By Boris Throbaum
“You say I run with a dangerous crowd, we ain’t too pretty, we ain’t too proud, we might be laughing a bit too loud but that never hurt no one.” – Billy Joel.
“Baby this town rips the bones from your back, it’s a death trap, a suicide trap, we gotta get out while we’re young…” – Bruce Springsteen.
My friend Gwen Camelot and I have started working on a novel about the days we spent hanging around an apartment simply named by those who attended the five year party there, three twenty two. It’s location:322 First Street, Westfield, NJ
, hence, the name of the place.
Twenty five years and roughly two months ago, I walked out of the place so filled with memories of wild sex, serious drugs and a level of alcohol consumption bordering on the truly absurd. Friday and Saturday nights would mean the place would have an over capacity crowd of people either part of the scene or curious enough to come and view “the dark side” alive and in person.
BlindChristian, Gonz Blinko and I all met in or around 322 or associated events. None of us can remember our initial encounters but all of us have vague memories about a lot of things that went on during those days. I lived at 322 with two guys named Walter, we called one Wally and the other Walt to ensure we new which one may be discussing. If only one was in the room, we could assume that he was the subject at hand but, given our frequent inability to formulate coherent sentences, one might have trouble making sense of many things we said back then.
As I said, twenty five years and a couple of months ago, I walked out of that place which remains something of a legend among the local police force. I would wander far a field and, excepting BC, Gwen and Igor G. Grief (lead singer and bass player from the band Maggot) I lost touch with most of the old gang.
First, Gwen, Igor and I moved to the Boston area where the two of them still live. Igor and I tried to get a few new bands together to replace his old act and my membership in the long forgotten Corporate Pigs. We did some very interesting demo tapes but nothing we could play live which makes selling tapes virtually impossible. Gwen started something called The Luncheonettes which Igor and I helped her produce but faded faster than the things we tried to assemble.
At roughly the same point in history, hardcore punk seemed to have run its course so many of our “skills” no longer applied. In 1985, two years after we went to Boston, I took a trip to Goa, on the Indian coastline, to visit a friend and, mooching off of my parents, selling the occasional article and the odd job I would find here and there, I basically spent most of the time since leaving 322 wandering around the world, chasing the occasional adventure, falling in and out of love too many times to remember and basically living as a very well traveled bum with a lot of good, although somewhat stretched stories to tell.
I’ve recently returned to New York where I’ve hung out with BC, Gonz, Gonz’s girlfriend (I didn’t take the time to learn her name as she won’t last long), Allie and some others from the old crowd. I retook possession of my old apartment on WashingtonHeights and I look for things to do with my time.
On a visit to Boston, Gwen and I decided to write a novel about the 322 days and, in a momentary burst of optimism, we thought that a 25th reunion would be in order. When you run with a crowd like ours, you expect that a few would have died, a few would have gone missing (hell, I was AWAL for about 20 years) and some may be incarcerated – we were not nice people.
As we’ve tried to track down the old gang via google and other online resources, we are finding that the corpses are leading the pack against the still breathing and those in prison. Planning this event went from a festive kind of thing to one that depresses as much as it fulfills. We owe it to those who managed to survive to hold this event as we need to ask the gods of healing for help with the mourning of our dead and to help lift some of the survivor’s guilt many of us struggle with.
Boris Throbaum is the name I used when in the Corporate Pigs. This alter-ego went on a long hiatus which he will write about in the future. We are really working on a book and reunion of the people around our old haunts and we are really finding quite a large number of corpses.
I asked Igor, who lives and breathes under his real name, why so many died but we escaped. He said, “Death rejected us.”