There I was in a small efficiency apartment (I can only imagine it was in Maryland – I am assuming College Park), very tiny… there was a bed, a tv, a table, and a small closet. Two doors: one exit and one to the kitchen. Ian Mackaye was there; it was his apartment.
I was called to the kitchen. I went into the kitchen. It was very small. Ian’s parents were in the kitchen. His dad had a stubbly beard and wore a wife beater, a cigarette at the corner of his mouth. He was berating his wife. “Dammit honey, fix that shit now. I need my shows.”
His wife was in a white robe and curlers, also smoking. She had a lower cupboard open, leaning into it, front-wise, like she was pissing. What the fuck, I thought. I turned my attention back to the husband. He directed me towards the fridge. I walked towards the fridge, I opened it up, and I reached for a beer from the bottom compartment. The father was like no, no. Fix the damn thing so I can watch my shows. Jesus, I was confused.
Then I saw it. On the back of the wall towards the floor, a fuse that had blown out. I started to slide the fridge over to make room to reach the fuse. As I was moving the fridge over, I noticed a toilet in the cabinet where Mrs. Mackeye was pissing. Damn, these people are poor, and efficient. Just as I made enough room, Mrs. Makeye elbowed me out of the way. “Let us have a look. Let us have a good look,” she said while leaning down to inspect the fuse. She reached down and removed a cockroach from the fuse. There was a small spark, then the television on the counter came back on. “muurYeaaa,” the husband exclaimed. “Woooooo, would you look at the size of that!?” She exclaimed, examining the cock roach. OK, I was weirded out at this point, and slowly retreated, stepping backwards into the main room. They didn’t even notice I was leaving.
Back in the main room, Ian was there. I tried to talk to him, but he said he would only talk to me via telephone, and that it would cost me $20 an hour. Jesus, I thought, why do all my childhood heroes turn out to be such fucking hucksters? Anyway, I wrote down his phone number. I was tired and asked him if I could crash. He said no and told me that if I wanted I could take a sleeping mat from the closet, but that I had to go now. So I took a mat and left.
While I was walking, I pulled out my cell phone and called him, “Hey dood, what’s up? This is John.” “Oh yeah, hold on one second,” he said. An automated voice came on, “Please enter your credit card number.” Seriously? I thought.
I went through the motions. Typed in my number, and he came back on the phone. He wasn’t the animated guy I had seen in the videos: He was very lethargic and out of it. I really wanted to talk to him about the DC hardcore scene back in the day, but I knew he probably had been bored to death of that subject and rather that he talk about something he wanted to talk about. So I asked him, “Ian, tell me something that you really want to talk about.”
He said, “Oh good, let me tell you about the time I checked myself into rehab.”
“For drugs?” I asked.
“No, you idiot, I’m straight-edge. Duh.”
Oh yeah, I knew that.
He went on, “I was a poor boy, I lived alone with my mom…. I had some issues that I knew I needed to work through so I decided I was going to check myself into a rehab facility for six months.”
“What kind of issues?” I pried.
“Personal ones,” he shot back. He went on to tell me that he checked himself into a big fancy brick hospital to work on his mental conditions. However the rehabilitation was cut short when the hospital did a background check on him. “Yeah, they called around. Found out my mother was poor shit. Found out she was a cleaning lady at the Army hospital, and that we didn’t have a pot to piss in. So they cut me off. After one fucking day. One fucking day, can you believe that? I needed a good solid six months to get my head on straight, and those fucks cut me off at one day.”
“Jesus dood, that sucks.”
“That’s why I hate insurance companies now. They don’t do shit, you pay into them for years and years, and when you really need them, they fuck you. I fucking hate them.”
I was walking across the University of Maryland campus now. Right through a frat boys’ wiffle ball game. Talking away, no one seemed to mind. There was an error on the current play, and the frat brothers were yelling at one outfielder who was talking on a Blackberry, making some kind of stock deal. Back to my phone call. I then asked Ian what was next. “Well tonight I am pretty pissed off. I think I am going to go smash burritos in the graveyard. Real big fat burritos. That’s what I feel like doing. I am so pissed I am going to get a big fucking juicy burrito and smash it on the ground, right in Rock Creek Park. You should come along, hang out with my friends and me.”
Now something told me that he was fucking with me and that there was no party.
“Ok dood, I’ll do that,” I shined him on. Beep. We were interrupted by the auto-voice, “You have 30 minutes left on your call.”
Great, I thought, ok, I am going to ask this dood about the hardcore scene back in the day, and get something for this $20.
“So, give me your perspective on the DC punk scene back in the day?” I inquired.
“Well, um, you know. It was like… Gotta run now. We’ll talk about this tonight.” He hung up.
That bastard cheated me on my full hour and my real question. Totally depressed, I walked along, and a couple joined me. One guy and his girlfriend.
“Hey, can you fix my girlfriend’s cell phone?” the guy asked me.
“Sure,” I said. He handed me the phone.
“Here, all you need to do is press the button.” I showed him how to use the phone.
“Radical. Thanks man.”
“What are you doing?” he asked me.
“Walking home, I’m tired.”
We walked past a church, I went up and touched the door to sense its aura. It was blue.
“What are you doing?” the guy asked me.
“Checking for its aura. It gives me a better sense of what the church really represents.”
“Whoa, dude. Well then, you need to come check out this church.” I followed the couple to a church. It was an impressive church. It had huge bulbous roofs and glass doors. I went up and touched the door, but I felt nothing. Weird. I walked inside. It was like the lobby of the movie theater.
I tried to walk past the ticket booth just to get a peek at the main auditorium when I was interrupted by a female usher, “Sorry sir, the auditorium is not open now. However if you would like to see what it looks like on the inside, you may purchase some photos from from the gift shop.”
Never mind, I thought. This was not a real church, I decided, and walked back out through the way I came. I noticed however on the bottom of the glass doors was the word “HORTON” but it was in reverse, since I was leaving. Weird. Maybe I should start to analyze these dreams.
I grew up in DC in the 80s and went to punk shows all the time, so there is that connection. Plus I just watched “What We Do Is Secret” so that probably got me thinking about the old days. Feeling the aura of churches is kind of weird. Though I have been on a spiritual path for a while now, I’ve become skeptical of some organized religions. So there is that connection. The name on the door, Horton, is the name of a friend of mine. I wonder what that means, probably because we’d met at dinner that evening.