So Candy and Cigarettes has decided to start publishing work by other writers. Submission guidelines are--it shouldn't be that long because we sorta hate reading, and all stories have to be about Joe.
Readers of this blog know about Petersen, who's as close to a father as I have. Pushing 70, with balky knees and radical political sensibilities, Petersen chain smokes Merit Lights, farts at will, and is perhaps the last man in America who sports a mustache in earnest. But he is also a helluva guy and a good friend.
And he's got a kid of his own, Dylan. Dylan is 16, and I've always thought of him as a little brother in a way, even though I spent most of his formative years a drug addict, schlepping along the mean streets of San Francisco, 3,000 miles away. And there may have even been a little sibling rivalry, because I stole his dad's time and attention.
Anyway, recently Dylan had to write a paper for class on who he "Knows and Admires." I am pretty honored that he chose to write about me, snarky sarcasm and teenage angst notwithstanding. Holden Caulfield would be proud.
Below is his essay, which Dylan has given me permission to reprint.
It just may be the most accurate account of my life to date.
(I've tried to edit as little as possible, leaving as much of Dylan's original vision as I could.)
Joe Clifford, the man whose arms could pick up the world but whose brain is no [bigger] than an atom, well, at least that is what I tell him. In reality Joe’s thought process could be comparable to someone of great stature in the world. In his late 30’s Joe has been from his farm town home to hell and back to now find[s] himself as the great writer in disguise of San Francisco bound for fame in his music or writings. Yes, again, at least that’s what he says.
In his early twenties, holding a piss poor job at a local community center, Joe felt he needed to leave and escape from his reoccurring day to day deja vu. He did just that moving to San Francisco where he would seek a fresh start. While some would call this fresh start a disaster, for soon Joe would be flirting with the devil. It began when he was introduced to the wrong people and he began hanging out at a place called Hepatitis Heights, an area so dirty that you go in clean and come out with nothing but a skeleton and herpes. This is where the airplane of Joe’s life took a crash landing right down to the coldest place on the planet. An average everyday adult had now turned into a junkie with nothing but a needle and a schizophrenic girlfriend to accompany him on his cloud. After years of abuse he finally took a trip down to rock bottom and had a conversation with Lucifer. I guess the devil and Joe didn’t get along too well because Clifford walks the earth somewhere today. He decided to wipe the skin off his shin and take a shave. Before you know it Joe was clean and moved back into town.
My Father was Joe’s boss back in his late teens/early twenties and Joe looked up to my old man. He looks at my Dad as his Father since he and his Dad didn’t see eye to eye. Clifford and my Dad stayed in touch all through his drug years and my Dad was still there for Joe after his downfall. Although there are many aspects of the guy’s life I will try to avoid, in a way, I look up to Clifford and think of him as the older brother I never had since he and my dad are so close.
Nowadays, Clifford still lives on a cloud, although this one supports his meathead weights, allowing him to think he is a big shot in Berkley. I always want to tell him he’d make the world’s greatest stand up comedian but he’s extremely passionate about his writing and is determined to make it, whatever that means. He now incorporates his writings into music and writes his own songs, thinking he is the next Elvis Costello. Although I think he sounds more like Justin Bieber. Like Joe or not, you have to give the man credit for his life turnaround and his unique writings. One day when he is famous I won’t raise an eyebrow[;] in fact, it puzzles me his work isn’t there yet. Just like he never gave up on himself, he won’t sell himself short with his passion for writing. The airplane of Joe Clifford’s life is in the air as we speak and who knows where it will land next. Knowing Joe though, it will probably end up in the back parking lot of a strip club.
Submitted by Dylan Petersen
There's really nothing I can say after that, Dylan. Except Thank You. And Fucking Awesome.