Father Tim

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Sometimes in life, you meet someone that has an incredible impact on you without them even knowing it.

Midway through my stay at Camp Wayside, a busload of new campers came in. One of these people was a short fifty-something-year-old man with a receding hairline. He looked like an accountant or a teacher. He walked into the barrack and looked incredibly lost and scared. I walked up to him and introduced myself and told him some of the rules of survival. He told me his name was Tim and he did some teaching and counseling in the Bay Area. At the time it seemed vague, but I didn’t pursue it.

A couple of days later we were walking to lunch and Tim confesses to me that he is a Priest from San Francisco. I asked him why he didn’t tell me when he came in. He said he felt he would be ridiculed or targeted and the biggest reason was that he was here. He felt that a man of God isn’t a man of God if he is in jail.

I ask why he is here. He explains that prior to becoming a Priest, he had a drinking problem, but he was able to extinguish it. And go on to become a man of God. Great, I say. But a month before he landed in Wayside, he received a phone call at his church that his parents had been in a car accident and they both died in a collision with a truck. Father Tim immediately drives down to identify the bodies and make funeral arrangements, and to settle the estate. Turns out his sister was a district attorney, and couldn’t get away to help.

I listened to Father Tim as he told me his life story; he was filled with sadness and guilt. The loss of family, and his feeling of letting down God. Then he told me that after everything was settled, he packed his car and headed back towards the Bay Area. Halfway home, he passed a liquor store, he stopped and went in and bought a bottle almost every kind of booze they had. Three-quarters of the way to Frisco he was pulled over for weaving up and down the highway. He was tanked. He didn’t mention he was a Priest or that his sister was a district attorney. He waived his right to an attorney and asked for the harshest punishment the law would grant.

He was sentenced to six months to a year. His sister had no idea what happened to him. He vanished. He called his church to tell them he had to face punishment.

I, kind of, took him under my wing. No one else knew he was a Priest. I told him I was going to let people know. At the time there were a few younger inmates that were bullying him; they always look for the weakest in order to look tough.

I explained to Father Tim, that as he is being punished here, he could do a lot of good, start a bible study group or counsel some of us. The guys at Wayside were receiving divorce papers or break-up letters daily; I knew he could help people through this. After a day or so he agreed. I told him maybe he was here for a reason.

I sat in on a couple of his study groups; his understanding of the Bible was astounding. The one lesson that sticks out in my mind was: the meek shall inherit the earth. Father Tim explained how the word meek has changed its meaning over the years. Meek used to mean faithful, now it means shy or bashful. So the term really means the faithful shall inherit the earth.

Father Tim got so comfortable in his ability to counsel that he forgot he was in jail. A race riot between the blacks and the whites broke out in our barrack, Father Tim started walking back to where the riot started, and I grabbed him and said what are you doing? He said I’m going to talk to them, this is silly. Then I saw three or four black guys coming towards us, I pushed him against a wall, and I took a few shots to the head, then I just shielded Father Tim until the chaos stopped.

After a month or so Father Tim received a visitor. He was surprised; no one knew he was here. It turned out one of the clerks in his sister’s office had run across his name when they were filing. So, she rushed up there. She said she was bailing him out. He said no, he did wrong and had to pay. They went back and forth like this for another month or so. Finally, she took the case to a judge, the judge recommended rehab, and then have him returned to his church. When he was packing up to leave, he apologized for leaving me there. It’s that last time I ever saw Father Tim.

In a place where every street corner junkie is a minister, it was comforting to talk to the real deal, if only for a couple of months. Every other person in the system lies about their crime, but Father Tim wanted to stay. I was proud to know such an honorable man.

– Last One To Die, 2011

#michaelessington #lastonetodie

 

 

Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell

Advertisements

Metal Singer

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

In 1986, as I was sort of going into a post-punk Hanoi Rocks stage, I found myself years away from being in a punk band. Cold War, my old band, died back in 1983, maybe earlier, and after I graduated, in 1984, I lost touch with the other members of the band.

So, like I was saying, back in 1986, there was a band playing around Los Angeles that was packing huge crowds, called Voyeur. I was at a party, and a couple of girls came up to me and started asking me about the bands I was into, so I rattled off bands like ‘Bad Religion, TSOL and I just saw Cherry Bombz.’ They stared for a minute and said they had never heard of any of them, but I should check out this band called Voyeur. They packed every club they played. I said ‘sure, I’d check them out.’ As it turned out they were playing the Country Club in Reseda that next Friday, I went with my friend Chris who lived around the block from me.

We parked in the back of the club in front of the Chinese restaurant The Great Wall paid $7.00 and walked in. A couple of cheesy glam bands went on first, then the whole place starts moving towards the stage, it was about 70% women, which was a huge difference from the punk shows I was used to.

The band had cool songs like Kiss prior to 1976, and the stage presence of the 1970’s Van Halen. The singer, Paul Lancia had a vocal range similar to Steve Perry of Journey. The rest of the band had glam-trash names like Michael Hunt and had a cool ‘don’t give a crap’ attitude. Anyway, once you went to one show, the chicks in the parking lot would tell you to come to the next show and want your phone number to call and remind you. It became a traveling party.

So, over the next six months, I went to, at least, 8 of their shows. They were good and fun. Then one night, as I was leaving a show at the Troubadour, Paul (the singer) pulls me aside and gives me his phone number; he tells me he lives in Tarzana, to come on over the next week. So, I called him and headed on over. It was weird to be going to his place because unlike the punk scene, I had never hung out with Paul or saw him anywhere. So, Paul wasn’t a regular dude, he was a rock star who wanted to hang out. Weird. I knock, Paul opens up, and as I walk in there is a really big guy about 200 – 250 lbs sitting at the kitchen table, staring at the wall, I reached out to shake his hand and say, “How are you doing?” But he doesn’t break his stare with the wall. Paul shook his head and said this was his uncle. Like that explained anything. We go into the living room, and Paul hands me a tape of Voyeur’s last show, he had it recorded off of the soundboard. I said, “Thanks,” and then he shows me a flyer of a group called Circus. I said, “Cool,” but I didn’t know what the flyer was for. He said in a very serious tone, this is my new group. I was surprised; Voyeur seemed to be going well. Anyway, Paul had secretly split from Voyeur; Circus was made up of Paul on vocals, Billy D’Vette on guitar, a guy named Dino on bass and I don’t remember the drummer’s name. Paul played me, the Circus demo, and they sounded very polished, not as party-trash sounding as Voyeur.

The guy who ran the Country Club was going to manage Circus and promised them a tour of Japan. Paul couldn’t say no. We rapped a bit more about what bands these guys came from, Bill D’Vette had his own band previously called . . . . wait for it, D’Vette, Dino had jammed with my friend Chris’ old band Harlot, on and on like this for about a half an hour. Then Paul asked, “You sing, right?” I said, “It was closer to screaming.” Paul then told me “You should audition for Voyeur.” I said “Really?” He said, “Yeah, I’ll have the guitarist from Voyeur call you.”

A day or so later Billy the guitarist from Voyeur (not D’Vette from Circus) calls me at home, and says “Paul recommended you for the band; I’d like to come by and audition you.” I said, “Great, come on by.” Gave him directions from his place in Van Nuys, to mine in Reseda.

Billy comes to the door, about 5 to 6 inches taller than me, (4 inches of it was the hair), with his acoustic guitar, and lyric sheets, and the original Voyeur demo tape. I look over the lyrics, and we listen to the demo, and he tells me “Make sure you use vibrato on this verse.” To this, I stare as blankly as Paul’s uncle. I had never heard the word vibrato in my life; I had never had any sort of vocal training or singing classes. I sang punk, no skill used – just raw energy, I pushed my voice through each song with youthful energy.

So, Billy, and I start running through the set of songs he had chosen, and each second I see his expression go from smiling to, almost horror. And I hear my voice crack, and turn into a shriek. Finally, Billy picks up his stuff and says thanks. I couldn’t say anything other than “Sorry.”

Looking back at it now, it would’ve been like George Thorogood auditioning for Rush. That night as I walked Billy to the door, I saw my mom and brother sitting on the couch; they both gave me that look, the look you give retarded kids when they appear in school plays or student presentations. The “poor thing” look.

I find out later, when I was in the middle of my audition, my brother came home from work and heard me “singing” and asked my mom “What’s wrong with Mike?” Seems he thought I was either crying or having some type of emotional breakdown. I was really freaking awful. I have never attempted to sing again, except for my children. My daughter loved my singing until she turned about 5, then she’d make faces, then I stopped, my son, Lucas, when he was three, loved my singing. What a great kid.

– Last One To Die, 2011

#michaelessington #lastonetodie

 

 

Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell

Tex Cobb

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

In 1993, I went to a weird little club with a friend of mine, Ed, who was managing a local band at the time, called 13th Love. Ed is a six-foot five black guy, who on first meeting seems intimidating, but was always the coolest guy to hang with. They had just released a CD that was financed and produced by former Vivid Girl, Tori Welles, cousin of the singer, Joe.

Anyway, Ed calls me up and tells me to meet him and the band in front of The Roxy, on Sunset, as the band, except for Joe and Ed, lived together in Hollywood. And from there we’d see where we would end up going. I got there around 9:00 pm in my black and silver smoking Thunderbird; smoking because of the horrible oil leak, not because it was a cool car.

Ed was standing in front of the Roxy on his cell phone, he looks up and asks if I have ever heard of a club called the Sunset Social Club, I shook my head and said no. Ed says it’s a new jazzy-type club that Mickey Rourke has been hanging out at lately, interested in going? I was game.

We got to the Sunset Social Club right around 10:00 pm, Ed whispered a few things to the big guy at the door and we walk in without a cover charge. The place was an old house turned into a club, so each bedroom had a different feel, one was dark, and another room was lit in red with a guy playing saxophone. It was cool. The living room was the bar/restaurant, seating and tables were along the walls facing the center of the room.

Anyway, I’m wandering from room to room listening to different music playing in each room, when suddenly, after 3 or 4 beers, I need to find the can. I look, and look and find myself back in the living room. I look around hoping to find Ed, he’d know by now where the restrooms are, when I notice at a table in the middle of the room is Randall “Tex” Cobb (you probably saw him in Ace Ventura), so I figure I need to talk to him, I was trying to make a living as a boxer so I used to rap with anyone who had a living at this. Tex Cobb fought Earnie Shavers, Michael Dokes, and Larry Holmes. Around this time in the 1990’s, Cobb was disqualified for using cocaine before the fight, as it turned out so did the other fighter.

So, I take a deep breath and go up to him and ask “Tex, I don’t mean to bug you, I think you’re a great fighter, and I was wondering if I could ask you a couple of questions?” He sat there mumbling to himself for a minute, and then growled real softly, “Get the fuck out of my face.” In my younger years, this didn’t fly with me, so I said back to him, “What the fuck did you just say to me?” To this Cobb jumped up and flipped the table and came at me, so instantly I took two steps back, put up my fists and waited for round one to begin, that second four or five bouncers jumped on him and took him to the floor, and from behind Ed picked me up around the waist and ran outside with me.

We went to the 13th Love house and the guys were watching an old Traci Lords flick and eating pizza, the night was a wash.

No Mickey Rourke sightings, I never found a bathroom at the Sunset Social Club and to this day I don’t know if I could’ve beaten Cobb. His drinking and coke use would’ve made him a helluva contender; he could’ve been somebody.

– Last One To Die, 2011

#michaelessington #lastonetodie

 

 

Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell

Fourth Grade

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Back in 1975, I think, when I was in fourth grade, I engaged in a game of kickball that turned into a “Mike should never be allowed to watch Billy Jack movies.”

I went to school with two of Spencer Milligan’s kids. Milligan was the dad on Land of The Lost. One of the boys was in my grade and the other, who I think was named Derek, was a grade younger. This was also around the same time my mom started babysitting Lisa Bonet. Lisa was also a year younger than me. My mom was semi-responsible for getting Lisa her first acting gig. Bonet’s mom knew my mother was a bit of a photographer and asked my mom to do some headshots for a Barbie commercial. My mom took the pictures of the eight-year-old Bonet and she landed the commercial.

Back to kickball and Billy Jack. One day at lunch I was playing kickball with a bunch of kids. It was my turn to kick. I sailed the ball down the third base line. A couple of kids dove to stop it and/or catch it. No luck. I ran around all the base and one kid, I think Derek, was chasing me. I passed home plate. Then Derek started yelling, “That doesn’t count, you stepped out of the baseline.”

Rather than doing my usual and fight the kids, I asked to see the ball. They handed it to me and I walked off. If you’re going to cheat, fuck you, I’m leaving. I left.

What I didn’t count on was both Derek and Lisa Bonet chased me, and from either side of me, they started tugging on the ball. For whatever reason, I got that Billy Jack scene in my head where he says, “I’m gonna take this right foot, and I’m gonna whop you on that side of your face and you wanna know something? There’s not a damn thing you’re gonna be able to do about it.”

So, the person on the right of me, Derek, got a foot to the stomach, I couldn’t reach his head, and he fell to the ground. Then, Lisa got the other foot to her stomach. She too was on the ground holding her freshly kicked gut.

I started running off with my kickball. Thinking that like Billy Jack there be no consequences (cue One Tin Solider). I looked back and Lisa and Derek were talking to the yard teacher and pointing at me. Oh fuck.

When the bell rang and we were summoned back to class, I was called outside immediately. I was told I would have to write standards, stay after school and then expect a phone call to my mother.

When I got home, I went into overdrive. I thought of everything in the world to get mom out of the house, “We need groceries, I need a book for school, and I need new shoes!” Nothing worked. Then right around 4:30 or 5:00 the phone rang and my mom talked to my teacher Mrs. Forney.

My mom got off the phone and asked/told me: “You kicked a girl in the stomach?” I tried to explain the cheating, I feared for my life and my newly gained ninja skills saved me.

I was grounded. No TV or dessert for a few days. After elementary school, I would completely lose touch with Derek and his brother. Lisa would hang out around my house (no, we never fought again) until the summer after my sixth-grade year. Then she popped up for a year in high school. In that year she never spoke to me. Then she moved to New York to make Cosby and met a guy named Romeo Blue. The rest is history I guess.

#michaelessington #misconceptionsofhell

 

 

Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell