Eagle Rock Lanes. When we got here for Laura's birthday, it was still all terrible flourescent lighting and no music. Now it's evolved into blacklight and oldies, which are horrible in their own right.
What's this? everybody asks. Are you really online? And yes, kids, it's true, I am. Try as I might, the screen is as dim as I can make it, but I'm still conspicuous in the blacklight. Oh, the official drink count: 2 Sam Adams, plus the one at my right, which is still very full and cold.
This is how I met Laura: she started dating the guy I was in love with. Or rather, had loved, or with whom I had had an affair that set me off my axis. I don't know if I was over him. He was over me. He and Laura were good, but odd. He was this brilliant poet, and a screenwriter, but those were the days he was giving up screenwriting for drinking and staying up very late. Laura worked at this oversize glossy LA magazine that folded, but when it was still going she brought home a copy of Madonna's Sex book she'd scored, which we all pored over with prurient scepticism. She seemed very together. I didn't know many together people then.
Celebrating Laura's birthday are her husband Pete, the doctor, who looks at slides of things. I ask him before I go: pathologist. Better bowler than me, like everyone else. Adam, who I met when he was a college student with longish hair who'd play Beatles songs on his guitar. Jill and Alan and their new baby Jackson, who is small and doesn't make much noise over a creak. He hasn't even creaked tonight. Or wiggled. He is very new.
Phil is here. He is the tallest man I know who drives a Mini. Peter and Houston, who always look better than the rest of us because Houston is a stylist. She is currently carrying a medium blue metallic leather purse which is probably worth more than my entire shoe collection. Nick, the punk rock drummer, whose hair is traffic-cone orange, and his roommate Misty, who is now the proud owner of a house in Wisconsin. Andrew and Stephanie, who came to the bowling alley directly after buying a 2006 Prius -- a red one -- which I have gone out to the parking lot to admire. It totally has the new car smell. Friends of Laura's who I don't know who are all glowing under the blacklights. I've taken refuge a bit back, so there is a safe buffer between the bowling balls and the laptop.
I thought I might write about the moments of these people that stick with me, but it's a little too hectic. Karaoke is coming out of the bar behind me but some bad radio station is being piped in over the lanes. Then you've got general bowling ally clatter and roll, and the laughing, and the people shouting to the bartender. And I do have to drive home. Any remainder will be after the jump.
Home safe, with a glass of whiskey. I can't decide. I fear I will do no one justice.
There's this band I used to go see. They played a lot at this club, Raji's, that was so ridiculously easy to get into that I did for years, despite being Girl Least Likely to Get In With a Fake ID. Katherine was a year older and 3 inches taller than me, with that naturally kinky blonde hair you might recall Nicole Kidman having way back when. I was little with freakishly red dyed hair, stright and matted. And Katherine's sister Rita was 2 years younger than me, 5-foot-10, a black-haired gothish chick, light as a feather. The three of us all used to get in on Katherine's ID, passing it to the next girl literally behind the back of the the distracted bounder. That was Raji's. Budweiser longnecks and the performance stage in the basement. Don't try to go there, it went kablooey in the Northridge earthquake.
Thelonious Monster used to play there. Don't remember them? Well, Tod Goldberg does. You think that because you don't know about them they must be irrelevant, but that's not true. Thelonious Monster, Fishbone, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers made up the LA music scene in the late '80s. And X, who were mostly exiting the stage, and others I never could sneak in to see. Just don't let VH-1 tell you it was Guns-n-Roses; we all knew they were posers. Anyway, I can only hope that people feel about bands now like I did about them then.
There was a show at the Whiskey. The Red Hots headlined. I danced like crazy. I could feel my ankles swelling with bruises from the pit before the lights were turned up to turn us all out. We left, cutting through the gas station across the street, my hair plastered against my neck lifting a little in the cool night breeze. Somebody leaned out of the his buddy's car as they were filing up and shouted to me, either about what a good show it had been, or something nice about me, or both; I ran up to the car and kissed him hard on the mouth. Then kept going. I felt like lightning.
There was a show at Raji's where everything went wrong. Thelonious Monster created a wall of sound with a bunch of guitarists, 3 I think, and they were trying out a new one. He was this skinny kid, black hair, 19 maybe, even younder than me. He was so nervous. He arced his back around the guitar like he was protecting an infant. I think his hands were shaking. He broke a string, then looped on a new one while the Monster's lead singer, Bob Forrest, gave him a pile of shit. Over the mic. Then the Chili Peppers took the stage and the kid stayed on to play with them. It seemed like he was in a live audition to play with one of the two bands. Maybe they were having a little war over him.
Then he broke another string.
Everything stopped, again, so he could restring his guitar. Again. "You can have him, Anthony!" Bob started shouting from the audience. Anthony, the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, swung his long straight hair and tried to acknowledge Bob and ignore him at the same time. "You can have him!" Bob was laughing at what a bum player this guitar kid was. What a liability. That must have sucked for John Frusciante, except that he did get adopted by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, they recorded Mother's Milk together, and his future success was firmly established. As for Thelonious Monster, well, besides me and Tod Goldberg, there are very few people who care.
One of the reasons you don't know Thelonious Monster is that they were never adequately recorded. I'm listening to them now, and it's like a pencil drawing of something in full color. The recording never even gets close to the intensity of sound of their live performances. I listen because in my head I replay what I knew. But no one has ever done Thelonious Monster justice, with their chaos of melody and rhtythm and Bob Forrest's Tennesee-fried voice.
All of which is to say that it is all too easy to do less than justice to something, like a band, that truly rocks.