Mr Black Hat and me

The voice mail had a message for me, beep, and it was a looong message. I've played it several times, and chuckled while transcribing it:

"Hello, Doug. This is Pike, your old flatmate. Remember, you, uh, skedaddled on us?

"Well, uh, ever since you moved out we've been looking really really hard and, uh, we haven't found another flatmate yet, so, uh, we're a lot behind on the rent, and if we don't find someone to help pay the rent soon we'll be evicted.

"I don't know where we'll go or how we could get a new place, and uh, I don't want to move, so I'm really hoping you know somebody who needs a room?

"Uh, God, we've got to get someone to move in, like, immediately. We've had people tell us they were going to, but then they didn't, and it's screwed us over so many times, and then we, um. Three people have said they would, we waited for them and they didn't, and it was, um, another week that went by without us looking for a flatmate, so now, uh, it's an emergency here.

"Please, uh, if you know anyone looking for a room, you know what the room is like, and now it's $300 a month, $900 to move in, so, uh, and we need it, so please ask around, okay? God, we're screwed here, and un, so, God, you know, come on —

"And you are responsible for this, man. Without giving us any damn notice at all you disappeared on us like that, and, uh, that was really un-cool. That's, uh, the reason we're so messed up here. If we'd had some time when you moved in, um, I mean, moved out, if we'd had any, um, notice, we would've found someone by now, so, um, anyway, ask around, uh, okay? Thanks."

No, Pike, I won't ask around, and won't apologize for moving out without telling you. You never told me that your girlfriend was moving in, so I never told you I was moving out. The End.

♦ ♦ ♦

Like most days over the past few weeks without working, I wasted it vegetating in my room. Now it's 11:15 at night, and I should be asleep but instead I've just stepped out of the shower, and after typing this I'll be busing to the Free Radio Berkeley studio, where Josh's show starts at midnight. I hope he's prepared to do most of the talking.

♦ ♦ ♦

Free Radio Berkeley operates out of a still-functioning hippie house at an undisclosed address, where the walls are painted in many colors, the floors are covered with blankets, and the light bulb in the bathroom isn't there. There wasn't but should've been graffiti on the wall saying, "The Symbionese Liberation Army slept here."

That's a joke, but there really was intense smoldering in the living room, and two people were asleep on top of each other on the couch. The house seems like a completely cool place to live.

The radio station fills one bedroom, and it's what I'd envisioned — a ramshackle mess of creaky old chairs and electronics. FRB's statement of principles is thumb-tacked to the wall, and under it, handwritten rebuttals like "What a crock of shit" and "yeah, that would be nice." It's all very non-professional, laid back, the opposite of Geraldo or anything from mainstream broadcasting. Beautiful, in a word.

Josh told me to sit down and relax, pushed a surprisingly large microphone into my face, and The Black Hat Show started promptly at midnight. He asked me questions, I answered, and it was just two friends talking.

We talked for hours longer than I'd thought, though, because I was Josh's only guest for the night and his show runs until 4:00 AM. So much talking — about my zine, and then about old movies, old comics, anarchist idealism, why I left Seattle, fish and free speech in Berkeley, and then back to zines — how to start one, and what other zines I'd recommend.

Josh announced the station's phone number a dozen times, and three times the phone rang, and two out of three callers asked about things we'd already explained.

Three times, he played a record to give our throats a rest, but after the music we talked again. So much talking, four hours of it, which is maybe two hours more than I've talked so far in 1995.

I might have sounded coherent until about 3:00, but after that the grogginess set in. My last recollection is making an obscene joke (there are no FCC rules on FRB) but after that, everything is a blur until the next host came in, and we stepped out, and Josh drove me home.

He was a fine host, and he plugged the hell out of my zine, including giving my address. At least three people were listening, so maybe a few three-dollar orders will come in. I had a fine time for three out of four hours, thanks John, but after all that talking I'd like to take two weeks off from life.

From Pathetic Life #16
Thursday, September 21, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


  1. No chance this FRB interview is archived anywhere, is there?

    1. Free Radio Berkeley got taken off the air by the FCC in the 1990s, but still exists, mostly selling pirate radio equipment. Can't imagine they'd have tapes of an obscure overnight show from their broadcast era, though.

  2. Finally some closure on Pike and ...whatever his girlfriend's name was, that horrible woman -- they get what they deserve and its awful to say this but I love it! Do you know if they got evicted?

    1. My memory has more gaps than my teeth. I didn't know they'd gotten behind in the rent until reading and retyping this entry. Vaguely remembered a whining phone message, that's all.

      Pretty sure Pike never called again, but the zine might prove me wrong.


🚨🚨 BY THE WAY... 🚨🚨
The site's software sometimes swallows comments. If it eats yours, send an email and I'll get it posted.