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We Have a Date With the Underground, part 2

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This is the second in a series. It is the beginning of someone else’s story, told to and transcribed by me. Basically, he gave me the details, atmosphere, and lot of the words and I put them together in my magic hat and pulled this out. His voice, his story, my translation. This series will have enough stories that they will eventually get their own page, but for now they will appear here at least once a week, most likely more than that.

The Cobra Bites Back

I wake up at noon not wanting to move, feeling the pains of one of my first hangovers. I wonder why I ever thought it would be a good idea to drink vodka – why the hell do people drink this crap when it makes you feel so bad? Despite my hangover, I grab a warm Bud from the case my father forgot to put in the fridge. I wander out into the living room, sit down and stare at the TV, my head spinning. The phone rings. Do I want to go to a show tonight?

A few hours later, I’m sitting outside the house smoking, waiting for my ride. A primer grey 68 Chevelle pulls up. I toss the smoke, slam the car door and wonder what the hell is gonna happen tonight. I’m 14 years old and on my way to my first punk rock show.

GBH-studs-backpatch_lg.jpgWe have some time to kill and some new areas of town to explore, but, being the way we are, the only thing we explore is an alley next to a liquor store, armed with a few 40s of King Cobra and a pack of smokes. We hang out there for a while drinking and smoking and by the time we’re ready to roll out to the show, that one 40 oz has rendered me shitfaced. We had long ago ditched the Chevelle at the Midtown Market, so we walk the five blocks – I’m mostly stumbling – to the Oasis Ballroom. G.B.H and Cro Mags. It’s show time.

We get inside the gig and it’s dark and I don’t know where I’m at; the only thing I know is that the doorman is my neighbor and I can get into a 21 plus show for free even though I’m only 14. I spot my neighbor and he pushes me in.

I’m standing by the side of the pit. I know I’m too small to go in, but the lure of the pit - and the fact that I’m too drunk to care – is too much and I attempt it anyway. I get hit immediately because the small are preyed on in those places. I’m nailed right in the face, on my left temple. The hit drops me and suddenly I’m covered by bodies of older punks because that’s what they do when someone small goes down, they protect them. Hell, if someone bends over to tie their shoes in the pit in between songs, two people automatically stand around them as a shield. So I go down, but I’m picked up before I hit the ground and pushed back up. I realize I’ve had enough and stumble out of the pit. The second wave of a King Cobra drunk hits me. Hard.

G.B.H. is just starting their set and I can’t stand up. I’m about to puke and my eye hurts where it got hit. Suddenly, I’m being held up be the doorman, who knows I shouldn’t even be there. I’m digging around in my hurt eye for my contact lens. I can feel it in there, I figure it got moved around when I got nailed, but I can’t get to it. I’m throwing up, looking for my contact lens with one hand while trying to cover the spray of my vomit with the other hand and wondering, not for the first time, why I was there. The stench of the show is unbelievable. I move my head so as not to inhale my own vomit when I breathe, but I only smell sweat, beer and well, piss? Yea, I think that’s piss.

I’ve got puke all over my shirt and I’m still clawing inside my eye for my contact, still being held up by my neighbor, GBH still playing in the background and I’m sure I’m going to pass out any second and then it dawns on me that I was never even wearing my contacts So what the fuck? In my drunken stupor, it occurs to me that the thing I was clawing for in my eye was not a displaced contact but a cut I got in the pit. I shake myself off the doorman and head outside, smelling like a fetid mixture of my own sweat and vomit.

I ask myself again, why am I here? Why did I do this? And despite the fact that I am about to go down hard and despite the cut in my eye and the stains on my shirt and the sweat stinging my eyes and despite choking on the smell of piss and beer, I know I’ll be back. Something inside that place — the music, the lights, the pit, the rush, even the violence and the pain — something makes me want to come back. Something tells me I need get back in there and be a bigger part of what I just experienced, because what I just had isn’t enough. I need more.

GBH:

“Race Against Time”
“Alcohol”
“Knife Edge”
“Drug Party”

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About Michele Catalano