City Baby Attacked By Rats
Portia: I was about 14 years old when I first started to hang out around Powell and Market in San Francisco.
Audra Angeli-Slawson: We went down to Dildo’s Liquors – you know, Dalda’s Liquors — they were the other store that would sell to you if you were underage. Jay’s Liquors in North Beach, across from the Pit, and Dalda’s in the Tenderloin.
Courtenay Dennis: There was a crazy homeless black guy who lived in the pit. We called him Spider.
Portia: In the ‘80s, the Tenderloin was an area where you might think prostitution and drugs were legal because they were sold so openly. It consists of approximately 50 blocks, part of which is Polk Gulch. Just liquor stores, sex shops, sleazy strip clubs, restaurants, parking lots, and old rundown SSI hotels.
Julie Generic: The China Park, Powell, and Polk Street punks were all on the same circuit.
B.A. Lush: I first came to Powell Street because I got on GA and I needed a hotel and I had friends who were living at the Ambassador Hotel two blocks from Powell. There were a few punks living there but it was run by drag queens.
Audra Angeli-Slawson: We went down there to get 40-ouncers and we were walking down Eddy around 10 p.m. All of the sudden, these cops came and grabbed us and literally threw us under a parked car. They’re like, “Stay down, there’s a sniper!” We were lying on our bellies, under a parked car on Eddy Street – that’s disgusting now I think about the stagnating puddles of urine – so one of the cops was halfway under the car; the other one was up on the curb and bullets were zinging down the street.
Portia: The few police that roamed the Tenderloin were as criminal as anyone else.
Audra Angeli-Slawson: Never once did I think, “Damn, this is crazy! What am I doing here?” After a few minutes, we were just like, fuck it, and we just started drinking our 40s with the cops right next to us. The places I would end up after dark when I was 14 – like Piss Alley or some of the places I went to score drugs. It’s fucking incredible.
Rachel Rudnick: In the punk-rock echelon, San Francisco punks were gnarlier and there was a big squatter scene in San Francisco. In the East Bay, it was more of a couch scene ‘cause a lot of the parents were pretty tolerant.
B.A. Lush: For a while, I squatted with some skinheads South of Market, in South Park which has become Tech Alley. The squat was just totally disgusting. At one point, the plumbing broke down so there were shit rooms. They would just use them and close them up. The house belonged to the grandmother of some black kid on Powell Street. It was funny, because there were all these skinheads staying there at this black kid’s house, with gay guys. A lot of the skinheads tried to be so racist, but I think of most of them as good ‘ole boys – just into drinkin,’ fuckin,’ and fightin’ — not really into white power.
Mike Tsongas: All those skinhead guys hung out together long before American skinhead was even invented.
Julie Generic: I came out of a pretty fucked-up childhood and left home at 13. At 15, I hitchhiked with a friend to the Bay Area. Hailing from the backwoods of Mendocino County where I could barely get MRR on KPFA on Tuesday nights, I was completely unprepared. All I brought was a pillowcase, with a pair of clean underwear and a camera stuffed into it, and my skateboard. We got a ride to Berkeley and the next day, after trading my codeine for window-pane acid and bus fare, we dropped acid and took an F bus into the big city for the first time ever. I had spent time in the Berkeley scene and loved it, but San Francisco was an entirely different situation.
Audra Angeli-Slawson: Berkeley’s not a city. Oakland? Please…. San Francisco’s a city. That body of water between us is there for a reason. People came here because San Francisco was better. I totally am serious. We didn’t go there.
Ben Sizemore: We thought the scene in San Francisco was more stuck up, or just the opposite. All the San Francisco squatter types who lived around Market, a lot of them we just thought were dirtbags.
Jason Lockwood: After a while I couldn’t really stay being a runaway in the East Bay. Unlike now, the cops really didn’t have better things to do so they would actually pull you in for being a runaway. I spent a lot more time in the city because it was really hard for them to find you.
Julie Generic: Within a week, I had a close call with a pimp who bought me a plate of greasy veggie rice at a cafeteria on Sixth and Market where I had been panhandling. Later, I remember being in his hotel room while he told me how I would love his girls and they would help me get some nice clothes. I had no clue. He just seemed like a nice guy who cared that I was hungry. I remember clearly the Democratic Convention being aired on his TV while he was giving me his con. I missed the actions because a pimp was attempting to beguile me.
Mike Tsongas: Almost all of my arrests have been political, except there was a guy who went around trying to pimp out punk and skin girls. This is the only time I’ve been violent. I saw him choking this girl and I put an elbow into his kidney. He went down and five more people started kicking him.
B.A. Lush: We went to the Democratic convention and panhandled. We made a lot of money off the Democrats. My friend Crab and I met some old lady and she was a delegate from Chicago. Her taxi driver warned her not to go to the Tenderloin so she wanted to see it. She gave us money for beer – we drank the cheapest beer, a 12-pack cost three dollars – and we gave her a tour of the neighborhood. The Democrats were party animals. We met a couple others who ended up sitting with us in the alley, drinking with Faerron who was a big punk rock drag queen.
Portia: The Polk was mainly gay male prostitutes; the rest of the Tenderloin offered both females and transvestites.
Sham Saenz: Polk Street is where all the young boys turn tricks.
B.A. Lush: When I lived on Ellis in a punk rock house, we knew all the tranny hookers on the street. They totally looked out for me no matter how wasted I got. A couple of them would buy crack and come to our house to smoke it. We didn’t try to steal it from them so they liked us and would share.
Sara Cohen: I was back and forth a lot between Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Marin. When I would run away, I hung out on the street. I had a hooker boyfriend and I was totally fucked up. We’d sleep on the Marina or I would just walk around all night. Sometimes, I’d stay at friends’ houses, slept in parks, shit like that. I was always on my own. I never really had a group of people. I guess I was afraid to get too close to anybody.
Portia: The people down on Powell and Market were the first people that I had ever felt acceptance and belonging from. It was a true feeling of family that many of us lacked. Regardless of where I may have slept the night before, I always knew I could find everyone back at Powell and Market.
Mike Tsongas: I was in the punk scene a long time before I got down to Powell Street — I had been hanging out at the Mabuhay, the Compound, the back room at the Savoy Tivoli — but I immediately felt comfortable on Powell. Some people tried to nickname me Mike Mohawk but I objected because I knew the original Mike Mohawk who committed suicide.
Silke Tudor: I was 14. I had been going to shows but I was still really new, making it up as I went along. I bleached out my hair white and dyed the tips black, but the black dye ran all over my head and turned my hair kind of gray. I was wearing a Levi jacket with wool lining, a hold-over from elementary school days in the Sunset. When I was a freshman in high school, I hung out with a little crew called the Fry Puppies. We would write all over my jacket, especially when we were on acid. I pierced my ears nine or ten times with a sewing needle and shoved really cheap pieces of metal through the lobes, whatever I could find, so my ears were always infected. It didn’t look good, just totally fucked up.
Portia: The first people that I met at Powell and Market that I was close to were Aaron Litton, the Bitch, Germ, Scooter, Sleazebag, wanna-be skinhead Derek, Wez and Rachel, Mike Mohawk, and B.A. Lush. Later came Rach-O, whom I was probably closer to than anyone with the exception of Germ. There was Delphi and Athena, Big Rob, Robert, Ouva, Dumpster Dumplin Rachel, Steve Stupid, Ripper, Steve-O, Lori Lush, Mike Fuck-Up, Winston Rachel, Quarter, City Baby, Looneytunes, Andre, Ripper, Panther, Pigeon Killer, Mia, Little Joey, Jose…and a lot of people whose names I can’t remember, even though I remember them well. And then all the weekend punks that came and went, or the short-time runaways.
Silke Tudor: On Powell Street, Wez and Rachel wrote on my jacket. So did Ouva and Steve Stupid, and a few of the other punks. They were indulgent and nice to me, even if they knew I was totally green. Some wrote the names of bands I had not yet heard on my jacket, and discordant punk symbols — peace signs, swastikas, and anarchy symbols — amidst the druggy, prepubescent ramblings. It was less like a jacket a more like a year book. I was so embarrassed by it just a few months later. When I got my first leather – stripped from some poor, nameless suburban girl in an alley – I ditched the jean jacket. I wish I still had it, covered in the thoughts of so many people who are long gone or now insane.
B.A. Lush: On the weekend, the suburban kids would come to town — I was once one of those little suburban kids, full of innocence. Everything was new and exciting and cutting edge. By the time I hit Powell Street a few years later, I was in the midst of alcoholism and I was hanging out with kids who were a lot younger than me. I had just become a loser alcoholic.
Mike Tsongas: It was a lot of people who felt disenfranchised by their family, a lot of runaways. I had been kicked out by my parents three or four years earlier so I really related. I grew up in the streets of the Mission so I sort of knew what it was like. I tried to help the people who were younger than me, kind of like a big brother. When I had my own apartment, I gave them a safe place to stay, something to eat, a place to shower. I tried to give them a night without having to worry about getting their butt kicked or fending off predators or whatever else.
B.A. Lush: We would go to El Alley on Mason between Ellis and O’Farrell. There was a parking lot behind a strip joint where we would go to hang out and drink. There were windows facing the parking lot that were reinforced with wire and everybody was into headbutting. It was like this straight — hetero male way of being macho. Yeah, you’re hardcore; I just wanted to get drunk. One afternoon, I was there with my good friend Peggy, who was my age, and a bunch of young suburban kids, and this one poor kid – he broke through and the window sliced the tip of his nose off. So Peggy sort of held his nose together while we all went looking for a phone – this motley group of drunk bloody punk rockers wandering around the Tenderloin. Finally, one of the drag queen bars called 911. In my opinion, it was taken care of. I didn’t know the guy or anything, so we went to find somewhere else to drink. I think I saw a guy ten years later with a big scar on his nose.
Audra Angeli-Slawson: Portia fuckin’ scared the shit out of me. I thought she was, like, 28 when I was 14. Now, I know she was just a couple years older than me, but she was really mean and scary lookin’ ‘cause she was goth.
Portia: I was not a fucking goth! Death rock was an offshoot of punk and it was not any cleaner or more sophisticated. Goth was the fashionable, artsy, cleaned-up version. I analogize it with models who were dressing up like junkies in fashion magazines. The emergence of goth actually influenced me to change my style.
Mike Tsongas: Portia was this little tiny girl, about 13 years old when she showed up.
Portia: I was under five feet and 85 pounds.
Mike Tsongas: She dressed in these black flowing gowns, her face was painted white and her hair was dyed black, and she had really red lipstick and lots of rings. She was amazing for her age, to have such a presence amongst us, but she did. She showed up with a strong personality and immediate presence.
Audra Angeli-Slawson: She was going out with some skinhead. I came walking out of Powell Street Station and I was wearing an American flag on my jean jacket upside down. It was pinned on with safety pins and he was like, “You’ve got a problem, there, let me fix it.” It was the first time he was ever nice to me so I should have fuckin’ known that he was going to be a dick, but he went to fix the flag and stabbed me in the back with a safety pin. And Portia was like “Hehehehe!” She used to fuckin’ threaten me all the time, you know, “I’m gonna drink your blood.” She was pretty fuckin’ scary.
Silke Tudor: Of course Portia didn’t like me. That was clear. But she limited her animosity to contemptuous sneers and snorts. By the time I came around, Rach-O was hanging out with a black skinhead girl named Quarter. They jacked me up. I have a scar along the inside of my thigh as a reminder, but I bluffed my way out of a severe beating. I said, “You can beat me up again and again, but I’ll keep coming back.” I almost believed it. I wanted to hang out there so badly. I still can’t say why, except that those kids looked the way I felt inside and they had something I desperately wanted. Luckily, Quarter approved of my pluck and took pity on me that night. Many other girls were not so lucky.
Portia: We didn’t make it easy. New girls really had to earn their spot down there. We hated you at first and you had to earn our trust somehow.
Courtenay Dennis: I actually had no problems at Powell Street at all. It was pretty easy when I got there. DMR, on the other hand, fucked with me bad up at the On Broadway. Those girls were like dogs.
Sara Cohen: I was in and out of rehab and group homes and foster homes and juvy from 1982 to like 1986. I’d go to juvy, I’d come out, I’d go to the Mab. I’d get busted, you know, ‘cause they had the curfew law, I’d get popped, I’d go to juvy, I’d go down to L.A. to some group home, I’d come back, I’d go to the Mab, I’d get locked up again. I finally dropped out of high school in 1985.
Sham Saenz: There was nothing stranger than having a mohawk and a leather jacket in 1986 and being sent to juvenile hall. That was a strange, strange affair right there because you didn’t fit in with anybody at all. I could be fairly confident in myself and scared at the same time.
Portia: When Dumpster Dumplin’ Rachel showed up on Powell and Market for the first time, she came with a friend. Instead of beating them up, Rach-O and I made them fight each other. I took Dumplin’ and Rach-O took the other one and we taught each of them to fight. Dumplin’ won and stayed. The other girl didn’t. That was actually a big victory for me because Rach-O was a much better fighter than I was. She was a tough girl who grew up in the ghetto – the only white girl in Sacramento Oak Park.
Julie Generic: I soon fell in with the Powell Street crew. I came in at a really early phase and I was a pretty non-aggressive person so I never hung out with the more violent Powell Street punks. I have never been an aggressive part of the community. I was much more circumspect, but we all looked out for each other.
Mike Tsongas: We really treated each other like a family.
Portia: Mia used to sell girls back to their parents. Like, if the parents showed up on Powell and Market, looking for their kids, she would say, “I might know where your daughter is. How much will you give me if I tell you?”
Mike Tsongas: It was a lot of bravado but, then again, my vision was warped because I was such good friends with all of them.
Portia: Dumplin’ was really funny. Here was this little girl, living on the streets, all dirty and grimy and hungry like the rest of us, and she was always screwing Aaron. And Aaron always had Chlamydia so Dumplin’ was always walking around diseased. But she had this thing about her face. Every morning she would wake up in the squat and go to the McDonald’s bathroom and wash her face with Noxema – like she had this whole skincare routine. As fucked up as everything was, she had to follow her routine. I guess we all had our little nutty shit.
Sham Saenz: At the end of the day, we were street kids. A lot of us came from broken homes. There were a lot of kids who just ran away because they wanted to run away, but a lot of us weren’t feeling that. We were like, if you can go home, you should go home. You should go back to Concord if you can go back there and everything’s okay.
Julie Generic: I saw how many of us were shooting up and hooking on Polk Street, which was the other half of our circuit, and my intuition told me that if I wanted to make it through alive I needed to promise myself three things: I would not get pregnant, I would not shoot up, and I would not hook.
Sham Saenz: You would see a guy down on Powell Street acting like a tough guy and then, the next thing you knew, you heard he was on Polk Street. There was a lot of this going on but nobody talked about it. Everybody knew about it but you didn’t really talk about it. You just understood the fact that motherfuckers had to get some money to eat and to get high.
Mike Tsongas: I remember going with Ripper to his mom’s house and shooting dope with his mom. I had never shot dope with anybody’s mom before. He was probably one of the nicest people. He did my first tattoo when he got out of prison. He’s dead now. Ripper bought all his drugs from his mom. It was really warped.
Portia: If we woke up in the same place, maybe we’d go to the soup kitchen, then we’d sit around and panhandle and go to the alley and drink, then at some point, we’d make our way to Broadway.
Silke Tudor: A single day felt like an entire summer in the Tenderloin. Running around, spare changing, drinking in alleyways, busting bottles, making out with boys on carhoods, going to shows. We got rousted by the cops once for drinking on the street, which was unusual. I still had my high school ID from Lowell. When I showed it to the cops, they let me go but they beat the fuck out of the guy I was with.
Jason Lockwood: I flashback to standing at the corner of Broadway and Columbus spare changing and this one woman who wouldn’t give me change was asking, “Why are you kids on the street?” She was a little bit drunk but totally worried about us children. So we blew her off and crossed Columbus. When I looked back, she was standing out in front of Carol Doda’s with six ice cream cones in her hand and she looked a little bit teary. She was looking for us. I was the only one that saw her so I ran back and I was like, “Thank you so much. You’re so sweet.” I felt so bad. We were kinda rude, as we would be, and she just saw a pack of little kids who clearly shouldn’t have been where they were and she wanted to buy them ice cream.
Portia: I used to say, “Can you spare change? I’m on my period and you don’t want me bleeding all over the street, do you?” This one guy got so excited, he said, “Hold on! Hold on!” and ran off. It turned out his girlfriend was on her period. That’s why Rach-O always had a tampon tied to her vest. We got a lot of them. She wanted to put them to some use.
Andrew Flurry: I went with Silke down to Powell Street one day. All those fucking people scared the shit out of me but I was hanging out with Silke so it seemed okay. Everyone was panhandling so I gave it a try. I made a few bucks in just a couple of minutes and went back to show everybody. As soon as I opened my hand, they just snatched all the money and laughed.
Portia: When I panhandled I was always respectful about not doing it on someone else’s block. Now, there are ten people on every block, but back then, you could spread out. So there was this black Vietnam vet – I think he was missing a limb or two, or he was in a wheelchair. Anyway, he would always get the prime spot, that first block of Powell, right after Market, near the cable car turnaround. That’s where the tourists were. He always got it. Finally, I asked him if I could share the block with him and we sort of became friends. One of those weird times when I stayed at my dad’s, I made all these cookies and I brought the vet tins of cookies.
B.A. Lush: I was gay and just started coming out, but I still hung out with a lot of straight guys. I snuck so many guys past the drag queens at the front desk of my hotel by pretending they were my dates. The queens loved that but, really, they were just guys who were too drunk to make it home. Somebody needed to take care of them. They would climb up the fire escape and crash out at my place. I remember thinking that I’d arrived. Having a hotel room to call my own was so classy.
Mike Tsongas: I knew B.A. Lush. He was gay, but I think he was still struggling with being in the closet. He was always so helpful to everybody, though, and so wonderful. More than a few times, when I was too drunk to make it home, he snuck me into the Ambassador as his “boyfriend.” He and I are great friends.
Portia: There were these two big black guys in the Tenderloin who were not related to the punks at all, but they always kept an eye on me. They always looked after me. One night, when a man started following me, saying threatening stuff, those guys appeared immediately and told him to get lost. Just ‘cause they were used to seeing me around the neighborhood. I have never felt as secure and protected in my entire life as when I was a 14-year-old street kid. I could go anywhere and do anything. There were always people looking out for me.
Andrew Flurry: We had a good fucking time down there. On acid, the Tenderloin just seemed like one big, fun room we could run around in. It felt safe in a way. We hung out and drank with Steve Stupid and OC. There was a skinhead with a spider web tattooed on his head and another one with bullet-holes tattooed on his head. Years later, I met Tom Jennings and he had bullet holes tattooed on his head, too. Same tattoo, two very very different people.
Silke Tudor: All those skinhead guys hung out and drank down there – Bones, Beau, Bags, Buzz, Jimmy Mange. OC was a young skinhead boy from Sacramento, maybe 17. He was one of many Powell Street kids Steve Stupid took in over the years. Steve was a fair bit older than the rest of us. He had a long mohawk, which he usually braided and wore under a black cowboy hat. He was married to a normie who worked regular hours and seemed to tolerate Steve’s lifestyle. Steve was always exceptionally kind to me. OC and I would hold-up in his small, dark guest room, blaring Fang, Bad Posture, and Urban Assault, having sex and doing drugs.
At some point, Audra realized we were having sex with the same guy and started hunting me. It was a vendetta that would outlast my relationship with OC and result in a friendship that has not faltered to this day.
One day OC said he had to leave town. I still don’t know why. Before we left, he shaved my head, so that I could be his skinhead girl. It didn’t mean anything to me. I was still wearing my leather and combat boots. We hitchhiked down to L.A. It took us several days. Within a few hours of arriving, OC found some trendy girls, hopped in their car, and left me crying on the corner of Hollywood and Vine. The pimps circled. But a skinhead named Chainsaw found me and took me back to a squat, where Delphi and Looneytunes lived before they came to S.F. They were exceptionally sympathetic, and fun as hell. They tried to show me the ropes in L.A., but I was out of my mind and reckless. A combination of youth, drugs, drunkenness, and idiocy got me picked up by the cops in no time. I’m thankful now but at the time I felt like I was being ripped away from the only people who understood me. I never once considered my poor father who had been looking for me all that time. I just wanted to do drugs and hang out.
Portia: I get so pissed off when I read these punk books, like American Hardcore. They make it seem like such a boys club. I think the Powell and Market scene was a girl’s scene more than a boy’s scene.
Mike Tsongas: The women were a solid force at Powell. Guys came and went.
Portia: There really weren’t enough boys to go around. And when the new girls from the suburbs came on the scene, they got all the attention and gave all the guys diseases. And, don’t forget, we mixed men, so my boyfriend one week would be your boyfriend next week. We all ended up with Chlamydia. There was one girl who was spreading around Chlamydia and we knew she was the one. She and I got into a big fight. The agreement was: if she won the fight, I would be cool with her. if I won, she would never be seen again. I won the fight.
B.A. Lush: People down there would go after “trendies” and steal their jackets and their Docs. I wasn’t into that. I wouldn’t rob them. I’d just let them buy me alcohol.
Portia: Trendy bashing had nothing to do with new girls on the scene. Rach-O and I would just go up to the Palladium to acquire goods off the rich girls. The Palladium was the ‘80s disco where the all suburban girls went to dance.
Anna Brown: I was in high school in Berkeley and headed for a show on Haight Street. The punks I was with changed out of their boots and threw them in the trunk of the car, and put on Chuck Taylors. They advised me to do the same in order to avoid getting jumped by the skinheads that prowled the Haight looking to steal Doc Martens right off the feet of punk rockers. It never happened to me but I saw confrontations like this at the Farm, and I did witness Marc Dagger strolling out of Golden Gate Park with two pairs of boots slung over his shoulder.
Sham Saenz: Getting beat up in Piss Alley right next to the Mab, and getting your leather jacket taken. I’m not ashamed of it. They took my boots one time. I had to walk back without shoes. It wasn’t even skinheads. It was some fuckin’ punks I didn’t know.
Mike Tsongas: I was the guy who went around trying to stop people from robbing people. A lot of the youngsters had a lot of respect for me.
Portia: The problem was a lot of the skinhead boys would dress up and try to pick up on the rich girls. Aaron Litton used to tell girls he lived on a mansion on Parnassus, which was Polytech. So when we got in fights with these chicks the skinheads would chase us off. Broadway was like homebase. Because if we could get to Broadway, the bouncers from the strip clubs would put a stop to the chase. They didn’t care what we had done. They just saw a pack of guys chasing two little punk rock girls down the street.
Mike Tsongas: One time, Rach-O told me she was going trendy bashing and I said, “No, no, you’re not.” She took off and a little later Dave Delinquent came by. He was known for kicking people in shins when they weren’t looking. He said, “You made my friend Rach-O cry because you wouldn’t let her go trendy bashing.” It could get very surreal down there.
Portia: I got in trouble with a couple of skinheads because of my violence against girls. Bones didn’t like me for years because I was mean to some new girl at Powell and Market who ended up being the girl Bones was seeing.
Audra Angeli-Slawson: There were some people who were pretty decent down there, but, mostly, it was just scummy Powell Street punks. Pretty soon I was like, “This place sucks!” When I graduated from eighth grade, I started going to Urban High School, which is on Page between Masonic and Ashbury, so Haight Street was my campus. I was a total Haight Street girl.
Portia: Germ was being hunted by the S.F. Skins. I have no idea why, but every skinhead wanted to get him. Germ’s motto was “They can kick my ass, but they can’t run as fast as me”. He spray painted this in all the alleys in S.F. But there was a dog in our midst, a guy that hung out with us named Derek who acted as if he was a family member, but wanted to be a skin. One day, after he got on bad terms with Germ, he came up and apologized to him. While shaking Germ’s hand, he stabbed him in the side. In the ‘80s, this was not a common action, we fought up-front, with our fists. It was totally unexpected. Germ was bleeding badly and we decided that we should go to my dad’s place in S.F. because he was a nurse in the Navy. Of course, as soon as he saw Germ, he rushed him off to the emergency room.
B.A. Lush: People got caught up in this image of what punk was supposed to be like, and the violence went from being mock violence to real violence.
Mike Tsongas: The majority of my friends have been women all my life, so I wasn’t trying to hit on any of them, especially the younger people, the 14, 15, 16, 17-year olds. But that wasn’t at all uncommon. A lot of older guys went for younger women, it seemed to me. The girls were young and very vulnerable. A lot of them, like me, had problems with their family. And the older guys were able to take advantage. Maybe not consciously. The girls wanted someone to love them and pay attention to them and the men just swooped in. I had a problem with that but I knew I couldn’t prevent it.
Portia: Germ was the only male in my life that held me without any sexual tension. He was more of a protector to me than any one has ever been. I loved him very much. As close as we were, he talked very little about his family. He did talk about the fact that he would not live long and he didn’t. My only regret is that I do not know if he ever knew how important he was to me.
Mike Tsongas: I was roommates with Delphi and Carlos when I finally cleaned up. My mom called me, I hadn’t talked to her in three years and she met me for lunch. I ordered a glass of wine or something and my hands were shaking horribly as I tried to get the glass to my mouth. I saw the look in her eyes and it was the first time I saw myself through someone else’s eyes, through my mother’s eyes. I called a treatment center. I thought I would have to convince these people that I was worse off than I was, but I just told them the truth and they took me right away.
Sham Saenz: I don’t know how to articulate what went awry for a lot of us with drugs and stuff. A lot of people I started getting high with in the ‘80s died. By ’98 I had lost like 15 people I grew up with. People just started dropping off. After I had gotten into the scene, my mom started dealing heroin again so a lot of people were buying heroin from my mom. When you go down the line, people will say, “Yeah, I knew Sham’s mom. She was a heroin dealer in Oakland.”
Mike Tsongas: I have a 14-year-old son now who is a little punk rocker. He likes the Mutants, the Dead Kennedys, Antiflag, Sum 41, the Avengers, and a bunch of new school. He’s a straight-A student, he stays away from people who do drugs and drink alcohol. He plays guitar and skateboards and is in an acting company. He’s a sweet sweet guy. How did I get so lucky to have such a wonderful child?
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