The door opened for me on a hill in the common area of my Junior High School in late 1980. A guy who I had recently met and would become a lifelong friend was playing Black Flag – I didn’t know who it was, I just knew that it was what I had been waiting for. Stripped down, fast, visceral, fucking pissed off and unashamedly Californian. It spoke to me and took me on a journey that has done nothing but gather inertia to this very moment. The people, places, and things that I came across on this journey would run across all types, but for the first half of my journey there were generally three central themes: Music, Drugs, and Crime. This is a story of one man/child that changed me forever.
Around 1982/83 I was 14/15 and still in North County San Diego, attending the intensely violent shows downtown on a regular basis and obsessing over every record from across the world that I could get my hands on. Drugs were a part of my daily life, with speed becoming a common refrain in my attempts to connect with a distant world. The shows downtown were very intimidating – there was a gang that ran everything at the shows and they would regularly beat people down, “tax” them of their boots or jackets, attack touring bands, and generally make life miserable for us kids. The same situation existed at house parties – it made life treacherous. But for awhile, that dynamic changed for me – enter Mika Edwin Jay.
He came around as the part time boyfriend of a girl I knew. He and I hit it off immediately. We had an unspoken understanding. He was about 3 years older than me and he was tough as nails; he refused to take a bit of shit from anyone. We used to take acid and go out and wreck shit. Mainly, I would find the shit and he would wreck it. Stealing cars, breaking and entering – all things that I don’t usually associate with LSD, but when Mika and I were together that was the focus – and oh yeah, fighting. Now fighting and acid go hand and hand, as any non-peaceful soul knows. But Mika excelled at this aspect of survival. He was pretty big, but more than that he was deadly accurate, and loved – fucking loved – to fight. Suddenly, going around to parties and gigs was safe for me, because my friend was the meanest guy in the room and he was fiercely loyal. He wouldn’t let anyone even look at me sideways. His protection allowed me to grow as a young man and it taught me how important that role is for people, to provide shelter and shade for someone so they can grow.
Our connection ran deep, but he was from Long Beach, and when he and my friend split up it coincided with me moving to Oakland and we lost contact – keep in mind this is the 80’s. A few years later, I ran into a mutual friend of ours who told me the Mika had passed away from a heroin overdose. I mourned his death; he and I had experimented with dope and I knew he had a strong pull towards it. So I accepted the news.
About 5 years later, Neurosis was playing a particularly violent and packed show, and the onstage security guy walked over to me between songs and says into my ear, “you want I should get down in there and straighten some of them fuckers out?” My ears were ringing, but I knew that voice. I turned to the man who was speaking to me and I saw an unmistakable, albeit much bigger, profile. I said “What’s your name?” He says “Mika Edwin Fucking Jay,” I said “Mika, I’m Scott Kelly!”.He turned and we had a reunion onstage in the middle of the gig. He the grabs the mic and says, “This is my friend! If any of you little fucking punks want to fuck up this gig I’m gonna beat all your asses! Nobody fucks with my friends!” At that point, someone said something, and he did exactly what he promised he would do and got himself fired and ejected from the venue.
After that encounter, we ran into each other every time Neurosis was in town. I don’t know if you guys have these friends like I do that I put in the, “You can’t take them anywhere” category. Mika was the top of this list in my world. He had spent a lot of time locked up and it had aggravated his inability to deal with people and their weaknesses.
After awhile, I didn’t see him anymore. I’m not sure that I ever will again. Thanks for watching over me, big brother.