Serena Dank

Members of Symbol Six and Brainspoon

Members of Symbol Six and Brainspoon

Back in the early part of 1982, maybe late 1981, there was a woman making headlines. Her mug was on every talk show, and her quotes were splattered across pages of many woman’s magazines. Her name was Serena Dank. She founded some exploitive group called Parents Against Punkers. Between Flipside, Maximum Rock and Roll, and We Got Power, Serena received tons of hate mail, rude cartoons, and overall vile comments.

Her goal was to sort of re-program punk kids into law-abiding preppies. But her argument was that punks were absolutely everything that was wrong with society. What blew about this was, like every group, there were some bad apples, but, every punk I knew was trying to make something of themselves.

None of Serena Danks’ ranting bothered me much. I felt I was under the radar enough to be immune. And I was for a minute, then at the age of 15 or 16, my mom and I would fight every time we would leave the house together. I wanted my leather jacket and 5 minutes to spike my hair. I was young, and mom took it way too serious.

So, she signed the family up for therapy. I went for about three months, the shrink was always trying to get me to come with my hair spiked, but for some reason, this embarrassed me, and I wouldn’t do it.

After a few sessions with my mom and me together, the shrink told me she thought my mom was over-bearing, I really didn’t know what this meant, so I said, “Cool.” And thought nothing more about it. Then one day my mom was after me about something or other and I blurted it something along the lines of, “The shrink is right, you are over-bearing.” This flipped my mom out a bit, and she accused me of making this up.

Within a day or so my mom called and canceled all further therapy sessions. It was chalked up to me swaying the shrink to my way of thinking. Kind of using “Hitler-like mind control”. I was accused of this when I was much younger if neighborhood kids liked me, but not my mom so much, I was pulling a “Hitler.”

Anyway, having gone through this I probably won’t care what my kids do with their hair, but then again, I might turn into an old fart and bitch about hair length and color too. But the greatest thing to come out of the therapy was that my brother went on to become a psychologist himself.



Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell


Jose Luis

Lance Henriksen

Lance Henriksen

Years ago I worked as a Radio Research Director for a company that owned sixteen TV stations, and twenty-nine radio stations. I would put together rating sheets, promotional items, you name it.

It was a good paying job, and I was with them for about three years. The funny thing about this job was that two things that were most important for this job were two things I didn’t know shit about.

Number one: the company was Hispanic. I didn’t know Spanish, I knew enough to curse out your average a-hole but not much more. I’d learn.

Number two: Everything in this company was done in Microsoft PowerPoint. I never opened the program. I’d learn.

The company had an in-house AM radio station and the more popular FM station also in-house. It was always a blast to watch the various Ranchera bands come in to play live on one of the stations. They’d have their trumpets, and accordions. It was wild.

Of the many people I met, including Jenni Rivera, Jose Luis, a guy who hosted a TV show, which was the Spanish equivalent of the Jerry Springer show, seemed to have the most impact on the Hispanic community. At my initial interview, I was taken to the set of the show. They showed me which chairs would be covered in some kind slime that dropped from overhead when audience members disliked a guest.

The biggest thing I noticed was the communities’ love of Jose Luis. Let me explain, if I have a problem in my life I would never in a million years think to contact Jerry Springer in hopes that he may help me out.

One morning I got to work early, around 7:30 or so, and there was a woman waiting outside the building. She waved me down, from what I understood, as she only spoke Spanish, was that she wanted Luis to help her to stop being ripped off by her racist landlord. Apparently, the guy knew she was illegal and he changed the rent every month with an attitude of “What are you going to do about it, you’re illegal?”

I explained, with my less than stellar Spanish, that Jose Luis doesn’t arrive until about 11:00, so I could take the message or any info she wanted, and I’d track him down to deliver the message.

She pulled out copies about a dozen Xeroxed sheets of paper, leases, notes and receipts. I put them into an envelope and said, “I’ll hand him these in a few hours.”

She looked pleased and said in broken English, “Mexicans don’t need to be treated like this.”

I nodded and walked away.

Hours later I found Luis right as he was walking to his dressing room. I handed him the papers and explained the story. He said that he received about five of these a day. But he would have his assistant look into it. If he couldn’t help, he could tip someone at the paper to investigate.

I don’t know what the outcome was, but I do like that it wasn’t blown off.

Unfortunately, when radio rating dip layoffs happen, ratings dipped I was let go.

#michaelessington #misconceptionsofhell



Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell

Top 10 Addict Books

Michael Essington

Michael Essington

Over the years, there have been many books written by and about those that are addicted. These are currently my top ten favorites:

1. Permanent Midnight by Jerry Stahl

2. Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll

3. Dry by Augusten Burroughs

4. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

5. Barfly (script) by Charles Bukowski

6. Stark by Edward Bunker

7. Another Day in Paradise by Eddie Little

8. Steel Toes by Eddie Little

9. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

10. 86’s by Dan Fante

#michaelessington #misconceptionsofhell



Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell


Lucas Essington at The Edward Colver Exhibit, Annenberg

Lucas Essington at The Edward Colver Exhibit, Annenberg

Monday night, my son and I went for our evening walk. A few blocks in, we came upon a parking lot of a Mexican restaurant. I didn’t notice right away, but in the middle of the lot was a guy and a girl struggling. It looked like the guy was trying to pull the girl into his van. Without thinking, I took off towards the van. Halfway there I heard my son hot on my trail. I stopped and walked over to the patio of the restaurant.

It dawned on me that I almost made the biggest parental mistake you can make, putting your kid in harm’s way.

So, I pulled out my cell and dialed 911, just as I was about to press the send button, and the older Hispanic man looked over and says, “They play.”

I’m really confused, I say, “What!?”

He says, “They brother and sister. My kids.”

“Oh fuck, I was calling the cops; I was going to kick his ass.”

“Yeah, they play.”

“Oh shit.”

I walk away and then it becomes noticeable that they were playing, the girl is circling the van, and he is laughing. They weren’t doing this in the beginning. They were just wrestling. I would’ve been the nut that came barreling in on their game trying to save her.

The boy and I continued our walk. I looked over at the parking lot and shook my head.

Lucas said, “Try not to think about it.”

Lo and behold, a week later, my wife is driving my son home from school and they pass a park. In the parking lot of the park are a man and a woman fighting. The man, shirtless, torn jeans and a ponytail, has a bat that he is swinging at the woman. The woman, not scared, keeps charging in to fight the guy. As soon as my son sees this, tells my wife to call 911. They make the call. My son then says, “Let’s go get something to eat.” His reasoning is he doesn’t want to stay there and chance him and his mom being injured. They get food, and he suggests they go back and check on the woman.

They drive back and the woman is gone and the police are cuffing the guy with the bat.

My son tells my wife to call me over the Bluetooth to let me know of his Good Samaritan deed. I told him I was very proud of him. I could almost hear his smile. There is some hope for the world still.

#michaelessington #misconceptionsofhell



Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell

Interview With PNX News

Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestselling author Michael Essington from his first book Last One To Die. Available now from Essex Digital Media.

“Michael Essington is one of my favorite writers. This book is old-school, hard-boiled fun. Characters are awesome, stories great, every page made me laugh. And I learned an important lesson, which is – trust the fucking cards!”
–James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard

Visit Michael Essington at:

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Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell