Documentary (h2so4 17)

I mean it took a long time before we ever knew what was going on. It’s so easy to get caught up in things. It was exciting, freedom, you know. It was like TV.

Well, yeah. Most of us like’d never really thought about what was really going on with school. We couldn’t really think about what was happening to us because they had taught us how to think. When Craig was able to show us that, things just went crazy. We didn’t know what came from us and what came from them and so we, like, sorta tried to destroy it all to see what would survive.

Of course. Like he knew all kinds of stuff. I mean he was like a genius. He read stuff that nobody read, not even the teachers. But he wasn’t like a nerd or nothin’ and the stuff he learned all seemed fun, like pretty cool shit sometimes. When things had gotten heavy he would give us these talks and we cheered like crazy, like he was a movie star or something.

Yeah, he had everybody doing things, you know. Like he had the guys in bands playing and the art students painting murals on the walls, people broadcasting on the in-school TV system that the principal would usually talk on, or a drama was occasionally shown on, and over the intercom. All kinds of sick shit. It was cool.

Like, I was all in a band at the time, the Jolly Derelicts, and we were like a punk band and all and he was all like, it’s important that you play and all, and we were all like we don’t have our instruments or nothin’ and he was all like, come on, and me and him and a couple others went to the band room and like got all the instruments. It was fucking sweet dude. We were all playin’ punk on tubas and trombones and snaredrums and shit and it was rockin’. Yeah.

Oh, yeah, of course we were all high. That’s what sort of makes me think he planned it. Craig wasn’t a super rich kid or nothin’ who could get whatever he wanted but he had a whole bunch of acid—like five sheets or something and a whole bunch of pot too. You know and he worked at an Italian restaurant washing dishes. I don’t know where he got the money but he had it all there that day and distributed it freely.

Yeah, it was like things—like everything that had been going on in school all our lives just boiled over in that crazy week. It seemed like a year. All the crushes and stuff, all the hatreds, came out. Yeah, there was definitely like a lot of sex and all. Yeah, me and Craig were like sorta goin’ out then. But we’d both gone out with a lot of other people too and it’s kinda hard when you still see each other every day and everybody he’d ever dated wanted him back, especially at that point. As much as he wanted it to be free, everything to be free, he was our leader. There were some others too, who picked it up quick, but it was like mainly him. So, I mean I didn’t mind him sleeping with everybody, I slept with people too. We were all doin’ it. But what really got me, on the last day—remember my nerves were a little tight, you know, after there’d been so many fights and we were tired and hungry and smelly and we wanted beds and showers and our parents, you know—and then, after all that, the ups and the downs of the week and shit, I walk in the office and see him with another boy.

Well, I mean, like of course there was all kinds of sex. We were in high school, on drugs and set free in a very volatile, and even cathartic environment. He showed us to what extent the state, the church, family and school had all done us a great violence by not letting us think for ourselves. It was a shocking realization. Nothing we’d ever been told was true. Or it was only true because it all fit together and built the idea of truth. It was scary but it was also very liberating. For a while even the jocks and skaters got along. I mean later there were all kinds of problems with violence, people cliquing up and trying to get control and all. But for the first three or four days it was sheer beauty.

There were so many things going on. We issued proclamation after proclamation to the outside. We’d been told things so long we were going to tell them back. That was one of Craig’s main points, was that we needed to take control of what we were going to be, which meant taking control of our cultural intake. We had never done anything for eighteen years but take things in. In, in, in! you know? You just gotta let it out sometime.

The proclamations just kept coming and coming. Hundreds of them a day. Of an astonishing variety. Some were very intelligent, others simple invective. The press were just dying to get a hold of them.

Having always been declaimed to, we, the students, shall take this opportunity to tell you what we think.

You have enacted terrible violence upon us. You have never allowed us to think for ourselves. You punish any attempt to do so. Fuck you!

Praises be! The end of the wo-erld is-a cawmin’. And so is your Moma.

Mrs. Monohan sticks erasers up her butt!

We hope you are a little bored and listless out there. What time is it? Watch the clock. What might we be doing in here? A mass suicide? An orgy? On your toes defenders of the brainwashing and violence called order and decency. Are we drinking? Are there drugs? On your toes, boys and girls. This is a test.

“Changer la vie” —Rimbaud
“If you don’t drink, don’t drive.” —Ed Abbey
Suck me, you fuckers!
“We are hope despite the time” —R.E.M.

You have tried to limit and delimit our lives. You have attempted to cut us off from the source of beauty. You have taught us art and literature and music as dead objects. We are young and are not necrophiliacs, like you. You are in love with death but we are in love with life and through this love we have revived literature and art and music and love and beauty and even math. Our barricades are built according to the principle of Dr. Crapulus’ geometry.

Only our daydreams have saved us from the ugliness that eats you. We declare ourselves a “Daydream Nation.”

It really was like things were alive. So alive. Like you’d never known. All of the art students, and anybody else who wanted to was painting these huge murals on all the walls and there was music playing like crazy through the loud speakers and all the TV’s were on broadcasting and people started doing crazy things, you know like fuckin’ and all, on the TV’s and it was wild and we were all like trippin’ so fuckin’ hard, dude, and we were all having sex and painting and smoking down the dank nugs and I mean every body was just doing, like, everything. When I like got tired of painting, I went and fucked and made TV shows and played tubas and shit. Like it was so cool. I’d never felt anything like it.

Yeah, like, it was kind, brother. Everybody was family and there was creativity and the vibe was just so kind. I mean, I was all like, I mean anybody could do whatever they wanted, except we all had to guard sometimes and if somebody didn’t as long as somebody else did it wasn’t a big deal. I mean, there were some wingnuts and all, but it was real kind, for a long time. Everybody was just, like, lovin’ everybody else and groovin’ in their vibes and all. And everybody was dosing and all and like, I’d always known if they’d all just dose that it would be a lot kinder around the school and all, you know. And I was right. It was all about love and we all came up with all kinds of shit, like new ways of talkin’ to each other and addressing each other and all.

They used the security systems that we ourselves had installed to their own advantage. When it came down to it we couldn’t get in without endangering the lives of minors. We were stuck. But whenever we got anywhere near a window they would pelt us and sound alarms and we just couldn’t get in. The windows were blocked by all the desks in any classroom piled up. We were just plain stuck and they were taunting us. It looked very bad for us. For everyone.

The school was built so that every room has windows and we had each of these rooms occupied. The only room without a window was the gym around which the rest of the school is built. Even the auditorium had windows. There were also cameras that could show us the entirety of the school grounds from the office. Someone was always stationed there. We switched guards. We had piled all the desks up in front of the windows. We also had people on the roof armed with various things to throw whenever anyone approached. The doors locked and could not be broken. Every room had a phone in it. Whenever we’d go to the healthroom or the library or something like that the teacher would call and say, you know, Bill or whoever, is coming. So we had an excellent system of communication already in place and we’d seen them use it so much that we knew exactly how things worked. Everything was pretty secure while we were secure and together.

It was, like, the best fucking feeling using these desks, with their cruddy little bars on the side, that they’d always used to keep us in and bend our bodies, these chairs that hurt our backs and butts nearly all our lives, to use them to keep them out, and like away from us and all. Like all the twelve years of that was just like right there when I threw that desk against the window.

After the expulsion of the teachers and administration, the principal and all, there was a great deal of destruction. We had to get all that out and so we just went like fucking ape and smashed shit and screamed and howled. One of the first things we did was smash the damned bells that had always ordered our days and the clocks too. It was a relief.

How? Well physically it was easy. Despite all their technology we outnumbered them thirty to one. They were terrified of us and when we got rowdy they got out. There were a couple hundred students who left with them too.

What happened? I don’t really know. Things just got crazy. I remember hearing Craig on the intercom. I’d been asleep in class and when I really woke up people were just like going nuts. The teachers didn’t know what to do and they panicked. They just left.

Well, there was an insurrection lead by Craig X and all those degenerate sorts, the skaters and punk rockers and death rockers and head bangers, all the losers with nothing to lose just ate it up. I hear he distributed drugs. It was insane. I’d never seen anything so brutal or scary in all my life. They were throwing desks and breaking things and shooting the fire extinguishers at the teachers. Once the teachers and principal left I was out of there, let me tell you. Out.

There had been some pretty heavy tensions. The school board had implemented a new program where we had to go to school four weeks longer than before. This was totally new and they introduced it half way through the year and we were pissed. I mean like I wasn’t graduating or nothin’ but I was still pissed. I mean, dude, like you just don’t do that shit to people. It’s bad ‘nough as it fucking is.

Things were harsh already, you know, but then, after senior skip day they made the whole school start eating in silence and walking everywhere in lines. Even the halls between classes were supposed to be silent. That’s a good way to rile people up.

Yes, yes it started in my class. Well, what was I supposed to do? These hooligans in the schools these days. Like that Craig, just horrible. A little monster. It’s the parents that spoil ‘em. I’ve been teaching for thirty years and never have I seen one as bad as him. I told him that day that he might think that he’s in California or someplace weird but he’s not. He’s at East Side High school and he’d better start to act like it. From then on it was a flurry of four-letter words until I called the principal. He had the nerve to turn the switch so that my call was broadcast into all the classes so everybody knew about it and by the time the principal got there—he was still yelling when I was on the phone and when I held up the phone so that Mr. Wilkins could hear him they all ended up hearing him and he drove them into a frenzy so that, like I was saying, by the time Mr. Wilkins got there all the students had pretty much taken over their separate classes and in my class the hoodlums told me and Mr. Wilkins that it was their school now and that they were going to turn it into the place of learning it should be, instead of a brain-washing institution and so we’d better clear out. Why, have you ever!? The things that boy said. To tell you the truth I think he was a communist. With the things he read, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was even a spy for China or the Russians. I think he deserved everything he got, yessir, I do.

Yes, I was in his class. It was third period English and Mrs. Ross was bitching at him about not being like everybody else and he just stood up and let her have it. It was like wow, is he really fucking doing that, you know? I mean we were shocked. “How dare you ‘teach’ me about Byron and Shelley, about Emerson and Thoreau and tell me how great they were for not conforming and then, on the very same day, turn around and tell me to conform. What kind of message do you think that sends to me? I’ll tell you what. You’re just fucking here to control me and you don’t want me to understand anything about those authors and you’re terrified to think that I might have. You’ve controlled my body from what, when and where I eat, to how I sit to when I sleep and when I shit. You have tried to take my mind and do the same, but some of the food —literature—has too much strength. It withstands your poison and allows me to turn it on you and to break the chains you shackle me with.” All kinds of stuff like that, you know. I think I’ll always remember it. It was pretty right on.

I mean like I was all into the graffiti and shit and I sort of got different sorts of graffiti groups goin’. I mean, like, everybody could write what they wanted but, like, there were other things that we all together like wanted to get written. But mostly people just did whatever they wanted to. You know, we did the graffiti and all, but other kids did the music and others did the TV. It was all like whatever, you know. Everybody did what they were good at and what they liked and hung out with their friends but the different groups didn’t hate each other. They did what they were doing for everybody else, you know. I mean we wanted everyone to be as into what we were doin’ as we were into what they were doin’, you know. It was like we had our own little city.

Like me and my bro Buzz, you know, were like ditchin’ and all that day. We were hackin’ and shit at the park and when we like got back, um, in the car to fog out and all I turned on the tunes and like we like heard about it on the radio and all. We were all like holy shit. We were like missin’ out on it all so we were all haulin’ ass over there, dude. The fuckin’ place was like swarmin’ with cops. But we’d like snuck out enough times to know how to sneak in, um, and first we went, though, and raided mine and Buzz’s parent’s liquor cabinet and got about twenty bottles in all, all kinds of shit, cause we were all like fuck it might as well go for broke and all cause like this might be it, the whole shit had hit, you know, so like we snuck in and were just like blown fuckin’ away. We were all like holy fuckin’ shit with our mouths hanging. Everybody was like naked and fucking and it was a hundred times better than like we’d heard on the radio. It was like a full-blown, week-long rave, or something, dude. Even more trippin’ though.

What was he like? He was [giggle . . . frown] different. He wasn’t like any other boy I’d ever met. He was very intense and very gentle, sometimes. One time we watched the movie Children of Paradise and after that I always called him “Baptiste” because that was what he was like, you know, in that movie. He called me “Garance,” who was also in the movie, but I was more like his “Nathalie.” He was always somewhere else. He loved Rimbaud—he had a big blown up picture of him above his bed—and he used to quote him all the time and say, “Life is elsewhere.” I think that’s who it was who said it. The poets and painters and stuff were the only people he really was in love with. And his sister.

View of Craig’s room. First wall: Poster of French poet Arthur Rimbaud above the bed. This is surrounded by reproductions, which appear to have been ripped from books, of surrealist painters Max Ernst and Salvador Dali. There is also a large photograph, taken by Man Ray, of Andre Breton. Second wall: Large print of Gerhard Richter’s “Woman with Umbrella” and a Sonic Youth Poster. Third wall: picture of a skateboarder (Craig’s friend in California, Eric Neil) and a poster for R.E.M.’s EP “Chronic Town.” Fourth wall: A painting done by Craig’s older sister, Diana.

Yes, it was probably his sister, yes. Yes I had a daughter from a former marriage. She was much older than Craig. She went to college by the time he was seven. She would come home summers and read to him. She was very smart too. An artist. By the time he was in middle school she was living in New York City, studying painting and art history. She was also in a rock and roll band. She was a very strange girl. We hardly talked at all but she would talk and talk to Craig. I used to have to ask him how she was doing. I think she warped him. God bless his soul. I don’t know what they talked about but it must’ve been all these crazy ideas he has. Had. It wasn’t really her fault though. She died about four years ago. In an accident which happened in the art project she was working on. He was there visiting for the summer when it happened and.... No, no I can’t elaborate. No, she really can’t be blamed.

Yeah, he talked about his sister a lot. He nearly worshipped the painting she had given him. Yeah, I think he got a lot of his ideas from her. A lot of his interests, I mean like the bands he liked and all and the books he read.

It was scary sometimes. We used to go out to the graveyard and drink beer or Boone’s or whatever and we would talk and he would tell me about his sister almost as if they were lovers. It was really intense and he would say that he talked to her sometimes. Most of the time though he was cool. And even when it was scary you never quite knew if he was really straight up, you know, or if he was just trying to freak you out.

I don’t care. I’m sick of hearing about that faggot. He caused a lot of problems and fucked up people’s lives and stuff just because he was some kind of pervert sicko and they all went along with him and they got what they deserved but it was still his fault. Yeah, he definitely got what he deserved.

It wasn’t just him. There were a lot of other people doing important things. I don’t know why everybody is talking about him. I mean he wasn’t any smarter than the rest of us. Shit, he went running through the halls ripping up dictionaries. He said that they were the prisons of words. He set them on fire and screamed gibberish. You know, some of us were doing things a lot more creative than that. I mean, like, he was in my creative writing class and everybody liked him and thought he could do no wrong, little golden boy. But he didn’t write worth a crap. He was in the writing program and the photo program and painting classes. He was just a dilettante who stunned them with his charm. His writing might be better if he would have read a dictionary once in a while instead of those communists and drug addicts.

Yes, I was his creative writing teacher and we got along very well. I could tell he had something. No, he didn’t actually like to write that much—he was pretty good when he did it but that wasn’t too often. But the stories he would tell, the excuses for why he didn’t have the assignments were some of the most brilliant stories I’d ever heard. He must have spent more time on the excuse than his classmates did on their stories. I accepted, though he never said it, that the excuse was his preferred genre. Of course my colleagues weren’t so understanding. How did I feel about it? I was scared for the kids. It quickly escalated into a dangerous situation for them. How did it feel to be expelled? I have to admit that at first I felt a little excited for the kids and I didn’t feel personally offended that they wanted me out or anything. Could I see it coming? That’s not an applicable question.

Well, yes of course he had gotten in some trouble before. Yes he was always in in-school suspension for tardiness. He just couldn’t get anywhere on time. He also got arrested once for shooting an inflatable mascot thing—for a beer company or something, I forget—with a b.b. gun. No, his grades were passable, but for a kid as smart as him (shakes head). No, he just seemed bored. Interested in other things. To be honest, yes we were a little startled when we discovered the revolutionary quality of some of his reading. I remember one night Jan showed me a copy of the Communist Manifesto and later it was a book on Malcolm X and then Trotsky. I had a talk with him but what could I say. He wouldn’t listen. By the eleventh grade he was calling himself an anarcho-syndicalist and he wore those funny skateboarder clothes and army shoes and had his hair hanging all in his face. It was a bad time. He was not a simple kid at all. Neither of her kids were. But we never thought it would end like this.

Things just like kinda got out of like control. Big time. With the doses and the herb and the sense of power and absolute freedom. You know like all the years of institutionalization were just rushing out and going nuts. I mean, think about it, for twelve years we could never think about what we were going through because we had to go back the next day and the next and if you thought about it too much you wouldn’t make it. So like over all that time all kinds of crushes and other tensions had built up, hatreds you understand, hatreds as deep as they can go, hatreds pushed down day after day and finally the violence that we were directing against the institution and that evil fucking building, got turned to each other. The frenzy became violent. Different groups started doing their own things and fighting with each other. The skins and the punks and the mods and the rockers and whoever and then you were fighting somebody because he fucked your girlfriend and you fucked his. It was crazy and then it just.... I mean, I was Craig’s best friend and we had long talks and all but even I...

When Drea came and told us what she saw all of the anger and shit, the aggression and all that had been building up, was directed at him. I mean like we were fuckin’ freaked, bro. A lot of us had never even taken acid before and now we’d been up for almost a week straight and we’d exposed ourselves and shit—emotionally and physically you know—to the kids that made up our day to day world and we’d sort of made a going back to that world impossible, you know and it was freaking us out now. We were sick and tired and irritable and jealous and scared and then she came in and told us she saw him in the office sucking David Richardson’s dick. On his knees.

It probably would have been different if David had, you know, been doing it to him but she said she saw it and he was right there doing it and shit. Like fuck. He was a faggot and nobody could defend a faggot. If you defend a queer then you must be queer. And then like we all got freaked out and worried that anybody else around us might have been looking at our dicks or whatever when we were all fucking and so when somebody said we should go get him nobody could disagree. We were like all roaring and shit just like with the teachers. I mean and it was kind of the same. I mean he had lead us into this and we all remembered that moment and we’d been risking our lives for it and he was a fucking fag! It was unbelievable.

So, like we all went to the office and there he was, sure enough, taking it up the fucking ass, bent over the principal’s desk. As if Drea wasn’t gonna say nothin’, or he didn’t give a shit what we thought or something. It fucking drove us nuts. And it was worse because they saw us and they kept going. Fucking fairies. It was gross. People started getting sick and so we just started beating them. We kicked the shit out of them and pissed on them.

Somebody—Eric maybe—mocking Craig’s revolutionary tone called out for a trial. The halls were packed with people trying to see what was going on in the office. Everybody was yelling. Some of us seniors decided to take them to the gym for a trial. We didn’t give a shit about David, really. We’d always figured he was a fairy, but Craig had really betrayed us.

The trial was really like the place that we were going to decide what would happen next. It was also where we punished Craig for getting us into this whole thing. He was obviously sick and twisted. Everybody crowded into the bleachers. People were screaming and crying. God, we’d been away from home for a week and the police had surrounded us and we were on drugs and were probably going to go to jail and get kicked out of school and never get into a good college or get a good job and our parents were just like fucking shitting bricks and it was all this faggot commie’s fault. Now he was gonna pay. We convicted him of a whole bunch of crimes. Everybody was screaming in the bleachers. The football team was in charge and they were sitting on the front row of bleachers. He was standing out on the floor, stripped naked and beaten and he just looked off into the distance like he didn’t even notice us. Then I’ll be damned if he didn’t start singing. One of his friends said that it was like his favorite song, a song his sister sang or something. Or maybe she wrote it. It was kind of sad but like we didn’t give a shit. It was his fault and he was gonna pay and everybody was yelling and right then the cops burst in. When we saw the cops we started rushing towards them and only he stayed still and they fired before we got to them.

Well they’d left all their posts and gone to the gym and so we were able to get in. When we burst into the room we found him naked and bloody in front of them all, singing. And they started running at us and to be honest I thought he was leading them in a satanic ritual and it was like Charles Manson and so you really can’t blame us because we thought that he was telling them to kill us and so we shot him. I mean he was all bloody and I figured they’d probably already killed people and eaten ‘em.

The moment we heard the shots we all stopped, each of us scared I think that we’d been the one hit. Then we saw him fall and everything snapped. The world was just like sorta gone. What had we done? What had happened? What would happen to us? END