Garden Grove, California

Garden Grove by Sublime

Waking up to an alarm
Sticking needles in your arm
It really says something about what a genius we lost in Bradley Nowell, when Sublime's songs are still being played and raved about today. The song "Garden Grove" is track #1 of Sublime's third album, also self-titled Sublime.

And as most any music enthusiast knows, by the time this album hit the streets in July of 1996, Bradley Nowell had been dead for two months from heroin overdose at the age of 28. He lived just long enough to finish the album and sign the contract, Sublime's only commercial record deal (the first two albums were self-published and sold out of the trunk of Nowell's car). He never lived to hear his songs get broad commercial radio station airplay, which only started with this album.

Statue of Moses at Crystal Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, California<br>photo: Klodien, DreamstimeStatue of Moses at Crystal Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, California
photo: Klodien, Dreamstime
If that isn't bad enough timing: He had only been married to his wife, Troy Dendekker, less than two weeks, she having borne his son, Jakob James Nowell, in June of 1995. Which means Jakob got to know his father just eleven months before he was gone. The Sublime CD comes with a booklet inside the cover, with photos of the band. It is impossible to look at the photo of Bradley sitting on the bed, strumming his guitar and singing to his happy infant son, and not get a lump in your throat.

This song is about Garden Grove, California. Even if it seems like something else that's only tangentially related to Garden Grove, it really does concern Garden Grove with every verse. Located in the heart of Orange County, California, Garden Grove has a half-joking nickname amongst the locals: Garbage Gulch. While the city does boast Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral as well as being only a few blocks south of Disneyland, the rest of Garden Grove has degenerated over the years into an almost but not-quite slum. Gangs and drugs do indeed run rampant, and law enforcement is only able to curtail the activities so much.

The 22 Freeway runs right through the middle of Garden Grove, like a spine on a salamander, and it is a common sight on an afternoon commute along here to see prisoners in orange vests picking up trash, which is where the line "Picking up trash on a freeway" comes from. The Orange County animal shelter is right at the east end of Garden Grove, in the area known as Orange Crush for the freeways that come together there, so "Picking my dog at the pound" is another thought common to the area.

Then of course there's "Living in a tweeker pad," "Finding roaches in the pot," and "Sticking needles in your arm," all drug references. A "tweeker" is a methamphetamine ("speed") addict, and "tweeking" is what you're doing when you're buzzed on the stuff and prone to undertake massive projects in your restless state which you lack the comprehension to finish, such as rebuilding your engine or ridding the US economy of the Federal Reserve. We don't have to explain that "roaches" are small butts of smoked joints from marijuana ("pot") or that "Sticking needles in your arm" is what a heroin addict does, do we?

By the way, picking his dog up at the pound was something Bradley was likely to do. His Dalmatian, Lou-Dog, was brought up many times in Sublime lyrics; here it's "Lou-Dog" smelling up the van in the second verse. Lou-Dog was to outlive his master until 2001, just a few days after what all Americans remember as "9/11." Bookend that fact with the fact that when Sublime played their very first gig in Long Beach in the Fourth of July, 1988, it started the "Peninsula Riot."

Do you believe in curses now?

Cenarth Fox
July 3, 2009

Comments: 7

  • Fabio from SÃo Paulo BrazilI think that the line "finding roaches in the pot" means the dirt of the place where heavy drug users (like meth and heroin) live. It must not be a reference to finding a cheap in a marijuana sack. By the way, the song is incrediblely autobiographical and the site brings a sensitive contribution to the band fans when attempting to explain the references. tks
  • Bradley from Long BeachThe "finding roaches in the pot" refers to finding a burnt out roach in a bag of fresh weed, which would then cause the entire bag to smell like roaches rather than fresh weed. To add insult to injury when you then smoked this fresh weed it would taste like burnt weed and have a distinct "toasted" flavor that is generally unpleasant. So it is a drug reference. Or it could be referring to cochroaches in pots. Either way works.
  • Jill from MenifeeRoaches in the pot is referencing the brick weed that usually came from T.J. Sometimes when breaking up a brick, you find find roaches packed in. lol
  • Tony from Chicago Finding roaches in the pot is referring to cockroaches, sublime has many drug references but this isn't one of them as that whole ending verse is about the bad things that come along with drug use and s--tty situations. I don't think that Bradley is referring to finding the ends of joints, roaches, in the toilet is bad, but what does suck is that when someone is living that type of lifestyle they generally live in crappy cheap places that have cockroaches Come on people if you lobe Bradley then just listen to the music and you will come to understand it. For those who have never tweaked (made strange or irrational choices from being to high off of amphetamines, methamphetamines, crack, or any other intense upper) or those who have never shot heroin and nodded off, or those who have never been drunk by noon, well for those people I'm sorry but there are so Mr things about mine and Bradley's subcultures that you can never understand or appreciate so stop trying.
  • J from UsI always thought "finding roaches in the pot" was a drug reference as well, especially knowing how often this subject came up in so many songs and even in this one it's surrounded by such references. However, I think it's actually more literal. Roaches are Roach bugs and pot is pots and pans (dishes). This allures to living in a dirty, unkempt home. Additionally, marijuana smokers would be unlikely to find or say finding roaches (smoked joints) in the pot (marijuana). This sentence is backwards, per se, since pot would go into the roaches.
  • Ian from Rio De Janeiro - Brazilwow man, this page is awesome! how craaazy was bradley's lifee man
  • Sarah from Floridathis Pthis page is very knowledgeable i learned something about the song i love. thanks
see more comments