(August 16, 2011)

It was a hot as hell August day in 1977 and I was working at a place in Fullerton, way out in Orange County, trying to make as much money as I could before heading off to U.C. Santa Barbara in the fall. My family was broke, I’d gotten a couple small scholarships, a student loan and anything else had to come from my summer job. You can imagine the wages in 1977. Nothing. Anyway, I was upfront in the office and heard that Elvis Presley had died. Wow. The King is dead. That’s all anyone could talk about. I went out into the warehouse a bit later and all the women were crying their eyes out. The manager out there was this bitter old geezer. Look at ’em, he said. They all lost their cherries with Elvis on the car radio. No wonder they’re crying. He said that aloud, and they cried even harder. He spouted some more vile crap. I couldn’t stand the guy, nearly hated him, but half the gig was working in the warehouse so I kept my mouth shut. I stayed away from the lunch table that day, it was too sad. Later the ladies were all red eyed, tearing up but in control of themselves. I don’t remember if I said anything smartassed. I was twenty and in college and probably did. Elvis was this ridiculous bloated thing by the end anyway. Though secretly I liked him. Burning  Love, the Ghetto, Suspicious Minds, I loved those songs. And of course the 50’s hits, Hound Dog and Little Sister and like that. Not much later I picked up his Sun Sessions album, all the first stuff he ever did. That was a life changer for me, hearing what rock’n’roll was like at the creation. You have no idea how it sounded back then in contrast to all the phony, pretentious, coked out, utterly bogus crap that rock had become by the mid-seventies. To this day it’s one of my favorite records ever. Even played some of those tunes in a band or two. That death of his, though, was something else. The country went mad. Utterly mad. They mobbed Graceland. Bought all his albums, even the awful ones, as if in their grief all those movie soundtracks sounded listenable.  And the funeral was crazy. Cadillacs, whole herds of Cadillacs. He’d bought them by the dozen for people he thought deserved them. Hell, you could serve him hamburgers at the drive-in and voila, a brand new Cadillac. That was Elvis. The women cried and cried. Soon Elvis walked again, appearing all over the South. Turns out he wasn’t dead at all people said.  But he was. So they made him a saint. Some kind of Baptist saint, there’s churches and everything. The preacher, of course, is an Elvis impersonator. You can’t avoid them. There’s a Thai Elvis on Hollywood Blvd. There’s a father-son Elvis at the farmer’s market in Eagle Rock. There’s fat Elvis impersonators and thin Elvis impersonators…the fat ones do Aloha From Hawaii, the thin ones do the ’68 Comeback Special. I saw a fat one do the thin Elvis once, he was squeezed so tight in that leather outfit he looked ready to explode and was sweating like the fat Elvis. We had a painting contractor come to our apartment once. He was Elvis. Elvis in painting duds.  He was all business. Ya gotta make a living somehow.

Still though, almost every time I see any off these Elvises, or hear Elvis on the radio, or catch a glimpse of one of those stupid, stupid movies Colonel Parker made him do, I remember him dying and the ladies crying and crying. And then I remember his very first single, and sing to myself That’s all right mama. That’s all right for sure. And I wish to hell I’d been smart enough to say it that day to the crying ladies. Just said that’s alright, mama, that’s alright for sure.

Good rocking tonight....


Kim Kardashian you’d expect but nude photos of Vladimir Putin on the web? Wrestling a Siberian alligator no less? For real? Does it matter? I miss the Weekly World News. TMZ is so unimaginative, naked movie stars and tacky selfies. Aliens meeting presidents and reptile man Elvis and naked Putin wrestling an alligator, now that is news. Waiting in line at Ralphs was exciting then. Now a supermarket check out line is the inevitable fifteen things that drive men wild and those pictures of Princess Di. It’s just not the same. You’d think the Koch brothers would bring it back, the Weekly World News. Fill it with lies and conspiracy theories and recipes from other galaxies. How do we slip them some mind fuck acid? Grace Slick just missed dosing Richard Nixon. His mind was nearly psychedelicized. In some alternative universe it happened that way. Time really did come today. Nixon in the White House, grokking with the protest kids. Freaking to Country Joe and the Fish. Give me an F, he says. Spiro does, and a U and a C and a K as well. What’s that spell? What’s that spell? What’s that spell?

But no, we got Watergate. And nattering nabobs of negativism. And the Koch Brothers. TMZ. Kim Kardashian’s naked ass. Sometimes I think we’re in the wrong universe.

Richard Nixon on brown acid at Woodstock.

Richard Nixon out of his mind high at a Grateful Dead show. Don’t eat the brown acid, they said. But Nixon went to China, and he ate the brown acid. Chou En-Lai wasn’t so sure, but Mao dug it. Feed your head, Nixon told him, feed your head. Mao did, and went for another swim.



Just reading I piece I wrote about the day Elvis died and how all the ladies at work we’re crying their eyes out. Got me remembering those ladies. Tough dames, all those girls, working class and divorced once or twice and life hadn’t always been easy and now they were doing the working wife thing, which was new in the 1970’s, very new. They were sweet, but get them all together and they were a pack, foul mouthed, chain smoking, been around the track already broads and all totally horny. That I knew because they would talk about being horny. All the time. They had the itch. I got the itch, they’d say. I’m so horny I could fuck a telephone pole. I was a dumb kid then, not yet twenty years old, and would buy my burrito off the lunch truck and join them. At first they protected my innocence, but not for long. Time to grow up boy, they’d say. Soon enough they’re banging their drunk boyfriends on a Saturday night or wondering if the old man could still get it up. They doubted it. The old man never seemed to have the itch like they had the itch. I would listen and pretend not to. The concept of horny middle-aged ladies was new to me, alien almost, I didn’t quite comprehend the itch. That is till the pack turned on me. The loudest one–from Cleveland, I remember, she with that Great Lakes plain-spoken abrasiveness–started complaining about how horny she was. How she wasn’t getting any at home. The others agreed. No one seemed to be getting any. That surprised me, I’d thought that married people (excepting one’s parents, of course) got it on all the time, else why marry? They groused a bit more. Then I noticed them all eyeing me. Cleveland blurts out maybe we should all jump the kid here. I froze. They all stared and smiled. Cleveland says yeah,  just pin him down and take turns. They laughed. I blushed. Then she gave me a look I’d never seen before. We’d have you flopping like a fish. Her tone was almost menacing. I must have looked stunned and she cackled  The others laughed too, evil laughs, cackling, evil, lascivious laughs.  They were all just staring at me, cackling. Grown up lust. I’d never seen it before. Never even knew it existed. It was a distant world of forty and fifty somethings and I wasn’t even a twenty something yet. I was a freshman at a community college, still living at home. Mine was still a world of crushes and instant adolescent erections and the endless distraction of teenage females. This was the mid-70’s and the sexual revolution of Hugh Hefner and a zillion hippies had finally reached the high schools in a big way. The girls wore micro mini’s and tee shirts barely concealing breasts held aloft as if by magic. We’d stare open-mouthed.  Heat waves were torments. The school’s air conditioning barely worked and we’d sweat in our jeans and corduroys in class while the girls flounced about lazily in Daisy Mae cutoffs and halter tops.  Screwing seemed to be frantic and incessant. Playboy was full of real live women, we thought, perfect and sweet and naked and we’d save the centerfolds for further study. But this, these middle-aged women and their itch and their telephones poles, this was sex, raw and sweaty and urgent and not always pretty. Reality. I didn’t even know it existed, not like that. Not even the letters in the Penthouse Forum we read at a friend’s place because his parents were psychologists and thought it healthy that their son read Playboy and Penthouse and Oui (Hustler wasn’t out yet, thankfully) mentioned telephone poles.

I’d never felt so uncomfortable in my young life. One of the ladies noticed. Oh come on, she said, leave him alone, he’s just a kid. He’s awfully big for a kid, another said. He’s still a kid. Never seen kid with a package like that. Yeah, but he’s just out of high school. The debate went back and forth, but at last their maternal instinct won out. It was uncomfortably quiet for a moment. Cleveland stopped her cackling and looked at me. It’s OK boy she said. You’ll learn soon enough. And I did, soon enough.

It’s a funny thing, but at some point in your life you begin to identify with the old people in your memories. The young you becomes so fresh and unjaded as to be unfathomable. Somewhere back there you stopped being the protagonist in your own life story. You become  one of the secondary characters. You’re the dude on the far end of middle age looking at the young stud in the making and thinking man, you got some story ahead of you. You look at him and smile. The kid smiles back, clueless, nothing but innocence.