Brick Wahl is a former punk rock drummer turned ex-jazz critic and now just a writer, but then who isn’t. He did a seven year run as a popular columnist at the LA Weekly. A resident of Los Angeles since 1980, he’s lived in Silver Lake since before it was hip. Literary accomplishments include getting drunk with Quincy Jones, getting beaten up by a dozen cops, and being married forever, though not all at the same time.
Cisco Pike on TCM. The last time I saw this I was in a crowd full of hippies at the Wilshire Theatre in Fullerton, California. Weed smoke was in the air and Jerry Ford was in the White House. Kris Kristofferson is Cisco Pike. I believe Doug Sahm comes up somewhere, high as a kite. But then who wasn’t? He’s a poet, he’s a picker, Kris sings about Cisco, he’s a prophet and he’s a something, though what I can’t remember. That refrain has been going though my head since 1975, though that last something disappeared somewhere in the punk rock eighties. Three quarters of two couplets, hanging unresolved. Odd that it never bothered me enough to seek out that last he’s a. But it didn’t. As Kris sang it again on Turner Classic Movies I heard that final he’s a and thought a ha! Now I got it. But I didn’t. Within days it was he’s a something again. The three fourths quatrain has etched itself into my brain permanently. Let’s leave it. Kris has stopped singing now, instead is trying to sell a whole mess of marijuana. He’s not doing so well. He’s doing better that Harry Dean Stanton in the bath tub, though, who’s not looking so hot. And there’s Karen Black, Cisco’s old lady, who was in everything back then. Gene Hackman–it’s Gene Hackman Day on TCM, with this stuck between The Conversation and French Connection–is a cop gone bad, and he’s creepy and inexplicable and irritating all movie long. Gene probably doesn’t watch this one a lot. There is a plot, one of those early seventies sort of plots full of hippies and rock’n’roll and jaded stoner wisdom, but far be it from me to give away the twists and turns. A cult picture, they call this. The hippies in the Wilshire Theatre snickered even then. I remember being thoroughly confused by the story. Let’s see if I still am.
Yup, I was.
Watching a hockey game on ESPN–a rare thing, hockey on ESPN–and an ad for an upcoming New Orleans Saints game is on and I immediately recognize the vamp to the old Skids song The Saints Are Coming. Wow. I loved that song, but it’s ancient history. It’s quickly obvious that it’s not the Skids, though. Google said it might be U2 and Green Day doing a limp rock star rendition some years ago. Well, Google didn’t say limp, I said limp. But it was. Or maybe it is some ESPN only version. I have no idea. I just thought it was bizarre hearing a Skids tune that was utterly unknown in the US back in the day in an NFL ad. Now somebody will tell me they play it every time the New Orleans Saints play and that everybody knows that except me. Life is so bewildering when you never watch football. Drop the puck already.
Anyway, Team USA was beaten by the Kazakhstani Paralympic team and have now gone home to earn millions and millions of dollars.
I wore this record out back in ’78, played it incessantly, and this opening tune even more incessantly and as loud as possible from that first snare blast till even my roommates came to love this song. I’d loved everything the Clash had done before then–Complete Control especially (wore out two copies), and White Man in Hammersmith Palais–and I didn’t like much of anything they did after this LP–they turned instantly way too commercial for me, way too pop–but this album cranked hard and massive and when I saw ’em on their first US tour at the Santa Monica Civic, it was one of the most thrilling concerts of my life. There weren’t even a thousand people in the joint, but it seemed like a million.
Listening to old Bob and Ray radio shows for a couple hours in isolation is pretty mind bending. I have a whole library of Bob and Ray, maybe a hundred very weird 15 minutes, and you can get lost in them, doing whatever it is you need to do, and when you finally turn them off, the world seems some discombobulated and unBob and Ray and wrong. Maybe it’s those McBeebee Twins, a bit that is actually somehow disturbing, like how did Bob and Ray think up that bit, and why, and was anyone damaged in the process, like people in early LSD experiments, or dogs sent into space, or saxophonists who blew free jazz so hard that melodies terrified them and they hid under their beds hiding from syncopation and the landlord.
Watching a David Attenborough documentary–Planet Earth–with a Sioux Indian is mildly disconcerting. Attenborough is intoning about the bison. That’s a magnificent animal I say. That’s a lot of meat, she says. We used to hunt them with arrows, she says. You could kill them with arrows? Nah, but if you could immobilize it you could hack at it. I blanch even whiter. That’s a lot of meat she says again.
There was a fatal stabbing on the east side of Hoover street. Domestic squabble. Sad. The east side of the street is Silver Lake now, since the LA Times set the borders hard. West side of Hoover is East Hollywood. It used to be that apartments for rent on the east side of Hoover were Silver Lake adjacent, but stabbings were in East Hollywood. Or Virgil Village, actually. Virgil Village disappeared somewhere on the maps and now East Hollywood goes all the way to Beverly, where there is nothing even vaguely Hollywood. Silver Lake tumbles down from tony breezy heights to come to a hard stop on Hoover Street. If only the tiff could have been taken across the street. It’s narrow enough, two lanes, tight parking, a moving trucker’s nightmare. They could have run over there easily enough. But no, it happened on the Silver Lake side, and now the crime reports scream murder in Silver Lake, a knife flashing through very expensive air, and try explaining that to the lawyer you’re selling that insanely overpriced bungalow to.