Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
In fairness to Mr. Eddie Morse, former Chief of Police of Groton, I feel I must say this about the guy.
He was a small town chief of police, which means in my mind he was kind of a shithead. Did he overact? Probably. Should he have considering the circumstances? Probably.
How did he get the nickname “Fast” Eddie Morse? By being so quick to pull a gun on me. He got “let go” a month or so after my arrest. It was allegedly because he had an inappropriate relationship with a dispatcher in Groton. I don’t know this for a fact, but it is the rumor.
Many years later, Mr. Morse ended up a charter bus driver for Buckingham’s in Groton. Our esteemed mentor/leader, P, coincidentally chartered his bus for a trip. They ended up talking about the incident.
Now remember when I said that everyone mentions that I could’ve been killed? Truth is, I could’ve. All I had to do was lower the toy gun in a manner he could’ve found threatening, and POW! Hole through the chest. I would’ve died a stupid douchebag in a side street in Groton, MA during a stupid bank prank.
So here is the thing: when P and Fast Eddie talked that trip, P told me that Chief Morse said in a serious and shaken manner: “I could’ve killed a kid.” He died of a heart attack months later.
Now when I think about it, I am not only glad I wasn’t shot, but think about him.
Let’s say he overreacted, or that I made a dumb move, or the fucking wind blew the wrong way. I could’ve been shot dead. And while it may have been so much worse for me, it would’ve been horrible for him too. Imagine, shooting a stupid 17 year old kid who was fucking around? I bet the guy would’ve eaten his gun within the year. And that is no disrespect to him. I would’ve had I had that on my conscience.
So, to the late Mr. Eddie Morse: thanks for not shooting me, for both our sakes. And if my dumb antics accelerated your dismissal, I am honestly sorry. You were doing your job and I was being a dumb punk kid. I may tell the story with a bit of smarmy sarcasm, but I hold no ill will.
Best wishes to you, sir.
The Bank Hold-Up: June 21-28, 1982 (Part 1)
OK. The Hold-Up. Without sounding egotistical, this story is kind of a legend in my hometown of Groton, MA. I can’t tell you how many free drinks I have received when someone who didn’t really know me said “THAT Brian Johnson?” in a bar in Groton. I also cannot tell you how many times that they usually said “You could’ve been killed!” (OK, every time.) It’s a funny story, but there are some parts that are kind of scary & sad. It’s a human story, albeit a STUPID human story. A story of a crazy 17 year old kid who didn’t realize that sneaking up to a bank with a toy gun, wearing army fatigues, in the center of town ACROSS FROM THE POLICE STATION would possibly be a bad idea.
It all started with Massachusetts Proposition 2 ½…
There was a guy, a friend, a mentor, a really good person. He lost his job because of Prop 2 ½, and since we had done a bit of camping & hiking, he & all of his favorite people in my HS class decided to celebrate by going on a week long canoeing/camping, and apparently DRINKING trip down the Saco River.
The crew consisted of “P”, our leader, me, my closest friend John the straight-laced jock, the class macho semi-douche Mike, a guy who I always liked but who was very weird (and is even weirder now) Dean, our class outdoorsy-hippie type Eric (who cancelled 15 minutes too late because of a flu), the semi-anonymous (to our group) creative art-chick Gretchyn (and don’t take that wrong, we got to know everyone all too well that week!), jocky-chick Renee, and class staple Heidi. Sorry if my descriptions are off-putting, so here is mine: semi-geek, semi-jock, semi-freak, really silly, kinda wild skinny kid with a cute girlfriend and who was, dare I say dashingly handsome!?
So, we decided to leave what I think was Monday the 21st, or maybe Tuesday the 22nd. We all met at Dean’s family’s house, and while we loaded up the cars & trailer, Dean & I and I think someone else chugged like 2 beers each in the kitchen. I may or may not have smoked a couple hits of a joint. I can’t remember, but it helps to dismiss my stupidity.
Just as we were almost ready, John & Heidi decided that they needed to get some $ from the BayBank/Harvard Trust branch in the center of town. Eric, since he was ill and not going, offered to drive the 2 of them, with me tagging along (3rd beer in tow). We drove into town and John & Heidi went into the bank.
Here is the first problem. Each canoe decided to have a “theme.” P bought the beer and was the trip leader, so he didn’t have a theme. Mike and Dean (aka SMEGMA) were the “saloon canoe” as they would be carrying the beers. Outfitted in straw hats & old-timey striped bartender vests. John Wadd & Heidi were the “Batman” canoe, with Batman logos sewed onto their shirts (this was before Tim Burton’s Batman). Now Renee & I were gonna be the Star Wars canoe. We drove up to the Nashua Mall (exit 6) the Saturday before, and looked for Star Wars shit. Wouldn’t you know in 1982 we couldn’t find a fucking lightsaber to save our lives. So, seeing an army toy display, we became the “COMMANDO CANOE!” (I also bought the Scorpions “Blackout” that day and we rocked it on Renee’s cassette deck all the way back to Groton).
So, the day we set off, Renee & I had plastic army-green army helmets, I had on a vest I had made of my uncle’s fatigues from Vietman. We had big cop sunglasses. Oh yeah, and we had toy M-16s.
So back to the bank. Wadd & Heidi go in to take out dough. Eric sat in the car, moaning from the flu, and I downed my beer. Then I got got really great, I mean stupid idea: why don’t I sneak up to the bank commando/SWAT style, DRESSED AS A WHACKED OUT COMMANDO WITH A TOY M-16? Fool proof plan, huh? What could possibly go wrong?
Well, as it turns out, a whole shitstorm worth of shit can go wrong. Here is my advice to kids out there today: If for some reason you are 17 and beer-buzzed and dressed as a militia nut, carrying a toy M-16, and decide to sneak up to the front door of a bank that HAPPENS TO BE ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE POLICE STATION IN THE CENTER OF TOWN AT NOON…trust me. It turned out OK for me, but it is an extremely BAD FUCKING IDEA.
So there is 17 year old half buzzed Brian, standing by the entrance to a bank, ambush style, looking through the ATM entrance window, laughing to himself ‘cuz this is gonna be really funny. Oh, it turned out funny, just not for him.
Suddenly I hear “FREEZE! DON’T MOVE!” and I look across the street to the Town Hall/Police station and see some cop aiming a gun at me from around the corner of the building. I honestly thought it was John Dristillaris, as he was a volunteer cop in Acton, and hung out at GPD. “Yeah right.” I said. Then he said “I’m not kidding! Drop the fucking gun!”
I started to get nervous.
“But it’s a toy gun.” I whimpered. Then CHIEF OF POLICE Eddie Morse said “I don’t give a shit, just drop the fucking gun.”
Whoops. I did. I heard the PLASTIC gun rattle like a plastic gun on the sidewalk. I watched the big silver sticker that said “Now with REAL rat-a-tat sound!” as it bounced. “Oh shit” is what I thought.
“Fast” Eddie (as he became know as after this – which I regret, but more on that later) told me to put my hands up & walk toward him. I gladly obliged because of the big REAL fucking handgun he had pointed at me.
What I didn’t know was while I was performing my giggly, too-fucking funny commando assault on the bank’s door, someone went into his office & said “Chief, someone’s robbing the bank across the street.” Now, 2 or 3 years earlier, some guys held up another bank in the center of Groton (Mr. Byer my 9th grade English teacher had been there) and they fired a shot while escaping. This may have put GPD on alert to shenanigans like this. So, Chief Morse called out an APB to all 9 towns that surround Groton, sealing off the border. “This is not a drill!” I later heard he had shouted. He also called in every cop in Groton, off duty, auxilliary, everyone.
Chief Morse then came out & confronted me. In the paper it said he charged at me with weapon drawn, and I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead, but Fast Eddie hid behind the corner of the building, as he should’ve if I were an actual criminal instead of a dummy with a toy gun.
So, he ordered me to proceed to the middle of the side street between the bank & Town Hall. It was usually very busy at noon, and I remember he made me walk into traffic, and some woman in a pickup screeched to a stop, looking at me and screaming “OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD” silently behind her windshield. He ordered me to my belly in the street, and to put my hands behind my head. As I lay there he came up and told me not to move. So, I looked up.
There was the biggest, widest, blackest gun barrel a couple of inches from my left eye. “Don’t move or I’ll blow your fucking brains out!” the Chief said. I swallowed dryly and croaked “I, I, I’m not m-m-movin’.”
(Now how does he remember what was exactly said? If you have ever found yourself in this spot, you fucking remember. Trust me. Like fucking yesterday.)
Unknown to me until later, John & Heidi came out of the bank, and saw the Chief aiming his gun at something. John thought, “Oh must be a rabid dog.” So what did my closest friend and another good friend do when they came out & saw me? They got in the car and told Eric to get the hell out of there. Went back to where we were packing and told P that I had been arrested.
Then, the 90 year old auxilliary cop, Scott Emslie came up and Chief gave him his moment to shine: he let him cuff me. Wicked fucking hard. They hauled me up, pushed me across the street & into the Police Station. Fast Eddie slammed me against the counter and in his most total cop-hard-on-biggest-bust ever voice told the dispatcher/receptionist “Book ‘im!” She was wide eyed and stammered “on what charge?” Chief Morse looked at me and said “Attempted armed robbery of a Federal Reserve Bank.”
Ok, he was wrong. It wasn’t a Federal Reserve Bank, but he was HARD over this huge career bust. I started telling them that I was 17 and just a kid and just fucking around and it was a toy gun. The woman just looked at me and Morse said “BOOK HIM!” Just then another cop came in, my toy M-16 on a pencil through the grip. “Chief, it’s a toy gun.” He said.
Morse screamed and slammed me balls first into the counter.
I was booked, and during the process the father of my classmate Jimmy Downs came in from off duty. He had on cop pants but a long underwear shirt and wood chips all over, in his hair (he was cutting wood). Officer Downs knew me and was being really cool. He then proceeded to take 3 sets of fingerprints from me. I asked him why 3. He told me one for GPD, one for the Mass State Police & 1 for the FBI. “FBI?” I cried out, “How long can I get for this?” Officer Downs replied “Oh, 25 to life.”
Ok, then I started bawling like a little girl.
“I’m only seventeen I was just kidding it’s a toy gun I didn’t mean it I am sorry please please please”
Officer Downs, being the cool guy he was calmed me down and said it was just a formality. (NOTE TO SELF: get fingerprints expunged from Mass State Police & FBI records)
I was taken to a conference room in town hall where some cat roamed who roamed the Town Hall freely had made into it's HQ. Stroking that cat's fur while Chief & Officer Robertson (our only Detective & prosecutor for Groton) questioned me for about 15 minutes was the only thing that helped keep me calm. They soon realized I was indeed just fucking stupid & fucking around. They tried to get me to admit to drinking (“I split 1 beer with my friend, that’s it!”) and drug use (“Oh no sir, I never have used drugs before.”) Hah ha! Bought that shit fools!
Anyway, they realized I was only guilty of having EXTREMELY poor judgement, put me in the same cell I had slept in 10 years before when my Dad’s car had broken down on the way through Groton during a blizzard, and let me call my Dad.
Now my Dad doesn’t remember this, but as I said, I remember everything that day. Here is a fairly accurate transcript:
Me: Hi Dad.
Karl: What’s up?
Me: I, I uh got arrested…for robbing a bank.
Karl: What bank?
Karl: That’s MY bank!
So they take me over to Ayer courthouse. Dad meets me there. I get arraigned, but only for disorderly person. They let me go until my court date next Tuesday.
I go on the Saco trip, wowing everyone with my brave tales of BEING A FUCKING STUPID IDIOT. We canoe. We drink. P shaves his beard. We drink more. We drink even more. We come home. More on this week in the next posts. Beware accomplices, I am outing us all.
I go to court next week. My lawyer tells me to “plead to sufficient facts” and ask for a “continuance without a finding.” I memorize this, go before the judge, and enter that plea.
Detective Robertson stand up and says “Your Honor, this is the BayBanks/Harvard Trust case” and then, I swear to fucking god, he winks at the judge like he is in an episode of the Little fucking Rascals.
“Oh. Guilty.” Says the Judge.
I got fined $25 for disorderly person.
And I can honestly say, that was the greatest $25 I have ever spent in my whole fucking life.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Ok, so I swore honesty, no matter how brutal to me, and I guess this topic may deliver. DO NOT WORRY. It won’t be preachy at all.
Now, many people who know me may think they know about what I call my “addictions.” Some may, some may learn something. And they aren’t necessarily what you think. Addiction is not just limited to drugs or booze or cigarettes or even what is considered “bad behavior.” Addiction is usually defined as “Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance.” It can also be defined as “The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or involved in something,” or “love of, passion for, attachment to, fondness for, zeal for, fervour for, ardour for.” Would you say being “addicted” to the Sox, football, auto racing, music, movies, a TV show, a favorite restaurant, a hobby, your spouse or your kids as a bad thing? If it formed into an unhealthy obsession, of course. But having “love of, passion for, attachment to, fondness for, zeal for, fervour for, ardour for” any of those things would actually be considered honorable. So there lies the question. What is addiction?
Well, I have been addicted to a lot of things. Cartoons as a little kid. Baseball from an early age. Comic books. Baseball cards. APBA Baseball. Cranberry juice cocktail. Girls. Only eating steak. Only eating chicken. Beer. Drawing & painting. Meatball subs from Primo’s on Beacon Hill. White Russians. Cheetah’s in Vegas. Sex. Drugs. My job. My ex-girlfriend. More drugs. Cigarettes. Trying to change my diet. Quitting cigarettes. My mom may agree that she has an “addiction” to diet Coke. My dad would probably agree that he was “addicted” to being a work-a-holic and trying to be a perfectionist. I have many friends & family who have been addicted to “good things” and “bad things.” If you think you don’t know anyone with SOME kind of addiction, well: A) you’re kidding yourself; and B) if you are reading this, you probably know me, so I rest my case.
But, as I said, I am not here to be preachy. Just to tell my stories, to maybe gain some sort of catharsis by relating my feelings and tales. So, here is the truth.
There is no “addiction” stronger than you. You are not “powerless” when it comes to your “addiction.” And, worst news of all, addiction is not a disease.
I am not insulting anyone who uses these tools to overcome issues in their lives.
But it ain’t no fucking disease, dude. Period.
All it is, is a weakness of faith in yourself. It is a lack of belief in yourself. It is a lack of desire to change your life & make it better. A person who lets an addiction ruin their life is someone who is either too lazy to change their life or someone who just doesn’t care enough about himself to want anything better. Disease? Sorry, you are blaming something besides where the real blame lies. The blame lies with you. It is YOUR FAULT.
Back to where this was going…
Back in the early 80s I would do the same amount of drinking, weed-smoking, and occasional coke-snorting as any other early 20s kid (who also hang around the early “Metal Scene” in Boston). I grew a little older, and even quit drinking when I was married. (Still got as smoked out as a reggae band, but that only led to me eating a shitload of ice cream). I got divorced at 26 & moved to Vegas. I was VERY sad about my divorce. My parents are still married to this day (45 years) and my ex-wife’s parents are still (if they are alive – over 60+ years). I was naïve & believed that marriage was for forever. I KNOW, I get it now. BUT, I was MAJORLY depressed and completely disillusioned with the concepts of love & marriage.
So, I moved to Vegas. Started drinking again…WITH A FUCKING VENGEANCE. Took up smoking (at 26 – douchebag!) Slept with questionable women (or I as I like to call them..strippers). And did drugs. Lotsa drugs. A REAL LOTTA DRUGS. And sold them too. Tons of blow, weed everyday, boozing. Eventually even crystal & crack.
My life turned to such shit that I RAN home, tail between my legs, knowing even most of my friends were glad to see me go, no matter how much they may have cared about me. My folks, god bless em, took me in, and really helped. I got a great job, got my own place, lived a great life, even in that apartment that Tracy will say was a shithole (it was).
Then, I made some “new friends”. And through them, I met Paula.
We did our share (and then some) of drugs, then ran away to NH, then fell back into it, then came her cheating all the time and both of us together and separate doing a ton of drugs. I kept getting arrested. Then I got fired from my incredibly great job. Then I did even more drugs.
Then I used what strengths I could find for support. My family. Karl & Chris. They tried so hard to help me and they did, reminding me that a strong, stubborn mind can be a positive. With their help, and the help of 2 men who are my bosses, I got back on track.
Then I started seeing Paula again. It almost went spiraling away again. Thank god it didn’t.
I stopped seeing any people who do drugs, get me arrested, spend my money & use me.
I budgeted every fucking cent I earned. I went food shopping Friday night just so I would have NO reason to fuck up over the weekend, even if I wanted to. I kept my relationships to the minimum a man can without going nuts. I tried to create a cocoon in my apartment, where I could live free from temptations and bullshit, and have a REALLY nice HDTV!
Now, life may be a struggle on occasion, and sometimes I may get depressed for no fucking reason. Hell, I get depressed, and know why, and can see it coming, and still get depressed. But things are good. Really good.
What does this have to do with addiction? It is a story of perseverance and strength and will power. All of which I couldn’t have done without people believing in me. Also, it is a story where you might think I blame my ex-wife or most current ex-gf for my status.
NOPE. It’s all my fault. No one told be to get married as a naïve 24 yr old, who had serious doubts about his wife’s motives on his wedding day, but ignored it as “cold feet.” No one told me to start fucking up & spiraling downward into a 90s drug blurred oblivion, I did it. No one told me to knowingly start hanging out with people who I KNEW were drug users/dealers in Somerville. And no one told me to sleep with a woman 15 minutes after I meet her when she shows up as someone I don’t even know at my apartment at 4am AND STAY WITH HER FOR 6 ½ YEARS. Now that’s just fucking stupid.
Addiction. Who’s fault? Your own.
Addiction. Who can beat it? You can.
Ya just gotta believe in yourself. And it helps if you have some people close to you to support.
Like my Mother & Father. Good words & encouragement from my brother & sister, and even my poor nieces who heard me cry & suffer, but still love their crazy uncle Brian.
I don’t know if I should post this. But I probably will.