Excerpts from Colfax's Jail Diaries on memories of Vancouver December 1996:
Colfax Jail Diary: May 19, 1999
"So, let's move onwards. I do solemnly swear that I went to Canada to START SOMETHING (anything) on FIRE... to therefore BE INSTITUTIONALIZED, to therefore solve my PROBLEMS. I was DROWNING in San Francisco. Nothing was forthcoming. No other way. And as one sees THAT SORTA ONSET the pendulum SWINGS from one wicked conclusion to les other. Suicide or Jail."
"Jail - it became a pamphlet full of options. All bleak but LATER possibilities. Whereas MORTY offered only darkness, my dead head thunking on a cold steel table. Jail offered the promise of later life. But danger was everywhere. Les maids at les Royal Hotel seized on me. Some days bringing the manager and INSISTING on entering the room. How cheap human suspicion is when it comes at a time like this! And if they knew what I was debating, what harm would they cause? And likewise - to WHOM should I have applied in San Francisco? I can just SEE it. "Hi, I've been living here in S.F. for a year. I know no one. I work alone on les eke squeaky bike for Special T. Delivery. I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer DEAL with PEOPLE at ALL. So THEREFORE I'm thinking of either exiting the world or starting a great big old fire. Got any advice?" Yes, yes. To whom should I have made that speech? "Could have gone to some clinic,"
"I here some BITCH in cyberspace saying. Yes, and they would have taken an action which would have SNIPPED my apartment out from under me as I lounged at some HELLHOLE by force for a month - or just long enough to ensure I lost it all. So - sensing the loss, logic - as it were - dictated that I FORCE the best out of bleakness. And so, in those final months, then weeks, then days of deterioration in S.F., I CRYSTALLIZED the serious option of doing what Kurt Cobain done did do - but only TEMPORARILY. What if I just force the hand that's jabbing me? And in this context on dull, restless anxious evenings I drank beer waiting for the day to come. And in this joyless plotting I thought along the lines of: if this MUST happen, then I should go to FRANCE - or ITALY - or SOMEWHERE. Wouldn't it be BETTER than PURE rotting in an American jail. Every time I glanced at a French newspaper I would LEARN and GROW. Yes, yes, I sought not to have a TOTAL LOSS."
"A "temporary Cobain" with a few piffling flaming ruffles and flourishes of value. But, you must realize that thinking down these paths was not EASY. It was hard to take actions in this awful direction. To do anything was to MAKE IT REAL. After all - nothing had happened yet. Oh - I'd lost my job and couldn't sit forever but there was this string of days wherein TODAY nothing had to be done. And in THAT way - any necessary action to get to FRANCE, (ho about applying for a passport) fell to the wayside. As if SOMETHING ELSE would happen. Something would WALK into my room and change this intense feeling of disaster. Remove the bags from under the eyes ands the nervous suspicions of ALL other humans. So FRANCE - it was gone. Right out. And in this pathetic way, my inner eyes focussed sarcastically and seriously on MONTREAL. Who would like to be the first to hop from their chair and accuse me of lazy ENTHUSIASM for this plan? There have been SO MANY that want to FLAVOR my case THAT WAY. What I NEEDED in S.F. was a way out that did NOT involve other people. There were none. And so - there was no other way. And so I journeyed, in the end, only to Vancouver. And I could go no further."
"It would have to happen HERE in Vancouver - almost America. What ever the result - I would learn no French. I would only get the second rate economy ticket thru my Cobainish journey. I would only just SURVIVE. Weeks past in uncomfortable suspicion. What American comes to just SIT in a Vancouver Hotel room over the holidays? I went out only for beer, cigarettes, newspapers and food, and yes, to just STAND outside while the maids barged in. And the weeks passed. And here again came the crossroads wherein I knew that soon my credit card would maximize itself. And eventually that day came. Les machine at les Royal bank says NO MORE. Still a wad of cash in my pocket, but the time had come to SELECT a TARGET. I roamed at night - looking."
Colfax Jail Diary: May 21st, 22nd, 23rd 1999
"I've written the following details well ahead of time to such random Vancouver places as Buschlen Mowatt Gallery on George St. and the Vancouver Film School. So I roamed about at night looking for a place that would BURN. Sure it was SICK. Why do YOU presuppose that I REVEL in such things? I can FEEL you doing that you know! I'm not going to REVISIT how there weren't ANY choices. That IS how it seemed and THAT is what was important as I wondered through the city."
"As the time came inevitably CLOSER, I wrote more and more graffiti throughout downtown. "TEMPORARY COBAIN." Yes, I would POINT to these signposts when it was all over. I guess I'm doing that NOW. There was much-ado about the opening of a VIRGIN Records + Books store. Monsieur Branson came and entered in some such dangling from the roof stunt. I most ASSUREDLY considered that store both before and AND after it opened as a TARGET. I felt it's surfaces and walked it's alley. But in the end, I focused on a poor little used book and comics store called "ABC" I think. It was only a few blocks from my hotel. I'd been there several times. I overheard a clerk there gossiping about someone from the X-FILES and their shopping habits and compulsive nuttiness. (I sent the item to a New York Post gossip column.) (Don't know if it was used - scroll yourselves to Dec. 96.) There was no LOGIC behind the selection of this store except for PURE unfeeling logic. Les FLAT effect. It was VERY old and wooden. Case closed."
"Now we get right up to the fateful days. I found some porno magazines in les trash area of the hotel. "Gazongas" or something. I took these in my room and wrote of les temporary suicide notion upon les breasts-A-bouncing. I did the same with the books I'd checked out from the S.F. library NEVER to return. (Nevermore?) Perhaps even a framed object from the hotel wall. I wrapped them all in les room for I'd probably been flyering about what I was about what was to come. Here then I had a bundle of sick gifts. I roamed les Boulevards balancing a present on the limb of a bush here, os sitting unsecured in a doorway there. "FOR YOU" written on each one. Somebody in Vancouver may be yanking away with these porno mags to this day, still pondering the meaning of "temporary Cobain." Best to have a sense of humor is it not? And I did these things as les holidays were SCREAMING."
"I'd been in Canada for 6 weeks. My family in Colorado dialing till my phone went DEAD in San Francisco. And right as Christmas Eve arrives, so does abject lack du finances. Such a sweat. "NOW" - it has to be now. Only have the room a few more days. Subsisting on a few cookies a day that they've been displaying at les front desk. NOW NOW NOW. It is SO uncomfortable. But in the end, I DON'T do it. I rummage through my things looking for my old return bus ticket to Seattle. The date of departure has long since come and gone. But I took it on the long walk to the bus station. So God awful bleak. The fastest way takes one through ENORMOUS parking lots for their civic ARENA. These lots - these were what I thought were a river the night I arrived. And of course the ticket is still valid. The fever is broken."
"I will return to Seattle the next day. Everything is STILL a disaster - but for this one day, I can return to my hotel room and NOT feel les intensity. Now instead of a person who MUST burn something down TONIGHT, what I am is a person who will be standing in Seattle with nowhere to go TOMORROW. Awful. But there IS relief in it. And with the decks cleared I took a long walk by the waterfront. And later I wrote a NOTE. And in that note I casually but anonymously laid out all I have recently told you. Cloistering in S.F. / unable to function with people. etc. I told them I'd come to Canada to FORCE a solution because nothing good was forthcoming. I told them I'd selected their store AND I told them how I'd had a Christmas scrooge like CHANGE. I be telling them, yes indeed, I was a ghost here and ammo gwine back to the United States. Who could have known that whilst I was doing this, someone ELSE, in Boulder, was scraping away, laboring on a NOTE over that long sleepless nite?"
"MY NOTE, nutty as it was, contained a Ray of chagrined explanatory etchy sketchy civility. Casually it told a truth not likely to THRILL it's recipients. I showed them there were unhinged people like me floating about, did I not? But the OTHER NOTE - why whoever wrote THAT document was a LIAR - a manipulative eel what had already crossed their line. Litlle did I know, of course, that within a few months, I would be in les gendarme office du Boulder, giving samples for comparison with this OTHER note. And so, on a very SUNNY but cold day. I left the Royal Hotel and walked a few blocks down Granville to the bookstore - closed for les Holidays."
"There was a giant wooden barrel of really awful books just inside the door. (When open, they would roll it out on the sidewalk as an advertisement.) Imagine les flaming possibilities if you MUST. And I did look about to see that no one was watching, and I did bend down and shove my note through the mail slot on the door. With that ceremony completed, I had REJECTED this awful idea. What became of that note? I know not. For I trudged onwards through the river of empty parking spaces and onto the bus for Seattle. FATE apparently decided it would be cute, righteous and and good to bowl me over, to overshadow this swallowed misery with corpses AND police IDIOCY; And so, I mock it all......"
Colfax Jail Diary: May 25, 1999
"Onwards Quickly. And so Dare I wuz in Seattle post Xmas. Do Gooders Ė I saw them stopping their cars and placing meals in the chests of the sleeping bums. But I want asleep and didnít look like in bum. And worse Ė I am WITHOUT that thing that would loud me to croak out, "me, Iím stativin Ė I SHO is." Heres A bridge : I should just sizzle over it I means it win ROCKY. And then the sky opened up and brought down the worst blizzared in a hundred years. Scroll for it you fools. Late Dec 96. It was on the front pages of all the papers in the country. A disaster."
"And here I am with a duffle bag full a old writings. ( Dear Clarksburgs) Miserable. And I find this godawful SHELTER on 2nd st. Near the train station. Oh so near the $100 a night hotel Iíd stayed in the previous mouth. Now I Listen to sermons all duh live day, only soís I can eat a plate o potaters and stay warm. The shelter was sa packed with storm refugees I had to sleep on a mat in the bathroom. If someone like Jameson could a come A-walkin along and made eine crack bout gettin a job it would only have been right to inmagine reversin the birthin process- yes- find a "fractured Angel" like Jon Benet And tory and STUFF it on IN HER. But I was not familiar w/ these names."
Colfax Jail Diary: May 26, 1999
"Onwards. The wheels on the bus ground and ground down the Road. Iíd les hideous thing in Seattle. Iíd made the called to my sister the Greyhound money, why Schiller changed "sister" to "father" on page 289 I donít know."
"Anyway, one DOESN"T prattle on bout on fires over temporary cobains in a call like the one Iím talking about. Nopey nope. Not when its happened before. Fill in no blanks. Withdraw. Frozen Robot emerges from Denver bus station. Must go to New Years Party at another sisters house. "Did you hear About the Ramsey girl killed in up Boulder." "Yes, Read about it in Oregonian." Vague sense of followyer in the Sacremento Bee, and in the Reno paper. (I stood by the Raging trucker river for hours on a layover and soon after arrival in Denver the EXACT spot where I stood showed up in an AP photo about flooding. The storms followed me the whole way fill somewhere in UTAH)"
"More and more lets talk about the girl dead in Boulder because I WONT and canít explain how or why I drifted to Canada for the past 2 months. No cabin the woods. Every move monitered for Attitude OR unwillingness to work. And then JEEZY WEEZY comes to the conclusion that its time to reenter les mortuarie business. Iíd been outta that for years But along comes an ad catching my eye in the Denver post. And in NO TIME Iíve got a meat wagon parked in front of my sister and her husbandís suburban house. Here I am a messanger again but this time in a van and with much heavier cargo. Eeeky Squeeeky by cycle long since in a San Francisco junkyard. And with the advent of work the pressure to explain the oh so recent past subsides."
"And the whole temporary canadian adventure could start being buried, but, by and by, the whole thing ends up washing for foreward like a tidal wave and this time the Canada plan actually HAPPENS. Look, people ---click around here somewhere and youíll see a piece of a note I was writing on June 18th in Boulder. For some reason Det. Gosage still has the originals and refuses to let em go oven in violation of Judge Bellipannis order to release them. But doesnít it say right on there "It's Canada day in Boulder." God, how pathetic."