I spent a few long months in LA. I arrived in Los Angeles on a relative whim. I didn't get into graduate school, I had a buddy who was living out there, so, I drove across the country. The drive was the best part. Hours and days of contemplation and unfamiliar terrain and the feeling that I was a part of something bigger than what I'd known before. I would like to do that again sometime. Maybe I'll drive it with my son. Or, maybe that's something he'll need to do on his own.
LA got the best of me, or as they say in the old song, it "proved too much for the man." And, I was only out there for a few months, the good part of a year. That was a decade ago. Damn. Time. It just rambles, man. Apparently, I wasn't in the best place when I wrote this. I can actually remember how I was feeling. I was down but hopeful. And lonely. Really fucking lonely.
FOUR MONTHS AND A KICK IN THE TEETH
The first couple of months I was here, I was surrounded by sirens and horns and Otis Redding. Sirens and horns are sort of the soundtrack to LA, you cannot really escape them, especially when you live a block away from a fire station. Otis was always with me at "Molly Malones" this bar on Fairfax and Sixth that I would play the open mic night, drink too many beers, and try to get the cute redheaded bartender with the kind eyes and not quite American accent to notice me. So I'd play Otis. And the Allman Brothers and Sam Cooke. All the songs that I thought might spark a young lady's interest, you know, like maybe she'd think that the pensive young man with his eyes in his beer and the really good taste in music was somewhat enticing. But to her, I was probably not pensive, I was just another drunk. The thing is, I'm just not cool enough. I'm really not. Okay, if I'm onstage, with my guitar and my songs of love and despair and blah-blah-then yeah, I can manage. But at an open mic night, any asshole with three bucks and a guitar can take the stage, so it doesn't really work the way it does at a "real" gig. But, I would go to Molly Malones anyway. Hell, I went there a lot when I first got here, even if it wasn't open mic night. My girl back home and I had decided that 2000 miles was a little too far to make things work, and so I was just feeling as alone as I could feel, spending all my money on draft beer and Jack Daniels like I had some kind of endless supply. So I'd sit at the bar by my lonesome, like all those guys that used to come to the Salty Nut and talk my ears off and try to hit on the waitresses, and I'd play Otis on the jukebox, to gain the title of "dude with best taste in music at the bar" and because my heart was broken and I needed to hear some heartbreak songs. And nobody breaks my heart like Otis. Nobody. Sometimes, when you're lonely and down, the only thing you want to hear are songs that are going to tug on your goddamn emotions even more, making it hurt like a hell, taking everything out of you until you just feel empty, but somehow making you feel good, not better, but good in a way that is only relevant to lonely souls with broken hearts. I definitely fit the bill.
Open mic night at Molly Malone's was a pretty good deal. You got to play two songs, and usually there was a nice built in crowd. There did tend to be a large quantity of Justin Timberlake/Maroon 5 falsetto belting crooners, but I always got up and played my songs, and sometimes somebody would dig it. Usually, I'd just head back to the bar to knock back a couple more drinks. One night, a buddy of mine and I both played after we had watched the Braves game and had too many 16 ounce Miller Highlifes. We started hanging out with these Texas sorority girls and also some girls from Canada, who were somehow friends-don't ask, because I don..t know-but we went back to their house that was supposed to be right around the corner, but it wasn't as we sped through some alleys in a pick up truck belonging to some dude that I didn't know. Anyway, my buddy kept saying "Goddamn" and the girl whose house it was kept telling him not to say it, but he kept saying it and we got kicked out and had to walk about two miles back to my place. It might have been even farther. These girls lived on Crescent Heights on the other side of San Vicente, and we had to walk to Cochran, which is two blocks up from La Brea. If you are familiar with LA, that paints a pretty specific picture of a long-ass walk. So anyway, on any given open mic night, I was usually pretty drunk whenever it was my turn to play a few songs. One time another friend came and watched me, and afterward he told me that I was too drunk to play. To which I replied, "I wasn't too drunk to play, I was just too drunk to play well."
Thanks and goodnight,