Bombay Beach

After a series of right angles on the country lanes just south of the Salton Sea in search of mudpots, we turned left on the 111 north and dropped by Bombay Beach for the first time in years. Two things: they moved the dart board at the Ski Inn so you are less likely to be killed by a drunk old lady at 11 in the morning when within ten feet of bullseye, and also, there are serious signs of post-apocalyptic gentrification. The burned out mobile home is gone, for one thing, and ancient cars were not lying about in pieces like dinosaur bones after a particularly nasty extinction event. Nor were there fetid pools of water or the bouquet of a million dead tilapia. Art work has appeared, psilocybin inspired cartoons and images splashed on unroofed walls, some quite striking, always a bad sign. Even worse, there was now literary graffiti–“Charles Bukowski Lives”–scrawled across one abandoned home. Lowbrow literary graffiti, but still. And while Michael McClure Lives would have been more appropriate since, well, he does, none of this mattered at the Ski Inn, a perfect desert dive, where we quaffed ice cold beers and listened to the surly old people talking and thinking how soon that will be us, if not already.

Ski Inn

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Real estate values

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.

Police Story

(2015)

Last night after the drunk plowed into my parked car and took off, the LAPD showed up within a half hour. Being that it was 2 a.m. on a Saturday night (or Sunday morning, actually)–the Witching Hour–I was amazed they were so prompt. Out of the car stepped a very handsome thirty something male officer and from behind the wheel this gorgeous little blonde. She was a knockout, in fact, and for a moment I thought I was in a TV show. I wasn’t. Apparently Silver Lake gets only the most telegenic police officers. We didn’t used to but we’re gentrified now. They were both extremely polite and we had a pleasant chat for half an hour. Finally I said that I’d better let you two go and thanked them. They thanked me. As they drove off they waved. I waved back. I’m told this is not the way it happens in other parts of town.

All out of vanilla Haagen-Dazs

(2010)

Was out  late last nite. Saw some great bands in a little Mexican dive in Lincoln Heights. I love the East Side. Silver Lake used to be East Side. Maybe not the tops of the Swish Alps, but in the lowlands, along the boulevards, and almost everything south of Sunset. It was Latino and gay and leather and punk rock and bohemian with traces of hippies and hints of jazz even, left over from the Soap Plant daze. Alas, Silver Lake is so Westside now. I remember years ago watching a blonde–one of those ultra blondes–walking down a nearby street with tits like grapefruit. Perfect orbs. You could teach geometry with those things. I stared a minute and thought Good Lord, what has become of my neighborhood? It wasn’t much later at the Mayfair (now Gelson’s) that a gorgeous power blonde–she had to be an attorney, just had to be–stormed up to the manager on perfect legs and screamed You’re all out of vanilla Haagen-Dazs! She was livid. Gave him hell, the poor bastard. He apologized. She said something wealthy and angry. My wife, watching, burst out loud laughing.

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Cinco de Mayo

Back in the eighties Cinco de Mayo wasn’t a big thing in Silverlake. September 16 was. People partied in the street, cerveza, tequila, mescal as it grew late. The sweet smell of leafy mota. All kinds of tamales. Vincente Fernandez blaring from huge boom boxes you could buy down on Broadway at wholesale. By 3 a.m. it was Viva Mexico and dancing on the sidewalk. ¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron la patria y libertad!, slurred. Loud cackling. This was right in the middle of Silver Lake too. Then spelled Silverlake. Pricey apartments were often tenements then, paint peeling from the walls, noisy plumbing. It was a different universe, the old Silverlake. Those buildings are all painted now, the plumbing new. There used to be rats. Now there are screenwriters. The Mexicanos are gone. The Filipinos are gone. Varrio Aztlan is gone. The Armenians are off in Glendale now. The gays are gone to WeHo, where it still rains men on weekends. The punks are gone. Gone the way of the hippies and beats and Russian emigres before them. Gone like the nissei who once owned all the nurseries, also gone. Everything’s gone but us. We’re still here, three decades later, watching the drunk huero hipsters and deciding that vegan fusion tacos aren’t our idea of Cinco de Mayo.

Thirty years ago I remember talking to some geezer who was complaining about all the taquerias. They used to all be hot dog stands, he said. He didn’t even like tacos. He liked hot dogs. But even the hot dogs were new once, he said. The old timers, the farmers and small town people, they didn’t like hot dogs. Too European. Too hunky. Too kraut. You used to be able to get good fried chicken anywhere they said. But then the movie people moved in and everyone wanted hot dogs. The movies ruined Silver Lake, they said. Ruined the place. Tom Mix and the Keystone cops and D.W. Griffith and Mickey Mouse. Now look at it. I did. It looked fine. I liked tacos and cheap rent and weirdos. The geezer shook his head. You would.

Now I look around and miss the tacos and cheap rent and weirdos. The Cinco de Mayo no one cared about and the Dia de Independencia, which refuses to roll off an English speaking tongue without stumbling. Maybe not Vincinte Fernandez at ear splitting volume at three in the morning, but I miss the swigs off a bottle of mescal handed to me just because I was walking down the street on September 16, la dia de independencia. That’s a lot of syllables for a holiday, especially drunk and stoned. Maybe that’s why we celebrate Cinco de Mayo. It’s easier to say.

Whether you’re a vato ‘stache toting patriot or an alcoholic looking for any excuse to drink before noon, everyone loves Cinco de Mayo, (unless you are French, in which case, celebrate a day of sacrifice and lament). Getting drunk on Cinco de Mayo is as Angelenian as circumventing federal legal policy to purchase drugs from”licensed doctors”. Sure, you will likely go way over your party budget and end up hooking up with any number of muffin-topped minges, but it’s all in the honor of our hermanos who gave their lives for a country where the drugs come easy and the whores are cheap. Oh, we should also be celebrating Mexico, shouldn’t we? As if LA needs a reason to celebrate tacos and tequila more than we do on a daily basis, here are your top 5 fiestas around town. - See more at: http://www.ultravulgarsuperfiend.com/cinco-de-mayo-event-guide/#sthash.wwe2k6mg.dpuf

“Whether you’re a vato ‘stache toting patriot or an alcoholic looking for any excuse to drink before noon, everyone loves Cinco de Mayo. Getting drunk on Cinco de Mayo is as Angelenian as circumventing federal legal policy to purchase drugs from licensed doctors’. Sure, you will likely go way over your party budget and end up hooking up with any number of muffin-topped minges, but it’s all in the honor of our hermanos who gave their lives for a country where the drugs come easy and the whores are cheap. Oh, we should also be celebrating Mexico, shouldn’t we? As if LA needs a reason to celebrate tacos and tequila more than we do on a daily basis…”

There are bigots, and then there are hipster bigots.

Rock dove

We no longer have pigeons in Silver Lake. We have rock doves. Indeed, there was one on the sun deck. Just one. Very selective, our rock doves. The elite. Not like the mobs of pigeons you’d see in the Ralphs parking lot, waiting for the crazy bird lady. But Ralphs is gone, the bird lady is gone, and the pigeons are gone, who knows where. There are other parking lots, other bird ladies. So there was just the one rock dove, gleaming after a winter’s rain. He landed on our sun deck with its million dollar view, and the mere mourning doves and finches and sparrows scurried out of its way. The rock dove carefully selected only the choicest seeds, looked about, and then, tired of slumming it, flew off to the rich people in the hills, where he can find a finer selection of avian cuisine and bird baths sculpted in Carrara marble. Meanwhile, back on our sundeck the mourning doves and finches and sparrows rushed back in, bickering, pecking, a disorder of tiny dinosaurs with no class at all. Gentrification has a long way to go among these birds.

A hoi polloi of pigeons, unwilling to discover their inner rock dove.

A hoi polloi of pigeons, unwilling to realize their inner rock dove.