Heavy metal tomato squeezing

(2017)

So Glenn Danzig has left the building. Well, left Los Feliz. My pal Paul Grant posted one of his signature perfect little paragraphs about it. (There are, here and there, some wonderful writers tucked away on Facebook). You’ll remember that Danzig had that gothically painted black trimmed place on Franklin with the heavy metal lawn. Someone has bought the place now. Probably give it a sprightly paint job and pretty trimming and a lawn with actual grass growing. I don’t know if that is gentrification or just demetalification. Or even if Danzig qualifies as metal. Is he doing the Misfits thing again? I remember him singing Astro Zombies with the Misfits at Al’s Bar about a zillion years ago, though he was still a New York punk rocker at the time. Since then he moved out to Hollywood (Los Feliz is a suburb of Hollywood, like Silver Lake) and became a rock’n’roll professional. Show business. Lawyers and agents and promoters. Teenage girls in black lipstick out on the sidewalk, giggling. It has all gotten so complicated. Mother!

I feel a connection here. You see, Danzig was the second in my heavy metal tomato squeezing trio. The first was Henry Rollins in the market where the Silver Lake 99 cent store is now, so long ago that his band was considered what they used to call crossover, back when Henry was poor and lived in the house on the other side of the fence behind us, not that we knew it. Late 80’s. I ran into him periodically, he was alternating between his really hard, metally band and a series of spoken word projects that college DJs just couldn’t get enough of. Maybe they were good, I don’t know, I just hated all those 1980s heavy serious political spoken word albums, the free verse clunking like furniture tossed down the stairs. Our parents had Bob Newhart and Mort Sahl LPs, we had Henry Rollins and Jello Biafra and Mecca Normal. But I digress.

But my Danzig tomato squeezing experience was maybe five years later, in the local Albertson’s on Virgil. That was on the way to a BBQ at Jonathan Hall’s on Berendo and I excitedly told everyone that I had just seen the second in my heavy metal tomato squeezing trio. They humored me. They humored me a little less when I’d bring it up periodically afterward. Meanwhile, I’ve been waiting for the third and final heavy metal tomato squeezer since then. I’ve given up. They’d probably be grape tomatoes anyway. Heavy metal grape tomatoes is not a thing.

I’m also waiting for the third sighting of shiny pink fuck me pumps. Stories that you can’t finish are really irritating. I don’t know what I will do if the pumps wearer is squeezing tomatoes.

The pandemic at Eight O’clock

(from sometime in 2020) . . . . The eight o’clock howls began tonight with the shriek of a woman and some crazed percussion on a ceramic pot followed by scattered shouts and shrieks and whistles and ululations and frantic beating on bongos and boxes and beer bottles till literally hundreds of unseen voices join in, welling up from the hills like a drunken audience demanding an encore and then, suddenly, it ends and all is silence again.

The vanishing rutabaga

Not to change the subject, but back in analog times in Los Angeles. a turnip was a turnip and a rutabaga a rutabaga, and grocery stores had rutabagas by the homely heapfuls come Thanksgiving. Admittedly it’s not a pretty thing, a rutabaga, sort of a dull sickly purplish on top and a messy dirty faded goldenrod on bottom, looking for all the world like someone just dug it out of the dirt and tossed it in the cellar with the potatoes. Inside, though, a rutabaga is a gorgeous orange, but you’d never know to look at it without cleaving it in twain. (No one cleaves anything in twain anymore, either.) Any store gentrifying its produce section is not going to want piles of rutabagas marring the perfection of the view. So now there’s only turnips in lovely white and purple piles in the grocery stores, prettier to look at than rutabagas, sure, if looking at turnips is your thing. So I’ll mash turnips this year. I didn’t just fall off the rutabaga truck, ya know.

OK, I did change the subject.

Man vs quake

I’ve put hours and hours into cleaning up the heatwave caused eco disaster in the fish tank and it’s beginning to look gorgeous again. I was sitting on the couch watching it like it was television when the rumbling began. As it grew in intensity I just got mad, and madder, and finally yelled Don’t break my aquarium, goddammit! It subsided. The aquarium was fine. I realized I had just yelled at an earthquake.

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.

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.

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?

Angie

Back about 1981 a woman with a fraffully English accent left a message on our answering machine saying Hello, this is Angie and told us what was happening at the Brave Dog that weekend. The Brave Dog was a crazily hip and completely illegal nightspot for weirdos in Little Tokyo. It’s a subway station now. Who’s Angie? my wife asked. Somebody said it was Angie Bowie. David Bowie’s ex? Calling us? For a second I thought we’d made it. She must be calling everybody on the Brave Dog list, my wife said. Maybe it’s her job. I pictured David Bowie’s ex in some weird outfit and crazy make up and huge platinum hair, pressing all these 213 numbers with endless fingernails. I could almost feel the ennui. She used to hang with the Beatles. Now she was calling us. It was too ridiculous. It couldn’t possibly be Angie Bowie. It must be some other Angie. That was forty years ago almost. I wouldn’t be so easily thrilled now anyway. Too long in Hollywood. This town is full of exes. But I’ve always wondered who that Angie was, not that I thought about it much. But I’m retired now, and have more time to think.

No order whatsoever

I remember at the house on Edgecliffe in the 80’s we had hundreds and hundreds of albums but I was so punk rock they were in no order whatsoever. Anarchy, I said. Sometimes if I was tired of hearing the same record every week—we were having parties almost weekly, loud obnoxious drunken punk rock parties that went on till dawn—I’d hide the record way in the back somewhere. Only the most determined digger—The Panther was the best—would flip through hundreds of LPs to find Sticky Fingers. Most would just pick something that looked cool and it might be some frenzied Yugoslavian punk rock or squealing Swiss saxophones or bad Lee Michaels. Then there’d be a drunken screech of the tone arm across once perfect vinyl, a pregnant few seconds, and Brown Sugar again.