The pad is utterly Xmas free again. Every year there is a Christmas explosion that fills the house, and then just as suddenly it reverse explodes back onto the closet shelf, all of it but the tree (which goes wherever sacrificed trees go), a crazed Christmas party’s worth of stuff reboxed with an inherited Germanic efficiency that my Irish half observes with lazy poetry.
A vast hollow boom rent the silent night, followed by a ragged series of other booms, just as loud. The first one startled me, the others just made me smile. No matter how much they’ve gentrified Silverlake, there’s still little pockets of Mexico where somebody’s tio borracho breaks out the stash of unbelievably illegal fireworks he’d smuggled up from TJ or maybe bought off an ice cream truck across the river and sets them off in a ragged volley because, hell, Christmas Eve is a holiday like any other. Now Silver Lake is utterly silent again as I write this, even in here, where the Christmas tree lights throw crazy shadows on the ceiling and the entire room looks like a Van Gogh still life. Brick needs to take his seizure meds.
Merry Christmas, all.
Are you sure the trunk is straight, I asked. My comrades said yes. Are you positive? Yes, we’re positive. That’s good enough for me, I said. They’d never misjudged it before. And now we have the Leaning Tree of Pisa.
I suppose it gives the room a touch of Whoville, sans Grinch. It is a lovely tree. Even lovelier if you have one leg a couple inches shorter than the other. I recommend that the ladies where one pump and one flat, and the guys lean to the right. Then you won’t notice. The Charlie Brown in me frets as Linus quotes Boethius and Shroeder gets lost in Bill Evans, the chords glittering softly like tinsel on a perfect California day.
A few christmas parties ago our techie neighbor gave us a robot alarm clock….you set the alarm and when the time hit it would go berserk and roll around frantically, bumping into things, racing about, its alarm screeching and whooping and generally being absolutely awful. He set the time for 11 pm or so, wrapped it with pretty christmas wrapping paper and put it under the tree. By 11 pm the party was truly happening, packed and loud and not out of control but threatening to. A good party always threatens to. The sofa facing the tree was full of pathetically stoned people. It’s liked they showed up, sat down, and hadn’t moved since. They couldn’t. They’d melted into it, become one with the fabric. It was almost zen.
Suddenly our neighbor’s present began thrashing about in its wrapper and screeching and whooping. No one noticed but the stoners, since they were staring at the tree and had been for hours. All the pretty lights. Now one of the presents starts thrashing about and bleeping and screeching and whooping. Ummm wow, that’s fucked up. Fuck. Dude, yeah, that’s fucked up. Then stoner paranoia set in. Maybe it was terrorists. Dude, terrorists at Brick and Fyl’s party. Fucked up. The whooping and thrashing suddenly stopped. Someone fired up a bowl. Continue reading
Damn. Eleven hours. That might be a record. We considered breakfast but the place looked like the remains of a riot so we settled for cookies and scrapings of hummus and cup after cup after cup of strong coffee, punctuated with beer and other things. John Ramirez was reading aloud from my blog of parties past–that was new, people reading my blog aloud at my own house, but it was so late I was past the point of self-consciousness–as Carey Fosse was spinning jazz at the stereo. Heard so much Bud Powell my ears we’re ringing with it as I awoke around eleven, then noon, and finally a few minutes ago. Bouncing With Bud, over and over, every take Michael Cuscuna could squeeze into that double CD, rattling through my head between all the seizure meds and Benadryl and memories. Hadn’t heard it that album in years and certainly never heard it played in its entirety, both discs, every out take, at five in the morning. He played good, that Bud Powell. Better than I can write right now, and certainly better than I am cleaning the house right now. Instead I am sitting here stumbling through this post surrounded by wreckage and listening to Shin Joong Hyun and thinking just how groovy and swinging and punk rock a bohemian life style can be. No responsibility, just happenings, experiences, and the lies–well, exaggerations–we tell about them later.
Great tree, too. A beautiful Christmas tree. Each one like a work of art assembled by all these weirdos, and after two weeks it’s gone forever.
I’m up early, staring at the tree. It looks good even in daylight which is good for a Christmas tree, sometimes they look strange then, things off, lights blinking ridiculously. But not this one. It’s pretty perfect. Our drunk friends did a nice job, though I still see a few Cheetos. No presents under it yet, we haven’t even started shopping, that’ll be today. We always do the last minute thing. Know where to go (which isn’t the Galleria) and be back in time for eggnog and A Christmas Carol. The one with Alistair Sim, the spooky one. Or maybe A Charlie Brown Christmas, which I’ve probably watched at least once every year since it came out in 1965. That was in Maine, there was snow on the ground, it snowed like crazy that year in Maine. Snowed even on the following Mother’s Day, a regular blizzard. Out here they were surfing and tanning and making stupid beach movies, in Maine they were shovelling and cursing the slush. The next year, 1966, How the Grinch Stole Christmas came out for the very first time, and I’ve probably seen it every year since. That was in Maine, too, and there was snow on the ground. Those two Christmases were rather remarkable for me, I remember, since we lived in the same house for both. I can’t remember us ever having two of any holiday in one house during my childhood except 1965 and ’66. Maybe that’s why I have such fond memories of Maine. Brunswick, the little town we lived in, was all dolled up in Yuletide everything, but in an old fashioned way. It was cold and snowy but just like a movie. We had a huge tree and decorating it was a blast. Mom had her own tree, too, in the den. It was aluminum, white, and decked with blue balls, with a blue spinning lamp that reflected on it, and it sparkled, and we weren’t allowed to touch it. That was very early sixties, that tree, very Jackie Onassis. I don’t know if they still even have trees like that. The real tree, though, was big–huge to an eight or nine year old–and had a zillion ornaments, some brought all the way from Austria-Hungary by my grandparents. We had to be extra careful with those, especially the perfect little bird’s nests with the tiny eggs. I wonder if you can still buy those? Or do you have to import them from Austria-Hungary, which hasn’t even existed for a hundred years. A Never-Never Land, like a fairy tale, or a drug induced hallucination, whatever. Leave it to me to have half my relatives from a place that doesn’t exist. The other half came from Ireland, and the tradition was to drape the tree with strings of popcorn and oranges if they could afford them and light it with candles. Whiskey and candles were a bad mix, the one leaving you to forget the latter, and houses would burn down in Irish neighborhoods every year, one or two. Or so my dear mother told me. We had electric lights. Everyone did by the time I was born. We had a train too going around the tree. We still do. Maybe you’ve seen it.
I loved Christmas as a kid, and I love Christmas now. I can’t help it. I’m just a sucker for the tree and shopping and wrapping presents and eggnog (lots of eggnog). I think I even like hating the same stupid carols they play over and over and over. Feliz Navidad, oh lord. In Maine groups of kids went door to door a-caroling, I remember that vividly. Out here no children have ever come a-caroling to our door–any of our doors, and there’s been four of them since 1980. Though one Christmas Eve we were at a friend’s place in Hollywood and gay carolers came to his door. Gay as in gay, though they seemed gay as in happy too. You’ve never seen carolers until you’ve seen gay carolers. They were dressed in Christmas to the nines. I’d never seen Christmas handcuffs before. Later I knew a lady who showed me her’s. L.A. is different from Maine, and Silver Lake was different from anywhere.
It’s still traditional in our household, though. Well, I did just notice that the gingerbread couple in the snow globe are anatomically correct. I’d never noticed that before. It was a gift, years ago. That’s a lot of snickering behind Brick’s back. And there are Cheetos hung on the Christmas tree with care. But otherwise it’s a traditional Christmas here, as always, and so I’ll deliver my traditional Merry Christmas to all of you who’ve read this far. And a Happy New Year. I hope your holidays are the best.