I feel nostalgic for being flat fucking broke, drinking cheap beer in my friends’ apartment in Glendale sitting on the floor, hanging out all night in a Persian recording studio in Van Nuys, driving to the South bay in back in Greg’s minitruck because that was the only way to get A/C, being a nighthawk at the diner at Dolores in West L.A. at 3 am reading mysteries. We ate at a hundred bad cheap restaurants and played each other records. Greg and I were inseparable, the two lonely amigos who finished each others’ sentences.
I remember sitting on my porch in Hollywood on the hottest day of the year watching a squirrel and a cat have a two hour faceoff and listening to the drug dealers whistle at each other up and down Yucca. Or buying my bus pass at the Pimps R Us check cashing joint on the boulevard and then eating bad steak ‘n’ eggs at Legends of Hollywood with Johnette Napolitano at the other end of the counter.
Sitting in a little apartment on Mammoth Avenue in Van Nuys listening to Mudhoney on a crap stereo and drinking iced down tapwater to kill the taste. Greg’s sister had a fishtank without fish in it, but with one of those aerators hooked up to a diver guy doll so it kept going up and down whacking its head on the top of the tank; existential aquarium. Half our friends were a slightly younger bunch who all worked at a record store in Glendale and didn’t know what the fuck was going on with their lives either. There was one new year’s eve party that resulted in about 3 marriages and a lot of other chaos in that group.
I saw a million bad bands for free and had a great time doing so. Crap progrock band playing in a fern bar in Calabasas; they passed out their lyrics as a libretto, sounded like Rush. Horrible series of gloom glam rock bands with superannuated guys in tight leather pants, bands all called something like Blood Red Roses or Mary’s House of Guns. An electronic dance band that had three costume changes during a half hour set in a shit nightclub, one of which involved tuxes and throwing monopoly money around while they yelled RICH KIDS, RICH KIDS!
We were on the edge of about three scenes. We knew the famous talented people kinda, and rejoiced in their success when they got signed to some record label and sent off to learn songwriting with Jane Wiedlin in a chateau or something. No one we really knew well made it big. A lot of people got eaten up by the music thing.
And hours and hours and hours on the bus, the thing no one rides in L.A., with me and all the other poor people and the very old and very young and insane and handicapped and drunk and everyone else who didn’t fit. Buses smelled like sweat & vomit, someone was always upset. Waiting an hour for a transfer to get another 15 minute ride. Untreated depression fit in really well on the bus; no one cared that I was unkempt and smelly or occasionally weeping.
Going down to the newsstand on Cahuenga at 3 am because I couldn’t sleep, watching the newsstand guy yell at the men in the porn section to get out, you’ve been in there long enough. I’d come back with four or five magazines to read during my meals alone on the boulevard.
All my friends were yuffies, people who should have gone on to middle class success but we dropped out or they were musicians or they had a big problem with the head or maybe there just weren’t any jobs because it was the early 90s and we were all awash in homeless people and layoffs and the death of opportunity.
But we could still go out to see each other play the crap tuesday night slot at some bar and then spend too long at a coffee shop having the pancake special and way too damn much bad coffee and arguing happily about nothing. Or spending three hours eating cheap thai food and drinking our own beer at some hollywood thai joint. And then a long, cold walk back home to lie on an uncovered mattress and wait for a little sleep before that part time job.
We were all either trying to make something of ourselves or kill time fucking dead, or maybe both at once.
I hated it at the time, but part of me misses it. And I really miss being Greg’s right arm.