top of page

The following entries are meditations on the experience of what one may call, "a canceled life". They explore a transformation of a being into a perceived non-being, the terror of a call-out, the effects of being publicly shamed, the day-to-day of disgrace, my shame of doing things I've done, my anger at being accused of doing things I did not do, and the existential confusion of it all.

This writing is not only something I do to cope with the constant haunting of a single saga in my life (which is described in "The Details" section), but it's something I hope others in similar situations can find helpful. There is no intended order, I just add them as I write them.

Robin stood in front of an audience of 40-50 people, about to greet the crowd gathered for her screening of Ken Russell’s The Devils. Robin described the film in the press release as “A film about unrequited love, religious hysteria, blasphemy and political persecution”. I had encouraged her to overcome her stage fright by delivering a short intro to the film. She stands in front of the screen, nervous.

“There were many great movies made in the 1970s, there was Straw Dogs…” She froze, paused, mumbled something and then walked away. I was unsure what was happening, maybe she was going offstage to grab something? But then she cued me to start the film.

I found her downstairs in the lobby, pacing and embarrassed, but laughing. Her mind had gone blank in front of the audience, but she at least found the humor in leaving it at: “There were many great movies made in the 1970s, there was Straw Dogs.”

We went back upstairs and watched the rest of the film, holding each other for warmth in a building without heat.

Want to hear one of the worst things I’ve ever done?

I saw Kay kissing another guy shortly after we broke up but were still fucking, fucking the night before, in the dirtiest of ways because at that point, why not. I scaled the building somehow, I think I grabbed wires, hopped onto fire escape, and climbed up to her second floor studio window. I knocked, breaking their embrace. She let me in. I confronted them, holding in a rage. I remember asking them to at least wait until I moved out, I told them I still loved her. I told him that Kay and I had just fucked the night before, Kay told me to shut up, said I was disgusting. My mania must have scared her. I couldn’t handle seeing her kissing him, I didn’t even understand why, the heart of my brain forever confused by the mother who leaves, returns, tells me “someday I will understand love” as she leaves, returns, has the car set on fire up by her ex-convict boyfriend, leaves, I don’t understand my heart/dick, I can’t figure out XXXXX Section deleted because scarecrows shouldn’t talk about their own history of being abused; they will say that’s why you have a predilection for predation, that’s why you grew up to be a bad man, a bad kid, in high school, working at Big Dogs Sweatshirt Co, loving fucking, everyone fucking in the mall, everyone in high school fucking in Big Dogs. The store I worked at specialized in sweaters to be worn too big. Huge sweaters were a thing in the late 1990’s, at least in Niagara Falls. I worked with a young woman, a year or two older than me, she lived downtown, nice, gorgeous and tough, always swearing and talking shit. She didn’t finish high school and I wanted to fuck her, and we hung out once and she offered me heroin and I got scared. I was way too musical theatre for this girl, in over my head. I think I’m harder than I am; mostly, I like chilling out, just a slime-encrusted bonehead with comedy and tragedy mask tattoos, an abuser who never abused (pairs well with those who want to have an abuser without having to be abused), who watches too much hockey (and is a liar), struggles to write this (and has exploited people), goes to bed early (and is a maniac with abandonment issues who absolutely loves fucking) and I never identified as a “survivor”, but I’ll start identifying as one if I overcome being accused of being an abuser. My Accuser > My Abuser.

What an ugly thought. So much ugliness. Ugly to cheat on so many partners; Ugly to lie about it; Ugly to be so out of control that it can scare people; Ugly for accusers to abuse the word abuse; Ugly to cloak vengeance behind moral duty; Ugly for a shitty lover to call on the nuclear solution of a call-out to ensure the other shitty lover alone suffers the consequences for a shitty relationship; Ugly if accusations were made as a way to absolve oneself of their own complicity and guilt; Ugly to tell someone you hope they kill themself and die alone; Ugly to rally others to shun, dehumanize and destroy a human being out of personal vendettas and shits and giggles ugly to peepee on the couch after a dance party to harass and threaten friends and loved ones if they don’t come out against the accused to combat your struggles by erasing a less powerful surrogate fake your suicide to keep your lover from leaving you love them when you are just afraid to lose them call and text someone you treated like shit beg them fuck your mistress in your girlfriend’s bed to omit details when you know they would weaken your argument not take enough accountability because you are just too angry and feel it’s far too late for it’s all ugly, or none of it is in this wild jungle of wonder and muck.

I wish I had never climbed up to Kay’s studio window, I regret doing it, I regret saying those things. I just couldn't let it go. I grabbed his skateboard and smacked him across the face with it. He fell back, knocked out, and I took off his glasses and snapped them in half and stole his wallet. Kay was screaming for me to stop. Then I started hammer-fisting his unconscious head. Kay tried to pull me away, and I grabbed her, lifted her over my head, and threw her out the window, right into a butcher’s dumpster.

No, I'm lying. I didn’t really do all that. I embellished the story to make me seem worse than I am. It’s easily done.

"After a fifteenth-century Indian insurrectionist had been fixed to the stake, his captors extended him the choice of confessing and being set free or be executed and go unrepentantly to Hell. Gathering that freedom meant living among his accusers, Hatuey chose Hell."

- Something Kathy Acker almost said

I moved to Baltimore for the second time in April 2015. I immediately found a 3-floor townhouse on a mostly abandoned block downtown. The first night in the building I slept on the disgusting floor, in a room that smelled like my own shit that I took hours earlier in a toilet that I didn’t realize wasn’t hooked up to the plumbing. A priority on a huge list of things to fix or figure out.

As I curled up in a corner on a piece of memory foam and a sheet, I saw a big weird bug walking by my head, casually, as if to say, “big weird bugs belong here, not you.” I sat up and started crying, more overwhelmed than anything.

I was very protective of the illegality of living in this place, I never told anyone that I lived there. I built a hidden room where I slept on something you might find in an orphanage. There was no shower in the building, so I got a cheap gym membership a few blocks away. No kitchen so I built a make-shift one with mini-fridge, microwave, crock pot, hot plate and rice cooker. No place to hide my belongings until I converted the old freight elevator into my storage unit.

I had to take several walks a day to keep depression at bay, passing by vacant properties. When it rains, downtown Baltimore smells like an old basement, as the smells of the decaying buildings wafts through the air.

I was returning from one of these self-therapy walks one morning when I saw someone sitting against the front door of my space. I assumed it was some junkie, it was, after all, Baltimore at the height of the opioid crisis accelerated by looted pharmacies during the riots. A block away, I had time to deliberate on how I was going to handle it: cool white artist trying to connect with this guy, his problems, the system etc or make myself big, be a dick and tell this guy to get the fuck off my property. I didn’t have to make a decision on that, when I approached him, he weakly waved me over to him, mumbled something and lifted his shirt to reveal some strange pink mass on his stomach. “Help”, is the only word I understood. I now realized that the pink mass was his insides poking out of a 6-inch gash on his stomach. I didn’t notice it at first because there was no blood, just guts protruding out like a prolapsed anus. I called 911, the operator told me to get a towel and press it hard against the wound. Fuck. Ok. I go inside and get a towel, bracing myself for my intimate moment with another man’s viscera. By the time I got back outside, the paramedics had already arrived, sparing me the rescue effort.

When they took him away they explained that the lack of blood was from the sharpness of the knife/cleanness of the cut, and how fast his inside popped out, acting as his own tourniquet. Then two cops seemed to just linger at the scene with me, a white cop and a black cop, I told them I owned the building. They seemed to like that, told me about how great the neighborhood was when there were more white landlords, instead of all the “Chinese doctors” who own them now.

Living in Baltimore from 2015-2017 was like living in a Joe Coleman painting of a melting diseased city on the edge, perps and victims alike on the verge, no telling who is who, and me the con-man hoping to leverage my bullshit role as an “artist” to get money from developers who like to toss artists at the frontlines of gentrification. The truth is, I don’t really care about artists anymore than I care about anyone else (I probably even care for them less). I just wanted to create low-income units in a city oversaturated with both abandoned buildings and homelessness. But nothing was worth it, nothing worked there, and if it looked like something might work, all those for whom it wasn’t working will make sure to slash their own tires and blame you for it.

This was the life that was taken away, and it wasn’t much of a life. There are moments now when I feel stupid for fighting for it, but I felt like I was doing something. I felt a sense of purpose, not power. I didn’t really have any power, I had work. I worked hard for every shiny piece of junk that I lost.

bottom of page