Us in 1989, in front of our brand new car. I was a week from 32 and believe I had started to shave.
Think that was our second Chevy Celebrity, which all the cops drove, and as we cruised down the Hollywood streets all the other cars would slow down and the crack dealers would slip into the shadows. We were never broken into, even outside Al’s Bar in the optimistically named Arts District just off Skid Row. Not even a crackhead was dumb enough to break into an undercover cop’s car. Sometimes even cops thought I was a cop, and would nod or make secret hand signals so not to blow my cover. I didn’t know the signal but would nod back. I also worked for the CIA and FBI and learned how to say I’m not Migra en español. I remember showing up at a gig to nervous whispers at the door. I got out of the car and a girl came out to meet me. Can I help you officer? Sure, I said, you can help me unload my drums. She carried the snare. Fun car.
That’s a movie star’s jacket, some huge gnarly hunk, I can’t remember who. A friend had copped it from his starwaggon. He had two, she said. Fyl still has that black jacket she’s wearing. It still fits.
Anyway we look very sweet in our nice couple buying a car get ups and clearly not the sort of people who had loud drunken parties full of punks, freaks and losers in their house every single weekend.
The older you get the more you realize just how grumpy forty somethings are. Sheesh, who invited them to the party? Perfectly fun thirty somethings are suddenly miserable to be around. They’re easy to spot: just say anything and they’ll complain about it. And complain. And complain. Anyway, if they don’t kill themselves or turn Republican they’ll get over it and twenty years later they’ll be looking at all the shit they no longer have to worry about, giggling like idiots. Actual idiocy is still a decade or so away.
Lost my iPhone—it apparently slipped between the seats in an Uber and is forever lost in the bowels of a Toyota—and took nearly a week to get a new one. It was our sole connection to the internet, as I’d put away the desktop when I realized that my epileptic hypergraphia was out of control and my brain a sizzling, sputtering epileptic mess—basically, I was losing it—and figured that an iPhone would help contain the problem. It has, for the most part, with only occasional lurches into hypergraphia and other charming intra-ictal personality traits. Anyway, I was frantic for a few hours after losing the phone, it’s like our entire lives were on it, then it dawned on me that I didn’t actually need the internet right away for anything. I began to thoroughly enjoy not having a digital existence. Suddenly all these projects around here got completed. More reading got done. Instead of Twitter and Facebook and whatever it is that men do on the internet I was watching old movies. Didn’t write one fucking sentence, the spigot had been turned off. It was quite terrific.
Then late yesterday afternoon a lovely little thing in a postal uniform knocked on the door. She looked just like the messengers who are always delivering telegrams at just the wrong times in old movies, except you don’t tip them. Your phone, sir. I thanked her, signed, sighed and opened the box. Spent the next hour trying to maneuver through the tortuous maze Apple forces those among us who do not have any other Apple devices handy to wend our way through to turn the fucking thing on (now that was a sentence, I must be out of shape.) Then spent the next couple hours downloading all the apps that control our lives—I had made a list ahead of time that had them in order and checked them off one by one, like a good secretary. Then I looked at Facebook but couldn’t get into it. Looked at Twitter but it was all massacres and death. Email was just email. Even my blogs failed to spark. Nothing on the little screen sparked, none of my usual digital haunts. It all seemed so, uh, lifeless. Two dimensional. Too digital. So I put it down.
But here I am again.
Sent from my fucking iPhone.
About 7 am yesterday I woke out of a deep sleep to let in the house painters. Forgot to put my bandage on and my knee sleepily buckled and I stumbled against the bedroom door but recovered in time to realize the painters were upstairs and not at the door. Fuck. But since I was up anyway I went into the kitchen to put last night’s dishes away. Something was dripping. Looked around and realized it was me with a big bloody couple gashes on my arm, skin scraped away, a mess. Not sure how I did it bashing into the door but she’s got it festooned with hockey pennants and Sioux dream catchers all hung by tacks and I must have shredded my arm on a couple. It must have hurt but I didn’t notice. I never notice. Unless it’s a paper cut—I hate paper cuts!—I’ll have no idea I bashed my arm or hand or whatever, blood everywhere. Now it looks like I got bit by a German shepherd. Oy. Big guys are sweet but stupid.
The festooned door.
OK, the painters are done and gone. The place has been transformed from its faded Silver Lake glory into something, uh, different. The exterior is now lily white, much like me, with teal round the windows and doors. Teal. The front door itself is a sort of psychotic yellow, apparently visible from several space stations. I’m afraid to look at the back door. All in all it fits our new, bubbly personalities, bright and colorful and sunny, the kind of place that people in New Jersey look at and think Italians live there.
Inside is the same as before, though with an exciting new toilet. No, I won’t post a picture of the toilet. New floor coming in the kitchen. Fyl picked the color pattern. It’ll be a surprise. Anyway I better go practice smiling to go along with that teal. Any minute I expect Debbie Reynolds to come bursting in.
I remember driving from Davis to Fairfield one summer night thirty some years ago and passing a drive-in in the distance showing hardcore porn. Nasty naked hardcore porn. Huge everythings. Probably the biggest TV repairman ever, though we had missed the libretto, having dawdled in Davis an extra minute or two. You have no idea how surreal this was for a couple from Hollywood. Porn was something viewed in faded movie palaces on Hollywood Blvd all dark and dank and icky, full of dirty old men and worst dates ever and Pee Wee Herman. Yet here we were, smack dab in the middle of Reagan country with Jesus on the radio and the biggest fornicators you ever saw getting it on in front of God and everybody. All that flesh on the screen must have been visible for miles. It certainly was a half mile away on the 80. Alas we zipped by so quickly I never did get a line on the plot, and in a minute or two the screen passed out of sight completely and we were wrapped again in darkness but for the occasional Jesus staring at us from a billboard. Sometimes the analog world was like another planet.
Once a nephew of mine wanted to see Hollywood. 1980, I think. Maybe ‘81. We had gone three blocks from home when a beautiful cobalt blue low rider completely tricked out—pipe organ speakers and everything—came rolling down Western from Hollywood Blvd, ran the light, jumped the curb and slammed into a lamp post. The body of the driver was slumped over the little chain steering wheel and you could clearly see the knife in his back. We all stared in disbelief. Well, you wanted to see Hollywood, I said. Cool, he said.