Sons Of Liberty Book I "Legendes." Chapter 1. (my Boo) 11/24/2004
Chapter 1. My Boo (#1 Song in The Country At The Time)
Astori, MA. 11/24/2004
That morning I awoke with visions of being home, the YG Foundation and our mothers. The consumption of life that we had always, well consumed, blacked out most of the memories you’d think I’d prefer to remember. Especially first thing in the morning, opening crusty coma eyes, smelling my beer soaked ash tray of attire, I can’t remember a god dam thing. A launch pad for panic. My old favorite phrase behind “deny, deny, deny" was "stop, your giving me panic."
Which was true, anyway these “memory lapses” triggered what Matty Doran once coined the Black Out Blues. I’ve never been convicted of a felony
I’d repeat this three-times quick, cut up with deep, calmning breaths. My first thought looking around was not in jail, the beg. of this process is always worst case. I definitely wasn’t in jail and breathed the standard sigh of relief. This realization sparked my favorite thing to do, smile which turned absolutely jolly when I realize, I was still wearing, however stank, a black tuxedo. And then I see it, the white silk scarf and became downright delightful.
I smirked to myself with that great feeling getting away free in a tux. But what did I do? Bad things didn’t happen to people in tuxedos, right? I felt great joy with myself until the question begged, why am I in a tux?
My head flopped back down on the ground as the effort to hold my neck two inches off the ground adjourned. I was still drunk my cranking headache hadn’t had the hours to stabilize. What a zilla.
I needed to figure out some details. In mobility that can only be described as Children’s Hospital I lifted my toes (just checking) taking a deep painful breath I shook my fingers and stretched my hand into my pockets.
Key’s, wallet, cell phone baby every time
I had them all, thank fucking god, happy morning! This was instantly replaced by shortness of breath when I remembered I had flown home back to Boston. Was I in the hood or Astori? Big difference.
Why the fuck am I in a tuxedo?
These are the black out blues. Reaching my hand into my second pocket and lifting my, what seamed to be bruised thigh, I hit a shuffle of something stuffed in my pant pocket. It’s a picture of a child, and to my hearts warm affiliation, a black child, I hate white people.
I laughed unicorns. He must’ve been no older than five, a school photo, shining a smile as big as his future. I’m again calm. Plucking another of my left pockets items, I pull out another shining black school child, a little girl dressed up finely in the good pressed nature of a 1st day. I feel in my pocket and grab what now seems to be a series, looking at the ceiling (ADD) for some amount of time I went blank. Until the questions finally muscled,
Where the fuck was I last night?
Suddenlly it dawned on me, my tenth year high school re-union.
Oh yes, I brought my sister as my date and wore a tuxedo thus fulfilling a solemn promise I had made with my old house master Mr. Larry Robinson after my senior prom. I’d won the bet, we were both out in four years, and his career did what he said it would when we made the bet, but I didn't know that then and I never thought my senior prom when he told Scully to "take care of this 1" would be the last time I'd ever see him. The last time I'd ever seen a man that tied so prominently until my own story. Last night was the final settle of our bet. The white silk scarf that ordained my upper torso was my own special flair. I was the only white kid on earth wrongfully colored. ADD, I then remembered where the night had ended. I remembered the the "Alps" that prolonged greatly the evening, kicking it at Skeeta's,
FUCK It hit me, I knew now where I was at.
I was in Amory Blaine's basement my favorite villain, and the worst part? Today was the Turkey Bowl.
My favorite thing to do every year since we first started playing all those years ago, it's signal somehow fell far off my antenna. And it felt unnatural.
I looked up at the clock and it began to panic! whoa, the night was such an endeavor I knew I’d have trouble convincing Amory to drive me there. Amory Blaine, my partner in excess crystallized a sour moment that spoke volumes to how far I’d fallen as a playmaker in the Turkey Bowl. Judging by this scene we were worse than ever. I was later than ever.
I needed a ride. I got up with the jolt a belief in salvaging something monumental packs. I woke Blaine. He was disgruntled. He couldn’t believe we were actually still playing and I couldn’t believe we were late. Didn’t want to accept the fact that I would probably have to throw up before taking the field, late.
“Relax, OK, I know, I know, the fucking Turkey bowl, let me just find the keys to my fathers Jag. You love this shit beaver, this is you!”
“Guy, I can’t believe I’m late, Magic’s going to be pissed.”
“He’s not even going to care.”
“yes he will.” I assuredly whisper
“Jesus! My head, beaver I was drop dead faded out of my skull last night, classic, classic night.” Amory just about sets the bar on party extremes, all for the second, that one shallow moment that dissipates in value as age rewards itself to the lucky few.
And on the way to the high school football field coasting through Astori, it all came back, innocently just as it always would. It didn’t seem that crazy at the time but then again nor was I. And I was at peace, driving through our most glorious of all American towns, Astori MA far away from my life’s show. And what a story the town itself had, our passing through was just a class in a forever thickening life education. The only constant is change, yes but there was always something about this place I could never come to terms with. And ten years later, I was still shook, the best of the worst. Something that built me up to the greatest height of Utmost Pretention (poem) and at the same time housed me underneath the rats, forever breathed inside me. And it was this mysterious / manic town that was my childhood. A little bit of everything, learn the entire game from the ground up and see where we stack up, be a legend, roll a blunt, tell a story.
My whole childhood I just wanted to be what older kids sometimes referred to others in Astori as legend. On our way to the Turkey Bowl a quick drive played thousands of stories that raced memories across my brains digital screen. And then I had panic. The remembrances that were kernel popping in my head from last night's childish heriocs began to clarify quickly like an old Polaroid picture at the height of its era. I bugged, changed the subject and busted some chap with Blaine. There in lies the beauty of ADD. Topic changing.
“Last night was fucking great.” I said confidently without memory.
“Fucking irately Classic.” Amory Blaine says with the arrogance of someone that once made a kid eat a light bulb on a dare. His tone sent shivers down my spine. The cold air didn’t bother us though. The windows were down on a freezing yet sparkling Boston Thanksgiving cooling out a heavy hangover.
“ Classic, I don’t give a fuck!” Amory triumphantly extolled. It was our favorite thing to scream randomly and it was getting old. However short-lived, I needed the energy, Amory couldn’t believe we were awake and filled in the gaps of last nights heroics or maybe Serengeti faults.
“Was I the only one in a tuxedo?” I ask urgently
“Is that a trick question? Of course! What other retarded person on earth would even attempt that? Jesus! You’re an idiot!” Amory begins slamming the steering wheel raising his boner at my expense.
I was the only one in a tuxedo thus fulfilling a solemn promise I had made with our recently deceased vice principal, Mr. Robinson. Pushing the envelope young carries merit in the long run if you were lucky. Due to my extraordinary disciplinarian issues Mr. Robinson and I had become good friends by the end of this story. And at the very end he gave me a unique confidence. Anyway one day in morning detention, during hoops season freshmen year Mr. Robinson bet me I wouldn’t make it out of Astori high school in four years and I bet him he wouldn’t either. I spoke of tenure and how so many get stuck, why was he different? He laughed and spoke of the miracle that would have to occur to get me out of there on-time. And we made a bet.
Anyway I wore the tuxedo in his memory and Mr. Robinson extolled a concentrated posthumanous affection that sponged itself inside my tuxedo. Everyone loved that guy. It was an amazing segway amongst former peers and homage to him. I felt he could see us although after my performance last night I hoped maybe he wasn’t.
Mr. Robinson a few years back, primed and on top of his career as a difference maker amongst children joined the list. He wasn’t even fifty. He was a real legend. I could’ve never seen that in the ninth grade. A legend in Astori was my definitive dream. And what a poor dream it was. It meant different things to different people. It was as magnificent as it was diluted. Anyway the tuxedo ten years later was a celebration of that story, and a chance to speak in his memory often. The vintage white silk scarf was of course my only special touch providing a quiet yet enthusiastic nod to Harlem Nights (Eddie Murphy’s directorial debut). And then there were my friends. It was very much like the last scene of Sleepers in the sense that everything had changed except nothing. The entire crew minus the lives we lost together again, one last time. And it happened as a memory.
“OK, speed up, there they are!” Turkey Bowl. I pointed to Amory “the fellas!” us as friends, eight on eight, guest invitations and now a record thirty-one fans. Twenty-eight years old, and just looking at the undying competitiveness of us kids grown up made me wish I stopped smoking. I was supposed to be an athlete. Sprinting as fast as my legs could jettison as if somehow our governing counsel of best friends would look past this most severe of all holy offenses and see I still had heart. Therefore I chugged it. The Turkey Bowl was a hollowed and sacred institution that we all bowed before and accepted its importance. And in a crew of egomaniacs particularly as it related to sports, the Turkey Bowl was our last defining barometer of who was on top athletically. And that title made you the man amongst us for an entire year. And it was a great crew to be apart of, UNLV, the firm, the Young Guns, the class of 94. We were still together after all of these years. Twelve very recognizable kids stood together ten years later just as we always said we would.
Doing my best impression of Deion Sanders sprinting 40 yards at his personal college combine, heads turn and I pulled a groin. I saw some smiles, a couple frowns, some obligatory kisses and fawning to our 31 fans, and finally Magic shaking his head disgusted giving me two big thumbs down like our old English teacher mr. Meecham.
“Gay” was his only response before Posquelli pulled my coattails to the pertinent information. Even though I was late there was still a half to play. Skeetah my favorite delinquent, the only person possibly in as bad condition as me came over purple faced,
“Dude I’m gonna hurl, pronto!” It was poetry, two years ago, and in the spirit of his annual “boot” I called a famous play. A deshoveled Skeetah walked out of the huddle playing the part. the part being his annual puke. And walking just to the sideline he bluffed the barf, ran free, Magic missed him just long, wide open fly route, great play calling nevertheless.
Game over. I sucked in the second half, and if this barometer was bona fide I placed my head in between my arms as I sat on the cold Thanksgiving morning grass.
“How the mighty have fallen.” Coach Farias
I could hear my old high school basketball coach Roberto Bob Farias, the Big Guy, inside my head. He had said that to me a few years back when I returned to the high school to play with the current team during some fall ball inside the field house. CJ, the teams “Rashad” of the era had put it on me something fierce. Walking off the court a tattered shadow of former glory, CJ (LHS Top #20 all time) turned to me as I was gasping for breath walking towards the water bubbler, “You may a used ta been good.” And shaking his head with the assurance of knowing “but you suck now.”
I had no comment or even response. That never happens. Sitting cold and muddied on my old high school football field swimming in Nike wristbands I was disappointed in myself, again. I instantly had to remind the primary rule for both my sister and self, repsression is underrated dude.
“Dude” Monster walks over so happy it’s Thanksgiving and the re cap can began now that the burden of the actual game had passed. He made it out and nothing in his body broke. Every year these days it seemed someone broke something.
“your not good anymore” Laughing and enjoying my non existent stat line.
“I know.” On the rarefied tip, I again had no comment. I was baffled and prayed for coping skills. Ten years ago that would’ve been enough to trigger a search for his softest spot and drive away.
“I’ve fucked so many more chicks than you dude.” Monster ripped the absolute cliché, Bart eyes.
I thought about the positive, my friends. Ten years in the making, this mornings tenth annual Turkey Bowl, our first as a charity was designed around our TB and a Wed night welcome home party I’d cultivated in the Bean over the past few. In some ways the charity was a nod to my Godfather Uncle Clayt whom I missed and many years ago in Johnstown PA had come up with the idea. Like Clayt before me, the TB had become his most prized annual affair. The tragedy of his then early passing was the final push to get my family of friends on board. We’d all gone in wildly different directions, and the transformation from game and party to charitable sacrifice further anchored that sacred and hard to keep together crew of guys you grew up with. Keeping it Together, the first song I ever penned in a 6th grade detetntion. it still incites roaring laughs amonsgt the family to this day. I'll always contend, my vocal chords were changing + I was a very sensitive kid.
“Come on Boys group photo.”
I knuckled my Gold Newman receiving gloves into the cold and hardened mud rising hesitantly for the photo ops. Stinging loss but dressed in all this Nike amonsgt the Young Guns, I‘ll always smile for the camera. This was going to be the photo of the week in our glorious town paper, The Tricon. Of course my stiff groins, flabby belly line, tired knees, ankles and back made it in my mind more pro – bono work than actual excitement but I still get a softy. I had a life to return to in Washington DC making OK money in one of those “great places to get experience at.” Tomorrow was Sunday. The boys traveling back to their respective new homes far away and some guys traveling up the street, back to homes they never left. All in all survivors would soon be leaving once again the infallibility of what happened here and returning to the banal serenity of an everyday good American life.
But none of that mattered. As soon as we were all on that field we were back in the 5th grade and those were the rules that applied. It was brilliance. It’s still America and in our minds, this is what your supposed to do on Thanksgiving. Play a game of football (optional tackle) and then drink beers. Everything had changed on the exterior from Yale to Jail but in the interior everything remained lined tightly as it were.
We had a record thrity-one people attend the Turkey Bowl that year. Cameras flashed as smiles naturally appeared across tired faces.
“Nice game guy, pretty gay for being late but who cares?”
This actually made me feel a hundred times better. My best friend Magic, a childhood nickname stuck. The eternal politician now working eighty hours week on Wall Street said. “I just wanted to make it through.” I responded to Magic who’d just won his 10th straight Turkey Bowl. Magic as local hoop god Lloyd Mumford nicknamed him when we were in the 5th grade. Magic my once archenemy in Junior High turned best friend since Dr. Friedman pointed out the narrow scope of our differences in the 8th grade during a therapy session after anther lunchroom brawl regarding federal taxes.
“Thanks Mizz.” I was the biggest punk in the world to him out of habit and I meant it. I always appreciated a compliment from Magic. The perfect best friend, he was right, I was wrong, I was retarded, he was not, he gave the Bart eyes, I got em.
“True friends stab you in the front.” Oscar Wilde
“You had a pretty OK game too.” I say this begrudgingly because Magic has never lost and every year we draft the teams randomly from names in a hat. It angers me deeply, still, when I lose to Magic, we were once 7-0, the Hayden kids that people joked had their own rooms upstairs at Hayden simply played this exact type of game much more than most, and thus we were always triumphant. The draft was random and fortunes strong wind had connected Magic and I together once seven straight times. But as I slipped away from athletics, and lost speed / SPED status, the draft gods were not going to allow me to be rewarded. Not for the uptown year I’d had, and not on the football field for this bestowed contest amongst my most esteemed and special life long group of friends.
As parents and long ago admirers flock post game snippets can be heard from mock interviews that are conducted amongst the games participants. One of our favorite things to do is interview each other about anything most importantly the Turkey Bowl, pre-post, half, it doesn’t matter we’ll always talk to a fake reporter and someone will almost always pretend to be one. After formalities have been fulfilled the legions file off closing out another chapter in our nascent tradition of Turkey Bowl. Coupled with a tenth year high school reunion and I, like the one and only Skeetah was beat.
The keg of beer, which always fortified the field’s north entrance was accosted after formalities were dispensed. This was always our favorite time, the next probably one or two hours, @ most, would be the unquestioned highlight of the holiday, Miller time before Mario's. Usual suspects with a few tweaks dominate the roster of who brings down the keg, Monster, Magic, myself, Scully, Posquelli and Limerick. Calming is the only word to describe this. In a post September 11th world, our country currently at war in Iraq, the fucked forecast of earth’s climate, precarious economy, duel deficits, population growth, oil, lack of alternative energy and terror! All is lost on us here and now. After many beers apiece we have definitely contributed to the lighter density of the keg. This was heaven. Let it all flow and crash back naturally against the barnacles of history’s concrete formed inside your own overworked brain.
“Let go Luke and act on instinct.” OB-1
“Let’s carry it, walk around the high school.”
Seeing our breath with no one on the premise was a nice place to afternoon-cap.
The field adjacent to the high school has not changed as drastically as its neighboring infrastructure. Our high schools latest make over renders its “get up” entirely different from when we were there.
Maybe the town itself had changed, maybe it was just the town that made it so special. The time of being back there, together in the now living in the past, everyone sponging the thousands of thoughts, images, and of course court cases that came plunging down from the sky. They tumbled over the field house into our parking lot and school. Something about that riding lawnmower accident made me feel invincible. Something about this place didn’t.
Walking past our darling C House cafeteria dialogue was flowing like Notorious B.I.G. free styling to a crack beat. Humorously profound and at times utterly cheap we all without saying it content. Just roll with it and spark to life every kernel of synergistic delight that is waiting to pop behind every step. Being aware of my own happiness I was constantly watching the clock. I wanted to it to last forever just like you once believed childhood would.
“Got it!” Magic was chuckling while paying a great homage to our fifth grade teacher, Alex Popp who incidentally was the college roommate and basketball teammate of the center of our universe Coach Farias in college. I could see that Magic might get blotchy. Living eternally as if he were ten Magic sometimes gets retard and laughs so hard he explodes in full break out hives. Actual tears flood down his face and his entire frontal mug becomes what we’ve come to define as “blotchy.” Being forever in tune with my best friend he is wearing that same mug that precludes him from radiating retardation. “What?” I just can’t stand it – for when he gets like this I want to be in on it too. A drama student working in the theatre had opened the locked door for us thinking at almost thirty years old, dressed as such, we’re all high school drama students. The ridiculousness of this possibility made us all, in one format or another, become blotchy.
“I would fuck so many chicks if I was in high school now.” Monster the last kid of the crew to lose his virginity states aloud.
The walls, corridors and face of the schools central artery had changed but it was all still there. Memories burst as long forgotten starlets of information are lit to life for the first time in forever. Soon we get into the crux of the entry to the student parking lot, the basketball gym where we starred, minus one and finally the main hall in G house where we freely flexed our flip nature. Its where are lockers and home base remained for four years, a grand theatre for all of our antics on a centralized stage that received heavy traffic from all diversified angles. We valued the senseless however relentless pursuit of loyalty. Pulling the dumb shit we found strength in our numbers. Ignorance is youth, and youth is bliss, if your good looking.
“G House Rough House!” Monster says with the steroid excitement of someone that was once instrumental in random violence against innocent by standers with a duster.
“Crenshaw Ave.” Adding the staple and all black section that sat adjacent to our own home base as a click, gang or bunch of white kids that all wore the same hats and protected our interests. Boyz in the Hood was big in 91-92
“Ronnie Lee, special” Magic adds as he looks back at the iconic mural that defined one of the states great basketball D1 programs. Ronnie Lee was once the NBA defensive player of the year and won back-2-back state titles, and yes, his mural on the brick wall that bridged the gym and our lockers was inspirational.
Never will have any regrets.
Arriving at the highest concentration of our lockers that the long hall yields, we stopped to take inventory. Stamping his finger into the large plexi-glass, the noise breaks us back into reality. Scully screamed high, halting all reminiscing, “look at that!”
“that’s pretty funny” Monster stoically stated followed by a high pitched “oh shit” out of me. Ten years removed from an institution that we transformed, I saw where he was pointing. Scratched into the windows surface and in enormous print, “wow,” we all leisurely smiled. Clearly visible to this day, in this our high school that had undergone such a massive facelift read “CEE 94.” It was the only thing left.
Filling up another stale beer from a red plastic cup I was stunned, focused and cracked a personal chuckle for better or for worse was the spirit in which it cracked. Staring intently into the surface I forget about current life and thought about my story, how it all happened. How it all started with that tractor lawnmower accident.
And what that meant on this day on that plexi glass window. Nothing to anyone but everything to me. Drifting away to where all roads end, I sought closure. Astori was a place that bequeathed on me a wisdom that only its frantic teenage insurgency could unmask. A place where new money met old money met no money. The most amazing high school story I’ve ever heard. “CEE” 94” the gods couldn’t let it come down. It meant something.
“Yo Kim I ain’t going to leave without saying something on this track.” Left Eye
Hoop Dreams deferred until we got a chance to come back, and film a doc. coming in 2012 on LHS basketball. Check a snippet below, we get it done.