Today the wife and I were running about town doing errands and decided to stop for lunch at some Mexican place in Echo Park we’d never been to. It’s off Sunset, a bit hidden, and you descend into the place from a rear entrance. Not a window in the joint, it was probably a speakeasy in the twenties. Very cool little spot. The room was intimate, the bar ample, the service great, the food delicious and it just oozed an Echo Park hipness, not yet discovered by the outsiders.  We’d picked a booth at the back with a view of the bar, and we’re being waited on hand and foot….it was obvious the elite dropped in regularly, and they treated every customer as a member, just in case. Basically a fun scene.

My phone rang.  It was a dude who wants me to write some elaborate liner notes. He pitched me, we went back and forth on what ‘s needed, and when, and how much money he was offering. The food came, I nodded at the waiter and he brought another Tecate, I mouthed “con limon” and he bought a beautiful dish of freshly sliced lemons. He silently refilled my water glass as I chattered loudly into the phone, I nodded thanks while laughing into the phone, he poured my beer and dropped in two slices of lemon as I gestured broadly at the guy I was talking on the phone to, who could not see me, and went back and forth over the money.  The waiter—his name was Miguel—slipped away silently. My food sizzled on the platter as the guy on the phone kissed my ass. I nodded. Finally I said OK, the food’s here and getting cold, and I could hear him grow nervous on the phone that I might bail because the temperature of my huevos had dropped a degree or two, so I said I’m aboard on the project, he said excellent, so we can work out the details later? I said sure, and he said ciao. I didn’t say ciao back, but said cool, which is basically jazz-speak for ciao. I put down my cell on the table like it might ring  again any second and took a sip of my ice cold beer and realized, damn, I was just one of those assholes who talks loudly on a cellphone in a Hollywood restaurant, making a deal. It doesn’t get more show biz than that.

Scary. Since writing for the L.A. Weekly I had changed. Little by little, but still, five years before that wasn’t me. Not even a little bit.

It bugged me enough to write it all down.

[I quit the Weekly a month later.]

One thought on “Transformation

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