This is the full 33rd 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 33 - Speakeasy (Winter 2011)
It was hard to get back to work after Duke's death, but I didn't have a choice, the world moved on, and I had to move on with it. My next show was with Symbiotic, which was a relief because I actually enjoyed working with them. I never knew what to expect with Silver Spoon, but Symbiotic was always on the up and up, they always followed through on their promises. We worked very well together too, there was trust, and we all got along, it was a family kind of vibe. Since we could only throw parties at Ground Zero every now and then, we branched out to a few different venues. The first place we got into was a warehouse in DC, just off New York Ave, as soon as you get into the city. This place was a different kind of warehouse though, it wasn't underground, it was a club with a liquor license and everything, they just happened to be located in a warehouse.
On the day of the show, I got to DC as early as I could, so I would have some time to drop a few hits and check out the museums downtown. Caylee, Jerry, Enzo, and a few others came with me. We planned to park near the club and then catch the subway to the museums, but that was easier said than done. None of us were really familiar with the subway in DC, so naturally, it didn't take very long for us to get lost. We ended up in a small town outside of the city where the tracks stopped, we lost track of time and went in the wrong direction. We got on a train headed back the other way, but then we ended up in Virginia. By the time we actually got to the museums, it was getting dark, and everything was closing, so we only had a few minutes to check things out, but the day was still an adventure.
We were able to make it back to the club an hour or two before the show to help set up, and there were already people lined up outside waiting to get in. Tonight, my primary responsibility was to work the door, but since the party was legal and most people had presale tickets, this job was much easier to handle than it was at Ground Zero.
My shift at the door went by in a flash, and by midnight or so the place was packed to capacity with a sea of familiar faces.
When the line died down, I was able to leave my post and check out the rest of the party. I wandered around for a while mingling with the ravers and enjoying the music. I got caught up in some great conversations, but at one point in the night, I did get into a bit of an altercation. I am usually very polite and agreeable with people, even when I shouldn't be, but everyone has a breaking point. Ever since I started throwing shows, this thing happened every time I was out, where DJs would come out to me and blab on about their mix or their skills or whatever, and then asked to get booked. I am sure that none of these DJs realized how agonizing these encounters were for me, they just thought they were networking and building their careers. It gets a bit old though, when you have that conversation 20 times a night and are always left with the feeling that people are using you for their own gain. They just saw me as a means to an end, and it was obvious. They never wanted to talk to me about anything interesting, only their new mix and their next booking. They rarely ever even asked me how I was doing. The guy that got under my skin that night was a pretty well-known DJ from DC. He reeked of bad cologne and was wearing a flashy button up shirt, with greasy slicked backed hair. He approached me while I was outside on the balcony talking to a raver, and he interrupted our conversation to brag about how great of a DJ he was. It wasn't long before he started dropping not-so-subtle hints about how he "always wanted to play a Good Vibes show." He was getting on my nerves a bit, especially because I knew who he was and knew that he had never stepped foot in one of my shows, he just wanted to play one. So, I decided to fuck with him a bit.
“You like my shows huh? Which was your favorite one?” I asked.
“Well, I never been out ya know, I just always wanted to play. It seems like you bring good crowds,” he said.
“Oh, I see. It's the crowds you like. Cool, yeah, sometimes there are crowds, when I'm lucky. Have you ever noticed anything different about my themes or anything, or the vibe I try to put out there? Has anything ever stood out to you? Just curious,” I asked.
“You know, now that you mention it you can have some unusual themes sometimes, like conspiracy stuff or whatever I guess,” he said, seeming somewhat confused.
For some reason, his dismissive attitude towards the meaning behind my shows set me off.
“Yeah that's right, there is shit going on in this world, kids starving, innocent people rotting away in cages, we’re all fucking slaves, and I’m trying to educate dumbass bros like you about this shit!” I said, getting louder now.
I wasn't screaming or speaking in anger, I was just smiling and laughing while saying some really mean shit so everyone on the balcony could hear.
We were starting to attract a crowd, but I wouldn't stop, “All you fuckin clowns give a damn about is the next booking, the next time you can look like some hot-shot onstage. Well, guess what? I don't care about your mix or your talent, and I don't think we are a good fit. You don't even have the respect to come up to me and talk to me about something interesting, or even give a fuck to come out and support one of my shows before trying to get a booking,” I said.
The dude stood there with a stunned look on his face, and everyone else around looked at him wondering what he did to piss me off.
“It's rude to treat people like a commodity. I'm not your fucking means to an end, and your music sucks, I heard it online. That's why I never answered the 60 emails you sent me,” I said before walking away.
Maybe I was too harsh on him, maybe he was just the unlucky guy to push a button that has been pushed one too many times. I am sure that the fact that I was trippin balls had something to do with my confidence and level of intensity, but those types of empty and soul-sucking conversations had been wearing on me for a while, it was only a matter of time before I snapped. Also, I felt like this guy deserved everything that was coming to him, he was the type to hang out in VIP rooms thinking that he was above everyone that paid for a ticket, the type that was always bragging and talking about themselves, he needed to be knocked down a few pegs. From that night on, whenever I was approached by a DJ who had an out of control ego, I would fuck with them relentlessly and talk about the news of the day while they were trying to pitch their mix to me. I wouldn't be as harsh as I was with this guy, but I would just totally ignore everything they were saying and talk about whatever I wanted to talk about instead, which was usually something super deep and serious and way over their heads. It made the situation so much easier to deal with, and eventually, they would just walk away from me entirely confused about what just happened. An hour or two later, I spotted my old stalker, Gordon, AKA DJ Psycho slipping through the crowd. Remember, the guy who ran me out of town for a summer threatening to snitch on me? I didn't want to bother starting any drama by getting him thrown out, so I ended up just leaving in a panic.
Later that night, Enzo and his crew met me back at my house with some molly and a few nitrous tanks to keep the party going. As usual, we partied until the sun came up, then around 9 or 10 in the morning there was a knock at the door. My heart nearly exploded, the entire house was filled with thick smoke, and there were a lot of drugs in the house too. I took a peek out the window and saw two dudes in suits holding books. I decided that they were either DEA agents or some variety of religion salesmen, more than likely the latter. I quickly put on some warm clothes and went outside to get rid of them, but instead, I ended up in an hour-long philosophical conversation on my doorstep in the dead of winter. When I greeted them at the door, they cut right to the chase and asked me if I believed in god. I told them that I believed in many variations of god and that I take knowledge from all religions, and that I don't consider myself an advocate of any particular religion since spirituality is too complex for human language to quantify. I was nice and peaceful about the conversation, and so were they, even though we kept on asking questions back and forth. I'm not sure that they had interactions like this very often, where some hippie throws crazy shit like this at them, but they seemed to be genuinely interested in my point of view. They asked to come inside a few times, since it was freezing and we were standing out there for a while, but I wasn't going to let them in the house just in case they actually were DEA agents. After a while, I think they realized that I was just having fun with them and that I was probably on drugs and not interested in buying their bible or miracle subscription or whatever they were selling. Eventually, they excused themselves and went along to the next house, but the conversation was probably just as enjoyable for them as it was for me. When I went back inside, everyone was huddled around the window, they must have been watching my banter with the god salesman outside. “I never seen a motherfucker deal with some Jahovahs like that before,” Enzo said laughing.
A week or so later, I met up with the symbiotic crew to get paid out from the final ticket sales for the DC show and discuss our future plans. The DC party was a success, but that was a big budget show that could only be done every once in a while, we wanted to find someplace smaller and more local to host events on a regular basis. It was a time when good venues were hard to come by, and all the clubs in the city were getting shut down, but with so many people in the crew, it didn't take us long to find a few places.
We still didn't have a ton of options though, so we couldn't afford to be extremely picky. We looked at a few different spots, but we ended up picking one of the most unlikely places for a rave, a small discount clothing store just a few blocks away from Ground Zero. I’m not even sure how we found the place. Even though it was just a store, for some reason the owners had an after-hours BYOB license for hosting live music, which was an extremely rare and difficult permit to get in Baltimore, there were only 2 or 3 other clubs in town with similar privileges. We called the place “Speakeasy,” and within a month or so we were throwing late-night parties in there on a weekly basis.
We could fit a fair amount of people in there once we cleared out all the merchandise, and the place had a small basement and a back alley where we allowed people to smoke. Even though the place was small, it was packed every week. The after-hours permit and BYOB deal was the best thing that we could have ever asked for. I don't know what it was about that permit, but it seemed like it was magic. One night, the cops showed up around 3am and parked out front, there were two cars in a line staring straight at us, so we knew that they were planning to harass us. Instead of giving them the chance, Andrew grabbed the permit and walked across the street to the car and slapped it up against their window. Surprisingly, they just looked over the permit, told us to have a good night and then left.
The place was becoming a staple of the local scene, it was always chill, and there were never any cops after that strange encounter. It really seemed like we had a bright future there, then one night it ended as quickly as it began. That night, when we got to the club the doors were still locked, and the owners of the place weren't answering their phones, but we didn't think much of it because they were late almost every week. We got worried when people started showing up, and we had a line of at least 50 ravers on a side street, most of them fucked up from whatever party they were coming from. The owners never did show up to open the club for us that night, and they never answered their phones either, they just left us to sit on the side of the road in the middle of Baltimore with a truck-load of sound equipment on the sidewalk, and nearly 100 fucked up ravers.
The reason for their disappearance or the closing of the Speakeasy is still a mystery. That night we just moved the show to Ground Zero, since it was only a few blocks away, but the cops followed the convoy of ravers there. They never did anything, but they staked the party out from across the street all night, so we decided to give the warehouse a rest and let it cool down for a while. Symbiotic was going to take some time off to search for new venues, and Good Vibes was more or less on hiatus, so once again my future was hanging in the balance. It was a hard time for me, things were going south professionally, and I was having serious money troubles too. I hadn't been able to consistently make money on shows since I left Galaxy. It was even hard to make money hustling outside of there because the stakes were so much higher and things were much more dangerous, which caused me to be extremely careful and make very few sales. In the glory days of Galaxy, I didn't have to drive with anything or keep anything in my house if I didn't want to. I could just walk into the club, pick up the pills and walk around the club selling them, and leave with nothing but a stack of cash. When I was forced to hustle outside of the safety of Galaxy, I was actually really terrible at it, mostly because I was so overly cautious. I would never meet anyone in public, I refused to deal with any new people, I would never say anything on the phone, and this drastically reduced the amount of money I could make. Meanwhile, Enzo and his crew would break all these rules and more and would end up bringing in thousands every day. I couldn't do that shit, and after a while, I felt like they began to resent me a bit for my reluctance to take huge risks, especially Enzo. At one time, the money thing was no big deal between us, but then he started using it as a source of dominance over me. He would always brag about his money and possessions, going so far as to take me out on shopping sprees where he bought a ton of useless shit for himself when he knew I was having problems paying my bills. Sometimes he would just randomly pull out stacks of money in front of me and start counting it for no reason, obviously to rub it in my face. He would do this when we were trippin a lot too, which seemed to be intentional. These antics made my depression about my financial situation worse, and the fact that I worked for him and depended on him for my supply made it hard to stand up and call him out on it. I liked the guy, but I sure as hell didn't want his life, he was always on probation and in and out of jail, and he was probably going to be living with that level of stress forever. No offense at all to drug dealers. I believe those that are peaceful are true freedom fighters that are essential to this world’s culture and economy. I am just not cut out for a lifestyle filled with that much risk, stress, and uncertainty. There was a weird combination of things happening in my life that led me to the conclusion that it was time to stop hustling. Soon Caylee and I were getting married and moving to her family’s property, and I knew it wouldn't be right to bring the troubles of this world to them. I was also making a ton of progress writing my book, and I planned on going public with it soon, but I was writing some very controversial things about the drug war and the government, which was sure to put a target on my back. I knew that once my book was published, I would definitely be on the radar of the “powers that shouldn’t be,” and if I was still selling drugs, it would be very easy for them to take me out of the equation.
Around that same time, Andrew, one of my friends from the Symbiotic crew, got me a steady job stocking shelves and driving trucks for a local sound and lighting company. I was getting paid anywhere between fifteen and twenty bucks an hour to carry around stage equipment, which is more than I had ever made at a legit job in my life. With a set up like that, I didn't need to sell drugs anymore, so I decided to stop, but unfortunately, that wasn't as easy as I thought it would be.