I remember a party here and some stoner in a Black Sabbath shirt kept requesting Iron Man. I’d never seen the guy before and he was way high and quite insistent about hearing Iron Man. I am Iron Man he sang, dum dum dum dum dum/da da da da da da dah/dum dee dum. I gave in. So you want Iron Man? Here ya go, and I put on Eric Dolphy. Ba ba ba da be da/da be da. That’s Iron Man, I said, and showed him the cover. He looked bewildered, even hurt. I almost felt guilty and jacked up the volume. Dolphy screamed a solo. He left. Jazz can be cruel.
I remember driving through Missouri River bottomlands on the Yankton Sioux reservation on the summer solstice. Dusk faded slowly and the air was full of fireflies as the sun took forever to set. We stopped by a bridge to get our bearings, reading the map by the last rays of sunlight. Somewhere past 9:30 it was finally nighttime and we slunk through Nebraska on the south side of the river in the dark, the air fragrant with loam and alfalfa and slow water.
I got stoned one afternoon with Panama Red. THE Panama Red, of the famous song. He was no longer in his namesake business, he said, but instead sold used computer hardware to Deadheads. He wouldn’t say where he lived, but it was somewhere in the mountains above Santa Cruz, tucked away, ever wary. The Man, he said. The Man. He gave me a suspicious look, then drew deep from an enormous reefer, and the room was filled with sweet blue smoke.
A bunch of us were jammed into an SUV somewhere in north Orange County when there was a distant boom and in seconds a mushroom cloud rose in the direction of downtown L.A. It’s OK, I said, we should be out of range of the blast, and I turned the car south to safety when another boom and a mushroom cloud rose a few miles ahead of us. This is it, I thought, and bolted upright in the dark, awake. A nuclear war dream. I hadn’t had one of those since the cold war.
Back patter. I’m a back patter. Not normally, but give me a little juice and I’m a big Irish joker and back patter. I just never realized it. There was a party at our house and a lady went on a passionate oratorical bender. We were all rendered momentarily speechless with admiration. Then, drunkenly, I said great job and patted her on the back, lightly, twice. Pat pat. Surprised, she flinched. Holy shit, I thought, I’m a back patter. Suddenly it seemed touchy sleazy. Suddenly it seemed beyond the pale. I have not patted a back since, man’s or woman’s. Grown up or child. Dog or cat. OK, I have patted a dog on the back. But cats hate it.
We just don’t live in Silver Lake anymore, we live in Waverly Terrace Silver Lake. Or is it Silver Lake Waverly Terrace? This is what happens when Katy Perry moves into the neighborhood. Maybe we’ll be a gated community soon.
Anyway they even invited us to join their private online network. But we’re too stuck up. Stuck up on Waverly Terrace.
Life is rough.
I remember the time a doctor told me I was an alcoholic. But I barely drink, I said. He gave me a look. Denial, he said, was part of my problem. But doctor, I scarcely drink. When I go out to I’ll have a drink or two, and just every once in a while at home. I barely qualify as a social drinker. I’m writing you a referral for our alcoholism counseling service, he said. But I’m not a drunk I said again. It will be OK, he said.
A friend asked if I went to the counseling. No, I said, I’m not an alcoholic. I barely drink. You didn’t go to the AA meetings? Of course not. But this is Hollywood, he said. A former drinking buddy of his met David Bowie that way. I don’t care, I said, I’m not going to go to AA meetings. It’s your life, he said.