Tag Archives: Warren Zevon

11.

Sometimes you feel like going for a run.

It doesn’t happen often, but it happened today, because today was an interesting day.

You put on the yoga pants and the sport bra you bought last year when you signed up for that gym membership that you canceled after four months and you put on the only pair of sneakers you own and you load some Amanda Palmer onto your iPhone and you walk out the door.

Run for one song, walk for one song.  You decide to let shuffle do the decision-making, because you’re out of breath and now is not the time to stare at your music library on a hand-held screen.

Run for “Supergeil.”  Walk for “Peaches en Regalia.”  Walk for “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.”  Run for “Streets of Sorrow / Birmingham Six.”

It’s dark.  You’re sweating.  Your lungs feel small.  It’s time to walk home.  Your iPhone decides you need to hear “Indian Summer.”  You get really happy.  You love “Indian Summer.”  You loved it the first time you heard it and you love it tonight.  You loved it that one night you listened to it on that mix tape you made and you imagine yourself dancing to it at your wedding with a faceless person you haven’t met and you wonder if that’s lame.

You look up at the moon.  Jim tells you he loves you the best, better than all the rest that he’ll meet in the summer.

Summer.

You think about why today was interesting and you get a little annoyed.  You wonder why you’re even annoyed at all because you should be above it all because you’ve been through it all and you’ve been through a lot.

You contemplate the Human Condition and wonder what it even specifically means.  Does it refer to the way we’re all gonna die and we know it?  Or is that Existentialism?  And are you allowed to pay attention to coincidences when you’re an Existentialist?  Or do Existentialists not believe in coincidences?  Or do they think coincidences are just coincidences and not anything to pay any attention to?

You wonder why you don’t tell more people to fuck off.  You wonder why your first instinct is to get to know why a total asshole is a total asshole so that maybe, one day, you and that total asshole can be friends.  But why would you wanna be friends with a total asshole?  But aren’t we supposed to make friends while we’re here?  And is there something innate in all of us that makes us want to hang out with each other and not kill each other?

Is that what God is?  Is God the voice in your head that stops you from punching someone in the face?  Is God the voice in your head that tells you to apologize?  Is God the voice in your head that stops you from telling more people to fuck off?

Yes.  You’re contemplating the existence of the divine.  Not Divine: the divine.  You’re wondering why more people don’t talk about how God may be a force of energy as opposed to a man who keeps tabs on everyone.  You wonder why paying attention to things — things like coincidences — is considered silly and spooky, and yet condemning groups of people for the way they live in the name of God is allowed in the year 2014.

“Indian Summer” ends.  You’re alone with the passing cars and the sound of your own footsteps.  You look at the sign for the LA River and think of an episode of Six Feet Under, immediately followed by a scene from Inside Llewyn Davis.

Suddenly, loudly and beautifully and perfectly, “In the Aeroplane over the Sea” fills your ears and your brain and — perhaps? — your soul.

You love this song.  You really, really love this song.  You think about the people you love, and how some of them also love this song, and you think about how maybe you really should start paying more attention to what music other people like, because if they don’t like music that you like, that’s kind of actually a big deal.  Or maybe they don’t need to like all the music you like, but they do need to like music, because if they don’t like music then what the hell are they doing?

You turn on to the crowded boulevard and you look at the neon signs and you feel almost like you live in a cool city, and there’s that bar you like and there’s that sushi place you like and you still have to go into that weird little shop and check out their Tibetan prayer flags.  For Tibet.

Looking at your neighborhood reminds you that it’s the 11th.  It’s March 11th.  You moved into your apartment exactly one year ago.

One year ago.

You remember what was happening one year ago.  You remember how afraid you were one year ago and how much more broke you were one year ago and dear God — thank God it’s no longer one year ago.

You pass the stupid lingerie store you’ve never been inside of and Mick and Keith take over and sing to you about “Wild Horses” and remind you you’ll ride them.  Someday.

You wonder if you should write when you get home.  You wonder who even reads your writing.  You wonder if people read your writing and never tell you they read your writing.  You wonder if people read your writing and tell you they love it but really they don’t.  You wonder if people purposely avoid reading your writing because they don’t actually care about you when you’re not around.  You wonder if you’ll ever write some more.  Some more meaningful stuff.  Stuff that more people see.

Here’s your street.  You hang a right.  Your feet hurt because your sneakers really weren’t designed to be used for running on concrete and your shirt is plastered to your back but yeah, man, going for a run was a good idea.

You think, Wasn’t it weird how your iTunes shuffle came up with such a perfect little set of songs?  It was great, wasn’t it?  You almost want to keep walking just to see what comes on next…

Warren Zevon comes on next.

Everybody’s restless and they’ve got no place to go
Someone’s always trying to tell them
Something they already know
So their anger and resentment flow

But don’t it make you want to rock and roll
All night long
Mohammed’s Radio
I heard somebody singing sweet and soulful
On the radio, Mohammed’s Radio

You stop.  You laugh.  You can hardly believe your iPhone chose to play you a song that implies a divine figure is spinning rock and roll for the restless.  On the 11th.

You open the gate, walk up the stairs, unlock the door to your apartment and step inside.  You hang up your key and walk straight to your bedroom, where you plop down on the floor, set your laptop on your bed, and open up your blog that some people sometimes read.

And now you’re finished.  And you’re hungry.  And you’re excited to take a shower and put on your pajamas and watch another episode of Twin Peaks.  You’re also a little freaked out and excited by how Twin Peaks is all about mysteries and synchronies and coincidences, and you think about Agent Dale Cooper and how he’s nice to everyone and never gets mad or annoyed or nasty

So.  What have you learned today?

And what do you think will happen tomorrow?

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Rain Dogs

I went for a walk this evening after burning a few CDs for my younger brother, Michael.  He had to drive to Hollywood for his weekly acting class, and he wanted some Pogues albums for the road.  Hollywood is only 30 miles away, but the trip can take two hours if you leave at the wrong time.  (Remind me why Carmageddon got so much publicity?)  I gave him The Pogues’ sophomore album Rum, Sodomy and the Lash, as well as their first album, Red Roses For Me.  He had requested those two — he’s been on a Pogues kick ever since he found my dad’s copy of The Best of The Pogues on the CD shelf behind the bar in the family roomThe third CD I burned him was a copy of a playlist I recently made, which goes like this:

Rain Dogs — Tom Waits

Stagger Lee — Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

Bowery Blues — Jack Kerouac

Dharma Brains — Foxygen

Hard On For Love — Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

The Shower — Charles Bukowski

Tom Traubert’s Blues — Tom Waits

It’s A Motherfucker — Eels

The Moon Her Majesty — Jack Kerouac

The Stranger Song  — Leonard Cohen

Map — Jason Webley

Whiskey, Mystics, And Men — The Doors

Scum — Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

Honey In The Hair — Blackbird Raum

Broken Cup — Jason Webley

Children’s Story — Tom Waits

Desperadoes Under The Eaves — Warren Zevon

Last Song — Jason Webley

Readings From On The Road & Visions of Cody — Jack Kerouac

Anywhere I Lay My Head — Tom Waits

Looking at the list all typed out makes me smile.  Honestly, it looks Just Like a typical hour of “Dancing Barefoot,” my old radio show on KZSC Santa Cruz.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I once did play “Tom Traubert’s Blues” followed by “It’s A Motherfucker.”

What’d I call the playlist?  “Rain Dogs,” of course.  I get a real “Rain Dogs” vibe from all of these songs — vagabonds wandering city streets and all that.

I left for my walk at the same time Mike left for his class.  I decided to go ahead and listen to my playlist to see if it actually worked as well as I thought it did.  I walked up my street and around the corner, which takes you down a long hill that leads to Kanan Road, a street that, by suburban terms, is loud and crowded.  Not crowded with people, of course — Kanan is crowded with SUVs and luxury autos and the occasional Prius.  Once you reach the strip mall with the Starbuck’s and the Ralph’s and the Carl’s Jr/Green Burrito, then yes, you see some people.  Mainly, Kanan is all hustle and bustle because it leads to the freeway.

I’m sure Walt Whitman could make it sound poetic; he’s dead, though.

During “Dharma Brains,” I turned onto a cul-de-sac, and after about one minute I started hearing this weird click-clacking sound that I knew wasn’t part of the song.  (I should know, for it is one of my favorite songs.  For serious.)  At first I thought it was due to my headphones being old and shitty, but after a few minutes, I felt that familiar “I think someone’s behind me” vibe.  I turned, and there were two 14(ish)-year-old boys walking behind me.  They didn’t scare me, but the sight of them definitely startled me.  I smiled at them, and then when I turned back around I saw a white plastic spoon land in front of my feet.  I turned around again, and, low-and-behold, the boys had run away.

The little jerks had thrown a spoon at me.

I laughed to myself and kept walking.

I thought about when I was in middle school and used to wander the same exact streets doing stupid things.   I used to walk around with a friend of mine writing bizarre messages on notecards and taping them to people’s doors.  On one notecard we drew a picture of an alien with a word bubble coming out of its mouth that said, “Hmmm…bagels…interesting.”  It nearly killed me.  I thought that it was the most hilarious thing that ever appeared on paper.

When I came to the end of the cul-de-sac and turned onto the street, I saw The Little Jerks looking right at me, plastic spoons in hand, ready to open fire.  I stopped walking, took off my head phones, and said, “How ya doin?”

“Good,” said the smaller one.

“What’s goin’ on?” I asked.

“Nothin’,” said the smaller one, thus establishing himself as the dominant Little Jerk.

I decided to just be blunt with them in hopes that it would freak them out.  After all, my bluntness has scared away men in the past, even when I didn’t want it to.

“Are you gonna throw that spoon at me?” I asked.

“Maaaaaaaaybe,” said the smaller one, shit-eating grin plastered to his face.  I didn’t let it intimidate me.

“Well, please don’t.”

“Okay.”

I put my headphones back on, disappointed that The Little Jerks had made me miss the first half of “Hard On For Love.”  I started the song over, and after about thirty seconds I felt the “I think someone’s behind me” vibe once again.  I turned, and, sure enough, The Little Jerks were there.

I stopped walking and said, “Are you guys seriously gonna throw those spoons at me?”

“Yes.”

Why?”

“I don’t know.”

I spread my arms out, threw back my head, and said, “I’ll give you a free shot.  Go for it.”

Nothing happened.

I looked at them, and the dominant Little Jerk stepped forward, wound up, and threw his spoon.  He missed me by about 10 inches.  When the spoon landed on the sidewalk, I bent down and picked it up.  “Next?” I said.

The quiet Little Jerk missed me by about two feet.  I picked up his spoon, too.

“How old are you guys?”  I asked.

“Seventeen.”

“You’re seventeen?”

“Twenty-one!”

“Thirty-four!”

“Forty-seven!”

“Fourteen.”

Pause.

“You’re fourteen?”

“Maybe.”

They were pretty cute, really.  Still, I was done with their game.

“You guys should go do something else,” I said.

This seemed to confuse them.

“Can we have our spoons back?” asked the dominant Little Jerk.

“No,” I said.

The quiet one laughed.

“You guys go on home, now,” I said, shooing them away with my hands.

They turned away and took a few steps, and then turned around to see if I was still watching them; I was.  They took a few more steps, then turned again.  I was still there, waiting for them to walk away.

I watched them as they made their way back up the hill.  Every few seconds they’d turn around to look at me, or spin around pretending they were spinning around just for fun.  For a good three minutes I stood my ground, staring right back at The Little Jerks.  I never wavered.  I waited and waited and waited until they were far away, and then, when they disappeared and hid behind a tree, I waited some more.

Finally, I put my headphones back on and continued down the road.  I didn’t hit “Play” right away — I wanted to be able to hear The Little Jerks in case they came back with their spoons.

I made my way down Kanan, passed the Starbuck’s and the Ralph’s and the Carl’s Jr/Green Burrito, and as I turned to head up Thousand Oaks Boulevard and back to my neighborhood, I hit “Play.”  “Tom Traubert’s Blues” came on.  I listened to it once the whole way through, and then I thought to myself, “I wonder if I know all the words.”  I started the song over, and sang at the top of my lungs.

The Little Jerks never reappeared.  Maybe I really did scare them away with my confidence, or maybe they really did go home.  Maybe they found a different unsuspecting victim and lost two more precious spoons.  Regardless, I hope to Hell they have fun this summer.  I hope they ring a lot of stranger’s door bells and dial a lot of random numbers.  I hope they make a ton of noise inside of Rite Aid and get thrown out of Blockbuster for knocking movies off the shelves.  I hope they run home laughing their heads off after terrorizing some college kid who works at Baskin Robbins.  I hope they Double Dare each other to steal candy bars from CVS, and end up feeling twice the rush when they almost go through with it.  I hope they never forget this summer, and how badass they felt when that 24-year-old chick in the “Protect Our Oceans” t-shirt and ripped jeans threw her head back and said, “I’ll give you a free shot.”  Most of all, I hope they never forget how dorky and annoying and awkward and brilliant they were when they were fourteen-years-old — for they are Rain Dogs, too.

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