ONCE HAD A FRIEND NAMED NOAH. He killed himself years ago.
We were drinking and drug buddies. He was more into grunge and classic rock and I was into punk but our common ground was getting shitfaced on whatever we could get our hands on, which usually was a consistent amount of Kessler blended whiskey, Natural Ice, low-shelf vodka, prescription drugs and strong over-the-counter cold medicine such as Coricidin. Whatever we could get our hands on, we swallowed.
Being 19 or 20 then I had hopes, aspirations of becoming a writer, potentially getting paid for it in some capacity. But Noah really didn’t have these far-off plans or dreams.
We were underage but had a few connections with the local Van Nuys liquor stores and knew many older friends that were always willing to readily contribute to the delinquency of minors. But Noah preferred the harder shit on a more steady basis. We all did hard drugs: coke, speed, crack here and there—although I can’t say with pure surety that heroin wasn’t involved.
Out of all the drugs, acid and mushrooms were mainstays. I was going to Los Angeles Valley College then, or at least trying to anyway, somehow making it to class in the mornings. This would be in between our all-night drinking and drugging binges, rolling out of bed—usually a stranger’s bed or motel room floor—with my spiked-up-hair still solidly defiant, un-showered and stinking with all the toxic shit from just hours earlier seeping out from my pores like tiny reverse sewer holes.
Earlier when I said that our common ground was drugs and alcohol, that wasn’t entirely true. We both were into poetry, literature, philosophy—anything that documented the experimentation of conscious-bending, self-actualization, anything that had at its core a creative character to it. He was a big fan of Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix—but also read William Blake, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and other classic writers and thinkers. There was nothing contradictory of reading intellectual literature at the time; the world was shit—it only mattered how we could describe or document it as articulately as possible. We romanticized self-destruction.
Being 19 or 20 then I had hopes, aspirations of becoming a writer, potentially getting paid for it in some capacity. But Noah really didn’t have these far-off plans or dreams. He was content in knowing that the world was limited and fundamentally flawed with profound and stinking bullshit. We would argue from time to time. He’d make fun of punk rockers. I’d make fun of hippies (although he wasn’t one, we’d label him one anyway just to fuck with him).
In our darker conversations we would confess our disappointment with the way our lives were currently going and the bleak hopelessness of how they were going to end up. Noah had it in his head that shit wasn’t going to get better. I wasn’t as convinced but definitely battled with severe depression at times; I felt worthless and aimless, specifically in college. I had no fucking idea why I was there. I was always just told, “When you graduate high school, you go to college. That’s just what you do," never mind figuring out what you want to do with your life or how you want to live it.
One night he had dropped a few tabs of cheap acid and along with a few other druggie friends we all decided to walk around Van Nuys, alongside our old high school (for some reason, most likely a deep-rooted psychological one, we always wanted to get high and fuck shit up around the high school). That night we were sitting on the stone benches out front of the school on Cedros Avenue staring at the tall row of trees, watching the halogen street lights and the white moon shoot down through the skinny and crooked branches.
Noah turned to me and said, “The trees look like people, like body parts.”
I looked at them, cocked my head, saw the points where a branch sprouts off from the trunk resembling a vagina, an elbow or a knee; they definitely had a flesh-life quality to them just then. Maybe not human but definitely flesh. Meat.
“They kind of look like meat hanging upside down,” I said.
“Yea, like human meat!” Noah said.
We walked down the street looking at all the trees, him through acid-colored eyes, myself just drunk and high. But sure enough, one by one, each tree started turning into a torso, a bleeding ripped-apart leg, a long penis, a severed arm.
We envisioned a world where all the trees were mangled, carved-up dead bodies on display. How he didn’t succumb to a bad trip, I don’t know. But we briefly talked about making a psychedelic-experimental art film on this idea: have the protagonist walk by carrying on a conversation nonchalantly with someone while the background streets and sidewalks are juxtaposed with lined-up naked, bleeding bodies.
The Last Days of Los Angeles # 8 continues...