A Pistacio, Darkly

The dawn of the 90’s saw the age of the clown begin to pass. Clarabelle was put out to pasture in an old age home. Bozo did Pepto Bismoll commercials in the wee hours of the dawn. Mr Sparkles was found dead and bloated down by the docks, strangled by his own cream pie obsession. A new breed rose to replace the old, and the age of the dark clown began. Before Captain Spaulding fried his first chicken; before Pennywise crawled from the sewers; before ICP crooned to pubescent gothic shitheads; Dark Pistacio ruled the night. His origins, once thought lost to the mists of time, are revealed here for the first time; raw, unbiased and horrible.

            Our story begins at one of the epic interludes from the Goodyear dorm experience that has now become the stuff of legends, if nowhere else than our own minds. One Friday night in October, I was away for the evening and Knaus and Aaron went to a party. Finding it far less amusing without my presence, decided to leave and get into mischief instead. Knaus, in his crafty way, found one of the legendary secret entrances to the catacombs that ran beneath the entire south campus, and though his guile and charm, seduced Aaron into exploration. I know not of what transpired between them beneath the chill dark earth, and have dared not ask.

            The following night it was Knaus’s turn to be absent, so Aaron and I found a frat party to attend. Much like the previous night, and this time without Knaus’s altered state of mind or larceny, we grew bored. Aaron told me of the find the night previous and I insisted we depart for there at once, as he was certain he could find his way back to the secret entrance. Being forewarned that it was damp and muddy beneath the earth, we went back to the room to change. I donned old jeans, combat boots and an army green trench coat that would soon become a familiar sight to all. We descended into darkness in the still dead of night.

            The catacombs, as so misnamed, turned out not to be the pre-Roman labyrinth I had imagined, but simply cruddy old steam tunnels. This made them no less fascinating and we set forth with unabashed expectation and zealous glee. The tunnels were filthy and it did not take long to become encrusted in dirt, dust and cobwebs. At one point the tunnels reduced in height to a mere 3 feet, necessitating crawling for several dozen yards though wet mud, taking care to avoid the steaming hot pipes inches above our heads. By the time we emerged to a portion of normal height once again, we were sights to behold. Drying mud smeared my coat, jeans (now torn), face and hair, which though action of sweat and mud had gone wildly askew. We were, however, quite lost.

            We came upon a door in a dark hallway that led nowhere. It was though this door that I entered and Dark Pistacio, as yet unnamed, emerged for the first time. Leaving Aaron behind to let me back in, worried it would lock behind me, I paused for a moment, then kicked it open and burst forth into a basement washroom. A scrawny man wheeled about from the unexpected commotion that shattered his perceived solitude in measuring out detergent. “Where am I?” the apparition before him demanded. His eyes went wide for the thing had emerged from a doorway marked ‘Danger – Asbestos – No Entry!’ and appeared to have been there since said asbestos was first installed. ‘P-p-p-pritchard hall…” he stammered weakly. Before the haunting creature could be questioned, he flung open the door and dove dramatically headlong and airborne though it. I expect that poor schnook probably still tells the tale of his near escape from the wildman beneath campus, albeit leaving out the spontaneous urination.

            Emboldened by the rush of causing shock and dismay to itinerant midnight launderers, I lusted over the idea of locating more. Feeling Aaron was only slowing me down; I took the next opportunity when crawling though a low point to move extra quickly and broke into a sprint upon emerging. Picking forks at random, I lost both him and myself. My luck did not pan out and I was able to neither locate nor scare anyone else that evening and eventually became locked out of the tunnels when emerging into the dental building, having carelessly allowed the door the close behind me. Returning back to the room I shed my new disguise and went to bed.

            The following weekend we were challenged by Dan Mooney to come up with impromptu costumes to attend our first Rocky Horror Halloween bash. Dan was a cast member of the geekish troupe and took to dressing up as Roadkill the Clown for some reason even though the character he was meant to portray did no such thing. The original intention was that I would become the superhero Electrocuted Man with Aaron as my faithful sidekick, Cabin Boy. This idea was put to pasture as I did not have funds to paint myself blue and the whole Cabin Boy thing had  too much of a homoerotic feel to it. Rushed for ideas, my mind harkened back to the previous weekend and with great agility, was able to piece the underground wildman concept together with the notion of Dan’s character Roadkill. Liquidating my savings of beer cans, I purchased cheap greasy makeup, red hair dye, a black foam nose, and a marker with which to write a ‘Kick Me’ sign to affix to my back. A name was needed, both sinister and mysterious that would convey the dread I brought to the table. Dark Pistacio was christened. [Editors note: Yes, the author knows this isn’t the same spelling as the nut and that it should technically be Dark Pistachio, but there was no spell checker back then and the name has since entered the common vernacular, so just deal with it.]

            The outfit was key to the Pistacio look. Army green trench coat; single fingerless glove; torn jeans; pit stained tee shirt bearing the pithy saying ‘Sucks to Be You!’. Next came the make up; inexpertly applied and horrendous, appearing smeared on by a blind, fingerless sloth. Only two colors would grace the countenance – black and white- aside from the many locations in which they smeared together into ashen grey. My hair at the time was nearly shoulder length allowing for it to be coiffed up and out, in the appearance of having been the result of curious fingers in a socket. Unknowingly, Knauses economy sized cans of shellac and spray often contributed heavily to the cause. It was only on this first official venture that the black foam nose was donned and the hair dyed as they were soon discarded in favor of a  more ‘Lobo’ like appearance, aping the popular and ultra-violent DC comics creation. The Pistacio philosophy was steal an idea and debase it to the point where the original author was too disgusted to lay further claim.

            The first outing at Rocky was a smash success. We spent the evening in the dorms imbibing liberally in anticipation of the grand event. By 11:00 PM Dan and I took to the bathroom to don our makeup, he applying his with surgical precision and I mine with reckless abandon. A fine sight we represented coming forth from our unicorn and rainbow adorned door. Two evil clowns trailed by a dead hunter, the Crow, and not to be forgotten, a French maid with an Adams apple the size of a Denver omelet. For Paul, Aaron and I, this was our first trip to the legendary Rocky Horror, and first meeting with the dubious characters that acted out the scenes from week to week for no pay and less respect. Pistacio was about to find his true element.

            Entering the Amherst theater my first sight was of a somewhat attractive bottom heavy redhead wearing nothing but her skivvies and fishnet thigh-hi’s. I was instantly enthralled with the culture, although less so after spying none other than nebbish Larry Fein in the exact same getup sometime later. That evening I had the opportunity to meet all sorts of characters of the type whom Pistacio would feel right at home. As per custom when entering Mooney’s world, Christian names were shunned in favor of more memorable monikers. Where else then could one meet both a Monkeyhead (male) and Monkeyjaw (female) in the same room and find them not related? Aside from people with simian features, I was also introduced to Dr. I (or Eye – never been sure which), Jeff Death, Pretentious Ben, and the memorable Mr. Brian Y., whose presence and sheer force of character rendered the use of a colorful nickname unnecessary.

            Those of us considered to be ‘Rocky Virgins’ had been somewhat forewarned by JP, who in this setting looked considerably less ridiculous in the French maid costume, of what to expect. We came armed with dry goods a plenty to chuck at predetermined times at other viewers, and also managed to smuggle in some beer as well given that none of the staff were too eager to pat down a belligerent unwashed clown. Where most viewers stuck to the script, getting out of their seats at only the rule designated times, as Pistacio I felt no such need to comply and enjoyed myself by tormenting other patrons to the best extent of my ability. Fueled by the evenings consumption and both inspired and protected by brother Roadkill, I made a complete and thorough nuisance of myself. I think the other viewers must have thought me part of the act and though that misconception held back from throttling me as I grated on them in a Beetlejuicesque manner. Saying my name three times only served to excite me all the more.

            After the show was over, we received a backstage invite to the weekly cast party held at Denny’s on Delaware. This location, convenient to the bus routes, was frequented by so many freaks, goons and douche bags that our presence was unremarkable. On our way in, Monkeyjaw took full advantage of the sign on my back and planted her boot half way up my tuckus, ensuring the accoutrement would be disused thereafter. Spending quality time with the cast made me realize they were not just ordinary people like you and me beneath the costumes, but certifiably insane ne’er-do-wells and borderline criminals that had somehow found each other and had in the darkness been bound by a poorly acted cult movie. I wish I could say that Todd Browning’s immortal scene from ‘Freaks’ had come to life that night with Jeff, Kevin, the Monkey Faces, Brian, Dan and all pounding on the tables, shouting ‘One of us! One of us!’, but it was simply not so. I slept very well that night.

            Although it should not have, it came to a surprise to me when Dan informed me that my irritating disruptions to their finely honed pantomime acting was appreciated by the cast and that they were hoping I would return. I believe exception was found in Pretentious Ben Pierce, who feared any additional power Mooney would gain with an ally. I had considered Pistacio a one time deal, dismantled and boxed away until the next Halloween season, if ever. The release of behaving badly in disguise however proved to be a tempting fruit and I was often swayed into making appearances. Ben was in many of my classes, and the opportunity to irritate him at night as he did me in the daylight hours was attractive. Having never seen me without the makeup, I don’t believe he ever put together that Pistacio and I were one in the same. I managed to keep myself disguised from the most of the rest of the cast that way, aside from key members of Dan’s inner circle; the fledgling group that would soon evolve into the powerful Dashwood Society

            . While other things were left in the sophomoric confines of Goodyear, Dark Pistacio found his way over to Comstock with us and continued to make a general nuisance of himself at Rocky from time to time. Winters put an end to that as the walk was long and the trench coat provided little warmth. I would often dress at the house and walk as Pistacio down Comstock to Dan’s or directly to Rocky. People generally crossed to the other side of the street once they drew close enough to get a good look at the grotesque sight coming toward them. For a period, Dan was able to use his cast status to smuggle in a fake sawed off shotgun, which I would use to scare the patrons. Nothing like realistic weaponry to really up the pants wetting factor of a very disturbed looking, and painted, individual. The use of this came to an end one evening when Sue, a girl passed to and fro between Dan and Matt, became annoyed with my antics and used it to clock me over the head.

            As time went on, Pistacio’s appearances became fewer and fewer. Factional infighting at Rocky finally resulted in the Dashwood cabal leaving Rocky for good to seek mischief elsewhere. Pistacio, whose loyalties lay firmly within that circle, was outcast as well. Pretentious Ben was left to lord over the remaining tools who could not see the light of unreason. The essence of Dark Pistacio; the army green trench coat, the fingerless glove, and the ‘Sucks to Be You!’ shirt have been lost to the cruel hands of time and many moves, and were it not for this telling, may have passed from legend and forgotten.

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27 Responses

  1. Now this story is embellished just a tad! I recall us both coming back from the catacombs when we finally reached a point with two large pipes blocking the pass. While we had squeezed through such obstacles earlier down the hall, the pipes grew increasingly larger and this time they were extremely hot to the touch. Luckily the long trek in the catacombs had woken us out of our drunkenness enough to not get ourselves lodged between two very hot pipes.

    FYI, Roadkill the Clown was a comic in the UB weekly magazine, it was not the Spectrum (the newspaper that circulated 3 times a week)… OH the Generation! How did I remember that?

    Wolf, you cannot but an editor’s note to your own writing!

    Many of the weirdoes from Rocky Horror became the same weirdoes later infamous for The Dashwood Society, The Church of Unconscious Revelations, and the endless parade of kooks showing up at the door of 231 Comstock for the next 2 years.

    At least one other story of Pistacio is left untold; that being the night Pistacio was so drunk by the time we attempted to enter Rocky Horror the female employee manning the theater door would not let us in. It had taken two of us to carry drunken Pistacio across the street, while I has doing a very poor job of smuggling beer in as I fumbled and continually dropped the cans out of my very obviously overfilled jacket. Anyway, when the female employee would not let us in, Pistacio let loose with a threat I have never heard before, “I’m gonna find your family and throw rocks!”

  2. OK, let’s get things straight here:

    1) I clearly recall ditching you in the manner I described, so the large pipe thing must have been with Knaus.

    2) The clown in the Generation was Beppo and Roadkill was his cat. I think I actually still have an issue with him in it.

    3) Now as for the ‘untold’ story, didn’t we agree with Louis to ‘self-moderate’ those things that we felt may be viewed negatively now that life circumstances have changed?

  3. No, the large pipe was definitely with you. I never entered the catacombs with Knaus.

    Yes we did, but how is Pistacio being drunk and carried around any more embarrassing than any of the other stories? I think we have all uncovered things here so far that warrant Police questioning. However, if you like I will remove that part.

  4. Yeah, I don’t see that story as worse than the other stories. I thought we were mainly self-moderating things which might be difficult to explain to people or awkward around women. Being drunk is normal in college, no?

  5. I remember nothing of the catacombs. I remember Paul’s earlier escapades under the Walden Galleria mall. Tunnels that most people would call sewers, I believe.

  6. Aaron, are you sure about that? As I recall, the only reason we knew of and found the catacombs that night is because you had found them with Knaus the previous night. How else would we have known where the door was?

    I was with Paul when we traversed beneath the Galleria, and that truly did resemble catacombs with the big support pillars. Jeff S. was going to explore with us, but freaked out withing the first 4 feet and turned back. This may have partially been because the only light we had was one of those key chain flashlights where you have to hold down the button the whole time. It wasn’t so much a sewer but an accommodation for a creek that previously occupied the area. You can see the entrance if you enter the Galleria drive entrance off the 90 and look right as you turn in to the parking lot.

  7. Yes, Knaus found the Goodyear catacombs, but I am positive I never entered until that time I entered with you. I was going past the door that lead to the boiler room that lead to the catacombs when Knaus told me he had entered there and found the catacombs the previous night, by himself. You know Knaus, he would not share that glory. I asked him to show me the entrance, and semi-surprisingly he did, but we did not enter. I planned to come back at a better time (not the middle of the day).

  8. Did the tunnels lead out to another building or not?

  9. Yes, the catacombs went from under Goodyear under the Triad buildings, and we as far as the dental building. The tunnels continued further in that direction, but we could not pass the two giant, hit pipes blocking the tunnel.

  10. I saw a diagram of them once – they go all the way out to the boiler plant that is actually on Winspear near Comstock and has that tall clock tower looking chimney.

    I recant my earlier assertion about the big hot pipes. I now recall that although I did escape Aaron for some time, he caught up to me when I got to the hot pipes and wasn’t sure how to proceed.

    We attempted to enter the catacombs another time in the spring, but were suprised by the Man when we opened the door. We made the dubious claim that we were looking for the tunnel to the other dorm, which was met with raised eyebrows, and fortunatly no arrests.

  11. Yes! I forgot about that. Similar to the time we had a key to get onto the roof of Fronzak to watch fireworks on the 4th. We tried again the next year and as we entered the roof and tried to climb the latter to the higher tier a campus security agent appeared. Ivan tried to continue up the ladder anyway, but the agent just stepped on the top rung.

  12. I recall many drunken escapades with Dark Pistacio (sic). If he were to be reincanated now it would be Darth Pistacio. Or that is to say I half remember many escapades, as we would be so drunk it was mainly a blur.

    We passed out in the alley beside the theater several times, adn always would try to hit on women. One particular time, it was a troup of lesbians, and we drunkenly decided that all that they needed was a real man, so we went over in our clown makeup and made asses of ourselves.

    Another time I remember you had some women shave an S into your chest hair, at the beginning of the show.

    I don’t remember Monkey Jaw however. If it is the same girl I’m thinking of (With the deformed face) we called her Cheese Grater Jaw, because it was siad, “Getting a blow job from her, would be like masterbating with a cheese grater.”

  13. The S reminds me of the time Wolf used a trial size bottle of Nare hair remover to make an S in his chest. This was at Princeton. I was watching TV and out of the corner of my eye I see Wolf in a towel waiting with w grin on his face until I turned to see his hairy chest with an S.

  14. The S came out brilliantly by the way. Enough so that I repeated the process several times and even well into the Air Force Years.

    The Comstock pictures section has a nice shot of the time we engaged the lesbian couple, who patiently tolerated our antics.

    Monkey Jaw and Cheese Grater Jaw were the same woman. I’m sure I didn’t come up with Monkey Jaw on my own, so it must have been another cast member.

  15. I remember Monkey Jaw. Schultz may have used that term.

  16. Hey, I was wondering how exactly you got into the Goodyear catacombs. I currently go to UB and me and a group of friends are trying to figure out how to get into the tunnel system.

  17. OK, we are going back about 16 years now, but when we went there and dormed in Goodyear, the entrances were hidden in plain sight. the doors looked like any other in a basement hallway and were virtually indistinguishable from any other. We entered through Goodyear. If I recall, to find the door, take the center stairwell down to the basement. Straight ahead are the mail boxes lined up on the right and there used to be a small caffeteria called ‘the Spot’ on the left side. Rather than go down that hall, hook to the right and you will see a door. That is it. It’s generally locked and I don’t recall if we got lucky or our friend jimmied it open as he was pretty adept at such things.

    If you do get in there, I would highly recommend you wear something you really don’t care about. My descriptions in this post are accurate – red hot poorly insulated pipes; all manner of insects, spiderwebs and such; and the dreaded sections that are only 3 feet high necessitating a belly crawl. I think being drunk for that portion is a good idea as it can be difficult to psych yourself into squirming your way though a pitch black oubliette with no visible end.

    If you make it in there, do us a favor and write back. Take pics if it occurrs to you as well.

    Finally, be advised that public safety occasionally checks out the non crawling portions. The last time we went down there we were opening the door just as an officer was coming out (I think they pee in there as well; it certainly smelled like it). We acted confused as if we were looking for the connection to Clement’s and he bought it. Also, if you exit, the door usually locks behind you.

  18. I also just found this:

    http://www.sucf.suny.edu/project/campus/buf-sout/prj28345.shtml

    Looks like the old tunnels have gone though a bit of modernization, so they might no be so heinous anymore.

  19. This all sounds correct from my recollection, but I remember the entrance door being at the opposite end of the hall as the mailboxes/Spot. You go down the stairs and then you would turn left to walk down a hall, at the end of which was the mailboxes/Spot, but before you turn left to walk down the hallway there door is there. There may be a little alcove to the right to get ti it.

  20. we were actually investigating tonight and thought that that door might be it. If we go down the stairs and take the right where that small hallway is, is it the first door in that odd hallway?

  21. also, what were these tunnels originally used for and why are they all locked up?

  22. Yes, I do think that is it. Again, please let us know if you make it!

    The purpose of the tunnels is to transfer heat in the form of steam from the main power plant over near Windspear. I believe all the buildings on the South Campus are heated this way. The tunnels are there to allow for maintenance so that the pipes don’t need to be dug up every time there is a problem.

    I’m pretty sure they are locked up as a safety concern. The last thing the university wants to to have some drunken idiot wedge himself between two hot pipes and get baked to death. You know, like we almost did.

  23. Someone told me they were originally built for people to pass through during the winter to get to classes and such. I didn’t think it was true because of all of the hot pipes and things. Also do you know any interesting stories about ub? When we research things it seems as though there is nothing at all online about anything. We found this odd. We live in Goodyear and heard that a few people jumped off the tenth floor. Do you know anything about this?

    Also, when was this small cafeteria called the Spot open and why’d it close? Where exactly was it located?

  24. Ah yes, the old winter tunnel story… Definitly not true, but that story was around when I was living in Goodyear in ’91-’92, which is why of course we went looking.

    You are right though, not many interesting stories on line, except a blog post here and there. If you want to see some others right here, I would recommend clicking on the ‘Goodyear’ catagory in the sidebar to the left. You will find a whole bunch of them, including best of all, a recounting of how we managed to blow up the toilet in the suite of 709 East. It’s titled, “Yes, I Said We Blew Up the Toilet“.

    I remember a 10th floor jump rumor when I was there too, so that was probably going around for a while. Never found any truth to it. We never tried that. The closest we came was launching water balloons and other sundry items (including a cinder block) out the window with a home made funnelator.

    The Spot was located in the basement right across from the mail boxes and the video rental place which is also probably long gone. What is there now? There was also a story that one of the buildings, I think maybe the original Main Streen Lockwood used to have bowling allys that were still there but sealed off. Never managed to find those either.

  25. Was the Spot open when you went to school? I know that there are two sets of double doors across from the mailboxes. Were those both part of this cafeteria? Our dining hall is on the first floor so it’s odd that there used to be a cafeteria below in the basement. There’s nothing in the basement now but the gym. Did there really used to be a video rental place down there?

  26. Yes it was and they had the best spiced waffle fries with cheese I’ve ever had. I think they were only open weekend mornings and served plenty of greasy “hangover cure” food. Those double doors were part of the cafeteria and I imagine it’s actually still behind them. The first floor dining hall was there when we were as well. I don’t think there was a gym in the basement back then though and I’m guessing it’s probably where the video rental place was. The video place was actually a mini-mart/ video rental with most convenience store items. It had erratic and unreliable hours and I think was actually run by the SA, which was somewhat of a corrupt organization back in the day.

    It isn’t written anywhere (or maybe I mentioned it in the ‘Academia Waltz’ post) and her name has been stricken from the records of past SA presidents, but one of them was formally impeached for draining the treasury over the summer and trying to cover it up. Her name began with an H I remember (Heather or Hillary I think), and it was a pretty big scandal at the time, but quickly brushed under the rug. She came after Bryan Foulke and his ubiquitous “working together we can make a difference” campaign we grew to hate, and was succeeded b Joe Fox, her VP.

    Did you find the tunnels?

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