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Time Takes Three Places At Once

22 May

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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

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