I saw a photo of me from ‘79 and I was thin and powerful and had short punk rock hair and form fitting straight leg jeans and my package was terrifying. I was aghast. I went to work dressed like that, went everywhere. We all did. Those were just typical pants of the time. That’s how we dressed. That’s what we looked like. I can’t imagine how we put anything in our pockets. That was the tail end of the seventies. But the Reagan Revolution loomed, not that we could imagine it then, a decade of repression and forced modesty and loose slacks and no genitalia at all.
So we were at Ralphs in the middle of the day with all the old people pushing their carts packed high with cans of cat food s l o w l y down the aisle and are always in the way and it occurred to me that we were shopping at Ralphs in the middle of the day with all the old people. We had a zillion coupons and looked at the clearance racks and bought high fiber cereal. The Life.
I’m not yet at that stage where I flirt with the checker girls. I let a guy explain the grapes to me, though. I don’t know why he thought I didn’t know anything about grapes. But it was his good deed so I let him.
Me and Mrs Jones on the radio. Billy Paul. There sure were a lot of songs about adultery back then. Top 40 songs. Every hour there were several singers on the AM radio with things going on, and junior high kids singing along. We all grew up thinking it’s a good thing. Well, a bad good thing. Or good bad thing. The seventies….
The Lyft was a trim Lexus SUV, and we sank into the plush bucket seats with all the legroom as the loveliest driver I’d ever seen led us across town. She was charming and chatty and witty and disarmingly attractive, a knockout, petite and Chinese and dreamy. We rode towards South Pasadena a tad stoned when suddenly and silently the car was filled with the rank and noxious odor of rotten eggs. Just as my eyes began to sting all four windows slid open. Sorry our beautiful driver said. It took me a couple seconds to realize that this extremely attractive Lyft driver had just broken wind in the car, and I didn’t even know that was possible.
So of the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of trick or treaters that came to the door in South Pasadena last night, not one was done up as a punk rocker. Not even any of the giggling high school stoners scamming munchies. Punk rock is ancient history to grandkids. Too old. A lot of big inflatable dinosaurs last night, though. So maybe punk rock just isn’t ancient enough yet to be hip. Maybe some day kids will come to the door in big inflatable Sid Vicious costumes and they’ll be adorable and we’ll give them two candies each, one for them and one for Nancy.
While I’m on the subject of the end of all things, not long ago somebody asked me if I was afraid to die. It was a weird out of the blue question, I thought, a little morbid, but I said no, not at all. Which was true, I’m not afraid of dying. I don’t sit around dwelling on it or pestering people in bars with questions on their own mortality. Besides, I said, there’ll be one helluva wake. But you won’t be there, she said. Well, my cold corpse will be, if we go traditional. That’s sick, she said. No, I said, that’s dead. Uh, okay, she said. One fuck of a wake, I added. Screaming jazz and everyone drunk and stoned and raising hell. She looked a tad frightened, little her next to this giant dude talking about his post-mortem bash. I ordered another whiskey and offered her one, but it was obvious I was the last person she wanted to drink with. See ya at the party, I said.
The air is deathly still atop our hill here in Silver Lake, till the hint of a breeze brings the smell and sting of a bad burn miles away. That’s not a little fire, that smell, that’s whole neighborhoods, and jillions of molecules from burned houses fill the air in brownian motion, we inhale them, exhale them, they stick to our skin till we wash them off in the shower and they flow toward the ocean and infinity.