Friday night was the Tom Petty concert I bought tickets to about 6 months ago. I was going alone, this was a treat to myself. Anytime I am having a bad moment, or a bad day, Tom Petty comes on the car radio. I call him my spirit guide, or more simply put . . . my boyfriend. He is my boyfriend.
I climbed Highland on foot to get inside the Hollywood Bowl and found my seat.
People were lighting up all over the place. Of course they were. The crowd was a mix of people, but I was surrounded by fans my parents' age . . . 55 yrs and up. The couple behind me looked to be in their 60s and were confronted by a security guard about smoking pot.
Security Guard, "What do you have in your hand? You can't do that here."
Couple, "Are people smoking cigarettes allowed to do that here?"
I couldn't hear his muffled response. He just said, "That is illegal, we don't tolerate that here."
The 60 year old woman next to me shouted in my ear, "Why don't they just say they have a green card? Stupid."
The couple disappeared for a while, then came back blazed out of their minds. The husband slowly lifted up his arm as his wife leaned into him.
This is where all the hippies came to die.
The lights came up and the sound of guitar buried us, like a foot sinking in wet sand. ZZ Top.
They started with some blues. Blues on electric guitar is the equivalent to a boy going down on me.
Billy Gibbons was the one to engage the crowd. He asked the crowd if they knew what his jacket was. I did. I was a Future Farmer of America. That was my way of getting out of Chemistry and Physics in high school.
He said, "This jacket is from Future Farmers of America. (Hollywood was in big letters on the back) When people say, but there are no Farmers in Hollywood, I say . . . oh yes there is. There are all kind of farmers in Hollywood." Then he pulled out a beautiful joint and had a stage hand light it up before jumping into 'La Grange.'
Billy worked that guitar masterfully. There were two big screens on either side of the bowl. The camera would focus on his fingers plucking the strings on guitar, as his hips moved with the music. I know this sounds weird, but I was turned on. Music and sex are so similar, I wonder if musicians are better lovers because they know how to harness and channel rhythm and passion.
Abe majored in music for a long time. He studied saxophone throughout high school and college, and played drums in a band. He still does. Abe doesn't look like a musician, you would peg him more as a computer nerd. As a lover, he is . . . definitely a rock star. When he goes down on me, he does this thing called double tonguing. According to WikiPedia: "double-tonguing" or "double-articulation" is used when the music being performed has many rapid notes in succession too fast for regular articulation. In this case, the tongue makes a silent "tuh-kuh". It takes my breath away.
"Tush" erupted on stage.
I been bad, I been good
Dallas, Texas, Hollywood
I ain't askin' for much
I said, Lord, take me downtown
I'm just lookin' for some tush
When the word "Hollywood" whipped out of Billy's diaphragm and into the crowd, we all cheered. For the first time, I realized that Hollywood was my home.
When people asked me how I liked Los Angeles, the first couple years I said I hated it. Hated the traffic, the people, the pollution. Then, after a few years I said that I had a love-hate relationship with Los Angeles. The city is a bitch. It can kill your spirit or ultimately show you what you are capable of.
That night, as ZZ Top tickled us with some hometown rock, I realized this is where I belong.
People will say that with technology, you can be anything, anywhere. You can submit your work through video and email, you can have meetings with people across the globe. Sure. That said, technology can never get around the creative juice in the Los Angeles soil. The Muse. The same muse who was here for Charlie Chaplin when he moved to Hollywood, or when The Doors recorded in Venice Beach or found the words for the grimy pages of Charles Bukowski. Oh, she is here. If you close your eyes and feel her, she will unlock parts of your mind you never knew existed. Ask any stand-up comic, writer, actor, composer . . . there is a mystique.
John Densmore, drummer on The Doors, will often talk about the Muse that came to visit the studio and created the music through them. It's real. It's hard to explain, but it is very real.
Then, Tom Petty came on stage wearing a crushed velvet blue jacket and a loose red neck tie. He looked so relaxed and happy. I am not sure I have ever seen a performance like that before, where I felt like I was watching him play in his living room. He had lazy eyes, and a lop sided smile. He enjoyed himself.
I stood up out of my seat and clasped my hands under my chin, swaying my hips from side to side. Tom Petty.
Everyone grabbed their pipes and joints and smoked up. There was so much pot smoke around me, I was getting high on about four different strains of second hand smoke. One had a very delicious citrus flavor to it. I didn't bring my own pipe because they were searching bags before entry. I just didn't want to deal with it.
Tom went through a lot of the hits through the first forty minutes. The aforementioned 60 yr-old next to me was impressed I knew all the words.
When I was 14 yrs-old, I got a job picking blueberries near my house. I think my friends and I were the only white people picking blueberries. It was about 10 cents a pound, something ridiculous. I saved all that money to go down to Hollywood Video and buy my first CD, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Greatest Hits. I remember ritually going to visit the store on foot and looking at the CD cover until I could afford it. Who knows why I wanted it so badly . . . when I was 14, I just discovered Pearl Jam and Nirvana, the Doors and Elvis. One album lead to another and then another, soon a whole world of music was opened up to me outside my parents' umbrella. It was like opening up a brand new carton of ice cream and taking your first large scoop . . . there was so much left to be discovered, and I knew it.
After two weeks of picking those fucking blueberries, I had enough money to go down and pay for an overpriced CD. I still have it, scratched to all hell but still in one piece.
Here I was at 32, on a concert ticket I paid for with my tax refund, singing with Tom Petty and thousands of other people. The music is the one constant in your life. Never take it for granted.
When I think back on the artists I love the most, Ella Fitzgerald, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, James Baldwin, Beethoven, Rodney Dangerfield . . . I always felt this burning desire to tell them how much their work meant to me. I saw Tom up there, smiling with his friends and his guitar, taking in the joy of everyone loving his music. You don't have to tell them, they know.
References to Los Angeles in the songs were screamed over his vocals. He closed the show with, "Goodnight, it's good to be home."
I called my mother to tell her.
Me: "I saw Tom Petty last night."
Mom: "He always looks like he is on drugs."
Me: "He is very talented. It was a great show."
Mom: "I don't like him, but I don't care about meeting celebrities like you do."
Me: "It's not about meeting celebrities, Mom, its about the music. That music is classic."
Mom: "Whatever. I don't care about celebrities."
Me: "You like ZZ Top, right?"
Mom: "I don't know who that is. Like I said, meeting celebrities isn't important to me."
Me: "Its not about meeting celebrities, Mom. But what else is new?"
Mom: (silence) "Nothing."
My father was the one who introduced me to good music. My mother claimed she never cared for music like we do. It is foreign to me, how can you not respond to music? I would say the woman lacks soul, but she is hilarious so I know there is something inside of her.
Mom: "The Beatles feminized music."
Me: "No they didn't."
Mom: "I have a right to my opinion. I am not the only one who doesn't like the Beatles."
Me: "Yes, you are."
The next day I was working my first day as a valet for an all girls valet service. I was nervous, this would be the first time I actually had to work for my money- as opposed to getting stoned and waiting to be entertained for cash.
I showed up on time to the Brad Pitt party in downtown Los Angeles. I hauled ass on foot from two parking garages looking for my "team captain." I was shuttled back to the party, where the host decided to lay into me and the Captain in front of the front door. My uniform was incomplete because they didn't have enough vests for the party, so I was just in a white button up shirt, with a bow tie and slacks that were too big for me.
Host, "This is inexcusable. All the girls should be in the same uniform, hair should be pulled back, powder should be on your faces and some lip stick. Come on, ladies."
I couldn't help but stare at her sun damaged knockers. They were huge.
My hands smoothed out my hair and I thought, "Bitch, I just ran half a mile. Powder on my face is going to do absolutely nothing."
She made eye contact with me and apologized. I reached out my hand and introduced myself. That was a weird (nice) moment.
The night started out slow, we were lined up like hookers at a Bangkok brothel. I said, "All we need is a red light overhead." The girls laughed. Good group.
Men would slow down their cars, or walk by and stare at us. We were just girls in waiter outfits standing in line. JESUS, IS EVERYTHING SEXUAL? I mean, only a few of us were actually cute.
There were lots of new employees that night. When the cars started pulling up, things got a little crazy. There were so many cars, traffic was stopped around the corner. It was hard to feel unhappy when sliding into the seat of a nice sports car and riding that puppy down the street. I never thought I was a car kind of gal, but when you drive the best of the fucking best, cars that started with the push of a button, that move like a jet ski down the street . . . its hard to do anything but have a good time.
We parked the cars in a lot and then grabbed a shuttle back to the party and repeat. The new girl in the front seat said, "I was driving a car with that symbol. Its like a wheel with arrows going in different directions. They are like three arrows pointing out of a circle. You know what I am talking about?"
The Shuttle Driver said, "A Mercedes?"
New girl, "Yeah . . . that's it. A Mercedes. I have never been inside one of those before."
Half the girls lied about their stick shift experience and asked me to trade up for those cars on the slide. There was one beautiful, yellow stick sports car. Driving that thing 4 blocks almost gave me an orgasm.
I loved the work, actually. I loved driving the cars, running to the shuttle and . . . driving those cars. The tips, however, were total shit. I mentioned in my last blog that part of the "hazing" with this company was waiving your tips for the first 4 hours of your first day. I didn't think that would be a big deal until I started to realize that rich people don't tip.
All the tips we gathered were pooled together into a large box by the key station.
There were about four people who didn't bother to tip me at all. No matter how broke I am, I always have at least a dollar for valet. THOSE MOTHER FUCKING RICH ASSHOLES! Ok, let me take a moment here. I was appalled with the customers. They all had the best cars on the market; BMWs, Mercedes, Priuses, Mini Coopers ... oh yes, the Mini Coopers. Those ugly rich bitches that drive Mini Coopers didn't tip me anything. I will be sure to NOT be extra careful with those fucking cunt cars in the future. Oops, did I throw that door open too suddenly you orange skinned piece of shit!
The black guys tipped me the best. The white girls didn't tip me at all.
Now, Brad Pitt had a limo drop him off in the alley, where he was escorted through a door. No one saw him. We moved so many cars, so fast, I barely had a chance to look at anyone's face, anyway.
At the end of the night, after about 210 cars, there were only $220 in tips. Deduct the first four hours of tips and spread out the remainder among 16 employees and how much did I make? $7
Seven . . . fucking . . . dollars. That was an extra dollar for every hour I worked. Rich fucking assholes.
The next day, I met Jaq for breakfast at a place in Silver Lake. She had just gotten back from a date with Em and Mr. OTR's roommate. We were sitting outside at a cafe in Silver Lake, between two other small tables. On our left was a middle aged guy reading a book, alone, and on the other was a couple oogling over Jaq's Pomeranian.
Details needed to be discussed and analyzed. We went through the date, point by point. We discussed anything that might be a red flag in his behavior, and anything that got him bonus points. Then we went through the positions, technique and timeline for intercourse.
Me: "Did he keep on the condom?" I realized I said that a little loud, so I turned to the guy reading the book and apologized. Then said a little lower, "Did keep on the condom?"
Jaq: "Of course."
I give my usual spiel about STDs because I don't think my generation appreciates how easy it is to contract a disease.
Me: "Did you ask him when he was last tested for STDs?"
Jaq: "No, but I know you feel strongly about that."
Me: "Did you look for lesions on his genitals?"
Jaq shook her head and I reminded her that condoms break.
Jaq: "I have never had a condom break."
Jaq had said last week, "I never go on top because I had a bad experience. Once, I almost broke someone's cock."
So I said, "What a minute. You have broken cock but not condom?"
The guy next to us could no longer pretend he was reading and looked up.
Guy: "Oh my. Well then."
Me: "She is like an Olympic athlete."
Jaq: "I am."
So we invited this gentleman into our blow for blow analysis of intercourse on the date. We discussed various positions and analyzed who had how many orgasms.
Me: "Mysteriously, I have broken both of my vibrators through excessive use. I don't know how that's possible since I have only had them for a year. I changed batteries, and nothing happens. They are dead. But, I noticed since I stopped using them, it is much easier to orgasm. Ridiculously easy."
We covered his relationships, and he mentioned he was still heartbroken over someone and casually dating a single mom. I said, "Who can I set you up with? What do you like?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know, I am just taking it easy right now."
I said, "Do you like Asians?"
His face lit up. "I love Asians."
I said, "I think I have someone for you."
And then we became Facebook friends.
I had to go back to my apartment for a model shoot with a Swiss photographer doing a piece on Prop 19: Legalizing Cannabis. It was for a Swiss magazine, no doubt a featured story on how devolved Americans are. They wanted to shoot "regular" people who smoke pot. The thing is, when you do something like that in Los Angeles, there are no "regular people" just a lot of artists.
They photographed someone running for office . . . a politician. The others were all artists, so they had to cheat a little bit on the occupation of each subject for the piece, as pretty much everyone does. A sculptor was listed as a "wife." A composer was listed as a "commuter." And I was going to be listed as a "Pit Bull Rescuer" which I am really hoping for or "Valet." They even mentioned just lying all together and listing me as a "Librarian."
BAGGAGE changed my occupation from "Unemployed" which I thought was hilarious and yet totally relatable to most of the country to "Teacher." You can't keep using Actress and Artist over and over and over, especially when you have lazy casting people who won't go past the pool of people subscribing to LA Casting.
I hope they list me as a pit bull rescuer. No one ever wants to use that colorful detail about my life when using me on a project. The photographer said the situation with pit bulls was worse in Europe.
So they propped me on top of the roof in my purple hippie dress and gave me herbal tobacco substitute to create a plume of smoke over my face. It was the ecstasy shit they use on MAD MEN and WEEDS. It smells a bit like a campfire and wasn't too bad at first. The more I smoked, the harsher it was on my mouth and throat. It made my eyes water and gave me a slight sinus headache.
I tried to connect my eyes to the camera, but the photographer asked me not to. My mother always complains that my eyes are too intense for family photos. I sent her pictures of Abe and myself recently:
Mom Email: "It's the helter-skelter look you give people when you disapprove or get angry."
My Email: "I don't have a helter skelter look and I didn't send photos of me angry or feeling disapproving."
Email from Mom: "If you say so. It wasn't meant as an insult so don't get your dander up."
So, I puffed. I exhaled. And they got the shot.
Then I went to catch a flick with Jaq at a theater in Silver Lake. Afterward, we got a drink at a nearby dive called "The Good Luck" Bar. It was perfect . . . a Chinese restaurant motif, red lights and tropical rum drinks. Jaq loves rum.
I saw a boy at the end of the bar drinking alone. I didn't get a good look at his face, but our eyes met. A few minutes later he came up to our table and said, "Excuse me. Can I ask you two a question?"
I said, "Sure is that it?"
He said, "No, can I ask you two questions then?"
I said, "Sure. Was that it?" HAHAHAHAHA! Aren't I incredibly witty?
I said, "Just kidding, have a seat. What's your question?"
He held out a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon and said, "I just have one question and this one beer. I won't linger around and make you uncomfortable."
Ask the question.
He asked, "Do you use internet dating websites?"
We both said we did.
He asked, "Why do you think people connect more when they meet in person, than when they meet over the internet?"
I said, "Maybe its because when you meet in a moment by fate it is more romantic. Or you form a memory through a sensory experience, like the smell, the music, the atmosphere. You start with a memory instead of arranging for a moment like you do when you are shopping on the internet, or checking your bank statement or looking for a job."
I closed my eyes, the rum was taking hold.
Me, "Now that I am saying this out loud, maybe it has to do with the scent of pheromones coming from the person. You are initially responding to those pheromones when you approach, narrowing down who is a genetic match. Then the scent and hormones anchor a connection and memory between the two people."
Jaq shook her head. She is not on the FEMALE BRAIN Bandwagon.
The boy said he understood where I was going with this, acknowledging that smell was the most powerful sense to recall a memory.
We are primal animals.
He said that he noticed that a lot of relationships ended around 7 years.
I said, "Ah, the seven year itch."
He said, "My last relationship lasted just about 7 years."
I said, "You know why, because that is the length of time it takes to raise a small child before the male is no longer required." The text I read in college claimed it was actually 4 years.
He said, "I remember reading about that, but it was 4 years, not 7."
It was a male version of me. WTF? From across the bar, I thought he looked feminine. Now that I saw him up close, I could see how attractive he was. His eye brows arced a bit like a guitarist I obsessed with in undergrad. He was tall, young . . . oh, so young. After some quick math regarding his high school relationship, Jaq deduced he was 25 yrs old.
I could feel his leg touching mine under the table, and I would scoot away just an inch to keep from physical contact. I don't need to cloud my head with temptation.
We spoke about sex. He claimed he didn't have unprotected sex until he was in a committed relationship with a woman. I said that's why I never have protected sex . . . also why I never have casual sex. I am just not good about forcing condoms on in a moment of passion. In fact, I thirst for the skin inside of me. So I avoid casual sex altogether.
I told him I hated casual sex and related something I read recently that the chemical cocktail released in a woman's brain, a strong combination of oxytocin and dopamine, was made available to rats in a study. The rats had the choice between the dose of chemicals released after female orgasm and cocaine. Hands down, the rats chose the oxycotin/dopamine and neglected the cocaine.
He said, "My last girlfriend was going to go on the pill. I was saving unprotected sex for when I got back from this business trip (a 25 yr old on a business trip, hm) to really mark the beginning of our relationship. She broke up with me before we ever got the chance. You know what I think happened? I think that she went on the pill and had sex with someone else, thought, 'This is way better than the protected sex I was having with Atticus' and started dating him. I think there are hormones or something in the ejaculate that go into the woman's vagina and create some strong bond. I mean, sex with a condom is 'Who cares?"
We spoke about mind games people play, and the desperation to connect. So appropriate after watching 'The Social Network.'
I showed him an email from someone in my life who was an example of relentless pursuit. He scrolled through the email and said, "Who is Abe?"
I said, "My boyfriend."
He exhaled like he was holding his breath the entire time he was sitting there and backed away from me.
He said, "That's the type of thing that should come up in the first 30 seconds of conversation."
I said, "But then we wouldn't have had this great talk."
I told him how we recently got back together. He asked why we broke up and I said it was because communication waned and he wouldn't text or call to say goodnight.
Atticus, "There was a girl I was crazy about. And for whatever reason, I stopped texting and calling her so much. I let days go by . . . I don't know why I let that happen. Maybe because I was scared that the more I opened up to her, the more we would fight and then we would break up. And after a few days of not talking to her, she broke up with me. It is what it is. I can't go back and change that, but I lost her."
In this moment, Jaq and I were staring at him. It meant so much to hear this, like . . . the men we loved stopped communicating out of fear not boredom. Girls need to hear shit like that if its true. Is it?
He said, "Well this isn't how I wanted the night to end."
Jaq, "You wanted to go home with someone."
He said, "I just wanted smooches. Now the night won't end in smooches."
The more we spoke, the more Jaq kept handing me water to sober me up. I drained one glass after another through a small straw.
Atticus was going to leave us now, and I had to go to the bathroom. He did too. So we both walked over to the bathroom. I made sure I was pretty in the mirror and walked out. He was waiting for me out in the hallway. I saw him standing there and my heart pounded, "Think-of-Abe . . . Think-of-Abe"
He reached to shake my hand and said, "What did we learn tonight? If a guy approaches, you tell him within 30 seconds you have a boyfriend."
I said, "Then you wouldn't have been my friend and we wouldn't have had this great conversation. You don't understand, no one talks to me about this stuff."
He grabbed my hand and looked at me. He was tall. His hand was warm. I reminded myself of all the consequences that come with flirtation. My desire for the boy wouldn't be the love and friendship I have for Abe. I have picked Abe for a reason, and I have to go with my gut on that. When you start second guessing yourself, you get confused and can lose everything.
He said, "I just want to say that you are incredibly sexy." I faked a laugh and looked down at the cheap carpet.
He continued, "The fact that you are so smart and so great in conversation makes you the total package." I actually don't know how accurate this line is because I was tipsy and am, in general, terribly uncomfortable with compliments.
I stumbled some lame compliment back and we parted.
I went back to the table, Jaq and I sat in silence. Atticus' absence was noticeable. Jaq said, "Can I just say how bummed I was that he wasn't interested in me?" Well, he was my male counterpart . . . in so many ways.
I think God was testing me. He found this amazing kid who was tall, handsome, funny, quirky, brilliant and alone in a bar on a Sunday night, then sent him over to me to see if I would repeat the mistakes of my past.