An excerpt from my first novel, Fall 98
The next day Harry, Kay-Dee, Ultra Funk and I drove out to Venice Beach to see the weird and the addicted. We wove through Beverly Hills, which lived up to the overly described displays of wealth. Each house had a lavish gate centering grounds manicured immaculately. Layman streets spout decor of sidewalk weeds and litter, not exotic plants imported for neo-Dadaist displays.
Venice Beach was a collage of freaks, copiously adorned for the image’s sake. Weightlifters and drug addicts, bums and tourists, all the wild strands of life’s hair were waving in the ocean breeze. The guy in the turban that rides rollerblades and plays guitar in Perry Farrell's Gift, he was there, along with an assorted band of hustled acts. A couple of African guys pulled me in to show me the prophetic signs of the pyramid on the dollar bill. They kept claiming that white people were going to pay for the three thousand years of enslaving their people. They said the pyramid on the dollar bill showed how African’s were going to pay me back personally for centuries of oppression. They were way too much of a mimic to be taken seriously.
"Come on, that pyramid isn’t even based on Nubian structures.”
“No cracker, it is. Look at the-”
“Look, if the Illuminati was really African you’d have already been running things for centuries, but it’s not.”
“The prophecy is right there on the bill, look.”
"You misread ‘Novus Ordo Seclorum’."
This was going nowhere. I helped them chant ‘down with whitey’, which we barked at Caucasian tourists going by. The whole act went over like a lead balloon in a radon atmosphere.
We stopped at an outdoor café near Vermont Ave for sandwiches. The place was packed with the hippies flooding into town for Phish, who mixed in with bronzed feminists coming home from an abortion rally. We were standing on the ledge of a vortex between 1998 L.A. and 1968 Haight-Ashbury.
A girl, about seven made faces at me from further up the take-out line. She stuck out her tongue and scrunched up her nose. I pulled my ears out, filled my cheeks with air and made my eyes go cross. She giggled, got out of line and came over to me. She was wearing a white t-shirt that read, ‘MY VAGINA MY CHOICE’ in big, black, block letters. She put her hands out in front of her with her palms up. I put my hands over hers with my palms down. She tried to flip her hands over to smack the back of my hands, but I was too quick. She hooted like a soprano owl when she missed.
“God damn it Clare. Would you stop wandering off and bothering people.” It was a tall, thick woman with short spiky hair. She wore a white t-shirt that said ‘KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY BODY’ in big, black, block letters. She reached over and grabbed the girl by the arm, dragging her off and saying, “I’m getting sick and tired of chasing you around. You better stay by my side or you’ll be in real trouble when we get home, missy. Do you hear me?”
Little Clare turned back to smile and wave. I hooked my pinkies in the corners of my mouth and stretched my lips out, pulled the skin near my eyes outward with my index fingers, and stuck out my tongue. She hooted and her butch guardian smacked her hard on the bottom. She cried. They paid, took the food and left.
When I was headed out to the car I ran into Fernanda, a stoner set apart by self-righteousness and vaginal freedom. She wasn’t a very accepting person in most terms, only in terms of her vagina, and sometimes her ass, but her vagina and her ass came across much less self-important than her mouth. We’d been on tour together before, and dated briefly.
“Julian, oh my God, I didn’t know you were doing tour?” She walked up and gave me a hug. “So, um, are you on for the whole tour, or just L.A. and Vegas?”
“I’m going all the way, and you?”
“Oh yeah, I haven’t missed one in like four years.”
“Wow, impressive.” Her first show was two years ago. We missed shows together. She wasn’t on the last holiday run. She didn’t go to Europe.
“Yeah, well, I love tour, its like, my life. And I’ve managed to gain a lot of exposure for my solo career on Phish tour.”
“How is that?”
“Well, I mean, I get to play in front of crowds all the time and a lot of people dig the songs I’ve been doing over the last year. People are really interested in me. I’m going to make a CD when tour’s over.”
“Where do you play?”
“In the lot.”
“A lot of people play acoustic guitar in the parking lot Fernanda.”
“You haven’t changed. You still don’t get me.”
“I get you.”
“Whatever, you’re just jealous because I’m a funky princess who people love. I’m going to be a star Julian, you wait.”
“I rest my case.”
“Do you still play bass?”
“Every chance I get.”
“Good for you. Maybe one day you’ll do something with it.”
“Like become a funky princess that everyone loves?”
“You’re still an asshole.”
“I can live with that.”
“See you later Fernanda.”
“See you Julian.”