This site is all photos by me, Ace Backwords. Mostly photos of feral cats and Berkeley street people.
Author: Ace Backwords
Ace Backwords is a former cartoonist, writer and semi-normal human being. He's been sleeping in the bushes in the Berkeley hills for the last ten years with his four feral cats, Moo Cat, Fatty, Mini Scaredy and Micro Scaredy. Future plans include growing old and dying. Preferably in that order.
It’s weird. After 40 years of being a-guy-who-wears-glasses. I’m suddenly a-guy-who-doesn’t-wear-glasses.
And now, as I’m walking around, I’m constantly getting that feeling like I’ve lost something, like something’s missing. That feeling like, “Hey, where’s my wallet??” or “Where’s my keys??” That feeling where you suddenly realize you’re walking around with your fly open. I’ll suddenly fly into a panic. “Hey, where did my glasses go?? They’re not on my face anymore!!” Then I remember. “Oh yeah. I don’t wear glasses any more.”
And I think it also changes how people perceive you. Not exactly the Clark Kent to Superman transition. Or the wallflower in the movies who takes off her glasses and the leading man suddenly realizes she’s been a beauty all along. But, as a street person, I inevitably have a lot of interactions with the cops. And I’ve always had a theory that wearing glasses saved me a lot of hassles from the cops. You look more safe, more innocuous, wearing glasses. Less suspicious, more blandly normal. The cops look at you and think, “He’s wearing glasses, he’s probably an intelligent fellow, reads a lot of books, leads a quiet life, etc.” I’ve probably gotten half as many tickets as I would have gotten over the years, simply because I wear glasses.
Glasses also hide your eyes. Especially if you wore bifocals like me, with distorted lens. They say that “the eyes are the window to the soul.” And, wearing glasses, people were less able to see how crazed my particular soul is. They often give you kind of a poker face (they also cover up your eyebrows). It’s harder to read a person’s facial expression when they’re wearing glasses. So now I feel a bit more naked and exposed.
Oh well. If it gets to be a problem I guess I could just go back to wearing fake glasses with no prescription in the lens. . .
It’s been over 7 years since the last time I slept indoors in a bed. March 28, 2015. . . I couldn’t resist doing the math. 2,567 consecutive days sleeping outdoors. But it looks like my streak is finally over. sigh
I’m one of those odd people, when people tell me to “Get a room.” They’re not telling me to find a private place where I can have sex with someone. They’re literally telling me to “Get a room.”
The guy sitting behind me has been talking to himself non-stop. Sometimes it’s happy, cheerful banter. Then he’ll suddenly switch gears, go off on this loud, angry harangue: “GOVERNMENT WOMAN COMPUTER BITCH!! HAAAH!! FUCK DA BITCH!! FUCK DA BITCH!! UNIVERSE CIRCLES!! GAHHHH!! Like he’s on the verge of having a psychotic breakdown. Then it’s like he’ll get a grip. Go back to muttering quietly to himself. Back and forth like that. . . He’s been on the scene for awhile. Yesterday he was sitting by himself making these loud, anguished animal sounds. Barking like a dog, then shrieking and howling. In some kind of psychic agony . . It’s one of the sad — and endlessly recurring — aspects of living on the streets. You regularly run into people who, quite simply, are just genuinely nuts. Their minds simply don’t process the information in any kind of normal mode. Usually there’s no way to help them. There’s no place for them to get help. And you even wonder HOW they could be helped. They live in their own world. With only the most tenuous grasp of reality. . . They get dumped out on the streets precisely because there IS no better place for them to go. And they fend for themselves as best they can. . . Some of them (like me, perhaps) find a little niche within society where they can function and survive. While others are a danger to themselves and a danger to others. And eventually they got locked up in a cage for awhile. Only to be eventually released to the streets again and go through the whole cycle all over again.
There are often no answers. You just keep moving forwards as best you can. Or backwards. Or just sit somewhere by yourself and rant.
You wonder what it is with some people. Whether they didn’t get enough attention as children. Or if they are just assholes. Like this . . . fellow. . . I’m sitting here alone in this completely deserted patio. And this specimen shows up. And takes the ONE seat where he’s sitting, staring, directly in my line of vision.
Mini Scaredy shows up this morning with her latest catch (she’s such an incredible hunter!). Plops her kill right down on top of the blankets I’m laying under (she’s such a show off, she always has to show off her latest prize). I shoo her off my blankets before she starts commencing with her savagery just inches away from where I’m trying to wake up. Sheesh. . . Such a cute little kitty.
Paul McCartney is in Oakland this weekend for two shows. Which is kind of mind-boggling to think that nearly 60 years after I first saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in 1964, age 7, McCartney is still going strong in year 2022.
The closest I’ve come to seeing a Beatle live was in 2010 when Paul McCartney did a show in San Francisco (which was a whole ‘nother debacle, you can read about it here: https://acidheroes.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/ace-backwords-goes-to-the-paul-mccartney-show/ ) . … I think the last big stadium rock show I went to was when I saw Jethro Tull play at the Oakland Colesium in 1978. After that, I preferred seeing my live music in small clubs with a bottle of beer in my hand. . . Hate Man (of all people) actually saw Paul McCartney the one time he played Berkeley back in 1990. For some reason Macca ended up playing the gig at the Cal football stadium (which is an odd venue for a rock show). The only thing I remember about that show, I was living on the main street of Berkeley at the time, and after the show I watched the caravan of limousines parading down the street on their way to the freeway, and I remember looking out my 2nd floor window and thinking: “Paul McCartney is in one of those cars.” . . So that’s my BRUSH with GREATNESS!!!