category: High School

Adjusting misconceptions

I’ve been following the recent news about Texas sodomy laws and have just been astounded. Seriously, though, isn’t it amazing that this is still an issue? Good Lord… we have certain senators saying that no, he has no problem with homosexuals… the problem is with homosexual acts! Oooooh… that clears it up.

I’d like to think we’ve advanced far enough as a society that sexual preference and practices between consenting adults are no longer issues, but alas, they still are in many states and to many people. “Live and let live” is just too much for some people.

I’m convinced that humans, in general, aren’t happy unless they have something or someone to hate, even if it’s with little or no reason. I remember a time in middle school that I had to write an essay about prejudices. I had a really hard time… everyone else in my class found it so easy to pick out a group to write about, but I had to actually make something up about a group of people and a reason that I felt a prejudice against them. I felt out of place.

That said, I admittedly had an unfriendly attitude towards homosexuals in high school. Throughout my life, I never knew anyone that was outwardly gay. I didn’t feel like I had any bad feelings towards people with different sexual preferences, but when a male from a nearby high school hit on me, a lot of unfamiliar feelings started to pop up.

A friend and I went to a nearby high school to interview for a possible DJing gig for a dance sponsored by the school’s Army ROTC program. A student slightly older than me named Raphael interviewed us. He seemed nice enough and the interview went well. It looked like my friend and I were going to have no problem securing the gig. That night, Raphael called me at home.

The conversation started normally enough. We chatted a bit about the interview, about the types of music to play and such. But a few minutes in, things took a weird turn. “You know,” he said to me. “You’re really attractive.”

A bit confused, I stammered, “Uh… ok. Thanks…?”

“Really. You are. Hey,” Raphael said, “what are you wearing?”

I was getting a bit nervous, but acted confused to cover up my anxiousness. “Huh?”

“Are you naked right now?”

Trying to hide how freaked out I was at the moment, I told him, “Alright… you’re making me really uncomfortable right now. I’m straight, dude.” I really said “dude.”

“Oh, come on. Are you naked?”

“Gotta go,” I said, and hung up. I had to go babysit, but I was a bit flustered, not sure what I was feeling.

We didn’t end up DJing the dance. Raphael never called back, and I didn’t bother to, either. In the months that followed, I told the friend of mine that introduced me to Raphael what had happened. He took it up with Raphael, who denied it. I told my friend that “I don’t want you to do anything to him, I just wanted you to know why we’re not DJing that dance.” But inside, I was angry. Angry with something that was unfamiliar to me, really just because it was unfamiliar. At the time, though, I just said, “I don’t hate gays… but they better not hit on me.” And I used the “f” word a few times, too, always feeling vaguely uncomfortable when I said it.

That was the first (and, I think, only) time that I was hit on by another guy. Honestly, it wouldn’t have been a big deal except it was also my first experience with anyone that was outwardly gay. Since then, I’ve gone to school with, met, and become friends with any number of gay men and women and, thankfully, my outlook has done a 180 versus my original reaction to Raphael. It was because I was unaware that I was angry and afraid. What I went through was no different than what women go through when they’re hit on by a man they have no interest in. But at the time, I didn’t realize that.

It’s been ten years since my encounter with Raphael and looking back, I can’t believe I was that person. I hate the fact that I had hate in my heart because of something as inconsequential as sexual preference. I’m amazed that I somehow thought my rights as a straight person to feel comfortable usurped Raphael’s rights as a gay person to express an attraction to me. It’s all such silly shit we worry about sometimes… and I’m really thankful that time and experience has opened up those areas of my brain that were shut so tightly before. It’s a lot of work to hate… it’s much easier to just let people do their thing.

Perhaps all Representative Santorum needs is some “experience” and some time to process it. Raphael: if you stumble upon this page, you can reach Mr. Santorum at (202) 224-63…

Profane High School Play

During my senior year of high school, I took semesterized English classes instead of regular full-year English. One of the half-year classes that I took was titled “Explorations in Writing.” The class was basically a creative writing class, but was structured much more like a college class than a high school class. As a result, we were allowed much more freedom of speech than usual and our projects ranged from writing short stories to penning and performing plays.

One of the plays I co-wrote had me “starring” as a rapping devil… mighty appropriate, some might say. At least I wasn’t a friggin’ rapping owl. Interestingly, all of the people featured in the play (except for one) are in this “reunion” picture.

I found a copy of the play on my trusty old Apple II compatible. After talking about it with everybody involved in the original play, I decided I had to transfer it over and post it to the web for the world to gawk at and insult.

Enjoy our nameless creation… and notice the total lack of a “Scene 3.”

Characters:
Brian M. as himself.
Jason M. as the Hell Friend
Amy K. as Brian’s girlfriend
Becky H. as the Angel
Ryan M. as Satan and the priest
Amy R. as the counselor, devil’s helper, and a hundred other parts

SCENE 1 — In counselor’s office

(Amy & counselor talking, at the end of the conversation; Amy shows razor blade)

Amy: … and besides the fact he’s depressed because his mother died I found drugs and… (pause) … this in his room.

(Counselor looks intellectual and thoughtful)

Counselor: Why don’t you bring him with you to our next session — it will be beneficial to his well-being and yours.

Amy: (sarcastically sad) Oh!… okay.

(Lights go out, strobe light goes on Brian — he is cowering and shuddering in corner of the room, then he whips out a razor blade and slices his wrists.)

SCENE 2 — At Brian’s funeral

(Brian’s grave is next to his mother’s. People are crying, priest is addressing all.)

(crying & whimpering from crowd)

Priest: Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to unite these two… sorry wrong page.

(action moves to Brian in Hell, in disbelief)

Brian: What’s going on? Where the Hell am I? I can’t be dead.

(Devil appears — same person as priest)

Who are you? What’s going on?

Devil: Give it up — you’re in Hell now, kid,
You wonder how it happened it’s because of what you did.
You can call me S-A-T-A-N,
I ain’t got no friends, but I gots a Benz,
‘Cause Hell is filled with the earthly pleasures,
I find it ironic how some take drastic measures,
To avoid coming here, but yet they give in,
To sex drugs and money while they’re living.

Jason: (strolls in, nods to devil) ‘Sup!

Brian: Jay? Jay? Is that you? You’re… dead.

Jason: Yeah, it’s me. And yeah, I’m dead. Wanna make something off it?

Brian: No… I’m just lost. I don’t know what’s going on, and Mr. Satan here just told me that I’m dead.

Jason: No, man, you ain’t dead! (like Church Lady) You will be, though, if you give into the temptations of SATAN!

Angel: Hello. I’m a Heavenly body.

(sexy music)

Jason: Hey, baby! (looks her up and down) Oops — that’s the kind of stuff that got me here.

Brian: Why are you here?

Angel: I’m here to save your sexy sweet soul, sweetheart.

Brian: Whoa baby! If I didn’t have a girl already, I’d let you do more than that!

Angel: Calm down, stud, I’m an angel and I got man.

Brian: Oh yeah? Who?

Angel: St. Peter! And that’s of no concern to you, Tough Guy! The reason I’m here is to teach you a lesson!

Brian: Oh… really? In that case…

Angel: Don’t sass me. I’m here to help you. So listen up!

Brian: OK, why don’t you come a little closer and talk into my ear.

Angel: That’s it! One more smart remark like that I’ll let you fry.

Brian: (embarrassed) OK.

Angel: Now that we have that straight, you have to make a decision: Heaven or Hell?

Brian: I don’t want to go to Heaven or Hell, I want to go to earth! I’m not good enough for Heaven, but I’m not bad enough for Hell!

Angel: The pleasures of heaven could be at your fingertips.

Devil: Yes but listen to the King of the Underworld,
I’m hot as Hell and I gots all the girls,

(Amy & Amy strut out to devil)

If you join me here enjoy the pleasures of the flesh,
Hot women, hot oils, and LOTS of sex!

(Amy & Amy disappear)

Angel: Don’t listen to that rapping fool, just look what you’re missing out on!

(Amy R. comes out as Brian’s mom)

Brian: Mom? What’s going on here?

Mom: You’re not ready for Heaven. You have not experienced enough. Your eyes haven’t seen the world. I want you to live a good life and then come to Heaven.

(Mom disappears)

Devil: Come on, kid, why would you go back,
When you got hot women all up on your bozack?

(Amy & Amy all over devil)

The best looking women are here, no holds barred
‘Cause Hell is the place that **self-censored**.

(Devil smiles wickedly)

(Amy & Amy exit)

Devil: So, what’s it gonna be, kid?

Angel: What’s your decision?

Brian: I don’t know! It’s too much to decide! I’m not ready for this tough of a decision!

Angel: That’s all I needed to hear, Brian. You’re not set for death yet. I’m going to return you to earth…

Devil: I’ll be damned if I let you take him from me,
He’s staying here in Hell ’cause he’s a stupid ass dummy.

(points to Angel)

Peace, honey, you’re out, catch ya late,
I’m keeping him in Hell and ain’t nothing you can do, babe.

Angel: Oh, is that so.

(smiles, turns around slowly, and bends over)

(Devil’s jaw drops)

Angel: Come on, Brian, hurry — I’m sending you back to earth!

(Angel and Brian run off set)

Devil: Aw! Aw… da-a-a-mn!

(Devil exits)

SCENE 4 — Brian’s room

(Brian slowly wakes up on his bed)

Brian: I’m… I’m alive!

(Amy enters as Brian’s mom)

Step-Mom: (in Betty/Jim voice) Well, hello son. Nice to have you back on earth with us, son, it’s been sixteen hours since you fell asleep.

Brian: It was all a dream? But… but that’s a corny ending…

(Angel does her little fluttering-fly by and waves at Brian — she exits set)

Brian: (smiles) Much better.

Tales from the Yearbook

Way back in 1996 I scanned and posted my high school yearbook entry to my web site. Not a terribly original idea, given that I didn’t really offer up much explanation around it (sort of like the scanned image of a label of longans that I had as a banner for a while around the same time). But recently, good ol’ Matt Wilson posted his and offered up a translation that led to some nice, embarassing stories.

Now I’m biting his idea and doing the same thing with mine… I figure with the text I wrote, there’s got to be some sort of interesting stories hiding in there somewhere.

My high school yearbook entry

Bowling 2:
In my sophomore year, I was on the bowling team. Why only my sophomore year? Remember this story?

Track (2 days yo’!):
I had played baseball and soccer for a number of years as a kid, but didn’t consider myself good enough for either in high school. Since I needed something athletic to do, I apparently thought I could hack track. “They” say that the first few days are the toughest, when they weed out those that can’t take it… well, it worked: they weeded me out. What a nightmare. The only thing in my life that I stuck with for such a short time was my job at AAA, but that’s another story for another time.

SADD 23:
Students Against Drunk Driving. I never drank and never knew anyone that had died in a drunk driving accident, but I still enjoyed my time with SADD, especially during the mock car crash. I believe I first joined because my short-term high school girlfriend did. I know I was bitter when her interview appeared on the local news after the mock car crash but mine didn’t.

Lit Mag 4:
Of the few clubs I belonged to in high school, I liked the Lit Mag the best, mainly because it was headed by one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Moran. He was a hell of a guy, one of those teachers you see on TV that you wish you had… the “cool, eccentric, creative English teacher.” I wasn’t really down with the other students on the Lit Mag, but still had a great time. Unfortunately, I have no clue where any copies of the Lit Mag from that year are.

Newspaper 1:
I was a typist during my freshman year. That’s it.

National Honor Society 34:
I wuz a smart wun.

(Mr. Active, for real, tho’!):
Yes, I actually talked like that. Being the school’s only rapper, I had to portray at least a little of the stereotype.

family:
My mom threatened to kick me out if they weren’t represented in my yearbook entry. She was such a witch.

D—:
My sole significant other in high school. There are too many stories to tell here, but I’ll sum it up this way: we were much better as friends than anything more. She was my best friend for a good two years of high school.

Jim:
Jim was a great guy. I met him through the bowling league I belonged to in middle school and through a mutual friend, Keith. Jim always had some pretty bad luck… when he went to college, he, his roommate, and his roommate’s friend were in a hotel room together. All of a sudden, his roommate’s friend goes berzerk and stabs his roommate in the stomach multiple times, right in front of Jim. The roommate lived, but I’d imagine Jim was pretty affected by all this. I had been out of touch with Jim almost entirely throughout college, up until late 2000 when I found out he hosted a pro wrestling radio show. We met up for the first time in years after his own pro wrestling debut.

Will:
Will was a friend since back in middle school. He was one of my goofier friends and we always got along really well (aside from one big argument we had in Algebra II… over what, I’m not sure). Our inside joke was that Jeff Feagles (then the punter for the Philadelphia Eagles) could probably do better against opponents on his own than with the rest of the team. Why that’s funny, who knows, but one time Will gave me a Jeff Feagles football card as a gift… it still cracks me up when I look at it. He and I talk periodically.

Ryder:
My man… my best man, actually. We shared an interest in horror films and had the same shirt, so naturally we got along. My favorite story to tell about Ryder is the time during lunch when he took chocolate pudding and rubbed it all over his face. He proceeded to yell, “I love poopie!” until everyone in the cafeteria turned and stared at him.

& Lunch crew:
We had some sick puppies at our lunch table senior year. One of the guys had a fondness for making fake used tampons out of napkins with red Slush Puppies and then tossing them on the lunchroom floor.

Rachel:
Rachel was a good friend in high school, though we didn’t hang out too frequently outside of school. She’s the one that made me cupcakes on my 18th birthday, something that really meant a lot during that “the whole world is against me” period. She’s now engaged and living on Long Island.

Charley:
Charley always complained right along with me about being without a girlfriend. Difference is, I had a legitimate beef.

Amy:
Another good friend I’ve unfortunately lost touch with. I called her the “50 Foot Woman.” She was really 5’9″.

Steph x2:
Two of my ex-girlfriend’s best friends. I still talk with one of them periodically, the other (who I did my fair share of flirting with) not at all.

Qwik:
Also known as Dave, the other half of the Lyrical Prophets. We fought like a married couple, but managed to come together to record dozens of songs during high school.

Motion PT:
I was a Physical Therpist Aide for a year-and-a-half during high school. It was a fun job and was where I initially met my ex-girlfriend. One time I microwaved a donut hole (you know, those little donut balls) for something like two minutes. The thing was burnt to a crisp and sent black smoke throughout the office.

all those who always stayed on the real:
“On the Reel” was the name of my mini-record label with Qwik-Cut and “on the real” was one of my favorite phrases, even though everyone I thought it described, it really didn’t.

JDD:
“Junior Dinner Dance” — the Junior Prom. A generally miserable time as my date/significant other was feeling ill. I even got a limo and everything.

Senior Prom x2:
My girlfriend’s senior prom was the first — we broke up three days later. I actually had a halfway decent time, though, because I got along well with all of her friends. I embarassed the hell out of myself on the prom video, but I won’t go into that. My senior prom was a little better, and that’s recounted here.

Florida:
Our senior class trip was to Disneyworld. I roomed with Will (above), Greg, and Dave. We had a good time and Greg ate soap. I remember trying to chase down this one really hot girl I saw in the park one night. No luck.

4 (5?) albums:
One of things that remained constant throughout high school was that I was always writing and recording. And we did get that fifth album out by that summer.

Expl./Writing:
Explorations in Writing, a very cool half-year class that I took senior year with Natalie Gaffin, who was also my freshman homeroom teacher. I remember getting comments back from Gaf about a poem I wrote and rather than making corrections, returning them to her telling her why I disagreed. She was glad I did that and ended up talking about it at parents’ night.

Poetry:
Another great class, this time with Mr. Moran. I actually wrote a paper that quoted Paris (the militant black power rapper) and love poetry by Theodore Roethke. I did well on it.

CP2:
In my sophomore year, I skipped Computer Programming 1 and went right to Computer Programming 2, the school’s highest computer class. Just to show you how sad my school’s computer cirriculum was, we learned on Apple IIe’s. I enjoyed the class, though, because everyone else was a senior… it was very awkward at first, but I eventually fit in.

Am. Minorities:
American Minorities was another one of the great half-year classes that I took. This was taught by a friend’s dad and was so much more interesting than a typical history class. It helped cultivate my interest in the civil rights movement of the 60’s. We took a field trip to Ellis Island, but only walked around the island (we didn’t take any tours or anything), which was OK with most of us.

shores ’93:
I made a number of memorable trips to the Jersey shore that year, including this one.

DJing:
Though it sounds like I did a lot of gigs, I really only had two. One was a party that Qwik and I did together freshman year. The cops ended up coming because the party got rowdy (drunk kids everywhere, people stealing our cassettes, etc.)… oddly, the kid’s parents were right upstairs. I think I made $25. The other time was at another friend’s party where I “borrowed” some speaker equipment from our high school without asking. I returned it safely, but man was I nervous that I’d get caught. I rocked the spot that night and actually made a recording.

Times w/D—:
Self-explanatory.

Dead/Alive:
A very influential movie for Ryder and me in high school.

lunch 234:
Apparently my freshman year lunch table sucked. … Yeah, it did, now that I think about it. No poopie pudding or Slush Puppie tampons that year, I guess.

ups and downs of live & love:
I’m pretty sure this was a typo on the yearbook’s part. Yup, lots of ups and downs… gotta love teen angst.

FUTURE PLANS: “College-Marry for love, not money,- Most of all: stay true to myself and those close to me.”:
Hey, it’s better than “Candlelight shone, shadows distorted, thoughts still cluttered, again how I try…”

Bowling: Still Innocent After All These Years

Growing up, I played a few sports for quite a while. I got pretty decent at both baseball and soccer due to my small size and relative quickness. I even ran track. But that doesn’t really count, since I quit after the second practice (almost as long as I worked at AAA).

I played baseball every year until I got into high school. One year they called me “the white Vince Coleman” after I stole nine bases in a single game (each one three times, including home). Another year, I was batting dead last in the lineup and came up to bat in the bottom of the last inning with two outs and we were down by two with the bases loaded. I cranked out an inside-the-park grand slam to win the game. The next game I was batting clean up. Surely, my finest moment.

My success in soccer was much less, though I wasn’t all that bad. I was generally a defender and even though I was tiny, wasn’t afraid to stand up to guys that were eight inches taller than me and outweighed me by 60 pounds.

Bowling team

Dig those hiked up sweatpants (far left, 1989)

But the sport I was best at was bowling. If you’re going to say, “But bowling’s not a sport!” just shut up for now and pretend it is.

I started by bowling in Saturday morning leagues at Medford Lanes. I bowled with Jason, my best friend from middle school, and we were paired up with two older guys, Ken and Todd. Since Ken and Todd were veterans, we let them decide on the name for our team. The first year, the plan was to be the “Erection Connection.” Scary thing is, we were allowed to keep the name (thanks to Janet, the very cool older woman who ran the league), but our name was never announced out loud. I believe we may have won the championship that year, even though Jason and I were still pretty green.

The next year we teamed up again, this time as “Sexual Chocolate.” We didn’t win the championship, but still managed to do quite well. I even took lessons from a pro during the week. If my memory serves me, this was the year that I bowled my high game and high series. If we were unable to make it on any particular Saturday, we were allowed to pre-bowl earlier in the week and our scores would be counted. One week, I pre-bowled and threw a 231, my high game. The other two games in the series were good enough to put me over 600 (meaning I averaged a bit over 200 per game). I was the only one that could celebrate my good luck, though, since I was bowling alone. In fact, that Saturday there was a big controversy because the opposing team thought I had cheated. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and they realized I wasn’t the type to cheat, but it wouldn’t be the last time that I’d be accused of such at that bowling alley.

Bowling team

The Bitter Bowler (far right, 1992)

During my sophomore year of high school, I joined the school’s bowling team. I was only on the JV squad, but I still managed to do relatively well. If I had kept bowling, I probably would have made the Varsity team the following year… and I would have kept bowling if my coach wasn’t such a prick.

Two or three weeks into the season, it became almost depressingly funny how Mr. Bacon would always come up to me at a match and say, “Are you on the Shawnee squad?” despite the fact we only had nine guys on the whole team. I don’t think he and I ever had a single conversation the entire season, and I doubt he learned my name.

By the time the end of the season rolled around (har!), I was kind of on the fence as to whether or not I’d bowl during my junior year. We closed the season with a match against some other area high school, which didn’t count for a whole lot since we were both middle-of-the-road teams in the standings. The lanes at Medford were acting funny that day, though, where the foul light would go off when it clearly shouldn’t have, so both teams agreed to ignore the foul lights for the rest of the match and score normally. My turn came around and the foul light went off and I wrote my score with a wax pencil on the overhead scoresheet (no electronic scoring then, folks), ignoring the foul. Mr. Bacon came up to me with the coach from the other team and flat out accused me of cheating. He ignored me when I told him that both teams had agreed to ignore the foul lights since they weren’t functioning correctly (and the other team validated this). I couldn’t believe that he wouldn’t even hear my side of the story when he should have been defending me to the other coach. If he had any clue as to my personality, he would have known that I would never have cheated, especially on something as inconsequential as bowling. He pushed the fact enough that I decided then and there that I was done with school bowling for good. He was an asshole to me all year and it culminated on that last day.

These days I don’t bowl a whole lot, though I’ve picked up the frequency a bit in recent months. I still manage to average about 150 and could probably hold my own in a league, but I haven’t joined one. I think the fear of being accused of cheating still looms over my innocent head.

Thanks, Mr. Bacon.

Rhyming at the Prom

I wasn’t exactly the most popular kid in high school, and I’m pretty sure that Matt Wilson would have shunned me, but I did OK for myself. I didn’t really have any enemies, I was pretty quiet, and I got along with most people. In fact, I went to three proms during my tenure at SHS.

Unfortunately, all three were pretty weak.

For my Junior Prom, I went with the girl I was dating at the time. We weren’t exactly the happiest couple in the world, and we ended up having a pretty miserable time. A month later was her Senior Prom. We spent most of the time hanging out with other people and broke up three days later.

So, my Senior Prom came around and I was determined that it was going to be a good time. The original plan was to go with my ex (we had become friends again), but she backed out about a month before the prom (another long story). A friend of mine heard about this and offered to go with me. Her long-term boyfriend (yup) said it was OK with him, so we were set… until she realized that her SATs were the day after the prom (she was a junior). Time was ticking and I was starting to sweat a bit. However, another friend was going through a similar ordeal, so we decided to go together “as friends,” so neither of us would look lame (little did I know that another girl, one that I had a semi-crush on, was going to the prom alone).

Prom day came and we were set. One of the traditions for the proms was that Mr. Steinmetz (a teacher at the school who also did a “morning show” over the loudspeakers each morning) would DJ the prom and also videotape it. Looking back, I have respect for him because he did a pretty damn good job at doing both things. But at the time, I was holding a grudge.

Earlier in the year I had given Mr. Steinmetz a tape of mine to play on his morning show. He played it and proceeded to say how it “sounded awful” and was “a total mess.” Sure, it may have been true, but it angered me, nonetheless.

I didn’t give up. During our senior trip to Disneyworld a few months before the prom, I got his home number from his daughter, who was in my grade. Another tradition of his was to give out his number to a select few people each year during the senior trip and have them call in and leave messages on his answering machine, which he would then play the next morning for the whole school on his morning show. I called up late one night with a freshly-written rap about the trip. When I returned, word around school was that he absolutely loved the fact someone left a rap on his answering machine and that he proceeded to play it six or seven times the next morning.

Back to the prom.

Steinmetz would interview each couple as they walked into the prom. He’d ask their name, who was the senior, where they were going to school, etc. So when my time came, I decided to slightly annoy Steinmetz (and, not purposely, embarass my date). “What’s your name?” he asked. I grabbed the mic, pulled it close to my face and said “Ryan MacMichael. Laze.” [ View the 56k Real Video ]

When we got into the prom itself, I got this weird idea that I wanted to perform. Sure, I had never performed in front of more than a few people (though I was prepared for a battle of the bands that was cancelled), but that didn’t matter. While other students were up at the DJ table making requests for various stupid pop songs, I asked him to let me rap. “I don’t have any music for that…” He was trying to blow me off. I said, “I’m the guy who left the rap on your answering machine from Florida.” He perked up. “Oh! That’s you? That was great!” and he agreed to let me rap later in the night.

Time went on and I bugged him a few times to give me my chance. He kept putting it off. So I decided to pull out the heavy ammo. I asked Mr. LaBrot to bug Steinmetz into letting me perform.

Laze, Rhyming at the Prom

I tore it up at my senior prom.

Mr. LaBrot was a first-year teacher that I had for history. We got along great because he was fresh out of school and into hip-hop. Mr. LaBrot can be seen in the background of this shot. Apparently, this was a good move, because just after midnight I was allowed to go on.

There I was, in my tux (sans jacket) in front of 500 people. Kids I had gone to elementary school with, crushes of years past (and present, at the time), and teachers looking on. I only had a short time, so I asked the crowd to give me a beat by clapping their hands. Unfortunately, they started off way too fast and I said, “Come on, now, this isn’t techno!” and they slowed down. I recited a slightly modified verse of one of my songs called “Styles Upon Styles.” The video footage started mid-verse:

… a universal message with a style that’s all my own,
I told you last record, I’m the lyrical Al Capone,
Mi say, “You stupid punk *” like mi name was Scarface,
But mi not Al Pacino so mi take Carlito’s Way,
I snatch the mic and it’s like a metamorphasis,
People say, “Of course it is!” ’cause the mic is what is forcin’ this
Crazy state that I’ve been put in,
My eyes glaze over and saliva turns to pudding,
Start foaming at the mouth ’cause I’m so excited,
Ready to rock the mic with the band that I invited,
The microphone lord I am, long like an accordian,
Speakin’ of the mic cord, I am, it’s like Freudian,
No lyrical loitering, ’cause I be like enforcing rules,
Ten years gives me tenure in the new school…

* which I edited from “fuck”

Yes, I actually said that I was “long like an accordian” in front of 500 of my peers, while dressed in a tux.

I finished up and encouraged some crowd participation by asking people to “represent” by “[making] some noise” when I yelled out their town.

I think I surprised a lot of people because I was “that shy, quiet kid” up there rhyming like a maniac. When I had rhymed in front of the 8th grade four years earlier, I got similar reactions: “I had no idea that you did that…” Back then, everyone and their brother wasn’t an emcee.

The response was awesome. Being able to watch the video pan across the crowd and see the smiling faces is something I cherish to this day. The fact that these were friends of mine digging what I was doing made it a special, memorable moment for me.

Of course one person had to ruin the otherwise perfect moment. She was a classmate and had helped organize the prom. I heard after the fact that she felt my performance was “inappropriate” for the prom. That’s OK. She was a stuck up, snobby, rich bitch anyway.

My senior prom was pretty uneventful since my date and I only went as friends and spent most of the night with other people, but the minute or two I had to perform will standout as the best memory from the three proms I attended. Too bad I had to spend $150 on each prom to get that two minute memory.

Now… I know you’re dying to see and hear the video, right?

Have at it (low quality 56k streaming).

(If you want a higher quality version, download this high quality version, about 850k.

Sunburnt

The summer before my senior year in high school I went with my best friend to Ocean City, NJ, a typical New Jersey shore town. It was nowhere near as nice as Wildwood, where I spent many a summer at my grandparents’ house, but it was still a good, relaxing place.

During this particular trip, our first trip to the beach together, I ran into some problems as the day went on. I should state here that my best friend at the time was a female and was also an “ex” (a label I don’t much care for). Because of that fact, I was a tad distracted and not really thinking about things like my fair skin and sunscreen. I figured, “Hey, I need a tan. How much do I really need sunscreen?”

Do you see where this is going?

We spent plenty of time on the beach that day, more than I usually did at one time. Around dinner time, we left the beach and drove to a nearby co-worker’s beach house for a little get-together. As the party wore on, I felt my back starting to get a little sore and tender. When it was time to leave, about 9 at night, I was in absolute agony.

My back was burnt. Big time. So my friend put aloe all over my back and we made the drive home. I was grouchy and couldn’t even let my back touch the seat.

Sunburnt back

Click through to feel the pain.

Now imagine this: the next day I left with my family for a trip to New Hampshire. Anyone who’s ever had serious sunburn knows that it takes a few hours for the pain to start, but the real hurting doesn’t start until the next morning. The drive to New Hampshire (yes, the drive) almost drove me insane. By the time we got to our destination, my back was in such bad shape that I couldn’t even wear a t-shirt because any contact on my back sent seering pain through my nerves.

So, here I was, at my dad’s friend’s house in New Hampshire for the first time, walking around all weekend without a shirt on and a severely burnt back. But wait—it gets better.

While there, my back began to blister. And you know what happens to blisters eventually, right? They pop. And when they pop in mass all over your back, the pain is unbearable. Each night I had to lay on my stomach and someone would pour aloe on my back to help ease my suffering. It didn’t help, though. I was miserable for the whole trip. My dad decided it would be a good idea to take a picture (see right, be sure to click through) to remind me to never forget the sunscreen again.

So, now, I pass along to you this extremely gross picture to remind my fair-skinned friends out there on the web: don’t forget the sunscreen. Ever.

Kaycee, Dave, and Bob

No need to talk much about the Kaycee Nicole deal since others have already covered it enough. But Kaycee is far from the first identity hoax on the Net. The Anandtech hoax comes to mind first. But there are a couple that I was directly involved in back in the earlier days of online computing, when it was only weirdos that had modems.

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Dave P….

I started BBSing when I was in 7th grade, about 1989. A year or so after I had established myself as a regular on a couple of local systems, a friend of mine told me that he met a guy in the computer section of K-Mart (which should have been a tip-off of things to come, I think). When I was over my friend’s house one night, he was talking on the phone to K-Mart guy, who also ran a local BBS. He was a very animated personality and was excited that there were a couple of kids with our enthusiasm. I became a regular user on his bulletin board and generally enjoyed it, but noticed some occasional strange things, like different members with extremely similar posting styles (WORDS IN alternating ALL CAPS and lower-case). But I was only 14 and ignorant, so I shrugged it off.

A few months later, this guy decided to have a picnic for the various users of his BBS to meet face-to-face. My parents let me go to this picnic and I was kind of psyched to meet some of the people I had only talked to online. Most of them turned out to be my age, except for Dave P., the enthusastic man who ran the BBS. I don’t remember much about that day, but I do remember him taking a couple of us for a ride in his car. What made this memorable was that Dave weighed in at a solid 450-475 pounds (I was barely 100 pounds) and drove a car that was clearly designed for a much smaller man. He also sweat profusely and had an odd habit of drinking ice water not out of a water bottle, but out of one of those plastic cereal containers.

Anyway. The day was pretty uneventful and things went on as usual. A few weeks later, I was talking on the phone with a guy I knew from online named Scott. Now, Scott was a bona fide oddball in his own right… he was, shall we say, unbalanced. One particular story I remember was when he took his sister’s teddy bear, put a knife through it, and stuck it in the freezer. Why? To piss his sister off. These are the type of people that were online a decade ago.

So Scott proceeds to tell me that Dave P. (the last name is being withheld because the last thing I need to be brought up on libel) was actually an assumed name. Apparently, Scott had run across a newspaper article with Dave’s picture, and he related to me that Dave was a convicted child molester. Scott told me of several confrontations with Dave once he had this information and reported Dave seriously losing his temper. Scott also confirmed my suspicions that Dave had dozens of different accounts on his own system and posted under their guise in an attempt to make the board look more popular.

I backed off of Dave and his BBS. To say that I was creeped out would be an understatement. Dave contacted me once or twice to find out why I wasn’t calling his BBS anymore and I just blew him off and made it seem like I wasn’t really involved with computers at that point.

A month or two later I get this super-pissed off call and it’s Dave. “Let me talk to your parents.” I was a tad confused. “Why?” “Because someone just tried to hack into my system and the phone number he put in was yours. Let me talk to your parents.” Of course, Dave didn’t think first that perhaps someone was trying to set me up. I told Dave to back off, that I wasn’t calling his board and I had no reason to hack it. I also told him I had no idea who did it (though I was 95% sure it was Scott, who I had also stopped talking to).

That was pretty much the last I ever heard from that freak.

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Is it real, or is it Memorex?

Bob Williams…

In 1990/91 I joined up with GEnie, a national online service that was like a miniture Internet. It had shopping, it had communities, it had downloads. Just that most everything moved at 2400 baud. I had a lot of good experiences on GEnie and am still friends with many of the people I met there (including Paul, Terry, Elly, and Mandy), but one person really sticks out in my memory. And I think that most of the previously listed people would remember him as well: Bob Williams.

Bob and I met on the Education RoundTable’s teen section (I was 15 at the time). Bob was a 16-year-old guy from California and though we didn’t have a lot in common, we talked a fair amount on e-mail and in chat rooms. Over a nine month period, he and I got pretty close. That is, until he came clean and told everyone on the ERT that he wasn’t actually 16, but in his 50s.

This really bugged me out in a number of ways, leading me to distrust a lot of people, especially those I met online. Perhaps it was a good thing in that it made me more wary of getting to know people online, but also perhaps not in that it made me more cynical.

Bob and I talked a couple times after he came clean, but at 16, I wasn’t really up to being friends with a 50-year-old guy who had deceived me. Truth is, to this day, I feel sorry for Bob. I don’t think he was sick in such a way that he would be malicious… I just think he had a lot of mental and emotional issues to deal with connected to a mid-life crisis and his 90-year-old mother’s failing health. Since I haven’t gotten to that age yet, I can’t pass judgement, but I would imagine that if you haven’t lived a life you’re proud of up to that point, life might start to become a scary thing. Our mortality is the hardest thing we have to deal with and I think Bob’s case is one that shows how far out there someone can be driven by emotional problems.

I last heard from Bob five years ago when I got a postcard from him after several years of being out-of-touch.

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Because of these two significant identity hoaxes that I was a part of, I was pretty surprised that I was fooled by the Kaycee Nicole debacle. While there were one or two times the thought crossed my mind (breezed right past it, really), I never seriously doubted that there was a girl named Kaycee who was dying of cancer. And there were a hell of a lot of others that didn’t doubt it either (Zeldman, Ev, Haughey, etc. etc. etc.). It truly is amazing how long people can live these alternate identities… so long that they actually become these new personalities.

But don’t worry. I am who I say I am. Just ask the guy who runs the UA Journal or HalfPintMusic.com, they can corroborate my story.

The Easter Sunday Riot — Seven Years Later

How coincidental that seven Easters after the fact, I found articles I had saved about the experience… one of the most bizarre ones of which I’ve been a part.

On Easter Sunday 1994, a friend and I were going to meet at a local teen club in suburban Marlton, NJ to see Doug E. Fresh. I got there, and my friend screwed me over by not showing up (he conveniently called 10 minutes after I left the house), but I was going to stay and catch the show. I happened to run into a girl I knew from elementary school but hadn’t seen since, so I talked with her a bit. She had been in a car accident a few weeks prior and was working the snack bar that night.

Doug E. was supposed to show by about 9pm, but he didn’t. At about 10:30 or 11, some local emcees got on stage to do a sort of local-talent type of thing until Doug E. arrived. By this point in the night, I was hanging out against a wall near the back of the club on the side furthest from the exit.

At about 11:30, a guy in the front row started heckling the emcee on stage and spit on him. The emcee got pissed and threw the microphone at the guy, but missed him and hit the guy’s girlfriend instead. A small fight between the two started up front, but then one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever been involved in started.

Since I could see all the way up to the front and had a good view of the entire crowd (which was up over 400 people by this point, packed tightly), I could see fists-a-flyin’ and a weird wave of fighting and people running that quickly swept from the front of the audience to the back. Everybody in the place was bolting for the door. I felt a sense of urgency, nearly panic, as I edged along the back wall working my way to the exit. The sound I heard as I was pushing and shoving to get out is one I’ll never forget… it sounded like a herd of buffalo coming full steam behind me. I was most worried about falling to the ground and getting trampled.

As I continued along the back wall, I soon came to the snack bar. The girl I knew from elementary school was behind the counter and looked terrified. She saw me and I yelled at her to “come on!” but she yelled back, “I can’t! I can’t! I have to stay… my leg!” The exit was only a few steps away, but I jumped the snack counter to try and help her out of the club. As I stood behind the snack counter, I watched people rush past in a panic. Among them was an angry looking guy who had a wooden chair held over his head, charging our way. I screamed to the few people that had taken refuge behind the counter, “Get down!”

Only I never finished the word “down.” I blacked out for a second and came to on the ground behind the counter. My hat was no longer on my head and my glasses were gone. The girl was on the ground next to me and the glass pretzel machine had fallen on top of her. I looked back and saw a young girl holding her boyfriend whose head was busted wide open.

A chair to the head didn't do me nothin'

Though I don’t know what happened for sure in that span of five seconds, I figure I can pretty safely deduct that I was hit over the head or in the back with that chair. My head didn’t ache and I didn’t have a concussion, so I probably took most of it to my upper back, but enough to the head to knock me out for a second.

I got up and noticed that there was a small break in the crowd, so the girl and I made a quick dash for the back room (the employees-only section). We waited behind locked doors with the four security guards. They had tried to calm things down but just got their asses beaten, being that they were outnumbered more than 100-to-1. One short, but muscular, guard looked particularly bad.

I called home to my dad and said, “Dad… could you come to the club… something kinda’ happened.” I had borrowed his car, but just wanted him to come and drive behind me on the way home since I was so shaken up.

After a while, the ruckus ended, and the few of us in the back went out to survey the damage. The club looked like shit. I remember a huge metal chain (the kind you would see on a small crane) laying on the ground. Broken glass was everywhere, and soda covered the floors. It was tornado-type bad.

I went over to the snack counter to see if I could find my hat and glasses. I found both. The inside of my hat was covered with someone else’s blood and my glasses were nearby. By some miracle, the glasses weren’t broken—just covered with Sprite from the soda machine that had been knocked off the counter. My dad’s car was also OK, which is good considering the newspaper reported that one person’s car had been bashed in with a baseball bat.

There was a weird sense of comraderie amongst the dozen or so of us that were left as we just stood there, in shock at all that had occured. It was most definitely what one would call a riot.

Following is an article that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer two days later:

April 5, 1994
Police report ‘a near riot’ in and around dance club
Heckling at a concert touched off waves of fighting. When was over, seven were injured.

EVESHAM — Seven people received minor injuries and a Mount Holly youth was arrested late Sunday in what police called “a near riot” that erupted at the WhereHouse Club TNT, an under-21 dance club. Thirty police officers needed several hours to quell the disturbance.

The teen dance club and entertainment center at 2000 Lincoln Drive normally holds dances only on Friday and Saturday nights, but was hosting a special Easter Sunday live rap performance. The melee broke out shortly after 11 after someone in the capacity crowd heckled and spat at one of the entertainers, police said.

In response, the unidentified rapper threw his microphone into the audience, reportedly striking a female patron and triggering a brawl that the club’s four security officers were unable to contain.

Township police, who had been patrolling the area since 9:30 p.m. after receiving a complaint about suspicious activity on the adjacent parking lot, called for backup when fighting began in the parking lot and one patron’s car was bashed with baseball bats.

Police units responded from nearby Mount Laurel, Maple Shade, Medford, Cherry Hill, Medford Lakes, Voorhees and Pennsauken, along with three K-9 dogs, to help dispel the crowd. Evensham Police Sgt. Harry Taraskus said the situation was declared under control and the parking lot cleared by 1:30 a.m.

An unidentified WhereHouse security guard declined medical attention for head injuries, police said.

Two teenage boys were treated for minor injuries at Burlington County Memorial Hospital and released. Two men and a teenage girl went to West Jersey Hospital-Marlton for treatment.

Police were later called to dispel a disturbance at West Jersey Hospital-Marlton after another injured male and several of his friends continued fighting at the hospital.

“It took another half-hour to clear the hospital area of the combatants,” Taraskus said in a news release.

Police arrested a Mount Holly youth on charges of assault and possession of a knife. The boy was later released to the custody of his parents, police said.

Douglas Patterson, who owns the building but rents it out, said the dance club had been operating since September without any problems. The entertainment center had a capacity of 400.

“The teenagers in our area, which includes Medford, Marlton, Mount Laurel and Moorestown, are very good young adults in general,” Patterson said. “That’s the reason we’ve been trying to give them a good place to go and have fun, because nobody wants teenagers.

“A couple will always try something, but up until now we never have had any problems.”

Patterson said the club, which is operated by Mark Misty, normally employs six security guards at the Friday and Saturday night dances. Only four guards were working Sunday night because Misty “wasn’t expecting much of a crowd,” he said.

Misty was unavailable for comment.

Lynne Sproule Scheiter, who operates the RAP Room, a teen peer counseling and resource center next door, said the teen club was normally well-run and expressed disappointment at the incident.

“This is exactly what we didn’t want to happen,” Scheiter said. “This is what you always fear when you’re trying to do something with kids. It’s real disappointing. But when you get large numbers of kids, you always have the potential for problems, especially if kids are coming from the outside.”

While the experience itself was one of the scariest things I’ve ever been a part of, it makes for a hell of a good story to tell my grandkids. And it’s given me a few good lines for my songs, too. Silver lining, you know…