Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Another Boring Drug Story

My first time doing weed was completely accidental.

I was in the theatre in high school and every year the advanced students would go to a festival type thing up at Western Washington University. Some of the actors would show scenes and such. I was not an actor, but I went because I was in the class and I did other stuff. Like directing and shit.

We stayed in a hotel and roomed with a group of 4 or so. I don't remember at all who was in my actual room, but on one of the nights (probably a friday) we were all getting ruckus in our rooms. You know how high school kids are, let them run loose and they wreak havoc.

I ended up hanging out in a room with Taylor, Hilary and Katie. For the sake of discretion I won't give last names, although I highly doubt they read this. All three of them are actors and I was never really great friends with any of them, so how we came to be in the same room is still a mystery to me.

I was a good kid in high school, I played sports, didn't drink or do drugs, so while everyone else was busy drinking the beers and vodka that had been smuggled into the hotel, I was sitting in the room having a very odd conversation with these three (all drunk to one extent or another) about tattoos and who knows what. Taylor and I compared tattoos and reveled in the fact that we were two of the very few kids in school who had them.

We were talking about something when we get a knock on the door and another theatre buddy, Matan walks in. He has a small handful of brownies. Of course we all jump at the chance to have one. Stuffing them into our mouths, Matan smiles and heads back out the door.

Maybe half an hour later my head starts feeling a little dizzy and I began to get super talkative. The rest of them seem to be having the same issues. I don't feel sick but I do kinda feel like I was dancing outside of my body. It wasn't horrible, but still unnerving. The four of us spent the better part of two hours crammed into one bed telling stories about our childhoods and comparing the same tattoos over and over again.

This is when I figure out that I was the only one of the group who had rushed for a brownie, thinking I was just going to get a sugar and chocolate rush. They totally knew. I totally didn't.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The No Dance School Dance School

Boston MA 3:58 AM November 21st 2009. I just woke up from an odd dream.

I was sitting across from a desk. Behind the desk was a man with a thin mustache that looked like a ladies legs spread with the toes pointed at his ears. Behind the man was an open space with wooden floor and mirrored wall with a stretching bar. Couples were doing a waltz without music. A plaque on the desk reads, “It’s not dancing if there is no music.”
“So how can I help you?” asks the man.
“I was wondering if you would like to expand your business? How about a No School School? People could show up for class then sleep through it, or if they had a test just fail it since it didn’t matter. I could be like therapy for some people.”

He gave me a blank stare. “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard.”

-Ethan H. Minsker

Friday, November 20, 2009

Motherfucking Pot Brownie

Last Wednesday it was Yasmin’s birthday party. Yasmin and Alexi are my Wednesday night DJs at a little bar called Black and White on East 10th Street where I bartend. For Yasmin’s birthday there were cupcakes and brownies. Note: Ethan Minsker loves chocolate and hates drugs-drinking-smoking-caffeine. So I asked Alexi for a brownie. She gave me a strange look. “What, I can’t have a brownie?” I said.
“Sure,” she brought one brownie and a cupcake for me and the other bartender to share. Damn. I wanted one of each all to myself. After the party moved on, I found another brownie sitting at an empty table wrapped in wax paper. I served the room and no one seemed interested in it. So I scooped it up and went behind the bar, turning my back to the few people in the room and opened it up. This brownie was different from the others. Its top had a marshmallow gummy paste on it. If my wife were there, she would have said, “One is enough.” But she wasn’t there and two is always better than one when it comes to brownies. Fuck it. I ate it in one bite.
Two hours later, it was just after 4 am. I was closing the bar when I started to feel strange, dizzy, paranoid and off. “What the fuck is going on?” I thought. Am I about to have a stroke? Should I go to the hospital? What had poisoned me? The only thing I had eaten was the brownie. Then it came to me, pot brownie. I stumbled home, turned on the light in the kitchen. The light woke my wife, who then came into the room, took one look at me and said, “What’s wrong with you?”
“I think I had a pot brownie.”
“What! You don’t even smoke weed.”
“It was by accident.”
“Come to bed and sleep it off.”
I lay in bed. Waves of warm tingling rolled over me. As soon as I closed my eyes I had visions of robots in yellow, mixed with cartoon images like something out of the pages of Juxtapose magazine. Very trippy. I could feel my teeth, then the back of my earlobe and other parts of my body I didn’t know about. The next day I noticed little things out of place from when I came home the night before, like my contact lens case - both lenses were on the same side.
The next week I asked Yasmin about the brownie. “You guys drugged me.”
“The brownies we had were fine. Is that what you ate?”
I told her about the last one on the table in wax paper.
“You should know better than eating strange food left on a table,” she told me.

How true.

-Ethan H. Minsker

Sunday, November 15, 2009

From Rich Boy Cries for Mama

Rock Head

“Your mom’s a whore,” said Paul. Mother’s last words floated in my mind, “You would like school if you tried to make more friends there.” It had only been a week since the ski trip. Paul was sitting in front of me on the school bus and had turned around to give me this bit of information. He had short wavy brown hair and a pug nose. His features seemed too large for his face. “She’s a whore!”
“Don’t say that,” I told him. I could feel my defenses rising. I wanted to start calling him names, but Patsy did a good job shielding me from the vocabulary I needed as weapons.
“And your sister’s a lesbian,” he said. I didn’t know what that meant but I knew Paul didn’t mean it as a good thing. The bus headed to the Lab School. It shook and rumbled down Wisconsin Avenue. Paul’s hair was slicked back and he had on a leather jacket with the collar turned up, emulating “Fonzie” from Happy Days on TV.
“They are both whores.”
“Stop saying that.”
“Whores, Whores! WHORES!”
Next to me was my Star Trek lunch box. I gripped its handle tightly and each time he said “Whore”, I banged it against the back of his seat.
“WHORES! And what are you going to do about it?”
I swung the lunch box high over his head and brought it down with all my strength. Paul’s head was harder then I thought it would be and when I hit him, his head didn’t move. The other kids were quiet. Paul was quiet. Then the blood poured from his head. The other kids started screaming. The bus driver looked back and stopped. He called for an ambulance. Immediately, I wanted to take it back. I closed my eyes, thinking hard, trying to stop time and go backwards. But when I opened my eyes, everyone was looking at me as if I were a monster.
I felt remorse wash over me or maybe I was afraid of what Mother would do to me. Tears started running down my face. “I didn’t mean to hurt you,” I said, but he didn’t answer. He didn’t even cry. “I’m sorry. Please be okay.”
The paramedics made their way to where he was sitting and wrapped his head with gauze.
“Paul. I’m sorry,” I said as he walked off the bus. He stuck his thumb up in the air and, just like Fonzie, said “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.” I knew he wasn’t going to be mad at me. From then on, I would feel obligated to try and be friendly with him.
I was suspended for three days and cried for the first two until Mother said, “When I was your age, I was playing around with a baseball bat and my friend walked up and I hit him in the head. Just about killed him, but he got better and everything was okay.” I felt a little better. I wasn’t the worst person on Earth and Mother had been bad too. She really understood how I felt. “But I want you to be nice to that boy from now on, okay?”
I nodded.
On my first day at the Lab School, I had seen Paul’s tennis shoes sticking out from under the timeout box. In class he was always getting in trouble. He didn’t have any friends, but Mother made it clear I should try and befriend him.
I found him at lunch. His back was turned to me, but I could see white make-up at the fringes of his face, up near his hairline and around his ears. I sat next to him. He turned to me, his face was covered in black and white makeup with a silver star over one eye, just like a member of the band “Kiss”, he explained. I had no clue who Kiss was and thought he made it up. He wanted to be anyone other than himself. I understood the feeling. It was the nature of being dyslexic.
I was about to say I was sorry when he burst in with, “We can be friends now!” He sounded desperate.
“Okay,” I said and, with that, the contract was made.
At my house, he didn’t wear the makeup; that was only on school days. We went outside and he grabbed a discarded sandwich bag that was lying on the sidewalk. He used it to pick up a pile of old dog poop, walked over to my neighbor’s car and slapped it down on the windshield, wiping it across the glass, in a motion that, if he was using a rag instead of crap, might have buffed it nicely.
“Why did you do that?” I said to him, utterly confused.
“Why the hell not?” he said back.
Paul was hyperactive; his outbursts were due to the chemical imbalances in his head. His dyslexia was related to being hyperactive. It made it impossible for him to focus. They grouped dyslexics on our inability to learn but, in fact, there was a wide range of reasons why we couldn’t learn. My difficulty was with codes and symbols; other kids could read them perfectly but once they were done, couldn’t remember a thing. Paul’s was hyperactivity. But at the time Paul was entertaining. I never knew what would happen next. And, in part, that was why he did the things he did. If it was disgusting, people gave him more attention, even if it was just to run away.
We went into the house. Mother had made breakfast of sausage, eggs and toast. Sitting at the table, I filled my plate and made myself an egg and sausage sandwich. Paul looked at the sausages, then turned to me.
“Is this pork? I’m not supposed to eat pork.” He could play with poo, but couldn’t eat pork?
“I think so,” I said. “It tastes really good. Try some.” I gobbled it down.
He shook his head.
“Why can’t you eat it?”
“I’m Jewish.”
“My dad’s Jewish but I can eat it.”
“If you’re Jewish you’re not supposed to, ” he said.
I didn’t understand.
“It looks good. What does it taste like?”
“It tastes great. Salty and sweet at the same time,” I said.
He picked up a few links of sausage, eating the eggs first, then stabbing the sausages with his fork. “Don’t tell anyone,” he said just before taking a bite.
He finished the rest.
We suffered the same torture at the Lab School from older bullies like Sermon. Out of the two of us, Paul was by far the tougher.
“You stink like shit,” Paul said to Sermon. Sermon punched Paul so hard he fell down, but when Paul got up he just said it again. Sermon kept beating him, but Paul wouldn’t take it back. I hated Sermon but I hated Paul too sometimes. Why would Paul want to get hurt again? He was so desperate for attention and watching him get hurt made me feel bad. When Sermon stopped and walked away, Paul called after him from the floor with a bloody lip. “See, he even knows it! You stink like shit!”
Physically, Paul had been a bit shorter than me, not husky, but not frail either, with brown wavy hair that he kept in check by constantly combing. His brown puppy eyes seemed to beg for forgiveness, but then he would just be bad again.
Every day before we went to the playground, Paul would stop by the nurse’s office, his face painted like “Kiss”. He had to pick up his Ritalin. At lunch Paul walked over to a kid who was eating his sandwich from a paper bag. The boy was pulling the crust off his bread. Paul stood behind him for a moment to make sure I had an eye on him, then slapped the kid hard on the top of his head. The teacher grabbed Paul by the tender part of his arm and quickly pushed him toward the door. Paul smiled on his way and stuck his tongue out, wiggling it like Gene Simmons. He was drinking in the attention from the other students, his audience, slowing his exit. The teacher pushed with more force. The timeout box, which was more of a chair with blinders, sat next to the receptionist. I could tell when Paul was in it by his tennis shoes. They were sad and beaten, worn down and out. He periodically painted them white with Liquid Paper, but they never looked new.
His house was in North East and his was the only white family on the block. Walking into his house for the first time, I passed the living room, looking through the clear plastic sheets meant to keep in the heat. I could see that the floor had fallen into the basement.
“Don’t go in there.” Paul led me on and I didn’t mention it to him or the other kids at school.
His family was poor white trash, with four boys and two girls, His parents were messy. His mother was overweight and his father slouched. I felt lucky to have the parents I did.
The last day I hung out with him we aimlessly walked around his neighborhood. The front of Paul’s house had bare wood siding. In the corners, you could still see the green primer. The front door was filled with tan wood putty that hadn’t been sanded. The paneling had rotted away under all the windows. The steps were uneven and looked unsafe to use. The lawn was nothing more then dirt and patches and dead weeds. A broken down boiler, refrigerator and television sat on one side of the house. The walkway was cracked and uneven. Every other house on the block was well kept. As we walked away from his house, some kind of change in polarity had taken place inside him as if the further away he was from his house, the less shame he felt .
“Watch this!” Paul exclaimed. He strutted over to a black kid about our age and punched him in the face. The fight lasted under a minute. Paul lay on the ground, receiving blows by the dozen. The black kid, tired of the workout, finally released him. He walked over to me and said, “What are you looking at cracker!” Then socked me in the eye. I grabbed Paul and we ran away.
“Did you see that?” he laughed, unaffected. Paul's head was rock hard. His supernatural strength lay in his extra thick skull. It must’ve been at least four inches deep because he didn’t have fear of the pain that comes with a beating. My eye was already turning blue. I wasn’t as tough and I wouldn’t be going back to Paul’s house. At school the next day, I avoided him. At lunch he cornered me.
“Let’s go to the arcade,” he said.
“No. We will get in trouble.”
“No we won’t. After we can just go home.”
“I have to hang out with Dash.”
“Dash is an asshole.”
“Why do you say that?”
“He’s just some stupid fat kid.”
“He’s my friend.”
“Come on let’s go to the arcade.”
“No.” I walked over to where Dash was and turned my back to Paul. I could feel him watching me, then he faced the kid closest to him and slapped him hard across the face. The teacher sent Paul to the box. I wouldn’t hang out with him again until I was in high school.

-Ethan H. Minsker

Friday, November 13, 2009

From Rich Boy Cries for Mama

1974 cut from the book.

“I can’t raise the children by myself,” said Mother, her eyes fixed on Father.
He barely looked up from his papers, “Let’s get some help. Maybe my mother could move in.”
Mother raised an eyebrow. “That’s not going to happen.”

We were at our home on Tennyson Street in Chevy Chase D.C. The house was basic, two floors with a basement and a front and back yard. It looked like every other home on the block except for the white wash paint on the bricks on the front side of the house. Mother did it herself but never stripped off the old paint so now it was peeling. Our front lawn was covered with flakes of white paint.

Sister was 4. I was 5. The nanny was new and watched us during the day. The nanny was German and believed in a stern approach when dealing with children. Her face was long with a sharp nose and a chin thrust prideful into the air. Sister was made to sit in a chair with her back kept straight. “It’s good for your posture,” said the nanny in a thick accent as she braided Sister’s hair, winding it into rolls, just like her own hair. When the nanny left the room, Sister’s gaze held mine. She said in a little voice, “I hate her.”
“I hate her too,” I said.
“She braids my hair so tight it hurts.”
The nanny came back into the room and we stopped talking. She was carrying bowls and placed them on the table in front of us.
“It’s time for dinner, children.”
I sat at the table but my eyes were barely able to see over the edge of the bowl. The food was green with bits of something black that looked like beetles and worms blended together.
“I don’t want this,” I said.
“There will be no argument. Eat your food.”
“I want Mommy,” said Sister.
“There is nothing wrong with your eggplant soup. Now eat, children, before it gets cold.”
I scooped up a spoonful and slowly brought it to my mouth. It tasted terrible, but I kept eating. I was scared of the nanny.

When Mother came home that night, we pleaded with her not to leave us with the nanny, but the next day she was back.

“Anastasia, after I fold the laundry, time to do your hair.” The nanny walked into the basement to tend to the laundry.
“Let’s go find Mommy,” I said. I led Sister into the living room where my toys were. I was wearing one-piece pajamas with feet on the bottom. Unzipping the front, I stuffed all my toys inside, filling my legs and arms first, then my belly. Sister started to cry again, “I don’t want my hair braided. It hurts.” We walked out the front door and started down the street. I didn’t know which way downtown was so I just walked. Mother was driving home when she saw us walking up the street holding hands. She squinted, not sure she was really looking at her children. She slowed the car down, pulling next to us. “Where are
you two off to?” she said and smiled. “We’re coming downtown to find you,” said Sister. Mother put us in the back seat and drove the two blocks back home. Looking in the back mirror, she wondered what I had stuffed in my pajamas. The next day,
the nanny was gone. I had thought out a plan and carried it out. By doing something, I had changed my environment. I wouldn’t forget it. For the moment I was happy. I didn’t want anything to change. Who needs a nanny anyway?

-Ethan H. Minsker

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kickstarter: Help us Get to Lisbon!

A bunch of the Antagonists will be going to Lisbon in 2010 to create an art show! We're going to be working with international artist, street art, music shows and making a documentary of it all.

This great website called Kickstarter is one way we're looking for help from all of you! They give us a platform to have anyone and everyone pledge to help us fund some of our costs for Lisbon.

For different amounts we're also giving incentives, such as t-shirts and DVDs, just for pledging a few dollars. For example, pledge $15 and you'll get a DVD, pledge $100 and you'll get a limited edition print plus both of our DVDs! This goes on and on, you can read more about it at the Kickstarter website.

We greatly appreciate any and all help. As a community of working artists, our goal is to always assist each other in our endeavors, so provoke us into doing art by pledging to get us to Lisbon!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Brooklyn Museum Screening

As many of you know, we have this movie out called Anything Boys Can Do.

Did you know we just had a screening for it at the Brooklyn Museum? Apart from the usual suspects attending, we had people show up who are not involved in the Antagonists, and they had some of the most interesting questions to ask during the Q&A afterwards.

This opportunity was really great for us; if we can begin to infiltrate the "high" art world with our raggedy band of impressively talented, yet unknown, artists, then who knows where we'll be off to next!

As a reminder (we're so good at reminders) you can purchase the film at the Brooklyn Museum, or at St. Marks Bookstore. Of course you can always grab one of the Antagonists from the street and they'll figure out a way for you to buy a copy as well. Probably a t-shirt too.

The DVD comes with a bonus that we did not show at the Museum. There is a shorter documentary called Mark of the Ninja which chronicles street art in NYC and has many of the faces you know and love from the Antagonists. Really it's like 2 movies in 1, so we're giving you a fucking deal.


Below you can see some of the Q&A.

And here's the trailer for the movie!!


From Rich Boy Cries for Mama


I had caught a glimpse of the first nipple that wasn’t my own when I had been very young, maybe six years old. She was a woman coming out of the ocean at Bethany Beach. At nine, I fell in love for the first time. I saw down Jen’s cotton v neck t-shirt. Jen’s chest was as flat as mine. If I had put any thought into it, I could have looked at my own chest in the mirror and pretended it was hers. She was eight. She hadn’t yet developed. She had a blond bob, a sprinkling of freckles across her nose, blue eyes and lips that looked soft. I never talked to her. Dangerous. Shyness came with the edge of puberty and it was dangerous to the development of my psyche. I didn’t like being ignored. Jen moved to another school and I never got to know her. I hit the next girl I had a crush on. I slapped on top of her head or kicked the back of her chair until she cried. When I hit a girl, she knew I existed. But Mother put an end to that and punished me by making me stay in my room. The girl switched schools, anyway.
I was shy with girls. At the Lab School, the classes were mixed, with different grades. They didn’t even call them grades; instead they were groups, so kids of different ages were lumped together. It was a simple trick so you couldn’t be compared with the kids in normal schools. It was in one of the mixed classes that I first saw Gigi. She walked into the room, her ponytail swinging back and forth, sweeping against the back of her neck like an obsessed old woman keeping her sidewalk free of leaves in the fall. Gigi smiled and shyly looked away. Even though the smile wasn’t for me, it made the butterflies in my belly erupt in a frenzy. She was older by a few years and more developed than the girls my age.
“She has boobs,” said Larry. He was my age, too, and had just started to notice. But for him it was easy, even though he still had baby fat,girls liked him.

I was fifteen, in the basement of Ted’s house in Glover Park, when I came across his father’s old comic books. Crumb toons from the ‘60s. I’d never seen anything like them, full of big-breasted cartoon women having sex. I flipped the pages and got hard without even knowing it. “Would it be so bad if I took it out and let it breathe a little air? It can’t be healthy being locked behind a zipper.” I took it out, but first made sure that my friend was sleeping in the next room and that his parents weren’t going to catch me. I even walked upstairs to make sure, then went back down and locked myself in the bathroom. I was alone with my dick out and a comic book in my lap. Thumbing through the pages, I was cautious not to get a paper cut. It was so hard that it was throbbing. I had to touch it, but felt bad at the moment, even before I came. I hadn’t done it before and felt I was losing a part of my innocence. I was afraid of change. When I finished, I made a promise to myself never to do it again. I held out for three days. My parents were agnostic and never preached the sins of masturbation, so there was nothing wrong with what I was doing but I was still ashamed.

I have been enslaved, chained to my sex drive for seemingly my entire life by women, the slave drivers, the masters, and my keepers. Maybe it was an addiction? But didn’t everyone like sex? Maybe it just meant I was normal.

-Ethan H. Minsker

Monday, November 2, 2009

From: Rich Boy Cries for Mama

Tattooed Face - Adam’s story

It was 1988 in Washington, D.C. I was 18 years of age.

I noticed a kid standing by himself. He looked familiar and I knew I had seen him before.
“Hey Baxter, you know that guy?”
Baxter turned and saw whom I was pointing at.
“His name is Adam…Acid…. or something?” There was only one Adam I could remember from Glover Park. I wanted to beat his ass. He had made fun of me for being dyslexic and he had been friends with Cross. He had even had Cross call me and threaten me. I watched the kid and he didn’t seem to know anyone. I walked up to him and looked at his face. He looked like a model from a Sears catalog. It was the same Adam.
“What’s up, Adam?” My forehead was sloped forward into a scowl meant to look threatening but he didn’t react. Smiling, he made a fist for me to stack with my own in a manner of greeting.
“Forrr realz?” he said, but he looked sedated and I doubt he knew who I was.
Joining Baxter, who was borrowing a cigarette from Ukala, who was grumbling about having to give one, I said, “Adam’s a fucking Zombie.”
“Ert derr Erzid,” said Ukala and I knew he meant, “It’s the acid.”
Adam filtered through punks with their butchered multi-colored hair and stood off to the side, alone in a Gap red and white striped rugby crewneck. He had blond, well-kept hair and blue eyes, and he quietly surveyed the scene. He had good looks. Punk Rock embraced the ugly; therefore Adam was offensive.
The curiosity seekers came once or even twice to see the spectacle of Punk Rock, but Adam became a part of the scene. There were kids who went to every show, every party, owned all of the records and the right clothes and no one knew who they were. Adam didn’t talk to anyone but everyone knew who he was. He became famous for being strange. That’s how the scene was; you didn’t have to be talented, you just had to stand out.
I was still staring at Adam when Baxter said, “I got this new system. Place the napkin on your belly and anchor it with a raisin by stuffing the raisin in your belly button.”
“Why would you do that?” I asked.
“So when you’re jerking off, it goes right on to the napkin.” Baxter was trying to make me feel better and I appreciated it even if it didn’t work.
“You have put a lot of thought into it.”
“If you’re going to do something, do it right.”
Adam was standing to the side of the stage.
“That guy takes acid like it’s water,” said Baxter. “It’s the only reason he comes to the shows. I heard that he drank an entire vile of liquid acid. Man, it messed him up. It turned him into a permanent nightmare.”

Monday after school, Edgea picked up Baxter and me and we drove out to the airport, past the Pentagon. There was a field at the edge of the runway. It was dusk and unseasonably warm for January. I just had on my leather jacket and baseball hat. A few others were parked there, doing whatever they did in parks at night. “Come over here.” Edgea limped ahead. “It’s great.” We walked up to the chain link fence and lay down in the grass, looking up. It was a clear night and the lights from the city were far enough away not to be a distraction.
“I took that kid Acid Adam to see Running Bear today,” Edgea said, turning to look at the sky for a plane. I wondered if she was fucking him.
“He’s a freak,” said Baxter.
“Yeah, but he’s cute… or he was until today.”
“Okay?” I said, unable to understand.
“Running Bear tattooed Adam’s face, like the Rolling Stone’s album cover “Tattoo You,” with paisleys, triangles, squares and lines crossing his cheek, eye and most of his nose.” She stopped and the rumbling of the jet grew.
“Here it comes,” she said, then laid back down. “Just keep looking up.” The noise was deafening and I started yelling just because I could and no one would know what I was saying. “FUCK YOU! YOU CHEAP FUCKING WHORE! YOU FUCKING BASTARD! FUCK OFF!” I tilted my head up and the world was upside down. The belly of the plane looked full and ready to set down on us. It moved close and I felt it’s weight. The DC-10 floated by and landed a few hundred yards from us with a skidding sound. We drove back to the city.

A week later, we went down to Dupont Circle, parking in the lot on M Street. Police surrounded the bookstore and they stopped us at the corner.
“What’s going on, Officer?” Andrea asked. She had changed out of her work clothes and had on a very short skirt. The cop looked at Lars and I and wondered why she would waste her time hanging out with two guys like us. She smiled at the officer and he smiled back.
“Some nut is in there and he’s taken the clerk hostage,” he said.
I could see in the window as Acid Adam pulled the clerk to the back.
“Oh fuck!” said Lars.
Adam had stormed into a bookstore and then undressed next to the philosophy section. After getting naked, he had taken the clerk hostage and made absurd demands. We could hear him yelling out the door at the officers.
“Back off, you fucking ape! I know the Gorilla King, so stay the fuck away from me, man!” He pointed at his own head, then out the door at the police. “Man, this nigga be crazy!” he said. I remembered how in Glover Park he had talked like he was a black rap star.
Across the street a girl was screaming something at the cops. As she tried to rush in, one grabbed her around the waist. Lars pointed to her. “That’s Adam’s girlfriend.”
“He has a girlfriend?” I said. I hadn’t had a girlfriend in a long time. How did he have a girlfriend? He was an idiot, I thought. I guess it’s easier to get a girlfriend if you’re an idiot. Girls seem to like that. I looked at her. She had brown curly hair, and was skinny with lanky arms and legs. She looked like she was throwing a tantrum. The cop just stood there, ignoring her. She was cute, with bad skin. I glanced over at Adam. I could see his prick and naked skin. His face was a mess of thick black lines. I guess they deserved each other. I wished Dash was here. He would have thought the whole scene was absurd.
“Oh, yeah,” said Lars. “A really ugly bitch with severe acne scars. Her parents spent thousands of dollars on reconstructive surgery to smooth her skin. She looked pretty good but then she went hitchhiking in Maryland. An old pervert picked her up and attacked her. She jumped from the car and ran through the woods. In a panic, she fell into a rock quarry, breaking her fall with her face.”
I noticed something was happening in the bookstore. The clerk walked out and an officer ran up to her.
“He doesn’t have any weapons,” she said. Moments later a few of the cops walked into the store.
They took him away in restraints. The tattoos on his face had grown and spread down his neck, like an octopus feeding on some poor fish. It seemed as if the parts that made up his cheek were moving together and then I realized he was smiling. Since he never made any demands for money or threatened violence, he was released the next day. We saw him at the next show on Wednesday night.
“He’s not going to last long,” said Lars as he looked down at his own crappy tattoos.
“I don’t know about that. He seems like he’s doing just fine.”
“It’s said that if you have a tattooed face then you have a death wish. The unwanted and constant stares from strangers drive you mad. It is just bad luck to have a tattooed face.” It made sense, but I still wanted one, not on my face but on an arm or leg.

A month later I was at a show and the last band was over. On my way out Sermon (the cop) spotted me and waved me to him. I walked over reluctantly.
“Hey, remember that kid with the tattoos on his face?” he asked. He was in uniform and I wondered if the punk shows were his new beat or if he was just lonely.
“Acid Adam.”
“Look at this.” He handed me a Polaroid. Police officers stood on either side of a body hanging from a noose, arms wrapped around its shoulders as if they were old friends. Adam’s tattoos seemed darker against the backdrop, drained of color.
A shutter rattled through me. “What is this? He’s dead, right?” I said calmly.
“Yeah, he’s dead, alright. A friend of mine showed this to me and I thought it was the same guy. I figured you would know so I brought it here.”
“How did you know I was at this show?”
“It’s the only show tonight.”

“Acid Adam’s dead,” said Baxter over the phone Tuesday night.
“I know.” I didn’t know how I should feel. I’d hated him as a kid, but since he’d started hanging out I’d gotten used to seeing him around. He’d filled a void that I hadn’t known was there. When I was high off the ground, I had an urge to jump. The urge is what made me afraid of heights, not the height itself. I wanted to jump but I didn’t want to die. Adam had jumped.

Ethan H. Minsker