I’m too old to look like a cop anymore, though that used to come in handy. You don’t get fucked with when you look like a cop, not even by cops. Hell, not by anybody, I had gang bangers apologize for what I don’t know, and the crackheads in Hollywood never came near our Chevy Celebrity. It never got broken into even in the skankiest neighborhoods. But the high point had to be the time I sent a few Motown execs into a coked out panic when they thought I’d caught them doing lines in the men’s room at the Soundcheck. Old timers will remember the place, on Sunset Blvd just this side of Vine, a couple doors down from the Motown offices. Texacala Jones waited the tables slowly and silently. Anyway, one crowded night I pushed open the door to the men’s room and startled three suits in the middle of a conference. They freaked, three cats dressed to the nines in gold and expensive suits frantically wiping the evidence off their noses. I assume they tossed the rest of the blow into the waste basket. I just came into piss, I said, I’m not a cop, which only meant I was a cop, and it took another minute before I could convince them that I probably wasn’t a cop and as I stood there at the urinal they kept spluttering apologies to me and one shook my free hand. Oh, Hollywood….
Many, many years ago I had a job for a few weeks at one of the Skid Row missions downtown, setting up their databases. Worked with lots of recovering addicts. That was interesting. My assistant had been an executive in an aerospace firm, with a huge house, expensive cars, a yacht, some beautiful children and a trophy wife. Speed had helped him get more work done. He’d been through every addiction program his company offered but finally wound up on the street and then in the mission. He showed me the ropes. The addicts there had a hierarchy, he explained, almost like a caste system. The cokeheads–strictly powder–were the aristocracy, the Brahmin. Even in the mission they wore bling. Then came tweekers. Very busy. Then junkies. They were the thinkers. Then the boozers and winos. Theirs was legal, they could leave anytime they wanted and get a bottle, or not. They always did though. Finally, at the bottom, were the untouchables, the crackheads. Even the sorriest Skid Row winos were above them. None of the other castes at the mission had any respect for them. They’d order them around, drive them off like stray dogs. They aren’t even human, my tweeker assistant told me, they’re just pure addiction.