band, Down in the Dumps, was in Florida to play The Fest and I caught their set in Tampa at Transitions Art Gallery (now Epic Problem). In my mind, this was right around the time when DIY pop punk was really blowing the fuck up (in an incredibly relative sense) and getting awesome/exciting again. Off With Their Heads released Hospitals, started their never-ending tour, and were in the midst of the flurry of 7-inches that they’d release leading up to their first full-length for No Idea. 1-2-3-4 Go!, Kiss of Death, and A.D.D. were all fucking killing it with bands like Ringers, Snuggle, Drunken Boat, Monikers, Witches With Dicks, Tiltwheel, Chinese Telephones, and Pretty Boy Thorson & The Falling Angels. Labels like No Breaks, It’s Alive, Dirt Cult, and Salinas were similarly picking up the pace, building incredible catalogs, and (soon enough) inspiring me to do the same. Banner Pilot self-released their first record. The Brokedowns put out “New Brains For Everyone.” Blotto was on the other side of the Pacific, churning out 7-inches at the same rate as Off With Their Heads, (mostly for Snuffy Smile, who were also tearing it up on the label side of things).  And shortly thereafter (or right around then), we got the first records out of Dear Landlord, The Measure, The Gateway District, Dead Mechanical, The Humanoids, and The Steinways.

But I’m getting carried away… the FIRST band to play at Transitions that aforementioned night in October 2006 was Down in the Dumps. They were the only band on the line-up I didn’t know anything about. And they were fucking awesome. It was everything punk rock’s supposed to be: grimy, coarse, fucked up but catchy and upbeat (sonically, if not in content)Mike played bass and sang. And as I’d later find out, he was also the guy responsible for Dead Broke Rekerds, whose catalog now boasts a whole slew of my favorite records.

After I moved to DC for law school and started my record label, Traffic Street, the first bands to come through Baltimore and stay at my place were Iron Chic and Jonesin’.  Mike played bass and sang in Jonesin’ and – though he wasn’t at the time – is now the bassist in Iron Chic as well. Both bands mean a lot to me. One of Traffic Street’s final releases was Jonesin’s EP, “The Dream is Dead.” And – going back to the beginning – #001 in the Traffic Street catalog was a 7-inch compilation called “Dangerous Intersections,” which was not only my first vinyl release but also Iron Chic’s first appearance on vinyl (and only their second release overall, following their five-song demo).

Before Traffic Street collapsed under the weight of my mental health issues and heroin addiction, Mike and I were in regular contact, states away, trading our releases for our distros, talking music, making fun of each other, and – every so often – crossing paths again when I’d book a show for Iron Chic or he’d book one for Rational Anthem (who, coincidentally, shared the A-side of “Dangerous Intersections” with Iron Chic). When it all went wrong for me, he continued to stay in touch, checking up on me periodically, wishing me well, and even sending me a slew of records in the mail while I was in rehab. He’s continued being a source of support since I’ve been back in the real world too. He’s a great friend and a veritable fucking pillar of DIY punk rock. I’m honored to have my art featured on one of his label’s stickers.

AND REGARDING “punk rock today” and the claim made by the title of this piece… Allow me to present some audible evidence! Here are songs from the records Mike traded me that night back in February, as well as some recent stuff by other bands I’ve mentioned (and some by bands that spawned from their ashes).

“Babyboo” by Unfun

“Snow Angels” by Murmurs

“Wolf Dix Rd.” by Iron Chic

“I Wish I Could Be Happy” by Rational Anthem

“Not Cool” by The Slow Death

“Old Man Yells at Cloud” by Skinny Genes

“This Future Sucks” by The Brokedowns

“Hey Caroline” by Dear Landlord

“Look” by Science Police

“How the Day Runs Down” by Dead Mechanical

“Start Walking” by Off With Their Heads

“Hold Fast” by Banner Pilot

And even though they’re not technically “punk rock today“…

“‘Lone” by Jonesin’

“City of the Living Dead” by Down in the Dumps

Oh! AND… I think I like the black-and-white version better but since I can’t resist coloring anything and everything, here’s what the finished, physical drawing looks like (though the stickers will still be black-and-white).

"Punk Rock Today is Better Than It's Ever Been" (with color). 6/1/14. Ink. 4½x5¼".
“Punk Rock Today is Better Than It’s Ever Been” (with color). 6/1/14. Ink. 4½x5¼”.

Status Update: 1/7/13

Part of it might be that there’s enough content on here that I don’t feel quite as strong a need to ensure that I’m putting up something new every single day; part of it might be that there’s been nothing this last week that I’ve been dying to share; but the unusually low level of activity on the site this last week definitely doesn’t have anything to do with a creative rut, a lack of output or anything like that.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I got my hands on a canvas that’s more than twice the size of any other I’ve ever gotten to work with. So far I’ve put 22 hours into it and I’m really happy with how it’s coming along. I’d like to say that it’s mostly done but I still have so much little detail left that [you never know] things could take a dramatically different sort of direction and it might not end up anything like the painting that it is at this moment. And actually – I take back what I said – I’m DEFINITELY dying to share this painting (just not until it’s ready!)

I’ve also been spending a fair amount of time trying to get my artwork into some new galleries, businesses, and other spaces. It’s gone well so far and I’m hoping to pick up even more new locations soon. I’ll share more specific details about that stuff later in the week.

On a different sort of note, I took the first part of my motorcycle training course today and will finish tomorrow. As soon as I can get down to Sarasota (this or next weekend probably) I’ll swap out my little 50cc thrashBike for a 150cc. Which might not seem like anything that has tremendous artistic implications but is really exciting because it’s going to enable me to travel outside of Jacksonville (on my own) and get shows set up in other cities.

On top of all that, there are a couple other developments I’m really excited about but can’t quite talk about yet. Long story short though, things are going really well and only seem to be getting better. I’m thinking I’ll make time to resume with regular art/blog updates tomorrow. In the meantime…

Cotton Candy Skies [photo]I wouldn’t have even noticed the sky the other night (had Heather not commented on it). Within one second of looking up though, I was reaching in my pocket for my phone. I’m (obviously) not a photographer and I don’t usually take pictures of anything like this but it was just too perfect. Not because it’s beautiful (though it is) but because it reminded me of something else  that’s beautiful.

Last month, Rumspringer made a video for their song, “Love Poem to Irrigation.” It’s off their sophomore full-length, Stay Afloat, which came out last year on LP through Dirt Cult Records. (It’s also available on CD or as a digital download).

Though it wasn’t the first record I had lined up for Traffic Street, Rumspringer’s debut EP was the first release in my catalog to see the light of day. It makes me really happy that they’re not only still playing but that they continue to get better.


This photo was taken from right outside my house so those shoes on the power line are (of course) my own. Well – not originally. Back when I still lived at Tranquil Shores, I got ’em from a friend  after my own Frankenshoes finally gave out

My last valiant effort to repair my own shoes.
troy's shoes
The crappy painting I did on the shoes I got from Troy which (for the last six months or so) have lived up on the power lines.

The shoes were painted the same day as my Suicide Jacket.

"Suicide Jacket." 2/18/13. Acrylic paint on my winter coat. 15x24".
Can you tell which one I put more effort into?


Two kinds of rotten

Last January, still living in inpatient care, my friend Mary Beth got me a bunch of art supplies, including a set of calligraphy pens and inks. I got some use out of the inks  (until THOSE FASCISTS said, “You can’t give yourself tattoos in rehab, Sam – especially not sitting out by the pool“). The pens were a little more than I could handle though. I use the crow quill every now and then, but I only ever did one piece with all the different pen tips. I figure now’s a good time to throw it online, given the nature of my most recent painting.

"Rotten." 1/4/13. Calligraphy pens and black ink. 9x12".
“Rotten.” 1/3/13. Calligraphy pens and black ink. 9×12″.

It’s pretty much bullshit. It means nothing. The spoon in my hand: that’s what I was using as a tongue scraper. It’s all whatever; I was just playing around with a new toy.

“Rotten,” though, is a word I really enjoy and a feeling I’m not totally unfamiliar with. I ran a search for it on the draft of my second book and came up with a couple paragraphs about why I went to law school. I wrote this more than a year ago but just spent three hours editing it obsessively.


Kevin pitched the idea and I agreed that it couldn’t hurt to just take the admissions test. At no point did I ever expect to score in the 99th percentile. Suddenly, all these schools that I never thought would even consider my application [ T14 schools] were practically begging for it. And then they were actually accepting me (even with my “criminal addendum,” failed first year of community college, and total lack of extracurriculars or wholesome activities). And they were offering me scholarships even! It was strange and – honestly – kind of exciting. It felt good and I got caught up in it, for better or worse.

I’m not sure if I ever once paused and thought, “Is this what I really want to do?” When one of the T14s – Georgetown – offered me a six-figure scholarship, my entire rationale consisted of: “this is quite the opportunity… if I don’t take advantage of it, I might regret it later…”

That’s it – that’s why I went to law school: a fear of regret. Well, that’s not all of it (it’s just the only part I’ve ever acknowledged to another human being). I also went to feel validated. It was one thing to be a shitty punk kid that shot heroin on the weekends, who was told by everyone including his mom that he was gonna grow up to be homeless and eating out of a dumpster, and who people generally regarded as less of a human being and more of a disease – to be all of that and to get straight A’s at community college or USF was [whatever]. But to fit that description and go to one of the top law schools in the country on a scholarship – this was next level. It was kind of a huge “fuck you” to everyone that looked down on me or had said I was worthless. “Rotten,” on the other hand, I was okay with. I still felt rotten – and this only concentrated it. The whole thing felt sinister. It sort of was. Fear of regret played a part but spite was right up there with it. I’ve said my law degree’s got less utility than a sheet of toilet paper but – before I got clean especially – it did serve me in that one regard: it was a pretty decent fuck you.  “I may be an asshole and a fuck-up, my clothes are tattered, my teeth are gapped out, I feel like a mutant, and I smell like cigarettes, mildew, and bad decisions, but I ALSO have a law degree from Georgetown. Where do you keep your law degree from Georgetown?”

Granted, even back when I had a use for a “fuck you,” I never actually had that conversation with anyone. But if I felt like someone was condescending to me or even just thinking they had me figured out, I’d throw it out there and watch their perception of me change in an instant. Even now, since getting out of treatment, I don’t ever have a reason to “show up” anyone or to prove shit, but it can still be a fun card to play on the rare occasion when someone (possibly looking to write me off as a dirty kid who’s too lazy to get a “real” job) asks about work or school.  I can just smile. Which gets at something else: to me, it’s more of a punchline than it is my proudest achievement. Sure – it’s pretty good indication that I’ve got the capacity to do [something or other] or make [some kind of shit] happen, but so is my time running Traffic Street  – and that means infinitely more to me.  But, shit, normal people don’t see that and I don’t wanna lie; it feels good to also have the thing under my belt that they can understand. The thing that tells ’em: if I’m opting to play with colors and paint funny faces all day, it MIGHT not be ’cause I’m a lazy idiot – I just might have my reasons…


Had a long conversation with a friend tonight about the best records; it ended with me listening to Dear Landlord‘s catalog on repeat from sometime before midnight until… [it’s still going].

Here’s the last song they recorded but it better not be the last song they record.

It’s the only song of theirs that I don’t have on my iPod ’cause the download code that came with my LP doesn’t work and Adeline won’t respond to my emails. Somebody do me a solid and email me the mp3s for “The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore.”

Give Up, Sniff Glue

It was my first expressive art therapy group after Tranquil Shores readmitted me. The theme was grief / loss… and I chose to paint a giant glue bottle, chasing down some kids, trying to get them to sniff him… (I had my reasons – and I’ll get to them, I promise). It was a scene I remembered from a cartoon we watched in fifth grade. It’s stuck with me not because it was effective but because it was so incredibly stupid and condescending – even to eleven year olds! We laughed through the whole thing. It was a big dumb joke.

"Give Up, Sniff Glue." 10/24/12. Watercolor, pencil, and pen. 12x18".
“Give Up, Sniff Glue.” 10/24/12. Watercolor, pencil, and pen. 12×18″.

Regarding anti-drug messages – in the short span between my discharge and return, I received some that were just slightly more powerful. I called a friend that had been my regular dealer whenever I was in Sarasota. She said she was in the hospital.  Chris and I picked up some things for her and went to visit. After a particularly strong shot of heroin, she had nodded out at the wheel and flipped/rolled her car. Her scalp was torn off, her teeth were knocked out, her neck was broken, and her body was filled with broken glass. She survived but it definitely didn’t seem to be a “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger situation.” What didn’t kill her left her a fragile mess, now forever at risk of paralysis or death.

Later that night, I saw something cryptic on Facebook that seemed to imply the death of my friend, Mitch. That familiar flood of panic and dread rose up through my body and swelled into my head. I called a mutual friend in Delray…

“Hi, Sam.”
I struggled to get the words out. “Is… um – is… is Mitch… ?”
“Yeah. He is.”


(You know the feeling…)

I had only met Mitch nine months prior; he wasn’t my best or oldest friend. But we had been in the same “small group” at Wellness Resource Center and had gotten to know each other really well. I liked him a lot.  And there was another reason his death affected me as it did – a reason that didn’t really have anything to do with Mitch or my relationship with him, but that hit me on a really deep, personal level. I’ll save that for another time.

Drug addicts (particularly heroin addicts) die. And those that don’t – by virtue of their association with other addicts – get to witness a lot of death. But death isn’t the only kind of loss (it’s just the most permanent). I lost a lot in the midst of my addiction. A relationship with the girl I was about to propose to, my record label (which was sort of my whole fucking world), my integrity, and plenty of friends – to death and otherwise. So why was I sitting in expressive art therapy group (during grief/loss week), painting this stupid cartoon bottle of glue? I had my reasons, but I still felt pathetic.

I grew up as a snarky, cocky, little fuck. I had all the answers, I knew all the tricks, and I was always ready with the cynical, witty little quip. But now… now I had to be… something else. Desperation forced me into a corner where the only choices were to change everything or die. I was gonna have to look at the world with a new set of eyes and address it with a new tongue. If everything isn’t shit – and I’m not the shitty little kid – then what is it? And who am I?

The loss I was grappling with at that moment – and I mean really grappling with – was a loss of identity. Or a perceived loss of identity in any case. I was extremely grateful to have had the epiphany consequent to my discharge; I was really grateful to have been readmitted to Tranquil Shores. I was feeling upbeat, optimistic about the future, and sort of (dare I say) happy. And that was really fucking my shit up. I was friendly, and positive, and I felt like the biggest impostor on the planet. I wasn’t pretending, I wasn’t faking — but I felt like I must have been and I just didn’t know it.

At some point in that first week back, I actually asked everyone in group: “Be honest with me. Please. The way that I’ve been since I got back – positive, smiling, all that – does anyone think I’m full of shit? Like – does anyone suspect even a little bit that this is an act? You can tell me. I’m not gonna be upset.”

“Sam, there is one person who doesn’t believe you,” Tracy said.

I knew it! There was no way at least one of my peers hadn’t gone to a counselor to complain about the way I was acting. After all, this “transformation” was unbelievable! How could anyone buy into it? But was Tracy going to actually out this person? Unlikely but maybe this would goad them into coming forward themselves.

I nodded: “It’s okay, I understand absolutely.”

“It’s you, Sam. You’re the only one that doesn’t believe you.”

How did I not see that coming? I just kinda shook my head. “Okay. I guess if… I don’t know.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Seriously though? Nobody else?”

Everyone assured me that they believed it and they were happy about it. Which was nice but didn’t totally squelch my skepticism. It was another couple months before I’d be able to really set it aside (and I still have little questions with myself every now and then) but I think that was the point when I was able to stop grieving the loss of my identity or (maybe) started to recognize that I hadn’t really lost anything after all. Nothing of value anyway.

I still get to play that snarky little character sometimes – he’s just less of an asshole than he used to be. (His jokes aren’t mean anymore). And I also get to play another character now: the kind, loving friend that actually gives a shit. I think I’ve struck a pretty good balance.


One of the albums I released through Traffic Street Records was the first full-length by The Credentials. The first song in particulalar has meant (and continues to mean) a lot to me.

“Nice Girl / Coffee Shop” by The Credentials
Rolled down the footbridge, waited for the light
Like giving up on all my dreams or finding out a friend had died
It seems like anywhere I go from here won’t really take me anywhere.
Our fingertips are numbing from the cold and how we make it go away
The deafening silence, alone in our heads, won’t leave us alone
So we hope that our friends can relate to that feeling
That weight on your chest, walking back home across the turnpike again

I saw her standing there behind a counter across the street
I crumpled up a flier in disgust and in defeat
You see, I’m sick of knowing what it is I want out of this life – and fucking up While all these assholes mill around and can’t decide
Same old story, drunk and bored
We trudge on through the slush and stormy weather
Wishing superstitious fears would go follow someone else.



Get in touch if you’re interested in purchasing this painting (or a 9×12″ print).

Unspecified Selection From “The Worst Kinds of People: An Omnibus of Terrible”

"Unspecified Selection From 'The Worst Kinds of People: An Omnibus of Terrible.'" 12/7/12. Oil pastel. 12x17½.
“Unspecified Selection From ‘The Worst Kinds of People: An Omnibus of Terrible.'” 12/7/12. Oil pastel. 12×17½.

Unspecified Selection From "The Worst Kinds of People: An Omnibus of Terrible" #2 [image]There’s not much I can say that I haven’t already, in my statements for the other 12.13.14 pieces and others relating to codependency (like “Girls Are Not Pokemon“). As indicated in the graphic, this is a diagram of Figure 12.13.14 or (in reality) it’s a diagram of how I was feeling one day in December 2012 – like an interchangeable asshole, with a life not worth living.

However, as I mentioned on Thursday,  sometimes there really are fruits of being a contemptuous bag of dicks. In this case, it was my friend David asking me to adapt this drawing for use as a t-shirt for his label, John Wilkes Booth Records. They came out really great and you can pick ’em up in the JWB webstore for a measly $10.

TSt-017: Like Bats s/t cassetteAnd so long as you’re already throwing your money away, allow me to present the first release from Traffic Street in more than two years. Technically, it’s a reissue of the Like Bats EP we put out back in 2009 but this time around it’s on cassette and it includes something we’re choosing to keep secret because… well – there are only 100 copies so they’re going to sell whether we tell you or not and secrets are just more fun.

Buy cassettes here. Buy prints of (either version of) “Unspecified Selection” here.

For wholesale orders: United States / International.

Snowflakes Anonymous

“Snowflakes Anonymous.” 11/22/13. Acrylic, watercolor, and spray paints, food coloring, markers, pen, resin sand, cardboard and EBT card – on 24×30″ stretched canvas.

This piece took me over a week to finish. That left a lot of time for different issues to pop up, play off each other, and rearrange my ideas. I started it one nigh while I was thinking about missing Tranquil Shores. Then I thought about how I might like to work at a place like that except… For starters, I don’t have enough clean time. I’d have to pretend like
I didn’t fuck up at any point. That made me sad. You know what I eventually realized though? Fuck that. Someone recently complimented my honesty / willingness to be vulnerable through my artwork – “especially for someone with so little clean time.” That threw me for a loop! There was nothing mean-spirited about the comment (it came from someone that’s been really positive and supportive) but still – the implication is that I’ve only recently started getting well. In reality, most of the pieces she had seen and read about were created before that – sometime after my previous clean date (the day I got to Tranquil Shores: August 17th, 2012). And I didn’t really start getting better ’til December 12th. The vast majority of honest text in my pieces was always scribbled out up until that point.

So – yeah – I may have fucked up over the summer, but that didn’t hit the reset button on my recovery; I didn’t fall down into a gutter with a needle in my arm, desperate and miserable as ever. I made a mistake, called myself on it, told the people I needed to tell, and carried the fuck on and moved forward with the things I know to be good for me and good for my mental health and emotional well-being. And you know what else? The dangerous position I allowed myself to be in (that led to my relapse): it was worth it. That month I spent working on that project – it had incredible highs, some (very obvious) lows, I learned a lot about myself, a lot about the world around me, and – overall – was a better stronger person when all was said and done.

And it still affects me today (both positively and negatively). I wouldn’t say I regret any of it. Life is for living and anyone that’s really living is gonna fuck up every now and then. That’s not a preemptive copout for future relapse, it’s just reality. You can count on my not repeating that mistake but I’m sure as shit gonna fuck up at one thing or another!

Back on point: on Tuesday, I was reading the NA literature and I realized that so much of it really has nothing to do with me. It’s totally undescriptive of my thinking and my behavior. Not all of it, but enough of it. Does that mean I’m gonna quit going to meetings? No. But it explains why I stopped going more than once a week back in February – and why my
counselors at Tranquil Shores didn’t throw a monumental fit about it the way they’d always done with everyone else. I may not be some beautiful fucking snowflake, thoroughly unlike all to come before me, but – you know what? I am different than a lotta people and meetings, meetings, meetings isn’t the fucking cure-all for everyone.

And if you wanna get technical – it’s got nothing to do with the twelve steps as they were originally written (and are still written in the AA text). Same with sponsorship – there’s nothing in the original text about going to meetings or finding a sponsor. It’s just about working with / helping other alcoholics [or addicts]. And I do that shit constantly. I hate a lot of the attitudes that dominate the rooms of AA and NA: “Do this or die” (especially when “this” isn’t even part of the program). You know why they think that the only people who succeed in recovery are the ones that continue going to meetings for the rest of their lives? Because the people that come back are the one that fucked up and needed to come back; they never hear the stories of the people that leave their group and succeed because they don’t have any reason to come back around and tell their tale. It’s right for some people – not everyone. And fuck the notion that “clean time” is the only measure of success. I do pretty okay. I like myself. I like my life. And it’s been that way for a while now. It didn’t start ’til I got clean (and then some) but it didn’t go away just ’cause I had a lapse in judgment. I still have that time. There are documents of it – all over my walls and all over this website.

SECOND (reason I can’t get a job at a treatment facility), I don’t think I’m cut out to work anywhere. I’m not some wild, outta control basket case but that’s ’cause I know what I need to do to keep my grip. When things get rough, I’ve got tools I can use to get ’em back on the right track. But mental health is a chore and I can’t schedule my emotions. Being on the clock, being on someone else’s time… it doesn’t work for me. I have too much to do – sick or well, fucked or not. So while I might like to do some volunteer kinda stuff now and then, I don’t think that “getting a job” is anything that’s ever gonna work out for me.

From there I was thinking about something that’s occurred to me before: that I could almost certainly qualify to receive disability payments. Up ’til my “recovery” began, I’d have taken those without a second thought; I had (and still have) no moral objections to something like that (even if I were/am fully capable of working). But getting disability doesn’t really seem in line with what I’m about these days. My brain might be a little off but I’ve been creatively building a life out of that, through my artwork. I’m not sure I want a label like “disabled” on me.

But – also on Tuesday – I realized that I use food stamps and… is that really any different? It’s basically partial-disability with no questions asked. “Oh? You don’t make enough money? Okay, here you go. No – we don’t care why, just take it.” Strangely enough, the very next day, I met a girl who does receive disability payments (and for borderline personality disorder!) That had me actually considering it for the first time but it wasn’t ’til later that night I realized that – immediately after meeting her – I volunteered to pick up a shift at Sun-Ray over the weekend if they needed any extra help. AND THEN(!) I had to modify my offer to exclude Saturday because I’m going to some kind of seven hour “personal growth” / mental health thing tomorrow.

Just like that – I went from ruling out work because of my obligations to myself and my mental health but rejecting the prospect of disability payments on principle, meeting a girl on disability with the same issues I have and starting to reconsider,  to unthinkingly offering to work, and then realizing I couldn’t because of a (very concrete, specific) mental health obligation.

For now, I’m gonna keep on as I have been. I already have everything I need. Well, maybe not a sense of security but what fun would that be?


Hey – speaking of “clean time,” “clean dates,” and what a beautiful fucking snowflake I am… When someone completes their treatment plan at Tranquil Shores, they have their coin-out ceremony and they get a little keychain with their clean date on it. Here’s the one they gave me back in February.

Clean date key tag

Yes, that is an “X” in place of a clean date. No, I had no idea that mine was going to be different and – no – of all the people that have been through the program, no one else has ever gotten anything other than their actual clean date.


Something I wrote in this entry reminded me of a lyric from a song I haven’t heard in a few years. “She asked me if I want to die / I said of course I do sometimes / Anyone who never wants to die / must not really be alive.” And now that I’m listening to it, I’m realizing that it’s right for this entry in more ways than one.


I got the Like Bats cassettes in the mail today. They’ll be the first new Traffic Street release in more than two years and will go on sale tomorrow! (This is a one-off sorta thing though; I’m not picking back up with Traffic Street for real – not anytime soon anyway).

I've had that box of inserts and covers for three years now!
I’ve had that box of inserts and covers for three years now!


Fun fact: Did you notice my (expired) EBT/foodstamp card glued to the top-right corner of the canvas? Did you notice that it says “ASK FOR VD” on the signature line? Just below that, it says “ARTS SUBSIDY” which I added after the card was on the canvas). I wrote “ASK FOR VD” on it back when it was still valid though – back when I first got it in March. I am a ridiculous human being.

This piece is available for purchase as a 12×15″ print. The original sold in December 2013.