Tag Archives: dtla

The Profound Effects of Losing an Arm Wrestling Match

My Lyft driver drops me off in a part of the Arts District that has apparently yet to be reclaimed. The door to the industrial building is unlocked. Inside, the lights flicker over the empty hallways and I don’t feel especially safe. But I’ve got my eyes trained on my phone, giving my driver who got lost twice and spent the whole ride complaining about people who complain about gentrification, five stars.

When I push through the door of #4, my friend who lives in Santa Monica but never seems to be there says, “You didn’t run into those pit bulls did you? I should’ve told you about the pit bulls.” I did not. He seems relieved and pours me a drink.

roof 2.jpgBecause no one can resist a rooftop after a few drinks, we crawl through a window and onto the roof. We peer through sky lights and hope to catch people in their most intimate moments: shadow boxing with the mirror, singing Frank Ocean to their pugs, eating kimchi in front of an open fridge while Ira Glass’s voice emanates from their phone. We peer into twelve living rooms and even a couple retail spaces. A few TVs are on, half-drunk glasses are sprawled across long dining room tables, laptops are open to email accounts, but no one is home. It’s midnight.

I stand at the edge of the building and wonder why I’m not feeling that thing we’re all supposed to feel when standing on the edge – the desire to jump. I think it’s because we’re not up high enough. Only four stories or so. You’d be lucky if you belly flopped and died. I set a bottle of Modelo on the lip of the building. If I was younger or drunker I’d toss it into the middle of the empty street but I don’t have the desire to do that either.

It’s FYF weekend and a steady stream of the artists playing tomorrow are being cycled through the loft’s speakers. We talk about Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast and Joachim Trier’s editor and the Spanish repatriation of Sephardic Jews. There’s a moment where we quietly wish our ancestors had been booted from Spain five hundred years ago so we could spend our summers on Mallorca and not worry about leaving the Schengen Area after ninety days.

This might be the first time I’ve been at a party in a loft downtown where everyone isn’t doing coke. I mean, there’s coke here, but it’s all very discreet. A conversation about its source, an apology about coming up short on a few other pharmaceuticals for tomorrow’s festival, a confirmation of a Venmo payment received. I remember when people used to buy drugs with cash. Still, the party is very grown up. That is until someone mentions arm wrestling.

The last time I laid elbows and locked thumbs would have been the Carmel Middle School cafeteria. But really what we did there was play that game with quarters where we bloodied our knuckles. We did that and sat around waiting to be old enough to drive a car and tell everyone to fuck off.

I learned to drive a car, but I never got around to telling anyone, let alone everyone, to fuck off.

I lock hands with my friend – the one who has his mail sent to Santa Monica – and to be honest, I expect to win. It’s a delusion that I have. I always expect to win. I’m not talking about winning Jeopardy or checkers, I mean two men doing anything physical where only one can win. So I’m surprised when I put everything I have into it and I lose. Twice – left and right arms.

We shoot some more tequila. I talk to a guy who’s dedicated his life to working in the gardens at some monastery in the middle of Koreatown. For a moment, it seems like he might try to recruit me into the brotherhood of dudes who like to meditate and don’t mind carrying stones. I’m making up the part about stones, but the garden is real. Monks love gardens and beer, and I am perfectly fine with gardens and more than willing to drink beer. He doesn’t recruit me.

I show a girl from Dubai a picture of my family. I eat two slices of margherita pizza. I realize my shoulder is killing me, grab another Modelo and another slice of pizza and stumble out into the street.IMG_1723.JPG

Unless you’ve lost an arm wrestling match on the bar of a loft in the 30th year of your life, you don’t know my pain. And this particular pain runs deep. Or at least deep enough to send me to the gym on a Saturday. Like Rocky summiting the stairs in Philadelphia, I arrive ready for the workout of a lifetime: blood, sweat, torn calluses – but alas, I’ve forgotten my headphones – so I just trot down to the sauna instead.

It’s the usual crowd: an Asian dude in his sixties, four Armenians guys in the their twenties who may have just walked in off the basketball court and an older Armenian guy who I imagine spends his days in a track suit when he’s not nearly naked in a wooden box full of men. Pretty soon it’s just the two of us – me and the older Armenian guy – and I’m reaching the fourteenth of the fifteen minutes I had planned to be in there, when he says, “Do you like to have fun?”

“Not especially. I mean, I will, but I don’t seek it out the way I used to. I don’t have the energy for it.”

“Funny. I like that, and because I like you, I want to let you in on something.” He reaches into the pocket of his red Ralph Lauren swim trunks and pulls out a business card. It’s black and wet with what I hope is just the condensation in this sauna and not his sweat. He hands me the limp card and winks.

It takes both of my hands to hold it up flat so I can read the words: V.I.P. Companions. There’s a 1-800 number and the promise of discretion for “gentlemen who seek the companionship of beautiful, interesting and quiet women.” I hold onto the card for longer than I mean to because I’m imagining a harem of mute women. Dozens of non-speaking models. How do they find and enlist all these beautiful mute women? I’ve never met a person who didn’t speak – are they notoriously attractive?

“Very discreet.”

“I appreciate it but I’m—” I point to a ring that isn’t on my finger because I left it in my car when I was still under the impression I was going to lift weights today.

“Married men can have fun too.”

“Right, but you may recall my stance on fun – I’m not really seeking it, generally speaking.”

“Lots of nice parties.”

I massage my shoulder, remembering the defeat of last night’s party. I can’t take any more parties. I’m retired from fun. I try to hand the card back again but at this point it should really just be thrown away. The black sheen is now stuck to my fingers. It looks more like leftover squid ink pasta than a business card. I put the crumbling remains in my pocket.

“You deserve to be happy, my friend.” With that, he stands, winks and walks out. I’m on the verge of passing out as I enter the thirtieth minute of my time in the sauna, so I’m only able to give him about a fifteen second head start.

Then we meet up again in the locker room, shower side-by-side because we have to, and he doesn’t say a word to me. But he winks again. I don’t know what’s worse: losing an arm wrestling match, having a card for an escort service in my pocket or being repeatedly winked at, but here I am, taking it all on the chin.

2 Comments

Filed under De La Moda, Red Cups

The Increasingly Burdensome Road to Not Being a Shitty Person

Hear, hear!

I applaud myself for  quitting coffee while drinking an antioxidant-rich green tea in a converted warehouse. I read on the chalkboard that this particular green tea is grown in the shade under straw mats for twenty days prior to harvest. The warehouse, in its current state, prides itself on fresh pressed juices and onsite colonoscopies. I went to a party here once about six years ago. Back then, the space prided itself on throwing parties that went so late McDonald’s would no longer be serving breakfast by the time you got out.

Downtown has changed.

So have I.

Instead of my thrice-daily coffees, I’m drinking about twelve green teas a day. I feel no guilt about this. I imagine this is how Buddhist monks pass their days. It strikes me as evolved. After all, these are a people who have protested by setting themselves on fire; sitting cross legged until their skin falls from their cheeks and chins, their bones crumble into each other and their ashes land on the ground, at the mercy of the wind. People watched. People took pictures. Everyone admires a man who can set himself on fire.

I’ve tried other forms of moderation.

No whiskey.

All that happened was I started skating through bottles of Malbec like they were Capri Suns.

There’s always cold turkey.

“I’m trying to start smoking more weed,” my friend said earnestly as we sipped mescal.

We’ve talked for years about smoking more, about getting into the habit of it; the way others resolve to go to the gym. Or to read more. But we are creatures of habit.

Guy comes here all the time.

While I’m at it, I’m thinking of other things I might give up. I gave up haircuts and sunscreen some years ago, but that wasn’t really a conscious decision. I’ve also quit seeing the dentist and the doctor with any regularity, but that wasn’t intentional either. They just kind of fell away. They stopped calling and I lost interest. Maybe it was the other way around. I’ve heard of people losing girlfriends this way. I guess I’m lucky to have only lost a general practitioner.

I’d like to go on, to build this list, but a militant homeopath with hair down to her waist and without an ounce of body fat to spare, tells me I must follow her. Between the neon lights, under the wind chimes that no wind ever reaches, just central air, if it blows hard enough. The woman is either thirty or a hundred. It’s impossible to say for sure. It must be all the chia seeds, all the nutmeg.

Anyway, I’ve sat on the wrong couch and now I have no choice but to let them thread a hose up my ass. It’s their specialty. That and the juice. It’s the fountain of youth, they say. In reverse.

I object once again, but she tells me it’s too late. That I consented when I signed the iPad for my cancer-curing green tea. I’ve brought all of this upon myself, she says. She hands me a burlap sack that once held coffee beans from Kenya. She instructs me to wear it like a smock. There’s a hole for my head. “Please,” I say. “Anything but the–” I gesture toward the hose.

“It’s the Gravity Colon Hydrotherapy or…” she dangles a lighter then points to a red five-gallon gas can. “The can is vintage. The gas is 4.59 a gallon.”

“That’s absurd!” I say. “Gas is three dollars a gallon down the street from my house.”

“Well, we’re not down the street from your house. We’re at Juicetopia Co-Op Exchange, est. 2014.”

She has a point. “You have a point,” I say.

“So?” she says. In one hand, the coffee bean smock, in the other, five gallons of gasoline. “What’ll it be?”

“Sorry to be vulgar,” I say.  “But what’s the price difference?”

Leave a comment

Filed under De La Moda

A Brief Encounter with the Future

The Future

Yesterday, I saw the future.

They piled out of a 274 million dollar building made of swooping steel waves, and poured onto Grand Avenue between 1st and 2nd. They wore maroon and shiny white gowns with wide-brimmed caps, and tassels bobbing in their faces.

They were excited. There was whistling and pictures were being taken and everyone was so proud. Mudslides of mascara ran down mothers’ faces. Fathers in cowboy hats beamed with pride, though it was clear they were ready to leave. They ready to celebrate properly, not with hugs and tears and photos, but with tequila and tears and handshakes that last too long. Like a real familia.

The King

In the future, for every fifty-three Hispanic children, there are two black kids and .50 white kids. There are no white parents and there are no black parents. Yesterday, the one or two white kids in attendance walked around disheveled and purposeless. No one took their pictures. No one wanted to document their sad and incredibly patchy beards, their pepperoni pocked faces.

The future is heavily tattooed. Of course, this is nothing new. But in a cap and gown, most tattoos can’t be seen, yet I saw plenty. The neck tattoo appears to be all the rage. Scrawled letters with boyfriends names or street names or set names. One kid had Stewie from Family Guy on his forearm with a message that was missing a comma. There were also the tattoos peeking out from their sleeves and lining their knuckles. The girls, who carried themselves much more professionally than the men/boys, all seemed to have some sort of image or word spilling out of their high heels, around their ankles, sliding down the front of their feet.

The mothers, who have given birth to the future, are my age. Or they look my age only they’ve been raising a child so maybe they’re younger and look worse for parenthood. If I were to guess, and I’m going to, the mothers were exactly ten years and six months older than their graduating sons and daughters.

While the fathers bestowed upon their sons mustaches, the mothers bequeathed their eyebrows. The lines are sharp. Paint on top of hair with incredible precision. There’s also a hint of purple everywhere: in the eyebrows, the lips, the hair. Or maybe it’s red, but it looks like a shade of eggplant to me.

Operation Graduation

The daughters of the future do not date the sons of the future. The daughters’ boyfriends are not wearing caps and gowns. Their mustaches are thicker, their tattoos are more prominent and they can’t be bothered to dress up. Yet they are proud. They wrap their arms around their girlfriend’s waist as if they were fending off an opposing team with their forearms.

The wearers of caps and gowns spotted me early on: a boyfriend handed me an Android and asked for a picture of him, his girl, Disney Concert Hall and the sunset. I got two out of four. After that, people just started handing me their phones. All sorts of phones that I’d never seen before. Some were the size of iPad minis or burner phones, some looked like a late nineties GameBoy. All I know is I got really into it.

Soon I was dropping on a knee, having people move out of shadows, asking mothers to drop their chins a little bit, asking cholo boyfriends to smile. I took fifteen, maybe twenty family portraits before I had to retire. I’d spent an hour trying to get from 1st to 2nd street. I made for the crosswalk, batting away the advances of potential subjects who wanted to trust me with their phones and their documentation. I had to decline.

As I reached crosswalk, I turned back to wave at all my adoring subjects, but they were not waiting to wave back. They had returned to smiling, to crying, to hugging and aggressively instagramming while the fathers waited patiently for permission to drink.

Leave a comment

Filed under De La Moda

Loud Pints Will Be The Death Of Me

And there you are: the bottoms of your feet splayed at the heavens. A warm shower pours upon you.  Your mouth agape. The water tastes like warm dirt.

Yes, yes, you’re lying on the floor of your bathtub wondering what the fuck you’re doing lying down in the shower. You’re too old to be doing this—suffering like this. Wrong. Dead wrong! If you weren’t dying on the floor of this bathtub you’d be making your morning commute, thinking about how awful it is to be making your morning commute whilst being a year older.

Did I mention that? You’re a year older. You’re a year farther from the moment when someone, presumably a doctor, or maybe a doula if you’re from a place like I’m from, rips you from your mother’s loin and decries, “You sir, are destined to a life of lactose intolerance, hard-boozing, womanizing, and an inexplicable passion for the great Canadian sport of ice hockey. Also, while you’re nineteen, you’ll wake up in a jail in Tijuana. Deny everything. From the top of your lungs scream: Traquilo, guey! No he hecho nada! La culpa? Pues, fue la tequila, claro.”

Later, when you’re in your late twenties, finally moving up in the world and living around employed, tax paying citizens, do not, I repeat, do not let your girlfriend meet anyone from Mad Men. You’ll think to yourself, they wrote him off the show two seasons ago. It’s not like she’s sipping martinis with Jon Hamm. That guy wasn’t even a series regular.

Well bud, were you ever a scotch-swilling guest star in a tailored suit sitting on a mid-century modern couch talking about advertising in a scripted drama featuring Christina Hendricks’s chest? The answer is no. So if you want to keep her, don’t let her say hello.

Back on the bathroom floor, you either have or don’t have a girlfriend waiting in bed. This all depends on how the Mad Men thing plays out. But before all this, you were somewhere: think long. Think hard. Check your bank accounts. All of them.

You were at Perch. You remember. A light drizzle. Tuna tartare and bourbon. What an awful pairing. But you like them both so much that you can’t help yourself. And there she is—clearly before you met the guy from Mad Men who you’re just now remembering that you invited to your birthday party on Saturday—anyway she’s there and that’s what matters. Also there are a lot of Asians. This is because we’re downtown.

But then you left, headed to a wine bar, ordered about a dozen glasses of Rioja, vina de cabra, prosciutto, and warm dates from a girl with thick eyebrows and narrow hips. You left and headed to the place next door, through one door then another. A Cedd Moses affair. You could be in one of a dozen places, but it’s not. You’re in this one and you’re talking to the bartender. You’re overestimating his ability to articulate the difference between Buffalo Trace and Bulleit. He recommends something with rum, honey and a sprig…

Then there’s the English girl, Rose, and her Korean “friend,” whatever his name was. They put their email addresses in your phone. You cheers over absinthe and invite them to spend a quiet Saturday with you and close friends. They demure, citing the fact that she’s a call-girl and he goes back to Korea tomorrow. “The offer stands,” you say.

And you get out of there. Your legs to take you back Silver Lake. There were two or three other destinations on your itinerary, but there’s a cab out front and that’s fate.  You’re fated to flee.

Back in your gentrified enclave, you’re surrounded by people that look like they live in Silver Lake. Many of them do. You’re one of them.

Image

You lock eyes with your archenemy, who is anyone who has ever starred on Mad Men. Lucky for you, there’s only one Mad Men cast member in the building. You saddle up next to him, say some unmemorable things, buy him a shot — which is about the last thing you need — and then, then when the night’s winding down and you should be home in bed, in the fetal position eating pizza and sulking about your forthcoming hangover, you propose a toast. “To Emmy Award winning, misogynistic mellow dramas that promote the racism of yesteryear and alcoholism which still plagues the First World!” Then you cheers you girlfriend’s pint, which would be fine if she wasn’t smiling ear-to-ear about the fact that you’re hanging out with a guy who was written off of Mad Men two years ago. You cheers a bit too hard and you snap her tooth in half.

A clean break.

But seriously, fuck…

Now, your girlfriend looks like a toothless Canuck. Tears are running down her face. The Mad Men guy is totally freaked out and you’re standing on a barstool shouting at the top of your lungs, “Everything’s okay. It’s my birthday!”

Leave a comment

Filed under De La Moda, Red Cups

FYF Fest 2012: The Definitive Guide

FRIDAY:

It’s a Lay Day. Go to school or work or that place where you spend your time while everyone else is at school or work. While you’re there, drink a lot of water. Good job. Now come home. Sit on the couch. Watch or re-watch the first season of “Homeland.”

So far so good. Do not go to the bar. Do not get drunk. Tomorrow will be a long day. Sit tight. Maybe have one beer. One beer never hurt anyone. Four beers later, decide you’re going to the bar. Just for one drink. A quiet pint.


You stay until last call. This was a bad decision. You’ll be worse for it tomorrow. Good thing you drank all that water today, right?

SATURDAY:

The first thing you’ll notice is your head hurts… badly. Probably has something to do with the half-dozen 2-4-1 whiskeys you put down. 2-4-1? Come to think of it, that means you had twelve drinks, not six. Suddenly the severity of your hangover will make a lot more sense. Good news is it’s Saturday.

FYF day #1. Jump out of bed. Or roll off. Don’t push yourself too hard. Loosen up. Maybe do a couple sun salutations. Maybe some jumping jacks. That’s it. Get the blood flowing. Look at the clock. 11:30 am. FUCK.

Get dressed. Resist the urge to wear what you might consider to be clever or funny. Dress like an adult. An adult who is about to spend the day drinking and watching bands play music that you love. Resist the urge to wear the “Suns Out Guns Out” tank top and then wear it anyway because you’re late and it’s going to be fucking hot and you’re still buzzed from last night.

Jump on the Metro. Jump off the metro. Run. Run as fast as you can because White Arrows are on at 12:30. Barely make it. Love every second of it. Have your first beer. Remark at how expensive it is. Should of smuggled in booze. Text friends to do just that.

The block that follows isn’t that inspiring. My advice? Just because there’s a lull doesn’t mean you should take it upon yourself to drink like you’re trying to kill yourself or join a fraternity. Wait to see who does the comedy set at 1:15 pm. Likely, it won’t be David Cross so you probably won’t go, but you will have a beer. Go see Soft Pack at 1:30 or drink some water. Apply some sunscreen. Don’t talk to girls with cowboy boots on or feathers in their hair.

2:30 If you’re here, you might as well see King Tuff.

3:30ish Now might be a good time to check out the comedy stage, but if it sucks, find yourself at AA Bondy or for old time’s sake Two Gallants.

4:30-6:20 It’s possible you like the bands that are playing this block. I don’t so I’ll be in the beergaarten with a neon wristband drinking everything because the heat will be unrelenting and the music is not my cup of bourbon. If you join me, we’ll speak with German accents, as we are in a beergaarten. 6:25 DJ Harvey or more beer. At this point, drop the German accent. No one thought it was funny.

6:55 Right about now you’re going to need to pump the brakes on the drinking and do some soul searching. Warpaint or Chromatics. As much as I dig Warpaint, unless they’re salting the rim of my beers with benzodiazepines, I’ll be at the Spring Street Stage watching Chromatics.

7:35-7:40 Run, beer in hand, back to see Tanlines at Broadway St.

8:10 Decisions, decisions. Well, you’re definitely leaving Tanlines early, but for which stage is the question. If it was 2010, I’d go to Sleigh Bells. If it was 2011, I’d elbow past small children and knock over senior citizens to see James Blake. Alas, it’s 2012 and I kind of love Purity Ring. I’ll probably see James Blake anyway. I don’t give a shit what you do.

9:25 M83 Bond with your peers. Sing your heart out. You’re trashed at this point. I repeat, you’re fucking hammered. Ease up on the pictures. You just instagrammed what you’ve tagged as #MidnightCity!!! but it’s just a picture of some dude’s ear and a lot of blurred lights.

10:40 Everyone wants to go home or to a bar, but what about Simian Mobile Disco? Stay. It’s only 50 minutes. Some of you may see The Growlers. I don’t disagree with that decision. I may join you.

SUNDAY:

Nobody said it was going to be easy. You took a lot of retarded pictures last night. And what’s this? You danced (if you want to call it that) with a girl who had a septum ring as big as a baseball dangling from her nose? How very, um, tribal of her… Guess you went with Purity Ring, huh? Have a Gatorade. Jesus, man, take a shower. Eat something. You really don’t have to rush. In fact, I don’t recommend getting there until the third block. You might be able to squeeze in brunch. Likely, your blood sugar is low and all you had yesterday was two hundred beers and an accidental veggie bratwurst.

Veggie bratwurst?

Yes, I’ll explain. Some guy in the port-a-potty line handed it to you for safe-keeping before he braved that plastic box of defecation. You took that veggie bratwurst and you ran. Then you peed on a tree like an animal. You don’t feel bad about any of it.

2:40 Nick Waterhouse. You might think you want to see Wild Nothing but you’d be wrong. Now there’s nothing wrong with Wild Nothing, it’s just you need to prioritize.

3:40 Father John Misty Ease into the afternoon. It’s Sunday. Have a beer. You had a long night. Hopefully no one punched you in the face and called you Nancy. If they did, you’re in the right place to talk about it.

4:30-7:45 Meh, maybe Cursive if you want to feel shitty about yourself and reminisce the early 2000s. Maybe Dinosaur Jr. Honestly, this might be a good time to take a nap or think about how exhausted and horrible and sunburned you’re going to feel tomorrow.

8:15 Rally boys and girls! Shotgun a beer! Find someone with smuggled liquor! This is the last hurrah! I’d start with Desaparecidos. Hope to get up front, catch three or four songs then head over to Health. Health is going out with more of a bang. So what if you’re way in the back? It’s four dudes and a MacBook Pro.

9:30 Yeasayer or Twin Shadow… Your friends will be divided over this. Fuck your friends. At this point you either feel like a million bucks or your liver is failing and you hate your life. With some hesitation, I say go with Yeasayer. If it’s not amazing, abandon ship. Sprint to Twin Shadow.

10:55 If you’re still here, you’re either

A.) Blacked out

B.) Sober and hating life

C.) In the medical tent

Or D.) maybe you like Gold Panda. That’s fine. I’ve seen them live. Would I do it at 11:00 o’clock on Day 2 of a festival when the next day is Monday? Um, no.

So who do you see? If you want to reminisce the days when cocaine sounded like a good idea, and dance like you’ve never heard of a 401k: Go see The Faint.

If you’re sticking around to see Beirut, I applaud you. Honestly, I do. He’s great. They should’ve scheduled him in the middle of the afternoon though, which is why I’m sprawled out on my floor eating pizza while you’re watching a guy play a flugel horn at 11 on a Sunday night.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized, unemployment

Eavesdrop It Like It’s Hot

“Wow, everything in here’s so old!” Natural History Museum, Los Angeles

“I’ve always wanted to name my daughter Sophie, but I’m afraid of the sophist implications. You know what I mean?” Langer’s, Downtown L.A.

“It was supposed to be a perfectly respectable night of binge drinking. Then Phil showed up with Four Lokos.” Pac Sun, Woodland Hills

“You don’t want it? I’ll take that Free Weezy shirt. Shiiiiit, he’ll be back in two weeks!” PlaBoy Liquor, Hollywood

“I cannot wait to be impotent — I’m sick of being bullied by my pig-headed libido!” AK Bar, Silver Lake

Leave a comment

Filed under Eavesdroppings, Uncategorized

Skid Row Skewer By The Neapolitan Mastiff

Chapter 1: Los Angeles – Wallow In The Mire

Three minutes ago Walker was doing key bumps on the side of a rented, classic Hollywood estate, in Laurel Canyon. It’s just after four a.m. and he’s standing in the middle of a dance party in Somebody Famous’ living room. Everyone is wearing bowties or formal gowns and masks. Mardi Gras masks, Halloween masks, one twenty-something male wears an astronauts helmet and a scarf around his neck for support. Another guest, whose age is unknown, but sex is certain, wears a neon ski masks, but no pants as he dances under flickering fluorescent light. To Walker, it feels like that movie Eyes Wide Shut. Only tonight, or this morning really, the crowd isn’t quite as polished, there aren’t any Australian actresses and the drugs aren’t nearly as rampant, excluding him, of course.

The DJ on the second floor stares into a computer and comes up every couple minutes to throw his hands up in the air. Before Walker’s first line that night he joked with a couple friends about his fear of coming down. Walker and company sat around in the apartment’s only heated room delaying the inevitable. It was a half an hour or so until midnight. All three had woken up within the hour for this party and convened at Walker’s. It was his idea.

It’s not that Los Angeles is cold; it’s not, not even in late February, but blood thins faster than it thickens. Everyone in the room is intimately familiar with thinning blood: alcohol, opiates, amphetamines, prolonged desert stints, the lists goes on. Not to mention the three months of stagnate, hundred-plus degree days of sitting around, waiting to get off work to cool down. To swim to the bottom of a shallow swimming pool and wait for summer to end. Anyway, no one knows, at least not in this threesome how to thicken blood, so on this sixty-one degree night, they sat a few feet a way from a wall heater and waited for it to kick in.

Walker stares up at the DJ wondering what drives someone to want to jockey Serrato on a MacBook. Music is white noise at most, behind all the watching, staring, posing and smiling when you’ve finally been caught. But first there’s watching. The way lips moved, the way bodies hung or slouched or pulsated. The way people waited for bodies to come towards them touch them, kiss them and left them to refresh their noses, lips or lungs.

Walker feels a hand on his chest and looks down at it. He follows the vascular extremity to a thin wrist that led to an arm, which connects to the heart of an androgynous dancer. Walker becomes quietly upset. Or rather concerned she or he could tell how fast his heart is beating and how dire, physically, he actually is. Inherently, Walker feels if he or she felt what he feels, he probably looks like that war vet with no legs who he sees everyday at the last stoplight before he gets to work.

The vet is always waiting, smiling, without any fucking legs and all he wants is one of the eleven quarters that is sitting in Walker’s center console and Walker feels so bad that he can’t even bring himself to look at the guy, let alone give him a quarter because Walker knows that he’ll start crying if he gets any closer than where the vet is and where Walker sits with his window up. But he always drives past and a hundred meters later, traveling at thirty-five miles per hour he’s already completely forgotten the Vet existed. And he won’t think of him again, not once, until the next day when he has to see him again.

The hand, which belonged to a rather androgynous creature, pulls Walker’s shirt, nearly yanking him from where he stood. His legs were already wobbly, to the point where he was scared to move them for fear of exerting too much, but also afraid to not move them enough to keep time with an impossibly fast beat and also to prevent cramping.

The voice, which belongs to the androgynous hand, breathes hot, caustic air into Walker’s ear. “You should dance with us. We dance platonically.” She or he, talks like a robot, Walker thinks. The hand, then the body of the androgynous dancer retreats in what Walker feels is just in time. Walker looks down and thinks he can see his heart protruding past his ribcage.  He wonders if other people have noticed.

His heart, it’s not palpitating with any consistent rhythm. It feels like a drum solo in the height of the Post-Punk, Hardcore Movement that once ruled South L.A. It’s at some house party in a neighborhood that used to be white and suburban in 1981, but thirty years later is a low-income, largely Hispanic barrio. Back in 1981, the drum solo could last thirty more seconds or thirty more minutes depending on the crowd, the drummer’s health (was he straight-edge or hopped up on homemade speed?) and whether he actually had the will to keep going or just wants to say fuck it. Walker prays his heart doesn’t say fuck it, all other elements on his side. The party has yet to crescendo, he’s the most lethargic thing in the room and the room is most definitely not a minority-stricken slum, in fact everyone keeps talking about Connecticut.

This is a good thing. What’s not a good thing is Walker’s eyes have glassed over. Colors and shapes sliver in front and around him. He knows what would happen if he collapses. Everyone knows, it’s a story as old as Damascus or Aleppo, it’s as old as time. Collapsing between masked Connecticutians high on electronica and aesthetics somewhere in the Hollywood Hills, Walker knows could only mean one thing. He would probably convulse on the floor, getting stomped in time with the beat by Christian Louboutin pumps until he was within an inch of death.

Finally, when the dancing did stop, Somebody Famous or whoever is in charge of taking out Somebody Famous’ trash would discover him, a bloodied mess curled in the fetal position on the floor. A goon would be called by somebody on Somebody Famous’ payroll and given simple instructions: Take the body and dump it outside of a Kaiser Permanente hospital. The goon, being a subcontracted and not prescreened by Somebody Famous wouldn’t have any idea where said hospital was and would instead drive Walker’s barely breathing and bloodied corpse to Los Angeles’ Skid Row. On Skid Row, which needs no introduction to anyone with a penchant for afterhours and warehouse parties, can be slightly intimidating to say the least. On the Nickel, as it’s colloquially known, Walker would be bludgeoned, raped, and generally defiled until finally, his tormenters, having worked up an appetite, would spit-roast and eat him with never refrigerated tartar sauce. Rotten fucking tartar sauce.

Walker couldn’t let that happen. He takes a deep breath. Somehow his body has been moving this whole time and it has taken a toll. Across the room, he spots a velvet-upholstered chair. Between masks, dresses, Dixie cups and bottles of wine, Walker is locked-in on the shimmering, velvet chair. He feels a sudden burst of energy — he knows it can’t last. Walker decides what he has to do is take this energy and walk out of the house, then the gated yard, then on to the street where he will hail a cab. That is, assuming that cabs are roaming the Hills at four-thirty in the morning on a Monday or was it Tuesday? Anyway, once he got in the cab Walker would sit with his head up, paying close attention, focused, watching the meter run up to stay awake. Then he would arrive at his home, crawl into bed and vow never to do anything after dark, ever again.

The chair, velvet and solitary, hasn’t moved, which was a good thing, but neither has Walker. The chair showed itself first so it was Walker’s turn. One foot in front of the other wouldn’t do. The crowd is hovered, amalgamated, and impenetrable.  Walker shuffled along the outskirts of the room. It took fourteen individual shuffles. He squeezed and narrowly missed sports coats with patched elbows and chemically treated tuxedo shoulders. Well-moisturized hair brushed against him. He was almost there. Pallid, bare and probably Connecticutian skin, the softest he had ever felt or at least seen and not felt, tried to lure him and failed. He never took his eyes off the chair. When he arrives, Walker puts his hand on the arm of the chair. It’s well structured, comfortable and reliable. Walker realizes that his body, in its coke-deprived state, might recognize the chair with all its comfort and support for a safe haven, as place to crash. If he gives in and sits down, his body might collapse and be unreachable for hours. Walker’s hand has climbed up his body and touched his chin; his fingers catch a bead of sweat from his brow, then another.

Walker didn’t sit down because he couldn’t. He now knows full well the potential consequences: Skid Row Skewer. Another possibility occurred to him, he could fight back. Yes, he had been retreating since the second he took his last bump, but that didn’t mean he had to give in and just quit. He didn’t have to go out that way. He could buy another twenty bag. He could walk upstairs, and get another twenty bag from the guy upstairs who’s not wearing a mask that keeps talking at the DJ. He could take the bag, patiently wait in line to use the closest bathroom then in maybe four or six dense lines he could give himself the necessary edge to not be a victim. That’s what life is all about, right? Not being a victim. Being proactive. Fighting for your best interest. In one brief bathroom stint, Walker could do all that cocaine and fight back. He wouldn’t even stay at the party. He would just run home,  rather than waiting for the inevitable to happen here. Walker could do it on his own terms, in his own apartment with his own music.  All he has to do is get upstairs.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Red Cups, Staring Into A Cobalt Pool, unemployment