I prowled the streets with the zeal of a pilgrim after work or during lunch breaks, hellbent in digging out every cache of hidden treasure, every hidden record shop or second hand book or magazine store I could unearth. Though I had exoteric goals in mind, I realize now that was really out there to soak up the city's arcane energy, plugging straight into its sorcerous heart before its last gasp of magical possibility exhausted itself, which it most certainly did by the decade's end.
So it's all too fitting that California's last great Dionysus finally succumbed to the years of self-abuse and heartache. These are terrible times for most working musicians, no matter how much propaganda you might hear to the contrary from the pirate lobby. No 48 year-old man wants to spend his life on the road, traveling from one small theatre to another mid-sized club, remembering the glamour and good times of the gravy days. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Another shaman with deep roots in both New York and Southern California also succumbed to the lifestyle around this time of year some thirteen years ago now. Although the press had it that Joe Strummer died of a faulty heart valve, one of his biographer's discovered that the coroner's report told a different story.
Strummer's rebirth bookended the collapse of the Generation X dream, as he returned in 1999 (just as the dotcom boom began to crack) and died in late 2002, as the post 9/11 economic order dug its teeth in.
Strummer and The Clash had become icons to the wave of punk and ska bands that emerged in the wake of Grunge's collapse (many GenX veterans of the first wave punk wars like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones) and his death seemed to presage the passing of another era, as Generation Y would rise soon after and a new sensibility took root.
Meanwhile, Scott Weiland joined forces with members of Guns n' Roses for the Velvet Revolver supergroup, disappointing many STP fans who thought he was slumming with glorified bar band hacks. The project ran its course before the curse of Dionysus did what it does and Weiland was fired or quit, depending on whose story you believe.
* For all its over the top violence, Abel Ferrara film King of New York takes a snapshot of that very unique moment. There are other artifacts that do as well even if no one has ever given it a name. The films Flatliners and Jacob's Ladder also give you a taste of the times, if not the place.