st bernards uncasville 1989

Connecticut: The Blunder Years – Part One

Jason Quinlan playing guitar at the beach in 1989
I was either blissfully ignorant or not exposed to the seedy underbelly of rural Connecticut when I was really young. Until I'd witnessed it in other people’s lives: Divorce, alcoholism, gambling addiction, poverty, and abuse. Connecticut and Rhode Island are the only two states decreasing in population. I think there’s good reason for that. My parents were upstanding citizens, almost too-perfect-parents and even though I’m sure they fought, they never did it in front of my brother and I (who is approximately 2 years younger).

All my life I’ve been shy, introverted, and suffered from social anxiety. I just did a good job of concealing it, mostly with my off-color sense of humor, probably from watching too much Monty Python as a kid. I never bought that “man in the sky” bullshit. I know it sounds contrived, but I’ve always been an atheist. Even before it was cool.

I always had hustle, even as a little kid. I never begged my parents for money. At nine, I lied about my age and said I was 10 to get a paper route, which I kept till I was 16 and even one paperboy of the year. I’d memorize all the addresses of my customers without writing them down in my notepad. To this day, I have reoccurring nightmares I suddenly forgot all of the patrons that paid.

One day, doing my papers, I had very odd experience, also involving Iron Maiden. The day PowerSlave came out, I went to the mall with my cousin and bought it. Something happened that afternoon, which was the first of a series of traumatic head injuries.

Generally, It took me about an hour to do my paper route, and I'd usually be home by 4 PM. Except one day, I went out around 2 PM but have no idea what occurred until 7 PM, until my Mom returned home from work, to find me in the living room watching M*A*S*H with my head half bashed open. At the hospital, they said I had a severe concussion. My cousin came in to visit with the Powerslave album. To this day I have no clue what happened.

I said, “Oh man, you didn't have to buy that for me!”.

He reminded me, “You bought this yourself this afternoon when we when at the mall.” Uncasville Connecticut didn’t have exactly the highest crime rate. For all I know, I could’ve been kidnapped by aliens.

Who knows?

Around 13 I saved enough paper route money to buy an ATC (it’s a 3-wheel ATV, no longer available because they are super dangerous). I'd ride it on the street behind my parents back when they weren’t home.

One summer afternoon, I was coming down a three-way intersection when I saw a cop passing in front of me. I turned around and blasted up the street. The cop took the adjoining street; we were now careening directly for an unscheduled game of “chicken”. I flipped a bitch and kept my bike in the middle of the road. The cop couldn’t pass me on the right or left. I rounded a corner and sped up a road that ended in a path and raced into the woods. To my surprise, the cop car tried to chase me into the woods. The last thing I remember turning around to see him wrap his car around a tree. For the next two hours, I thought I was Rambo. Hiding my bike underneath branches, listening for helicopters. I waited till dusk to make an exit. When I got home, my brother informed me that the cops had already been by the house looking for me. The next day, they knocked on my door and handed my dad a warrant for my arrest. The laundry list of charges that included Destroying State Property, Resisting Arrest, Aggravated Mayhem, some accusations I’ve never heard of before (or since!). That incident alone put me on probation for the rest of my time in New England.

If cats have nine lives — I've surely been through eight. Not long after the newspaper folly, the day after Christmas, I wanted to be the cool kid bombing the steepest hill in the neighborhood on a skateboard the other children would only ride sitting down. I bombed it repeatedly while sucking on a mouth full of file fireball candies until a car pulled out of one of the driveways. I swerved to the side of the road (which were always salted to melt the ice). I wiped out, smashed my head onto the curb and started choking on the candy. My mom just happened to drive by to see the other kids performing the Heimlich maneuver on me with half of my brain hanging out.

I was ridiculously shy. I would never hit on girls. I still don’t to this day. If I were to check out right now, one of my reservations wouldn't be not having got laid enough, despite having no “game” at all. Girls came to me. There was this Asian chick at my junior high, that was actually pretty hot, who had a major crush on me. She told me straight out I could have sex with her, which was a bold move in 1983.  I somehow declined her advances for months, because the other kids at school would call me “chink lover” and other random insults. That was until summer break. We randomly ran into each other at the school tennis court. She bent over, pulled down her shorts – I lost my virginity right there on the foul line. The next fall, when school got back, the “chink lover, Asian lover” increased exponentially from the other kids. For a while, it bothered me, until I reminded the little bastards, ”Motherfuckers, I may be “a chink fucker”, but you guys are a bunch mother fucking of virgins!”

I used three other activities to drown my social anxiety:

1. Drugs and Alcohol: My usually reclusive and shy suddenly become my alter-ego a boisterous joke-cracking, skirt-chasing, path of destruction. At the pivotal age of 13, I got into drinking, weed, and acid. I remember freezing my ass off in the wilderness in sub-zero temperatures at the “party spot” (dubbed “The Well Of Souls”) guzzling beers, getting high, and trying to get girls pants off in the freezing snow. That was when I made a life changing assessment: “This is what I want to do with my life!”

2. Heavy Metal Music (and music in general): The first album I bought with my own money was Deep Purple’s “Perfect Strangers”, then I discovered Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, but, then I heard Iron Maiden – THEY WERE BADASS! I always wanted to hear something heavier, so I sought out underground stuff like early Metallica, Mercyful Fate, Slayer, and Venom. I still love those bands to this day.

3. The Guitar: Milner had an electric guitar and took a few lessons. He could play “Procreation Of The Wicked” by Celtic Frost. He showed me. It was easy. I didn’t think about guitar again until I heard “For Whom The Bell Tolls” by Metallica. I loved that heavy that descending riff. I had to make that sound. I bought my first guitar, an Aria Pro when I was 14 from my friend Joe. He taught me “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath. Once I got playing, I would come home from school every day and practice for at least three hours with a stopwatch. I have a good me ear for music, and could listen to something and usually be playing a rough version of it within a few minutes.

Within six months of playing, I was better than the older kids that had been playing for years. To this day, I consider myself a guitar player above anything else.

Jason Coleman and father
At 13, I first discovered acid. I was on a snow day from school at my grandfather’s house. I had three hits I bought at school for 10$. I dropped all 3; I probably should've stuck with just one! Donald Sutherland’s “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” got extraordinarily intense! My grandfather called my brother and me for dinner. I watched the spaghetti’s spin around on the plate in a psychedelic swirl and barfed all over the table. In my room, the demons on my Slayer “Hell Awaits” came to life from the infernal depths: “Join us, join us”. I began to question my atheism. Lucifer was in my Bathory album, and if there was a God, please spare me from the eternal fire!

That was until the acid wore off and I regained my sanity.

Despite how unpleasant this may have sounded, LSD is my drug-of-choice, even to this day. It turns you into a drooling blob of hallucinatory mush for 6 to 8 hours, followed my 2 hours of introspection you can’t get anywhere else, leaving you with an “outside the box” perspective on the world. When Steve Jobs said, “Using LSD was one of the three most important things he’d ever done this life.” That came as no surprise to me.

I’m not encouraging kids to get into hard drugs, that’s just my take on it.

By the time I was in the eighth grade, I had got into so much trouble the schools were considering sending me to “reform school” with the “bad kids.”

My parents enrolled me in St. Bernard’s Catholic High School instead. The Catholic School Kids behaved worse than their public school counterparts, but dressed better and had shorter hair. While my public school colleagues were squeezing the last hit off a roach; I was smoking hydroponic herb, dropping tabs, and partaking in “the devil’s dandruff” by 16.

As a bonus, the girls in Catholic school were a bit sluttier. It bummed me out the girls couldn't wear tight jeans, but they continue to hem their skirts to shorter and shorter lengths. I used to fuck girls in the school’s church confessional booth at lunch break and later confess my sexual encounters to the priests. I thought that was hilarious. I would inform them that they were probably sitting in my man-spackle right at this very moment. Not that a 14-year-old boy's semen is anything that new to a Catholic priest. If there was a God, he had to forgive me for it! That is what confession is for, right?

Around 14, I had my first experience with heartbreak. Much to the dismay of all the jocks, I was briefly dating the “hottest chick at school”. The jocks couldn't understand why such a fine piece-of-ass was hanging around with an introverted heavy metal nerd?

We dated for three months and one day after school she arbitrarily decided to dump me. There was only one way to suppress these new feelings: Self-medicate!

My parents weren't drinkers. We never had booze at the house aside from a couple bottles of liquor in the basement, so I took a little bit out of each bottle so they wouldn't notice. I'd mixed gin, amaretto, scotch, cream-de-mint and vodka to drown my sorrow. All mixed together the liquor turned blue, which I would later term the “Blue Meanie”. I chugged it, ate some fruit roll-ups, went to my room, opened my window, and heaved red vomit all over the front of our newly painted “battleship gray” house and passed out. I was awakened by my mom opening the door telling me she had something she needed to tell me and it was important, so I should get up.

The open window in the subzero temperature, coupled with the newly decorated house should have been a clue something was rotten in Denmark. I was so wasted, I thought it was the next morning and started getting dressed for school. I was still hammered when I sat down at the dinner table, and my parents told me my grandmother had just passed away that afternoon. I was “chipmunking” for my next round of projectile vomit, when my mom said, “If I didn't know better, I would swear that you are on drugs. To which I replied, “No mom, I'm just upset” and then went back to my room and shellacked the fresh paint with the second sortie of fruit roll ups.

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Next up: RUMBLE PIG!

JQ

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