Race Wars, Bad Drugs, and Good Friends: The True Story Of My Youth in Plymouth. Part 1
So I could show you photos of two places I grew up at two very different times in my life. I could show you the ghetto I lived in, where I spent a good chunk of my twenties. The town where I would find (literally, on two occasions) strangers passed out on the front porch of my building. And I could show you the town, “America’s Home Town” actually, Plymouth, Ma, where I spent my teens,with all the beautiful beaches and all the lovely, expensive homes. And I could then hold up the two pictures and ask you which place you think more messed up shit has happened? And most of you would point at the ghetto picture. And most of you would be wrong. And you answering that proves EXACTLY why the prettier, suburban one is more messed up. Because you’ll pretend that shit just doesn’t exist. Maybe it’s time we wake up and realize the little cul-de-sacs in perfect little neighborhoods are the most dangerous places of all? How so? They breed boredom, and nothing is more dangerous than a bored kids who have money and means. But we’re not gonna go there yet, that’s gonna be the SEX and DRUG chapter, and that one comes later. Nope, this is all about one High School, in one beautiful town, and how, under that facade, so much hate was brewing, and the world had no idea.
The differences between “the hood” and “the burbs” are not as many as you would think. Where once the line seemed clearly divided in the sand, now that line has blurred. Same drugs are are prevalent in both. Weapons and violence are prevalent in both. But truth be told, I spent a good deal of time on both sides of the tracks (if you think this writing gig is making me rich, you have no idea how this life thing works) and I can honestly and confidently tell you that the stuff is saw in Plymouth, Massachusetts when I was growing up trumped the stuff I saw in Fall River, Ma, that I saw as an adult. By lengths and bounds, actually. But I am not doing this to peg one side as worse, or pick a favorite. I am simply informing you (especially parents and kids) to actually TALK about what goes on. My world was insane, and no one knew it.
Ah, Plymouth South High School. saw things in that school that would blow your mind.
No one talks about some of the crazier shit we all saw or witnessed or were part of back then, and there may be multiple reasons for that. I think there are two schools of thought, actually. I think there are groups of people who refuse to accept that their lives, fifteen or twenty years ago, were just as messed up, if not moreso, than the current generation. I think it is easier to pretend there WEREN’T insane issues with race at our school. I think it is easier to pretend teachers weren’t fucking students and students were coming to class, fucked up on drugs. But the truth is, all those things WERE happening. And they were happening all around us, everyday.
I think the other school of thought on it was, Yeah, it was messed up and I just want to forget about it. And I can understand that, but if no one knows, and no one learns from it, what’s the point?
That is why I laugh EXTRA hard when I see movies like High School Musical (I worked with special needs kids and got paid to see it, so you can’t make fun of me for seeing it). Movies like that are just freakishly inaccurate, especially in modern times. You want to see how kids REALLY act when adults aren’t around, watch the movie KIDS. “nuff said. And for me and my time in Plymouth here, we are talking about the nineties. Things were still pure, right?
No, like Hunter S Thompson had touched on long before the nineties. The American dream was dead, bloated and blue, floating along on tide, and had been for some time. The reason no one knew it was no one talked about it. Because how do you talk about some of this shit? It’s better to pretend it doesn’t exist, right?
This image may seem intense and out-of-place, but read on.
It’s like: Hey Remy, how was your day at school?
Oh, it was pretty traumatizing, actually, Dad. You see, one of my friends, Aimee, is dating this black guy. And because my school was full of hate filled bigots (and some genuinely amazing people, too) I saw the guy she was dating get his head cracked like three times with a baseball in the hall between classes.
Oh, um, you want fish for dinner?
See, the exchange ends up being awkward, and it scares your parents and family, so you just say “it was good”, and eat TWO pieces of fish to really drive that point home. But we need to stop that. I should we have been talking about this stuff. We ALL should have.
And shit like what I just explained happened ALL THE TIME! What about the three seniors (when I was a sophomore) who stood up during lunch, did the Hitler sign, and yelled out white power three times? Yeah, funny how the athletes in the school pull that shit and somehow, they get a slap on the hand. But if anyone pulled that, they would be thrown out of school, and they should be. That kind of thinking and to act on it in public is disgusting and should not be tolerated. But it was. Tolerated and covered up.
Yes, that actually happened, too.
No one ever stops a fight in High school. People form a circle. It is like Roman times.
At the time, a very close friend of mine happened to be of Jamaican descent, and he moved from New York to this quiet, little, gated community in Plymouth. His family were all some of the nicest people I had ever met, and they warmly welcomed me into their home and culture time and time again. And in my head, I was still naive. I didn’t think terrible things happened to good people. But I learned one night. Coming home from a show. There were fire engines all around his house, and cops and people in the street. When the crowd parted, I could see, spray painted on the house “Section 8 crack dealers”.
In that second, all faith in humanity was lost. I would go on to regain it and lose it multiple times throughout my life. But that was the first.
There are few moments in my life when I think I have possessed enough rage to kill someone, but had I found out who did that, I am genuinely afraid I would have torn their head from their shoulders. That night, is when things changed for me. How I saw the world. And I didn’t even find out what really happened until much later. The reason the fire engines were there (I was so naive at the time I thought racism was a valid reason for such an uproar) was because someone had lit a barrel on fire and rolled it into his basement.
The parents were away and it was my buddy watching his two youngest siblings, a 6-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl. And someone tried to burn them alive.
If the house had caught that day, there are no words the lengths which I would have gone to find those people and make them pay.
So everyone got out of the house, and my buddy was too scared and ashamed to tell me. I also think he KNOWS I would have hunted them down and skinned them, consequences be damned. When you are willing to burn a house down and kill children out of hate and ignorance, I think you don’t deserve the gift of life. BUT, I am not the Punisher. But believe me, for a few weeks, I fucking considered it.
The Remisher just doesn’t sound badass enough anyway.
As things went on, the (obvious) rumors were that the same kids who stood up and yelled that racist trash in the lunchroom were the ones who were responsible. And guess what? Just like they were protected in school, they were protected with this case as well. Funny thing is, a lot of us haven’t forgotten who those kids were. Sometimes, pudding tastes WAY better when it is served ICE COLD, you know what I mean? But I digress.
Maybe most of Plymouth has forgotten (or never knew) what you did, but I didn’t. I know.
So as bad as that was, it reached a boiling point one day. For all of us.
All of that racial shit culminated one day outside this girl Nicole’s house. The house was a well known party house for most of us who lived in the area because she had one of those Mom’s who was always off with her “boyfriend”. So me and my friends partied there. And a good deal of these friends were black. A good deal of them were white and yellow, too, but I hope you sense where this is going.
So we are inside the house, and a shit-ton of cars pull up outside. And the dirtbags send over a “pigeon” to see if any of us want to “come out and smoke a bone”. I say pigeon because he was a carrier of news, nothing else. Even in our Roman ways, you don’t kill the messenger (unless, ofcourse, this IS SPARRRTTTTAAA) so we declined, and he tucked his head and went back to car. We knew what was up. Any of us walk outside of that house, and we are getting jumped. There were other kids planted all along the side of her house, and they didn’t know we knew that.
So we started getting weapons. Making weapons. We thought we were going to war, and we weren’t going to be trapped in this girl’s fucking house like cowards or animals. This was Gangs of New York, years before the film.
How far would you be willing to go for something you believed in?
Yet somehow, in a ten minute span I do not recall, I got talked into being the pigeon for our side. Not for any other reason than I was more of a character then a person, and I was well-liked enough that I would be the least likely to be bludgeoned. It made sense to me. And I agreed. In hindsight, there is NO ONE too charismatic to get bludgeoned when idiot racists are involved, but I digress.
So I walked out, and approached Dave, thinking he was the one person I had talked to in Gym a few times and we seemed cool. For the five minutes that I was talking to him, it seemed like things were going well. Then a few friends joined him on either side, unaware we were actually getting along and things seemed to be going Ok. And ofcourse, one of them had a crowbar. A crowbar he was trying to conceal behind his leg. I will never forget that feeling. Looking down, seeing him hiding it behind his leg. Honestly me looking at it and not being able to hide my sudden discomfort may have saved me that day.
In my head, I remember him about nine feet taller than what this stock photo would like you to believe.
I remember him lifting his arm to swing, and I remember running. I remember running like how I’d always imagined I’d run from zombies. By now it was nighttime, and I could hear them behind me, adding to my terror. There were three of these dudes,with at least three car loads parked further back. I was certain I was dead. But I knew the neighborhood. Trees on side of road next to Ocean Aire entrance. Ocean Aire being the name of the estates we were in at the time. Next to trees, a secret path that cuts through to my friend Billy’s house. I duck into the woods, and just like a movie, I can hear them scrounging and looking and saying “where did he go??”
I would place my hand on a Bible and swear every word of this to be true, because it is. I know I put fiction on this site, too. But it is NEVER filed under Traumatizing and True. I have that category, and have since day one, for a reason. A valid reason. My life, as you will come to see.
Anyway, I went up to their door and knocked frantically, and when they answered I asked Billy’s parents to call the cops to go to Nicole’s down across the street, on the other side of the estates. And sweaty and out of breath, I began to walk in the direction of my own house. My friend Billy’s parents never liked me much because I went by their house extra-stoned one day to talk to Billy, and from that day forth they thought of me as the local Hunter S.Thompson. In hindsight, good call. Hunter rocks. And I am still thankful to them for (unwittingly) saving my life that day. And maybe preventing what would have ended up being reported as a race riot. And who do you think the police sided with when they went to the disturbance? No matter, it all diffused, and no one, black OR white, was killed that day.
I’m the green guy incase you guys aren’t following.
Sad thing is, that is just a smattering of the hate fueled violence and madness that permeated a good deal of my youth in the suburbs. In my entire time in Plymouth, Ma, I went to well over 200 parties, and I would say five of those didn’t end in violence. And when I say violence, I don’t mean “Two People Fighting” stuff. I mean VIOLENCE. I have seen people thrown through doors and have drinks smashed over their heads.
Stuff that is REALLY unpleasant to see outside of movies.
One example, my Buddy Dave and I sat there one night at a bar called Riptides in downtown, when it had JUST opened. We were drinking for no less then five minutes when the whole first floor (where the Dj was spinning) turned into brawl that looked like something out of a cartoon. A big cloud of dust with hands coming out of it and expletives flying. Within fifteen minutes, Plymouth Police came in wearing riot gear and just started fucking shit up. It was insane. By the time it had all ended, the whole floor was totaled. Like I said, the stuff out of movies.
Hey, look, someone animated the brawl from that night!
If you think this might all be an exaggeration, you should go to White Horse beach in Plymouth on the night of July 3rd. No, really, go there. See for yourself.
By the end of the night, you feel like Nero, watching Rome burn from the hillside.
It is fun, though, I won’t lie. Much in the way that fighting a dragon might be fun, minutes before you are scarred for life.
Now let’s compare this:
Yup, that is lovely Plymouth, Massachusetts, down town. Just the stuff I saw on that street at night (outside the bars) would melt your face.
And we are comparing that, to this:
Ah, good ole’ Fall River. And on THAT EXACT CORNER, I have seen 100% less violence than the street above.
Now before I go any further, I need to make this clear, AGAIN. I am by no means picking favorites. I was equally miserable in both places, truth be told.
In the same breath, Plymouth is breathtaking, and Fall River has so much culture and history, you can find amazing things about both places if you know where to look. But, my point is, don’t look at one and assume.
ESPECIALLY for parents. You may want to pick Plymouth because you think it is higher class or more rural, but again, boredom can be just as dangerous as any inner city stereotypes (gangs, drugs), Don’t think that this shitty world hasn’t bled into all aspects of life, because sometimes I look back at my time growing up in Plymouth and I realize:
People have NO clue. No clue what is going on right under their noses. The kid who turned his parent’s basement into a lab to make ecstasy. The Neo-Nazi dosing people with acid. The kids getting drunk and swapping out girlfriends. This stuff happened. WAY more than any of us would care to admit. Until now, that is.
I have so many stories to tell you about it, as a matter of fact.
That was just one.
Imagine how messed up this ride is going to get?
If I wrap this story up right around Dec 21st, who knows how it will really end?