1980’s Nihilism

The following poem was written somewhere around 1982 – 1983. It captures some of the nihilism that consumed my life during that time, and actually for years after. It still holds truth for me. I wrote it from memory. Actually had a recording of it, really crappy sounding thing, with some casio type of keyboard backing. This was before I even had a 4 track cassette, so I did overdubs by playing back cassette tapes and recording right through the air.


Not just one person

Not even many people

Many parts

Of many parts


Keep trying to believe

That all these parts come together

To form one whole being


Call that being My Self

Call that being Your Self


Ideally we would be our own slaves


At the time I was living in a tiny little storefront on East 3rd street in Manhattan, right across the street from Hells Angels. This was my first place in NY. I even remember the rent: $235.  There was more vertical space than floor space, and I had my loft bed above my combination shower/toilet. Cooking was all done on a hot plate. To get some pocket money, I’d work occasionally for my landlord Clyde, a transplant from Chicago. He would get his power tools ripped off with some regularity. We would go up to the corner where we could buy them back for 5 bucks or so.

Another memory from that time and place:

My friend Clay Ketter and I were doing some demolition work late at night in some apartments for Clyde, just tearing down plaster, lathe, 4X4’s. The thing is, we had taken a good amount of LSD just before we started work. We realized after a while that our judgement and perception was off, and that we might end up hurting ourselves. So we went on to another job I had lined up. I had the week before been postering all downtown for The Collective for Living Cinema (where I was working, while going to school). In one location, someone came running out and told me not to poster there. It was the Reggae Lounge, they were just opening at a new location. But the dude asked if I would be interested in postering for the Reggae Lounge, for $10/hour and a lifetime membership to the club. All good.

So the next week, when Clay and I pulled ourselves away from our LSD fueled demolition work, we decided to go out postering. As we worked our way through the Lower East Side, Soho and Tribeca, we ended up covering over some of the same posters I had put up a week before for The Collective for Living Cinema. One place we covered looked vaguely familiar, but I thought nothing of it. A few days later I went to the Reggae Lounge to get paid. Apparently that place that looked familiar had been the Reggae Lounge. No payment, no lifetime membership.


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