Archive for addiction

confession number one

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 26, 2013 by jimcolemanmusic

A non verbal confession of sorts, though this video also dabbles in questions, perception and the depths of hope.

This is Madness?

Posted in jim coleman, personal histories, Phylr, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 26, 2013 by jimcolemanmusic

Cyclonesandy coaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I think I’m losing my mind. This has happened several times through my life, in several different ways, and usually due to something that I could eventually track down.

Sometimes right before I get sick, I feel like I’m going nuts. Like everything I thought I knew and took for granted was wrong. Like I’m Jim Carrey in The Truman Show. All of a sudden, everything feels disconnected. There is nothing to hold on to, no firm ground, no certainty. I recall one time when I was home from college, I was in my parents basement, and that feeling came on instantly. It brought me to my knees. I didn’t know how to move or to go on in any way. An hour later, I had a temperature of 104, and was laying in bed. It was with a huge sense of relief that I realized I was just really sick.

I think I have told this story in another of my  log entries, but from a different angle. On a cross country trip I made in my 20’s, I unintentionally ended up in Florida in spring break. I was camping wherever I could. After finding a spot and pitching a tent, I went out and ate dinner, which included a bunch of raw clams. A few hours later, madness crept in. I had already gone to sleep in my tent, but after sleeping for an hour or two, I suddenly woke up in a different reality. Everything was threatening, every noise and light was like a razor. Nothing had meaning or reason. It mystified me why humans did what we did: why do we put on clothes, how is it possible that we ever figured out how to make things? Why should I move. Well, pretty soon I realized that I needed to move in order to vomit outside the tent, not inside. I must have vomited for over an hour. In the middle of that hour, I became really happy though because I realized I was dealing with food poisoning, not a mental breakdown.

In college, I was doing a bunch of experimental films, performances and installations. One of these installations was called Short Wave Funk Muzackackack. This took place in a small planetarium  which was just an open space, it didn’t have any of the projection equipment in it. I had recorded hours and hours of snippets from late night radio talk shows and mixed these with cut up excerpts of funk music. I gathered 10 boom boxes, had 10 different 45 minute cassettes of these mash ups, and distributed the boom boxes evenly around the circular room, facing upward, right at the base of the dome. The door was open to the outside, and it was freezing cold. There were no lights. At 8 PM, the first tape started, and every 4 minutes, another tape was started. So at the 40th minute, all 10 were playing. And then they automatically shut off in succession, until just the 10th one was playing. The problem was that I had taken some mushrooms at about 7 PM. At around 8:45 or 9 PM, I had a solid plan that mad perfect sense. I knew what I needed to do with my life. Quit school, and voluntarily sign myself in to a mental institution.

Drugs, especially hallucinogens, definitely took me in to various states of madness and mental despair. Some places I would have gladly languished in forever if I could have. Other places lasted way longer than I wanted them to. The first time I ever felt the effect of LSD was like that. I was best friends with this  hippie couple when I was living in Hartford, CT. They were really great people. Very open and loving. I still have a real place in my heart for them. They were throwbacks to the 60’s though, no doubt. They had tripped hundreds of times. So I felt like I had seasoned guides. I had actually tried acid before this, but hadn’t felt anything. We arranged to trip one day. It must have been late morning when we each swallowed three tabs. I while later I was having this awesome time, everything was fluid. Some hours later though, it got in my head that I would not ever come down. That this state of mind was now permanent. Life would be like this from here on out. I expressed this fear to the girl, looking for some consolation that it would pass. But she said, “Yeah, I know. I feel like that too.” Oh, fuck. I sank deeper in this. I figured out eventually how I would survive. Within a few days, I should acclimate. I should be able to go down to the deli and get some lunch meat… I did eventually come down (I think). But this trip lasted through the next week, with varying degrees of intensity.

For sure, acid was no friend of mine. Every time I took it, I had some fear. I didn’t know what would happen. One time I remember being in a fetal position in a huge cold loft in Philadelphia, certain that death would come that night. When I finally shared this feeling with my girlfriend, she laughed in my face. On another occasion, I was on a complex chemical mixture that included LSD. We thought it would be a good idea to drive to Coney Island. Once there, I got lost from the friends that I had driven there. I bought a ticket for the roller coaster, then waited in the line for a while to get in to a coaster car. While on line, I lost track of my ticket. Then I recalled that I had had a deep discussion with the guy behind me (who I didn’t know). And in this conversation I had given him my ticket. So when we got up in line, and it was time to board, I asked the guy for my ticket. He looked at really weird and said he didn’t know what I was talking about. I realized at this point that my perceptions were off, and I mumbled sorry and stepped out of line. But when I got outside, I started getting really pissed, thinking that this dude had gotten over on me and still had my ticket. Motherfucker. I waited at the exit with the intention of having it out with this guy. But by the time he come out, I had wandered off somewhere else. Later on, I drove home. At the front door, when I reached in my pocket for the house keys, what did I find? Sure enough. Ticket for the roller coaster.

Relationships can make me lose my mind. Thankfully, I am now in a healthy loving relationship. Given the wreckage of my past, and the fact that destructive behavior at times feels like gravity, I’m amazed. The relationship I was in prior to this one drove me nuts. I’m not saying that flippantly. Nor do I mean stark raving nuts. It’s more like I became somebody else. I was stuck in quicksand. I didn’t have the courage or strength to get out. I tried but it never worked. We were both unhappy for a long time. Maybe it’s that we stuck together out of fear and out of habit. Like the hell I knew was better than an unknown reality. Fear and habit. Addiction. I talk a lot a bout the drugs, but they are just a symptom. The addiction underlies anything and everything: drug use, relationship & sex, money, eating, and on and on. There are endless ways to be addicted. I know that unless I deal with the addiction and not just the symptoms, I’m a goner. And it’s an ongoing process. Anyway, when I finally got out of the aforementioned relationship, I felt so light, so alive. I had chosen to live in this dark cave for too long. A place where in some weird way, I felt like an amputee. Like some part of me was cut off. It was definitely madness of a sort.

Jonesing on Tour

Posted in Cop Shoot Cop, jim coleman, personal histories, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 6, 2013 by jimcolemanmusic

In my earlier days of recklessness and misplaced rebellion, I had a lot of highs and a lot of lows. I say misplaced rebellion, because in hindsight every time I took another hit, every time I exhibited some kind of twisted anti social behavior and I thought I was laying out a big “FUCK YOU!” what really was happening was I was saying “FUCK ME!” Sure, I harmed most everyone around me, but I sure did not do much harm to the demons I thought I was lashing out at. And I certainly did myself a world of hurt.

I loved touring. Through most of my 20’s, I played and toured extensively both through the US and Europe with my old band Cop Shoot Cop. To this day, I deeply miss it at times. I know though that that was then and this is now. And I know that memories aren’t reality. An ex girlfriend of mine recently sent me a scan of a postcard I sent her once when I was touring. The first line of it was “I don’t think I can take it anymore!”

Touring would also give me a chance to drag my ass out of the chemical induced slurry pond that I would habitually reside in. I was forced to “clean up”. To me, that meant only ingesting what was available. Sure, I could bring a bunch of smack and crack with me, but that always seemed to run out so damn fast. My radar worked really well, but the fact was that hard drugs just weren’t available on the street in every town. If you ran in to me one week after leaving on tour, you would see a rail thin bug eyed twitching embodiment of depression and wonder. I was scared shitless and in Awe, like I was coming out of hibernation. The world around me was painfully clear and in focus. Light hurt. Noise was wonderful. The only place I felt right was on stage. That 60 to 90 minutes a day was exhilarating, being in the instant. Walking on a razor blade. A hyper-reality. And then the crash.

nosmoking

I would bring my mini pharmacy on the planes. FYI: it is possible to smoke crack in the airplane bathroom and not set off the alarm. I didn’t really think about what would happen if my method didn’t work. It wasn’t really even a choice. It had to work. I at least had to try. My life might be different now if it hadn’t worked.

After about 3 weeks of touring, my body would adjust to this new chemical balance. I’d emerge from withdrawals in to exhaustion, and then the exhaustion would turn in to a long lasting permeating giddiness. This would affect everyone in the band. Everything was funny, and anything was prime material for a joke. I remember getting lost in Philadelphia, and Natz repeatedly leaning out the window, asking people on the street if they could tell us how to find the Plexiglass Children. And being in a supermarket in Seattle, asking the woman at the butcher counter if you could make shakes out of chicken feet. Her answer was, “well, I reckon you could make shakes out of just about anything!” Everything was funny, and nothing was normal. Touring was wonderful because it felt like the rules and norms that contained the straight world couldn’t touch us. As a result, we did many things that could have turned out disastrous. Again, things that could have fucked up our lives for years to come but somehow they didn’t.

Canadian Border.jpg

Picture this: I’m handcuffed and detained (with the rest of my band, but it’s me they’re after) at the Canadian Border, where the authorities are going to confiscate our van along with all our gear, then pass me over to the New York State Troopers at which point I’ll be locked in a cell with the certainty of jail time attached. 3 hours later, not only are we driving away with everything intact, but the Border Cops actually gave me back the bag of dope I had stashed in my cigarette pack. How does this happen? At the time, I just took it in stride, but looking back I feel really really fortunate.

Fashion Faux Pas

Posted in personal histories with tags , , , on April 17, 2012 by jimcolemanmusic

Years ago (must have been in the mid 1980’s), I thought I might be able to get away from my problems, my mess of a life, if I went out west. I know, really an original thought. In retrospect, so many things in life seem like cliches. Perhaps there is some truth in cliches and stereotypes. Perhaps that bit of laughter comes from recognition. Anyway, back to the mid 1980’s. I bought a beautiful old 1963 Ford Fairlane. Such a beautiful machine. Last of the tail wings, but small and understated. Holley 4 barrel carb and several chromed out Cobra engine accessories. I threw a bunch of my belongings in the back of that Ford and took of west, running away with a smile of my face. And I went slow. Stayed off the interstates. I remember getting looks deep down in the south as a was blasting the just released Public Enemy album “Yo, Bum Rush the Show”. And speaking of stereotypes, I think most white guys down in that area were driving 4X4 pickups and listening to Molly Hatchet.

There are stories from that road trip, but I won’t linger on that now. Well, perhaps a couple of quick snapshots:

– Florida. Somehow I ended up down there right in the middle of Spring Break. I was traveling on a budget, camping as much as possible. The whole Spring Break thing was just ugly, and I wanted to hide. I got a spot at an overpopulated campground. Went out to eat and got a dozen raw clams. 12 midnight, I woke up, thought I was losing my mind. Everything was different, liquid, uncertain and painful. Then I started vomiting wildly. It was a relief in a way. I wasn’t losing my mind, I just had sever food poisoning. Once I was completely emptied out, I was painfully dehydrated and had no water. I couldn’t drive, I could hardly see. I ended up walking over a mile to a gas station and buying a large container of water, none of which would stay down. When I got up in the morning, I called the hospital, and they advised me to drink lots of Gatorade. So I bought a case of Gatorade, threw everything in the car, and drove non stop to Atlanta, where I met my friend Ozzie and we immediately started drinking Bloody Marys. In those days, I considered that a cure.

– Bakersfield. Well, about 3 – 4  hours outside of Bakersfield, I picked up a couple of young white thugs. I liked driving alone, really cherished it actually. Still do. My mind can just go, there’s a special freedom to it. But I felt for these guys. Perhaps a typical motorist might be a bit scared of them, but I could tell they were like me. And I certainly have had enough time on the other side, sitting on the side of the road with my thumb out. So I picked them up. They had a quantity of grass on them, which diminished the closer we got to Bakersfield. I was going to just drop them off and keep on going, but they invited me in and were going to give me some leaf to take along with me. So I ended up going with them to their cousins house, who I think they were in business with (dealing). But they were waiting, there was no grass. And god, I hated being in that place and I had been there so many damn times before. Waiting for some shit. The whole house was kind of like a lock box, secured against invasion, all the shades drawn, dark as a crypt. At one point the cousin was talking about his past racing motorcycles, and he leaned down and unclasped his leg, leaned it up against the chair. Even after the wreck in which he lost his leg, he still raced. I waited, I drank, I slept, and I left in the AM without any grass.

– Last snapshot. This one is painful in the telling for me, as it reveals a side of myself that is very unflattering, a side that I would rather hide under the rug. While in Tuscon, I looked up Ruth, who was an ex of mine. Our relationship had seemed to be primarily spiritual, though we had our physical moments, no doubt. It seemed that a lot of the time we would be on the same wavelength, that we would have this spiritual understanding of each other without talking. In retrospect, who knows, maybe we just thought that. Since I had last seen her, I felt like I had gone over to the dark side, sliding in to a lifestyle of debauchery and addiction. Some of the tools that had initially helped elevate me spiritually had turned on me and dragged me down in to the gutter. And that was a large part of what this trip was about, running away from that. The problem was, no matter where I went, I was still there. And I wasn’t running towards something, I was running away from something. In fear. Ruth and her roommate and I had dinner, had some drinks, went back and went to sleep. I slept on the couch. I woke early, haunted by the memories that this encounter sparked. Like it made manifest the distance between where I had been and where I was. I felt like shit. I rose from the couch, went in to the bathroom, leaned on the sink. And the sink cracked in to about 5 pieces and fell apart on the floor. Water was running everywhere. I was pissed, ashamed, aching badly for that freedom of the road. I had no money to leave, I had no way to make this better. Ruth and her roommate were still asleep. I slipped out in the pre-dawn silence and headed for the highway. That was the last time I saw Ruth.

Six months after leaving Brooklyn, I arrived in San Francisco. A small group of my misfit friends in NYC were from San Francisco, and had told me about the Hotel Utah, how it was their living room, their home away from home. I pulled off the highway in San Francisco, completely lost, not knowing anyone. Coming off the exit ramp, I looked to my right and saw the Hotel Utah. It was 5 PM on a Friday Evening. I parked the car, went in. Within 30 minutes, I made friends with at least a half dozen like minded misfits, all trying to drink the week away. I woke up Saturday morning in an apartment in the SOMA area. Staggering to the bathroom, I thought I was still completely wasted, as I kept bumping in to the walls in the hall. By days end, I realized that the building had shifted and settled so much, the floors were at a severe angle.

I settled in to SOMA for a while, and then moved in to a huge warehouse in downtown Oakland. I inhabited 2 small rooms with no windows. Outside my room was the vast warehouse, around 10,000 square feet. The ceiling was 60′ high. Also living there was a barmaid from the Hotel Utah and her skater boyfriend, Jake. Jake wrote for Thrasher magazine and supposedly had a skateboard move named after him. There was a huge half pipe just off the kitchen area. About 10 or 12 feet above the top of the half pipe was a picture of Jesus, slapped on there by someone who had flown off the pipe that high and still had the nerves to slap up the poster. Right next to us were a bunch of hippie punks who ran a piano repair business. They literally had around 250 pianos in their warehouse. There were several late night parties where dozens of those pianos would be played, stroked, pounded and abused all at the same time.

One day during this time, I was back in San Francisco, walking down a street in SOMA. From behind me, a man came up to me and said, “Excuse me sire, can I be your slave?” I was startled, and thinking I had misheard, asked him what he had said. “Excuse me sir, can I be your slave?” I said, “No, that’s alright”, and walked away, puzzled. A block or two later, I realized I had a handkerchief sticking out of my back left pocket. I forget what color it was, but it was obviously giving a very specific signal to those in the S&M gay community. “Damn it”, I thought, “I just passed up my opportunity for a personal assistant” My life could have become so much easier.

Another nihilistic poem from my disenchanted youth

Posted in personal histories with tags , on April 6, 2012 by jimcolemanmusic

Oh no, not another nihilistic poem from your disenchanted youth, I hear you groan. This self involved nihilism gets so tired so quickly. Yes, I know. And yet, I’ve been stuck with these short little poems, these series of words for years. Not only that, but they are linked to very simple melodies. Kind of like a schoolyard melody that is used to taunt the weaker kids. But the schoolyard rests in a sepia toned nether world landscape deep within my own being. Lots of shit happens in that schoolyard, but you’d never know it most of the time, as it just stays hidden behind the fresh shave and a smile. Hell, I don’t even know it. These kids have been running around the schoolyard for years. I wonder, do they grow? And also, can I trust them? Well, here’s the poem without the melody…

What can I do for you?

What can you do for me?

You can make love to me,

You can comfort me.

You can tell me who I really am.

 

…but I won’t listen

 

That voice I think comes from the rebellious teenager in search of self, who asks for help, sometimes directly and sometimes in very indirect ways. But once a helping hand is offered, once anything that is offered that has any semblance to advice, the teenager rebels with a big “Fuck You!”. Light a cigarette, go get high, have a drink. Inevitably, that big “Fuck You!” is acted out in some self destructive behavior, effectively turning it in to a big “Fuck Me!”

So, I’m not a teenager anymore. But I still have that rebellious teenager renting a room inside, actually right near the schoolyard with the kids who are singing that damned melody that I can’t get out of my head. And heck, I’m trying to raise a kid in this world, in real life. Which may prove useful in all this. Perhaps I can take some of the real world approaches to parenting and apply them to my inner child and teenager, so they don’t derail me from being an engaged, fully present responsible adult. I want that child and that teenager inside to thrive, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I want to off them. I just realize that they can be little hellions if shit gets out of whack.

And a footnote: having just started this blog, I feel unsure about this, unsure on how much to share, what to keep private and what to reveal. And it could be that no one will ever read this. It may also be that people may read this that I don’t want to read this. But then I ask myself, what am I protecting? If I don’t get deep here, it’ll stay surface and just be more noise in a planet with way too much noise already. So fuck it, I’ll put stuff out there at the risk of embarrassing myself, at the risk of being seen as a fool, and at the risk of not having a soul even care. Sometimes, it’s like: if I put it out there, it’s no longer in here. And that’s good enough.

Picture of a statue on West 24th street, NYC