Random Thoughts: Damien Star-Man, the Israeli crack-smoker
Blog Posted:11/17/2012 11:00:00 PM
There was this guy named: Damien "Star-Man" -- at the time,
he was around 60 years-old,
with crazy bulging eyes that looked as if at any moment
they could pop out of their sockets, and roll down his aqualine nose,
which cuts the air like a blade of bone.
Damien had immigrated from Israel, but pretended to be either Greek or Italian.
How did I know Damien was originally from Israel, when one would be hard-pressed
to find anyone from Israel with such a first name?
I suppose one could call it a hunch.
Damien Star-Man smoked rock.
I have never seen him smoke rock, nor do I ever want to see him do such a thing.
Base-heads bother me a lot. Actually, most drug addicts bother me a lot;
but base-heads especially. The drug turns their soul into a slithering, greasy,
fidgety, depraved demon. One isn't quite sure if a base-head is suddenly going to
claw-out their own eyeballs, or attempt to claw-out someone else's eyeballs in the
hope of possibly extricating a bit of cash or a wristwatch to pawn;
all for another 5-minute session of sucking crack-smoke from the devil's....pipe.
Damien was different though.
He was the calmest base-head I have ever met so far.
He was the only philosophical base-head that I have ever met so far.
Which makes me ponder the state of North America;
wot with the amount of base-heads crawling like cockroaches, through its cities.
But Damien was still annoying. Very, very annoying.
He had this tendency of following me around when I went downtown to shop for
groceries, or go to the bank, etc. Yeah, he seemingly materialized out of nowhere, appearing from around corners, zipping from out of side-alleys, with his usual pronouncements, such as:
"Oooohhhh hallo my friend! How are you today? I just smoked a stone the size of
a peeeennnng-pong ball, my mind went twice around the mooooooooonnnn, maaaaaaaaaaaaaahnnnn~!"
After which, he would then start following me. Of course this caused me to be leery
about several things: Why did he follow ME around? Wot was it about ME? When people saw Damien following me, did they wonder if I was trying to score rock with him?
Damien didn't ask me for money.
Damien talked about the stars and planets.
This is why we had nicknamed him: Star-Man.
He had memorized vast amounts of information concerning stars and planets.
He knew the surface temperature of Mars, how far away the planet is from Earth,
from the Sun, and every other planet in our solar system....to the exact decimal point.
Not only did he know how many moons, or the lack thereof, each planet has --
he knew all of their names, how long they take to orbit their respective planets;
their diameter, size, density, surface temperature, and possible terrain.
Any information he had told me that stuck in my memory, I googled,
and his numbers were bang-on. Out of curiosity, I had even written down some of his
more obscure tidbits of solar system trivia, and his info was always correct.
Here is an example. After asking me how I was doing, and describing the sheer gravitational magnitude of the last stone he had smoked, he would launch into astronomical trivia such as this:
"DID you KNOW that Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun, and is the second largest
planet in our solar system, with an equatorial diameter of 119,300 kilometers. The wind blows at high speeds on Saturn. Near the equator, the wind reaches velocities of 500 meters a second, which means it is moving at 1100 mph. The wind blows mostly in an easterly direction. The strongest winds are found near the equator, and velocity falls off uniformly at higher latitudes. At latitudes greater than 35 degrees, winds alternate east and west as latitude increases. Isn't this just fascinating!? YES! It eeeeessss so fascinating~!" (one needs to imagine all of this being spoken at extremely high speeds,
with an Israeli accent).
His info was always correct. Absolutely correct according to our most technologically-
advanced space research. I asked him if he had been an astronomer.
He laughed and responded:
"Onleeeee after smokeeeeeeeeeeeeing an 8-ball maaaaaahhnnnnnnnn~!"
Now, I couldn't handle Damien for more than a few minutes at a time.
He made me a bit jumpy, caused my palms to break out in a light sweat.
I found an easy way to quickly get rid of him.
I would simply ask him why he pretended to be Greek or Italian, when he was actually
He would shut right up, bulging eyes suddenly turning squint-like, and he would
scurry-off without another word -- scurried-off like a modern-day Gregor Samsa
from Franz Kafka's: "The Metamorphosis".
Just like that. Every. Single. Time.
One encounter was different from all of the rest.
I asked him why he smoked rock.
I had asked him this on numerous occasions, and he had ignored the question;
jumped into his usual tirade of astronomical knowledge.
But this time, as he was about to launch into his 'Star-Man-talk', I persistently
interrupted the crack-smoking Jew:
"If you won't tell me why you smoke rock, or pretend to be Greek or Italian,
when you are in fact Israeli, will you at least write it down instead?"
He just stared at me silently.
I didn't think Damien could even be silent for more than 2 seconds at a stretch.
I pulled a notebook and pen from my backpack, handed these to Damien.
He didn't run away like usual after being asked why he pretended to be either Greek or Italian, when he was an Israeli.
He took the paper and pen, walked over to a maple tree growing beside the river-walk
we were on, sat down, and leaning against the tree, began to write like the madman
that he was. His hand began moving across the paper in a fury.
He wrote and wrote.
I went to the bank. I bought Damien a drink from a convenient store.
When I arrived back, he was still writing furiously. I offered him the drink, which he set down beside himself without paying more notice to it; continued writing.
Then it happened. Star Man stopped writing.
He closed the notebook, handed it and the pen back to me,
and walked away. Just like that.
I didn't say thanks, goodbye....nothing.
I ended up strolling over to one of my favourite spots down by the river.
That's where I read Damien's writing.
As I read, I remember how time sort of seemed to stand still for me.
Aside from a few illegible sections, as well as spatterings of wot appeared to be Hebrew,
Damien's writing was........well, it was beautiful -- exquisitely rendered prose.
But within the beauty, were horrendous accounts of depravity,
of sheer ultra-violence; of missiles, of war; of Gaza Strip;
the Hagana, Irgun, and Lehi --
of a brother blown-apart into a crimson spray,
chunks of flesh smacking onto the sidewalk,
making a sound akin to pieces of uncooked chicken dropping upon the linoleum
of a kitchen floor.
These disturbing details fit seamlessly into the overall story,
helping to peel away some of the mysterious layers
covering the enigmatic, Damien Star-Man,
who as it turned-out, had indeed been born in Israel.
I was literally left stupefied that Star-Man had written such powerful poetry.
The next time I ran into Damien....or more accurately, when he ran into me
with one of his feats of materializing out of nowhere, he began with one of his typical
"....my mind flew twice around the mooooooonnnnnnn maaaaaaaahnnnnn~!"
But this time he didn't launch into his astronomical trivia.
Instead, he recalled a recent event involving a room-mate.
Yes, he actually divulged a minor detail about his present life.
And as if sensing my impending irritation,
Damien said goodbye and left.
Without me having to use my usual tactic to get rid of him.
From that moment forward, every time Damien ran into me,
he divulged little random tidbits about his present life:
of having tried-out a new cafe that served a great mocha cappuccino,
or finding a functioning, yellow lighter in the gutter at Main and Grand Ave;
how the local soup kitchen had served a lovely lunch the previous day.
He had stopped with the 'Star-Man-talk' involving random astronomical trivia.
I didn't inquire about wot he had written in my notebook; and he never brought it up.
I did prod him to again try his hand at writing;
but did so without mentioning wot he had written in my notebook.
Whenever I brought up the idea for him to write, Damien changed topics on a dime,
as if I hadn't even asked the question in the first place.
From time-to-time, I find myself wondering about Damien Star-Man.
Is he still alive? If so, is he still a base-head?
Is he back to rambling about astronomical trivia?
Did he begin to write?
Had he ever been a poet in the past?
After all these years, something about Damien niggles at the shadows of my mind --
those questioning shadows that if dealt with properly, retreat, revealing a bright,
yet soft light; while at other moments, the light can be cruel, harsh, far worse than
the preceeding shadows.
You see, the niggling mystery lies in how Star-Man ended wot he had written in my notebook:
"....and so I believe how my addiction and ravings are not distractions from my past;
a denial of where I came from; of the horrors I have witnessed.
No, my addiction is a device I use to stop myself from turning into a poet.
I believe that I am afraid of becoming the poet who I am possibly supposed to be."
CDA - November 17th, 2012