I pointed the Mercedes punkeast and smogward. La Ciudad de Los Angeles. The City of Angels. Ha. That’s rich. The bitchy irony starts at the name, and doesn’t stop until the wino piss puddles around your Hollywood sidewalk star. Always hated the place. After 20 years of trying to make it work, you just know, Los Angeles, it’s not me. It’s you.
Where else will you see a fifty-one year old man driving a Mercedes to a Reagan Youth show? Like I said, always with the bitchy irony. Just a nasty city.
Turned off the satellite radio. Too many choices. I’d rather listen to nothing. Nothing but the sound of my mind grinding gears as it pushes boulders up steep inclines. Only to have them roll back down. Crushing and destroying everything in their path. Including the equipment operator.
Deep in thought I was. Too deep for tunes. Dint want the distraction. Twas a busy day at Monkey Mind Construction.
So what’s the deal here? What’s the angle? How do I approach this little outing? What do I have to do? More importantly, what should I not do? How can I avoid having any regrets? Am I too old for this? Am I still “punk as fuck?” Is eight car lengths safe enough? Is it too late to invest in the Gerber Baby Grow-up Plan? What if I have to fight a guy with an ax? What do I have in the car that would give me a chance? How about one of the dumbbells in the trunk? Really? Against an ax? Why not one of the ten pounders wielded like a war-hammer?
Why am I planning on having to fight a guy with an ax? When that almost never happens.
Just a lot of questions. Few answers. I didn’t need the Margaritaville or New Age Spa station to interfere with hearing any either. Silence was golden. Especially before tonight. I had a sneaking hinky that I was in for an aural assault. Reagan Youth, 13 Scars, Dust Angel, and a couple of other bands. I estimated about at least five hours of music beaten into my skull before it was all over.
Yeah, we’ll keep the radio off. Save the ear bones a little wear-and-tear. Good chance to pay attention to my driving. Hands at ten and two. Ankle holding the pedal at a steady 70. Check rear-view. Side one. Wup. Brake light flashing 2.500 feet ahead. Ease up on the gas. Hover over brake. Not required. Continue to depress accelerator.
Only thirty-two more miles. I just might make it. Is that a cop?
Even with a valid license, current registration, proof of insurance, and not being drunk, I still drive like I could get pulled over and hauled off to jail. Can’t help it. Some groove I cut deep into the limbic part of my brain. I remember getting a flat tire the first year I was sober. I was by the side of the road changing it, when a CHP pulled up behind me. Oh fuck. Both my feet jerked hard left, ready to start running across the ice plant.
Hold on. You haven’t done anything wrong. Nothing is wrong with you. And you don’t have anything wrong inside the car. You are merely a motorist in distress. And not over the fact that Xanax slows down your backwards ABCs.
Well, he had pulled over to see if he could help. Even let me use his jack so I didn’t have to deal with the Japanese can-opener that came with my car. We had some laughs over that. He turned out to be a cool copper. It felt strange waving good-bye to him as I drove off.
Good citizenshiphood is a trip alright. And not too bad a deal. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against outlaw stuff. I remember this one time I broke a law. And it was deeply satisfying. It’s just the constant tap-dancing required to maintain the life-style that gets tiring. So does getting busted. Being broke. Hungry. Hunted. Haunted.
Trying to find the gun you hid while in a black-out.
“The last thing I remember is thinking ‘nobody will ever find it here,’ then the film breaks. Please St. Anthony, help me find my gun.”
Having to thank Him after you find it in the microwave. Feeling weird that you had to pray. For that.
Yeah, all that shit pretty much blows. I’ll put on my Mr. Rogers sweater instead. The loafers too. Did he change into loafers or sneakers? I can’t remember. As soon as I find a safe place to pull over I’ll Google it on my phone. I watched enough of that show as a kid, you’d think I’d remember.
At night before going to sleep, I’d fantasize about lying down flat across Trolley, so I could ride it through the tunnel into the Neighborhood of Make Believe. (There’s a Fellini image) Once inside, I’d run amok and destroy the place. Twist off King Friday’s head and proclaim myself the new Emperor. Kid Caligula. I’d imagine bashing in or burning down every cute little building. One by one. The castle. The grandmother clock in the tree. The rocking chair factory. The platypus mound. The Eiffel Tower. That rotating columned cake thing that Lady Elaine lived at. I think it was some museum or shit. Doesn’t matter. I would reduce it all to smoldering ruins. Turn the Neighborhood of Make Believe into…Stalingrad.
Is that a normal fantasy for a seven-year-old boy? Probably not normal for a normal one. But normal for me.
Anyway, I turned out okay. So I don’t think there was any lasting harm in it. Okay, start signaling for your lane change. Plenty of warning for everybody. Thank you Mr. Pancho Villa Mustache Dude for letting me in. Wave the thank you hand to him. Did he see it?
“That’s right, bro. You’re cool!” Give him thumbs up. Nod. Mucho gratitudo, dude.
Did I mention I didn’t want to be driving to Hollywood to see a punk rock show? No? Well, truth be told, I’d rather be toasting my moccasins in front of a roaring fire tonight. Watching some show about living in Alaska or prison. My girlfriend snoring just enough to let me know she’s not dead. My cats curled around me. Both of them radiating their serenity, as my sister described “like two incense cones of coziness.”
Yeah, Mr. Destroy-Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood would rather be home with his woman and kitty cats.
Instead of a punk rock show.
Wow, that sounds really lame. I need to make sure nobody finds out. Vault that shit right now. Right there with The Phone Sex Incident. Bury it deep.
Fact is, I’m doing this as an act of contrary action. Choosing to go out into the world and connect with friends. Instead of continuing to isolate in my comfort zone. I feel an obligation. That it’s important to do. Especially when I don’t feel like it. It’s my small offering upon the altar of Faith Above Reason. Connecting without fear of consequence. It’s pretty insane. Punk as fuck. Actually.
Here we go. This is beginning to feel more tawdry. Must be getting close. I need Sunset. Three miles. Signal. Look over the left shoulder. Right shoulder. Rear-view. Side-view. Right shoulder again. Begin merging. Done.
It was sneakers not loafers. Well they were more like deck shoes. That’s what he changed into after he put on his sweater. But did he put his sweater on first? Pretty sure. Yeah. He goes straight to the closet, takes off his sport coat, puts on the sweater, then sits down and changes his shoes. That was the proper protocol. For a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Glad I straightened that out. No Google either.
At least I was getting some answers. Not to anything important. Yet. But I should keep listening.
I exited on Sunset and turned right. My motel wasn’t too far. Good. I’ll have time to take a nap.
Before the big show.
(to be continued.)