By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Boo-ya! Wake up, motherfucker. It feels like there's broken glass inside me and I'm screaming, in as much pain as I've ever felt, and I'm a guy that's familiar with pain. Kidney stones. I'm in the hospital puking from the burning in my guts and I tell 'em I'm an ex-dope fiend, I can't take no narcotics. The medical protocol for kidney stones is morphine sulfate and Toradol IV, they did what they were supposed to, what the fuck did I know, I was only the stupid fucking patient.
When the morphine hit it was all over. I knew I was fucked. It was like I'd never stopped using. About a year later I'm skin and bones, I'm lonely like a motherfucker, strung to the gills on prescription painkillers and drinking on top of them. It's August 25, my birthday, I'm 42 and the biggest loser in the universe, not the good dad I want to be, don't have the balls to show anybody the stuff I write, too scared to steal and way too fucked up to work. I don't got what it takes to rebound one more time, I know kicking will kill me, and my kidneys are shot. I'm in and out of the hospital like a yo-yo.
You play the hand you're dealt, and I knew that. I was just too fucking tired to play anymore. So I downed the pills, chased them with vodka and lay down to take a nap of the permanent variety.
They tell me I was like a raving lunatic, got into an argument with one of my neighbors and the cops were called. When everything was said and done I was charged with assault on a cop, assault with a weapon, etc. I was also beaten into a coma. I'm still getting the life-support bills. The LAPD did such a thorough job of kicking my ass that it got all my attention, and that's no bullshit. They did a good enough job that when my P.D. took photos of my battered mug and started negotiating, the charges got reduced.
If I hadn't acted like a fool and gone after them I wouldn't have woken up in the ding tank or started the journey I'm now on. I'd have never cleaned up or would have died before I found out the book I gave away was picked up by a publisher. This is where I caught a major break. The world-famous North Hollywood rehab I'd been through before took one look at me and knew I had no dough. Ya got cash, ya get all the help ya could ever want. Otherwise . . . God bless the child who's got his own, know what I mean? So a friend of mine who works there got on the phone and called all over town till he found a place that would take me. He told me it was the end of the line, the bottom of the barrel, where there was nothing but bust-out junkies and street winos with a sprinkling of crack addicts - but they'd let me in quick in a hurry-up.
People In Progress, out there in lovely Sun Valley, gave me love, fed me the unbelievably bad food they're famous for and let me heal inside and out without asking me for a dime. The guy who runs the place used to laugh at me and my delusions of being a writer, but he let me have the stone-age computer I use and gave me an hour a day to tap away on my second book and honestly wished me luck. Three months into my stay at PIP a guy named Larry Clark contacted me, said he thought Another Day in Paradise would make a good flick.
Since then I'm almost done with my second book, Steel Toes, and got an outline on the third. I'm doing interviews and readings. And here's what's really a kick in the ass: The same guy that hid his writing, that was ashamed of reading and writing at all, gets a bigger thrill out of reading his stuff to people than he did from shooting speedballs. When I can see people digging what I'm doing it makes me high as a motherfucker, and puts me where I always wanted to be - all the way out of myself.
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