So…I was at a jam/party, hanging with a few musician friends the other night. Someone started playing “Layla” and it turned into a nice ensemble. Eventually the conversation came around to Eric Clapton and the story behind the song—one which I’d never heard before. The abridged version is—Clapton wrote the song about a woman he couldn’t have and what’s worse–one he couldn’t get out of his head. No matter how hard he tried to…no matter how much he doubtlessly wanted to; he just couldn’t shake the thought of her…to him this woman was the most beautiful he’d ever laid eyes on. The woman was Pattie Boyd and she was married. Still, in spite of the fact that she was unavailable, Clapton’s infatuation with Boyd continued, eventually leading him to write Layla—a classic song that everyone would come to know, though they might not know the interesting backstory.
As the story was told to me, Clapton obsessed over Boyd for years, until she finally divorced George Harrison—after which, Clapton married her. One has to wonder first if the relationship was based on infatuation to begin with and secondly, if there are ever any other types? The backstory puts a whole new twist on the song—and illustrates that indeed, great feats of creativity can sometimes be spawned by unhealthy mindsets. After all, Clapton’s unrequited infatuation lasted years…a torturous endeavor indeed. He stated that his affairs previous to Pattie Boyd were all ‘temporary’. That’s gotta be a tough situation. Great song though…and one he truly suffered to create; which is what art is all about in the end isn’t it?
Once again, Franky Nero, knocks it out of the park. One of the last great voices of Generation X.
Love Among the Ruins
I’d been lying on a smooth patch of sand reading Tropic of Capricorn as the sun beat down on my back. The rolling tide foamed thick and frothy along the sandy banks that went on forever—to the ends of the earth and into pestilent jungles and swamps where modern man had no business being.
The distant voices of frolicking beach goers barely cut through the soothing roll of tide that drown out their glee with infinite stoicism—the tide only knew to erode and push on, leaving its shape in the earth; the ocean is a woman, I mused, watching a lady bug crawl across the boxy black print that had been splashed against the page from a dead man’s mind. Oblivious to me, Miller and his literary legacy and the UV rays baking our sprawling beach and its inhabitants, the ladybug crawled on…feeling with its antennas.
Henry Miller had never thought about UV Rays. He hadn’t thought about the ozone layer. Technology hadn’t made it there yet. He’d thought mainly about writing and fucking and drinking. He’d once said that life is a game we play and had afforded himself an obligation to oblivion through the means of unapologetic artistic whimsy. What was my excuse? I wondered, laying the book flat with the pages skyward, and blowing with a good gust, the lady bug forth onto the baking dunes rippling up the shore toward the dry bluff, beyond which, the parking lot stored our cars. I watched the bug crawling, moving over the small peaks of sand like a ruby red dune buggy. It headed instinctively in the direction of the bluff. How did it know?
Cool droplets pattered my back suddenly and the weight of her inner thighs, made coarse by the gritty sand stuck to them, scratched my sides as her bottom sat down in the small of my back. Two cool hands, pruned by salt water covered over my eyes suddenly. Leaning forward with her stringy wet hair mopping over my shoulders, she whispered in my ear.
“Guess who.” said her voice in a close whisper.
“You wish.” said Mitzi.
I rolled over onto my back so she was sitting astride, looking down at me. She leaned down and looked at me closer, much the way I had studied the lady bug. After a few moments she straightened back up so the smooth, still wet flesh of her belly gleamed brilliantly in the late afternoon sun. She whipped her hair to one side and gathered it with two hands, pulling it over one shoulder. She folded the hair once and positioned it directly over me. She then wrung her wrists so a small cascade of sea water splashed against my chest.
“See, that water isn’t so bad baby.” said Mitzi, rubbing the water into my flesh with her nail polished fingers.
“Well, I guess we’ll both get flesh eating disease now.” I mused, focusing at a plane high above, which was from my point of view, a small silver spec at the tip of a long spreading jet trail.
“Sounds romantic.” she grinned, throwing her hair back over her shoulder, “What are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking that I’ve been laying here watching you walking around all morning in a thong bikini…I think we need to get a room for a couple hours.” I said.
“You like this swimsuit huh? I got it 70% off at Beverly Center. Can you believe it?” said Mitzi.
“Sounds like a good deal to me. There’s a hotel across the highway where I can take that bikini 100% off.” I told her.
“What time is it?” Mitzi asked, pulling my wrist up toward her peering eyes that had become intense again, “Its only 12:15. That leaves us plenty of time to get into a room; if we go now.”
Mitzi, who found a quiet solace in organizing disarray, gathered up our strewn belongings from the warm sand, packing them neatly into the leather bag she’d brought. As I lay on my side, finishing my drink, I watched her in motion. I admired the long curvy lines she’d inherited from her mother and I was grateful that she’d gotten almost no resemblance from her father.
After all there’s little worse than meeting a beautiful woman’s father and spotting resemblances they share, for the recollection of which could pose a danger of re-occurrence in the wrong situation—like say while you’re in bed with her. Certainly, her father’s profile is the last thing you’d wish to see looking back at you over her shoulder when the lights are low. Mitzi Rosenberg only resembled her mother and her sister whom I’d only seen in photos. Her mother was still something of a looker at the age of 56 and taught Mitzi the importance of keeping fit…so the day was looking up.
Deciding to leave the car in the beach parking lot, Mitzi and I walked across the highway and checked into a fleabag motel and spent a couple hours with the drapes closed. Though the sand on the sheets had been an annoyance, Mitzi always put on a great performance, especially when she was being watched.
Still, the hollow remained afterward, the one which felt like dissatisfied hunger; only deeper. I wondered if eating would help fill the void…provide a few shreds of emotional comfort at the very least. Though Mitzi was a ball of energy on any given day and though she could speak volumes on any given notion; she was happy go lucky and skirted around any issues that might spark an intense conversation. I assumed she believed that if you didn’t look under the bed, the monsters weren’t really there.
After finding a restaurant that appeared to follow at least some regulated practice of safe food preparation; we sat comfortably at a table near the window, Mitzi cutting into her blueberry pancakes and I sipping tonic water. I peered out across the baking expanse of sand toward the water, upon which two colorful Waroos in the distance caught the wind on a high up angle, pulling two kite surfers along as if in slow motion over the white crested waves far out beyond the reef. I sat there for a moment, peering out at the Waroos holding steady just above the deep blue horizon. It was chilling to think we are only passing shapes in this world. Writing did something though; it offered a twist—the unexpected. I thought this, wishing I could discuss it with Mitzi—wishing that she’d have some answer, some method of deconstruction that could explain the unexplained; the grand comedy. However, Mitzi was the physical type and she did it well.
“So what’s your plan this afternoon?” asked Mitzi before sipping deeply from her tall pulpy glass of Tropicana.
“I’ve got to go to a wedding thing—more like an after wedding type thing.” I said, sighing deeply at the idea of attending a dinner with old friends.
“Oh, cool. Need a date?” she asked absently.
I didn’t answer immediately. Rather I watched her eat for a while and she ate casually, looking up at me occasionally and smiling, signifying with nods that the blueberry pancakes were above satisfactory quality. I chewed a slice of bacon while I watched her…trying to divert my mind from the fact that the delicious crispy strip had been actually shaved from the carcass of a once curious animal.
Beyond having been born extremely pretty, Mitzi was also an academic over achiever who’d passed the Bar exam the year she’d turned 28. I often speculated that because of her strict dedication to study, she’d missed out on a lot of college experiences that would have rendered her otherwise jaded.
Having isolated herself to a 6×10 dorm room study chamber for the entire duration of her college years (with the exception of class and chess club obligations), she’d by passed any grossly exaggerated social deaths or psychologically damaging scorched-earth break ups. She’d never been extremely intoxicated, or for that obvious matter, extremely hung over. She’d never smoked up. She’d never had a one night stand or a summer fling and felt used and dirty about it. She’d never felt the urge to deface her flesh with contrived tattoos or absurd piercings in her eye brows and nostril flaps. She’d been so uncool that she was in fact irrevocably cool.
When the waitress came around again, I ordered another tonic and more pancakes. Mitzi smiled pleasantly at the waitress, thanking her for me with her eyes and went back to her syrup soaked plate. I watched her for a few moments cutting perfectly triangular wedges from the pancakes which, when pressed with the knife, sent up small bubbles through the thick layer of syrup; like spores. Spores had owned this planet for millions of years. How boring. No writing, no reading, no singing; no nothing—just spores bubbling up through the slime.
“I don’t know,” I said, “I wasn’t told to bring a date—and it’s a crowd that I rarely see. They ostracized me years ago…but still want me around once in a while—just to make sure I’m doing better than they are. What I do know however is that you’d find it miserable.”
“Why do you say that?” asked Mitzi.
“Because you’d be with me and I’m going to find it miserable. You’d also probably be bored silly. Thing about old friends is that they always remember you as you were when they last knew you.”
“What do they remember you as?” asked Mitzi.
“They remember me as Franky boy—the bad boy, freak show, disaster who was a great antidote to their boredom.” I chuckled.
“You don’t think you were?” asked Mitzi, surprising me with the sudden shard of insight.
“It was a long time ago. But as I say—it’s hard to live down a reputation. The whole thing sounds like a nightmare I know…and I just don’t want to tarnish your pristine virtue just yet my dear girl.” I told her, giving her my best Clare Quilty.
Mitzi leaned forward slightly, resting her elbows on the table. She interlocked her fingers and rested her chin on them, peering at me deeply; her eyes glowing with wonder, “I think it sounds absolutely wonderful.”
In the end, Mitzi decided not to join me. She had appointments all afternoon and who knows what else. I didn’t care about the what else because I didn’t quite love Mitzi; ours was a very formal coupling based solely on sex and outdoor activities—namely hiking. Still, once I’d arrived at the wedding after dinner, I regretted not insisting she join me. You see dear reader, I realized it was a date night; a tidbit that had been left out in the email invite. It seemed everyone but me had been informed to bring a date; even Jensen had brought a date.
Certainly Jensen had never brought a date anywhere in his life—yet there he was, guarding her with a heavy arm slung over the back of her chair as if she were a prison yard meal; thigh touching, hair smoothing, back rubbing…it was slightly nauseating—but more so, it was a curious phenomenon given the fact that Jensen displayed perpetually graphic angles of plumbers butt whenever he bent forward—which was for some reason quite frequently.
Indeed, I had been present during past discussions. It was a fact that none of them could figure out why Jensen would intentionally wear clothing three sizes too small and perpetually display his ass crack in this fashion. Furthermore, it sat as an unspoken mystery to everyone at the table how Jensen had gotten a date in the first place—that much went without saying. But there he was, in the flesh, fondling this strangely blinking bird who seemed to find anything at all hilarious enough to throw her shrill, piercing chuckle at.
There are instances in life, when horribly ironic moments are topped with a rancid red maraschino cherry. Jensen wasn’t the cherry on this evening. Indeed, not; the cherry this time was Shannon Hayward and her always pleasantly grinning boyfriend of 9 years Phil somethingorother. I knew Shannon well and had heard a lot about Phil and his many domestic blunders. As far as Shannon was concerned, Phil was on probation—indefinitely. To punish him, she flirted with an array of men; myself included. There had been a time, many in fact, when I believe Shannon was beckoning me with lurid invitations. There had been a lot of innuendo, questions like how I rated myself as a lover, friendly shoulder massages, quiet patios and restaurants she’d show me on quiet afternoons…not to mention crotch flashes of her red panties while sitting on a park lawn, during a smoke break in an afternoon badminton game. It didn’t stop there…in fact it stopped abruptly one afternoon weeks later.
A missed afternoon phone call attached to a hesitant voice mail alluding to coming over with a bottle of wine finally wised me up to how far Shannon was willing to go with it. But having not returned the call in the end—not believing that Shannon would ever really want more of me than my attention, I’d left the ball in her court—so that she might be direct for once in her life. So that she might make a confession—and seal the deal.
However, Shannon withdrew, eventually becoming absent; frightened by the reality of actually embarking on an affair. Still, in that time I’d acquired information. Not info I’d intentionally extracted—but info she’d given willingly…for whatever reasons. Allow me to elaborate.
She frequently complained that Phil didn’t compliment her on her appearance, that he’d lost the desire to go down on her, that he was too intellectual and therefore too tame, that he was going grey, that he never took her out anywhere fun, that he frequently reminded her that they were getting old and once they entered their forties it would be all downhill from there, that he had no mission in life, that he’d sucked the passion out of their lives with his apathetic surrender to the decampment of his youth…and her resentment grew. In another brief and sadly comical confession, she admitted to hurling at medium velocity, a deodorant stick against his face, which left him with a black eye after painfully connecting one fateful morning when they’d been jousting about one matter or another.
I couldn’t help but feel a small shred of pity for the old boy; perhaps because of the Lady’s Speed Stick incident. That took self-control—to not pack his things and leave her—or at least negotiate some ground rules. Perhaps he was a better, more patient man than I. Or perhaps he was just a browbeaten pussy. However, no man is only one or the other, if he says he is—he’s a liar too. There’s a thin line between love and hate after all…and their whole mess only made me glad in a distant way that I’d never gotten in the middle of it.
Indeed, if you didn’t know anything about either of them, Shannon and Phil appeared to be terrifically, drunkenly happy with each other. And of course, when they’d arrived and he’d dipped her in front of everyone at the table, holding the position for a moment, peering down at her surprised, nervous grin with all the synthetic charm of a game show host—everyone applauded. I meanwhile checked his face and neck for fresh contusions and abrasions.
Though there were no such marks visible, I was positive there may have been small, Shannon sized bite marks on his calves and shoulders. I chuckled to myself at this as I greeted Phil with a fist bump rather than a handshake—in hopes of avoiding a head cold or flu. I then proceeded to endure a horribly long winded hour of their contrived social facade and public groping.
As I say, even Jensen was party to this. Jensen, who’d never brought a date anywhere, so of course was obligated to cling to his new found girl to the point of following her to the ladies room, where she might be seen without him and subsequently rendered ‘free game’. It was beyond him to let her piss in peace. I found it amusing.
Looking around the table at all of their pontificating faces gesturing, grimacing, giggling and slobbering with desperate enthusiasm; it dawned on me then, as I sipped a fresh rum and coke, that I’d never, ever retrieve the time I was wasting sitting among them. And it became clear to me that these couples were bored silly, and so gravitated toward other similarly bored silly couples, to form a sort of couple’s support group, for the sake of interaction based on the premise of flirtation and subtle innuendo with other significant others—which I suppose forms subtle jealousy, and in effect an instinctual claim of territory after the lights go out, later on in the sack with their originally assigned significant others—ground zero of their boredom; ‘hey, you’re mine baby—don’t you forget it.’
It wasn’t real love though. I knew that much. I’d had my shot with real love once and it was a warm sea of enchantment…then I’d set it free—and it never came back to me. However, at least I’d been given a shot. Some poor suckers never get a shot; they get a suitable mate with compatible features—then wind up at couples nights, twisting basic dynamics into complicated shapes and catching each other in jealousy traps. How boring.
When I was finally hopelessly bored and casually out witting Shannon’s man, I managed to offend a peroxide blonde purely by accident. I can’t recall exactly what I’d said, but evidently my words had rubbed her the wrong way. She’d made a quiet comment at first. I turned to her after nearly hearing her comment, and her eyes were staring back at me intensely, held tightly in the forced grin she’d been wearing throughout the evening, one threatening to crack the heavy layer of foundation that had been seemingly applied to her face with a putty knife.
“Say again.” I said.
“I don’t repeat myself.” she said.
“Suit yourself.” I said and went on bantering with Shannon’s man, who was surprisingly bright after all, though browbeaten and broken.
“Oh, you’re so cool aren’t you?” she cooed, as if she were a long lithe cat, purring for attention…throwing her generalized sex appeal at me like a hatchet. Rather than being cleaved in two by it however, I’d caught her hatchety sex appeal and held it there before us for a moment, looking it over, recognizing its shape and contours. I’d met this woman before…and I’d been meeting her for years.
“Are you for real?” I asked, turning to face the blonde.
“Oh yeah…so for real. You’re so like the coolest guy I’ve ever met.” she said.
“Well,” I said, raising my glass, “thanks for saying so.”
“I was being sarcastic.” said the blonde.
“Yeah, I got that.”
“Well, at least you understand something.” She said, stepping over the line of casual ball breaking; indeed, it seemed I’d actually offended her. I looked at her for a long moment, studying the hurt expression in her large blue eyes. What exactly had I said?
“Are you sure it’s me you’ve got an issue with…or is it someone else…your father maybe?” I said, drawing no immediate reply from the blonde woman I’d never met before; only a silent stare.
“Pretty much just you.” She said with a tone of loathing that seemed a bit extreme and quite out of place. How was it that I could conjure such disdain from a complete stranger in only a matter of a few minutes? Perhaps it wasn’t hate at all.
“Well, if it’s any consolation, I’m completely indifferent to you.” I admitted.
“Oh, bravo…that’s so Brando…but I thought bad boys are supposed to be sexy.” said the blonde with a hateful grin.
“Hey,” I said, “I’ve never claimed to be a great man…or a bad man…or a fucking sexy one and by the way—why do you care?”
“You know, I’ve heard about you from all of these very nice people…I’ve heard the stories about you. I got to say, I wasn’t impressed then and I’m certainly not impressed now.” said the blonde who was checked slightly by one of the other women who simply spoke her name in a cautionary tone. Leslie—the name didn’t ring a bell.
“You done?” I grinned, looking at her.
“No I’m not done. Why are you even here? Nobody here even likes you anyway.” She added, sitting back in her chair and crossing her arms, feeling she’d done her best and still hadn’t cut me up as bad as she’d wished to.
“I’m sure that’s true. But do you know what? I prefer to be hated rather than fake liked.” I said.
“How deep.” Leslie groaned.
“You’ll never know.”
“I already know about you.” she said.
“Maybe the problem is that you actually do believe the hype Leslie—and you really shouldn’t.” I said, offering her a small grin before draining my glass; piss on these pricks, I thought as the rum and cola went down with a sting. Rising from my chair I raised my empty glass as if to call a toast. “To Reeves, congrats man; I hope your new life with your new wife is splendid—she’s really a vision of loveliness—far out of your league old chap…I appreciate the invite. To the rest of you—you can all kiss my balls.” I said with a charming grin before setting my empty glass down on the table and heading for the doors.
I was strolling through the parking lot when I heard a voice calling my name from behind. For a moment I thought it was Leslie herself, having followed me outside in order to dig her nails into my face. When I turned to look however, I found it was Shannon and she was walking toward me slowly, hugging herself against the slight breeze and carrying a look of embellished concern in her eyes. She stood in front of me, perhaps flirting with the notion of leaving with me…something she’d never do, but longed to.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Wow, that Leslie woman really doesn’t have a handle on her alcohol.” said Shannon.
“I think there’s something else going on in her head.” I said.
“You think? Like what? Have you ever met her before?” asked Shannon.
“Never seen her before.” I shrugged, “I could care less what’s going on inside her head—probably not very much.”
I continued walking toward my car and Shannon fell into step beside me. We talked as we walked.
“Well, it’s too bad you have to leave so early.” she said.
“It’s okay. I’ve got to be out in Marina Del Rey soon anyway.”
“What’s going on out there?” asked Shannon.
“Probably not much.” I said.
“So mysterious.” She grinned, “A girl?”
“You guys…all you couples love the jealousy nights huh?” I smiled. We were at my car and with the lights of Burbank acting as a twinkling backdrop; Shannon leaned against the driver’s side door, taking a cigarette from her handbag. Placing it unlit between her glossy red lips, she looked at me good and hard.
“I miss our friendship—the laughs.” She said.
“Is that what it was; a friendship?” I asked.
“I don’t know what it was.” She admitted, for the very first time.
“Don’t light that.” I said as Shannon flicked the flint of her lighter, creating a small orange flame she carefully raised to meet the end of the cigarette.
“Why not?” she asked.
“Because,” I said, reaching up and removing the cigarette from her mouth, “cigarettes will kill you…plus, I’m going to kiss you. You ok with that?”
I reached around her waist and pulled her close, pressing my lips into hers. Hers were soft and tasted like lipstick and alcohol. Her body, tense at first, eventually relaxed, and she draped her arms around my shoulders and lifted a leg and ran the instep of her pump down the back of my calf; one of Shannon’s many moves I presumed—moves I’d never come to know. For I realized then that once I drove away, Shannon would smoke her cigarette, collect herself and return to the restaurant, giddy with a secret that she would take to her grave; she would never tell Phil and for that I was glad—glad all around that I would probably never see any of them again.
Once back in my car, with the taste of Shannon’s lipstick in my mouth, the night was alive and rolling by in lights. The movement of people; how profound. The city at night, layered in decades of oily, street stained history rolled beneath my wheels as I drove on, past alarmed and darkened boutique store front windows displaying things I didn’t desire. I drove on into the night that was crawling with oblivious summer lovers and roast baked vagrants with hundred yard stares.
I drove leisurely through downtown corridors, where the sounds of traffic echoed between the concrete parapets of skyscrapers and overpriced condominiums; wondering if there was something horribly wrong with me. For how could such a desert lifestyle, void of anything sacred, be understood by such a vast many while making little to no sense to me? Certainly it was I who was the out of touch one…the one lurking out on the fringes of collective understanding. And the question remained, had I changed, or had the world around me changed?
In any case dear reader, I was in quite a state by the time I arrived at Tiffany’s. She lived in a flat down by the docks. It was no secret why she decided to live where the ocean met the earth. For she loved turmoil and could sit for hours, wrapped in a fleecy comforter, sipping a bottomless cup of tea with a book folded in her lap, just staring out into the beautiful violence of the tide smashing against the rocks.
Indeed, there was that side to Tiffany, but there were many sides to Tiffany and it often kept one guessing. I’d figured her out though and perhaps had become a fixture in her domain on the merit of that fact alone. For she, like most women, longed to be understood. The sadly comedic truth however, was that I didn’t understand her. Though I’d come to know exactly what to expect from Tiffany, her predictability still made no fucking sense to me.
You see, dear reader, I hadn’t committed myself, fully or in part to Tiffany. I knew much better than that. I merely allowed my existence to merge with hers a couple times a week. It was a strategy I employed to avoid getting attached—for Tiffany was the wrong woman to get attached to; she wasn’t the type to handle your heart with care. She would inevitably stuff it into a blender; I’d seen her do it to others…and most chilling was her lack of empathy for any of the poor bastards; Tiffany could be cutthroat and that was her biggest flaw.
So there I was standing in her doorway, taking a deep greeting hug which pressed her firm breasts against me in a waft of perfume, shampoo and cosmetics. She was a hot blooded, American born Sicilian beauty who took nothing lightly. Indeed, her possessiveness and red hot jealousy was her sexiest attribute—as it made one feel appreciated.
“Is that lipstick on your lips?” she asked, taking a step back and peering at me sideways.
“Come on…its raspberry smoothie.” I said, loosening my tie uncomfortably, finding it difficult suddenly to breathe.
“Oh…well it looks like lipstick. You better not be messing around on me with chicks that wear whore lipstick.”
“Yeah, well…here.” I said, handing her the bottle of 120 she loved so dearly.
“Mmmmm, this will go nice with dinner.” she said.
“Yeah, what’s cooking good looking—I’m starving.” I said, strolling casually across the hardwood expanse of her living room.
I sunk deeply into the soft hold of her leather couch and turned on the TV and as I flipped through the channels hoping to find an episode of Fantasy Island, Tiffany stepped over to me and lifted her skirt. “This is what’s cooking.” she said cocking a brow.
When I’d taken care of that, she brought me a slice of banana bread that she’d prepared earlier in the afternoon. She was nibbling on one herself and handed me mine. I stared at it for a moment, hovering there before me, square and brown and wedged with walnuts sliced smoothly through.
“What’s the matter?” she asked.
“Nothing,” I said, taking the spongy square of banana bread in hand, trying not to think of the many possible ways it could have become contaminated under the nonchalant eye of Tiffany, who I’d often seen washing her hands without soap and in cold water, after handling raw meats.
“What?!” she squealed, “You dissing my banana bread?”
“Of course not; I’m just wondering when the last time you prepared chicken was.” I said, peering toward the dark marble surfaces of her post-modern kitchen.
“Not for a long time.”
“How about sushi? I know you love that ghastly shit…you make any sushi lately?” I asked, studying her reaction for the hesitation that concocting a lie creates and indeed did spot a pause and called her to it immediately,
“You’re hiding something clearly.”
“No, I just couldn’t remember for a second.”
“Couldn’t remember…” I repeated, throwing it into the air for the possibility of analysis.
“Please…don’t insult me ok.” she demanded, “Eat it!”
“Ok,” I said, biting into the banana bread against my better judgement. It was bitter and salty to make matters worse, “there, happy?”
“That makes me happy yes. So how was your wedding dinner or whatever it was?” she asked, sitting down next to me on the couch, as she did when were only friends, bending her legs to the side as women often do and brushing a curly lock of her hair from her eyes.
“Enlightening, nightmarish, yet pleasant at points.” I confessed, tasting the banana bread again, and wondering if it was impolite to point out the excessive baking soda flavor.
“That’s crazy speak. Talk sense to me baby.” she said.
Slightly wounded by her unwillingness to play, I spoke in a sterile tone, “It was a creepy couple’s night and then out of the blue this Loni Anderson look alike started breaking my balls—as if she had a vendetta. Then I got the fuck out of there and came here.”
“Why did she do that?”
“I don’t know. She heard some stories—which tells me that those people—that particular crowd likes talking shit about me.”
“What stories?” asked Tiffany.
“Look, it’s nothing you won’t find in any of my memoirs.” I said.
“I’ve read them—I think they’re funny.”
“They probably aren’t funny though when you have a dip shit like Reeves or Jensen or who the fuck ever, recounting them; those people have no delivery…and maybe that’s what the books are about…the proper delivery…stating what happened in the proper context. Know what I mean?” I said, suddenly perplexed by the realization.
“Yeah, you want people to know your side of it…I get it.” Said Tiffany, somehow summing up in one sentence what took me years to realize.
Though Tiffany asked me to stay the night; I knew she didn’t mean it. Her Sicilian hospitality demanded that she offer however. In the end, I left Marina Del Rey with a three quarter portion of Tiffany’s baking soda flavored banana bread on the passenger seat of my car and the same hollow sensation that I’d been carrying around for months in the pit of my chest —like dissatisfied hunger.
Back on Alexandria I took a quiet dip in the courtyard pool. It was late and everyone in the place was asleep. I floated on my back in the center of the pool staring up at the starlit sky. The moon was smudged behind a veil of air pollution and somewhere high above a helicopter was passing over. LA—she loved to lie awake with me…sometimes it seemed that she was the only one who understood me—unlike others; she knew what I needed, but gave me what I wanted instead.
When I returned to my suite, soaked and dripping chlorine pool water onto the kitchen linoleum I noticed a missed call; a missed call from S. The hollow in my chest was invaded by a sudden freeze of distress. Why would she do it? Didn’t she know I was trying to erase all recollection of her from my existence?
As I was coming out of the shower I heard the phone buzzing from the kitchen. Indeed, I’d found, after I’d dried off and pulled on a pair of jeans, that S had called two more times; perhaps something had happened. But I didn’t want to risk a call back. Rather I kept the phone in my pocket in case there was a fourth attempt. The fourth came a moment later and I answered it immediately.
“Hey.” I said.
“Frank? Hello?” said S.
“Yeah, I’m here.” I said, “What’s happened?”
“I needed to call.” Said S.
“You need to call…” I said, waiting for more.
“Are you ok?”
“Not really.” I admitted.
“Why? Why’s that?”
“You can’t understand.” I told her.
“Look, I had a dream earlier…you were in it…it was a very strange dream. I needed to check on you.”
“I thought we’d already established that you’re not an oracle.” I said.
“You established it.” said S.
“Calling me like this is really unfair…it’s unfair to me. It’s like opening a wound every time.”
“It’s not fair to me either, believe me, I know.” said S.
“You let me go.” I said.
“I had a child.”
“With your husband.” I clarified.
“You can’t understand.” said S.
“Is he there right now?”
“No, he’s in Phoenix on business. What are you doing?” asked S.
“I just came in from the pool.” I said.
“Is there still leaves and bugs in the water?” asked S, a pretty smile coating her words.
“Don’t know—it was dark.”
“Would it be too late for you to drive over?” she asked.
“Over to your place?”
S. didn’t answer; rather she let a long static silence envelope the distance between us. Not so much distance—I couldn’t help thinking. Echo Park was only a ten minute drive—I knew that well enough. And though the invitation threatened to provide a tremendous wave of relief to my midway state of mourning—the relief was like a bad drug that would leave me sick for days if not weeks; could love come in such an ugly shade?
“Are you on acid? This isn’t doing anyone any good.” I told her.
“Did you ever love me?” she asked.
“How can you even ask me that?” I demanded, wondering if she’d swallowed any pills.
“I just would like to know.” said S, surrounded by the eerie silence on her end of the line.
“Look, you want my end of it—my assessment? I’ll tell you, but you probably won’t like hearing it. For three years, I played the game. The sneaking around, the secret meetings, the signals and codes—calling your landline from a fucking pay phone on a daily basis and letting it ring just once, in hopes that you’d get the signal…or waiting sometimes hours to realize that you’d gotten obligated to other plans with him and now weren’t going to make the plans we made—often a week in advance…and always looking over our shoulders in fear of someone we know seeing us together; who were we really fooling?”
“You knew I was married baby.” said S. in a pleading tone.
“Yeah, and for three godam years, I had to give you back to him every night and then sit there for the rest of the evening knowing that you were sleeping beside him, having wake up sex with him…making him breakfast, going on romantic walks around the fucking woods with him—knowing that when you weren’t with me, you were with him, being his wife. You think that was easy? It wasn’t I can assure you—and evidently; it didn’t make me any better of a man. You had the best of both worlds for three years S. but I need to get my shit on track here and I can’t do that if you keep calling me.” I said feeling very much like throwing the phone against the wall and shattering it into a thousand and one pieces.
“I’m not trying to make this hard for you…it’s hard for me too—half the time I’m with him, I’m with you in my mind.” Said S quietly, deflating my anger.
“This is so sick. You’ve ruined me for any other woman by the way. I can’t seem to treat any of them right, no matter how cool they are.” I confessed.
“I don’t want to hear about them.” said S.
“So what is it you want?”
“I want you to tell me if you ever loved me.” S. said in a matter of fact tone.
“Why are you doing this to me?”
“I need to know.” said S.
“Do you remember that time you flew to Florida to see your sister?”
“Yeah, for the wedding.”
“Ok…at the airport, after your plane left…I remember walking back to my car and feeling this terrible dread…that your plane might crash and that I would be stranded in this world without you…it was a fucking terrifying notion and for the first time in my life—I knew someone else owned a part of me. It wasn’t liberating…it was just this intense realization with an end of days kind of severity to it. Does that answer your question?”
“Yes.” Sniffled S., “Do you want to see me tonight?”
“Yeah…like you wouldn’t believe…but it can’t happen. If it does, I’ll be truly fucked. You know all this.” I said.
“So then what?”
“How should I know? I guess he’ll get back from Phoenix and you’ll live happily ever after, until the next time he leaves you alone.” I said.
“I’m sorry.” whispered S.
“Ok…I’m going to let you go. Promise me you’ll take care of yourself.”
“I’m doing my best. By the way…he’ll never love you like I would have.” I said before hanging up.
It was unfair to use the morbid truth as a parting statement; this was neither love nor war—it was goodbye, this time for real. And because speaking with S after so long had injected a strong dye into my clarity; I sat at the typewriter, making perfect sense of the chaos so that I might pull my sensibilities together and come to exist happily or at least contentedly without her. Looking over at my bed, the one she’d picked out for me to buy, I remembered the afternoons we’d spent on it. She didn’t live within my proximity anymore. She lived in Echo Park with a casting agent named Neil and evidently she preferred his last name to mine.
I turned on the TV and poured myself a Gin on the rocks. It went down with a cold sting. They were showing Altman’s Short Cuts on a late night channel and I was relieved to have found it. It was the sort of film that cleaned out the cobwebs—reminded you of something you were supposed to be doing. I was quite absorbed in the film too when my phone buzzed in my pocket, sending waves of radiation into my flesh. I didn’t recognize the number but answered anyway.
“It’s me…Mitzi. You’re not going to believe what happened to me tonight. My bag was stolen, all my ID…credit cards…cash. Nightmare. Also my phone…I’m using my friends phone—so glad you answered.” she said over a distortion of loud music.
“Where are you?” I asked.
“I’m at this rave in K-town. Listen, are you close? Can you come pick me up? I have no money…no phone…nothing.”
“What are you wearing?” I asked.
“Skirt, boots…sad girl face.” whimpered Mitzi.
“Ok, in that case, I’ll leave soon. Don’t worry about a thing…I got ya.” I said.
“Ok…calming down. Thanks so much.”
After giving me the address, Mitzi thanked me again before clicking off and leaving me alone again in my living room. I looked upward toward the ceiling where a series of scrapes left by the previous tenant cast long shadows in the lamplight. “Thanks.” I said with genuine gratitude and rose from the couch, lifting my car keys from the counter as I passed it on the way to the door.
(Any likeness to specific people, locations or institutions is strictly coincidental)
Thanks Substation…last night was a blast! Four bands, no noise regulations…gotta love Ballard.
Looking mighty jazz Matt
Anything is possible when you’re singing
Tear it up G
‘but I’ve got a kite upon a string…and I’m praying for rain…praying for lightening…”
Ok, so I got word that two of the bands who were originally scheduled to play the bill in Seattle November 15th with us have cancelled…Flu maybe? I can only speculate. However, they’ve been replaced with two new bands. Substation bookers–you guys got your game on…and so the show will go on…very stoked. Below is a link for the new line up.
If you haven’t already seen it, you may be inclined to check out a documentary film I spent a year making. The film, which is feature length, illustrates the realities of indie band life in the digital age. The film is centered around the music scene in our town, one which crumbled around us. In the span of a few short years, our town lost many key live music venues and this had a profound effect on our local scene.
Ah, just nice. Received word tonight that the video for “Audrey” has been posted. Who would have thought this quirky little song I wrote on guitar would turn out to make such nice vid. Here it is folks…90’s romanticism at it’s finest. Thanks to the crew for letting us be ourselves during this shoot!
October 24th 2017
To our friends in Seattle…don’t miss us November 15th at Substation. We are so looking forward to this show.
So I posted this fine video the other day. Then reposted it with better sound. It’s all in the mastering.
Some outtakes from the documentary film I did when I thought–if Nick Broomfield can do it; anyone can do it.
Had a great time playing at Dante’s last night. Such a great sounding room–ideal for live music. See you again soon Portland!
Back wall of club
We’re not in the habit of traveling with a photographer…but a woman who was in the audience last night was nice enough to email me a couple snaps she took…I think she must have been testing her camera on the second one…still, these were the only two she’d taken…so, I figured I’d post what she sent. Thanks for sending…
This is our new, shared rehearsal space in Seattle. I think it’s a nice room to rock out in…also the Sex Pistols tapestry on the wall made me like it immediately. Had a good jam here tonight…tomorrow night we head to Portland to play at Dante’s. Perhaps it will be a divine comedy.
Portland was such fun we are going back. Playing at Dante’s October 11th–that’s this Wednesday. Thanks for inviting us…we are more than happy to come and rock out!
Portland was nothing like Jello Biafra’s anecdote about the night before the DK played at the Long Goodbye. We had a great time…I wish I would have gotten some pics of the smoke machine that periodically engulfed the stage in a thick swirling mist as we rocked out…however, this trip we didn’t bring anyone to take photos. In any case, I wandered around a bit before the show and snapped a few myself.
To our friends in Portland…don’t miss us this Thursday at the Analog Cafe & Theater – one of Portland’s coolest haunts for live music. We are so stoked to rock out.
One more thing…I wanted to post a link for Ocean Wise…they are doing very good things. It’s reassuring to know mammals like Senor Cinco are being taken care of. Check out their site.
Visit to the Peaks.
September 17th 2017
This is a great photo of the Cobalt Cafe. Not to be confused with the Cobalt in Vancouver BC. The Cobalt Cafe was a live music venue in Canoga Park, California. We’d been playing some dates around Los Angeles that summer and wound up getting booked at the CC. I’d never heard of the place, but the promoters were two of the nicest dudes. Also this was probably one of the most enthused crowds we’d played for–a room full of punks and skaters who stood in front of the stage grooving out to our three piece tunes. I’ve never forgotten about the Cobalt Cafe…it’s closed now and we were one of the last bands to play the venue. This photo was taken just after soundcheck. Kind of shitty quality cell phone shot, I guess our drummer wasn’t standing perfectly still? Should have used an old school Polaroid maybe…
September 9th 2017
Just got word of two more dates.
Oct 5th – Analog Cafe, Portland OR www.analogpdx.com/
Oct 11th – Dante’s, Portland OR http://danteslive.com/event/7692705/the-angry-lisas-w-the-jarrod-tyler-band-and-guests/
We are so looking forward to playing these dates. More details to come soon.
Very stoked–starting rehearsals in Seattle next week with some great Seattle based musicians for upcoming JTB shows. We will be a four piece…perhaps five if we can get the Hammond player I’ve been trying to recruit–she’s amazing on the keys. Look for us at Substatoin Seattle November 15th–more dates to follow.
There used to be an old dilapidated upright piano on the corner of Alexandria and Hollywood…someone pushed her out onto the sidewalk to make room for a new couch or an entertainment station. Birds shit on her…rats lived in her, drunks and homeless people leaned up against her while pissing in the weeds…they used her as an ashtray…she was missing keys…total neglect. I felt for her…and couldn’t help playing her once in a while when I passed her, on my way out or on my way in. She’s not there anymore…but she sang well; another true Hollywood story.
Film is forever
I remember this show. Great night at the Backstage Lounge–packed house. Me on keys, Jer on bass and that’s Travis back there behind the drums–all of us wearing the fraternal crest.
Wrote this song on guitar, during a much needed holiday. Originally it was intended to be a dry acoustic recording with a piano accompaniment. But et voila – it became a colorfast of sound.
Come get lost in the piano
Someone sent me this old poster yesterday. Very stoked because I don’t have any of these old gig posters aside from a few…really great artwork. I used to organize rock shows like these around town back when there was still somewhat of a circuit. These nights would get crazy–great performances and standing room only. What’s more, we were part of a resistance; doing our part to support original live music–before cheesy dance parties took over this town. Anyway, I’m not sure who the Willing were–I’m guessing the co-headliners?
Dig the jeans Farrah.
And this my friends is how it’s possible to have a terrible production, three chord arrangements and super thin guitar tracks and still somehow manage to create a truly classic album…like the shittiness becomes part of the appeal somehow…these guys did it so well–over and over and over again…and we loved it. When I was a teenager, one half of my bedroom wall was covered by a massive psychocandy poster–got it for 20$ at a record store, easy as that. Today, I wouldn’t even know where to get the same poster, if it’s gettable at all.
We will be playing the band shell on Kits Beach July 22nd–Saturday night baby. Not sure if we are headlining or supporting. Will post start time once I know more.
I’m sure we’ll be playing ‘Bones’. Very moody song, all about the ocean.
Emerged from recording today to find that Auburn is in stores now. How nice international distribution really is. Listening to the mastered album, I’m glad I dedicated two years of my life to perfecting it. Nothing is more satisfying. I told the art designer that I wanted the cover to exude a shade of Bernardo Bertolucci — I think he did a fantastic job.