Riffs ‘N Rants co-host Michael Sean Lee is a proud native of the Boston area of Massachusetts. A Red Sox fan (with the decades of PTSD that come with it), a New England Patriots fan (dynasty?), a clam chowder enthusiast, and like all good New Englanders someone who believes that drinking to excess when done well is philosophical, and having a hangover that splits your skull in half is in many ways profound.
...for 25 years, starting at the age of 18, MS Lee was a resident of Los Angeles, California, the fabled “City of Angeles” and both the Sodom & Gomorrah of the Western World. For a kid who grew up in the suburbs of Boston, it was like waking up in Paradise for 360 perfect days of year. Living the dream….
….until the dream became a nightmare.
“If I’d followed the script for the life that I was living to its inevitable conclusion, they would have scattered my ashes on the waves of the Pacific a very long time ago.” MS Lee to friend and CDOTM editor W.K. McDowell, July 2012
In the spring of 2008, fearing he’d lose specific memories of the unlikely life he’d been living for over 20 years due to the damage the vast array of pharmaceutical drugs he was consuming at that time might cause to his mental faculties, MS Lee began keeping journals of those memories. The journals would eventually range in content from soaring commentary to utter gibberish, focusing on the transition he was now trying to make out of the nightmarish situation his life had become. The effort he was making to transition out of that insanity came to the shock and amazement of just about everyone who knew him at the time. Including himself. But would he die trying or eventually succeed? That was the question, indeed…..
And now, with the encouragement and endorsement of his Riffs ‘N Rants co-host and Big Boom Radio Master Of Ceremonies Johnny Teflon, MS Lee has dipped into those journals to begin assembling a memoir. Entries range from his experiences being in manic survival mode for the last insane stretch of time he spent living in SoCal, to the over two decades of decadence and indulgence that inevitably led to that reckoning, that also put a profound end to the party...and almost to MS Lee.
The memoir, titled “Coming Down On The Mountain: Putting The Brakes On Over 20 Years of Decadence And Indulgence”….
...IS EXCLUSIVELY AVAILABLE ONLY TO THE LISTENERS OF BIG BOOM RADIO.COM!
COMING SOON: CDOTM TO FEATURE CONTENT ON:
- Arriving in Los Angeles for the first time in the fall of 1985, with the Night Stalker still on the loose and freeway shootings becoming the new trend to combat the boredom of the afternoon commute!
- Being an undergrad and eventual alumni of The University of Southern California, along with fellow USC alums John Wayne, O.J. Simpson, Will Farrell and Darth Vader!
- Initial impressions, and the eventual wisdom gained, from being introduced to marijuana that was actually green, mushrooms, cocaine, LSD, mescaline, heroin, Ecstasy, Valium, Oxycontin, morphine, ketamine, marijuana that was actually purple, nitrous oxide, even more cocaine, even more heroin and really good wine from the Napa Valley!
- Being in a rock & roll band in L.A. in the 1990’s! (www.reverbnation.com/laritual)
- Escaping the insanity of the city for the peace, love and guns of your buddy’s weed farm in the mountains of Northern California, and nearly dropping dead on his doorstep upon arrival!
- And so much more!
And now, for the first time ever in print….
COMING DOWN ON THE MOUNTAIN
PUTTING THE BRAKES ON TWENTY YEARS OF DECADENCE AND INSANITY
WHILE ON A TRIP TO GANJA HEAVEN DURING HARVEST SEASON
By Michael Sean Lee
Edited by W.K. McDowell
PROLOGUE: PERFECT DAY
Author's note: all the names of the following cast of characters have been changed to protect the ridiculously guilty, as well as the delightfully insane.
I never should have touched the enchiladas.
The chicken soup had been hitting me like some kind of wonder drug, gradually infusing me with a spark of life again after the grueling dope-twisted 36-hour nut run my partner in crime Jay and I had made from Los Angeles to the woods and mountains of Northern California had finally come to what appeared to be a happy ending.
We arrived at our dear friend Mickey's ganja farm on a crisp Tuesday afternoon in mid-October looking like a finely warped mix of colorful roadkill and hammered shit. We were both suffering profoundly from malnutrition, dehydration, exhaustion, mental derangement and drug withdrawal – conditions that we were quite used to dealing with, though usually not all at the same time. We were still on our feet, but just barely.
Upon seeing us stumbling out of the car and then tolerating a babbling and nearly incoherent explanation of the shape we were in, Mickey quickly ushered us into his jurt for immediate medication and resuscitation. This involved initiating a daunting flow of high-quality alcohol, while simultaneously incorporating as many of the exotic glass bongs that were scattered around the premises as possible to facilitate a furious consumption of some of the finest weed I have ever smoked.
The jurt, a habitation structure about seven feet high and forty feet in diameter built on a platform about five feet off the ground, looked like a huge cookie tin with a giant tepee sitting on top of it, and was the epicenter of all activity on the farm. Inside, it had the kind of vibe that lent itself to serious ganja smoking and high-end alcohol imbibing, with colorful tapestries strewn on the walls, multiple sticks of incense smoldering in various blown glass ashtrays, vintage jam band music playing on satellite radio and candles burning everywhere you looked. As the bongs were passed and the drinks were poured and consumed enthusiastically, Jay and I gradually began to throttle down from the twisted up state that we had arrived in.
Mickey’s wife Claudia, who was among the half dozen or so people gathered in the jurt at the time of our arrival, had also shifted into rescue mode. From the kitchen area of the jurt, she dished out two steaming bowls of homemade chicken soup to us from a large iron pot on the stove that simmered almost mystically as it cast soothing aromas floating across the room like the halos of angels.
As I’d consumed nothing that could be called food over the previous two days other than a box of Ritz Crackers that I had inhaled for the sole purpose of keeping my stomach from eating itself, the soup hit me like liquid euphoria, seeping into every corner of my corrupted soul while slowly dragging me back from the ledge over the abyss of utter oblivion I had been dangling precariously from for far too long. A tiny spark of energy re-ignited deep within the depths of my ridiculously damaged psyche, and my fading aura began faintly flickering back to life.
Claudia then brought out a monstrous platter of homemade enchiladas. There was no way I could have seen it coming, but this last element of rescue and resuscitation would turn out to be a bit too much a bit too soon.
As I swallowed the first bite, something went seriously wrong.
My energy level, which had been slowly rising with the infusion of the soup, abruptly plummeted and then all but disappeared like a puff of smoke into the soul-destroying funnel cloud of imminent doom and destruction that now suddenly seemed to be spinning dead center of my skull, it’s overwhelming roar shattering my senses and making my ears ring. It just as suddenly became a tortuous effort just to keep myself from collapsing and slamming facedown onto the table in front of me.
My stomach then seized up like it had been caught in some kind of violent suicide vice that was quickly tightening, and I could feel my face doing rapid-fire pallor changes in sync with each twisting of the vice, running down the entire spectrum of possible color shades and then creating sick new ones. The roaring in my head then became even more overwhelming, drowning out every other sound in the room. The colors my face kept turning must have been nasty, ugly and extreme, judging by the comically odd look Jay was now giving me from across the table, a look that was an amusing mix of fascination and revulsion all rolled into one.
Then the room began to spin.
This was not the kind of spin you’d associate with a late-night dive bar situation when you’d had one too many shots of shitty bourbon. Dealing with that kind of spin would have been considerably easier. This was more like a Dorothy-is-leaving-Kansas-now spin, and my mind did a rather bizarre flash to a tornado hurling a house over a dark and churning horizon. The vice that had a grip on my stomach then suddenly let go, and the distinct possibility that I was about to projectile vomit in cheap horror film fashion all over the jurt and everyone in it now came into play not as an if but a when. These were nice people that Jay and I had just met and gotten high with, and this extremely rude inevitability was not the kind of getting-to-know-you scenario I had in mind.
Getting the hell out of there immediately became the obvious imperative, but at that point I wasn’t sure if I could even stand up, let alone navigate what now looked like an infinite ten feet from the table to the door. As I quickly contemplated my options and concluded that I didn’t have any, I decided to throw myself to the mercy of gravity-induced momentum and lurched rather ungracefully to my feet.
“Sorry...not the food...gotta get some air” I mumbled to no one in particular as I launched myself in a desperate lean towards the screen door.
At this point my perception of reality abruptly changed speeds on me, from a high-velocity, panic-inducing impending-disaster pace to what felt like a Thorazine-overdose slow-motion crawl. Every step now had a sludge-like slow-motion flow of fucking forever feel to it as I stepped away from the table and stumbled towards the door. I was praying that the door opened out and not in, because if I had to change direction for even a single step to pull the door open I was fucked. No change of direction was going to happen without me ending up face down on the floor, and if I went down I would not be getting back up again. Fortunately, fate was working with me for a change and when I bounced my shoulder off the frame of the door it immediately sprung out, and I went sailing through the doorway riding a rush of relief like a thief on meth fleeing the scene of a nefarious crime.
I then somehow managed to negotiate the ten wooden steps down from the platform to the ground outside of the jurt where Jay’s car was parked with all of our gear jammed into the back without leaving my feet and going airborne, though I have no recollection of how I did this and I strongly doubt that I touched more than three of those steps on my way down.
My forward and downward momentum kept me going right up to the right rear door of the car. I slammed into it and immediately slumped to the ground, but I somehow managed to land in a sitting position with my back against the car. I reached up over my head for the door handle, and with what felt like the absolute last of my energy I squeezed it. The pressure from all of our gear crammed into the back of the car popped the door open, and like a gift from the chemical gods my shoulder bag came tumbling out and into my lap.
Having exhausted my supplies of Oxycontin and morphine on the road trip north, I grabbed my bottle of Vicodin and poured out five 10-milligram pills into the palm of my hand. To that pile I added a Soma compound muscle relaxer and a 1-milligram Xanax, tossed the combo into my mouth and washed it all down with water from a small bottle I kept in the bag with my pills for emergency situations like this one. The intention was to combat what I suspected was severe withdrawal from what I ran out of with a serious combination of what I had left. Not a perfect remedy, but it would have to do for the moment.
With chemical help on the way, the full-body shudders I noticed I was suffering from when I first hit the ground began to subside, and the universe gradually slowed its spinning. I knew it would only be ten to fifteen minutes until the full effects of the pills kicked in, so all I had to do now was sit there and ride it out, and I’d begin to feel relatively alright again relatively soon. For a little while.
As the roaring chaos swirling violently around in my head slowly began to ebb and I gradually became cognizant of my surroundings again, I also became aware of what seemed like an ominous silence coming from inside the jurt just above me. After an uncomfortably drawn out thirty seconds of that, I heard Mickey inquire in the matter-of-fact way that he always does about the little mushroom clouds of craziness that were always going off all around him, asking Jay what on the surface sounded like a fairly simple question.
“What the fuck is wrong with Mike?”
It was right around then that my DNA-level irreverence and my gallows humor view of the world all around me at that time started to kick back in, and I could hear myself answering Mickey in my mind.
What the fuck is wrong, indeed.
I then began to hear myself asking questions in that same dark tone that I always heard when I was being the observer, only this time I had also become the observed.
What the fuck am I doing at a ganja farm deep in the woods and mountains of northern California?
I was a very long way from my home in Los Angeles, both figuratively and literally, with what appeared to be a raging chemical habit, the severity of which was only now becoming completely and painfully clear.
How the fuck did that happen?
Jay and I had gone on this mad charge north to the mountains after word had filtered down among the network of criminals and co-conspirators we were plugged into that Mickey was in need of help with the harvest. We both knew there was a very cool buzz that came with this kind of work, and we also knew that we were both perfect for this kind of work environment. As if that wasn’t enough of a lure, we were both also very aware of the ridiculous amount of money you could make in a relatively short period of time doing this kind of work. Neither of us were what you’d call “on the grid” at the moment, so the decision to go was almost a given.
For me the decision was also personal. Mickey and Claudia were two of my favorite people for a very long list of reasons, I hadn’t seen them in six months, and this was after they had dropped off of everyone’s radar for the previous four years. They were still invisible to most people – I was one of the few who was aware that they’d resurfaced up north. They’d back-channeled word to me to come up for a visit when they’d finally reappeared, and I was flattered beyond words by the gesture.
The consideration that finally made the decision to go a done deal for both of us was the level of human wreckage Jay and I were surrounded by in Los Angeles. So many of our friends who had been flying high (and then some) for so long were now crashing and burning in nasty and horrible fashion, and we desperately needed to get away from this foul negative energy before we got dragged down into it as well.
We then attacked the seven-hundred-fifty-mile trip north with this same kind of completely reckless insanity that we were trying to get away from, and now that we’d finally arrived it felt like the trip had almost killed us both.
It had never occurred to us to do it any other way.
As the significance of the fact that we had finally arrived - and we weren’t fucking dead - sunk into my perception, I could hear myself ask myself one more question. It was without a doubt the most significant question, and it had very little to do with harvesting weed.
So you’ve made it to the mountains….now what?
For the first time in over twenty years of what most people would probably describe as deliberate decadence, unhinged insanity and an utter disregard for what those same people would call a “normal life”, I had started asking myself questions.
And also for the first time in over twenty years, I was actually looking for answers…...
stay tuned for Chapter One....coming soon!