It was so show biz there. The side no one talks about. The kind of people Perez Hilton would never draw gonads on. At one point I was hanging with a legendary weed dealer (though that’s virtually legal now), a wholesale hashish dealer (“By the pound only, $3,600”) and a music journalist turned bank robber and now, paroled, a music journalist again. Well, a heroin dealing music journalist. I didn’t know that at the time, but writers all need that day gig. And I really liked the guy’s writing. The best of it he wrote in prison. All that spare time. He’s dead now though, a car accident. I liked him, but it was for the better. I hate heroin dealers. Come to think of it I have known two bank robbers, one that writer/heroin dealer/dead guy I mentioned, the other a musician. He was paroled and became a history teacher. A poetess I know was a heroin dealer. I lost track of her. It’s best to lose track of heroin dealers. It’s best to lose track of heroin addicts, too, but only because they steal your stuff and break your hearts. Dealers sell their souls to deal, it goes with the gig, they sell their souls to steal other’s. A fucked up biz. But I digress….. Let’s see, I hung out with Panama Red once at a politician’s house. He sells computer hardware now. A crazed amazing drummer I know got into the meth trade, freaked out, dumped all his guns off at a sheriff’s station because he was being followed by black helicopters and later found Jesus, became a preacher, and a damn good one. We let him preach at our 20th anniversary party and all the punks and freaks hated it. Hated it. It was beautiful. Then he beat the living fuck out a drum kit. Punk rock, baby. I knew a defrocked chemist who’d made acid for the hippies in huge quantities and then, queer as a three dollar bill, brewed meth for the boys in his kitchen upstairs, He had to be careful, he said, or he could blow up the whole building. He’s probably dead by now. AIDS, overdose, heart attack, whatever. Then there’s the defrocked Academy Award winner who must have done something illegal at some point, it’d be too romantic not too. There’s so many of these guys, too many to write down here. I had a boss who got strung out on meth and wound up dealing it and they say hustled himself around too. A bass player I played with got strung out on smack and wound up a whore in drag. The saddest story I know. I wrote about that already (“Raji’s”). And there’s a war hero in Viet Nam who cracked up, joined the Weather Underground and eventually got popped on a Greyhound bus with a duffel bag full of marijuana. Wound up in a cushy prison which did him a world of good, since he’d been crazy most of his life. Used to be he wouldn’t shake hands with anybody, and was forever at the sink with the soap and water. I liked him though. War fucks with war hero’s heads if they have to kill a mess of people at long range, people you look at through the scope, pull the trigger, and watch them die. Hard to tell what’s war and what’s murder. He couldn’t and the devil ate him up inside. I’m digressing again. A bandmate of mine once served on a chain gang. That was different. He also bit off a guy’s ear at a night club but that’s another story. Besides, it was only part of an ear, and the asshole was asking for it. Now he’s a rich kid Van Gogh. Lots of time people ask for it. This big lug of a guy I know, a real sweetheart, beat a little guy to death in a bar. The little guy was asking for it. A couple years worth of involuntary manslaughter, they said. Kind of like what happened to the father of a tough kid I knew. Pop was a boxer and killed a guy in a bar. One punch. That guy had it coming, too, but he was a cop. You don’t kill cops, so pop got a life’s worth of manslaughter. But I didn’t actually know him. I did know a pianist who got life for murdering his wife. Lost track of him, though. Good player. Another guy I know gave his buddy a little too much smack and the dude turned blue and died right there. That was murder. So he shot himself up a fatal dose and died there right next to him. Sort of an accidental murder-suicide thing. He was a lovely guy too. Not so lovely was the odd little queer we hung out with one night, he and his partner and bong loads of weed. Hollywood is full of odd little queers and their partners, though this one seemed a little odder than usual. Later that weekend he cut his partner into chunks and stuffed the chunks in a garbage bag and hid the bag in his closet and then flew to Mexico. A vacation, he said. They caught him. But that’s so disturbing I wish I hadn’t remembered it. But I’m glad I remember the one legged jazz fusion tuba player who ran numbers for the mob…I always wondered if he ever walked into a bar and the bartender said sorry, we don’t serve one legged jazz fusion tuba players in here. And then there’s the drummer/drug dealer/gangsta rap recording engineer I met at a party who took two bullets in the skull at point blank brain for some reason he would not elucidate. Now he records jazz. I became a jazz critic. My friends were appalled. How could you? they asked. I’m not sure, I said, it just happened.