(Bloomfest in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles, July 21, 2012)
Burrito wagons. That’s what was missing. Burrito wagons. Taco trucks. Back in the day that is what that stretch of Alameda Avenue was all about: artists, punks, winos and burrito wagons. Besides, their food was way better.
Spent the whole say at the Bloom Stage with all the geezers. We knew all of them. Beautiful time. Perfect. Saw some ex-Betty Blowtorch thing that shredded, Carnage Asada were loud and pounding and better than ever and ya gotta love frontman George. Saccharine Trust are one of the great bands of our time. I remember seeing them at Al’s three decades ago opening for the Misfits. (I remember seeing them for the very first time at the Cathay in 1981, but that’s another story). Mike Watt and the Missingmen doing double nickles on Hyphenated-Man. The Gears had a slam pit going for chrissakes with big huge inner tubes that people went crazy with and they bounced and bounded and knocked shit all over the place and watching some of the dads out there skanking was a trip…I hadn’t seen that in decades. Just no one gets hurt now. No bloody lips or black eyes or broken bones. Just good clean fun. Al’s Bar was a time warp. Surreal. It looked just like our Al’s Bar–it was our Al’s Bar, but it’s so clean now. So clean it was almost eerie. They sweep the floor now. They painted over the graffiti. The hole in the wall is covered up. The pool table is gone. The photo booth is gone. (Did that photo booth actually work? I just remember people fucking in it.) The wife and I had our 20th anniversary at Al’s Bar, I remember. That was forever ago. I had my 40th birthday party in there. That was forever-er ago. I smoked dope with Kurt Cobain there out on the back patio, and he’s been dead forever and ever.
On the way home the wife and I drove down Alameda to 1st St. That Senor Fish there on the corner used to be the Atomic Cafe. Had dinner in there once with Darby Crash. He had the wiener gotcha, a dude in a blue mohawk eating wiener gotcha. My wife ordered the fried chicken. Banquet. I watched the cook open the box. The service was awful, the food worse, it was wonderful. It wouldn’t last a week now. Hipsters want only the best food. Jonathan Gold made it impossible for any more Atomic Cafes. No more wiener gotcha. Now it’s overpriced ethno-hipster-world slop from food trucks with fey names. Oh well.
The Brave Dog was two doors down from the Atomic, right there where the Senor Fish parking lot is now. It was hipper than fuck for a while, The Brave Dog. I wandered through that parking lot one night a couple years ago and figured out where it was that Mike Watt and George Hurley and me smoked a joint while they told me about their brand new band called the Minutemen. Another night some of us walked from the Brave Dog to Al’s Bar. That must have been 1980. All those parking lots now were abandoned factories then, all brick and empty and spooky. Pere Ubu I said. (Old factories always reminded me of Pere Ubu album covers.) We walked and walked and finally turned a corner and there was light and smoke and music and it was my first trip to Al’s Bar. A thousand more followed. And there I was yesterday watching Watt on that stage absolutely cooking and the whole vibe was like three decades ago but we’re all old and beat up now, things hurt, and the ranks are thinned by heroin and growing up. Some people do heroin. Some grow up. The rest hang out in the street where Al’s Bar was and remember.
The line up on the Bloom Stage was perfect. That was the geezer stage, the nostalgia stage, the Dad’s trying to skank again stage. And while Chris Douridas is cool, I think they ought to let some younger dude or dudette book the Main Stage next time. Let the kids show us what’s hip instead of us telling the kids what is hip for them. Hopefully they’ll do shit us old people will really hate. That’s what we used to do.
Or better yet, ignore everything I just said. It’s a beautiful thing, Bloomfest. I kept thinking back to the early days of the Sunset Junction. It was just like Bloomfest. Though drunker, the Junction was much much drunker. And while Bloomfest had a jllion lovely women in tiny skirts and teetering clogs, oh my, the Junction rained men. Drunk, hairy, leathered, sweating men. In chaps. Now there was a sight.
But I digress.