Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Los Angeles

I apologize for lackluster* posts previewed by Travel Day #5. I think we’ve hit the exhaustion Point Break starring Patrick Lazy and Christopher Reeve. For instance, I’ve spent the last 5 minutes trying to remember what I ate for lunch. Not that I would share it, but it speaks of a fuzziness that is surrounding large chunks of my days of late.

We had to leave for LA at 4:00 so that gave us some time to kill. Lisa and John went shopping for gifts, Chuck hung around, Joe taught orphaned immigrant children how to properly bunt down at the mission, and I remember only two things, sitting on the beach reading and combating my innate distrust of sunscreen to do its stated job, and pulling an air mattress onto the little hotel deck and taking a nap.

Peanut Butter. That’s what it was.

Then we left for LA. So LA traffic really does suck dimpled donkey dongs. Who knew? It’s a cliché so I’m not going to try to “riff” on traffic. There was no road rage, no toplessness by either gender, no stars of stage and screen, just lots of people resolutely staring forward.

We were playing the Silver Lake Lounge in the Silver Lake neighborhood of East Hollywood. During the show I ask what part of LA we were in. Primarily out of curiosity but also because I hoped it might stir a little shit up. We weren’t in a very talkative mood that night so it helps if the audience takes over. Anyway, apparently there is a bit of a tiff between the “real” East LA, to be found east of the Los Angeles River and the East Hollywoodies who I guess are appropriating the title. I don’t know, there is a limit to what one can learn on the sidewalk after a show. Silver Lake is a neighborhood suffering a large influx of hipsters but still retains what seems like a fair amount of economic and racial diversity. Gentrification, a word that sounds like urine soaked bed sheets and food ground into pablum, but actually is something that pisses a lot of people off. Why in poorer neighborhood does a rising tide seem to leave so many behind? Is it a more street level version of trickle down? In which case it’s no surprise it doesn’t work. However, from what I’ve observed the seeds of the economic revival usually starts with mom and pop type operations before the bigger money comes in.  And that seems like a good thing of course. I really don’t know. If someone has a good lay-person article about all this I’d like to read it.

It was to be a five-band night. LA really has its own way of doing things. Did you know we were originally slated to play the Whiskey A Go-Go? But they still engage in the onerous practice of pay to play. In a nutshell this means we would have to buy 90 tickets from them and if they didn’t all sell it would be our loss. After the 90 we'd get our cut from them and any above that. We could’ve sold our 90 but screw that, the Silver Lake was a nice little club just the right size anyway.

The first act was a fey, pointy shoes with striped socks, classical guitar strumming, acoustic duo who sounded a little like Belle and Sebastian. I left.

The band went off for Indian, but I really wanted to try some big city West Coast vegetarian cooking so I ended up at a place called the Elf Cafe', where I watched the kitchen staff cooking and ate a charred cauliflower, goat cheese, lemony pasta thing. It was awesome and a girl who looked like Lisa Germano said my “Super Dad” shirt was cool. I blushed.

By the time I got back there was a band with two girls in front and the male band members dutifully standing personality-less behind them as if they were already on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Their Mom was with them so they still have lots of time to figure it out.

We had a pretty good-sized audience of people who were super-psyched to see us. Because it was a 5 band night and we were second to last we had at most an hour, which kind of explains our lack of chattiness. We wanted to cram in as many songs as possible. The aisle to the bathroom was to my left and the guitar neck stuck out over into that space. So people had to run a gauntlet, depending on what song it was, or get cold-cocked if they wanted to pee.

After the show I stood out on the sidewalk and had a wonderful conversation with some dear friends of the band. We went from the ill-advisedness of bands chartering anything that flies, to John Denver actually being the pilot of his own demise, discussed favorite childhood songs (Country Roads and On Top of the World) and argued about which Replacements record was the best.**

Everyone was in a good and silly mood so we set off to find a 24-hour donut place, and then drove back to San Clemente.

*Said in the voice of Jack Benny. It annoys me that Frazier Grammar stole all his camera mugging expressions straight from him. Anyway, this is a game Chuck and Lisa play where they take any three syllable word ending in “er” and say it the way Jack Benny said, “Rochester.” I was curious as to the present day view of the Rochester character. It's fascinating history. Eddie Rochester was the first regularly appearing black performer on a national radio then television show. Their relationship certainly seems to come from the minstrel tradition but most of the commentary I found thought that Jack and Eddie transcended it. Interesting.

** Pick your own. They’re all pretty great with the exception of “Don’t Tell a Soul", which is half great. “Sorry Ma” is the next lowest, which was what started the argument in the first place.

Tomorrow is San Diego but not really.


  1. Let It Be or Tim. But Boink! has Kids Don't Follow, so it's really a tossup. Thanks for a great night in LA. Sad about not seeing you in San Diego. I also bought Withered Hand based on an earlier post and am liking it a lot, so thanks for that too.

  2. Liked your LA show a lot. In both San Jose and LA you played a very tight, very fast, maybe all instrumental piece (can't remember if there was singing towards end)... doesn't seem to be on Attica or Funeral Dress or some others i have downloaded. Towards the 3/4 mark... What was it!

  3. Probably just the really long intro to "Yellow Cotton Dress." It's one of the few places where we truly make it up as we go along every night.

  4. Thanks for that, I'll check out song again. Hope tour going well for you all... My daughter (who is 11) drove back form Yosemite with my wife two days ago... she said, "I can't get that song out of my head... you know, the one about "And we were pulling for you a thousand times a day"..." I think all 11 year olds should be humming that.