Time Takes Three Places At Once

22 May


What I was doing

13 YEARS AGO: Freezing my ass off on a stool behind the counter at the Record Recycler (4659 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA – RIP), cleaning a stack of tepid, late-disco LPs by hand, listening to a beat up copy of MICK RONSON’s Slaughter on 10th Avenue LP over the soundsystem. Dweeb nonpersonality cum popstar BECK is also there as a customer, checking out the used rock section.

At some point, BECK tentatively approaches the counter, and asks: ”Um – do you have a bathroom here?” I say: ”yeah – in the back, through that door” and point to the back office door. BECK hesitates for a moment, frozen, zero expression, staring at the counter. “Just, back through that door there?” Me: ”Yep. Just back through that door.”

BECK stands there for what feels like an extremely long while – considering his options, I suppose. But now I’m getting uncomfortable. I don’t precisely know what he more he wants me to do – help him, maybe? So I say: ”you want me to show you where it is?” BECK, visibly relieved, says: ”Yes!” I show him the way, thankfully without further incident. He emerges intact 5 minutes later.

BECK then stares at the counter and asks if the MICK RONSON record I’m listening to is for sale. Shit. ”Well, it’s pretty beat. You could find a nicer copy pretty easily. This is just sort of an in-store play copy. You know, to listen to in the store and stuff.” Which is followed by another one of these interminably long, coldsweat silences. And I, in a vulnerable moment of either Honest Abe free market wheelin’ and dealin’, or awkward tongue-tied cowardice, end up selling him the LP for one lousy dollar. My wife STILL won’t let me live this down.

19 YEARS AGO: Getting off work at Either/Or Bookstore (124 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach, CA – RIP), heading to my older brother’s apartment in South Torrance. Upon arrival, I find not only my brother but his galpal tripping ha-a-a-rd on some righteous LSD blotter, blasting METALLICA’s Master of Puppets cassette, watching David Lynch’s Eraserhead on mute. Niiice. As one might guess, the anxiety-provoking audiovisual input is bumming everyone out pretty majorly. This, in turn, bums me out royally – hey he’s my brother, after all.

With a bit of cheerleading, I pry em loose of that reality and herd everyone into my pickup. We then drive up to my pad – the smallest studio apartment in the whole of North Redondo. Somewhere en route the vibe brightens up considerably, but unfortunate things like ”dude the police are everywhere” are still voiced. Once safely inside my pad, my guests plant themselves on the shag carpet and enter into a deep state of relaxation whilst paging through ROBERT WILLIAMS’ low brow art books and listening to ENO’s Music For Airports to take the edge off. No further worries are verbalized. The next day my brother phones and says ”that art shit totally saved me from the hairy precipice of insanity.”

25 YEARS AGO: Arriving at a winter junior high school dance at the Margate Intermediate School (2161 Via Olivera, Palos Verdes Estates, CA – RIP) auditorium. I am late, the place is packed, and the cover band is crucifying something I’d identify years later as a truncated version of KID CREOLE & THE COCONUTS’ ”Stool Pigeon”. I keep my head down and tell myself I don’t really want to be there, this is stupid, all the girls at this school are fake, stuck-up preppies, just boring etc. etc. etc.

I go stand against the wall next to L., an awkward fella who always arrived extra-early to these things wearing an unfashionable satin jacket. He never seemed to dance much. After a stomach- knotting length of time, the cover band’s singer lets rip his last ”Ah-cha! Cha! Cha!” and the song mercifully ends. Dancers slow and begin to return to their chosen wall-space.

At this point S. slowly approaches me, smiling in her friendly though slightly conspiratorial way. Out of pure fear-of-girls (particularly preppy ones like S.) I avoid eye contact at first. But then, realizing it’s not so hard, I return her smile. The band lurches into their manic and hurried take on THE ROMANTICS ”What I Like About You” and S. pops the question: ”wanna dance?” I nod and say yes yes yes. We get out there and dance the Belinda Carlisle wildly together, I have a ball and my whole freakin’ world loosens up one incredibly important notch. After the song ends, S. confides: ”I like dancing with you – you don’t make me look like an idiot.” It makes my entire week.

*originally posted on a now defunct LiveJournal


9 Responses to “Time Takes Three Places At Once”

  1. Dennis Catron May 23, 2009 at 3:20 pm #

    You’ve had way cooler jobs than me (waterbed setup, attic insulation.) Enjoyed the heck out of these. Dance the Belinda Carlisle!

  2. mrowster May 23, 2009 at 6:26 pm #

    Thanks man. But an attic insulation worker! That’s straight out of Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. Did you ever run across any weird/creepy things hiding in them crawlspaces?

  3. Dennis Catron May 24, 2009 at 12:52 am #

    No, but I bought a Green Ghost game I found in someone’s attic once. I don’t recommend the job. Being in a flat roof home in LA with 20 inches of crawl space in 100′ weather – It doesn’t get much worse than that. Oh! I did slip once and my foot went through the living room ceiling of the lady who played organ at Anaheim Stadium. This has nothing to do with your article, does it? :-)

  4. mark May 24, 2009 at 6:05 pm #

    That art shit really does come in handy, no?

  5. mrowster May 26, 2009 at 5:57 pm #

    mark: yeah it’s amazing how downright useful art can be, emotionally/spiritually speaking.

  6. Dave Lang May 28, 2009 at 12:17 pm #

    Good Post!

    13 years ago today: probably carrying boxes of CDs around a warehouse listening to Miles Davis and the Stooges (and the constant death metal played by the guys I worked with).

    19 years ago: probably being a socially-challenged dork still trying to get used to life at Uni, just out of high school, blasting Killdozer and Die Kreuzen on the headphones daily.

    25 years ago: uh… spinning my Frankie Goes To Hollywood 7″s, wishing I was in the band. Just being honest!

  7. nazz nomad May 29, 2009 at 4:53 pm #

    I made the mistake of seeing Eraserhead on Acid many many years ago. I still don’t think I’ve recovered.

    13 years ago today- finishing up my 6 year run working in the porn industry

    19 years ago – probably working ou tthe logistics for the Grateful Dead’s awesome 1990 summer tour (I went to TOO many of those stadium shows that year!)

    25 years ago – College days, no doubt smoking a nice fat joint right about now!

  8. mrowster May 29, 2009 at 6:50 pm #

    Dave: I was more of a DEVO man myself.

    Nazz: were you an actor, a star perhaps? Would we recognize you naked?

  9. nazz nomad June 3, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    no it’s was print porn… behind the scenes. and I don’t even recognize myself naked!

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