LETTER FROM PRISON
I got your letter tonight. Kinda thought you'd forgotten, or filed me in the circular.
Man, I'm, going through like a major crisis right now. I'm kickin' my Columbian monkey off my back. Haven't had a cup of coffee now in four days, and I'm just now getting where I can handle it. I know, it could be worse. I could be kickin' dope or crack. But caffeine is bad enough. Don't even know why I decided to give it up. Just did. Cigarettes are next. But I thought I couldn't handle both at the same time. So I picked the easy one first. I don't know why I bother, I happen to enjoy cigs. And coffee. I guess I gotta see if I can live with out 'em. Personal experimentation.
O.K. 'Nuff dross and drivel. I found your letter very informative. And I appreciate the time you took to kick that long of a letter.
I remember reading in P.C. #7, that you were a little irritated to say the least, at the assholes that wrote, got a response from you, then shined you on. I mean, we're not in here for being nice, but just cause you're a fuck-up don't mean you gotta be an asshole.
You know, lookin' at you letter, I feel haunted by your comment of being tired of opening up letters saying " I'm a prisoner, please send me..." Very haunting. 'Cause I do remember writing you one of those. Feels like Deja Vu only backward. (I used to know the word for that, but its lost somewhere between a couple of misfiring synapses.)
I'm glad you did decide to open, read, and more importantly, answer my letter. Kinda funny, but I only vaguely remember what I wrote to you. But there's enough references in your letter, for me to figure most of it. I can't believe I actually spoke (wrote) about my plans for ushering the new millennium. (That's assuming I don't get murdered, or escape between now and then.) I don't usually bring that up to anybody. In fact I can only think of one or two people that have ever heard of that. I must have really been stressed out. I'm not actually suicidal. Though I am a pragmatist. And I figure, eventually I'm not going to be able to take these bars anymore, and I'm going to become suicidal. So knowing this, years in advance, I made a curious decision to kill myself before I become suicidal. Yeah, I know. Kinda like cutting off your nose to spite your face. But there is a certain logic to it. The one thing I don't want, it is to ever become physically or mentally disabled. If I get to a point in here, where I can no longer deal with the day to day bullshit, then I'll have to consider myself mentally incapacitated. Hence...now (actually years ago) while still in (what I consider) full grasp of reality (such as it is). I choose my time, and hope like hell that when the time comes, I won't want to do it. (Though I will whether I want to or not.) If I don't want to do it, at least I knew I'll be going out, because I chose to, not because I felt I had to.
Yeah I know. The couple of people I told that to, or tried to explain it to, told me I ought to do it now 'cause I've already lost my tenuous grasp on reality.
You know, I also wrote to The Prison Source Project. They had that little blurb in it about "music, social con..." and told them that the magazine was no longer in print, nor available, as you had requested. But you know, I got another one of their "source lists" about a month ago, and you were still in it. I guess you've achieved immortality. You'll be getting mail behind "P.C." till you die.
I was actually a little disappointed, when I read that that would be the last issue. I found the one issue I read, to be...attractive I guess. It was so raw Stuff like that, has the fascination for me, as a fresh pulled tooth. You just gotta stick your tongue in the hole now and then, cause its raw. And that's part of what prompted me to write to you a few months ago. And the more I think about it, wasn't it almost a year ago that I wrote. I could almost swear it...no maybe not. O.K. I wrote, back in Aug. or Sept. then tore the letter up, and put your mag away. Then I think I pulled it out again a few months ago. O.K. you're right. It was recently now that I'm thinkin' about it.
You're totally right, as to prison reflecting society, in a twisted way. This is the epitome of a microcosm within a macrocosm. Everything that happens in here is a direct and concentrated reflection. It's like a lab controlled experiment...no, I'm not going into a paranoid kick here. Bear with me. Its like one, and I wouldn't be surprised if the state people are sitting back studying the demographics on the responses to certain stimuli. Example. It's been in my head for the last couple of years, that they are definitely on a program, that will outlaw smoking. It's logical. It's a dangerous, addictive drug, that's not only dangerous to users, but to those in close proximity. So I figure it's a ten or 15 year program. (I'm sure they learned their lesson with prohibition, about arbitrarily taking away an addictive substance.) They raise the price in little increments, start banning smoking in certain places. Little steps. It forces people to start thinking about giving up smoking, or not to start. Right now, its about even. Kind of like a holding action. But as time passes and there become more hassles involved in smoking, more rules, and more and more expense. As time goes on, more people quit, less people start. By the time they get to about 10 or 15 bucks a pack, smoking will be passé. Only a small minority of people will smoke. And the govt. Puts the big X on it. No more smoking, sales is a felony, possession a misdemeanor.
Now, on a smaller scale. In prison, of course, the price has been going up, we've been limited to where we can smoke. And in Vermont, they decided to outlaw smoking completely in the prisons. Of course what happened was what they probably expected. Within a week, cops were selling cigs to inmates, black market, for 10 to 20 bucks a pack. Within 2 months, they'd had 2 or 3 small but serious insurrections and revolts. So they gave back the smokes.
But in reality, it was a testing ground. Now, to get back to the subject, anything that happens out there, happens in here, faster, and with more visible impact. Take AIDS or TB. Both are fairly prevalent in society, but in here...man, it's a biological battle zone. N.H. has a 15% AIDS incidence within the prison system. We're talking close to 1 in 6 people. T.B. is rampant, and bound to get worse due to close quarters and minimal ventilation. It's really no different from the street, only magnified.
But these are all physical things. Attitudes also follow patterns. Racism is amplified, sort of in a reverse way, because now the whites become the minority. But there's no difference. Economically, things are the same. The worse it gets out there, the worse it gets in here. We still get paid, on the same pay scale that was instituted in 1979. You can bet we aren't going to get any cost of living increase. And it's a sad thing when you can work all day, and still not get paid enough to buy yourself a pack of generic cigarettes.
Don't let me start bitchin', 'cause I love to bitch.
Ahh Stevie Ray... I got "In Step" on right now. I meant "God" in a figurative way. He just happens to be what I consider one of the greatest guitarist to ever pick up an axe. Besides the fact that I'm a blues fanatic. My interest are pretty much in a blues-guitar oriented vein. (Albert Collins, Albert King, Stevie Ray, Bonnie Raitt, Gary Moore, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, The Radiators, Steely Dan and the list could go on for a couple of pages) As far as contemporary - rock, 10,00 Maniacs, The Samples, Zappa, Spin Doctors.
I do get into funk. George Clinton's always been one of my favorites, from his days with James Brown, and then with Parliament and Bootsey Collins.
I don't know what kind of show G.C. is putting out now. But back in the '70s, with Parliament doing The "Mothership Connection" tour - totally inundated the senses.
I don't get into jazz too much. But I'll tell you an album, that just came out, that I got to check out on the radio. That makes a nice segue from Rhythm oriented rock into Jazz, is the new one by Donald Fahgan. I couldn't begin to spell the name of the album. Just as I'm unsure of the spelling of his last name. It could just be "Fagen". Anyway. He's gone solo now from Steely Dan - which has always been a jazz oriented band anyway, and he's gone a little deeper into his jazz roots.
As to being hated... well, I take certain pride in it. I see little in here, that makes me want to be liked by the people I'm surrounded by. It's nothing to do with being superior or any such asinine notions. It's got to do with people being phony. Prison is the world of the con, and everybody puts on their false face, and runs around with their little flag. Be it a white/black supremacist flag. Or a kill the fags flag. Or their holier than thou flag. Or any of a dozen other flags they carry around in here for lack of confidence in who they are.
Me, I'm proud of who and what I am, and what I do. I'm a lot of things, none of which I'm ashamed of, in the context of being in prison. I'm a dope fiend, and I've pulled a hundred dope fiend moves on a hundred different people that thought I was their friend. I'm totally mercenary. I believe in self and self only, first and last. I'm in, for what would be considered a heinous crime, but is sort of borderline. I beat a 16 year old girl to death when I was 23 over a petty dispute. And there's a lot of people that don't like what I'm in for, but even more, they don't like that I'm strong, bright and extremely aggressive and for these three reasons, I can't be intimidated or run into protection like a lot of people with similar crimes have been. I hang out with whoever I feel like hangin' out with, and I don't recognize racial, social or any other boundaries put up in here. I've got no compunction about takin' one of the drag queens in my cell for an hour...and even worse, I like the black ones. I'm slow to pay my bills, and in the obverse, when someone owes me, and comes up a day late, I don't give breaks. I'm one of those people that people point out to other people, and tell them not to have anything to do with me, 'cause I'm bad business.
Now, reading back over this, it reads like some Fantasy Island shit, but the truth is, it's all accurate, and slightly understated. Also, the really important thing is that I'm scared to death. My aggression comes mainly from fear. I do as I please, and I'm quick to put steel on somebody for the slightest reason, and I never argue or raise my voice. I never avoid a confrontation, and always am the one who brings things over the line from a misunderstanding to violence. But always, I'm scared. I'm locked into a loop. And the only way out of it is the street or the grave.
So melodramatic, but it's how it is for me. If I were to give up my ways now, the wolves would eat me. By no means am I the baddest motherfucker in here, and I wouldn't want to be. But I'm so quick to flip on people, that most everybody with any sense stays out of arms reach. My aggression is my shield, and my lack of morals when it comes to hurting people is my sword. Sooner or later, someone is going to get me, but between now and then, I'm locked into a loop. Kinda like livin' in a Moebius Strip.
I really didn't want to get into all that, 'cause it's of minimal conversation material.
Do you believe people can get addicted to fear and aggression? I'm a junkie. If things get too boring for me, I tend to find a situation to get in.
As for Dave B. and Vices (Chambers) of the two, Berk was the only one worthy of respect. Chambers was pussy, and as long as you stroked him right, he's give you anything you wanted. Berk though, is most definitely a strange and wonderful creature.
He gave me a copy of a book to read, called "The Ultimate Evil" or some such nonsense. And then we had a long talk about the things that were in it. A good majority of the book was devoted to cults and devil worship in the NYC/ Long Island area. Focusing mainly on Dave, Bernard Lefaros (The Devil Mask Killer that was involved with the art dealer Crispo) And a couple other people. Believe me, Dave was never into any cult bullshit, nor worshiping of nether daemons and all that. Nor is he schizophrenic. I held many long conversations with him on a lot of topics. The man is smart, well spoken, quiet, has a lot of heart, and very introverted. His sense of humor was very stunted but he was a good poet.
I got a letter in here somewhere, that he sent me on the day he left this prison in a transfer. If I can find it, I'll send it, if not, I'll send it next time I write.
Let's see. Oh yeah. The envelope, as you probably know, I didn't originate. It's a copy...well it's done freehand so it's not really a copy per se, but I did steal it. It was originally done by "Virgil Finley". Back in the '50s. I just started getting into drawing recently - about a month ago, so since I started, I've been reproducing other peoples stuff trying to learn. I'm totally intrigued by stippling and photo realism. And I've taken a few things by other people, that were shaded various ways, and transposed them with stippling, and I find they look better. Though personally my favorites are, in order, Giger, Dali, Corben, Simon Bisley, (The previous two were staples in "Heavy Metal") and Texiara (who does Wolverine Comic - sometimes) Along with a host of fantasy artists. Fraz, Valejo, Bros. Hilderbrandt, Royo, anybody else that does anything strange. Definitely Escher.
Well. I chewed your ear enough. I'm gonna lay back and read for awhile.
You probably get asked this a lot, but what about your art. What type of drawing do you do. What type of painting are you planning to study in Chicago. And co-grats on graduating. But then again, I don't think you ever had any doubt about graduating.
Anyway, if you feel like talking, we'll talk.
You take care - good luck, and I'll be looking to hear from you.