~painting the town blue~

October 19th, 2008

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The Raymond Chandler part of downtown LA with gorgeous old aqueducts.

Already the goodbyes have begun. On the Sunday apres we meet the San Fran kids for brunch in Echo Park before they drive back up the coast. We stand on the corner of Sunset and Effie, at what must be the longest light in history. Or perhaps it’s some of that elastic time.

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We then head to Hollywood for one of those rare drives through the backstreets of my childhood and teen years. After a while Ali lies down in the back seat, nursing what will become a real and reoccurring flu, but we don’t know that yet. We are both exhausted yet traveling ever onward because this is simply how we do it, wedding-style.

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I don’t get to Hollywood proper that often when I visit the west coast now, so when I do it’s like a short-circuiting radio, coming in and out of range, today mostly in and mostly with ~X~ song lyrics. I’m wrecking my kitchen carefully, but I’m keeping your dinner warm…I could throw my lipstick and bracelets like gravel…I got a hole in my heart, the size of my heart…I am the married kind, the kind that said I do…

I drive down Wilcox, Sunset, Vine, Hollywood Boulevard, struck by the way LA is forever stuck (in my mind) in the era when I left it for good: the 80s. (and also the way Exene and John Doe dissected their marriage in those songs! Holy tattooed-lucky thirteen-plastic Mary-kitchen shrine, Batman! No wonder it didn’t last…)

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Still life with childhood house: Wilcox Avenue, brown grass, new fence, and ailing fiancé.

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The house next door–always very Grey Gardens, but not quite to this extreme. The scary turbaned cat lady who lived there gardened every day, even in the rain. She haunted me in a way that I now see was…empathy.

I can’t help, for example, but superimpose a version of Melrose Avenue that has exactly three hip stores on it: Flip, Super Thrift, and Poseurs, with it’s black painted windows and Rude Girl stickers I’d buy to grace my PeeChee folders. And later Retail Slut, or Vinyl Fetish, where I cut class to go to a record signing of Tones on Tail. Or Warbabies, where I sold vintage German military accessories to skinheads (“No, we don’t sell anything at all Nazi!”), Japanese tourists, and David Lee Roth.

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My favorite childhood library.

Driving past my junior high and Zoetrope Studios (where Mr. Copolla once bought a fruit pie for me from the lunch truck) I am suddenly cruising through days of first kisses and pink Chuck hi-tops and after school drama practice and Rodney on the ROQ. I Love a Man in a Uniform, I Know What Boys Like, Rock the Casbah, Never Say Never, Jumping Someone Else’s Train. How appropriate to be strolling down a Los Angeles memory lane…in a car.

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And on your left there’s high school with my first grown-up boyfriend Dave and his motorcycle and guest lists into the underground clubs–Scream, Power Tools, Plastic Passion–or hanging out at Millie’s and Kim Jones’ house with Hillel Slovak, Flea, Don Bolles, Pat Smear, Donita Sparks, John Curry, Tony Alva, Crispin Glover–name-droppy, yes, but then, that’s LA. I was just sixteen and dazzled and I loved Dave, and still do.

Dave’s friend Lisa dyed my hair lovely colors and called me “Kimba,” after the white lion. She and Kim Jones looked out for me, I was such a peanut compared to everyone else who were for the most part merely in their twenties, but were world-weary as all get-out, as I spose heroin will make you. I was green and utterly thrilled when Kim wrote us up in her gossip column La Dee Da, as “Dave Hurricane and Girlfriend Kim”.

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Everywhere I drive–Hollywood, Echo Park, Silver Lake, Downtown–there are ghosts of twenty years past, the random spots that are special to me, the places that aren’t there anymore. It’s so loaded, and somehow especially so in the days before our wedding and the start of yet another New Chapter.

We stop for some all-curing chicken soup for my ailing honey at Canter’s–many memories there too of after-hours bowls of the miraculous Matzoh infusion served by ever bee-hived waitresses. And now a new memory of introducing a pale and grateful Alfonso to the same.

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It’s not something I anticipated, the little death of getting married, the way you say goodbye, nod to the past, and let it go. I ‘spose all interesting decisions are about this: you draw this near and by doing so you by default release that. It feels right somehow, but still, it is thick.

It is also very much about NOW: Life being lived, rather than THEN: that which is yet to come. Unlike being thirteen or eighteen, planning for life has stopped, living it is now the thing. It’s joyous; it’s melancholy too. No longer Salad Days, but Summer glancing toward Autumn. At nearly forty this is not news, but is brought into sharp focus in many ways on this month-long wedding journey.

What is NOW now is Artesia, my Grandparents house, and a pile of waiting wedding gifts. What is NOW is a flight back to New York and a wedding in Central Park, which from the plane, looked like this:

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