PUNK: Lonesome American Memoirs

8: Call Home

The first time I took acid I was at a party for a band called Animal Things. Their logo was a childish drawing of a dog taking a piss, and Tresca was the bass player. She was tall, blonde, and really funny. I liked her a lot. She was fond of me too. One night during my probationary period after ripping off the neighbor’s house, my mom drove me to Berkeley to a concert at Barrington Hall. She dropped me off with a reminder that I was to be out front at midnight, and she would be waiting for me. I hopped out of the orange Volvo station wagon and walked around the block so no one would know that my mom had actually driven me to the show.

Tresca was at the door. She was acting as greeter. Thrilled to see me, she walked me into the backstage area, which was not backstage or connected to the stage at all, and handed me a glass of lemonade. I drank it, and got another one. Tresca was talking to someone else, so I drank a second lemonade and got a third one. About half way through the third glass she turned her attention to me. She showed me the new band logo, and told me I looked “sweet.” I was wearing a short sleeved, sear sucker, polka dot, button down shirt from Thrift Town, yellow pants that had F.O.R.B.O.Y.S.O.N.L.Y! stenciled down the leg, and my hair was parted to the side, but still sticking up everywhere anyhow.

I finished my third lemonade and got a fourth one. About half way through it I asked if Tresca wanted another glass.

“How many of those have you had?”


“Oh shit.”


Tresca grabbed the guy behind the counter and the began talking seriously. I heard them trying to calculate the number of hits per glass. Tresca was worried. They determined that each glass had approximately three hits of acid in it. I’d had about four glasses, and that meant I was about to come on to 12 hits of some pretty strong acid.

“Unless he got a strong glass… then it would be more” Added the guy.

“Honey…” Tresca turned her beautiful Norwegian face to me “Have you ever taken LSD before?”

“Sure.” I said “Lotsa times, heh… It’s great.”

She must have known I was lying. Something about my I’ve-never-met-anyone-from-England English accent probably gave it away, but she explained that I was going to take a very powerful trip. And it was nothing to be worried about. She would be with me, and everything was going to be just fine.

So I attached myself to her, and followed her everywhere she went. Into the kitchen, out onto the dance floor, up to her room, back down to the backstage area, to the bathroom a couple times, out into the parking lot, and finally we went up to the roof.

“We’ll be safe up here.” She said.

I giggled stupidly. We sat down on the bench, and I lay my head back into her lap. She softly stroked my hair and hummed to me.

I liked the roof of Barrington Hall. I had been up there for several hours the week before when the Harris sisters had run away from home. They ran about 20 blocks to Barrington hall. Catherine shaved her eyebrows off, and Juliet gave herself a kind of a mohawk. They were upset, and felt sure their parents were coming for them at any moment. So we went up to the roof and watched the cars come and go from the parking lot.

The roof was covered with two by fours, so that walking around wouldn’t fuck it up. That was a lot better than posting a sign asking people not to hang out on the roof. People were going to hang out on a huge roof like that, really, no matter what you did. There was also a huge tree that covered most of the area, you could climb into its branches and make your way over to the roof of the adjacent building if you needed to.

So, escape route plotted, drugs exchanged, quarts of beer in hand, we waited for something to happen.

What happened was pretty lame actually. Their mother arrived, we discussed what they should do, Harald suggested they just go talk to her.

“Will you go talk to her?” Juliet asked?

“Me?” said Harald.

“Yeah, will you?” They said in unison.

“No. I think you should just go down there.”

While we were talking it over, their mother arrived on the roof. The girls set down their beers and went quietly away with her.

The stars were changing color, and the tree was moving in and out while Tresca stroked my hair. I told her that I loved her, that I felt wonderful, and never wanted to leave the roof. That it was safe here.

She sang to me sweetly. And I reached around her and began feeling the texture of her Ike jacket. It felt weird. It kept getting wet and then dry. I didn’t understand. Then I felt something yellow and soft. I explored it further, and found that it was round. I really liked it. It was the softest, roundest thing I had ever felt before in my life.

Finally Tresca got up and said something about not feeling her ass, and left in a frustrated huff.

I walked the perimeter of the roof, looking down at the cars, watching the sidewalk sort of glorp together, and then squish back into place. The ripple effect struck me as funny. I laughed out loud and suddenly needed a cigarette. As soon as I lit it, I didn’t want it anymore, so I dropped it and watched it carefully to be sure it wasn’t going to follow me anymore.

I was watching the street, protecting everyone in the building, when I saw the orange Volvo drive up. It just double-parked there, and the yellow hazard lights clicked on. After a few minutes I was suddenly convinced that I was late, that it was past midnight, and I was in big trouble.

I ran down the stairs asking everyone what time it was. No one seemed to know. I made my way into the kitchen and asked the couple in there if they knew what time it was. The guy just looked at me and said “There’s a clock right there.”

I looked at the clock. It was a complex display of data that was in constant inter-dimensional flux. The arcane symbols were moving at such a fantastic rate that it would have taken a team of experts many years to explore their significance, relationships, and eventually dissertations would have to be written, arguments settled in court, and at some distant, unimaginable date a hypothesis would be published in some esoteric science journal which I had no access to, nor interest in, where the meaning of these complex and temporal visitations meant in relation to the concept of time.

So I asked “Can you tell me what it says?”

“Yeah, It’s ten to twelve man.”


“No problem.”

I went out and climbed into the car without saying anything. My mom greeted me, but I wasn’t able to respond. The seat was sticky. I was stuck to the seat. She pulled into traffic, and then switched off the hazard lights. When the clicking stopped, it was as if the entire world had come to an end. I felt the motion of the car, the movement of the air beating against the windshield, desperately trying to seep through the glass and attack me. I held my breath.

“How was the concert?”


“What’s funny?”


“You just laughed.”


We drove home together in silence.

That night I lay in bed staring at the walls and the ceiling watching the paint liquefy, move quickly to the center of each wall, and then spread out across the walls innocently, like nothing had happened. It was a visual concert of paint in flux. Delightful.

I was surprised when the sun came up, and my stepfather came to tell me that I had to get dressed for Lori’s funeral. My cousin Lori, my beautiful cousin Lori, had died less than a week before. She’d fallen asleep at the wheel of her VW Bug, and gone off the road. I liked her so much. I was so sorry she was dead, but how was I supposed to go to a funeral in this condition?

By the time we arrived at the church my brain was thrashed. Everything was “fucking stupid” and the party was really over. I tried to tell my brother what had happened, but he just looked at me.

“I’m different,” I said.

“Really?” He half-asked, looking over my shoulder.

I felt I had some new, terrible insight that I never thought I would need. It was a total body sort of wisdom, but I had no idea what it was, or how to express it. It was chemical knowledge, something physical, nothing intellectual.

For whatever reason I never managed to take one hit of acid. Never just two, or three either. Fortunately or unfortunately for me, I was a child of more. The instinct to curb my appetites was never fully developed, and besides, who ever heard of just drinking a beer? What was the point of just smoking a joint? What good would one do when you could take four or six?

I was also the kind sentimental type who, in a moment of sheer euphoria as the acid began to effect me, I would suddenly grow desperate and weepy, afraid this wonderful feeling would end. So it only seemed natural, in the moment, to take three more.

One night some friends and I came into a bundle of blue pyramid. It was very exciting. We’d all tried compressed powder and lots of different blotter designs, but none of us had ever taken a shaped gel before. It was very exciting.

I took seven. And handed everyone else one. We sat underneath a bridge on the UC Berkeley campus and talked until the water began to breathe, and the air started singing. Then we began our night’s walk. Walking and laughing, talking, and covering as much ground as possible was a wonderful way for a large group of people to enjoy an acid trip. People who were not tripping, no matter how much you liked them just couldn’t connect with you. So it was nice to have friends along.

Somehow, whenever I took acid, just as the peak began to really happen for me, during the sentimental phase of the experience (which is really the closest thing to satisfied that I could imagine) I would always reach an emotional place where I was sorry I took the LSD. Not sorry that I was tripping, regret comes later, during the crunchies of the following morning when your brain won’t stop thinking, but your neurons are exhausted and your body is desperate for sleep. But there’s your brain, doinking and splorking away like a children’s television workshop well against you will, and deeply against your better judgment. But there, one the up side of a trip, before it all really began to unfold, I would deeply regret ever having left home. I would feel like a clown in my leather jacket and spikey hair. My feet would inflate and make my boots look asinine, embarrassing to me. I would long for my mother, and want to go home.

I never had what it took to allow this feeling to come, rise up within me, and then pass like water, or the moment that it was. Instead this feeling of emptiness would begin, seeping through my midsection, connected tenderly to a staccato electronic homing device that would send a silvery glow from my pineal gland to my stomach, and then radiate outwardly, throughout my body. Or, I’d feel fucking strange. Then the pulse would cause me to over salivate and clutch at my bowels, clenching every muscle from my abdomen to my knees. Practically drooling, I felt like a Labrador tied to a tree, still in sight of its master. All logic left me. All sense of coolness, punkness, and rebellion drained out of me like the bottom of a Slurpee, and I would feverishly pat my pants and jacket in search of a dime for the pay phone. And then, upon locating the money required for the procedure, I stumbled off in search of the device itself.

“Where’s he going?” Someone said.

“I have to call my mom.”

I arrived at the corner, moist with LSD blending the flesh of my face with the skin of my eyes until they were one smooth surface void of distinguishing folds of flesh, and lift the receiver, insert the dime, put the telephone up to my ear, and just listen.

The dial tone: (n.) 1. ‘A mystical unifying drone from the aching heart of all earth creatures.’ 2. ‘A universal language of connection. The drone which swallows all tones, pulses, plosives and phonemes, and regurgitates them by electronic signal transport from here, in the air, to anywhere else a connection is made.’ Anywhere else in the whole entire world! At any given moment. Holy shit!

A moment passes like a gnat flying past you at the liquor store as you walk through the entrance, past the news papers, magazines and sad display of lousy fruit. It’s gone. Without much more than a peripheral registration of the mind. A moment is now. Now. Now! We are losing all of our moments. They are bleeding out of us all, we’re leaking…

My thoughts were cut short by the change in the sound of the telephone handset. The cosmic drone abruptly replaced with an alternating tone. An emergent tone full of hate, and urgency getting louder and louder.

What should I do? Should I hang up? Should I wait and see what happens next? I can’t bear it. I have to go, run, and get out of here while I still can. Oh my God! Oh my God!

“If you would like to make a call, please hang up and try again. If you need help. Please hang up, and then dial the operator.”

“Wow…” I said, amazed. I had been saved by Pacific Bell. “How did they know?”

“If you would like to make a call, please hang up and try again. If you need help. Please hang up, and then dial the operator.”

“Oh.” I thought. “It’s a recording. See, they don’t really care.”

I hung up the receiver, and lifted it again.

“…Please hang up and try again. If you need help. Please hang up… ”

“They’re still there.” I said quietly. Concerned.

I hung up and waited a second. Operating in pure instinct mode now, for the ordinary world had failed me completely.

At last I lifted the receiver, and could again hear the all knowing, all powerful, all healing drone of the dial tone. I dropped the coin into the slot and dialed the number. The little bell inside the phone reminded me of the little toy phone I’d had as a child. I hated that toy. What the fuck were you supposed to do with a crappy toy telephone anyhow? It wasn’t like you could actually call someone with it. The rotary clicking as the wheel released and retuned to the default position felt slick, and plastic against my fingers. The sound of connection, and then a ring.



Click, whirr.



Tick, whirr.



Click. Rustle. Pause.

“Hello?” said my mother’s sleepy voice.

It echoed through me like a line of speed. Grinding the soft flesh of my mucous membranes, and burning. “Fuck!” I thought. “It’s the fucking middle of the fucking night.” I began to sweat. “She’s asleep!

“Hello?” said the voice again, pulling itself together slightly.

“Well she’s not asleep anymore,” said another voice inside my brain. And an argument broke out between several members of the committee therein, which I excused myself from and returned to the telephone call.

“Hello?” said my mother.

Tears burned at my cheeks. Suddenly totally aware of the saliva in my mouth, and vaguely concerned about how it managed to stay there without falling out all over the place like spider webs. I wiped my cheeks. Arranged myself, rubbed my hair. Put my right hand into my front pocket. Took it out again. Scratched my forehead and then hung up the phone.


Like a brick placed securely into the last open space of a wall before lunchtime. Several days late. I called in this condition a little bit more than I’m comfortable admitting to here. Sometimes my mom would say my name. She knew it was me. I knew it was her. I wanted help. I knew I needed help.

I was much too angry, and much to out of control. I had a great deal more distance to travel yet, and I knew it.

I’d tried all that coming and going and it always ended with my mother crying, my stepfather angry, and rules I just couldn’t follow. A home that did not exist. A family I was not a part of. A line of runners. A distant light that I wanted nothing to do with.

“Hello?” I said to myself. “Hi mom. It’s me.

Table of contents
Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15, Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19, Chapter 20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22, Chapter 23, Chapter 24
Musicology, Errata