East Side Avenue

--Disclaimer --some things in this are for mature audiences only--

I wanted to talk a little about my circumstances shortly after recording my second record (Something’s Gotta Give). I was living on East Side Avenue (referred to as ‘drug alley’ by the cops). I reluctantly moved into a cool duplex that was an old house built in 1908, my ex girlfriend talked me into it. I know it sounds like I am passing the buck again. Gee, move next door to your ex…Great idea! But it was re done on the inside and was a cool pad… I won’t go into details but you can imagine how that went. She moved out and my buddy Darren Price moved in. Darren and I got along great (and still do)…he was a blues guitar fanatic and actually VERY knowledgeable about guitars and amps. He let me have the two guitars that I still play (the 50’s Kay and the blonde Esquire).

We played some intensely competitive video games ( NHL Hockey) and the loser would have to walk down the street and buy chicken from what used to be a ‘Williams Chicken’…at night that could be pretty scary. Well there was a vacant lot to the right of us and next to that was some government apartments. I wandered over there after some late nights of giggin’ when I wasn’t ready for the party to end. I found what I was looking for. I started to go over there a lot. Then people from there started coming to my house wanting to sell me a shoe for $5…or they would steal something and try to sell it back to me…I really opened Pandora’s box…it got so bad that we started answering the door with a pistol. One of the denizens of the drug compound was a guy named Lee. We started smoking so much crack that we became ‘friends’…and I let him into the house and this was when things went south…

One ‘memorable’ experience was when Lee came pounding on our door and exclaiming “I just talked some guys out of robbing this house! You have no idea what kind of folks I was dealing with. But I got you guys off the hook.” Darren and I were like “Really?! Thanks Lee!!” Then Lee asks if he could borrow a few bucks. We were happy to oblige. Then I think the wheels must have started turning in his head as he saw the opportunity… he continued:

“Yeah guys, these were the worst of the worst!” We started throwing more dollars on the floor. He looked up at us dramatically and said quietly: “They were the East Side Jackers.” Darren and I threw more money down. It wasn’t until a few years later we figured we had been duped. We chuckle about it now. This was the same house that someone had been shot dead in broad daylight out front, while I was messin’ around with that ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ riff…It really was a bad place to live but my ‘early twenties’ mind would have me believe that this gave me street cred as far as being ‘lowdown’ was concerned. There is a line in the song that says ‘gun shots blastin’ outside my window, can’t sleep at night cuz I’m down on the floor”…Don’t know what happened to Lee, I finally got wise after he stole a gun and I put an end to our ‘friendship’… but I was going down a bad path…having gigs where I played about two songs and then went out to the van and smoked…then violent episodes of anger where I would do stupid stuff like smash a guitar for no reason. I smashed some cool ones I wish I could have back.

Darren and I both realized we had to get out of there. We went our separate ways. That’s when I decided to move down to Austin. This was the summer of 1999.

I pretty much had to go because I needed to get out of Dallas. I had been ‘shanghai’d’ by the press. When I was on the road with Susan I did some  monumentally  stupid things. One of which was getting drunk and swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills. I had a nice little helicopter ride, stomach pump and stay in the hospital and subsequent psych evals (where I learned I was a little impatient)…Anyways…I had told a local writer, Tim Schuler (who I trusted because he had written the liner notes to my first CD) about some of that but he was giving me the impression the article was about my upcoming release. When the story came out (I can’t remember the paper) it was ALL about that horrible, embarrassing episode on the road. You would think I would have learned my lesson about what I say to the press wouldn’t you? Nope, in 2008 I agreed to do another interview with Tim for a featured article in the Dallas based ‘Buddy Magazine.’ I Finally made the cover of ‘Buddy’ only to see the title underneath my smiling face……’Shawn Pittman: A Saga of Hell.’ …………..Fantastic. As my friend Don O said: “I don’t think this is one you will want to keep in your press kit.”

—to be continued–

5 Comments

  1. Author

    Yes. I can talk about them so easily now because these incidents were almost in a different life, so much has changed in how I deal with things. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Your honesty helps Many more than you know. Thanks Shawn

  3. Enjoyed the read Shawn. I remember in the summer of 1998, driving down from Norman to hang out with you for the weekend. (I think your ex still lived next door.). I was getting married that August and I guess I wanted to see how things were going. Glad you made it thru all of that…when I think about all of the decisions I made when I was young, it’s a wonder I’m still alive.

  4. Author

    Oh yeah! I remember sittin’ on the porch and I suddenly saw my surroundings through your point of view as someone that knew from Norman…we busted out laughing! thanks for the comment!

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