Song: Otherside
Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Age: 32

I’m 19 years old, one year for every mushroom cap I just ate.

Timeframe: June 1999
General Emotional Content: Fear & Loathing in Walker Valley
Weather Outside: 71 & humid

This guy, he’s an FBI agent. His house is a log cabin at the top of (…) Road. Four bedrooms, music studio, hot tub, finished basement, grow lab (really!), full bar, wine cellar, bitching stereo system. And I’ve just spent the last six hours trashing the place and puking all over everything.

Bad craziness aside, though, this is what I remember: Grey tiled carpet. Damp and cold, like most basements are. Three wood-paneled walls, one grey cinder block wall. I’m in my underwear, soaking wet, covered in salad dressing. This is some sort of hybrid guest bedroom/ workout studio; there is a queen size bed, a weight bench, a lamp in the corner, a couple of dumbbells scattered around on the floor, and a stereo on a shelf. No other furniture. I’ve put on the new RHCP CD and laid down on the floor, hoping that music will allow me to rebuild enough of a context for reality that I’ll be able to clean this poor bastard’s house up before he gets home.

There’s nothing doing for the first two songs. “Scar Tissue” briefly reminds me of my then-girlfriend, which fills me with guilt and horror as I imagine her disembodied face soaring down over the valley and peering in through the upstairs windows of the house, looking for me. But “Otherside” proves to be the most beneficial.

The walls are closing in on me. John Frusciante’s guitar playing is physically connected to the room; the upstrokes are grey cinderblocks, the downstrokes are wood panels. By midway through the song, he’s spun me into a cat’s cradle, or a Rubik’s cube, interlocking fingers of wood panel and cinderblock getting closer, closing tighter. But that’s when I realize that I’m in the spaces between the notes, like an image glimpsed between bands of television static. I’m in the spaces between the notes, and I can sneak out of there, under a wood panel, over a line of cinderblocks, over and out.

So that’s what I do. And I’m back in the basement. Turn off the stereo. And start cleaning up the house. That’s what I do.

That song always reminds me of that moment. Oddly enough, so does the song “The Way Out is Through,” by NIN, but only because I remember hearing that song for the first time and wondering if Trent had had a similar problem, getting stuck inside a tightening web of Frusciante guitar lines while hopelessly decked-out on a metric fuck-ton of magic mushrooms. Oh well.

Don’t do drugs.


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