Downtown Chronicles, begin


…which is why we are ‘preferred customers’ at what we call the Korean store between Main & L.A. St. on 5th but owned by someone else #downtwn” was the way it started, then I realized I was ‘tweeting’ or ‘twittering (although that sounds like the dirty version, the masturbatory derivative of a verb that shouldn’t be) my journal — live, so to speak, into the ether of a few admirers I’ve been able to grab the attention of — mostly with inspirational, motivational, aspirational quotations. I remember my lawyer friend chastising me for my steadfast adherence to using quotation over the more familiar usage in the vernacular of ‘quote,’ but I was stubborn in my English major rules of grammar, elements of style, broken only when I wanted to write like Mark Twain meets my neighbors Frog and Teapot down Route 6, who I didn’t realize I wasn’t supposed to relate to, or translate into my own language, the secret messages strung together from the spaces surrounding people on the same land but nowhere near each other in what we refer to, and understand as, time. I said ‘quotations,’ and he, who had grown up a haole in Hawaii, who didn’t speak pidgin, would grin and laugh, chiding, ‘Quote.’ That was our legal sparring, which only trained me to argue with myself, in the end, since no one ever cares that much about the same minutiae that I seem to. But, as time goes by, that matters less and less, but, as any retrospective mish-mash goes, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I lived in another world, in a far away land traversed by Porsche at night with the heater on after ballet class-my parents had a tag team of after-school side-projects I was engaged in, whether I showed any talent at, enthusiasm for, aptitude in or, completely irrelevant as a qualifier, interest in (like any good little southern, Renaissance girl — not quite a belle, rejected that persona on the basis of no absolute known or traceable to formerly distinguishable roots, making the nomadic age of innocence that much easier to adapt to, unencumbered by some mutant strain of a banished knight’s birthright, pressured to re-claim, like property lines, or girders on the family plot, some straight lines of dignity, consistency, righteousness lost, no I was an avid explorer of what I was and wanted to be, if only momentarily) and some kind of Buick coach sedan with roadkill in the trunk for the injured falcons at home that had to be fed non-frozen, store-bought, meat-grinder conformed packaged meat. That was the first Act.

When asked, are you one of us? I say, depending on the mood in the room, something along three lines — one is maybe, then, we’ll see– depends on how you behave as to whether I want to claim membership in this faction of the genus of the family of the tribe with its pride in a flock of feathers all piled up in the early morning mist, how you know it was an owl then, you can always tell the predator by how it leaves its prey’s remains. I learned that early on in life, but was able to segment the application to dissection of anatomical parts, feathers still on song birds laid neatly in rows by color in drawers in the sitting room, where people sat when they came to visit, but luckily, did not think to reach for the drawer handles.

Human beings have always been an anomaly of contradictory signs and symbols  that I, for one, don’t know how to read when they become consistently incongruent, shocking to the system: the yelling and screaming still tenses the muscles pulling up my back, but then, subsides into nothingness I learned  so long ago and am just figuring out, still today.

‘Best baseball player in the league today’s rookie card was here today.’  Ben Harper sings “I am blessed to be witness” to the glory that is…Downtown, people disappear, sell “loosies” for anywhere from 25 – 50 cents (you can’t by lone ciggies in the Valley, FYI) and where the streets are lined with lit up little Christmas trees in the streetlights leading up to metal

I leave the ending up to you.

The glory that is on high

that we want to be there

from our depths

when black is all around

but it’s not completely dark

you still  have some awareness of

a beating heart

a quiet path to the nothingness

you preserve in that

deadly rock and roll vibration

skull ring like a pirate

how did you survive

and why did the screamer

drink and lude to death in a bathtub

fat from dystencion, the wrong mixture

‘before I sink into the dead sleep

I want to hear

CHAOS + DISORDER

he hates what he sees, incites a riot by taking off his leather pants

is known as the lizard king

inspires teenage girls 12 years later to

dream of rockstars as pornstars

“Is that any way to behave at a rock ‘n roll concert?”

Is there any way to describe why Elton John, certain songs, mostly from Honky Cat, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across the Water, Little Feat’s Down on the Farm, James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James,” the Rolling Stones, first Hot shots or the greatest hits, like Dylan, the heads on the cover; followed by their earlier stuff, a discovery, and the same with the Beatles. Zeppelin, always off limits, the first one I saw was Houses of the Holy at my friend’s house whose brother had one pot plant after an accident left plates in half his skull and pins in arms and legs on one side. and then the obelisk on the table with the generic, scary still perfect stand-up folk around the table staring at it — if only I had known, it was the pure sex exuded from that double-knecked guitar the virtuoso played to the click of the wall of drums beating out into the world, they capitulated some argument to punk, and I never got what.

So this started as a description of downtown L.A. and digressed way into my childhood memories of the first Led Zeppelin cover I saw, far sexier and scarier to the songs sanctioned to the radio.

Which is why the Stones with the 3-D zipper down the front of ‘Sticky Fingers,’ the band-in-drag on the cover of ‘Some Girls’ and the opiate-drenched down in the depths and up again perfection of “Exile’ always were the most accessible to me, followed by “The Kids Are Alright” and “Who Are You?” Probably, because at the time, they were still alive and together on the radio, whether you thought it was subpar or not was irrelevant, they hadn’t broken up, overdosed or crashed and burned, so that accounted for something — because there was a bad run there for a while with dead rockstars, which seemed to repeat itself in the 90s with actors for a while, now what’s it gonna be? Terrorist’s victims. Ah no thanks. What would you do? If you didn’t see them coming for you.

That’s why in “The Road,” the scariest part is how many bullets are in the gun, and why the mother isn’t with them, and how she refers to the number of bullets with a little too much obsessive compulsive self-absorbed (which I now realize is hard for those suffer from that ailment of not being able to get past the confines of their own skin, the architecture of their physical structure defines their entire ‘being, so much so that their mind falls by the wayside, as the body succumbs to a fear of imperfection, a dread of the ultimate inevitable pain of being hunted and made to beg) focus on NOT wanting to — what? Suffer? Be killed in a certain way? Be made to watch what she loves die in front of her eyes, even in her arms? Well, you have to endure, if only to deliver, someone or something  more vulnerable than you a little further along.

But who’s to say what one can endure until one gets there. We cannot truly judge another unless we have walked a mile  in their moccasins, my father used to say, as one of his mantras, and since it was virtually impossible to walk in someone else’s shoes by any rational means, the argument goes — put up or shut up.
“Has the ocean lost its way? / I don’t think so…” Robert Plant is both wry and spry at the same time and Jimmy Page just infers pure sex while John Bonham and John Paul Jones (as supporting player, but still necessary for the full effect, and to keep up, be so stable in a sea of chaos, the sum of creative elements, alchemy that comes back together like beads of mercury finding their way back to the middle) build a wall up to Jack in the Beanstalk. Pure sex is Zeppelin, and I just realized it (perhaps not subliminally , I should say, it was always there, like Freud would say) aft 43 years old, probably35 years later (probably since I heard, I’m guessing, “Whole Lotta Love” or “Heartbreaker” on the radio  long before ‘Stairway to Heaven’ ruined them in my mind.

“When you’re alone/and life is making you lonely/you can always go downtown… // Don’t hang around // And let your problems surround you // Maybe you know… //Some little places to go // Where they never close downtown…”

thoughts leading to metal

flowers

that taste in your mouth

when you wake up

regretful

forgetful

wanting to forget

that you belong to an idea

of yourself

in this skin

downtown

with it’s nooks and crannies

its places to hide

but always be seen

vulnerable and reptile-skin

at once

in the doorway

even if it doesn’t rain

running from cold store

40 to 40

and the cops giving out tickets now

for ‘attempt to possess’

kicking the dog

cruising the dregs of us all

and writing up tickets

that can never be paid

where no one who would be offended

ever goes

anyhow

1 thought on “Downtown Chronicles, begin

  1. I’ve only just started reading your blogs. And, as usual, I dig your style…don’t find it rough so much as real. It works for me to wander through your writing and stop where I want to…and then pick back up after 30 minutes of thinking (and occasionally wishing I had a doobie nearby as was my habit 20 yrs ago). Anyway, thanks very much for inviting me in, as it were.

    (Sidebar: you mentioned that cig singles aren’t sold in the Valley. Too bad! I swear that strategy was the only way I managed to finally quit. I was paying something absurd like .60 a cigarette as I tapered off…Smoked my last one in May of 2007 after Marlboro awarded me a gold metal in the sport).

    ANYWAY, great nod to Petula and to many musical greats. (I have Downtown on my iPod). Don’t ask me why, but this particular entry sent me into a reverie and helped me recollect songs I haven’t thought of in years…anything from Seven Nations’s Big Dog album but especially their cover of Under the Milky Way, XTC’s Ballad of Peter Pumkinhead, E. John’s We All Fall in Love Sometimes (is that from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy?? think so!), U2 (almost anything), Why by Annie Lennox, Driving with the Brakes On (Del Amitri), and MacDougall’s Pride, among others. Where you have an astonishing knowledge of pure rock and roll (and its roots), I am ALL over the map with my tastes, too eclectic for my own good. Anyway, what would I do without music? Don’t you remember where you were when you first heard a certain song? (BTW, anything by The Police always, always reminds me of you and jr-into-sr year of h.s.). I’m currently thinking about using the iTunes giftcard my kids gave me to buy Notion by Kings of Leon.

    Your post also made me think about my job. I work at a psychiatric hospital with forgotten, marginalized, stigmatized folks who need GEDs, online college credits, a better grasp of english…it’s an infinite need system with a wide open front door and a slammed shut, not-in-my-backyard back door. Nobody wants an arsonist, a sex offender, a former drug dealer or anybody with a LED sheet on their block. Don’t open up a group home here…
    There is certainly a broad array of dysfunction out there…and we can only begin to address what the patients dare to confront themselves. Teaching this particular population has convinced me that we all have a certain degree of mental illness. Whether we pull out of it, fake ways of quelling the demons, malinger, live with lifelong regimen of psychotropics or succumb is the question.

    KW, we need to go live off-the-grid for a year and think up ideas for a great documentary. Whatcha think?

    xoxo…have a great week.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close