East Hollywood Blues

A Diary Of Life Among Millennials

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Another Day Another Deranged Shooter

Another day another deranged shooter in East Hollywood.

This time I found out from the LAPD themselves, not an alert popping up on my phone. It seems a knucklehead barricaded himself in an apartment in the SRO next to my building. So after my workout when I was at my most sweaty and slimy the Cops won’t let anyone on the block.

“It’s an active shooter situation,” the Cop says.

“When will it be over,” I asked.

“It will be over when it’s over. No more questions. Go that way,” he pointed down toward K-Town. I was in no mood to argue with the guy about needing a shower, especially with the SWAT team staging what looked like a raid behind him so off I went to the Local to wait out.

There is no place better to wait out an active shooter than at the Local. Jack the Albino behind the bar and our three Russian gun nut pals agreed and thus we waited drinking and trying to figure out what sort of rifle does one use to hold off the LAPD in an East Hollywood SRO when A Line and Man Bun came in with their dog complaining about the Tear Gas in the air.

They had never been in the Local but it was the closest clean well lit place to go. Man Bun gripped his dog tightly.

“Those Cops poisoned my dog! She’s choking,” he cried while A Line tried to remain composed as she called her Mother.

“Oh my Gawd can you believe it Mother? Gun violence is finally here. In East Hollywood! I’ll never be safe again.”

The refused all drinks and water for their dog from Jack the Albino while they waited with the rest of us for the all clear go back to your homes to sound out.

While walking outside to catch a whiff of the CS gas wafting up Beverly towards Silver Lake because hey wouldn’t Hunter S. Thompson do the same thing, I overheard two cops talking and was able to piece together the events of the day in my corner of East Hollywood. It seems the LAPD had been looking for this Guy in the SRO for three weeks because he shot at and hit his soon to be ex wife and her new boy toy outside a movie theater near the Miracle Mile.

Although no status had been offered vis a vie the condition of the boy toy and soon to be ex it appears that the LAPD takes attempted divorce by public shooting very seriously. Therefore they tracked said knucklehead to the SRO next to my apartment and surrounded the place. They only evacuated the block when he pulled out a gun and shot the door frame. SWAT had been called and had occupied an apartment with a clear line of sight into the domicile now being used as a bunker. Negotiations were continuing but had been pushed into overdrive by the emergence of a mirror, a credit card, some white powder and what appeared to be a rolled up $20. Hence the Tear Gas.

Two hours later the neighborhood was given the all clear to return to their homes sans the SRO residents who would have to wait until the LA CSI unit finished their work. It seems our knucklehead had brandished a weapon and fired in the VERY general direction of SWAT team member who in turn gave him Suicide by SWAT which was over 6 hours in the making.

I walked back to my joint with great determination and relief. I stunk so much I was beginning to offend myself and a shower would surely be a welcome relief for everyone in a three mile radius. I walked up the stairs and found the apartment SWAT had occupied during the siege was mine. It was also readily apparent from various marking in the dust on my fire escape that the fatal shots had been fired from three feet outside my kitchen thus allowing the stench of gun powder and involuntary death to permeate and hang over everything in my home.

I walked outside, down the stairs and into the street in an attempt to get away from legal side of the crime scene where I found a righteously indignant almost to the point of being WASP’s from Greenwich, Connecticut A Line and Man Bun arguing with a plain clothed member of the LAPD demanding reparations for their inconvenience and now poisoned dog who in true Chihuahua fashion was biting at the LAPD plain clothes cop.

This was the last bit of weirdness I could stand. It was time to go to the same desert where Phil Kaufman took Gram Parson’s corpse and burned it.

How To Order Like A Millennial

Two Millennials came in to the Steakhouse on Tuesday.  Each was 28 wearing the requisite uniform of an ironic beard, several tattoos on the left arm and new clothes bought at a Big Box Store solely because they looked tattered enough to be Thrift Store issue.  After agreeing to share the Tomahawk Bone In Ribeye Medium because they weren’t aristocrats – thank you Goodfellas – things took a turn for the bizarre.

Millennial #1 – What sides can we get with that?

Me : Fries.  Sweet Potato Fries.  Mashers.  Garlic Green Beens.  Parmesan Broccoli.  Kale Chips.  Steamed Asparagus.  Creamed Spinach.  Steamed Spinach.

Millennial #1 to Millennial #2 – We can get  Fries.  Sweet Potato Fries.  Mashers.  Garlic Green Beens.  Parmesan Broccoli.  Kale Chips.  Steamed Asparagus.  Creamed Spinach.  Steamed Spinach.

Millennial #2 to Millennial #1 –  So we can get  Fries.  Sweet Potato Fries.  Mashers.  Garlic Green Beens.  Parmesan Broccoli.  Kale Chips.  Steamed Asparagus.  Creamed Spinach.  Steamed Spinach.

Millennial #1 to Millennial #2 – Yes.  We can get  Fries.  Sweet Potato Fries.  Mashers.  Garlic Green Beens.  Parmesan Broccoli.  Kale Chips.  Steamed Asparagus.  Creamed Spinach.  Steamed Spinach.

After another round of said discussion that was going nowhere fast, I pulled bartender rank ordering the Asparagus and Mashers.  “Your mother will thank me,” I told them.

It was a bizarre interaction but hey, maybe they like Abbot and Costello and I’m the straight man.  However, over the course of the rest of my work week I had at least one Millennial couple a night come into the bar and have the exact same interaction when I offered them side dishes for the their entrees.

As Rod Serling is dead I am forced to conclude the Interpreter  scene from Woody Allen’s Bananas was indeed prophecy.

 

 

The Next Day On The Red Line

The Red Line.  24 Hours later.

This time I’m going into Hollywood to do the hang with the Production Partner when a police action holds us up for a few minutes. A Meth Freak starts ranting about something and he has to go. No big deal. Welcome to the 2018 Opiate/Amphetamine Pandemic: Los Angeles Theater.

The train gets underway after a 10 minute delay and from the back of the train, the door opens and lo and behold who comes into the car but the same guy dressed in black, body armor, several mags on the vest with his holstered pistol. This time instead of stroking the barrel of his weapon he’s holding a brown paper bag and walking up and down the car eyeing people with an odd sense of calm.

Instead of freaking out and calling the cops – we’re moments from my stop at the Hollywood/Vine Station so I’m fucked if he goes Postal – I decide to turn to the two 23 year old skate punks with baby dreads next to me and see if they are as disturbed about this display as I.

Baby Dread #1 – You mean that guy?

Baby Dread #2 – He was in the car when the cops came in and left.

Me – And he comes back after they leave. Look at him. With all the accounts of Jihadi’s dressed in black blowing themselves up and what’s happened recently in London and D.C. you feel perfectly safe with this creepy guy in here?

Baby Dread #1 – Of course. He has a police badge on his vest bro.

Baby Dread #2 – Word.

Baby Dread #1 – And calling him a Jihadi is totally racist.

Baby Dread #2 – Totally bro.

Several other straphangers within ear shot agreed with the Baby Dreads, on which statement I had no idea.

Of course, the police shield in question was a tin replica shaped like an LAPD ID with the name of a different security company than that on his left shoulder badge which was different than the name of the security company on his right shoulder badge but hey I’m sure he works for all those companies.  After all, these are trying economic times.

Moral of the story: if you ride the Red Line that hits Vermont/Beverly Station between 9:20 and 9:34pm on any given night you are doomed.

Life On The Red Line

On the Red Line last night after my shift, I find a seat pop out Queer by Burroughs when I look up and see this fidgety 29 year old guy in a black kevlar vest, several mags of ammunition on his chest and a holstered pistol he keeps fingering. He has a nondescript security guard patch on his left shoulder and he’s eyeing the car suspiciously.

I wondered why I was the only one in the car who was at all taken aback by this guy and then it occurs to me that a third of the car is off their meds and rambling incoherently, a third is nodding off from the H they just ingested to cut across the Meth and a third just don’t seem to care this guy is eyeing them and stroking the grip of his weapon. However, due to the events of the past few weeks I start looking for a way off the car before he starts shooting.

The train pulls into the Vermont /Wilshire station and I run to another car where I alert two off duty MTA employees that there is a man in body armor, dressed totally in black with his hand on a pistol he is carrying openly. They glared at me until I sat in the back of the car as far away from what I was sure to be some form of stupidity coming at any moment.

I jump off the train, note the time 9:34, run up the stairs and call 911. Total time on hold waiting for an operator 2 minutes 10 seconds. She listens impassively for 30 seconds and says I’ll pass on the information. Click.

30 minutes later I get a call from the LAPD asking me for a description and where I think the man with gun is now.

“I don’t know,” I tell them. “Some place between the Vermont/Santa Monica and North Hollywood stations.”

“That’s a lot of ground to cover. We’ll do our best looking for him,” the cop tells me and hangs up.

I don’t know about you but I feel safe.

Man Bun Douche Bag Drinking Game

The third Wednesday of every month isn’t Prince Spaghetti Day in East Hollywood, it’s Man Bun Meet Up Day. Man Bun and five of his best pals, all with bun’s dyed different colors and small lap dogs carried in their left arms, have some sort of meeting at his apartment.

The OD and I watched this march for three months before we noticed the pattern. By month four we waited with Modelo Negra’s and a fifth of Jose Cuervo Gold on the stairs of SRO to begin a new drinking game: trying to guess what colors said man buns were. When a Man Bun participant arrives on the block, we look and bet a drink on the dye job. After said Man Bun tells us what his color is, usually the shade of one of Don Johnson’s t-shirts from Miami Vice, loser drinks. We both drink if they tell us anything with righteous indignation, ask why we are bothering them/doing this/being assholes etc or if they ignore our interrogatives.

Last month when the last Man Bun arrived he nearly jumped out of his white V-Neck t-shirt when the OD asked him his color although it was a rare no action wagered as we both agreed had to be blue.

“It’s Cerulean blue,” he said.

“Are you sure it looks more Navy blue to me,” I said.

The OD stood up and circled the stopped Man Bun who looked like he was about to be mugged taking the A Train. “No Carnal, it’s more a Royal blue.”

“You know if these guys had come up with the Gay Pride Flag they’d have done it in pastels,” I said.

“You can’t teach taste,” the OD said from behind the Last Man Bun. “Don’t worry Gabacho, I’m just admiring the shape of your bun.”

The Man Bun started shaking. “Rape,” he screamed and ran to the meeting place.

“Rape,” I said. “What goes through his head?”

“I think he saw the ink Carnal,” he pointed to one of his prison tattoos. “He must be realizing he’s not in his Mommy’s suburb no more. But it was blue. We both drink.”

Cut to last week.

The OD and I were gleefully awaiting our Man Bun Douche Bag Drinking Game, I had purple and he once again had blue. However, we pre-gamed a little too much and got lost in the why; why were these Man Bun’s meeting the third Wednesday of every month?

“I bet they’re a resistance cell,” the OD said.

“I bet they’re part of EST,” I said.

“It’s LA carnal. If they’re into that shit they’d be part of the Process,”

“Since the 1990’s De Grimston and the Church have been out of the self-help business. They run animal shelters in Utah now.”

“Charles Manson croaks and the whole world goes to shit. Waste of a perfectly good hippie cult if you ask me,” the OD mumbled.

I Screamed Rape Man Bun last month’s target started walking nervously up the hill. The OD bullied the poor boy into stopping. The terrified lad started to shake visibly as the OD circled him.

“Relax,” I said. “No one is going to hurt you. We just have a couple of questions.”

“Ok,” I Screamed Rape Man Bun stuttered. “What do you want to know.”

“What color is your bun today Gabacho,” the OD asked.

“Mauve.”

I pointed to the OD. “Drink!”

“What,” I Screamed Rape Man Bun said.

“Never mind. I need you to focus for me,” I said.

“I’ll try,” I Screamed Rape Man Bun stuttered.

“Ok good. Second question: you same five guys get together every third Wednesday of the month. Are you a resistance cell,” I asked.

“No the resistance cell meets every Sunday at 2:30pm at Kyle’s place 302 N. Heliotrope #7.”

“Do you need a password to get in,” the OD asked.

“No but you should bring a Fern for Kyle’s partner Taylor the first time you come.”

“Did they just move here from West Hollywood,” the OD winked at me.

“No she just likes Ferns.”

“So what is this little meet up,” I demanded.

“We’re a Conceivable Solutions Support Group,” he stuttered.

“What in the name of all that is holy is a Conceivable Solutions Support Group,” I wondered.

I Screamed Rape Man Bun straightened up and looked me in the eye as he spoke. “We believe Climate Change is killing the planet so we have decided not to conceive any children until something is done to stop it. We are here to support each other in this decision as well as any others who believe as we do.”

“What if part of the problem is the fact the planet is alive and changing so the Climate will always be changing,” the OD asked.

“There will be no procreation until Climate Change is a relic of the past,” he said proudly.

“I think Meathead thought the same thing on All In The Family but he knocked up Gloria anyway,” I said to the OD.

“I remember that episode!”

While the OD and I waxed poetic on the Meathead/Gloria relationship, I Screamed Rape Man Bun scurried up the hill to his meeting.

“How can you be sure you won’t knock your lady up Gabacho,” the OD screamed.

“We make our partners take the Pill and we practice the Rhythm Method,” he hollered into the East Hollywood night.

The OD looked over to me in shock; we had found a unicorn – the sole practicing Millennial Catholic.

Filipino Karaoke

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?

 

Skateaway Baby

The Millennial matted haired blonde tweaker roller skated through the cars without a care for the chaos she caused the East Hollywood traffic backing up Beverly Blvd. for nearly a mile.

It wasn’t her skeletal form nor the beige vest that all the Meth freaks wear out here, a sort of weird reminder that East Hollywood is still a district in a desert town and the proper camouflage is needed, causing the cars to crawl along. Nor was it her totally tatted up body causing the clichéd LA bottleneck – everyone out here seems to let tattoo artists loose on every centimeter of their once virgin flesh.

No. It was the bright yellow kite with a smiley face she was flying.

I suddenly find myself in Dire Straits frame of mind. I wonder if she knows a DJ playing movies all night long.

The Jeans And Pumps Look

The Dreadlocked Tweeker in the black stretch pants with the absurdly large black purse who blocked my way to the one and only empty seat on the train car that somehow remained available as I pushed and shoved the Passive Aggressive Californians out of my way started doing yoga once we left the Hollywood/Highland station. I didn’t pay much attention until she started laughing and snorting uncontrollably for 15 seconds every minute. In a past life she would have been a Warhol Superstar but in 2018 she was just another annoyance on the Moveable Carnival that is the Los Angeles subway.

I pulled out my copy of “How to Talk Dirty and Influence People” and began reading whatever Lenny Bruce was ranting about on that particular page. The 30 something Brunette had deepened my Mid Life Crisis by forcing me to sit through a 12-8 binge watch of the ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Luke Kirby as Lenny Bruce introducing a jazz band at the Vanguard doing the infamous Jewish v. Goyish bit put me in the mind of the time the Once and Future Ex demanded to know why I always identified as a Jew.

“Because I am,” I said.

“I still don’t understand.”

“Because my father survived the Holocaust and 95% of my paternal family was murdered from 1941-1945. It’s a stick in the eye of Hitler.” I tried.

“But you’re an American.

“And damn proud of it,” I said. “But what’s wrong with a stick in the eye of Hitler? It’s my thing.”

She wasn’t impressed and demanded to know since we, the Jews, owned Hollywood why hadn’t I, a fellow Jew, made it yet since we are well known-  notorious even – for looking after our own.  I always wondered if she was serious when she said that but she was from Yorkville so  I’m not surprised the couple she’s with flies her out to Munich twice a month.

But I digress.

Thirty-one years earlier I answered an ad in The Village Voice to study guitar. The teacher, a bass player named Bobby Rothman introduced to the hip culture. First amendment Messiah Lenny Bruce was one of those artists along with Bird and Pres and Clifford Brown and Sandy Bull. Heady times that occasionally sustain me, even through a Mid Life Crisis.

As I started to read, a large woman holding what looked appeared to skin care products tripped her way up the aisle. She offered the beige tubes with smeared print as English Facial Scrubs in both English and Spanish – but never to the people who actually spoke those tongues – at a vast discount of only one tube for $2.

A sudden lurch caused the Skin Care hustler and another woman to fall over me. Skin Care apologized in Spanish and continued hawking her wares. Behind her, a lovely 27ish woman with Mauve hair, a 1994 t-shirt that read Girl Power, torn skinny jeans and $500 black Manolo Blahnik pumps stood trying to recapture her dignity.

I was entranced by this lovely 5′ 1″ young lady and her mixing of fashion from the previous decades; Anthony Price would have been proud not to mention the 14 year old me in 1983 as my classmate Amanda proffered the same look only with the decade’s demand for white blouses. And both Amanda and Girl Power T-shirt fell off their right 4-inch heels the exact same way as girl in a 1983  Diet Pepsi commercial of blessed memory.

“What are you looking at,” Girl Power T-Shirt demanded.

“I love your look. It has a real Roxy Music thing going on,” I said.

”I came up with my look all on my own thank you,”  she said.  Then after some reflection came the question “Roxy who?”

Bryan Ferry.  Roxy Music.  ‘More Than This’ the song Bill Murray sang in “Lost In Translation” at that Karaoke place,” I said.

She thought for a moment as the train pulled into the Hollywood/Western station and slowed to a stop.  “They’re pervs and any man that talks to a woman reading a book entitled ‘How To Talk Dirty’ is such a creep,”  she said as she fell off her heel, then gathered herself and walked off into the train station righteously indignant about something.

Tinker Bell trying to act tough?  Absolutely and for a moment she set my heart aflutter.  But she’s no Honey Harlow.

 

The Festrunk Brothers Are Everywhere

All over East Hollywood Millennial men in high hemmed suit pants are showing the world their multi-colored stripped socks.

I am forced to conclude one of three things is happening:

  1. Aliens now walk among us.
  2. These men did not listen to their mothers about wearing dark socks with their dress suits.
  3. The progeny of the Festrunk brothers are everywhere.

#wildandcrazyguys #bewarefoxes

So Woke

Taylor’s on 8th is my respite from the Millennial Gentrification Storm.

I sit at on the old diner stool drinking Tito’s Immaculate Conceptions with my elbows resting on the oak wood bar in a suit thinking I may have had the chance to run into Frank, Dean and Sammy if it were just 30 years earlier.   Of course then I wouldn’t have been caught dead in a place like this whilst wearing my Lou Reed uniform black leather jacket, black t-shirt, torn jeans, black boots and splintered stares at those so unhip they had never heard of The Fugs.

My moments of being lost in nostalgia are broken by the two 20 something guys wearing identical gray sweat shirts, messy but not too messy haircuts with the appropriate amount of product holding the various strands of hair up just enough to look like their preternaturally thinning locks are thicker then they really are and a mousy same aged brunette dressed in full winter clothing – thick sweater, blue Gortex sweater, scarf and librarian glasses for the 70 degree California night lost in a discussion about their jobs as TV writers.

Same Looking Guy 1 – So they send me out to do the interviews all the time because I know the lingo.

Same Looking Guy 2 – Like Digital Footprint?

Librarian Glasses – That is so woke.

Same Looking Guy 1 – That’s why they send me because I am woke. When I tell everybody what to watch in the writer’s room everybody watched it and they would tell me dude that was so woke.

Same Looking Guy 2 – That one show you told me to watch was so fucking woke dude.

Librarian Glasses – What show was that?

Same Looking Guy 1 – Friends.

Same Looking Guy 2 – You were right dude, so woke.

Librarian Glasses – That show made fish like Lobsters so fucking woke.

Same Looking Guy 1 – That’s why you should listen to me dudes. I am so fucking woke.

Same Looking Guy 2 – Should we eat here?

Librarian Glasses – Not for our celebratory lay off dinner.

Same Looking Guy 1 – Let’s go to the burrito truck across the street it’s so much more woke than this place.

Almost in unison they all pull a dollar out of their wallets, drop them on the bar and walk out into the wilds of the Los Angeles night.

Suddenly I am thrust into a Dirty Harry frame of mind; if a cup of coffee can be psychic then a burrito must be woke.

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