This is something that I have to admit I don’t like talking about. Its a part of my life so distant from me now that there’s barely any connection left between the asshole I once was and now. But in the current culture I feel its necessary to be very clear so that no one ever feels that I’ve lied to them.
During my angry stupid years I made a ton of giant mistakes. Mistakes that tried to drag me down and twist my reason. I lost a lot of those battles- but I won the war.
When I talk about these terrible errors in judgment please keep in mind that I am offering an explanation- not an excuse. I was 18 and angry at the world and unfortunately listened to the wrong people. Don’t make my mistake. I would also like to point out that although I did lots that was illegal at the time (most of which I do not regret at all) I never physically harmed anyone. A fact I am very grateful for. I’m sure I hurt lots of people’s feelings, but I said I was an asshole then. That’s what assholes do.
So now we get down to it. WAY back in 1990 I was 19 years old and became a nazi skinhead. As I said- I was stupid and angry and listened to the wrong people. Yes I wanted to believe it and all that. I even for a time quit drugs because I felt that Hitler would disapprove. No idea if that’s true or not and I couldn’t care less now. Everything in my entire world was a lie back then. Still not to far from that now. But I made the wrong choices because I was angry and frustrated like all 19 year olds are.
I definitely want to point out also that unlike a lot of my fellow skinheads no person in my family was ever racist or preached anything along those lines. In fact if they had I probably would have rebelled against that and this would be a very different story. So partially it was about rebelling but mostly it was the same thing it is for all of them still. You feel better about yourself when you can blame your problems on someone else. That’s all it is. “I didn’t fuck up my life- You Did!!!” Naw- sorry asshole- You fucked up your life yourself. And eventually I realized the truth of that.
There was an eye opening moment that’s worth sharing. The big thing I could never get past was this: How could Eddie Murphy be a bad person? James Earl Jones? Richard Prior? Jimi Hendrix? It was a long list and yeah its very debatable who should have been on it. At the time Bill Cosby was high up on that list but we’ll skip past that. The point is I couldn’t justify the hate. Its easy to hate a whole group, but individuals you need a specific reason to hate and that fact was one of the biggest cracks in my armor. If you couldn’t logically hate every member of a group than how logical is it to hate the whole group? My fellow skinheads had no issues at all with being complete hypocrites. They would rant about white power while listening to Public Enemy. For most of them it wasn’t a lifestyle at all really, nor was it anything about morality or justice. They didn’t even know what they were saying. They just liked that people feared them. It helped them feel less pathetic I guess, but to me it was becoming more and more a sick feeling I needed to escape from. Violence is an addiction. The more you do it the more you want to do it. The more normal it seems for you. And when you want violence but don’t do it, it will slowly eat you alive from the inside.
But the real thing that clinched it all for me came after I wrapped my car around a telephone pole as a 21st birthday present to myself. Like I said- LOTS of mistakes. I was drunk and made the wrong choice to try and drive home. I’m eternally grateful every day still that I was the only one hurt other than my totaled car and the poor defenseless telephone pole. I woke up three days after the accident with no idea what had happened. Its not a feeling I would wish on anyone but nothing makes you think about your choices like waking up in a hospital not knowing how you got there.
I was in a wheelchair for a few weeks and had pins holding my right wrist together for three months. Being an artist this definitely hit home deep. Would it effect my abilities? How badly had I fucked up?
I was already starting to pull away from the skinhead scene and that kind of thinking when this happened so when my Jewish doctor saved my ability to draw, paint and play music despite the swastika tattoo on my left pointer finger (long since tattooed over) I took notice in a big way. I was wrong. Just plain wrong. Nothing left to do but sever the ties and try to figure out who I really am.
Of course it took a little longer than that to sink in and it took me years to recover. I had lost most of my friends understandably and skinheads don’t like it when you don’t want to be one any more. Being called a traitor and attacked by people I thought were my friends just a few months before was horrible but definitely hammered the last nails in that coffin.
I’m so lucky that a few of my close friends who hadn’t also been wrapped up in that scene actually forgave me and helped me recover and for that I’m eternally grateful. Especially to Joey who I owe my life to many times over.
I’m telling you all this just so that you don’t hear about it later and think I was dishonest with you. I fucked up. Bad. But I also want you to realize this- Contrary to “common knowledge” people can change. Its not easy at all and failure is always waiting around the corner. Habits are always buried deep and changing them is a huge challenge. But it can be done and I am proof.
It wasn’t until eight years later in art school that I finally felt I had returned to who I was before all that started. And that’s the helpful tip here. If you need to change something about yourself- learn something new. You can’t erase the past but learning always helps you change how you see the past and that’s the key. Yeah- I fucked up big time. I’m not denying it at all. But for me today when I look back all I can see is how amazingly far from all that I am now and that brings a smile to my face and calms my heart.
Just to be clear: I am completely against any and all forms of prejudice or discrimination.
Until we get past this lame idea that you run the world by forcing people to do things against their will we will never see an end to racism.
Racism is a symptom- Not the cause.
Not thinking for yourself is the cause.
FREE THINKING PEOPLE DO NOT FOLLOW.
Try to keep love in your heart but more importantly keep your eyes and your mind open and most of all think for yourself and be very sure those thoughts are really yours.