Monday, December 19, 2005


Of course, it’s not week 23. It’s actually week 26. Somewhere I spaced three weeks of writing this blog, and real time differs with the entry number. No matter, but just to make it clear because I don’t want to be cheated out of any time, ha -ha.
My spirits are lifted these days. As we move to the year's’ end I always feel a sense of renewal. Why in the world January 1 was chosen to start the New Year, I haven’t a clue, but it seems to work as well as anything.
These days are a ping- pong volley of pissed off to positive mood swings. Something can be said for both in terms of motivational benefits. The more pissed off I get the better I fit in. I am so disgusted by the prevailing attitudes in the modern music industry as it marches to absorb the talented and inspired youth culture and produce a pre-fabricated market place. I can’t say much for hip-hop/rap pseudo-stars. They have nothing more to talk about than how clever, cold-blooded, or rich they are personally. Do we really need to hear this tripe? With the exception of Eminem, who actually discusses real issues in his life, hip-hop/rap is a redundant splurge of bloated egos. Maybe I’m missing something?
The so-called “alternative” is a prisoner of it’s own making. Plus, the term “alternative” bothers me. No wonder everywhere you look, the hip trends tend to be retro in character. This modern world is a “no show” for inspiration and creativity. I see my best friends, long time innovators in music, becoming assembly line fabricators of pseudo-music. Musicians will in time become obsolete. “Old school” will refer to a time when a group of players would gather to make spontaneous musical events. Real music will be “old school”. I kid you not. Some people will resist, but it will not be the majority. Mostly, people will accept the new technologies as perfectly natural chains of events, and convenient. In the end, the art form will suffer, leaving us with memories of times when things were more meaningful. I guess I can only do what I feel right doing. So, I will remain with my old school ways until the end of time. I need value. I need things to be worth showing up for. Maybe enough people share these values, and there’s hope after all.
Today, December 19, marks 6 months of treatment.

Friday, December 09, 2005


The First Rock & Roll Casualty

His name was Brian Jones. To my recollection he was the first actual casualty of rock and roll from his own debauchery. He preceded Elvis by several years, with Jimi, Janice, and Jim bringing in the rest of the field slightly later. There are few today who even know his name, and those that do haven’t much of an idea who this character was unless they’ve done a lot of reading about him. His band, The Rolling Stones, have by and large been happy to “get over it” and not bring up the subject again. I don’t blame them. The story is ugly no matter who tells it. He was a brilliant light at a time when brilliant lights were popping up all around. He had a passionate regard for American blues music. His knowledge of R&B artists of the day as well as ones past made him a guru amongst his peers. He played harp like Little Walter and guitar like Elmore James. He turned on the British youth culture to the style that would come to be known as the “first wave”. Like a fireworks display he rose dramatically, bloomed in the highest night sky, and then fell into cinders back to Earth. Whenever he appeared his radiance captivated the moment. No wonder The Stones would rather quietly brush his debris off the table, he was stealing all the thunder, and becoming totally irresponsible at the same time. I’m no Brian Jones, but I do understand him. I can understand the forces that propelled him into his coffin. It is a matter of fate, and fate only. Nothing could have saved Brian Jones. It was his role to play, and the outcome was anything but a coincidence. Since his time of passing, many persons, young and old, have served similar sentences as victims of their own indiscretion. Some have survived and many haven’t. It all comes roughly in the same packaging: a sense of grandeur followed by disappointment from lack of recognition - a feeling that one is the reason for everything and the recipient of nothing. It is the presence of enlarged and under-nourished ego, heaping plates of arrogant recklessness, all making one feel omnipotent in the face of danger. I understand these forces because I know them from personal experience. In this very terminal mode I became the instrument of my own stumbling. I didn’t bother to address my weakness because I considered myself a brave explorer and distanced myself from my fellows just to show them how larger-than-life I really was.
As I approach the 6 month mark in my treatment, I feel like, not only am I going to make it, but I am fortunate to have such a small price to pay for all the insane things I did in the name of experimentation and bravado. I am also considerably blessed to have the support of my family, who put up with my bitchiness and tender sensibilities, which often times range from comatose inactivity to child like pettiness. Without my family’s constant support and tolerance I may have given up the ghost many times along the way. If I could make it on my own it certainly wouldn’t be with the same quality that I presently enjoy. I think that sometimes we try to inflict the same injustices on others that we feel that we have experienced in our own lives. This may be as a measure of revenge, or may be out of frustration because we can’t stop the redundant, self-perpetuating cycle of self-abuse.
I have no idea of how many people read this blog. If you are diagnosed as Hep C positive, it’s best not to ignore the diagnosis. If you know someone who is Hep C positive, encourage them to seek treatment. Someone is waiting for you to emerge a healthy happy person.
All my numbers are looking good these days. We will continue the treatment. I’ve grown used to it all. I’ll just keep on going until Dr. Bartley tells me we are finished. Whenever that will be -- I haven’t a clue. He tells me almost nothing. Sometimes I feel like a laboratory rat instead of a human being. I am dosed with unknown substances and graphed out on statistics sheets. But I know it’s all worth it in the end. I have more to think of than just myself.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


WEEK (weak) 21
Here we go again.
You know how you get in a rut and it goes on for so long that you just can’t stand it anymore? This week I decided I’d better get moving again before I turn into dust. A good sleep does wonders.
Well I got myself up to start the week and a nice guitar arrived at my door via Expedited Mail Services. A candy grape delight called Jaguar. It is loaded with humbuckers instead of the traditional single coil pickups. Nice axe -- I’m having fun struggling with the intonation.
Everyday I play human pincushion. I’ve become as used to it as can be expected but still twinge little at the thought of having to deal with it.
As weak as I feel, I know I must become active again. Even (especially) the yoga is a struggle, and I don’t feel like I can do it justice until I regain some strength. It’s downright scary. My body isn’t too bad, but if you looked at my limbs you’d wonder what in the hell happened. I kind of look like one of those Don Martin characters that appeared in Mad Magazine back in the sixties: potato torso, wiener arms and legs, hair going in electrostatic directions. It isn’t like the movies in which a guy decides to make a change and the film suddenly catapults through a sequence of speed motion scenes of him running on a track, lifting weights furiously, chowing on salads and doing jumping jacks in front of the TV watching Carmen Electra workout.
Other than that, I’m happy enough.
I was looking at a poster depicting a Ronald Reagan commemorative stamp while standing in line at the post office today. My God, it seems no matter what any of these lunatics did in the service of our nation, it’s ok, and… they get a stamp! It’ll be interesting to see how the future glamorizes Bush’s moment of torching the countryside for heretics and dissenters. Now for old Bill Clinton, he gets the black ball yet he’s the best of the lot. Like Henry VIII, Clinton and Henry suffer prejudice attached to a sexually loaded situation. Henry VIII created separation of church and state. Is that bad? Sex…mmm…good.
Oh, I’m sure Bill will get his stamp some day. History may forget the “B.J,” in time, but maybe not. People love that stuff. It’s what everybody loves to talk about, especially if it’s someone else. I want him to get a stamp because of it!
See Ya.

Sunday, November 27, 2005



Honestly, sometimes it’s just hard to find anything I feel like talking about. I’m sick of repeating myself about my physical state. I’m exhausted with talking about the treatment, the drugs, the side effects, and all that I feel on account of it, and…. I’m a week behind with my entry. Still, I owe an installment and something must appear or I’ll be cursed.
Last week I got an alumni association hard cover book listing every one who’s ever graduated from Cass Technical High School in Detroit since it’s inception as a public school in about 1928 or so. That list comprises essentially an index of every graduating class and the names of the graduates. The first half of the book is dedicated to listing individuals, their whereabouts, occupations, and contact info if the organization was able to locate and gather any current information. Obviously, many of the people who were part of the 600+ that graduated in 1961 have disappeared from the radar. Interestingly, I found a few names that mattered in some vague way. Aside from myself, there were three other characters from the art department that had some current information. They are Jim Latimer, Arthur Dworin, and Ron Whyte.
Jim Latimer and I were pretty good friends in the last year of high school and then also for a while at Wayne State University. We recently have been in touch through a quirk of fate where his brother came to the Amoeba record store performance in September and volunteered to put me in touch with Jim. Jim is now living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a published writer/ illustrator, storyteller, and psychologist. He has several degrees and I’m very proud of him. Some day we will get together and recall our lives to each other. In our email exchanges I asked him if he remembered Arthur Dworin.
Arthur was a remarkable character because while we all were clamoring to become commercial artists, Arthur Dworin was playing out a sincere role as a serious, sensuous, impassioned painter. It was a touch of the Van Gogh and a dash of Verrochio. He had wild, skyward tousled hair, and looked half- mad, as if he was about to come unglued. He was quite an antithesis to the common commercial art student of the time. He made an impression on me though I really didn’t know him. No one knew him. He was a mystery. He now lives in New York City and is a videographic artist. I suspect he is still a passionate, creative individual and successful in his own right. Jim Latimer had bemusingly commented, “Yeah, Arthur…I wonder whatever happened to him?”.
The third character, Ronald Whyte, was the “star” of the art department. He was fastidious and meticulous in his work and his drawing had that look about it. He was awarded a scholarship to Art Center School of Design, in Pasadena, California, (my new hometown), and in everyone's eyes he was a shoo-in to be a successful artist. He was the opposite pole from Dworins’ insatiable painter geek. Ron Whyte lives not too far from Pasadena, near Palm Springs, and he is a self-employed artist. I don’t doubt that he is successful. I didn’t really know Ron in school. Yet, he also made a lasting impression on me.
My listing states my occupation as “rock star”. I’m sure if any of these guys ever read that, and if they remembered me at all they probably wouldn’t comprehend it. Of course Latimer was well aware of my career and music. So, it’s also possible Dworin and Whyte have some awareness of me.
All the other names in the book seem irrelevant. A couple of people that I wondered about were “whereabouts unknown,” but on the whole these few names are symbolic of my high school days. If I were so inclined I would be tempted to contact these persons, but then again, I wonder what for? Apart from James Latimer, with whom I had an actual friendship, there really isn’t any point in hashing up old stories with old people that I never knew. I’m really just satisfied to know that they are somewhere and doing what they like to do. Vaya con Dios, amigos.

I’ve been in the treatment tank for 5 months now… alcohol-free for nearly 11. I don’t feel “good” and I don’t feel “bad”. I feel lucky. I feel lucky to be where I am, who I am, what I am, doing what I’m doing, and to be with who I’m with. I feel lucky that fate has given me a mission to “make it right” and "make it right now”. The holiday season is started, and for once I feel a sense of contentment and anticipation. No matter what anyone's beliefs may be, I sincerely hope for all to enjoy and appreciate the experience of friends and family. I also want to extend my deepest, most profound and humble wish that the human race with all its complexity will find a way to shine its light on all of humanity and respect the majesty of the universe. And don’t forget the good food, the pretty decorations, and the happy faces of the children!

Friday, November 18, 2005


WEEK 19 "It’s just my 19th week nervous breakdown"

I’m feeling better these days, and still scratching like a flea-bitten hound. Well I looked in my mirror and what did I see? It was an old-ass man a-comin’ after me. I said, hey brother, now slow your truck down, I’ll be catchin’ a ride next time around. Now don’t run me over where I’m standing in the road, cause I feel too weak to carry my load. Said all right boy, if you wanna hang tough and shake it, give it one more try, I know you can make it.
I asked Angela if people who wind up in a concentration camp and are finally released ever regain their former state of physique. She said "those who work at it do." I have to admit these months of inactivity have taken a huge toll on my body. I recoil at the sight. I’ve taken it for granted that the body is like an inherited blob of meat that grows to maturity and finally parks at the grave in more or less the same form. Six months of inactivity and you’ll change your opinion on that. My Aunt Lu used to say "use it, or lose it." I have lost more than my share lately. With an indefinite end to the treatment, I’m worried that another six months of atrophy would be horrendously devastating. I haven’t ridden my bike since spring. Everything has shrunken. My legs, arms, shoulders, and face look as if I had been starving. Yet my appetite is good. What’s more, I have gained weight in my midsection. I feel clumsy and unstable, short of breath and fearful that I’m soon to be sporting "handicapped" license plates. What am I going to do?
I started asking about fitness clubs. I know I haven’t the motivation or the strength to work out on my own. But I see a problem with fitness clubs. I’m not at a level to be comfortable at a fitness club. I need to address the age factor with the treatment factor with the every other factor that makes my situation unique. Angela has been going to a yoga instructor for a while now and talking about the effect it is having on her. She also gave me Dr. Andrew Weil’s book called Healthy Aging. We have discussed my concerns. I realize I need to start a recovery from a still position and work from the inside to the outside. To dive into a strenuous physical challenge wouldn’t work in the long run. Today I had my first instructional Yoga session.
I put the above link in because the writer perfectly describes what I have experienced these past 5 months. I couldn’t have written it better myself. Excepting the hair loss and nausea, it is dead on. The statement "while I was ill, I thought I’d never be well again" is particularly bell-ringing. That is the current cause of my hysteria. It is one hard thing to convey to someone who doesn’t have that feeling, but believe me, it is wreaking havoc in my spirit. That’s partially why I am turning to yoga for a therapeutic resolution. Yoga treats the spirit, the mind, and the body as an integrated, interdependent system. It heals from the inside to outside. I see it as the perfect direction to regain power. Like I said, yesterday was my first yoga session. Boy, was I surprised that yoga is not only painless it strives to give you comfort. Like my instructor said- if it hurts, it’s wrong.
For one hour, I was led through seemingly non-demanding stretching and breathing exercises. They lasted on average of a few to several minutes. Nothing was particularly stressful, nor was it remotely rigorous. I did not sweat, grow tired, or become distracted. In fact, the opposite was more the truth. I relaxed, became calm, and attentively watched as Fiona demonstrated the techniques of the ancient art/meditation/therapy/religion. From the very beginning, and everyone surely must start at the very beginning, the focus is on breathing, correct breathing. Together with ritual arm/hand pattern, simple turning from one direction to the other, raising to above the head, through circular gestures, and the final pose of peace and prayer, several repetitions of each movement were executed. Assuming poses, reaching to limits of comfort, never beyond. At times I questioned in my mind what could the effectiveness of such basic simplicity be? I, like most people am indoctrinated by the slogan "no pain, no gain." At the end of the hour session, we shared a ritual respect gesture - namaste: "The light in me recognizes and honors the light in you." As I walked toward the car where Angela was waiting, I felt a strange sensation that I hadn’t had when I came there. I was straighter. I was calmer. I was relieved of tightness and constriction of mind, body, and spirit. I told Angela something worked. All the anxiety I approached the session with was transformed to completely the opposite. Halleluja !

Monday, November 07, 2005



The new age of my treatment has begun. Ruth, a nurse from US BIOSERVICES, came by early this past week with the meds and syringes for giving myself injections of two blood enhancing agents. One is for red cell deficiency (anemia). The other is for white cell deficiency (vulnerability to infection). Each vile contains 1mililiter of liquid. Each substance is to be injected separately. The Neupogen (white cell) is a daily injection. The Procrit (red cell) is injected 3 times a week. The process is not that difficult. It is quite like the interferon injection, with the exception that I must draw the substance into a syringe from its vile. I am also given a second needle to change out the first needle, as the penetration into the rubber top of the vile can dull the point somewhat. This is an optional maneuver, but one that I take advantage of since it is offered. I found the injections slightly more irritating than the Interferon simply because a larger amount of material is being pushed in. Also, the injection site produces a rash and mild discomfort, with a small amount of bleeding, but nothing more than minimal. Imagine that on my Interferon day, if I doubled up on the Procrit and Neupogen, I could be giving myself 3 injections at once.

At first I was annoyed at having to perform extra tasks as part of my treatment. I am now responsible for multi tasks and additional attention giving to the process. How can that be fair? Oh how quickly I am grounded by the thought that literally millions of people give themselves injections of insulin many times in a single day to survive diabetes. And they didn’t CHOOSE to be that way. So, I am grateful for what I have once again.

After a few days, I have accepted my new routine. It isn’t so bad. I’ll keep looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. Nurse Ruth told me that I will start feeling a bit stronger after several weeks of taking the Procrit.

I was feeling more than a little deflated as this day wore on. A zoom on the Harley this morning was a good thing, but without a serious destination, I soon returned home without plan or motivation. I gawked at the computer for a while, until I was exhausted looking at irrelevant items that I really couldn’t justify spending money for. Later in the afternoon the weather turned gloomy. Sinjin asked me to take him to the skate shop/streetwear store to get his board gripped. I dropped him off in front, as there is never any parking on the street in downtown (Old Pasadena). It is a continuous fashion parade, shopping orgy and hip café- hop seven days a week. As a means of killing time I decided on stopping by the Bentley dealership to see if they had a car I had seen early in the week on Santa Monica Blvd. It was a deep blue sedan, with a sloping rear window. I had been quite impressed at the time and wanted to see one up close. They had it. After a brief conversation with a sales person, I noted a couple of facts and left the showroom. Approximately $200,000, a cool 12 city/ 19 highway mpg, a short wheel base sports sedan, second to none. I called Angela right away. She was approving, as she noted it cost much less than a house. I returned home and placed the sales person’s card under a magnet on the “fridge”. It’s amazing what a fantasy shopping trip to the Bentley dealer can do for your mood. I recommend it.

Last week as we sat at the dinner table, Sinjin’s cell phone rang, he answered it and talked with his friend. I was thinking how funny and not uncommon it would be if everyone at the table were talking to someone else on a cell phone while they were having dinner. The “New World” is on us.

Tonight I was listening to a pop station on a 1970’s Onkyo receiver, driving classic JBL studio control monitors at a low volume. I was enjoying it. Angela came into the room and noted that there was a huge amount of static coming from the speakers. After she left, I looked at the meters on the receiver. It showed the signal to be dead centered, strong and locked in on the quartz tuner. I raised the volume to see if it got better. I couldn’t be sure if it was better or just louder. I decided it was just like old cars. No matter how much we may love them for what they remind us of, the truth is, the new stuff is light years more efficient. The exception to that is my 1973 Ampeg SVT amplifier. Then again, it also weights a whopping 85 or 90 lbs. The speaker cabinet weights twice that, but boy does it sound good!

Nobody wants to let go of the old stuff. I guess in some way, it is how we recognize ourselves and where we have been. When we were kids, we couldn’t afford anything. So now that we can, having that old thing is a way to return to the past and the dreams of our younger days. I suppose there is an aesthetic side of it that makes it all worth the effort. But somewhere along the way, we have to let go of the old thing. It drains our energy, and causes us to remain in a place that has long since stopped serving us positively. So it serves us negatively by taking our power and sending it backwards to something like a fantasy that is ongoing. We must learn to let go, and by doing that, we can free all the energies to move on. We let go, not only for ourselves, but to cut the ties that bind, and give that which is released its freedom from us.

Angela said something tonight that I noted as key - the reason I am responding well to the treatment is because I am coming from a position of inner strength and personal balance and growth. I also think that it is because I am loved and cared for. I am not just on my own. I know that if I fall to the ground, someone will catch my fall. “Ring out, I feel fine. This girl said she’s mine. So let the bells ring, loud and clear”.

Sunday, October 30, 2005



Can you believe it, another week goes by, just like that? Yes, it is week 17, the holy week of Halloween. We stressed and waited and I telephoned the doctor’s office every day. What was the lab result on the viral load? The previous week Bartley had announced my WBC had dipped to unacceptable levels. In addition to that, my red cell count was also unacceptable. The lab hadn’t finished with the viral numbers, so we waited and checked every day to get the results. If it didn’t hit a target number for treatment progress, it would be pointless to continue treatment given the damage being done to my general health as a by-product. There would be the option of ordering the blood enhancers to recreate some vitality in my chemistry. However, without evidence that 4 months of treatment had produced a targeted result, going further would make little sense. Then Wednesday, Bartley’s receptionist told me by telephone that I would be continuing the medication. Later I spoke with Doctor Bartley. “We are within a target number on treatment and I will order the blood medication right away”. He wasn’t telling me any specific numbers, only that we had reached the target. When you think of your own needs, you aren’t ready to be put into a graph and viewed objectively, but that is exactly how the medical community perceives the progress of your treatment. I understand now that my perspectives have been so narrow and self centered as long as I can remember. I understand now that my perceptions might not be the most accurate criteria. I realize I have more to learn now than ever before.

So, just like that, I went from denial and willingness to abandon the discomfort and negative sides of enduring the treatment, to being grateful to be in a position to continue my quest. Angela explained how significant it is that my virus hasn’t mutated into the stage that makes it resistant to treatment -- that at that point you are saddled with a liver destroying entity and you are on a short fuse to the end. I’m learning much new information and insights along the way. For instance, not many days go by that I don’t hear of someone I know having Hep C. It really is becoming one of the major health issues confronting this generation. All of us who experienced the try-anything standard of the last 30 or 40 years have probably put ourselves at risk and should get checked for the virus. It can be beaten, but it has to be detected and treated as soon as possible. In other words waiting around for when you feel like dealing with it, is not a smart thing. One of my friends who has Hep C has been told that he would probably die from other causes long before his Hepatitis C virus will take his life. I used to think that argument was valid. I no longer believe it. How would anyone know the probability of impact or timeline of a disease that had been unknown until recently? A patronizing piece of advice if you ask me, and certainly an advise that is dangerous. My advice is to find out if you are infected immediately. Then, make the decision to treat your infection before falling into the complacent attitude that there is plenty of time. It is not an easy thing, but it isn’t so terrible either. It’s better than being told you’ve waited too long. Angela says that you will never be stronger than you are right now to take on the treatment. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be. But then, life is about choices, isn’t it?

Thanks for hanging in with me on this story. I think the best news and bottom line on the whole trip is that the virus is being eradicated. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. It’s going to work. It may be a year. It may be less. It’s going to work. Yes it is.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005



Ok, week 16, 17, I don’t know. Anyway, last week I tried to make a blog of it but it just wasn’t happening. A little tired of talking/complaining/explaining/proclaiming, each and every drama pertaining to Interferon and its sidekick Riba. Not that any of it has changed. In fact, some new distractions are besetting the normally pacific nature of M.D. It’s the usual fatigue and weary state of energy, plus the now 24/7 itchy skin manifestation that is my personal shadow. AAIEEE!!! I’m a scratching machine. Plus the dogs came up with fleas this week, and if you’ve ever had an animal with fleas, well, you know what that can do to your psyche.

The past week has been great, actually, because I have finally gotten to do my thing as a special guest with The Lords of Altamont. I did three tunes with them at The Scene in Glendale, CA. It couldn’t have gone down better. I am really pumped up now. The set I did with Darren McCarty’s band in Detroit was cool, no doubt, but this one was out of control satisfying. I got to do all the singing and it just seemed like everything was finally the way it should be. Next weekend we will be in Vegas for Halloween. We can work up a couple more tunes this week and there will be no stopping us. Gearhead is super excited about this and we are too. I’m feeling all the frustrations of years of restraints peeling away like layers of an onion or the skin from an avocado. So, which is it, avocado or onion? Right now I have all positive expectations. This is what I have been waiting for all these years.

Opportunity leads to more opportunity. As I step away from the remnants of the past, my past remains as important as ever insofar as who I am. I’m ok with all of it, but best of all I get to write my own story from here on. I’m no longer champing at the bit to get free of anyone else's self-appointed anointed flat-tire push wagons. This is my jockey move on the track. It’s all over baby. It’s a new world disorder now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005



This week I spaced my appointment with Dr. Bartley. Two more weeks before I get the word if treatment is working or not.

We went to Santa Paula in Ventura Co. on Sunday to Faulkner Farms Pumpkin Patch. It really is an awesome trip. The drive is beautiful through the hilly landscape north and west of L.A. It is a different California than sprawling Los Angeles. No freeway tie-ups, just clear sailing through picturesque rich farmland and terraced hillsides that call up the vision of a time when California was a crop-producing center of the West. There countless Mexican immigrants cleared land then sowed, tended, and harvested the produce of what must have seemed to be paradise. We flock to its aura with a small hoard of Metropolitans as though we had entered a museum of quaint and extinct culture. It is so refreshing. Leave the cell phone in the car, this is the hallowed glorious past. As all the originals tend to be swallowed up by capital seeking control and more capital, a precious few of us have located a truly gratifying weekend remnant of something honorable and uncomplicated. Faulkner Farm is 125 years old. It maintains a research facility for ecological study. There are hayrides, pony rides, music, barbeque, corn on the cob, cider, pumpkin pie, animals, sunflower fields, and some handsome looking Faulkner lasses to serve you. We happened to discover this place last year and remembered to come back again. Each year I buy a few fruit crate labels from an elderly Hispanic man and his wife. Some of his labels are so rare and beautiful that they are priced at hundreds of dollars apiece. The ones I buy are 3 for $20. The paintings/ pictures on them are indescribably beautiful in their design and content - very art deco. Of course, we bought pumpkins, and made stops at roadside fruit stands too. Maybe every place has a harvest celebration of its own. Ours is pretty special, and it gives us Californians a touch of reality we need.

I’m still having trouble with my skin. I itch all the time, all over. It’s like measles or chickenpox, but not those things. It’s enough to drive you mad. My lip continues to bother me, as it still isn’t right. I can’t wait to know if I’m getting rid of the virus. So, I wait just the same. And yes, I’m tired a lot of the time, but gotten used to that. I can only maintain a faith that one day I can get free of this pharmacological lifestyle, and clean the medicine cabinet of all the little brown plastic vials.

Lots of old friends from the past are coming into my picture. People I hardly thought I’d ever see or talk to again are in my life again. A distant relative has come forward with startling information about my family that had been lost in the web of time. It’s a time of return to the beginning. It’s a time of return to the source; APOCATESTASIS. Thirtysix years ago Raeanne Rubinstein did a center spread photo collage of me in The East Village Other, an underground newspaper from lower Manhattan. She titled the piece APOCATESTASIS, a Greek word meaning return to the source. I never understood what I had to do with that. I saw Raeanne last year at our show at The House of Blues in Anaheim. When I asked her about the East Village Other photo piece, she said she didn’t remember it.

Talk more next week. M.D.

Friday, September 30, 2005



Holy Jumpin’ Jack Flash, people are coming out of the wood work to tell me about they’re own struggles with Hep C, and other “chemo” related hell rides. What it means is that to go through what chemo does to your being takes you out of what you’ve become and sets you spinning back to where you came from. You are going to hold on to anything to keep from blowing away in a stormblast of disintegration. In the end, you have to take it head on, and trust that you are a better person than you think. At least that’s how I see it. “Trust in fate” my old friend, Bobby Lee, in Ann Arbor used to say. In a way, I do. But I also think you can change pathways in a split second, and it can be monumental. Thus, you can call your own plays and change them at the line of scrimage. Oooh, that was a good one! Some people are going; what the hell is he talking about… football, dear hearts…football.

Oh yeah, I haven’t mentioned about the open bleeding lip sore that won’t go away. It starts whenever I touch a microphone while singing. A day or two later my lip becomes inflamed, and eventually splits open. Then it moves from spot to spot until any sort of contact turns it into a bleeding hole. This ain’t normal. Lots of skin abnormalities happen. Hang on Sloopy, Sloopy hang on. This last one took nearly a month to heal! Ouch. It took Angela and me a long time to put two and two together that this is related to my reduced/devastated immune system.

The whole week of taking care of the boys has been, well, … ok. At this point I’m getting over-stressed about having to do everything. As I try to finish a task they add to it before I even finish the first pile. I ‘m working up a strategy to fix that. Also, when I correct something, it only corrects that moment not the behavior. This results in a constant berating of each individual until I hate myself for being such a grouch. For the most part they all have behaved better than they normally do. They’re trying to be good scouts. It’s all right.

My wife will be home two nights from now. She and Jake have done the blitzkrieg press tour of Europe. We all will be glad to be reunited.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


“Brothers and sisters, I wanna see a sea of hands”
Brother J.C. Crawford

This week, a monster gathering of outraged citizens converged on Washington D.C. to speak up and speak out against the BUSH LEAGUE mentality that has everyone spellbound in lunacy regarding our current governing body; the Republican missionary mobsters. It’s hopeless, but at least some people made it important enough to take a stand publicly. The BUSH LEAGUE can barely swallow it’s own lies. Yet, they keep throwing Georgie out there to do the declaration of war. It’s the same old story; can’t leave it because it would look like we lost. Yep, in the same way that Vietnam was an unattainable victory. What are you going to do, lock up the entire country? Our guys are targets, and their guys are martyrs. We didn’t learn anything! This is one putrid page in American history. My hat’s off to those who made the trip and voiced what many already know. People of the rock press ask if things have changed much in the 38 years since the time of the MC5. The answer is yes…it’s much worse.

Me and my interferon are getting along better lately. I’m having a surge in activity. I’m taking on tasks with vigor. I actually rode a bicycle every day for 4 days. I was out on the H.D. today. The weather was optimum, and blasting down the 210 freeway was about as good as sex. I take the pills and nothing happens. I take out the Harley and feel like I’m 14.

Angela is working in Europe for the week, on a press tour with LORDS OF ALTAMONT singer, THE LORD FARFIZA, Jake Cavaliere. Dan and I are handling the site-based Svengirly duties. In the meanwhile, I’m wrangling da home boys for the rest of this week. That may be as challenging as “The Treatment.” Everyday is a day I look forward to. It is a complete 180 degree shift from the old Mike. Not that I was a pessimist ever -- I just had an attitude that being negative was cool somehow. OK, It’s late, but it’s never too late.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


“I feel good; I knew that I would”; - James Brown

After 12 weeks of treatment, I’m on the sunny side for a change. I guess I’m sort of getting used to it. Shot day blends in with everything else. I don’t care for getting poked, but it isn’t that bad and it’s over in a second. What a weenie, I used to drill myself every day. Now I see a needle and immediately look for a place to hide. The mind is a willing accomplice for the ego. I feel good that I have a normal reaction at last.

With the DKT/MC5 performance series concluded, I feel a sense of beginning, more than one of ending. Like a ship leaving port and starting a new journey, we have cleared the harbor and set the course for the “New World”. I saw an old friend at the UCLA- Royce Hall show, Michael Simmons, the writer. I told him about the treatment, and that I was 12 weeks into it. He was aghast that I was doing gigs and being treated. What’s the big deal, I asked him. Life must go on, interferon and all.

Is “C” an epidemic? I keep hearing of more and more people having it or having gone through treatment. One thing that is consistent is that most people struggle with the treatment. I haven’t heard of any failures. You tend to forget the hardship once it has past. One thing that helped me a great deal recently was getting out with Gilby Clarke and his motorcycle-riding buddies last weekend. We met up in Sherman Oaks and rode over Topanga Canyon to Malibu. There were 8 bikes, and what a sound! Eight Harleys with open pipes roaring over the road. At first I was hesitant to go, but in my gut I knew I needed to get out and do something just for recreation. I had been a recluse since the start of summer with the interferon and all, and I was getting just plain lazy. I was also socially withdrawn, and maybe a little ashamed about my physical stature. I knew that the only way to gain strength is to put out some action. So, I decided it was best to brave it out. I am very glad I did. It seemed to turn the tide of monotony that had me doing week after week of the same basic behavior. It was; pills, shot, pills. Then; pills, pills for the next six days. And repeat. Of course the trips and plane rides helped throw me off balance, so, that I was always in a state of recovering from an overwhelming task. Since the bike ride to Malibu I’ve felt more like myself than I have in a long time. I’m once again interested in my bike, and doing some customizing. I feel a lot better than just a couple of weeks ago. I want this to be a permanent improvement. We will see.

I sign off on week 12 as a turning point in this yearlong struggle to recapture my essential being. I don’t think it’s a cakewalk from here on out. I’m ready for the next fence, whatever it is. I only know that as long as I stick to the battle plan, the day will be mine at the finish. Even if it doesn’t work, I am better off than I was. The only way to lose is to quit.

Sunday, September 11, 2005



I’m finally sleeping on my own (straight, no chaser). Man, that first few days last week was a bitch. I thought I was going to die. Spiritually, I’m down again. I don’t feel any drive at all. I know this is a phase. I go through up and down waves on a regular basis. It felt like a touch of fall today. That always picks me up. I use to love the fall back in Michigan. I use to love starting school again. It’s more like the beginning than the end. The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana is now. A big point of starting the new year is the time of atonement. That’s when you take the time to come to terms of forgiveness with everyone you know. You ask them to forgive any injury you may have caused them, knowingly or unknowingly. This way you can begin the new year with true absolution and leave the past without clutter and bitterness. Makes sense to me.

A big week lies ahead. Presumably, this week we are doing the last regular gigs as DKT/MC5. Next Saturday we will perform the third and last gig with our old fave co-headliners, The Sun Ra Arkestra. Going back to 1967, in Ann Arbor and Detroit, we met and shared the stage with The Arkestra and Sun Ra, himself. This is the third contemporary bill we have played this year, with the first being in London at The Royal Festival Hall, the second in New York City at Central Park Summer Stage, and finally in Los Angeles at UCLA’s Royce Hall. It marks the end of two years of touring the music of The MC5 to the world and the many fans who never expected to hear that music live from it’s original members. With two of our colleges sadly deceased, we managed to deliver the sound that abounds with the help and artistic contributions of several guest musicians who have earned my undying respect and gratitude. Not only was our artistic experience enriched by these gifted people, we also bonded with an whole new group of friends.

It has been 8 months since I have drunk ANY alcohol and 3 months of treatment for Hepatitis C. All in all, I’m better off than I can find specific reasons for. Feeling like a trampled cat, and uncomfortably cast adrift on an unfamiliar raft, I have to believe this is the groundwork for a much more real and rewarding life in the near future. I have work to do -- some really exciting musical projects that you'll hear about soon. I have many things that need my attention. I think when you are trapped in a life of self-indulgence, you don’t really give it your all. The point is to savor the experience of your life with balance and an even temperament. Angela sent me a great little piece on moderation last week. It's from The DailyOM. I have inserted it below.
Health Through Balance
Everything In Moderation

Because life is short, the temptation to overindulge is ever-present. We want to glean as much pleasure as possible from everything such as what we eat or what we do. Or, conversely, we are so driven to stay healthy or be successful that we throw ourselves into exercise or work with abandon. But the true means of achieving what you want lies not in overdoing it, but in moderation. A balanced life does not lean in one direction, but contains a measure of each element: work and play; friends, family, and solitude; pleasure and abstinence; and necessities and indulgences. The ancient Greeks practiced moderation in all things, believing that in excess, virtues became vices. And so it is. Things that benefit your body and soul in one amount, whether it is medication, nutrients, forethought, or introspection, can be harmful in higher amounts.

The concept of moderation is embodied in the middle ground between all extremes and is thus a source of steadiness. It is simply the capacity to exercise self-control. Living moderately often means forgoing short-term pleasures in favor of deeper, long lasting happiness and considering all aspects of your actions. It also means never categorizing anything in terms of 'always good' or 'always bad.' Sleeping in for hours may seem a wonderful idea until you consider the daytime lost and the difficulty you may have sleeping later. Avoiding all sweets feels like the healthiest choice, but may not be if it's making you feel deprived. A strong sense of thrift can become stinginess just as a strong sense of generosity can become a tendency to spend beyond your means. The benefits of moderation are said to be a healthy body, a clear mind, increased vigor, and a welling up of positive emotions.

Moderation eschews rigid control in favor of allowing you just enough of any one thing for it to be satisfying, but not enough for it to be detrimental. Thus, it unlocks a healthy lifestyle without denying any pleasures, any ambitions, or your changing will, through equilibrium and equanimity in all things. Living a balanced life leads to rewarding experiences that not only heal and nurture, but can also fulfill you to a fantastic degree.

I found myself rethinking points in the article long after I read it. It’s a very cool bit. It’s short and sweet, and right to the point. Angela also sent me a link to a Hepatitis C self-help group web site last week. So, I’ll see about donating any of these installments if they’re interested. (Thanks lizbeth1)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005



I am midway into ten weeks of therapy. Today we have returned from Vegas again. This time from playing a private party for Vice Magazine. I begin to be more inspired by upcoming projects, and less focusing on discomforts and complaint. I took the shot the morning we left for Vegas, and really never gave it any thought thereafter. I still find it awkward to have to remember my evening medication every day. If I didn’t put the pills in little containers of two, I seriously would lose track of taking them. Now my theory is starting to be that with the big general inner quarrels in my life somewhat controlled, I can cope with the alterations to my metabolism less stressfully. So I accept getting up in the middle of the night to snack, I don’t worry about getting back to sleep, I feel good in my bed, and I am at home in myself. If I knew how to explain the path to that door, I would break the news for all to see and use.

I saw Bartley today. I saw a book on the table in his reception room that bore his name as the author. It was called “Beyond Fear” Isaac Anthony Bartley, MD. A week ago I gave a blood sample, and it was about 4 weeks since the first one which showed very little change in my white blood count. This time, however, I was experiencing a different sort of physical mood than I had before. When he told me that my white blood count was particularly low, I was not as much surprised as I was disappointed. Disappointed because what he told me next was that were my white blood cell count to get any lower, we would have to look at other options; i.e. discontinue treatment. These drugs can set up dangerous situations in the body, and we must remember, not everyone is able to successfully complete treatment. An option he spoke of was a blood-enhancing drug that is currently the center of the Lance Armstrong controversy. EXPENSIVE, EXPENSIVE, EXPENSIVE! If my cell count stabilizes, everything will be all right. We have decided to wait until the 14th week to check the virus. Damn, I was hoping for a miracle cure. Remember too, the entire treatment is a developing therapy, and as such, nothing is a given. Another thing Dr. Bartley stressed was to get off the sleeping pills! We don’t know if there are any sleep deprivation issues until we have a clean slate to examine. So, I’m going to do everything he asks me to do, and keep reporting on this blog, and keep the course until I can make a firmer report. That’s it for now.

LABOR DAY/ “The Summertime Blues”

Final official- end-of-the-summer comments and thoughts on this Labor Day Weekend, 2005. For three days, since I’ve seen Dr. Bartley, I have been struggling with my mind and body over the constraints I was given by Bartley to cease all forms of relief available (other than Tylenol or Ibuprofen) outside of my own physical resources. Specifically, to clean up the sleeping pill obsession. That’s when it hit me. This isn’t just about a virus. No, not just about a virus. This is about reversing a trend that I turned into a lifelong career of convenient retreat. If it doesn’t feel right, I, and many others like me, go running to the medicine cabinet, or the beer store, or whatever one can find in a bottle, container, or package that fixes the ill. All things can be avoided through magic substances that are readily available, legal or otherwise. Sometime in 1963 at the age of 20, I decided it was time to leave my father’s house and start living on my own. Immediately, I ceased a regular diet, or any regular form of maintenance, other than what was convenient and a quick fill. Beef jerky, Slim Jims, Hostess cakes, donuts, chips, burgers, pizza, soda, beer, cheese and crackers; get the picture? I smoked, drank, stayed up all night, and after a while, took drugs. Now, I was wrestling with the fact that a few paces away was a bottle of tranqs, or sleep aids, and I could slip over to the medicine cabinet, down one or two, and be asleep in 20 minutes. My head was wracked with fatigue, and my brain was becoming franticly obsessed. Angela was asleep, no one would know….except me. There it was, like a huge neon sign. I needed to undo 40+ years of lackadazical attitude, and entitlement. It’s like “cold turkey” from yourself. Three or four days, with each day a little easier, until a normal (?) state of being kicks in. Dr. Bartley said my body was confused by all the meds I was taking. I needed to get back to square one, and see what was the truth. At this point, a difficult thing to do, but I had to make it or be unfaithful to myself “because there ain’t no cure for the Summertime blues”.

I look at the drawn, clay-like face in the mirror. I see the new lines and dimness in the eyes. I’m back in the pit of self contempt. I think of all the people I’ve wounded over the years, some catastrophically. I think about the loss of a child to drug overdose. I think of the countless shameful acts that have shaped the character that I am. I look at my past, my reckless decisions, my blown opportunities, and I ask the universe; why do I deserve another chance? The answer is because it’s never too late to find that cure. It’s never too late to be worth the space you were given --to help someone else find that cure. It’s never too late to say please help me. What more can I say at the end of this long, cruel summer? I say this; I’ve heard it a million times. I’ve heard it at award ceremonies. I’ve heard it at induction to halls of fame, dinnertime toasts, press conferences, on TV and radio. Someone is always saying it. Someone is always saying it because it is the truth. I know. I have proven it over the course of 40+ years. I could do none of this or anything else, without the love, support, and trust of my wife, my partner, and my best friend, Angela L. Davis. She says the strength is really in there and she is merely holding my hand, but for me, that is the ticket. The challenge is more than a virus. The challenge is to be true to yourself.

Friday, August 26, 2005



Ah, …Brazil. A week of working non-stop. Everyday press and public appearances; TV and radio. Holing up in my room, trying to sleep through the night. I had some pretty potent sleepers to get me through. It seemed like the more I slept, the less rested I felt. Could have been the workload and pressure. Finally, we played the festival on a Saturday, partied (so-called) on Sunday, floated the day away on Monday, and boarded our flight that evening for home. Many days, much talking, much riding in vans through the endless Sao Paulo traffic jammed streets. I learned a new form of aggressive driving while riding around Sao Paulo. It takes ages to get anywhere. Our hosts were about the nicest, most caring, honest and giving people I have ever met. My experience was as fabulous as any place I have ever been. I cannot express the warmth I felt with the crew from Sao Paulo. There are 22 million people in Sao Paulo, Brazil. As for the Interferon and Ribavirin, I can’t say I was much affected by it, other than the always present fatigue I have everyday. The flying kicks my ass; ten hours on one flight, and another 3 or 4 on the second one. Upon arrival at LAX, I don’t know what day it is or if it’s morning or evening. I’m glad to be home, but a dangerous situation is looming unseen. The fatigue, the stress of travel, the loneliness of a hotel room, the challenge of getting to sleep, are all building a powder keg in my psyche. For a while I have harbored malicious feelings of jealousy and entrapment….but now we move to Week 9.


It doesn’t take long this time for Angela to throw down and say she’s had enough! It’s a good thing in the end because we are finally going to talk about the rot that is building up inside me. I guess it’s about Wednesday or Thursday. We face each from our desks after a brief exchange of bitterness. She cries, she sobs, she tells me I’m torturing her with criticism. I am blaming her for everything I perceive as wrong with my life. I am assigning fault to Angela for a) having kids in the first place, b) the way they behave, c) decorating our house (not to my specs), d) buying food at the store that I would never eat in a million years, e) and, maybe, for loving me without reservation. As she explains her unhappiness through her tears, I see my arguments vanish as if they were all conceived by a self-centered moron. Ok, some of my complaints are reasonable, but the bottom line is as plain as the nose on your face. I’ve been working on a bad play with a bad dialogue and a bad ending. All inside, well hidden, except for the constant negativity.

When you have a true partner there’s not much you can’t overcome because the will is there. So I spill the whole story. I’m jealous. I don’t want to share her. I want to have a say in all our decisions. Most of all, I trust you, but I need to be an equal. She knows exactly what I am saying. She loves me and she lets me know it right away. We understand each other. She is very strong. I am very lucky. We got over the top of the mountain. We can go on as a better team. The funny thing is, once I told all the dark secrets, none of it bothers me anymore. At the end of the week we went to Vegas for Sister Kim’s wedding.
I’m having great difficulty doing anything normal. Eating food can be unpleasant. Or unpleasant later. It seems to take forever to digest a meal. My solution; eat less volume. Sleeping without an aid is holy hell. Sometimes just breathing is impossible. I feel weak and half-boiled. At mid-day I become almost comatose. I’m putting on a good front though.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Michael is currently in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where DKT/MC5 will headline the Campari Rock Festival. He had his injection on Monday morning before leaving for the long hours of travel, but slept on the flight and has felt pretty good all week. Michael, Wayne, and Dennis apppeared on a nationally televised nightly talk show right after they landed, and played two songs as a trio for the first time. The emails to Svengirly have been very numerous and enthusiastic. The schedule this week has been brutal and exciting. Michael is well and happy and will catch everyone up when he returns.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Hey, what’s up? Now for the shocker of the month, that which has come totally unexpected in the midst of all the “feeling fine.” First of all, New York was great, greater than I ever imagined. It was an unbelievably moving 4 days of welcome and musical transcendence in the capital of people. It did, however, take all of my available energy and health, and leave me beyond exhausted. Trying to recover from the trip and grueling schedule several days later at home, I realized that a slow moving fog bank of funk had crept into my being at some point, and I was suffering from all the things that I thought had been handled. It had come on in a wave of subtle disintegration, and infected my attitude, until I’m going “What the fuck is the matter with me? I don’t feel like myself anymore”. The biggest problem is the fatigue, and not being able to catch up on sleep. All week it has had me in a depression I did not understand. Where had the happy-go-lucky guy that used to be me gone, and was he ever coming back? I was thinking this treatment wasn’t what I needed to be doing; I was ready to chuck the whole thing and have a beer. I told this to everyone at a little dinner party we were having last night, and the reaction was something like the sound one makes at the sight of seeing an injured animal; pity and sadness. I knew I had better not be serious about abandoning my mission. Angela was becoming quite anxious about my mental state and it's effect on our relationship. I was becoming distant and hostile, isolated and frustrated. This is a dangerous time completely, because you are very serious about complaining, and can injure those you love with harsh words and attitudes you normally don’t have. Fortunately, I had a good sleep, with two horrendous dreams that were about me losing Angela and our relationship. I awoke having to recall the details of those dreams in the quiet of our room, until Angela appeared, and then I promptly told her every detail, relieving all the tension and unsure feelings that had been building up for some time. I realized at some point that I had been slipping into a despondent nature for at least since the Finland trip, but maybe even earlier than that. Let’s say a good month. These drugs are very powerful and tricky. They reduce your immune system, making you vulnerable to anything that could take you down. Being sick on top of being exhausted doesn’t get it. I started thinking about all the people who decided to clean up their health at a late date, only to wind up looking like a ghost image of their former selves. I was scared, thinking that was my fate. But it’s like any illness or pain; while you have it, you suffer, but when it breaks, it’s just a memory. I once heard the great Philadelphia Eagles, and later, Green Bay Packer defensive end, Reggie White (may have been Deacon Jones) say; “Fatigue makes cowards of us all….It’s those that rise above their weakness that wins the prize”.

I’ll be leaving for Brazil on Monday. By the time I return, it will have been 8 weeks of treatment. Thanks to everyone who is following my story, and sending their support.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005



It’s almost routine. Monday again, and same ol’ shot of little soldiers on a search and destroy patrol. I don’t even fret about getting poked. I barely feel it. I get sleepy-tired at various times all day. I nap a little, but the sleepy-tired anemic feeling stays around most the time. That is the only nuisance anymore. I’m told by Dr. Bartley that we don’t check the virus until 12 weeks.

We are off to New York in two days. Once again, a gig is happening well into the week, and I’m a distance from the two Interferon affected days. New York will be a great experience; two shows, lots of press, a radio appearance with Dave Marsh, our old buddy from the heyday of the band. I bitch about the travel, but this is the greatest job in the world. I love it in spite of all its weirdness. “It’s the sound that abounds and resounds and rebounds off the ceiling.”

I wonder why I even care about attacking the Hepatitis C virus. I have two reasons basically. One is to be as strong as I can for my family. I frittered away a lot of my natural health when I was a young person because I was more interested in experience than excellence. Now I have a progressive outlook and a family that looks to me for many things. It’s a housecleaning of sorts. The second reason is that I want to be an example for people who are Hep C positive. If I can inspire someone to pick up the gauntlet and powerfuck the virus out of their system, it’s a worthwhile thing to tell my story. Plus I like writing anyway. So I found a muse for myself at the same time. Ok, all you metal-heads, that’s it for this week. There just aren’t many chilling tales of horror with the treatment. I’ll be back in SoCal on the red-eye Sunday night. I will have the update on the NY gigs and any associated maladies that cropped up with regard to being at war with THE VIRUS. ‘Til then..

Friday, July 22, 2005



So I was gone all of 5 days, 6 planes, 1 gig. A one–off in the land of the midnight sun. The traveling kicked my ass, but good. I’m still not really over it. As for the treatment, it wasn’t a factor. I only had to take the Ribaviren, anyway. Being at a 10 hour time difference made it fairly easy to adjust my dosage taking time. Merely subtract 2 hours from the current time and that is a 12 hour interval. It worked out fine.


I went to see Dr. Bartley on Monday. He said my blood count didn’t change too much.*(see editor's note) So, everything was looking good. I did the Monday shot of Interferon when I got home. This time I took Ibuprofen as a pre-med. Everything was smooth this time. The only thing in the last two days that is remarkable is a definite case of lethargy. This may be heightened by extreme jet lag and lack of sleep, that the all of last week was. I, in fact, suffer from insomnia, but haven’t recognized it as such until now. If I can get on a normal sleep schedule, I think the lethargy will go away.

Editor's Note:
*This refers to a complete count of red and white blood cells. A viral cell count doesn't occur until week 12 of the treatment.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005



It’s Monday again and I can’t believe how full of dread I am in anticipating today’s shot. I guess last week with the two-day hangover was a reminder that things change. Plus, after blowing the second shot, I got too sure that this was going to be no problem. There’s always something to learn. The script can change with any new twist of circumstance.

It’s been 4 hours now since Angela administered the shot. I’ve become squeamish about poking myself with needles -- that’s a new one. This time I had a dose of Ibuprofen before the Interferon. Then I waited a good 45 minutes before doing anything further. I’ve been out to the store, ate a small supper, and now I feel relaxed enough to write in the journal. I have yet to feel those hideous chills or the aching in my body. I did nap for a half an hour right after the shot. All in all, I feel all right. I’m going to take another Ibuprofen in a while and hope for an evening free of side effects. I do feel sleepy and heavy- eyed. However, this is not the irritation that I was feeling last week. It just goes to show you how important it is to follow your doctor’s orders.

The first thing Dr. Sethian said to me when I told him about the side effects was, did I take the pain medication before the shot? I’m just trying to create a formula that makes the whole process easy to bear as possible. So far, today has been good.

Tuesday, tired-day. Okay, a pattern is starting to emerge. I am getting what the fatigue thing is about. It is not debilitating, just nagging and ever present on the day after the shot. I am pulling myself through the day’s chores though because tomorrow I leave for Finland to play a festival. This is my first time out on the medication. I have been playing all year without alcohol which was a little weird at first – that beer in hand was always just part of the deal. Anyway, I like it this way. But we’ll see how I do on a weird sleep schedule, long flights, and late nights. I only have to pack the Ribavarin because I don’t have another shot until Monday, and I will be home then. By the way, I know how lucky I am to have a job and a lifestyle that is pretty well suited to this treatment. Most people do not have the luxury of taking naps when they are tired and just letting the drugs do their thing. More about that when I get back.

Thursday, July 07, 2005



“I said hey, hey babe, it’s the 4th of July,” Dave Alvin

Monday, July 4, 2005. I might have guessed. I made an error or two in the Interferon injection the week before. First, I forgot to mix the solution, which may have seriously diminished the effectiveness of the dose. Second, I didn’t bring it to room temperature after it had been refrigerated for the past week. This time I had Angela execute the entire process. Angela is the sort of person who doesn’t go anywhere she hasn’t been before without a MapQuest. I never have to worry about leaving anything around, because it will be scooped up and disposed of within seconds. If ever I am unable to find something, I immediately switch to “Angela mode”, and search the places where she deems a thing to be “out of sight.” Angela reads and follows written instructions better than anyone you will ever meet. This time the shot was administered correctly.

Earlier I had racked the 20 miles on the bike that has become my daily routine. At the completion of the medication, I ate a pastrami on rye, and then was given a strawberries and cream frappucino from Starbucks (my fast-food of choice). Two hours later (now) I’m feeling drowsy enough to lie down for a siesta and wait for Sonoran style hot dogs and fireworks. Geez, this is pretty tough.

It got tougher, a lot tougher. At about 4 hours past the time Ang gave me the injection, my body started to feel chilled. Inside the house it was warm, but the breezes caused by the ceiling fans were annoying. Along with the chills, came a dull sort of aching in my entire body, right on down to my fingertips. On top of these distractions was a general feeling of listlessness. My English friends might say, “It takes the piss out of you”. Now I was finding things to be crabby about. I was taking care to not react. Well now, we had forgotten one thing we were advised to do. That is to take a hit of Tylenol or Ibuprofen just before the shot. I now took the Ibuprofen. Things began to mellow out. The chills subsided, the aches disappeared, and the listlessness just turned into being relaxed. At 6 hours past the injection, although I feel tiredness, (not unusual if you ride a bicycle 20 miles a day), I believe the nastiest bit of the side effects are over. This might be just exactly what Dr. Bartley and Marc Johnson were describing as the common side effects of the treatment. So for what it’s worth, I think I’m a pretty normal subject who experiences the usual abnormal feelings of this drug, without entering the area where things are intolerable. If this is as bad as it gets, I’m going to be all right. Now, a little strawberry shortcake and a fire works display. Happy Birthday America.


Just when you think you are past the rough water, you get the dose of reality that you been waiting for. They said it was going to be two days of discomfort, and they didn’t lie. I went to see my regular doctor, Dr. Sethian at 9:30 am. He was elated about the reduction of the size of my liver. Really? “Yeah, let me show a drawing I made when you came here in January. It was three times the size of now.” I studied the sketch. Hmmm. When I got home we called Dr. Bartley’s office to see when he wanted to check the blood again. We were told to come over this day to have blood drawn. As the afternoon approached, I became aware of chill in my entire body. It was warm in the house, but I was feeling chilled. And I was pissed at just about everything. I felt weak and tired. I had skipped biking for doctor appointments with the intention of getting a swim in before the day was through. I just didn’t feel like it. I didn’t have it. It wasn’t about being lazy, it was an energy thing. I was worthless. I decided to go with the flow and rest. I knew this was Day 2 Blues. It was just as bad as Monday in the sense that feeling shitty is a shitty feeling in any form. Now I know; this is the typical side effect reaction that I had been pre-warned about. You get two days of wretch, and the rest is cool. I did the bike today. I’m feeling stronger, and a little bigger, ever so slightly. I’m on the cusp of breaking into a weight in the 160’s. I’m after 175lbs.

So, Dr. Bartley gets a blood sample, and, in a few days I find out if anything is happening. But first duty calls -- I leave for Finland next Wednesday.

“IT’S A BRAND NEW DAY-E-A,” Parliament/Funkadelic

Yesterday, Wednesday, our houseguest Mat arrived. Mat is a Michigan State University PHD candidate doing his doctoral thesis on the MC5/White Panthers socio-political influences, and the potential of pop culture to reshape society and its political nature. We spent a few hours yesterday afternoon discussing the issues and my opinions regarding them. We’ve enjoyed the whole thing immensely. I got him laughing on most of the responses, but there you have it. It’s my nature. I like to put a spin on anything serious, just to keep from becoming a fist full of slogans. Without playing into this report as an airing out of my regrets concerning MC5’s ridiculous rhetorical assault stage tactics, let me be clear that the hippies (God bless ‘em), euphorically stunned with their freedom, like sheep at the slaughterhouse gate, gamely took their places in line before the axe man, defiant and beautiful to the end, confounded by the sound of their longhair draped heads hitting the kill floor. Never again will I allow myself to be used as the puppet-boy crier for anyone’s “righteous” causes. Even now a curious battle rages on over who owns the rights to the “righteousness.” Leapin’ lysergic sugar cubes, Batman, who put the fuck in the Motherfucker?

Mat and Angela and I all had a great time. We enjoyed turning a mild mannered, inspired Wisconsin lad onto the serenity of Southern California and sharing several grand meals together. I always like helping out these academic guys with their research writing. Maybe someone who wasn’t there can analyze it a whole lot better than those that crawled out from the thick of it. No one can quite figure it out. So it creeps on as a burning question for eternity. What happened? If nothing else, a lot of people got graduate degrees trying to contain the mystery in theoretic writing. That’s cool. I don’t give a damn about legacies. It’s not for me to say! I’m a guy in a band. And if nothing else, we sure had a fun time dressing up in awesome clothes and crashing people’s heads with big sound. If you’re going to talk about the era as a phenomenal episode, then it’s about a million times more things than just the MC5.

Mat left this morning, bound for East Lansing and the pretty green mid- Michigan countryside. I can feel the breezes and the warmth of the summer sun, expect rain, and dream of magical far away places amid the smells of alfalfa and cornfields. It almost brings a tear to my eye thinking of it; thinking of it as “home”. Look at what God has given us. That’s what I’m talking about.

Monday, June 27, 2005


Monday is here again. We’re going to see if having a shot of Interferon produces another meltdown. I’m sitting in the bathroom by myself trying to do everything correctly. The only hitch was when I pulled back on the plunger that regulates the dose amount, a geyser stream of the stuff shot into the air and caused me to curse. “Fuck! I blew it all over the floor!” Angela, quick to sense the overreaction, comes in to the room to see what happened. There’s still a lot of liquid in the syringe. Everything is all right. I push the little sharpie into my fat roll at midriff level, and push the plunger the rest of the way. “That didn’t seem like anything happened.” Once again, Angela assures me it was a go. But she also can’t believe how easy it goes in. I took a nap a bit later in the afternoon. This time I said the Interferon made me do it. When I awoke, I astonished Angela with a food request. “ I want a Double-Double and a strawberry shake from “In ‘N Out Burger?” Sounds like loss of appetite to me. I wolfed it; it was great.

I have to mention that off and on for the past year I have been trying to work out. I bought a relatively expensive bicycle after the end of last year’s tour, like I spent a couple thousand on it. It’s a Klein with a beautiful blue/black paint job and some great parts. There’s some carbon fiber and the rest aluminum. It’s sweet. We live right next to The Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl is 3.3 miles around including the golf course. Usually, at the point where I’m starting to feel slightly in shape, we have to go on tour, or some medical thing happens that interrupts the whole process. But now it looks like with only Finland on the gig schedule, I can get with a program for a while. I begin this, the second week of treatment, by doing 4 laps of The Rose Bowl. So that’s about 13 miles, which isn’t much to real cyclists. They do 40+ mile runs routinely. But this old-timer needs to be realistic.

And I bought a month of pool use membership at The Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. This is a gorgeous facility with two pools, three three-level diving platforms, and a couple of one-meter diving boards at the side. On the first day I did 20 laps in a 25 yard lane. It’s a start. By Thursday, I was up to 20 miles on the bike, and 30 laps in the pool. It’s a start. Sometime in the middle of week two, I acquired a nickname. Given to me by my wife, Angela, I became known as “Interferon Funny Guy.”

As I explained at the beginning of this report, depression is a heavy disabling side effect associated with Interferon use. Depression as a chronic mental disorder is classified as a psychosis. Depression as I know it is a state of mind brought about by an event or disappointment that is so severe as to leave me unable to participate in a regular life without constant reminder that all hope is lost. It is very hard to put into words the effect of depression. It’s probably the root cause of addiction. It takes all the fight out of you. It isolates the sufferer from everything and everyone. The world is small and lonely. Nothing has any value. Living is a charade. A psychiatrist on TV once said: ”The easiest thing to tell a depressed person and the most futile thing to say to them is; cheer up.” It’s the one thing they CAN’T do.

So who is Interferon Funny Guy? As week two motored on, I kept looking for a negative trend. I went to The Rose Bowl everyday. I went to the pool everyday. I ate wonderful food, mainly consisting of yogurt, granola, always bananas, salads prepared with all natural greens, and nuts, and cheeses and chicken dishes with exotic flavors, wrapped in lettuce leaves. I’d keep a water bottle going as a matter of course and a glass of fruit juice or a ginger brew occasionally. I never denied myself anything outright, except fast food and processed food, just because we avoid that fare in general. I don’t trust it, or the industry that produces it. I don’t think a once in a while dining of certain fast food items is a death sentence, but I do think using it, as a means to nourish you regularly is suicidal and ignorant. You can eat a few chips and ranch dip, or chips and guacamole is cool, but it’s only a treat. You can have a treat. It’s good for your mood.

So then, when I couldn’t find the pothole in the “Treatment”, I started joking, and being my playful, natural self. “What’s the matter? I don’t drink, I’m on some kind of hell drug that kills any bad guy it can find in my body and maybe some good guys too. I am not obsessed about eBay, or money, or lack of it. I’ve never been so ok in my whole life as I am RIGHT NOW.” Have I been approved? Who approved? When did all this get all right? Well here it is. It got all right when I looked into the pit, saw who was running the show, and said “alright motherfucker, you got to answer to me now. You’re fired! Get the fuck out!” Right then and there I got approved, and went straight to work. This really sounds too simple. All I know is that something is telling me "you got it right."

Tomorrow is Monday again. Yea! What’s this? I’m waiting on Mondays? Yes, tomorrow is Monday. This is going to last for a whole year as far as I’m concerned. If the doctor tells me it’s ok to stop, then that’s when I stop. It doesn’t matter really because I like the fact that I’m standing up for the fight. In any event, we’re not counting the chickens just yet. Anything can happen at any time. So the reason for writing a journal is have a record of the events as they happen. I’ll keep up the entries and try to avoid being monotonous.

Angela calls me Interferon Funny Guy because we all expected this maudlin, self -absorbed, cranky complainer to move in, and what we got was Michael Silver Tongue Flash, or Michael D Flex. That’s my pimp name, but I’m ok with Interferon Funny Guy.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Just about four decades ago, when I was invincible and full of curiosity, risking all in the name of experience, I managed to acquire an unwanted rider called Hepatitis C. I was an I.V. drug user and daily drinker for most of that time. The drug using being for the most part a series of binges that would last anywhere from a few months to several years at some point per decade. I’m talking about hard-core intravenous drug use. The actual embarkation of the Hepatitis C freeloader is not actually known. He may have sneaked on board at any time in the years between 1963 and 1986. He may have jumped the freight in the early 1970’s, or maybe in the middle 1980’s. Regardless of the time of his intrusion, he remains tucked in some recess of my body, slowly going about his business of survival. Oh yeah, my name is Michael Davis. I’m a bass player in a rock band. I’ve been hard-core into this lifestyle of rock and roll for 40 years. It’s not unusual for someone in my profession to be a drug user. In fact, it’s almost cliché that musicians tend to get loaded, particularly if they are extraordinarily gifted, and/or black. Alcoholism is also characteristic of “my people.” Hepatitis C, being a blood borne infection is not a concern of an alcoholic/drunkard, but, truth is, substance abuse seems to like the company of many substances. We, who have risked the lifestyle, know the endlessness of our weakness for psychophysical displacement.

When I learned that I tested positive for the Hepatitis C virus, my reaction was somewhat blasé. “I don’t feel anything unusual. So…what of it?” “It could lead to complications,” said my doctor. “Your liver is susceptible to permanent damage, cirrhosis, and ultimately, your death. Are you eager to die? Is there nothing in life that you value? Is there anyone else who may care if you live or die?” “Holy cow, I’m NOT alone. I have a wife and kids and my life is the best it has ever been. This matters! What do you want me to do?”

My doctor told me he was sending me to a lab for ultrasound pictures of my liver, and referring me to a specialist. And so it began: the challenge to rid my being of the alien invader that had taken up residence somewhere in my gastro enterological machinery. The little devil walked right in on a silver spoon, and surged through the tiny hole in a disposable syringe that I willingly, no, eagerly accepted from a previous shooter. It’s kind of a vampire tale; you have to invite him in or he’s just waiting around for his chance. I said yes to infection! Can you believe it? Damn! It’s that easy. It’s not that easy to lose. There’s a treatment. Let’s say a developing research for treatment. Otherwise, the Hepatitis C virus is not well known. It’s only since 1989 that the specific virus called Hepatitis C was isolated. Until then, it did not even exist to medical science. Yet, it existed in me! Ah, well it’s a lucky thing that this devil moves so slowly I couldn’t even tell anything was there. A lucky thing it is that I have a doctor who looked at my numbers from blood work, and wanted to find out why my liver was showing abnormal amounts of antibodies.

My specialist, Dr. Isaac Bartley, a very well known Gastroenterologist in Los Angeles, explained several facts surrounding “The Treatment.” Among them was the fact that the recovery rate is around 70%, a marked improvement from just a few years previous when 50% was the average, and chance of remission was common after stopping the treatment. The new deal was/is a two-fold attack of injections of Interferon Alpha, and oral ingestion of Ribavirin. I haven’t researched the how-it-works aspect of any of these chemicals. So, I have no idea what is going on in the battle itself. This isn’t why I’m writing this journal of my experience. I only wish to report what Interferon has done for me and how it went down in my case.

The second fact is side effects. There is a list of scary, bewildering, torturous, unrelenting side effects. Most devastating on the list is a hideous multi-headed monster called depression. The fact that depression is the sole property of it’s creator means that only the patient can know what it is for him or her, where it originates, and how to get a grip on it, if at all. It is infinite in nature, and it is self perpetuating. It is real and it is imagined all at once. And it is a big problem. Those who know the depths of depression can be terrified by the very thought of it. I am told that it is the main reason many people reject treatment- the fear of depression. I have known depression. I have felt the bottom of the hole from which there seems to be no escape. My depression lasted for several years, but I knew the cause of it, which helped. And I believed that time would eventually heal the wound and one day I would forget my sadness. It came to pass. Those days are well behind me now, and the fact that I was so completely devastated, I regard as quite incredible. Yet it was as overwhelming as anything ever at the time.

Other side effects can be flu-like symptoms, fatigue, drowsiness, joint ache, nausea, apathy, etc., or let’s say, anything could likely be a side effect of Interferon Alpha. The treatment can last from 6 months to 1 year. It may be that a more potent form of Interferon is necessary to effectively deal with the virus. Being that there is more than one strain of the virus, trial and error is how we must take on the enemy. With all of these factors in mind, I decide that I can, and will, undergo the treatment process, for better or for worse, and ultimately me and my doctors will prevail, because we are stronger, smarter, and determined to defeat the bug.

And, by the way, no alcohol at any time, as alcohol will undermine the effectiveness of the treatment, and continue to damage the liver. I haven’t drunk anything alcoholic for 6 months. I have entirely left the craving behind. And along with that I have discovered clarity in my mind, body and soul. I feel like a young person, but with the limitations that come with age and atrophy. My wit, will, and want is alive and well. I don’t fear temptation to drink. It is meaningless and ludicrous to persist with the old behavior. If I’m happy, why should I fuck with it?


It’s June 20, 2005 - the day of The Summer Solstice. It’s 12:00 noon. A young man whose name is Marc, comes to our house on Claremont Street in Pasadena, CA. Marc is the Director of Nursing, a Registered Nurse, from US Bioservices,, and a heck of a nice guy. Marc has come to deliver my medication, an information pack, and instruct me on the procedures of administering my treatment. As we chat for perhaps an hour, I begin to feel anticipation of the point of no return. Once I commit I’m in. It’s a matter of honor and self-respect to keep my pledge and goal sacred. How bad can it be? I’ve done things to my body that could have brought down whole herds of cattle. I’ve ingested substances that could create tidal pools of dead crustaceans. Press on, it can’t be that bad. Whoa, the shot! Hey, it only goes in the fat. No muscle, no vein, pinch of fat, and that’s that? It’s done. Cool. Didn’t feel a thing…yet.

After Marc leaves, I begin to have mild waves of chill. I sit in the sun until it becomes uncomfortable and then retreat to the house where a fan on the ceiling blows away any warmth I may have absorbed. My body feels achy and stressed. At about the forth hour post shot, I’m sitting once again in the sun on the patio. In what can’t really qualify as a thought, I feel emotionally overwhelmed. I’m looking into a darkness of mind that recognizes itself as a lousy, no good son of a bitch that doesn’t deserve the attention of a hoard of cockroaches. I see a fool and a fake. I rise from the seat, and enter the office where my wife, Angela is busy at her desk, sorting out the slew of emails and phone contacts that make up the tasks of running a business. I seat myself at my desk and click some email boxes open to see if anyone in the world knows me. No. Angela is in her diligent work mode. She is unstoppable, accepting all challenges, and charming the most resistant bushwhackers, none of whom can deny or ignore the radiance of the person they’ve been lucky enough to make contact with. She is asking me a question I think. Oh yes, uh, I’m ok, sort of, and…She looks a bit closer, and tells me; ”your eyes are all watery and…your not feeling well, are you?” Just then a big tear falls down the right side of my face, and I say; “I don’t know”. Another tear falls down the left side of my face. It’s on. I can’t hide. I’m in full tear flow, and Angela is up out of her chair, and caressing my head. I’m sobbing as quietly as I possibly can, not knowing at all what it’s about. The Interferon is jerking me into a pit of self-loathing. For the next two hours I can’t stop crying. I’m beginning to enjoy a headache as a diversion, when a brilliant thought crosses my mind. I’m going to take a couple of Tylenol and try to relax. Within the next hour, things taper off. The headache gone, the trauma of realizing I’m a pathetic loser has passed, the aches, the chills, the hopelessness that is my life floated harmlessly to the heavenly blue sky. And there she is. The one. The woman who gives me the sword to conquer my demon. Amen.

I have come to realize that talking is basically the cure to most mental illnesses. Without speech and communication, we fall like scattered debris into an abyss of fantasy and fear. Even the most freely associated streams of words can lead one to the door that opens onto a place where we can find the heart of the being our mother cradled in her arms and adored. We remember in our lost memories that the eyes that first beheld us in the first minute of the first hour of the first day of our little lives saw us as we REALLY are, and not the mess we became. Those eyes that said it all: APPROVAL. That is what we seek, and strive to be. In all our wandering can we feel the gaze of pure love ever again? Can we be who we REALLY are? Well, why not? How to undo all the wrong that’s been done? Talk about it. Talk about it. After all, a mess is just something that needs attention and cleaning up. If you can put the troublesome things away in places where they don’t keep you stumbling over them, you can use your time and space more efficiently. You can grow, just like starting all over.

We sat there on the bed, Angela and me, and I talked awhile about the disappointments I had handed to people over the years. Particularly to my parents, both now deceased. Of all my shame and regrets, the bombs I laid on my parents are the deepest and most painful. But even that darkness can be brightened when you look at it in focus. So we talked and focused, and talked and hugged. After a while, I knew, I just knew, I could beat this thing, what ever it was. It didn’t frighten me any more. Nor did it hold me down like a pinned wrestler. I was up, off the mat, and ready for phase 2, the Ribavirin doses.

I know nothing about Ribavirin, in part, because virtually nothing was said about it by Dr. Bartley or by Marc Johnson of US Bioservices. Two 250 milligram caps, twice a day is the dosage. Since there was virtually nothing said, I made the assumption that it was much less a hardship than the Interferon. Sensing a modest amount of victory, I ate the caps with no hesitation or foreboding. To be honest, I felt nothing from the Ribavirin. The next morning I took the next 500 milligrams of Ribavirin, and steadied myself for the long haul. I wasn’t thinking the coast is clear just yet. Let’s give it every opportunity to fuck with us. Then we’ll see if it actually is doing what it’s supposed to. I was looking forward to next Monday, and the big second shot of whack-it. My confidence was growing.

The rest of the first week was normal. I had to snap to attention a couple of times when I couldn’t remember if I had taken my dose or not. After a pill count one night, I figured everything was cool, and I hadn’t missed anything. One of those first days I fell asleep for an hour and a half in the afternoon and forgot to take Gabriel to his clarinet lesson. I said the Ribavirin made me do it.