Last Saturday I felt guilty that I slept in because I drank wine, and beer, and liquor the night before, and I smoked two cigarettes so my head ached. Windy, our dirt bag friend, got into LA in the afternoon, but I went to lunch with my old friend who moved to LA last month. We went to Flore and I wondered how they get tofu to taste so good. Mine never tastes like that. Later, we went to Echo Park to meet up with Sean and Veef and some other fools. We played wiffle ball until the sun set. Windy is the most competitive person I’ve ever met. He said ‘Why would I do something if I’m not going to do it the best that I can?’ I think I live my life with the opposite mentality. I don’t like to try too hard because then people will know that I’m trying hard. Yes, I’m a paranoid person with terrible anxiety who would rather not try so that I never fail. It’s really working out for me!
We got home and ordered Thai and I got in bed to watch Jawbreaker. Towards the end of most high school movie set in the 1990s, there’s a prom or homecoming scene where a live rock band plays (Save Ferris, the Donnas, etc.). I always wondered if that was a real thing that happened. I don’t think so. Kenny went to his co-workers housewarming party around eleven; Windy and I stayed in. He didn’t come home until 2am, I know because I can’t sleep if he’s not there. When he did get in bed, he was, as I like to say, stinked out. It comes from this line in a Flannery O’Connor story that says “Break out the booze, kid, let’s get stinky.”
In the morning, I asked him how it went and he said it was weird. It was all dudes, who were either rock musicians or claimed to be really into music, but had somehow never heard of the Clash nor listened to a Rolling Stones album. I am the type of asshole who, upon learning shit like this, will get up and walk away, but Kenny, whose patience and curiosity know no bounds, stayed and marveled at these poor suckers for another two hours. Windy, Kenny and I went downtown to get breakfast at Grand Central Market. I’m not a Grand Central OG by any stretch, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t notice the gradual hipsterfication of the stalls. G&B Coffee, Eggslut, some $10 juice place, and now, Wexler’s Deli. Kenny was stoked for the bagel and lox, but I’m much more of a pastrami sandwich kind of person, so I got the “OG” with sauerkraut. I almost immediately regretted spending $12 on tasted like steamed brisket on rye. Not even close to the level of saltiness I expect in my cured meats.
Of course, the three of us had to take shits as soon as we ate, so we descended to the hellish underground level of the market. A sinewy tweaker dude stood outside the men’s restroom, holding the door open and accepting the quarters needed to get into the restroom into his grimy hand. I tried to squat and hover over the piss-splattered toilet (no seat protectors), but my legs shook so bad I had to wipe down the seat and use toilet paper to craft a makeshift seat-protector. I pooped, leaning to avoid the open gap between the stall door and the jamb. I’d like to say it was the only poop I had to take in a public restroom that day, but it wasn’t. We emerged from the market and sucked down the fresh (?) downtown air as we walked to the Last Bookstore.
Windy stayed with us a few days this week so I interviewed him about Dirt Bagging in Yosemite. We made dinners and played Settlers of Catan. When we were driving home from practice on Wednesday, we started talking about Smash Mouth and Kenny didn’t believe that my dad bought and listened to Astro Lounge a ton when it came out. It’s actually not terrible, guys. I ate at the same Mexican restaurant across the street from my job every day this week because it’s cheap and not disgusting. I called my mom at lunch to tell her our car broke down (again) and I put on my sunglasses so I could cry on the patio while she gave me yet another “you’re good enough and smart enough” pep-talk and I dipped chips into beans and pico de gallo.
Last night Kenny took me to dinner and on the way home we saw a hearse with full tiger-stripe wrap, and a skater eat complete shit at the Sunset Junction intersection. Today we’re going to look at a new house in Highland Park, where we could have a yard and a parking spot and get real domestic. If we like the place and really want it, we’re gonna have to hustle super hard to scrape together the deposit and finagle a way not to pay rent twice. Tomorrow we’re recording with Joel Jerome.
How are you guys holding up? The past two weeks have been insane. What is going on? Some weird cosmic shit?
It hasn’t been all bad. I caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years, Kenny and I made fucking delicious bruschetta, we had enough money to buy two bottles of wine this week, and I learned how to play all the little riffs from “Wicked Game” on guitar. I’m finally at a place in life where I’ve accepted that I’m probably not going to die in five years, or ten years, or even twenty, so I’m feeling less stressed about not knowing what I want to do, and feeling more motivated to do stuff I used to be afraid to do.
Kenny’s been listening to a lot of Static Age this week. When I think about the Misfits, I get a little bummed because I never had a chance to like them before I turned 18. When I got into punk rock, it was via the Buzzcocks and the Clash, not Rancid and the Misfits, which got me teased by boys at school, who called me the ultimate punk insult: poser. Years later when they got into hardcore and all got straight-edge tattoos, I think I had the last laugh. Things changed when I got to high school. The first guy I went out with was because he was wearing a Siouxsie and the Banshees shirt, and the next guy because he liked Devo. Now, though, I’m an adult, and free to scream along to “Hybrid Moments” in my own car with a dude who loves me for it, like we did last night. I even yelled ‘You look like shit!’ at some chicks waiting to cross Sunset, but I think I was speaking to myself.
We went over to Kelly’s to hang out before she went to the Body of Light show and the three of us sat up on her roof and drank wine and watched the tail-end of the sunset. You have to see a fucking sunset in Los Angeles. Kelly decided not to go to the show, and I (as a broke ass) can’t justify spending $10 to go to a show I don’t feel super stoked about. In my heart, I’m such a rock babe. Current music trends don’t touch me in the same way as ‘77 does. I’m not moved by 90s R&B and 80s goth as filtered through a million synths and effects pedals and computer programs I know nothing about. It’s impressive to me that people can use those things to make music, but it doesn’t entice, inspire, or enrage me. Sometimes I’ll go to a show and see music I’ve never heard and enjoy it, but not often. I’ve never bought a record I hadn’t already heard at least a few tracks of. That’s not me.
We ended up going to the Black Cat to get $5 cups of punch, which is spicy and strong, and who knows what the fuck is in it. We ran into Anna and two of her friends and we all walked down to 4100 and all sang along and danced to choice gems (N*Sync, and Usher, and Nelly, among others). On our walk back to the car, I asked Kenny if he could guess which character I’d chosen to be that night, and he wasn’t sure, so I told him ‘Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver’ and he said, ‘But you need a floppy hat.’ We got home and chilled with the cats, then got in bed and watched an episode of Seinfeld I’d never seen before, which, trust me, is rare.
The bright, steaming heat of July is cutting through the fog of June, pushing the gloomy haze to the city’s outer edges. The valleys and south bay beach cities suck down the dust and grime. (Paranoid thought: Is there a weather machine that keeps the smog out of the moneyed stripe from Beverly Hills to Santa Monica? They seem to always have blue skies). I’m feeling better about life and not rolling around like a crying ass baby anymore. Maybe it’s the long weekend. Maybe it’s this Norman Tebbit quote at the beginning of a chapter in White Teeth:
"Are you still looking back to where you came from or where you are?"
Kenny’s grandpa passed away this week. His passing tinted every song with a mournful hollowness. On Wednesday night we drove home from practice with the windows down. The moon, a fat, looming crescent of gold, sitting in its throne; the pollution distorting the midnight sky to a regal purple. Kenny wept and the Bushmills I drank at practice, and the Cozadores I drank before practice, caught up to me. We got home and slept it off.
July 4th we went to Johnny and Caitlin’s for a barbecue. We ate a bunch of chips and drank a bunch of whiskey and beer and hung out with friends and talked about music, and, thank god, did not have to have any “Fuck 4th of July, Fuck America” conversations. I explained to Johnny how I only like about five live albums, and he told me about some rad footage of an acoustic Led Zeppelin set where they play “Friends” and their other mellow, ‘hobbity’ songs. And then, holy shit!, Led Zeppelin is finally on Spotify!
When it got dark, we sat on their front porch and watched the fireworks. From their place we could see the hues and smoke creeping over the hills around the Rose Bowl and the DIY displays from Eagle Rock and Highland Park. I cheered for the ones I liked best (unexpected endings). Scott drove us home and we got McFlurrys, which I forgot about until this morning when I threw something away and saw the McDonald’s cups in our trash can.
Today Kenny and I had to go downtown so he could buy a suit for his grandpa’s funeral. Neither of us come from families where you own a suit just to have. The fashion district on a weekend is such a special place in Los Angeles. Spools of fabric on display on the sidewalks, street meat, men, women, children, fruit, ice cream, insane lingerie, bridal shops, leather, bustling, hustling, bargaining. We walked into the suit shop and the man, whose job is to know, knew exactly which suit would fit Kenny just by looking at him. Kenny tried on two, choosing the first one, a dark gray two-piece. The man recommended a tailor over on tiny Cecelia Street, who would hem the pants for $5. The whole thing cost less than $110.
I’ve been making an effort to be less jaded about new music, so I’ve been listening to Total Control and Mac Demarco non-stop this week. Yeah, Salad Days is pastiche, Kinksy and psychedlic, but not a throw-away dime-a-dozen ‘garage’ rock record. Kenny said he’s just stoked to hear someone who actually knows how to play guitar. I got my first credit card this week and finally filled out the student loan exit interview so I can officially graduate, so I’m feeling these coming-of-age vibes pretty hard.