By the end of the summer I was in Nelson, one of my haunts. It was the first town I traveled to without mum+dad, I hitchhiked
there for my sixteenth birthday. I had gotten into the rave promoting scene where everyone's big goal of the year is Shambalah,
a huge rave festival, probably the best one in at least BC. It still goes on but don't keep up with those friends anymore,
everyone's moved around so much anyways. I was pretty proud of being involved in this operation; my old man ran the beach
stage. Even though everyone saw I looked absurdly like his ex wife (only five years younger), I had a gold crew card! That
put me somewhere in the middle of the chain of hierarchy. Having my brother come out to this awesome party for his first
traveling trip to the same town at the same age sounded like a great idea at the time, especially considering the gravity
of the party.
I know a lot of the details of Sammys journey, I found him when he got to the party and had set him up to hitch out with
one of my best buddies, Joe in the first place. But there were big holes in my version. I had to talk to him about it.
I had to tell him that I was writing about him. I didn't plan to tell him about the piece when I began but I figure I owe
it to him, not to mention that he may need to see what he looks like through another view. I felt quite guilty of going
ahead with the idea without consulting him and afraid he'd be mad that I'm shelling out his secrets but it turns out that
he's okay with it. He's willing to recap times to help; Sam's very supportive of my writing. He writes too, poetry and raps
and that, he understands the need to find the spark and make words and stories as good as you can make them. Getting more
of the story out of him has been a challenge; he can barely tell a story without embellishing it. Plus there's the fact
that he was on plenty of drugs at the time and there's also holes in his version. He now knows that I'm writing an important
story about him and that it's also very personal, that was a big step. I've tried to get him to read the whole draft through
but I don't know how much he really takes in when he reads. Reading over the notes on my brother, I try to look through the
lines and find the answers to my questions. Why is my brother the way he is? Does he know he has a problem? No answers.
I come to another question instead, is the way he is really all that bad? For me, writing this is not turning out to be a
solution for my brother but a major gateway to understanding and I hope it opens a door for him as well.
Me and Joe was bombin' out to go to Shambalah, if you don't know what that is it's a huge festival. It's very big, there's
fields and cows and mountains and streams. We were goin'! To there and Nelson and shit. We got to Abbotsford first. We
were dirty, we had to take showers early in the morning in the place before the guys got there. Joe thought he could get
in and let me in. That was the plan anyway. We had to go through the lawns-they chased us. The old lady's chased us. Fragelly
mushrooms!! We ate good spicy foods, Eastern Indian. Very spicy. I had some wicked rhymes spittin' outta my chops. Joe
didn't like it too much. I got to a really cosmic level but he just yelled "S-s-s-shutuup S-s-sammy!!!" In the
morning we hitchhiked, Joe left me and I hitchhiked to Ontario. No, actually he came back and it wasn't me who went to Ontario.
. . It was Joe, months later. Sorry.
Before we even went into Nelson we went to Flipoff rd. Flipoff!! That's a fun one. It's a house full of people, I sat
on the couch and read stories and loaded some amps into a truck but the best was the twenty five gram session. That's when
you smoke a gram of hash and then eat twenty four buns. Lettuce and pot together in the buns, zoweeee!
My sister said we had to get to the Shambalah early to do volunteer work to get in free. Joe didn't really care, he could
afford to get in. I ran into Chevey and he was gonna sneak in. I was having so much fun that I didn't want to get there
early. I got caught when we snuck in. Chevey was too fast for the guard, he's such a little guy that the guard might not
of seen him even. My sister came and bailed me out, I'm glad I've got her. I had too many rhymes to write to not go to the
party. She put me to work; I made some mad decorations and wrote some wicked raps. Ellis showed me her tent and let me go
to find my girlfriend. My girlfriend was really cool and really trippy. She wanted me to dose some acid with her. So I
did. I barely remember but she broke up with me, said I was too immature. That hurt my heart. The next day I had nothing,
I'd left my backpack at Flipoff rd, (FLIPOFF!! Haha!) My scrolls of lyrics were gone and I had no clothes on except a pair
of shorts. I disappeared in the woods until night time. My sister had worried about me. Her and Chevey had lifted a pair
of shoes for me. I did some more acid with some hippies and lost those shoes. Acid and shoes just don't seem to go together.
I missed the freestyle comp but I sang instead with the trees, mountains, streams and cows.
Sammy was a mess at Shambalah. That party epitomized my brothers, what did the shrinks call it? break down. It was the
epicenter. I took care of him when he wasn't busy disappearing. It really put a stressful damper on my good time. There's
not much else to do but take care of family when they can't do it themselves. He got so high that he couldn't talk. If he
did speak it was rhyme-e gibberish. He appeared much like an ape, I remember drool. All in all, it seemed a bad idea to
bring him out there, but at least he experienced it-an adventure sans mum+dad. It hasn't happened before or since.
I arranged a ride home for him from a particularly sketchy Springer, I made the guy vow not to ditch my brother. He was
the only person I could find. In hindsight I should've hitchhiked back with him but I am entitled to my own life, eh? My
mission was to go to the Charlottes to get away from everyone and the whole scene, have some fucking time to myself. And
I did it, I got away. When I got there, I found out exactly how removed I had made myself.
Phone calls to me up north from my parents told a story in parts of Sammy's mental deterioration. They got involved with
the family doctor. Sammy displayed mine and his common trait of being too open, telling Dr. Schneider of his farfetched fantasies.
The doctor, who was not a psychologist, in 'proper protocol' gave a psychiatrist a prejudgment of Sammy.
The next word I heard of him he was in the local hospital. My dad's shaky voice came over the phone, "He'd tried
to cut his own hair at the back and it was all choppy looking, like a crazy person. He was acting strange enough down town
that the cops picked him up and took him to the hospital. Now he's wearing a gown and has messed up hair and they've put
him on a lot of medication. . ."
So there's this picture in my brain of Sammy in this terrible state, he looks retarded and confused. Drawing that image
up today gives me the shivers.
He was placed in that mental care facility for young adults, the children's bin. I packed up came right down when I heard
word. The fact that I lost my job and got ditched by guy within a month seemed like a sign that I should get back to the
Through a maze of corridors and heavy locking doors there was Sammy. He looked very different from the last time I saw
him, his movements were jolty, his head rolled and bobbed in a dozy, out of character way. His words, like his movements
were choppy-not fast, they came in short spurts. His hair had not yet recovered from his butcher job. He'd had it shaved;
yet, there were still shorter patches where he'd gone clean to the scalp two weeks earlier. There was even aggressiveness
about him, totally unlike the heart of gold Sam that I knew so well. Being treated like a breakable caged animal has the
power to change anybody. The anger was in no way directed at us, it was directed to his captivity that the aides held him
in, with swindlers' smiles. His irritable aggression came out when Kenny, a young aide with a candy grin, was directing him.
He was treated as if he was a toddler, learning to walk. He was handled with kid gloves made of latex. The aide proceeded
to physically direct him and that's when Sammy's' rapper styled talk came out and his arms came out to fend off his assailant.
We played a bit of basketball, I asked Sam how everyone was doing back home, and we had a snack and used plastic knives and
forks-all under supervision. My brother didn't seem like himself, too dozy and off in space.
Dad and I had a little meeting with the shrink; Sam was asked to leave the room. The shrink thought it remarkable that
I had come all this way for my brother, as if it was a normal thing for family members to ditch the troubled ones??! The
shrink wore a toupee. He had fancy pens and he smiled. To say the least, I didn't trust him.
We left Sammy there shortly after that. Later my mother said that all the aides there really thought I was great. I
thought they were sickeningly nice. Sammy; cut off from all his regular social activities, all recreational drugs, witch
I think was a necessity, minimal skate boarding and outside activities permitted, witch is obviously not necessary, a body
needs fresh air and exercise. They wanted to slow him down. Those exact words. To accomplish that they used high doses
of drugs or meds as they called them and TV. The way I see it, given the horrible effects I saw on my brother, those 'meds'
did as much damage as the 'drugs' did. Some male nurse even practically threatened by saying if they hadn't medicated Sammy
when they did that he would've gone catatonic when I questioned their treatment of my brother. I know from talking to a mental
health professional off the record who had nothing to do with Sammy that the drugs (she referred to the meds as drugs) were
not for the patients but for the staff, to make their jobs easier and safer. The curious thing was that in all the time he
spent in the bin with professional brain quacks, he was never diagnosed. One would hope that a doctor would discern what
they are treating when they prescribe such a cocktail of medication, but sadly, no.
He stayed in the program for an extra lengthy amount of time, way longer than average. It took my parents to realize
that this was not the answer of god to keep him in there and that it was actually retroactive. A demanding, yet polite letter
from me helped to get him out of there. His teenage hood was virtually stolen from beneath his feet, he had absolutely no
control over his fate.
He's been at home with a very restricted life for a while. Our parents, and the powers that be say that he needs to
gain independence and figure out how to live on his own. But at this point no one is giving him a chance. He is still very
much in the system and many things get decided for him. It's gonna be harder for him to really grow up than most kids. Someday
his life will be his own again.
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