America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters.
One night around 1984 I went and saw the Freeze at the Anthrax in Stamford. I met a really cool kid who had been going off for the opening bands who said his name was Heap. He was only 14 years old. Everyone took note of him because even though he was really young, he moshed like a maniac for every band. In the beginning days of the Anthrax, not too many new kids came, so when someone showed up out of the blue you were psyched and naturally you’d introduce yourself. So I befriended Heap and showed him around, pointed out what sketchy streets to avoid (there were plenty), and brought him to the deli down the street to get a drink.
On the way he told me that he had just run away from home because life with his mom was too hellish to even explain, and that he had pretty much been living wherever he could for a couple of weeks, even to the point of sleeping on park benches all night with a stick by his side in case someone fucked with him. I remember thinking that this kid is so friggin’ little and already has a pretty rough life. I said “Damn, bro, that’s harsh, what are you gonna do now?” He said his plan was to hop a train to New York City and hide in the bathroom so he wouldn’t have to pay. I was like “Do you know anybody? Do you have anywhere to go when you get there?” He said he didn’t but he would just walk to the Lower East Side and try to meet some punks to stay with.
I remember thinking that here was a kid who in a normal world would be at home watching cartoons and studying his multiplication tables, and yet somehow at 14 years old, this brave little bastard was about to go alone to the ghetto of New York City – with no money, no friends and not much of an alternative. I was a little scared for him and sincerely shook his hand and said “Hey I hope everything works out for you, good luck bro.” He kind of laughed and said “Yeah, I’m probably gonna need it.” Then we went back to the Anthrax and we both moshed for the Freeze like our lives depended on it.
A year or two later, I was walking down 3rd Ave. on my way to a matinee at CBGB’s when I saw Raybeez with a bunch of skinheads on the corner. He said “Yo Porcell, meet the newest member of Warzone!” and put his hand on this kid’s shoulder. I said “Heap, holy crap man, remember me from the Anthrax? Damn, you made it to New York alive!” He smiled and said, “Yeah, and I don’t go by Heap anymore, you can call me Todd Youth.”
We met, it seems, such a short time ago
You looked at me - needing me so
Yet from your sadness
Our happiness grew
And I found out I needed you too
I remember how we used to play
I recall those rainy days
The fire’s glow
That kept us warm
And now I find - we’re both alone
Goodbye may seem forever
Farewell is like the end
But in my heart is a memory
And there you’ll always be
Then I wondered if the old guy’s wife ever thought about him. I decided that she didn’t, or if she did, it was hardly in the same way he thought about her. The whole earth crawled with sad hurt people like him.
i don’t feel worthy of being alive today.