In East Hollywood, Karaoke is no longer an event at a party or something you go to a bar in K-Town and rent a room to do with 30 or so of your closest friends. In the neighborhood it’s become exactly like the Influenza Outbreak of 1918; a disease that’s infecting everybody, everything and bathing everyday can’t save one from the inevitable artistic death it promises. Man Bun, A Line and all their pals have diseased my 40 something neighbor Liz from Manila and all her just off the boat friends.
Trust me when I tell you the Filipino Karaoke was going strong last night, with a heart stopping sharp then flat then sharp then flat version of Passionate Kisses as the nominal high point. As the singer warbled the final “passionate kisses from you” in Filipino accented English, I tried to slip by Liz’s apartment unnoticed and run off to find my destiny, something that passed for it or some peace and quiet although I would have settled for an overhead helicopter sortie anything but another song damaged by a sharp then flat then sharp then flat reduction, in the cool, humid East Hollywood night.
Liz found me just as I put my right foot on the top stair.
“Come in and sing a song,” she said.
I tapped my watch. “I’m late.”
“Then come in and have something to eat,” she said in her sing song lilt opening the outer black security gate that doubles as a front door.
I always have a quick 2 second pang of guilt every time I turn down the offer to get something to eat; I am the scion of two immigrant cultures where food is love and getting up to scream out White Light/White Heat while spitting crumbs of Crumbs from a Salami sandwich to a neighborhood full of Millennials that just don’t get it has a certain delicious irony then I always remember what these Filipino Karaoke sessions are really for: a Fundy prayer group for the anointed assembled. I looked in the apartment. Everyone was thumbing through a Karaoke list or a King James Bible . I don’t think this group would welcome or understand a lecture on the mistranslation of YHWH as Jehovah.
“I’m sorry Liz, at this moment I’m not of the persuasion to pray in the Protestant fashion,” I said.
“We have the Persuasions don’t we,” she asked someone in the apartment.
I thanked her profusely and made my escape into the February darkness.
When I got to the corner it hit me Liz either has something by Brooklyn’s own Persuasions or, at the very least, Persuasion by Richard Thompson. If so, that was one hip room back there. Perhaps I’d made a mistake. As I crossed the street a quick strain of ‘My Girl’ broke through the tops of the trees.
Persuasion, Temptation same thing, right?