I found this sweet prince on the same corner as the last prince. It’s the corner of Calle Tanca and Fortaleza. Not only is there a dive bar across the street, but next to the dive bar is a pizza spot that also happens to carry fancy beers. I can’t say the pizza was the greatest, but it was nice to be able to grab a fine crafted beer from time to time as opposed to the usual; Medalla Light. On this particular evening, I had met up with some drinking buddies before we decided to go on a tear. I couldn’t tell you what day it was. It seemed like everyday was Friday while I lived there. There was no need or special reason to go out and get ratty, it’s just what you did. I guess that’s the local way of dealing with island fever. I did say that those people know how to party, didn’t I? I had recognized this guy from around. He’s always trying to hustle up some scratch to get loaded. There’s a lot of that on the island. It gets a little depressing at times. I felt bad for this guy and left him a bottle of something a little fancier than his usual fare. I figured it was a nice thing to do to. We all need a little kindness from time to time.
There is a casino in Viejo San Juan that I frequented more often than I’d care to admit. I always felt like it was a goddamned trap as I always had to walk by it and almost always felt drawn to give it a go. This sleeping beauty was passed out by the post office which is right across the street from the El San Juan Hotel and Casino. I was on my way to post office to pick up a money order so that I could pay my rent. A chore that I dreaded because my landlord was kind of an asshole and this meant I was going to have to deal with her momentarily. I had been late with the rent the month prior. Two weeks late to be exact. I was pretty ashamed about the whole ordeal to begin with and how I got in that jam is a complete comedy of errors to be told at another time. The woman who was my landlord had already had a preconceived notion about me based on appearances. Now, she wasn’t totally off the mark in her assumptions. I was a fuck up and I was also in a dark place at that time. I couldn’t deny that. But I also didn’t think it was cool of her to hand me a pamphlet on heroin addiction when I went to pay all that I owed, late fees included. That really got under my skin and just the idea of dealing with her was stressing me the fuck out. I snapped a photo of this tired gentleman, grabbed my money order and decided that I would kill some time before I went back to my place and paid the piper. It was a lovely day that day. It was very bright and sunny out, it wasn’t too hot, all things considered, and the view of the harbor that laid just ahead was astounding. The HMS Bounty was docked and in plain sight amongst the massive cruise ships and I always loved the way that ship looked. A couple of months later the boat had a massive spill at sea off the coast of North Carolina due to Hurricane Sandy and I would never see it docked there again. I had enough of the sun and dipped into the aforementioned casino to try my luck. When a cruise ships come into town it meant a couple of things were certain; all the American fast food spots, like Burger King, were going to get mobbed by those that didn’t immediately decide to set up camp at Senior Frog’s across the street from the docks, the casino was going to get packed and the slots were going to get primed. This usually meant a good run with a one-armed bandit for me. Which it was. I walked out of that casino with about 600 bucks. I hit jackpot on the same penny slot twice in a row and damn near shit myself. Instead of pushing my luck further I decided to treat myself to a Cuban Sandwich and coffee at a lovely spot called Siglo XX and from there I would face my dreaded hag of a landlord with vigor. My landlady had a very young and somewhat pretty daughter,who liked to dress very promiscuous despite her age, and also happened to work in the office This gave me an idea. Feeling cocky and triumphant about my day I marched into the office and proceeded to pay my rent on time. With my rent was a pamphlet warning against teen pregnancy which I handed to the duo with a shit eating grin. I claimed my receipt, winked at the daughter to piss off the mom on the way out and figured it was a good day to be alive.
While I was living in PR I met a wonderful young woman and quickly fell in love. We are still together and she means the world to me. Hands down she is my favorite human being of all time. She had convinced me to move back to the states with her so that we could continue our life together. We would start with NYC and from there venture out into the world till we found a place we could truly settle and call home. In the initial stages of this plan I had moved stateside first. I had a job lined up and I figured I could rough it out on my grandfather’s couch in The South Bronx to save up for a place for the both of us for a few months until she arrived. That particular grandfather is a hard act to follow in terms of temperament and not the easiest man to get along with. This I say politely and respectfully. So with that said, I would disappear a good chunk of any day that I had off and venture about the 5 Boroughs. On this particular day I had ventured into Brooklyn to cop some weed and Xanax so that I could deal with my grandfather on the days I that I couldn’t venture out and to also see an old friend who I genuinely enjoy getting stoned and shooting the shit with. On my way back I found this fucker sprawled out on the bench of the train platform. As high as I was it was still very hard to fight the urge to kick this balding twat in the teeth. Allow me to better explain. This is the platform of the Bedford Ave. L Train. Ground Zero for the hipster epidemic. It used to be a an unloved and neglected part of town which I used to enjoy very much. Now it is overpriced and fully gentrified hell hole. Here before me was an able-bodied Caucasian looking male, clean clothed and sleeping on his newly purchased Apple laptop from J&R Music World and Electronics. I guess the over-privileged have just as much a right to sprawl out and take a nap in public as the homeless, but the reason why escapes me. This is still NYC and I don’t care how much this city has changed or how safe it’s become; you still don’t do shit like this. It’s like counting money in the street. Why not wear a shirt that says “Potential Victim” or invite strangers into your home while you are not there? Fuck this guy! Give me a nodded out junkie any day.
Allow me to take a large step back with this guy. This Sweet Prince is what I believe to be the very first of the heap. I took this photo while I lived in Jersey City, NJ while taking the PATH train home at night. I worked nights then, much like I do now, working security at a live music venue. I hated living in NJ and I hated the PATH even more. New Jersey mass-transit is terrible as a whole, but the PATH is its most repugnant after midnight. It kind of has a mind of its own and your wait for a train could be much longer than you anticipated. The train ride itself was cross between an oddities exhibit and a zoo in equal parts. During my late night commutes from NYC to NJ was able to witness a woman stroke her pet hedgehog will sweetly saying she wished she had some flat bread to put it on so that she could eat him all up (I have a pic to prove it!), I watched two young girls pass a big gulp container back and forth to vomit in after a hard night of clubbing and I’ve also woken up to a guy masturbating violently under his book-bag while staring at an attractive woman who was sleeping on the train. That got interesting, but I’ll tell that one another time. I’ve also seen bums make love to each other on that train ride home and watched a tranny rip lines of blow off the seat and then point out to her other tranny friends that her boner was clearly visible through her leggings. All this and more is what waits for you on the PATH after midnight! But that is also not to say that it was all bad. I mean, look at this guy. I love this guy and I don’t even know who he is. Obviously, he had a hell of a time. He’s stone cold drunk with lipstick smashed into his forehead and he couldn’t give two shits. While he’s nowhere near as bad as the homeless, it’s quite clear he’s fucked. And, while he’s probably better off financially than I am, he’s not throwing it in my face by sleeping on his brand new macbook. He was just a man on a mission to nowhere and I could appreciate that.
This was the most recent of my Sweet Prince photo journey. A dead bird. From the looks of it this fellow had taken that first leap that either makes or breaks birds. In this case our young fledgling failed and plummeted to its death. But that’s life in a nutshell, or, in this case, eggshell. You can either do or die, but you have to at least try. Everything is a gamble and your odds start at 50/50 and either increase in your favor or decrease along the way. I could relate to this as I had left home at a considerably young age and had to figure most of it out on my own. I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. I’ve also managed to somehow stay afloat, though often times barely. I found this poor guy on my way to see my friend whom I have my herbal powwows with. On my way back home, which is now in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, I stopped and stared at this bird some more and pondered on things some deeply, as most stoners do. This could have been me. It could still be me. Eventually it will be me. Life has only two promises; you will be born and you will most certainly die. What you do in-between is entirely up to you. The obvious choice, to me, is to make the best of it regardless of what is stacked against you. So with that I wished this poor baby bird, long deceased, a good night. I thanked it for its perspective and wished it a long journey in its next life.
Many years ago I somehow got this brilliant idea to take pictures of people sleeping and dead animals and coming up with a smart ass comment to post on social media. A lot of those people caught sleeping are homeless. The rest are either random strangers or friends. The latter hate me for it and the former have yet to catch me. Admittedly, it is a dick move. One which I still constantly pull.
This was probably the first of what would become many. I found this guy sleeping in The West Village in that little triangle where Christopher St. And 6th Ave. meet. It was early spring and still a little cool out. I thought it was hilarious that this person had decided that this was a place to get cozy. I believe the hood of the jacket being pulled tight to block out the sun was the icing on the cake. Part of me admired this person’s sense of liberty.
Then there is this guy. I found this guy outside of an Oi! gig in Brooklyn. This kid was a train wreck. He was probably the only one to ever catch me taking a photo of them. I was promptly invited to a punch up, which I impolitely declined. The kid, although sizable, could barely stand and he had piss stains on his pants upon closer inspection. I laughed it off and walked away. Over time I would revisit this picture and think of how many times, in my youth and adulthood, had I been found like that or in similar states. It’s not really a pleasant thought and a harsher reality. But that’s life when you grow up fast. That’s life when you let something eat at you. And, that’s life when you’re not ready to accept life.
One very cold winter in Bushwick, BK I found this guy. I was on my way to the bodega on the corner to grab my usual two tall boys of Red Stripe. It was a very bad time in my life. Probably the beginning of some of the darkest days I will ever know. I drank a lot then. Way too much, if I may be honest. Something about this rat that froze to death in the cold kind of hit a nerve. “His fate could very well be my fate if I didn’t shape up”, I had said to myself. I didn’t quite get the message when I had that epiphany. I instead bought a one way ticket to Puerto Rico and swore I wouldn’t die in the cold shortly after this picture was taken. I put this up on social media and titled it “Good Night, Sweet Prince.” It tickled a well respected colleague’s fancy and a tagline was born. I tag him on a lot of these, which is also probably a dick move. His family and friends must often wonder who the asshole is that keeps tagging him on pictures of bums and dead animals.
I took this beauty in the months before I set sail to PR. Something about this caught my eye. The roll of toilet paper only added to the reality of it all. There were some tourists on the train yelling at some cops who were also stationed on the train about her. The police did nothing. That’s life in NYC. It’s like that Fear song “I Love Livin’ In The City” where it talks about how the junkie is king and the air smells shitty. Well, here’s one of the 5 Borough’s many queens. We treat poverty and drug addiction like crimes and we will only help you by offering you one placebo after another. Like everything else in this town, it’s a hustle.
Do you see this guy? I mean look at this guy!!! Pimpin’s hard and sometimes you’ve got to take a break from that long-shoe game. He’s sleeping well because his third string hoes are probably pulling a profit and he can probably give his baddest bitches the night off. Or at least that might have been the case once. This is a unicorn of an image and I love it. I found him when I was crashing with some friends before I set sail. My flight was two weeks after my rent agreement had finished and a very kind couple offered their couch to me. I was on my way back from work. I somehow managed to get lost, just like this time traveler. I took the picture because I thought I could relate at the time.
I was coming back from a trip to the Bronx. My grandfather and I decided to catch dinner and make amends over some bad blood. I was actually touched by his actions and it made me kind of forgive him for some of the mistakes he made. I had done some wandering about after I had left his place. It was a very bitter winter that year. That night was particularly cold and crisp. I found this mummy on the ride back to Brooklyn. It kind of got me thinking about how I was technically homeless and about to embark on a massive journey. I wasn’t sure if I prepared or had packed appropriately. Which, later, I realized I hadn’t. I had to wonder if in all of this person’s problems, were they really as prepared as they thought they were given their current state.
Less than 48 hours from the time of this photo I had been in NYC waiting for my one way flight to PR. NYC could kiss my ass for all I could care. It could take its miserable 9 degrees and stick it right up its rat infested ass. So here I was in Puerto Rico taking my one man act of nihilism and over indulgence to new levels. It seemed so hot here upon my arrival. Hot and humid in the most unforgiving ways. I’d later grow to get used to it. But I can, within an instant, recall with great detail how that sun would singe my skin instantly and how sticky everything felt. My second night on the island my friends and I ventured to a club in Carolina, if I am not mistaken. I was given the driving duties to get there. I had no license what so ever. Also, driving gives me anxiety. I drove singing “Uptight” by Stevie Wonder to keep me calm as my passengers drank and snorted coke. We saw one of Mimi and Sergio’s many talented bands. I forget the name of this one. They sounded like X and The Gun Club. I proceeded to get banged out. Man could these people party! Someone else who was neither the owner of the car nor had a driver’s license was behind the wheel now. We went to a bar in Rio Piedras. The streets were filled with a nightlife like I had never seen before. The Caribbean was such a beautiful place at night. The music, the women, the rum and the way the ocean breeze would give you such a gentle relief at night; all so very intoxicating. I was feeling like such an alien. I was in over my head with a lot of things here. I felt very lonely. I was shuffling off to the bathroom to have a piss, a panic attack and a bump of coke. All in that order, too. Somewhere on that mission I found this guy. Suddenly, things weren’t so bad.
By the time I snapped this one, I’d been living in Old San Juan for a while. I was listening to The Marked Men a lot around this time if memory serves me propper. I had just stopped off at a dive bar to have a beer to wash down the pizza I was eating that also happened to have an 8th of psychedelic mushrooms on it when I found this guy. I loved tripping out on the fort wall of El Morro, sprawled out on the bricks much like this guy. It had a huge clearing that sort of helped reduce light interference that made the night time sky absolutely amazing to look at. It was much like being in a planetarium. Very serene, with the ocasional shooting star. The point that I liked to set up camp also provided an excellent view of the shoreline. You could see the cemetery, the battered homes in La Perla and it’s empty streets to San Crystobal. Past that you could see that little beach up by Puerto De Tierra and all the way up to the Condado shoreline. I usually surrendered my camp when I realized that ants were eating me alive and teenagers had also set up camp and were fucking all around me. I stopped off at a local bar, El Farolito, and had a whiskey and coconut water while trying to keep some composure. The bar, tiny as it was, was packed to the gills. None of them were faces I knew, save for the bartender. I paid my tab, which was somewhat difficult at the moment and marched on into the night. This gentlemen still slept peacefully in the same place I had found him as I embarked on the long route home. I made a point to also check out the Princess Walk which was also one of my favorite views, on drugs or otherwise. The churro stand was still open and I maintained to up the ante on my level of delinquency and got one churro with dulce de leche and another stuffed with warm nutella. Awkwardly, I marched my tripping ass to my small one bedroom whilst trying to eat my churros in the neatest of ways possible. I must’ve been a sight to behold in the most disgraceful of ways. Later I laid in bed, listening to music and looking at the internet through my phone, as I didn’t have internet in my house. I uploaded the picture of this sleeping prince on the web. I admitted, only to myself, in that dark room, how that man had most certainly been more at ease with himself. I smoked a bunch of pot and drifted off into the night.
I like listening to music. It’s absolutely my most favorite thing to do, second only to ejaculation. And sometimes I try to figure out ways to combine the two. God I love that.
My favorite way to listen to music is when I am alone. I eat it and absorb it with as little disturbance as possible. I’ve mulled over things a little and hands down, my favorite way to listen music is when I am on the subway. If I am a little stoned and have a cup of coffee in hand I am probably on the verge of sheer bliss. I actually get a little bummed out when I have to travel with company because it means I can’t listen to music.
But even then, that’s ok, because I also like to watch. I can’t stay focused on the train because I am always looking at or for weird things. I love weird things. I love noticing the flaws,odd characteristics, nervous ticks, and everything in-between. Got a weird mole? I want to see it. You blink 5 times every few seconds? I think that’s cool. You’re a hot girl who has an extremely fuzzy upper lip? Amazing! Creepy old man? I love you. Full on homeless lunatic who is actually reading Nietzsche? I even love you too. I have a terrible curiosity and I am also very observant.
Sure, I like other things a lot too. I have a strong appreciation for art and can be artistic. I like food and have knack for cooking as well. Cinema and video games eat up a lot of my time and I obviously enjoy literature as well, but my meat and potatoes is music. God damn if I don’t love a good song! And I can be severely judgmental about other people’s taste in music. It’s a major character flaw.
Prior to rocking out on the subway I used to like listening to music in bed. It helps me fall asleep. It’s a bad habit that always leaves me in fear of strangling myself to death. I’ve damaged many a good pair of headphones doing this and I am pretty sure it has driven every woman I have ever had a serious relationship with batshit crazy. I’m sorry about that but I can’t help it either.
I started listening to music at night with my headphones on when I was a real little kid. My Pop had bought me a little boom-box when I was about 5 or so. I was stoked about it. It was my favorite thing in the entire world. I still think about it all the time. It was a silver two speaker and one cassette AM/FM Panasonic boom box. I would tape the shit out of songs on the radio. I tuned in to all sorts of radio shows and developed a wide appreciation for music almost instantly.
Money was tight with my folks back then so I would sometimes have to figure out what songs I could tape over and what tapes would have to get erased and then reused. I remember i found a case of self help cassettes and felt like I won the lottery as it meant I had more cassettes to tape over. I had even gotten good at repairing cassettes and I could even re-splice the tape if need be. I would make these bomb ass mix tapes when I finally got a double deck. I still make mixes to this day. It’s a terrible hobby and I become a perfectionist about it sometimes which can make small projects into a 3 Cd affair. I tend to make mixes to motivate me in some way or to help me sleep. When I was a kid my parents would fight a lot and I would want to drown it all out. My old man had a hell of a temper back then. I figured rather than getting worked up over some dark outcome with all the commotion I could just put up a wall of sound and let go. I could just tune out reality completely. I didn’t like reality then. I generally don’t like reality now and have a very difficult time dealing with it. This has oftentimes lead me down some very dark roads. Listening to music has become a way for me to keep grounded. It’s very important to me.
I have my father to thank for getting me into music. He also had an appreciation for music. His favorite music ritual was to drive as fast as humanly possible while blaring Deep Purple. He had a thing for “My Woman From Tokyo” and “Mississippi Queen” if I remember correctly. He schooled me on lot of really cool shit in those rides. Black Sabbath, The Doors, Blue Cheer, Rolling Stones, Genesis when Peter Gabriel sang for them, The Police, Amon Duul, Yes, Soft Machine, Edgar Winter, Alvin Lee & Ten Years After, Mountain, King Crimson, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, ZZ Top and even motherfuckin’ Barry White where some of the gems my Pop’s was holding. He also had a thing for lecturing me on those rides. It felt like he was always down my throat for some shit. Never happy. Never satisfied. So I’d say “fuck it” and tune him out. It would drive him ape when he realized I wasn’t paying attention and he’d turn off the radio. Then it was only a matter if time before he’d cave in and turn it back on and then it became the game of exchanging daggers with glances. We never did see much eye to eye. He also hated that I fell asleep with headphones on. I think he may have even planted that seed of fear that I have about strangling myself someday if I continue with my reckless ways.
It’s kind of funny how something so beautiful, much like a flower, can have it’s roots so deeply embedded in shit, isn’t it?
I once had a staring contest with myself. I wanted nothing more than to look into the eyes of the one person I hated most and bear deep down into his soul and see what he was made of. Would I be looking into the eyes of a real motherfucker or would I be staring down some chicken-shit nancy boy? I wasn’t entirely sure either, but what I did know is shit was going down and it was going to go down now.
So there I stood in front of the mirror. This was it, this was the showdown. At first I coolly looked myself dead in the eyes. I immediately noticed how stubborn I was. Why was I doing this? Regardless,I refused to break eye contact. I started to notice the details of my eyes. The almond shape, how judgmental they appear at first glance and the overall darkness were the first few moments focus. I started to notice the wrinkles I had accumulated over the years. Then I started to look deeper. How wild eyed I must appear at times? The irides both big and brown with a light hazel ring around the very edges. A dark rich brown much like a dark chocolate or a healthy shit. I could make out the stroma and I noticed how much it reminded me of a sea urchin the way it expanded and contracted. My cold stare was now focused on what could be considered a warm embrace at times. A look that could possibly warm a lover’s heart. Could I be caving in?
What seemed like minutes had passed. My eyes were watering, tearing, as I held my gaze. I was not about to give in. I was too far invested to cash out now. There was a slow searing feeling as my eyes began to sting from the tears. I wanted to blink desperately. This was crunch time. Time to see who is who. I focused on the blackness of my pupils. The emptiness. The void within. Hollow. I fixated on this and began to wonder how many people do this? How many people can? It’s no easy task to look oneself in the eye, to be able too look into the windows of your own soul and see all your features. Your cracks and crevice reveal your moments of selfishness, weakness, strengths and beauty within. We take so much time studying others that we forget to study ourselves.
I swam in the black pools of my eyes for what seemed like eons. I had finally felt the calm. I had let go. And with that I blinked. I snapped back into reality only to realize that only fools have staring contests with themselves. This endeavor was no-win situation at best.
Perhaps, I had lost… Perhaps, I had won.
My god is the god of all endings. A god neither to be loved or feared. Without discrimination my lord will dole out expiration in manners deemed just and unjust. Fairness and equality do not matter, nor have they ever. Man follies over these concepts. And that, perhaps, is one of man’s biggest sins. These things are vanities at best, and nothing more than an illusion. Illusions are lies. Man is the only animal that lies to itself and pretends that it is not an animal. We are probably the only species that can teach itself to deny it’s own natural instincts. Nature is pandemonium, to be put simply. And, if god makes man in his own image, then my god is the god nihilism and uncertainty, my god is the something born out of nothing. A deity whom most ignore but is the highest ruling of all. My god is Chaos and it knows only one equal and rival and that rival is Time. The two cannot exist without each other.
Life is chaos. To live, or even love is chaos. A 50/50 chance at best, even when there are no odds. There is only one way to cope with it. Only one way to deal with it, and that is to remember where you are, the here and now, and just roll with the changes. You are your own god. You sail your own ship. Don’t fight it. Accept that we as humans must constantly adapt in order to survive. That we must constantly evolve in order to continue our journey to nowhere. Onwards into oblivion, the only true Heaven, because we do not know our true limits. Nor shall we ever.
And that is also why Time and Chaos cannot exist without the other. All things end and all things begin. The Big Bang. It is uncertain how long we will exist, yet we will exist and are certain to expire.
The true trinity is not of the Father,Son and Holy Ghost; it is Chaos, Adaptation and Time. To squander time is a sin for we never know how much we have because there is no such thing as certainty. Our only certainty is our mere presence and nothing more.
I have to remember, as do we all, that I am here, and now, and that, and all it contains, is what truly matters and that it should be rejoiced and not reviled and abused. We must appreciate what is now and what it is worth and we must carry on.
This is my reality.