What’s Next?

cat

Well, I tried.

I wanted to see if I could get back into blogging here, but my attention is focused completely somewhere else. Don’t get me wrong. I do want to blog, and I do have stuff to say. But this blog was a product of a Hollywood life; the posts were culled from a world of which I was very much a part, even when I spent some time away. It was all about the Los Angeles experience. The blog was built for quick, wry observations on the absurdity of a life lived between Sunset and Fountain Avenues, the hours worked at Amoeba Music, that mecca for the dedicated, the weird and the just plain insane, and the struggles of an aspiring screenwriter living in the thick of it.

It’s not that I’ve changed, really. It’s that I’m just not living in the thick of it anymore. I’m still a writer. I still love music. And I still love sharing goofy shit. I just want to do it in a new forum. On a new blog, better suited to my sensibilities.

To that end, I’m trying to wrap up the few straggling web design projects I’ve saddled myself with and spend some coding time on myself for once. And I’m writing. And I’m living. And I’m taking notes.

I’ll share them soon.

I Am an Elephant Seal

I set off from Avila Beach, where’d I’d been hanging out with the parents for a few days, on Sunday, the 18th. Since I had time, I decided to head up the coast instead of the much faster, far less attractive 101. It’s longer, too, but I can’t tell you how long it is in miles. I measure distances in albums, so for the curious, the distance from Avila Beach to San Francisco along the coast is Relayer by Yes, As Day Follows Night by Sarah Blasko, Inside Your Guitar by It Hugs Back, Under Great White Northern Lights by The White Stripes and Sasha’s full two-hour Essential Mix from 2005. Many hours of driving and listening, and that included finding a parking space in the Mission District, which took a good twenty or thirty minutes.

If you’ve never made that trek, especially you Californyuns, what are you waiting for? It’s extraordinary. And please do stop just north of San Simeon if you can. You’ll hit the Elephant Seal view spots up there. I stopped, thinking that it’d be cool to see a few of the beasts. After all, I like looking at beasts. Zoos are my favorite places (though I always find myself wishing I could be a little more behind the scenes and not hanging on the metal railing with all the grade school kids.) I was expecting a few dozen of the seals, but there were more than that. There were a few thousand of them, littering the beach like driftwood as far up the beach as I could see.

youtube.com/watch?v=I3R3c98laFU

I think the reason I was so taken with them is because, these days, that’s me. Or at least it feels like me… washed up on the beach, blubbery, molting, exhausted and prone to making large, guttural noises. Right? We all feel that way sometimes. Right now, that’s me.

How Do I Eat This?

Never mind. I figured it out. You eat the antlers first. Then the legs. Then the head. Save the eyeballs for the very end.

Lackadaisical Melange in SLO

I’m feeling incredibly lazy today. I was gonna write about the Santa Barbara leg of the trip, which was a whirlwind of people and adoring fans, but that will have to come later. I’m in Avila Beach now, just a stone’s throw from San Luis Obispo. I’m a bit Gumby-headed from a couple glasses of Edna Valley Zin, and I’m chilling on the back porch of my parents’ place.

Just sayin’.

More soon.

Guns for Kids

I’m not sure whether I find this scary, offensive or just plain sad. In a San Luis Obispo toy store. This is just part of the collection. They’ve got handguns, too.

Eating in Los Angeles

Cat & Fiddle: We crossed two different worlds – some of the Amoeba crew and some of the Technicolor crew gathered for drinks, food and conversation in that dark and glittering courtyard just off of Sunset Boulevard. Most of us ordered food. We traded tales of thievery, insanity, artistry, drudgery and depravity for three hours. Halfway into it, I began to wish I had an audio recorder.

Meal: everyone had fries. I had chicken marsala.

Woke up by seven, in spite of having been out at Cat & Fiddle till late. Crept out of Kirk and Steve’s Beverly Drive apartment into a hazy, sunny morning, threw my stuff in the car and headed up Western to the 101. I shot up the highway to North Hollywood and peeled off at Magnolia to have breakfast with world famous bassist, Sara Rivas at Andrew’s North Hollywood Diner, which is the new and terribly boring name for what used to be Sitton’s North Hollywood Diner (I like the name Sitton more than I like the name Andrew.) More stories, and some decent complaining on both sides. I’m getting a little tired of the story of my ridiculous year, but I’m getting at better and better at telling it.

Meal: scrambled eggs, Italian sausage, coffee

Having time to kill afterwards, I wandered into downtown Burbank to see what was up there, but it turned out that there was nothing up at all. People were just hanging out, buying stuff, going to work and drinking coffee. I bought some coffee, too, to see if I could blend in. But that got boring, so I hopped back into the Beetle and drove down Glenoaks Boulevard to my old neighborhood in Glendale. My old apartment was still there, a full year later. And it looked exactly the same, so I didn’t take any pictures or nothing. I swung around to Brand instead and parked on the street and went to Porto’s Bakery, where all the large people eat breakfast. In the year I’d lived two blocks away from this joint, I’d never actually set foot inside. Now seemed to be the time.

Meal: croissant, plain, unheated

Then to Burbank, where I parked, strapped on my elaborate knee brace (not because I needed it, but because it looks cool) and met up with the Technicolor subtitling gang. We kicked back at the on-campus cafeteria and spent the next hour slinging stories back and forth over the growl and roar of the Metrolink trains and the planes taking off from the airport. “Drive safe,” said Alicia, as we the meeting finally broke apart and we headed our separate ways. “I need you to be able to work.”

Meal: vegetarian pizza slice and a salad, which I barely touched.

Then that was it. I was done with Los Angeles. I climbed into the Beetle, threw the knee brace into the trunk and wheeled onto the 5 to the 118 to the 23 to the 101.

Mile 867: Los Angeles

It’s been a rough winter. It’s been a rough year. Events of the past 12 months have left me adrift and isolated and struggling to find a way back to life and love and all that hooey. It hasn’t been easy. But it didn’t take me long after returning to Los Angeles to find what I’d been missing.

Last night at Spaceland, above the crash and bang of the music and the din of shouted drink orders, I ran into a bunch of people I’d known from back in the Amoeba daze. And I don’t know why it struck me as surprising, but all of them remembered my name. I mean, this is a store whose work staff was easily over 200 people. You knew lots of names, but they tend to drift away. Especially after three years away.

And then again, today, when I actually dropped by the store, aside from the rows of new faces at the checkout counters, which see more turnover than a WWI trench, it was almost as if I’d never left. Of course, I had, and there’s really not much to do at Amoeba if you’re not on the clock, so I wandered off and drove down the street to my old apartment building on Martel, where I thought I’d check on my old neighbor, Bertila.

Beetle Parked on the Street
Testing the caption

I love my old place. It’s in a classic Hollywood apartment enclosure with the front gate and the courtyard and the big, central banana tree, and as I mounted the stairs to her flat, I found it impossible to believe that it had been a full three years since I’d move out of there. So Bertila and I sat and talked in her flat, me, the addled, aimless motormouth and her, the wise, hookah-smoking caterpillar with her back to the sunny window, wreathed in pearly smoke, dispensing advice and gently chiding me for being so reluctant to admit that I’m totally rad.

Like, totally.

Those are the kinds of friends I have. The awesome ones.

Spaceland

By sheer chance, my arrival in LA happened to coincide with a free show at Spaceland’s April reident, former fellow Amoebite, Jim Evens and his fine outfit, Helen Stellar. Following them were Burgess Tomlinson and Rona Rapadas, also Amoebites, but better known as Healmonster & Tarsier, whose work I’ve always loved. And I love them even more now that Sara Rivas is playing bass for them

I gotta respect Sara. A few years ago she decided to pick up the bass as a way, I think, of keeping herself busy and sane. She took some lessons and was soon playing for the Black Tales. Now she’s got regular gigs with the Bitchfits (yeah, a distaff Misfits) and, light years away from that, Healamonster & Tarsier. Good for her.

Anyway, I’d have some excellent pics of the show, but they wouldn’t let me bring in my camera without permission from the booking agent, so here’s a craptastic iPhone snap of Sara onstage:

bass

It was good to see both bands do their thing, and especially cool to see Amoebites old and current, Rachel, Andrew, Katy, Mo, Lance Rock, Jen, & AJ. It was like I never left.