The new year is upon us. After a week in, must say 2009 feels better from afar. Looking back, despite a few broadsides of actual tragedy and ass loads of run of the mill misfortune, it was nonetheless an eventful year on many fronts. Apart from the gory, miserable, and mundane stuff, somehow managed to get a few things done. Flew in too many planes, drove too many miles, goggled my eyeballs around a lot of places good and bad. Worked my ballz off. Shot about 8,000 photos too many. Wrote songs. Huffed grizzlers. Bought hard drives. Broke cameras. Got a few haircuts that weren't too bad. Grew burly beards and bummer moustaches. Got fat. Got sick. Got wicked skinny. Fixed furniture. Sometimes went to bed. Bled a few times. When warranted, even managed to let myself cry now and again. Spent time with many, many pals. Rode skateboards. Swayed lazily from lane to lane on midnight bike rides. Stared at the moon. Watched the clouds.
Sad to say, I again wrangled my way into a few full-blown fist fights while working at that dank hole of good times and endless horrors—The Cha Cha. But when guzzlebots push each other around and crush bystanders, what else can you do? If you have any sense of duty, you deal with it and hope for the best. But eventually the odds run against you. Eventually some asshole annihilates you where you stand, leaving your bell wrung and your body bleeding out. The Cha Cha is a black hole of affection, a peat bog of suspended adolescence, a den of writhing, sweating, booze-blind hipsters, gangsters and unfathomably coked up dip shits. It is also a place full of people I care for very, very much (like that beardo below—Justin Regan). Working in a bar can be fun and damned enlightening. Working in a bar you learn an awful lot about people, and character, and money, and violence, and joy, and sadness. You watch people come together, fall apart, and fall away from each other and from themselves. Sure. Over time, however, it erodes your faith in humanity, breaks your back, and shortens your fuse. It simply does.
So finally, after 4 years of shaved bears, brutal dudes and drunky juice, I quit my on again/off again bar shifts. Travel work was making it difficult to find folks to cover for me. Indeed, to the point that I was beginning to feel like my inclusion was a bummer and my absence was a blessing. After a long hiatus, I resumed my shift on the night before Thanksgiving '09. Packed house. Everybody was in town getting wasted in preparation for spending time with their families. At a certain point I remember feeling entirely over the dish washer door blocking access to the cash register and the beer coolers. I was over the hoochies and heroes howling for vodka drinks and elbowing for PRBs. Fair enough. It was time to go. If you can't do the job well, no matter what it is, you should probably move on. So I did.
In truth, for the last two years, the only reason to keep my weekly shift was my coworkers; Suzy, Andy, Kevin, Nathan, Elijah, Jason, Nick, Nadia, Joe, Matza, Keith, Colin, Dirty Preston, etc... Good friends and hard, hearty, late night laughter. All credit goes to KW for putting us together. Beautiful, smart, funny people. Musicians, con men, painters, addicts, fashion designers, maniacs, depressives, manic-depressives, promoters, succubi, educators, liars, film makers, comedians, dreamers, actors, insomniacs, punkers, spastics, curators, alcoholics, sculptors, dads, writers... that bar employs some of the most talented people I know. As an occasional patron, maybe now I can enjoy the place a bit more... And, if need be in a pinch, I'm on call to cover shifts any time. Ah, the things we do for love.
Speaking of love, (Part II), I spent most of 2009 loving TT. She's a sweetie and I am a very, very hard man to love. Preternaturally hard. Brazenly hard. Hard-hard. I've never met a woman with such resolve and self-possession. She's subtle, exhausting subtle. Inspirationally subtle. Maddeningly subtle. We drove all over hell and back. She makes a hell of a copilot, this is certain. We flew like birds from one job to the next... flapping our brains. Clam hands and dirty boots. Filthy clothes. Rental cars in disarray. Lost keys. Lost time. Lost plots. We did this and that, went here and there... We stared at stuff, we made stuff. We lifted, arranged, rearranged, fixed and troubleshooted... stuff. We moved all kinds of good stuff into and out of storage. We found all kinds of useless used garbage and semi-good garbage. Like idiot magpies, we kept it all.
Oh, and we figured out how to cook in a crock pot. My God, it is a wonderful invention. Have you ever used one of these things? Magical. Pure food magic. Lurking at home with TT is often like living at 70s summer camp. Except at this one the stereo plays The Misfits and Max Richter rather than REO Speedwagon and Rod Stewart.
In June we moved out of the red hills of Avon Park Terrace to a lil carriage house in Angelino Heights. Built in 1886, we now live in a time warp. Old timey ceiling fans and an attic cupola. Hideously attractive stained glass. Views of snow covered Mt. Baldy and the scourge of Chavez Ravine— Dodgers Stadium. Cheetah print stairwell. Backyard patio alive with errant plant life and opossums. Spider bites and ant problems. Ghost kitties. Mia the bad dog being good. Fake dancing in socks on waxed hardwood floors. Laundry! Ah, to be a renter in a downturned economy. Beats the hell out of being a homeowner right now. It is without a doubt the most joyful place I think I've ever lived. Even when I'm double elbows deep in horse shit, I look around our joint and feel better able to handle whatever comes.
*[Time out: this is Lil Nate Harrington. Soon he's gonna quit his j-o-b-s at the beautiful Family Bookstore and as correspondent for VBS.tv to move his ass to Berlin to focus on crafting house music. What? Yeah, for real. Dude is seriously into BIG, REPETITIVE BEATS. For the record, Nate, I 100% back you. Right now, Nate Harrington is 21 and without knowing nothing about nothing he's already the best dude in Los Angeles bar none. Ten years from now he's gonna know all kinds of crazy shit, running things, and he's still probz gonna be one of the better dudes you ever met. Go make beats, Lil Nate. L.A. is not going anywhere.]. Now, back to the brog in progress...
What other lurks did I get into in 2009? I suppose I worked on cars and motorcycles (poorly, I should add). And, I worked with many of my favorite photographers, musicians, event promoters, and creative types. Seemed to frequently eat a whole lotta French food. Low brow, middle, and high brow French food. Good, bad, and memorably forgettable French food. Absolutely did not matter where the hell I was, I was just constantly inhaling French food. Monkfish with risotto, asparagus, and sand dabs... crap cuisine like that. Drank my weight in espresso, too. Otherwise, dropped a lot of 4AM loot at Taco Zone on Alvarado. That avocado salsa may eventually kill me, but in the meantime I'm always happy to put the hurt on three of those lil soft tacos. Whoever it was that tried fire bombing those sweet ladies' taco truck, may you fucking die and soon.
What else happened in 2009? I saw a few movies. "A Serious Man" was my favorite of the year. It is a shame it was not seen for the everyman film that it truly was. Instead too many critics too narrowly defined it as merely a commentary on the suburban middle class Jewish experience in America. Most mainstream film critics are idiots and the movie-going public are bigger idiots, so oh well. Speaking of idiots, "Avatar" was pretty to look at but it was not a good movie. Sorry. At nearly 2 hours and 40 minutes, plot-wise it offered only a mishmash of director James Cameron's other films + plus a stilted retelling of adages we all already know and have seen a thousand times in other novels and films. In brief: Cajole, infiltrate, placate, and/or kill the natives to obtain their resources. Shoot massive guns and act like you own the place... even when you don't. Apart from the special effects, the only other interesting aspect of the film is Cameron's notion that in the 23rd Century, he apparently presumes English-speaking white people will still be at the helm of humanity's corporations, military, and sciences. Not a chance in hell. Despite his film's progressive message, Mr. Cameron cannot seem to escape his own rich white male bias regarding who is in charge of the universe. "King of the world!," and all that crap. Bravo, James, bravo.
Man, it is late and I am so sleepy. This brog is a heap. I'm a heap. My thoughts are a dry ham sandwich. Gross. Tonight I recorded feedback squalls in the basement recording studio of the Mosser Hotel here in San Francisco. Weird. Fun. My right ear feels like a train whistle is blaring in it. Or a jet engine.
As I type this, we're back in SF working for a few days before driving up to Seattle to resume recording Ghost Warss material with Eric Fisher, Josh Myers, Morgan Henderson, and Goth Joel. After more than two years in creative limbo, being back in the studio is going to feel real bonkers. But very exciting! More on this later. It is 4AM and I have a 9-hour drive in the morning. Mel Gibson's "Graham Greene" in now coming to a close. Rough stuff. James Garner and Jodi Foster are endlessly rad. Even in his youth Mel Gibson was clearly already a drag.
Before I go I just want to say anybody in need of a vintage 70s acoustic guitar should buy this Morris for sale on ebay in Japan. I know, I know... sounds sketchy. And maybe it is! But fuck it, this thing is wonderful and rare. And, from the audio clips the owner posted, it sounds fantastic.
2010, so far so good.