Wednesday, December 3, 2008

9 years and I am still in disbelief.

Carmen Diamico was a friend like No One Else.

He came at a time when I had several patches of friends in the neighborhood.He was standing there in the rain with a 40 waiting outside the FU Kwai Inn.

This only stuck out because he was only like 16 and drinking a 40 and waiting on his food like we were. I saw he had a different look on him then some of these guys who had rolled around these blocks. I’d only lived there a few weeks but I’d hung there for about a year or two now. He and I exchanged glances and that was it till he started walking ahead of us up the block. I saw he turned down the block down the way from my boy’s house and I didn’t know anyone on that block. It was less then 5 days later that I was on the el with him coming back from a concert at the Troc that I said what’s up to him.

Since then we had our great times, our up's, our down’s.
I never had a friend who could be so quiet and yet still be so a part of everything that was going on at the moment. There was a few running jokes that he was the silent Bob to me being Jay (me with long hair and a baseball cap- it’s a bad joke but sadly a dead on resemblance once I get goin’)

Carmen was from Juniata but lived down this part of Frankford. He was the closest thing to a bridge between those worlds for me. Bushy knew his sister and such and he was into a few of the metal bands I was about and showed me some punk and oi! Bands. We would steady go back and forth about different hardcore bands and records. It was a great mix for me because I felt comfortable around him and I could tell he needed this the way I did. A lot of my earliest show days Carmen was there. Maybe at first he didn’t roll with us but he was at the shows, could tell you every detail and wasn’t a bullshitter. It was uncanny that he could be in the room and you wouldn’t see him till he liked a song and then he was out on the floor.
That was our friendship for about a year till he disappeared. We had a running joke that soon followed “where in the world was Carmen Diamico?”
I actually remember posting up on Bridge Street and seeing him going down on the 25 bus and he waved. It was fuckin odd to say the least.

Fast forward to me being 16 and living over the bar my mom worked at. I was working on my GED through a catholic services school because I was 16 and not able to take it without their “help”. They taught me a few things about computers (back when DOS was the shit) and I even learned how to type. My main gig was being a porter at a bowling alley. 16 years old, working 55 hours plus a week for 5.35 an hour, man those were the days huh? Maria was pregnant and collectin so that little bit helped.
When Carmen told me he was having problems at the house back there I offered him the “other” room we had. He jumped in and I had my first and only roommate (unless you count the 21 days Bushy lived with us after Maria went into the hospital not long after Kayla was born till we got kicked out :P ) We would get a ton of shit from Maria and Michelle (her best friend and one of his hookups) but we didn’t mind. He was working at the pool as a lifeguard and later he would work at the bowling alley with me. The job was cake work and better then anything we could have got around FKD.
He and I really grew a bond that fall into winter. The running joke at the time was “_____ was going off the deck” that lead to the back of the apt from the driveway behind the bar.
It could be I’m throwing you off the deck, Maria and her stupid dog or a particular CD. It was a good stress reliever and a great line. We’d have more then crazy girls and shitty jobs to share. When H2O opened for Social Distortion, we made the choice to stay for the show instead of going back to Bushy’s house party at his mom's.

What we missed was a legendary showdown between our friends and the neighborhood crew that hung at McVeigh playground. A few words were exchanged with some Jtown guys going from the El to the party and a mob ensued and laid waste to most of the dudes outside who were unlucky enough to be locked out when the girls inside the party locked the door effectively leaving everyone on the porch to an asswhooping and keeping all the rest inside. That is except for Bushy who was eventually thrown through the large window and left with a scar on his elbow since. Our fate was to be singled out at first by some Nazis and due in part to our own stubbornness we were rolled out in the middle of the crowd. There were more then a few hardcore “kids” that watched as the two of us had our asses handed to us, but since we had few friends and all of which who were at the party we were left out to dry and beaten merciless until Mike Ness threw a water bottle into the crowd and H2O tried jumping the barricade to get involved. I can remember outside bleeding from my face and all the people who watched were so quick to jump on the “lets get them Nazi @%*& bandwagon”. It was good timing that Toby called them on their shit and told them they had their chance and did nothing.
Going home that night with ripped clothes and smashed heads we laughed at the scum on the el shuttle. We both knew the shit the girls would have to say and it was glorious.

That life continued till we had Kayla Devon born to us in Feb of 97. Within 2 weeks Maria would go from sick to near death in the hospitalization.
I remember coming home from visiting her to Carmen and Bushy on the speaker phone in our living room on a “talk line” trying to line up girls to hang out that night. I’d crushed my finger in between two bowling balls and effectively wrecked my left pinky for life just 4 days after my daughter was born. I was out of work and spending my days by Maria’s side as she showed her true colors more and more.
We eventually had to leave the apartment and it was time anyway. Carmen and I were at each other's throats for the frustrations the girls caused. Maria and I had split up only a month after our kid was born and I was still only 16 so back to my moms I went. I remember he and I got into a fistfight soon after in my dining room and it ended with my mom throwing him off me bc he was biting my stomach. Needless to say, I didn’t see him for a few months. Tempers cooled and he was really one of the main people in the development and continuation of my struggle of mastering the arts of the street and hardcore scene.
He drove the smallest Plymouth Sundance and it was in that car that I took and passed my driver’s license test. It would be that same car that would be packed to the gills driving to NY, or Long Island or the many trips up the Northeast Extension to Sea Sea’s.

Conning Carmen into the driving became an art I’d perfected. I would drive, he would party we would all win. 3 and 4 show weekends were guaranteed. It was in those times that we would have the deep conversation coming home from the show about life. I really understood a lot of where he was coming from in those moments. I got a lot of my ideas of release and escapism from those talks with him. Soon enough we were both busy with jobs and doing shit that kept the shows to maybe twice a month traveling and everything in the city and close by. He’d eventually hooked up with Maria’s other friend who had a serious set of fake boobs and absolutely adored him. I truly thought he had it all at that stage. He was never happier then with that girl.

At that stage in my life, I was so bummed on the missed opportunity of rushing out of high school to live the love life with Maria that would ultimately end 7 months into our daughter’s life. I felt like I’d passed up my chance and was throwing myself into a pity pot and getting into lots of reckless useless trouble. He helped sooth the wounds and would steer me from total damnation. He was always the sound mind in the noise and chaos. He never went over the edge. He never had that bloodlust or that need for vengeance. I’d gotten my pass to get out of the city and troubles by touring with Dysphoria. He was still working the bowling alley only moving up to being trained to be the mechanic. They made the real bucks and he was doing ok. He would fuck his back up and be laid up for a very long time. It was parties in his mom’s basement and shows where we would hang out at this point. I remember him telling me he loved me and that he wish he could go with me on the Dysphoria tour.

It wasn’t long after I was home from tour that life changed. Younger kids had gained ground, older guys were backing away. Carmen had put some distance on the world.
That fall he would watch practice tapes of Punishment and get super excited for our eventual first show. He was the one who helped me with the lyrics to Prisoner. He liked the idea of No Way Out. There was a store in the mall near us called Way Out and he was drunk laughing “No Way Out” and making silly references to our friend who used to work there. About a month later he called me after an H2O show at the Troc. At this point I wasn’t allowed there and it was a bumout for him. It was a short check in call and that was it.

I can remember it like it was yesterday only it was 9 years ago today.
My mom was putting up decorations and George called. Earlier he’d had to bite the bullet and tell me Jay Insana was burned alive in a fire. He was calling in tears to tell me they think Carmen was dead. We rushed to his house to see cops everywhere. They wouldn’t let us by the tape. His mom who hated me with all the fire of Hades ran out and embraced me. I was his bad influence. I was the one who got him into trouble. Yet I was the one consoling her as she told me Carmen shot himself this morning.

That night was a blur, it was agony. There was 30 or 40 of us at my house. I was shit faced within an hour. I don’t know what I drank or how much but it was not enough.

My friend was dead and I didn’t know why.
Through the haze of the wake up the following morning I’d decided I was never going to get drunk or fucked up again. He was gone. In a moment of clarity that has rarely touched me; I knew my friend was connection to the fun involved in the drinking. I needed self control now. I needed strength. Drinking was going to be my undoing. I was 19 and I needed to be better for everyone.

The rest of this tale plays out easily. He looked like a lil boy in his casket. I’d cried so much the first night I was dumbfounded and numb till I got there. We walked the 2 miles to the service jokingly talking shit on him to keep our spirits up. The minute I saw his face I was done. I couldn’t hold back.

Punishment would later write a song for him that we butchered up through the years. I wish it was good enough to stand the test of time for a friend whose memory is etched in so much of my every day life that I constantly smiling at his small touches still left in my life.

December Third is a day of sadness for me and one I dread as the calendar year thins down to the last of the pages. I am always alone; I barely can speak or function some years. This was the 9th time and one of the worst.

I wish I had all the lessons learned from the mistakes of those days.
We all have our ways to remember a friend. In the hardcore world, it’s not uncommon for someone to be memorialized with a tattoo. I took one of the pieces of flash from the Love Songs for the Unloved record by Sheer Terror and had it customized for the situation. The flash is associated with the song Jimmy’s High Life, yea the Gun and the flowers. Carmen being such an accurate sniper and world class smart ass he would have loved the pun of it. I’d had his name on the banner and the gun; well you just read the story.
Not a bad way to remember the kid who ended a suicide note, P.s. Mom sorry about the mess.


1 comment:

Kittgoboom said...

I Remember when you told me about CarmeN.. I Was still in basic training and finally after a few weeks got a few minutes to use the phones to call friends and family. when i called you to see how everyone was doing and to catch up on events, in what i thought would be a good day for me, being i finally had a small amount of freedom givin to me by the drill Sgts.. I was like "How ya doing dude" and you where like "You dont know do you?" i didnt even know he was dead when they had his funeral.

I still remember when your mom beat him up...