About"You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more." -Morpheus The Matrix
Year of the Johnny 1.0
Changes have been made-Concerning Year of the Johnny.
Most of these changes will deal with devolving back to the initial purpose of this blog.
The first version of Year of the Johnny was to keep a daily record of the changes during my transition from homeless recovering heroin addict to the best version of Johnny. The world has yet to see this man, but it is happening. The problem was as I grew more busy with life, responsibility, and commitments-the blog suffered.
Year of the Johnny 2.o
I felt I needed to build an audience to support my memoir which is still in the being written and edited. But the book has never been this close to being published than it is right now.
I blame this on my fear of finishing the project before it’s too soon.
I blame it on fear laying myself all my imperfection and perfection, my irrationality, compulsive addictive nature, and outright insanity, in front of the world.
I blame it on the lie I told myself about needing more time.
Most of this is bullshit.
The fear is real but what do I have to fear.
If you read something about my past and it bothers you why the fuck do I need to worry or care?
I’m only concerned about a 1/3 of the population who will resonate with my message and hopefully find hope in my words. The possibility of me sharing my past with you and contribute to your finding peace, happiness, and gratitude upon your own personal path for recovery.
So if my standing naked in front of you can help you find your way, then I should be grateful for not fearful, Right?
The first few changes to Year of the Johnny you’ll notice:
No more blog posts, how-to articles about coping skills, day-to-day recovery systems. And other hacks/tips to use to stay sober. Unless of course, I happened to use it that day. My recovery coaching site will support day-to-day systems for recovery. I will launch Arise Addiction Recovery Coaching soon. There you will find articles about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT, rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT), or ways to manage your anger.
I felt that if I gave great advice and value to my readers, I would build an audience to help me get my message out to the world in my memoir: Street Junky: Alone Hungry and Cold.
My actions were pure and based in reciprocity, but I didn’t show up to do my part. So nothing happened.
Year of the Johnny 3.0
Over the years, I’ve tried several different tactics for Year of the Johnny. I’ve listened and (sort of) tried to mimic blogging greats, such as: like Adam Connell, Carol Tice, Nick Usborne, and Darren Rowe ( to name a few) and tried to make this blog about you.
But you know what it’s not really about you.
But as I write about my pursuits at living life without heroin, you will gain from my experiences with heroin, homelessness, whoring around, and making money to keep from the inevitable: dope-sickness.
You will learn that if I can find the strength and courage to learn to respect heroin and my relationship with her as self-destructive, devastating, and wasteful that you can too.
So here we are
Year of the Johnny 4.0
A glimpse into my life as I live it. It’s an online diary of sorts. Ha, a blog. I will return to the basics and Year of
Eight years ago, I was homeless sipping methadone and begging fellow New Yorkers to pay my way. During this time I met some great people. People to who I am grateful for my life in recovery.
I’m not sure I can give you their names or even know their names, so I’ll use the duties and titles:
A banker, several receptionists, a bat-shit crazed catholic assistant to a bank president, my personal pastor, clinician at methadone program, an engineer, a couple of road crew flaggers, a Ukrainian building super, coffee and juice cart owners, a retired trial lawyer, a few other business executives, several Wall St brokers, and a high school kid with a heart of gold.
There were many others, but I could count on the ones listed to make sure I didn’t freeze at night, or that I’d have clothes for winter, food in my stomach, minutes on my phone, or a smile, and a brief conversation in the morning, before they went about their daily routines.
The original idea for this blog came from a discussion with an LMHC. Bern and I were sitting in a Pret having lunch one day over lunch. I told her someone gave me a second-hand laptop and that I was going to start editing my memoir. She suggested I start a blog about life on the streets of NYC. At the time I was sober in school studying for my CASAC, and delivering food one night a week.
Jokingly I said, Year of the Johnny, she loved it. Because my life was still so hit or miss. I took a step further and said the background image should be a commode.
Shortly after this conversation life turned around for me, I found an SRO to stay in, I finished school, got an internship, started working full time as a delivery guy, so I rarely had the time or need to go downtown and beg.
But while alone in my room at night I did find time to start the blog…
So yeah that’s the reprise to why Year of the Johnny
Here it is again. Year of the Johnny 4.0 full of new enthusiasm, energy, and motivation.
Strap in and come along for the ride.
…Johnny-the abridged version…
Is heroin a problem in your life?
Maybe it’s not a problem yet, but that’ll change it always does.
It’s difficult to control your life when heroin is added to the mix.
Once the monkey has its claws in your back the physical pain begins, and finally, life only has one purpose-to not get dope-sick.
Do you ever feel lost in the world, misunderstood, or that you don’t, quite, fit in, -anywhere?
I am Johnny.
Maybe, I should be called Lucky or Nine-lives because I have been sidestepping
death since 1982.
I’m a punk, a whore, a survivor, a junky, a counselor, a friend, and very kind when I’m not driven by a self-hate, heroin-fueled death sentence. When strung-out on dope, I’m always hustling, securing my next fix like “a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm.”
I was not underprivileged or in an inner-city minority family. Raised in Upstate NY, white, privileged, middle class, and (un)happy. Because at the age of seven, a biker turned me on to the loud pipes of a Harley Davidson, even louder music, and forced…
The abuse didn’t stop there. From ages eight to eleven, my cousin watched me after school. He made sure I had someone with me always. My cousin took his job to new levels. Eventually, my young mind and body looked forward to my extra-curricular activities. I learned quickly that I could get anything I wanted because I was an object of desire. Except for peace.
Around this time, I also discovered that loud music could drown out my
I found peace. It came in white or beige powder and jetblack-tar heroin.
Shooting heroin and cocaine became my salvation. My first wrestling match with dope-sickness came at the age of sixteen. Music started playing an essential role in my life. I would try not to sell sex to some old man leaving OTB. Sex was a fix; the fix was sex — fucking confusing in a child’s mind. Instead, I would walk in the park for hours listening to rockers like the Stones, G-n-R, Black Flag, The Cure, the Dead, and try to make the cravings go away.
Trapped. The pleasure of sex was always calling out to me, but then I would feel bad. So, I would shoot drugs to try and forget how fucked up I had become. Some days I felt like I was seventeen going on one-hundred. Never feeling safe or at ease unless I was shooting drugs or making an old man beg, for more.
I found a new place, a safe place, where I didn’t need massive amounts of drugs and unsafe sex to feel “normal,” at ease with myself. In punk, I felt accepted. I didn’t have to hide my sexuality, my desires, or my drugs. The feelings of inadequacy lifted from me at gigs. Punk made me feel adequate, alive like I belonged to something. Punk gigs in basements, VFW’s gyms, houses, squats, and bars gave me purpose. I felt accepted as myself. I didn’t have to pretend to be anyone or anything. When I finally made my way to the stage, it became my new high, but the reality is that I didn’t need a new high. I needed to destroy the reasons why I always needed to escape life by getting high.
Heroin & The Rise and Fall of No Fucker
Eventually, I played in punk bands and it relieved me of all my stress. When playing with No Fucker, I would forget everything that plagued me in life. My social ineptitude washed away for 28 minutes. It was Zen. My new high. Everything I could never get through the eye of a needle, I found in the noise No Fucker.
Ten years away from the haunting plague of heroin, punk gigs and records, noise and the possibility of real friendships. Could this be possible? Could I find the acceptance and belonging I could not get from society, the LGBT community, and the few acquaintances still above ground from the early drug years?
No Fucker, the punk band JJ and I started in 2002, set out to be the rawest of the raw and on some days, we succeeded. It was my new high. When we hit the first note of chaos on stage, Pandora’s Box opened and a mushroom cloud of energy absorbed us in the noise-death-ritual. It was Zen, it was our religion, it was Rock and Roll in its mythic Dionysian ritualistic wanton destruction. The stage buckled from those first distorted out-of-tune notes it was mystical. It was cryptic. I couldn’t get enough. Dionysus smiled upon us. The Baccus proud
Well, maybe not, but at least that sounds really fucking cool!
The audience usually would be bored that this band of weird guys from Upstate NY. We weren’t a joke band and we were going to bum you the fuck out with ‘sing-along-s’ about animals being slaughtered or women being oppressed. But for the diehards that loved us, the gravity swelled and shifted as we played, it was an orgasm that lasted for 20 minutes, about 10 songs. It was everything- I could never get through the needle.
No Fucker let me forget the pain that I often embraced. The social ineptness rolled off me into a puddle of sweat on the stage. It had become my heroin.
Fast Fast Fast Forward…
A few days before recording our first solo single (we had shared two split records previously with Disclose) and a month before leaving for an American tour, I hacked two of my fingers off on a table saw. Standing in a driveway of some homeowner I watched a tourniquet being pulled across my arm, and the cold shining steel syringe full of morphine being put in my vein.
The sun was shining and the needle exploded its seed into me. I felt it swimming up my back, firing every receptor in my body, and years of a false sense of security were washed away as the morphine ran through my veins. Looking at the EMT and I said, “I haven’t felt this good in 12 years, my fingers are dangling from my hands, it hurts, and it burns. You should work up another shot!!??”
No Fucker crumbled.
Our long-anticipated European tour was botched; we missed the plane to Spain because of heroin.
I planned a Japanese tour to coincide with a memorial show for Kawakami and a visit to his grave with his Mother. But I never even purchased the plane tickets. It was easier to just give up.
I wanted nothing from life. Nothing could make me feel better but the reunion with my old lover, heroin, to feel him deep in my veins again. To feel the rush from the needle warm my body, mind, and soul and take me back to those memories I so often want to forget and not feel.
The next two years were spent thinking about that moment. Scared to let myself seek and shoot the drug that would alleviate all of these new feelings, heroin. I became miserable, lost, frustrated, and angry. It was these feelings that started another downward spiral. Everything was lost in the physical world. There was nothing left to do but shoot heroin.
No Fucker continued through this period and we produced our best and most despairing work at this time, Conquer the Innocent, with JJ on guitar, me moving to bass (it’s easy to play with one finger!) and Luke, another degenerate missing some fingers (this time to a pipe bomb) on drums. We planned an LP and a European tour.
However, we considered ourselves more of a European band rather than a US band anyway. We were that well liked at home.
But heroin’s specter loomed.
Back to Manhattan, devastated and street junky-life.
Luckily, the street junky life wasn’t as appealing the second time around. I got myself on methadone I could wean myself off of dope. Found support in a place that always gets a bad wrap. The people of downtown NY, the financial district nurtured me back to life. I found a support network, rethought my purpose and got on with it.
My Addiction…My Life…
Homeless Alone Hungry and Col Street Junky…
5 overdoses, abuse, homeless on the streets, in squats, on both coasts, prisoner, college graduate, tattoo artist, punk rock musician.
Abused and dependent on narcotics, alcohol and other drugs. Heroin-related deaths in the USA are reaching shocking levels. The disease of addiction/substance abuse dependence does not discriminate. Unfortunately, anyone can be diagnosed with this disease. All a person needs to do is open the door and let the demon addiction inside to take all life.
I hope that these stories will help people in the clutches of addiction or stop someone from ever reaching for a hit of whatever it is that will stop the hurt. We all need love and support; I aim to give this to people caught in the throes of addiction.
First and foremost, some are sicker than others! I remember this and continually treat individuals without borders, discrimination, or fear. I have heard it all and quite frankly seen more! We all deserve love.
Sometimes we must peel away more layers to find our beauty. But we do not always see the beauty that can be found within ourselves. Nonetheless, beauty can always be found. The horrors we have done and seen cause us to feel dirty and despised. How can we ever be beautiful again?
Homeless Alone Hungry and Cold will be able to help them gain insight and find love in their hearts for the people who do suffer from addiction, or were victims of abuse, or living on the streets.
Below is an excerpt from Homeless Alone Hungry and Cold: Street Junky, my memoir of addiction.
The nightmare continues,
“The nightmare continues, a moment alone, in darkness with the demon, withdrawal, or is he an angel in disguise?
My blood pressure begins to elevate and her claws twist and contort my spine. Her claws slowly sink deeper into my spine. My legs begin to kick uncontrollably kicking and my eyes hurting, so sensitive to light. Stomach bile working its way out of my intestines and into my throat. The stomach acid burns. The constant jackhammer hammering’ the fuck out of my brain, makes me pound my head against the wall, there is a small sense of relief each time my brain bounces off of my skull.
The pain ebbs for a minute, only to come back in the form of freezing then sweating then freezing again. And every inch of my wretched body screaming to fed, cured, and fixed once again! Life has become a constant struggle to keep the forces of withdrawal, of dope-sickness, of endless pain and hunger away. dope-sickness is the worse feeling in the world!
My body screams and writhes in pain as it waits impatiently to be led from the tortures of this inescapable hell. The agony gnaws and pulls. The body knows that the slightest push of the plunger and all the agonizing nightmares of this self-made prison can be washed away like the last traces of winter are erased from the landscape with an incessant thunderstorm of early spring.