The other night I had a vivid dream that I was driving the Doomsmobile through Oakland and LA at night, which is something I used to do a lot in the early days of my living in California. I’d cruise around the East Bay at 2 am when I couldn’t sleep, sometimes with my cousin or a girl I liked, though often alone. I did everything in that car: search and rescues when friends got in a bad way, sat inside the warm cab with a head full of acid and surrounded by the fog on Grizzly Peak with a Trader Joe’s cashier I met in Silver Lake, smoked five hundred cigarettes up and down the coast to get to LA and back again, ferried dozens of strangers across the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge late at night to get them home for a little bit of money, served as a sort of tour bus for both McCune and this girl I was dating’s drum kits, and me always taking hard turns on those desolate streets in West Oakland at 50 miles and hour while blasting Boris, and on and on. . . .

For those who came in late, the Doomsmobile was my P-71 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, which was a decommissioned Fremont police car my cousin and I bought in Daly City. To paraphrase the Blues Brothers: it had a big V8 cop motor, cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks. If you slammed on the accelerator, the car would rocket away accompanied by the smell of burnt rubber. We spray-painted the doors black at the behest of an Emeryville police officer in order to keep it street legal, and it ended up acquiring a lot of weirdness both inside and out on account of its storied life, largely due to the fact that it was stolen four times, with each new thief adding or taking away some element of it.

When we first got the Doomsmobile, it looked like this:

That spring, my cousin and I had filled the trunk with strange and useless these we’d either bought or found in Oakland: a traffic cone, a wooden pizza paddle, redwood logs, hazmat suits, bear mace, and so on. We’d put some blankets and pillows back there since we often ended up sleeping in the thing, not wanting to pay for hotels in LA. We even mounted devil-shaped deer antlers in the back window.

The Doomsmobile had also acquired a massive dent on the roof on account of two girls rolling around making out on top of the car. Still, it was in good shape:

By the time my cousin and I drove it down to LA to cover the Electronic Entertainment Expo, it looked like this:

(What the hell am I wearing? I was totally fried on Adderall.)

The day I sold it, it looked like, in the words of my friend Tim, “a car Count Dracula would drive”:

The last time I ever saw it was late at night in downtown Oakland. Amazingly, I pulled up behind it headed in the direction of Lake Merritt. I knew it was the Doomsmobile because of the plates. The guy who had bought it had tinted the windows and completely redone the paint. It looked really good. I followed it for a few blocks out of curiosity, but it turned on Broadway, then another side street, and was gone. When I passed the side street seconds later it had completely vanished. It was very strange.

I always figured I’d die in that car somehow. Or anyway they’d find me dead inside of it, perhaps mysteriously. Laura prophesied that a fiery crack in the earth would open up, and it would be dragged back down to Hell, and maybe me along with it. At least for now, that has not came to pass. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if it came for me one day, being a cursed car that has put a curse on me, or else vice versa. I feel as though there is an unpaid debt I owe it, and eventually the bill will come due.

Anyway: Here in Berlin, I obviously don’t need a car on account of public transit being dirt cheap, and really you can get anywhere in the city, from one end to the other, and under an hour. That and I don’t want to contend with German drivers, who are insane. Still . . . I can’t help but admit that driving that stupid cartoon clown car all over the great state of California is probably the most fun I’ve ever had doing anything. I miss it very much, which is why I sometimes dream about it. I wonder if it misses me too.

If I ever ended up back in California, I know that it would be foolish to get another one. In addition to it being an extremely hated car, and for good reason, there is also like a 90% chance you’ll get your catalytic converter stolen on any street in Oakland.

Alas . . . !!!






I know this is going to come off like some overly sentimental Dude Thing . . . and it is! But every day something insignificant will remind me of someone from a long time ago, and then I’ll feel a sort of sadness at it. And by “someone from a long time ago” I mean A Girl (of course) I Had Brief Closeness With, or maybe what could have been that, only it didn’t happen for one reason or another. The latter is the more painful of the two for me, because I always wonder, and of course now I’ll never know. In nearly every case, it is gone and it can never come back. I can only gaze at it from the other side of the tunnel. The people I see in the dimness there are little ghosts.

A long time ago now, I knew this girl in Oakland. She started working at the little donut shop where I worked and because I had been there longer than anyone else, I ended up having to train her. I lived a block away from work, so I had the opening shift Thursdays and Fridays, which meant I was alone from 7:15 am till 9 when the cook came in, and then she’d come in at 10 to help out before it got busy. This girl and I would fuck around the whole time, not doing much of anything, and we’d have “safety meetings” which was just code for going to the little yard behind the restaurant to share a joint. We’d say that to the people who came into the restaurant: “Ah man, be right back. We got a safety meeting out back.” I made a buck over minimum wage and had essentially no responsibilities in my life. It is easy to romanticize this sort of thing now.

I don’t know how it happened, but in the spring of that year, this girl started coming over to my house every day. We’d drive around in her car or get drunk in my room and watch movies. She helped me edit my novella and I helped her pick out clothes at the Buffalo Exchange on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley. I got her into the Wolfhound one night when nobody was watching the door.

There was this day I think about a lot. We were drinking Andre champagne out of the bottle and the sun was setting so my room got pretty dark. We were sitting on my bed talking and I was backed all the way into the corner. She kept inching closer to me until she was six inches from my face. I said, “Wait, are you going to kiss me?” and she said, “I’m thinking about it.” And then I did something that I have thought about and regretted for years, which is that I got shy and said, “Ahh, I don’t know. . . .” I stood up to go get some water from the kitchen. When I came back, she and I lay down on my bed and kept talking. At that point we were both too shy to do anything about it. Around midnight she left. She lived way out in East Oakland by Mills College, so she’d brought her car. I texted her five minutes later and asked if she was still on my street and she said she was. I sort of implied she could stay the night if she wanted and she said she would. I then backpedaled and she drove home.

Why did I blow it? I have wondered at it. If I had to question the motives (or non-motives) of my younger self, I would hazard a guess that, because of the year prior to this, when I was a real junkyard dog in the house on Mead Avenue, in Ghost Town, I had gotten burnt out or else made to feel empty on account of all the accidental one night stands and temporary relationships I’d had. That first year and a half I lived in Oakland, my friends and I were wild as hell, and I was doing new things and going to new places round about every day. I was dead broke the whole time but even the bad days then were fun in some way. By the time I moved to North Oakland with Tracey and Laura in 2015, I was shredded and I just wanted to hide in my room and watch movies and read books for a year, which is exactly what I did. Somewhere in that new timeline is when I met this girl. Maybe it was that combination of having a sort of ascetic lifestyle and not wanting to get involved with someone if it might only last a little while. I don’t know! I still wish I’d kissed her that day, and had asked her to be my girlfriend, or whatever. Why not?

Had I done that, would we still be together? Well: almost certainly not. This was nearly eight years ago now. Bare minimum, I think we would’ve had a good time, and my being with her would have kept me from moving to Portland, which I did six or seven months later, and which is absolutely one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made . . . and maybe it would have kept me out of trouble in some other ways too, though who’s to say. But more than anything else, I just liked her a lot and wanted to be around her as much as possible.

I left California the following October and drove up to Oregon to have the most disastrous year of my life. I have only seen her three times since then, and one of the times I did end up at her apartment, and listen: we did hook up. OK?! But by then I supposed my life was over, and we didn’t even live in the same city anymore, and the whole thing felt more like a “Well, I guess let’s find out what that would have been like two years ago” than anything else. Next day I woke up on the couch holding her and we got up and I drove her to work. I went back home to Portland and that was that. The two other times I saw her happened years later and were pure coincidence, and it felt a little sad in some ways since those old lives where we’d known each other were long dead.

I last saw her at MacArthur BART in November 2019. She was awkward. She told me she was going to San Francisco to hang out in someone’s hot tub. I said good-bye and she went through the turnstile and was gone. I moved to Berlin a few weeks later. I haven’t spoken to her since.

And now, like all the little ghosts in my brain, I still dream about her sometimes whether I want to or not. I dreamed about her last night and then woke up missing her. I don’t know what you’re supposed to do with a feeling like that. It almost makes me feel physically ill to think about it. Maybe that’s just how I am about these things anymore, having lived long enough to have accrued so many dead-end stories like that. I know where the path ended because I can see it frozen in time down there. I’m not saying she was the one or anything like that . . . but I definitely wish we would have gotten together. If I’m being honest with myself, I’d ask her out right this very second if she were here, but of course that’s all gone now. What else can you do except go on wondering? I’m sure I don’t know.

about fifty pieces of star ☆ mail are about to be sent all over the world

yeah baby!!! i love it