"You should write a book" has been said to me more than once. I suppose I can understand why. See, I am used to my life. so it all seems "perfectly normal" but gaped jaws indicate to me that perhaps my experiences are not quite usual. I can't say I have been too keen on reliving every part by writing it down either. Alas, timing is everything they say so maybe this is my time.
We shall see about the book, but I thank British rock and roll author Mick O'Shea for the encouragement. For now, here we are. Comments appreciated. That way I know I am not talking to myself tho if I am, I am OK with that too.
A view to a kill. Brooklyn facing NYC.
Part One: Danger, Keep off the Rocks. Or Don't. Up to You.,Really.
You know you’ve made it when you are standing on a dark corner late at night in Bed Stuy with three cops, a Hasidic Jew named Herman the Rapist and your belongings in a black trash bag. Yes. This is everything I ever wanted in life- for everything to culminate in this, my shining moment of doom. I was promised glamour. This was not glamour.
People often ask “How did you meet John Ashton?” And I sigh. There is a short version and then there is the truth. I’ve never told the full truth but to a few. I am not sure anyone who hasn’t closely walked this path me would believe me.
Little did I know that night trying to get Herman the Rapist to give me back my money for a room I rented, when all hope was surely lost, that John, whom I had not yet met in 2012, was a mere one hundred miles away in upstate New York. He and I would not meet until three years later and from an added 2,900 miles away.
Herman the Rapist was a “landlord.” A biblical man so in my weariness of having been caught up in an apartment scam that left me homeless just prior to this fiasco, with my guard down and my ass handed to me more times than a deceptively good looking man in a mall kiosk has asked me “Can I ask you something?” wanting to sell me a hair iron or skin cream by condescendingly flirting with me in hopes I will buy, I trusted Herman the Rapist to rent me a decent room for one month without issue. But Herman the Rapist was a creep. .
I needed solutions and I needed them fast. I was homeless in NYC. I’ve heard Beck was homeless once in NYC too and right after Loser became a big hit. I don’t know what I did wrong but I guess there is a way to do homeless better.
Herman the Rapist had taken my money for the room. It was a dump but it was better than the streets. After I gave him my money I went to make a call. I thought I was getting things under control so went back to unload my trash bag. The rest of my things were staying in a nicer place in Manhattan. A friend, who has since passed away, had a swanky condo that overlooked the NYSE. I’d stay there when I would go to NYC to play shows while living in Nashville. But only my belongings could have an extended stay in her storage cage. I, however, was on my own.
Better times. Dawn's roof of the swanky condo while playing NYC via Nashville.
“HERMAN IS A RAPIST!!” was now scrawled on the bedroom wall when I went back after the call. It had not been there before I was sure of it! I might have been out of it but I’d have noticed that I might get thrown up against the jukebox if I rented from Herman. the Rapist There was now another girl in the apartment. “Who are you?” I asked the plump girl with bad acne drinking PBR in the middle of the day. Apparently Herman the Rapist thought I might like a roommate. No, I would not like that. But there she was and she was bat shit crazy.
It remains a mystery who put Herman’s job title on the wall but my new roommate told me Herman the Rapist had a mistress that he had kicked out to make some side cash renting to the new roommate and me, the sucker who was just tired and didn’t care anymore. Thing is, I always care. No matter how far I have been beaten down, there always seems to be this last reservoir of giving a shit to draw from. If not I would have died one hundred times or more just this lifetime. Sometimes it pisses me off I have this well to draw from. Be easier to quit! Or so it seems. That would be far worse and so I told Herman the Rapist to go fuck himself and give me my money back because I did not also want to be raped or live with Bat Shit Crazy Girl. That is when it hit me “I am about to get ripped off again” and with that I shot out the door, ran down the street and found some police. I am sure they could not have cared less. Crime is just free entertainment there. But I stood my ground with Herman the Rapist and the cops and, although it was clear the cops thought I was a joke, I got most of my money back. What the cops thought of me was unimportant. As far as I was concerned I had already lost everything. What’s a little more pride lost too?
In the end, Herman the Rapist only kept $50.00 for the one night I would stay because per the cops I could never get a room in NYC for fifty bucks. No, probably I could have but for now I had a place to sleep for a night. I slept with one eye open and one hand clutching my trash bag. By sun up I was gone without a clue as to where to go next. Having friends in NYC is only somewhat helpful since most don’t have “extra room.” They are lucky if their bathroom door doesn’t hit them in the head when they sleep.
How I got here was even more fucked up.
Not long before all of this I had stood at the door of the apartment I rented in Astoria from a guy named Paul. It wasn’t the Big Apple but the place was mine all mine! Apparently it was also the apartment of the cousin of the criminal who rented her place out to myself and a few others while he was house-sitting for her while she was out of town.
The key didn’t work. “It must be a mistake!” Texting, calling, texting, calling, texting, call…
No response. Then the ton of bricks came barreling down and the stars fell out of the sky all at once.
World: “You are now officially homeless in NY. Congratulations.”
Me: I want to die.
(Incidentally, his real name was not Paul. I don't know his real name but I picked out his face in a stack of photos at the detective's office. I don't know what became of "Paul" but I hoped it involved a semi and a lot of pain. )
I remember talking to my mom on the phone as I prepared to spend the night in the Zip Car I had rented to move my things from the last place “You could come home.” A natural response from a mom. Its even sane and logical but sane and logical don’t get you your dreams.
“I can’t. I am not giving up” I told her and that was not lip service. It was the truth.
A bit before everything fell apart, before I could add “Public vomiting late at night on a park bench in Chinatown while rats scurried in my vision” to my list of “Things you don’t talk about on a first date,” when things were coming together and life looked like I had it in the bag, I sat in an East Village bar with Leee Black Childers, a rare opportunity indeed! He held my hand in a corner booth and said “This was just like when Debbie (Harry) arrived” and gave me a big smile. He was clearly pleased and I was happy to oblige. I was as excited as I was ignorant about what was to come.
This is a mere fraction of the story. Its taken me six years to sit down and write just one portion out in any detail. Typically my answer to how I met John is “Oh, its a long story” or other broad , easier to swallow terms I hope will satisfy someone enough to be done with the line of questioning ( Its almost as daunting as asking me where I am from.) I will at least mention how, on the surface we met. But it is a long story and it is a story of persistence and finding the strength, even when I had to kid myself it existed, to carry on no matter what. No matter what.
Six years later, in October of 2017, I found myself grocery shopping in upstate NY with one of the most legendary guitarists on the planet so as to be sure I was well fed in the studio as though this was a totally normal thing to be doing. Grocery shopping is, yes, normal. I am just used to doing it alone and without someone who has gold records. Who'da thunk it?
Luck or hard work? You can decide. Meanwhile, we are inching closer to releasing the first single. The others playing on it are super special to me. You will meet them soon.
Uncharted Territory, my 2012 release, was a record I wish more had heard as I think its my best work so far. I gotta say releasing a record and being homeless and moving across country after said homelessness is not easy. There are probably better times to do so but I was committed to not letting criminals and deadbeats stop me so I released the title track while I was in NY immediately after getting conned. And I did so as I sat in what was essentially a crack house- a place I reluctantly went to before I landed with Herman the Rapist. I worked away at getting the song out while atop an air mattress, alongside a mangy cat I hoped wouldn’t pierce all I had to sleep on, months of trash piled high in the courtyard as my view and a nasty respiratory infection.
And, to think, I ended up there because the housing situation before The Crack Den (but after the con) was mind-blowingly horrific. But, hey! I had not (yet) given up on NYC at this point. I was still there if by kicking and screaming to do so. In the end the city changed to "This Looks Far Enough Away From NYC While Still Being on the Mainland, Portland, Oregon" but the dream never changed.
Oh. Sorry, didn’t you say you wanted to know how I met John? You may regret asking but rest assured I am in the process of telling you.
To be continued.
Thk you for reading and just remember- YOU asked me the question. I am not responsible for the answers.