I will freely admit that for most of my late teens/early 20s, I was an asshole. While it’s not something I’m proud of, not only am I self-aware of this major, yet temporary, character flaw, but I am reminded of it every so often, as if the universe is constantly reminding me, “Hey, Peej, you’re pretty awesome now, but remember, you’re only one step away from being a total douchebag, so WATCH IT.”
I was reminded of this again this morning when, doing my routinely obsessive detailed assessment of web stats for this site, I tracked back a search result for “pj perez + vegas” through Google and found a Yahoo message board thread from 2000 with the title (and I wish I was kidding here) “PJ Perez sucks.” Apparently, I’d incited the Las Vegas goth community — a lot known for their self-confidence, sociability and amazing lack of drama — after writing something about the ever-struggling goth scene in an issue of the CityLife. I must have written something honest, because it really pissed off these kids.
If you do a little hunting, you can find a few of these from that era, a number of which also claim that I was singlehandedly responsible for the downfall of favored Vegas goth band Morgana Athena, just because I happened to be in the band when lead singer/songwriter/co-founder Chris Naser decided to break up the band and pursue a career DJing. But the combination of my role as the band’s producer/publicist/manager and my legendary (NEW WORD ALERT) assholism somehow attracted the blame to me.
It’s funny to me, because I think most people consider me a pretty nice guy at this point. I mean, sure, I’m sarcastic and sometimes brash, but generally I’m awesome, right? Right? Even to the point I’ve been accused of being too positive? But to this day, I’ll run into people who I haven’t talked to in like a decade, and their first response is “Oh no, not this self-centered prick.” Seriously.
But really: I was a poor, struggling adolescent male trying to be a rock star in a scene full of faux-vampires, alcoholics, junkies, manic-depressives and social misfits. Come on, being a dick was practically required.
I guess my point is: I am genuinely sorry to those of you who may have found yourselves in the path of Evil Pj, and I promise, if you’ve been avoiding talking to me for years because of that, I am now as cuddly as Barney the Big Purple Dinosaurus Lovemachnius. Really.
And if you’re still of the mind that I’m a “failed musician” or anything of the sort, might I remind you: I made a career out of the thing I took on (journalism) after allegedly “failing” as a musician, and, OH YEAH, still play music in a band that has thus far done financially and critically better than any before. I hope everything is working out for you, assuming you didn’t die of a crystal meth overdose, finally kill yourself as promised or cannot access the internet because your parents finally threw you out of the basement in which you hid from the sun and society for all those years.
(OK, so maybe I’m still a dick. A little bit.)