The Boys of Belvedere: Dave2 & In Whose Interest
So for this latest round of submissions my agent suggested we change the title from Junkie Love. Part of the opposition we've met has to do with the subject matter. Universally, the writing has been praised, hailed, extolled... They've liked the writing but have been apprehensive that yet another book on drug addiction can sell. Of course, the book isn't really about drug addiction; it's about growing up. It's about a white farm boy from a little town with big dreams who hits the city, loses his band, watches the needle... well, you get it. I don't know much, but it's damn good book. Anyway, my agent thought we should change the title. Which we did for this last round. It is now The Boys of Belvedere.
And it is a fitting title, since this is where is all starts. Well, not really. There's a bunch of shit that happens first, like what my lousy childhood was like and all that, but for the sake of the memoir, it begins in San Francisco at a house on Belvedere Street.
I like lists. It appeals to my meticulous nature, I suppose. It's why I like editing so much, compartmentalizing. So for this next series, I think I will give some brief character studies and face time to the folks at that house. Sometimes I will change the names. Sometimes I won't.
Let's start with Dave2.
We called him Dave2 because there were lots of Daves, just like there would later be lots of Toms. But I didn't know these other Daves. I heard one played in a band with Dan Jewett, whose band I just joined. I think we were called Puddle or Scooby Snacks or some other goofy name. This other Dave played in a band with Dan before I got there called the Himalayans, which would morph (without Dan) into the Counting Crows, so there was a little musical buzz going on at that house.
That house was 23 Belvedere. And I'd never seen anything like it. I'd broken up with my girlfriend, had been looking for a band when I found Dan in the SF Weekly, and he brought me to that house.
I don't want to rehash too much, since I covered this house enough in the memoir that we named the book after it. But Rick Springfield ain't playing a show without singing "Jessie's Girl," and I can't talk about San Francisco with talking about that house.
One of the odd things about writing involves your going back and finding what's available in the memory microfiche, these little celluloid snippets that play in your head, say, when you think back to 1978 or '83 or '92, what surfaces. Some play muddled, muted, others crisp, vibrant. And oftentimes when the event itself is occurring for the first time, you know how deeply it is about to be engrained. 23 Belvedere was that kind of place: the holes in the wall and vomit on the ceiling, the fires that had been started, dishes that were never going to be washed, the empty Jim Beam bottles, and the long-haired hippy haters. There were no bedrooms, only places to crash. The words "merry pranksters" would come to mind, except that I'd probably be punched for eve suggesting it, because nobody at that house liked Ken Kesey or anything to do with San Francisco's '60's reputation. At least not like that. These guys were troublemakers, agitators, not looking for the spotlight, just pushing that most noble of pursuits: art.
Maybe it was because everybody was 23, or that it was in the early (i.e., fun) stages of drug use. The problem with drugs isn't that they don't work. Quite the opposite, and before they start sucking the life out of you, drugs are a lot of fucking fun. Guys like me, I couldn't stop. But for most, you can do drugs on the weekend, get a little nutty, and you get some fucking good times out of it.
Sorry. Got a little sidetracked. Damned fucking stream of conscious.
This was supposed to be about Dave2, and, dammit, it is going to be about Dave2.
Dave2 is probably the smartest guy I know. Certainly the smartest guy in rock 'n' roll. Reminds me of Tom Morello (without the shitfuck rap/rock fusion). Knows more about global politics and the dogs of war than anybody I ever met.
Interestingly, I probably got to know Dave2 best after I got sober. I mean, I knew him. I'm sure we talked about stuff, maybe even politics, but I was so fucking high in those days I barely knew what planet I was on. I remember Dan, Rich, Mike, John Wayne Newton. And John. And of course Darren/Brian. (And this weird guy Andy, who always wanted to go to museums. He'd be all, like, "Hey, guys! Wash the puke out of your hair and get dressed--there's a new exhibit at the MOMA!") The girls, Tracy, Sydney, Carolin, Sam. Dave2, not so much.
But when I got sober, I discovered this new thing, the Internet, and somehow Dave2 and I reconnected. (I really don't know how I found all these people again. This was pre-Facebook. I was in CT, back in school, and hadn't seen these guys in years. Probably Dan.)
So Dave2 and I would talk via e-mail. This was 2001, just after 9/11 and Iraq and all that, and like all ex-junkies I was raging ageist The Man and government. Stupid, immature viewpoints, mostly. Not that they weren't grounding in some reality. I mean, if you look around and aren't outraged that you pay more in income tax than Exxon, or that the richest 400 people in this country have more money than half the United States, or that kids sleep in abandoned freezers down by the river, then you don't have a soul. But this is a vast topic, hard to put a finger on, store the vast wealth of knowledge. Or me and my amphetamine-riddled brain couldn't.
I remember I was having a political debate with a Republican classmate, and this guy was pretty smart, knew all these stats and numbers to support his views. I was getting killed in these conversations. Then I asked Dave2's helped. Mutherfucker is a walking/talking politico tome. Within a day (with Dave2's help), I'd bitch-slapped that classmate down.
I had read some Chomsky in rehab, Deterring Democracy. And it was pretty overwhelming. I liked a lot of the quotes, like "The capitalistic ethic treats freedom as a commodity. It is available in principle; you can have whatever you can afford to buy." Because I am a writer. I like words. Dave2 actually understands them.
I am not going to try to summarize Dave2's brain, summarize what he knows. Because I can't. And he can do it better. So But I am going to link a film he made that just might change your life. Or at least your views on some stuff. Or maybe it will only reinforce what you already think, or make you mad. Either way, it will disturb you, which is what all great art should do.
IN WHOSE INTEREST? http://vimeo.com/5402070