This is the full 28th chapter of my book Paper Squares and Purple Stars: My Life as a Rave Outlaw. I have decided to share the whole book here for free. The book is already available for purchase at www.raveoutlaw.com, and the mobile game is coming soon, www.immortalgames.co.uk.
Chapter 31 - Symbiosis (August 2010)
I may have failed on the road, but life always has some way of giving me another chance every time I am ready to give up. A week or so later, I got a call from Stryda, my friend from Shorty's who brokered that deal with Ground Zero the year before. Stryda said that the Ground Zero crew was going to the beach for the weekend and they invited us to come along to discuss a potential project. I jumped at the opportunity, hoping this would be the lifeline I needed to keep my shows going. Caylee and I packed our things and hit the road, and I made sure to bring enough weed and acid to keep my mind right. The Ground Zero crew rented a condo along Coastal Highway in Ocean City, but when we got to town, they were already out walking the boardwalk, so we parked and went on foot to meet up with them.
While we were walking, I swallowed about five hits so I could get my night started early. By the time we caught up with them, I was already feeling the trip coming on, but I played it cool like I always do. I have a game I like to play, where I see how long it takes people to realize I am trippin. Usually, no one ever notices, Caylee doesn't even notice half the time. It is good practice for when you might have to deal with cops while you are under the influence. Also, it is usually hilarious to watch someone's reaction when you tell them that you are tripping balls several hours into hanging out with them. Most importantly though, it creates a more natural experience, because for better or worse, people tend to treat you differently when they know you are trippin and that can sometimes throw off the vibe. We had an awesome day at the beach, wandering around the boardwalk and stopping in various bars, this crew seemed to be more into drinks than drugs. We eventually ended up back at the condo early in the evening where they pitched me their idea. They told me that they wanted to form a coalition between Ground Zero, Good Vibes, and a few other DJs that they knew from the Buzz era in DC, including the local legends Proxxy & Lantern. The plan was to put our resources together so we could throw bigger parties, it was a brilliant idea, and I was totally onboard. After missing out on a position with the Empire Raves crew, I learned my lesson not to be too proud to join another team. We would be able to use the warehouse in Baltimore every now and then, but they also had access to a bunch of venues in DC that were out of my reach before, so it was an awesome deal for me. They needed to get in touch with the newer crowd that I had access to, so it was a good deal for them too. We got right to work planning our first show, we decided to do a Roman theme and call the party “When in Rome.”
It seemed like we made a good team, by midnight we had a full lineup and theme laid out, with a solid plan for the future. We even came up with a name for our crew, “Symbiotic,” which is basically a scientific term for a mutually beneficial relationship. Terence McKenna would often use the word “symbiotic” in his lectures, to describe the relationship that existed between humans and plants, so naturally when someone suggested that name, it got my vote right away. In those days, I would listen to his old lectures for hours and trip out over some of the crazy shit that he said. Some of the things he said were amazing, insightful and prophetic, and others were just crazy. There were some obscure political issues that I disagreed with him about, but overall, he seemed to have the same general worldview that I did, and he was able to explain it in ways that helped me articulate my own thoughts. Most importantly though, he was an inspiration, because his example showed me that it’s entirely possible to be an unshaven, “drug-crazed” hippie and still be an intellectual that writes books and gives public presentations. He also showed me that it was possible to talk about drugs in public without getting arrested, although at this time in my life I was still trying to keep a relatively low profile, but of course, that was becoming nearly impossible with all the noise that I was making.
Anyway, around midnight or so at the beach condo, everyone started to pass out. They were all worn down from a long day of drinking and smoking weed. I was obviously still wide awake though, since I continued munching on that acid throughout the day, so I sat on the balcony for a while, smoking blunts and staring up at the stars in deep thought. Eventually, I got bored with the same setting, so I tip-toed over my friends who were passed out on the floor and silently crept out the door onto the busy streets. I spent a while just walking up and down coastal highway, people-watching and drifting from thought to thought. I remember becoming convinced that I could see people’s auras as they were walking by, and maybe I could. The visuals were extremely convincing, and the colors of the auras seemed to fit the personalities of the characters that I saw on the street.
When my mind required another change of scenery, I walked towards the beach to take a break. I took off my shoes and walked through the sand until I found a place to sit down and smoke a joint. As I sat there and gazed off into the horizon, I could see the sun beginning to rise over the waves. The scenery in front of me looked somewhat pixelated, and the sky appeared to be made up of transparent layers, which reflected the burning light of the rising morning sun like a kaleidoscope. At that moment, something hit me like a cosmic force, and I became overwhelmed with emotion. Tears began to run down my face, but I was feeling so many different emotions at once and wasn't entirely sure why I was crying. I was in the midst of a very turbulent time in my life, and I was in deep thought about the future for most of my lonely walk. I felt defeated over the apparent failure of my business, and I was filled with anxiety about the future. I guess you could say that this was a “bad trip,” but I don't really see it that way. I always try my best to embrace these challenging experiences and treat them as opportunities to learn and grow. A bad trip can be a sort of journey or rite of passage, which gives you insight into the distant corners of your mind, and that's what this experience was like for me. Everything was always moving so fast in my life that I rarely had time to sit back and take it all in to make sense of what was happening. It seemed like one day I woke up and found myself at the center of this very intense lifestyle. I never saw my life going in this direction, ending up here, it was all just so surreal. Everybody knew me, I was throwing raves, selling sheets of acid and piles of rolls like it was nothing, but I was still broke and stressed out. I had thousands of people who wanted to be my friend, but I felt like no one knew or cared who I was on the inside, so I still felt alone. It wasn't just Good Vibes and all my troubles in the scene that was weighing on my mind either, this trip went deep into the scars from childhood that I had spent my whole life numbing and running from. That morning I literally had emotion flowing out of me, but it was a cleansing experience that forced me to face my demons. This is the other side of acid, it's not always just pretty colors and obnoxious laughter, this is what many consider the dark side of acid, the trips that make some people never want to trip again. I have always welcomed these moments though, this is the reason I eat acid, the fun side effects are just an added bonus. The trips that challenge your soul are where you truly grow. If you are able to look your demons in the eyes, there is a good chance that you will have a life-changing epiphany and find out how to banish them. Of course, I did not entirely shed all my baggage there on that beach. I'll be dealing with my mental problems and the normal stresses of life until the day I leave this earth, but I gained a new perspective on the struggles that I was facing, which opened up a new path to healing. I realized that even though I could blame some of my problems on the cops or the people who screwed me over, there were also many ways that I was holding myself back. I could see how I was undermined by my own ego many steps along the way. It wasn't that I was arrogant or some kind of ego-maniac. In fact, I have always had very low self-esteem and a massive fear of failure. For me, toxic ego manifested as an internal threat. Instead of treating people poorly and acting superior, I just made terrible decisions because I was overly confident in my ideas. Even worse, I professionally isolated myself because I was afraid of someone else taking up my share of the spotlight. In my defense, I did have some bad experiences with shady people that left me guarded, but my suspicion of everyone had held me back, and I needed to get over it.
Something else that came bubbling to the surface of my mind in that session was my excessive drug use, which wasn't really dangerous since I wasn't drinking or taking hard drugs, but it was a drain on my productivity. All those hours that I spent partying during the week could have been spent writing or working on new opportunities with investors and venues. I don't think there is anything wrong with using psychedelics on a regular basis, even recreationally, but at the same time, they are very powerful tools that should be treated with respect. I knew that I needed to find a better balance between the responsibilities in my life and my extracurricular activities. Some mystics seek enlightenment through a starving of the senses and a rejection of pleasure, as the legendary monks do. Others, like myself, seek enlightenment through an overload of the senses and an embrace of pleasure. There is value in both paths, but they each require a balance. For example, a fasting monk will die if they don't balance their quest for purity with their need for physical sustenance. Likewise, it is crucial for those of us on the path of pleasure to keep our lives in order and not let our curiosity and thrill-seeking get in the way of our higher goals. I could see myself beginning to fall into that trap, where I was allowing many of my responsibilities to slip, and I wasn't living up to my full potential. I sifted the sand through my fingers contemplating the role that I played in my own misfortune, and the moves that I could make to reverse it. I began making vague promises to myself about how I was going to improve my life. I would cut back on the drugs and focus more on my work. I would try to make amends with my family. I would write at least 1000 words every day before I did anything fun. I would stop trying to take the world on by myself, and I would build bridges with other crews. I was deep in thought, in my own little world, but in the distance, I noticed a few families setting up their sun-umbrellas and beach chairs for the day, which meant that my religious experience was over. I decided it would be best to get back to the condo before everyone woke up, and before some cop saw me and started asking questions.
The next morning was another one of those awkward breakfast outings where I sat and watched everyone eat as I drank a glass of orange juice. The only thing I had to eat all weekend was ice cream. After breakfast, we hung out at the beach for the rest of the day before we went our separate ways and left for home.
All the planning for the first Symbiotic party at Ground Zero went surprisingly smooth. I guess things were a lot easier because we had a full team. I was used to doing everything myself. Everyone in this crew was extremely focused on the production value of the shows, and they were very knowledgeable too. It was a great set up, we each brought different elements to the table that were needed to create the perfect rave. The week of the show was busy, we spent a few days setting up elaborate decorations and making preparations at the warehouse. This crew went all out with their decor. There was a massive scenic mural that was painted on a giant canvas that stretched across an entire wall, and large columns on each side of the DJ that extended to the ceiling. Silk and lace was hanging from the ceiling, and vines were scattered throughout the warehouse.
The whole building had a legit Roman feel. I didn't have much skill in the art department, so I offered to be the doorman for the evening. When it comes to warehouse parties, being a doorman isn't nearly as simple as it seems, there is a lot more to it than just taking people’s money and slapping on wristbands like you would at a club. At a place like Ground Zero, you need to be on constant guard, looking out for cops, and muggers, while making sure the ravers get inside the building as quickly as possible without being seen. I would crack the heavy steel door open every two minutes or so to poke my head outside and check for incoming ravers or potential signs of danger.
We didn't allow anyone to congregate or lineup outside, instead we brought the line into the garage of the warehouse and shut the door, which was always locked from the inside, no one got in until I opened the door for them. If I poked my head out and saw anyone in the parking lot, especially if they were doing something dumb like blaring music or cracking glowsticks, I would run out and drag them into the garage to give them a lecture about how they need to act more like outlaws before letting them inside. I think my approach was more hardcore than most, but that kind of vigilance is precisely what an underground warehouse party needs, so my actions that night cemented my place as the official Symbiotic doorman. For some reason, I felt safer if I was controlling the perimeter of the building, but don't think for a minute that this stopped me from partying or hustling. I could still manage the tasks at hand with a few pills in my system, and I still had a team of runners happy to take a ten pack from me when they walked in the door. The party was packed that night, everyone from Galaxy came, and a ton of people from Philly too, including Enzo’s crew and most of the people from God’s Basement.
Kody even showed up fresh out of jail, he ensured me that he didn't snitch and took full responsibility for being careless back in North Carolina. I told him that he didn't owe me anything for the pills since Enzo let me off the hook for the loss in good faith. There were a bunch of other people I didn't recognize too since all the crews involved were bringing our crowds together. It was a sold out show that night, but we kept on letting people in, we didn't want to turn anyone away. It wasn't dangerously crowded in there or anything, it was shoulder to shoulder but nothing unusual for a rave. The heat did get intense in there though, it even broke an industrial strength de-humidifier that we rented, but people didn't seem to mind the temperature. I was working the door all night, so I missed the whole party, but from what I gathered it was great. Everyone that passed me on the way out had a smile on their face, and most of them were in costume too. At the end of the night, clean-up was a little bit rough, but mostly because I was used to having a staff for that. When it came time to count out and split up the money, we made a decent profit, but with so many people in the crew and the money being divided so many ways, each of us went home with less than a hundred bucks. The show may not have made much money for me individually, but it was the first party in about a year that left me feeling halfway decent about myself and the future of my career, this is what I needed.