Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hello from Jim, May 26, 2016

hi, EveryOne -
    just a few words, updating and pointing out a couple-a things:
      There are quite a few Blogs here, writings i've done and posted here, but it looks like me that they're not easy to find. Best way i see is to scroll down to bottom of a Blog page and click on dates, poke around a little. There's a Who Is Jim Danger, there are pieces about GG Allin, the Jabbers, and periodic blurbs from me, as well as a few installments of an autobiography in progress.
     Free Music Downloads contains about 125 recordings, varying in type and quality, in no particular order. Most are original songs, those that aren't are very clearly marked, COVER.
     Please check out my latest YouTube video, the first one i'm really happy with, it's called, "Jim Danger Complete Set 2016", and features 7 originals in 20 minutes, plus two Elvis covers for good measure, done spontaneously. Just a practice session i managed to get a video of, on May 17, 2016.
         Best to EveryBody, and be in touch if you'd like. i'm on FaceBook and have a Jim Danger music page there, as well.
       Thanks -
                Jim Danger

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Iggy Pop Let Us Down

Iggy Pop Let Us Down By Jim Danger October, 2015

The “Hall of Fame” - what a crock of shit!
Johnny Rotten kept his integrity & his rock'n'roll credentials, by telling this bogus enterprise to fuck off when they came calling to use him for their perverse gain. He didn't let their “prestigious” odor inflate his head. He didn't brush aside his loyalty to reality by finding some excuse to play along with the phony, ego-boosting, corporate shenanigans of the odious & reprehensible institution called the “Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame”. {It pains me even to write the name 'rock'n'roll' in conjunction with the name of this egregious, farcical club.}
There are two main considerations which move me to so vehemently oppose the existence of this institution. The first is that this corporation, the “Hall of Fame” is using each particular artist – using the artist's fame & fandom, as well as their image & their art – for their own gain. The Hall of Fame does not love these people. They view the artist as a commodity, and the inclusion of the artist in their “hallowed halls” as a way of luring more customers, selling more tickets – making more money. They use & package the artist, make a trinket of them, a keychain ornament; merchandise. Who profits by this reduction of a musical artist to a pay-to-see museum display? The Hall of Fame itself, of course. So, why would an artist allow themselves to be used & exploited by this corporation? It's strictly the appeal to the ego, to the blinding vanity of the artist, that would intoxicate them to the point of bending over for the royal & final, eviscerating shaft. Congratulations – you're now a museum attraction, one of our collection, & an item that we can sell, over & over & over, profiting immensely. Hah – sucker! What does the artist get out of it? Nothing but ego-inflation, bragging rights: “Hey, I'm in the Hall of FameI'm on a phony pedestal!
This brings me to the second reason why it's a grievous crime for a rock'n'roller who should know better {there are some 'inductees' who I would not expect to know better}, to accept the money-green laurel offered by the corporate hand of the “Hall of Fame”: it's a snobby, self-important, ego-inflated insult to all rock'n'rollers everywhere who are not chosen by this bullshit-stuffed committee, for inclusion. “Ooo, they picked me, they picked me!” Who picked you? God? Rock'n'roll itself? Rock'n'roll fans everywhere? Your own fans? No! Some fucking duly-appointed panel of judges picked you. The institution picked you. {I've said many times, 'rock'n'rollers get thrown out of institutions – not inducted into them. The other way around is anathema to the very spirit of rock'n'roll, which is street-level.} Shame on you for selling your legitimate place in rock'n'roll music for a seat in the esteemed halls of the bureaucracy of the business world. You sold out your friends. You accepted being singled out for a luxury cabin on the corporate yacht, leaving all the rest of the legitimate, hard-working, fully-devoted rock'n'rollers flogging the treacherous waters of ignominy, or paddling honestly in little rowboats. “You can come in, they can't.” “Okay! Gee, thanks for letting me join the club! It sucked just being one of them{pointing to all those pure-of-heart rock'n'rollers who are not allowed on the yacht}!”
I used to really look up to Iggy Pop. I didn't make an effort to buy a lot of his recordings, because so many of them sucked, and it was hard – and expensive – to glean good stuff that was to be found among the useless. Even on a double-CD “essential collection”, I liked only a handful of songs enough to listen to them repeatedly. Still, though, he stood for something – I thought; he was one of us – I thought. He was a no-bullshit, bare-bones, real person – I thought. All of that disintegrated, the moment I found out that he'd played along with the offensive farce that is the “Hall of Fame”. I have absolutely zero interest in hearing him again, or seeing him again – and he was one of my main heroes in life! {I saw him perform in person twice, once in '80 & once in the '90s. I got a letter from him once, too.} Now I see him for what he is – a self-obsessed poser. He stopped surprising anyone decades ago. He has a set-list & an act, & he goes onstage & does all the regular hits, & does his ultra-predictable Iggy Pop act. Once you've seen it, expect nothing different; that's it – that's his jump-around-like-crazy-with-your-shirt-off, same-old-vocal-but-getting-weaker act. There's really nothing there, if no gut-level integrity & substance, which, when I presumed them to be there, kept me signing on as a big fan even when I stopped paying much attention to the same act I'd seen over & over. It was the idea of Iggy Pop – the Iggy Pop integrity – that kept me a fan & somewhat of an idolater; he was real.
Learning that he had accepted induction into the Hall of Fame, & played along with it hook, line & sinker, obliterated the idea of “the Iggy Pop integrity”. He sold it – and me along with it. Now he's got as much depth & substance as any other bubble-gum card. He let me down – he let us down.
An anti-torture ad campaign sought to make the point that anyone can be made to say anything, under torture. They made their point by using Iggy Pop's face in their ad, making it look beaten & severely roughed up, & he was saying, “I really believe that Justin Bieber is the future of music.” This was meant to be considered totally absurd, for if anyone could be trusted to speak the gut-level, no-bullshit truth about music, one would think it would be Iggy Pop. This is what he used to represent: integrity in rock'n'roll. He's the guy, one assumed, who would never sell out. That's what he meant to me, even though I'd heard he could be very deceitful & conniving in matters of business. Well, now I see that his conniving duplicity in matters of business, has bled over into his very rock'n'roll persona, as he's allowed himself to become a product hawked by the institution; and it didn't take torture to turn the messiah into one of the temple money-changers & flim-flam peddlers. Just a high-priced invitation. He has shaken hands with the devil of commerce, hype & phony laurels. I'd guess it was a marketing decision, probably also tinged with a healthy dose of sheer egotism.
It was a fuckin' bad move, though, because to me & probably many other fans, he destroyed the essence of his career by accepting this bureaucratic “honor”.
Recently, I made a note to myself, not thinking of Iggy Pop at the time, but what I wrote can well be applied here, to him:
Some things are bad for your career, but good for your image – and that's a trade I'll make, any day. Integrity is everything; if you can't believe someone, why listen to them?”

I'm not listening to Iggy anymore. For me, he's lost his Pop.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

GG Allin Handwritten Letters To Be Auctioned April 24

Hi, Friends -
     Anyone interested in GG Allin stuff, please be aware and spread the word that a couple of the letters GG wrote to me and/or stuff he wrote on, signed, etc., and sent to me, will be auctioned off in Australia on April 24 - serious bids from anywhere will be considered, i'm sure. The money raised from this punk merchandise auction will go toward helping homeless kids. The guy in charge is known to me personally and is legit.
          Thanks,
                    Jim

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Autobiographical Writings - This will be an ongoing project

Jim Danger, Autobiographical
Section: Outrageous Behavior

        Anecdote #1
                                The Asshole In the Supermarket

     I was 17 yrs. old, working as a bag-boy, part-time, at Shaw's supermarket in Newington, New Hampshire, 1976-77. I was heavily into the martial arts from the time I was 13, and spent most of my time working out. I also had a chip on my shoulder, as they say, being a kind of well-meaning but angry juvenile delinquent. I lived with my mother and sister, who was 6 years younger than I. My father hadn't been around since I was about 12, and I rarely saw him.
     I was on break, sitting in the break room at Shaw's, upstairs at the back of the store near the public restrooms. Seated at the same small table with me, near the center of the room, were two other employees. One was Karen, sixteen years old, very short and doll-like, tiny, attractive to the max, blonde and frail in demeanor as well as size. By that I mean to say that to me she always seemed troubled, as though bearing a great weight, or hurt and bearing up bravely. She was a heavy, near-constant drinker, as well. Her face, though only 16 years old, seemed already lined with stress and care. I loved her. Our relationship, however, was simply as friendly co-workers. I was very shy, when it came to females.
     The other person at the table was a 30-something man, chubby, wore thin-frame glasses, kinda short and dumpy, with a despicable-looking, not-quite-clean-shaven face. He was a wise-mouthed asshole. I didn't like him, and don't remember his name. He worked in the dairy.
     He starts telling Karen about going camping, and how he'd like to have her come along with him, just the two of them. He's sleazy and coming on to her like a salivating, toothy wolf. I start smoldering inside, becoming angry. I'm tight and intense, tipping my Dr. Pepper can to where the fluid is just at the brink of spilling out, and I leave it there, right at the brink, gazing at it as I inwardly feel the rage building. He notices it, makes a flippant comment or two to me, then goes back to her about this intimate camping trip. “.....sleep in the same sleeping bag together,” he says, and I see her face turn a beet red, as she avoids his eyes, her tense look fixed on the table, completely mortified.
     I begin pouring my Dr. Pepper onto the table. I keep pouring. I am out of my mind with rage, and trying to keep my outburst down to as small an explosion as possible, so as not to do anything really crazy.
     “You having a good time over there?” he quizzes me. I just keep pouring, a volcano going off in my gut. I'm doing everything in my power to control the rage. There's now a large puddle of Dr. Pepper on the table.
     I went back to work, as did Karen and the asshole. On my way from the break-room, I was doing all I could to discharge the fury I was in. I was punching the cement-block walls all the way through a 30-foot hallway. {Punching cement walls & floors had been part of my fist-hardening training for years, anyway.} I returned to the front of the store, bagging groceries, but withing just a couple of minutes, I could contain the rage no longer. I saw her red-faced embarrassment, and heard that sleaze-bag's lugubrious, lecherous voice, saying, “sleep in the same sleeping bag.” She'd been assaulted, though not physically. I had to do something. I'm furious at this man, and very much protective of her – this was only right, a matter of honor and dignity.
     I knew what I'd do: I'd make him go to her and apologize to her, right now, right there at her cash register where she stood, all four-foot-ten of her, or whatever she was. I'd make that the first option. This would make things right – and it was the diplomatic solution, all honorable and non-violent. He'd have to crawl, and she'd be re-set on her pedestal of honor – and I'd make it happen.
     The second option got ugly. There was another, very different way for me to channel my anger here. I was pretty smart about it, though, not attacking him directly, doing physical injury to him, which, even for me, at 17, seemed something to be avoided, right there in the store, on the job. Here's the deal I offered him:
     I found him just wheeling out a fully-piled cart of dairy items, which he was about to spend the next hour or so stocking into the dairy cases. I went up to him and said, “I want you to go apologize to Karen for what you said to her.” He knew he was on the spot, and the heat was high – he knew he wasn't going to be able to brush this off, and his pulse was rapid immediately, and he started to sweat. Jim was in his face. Big-time. He tried, as his mind raced for a way out, to pass it off lightly, and stall for time, while he desperately searched his mind for an easy way out. “Whaaaat?” , and, “Oh, she and I are good enough friends so I can talk to her like that, it doesn't bother her,” etc.. So I gave him my idea for Option 2. I said, “Well, you can either go apologize to her right now, or I'm going to – “ regarding his piled-high dairy items on the cart whose handle his hand was on – “smash all of this stuff all over the floor, and you're going to clean it up.” This gave the man pause. Serious pause. He knew I'd do it. He'd just watched me quietly and slowly pour my Dr. Pepper all over the table, upstairs. He gulped. He considered going back to the first option. He envisioned himself going up to the front registers, approaching Karen and apologizing right there. There might be a manager around. It would all be known by everyone. Gulp. No. He couldn't do it. Scared, he finalized it. “I don't have to go apologize to her,” he said – and stepped back.
     “All right,” said I, and turned to the task at hand – customers around or no customers around. This was my job, now. I demolished his cart-load of dairy items. If something didn't break when it hit the floor, I kicked and stomped it until it did. Lots of milk. Lots of eggs. “Boy, you're really having fun tonight, aren't you,” he sighed, as I went at it. He wisely made no move to stop me. Bash! Smash! Stomp! Kick! All gone. Oops! All over the floor, now. Clean it up, smart-fuckin'-ass.
     Naturally assuming that I'd be fired for this, I removed my name-badge and hurled it somewhere in the produce department, as I stormed toward the front of the store. I tossed my apron too, that we bag-boys wore. I probably punched out, I don't remember. Out the door I went, expecting I'd never return. I did what I had to do.
     Though I'd assumed I'd be fired for what I did, the manager – Mr. LeBell, a young, really nice guy – called me at home, I think it was the next day, to ask me what happened. I told him exactly what happened. He told me that the asshole in the dairy department had been warned before about this type of improper behavior toward women, and that I was fine, I still had my job, and the asshole would be reprimanded – again. So, the guy didn't lose his job, but neither did I. I was basically thanked and honored for what I did, he was in trouble for what he did. Next time I walked past him, he was very polite: “Hi, Jim.” Very respectful. I just smirked.

Jim Danger
Autobiographical
Outrageous Behavior
                                            Anecdote #2: Rory's Radio

     I was building lobster traps for a living, circa 1992, '93, in York, Maine, when I was 33, 34 years old. I was extremely good at building these traps, which were primarily constructed of vinyl-coated wire mesh. I was literally the fastest trap-builder in the world, setting and breaking my own records on a regular basis. I could do a trap start-to-finish in 6 minutes or less, avg., for 8 hrs. a day. When I first started building, it took 8, 9 minutes apiece, but I got on an adrenalin-fueled level, I reached and surpassed the 7-minute-per-trap ideal – which I had been assured was possible, for my boss had seen it done by an expert. Without the adrenalin infusion, it was not possible. One had to go crazy to build a trap in 7 minutes flat. Once I caught that revelation, I went into orbit. The best my boss had ever actually seen done at the place I worked, was 25 traps in one 8-hour period, accomplished by a 2-man team that included my boss himself and a helper. That was the standing record for a day's work, when I started. Soon, though, I hit 25, then 30, 35, 40 traps per day, alone. Then 50. For quite a while, my record stood at 61 – just like Roger Maris, whose home-run record inspired me to hit that number one day. Eventually, I developed carpal tunnel in both wrists, from the ridiculously over-the-top pace, working with hand tools and lots of bending, twisting, etc.. I had to quit this line of work in fact, because of the carpal tunnel syndrome. My last day, though, I decided to set a record sure to stand forever – and I'm confident that it has. That day, the last time I ever built a lobster trap, I singlehandedly built 73 of 'em. Top that, Superman!
     Somewhere near the end of my career as lobster trap builder, a new man came to work with the half-dozen or so of us who were already there. We worked in a warehouse, which aside from a small office at one end, was all wide open, no walls {except the exteriors of course}. The building was probably around 100 feet long by 40 feet, or something like that, an probably 20 feet high. It wasn't very noisy in there except for the noise I made with air-powered tools and some banging with a big mallet. Three of the other employees, including the new guy whose name was Rory, were busily and quietly at work installing some netting – the “heads” - into the traps I had built.
     Rory, his first day at work near the opposite side wall from me, about 30 feet away from my area, decided – without asking anyone – to bring along his great big boom-box, with which to entertain and edify us with loud Christian radio, as we worked. This irked me on a number of levels, as we were subjected to preaching and the cheesiest of horrible music, with offensive lyrics. It was all offensive. Yet on it went. Plenty loud. Minute by minute; half-hour by half-hour; hour after hour! My rage was building for a full four hours, as I sought some way of dealing with this, that would be socially acceptable. I found myself – as usual – failing to think of a socially-acceptable option that I was actually capable of carrying out.
     The thing to do, I supposed, was to calmly and politely approach the chap, and say something like, “Pardon me, my good man, but would you mind turning that down a bit?” or something along that line. A more aggressive means might be to approach Barry, the boss, who was usually a pretty good friend of mine, and bring my complaint to him, and let him take action. That would seem to me to be a ind of asshole-ish way of dealing with it, though, siccing the boss on him on his first day, then coolly eyeing him from across the room, he and I both knowing I'd ratted him out. That would kinda suck, seems to me. As for that first option, of politely asking him to turn it down, there's no way I could bring myself to do that. Basically, I just wouldn't dare. I've never been able to approach somebody like that, and let them know I object to something they're doing that's annoying. Though I might be able to pull it off once in a decade, odds are well against it. I just can't be nervy like that. All I can do is act strongly if sufficiently pissed off. Otherwise, I'm basically too shy and overly polite to object to much of anything that somebody personally is doing. I mean, if I get shorted a buck at a cash register, I'll definitely say seomthing {well, usually}. In more personal interaction, though, I'll swallow a lot before saying anything – and then I'm pretty intense about it, for the pressure on me has built up to a dangerous degree.
     By 10:50 a.m. – nearly lunchtime, and nearly 4 hours since we – and that radio – had started for the day, my fury had built up beyond what's healthy. I knew what I wanted to do. Shall I actually do it, however? That would be over-the-top extreme. Yaaaa, I agreed. Maybe one last over-the-top extreme stunt, for ol' times' sake. I'm gonna fuckin' do it –
     I put down my 7-pound, air-powered clip gun solidly on my large work-table, and walked swiftly to Rory's area, across the room, passing a couple of other employees on the way, who were quietly doing their jobs and bearing up under the assault of that accursed fucking Hallelujah Christian cheesy commercial radio station – that boom-box! Chris Boyle, who had known me for a decade by then – we used to be in a band together – and knew well how crazy I could be, furtively eyed me as I passed him.
Rory noticed me just about the time I got both of my hands on that boom box and started pulling on it. The cord was run down under a table, behind some stuff, and the obstacle kept it from unplugging, when I pulled on it. So, methodically, I moved the stuff, following the cord toward the outlet, and unplugged it. I glanced sidelong to Rory at my left, to make sure he wasn't going to get in the way. He was actually cowering, his arms raised and flinching as if to protect himself at a moment's notice, while also ready to run, his eyes wide and filled with sheer terror. The offending box was now free, and I seized my prize. This was what had been pissing me off for hours now. This was the source of those fucking phony evangelical voices – and all of that horrible excuse for music. It was a big, heavy boom-box – a very nice one, no doubt. I had it briefly in front of me, one hand at each end – then lifted it as high as I could over my head, and brought it to meet the concrete floor with maximum impact. SMASH!!! All movement in the room, all activities of a couple of workers up on a catwalk, stopped.
Satisfied, I headed back to my workstation, turning my head just long enough to regard the shaking, traumatized Rory and tell him, “Send me a bill.”
     I'd been back to work for a few minutes, when Barry, our boss, the manager of the company, and a guy I'd gotten to know well – a pretty cool guy – approached and asked to speak with me outside, as the large, garage-sized door was open just a few feet away on the end of the building next to my area. We went outside, I lit a smoke.
     “First of all,” he started, “I like what you did.” He grinned, then chuckled. He added that he'd pay for the boom-box, and asked that, “in the future”, I confer with him before taking matters into my own hands. I agreed, and we had a good little laugh, then broke for lunch.

Rory kept his distance, and there was never a recurrence of unwelcome radios at work.

Chris Boyle told me that, shortly after this, he would be sitting at home with his wife, watching TV, when suddenly he would explode into laughter at the memory Rory's boom-box and me. 

  Anecdote #3:
            Scott, Eric, the Gun and the Shopping Cart

     I save for later the full story of the first time I got high on pot, but this adventure is connected to that. The part you need to know now is that I'd hurt my testicles badly in a fall on a trampoline, and the two guys that got me so high and who were with me when I got hurt, had laughed at me – a lot – and mocked me while I was crawling around, crippled with agony. I had vowed I would get them, and once I was back on my feet, they'd fled from me on their bicycles {I was in no shape to ride mine}, still laughing at me.
     The next evening – though I was still hurting, and would be for a week – I went on the hunt for them. They were easy to find, the two of them – Eric and Scott – in Scott's apartment, the usual hangout. He lived there with his mother – we were all 16 years old – but she worked nights, and wasn't home. Just Scott and Eric were there when I knocked. His apartment was on an end of an apartment building, ground floor – which was actually a few feet below ground level, and featured a nice, large picture window, starting at just about ground level, about 6 feet wide, and rising about 4 feet.
     The guys knew I was gunning for them, and they were very much afraid of me. When I knocked, they probably figured I knew they were there – most likely, I'd already seen them through the window – so they didn't try to hide. Scott cracked open the door, but with the chain-lock across the opening, as though that little chain could hold me out. I demanded that he let me in {so I could kick their asses}, but he wouldn't – so, not prone to haggling, I simply kicked the door open, the little chain bursting like a bubble.
     Scott immediately went into hysterics of fear, and dashed away into a corner of the living room and sat down, trembling. Now I was faced with Eric, who stood there – holding a handgun on me. This was different – and, yes, it gave me pause. I remember looking at the barrel, that black hole in the center, where a bullet might come exploding out – I wasn't sure if it was a trick, or what; but it did stop me in my tracks, at least for the moment.
     “This is a .38,” Eric warned me, in a nervous voice, with as much authority as he could muster, which was meager. I kept staring at that gun, near his waist, pointed right at me. This all depended on whether that gun was real, or if it wasn't – whether it was a real threat or a hoax. Both our lives seemed to hinge on that question! I h ad my suspicions – and if I'd been paying more attention around my father with all of his handguns and books on guns, I would have had more intel to go on. I couldn't be sure about Eric's “.38” – nor, then, could I gamble on maybe getting shot. I knew that if the gun was real, he would shoot me, to keep from the beating I was here to give him and Scott. Still, though, he kept backing up – slowly, gradually, but surely, he was retreating from me as I negotiated with him, trying to talk him into putting the gun away. Of course, I lied a lot, assuring him that I would not beat him up, and repeating that I wouldn't hurt him or Scott, but I just really wanted him to put the gun down before we could just talk. Soon, he had backed up through the kitchen where the door was, down a short hallway and into a back bedroom, which door had been open as he back-stepped bit by bit, maintaining a steady distance from me {of about 6 – 8 feet} as I kept crowding him, urging him to put the gun down.
     Finally, able to retreat no farther and deciding to believe – or at least hope – that I was telling the truth about not hurting him, Eric set the gun down on the bed behind him, and, repeating his agreement that now we could get together and just have a chat, he began to walk past me toward the living room, where Scott say very quietly, shitting bricks and smoking a cigarette.
     The fool! Now I had the fucker. I let him get just past me, before I lit into him – that way, he'd have to go through me to get back to that gun. I gave him a pretty good beating, making sure to kick his balls sufficiently to remind him of his laughing at me when I hurt my own last night. Yes – I kicked his balls good. I figured he'd be out of commission for a couple of days by the time I was through with him, then I went straight to Scott, still seated on the deep, comfy chair. He immediately went into his hysterical-unintelligible-ranting/pleading/crying routine again {a defense mechanism – like a skunk's stench}, with his arms up. I brushed them aside and delivered three powerful, downward punches to his balls. Then I beat him up a little bit, but his loud, pathetic pleading probably did shorten the attack.
Then I went and got the gun, and walked out with it, as the two of them moaned and writhed in their injuries. Outside, I pointed it at the ground and fired it – it did seem real. Click. Nothing in it – and obviously a very small caliber, I could tell – I had fired enough of my father's handguns to know that – like a .22. Pissed at having been bluffed with that, I carried it back inside, and hurled it hard in a backhand motion, from the kitchen, across the living room where it thudded into the plaster wall near the corner, gouging the wall deeply, messing that up pretty good, too. Then I left again – they were still moaning, sobbing, all curled up in agony.
     As I walked past the apartment outside, still in a fury, I came to a shopping cart from the department store nearby, just standing there all alone. I seized it, yanked it over close to Scott's apartment, picked it up, and threw it right through his picture window.
Yaaaaaaa. Now, that settles that.


     Epilogue: It was a pellet gun, and they were both up and walking around again the next day. They didn't “tell on me”, Scott didn't tell his mother who trashed her apartment. I wasn't worried about it. I rarely worried about any of the crazy stuff I did. I did what I had to do. That was all. Why worry? Hey, we were sixteen – what could happen?

                                                          Close Calls
                                              
                                                Close Call #1 The Live Wire

     I don't know whether a live wire that breaks loose from a utility pole shooting sparks will hurt you if it falls onto a car you're in, but around 1981, at the age of 21, I figured it would. So did the other two occupants of the car in which I was riding.
     David Patstone was driving, a nice '70 Buick, I think it was, which he'd had painted black very professionally, costing him in the thousands. His older brother Kevin was in the passenger seat in front, and I was in the back seat by myself. The three of us did lots of drugs, drinking and general carousing together. Kevin was my age, and we'd been friends since we met in school in freshman year of high school. The Patstones lived in Kittery, as I did. Dave was two or three years younger than Kevin, and was merely a kid when Kevin and I started hanging out together when we were 13 or 14. {I could write about the Patstone family and my times with them for a long time.}
     David, as he matured, excelled Kevin and I in a couple of ways. He made good money, an had fabulous drug connections. He had become our dealer, and now we were in his car swooping through the streets of Kittery heading toward Sanford, Maine, to visit a drug connection of Dave's – a dark-minded, strange and rather menacing figure I'll call Roger {because that was his name}. He was into serious coke, hallucinogens, weed, and very much into the black arts.
     On this particular night, as we started down a small hill in Kittery, just ahead of us – say, fifty feet ahead – a giant flash occurred, at a transformer or something, bringing loud exclamations from David and Kevin, as the line blew up and flew off the pole, in a hail of fireworks, just as we passed beneath.
As I looked straight up through the rear windshield of the Buick from my vantage point in the back seat, all was aglow with the fiery explosion, and the spark-shooting wire was dropping right down onto us. It missed us by inches as Dave stomped on the accelerator, and as we cried out in horror and looked back, the line was shooting sparks all over the road. It just missed us.
     I've never forgotten looking straight up into that blinding flash as the wire dropped, headed right at us. That was a shake-up, and left us all mind-blown. Just missed us!

                      Close Call #2 The Giant Shade & the Crushed Turnstiles

During one of the few and brief periods of my adulthood when I've been “single”, I met a woman on the telephone, via a Personals ad in a local newspaper. This was, I'd say, 1996, probably springtime, but I'm not sure.
     I've never liked hockey, but this woman suggested that our initial meeting be at a UNH hockey game, because someone had given her free tickets – and neither she nor I had much money. So, we met at UNH, and attended the game together. I have no idea what this woman's name was, for we never got together again. As I recall, she was a health nut, and I, an avid smoker, had little in common with her.
     When the game would have normally been over, according to the clock, the game was tied, so they said there'd be overtime, after a break. I was dying for a cigarette, so I went out to smoke one during the break, while my date stayed inside with just about everyone else. I went out the way I'd come in, through the turnstiles and out the big glass doors. Just as I stepped out through the door, there was an enormous, shocking SMASH right behind me – about three feet away. I looked where I had just stepped through the turnstiles inside the door, and the turnstiles were demolished. A huge cylindrical object, about twenty, twenty-five feet long and three feet in diameter, had fallen from above – missing me by about one second. It turned out to be a giant, rolled up window shade, weighing probably around a ton. I saw the steel turnstiles it crushed.
     A woman who had exited just ahead of me, who had already had time to get her cigarette lit, casually remarked, seeing how stunned I was that the thing had just missed me, “Boy, can you imagine that – you get killed just trying to have a cigarette.” It happened so fast and was such a shock, the real “Holy shit!” kicked in only later. At the moment, I smoked my cigarette and watched a whole team of employees rush to the scene, and at least a dozen men hoisted the giant log up off the smashed turnstiles, and away from the entrance/exit area. Minutes later when overtime ended and the game was over, thousands of people were heading through that area. Had the game ended at the regular time, people would have been killed, others gravely injured. As it was, about a one-second lag in my timing would have probably meant my death.
     I've heard people say, “If I went to church, the roof would fall in.” Now I know what happens when I go to a hockey game. I won't do that again.

Afterword: This was at the Whittemore Center {University of New Hampshire}, which had been open to the public for only a year or two at the time. I heard later that they had had some serious mishap there, such as falling bleachers, in which people had been injured and killed. The one that nearly killed me, however, got by unreported – since I lived. Had that hockey game ended on time, this would have been headline news. The wife from whom I was separated at the time {we later got back together for a few years} would no doubt have gotten some satisfaction from the fact that I was killed the first time I went out with another woman, I think.  

                                           Close Call #3 Black Jack

     The first time I ever really “did drugs” – other than pot and beer – was on July 4th or 5th of 1977. I think it was the 4th.
     I had turned 18 on July 3. I was arrested that night – not taken to jail, but placed in a cruiser and issued a summons, for drinking in public. What happened there, while I'm at it, was that my friend Kevin Patstone and I were hanging around drinking beer on a sidewalk at Long Sands Beach, in York, Maine, close to Kittery where we lived. We had joined a group of other teens who were also drinking. When the last beer was gone, I – who never knew the word, “enough” – begged and borrowed and scraped up enough change to buy one more beer. I did so, and merrily returned to my party on the beach near the sidewalk. It was my 18th birthday, but actually it was no official party, of course, just hooligans hanging out. Just about the time I took my first swallow of that hard-won last beer, the cops showed up – three or four of them approached us on foot. I don't know if we didn't see them coming, or whether we basically froze when they showed up, or what. Hey, I was 18 now – the legal drinking age at the time. The cops kinda surrounded us, on the sand at the uppermost beach area where we were, close to the sidewalk along Long Sands Road. One of the cops told me to dump out my beer – to dump out my last beer, that I'd just opened! No fucking way. I pleaded that it was my last beer, and that I'd just opened it – couldn't I quickly finish just this one? “NO!” Dump it out now, and put the empty in that trash can.” No fucking way. “Can't I just drink it on the way to the trash can?” Now I had the attention of more than just one of the cops. NO. DUMP IT OUT NOW, and THEN PUT THE EMPTY IN THE TRASH CAN.” No fucking way. Taking my first step toward the trash can, I rapidly hoisted the beer to my lips, threw my head back and began guzzling.
     Three of them grabbed me. I was placed under arrest, probably handcuffed, I don't recall, and walked up to the road and placed in the back seat of the cruiser.
     The cop that wrote me up was pretty cool, let me go after giving me the summons. He said it would cost me $35.
     Back with Kevin, on the beach, drunk, I went into a dramatic sobbing, wailing routine about, “35 dollars! How'm I going to get $35?!!” Kevin did his best to console me, but I was in high drama mode, now, on my birthday, the 11th beer gone, party over – and now I'd need $35 to pay the court. If I had a job, which I don't think I did at the time, that would have been about my weekly pay.
I decided to throw myself in the ocean and end it all. Now I was Norman Maine, in “A Star Is Born”. Kevin went into the Atlantic with me, pulling me back. It was quite a scene. In high dramatic fashion, I afterward concluded that Kevin had “saved my life”.
     Within a couple of days, that would be very close to the truth.
     On July 4th, Kevin excitedly told me that Steppenwolf was playing a concert at Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts {about a 30, 40-minute drive away}, at a venue called, the Frolics. I was game for anything, though not yet a big Steppenwolf fan, as I hadn't yet developed a taste for “hard rock”. Kevin was a metal-head for years, already. I was more into Elvis and Charlie Rich – I'd just seen Elvis, live, in May! The party aspect of this trip to Salisbury, though, had my full interest. Kevin assured me that we could get some drugs – DAHRUGGS! - in Salisbury. Oh, boy! FINALLY! - DRUGS!! All I'd had was pot and beer, and had eagerly sought for “Drugs” for years, without success.
     Kevin's cousin, Mark Smith, and a friend, Charlie Courmier, were to come along, the four of us in one car. Thus it was.
     Cutting to the Close Call aspect of this very eventful day: The Steppenwolf concert had just ended – the band had just walked off the stage, to great applause and drug-fueled {oh, yes – we found Drugs} enthusiasm. I was right at – against – the front edge of the stage, with Kevin, Mark and Charlie close at hand, beside and behind me. Some crazy guy from the audience, a short-haired freak with a headband around his head, yelled, “Let's get on the stage!” and grabbed my arm to bring me with him, as he headed up that way. Knowing no better, and in a drug-zombie state myself, I figured – or didn't figure – why not, and took a climbing step in that direction, myself. I had ascended a mere foot or two, when there was yelling of alarm behind me, and six hands yanked me backward, pulling me quickly back into the crowd on the floor. I didn't know why, but my three friends were all yelling at me, white-faced and wide-eyed.
     It turns out that they thought they'd just witnessed a miracle – of which I was the ignorant recipient. They had basically saved my life, but even they couldn't believe I'd been spared from the fate they'd seen about to befall me. For the rest of the night, and into the following weeks, they repeatedly stressed how incredibly lucky I was to be okay, and that, “If we hadn't grabbed you and pulled you back - - !”
Their repeated and pointedly-stressed, deeply imprinting descriptions of what had happened, left me with a mental picture of the event, the actual sight of it having eluded me at the time.
It turns out that it was like this: As soon as Steppenwolf had exited the stage, several large, beefy, no-sense-of-humor stagehand/bouncers had stepped onto the stage, in order to protect their turf – in case some rowdy fools – victims – decided to try to encroach upon the stage. These were the types of gorillas who hope to at least hospitalize a few people, as often as possible. They love it, it's how they get their fun, and adds to the list of savored recollections when they get to kick back over beers together, later. “Aw, a broken knee? That's nothing! I fucked up one guy so bad, he'll never walk again! Aw, haw-haw-haw!”
     So anyway, these types are now in control of the stage. Do I know that? Have I any awareness at all of what the fuck's going on, other than this genius-type grabs my arm and says, “Let's get on the stage!”? Nooooo, I don't fuckin' know anything. I don't even know, as I'm getting up onto the stage, with this other guy I've never even seen before, that a gorilla, whose foot my hand is nearly touching, has just raised a black-jack above his head, and his eyes are on a bull's-eye he's seeing on my skull. He's got a big ball-bearing in a sock, and he's a fraction of a second from putting it into my brain.
This is what the guys were seeing, when they all screamed and grabbed me in a desperate attempt to save me from that – and even they couldn't believe they'd succeeded. It was That Close. My three friends looked at me from then on like I had an angel on my shoulder.

                                            Close Call #4 Ducking Bottles

     I was walking home one night from downtown Portsmouth {New Hampshire} toward where I lived, also in Portsmouth but way out on the southwest end of town near the border – I had about 5 miles to walk, I guess. I did it all the time though, sometimes more than once a day. I was about 17 years old, at the time {this would put it around 1976}.
     I was just blocks from downtown, still in a heavily populated residential area, on Middle Street, one of the main venues in and out of the downtown area. I was on the sidewalk on the right-hand side of the street. It was summertime – pretty late at night. I was alone.
     From just behind me, as a car came up fast, I heard loud outcries, wild high-schoolers screaming wildly. I quickly turned to look, and just as I did, heads and arms came up from three windows, with bottles in their hands. I ducked in the nick of time, into a low crouch, covering my head. Bottles whistled, just missing me, smashing onto the sidewalk. The kids were good shots – I'd've been hit for sure, had I not ducked the moment I did.
     As the car passed by, and they saw that I was un-hit, I could see that they were about to turn around quickly at the next street just ahead of me, so I sprinted across the street, hoping to lose them, as they turned around. I dashed into a driveway and crouched behind someone's parked car, right in their yard, hoping I hadn't been seen by my attackers. The perpetrators' car passed by again, looking for me. It passed a couple of more times. The miscreants weren't through with me – for whatever reason. They didn't find me, however, and after a while I hustled on home as quickly and as vigilantly as possible, looking over my shoulder a lot. I remember stopping at a telephone booth {they had public pay-phones, in booths, in public areas, in those days} on the way home, and telling a close friend, Jim Wilson, about the attack. Together we speculated upon whether I was previously targeted, or whether it was random. I was a wild one and running with other wild ones at the time, and I did have a kind of a bad-guy reputation. Lots of people – people I didn't know – seemed to know me back then, and strangers sometimes said, “Hi, Jim.” There was no way of knowing whether or not I'd been previously targeted or not.
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                      Close Call #4-A The Whale, the Moose and the Blind Road Runner

     In another incident of the same period, I was definitely targeted for attack, and I did know my attackers.
     This adventure involves two close calls, really. The first is kind of a lead-in to the second.
     I started this one. I was 17 or so, hanging around with a group of other teenage boys, on the steps leading into and out of an apartment building where a friend of mine lived – Ledgewood Apartments, Portsmouth, a place where there was lots of trouble. We juvenile delinquents were hanging around on a hot summer night, nothing to do at the moment, just outside an end door of one of the buildings.
     A not tall but very large woman, let's say conspicuously overweight, and mean-looking, came out through the door, walking toward the rear parking lot where she kept her car. I'd heard a good line a few years earlier, a fat person insult, but had never had a chance to hurl it – 'til now.
     “Harpoon that whale!” I yelled, as she was passing through a gate in a fence that surrounded the buildings. {Yes, I know this was wrong of me. I've learned a lot since my teens.} She stopped in her tracks, now on the other side of the four-foot-high chain-link fence, about twenty feet from where we boys were.
     “Who said that?” she demanded. Of course, at this unexpected, confrontational moment, none of us owned up to it. There were at least five of us – why offer one's head to the guillotine? She again demanded to know who said it, and now people were starting to squirm. This was at a point where began to look cowardly if I didn't own up to it, for now we were all under hot scrutiny, and they didn't do anything to deserve it. She wasn't going away, so the longer it took for me to speak up, the worse it would be.
     “I did,” I told her.
     She menacingly suggested that I come over to where she was, and repeat my utterance to her face. {I know, I know – as I write this, 40 years later, I'm basically on her side in this, too!} Oh, boy. Now I was in it. I was kinda wishing I hadn't said what I'd said. What to do now – in the presence of so many witnesses? Fuck. I strolled up to her, kinda liking what I had to do next, for it did take a lot of nerve, and made for a movie moment. When I stood very close to her, face-to-face, with that little four-foot fence between us, I said loudly, “Harpoon that whale!” By the time I go to “whale”, her hands were grasping my shirt, as she attempted to haul me right over that fence – she was a rough, tough, roller-derby kinda woman. Her powerfully clutching hands were pulling my shirt up, and she was clawing at me as well, and I was in great danger of being hurt by this enraged woman. I couldn't let that happen. I was ready to strike; but she was a woman. Shit! I was in a real spot, now. All of these guys knew me as a super-tough, highly skilled martial artist, and here I was besieged upon by this – big, fat woman. I couldn't punch her. I couldn't really be very rough with her – yet I couldn't let her pummel me, either, which she was well on her way toward doing, as we struggled, her grip very solid on my upper body, especially my shirt. Uncertainly, I kept my right hand open, in what is known in karate as a “ridge hand”, like a backward “shuto” {karate “chop”}, wherein one strikes with the area on the thumb side of the hand, near the base of the index finger, and delivered it sharply and quickly to the side of her head, or upper jaw, and wrenched mostly free at the moment of impact. She cursed and tore at me anew, but by then she had only my shirt, and I let it go as she ripped it off me, holding her prize on the other side of the fence and tearing it up further, in her rage.
     I didn't let her get her hands on me again, and it was all over soon thereafter, except for the, “holy shit, did you see that?” aftermath, and my regretful feelings over had had a physical confrontation with a woman – a confrontation I'd started. Not only so, but I had severely jammed/sprained my thumb, when I'd hit her with the uncertain, open hand. I hadn't sufficiently tightened my hand into the weapon it was supposed to have been, because the blow was regretful and unsure to start with, and my hand was loose when my thumb area collided with her skull. Now my thumb was swollen, throbbing in agony, so that I had little use of my right hand at all, for the next day or two – and I was highly uncomfortable, with all that agony. I got some ice from my friend who lived there, and held it on the base of thumb. I was pretty much out of commission, now, and certainly in no mood or readiness to fight. I was really hurt, like a bird with a broken wing. Fortunately, however, my legs were working; I'd need them soon enough, and not for fighting.
     I was just inside the door of the apartment building, standing in the hallway nursing my injury, when the door swung open and there stood my main nemesis at the apartment complex, Moose Johnson. We'd had a confrontational run-in or two before, and there was wide speculation throughout the neighborhood on who'd win if we should fight. The first time I'd met him was when I was sent to him as an emissary representing my friend Scott and his sister Shari, who had been offended by his bullying ways, and his unwelcome amatory advances upon Shari, who I “liked”. I had been close friends with Scott and Shari's brother, Ray, who had been struck by a car and killed in the recent past. When I befriended them and they'd told me about this menacing bully named Moose Johnson, who was older and bigger than us, I set my mind on removing this threat, this murky menace I'd never seen. Scott assured me that I could take him, for though Moose was tall, Scott said, he was very skinny and would break in half like a piece of spaghetti when I hit him. {I was later to learn that Scott lied a lot, in his varied and devious attempts to lead me into ruin. He'd directed me to Moose's apartment in a separate building, where he lived with his mother and younger brother. He'd be home alone now, Scott said. So, gallantly and feeling like a hired badass, I went and knocked at “skinny” Moose's door. He answered it, and as he stood there, I took note of the difference between Scott's description of Moose, and Moose. Yes, he was significantly taller than I – but he was also relatively ruggedly built, somewhat athletic, certainly no toothpick – and his two or three years' difference in age made him seem quite manly and formidable, indeed. I think he was 19, while I was 16 or barely 17 that summer of 1976. Still, though, I kept my cool, figuring I could take him – but it was no sure thing, to me. I went right into my “message”to him, telling him that I'd heard he'd been bothering Scott and Shari, and I told him to leave them alone from then on. He stepped out of the apartment and came out into the hall with me, and sat down on the steps leading to the second floor, and crossed his arms across his knees, where he was a ball of defense against any sudden attack. He was sizing me up as we spoke, and the tension was very high. It was almost like a weigh-in to a boxing match. He explained to me that his little brother “beat the shit out of a 40-year-old man, right here, under these steps.” He pointed to the little area beneath the freestanding stairs on which he was sitting. “And I can take him,” he concluded, suggesting that he was a fearsome fighter, himself.
     My reputation had preceded me, however, so he wasn't going to take any chances by making the first move.
     I let him know that I wasn't afraid of him, and was ready at all times in case he attacked without warning.
     It ended that way, though, with me standing there telling him firmly to leave them alone, him explaining not only that he was a tough fighter, but that when he'd sexually manhandled Shari, he said, “If you'd've seen her face, you'd know she was liking it.”
     As I walked away, never having actually introduced myself to him, I said over my shoulder, “By the way, I'm Jim Paradis.”
     “Ya, I know who you are,” he answered.
     Now, standing there with my injured right hand, I was faced with a head-of-steam-built-up Moose Johnson, cohort in tow, and he'd gotten pretty sick of hearing how tough I was, and the continual irritation of the thought that maybe he wasn't the biggest fish in the tank anymore. He wouldn't take a chance on getting beat – and he'd noted my lack of fear of him – but if my reputation was inflated beyond reality, he was itching to kick my ass. Now, freshly angered by a new report of me causing trouble on his turf, and catching me momentarily in no mood or condition to fight, he decided to get it on right now.
     He started his fightin' words with some stuff about how he was suspicious that my reputation was a fake. I mentioned my “busted thumb”, and he said, “I'll give you a busted head!”
Uh-oh, this was a bit of a spot.
     He heatedly removed his shirt, and handed it to his cohort. He was going to attack right now, right here. I gave some quick thought to a method of taking him down, then took a safer option, things being as they were – though it was not the without its own risk. At a time like this, all options will include serious risk. It gave me a chance, though, to get out of this spot quite painlessly, and without further injury.
     I bolted, in a sprint, choosing the lower hallway {we'd been standing on the landing between the upper and lower hallways}. My hand was killing me, but my legs were working good. The element of surprise really helped me, for there was a half-second's delay before he, opting for the upper hallway, gave predatory chase.
     I had one main thought as I raced for the door, on the landing between upper and lower hallways: that doorknob had better be unlatched, and the door ajar, 'cause if it's shut tight and I have to take the time to turn the knob to open that door, I'm dead. I could hear his big footsteps giving chase on the hallway above, and knew he'd reach that door very close behind me.
     I leapt all five steps up onto the landing – he'd leap too, but down – advantage his. When I hit the door, very fortunately it was ajar, and flew open when I hit it at full sprint, having just made that five—stair {spectacular} leap.
     Then it was a leap down over the cement steps outside the door, and a free run from there, across the gravelly parking lot toward the shopping center parking lot – toward home, miles away. He couldn't and wouldn't follow me far, for I knew he couldn't keep up with me on an extended run – nobody ever had, yet, so my focus was on reaching that parking lot; just give me 100 yards.
     On a slight downward grade from the apartment buildings to the gravel parking lot, my footing got tripped up – with Moose hot on my heels – and I started to fall. My hands, my fingertips, actually met the gravel, in a fall that I was determined, with a life-preserving insistence, was not going to happen.
My feet outran the lost balance, my hands came off the dirt, and I was back into full stride again – he had no chance now, and he knew it. A tightly-shut door, or a fall, had been his only chance at catching me. He was a very good runner, but well outclassed. “You'd better run!” was the best he could do now, as he quit the chase, and I zipped away. He'd won bragging rights, but still hadn't been able to lay a hand on me. This wasn't over – he hadn't seen my blood yet.
     No, that was not the Close Call about which I set pen to paper {yes, pen and paper – before I type this out} here. The real Close Call stemmed from this one, thought – and yes, eluding Moose in this prelude, was indeed a mighty close call, in its own right; agreed.
     Later – perhaps later that same night, if I'd doubled back toward downtown Portsmouth after running from Moose, then passed by again; or perhaps a night or two later, but soon thereafter, anyway – I was walking past the area of the apartment complex, next to Route 1, a very busy 3-or-4-lane main route in and out of town, nearly always teeming with swiftly-moving traffic. I was on theoutskirts of a department store parking lot, directly across Route 1 from a doughnut shop, when I noticed a car pull up, a few yards away, in the parking lot. Looking, I recognized the driver – it was the lady who'd torn my shirt off, in that particular episode. She motioned for me to approach, but said nothing. I decided to take the opportunity to apologize to her, and I walked over to her, peaceably, to do so. I did feel badly about that whole thing – and my thumb still hurt, too; it had been ugly, and I regretted it.
     When I got up to her driver-door and began saying, “I'm sorry....” movement in the back seat caught my eye. The first thing I saw was Moose's cohort, ducked low in the back seat, holding a lit cigarette, trying to keep out of sight. Then I saw Moose, also crouched low, and now slipping out the back door, passenger side, to attack!
GO!
     I spun and sprinted – straight across all lanes of Route 1, without looking. I died a thousand times as I crossed those lanes, got slammed and creamed and squished by cars, a dozen times an inch, in my screaming mind. How particularly dangerous was this section of road, which I'd very carefully crossed, countless times before, always with a wary eye for cars coming up over a hill from one direction, and entering and exiting all over the place, speeding to and from the downtown Portsmouth area. One had to use extra caution in crossing Lafayette Road, as it was called, here. WHOOSH!! I ran blindly right across that road.
     Still alive and reaching the doughnut shop parking lot, I sprinted on inside, borrowed a dime from the cashier, panting breathlessly and in total panic. I'd just run across Route 1 – without even looking! I couldn't believe it. I called the cops, told 'em the spot I was in – the lady and her posse were now right outside the doughnut shop, parked right near the door, and Moose was leaning on the car, ready to attack when I walked out. He had to be a little careful; he was 19, and thus no longer a “minor”, legally.
     The cops came {you don't have to ask them twice to come to a doughnut shop – haha!}, and observed as I took off on foot, headed homeward, warning my attackers to stay away. {I would have more doings with Moose Johnson, later.}
     Later, the Juvenile Officer, who I got to know quite well, Officer Ray LaBrie, a nice guy, skeptically showed me a Polaroid photo of the “lady”, which had accompanied a complaint she'd filed at the police station, against me. In the photo, she was bruised and had her arm in a sling. She claimed I'd worked her over pretty good, and wanted me arrested. Even Ray LaBrie knew, before showing me the photo, that she was full of shit. He'd gotten to know me pretty well, too. {The cops also knew Moose Johnson pretty well – and knew him to be a woman-beater himself.}
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                           Close Call #6 : Flying Across Route 1 In A Car

     Twice, I sped right across a busy Route 1 – once on foot in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and once in a car in York, Maine. Both times I got very, very lucky. In the first, on-foot instance, I most surely could have been killed. In the second, behind-the-wheel instance, any number of people could have been killed – and it would have been entirely my fault.
     In Portsmouth, I can scarcely think of a worse, more dangerous spot to have blindly run across the road. In the Kittery-York area of Maine, I can scarcely think of a worse, more dangerous spot to have sped across two lanes, than the spot where I did just that.
     It was where Route 1 intersects – dangerously – with Beech Ridge Road, on one side, and South Side Road, diagonally across on the other side. There was a blinking light placed impotently above the juncture, and a stop sign at the end of both Beech Ridge and South Side roads. Route 1 was nonstop past there – though there is now, I think, an actual stop light at this intersection. Too many accidents. These roads intersect near the crest of a large hill, with imperfect visibility in all directions, so it's a tricky one.
     1986 or so, roughly: I was speeding up Beech Ridge Road, in my mother's Oldsmobile Cutlass, that I had borrowed to drive to church. I don't remember the circumstances of why I was using her car, or why I was alone. I was married with two young daughters at the time, and my mother rarely missed a church service, so I don't know why, but there I was, alone, driving my mother's Olds – very fast, and speeding up – as I climbed the hill on Beech Ridge Road toward the stop sign I'd totally forgotten about – and toward both lanes of busy Route 1. {I had driven this same section, thousands of times.}
     It was a special church service, very well attended but perhaps not on a Sunday. Sometimes special, whole weeks of church services went on, with guest evangelists, etc.. I was about 27 years old, had been a regular at this church since I was 9. It was a fire-and-brimstone, Pentecostal, Holy-Ghost-speaking-in-tongues, “miracle services” type of church – very intense – and it had a lot to do with whyI was so fucked up, personally. Not knowing this yet, however, I thought it was the focal point of my one Hope: being SAVED, and staying “saved”.
     Just before I left the church that night, probably about 40, 45 minutes before I was watching my mother's speedometer rising, 55, 60.....as I approached that intersection that was not on my mind at that moment – I had been on my knees at the “altar”, at the front of the church, weeping and praying very fervently that I could be righteous, be holy – be GOOD! I had been a chronic “backslider” ever since first “getting saved”, by the time I was 10. I couldn't be good!
     So, I'm praying and crying and beseeching God to really, fully take me over, cleanse me, etc., etc., and I felt like I'd really had a breakthrough. Several young students from some Bible School or other were putting their hands on my shoulders, praying with me, blah, blah, blah. Then, though, by the time I was ready to go home, I'd taken just a few steps toward the door when some old, ultra-familiar dark weight, like a costume of filth, came back onto me, and I knew I was the same old me – STILL.
By the time I got into my mother's car in the parking lot{perhaps my wife and daughters and mother had gotten a ride home and I'd stayed later, praying at the altar}, I was desperately upset. I was very angry to be feeling like “the same old me”, after only minutes of feeling “free at last” {to be GOOD}. I was also desperately sad, to be so rotten and evil that even Jesus Christ with his Holy Spirit couldn't break away all the crust of wickedness that surely had me in its well-entrenching possession. I was going to stay the same. I was very, very upset about this; profoundly disappointed to have to go on living as – me, when I had hoped for so much better, and thought for a few precious minutes that I was going to be a better me from now on.
     I pulled out of the dirt parking lot of the church onto Beech Ridge Road toward Route 1, onto which I'd turn right as I headed home to Kittery {about 5 miles away}. I was raging at myself, mainly, maybe at the devil too – and weeping too. Frustrated. I started going faster and faster in my state, and as I reached the foot of the long hill toward the intersection that I wasn't thinking about, the speedometer was climbing, from 50 to 55, to 60 – faster, dammit, stomp on it!
     Holy shit, the STOPSIGN!!! I was doing at least 60 when I finally remembered that I had to be at a full stop in about 15 feet from now, to make the stop sign, to come to a halt on the white line that stood between me and north-and-south-bound lanes of always-busy Route 1.
     I jammed the brake pedal to the floor, and a very loud, ultimately-desperate, fully-panicked yell came soaring out of my mouth, from my deepest innards: “FATHER!” as, tires locked and screeching, I hurtled across both lanes of Route 1. {Abba = Father = God. Hebrew-CHristian thing, obviously very deeply imprinted in me.}
     In the fraction-of-a-second by fraction-of-a-second slow-mo that we experience in such moments, I was aware that I hadn't collided with any cars, but there was a phone-pole dead ahead on the other side, and I'd have to veer about 25 degrees to the left, doing 50 with the tires locked and screaming, in order to make it onto South Side Road and avoid a serious craxh {hoping, too, not to run into anyone on South Side Road, if I could get there at all}.
     Couldn't do it – too fast to remove foot from brake, had to continue to bring the speed down, yet could not veer far enough left, to make it onto that road on the other side.
     Off pavement, into dirt, into growth, trees, noting larger and larger trees being mown down in front of me, in great suspense to see whether a big tree will appear to kill me.
    Finally, and with incredibly lucky arrangement of slightly-larger, then slightly larger trees slowing the car bit by bit, it was over. I was sitting still – looking at what I would have plowed into, about another 10, 20 feet directly ahead of the car: a giant, city-truck plow. Ever see, “Vanishing Point”, the final scene, where the Dodge Charger smashes into the plow? Well, this was an enormous, solid steel, must-weigh-tons, city-truck PLOW – just ahead of where I finally stopped. The trees caught me gently like a baseball glove, bringing me to a safe stop; that PLOW had been hoping to have me for lunch!
     The car was totaled. Yes, I totaled my own mother's car. She was without one for quite a while, as I recall.
     I walked back to the church, told my friend the Pastor what had happened, and he helped me talk to the cops when they showed up, just after I did. They'd come into the church asking about the smashed, abandoned car. It was obvious, I guess, from the skid-marks, where it had come from. They must've said, “Holy shit!” when they saw that some lunatic had hit the brakes at full speed – at more than legal speed – at that stop sign, and skidded all the way across Route 1 and on into the trees on the other side, without killing anyone.
     The cops took me back to the scene, where I was interviewed, given a sobriety blood test by the State's special lab-truck, and lectured sternly about, “That car is a weapon!”
This episode is one that will always be with me. SO close!
     Hey – church can kill you – and others! You've been warned. Be wise – avoid them.

Epilogue: It would be another decade before I finally realized that I am responsible for my own life, and nobody else is; not God, not the devil, not the angels nor demons. If we're screwed up, we've gotta use our brain, get help if needed, but your life is all yours – you are not a pawn, of anyone.
________________________________________________________________________

                     Close Call #7: Looking Up At The River

     “Faggots!”
     Is he yelling at us? Yep, he is. That guy in the car going by just called us faggots.
     “Fuck you!” I yelled back at him.
     The car stopped. Brakelights, then backup lights. He's coming back.
     Bob Dwyer, aka Emmett Blotter, and I, in full punk regalia as always, were walking from my home in Kittery, to Portsmouth, NH, across the Piscataqua River. We had just started across the Memorial Bridge, on the left-hand side, when the car in the right-hand lane, also headed into Portsmouth, had encountered us. Bob and I had recently met and formed a hardcore punk band – which included the two of us, period – called the Murderers. He was a punk's punk, and so was I.
1981. Hippies didn't like punks – when they saw them anyway, which in the Maine-New Hampshire area in 1981, was very rarely. We were probably his first. Yes, an aging hippie was driving that little Subaru two-door mini-car. When he reversed his car back to where Bob and I were, and stopped to have words, it became apparent at a glance that he was a very large, very ass-kicking, mean hippie.
     When I say “hippie”, he was 1980s post-hippie, who hadn't managed to squeak through the disco era without getting a gold chain around his neck; he got that. His shoulder-length black hair and considerable beard were 1981-manicured, too, so that he still had the hippie creds, yet was passable too to try to pick up chicks in a disco bar.
     “What'd you say?” he was asking me now.
     Seeing his size and ill temper, I decided to try a whole, intelligible, explanatory sentence on him: “Well, I just meant that we're not faggots.”
     “But WHAT DID YOU SAY??!” He was glaring at me with his Doberman-hippie eyes.
     Oh, shit, he really wasn't going to let that go.
     Okay, you fucker. “Well, I said 'FUCK YOU' – but I just meant that we're not faggots.”
     “Well, you better watch out who you're sayin' that to,” blah, blah, finger-shaking, then he was gone.
     Sheesh. Fuckin' asshole fuckin' hippie fuck – and on we walked.
     Nearly to the other side of the bridge, now walking on the right-hand side, we spotted the hippie – and a cohort {why do bullies always have a cohort?} – walking toward us, on the old-wooden-plank sidewalk along the guardrail of the Memorial Bridge, crossing the menacing Piscataqua River, known for its killer current.
     Ya, this guy was pretty fucking big – close to a head taller than I; big, rugged and ill-tempered. Now he'd parked his car on the Portsmouth side of the bridge, and gone to all the trouble of walking onto the bridge to meet us, cohort and all. Can't be good. I think Bob and I both kinda gulped as we continued to walk toward the menacing pair. The big guy was clearly in charge, and he's the only one I remember pretty clearly. Bob and I had just left a little party in Kittery, and were on our usual heavy dose of speed and beer, and probably weed too. We were “up”.
     There were words. The big guy approached me specifically and directly, since I was the one he'd been “conversing” with. He was gonna beat me up – right on the old-plank sidewalk, thirty feet or so above the shallows of the Piscataqua. How I know we were over the shallows, was, he was about to give me a good look at them.
     The words I don't recall, but while his cohort kept Bob at bay a few feet away – just stood guard over him, while the bigger brute dealt with me – the big galloot punched me once with a right hook to the heart or solar plexus area, where I'm quite muscular, his fist directly meeting a large 3-or-4-inch-in-diameter button I was wearing , and the button went flying out over the rail, and into the river. {The button, and another just like it, I'd gotten from my friend David Patstone, who worked at the state liquor store. It was a promo for a kind of liquor – until I made it over, into a “KILL RONALD REAGAN” button – it was 1981. Its twin, also on my attire somewhere, said, “BURN THE WHITE HOUSE” - which was also a Murderers song I'd written.} The bully followed his punch with a somewhat clever blow, taken from the fighting arts of Asia; probably the cobra style of kung-fu: with rigid, open hand, the thumb away from the fingers so as to form a “Y”, the “Y” area of the hand, between forefinger and extended thumb, is rammed into the windpipe or Adam's-apple of an opponent. His execution lacked, however, and it wound up being a glancing blow off my upper breastbone/collar bone, doing no damage to my trachea. He hadn't hurt me at all, but I made what I hoped would be a satisfactory show that he'd hurt me pretty good, hoping to satisfy him. “Oh, my stomach! Erk, my throat!” He considered it, but was decidedly unsatisfied. Bummer. His next move was to grab me by the collars and hoist me into the air, bringing my upper body up and over the railing of the bridge, while he then lowered me so that I was basically dangling upside-down – looking “up” at the rocks just below the surface of the edge of the Piscataqua River. {I never liked that fuckin' river.}
     “YOU WANNA GO FOR A SWIM?”
     “No, man!”
     “No, MA'AM?!!”
     “No – NO, MAN!!”
     Jeez, this was a spot.
     In point of fact, I had one of my arms wrapped firmly around the rail, and a serious attempt by him to throw me into the river would have been very difficult to pull off – as difficult as pulling off my arm, which is what he would have had to do to get me into that river.
     Eventually, I was back on my feet on the planks of the sidewalk – but he still wasn't satisfied, and his campaign of terror continued. Now he stepped over to Bob, who'd been patiently waiting his turn, under the cohort's watchful eye. {The cohort was big too, but mellow, and not as huge as his leader.}
Bob Dwyer was the quintessential punk. This guy was born a punk. I've never seen anyone who looked so much like a punk – even without the garb. The big bully post-disco hippie was now quizzically regarding all the pins, tags, chains and stuff attached to Bob's leather jacket and shirt. He asked Bob what this was all about; what were we, bikers or something? “No,” responded Bob as deadpan as always, “We're in a punk rock band called the Murderers.” He said it like he might have been talking to a newspaper reporter, all business and no apology.
     About this time, I made a firm decision. If this hippie thug is not done with me, he's saving the worst for last – and I don't want to be in his hands again. I didn't want to abandon my friend, but self-preservation is the first law of the living. If that bully takes one step back toward me, I'm outta here. I was going to run – there was nobody behind me, both thugs {and Bob} were about 15, 16 feet away, in front of me, toward Portsmouth. One step, I determined, and I'm gone like a gazelle, back toward Kittery. I mean, shit, I've just been dangling over a rail. I gave. Enough.
     After his barely-comprehending exchange with Bob, the bully decided that I was definitely the one he wanted to pulverize, so – yup – he turned back toward me, taking his first step.
     I spun, and floored it. As I've mentioned in another entry, I've never yet been caught when running from an assailant. This guy, though, I've gotta hand it to him, he could run – with endurance! A disheartening amount of endurance, actually. I did not like the sound of his obviously athletic footsteps still with me, a couple of hundred feet into the chase. He wasn't fuckin' giving up. Shit. Well, I determined, I've got a lot more high-speed running where this came from – and I hoped he was nearing empty, and making that decision I was waiting for: that he just wasn't going to catch me, so time to give up the chase.
     At the end of the wood-plank sidewalk, where the bridge met Badger's Island between Portsmouth and Kittery, I was running on dirty pavement, and could no longer tell by hearing, whether he was still on my heels. So, I just kept it matted, across Badger's Island and onto – and across – another, smaller bridge into the mainland of Kittery. Spotting some trees that one might be able to hide in if climbed, I shot a quick glance behind me – I mean, the chase had begun about 250, 300 yards ago – and saw nobody. Up a tree I clambered, sat on a branch concealed by leaves {it was quite dark out, with just streetlights and the big, neon Warren's Lobster House sign casting their glow. I clung to the trunk, seated on a branch with my heart jackhammering from doing the 300-yard-dash-for-your-life on speed and beer. I was sure that even if the bully couldn't see me, he'd locate me by the heavy panting I could not stop. I was scared to death.
     I was in that tree for a long time. I'll bet an hour went by, and probably more. Eventually, Bob came by, I heard him calling my name, and his repeated assurances that the bully was gone, got me down from my hiding place. With all that speed in my system, and the trauma of the event, and all that had been going on in my life, I'd gone rather hysterical on paranoia, there. I'd also changed as a person, while in that tree.
     Running up that tree and sitting there terrified and very thoughtful, I'd made some decisions. The main decision, or at least the first one, was regarding the way I dressed, the way I looked in public. My whole fucking attitude. Was this what I wanted? I thought a lot, while in that tree, about Johnny Rotten getting his face slashed by razors in England, assaulted by thugs for what he represented. That was Johnny Rotten, that wasn't me. He started the fucking thing; I was a follower. Was following and representing the cause of hard-core punk, what I wanted to stand for, to be a target for? Was I that much into the cut-out punk ideology, to devote my life to that trend? No, man, fuck no. This ain't my fuckin' war. I done started up the wrong road. It was time to get the fuck off it, and find out what I, Jim, was going to do.
     I was never an obvious-to-look-at punk again.
     I had been way too much on the front lines of the punk-edge war on society. I'd had my neck stuck out there for well over a year, Fuck Youing the general public very openly, from the “We Hate You!” van I drove, with the swastikas and the graffiti, to my spiked, red hair and offensive slogans attached to myself, I had made myself a “culture club” {bashing civilized society with a very contrary mindset} and a worm on a hook – only there was no real hook, just me out there as bait for the savage conservative.
     My typical attire at the time, 1981, was, for example, one blue tennis shoe with one black sneaker, mismatched socks, torn jeans, maybe with a few punky buttons attached to them, some sort of chain drooping belt-like around my waist, torn T-shirt, whatever raggedy shirt or jacket I could come up with, usually a chain-&-padlock collar around my neck, a safety pin jabbed through one earlobe, large and offensive buttons on belly and chest areas, sometimes featuring pornographic photos, and my hair spiked up with sugary soda or kool-aid or water from a mud puddle, or spit from my hand, and food-color-dyed red.
     1980 and '81, nobody in Portsmouth, NH – and certainly not in Kittery, Maine – looked like that. The only other punks I knew locally were 2 or 3 guys, 2 of them Chinese, who had a band called The Immigrants. That was it, 'til I met Bob Dwyer, aka Emmett Blotter – who was the only punk in Rochester {NH}. When I was with him there, we were the two. We looked punk, walked punk, talked punk – often in a British-punk, Sid Vicious-type of brogue, especially when we were on acid, which was often.

     After 1981, I was never, as I say, such an obvious punk again.

                      Close Call #8         Meeting Jim Anderson

1973, '74, Kittery, Maine. R.W. Traip Academy, where I went to high school for just over a year – all of freshman year, and just a few weeks of sophomore, when I quit school altogether at the age of 15. {Got a G.E.D. in 1978, when I was 18 or 19.}
     My experiences with bullies in school started just about the time I started going to school; and lasted 'til I stopped. Probably the last, at least one of the last, involved a guy named Jim Anderson. This guy was a real menace. I'm not even sure what he was doing at the high school on the few occasions I saw him there, for he was certainly over 18 years of age, and had already been in the Marines. The word was that he'd been thrown out of the Marines for beating up his drill sergeant. At first, I didn't believe that, but some reliable, older authorities confirmed it; Jim Anderson could, and would at the drop of an eyelid, beat up just about anybody. There was no question that I was no match for him, as a 13- or 14-year-old.
     As always with bullies, Anderson was not alone – he had a little group with him, or at least a couple. I'd say he had two or three guys with him; and as always with bullies, he was the unquestioned leader of his group.
    I'd never met Jim before this occasion. His younger brother, Jeff, however, was my age – and had bullied me since around the 1st or 2nd grade. He wasn't very smart or good-looking, but you had to respect the fact that Jeff could kick your ass – and he had a shitty attitude. Mean. Years later, I saw a local Anderson in a kick-boxing match on TV, and I could tell by looking at him that he was from the same family – and he was incredibly tough. I also met Jim and Jeff's mother in 1988 when I was 29 and worked at an auto parts store where she was the secretary – Jane Anderson. She too was tough as nails, and frequently put any man in the place, in his place. Once when someone tried to wisecrack back at her, she cut him off cold with, “Who put a nickel in your slot?” Don't mess with an Anderson – not in this part of the country, at least.
     Jim Anderson was a real problem; a real big bruiser who didn't give a shit, had a chip on his shoulder and wanted to have rough fun all the time – and mean fun was his favorite.
     He looked apish to me – like a blond-haired gorilla. His hair had grown since boot camp, but was still short, just long enough to be wavy. I'd never seen a blond Anderson; Jeff was a red-head.
It was after the last class had ended at Traip that day, that somehow I wound up alone in the hallway in the center of the building, in the clutches of Jim Anderson and his cohorts. I had no friends around {not that I had more than 2 or 3 friends at all - & all of them, wimps}. In fact, almost nobody was around, definitely nobody in sight other than this gang.
     Jim decided he needed to get me downstairs, into the basement of this building, to do to me what he really wanted to do to me. I was certain that this was something for me to avoid in any way possible. There had always been some way out, before; I just had to find a way now. The odds sucked. Three or four boys way bigger and older than I, with their hands on me, grouped around so that I couldn't run – and the lead ape had just decided to force me down the nearby steps to the basement of this old building; in order to do things that were too horrible to do here in the hallway of a near-empty building.
     Thinking quickly – motivated by that almighty instinct for self-preservation once again – and remembering my lessons from watching and mimicking Jim West, gadget-laden secret agent on the Wild Wild West TV series, I glanced around to see what was at hand that might offer a hope of surviving this encounter.
     I noticed that the big, steel trash-can I was next to, was chained against the wall and it looked like that chain could hold back an elephant. I further observed that the way the lid on the trash-can was designed, I could run my arm through it – which I did, instantly – and hook it in my crooked elbow – which I also did – and get this trash-can lid-bar into a kind of headlock that would be very arduous for my attackers to un-do. Certainly, there would be a lot of commotion in these guys trying to tear my arm loose of that heavy, steel garbage can. It would flop around on its chain and make lots of noise. I might even start yelling. Up to this point, I had been silent as a mouse, saying nothing at all, keeping my mouth shut since being set upon by chance, by this group of ruffians.
     Ordered by Anderson to dislodge me, so that I might be abducted, the goon henchmen tried to get me loose. No way. I tightened up hard, and they had no chance. After a couple of minutes of thir embarrassing futility, to my great, welcome relief came along my home-room teacher, Mr. Estes, attracted by the scuffle in the hallway. We were about twenty feet from the door of his classroom. The students were gone, but he was – hooray! – still around. Mr. Estes – Steve – was still in his twenties, and not ruggedly built, but he was tall, and – well, he wore a tie, so he was a real sdult, and carried authority. Seeing my arm threaded through the trash can and surrounded by these guys, he immediately and accurately assessed the situation. He was smooth, shrewd, cagey and carried a quiet firmness in his exchange with “Mr. Anderson” - and he suggested that I head out, as he stood firmly, “chatting” with the larger boys. I hit the door running and ran – and ran and ran and ran – about half of the two miles to home
     Epilogue: I don't know what ever happened to Jim Anderson, but Jeff's rogue life ended badly, in the 1980s. He was part of a team of thieves who stole a rock band's equipment, and were speeding in a box truck with all that stolen equipment inside, when they plowed into the side of an old brick building on a narrow street in Portsmouth. Jeff was decapitated. 
     The teacher who saved me, Steve Estes, later got into local politics. I'd vote for him. {In fact, I think I did.}

                     Close Call #9        Attacked By A Mob

Circa 1976: I had quit school and eluded the truancy officers in 1974 by moving out of town and into a different state {Maine into New Hampshire} with my mother and younger sister, when I was just 15. {The law said you had to go to school 'til at least 16.} Now I was 16, and was standing along a pathway in a marshy area behind Traip Academy, where some of my friends still attended. It was time for the school day to end, and I was awaiting my friend, Kevin Patstone, to walk this pathway toward his home.
     Along came a sizable group of boys, led by an older, bigger lad they called Cudgie. Cudgie and the group were there to beat me up and throw me in the nearby creek. There were a lot of them at first, and more and more within minutes. I'd say at least ten to fifteen boys were ready to get their hands on me. Their hesitation – and my survival – stemmed from the fact that none of them was willing to be the first to touch me, because chances are he'd get hurt, and we all knew it. A number of them, too, probably lacked the required anger at me, because they were there on behalf of a smart-assed little asshole named Tom Blake, who I'd beaten up the night before.
     Granted, Tom was small, but if anyone deserved to get beaten up in order to have his wise-ass mouth shut, it was he. As a school student, throughout most of the time I attended school, I was very shy, timid, ultra-nervous, and a target of bullies. This began to taper off as I got older and got very heavily into the martial arts, weightlifting, and the anger of the mid-teen delinquent. I stopped taking so much shit, and started hitting back by the time I was in 8th grade. Then, in high school with lots of bigger older boys, I got pushed around a little bit now and then, again. I always protected myself from getting hurt, but would take a little shoving and stuff if that's all it was, as a rule. During my final days in high school, Tom Blake started mouthing off to me a lot, and on at least one occasion, as we filed out of gym class, and he was in front of me in line, he turned and just opened up on me, with a series of punches to the body. None of them hurt, but I was impressed by the quick flurry of blows – to the point of placing him on my list of hated enemies.
     Tom was all redhead, with the spit and fire that goes with that, had hair past his shoulders, a terribly shitty attitude, and stood about five-two. Just a little guy with the cocky and aggressive attitude befitting one twice his size – and he'd punched me – repeatedly! In my book, it was fitting that I punch him out if the appropriate situation arose.
     That situation had arisen one night when I, with two friends, was prowling the streets of Kittery, looking for trouble. We came upon another group of three, who were basically doing the same thing. A conversation began, all friendly, but Tom Blake, one of the three we'd encountered, started in on me with his provocative, ridiculing mouth. There was no reason for me to take that, here, on the streets at night. We weren't in a school classroom, now – and by now, I had no hesitation with my fists. By this time and at this ill-developed stage of my life, I loved to beat people up – it took little-to-no provocation for me to commence a beating. Some nights, in Portsmouth, I'd go out looking for someone to beat up – didn't matter who. One night, I'd encountered nobody, 'til I spotted two guys my age walking down the street, minding their own business, and I just walked up and started a fight, and set into both of them. I was a mean, angry, violent and dangerous kid, when I was 16, 17.
     So, why take shit from Tom Blake, now? There he was, smirking, saying my name in a scoffing manner that made it, alone, sound like a dirty insult. He had that glimmer of wise-ass punk in his eye, smirking away, looking right into my eyes defiantly.
     “Ya wanna fight about it?” I asked him – my favorite phrase, I think, in those days.
     “Yaa,” he shot back. That was all I needed.
     “Alright,” I said, stepping toward him, “Go.” I then punched him hard in the mouth, or jaw. Whammo!
     I don't recall him even taking a swing at me – if he did, it wasn't noticeable – as he began spewing a series of insults and invitations to fight, backtracking rapidly and getting hit every few seconds. He was really stupid; I guess he just couldn't stop his mouth. Whereas I would have been satisfied with one punch or so, he kept inviting more, more, and wouldn't shut up with his insults and put-downs. I just kept up hitting and kicking him – I favored action, not words – as he backtracked, ran away briefly, then turned to invite more punishment. I punched and kicked him all the way down a narrow side-street, from the downtown Kittery area all the way down to Warren's Lobster House, near the river, all the way down a hill that covered the distance of a whole street! Just about every time I hit him and he reeled, I'd ask if he was done, and if that was enough, if he was going to admit defeat and shut the fuck up at last. No! He kept right up, calling me names, threatening me. So, I just kept it up, bam, bam, slugging and kicking.
     Finally, when his face was bloody and I had just landed one of my best kicks – a left roundhouse kick to the head, striking his forehead so hard that I fractured my toe, I could see there was no point going on. He was still on his feet, but now beaten so badly that even I had had enough. Absolutely no point in going any further. It had become a senseless pummeling. He wasn't going to shut up, period – and I wasn't going to hurt him any more.
     "I win,” I declared, thereby declaring an end to his beating.
     “In a pig's ass!” he screamed, still utterly defiant, making no sense at all, bleeding and battered.
     This did piss me off, so I took another step back toward him. He just broke and ran. That was it.
Now his friends and associates – all dozen or more of them – wanted satisfaction, and they had surrounded me in this marshy-ground area behind the high school, close to the creek that ran into the Piscataqua River. Their leader, Cudgie, was about as much bigger than I, as I was in comparison with Tom Blake. This was fitting, sure – only I hadn't asked for this, and I didn't have a dozen henchmen ready to help me out.
     This was a spot. How you gonna talk your way out of this one? Do you see any way out of this one? No. This was a spot.
     They were there to beat me up, and throw me into the creek. They told me this. That was their plan, their mission, their goal, and their agreed-upon purpose. Beat me up, throw me in the river, done. {I couldn't swim, either, and was rather afraid of water – especially if I had broken limbs, and stuff.} Nothing in the world would stop them. Hmmm. Shit! What the fuck am I gonna do now?
     Don't panic. Work it. Stay focused, stay present, be ready for anything. This is survival, here and now. I saw no way out, but I'd been in such places before, and had found a way out – or made one.
     There was the incident in grammar school, something like 4th grade, when a mob of bullies had managed to capture me. That was not easy – large groups were always chasing me, and this was the one time I'd been caught. They'd dragged me down the side of a hill among the old apple trees, out of sight of any teacher or adult. Several of the boys had a grip on my arms so that I couldn't get away, as their ringleader of the moment, a boy named Peter Gitschier, tall and rugged, told me, with his clenched fist displayed, that he was about to give me a “gut acher”. Not able to simply outrun this assault, I knew that this was it – I had to act, to avoid the dreaded “gut acher” from Peter. Pressed by desperation, I suddenly jerked and squirmed my arms free, and sunk my own fist hard into Peter's gut, taking the wind right out of him and doubling him over, and then used the utter shock of my action, which stunned the whole group, as an opportunity to run away from them, again. I wasn't caught a second time – not by them.
     As the crowd got larger, school having just let out, I scanned the mob for a friendly face, someone that might help me. I saw Ray Cressey, who was a friend, but he was looking at me noncommitally, as though he figured I must've done something to get myself into this, and he wasn't helping me out of it. Even if he'd been willing to help, it would have been just the two of us against a dozen, and he probably would have suffered with me. So, no help was to be offered.
     As usual, I had my cassette tape player-recorder with me, as I was always listening to tapes. One particularly bold member of the mob kicked my tape player out of my hand, and it landed in the marshy earth, batteries scattered. When I deliberately and cautiously moved to pick it up, the heavy-set boy who had kicked it, stepped on one of the batteries when I went to pick it up, and stood on it, not moving. This was a key moment. What could I do now? I knew that the moment I showed any weakness, I'd be set upon. So, with slow menace, I stood straight up from that boot that had pressed the battery into the soggy ground, and stood face-to-face with the heavy-set boy, as though I was about to knock him off that battery. He then stepped back, and I picked up the last of the batteries. I'd won that key encounter.
     Things were still extremely tense, however, and taunts and fighting words were in the air.
     One guy told me why don't I just go ahead and start fighting: “We won't all jump on you at once – not at first, anyway,” he threatened, to scattered laughter.
    Then it was mainly me and Cudgie, the oldest and biggest, facing off. I thought I'd attempt some reasonable communication, and “Billy Jack” was strongly on my mind as I stood there surrounded by the bloodthirsty mob, confronting the tallest member.
     “How tall are you?” I asked him, and he answered. {About five inches taller than I was.}
     “How much do you weigh?” {Much more than I.}
     Here, we had some dialogue going, anyway, and I was pointing out the fact that this was really not a fair match, especially since he had that mob for backup.
     Using the obvious flaw in my argument, Cudgy pointed out that I hadn't asked Tom Blake, who was smaller than I, how tall he was, or much he weighed. True, I pointed out, “but he started that fight,” which was true, and nobody doubted that, knowing Tom.
     It wasn't going to help, though. I'd beaten Tom up, and they were here to beat me up, and that was that – I wasn't going to be able to talk my way out of it. Into the creek I'd go, regardless.
     Okay, time for a different tack.
     I could see that the mob looked up to Cudgie, put their faith in him, and his reputation was on the line now, too. I could also see a note of uncertainty in him, a quiet gulp in his throat, as though he knew he might have a serious fight on his hands. I was, most definitely, a force not to be taken lightly – and I could see that he wasn't certain he'd beat me. It was the mob that gave him complete confidence. Ahh – that's it, that's what I need to use, to get out of this in one piece. I'd found the key – to a chance for survival.
     “All right,” I told him, so that all could hear clearly. “I'll fight YOU, but not in this swamp, where we can't even get any good footing. How 'bout up there on that basketball court?”
     It was actually a basketball hoop at the end of a Catholic church parking lot. It was asphalt, though, where I could get some good, solid footing for a real fight – a fight in which I could kick a lot, which was my primary weapon. I was a master of kicks, not so formidable with my hands, against a really good fist-fighter. Here in this marsh, I'd have lots of trouble trying to get off any really good kicks.
It worked – Cudgie hesitated at the idea of fighting me, one-on-one. He couldn't actually back down, or he'd lose the respect of the mob. Yet, he didn't want to do it. I had him.
     I realized that I couldn't push him too hard, though, or he'd have to fight me {and I didn't want to fight him, either}. So, though I don't recall exactly what words I used, I then offered him what he was now looking for, which was a way out of this confrontation. I'd succeeded in turning it around – I had him gulping hard, now, even though he and his mob still had me at bay, really.
     From there, it was just a few more words exchanged, wherein I was warned to stay away from Tom Blake and Traip high school in the future; then Cudgie and his mob walked away, leaving me with my tape recorder, unharmed.
     Whew!
      ________________________________________________________

       Close Call #10        A Bad Feeling – In The Shadow Of A Giant

Circa, 1989, '90:
     I had a feeling that there was something bad “in the air” one night when I had parked my car in Portsmouth and was on foot. I had wanted very much to avoid the entire downtown area because of this uneasy sense of foreboding trouble: there was danger in the air – but I realized, to my chagrin, that I had no lighter or matches on me, and it was my plan to smoke some pot once I was away from the downtown area. So, I had to – in spite of my uneasy feeling – go into a little store, in the heart of the area I really wanted to avoid, which was the block of State Street that had a bad-news bar or two, and this little store {Richardson's}. There was often violence, sometimes even murder and rape, in this area. I justified going into this store by telling myself it would just take a minute – and I really needed a light. Books of matches were free, right next to the cash register. Go up the few feet of sidewalk on that block, hit the store, get out and get gone. Tense, but – really, what could happen?
On my way into the store, I noticed a large, hulky, mean-looking black man nearby. He gave off a bad vibe, but, “I don't know him,” I thought to myself, so he couldn't be of any concern to me. I went in, bought a lighter or got some matches, and came out, taking a left so I could just walk that thirty feet or so to the corner, at which point I'd disappear, and be off on my own to quietly smoke my pot.
     “Hey!” I heard, from behind me. It sounded confrontational, but, “He couldn't be talking to me,” I figured, “I don't know anyone around here,” 'cause I'd already covered the area at a glance, and there was just that mean-ass-looking big black guy, and a couple of other scattered strangers.
     “HEY! YA, I'm talking to YOU!”
     Oh, shit! The bad feeling I'd had all along – the sense that told me to keep out of this area tonight, was directly connected to what my ears now heard. I felt it – though I normally do not respond to a “Hey” or a whistle unless I hear my name attached to it – that, “he does mean me.” I knew he was calling me out, though I had no idea why.
     I turned and looked. Double, triple-shit! It was the huge black man, walking very menacingly toward me – and his bad-news eyes were locked on me.
     Why??? I don't know this guy!
     “Ya, you. YOU WANNA HIT ME?” He was pissed – at me! – and really had a problem with me, and here he came – but why?? How could this be happening? All I needed was some matches; and now – this?!
     “YOU WANNA HIT ME?” he asked again – fearsomely, but very mysteriously. I had no idea why this was happening. I had no idea who this enormous, very intimidating man was. All I knew so far was, this just wasn't my night to be in Portsmouth.
     I stood looking at him, and he got right up to me, now hovering like a mountain, over me. He was tall, wide and could easily have torn me in half. If I put up a fight, he'd definitely not notice it, as he destroyed me.
      As I looked up into his giant, mean, mean face, feeling very tiny in his shadow, I knew I had no chance of defending myself against him. This stranger, so large, so black, so wide, so obviously pissed off – and loud – was about to beat the ever-lovin' shit out of me. I'm not sure I ever felt so defenseless, as fresh out of ideas for escape. I was his; but before he pummeled and severely injured me, I had to know: WHY?
     Wondering why he kept asking, “Do you want to hit me?”, I solemnly, steadily, quietly and sincerely asked him, eye-to-eye, “What are you talking about?”
     He truly seemed to know what he was talking about, he seemed really earnest in his challenging interrogation, so now I wanted to know what this could possibly have to do with me.
He raised his giant, cement-block hand, and pointed to himself with his thumb, as he announced, loudly and forcefully, “I'M ROBERT REED, THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.”
     Oh, no. Now I understood completely. About 13, 14 years earlier, I'd beat him up. He was much smaller then. He'd lived at the apartment complex where I'd hung around and gotten into so much trouble and violence in my teens. He was just one of a group of guys I sometimes hung out with. I punched people out all the time back then, when I was 17 or so. Robert had made a wisecrack at me that I didn't like, and I'd punched and kicked him a few times. Not a bad beating, but I probably at least bloodied his lip. It was nothing personal, I just reacted to a wisecrack that pissed me off. He was my own size in those days, maybe a little taller, but he wasn't a big guy – back then.
     He'd spent his years from that time to this, in prison on a rape charge that happened not long after I'd punched him out. Whether he was guilty or not, I don't know. What was apparent was that he'd doubled in size while in the New Hampshire State Prison. Now he was going to break every bone in my body – and I deserved it. Fuck. He had me. He was right, and he was going to hurt me. I didn't have a leg to stand on – and within seconds, probably none to walk on, either.
     In the moment of silence, he saw in my eyes all that transpired in my mind after he told me his name. He knew that I knew what I now knew, including how very right he was, and how very defenseless I was.
     “DO YOU WANNA HIT ME NOW?” he repeated, since I would now fully comprehend the question.
     My answer was sincerity and respect itself, and I spoke it in the trembling but steady voice of a frightened but respectful man who knows he's about to get hurt:
     “No, I don't.
     I had answered his question. I stood eye-to-eye with him for a terrible period of silence, in which I was sure his knee was going to come up into my balls, and that would devastate me, before he commenced to bash me to pieces. If I had tried to run, he probably would have killed me. I just stood, eye-to-eye with Robert.
     Finally, as I looked up at him, my eyes pleading mercy and the very justice of his cause, he slowly brought up that massive right hand – open, to shake my hand! What a relief! I could hardly believe it, but he was sparing me.
     “I LIKE YOU, MAN,” he said, just as loudly and menacingly as he'd asked if I wanted to hurt him.    
     “BUT DON'T EVER TRY TO HIT ME AGAIN.” His finger pointed at me for emphasis, his voice thundering, as I enjoyed the relief of his big, warm handshake.
     “You got a car?
     “Yes.”
     “Where is it? You're gonna give me a ride.”
     “Okay!” Be nice to anyone who has just decided to not break every bone in your body.
     He had me drive him across the bridge into Kittery, to a bar name Ziggy's. Ziggy's was owned by a notorious, badass gangster-type {gang of one, mostly} who owned several bars in Portsmouth, as well. He was known as the baddest-ass of badasses, having {at least} once beaten a man to death with his bare hands, outside one of his bars. I dropped Robert off at Ziggy's, and that was that, as far as I knew.
     Later, I learned that Robert was paying off old debts that night, and Thank Heavens and Thank Robert Reed, I was shown mercy. The mighty, baddest-ass-in-town, Gator, wasn't. Gator got the living shit beat out of him by my friend, Robert Reed.
     Then, from what I heard, that same night, Robert “borrowed” a car that wasn't his, got pulled over by a New Hampshire State Trooper – and beat the living shit out of the trooper. Back to prison he went. He'd breathed free air for a day or so.
     The “authorities” call him a savage animal. I know better.

Epilogue: Over a decade later, feeling how much I owe Robert Reed for sparing me, I tried hard to somehow help him. At least, I really wanted to thank him. Every time I thought of what he could have done to me – rightfully so – and what he did to Gator and the trooper that same night, I just had to locate him, and thank him.
     In 1999, I called the N.H. State Prison to inquire whether he was there, and how I could go about visiting him. No. You can't call the prison and get an answer to anything. No, they couldn't tell me if he was there. No, I could not come to visit anyone without first being invited by that person, and no, I could not know when visiting hours were. Nothing. Good-bye, fuck you, and click. That's all I got from the N.H. State Prison.
     I recalled having met a N.H. Senator. I gave him a call. He gave them a call. They gave me a call. They were so polite this time! They even called me, “Mr.”, and asked, “How may we help you?”

     I learned that Mr. Reed was now in a facility in Connecticut, where he was all but cut off completely from the outside world he'd known so little of since the mid-'70s. I was able to write to him, and we exchanged several letters, over the period of a year or so. There just wasn't really a damn thing I could do for him, though. They had him, had him good, and it was all “legal”. There wasn't shit I could do. In all probability, he'll never get out; that seems to be the authorities' plan for him. It's sad, frustrating to an amazing degree. The man who shook my hand, and who I spoke with that night, is no savage animal. There's a very good chance that he committed no rape to start with. I know the parties involved, and am distrustful of those involved. I just don't know what happened, I was away from that place by the time it occurred. I seriously doubt, however, that whatever it was, deserved a lifetime in prison.  

                Close Call #11 Nearly Harpooned

[This one is taken from my, “Notes on The Jabbers”]
     GG Allin's “autobiographical” account of the rift between Rob Basso and I was practically backwards in comparison with the truth, and certainly fictionalized. GG wrote that he and I, in the band's practice space, were heaping insults and abuse on Rob as he played, and if he objected, we beat on him, something to that effect. As I said, his account, at least in part, is backwards. GG also wrote, “Jim Danger hated Rob, too.” It was, as I've described, more a case of Rob hating me, once I became very close with GG. Not only so, but it was Rob who threatened me, or indicated an eminent attack on me, as follows:
     GG Allin & the Jabbers practice space, 2nd floor office, rear of building overlooking large parking lot. Al Chapple and Rob – I don't recall whether John Fortin was present or not, but I'm thinking not – were working on a new song. It must have been June now, 1980 – 'cause things were very near an end – at least the end of GG Allin & the Jabbers, Phase 1.
     There were posters on the walls – the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, the Dead Boys, etc. The Ramones poster was signed by all of the Ramones – GG and the others had gone to see the Ramones several times, I gathered, and had their albums signed by the band – and this wall poster too. GG and another person or two had also signed the poster, and at some point I had briefly decided to call myself Nick Nayme {hadn't thought of Danger yet} and I too signed the poster, “Nicholas Nayme”. Rob was pretty miffed about that, I recall.
     Rob was miffed, all right, and more-so, about a number of things. The LP bombshell had lately struck. Rob had been fucked, as had the others, by GG. Down the drain at the same time was Rob's imagined or hoped-for personal closeness with GG. GG, the charismatic born leader, was a dynamic person who everyone around him wanted to be close to, personally. Not only so, but to Rob, I think, GG represented The Ticket To The Big Time. Accordingly, he was enamored.
Then I had come along, and very quickly become what certainly appeared to be a fast friend and buddy-cohort, with The Geege.
     At the moment, Rob and Al {and possibly John Fortin, don't recall – probably not, he lived a ways off and didn't drive, got rides to meet us for important stuff} were working on a new song that Al had written, called “Underwear Party”. {“We're going to – an underwear party / Bring the girls – and don't be tardy....”} It sounded pretty sophomoric, if not childish – doesn't it?
     As they were going over it {I still remember it, quite clearly, 35 years later}, GG and I were sitting atop PA speakers that were sitting on the floor, just high enough so that our feet were up off the floor, and were kicking back together, smoking pot out of my small bong. I had this same blue bong with me throughout the time I was with the Jabbers, and was even able to load and light it while driving, with my right hand in a cast. Didn't have it on that CBGB trip, though, which is why I'd had to buy papers on the Lower East Side.} GG and I were laughing at Rob and Al, quite giddily, as we got high and listened to their efforts on this all new song. At the moment, they didn't look like great musicians, and the song wasn't exactly catching fire in front of us. GG's and my laughter got loud, and GG laughingly blurted out “What the fuck kinda fucked up song is that?” and I found this hilarious, as did he. The fact that it was open ridicule, made it all the funnier. His last remark, in fact, GG had directed more at Rob and Al, in a derogatorily heckling way.
     Rob snapped. All of the late frustration in Rob's mind geysered to the surface. He spun, grabbed a mic stand down near its base, and picked it up like a javelin, over his head and pulled it back about to throw the deadly spear - right into my chest. I saw where he was aiming. GG and I both yelled as though our car was about to crash, and scrambled to get out of the way. {Yes, folks, GG Allin was once terrorized by someone wielding a mic stand toward him, before he ever did it to anyone else! Rob can be proud of that, if he likes – I would be!} Rob's eyes were locked on mine, with fury and hatred. He wanted to kill me – he wanted me Gone. Had he fired that javelin, I'd've been a hurtin' bastard – if not dead; but he held his fire. “Jesus Christ!” GG proclaimed.
     In this way, then, I was momentarily the focus of Rob's rage – at GG.
     Almost immediately, GG and I were in my van going around looking to start a whole new band – Rob and Al were out.

Close Call # 12 Caught Off-Guard In The Park

Circa sometime in the era of '85 – '90; guess: '86? That was my drunkest year in the ' 80s, probably.
I was drunk enough to make the mistake of walking, alone, into Prescott Park in Portsmouth, well after it was wise to do so, without purpose, at around 1, 2, 3 in the morning. Let's say it was about 2. It was just a bad idea, to stroll into the park and plop down on a bench, smoking a cigarette and gazing at the river and the lights of the Navy Yard on the other side, glimmering on the rough and rowdy surface, as though it were a fine afternoon. It was fuckin' two in the morning, and I was completely oblivious to my surroundings. In other words, a sitting duck.
     My error was made manifest – and all of my defensive and survival skills switched back on – in other words, I was woken up – when a young man appeared before me, standing about five or six feet away, right in front of me, and making small talk, while his eyes danced nervously around the park behind me. Oh, shit. You idiot. You don't come here alone this time of night, you drunken fuck. Okay, time to get the fuck out of this fix – you're in a fix. Now, get out of it, and get the fuck back to Kittery where you belong.
     I knew that his glances behind me were a silent communication between he and some others who were readying for an assault on me.
     I think the guy asked for a light or something, and as my suddenly awakened mind worked on finding the survival solution, he kept me talking and – he thought – totally focused on him, as his cohorts approached from behind. By the way the attack was being carried out, I knew that this little crew was a step up from just a stupid gang of ruffians. They were wary and executing an organized attack. They've got their wits about them. Good. Reading the guy in front of me, I knew that he thought he had me, he thought I was drunk and ignorant enough to be completely unaware that he was in fact an attacker – and, especially, that he had friends on my blind side. So, he was confident. I could also see that he was relatively clever, no third-rate dummy. Good. With such a crew, such a leader, one could play chess. It's harder to outwit really stupid attackers, because they have no real wit to play with. They don't fall for anything, because they're too stupid to even understand the question. All they know is they're gonna fuck you up, and no further thought distracts them from doing just that. You can't reason with them. Subtlety is futile. With more intellectual attackers, however, you can engage, mentally. Then you've got a shot. It's just a matter of out-armwrestling them with your brain. Anyone can be tricked – ask any good magician. The smarter they are, the easier they are to lead and manipulate – ask any good hypnotist. They more able they are to see the unseen, the easier they are to dupe – ask any good evangelist.
     I had learned much about survival on the street, first by experience, and then from a teacher, a hood-gangster-genius type who had grown up among convicts and had run and ridden with the baddest bikers {invited to join the Hell's Angels, but didn't want to wear the colors, being a staunch individualist}, and had also spent years with the mafia {the less said on that, the better}. The stunt I used here, to get out of this fix with the crafty attackers in Prescott Park, I learned from him. It's called, 'projecting'.
     I first used my own technique, which was to break the guy's rhythm by suddenly rising to my feet and announcing snappily and strongly, “Well, I'm taking off,” as I took my first step away toward the bridge to Kittery. I saw the surprise and near-panic in the guy's eyes, and read the silent communication he sent to the others, which was a big “?”. I had surprised him, broken his confident rhythm, which confused him. I could hear the others who were ready to set upon me, their steps in the grass. I'd known they were there all along. They were sure I hadn't known they were there, but now none of them were sure of anything, as I began so suddenly to walk away – and I didn't sound or look drunk, all of a sudden, no lame sitting duck, now on my feet.
     This was the moment that I would be attacked, these first few seconds of walking away with my back to all three or four of them. Soon I'd be out of the park, so it was Now Or Never, and we all knew it. They weren't sure, anymore, just what I knew, and it was precisely this condition that I relied on to get me those first few steps. Interrupting their timing, their flow, and surprising them by standing up with a firm announcement and beginning to walk, had been a successful tactic to buy me a few seconds.
     Now, with an impending attack from behind by several attackers, I needed a second tactic. I used what the Bad, street-savvy, rebel mafia gangster taught me.
     Instead of hastening away, as though fearful {which would have triggered their attack, for it would have emphasized my vulnerability}, I actually slowed my walk now, as though expecting and anticipating their attack – and hinting that I was prepared for it. I knew they'd become suspicious of this, being the clever types they were, and I was right.
     What I was “projecting” now, or indicating to them with my body language, was that I was in possession of a very large handgun, and the second I was attacked, I'd shoot every one of them dead. The exaggerated slow pace of my walk, almost halting between each step, as though about to turn back on them, suggested, “Come on, mutherfucker – make your move, and I'll blow your brains out!” I walked like I was hoping they'd jump me – inviting them.
     It worked, they held off; I went home.

[Afterword: Recently, I was watching one of the “Godfather” movies, the scene where Brando is in the hospital and Pacino is anticipating an attack from gunmen. Pacino and some innocent non-gangster are out in front of the hospital, knowing that the hit squad is coming. Pacino tells the other guy to “act like” he's got a gun and is ready for the attack. The shrewd hit-squad arrives, and Pacino and his recruit use this same trick of “projecting” - acting as though they have adequate arms, with their body language – that I have described here. If your attackers are smart enough, it works very well.]