graduation and (more) incarceration

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Grad

An all American boy of Irish descent, a bright kid more interested in music and books than sports, constantly at loggerheads with authority especially his Dad, goes to college in Florida where he studies film and takes lots of acid, then later goes full bore into the drunken shaman routine…who knew I was on a full scholarship from the Jim Morrison finishing school?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     And finish I did. I got a B.F.A. a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Cinema with a minor in Drama. I had also studied everything from art to music, to Greek Mythology in the honors program and I did it in record time 3 years ( 7 regular semesters, 1 summer session ). It a warm day in Dec. when I received my degree from the University of Miami ( only to find it was only a rolled up blank piece of paper, they mail you the real one later ). My parents were in town to see me graduate. I remember they were staying at the ritzy Fountaine Blue on Miami Beach. The once haunt of the rat pack, Dino and Frank and the boys had seen better days by then. So as the new year started, I got an internship at Filmworks in Coral Gables, a company that made commercials for deep pocket clients like Coca Cola and Carnival Cruise lines. I was a lowly P.A. but I got to do fun stuff like scout out and video possible locations, rent props and equipment for shoots, and not so fun stuff like whatever the tyrant Director needed me to do, which in his mind included driving halfway across town in rush hour traffic to pick up some gourmet cat food for his spoiled cat. Fuck that, I didn’t go to film school for this I protested! I stood my ground, too. I didn’t lose my job over it but the workplace environment was becoming a real drag.

UMDEAD EDIT Little did I know other sequence of events would soon take me away. I went on Dead tour! I got the time off from work but never did make it back. I went to some Florida shows, two Atlanta shows, Greensborough, North Carolina. That was the year the Dead had to play under an assumed name ( The Warlocks ) to get around them being banned from Hampton Colloseum  in Hampton,Virginia. The were playing two shows one being on my birthday and I wasn’t going to miss that! Those shows are legendary and I highly recommend you get your hands on some soundboards. I could write a whole book just about those shows. I was staying at the Holiday Inn with the Doctor and a bunch of Atlanta boys and things got pretty wild. That was also the last time I saw my high school buddy from Md., the drummer in my first band. I ran into him in the parking lot. He later got strung out on dope and seeing no way out ended up killing himself. Damn I miss that dude.

I had been trying to get him to come down to Florida to get away from that shit. So we saw a half a dozen prime shows. I think that was the Built to Last tour. What a long strange trip it’s been but now it’s time to go home. The car we we were traveling in had been sideswiped in Atlanta so we had one busted window covered over with plastic. That’s the supposed reason why we were pulled over on 95 in Volusia County, Florida. It should have been a simple matter of showing our license and registration proving without a doubt the “ car wasn’t stolen “, but these cops didn’t stop there. “ What do we have here? A bunch of deadheads? The sixties are over people…”

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They were real assholes. At the time I wasn’t aware that Sheriff Vogel and the Volusia County Police Dept.were notorious for profiling drivers on 95 and shaking them down. Later I watched an episode about it on 60 minutes about it. They wanted us to consent to a search which you need probable cause to do. “Probable cause? Lookee here we got us a law student. “ “ No but we do not consent to search. “ “ well then you all will have to wait for us to bring in the K-9 unit “ This roadside charade went on for about twenty minutes when one of the officers stuck his head inside the car window, sniffed the air and said “ I think I smell marijuana. “ We hadn’t broken any laws, traffic or otherwise and the whole reason they stopped us was because of the broken window. We should have been free to go but no, now they began searching the vehicle. First they found stems and roaches in the ashtray and then of particular interest was a backpack in the trunk full of quarter pound pot, a quarter pound of mushrooms, and a sheet of acid. At this point my fellow passengers, a young couple about to get married were in tears. When they asked who’s backpack it was, I told them it was mine and it was. No sense in everybody going to jail and them impounding the car. They cuffed me and put me in the back of the squad car as they continued to question the couple. Then they put them in the back too but not cuffed. I signaled a quick shhh to them as I said something to the effect of “ I’m sorry I should have told you I had that stuff on me. “ A few minutes later the cop sticks his headin the door and removes a tape recorder ( that all cop cars have as standard issue ). “ let’s see what y’all been talking about. “ As they listened outside the car we could see they were furious. “ Goddamn well now were going to have to let the other two go! “ I’ll never forget the sight of my friends driving away ( it was their car ) leaving me cuffed in the backseat of a police car on the side of 95 with a huge pile of drugs on it’s hood. That’s how I ended up doing my graduate studies at Volusia County  CorrectionalFacility.

Yeah I got a lawyer. I later found out that he and the judge were fishing buddies. He wasn’t going to make a big deal out of little illegal search and seizure. Profiling was routine shit. The Supreme Court has since deemed it illegal and cited Volusia County as being one of the worst offenders. They need a valid reason to pull you over, to detain you, and to make a search. Know your rights.
I ended up pleaing down to one count of possession of L.S.D. a felony. It could have been worse. They tried to charge with possession with intent to distribute but I told then it was only for personal use. “ were talking about a lot of drugs “ “ yeah, well I do a lot of drugs. “ I’m lucky and I know it because right after that all these states passed minimum mandatory laws and some poor souls ended up doing more time for pot or acid then rape and murder. It’s fucking ridiculous. As it is I got a felony on my record which precludes me from working for any county, state, or federal institution. ( Now you know why I work for a PRIVATE University. )

Volusia County Correctional Facility is right out of that movie “ Cool Hand Luke “. It’s a prison out in the swamps, rows of long wooden, unairconditioned barracks surrounded by barbed wire fences, big ugly women with shotguns in towers. If you do make it over the fence without them shooting you, the gators in the moat’ll get you. We used to be walking back from the mess hall and roll oranges under the fence and a gator would come up on the bank and snap his jaws around them and slink back into the moat. Me being “ college boy”, they gave me my own office and I ran the laundry facility. We worked at night while everybody slept so that was cool. We’d collect all the laundry from the various call blocks and wheel them over to the Women’s facility where they washed them. We never crossed over but we would hide notes in the laundry carts saying “ show us your tits “ which they would when the guards back was turned. Ah it’s the little things  in life, you know? We’d make the rounds at night and that made us the kings of contraband. We were getting some good shit in there. I can remember toking up in the yard watching the space shuttle take off from Cape Canaveral which wasn’t faraway. Surreal. One day they found one seed in my office and woke my
ass up and called me down to the officer’s station. It wasn’t mine! ( I didn’t smoke shit with seeds damn it! ) They then marched me back to my barrack to search my lock box. Everybody hushed as I was escorted to my bunk. They never found anything. Time went by slowly. I got letters but not too many visitors because I was so far away though one time the Doctor himself surprised me with a visit. “ I brought you a really good book I think you really like this one page, ha ha. “ I had a buddy that was trying to get me to work out with him in the yard but I was too lazy. All you did was eat and sleep and I put on more than a few pounds. I did become the pitcher for the softball team and we placed second in the Volusia County Correctional League. Also while I was in there I wrote a few songs with this guy, one being a parody of a Jimmy Buffet song which later ended up on a juke box in Key West. It basically sucked but when I got out I still had five years probation to do, the jailhouse term is “ paper, “5 years paper. And I soon found out how true that old saying is: come on Vacation, leave on Probation, return on Violation.

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yeah and all I got was this lousy t-shirt…

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