A Bum In A Pit: Justin Sane
By ice rivers
When my good friend Albert was, through the use of acid, weed, cocaine and hash, transforming into Justin Sane, he had a tendency to become very philosophical.
At that time he was living in the basement of his parent's house. His parents Al and Marge lived on the first floor. His grandparents Al and Maude lived on the second floor with their grown daughter Carol.
Al's Dad was an ex-marine who bowled for the famous Genny 5 when the American Bowling Congress competed in Rochester. Genesee Beer is our local brewery. He had the flat top going and the Buick in the driveway.
Big Al drove a truck for a living. He delivered Coke. His basement was always full of cases of Coke which to me, made him a rich man.
Big Al was a good guy. He loved the NFL when not everybody did. In particular he loved the Giants. He was the first person I ever knew who had a bumper sticker on his Buick.
The sticker said "Beat the Browns".
Before he became Justin, my pal Al was a tremendous ballplayer. We used to go to the movies every weekend taking the Thurston Road bus downtown..sitting through double feature and stopping at the White Tower for burgers after the shows.
Then the mid sixties and Viet Nam hit us and everybody else. There was certainly something happening here but it was real far from being clear. We were young but didn't like our odds in the future.
Plus I had a broken heart.
I was out of commission for awhile.
Al made a new best friends who turned out to be a dealer.
Al began to deal some himself.
This was not a good situation so Big Al and Marge sent Al to the basement where he referred to himself the way that his parents referred to him as they waited for him to pass through this stage.
A bum in a pit.
As Al turned into Justin, he grew the first pony tail I had ever seen other than for John Lennon. The more Al grew to resemble John Lennon, the more he took on the identity of Justin Sane.
He stopped drinking beer. He stopped smoking Newports. He stopped playing ball and hanging out.
He renamed himself
We all started calling him Justin even though he had now become a stranger to the ball field.
One day I decided to stop over at this house. I kicked on the door and asked for Al.
Big Al's response was not unfriendly but not real happy.
"He's down in the cellar".
I knocked open the cellar door and after a few moments Justin appeared or was it John Lennon?
The pit was dark.
We talked for a couple minutes but it was kinda awkward as I really didn't know Justin.
He was turned on and I wasn't.
I said "so long" after our miscommunication. I still loved the guy but he was as we said at the time, "going through changes".
The door shut.
One second later I heard this tremendous racket.
Justin had fallen down the cellar stairs.
I went back to the door.
I looked down into the darkness.
I said "Are you alright?'
Justin answered "Yeah, it's only physical."
And that's what it all was..the falls, the darkness, the generation gap, the war, the heartbreaks, the music from Laurel Canyon.
Or at least that's what we pretended.