Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Students discuss their work in class at the MESA center at American River College on April 25, 2024. (Photo: Cristian Gonzalez/CalMatters)
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Archives

    Punk guitarist rediscovers voice in sobriety, school

    Cover

    In the winter of 2008, I got out of jail and had made a serious commitment to myself to stay out. 
    I was off probation, that was good news. It also made my desire to stay out of jail more realistic. 
    I was homeless, and that worried me. I knew that the hotels where homeless hotel vouchers were accepted were dangerous, unclean, and filled with drug activity. 
    I had been off drugs (other than alcohol) for more than a year. I was an alcoholic but everything that went along with illegal drug activity became too nasty for me. 
    I’d seen some horrific stuff when I was living a junkie lifestyle. I’d known people who died from overdose and violence associated with drugs. I’d awoken in hospital bed a few times from similar circumstance, and my younger brother lost his eye when a drug dealer hit him in the head with a pole a couple months before my release from jail. 
    I wanted a new and different lifestyle. I wanted a safe place to live. 
    I needed a home. 
    The first night out I rode the bus to Ocean Beach, and just walked all night. I slept on the beach for an hour after watching the sunrise. 
    I then rode the bus to a park where I knew some people hung out. It was there I ran into an old friend, and he told me I could share the space under the overpass walkway where he and another person slept.

    Singing

    I lived under the bridge for almost four months. I still wanted to find an apartment or house I could move in with roommates but that was hard to find. 
     I’d heard of an organization called The Hot Team that got homeless people off the streets in San Francisco. I’d gone to their office but was always told to “come back in a day or two.” 
    I got on a waiting list and was told to check back every week. I checked back at least twice a week. 
    I wanted my own room in a safe place, and I was going to take all necessary steps to make that happen.
    One sunny day there was 14 of us homeless people, and seven friends all drinking malt liquor, and hanging out in the park. 
    This was a common daily occurrence. 
    Three members of the Hot Team came over and told everyone that the police were going to raid the park that afternoon. They said that in an hour and a half they would come back, and anyone that wanted could go with them in the van to see about getting housing could.
    After they left, I said I was going for sure, but most people showed no interest. There were several drunken jokes and jibes that said it was a waste of time. 
    When the three Hot Team workers came back I was the only person that got in the van. 
    FrinkI’m sure that the Hot Team workers saw that I seriously wanted help getting off the streets. They saw how determined I was and when we got back to the Hot Team headquarters one of the workers immediately took me into her office to fill out new paperwork. 
    The next day I was allowed to move into The Mission Hotel at 520 South Van Ness Ave. I checked my room out. It was tiny, but had a single bed. 
    The hotel had three floors and each floor had 30–37 rooms. Each floor shared the large bathroom that every floor had. 
    The Mission Hotel had a good energy about it. It felt and looked safe. 
    It was completely different than the previous hotels my vouchers had afforded me, in that it was not a hang-out for drug dealers and prostitutes. 
    Upon entry, you checked in at a front desk, before going through the front door, and up to your room. It wasn’t as nice as living in an apartment, but it was much better than living in the park. 
     I signed the paperwork at the Hot Team headquarters that afternoon. I had a room in a safe place. 
    I was no longer homeless.
    My life changed when I lived in the Mission Hotel, but not very much, because I was still living my life in active alcoholism. 
    I still did almost all the same activities every day as I had when I lived in the park. I still drank malt liquor from the time I awoke until I went to sleep or passed out. 
    The only difference was I wasn’t homeless anymore. 
    On Oct. 3rd in 2010 I was hit by a car at 11th and Mission while drunk. I awoke from a coma three weeks later. 
    Most of my family had come to pay their respects because the doctors said there was a decent chance I wouldn’t live. 
    When I became conscious, the neurologists told me I suffered permanent discoloration in my right temporal lobe, which means I have brain damage. 
    Upon discharging from the hospital I gave up my room at the hotel, and I went into a long term detox at a different hospital. 
    I’ve been sober ever since. One day at a time.

    The Boy Explodes cover

    I attend as many AA meetings I can every week to get needed support for the disease of alcoholism. 
    I take my recovery seriously. 
    I believe that none of this would have been possible without taking serious action in getting myself a safe place to live when I was homeless. It was my tenacity and my determination that I showed to the workers at The Hot Team. I went to the office more often than they suggested, because I was not going to accept an answer of no. 
    I was going to get off the streets by any means necessary.
    After detox, I stayed with family in Colorado until I found an old friend on Facebook. My friend was a fellow musician and we knew each other from the Bay Area music scene.
    He needed a roommate in his flat, so in the summer of 2014, I moved to Oakland.
    Klub KommotionIn the fall of 2014, I began attending Laney College, which has been good for me in so many ways. I was worried about my brain injury and how it might affect my learning abilities. 
    So far, I’ve been able to get decent grades as a full-time student — that wouldn’t have been possible had I not gotten clean and sober again. 
    I wouldn’t be going to college unless I was sober. 
    If I wasn’t sober, I’d most likely be dead, or if I was lucky, in jail.
     I started taking journalism classes my first semester, and it’s been my favorite subject since I started college. I made Journalism my major in the fall of 2015, and started writing for the Laney Tower the following January. 
    I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a child. Writing articles for the Tower is refining my writing abilities. I’m learning how to write in a clear way. 
    When I outline what I want to say in an article, I have a better chance of actually writing in a way the reader will understand and enjoy. My goal is to learn how to become the best arts journalist I can.
    Writing for the Tower has helped me to realize that a dream of mine — to make my own music fanzine, can be a reality. 
    I plan to put the first issue out online as a webzine this fall. 
    That dream is only a possibility because I am going to school at Laney College.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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