The crazy beauty of another Fourth of July in Los Angeles

I just love all the cacophony. It’s crazy beautiful. I’ve always loved the sight and sound of fireworks and this is one of best nights ever. We’re stuck at home this year, away from our annual Eastside hilltop vista, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. We can’t actually see much if the action here, with our view is blocked by a couple ridges and a zillion trees, but the sound echos amazingly up here, just extraordinary acoustics. The bursts close by are startling, while the most distant pile up in rumbling waves that have cone across miles of city. It’s an acoustic Jackson Pollock, random sweeps of explosions, low rolling waves of sound, the high treble of some rotten kid with strings of fire crackers across the street, the deep bass of enormous explosions big enough to blow off arms and legs. I really like the occasional concussion, a sound so big you can feel it, the aural gone tactile. All this madness really is a kind of anarchy, you know. It’s one of the things I most love about our city, all the backyard anarchy that comes every Fourth of July, the city so lawless with pyrotechnic misdemeanors that they’ve given up trying to enforce them. Freedom. A silly and fleeting sort of freedom, yeah, but a freedom from authority nonetheless.

Wow. That one was loud.

Whoosh

Fixed the toilet. It was flushing slow. I can fix that, I said. She looked skeptical but said nothing. A couple squirts of dish soap, two pots of boiling water and a couple buckets of warm water later and it flushed with a glorious whoosh. I flushed it a couple times so she could hear it. She found the number of the landlord’s plumber. You can call him, she said. But it’s flushing fine, I said. She pressed the handle. Whoosh. I couldn’t help gloating, and repaired to the sofa to wallow in husbandly self satisfaction. She interrupted my gloat. You could always call our buddy Eddie, she said, he’s a plumber. But we don’t need a plumber, I said, I fixed it. Listen, I said, and went back into the bathroom and flushed the toilet. Whoosh. Now you flush it, I said. Another whoosh. Doesn’t that sound fixed? If you say so, she said.

Undergarments

So Fyl mentioned that she needed socks. Even the socks the Sioux keep sending her we’re getting holes in them. We looked at the Kohl’s site and she found some zany socks. She likes zany socks. Then she said she needed underwear. Underpants? Nobody says underpants she said. They say panties. She didn’t see anything she liked in the price range she wanted, not on the Kohl’s page. I said I’d look around a bit later. Panties, she said. Not underpants. About an hour later I went into Google shopping and typed panties. Instantly an infinity of tushes filled my screen, no matter how far down I scrolled, adorably pert little models’ tushes with no body or limbs attached, every one of them in a thong. I never seen so much uncomfortable looking underwear in one place. They didn’t even have thongs when I was young enough to see young women in their underwear. Actually they didn’t always have underwear. Suddenly I was feeling very uncomfortable, like the husbands and boyfriends trying not to look at anything in Victoria’s Secret. Way too many tushes for an old man to be looking at. It was just wrong. I closed the google window and wrote this.

Rick’s Burgers

I couldn’t believe that we were ordering Rick’s Burgers online last night. Even as the DoorDash guy came to the door with my SuperBuy and Fyl’s cheeseburger and onion rings I didn’t believe it. It’s like the last two ungentrified things in Silver Lake were me and Rick’s burgers, and suddenly Rick’s is online with all the foodies and I’m using an app on an iPhone to order from them. Progress. It seems wrong, though. The first time I went to Rick’s seems impossibly far back in the eighties. I wrote on a typewriter then, and cut and pasted flyers, and sent and received postcards from weirdos. I made mix tapes for the blaster in the car after the radio died, while our parties ended with LPs and singles scattered on the floor. I had never used a computer at any job. How could something as impossibly analog as a Rick’s SuperBuy emerge from the ether in 2020 as tasty and sloppy as if a not yet thirty year old me had just ordered it from the little hottie at the window? And while she’s a grandmother now, the burger never changed. It’s the last ungentrified thing in Silver Lake.

Words on a tee shirt

This came in the mail from Australia in a compostable bag, words I don’t remember writing printed on a tee shirt. The pic with the collar and sleeves didn’t look as good so you’ll have to take my word on it being a tee shirt. No, I’m not gonna wear it. No idea why they whited out Venom P Stinger. Al was their bassist Alan Secher-Jensen, one of my favorite ever people now resting in peace, the song was Walking About, and the party scene is from a YouTube video of the song where I wrote this as a comment. Now aging Australian record collectors are getting high wearing my words. I guess that’s a good thing. It’s certainly a strange thing.

Next stop, Willoughby

Was out on the moondeck around midnight and the silence was something. A solitary siren set off the coyotes and for a minute there I could have been in the middle of the Mojave, but the siren keened away and the coyotes shushed. A bat fluttered by. An owl flapped from one tree to another without making a sound. There wasn’t a voice to be heard, or a laugh, or the sounds of love, no loud music or blaring TVs or anything else that lets you know there are people living around you, no dog barked or mockingbird sang, nothing.

Indeed, if it weren’t for the incessant 24/7 news on TV or the hysteria on social media or headlines in the paper we’d have no idea whatsoever that all hell is breaking loose. We’ve heard no extra sirens or helicopters, smelled no smoke, heard no gunfire, seen no angry people in the street, no police, nothing, and yet just a couple miles away in every directions the masses are marching and protesting and chanting. Shops were looted. Cars burned. People beaten with clubs. But you couldn’t tell up here. The one hint something was amiss was no mail for a couple days. That was it.

Otherwise we pleasantly isolate–there’s still a pandemic on, even in all this silence–and we get everything delivered. Just yesterday I got up late and ordered some marijuana (alas, for arthritis and not just getting stoned), some groceries and deposited a check while I sat on the couch drinking my first coffee of the day, and all online. The dope appeared in under an hour, the groceries in a little over an hour, and the check was in our account instantaneously. It seemed more like magic than technology.

The future is here and it is extremely pleasant, and our little neighborhood tucked away on the edge of Silverlake—behind us on the other side of our ridge is the Golden State Freeway and the river, and scores of ducks and geese fly from lake to river and back again at sun up and sundown—feels completely separate from the real world, like we’re in an episode of Twilight Zone, and this is Willoughby.

Life expectancy

This Canter’s Rueben ought to make up for all the vegetarian meals I usually eat. I suppose the pickle is the vegan part. And there’s enough oil in these onion rings for a whole weekend of orgies. Slippin’ and a slidin’, gotta wash my hands. The pickle just squirted all across the table, iPad, and me. Eek. Pickle piddle everywhere. The Russian dressing is this wanton creamy stuff that must be fatal in large doses. I can’t possibly eat the other half of this sandwich. It’s perfectly decadent what you can have delivered to your door in Hollywood during a lockdown. When do the dancing midgets get here?

Stationery

Stationery stores. I miss stationery stores. All kinds of things to write with and write on and to send writing to each other. Tough wooden things and cold shiny metallic things and onion skin paper so fragile if you even looked at it you had to buy it. And pens, all kinds of pens, back when pens exhibited alpha male masculinity, heavy and thick and ridiculous and they gleamed like armor in the sun. A whole sort of civilization disappeared when stationery stores disappeared. I live in the new civilization and I’m typing in it now, pecking on this ridiculous keyboard, and I can’t for the life of me remember what onion skin paper was for. Nor can I get my mind around the idea that a ball point pen once cost more to someone in 1946 than we spend for an iPad now.

Chinese toilet paper

Chinese bathroom tissue arrived in the mail today, a memory of a more desperate time. It came air mail all the way from, well I can’t read Chinese but it was from far, far away. It cost ten times as much as the Chinese bathroom tissue—that sounds so much nicer than toilet paper—that suddenly appeared at a supermarket two miles from here a day or two later, and not only were those rolls bulkier, even manlier than their petite cousins, but they smelled like lavender. Yes, lavender. They were piled in immense pyramids like the skulls outside the breached walls of Samarkand, and the bouquet of lavender clung to everything like mustard gas, not that we cared. It was toilet paper, at last, like manna from heaven and three bucks a twelve roll package. We stood six feet apart beaming and squeezing the whipple out of them. Once home I clove apart the packages and piled the contents neatly in the linen closet, filling every cranny with ramparts of plush three ply lavender. I forgot all about the solid gold T.P. wending it’s metaphorical way from China down the spice road through Samarkand, Tashkent, Merv and along the shores of the Caspian Sea, through the Mediterranean to Cadiz where it was loaded onto a galleon and set sailing before favorable winds to American shores and eventually handed to me by a postman here in Silver Lake. Did you order toilet paper he asked through his mask. I nodded. He handed me the package. It seemed lighter than air. I tore open the plastic and out spilled twelve little rolls of bathroom tissue. They were almost toylike. The feeling of falling in love with you they read. A miniature roll of toilet paper making love to me. Never had wiping my ass seemed so romantic.