My parents are hoarders. I didn’t know this growing up, or when I left for college, or even years after graduating. The realization only came to me when I had to clean out their horrid basement.
My childhood home is being renovated and there’s a huge dumpster posted in our driveway. I was supposed to throw things away in it. But before I emptied the stacks of cobweb-covered bins into the dumpster, I looked at the many artifacts contained in them. I didn’t find any swag… nope, just some fucking shit. Here’s a tiny fraction of the things my parents saved, knowing how precious they’d be to me later in life.
But first, a view inside my folks’ overstuffed cellar—my former skate park, punk rock venue, and place to hide from everyone. As I descended those familiar rickety steps, my dormant dust allergies kicked in and I got really claustrophobic. I visualized the basement without all this shit—in New York City it would be an epic loft if empty—and a desire to throw out the boxes of Christmas ornaments, action figures, spare parts, and damp magazines rose up in me. I’m not an asshole, I just value space and hate clutter… at least I do now.
Panoramic view of the western side of my parent’s basement.
When you’re brought up in a suburban hoarding atmosphere, you aren’t aware that saving twist-ties from loaves of bread in Bavarian butter cookie tins is weird. I know it is now. The plastic bin labeled “Broken VCRs” that’s right next to another orange bin with a sticker that states “Moldy Books” is also weird. We have tons of VHS tapes, so maybe the broken VCR box isn’t that strange. And the moldy books belonged to my great grandfather, so sentiment might dictate holding on to them. But that’s my hoarder side talking. OK, yes it’s fucked up.
More shit in the basement.
The garage is totally fucked too.
Now, onto the spoils of my excavation, AKA the shit my parents should have thrown away years ago.
GREMLINS BOOK REPORT
Did you know the movie Gremlins was actually adapted from a novel? Of course you didn’t, because it wasn’t man. It’s just some crappy unwatchable 80s movie. I put the “rules” on the construction paper cover because didn’t want anyone to fuck up and create any of those shitty evil Gremlins. They might show up and ruin my house.
A PAGE OF GUITAR TABLATURE
I wanted a Gibson Explorer or a Flying V in seventh grade, but knew that was a pipe dream. Instead, I promised to take lessons and learn to read music if my parents got me any electric guitar. A guy in my social studies class wrote out some essential parts to “Crazy Train” for me, and included this encouraging note explaining just what a God Randy Rhoads was.
MOLDY COPY OF PYROMANIA
See, I am a hoarder. This was one of the first albums I picked out on my own, probably because Def Leppard was on MTV every 15 minutes and they weren’t Duran Duran. Fun fact : MTV played so many unknown British bands heavily early on because it was cheaper to license their videos. You can read about it [here](http://www.amazon.com/Want-My-MTV-Uncensored-Revolution/dp/0525952306 Revolution/dp/052595230).
TERM PAPER ON FIREWORKS
The Chinese invented fireworks. Did you know that? Probably. You can read this entire paper and you won’t learn much more.
RESEARCH PAPER ON PORNOGRAPHY NUMBER ONE
This was a milestone for me. We were allowed to do a term paper on “any topic we could research in the school library.” Our library sucked and only had a few hundred books. But I knew where the card catalog was and looked up the first thing I could think of: porn. They had a bunch of books, magazines, and microfiche about pornography. I was pretty stoked that I wouldn’t have to write about a war or an invention.
RESEARCH PAPER ON PORNOGRAPHY NUMBER TWO
You know what the difference is between senior level high school AP English and Freshman English at a fine arts university? Nothing. I handed this same paper in again but changed the title and retyped it on an actual typewriter. I think this was supposed to keep us from cheating—it didn’t.
LETTER FROM POWELL PERALTA
I wrote to Powell Peralta early in the winter of 1988. I didn’t even have a Powell board—I left my Mike Vallely at my cousin’s beach house—but they were the shit. I don’t know what the fuck I wrote that made me have a “Powell attitude,” but I suspect I kissed up to them, hoping for free stickers.
PICTURE OF ME FALLING ON A SKATEBOARD
That’s me in a hat cut from the leg of a pair of sweatpants, a Natas Kaupas T-shirt, riding a Ray Barbee deck (maybe I did have a Powell attitude). We were trying to learn one-foot tail grabs off this ledge. I didn’t on this attempt, and instead landed in a pose similar to the slam-dancing Circle Jerks logo guy.
A KIND OF GOOD SKATEBOARDING PICTURE
Taken with a disposable camera in the winter of 1992. We would shovel the snow the skate park and the sun would melt the rest. The guy in the picture was named Aljo, he was older than most of us and had muscles—real ones. He was always down to drive, had a “real job,” and kept us from getting the shit kicked out of us by townies. On top of this, he was originally from California, so he was the coolest.
SCARY CHRISTMAS TREE ORNAMENT
One of my ex-girlfriends made this for me when she was attending the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. It reminds me of the Pixies song “U-Mass” and how her roommate allegedly fucked Dickie Barrett in their dorm room.
A ZINE THAT WAS FREE BECAUSE I GOT IT IN PERSON
I tried to thumb through this “personal zine,” but didn’t make it far, which isn’t saying much because it’s eight pages long. There was something about Green Day being sellouts, and something about another thing. I’m sorry if this is your zine and you’re reading this now thinking, “Man, this guy is a prick,” but you really need to get a grip and let it go.
A MUDHONEY FLEXI
"Dude, grunge is the next big thing… it’s AWESOME. I can't wait to put on this Mudhoney flexi disc that came with an issue of Reflex, it’s going to rule. Wait, this magazine sucks: they gave Skin Yard a good review. I should have bought that Unrest 7” instead."
OUT COLD SPREAD FROM ZINE
This was the spread in some random free zine I picked up at a record store in New Hampshire in the fall of 1992. It was raining so hard that I had to stay in the store way too long—like the entire duration of Metal Machine Music long. This is the type of thing that gets you sent to “bad kid school” if your parents find it. I found a used copy of the Repo Man soundtrack that day, and my folks never found this zine.
HIGH SCHOOL PUNK PAINTING
If you’re wondering why I didn’t pursue a career in printmaking, this acrylic painting might give you some clues. Bet you weren’t aware of all the riches hiding under Jesus’ robe huh? Check the “subliminal” dick in the cloud too.
PLASTIC CASE PART ONE
Hoarders do fucked up shit, like put some random object into a protective case. This souvenir patch from Alcatraz is a great example. I would have worn it if it said “inmate” not “warden.”
PLASTIC CASE PART TWO
But wait; there are actually TWO things in this case. Behind the Alcatraz patch is a Topps Dave Magadan card. I hated the Mets for pissing on my hopes and dreams in ’86, so why the fuck did I save a Mags card? Answer: I didn’t, my parents did… they’re hoarders remember?
CASPAR WORD SEARCH
I’m not even sure this is mine, because I’m always good at finding drugs and alcohol, but it was in the bin. I’m going to text someone BFA this week in response to “what’s up.” When they ask WTF that means, I’ll say “Booze, Food, Attitude, you fucking drip.”
AD FOR A SKATEBOARDER GOOD LUCK CHARM
I’m going to 155 East 55th Street tomorrow with $2 and demanding one of these and the skateboarder’s creed too.
DAT CASSETTE WITH PUSHEAD’S HANDWRITTING
In the mid-90s, Pushead was making his way back in the punk and hardcore mix after a hiatus drawing crap for Dr. Dre and Soundgarden. Pus asked my band to give him a track for one of his Bacteria Sour compilation 7”s. We didn’t realize he meant it should be exclusive. He got pretty heated when we later rerecorded it and released this exact version on CD years later. Sorry man. Oh, and if you don’t know what a DAT is, it doesn’t matter. They sound like shit.