Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Sisters (Part 1)

     Jane was at home in Encinitas by seven p.m. Friday, much to our joy.  The flight from Oakland to San Diego was easy, as was the cab ride up to Encinitas....  Almost.  "White cab drivers are starting to piss me off," she grumbled into her bottle of Anchor Steam.
     "Please, unpack that statement," said Bekka.
     "Ugh!  I call for a cab in Berkeley, or flag one down in the City, and if the driver is a Middle Eastern dude, I get in, give him the destination, and away we go.  If the driver is white, he'll be all, 'You have the fare, right?'  Duh, if I didn't have the fare, I wouldn't be getting in the cab, stupid.  I've had some of them demand to hand over cash before they'll move!  The fucking white cab drivers assume that a punk rocker is gonna ditch them on the fare.  The Arabs and Afghanis and Egyptians don't give the mohawk a second thought.

Sisters (Part 2)

     The police sideshow started in.  Ambulances had arrived, gingerly arranged the injured onto back boards, then gurneys, and split, lights flashing.  Del Mar doesn't have its own police department, law enforcement is provided by the sheriff's department on contract.  Four patrol cars arrived, the occupants getting out and behaving exactly how I expected them to: they immediately began antagonizing witnesses by treating them like criminals.  And I knew, at the end of their shift, they'd sit around in the locker room and bitch about how uncooperative the public is.

Sisters (Part 3)

     Ring, ring, ring....  "God bless, this is World magazine, how may I direct your call?"
     "To your legal department," I replied.  "My name is Leonard Schneider."
     "One moment."
     Hold music, a couple clicks, then "Wilcox, legal.  Hello?"
     "Good morning, Mr. Wilcox," I greeted him.  "My name is Leonard, or Lenny, Schneider.  Do you recognize the name?  Any clue as to who I am?"
     First silence, then a quick gasp for air.  Another couple moments while he collected his wits.  Then, "I believe so.  May I help you?"

Sisters (Part 4)

     Jane had a routine down.  No matter what classes she had in the morning, she would be at Haas for her undergrad classes every day.  Her classes started at 1:30, and she was invariably out of her last morning class at just after noon.  She'd hit one of the small restaurants on Oxford Ave. for a bite to eat, get a large coffee, then walk to the business school, where she'd park on the small grassy area just outside the business library.  She would sip coffee, smoke Newports, double-check any work she needed for her class that day, then thumb through her reading material.  She read Barron's, Fortune, and the Wall Street Journal.  The only time she broke this routine was when she would head straight home to meet either Kristen or Nadir for a quick nooner.

Sisters (Part 5)

     "Oh, I tell ya, this thing is a hoot," said Gladys Krebsbach from behind the wheel.  We were rolling down San Vicente Blvd. towards Fourth St. in Santa Monica.  "The man I bought it from had it set for storage.  Wheels off, fluids and gasoline drained, tarped, and sitting in his garage."  She laughed.  "Heck, he was asking so little for it because he'd stored it correctly, but figured anyone interested wouldn't want the bother of getting it running again.  I wrote him a check then and there, then Fang and I took a good long look at it, then went to Pep Boys and bought a new battery, oil, Dextron, coolant, and a big gas can.  We got everything filled, hooked up the battery, and the darn thing fired up like it had just come off the assembly line!  We got the wheels on and rolled out.  I tell ya, I think that man was mighty disappointed to see this thing leave his garage under its own power."

Sisters (Part 6)

     We were in Santa Monica again.  This time, we were at a union hall waiting for music to start.  There was a punk rock show happening that night, three bands.  The Dwarves headlining, BadTown Boys second, and Gash opening.  This would be their first show in front of an audience, quite a feat to pull off.  They'd passed out a ton of demo tapes, and one fell into the right hands.

Sisters (Part 7)

     I got a chance to talk to Bam-Bam about his father between sets.  Bam-Bam's (real name: Benjamin) dad was a long-time nemesis of mine, Detective Richard Donner of the San Diego Sheriff's Department.  Donner had been looking for a way to bust me for years, ever since Bekka had been stabbed.  Donner decided I was the culprit, and refused to do any real investigation.  It took the efforts of me and a mafia enforcer named Paul to crack the case, delivering Bekka's assailant to Donner on a platter, complete with a recorded confession.

Sisters (Part 8)

     So, our series had changed around a bit.  "Pulse of Night" was dropped, and nobody minded.  Viewers didn't care (and didn't buy), the reviews had been flat, performers considered appearing in it (there was no set cast) tedium, and none of us three writers could figure out a way to keep things lively from episode to episode.  Some of the episodes were great....  And the next episode would have totally different characters, no way of continuing the good karma.

Sisters (Part 9)

     ".... So you see how this could be a very beneficial arrangement," said Ian Hollis of the pay cable channel Cinemax.  "So, are you on board?  I can fax you contracts to sign in five minutes."
     I laughed into the phone.  "You're kidding, right?  A major deal like you're talking about, and you'd have contracts ready in five minutes?  Do you have any idea how many details we've gotta cover?  Don't expect my signature on anything for at least a couple weeks....  And it won't be just my signature you're after.  There's no way in hell I'd even start an agreement like this without talking to Angel, the owner."

Sisters (Part 10)

     We sipped our drinks and considered each other across the table.  I know Terry and I always subconsciously asked the same question when meeting new people: can I drop this person?  I had absolutely no worries about Ian Hollis.  There was no doubt in my mind that he would sneeringly insist that physical violence was the tool of the simpleminded and vulgar, someone who was unable to defend an intellectual position.  Ambrosia also had the look of a Los Angeles native: I didn't need to see her eyes to know they were communicating to the world how bored she was at the moment, especially with the present company.  Ohmigawd, a punk rocker and a biker chick.  Eww.  The sort of people they have in hellholes like Upland and Fontana and Lake Elsinore, complete white trash.

Sisters (Part 11)

     On December fifth, what amounted to Inana Productions' brain trust got on a charter flight at McClellan-Palomar airport in Carlsbad and flew into the Yuba County Airport, located in a burg called Olivehurst.  A Hertz office sat at the end of the driveway, where we picked up the Cadillac Brougham we'd reserved.  In theory, we were seven hours early for our engagement at the Oregon House community center, but Steve and I wanted to show off locations to Bekka and Angel.

Sisters (Part 12)

     Jane sat on the grass outside the Haas business library, her customary place at the customary time.  She was feeling perky from a few hits off the glass pipe in the women's room, and was scanning through the Wall Street Journal for anything tech-related.  She took a drag off her Newport and sipped some Mountain Dew.  Another twenty minutes until class, then the weekend would start.  She had a busy evening ahead: bring Nadir back to her place and fuck him, shower, then meet Riley, Hunchback, and Harpo from Oakland HA at Blake's for a beer or five.  From there, the Angels would head back to the clubhouse and Jane would take a cab to 924 Gilman.  If Nadir didn't take care of her itch, she'd try to lasso a punk rock boy into the sack, get a room at one of the shitty motels on San Pablo Ave. and exploit the poor kid until daybreak.

Sisters (Part 13)

     It was a hell of a crowd that descended on Angel's trattoria.  There was just no way we would be on the patio, we'd be inside using banquet seating.  Those present were Erica, Fang, Jill, Mallory, Glee, Feather, Bekka, Gladys, and two new friends of Gladys': Betty and Norma.  They were both lesbians about Gladys' age, and had been introduced by a waitress at Girl Bar, who knew them from some activist work she'd done.  The three had met at Girl Bar that afternoon and got along like a house on fire.  I'd offered to take the whole  crew out to dinner, if Gladys and the two other women were amenable.  Gladys called me from the bar and said she'd love to have dinner with these women.  I gave her instructions to the trattoria and told her to be there around 6:30.

Sisters (Part 14)

     "Delta Epsilon Theta house?" Kaitlyn repeated.  "What did you want to know about them?  Why do you care?"
     "Purely curiosity," Jane said to her roommate in a dismissive tone.  "There's a couple of them who are also Haas students.  Juniors.  We were talking a bit."

Monday, April 3, 2017

Groove (Part 1)

     I had given up on trying to train Stefano.
     It was October, year of our Lord 1992.  The previous August, Inana Productions had expanded in a big way.  Angel Morelli, the owner and my boss, bought a giant warehouse in the city of Oceanside that spring.  It now held four sound stages, offices, editing suites, and all the other facilities for conducting video production.  Less than half the warehouse space was taken up by the operation, even after our set decorators emptied out the self-storage spaces we'd kept our props and furniture.  Angel wanted to be able to expand further without having a third location, and he got it.

Groove (Part 2)

     Fang had a valid California driver's license, and she had her own car.  It was time to cruise.
     She absolutely loved her car.  It was a 1971 Chevy Impala four-door with the 454 motor and oxidized blue paint....  The spitting image of the car Harry Dean Stanton drove in the movie "Repo Man."  The two-ton bomb was the largest car Chevrolet ever made, eighteen feet long from bumper to bumper.  While a lifetime of Los Angeles sun had trashed the paint, the interior was almost showroom condition, down to the AM radio.  This wasn't too surprising, as the Caprice only had 42,000 original miles on it.

Groove (Part 3)

     There were eleven Inana folks gathered at the mansion Friday evening, all looking forward to getting high on Ecstasy and wreaking havoc in public.  Present were Bekka, Sue, Toxica, Jenna Ng, Demetrius, Pill, Andy, Sally, Melissa, Jolene, and Stefano.  The hits had been distributed and washed down with the first beers of the night, everyone chatting and batting about ideas for which neighborhood in San Diego to terrorize.  The collective porn people were feeling gung-ho already.

Groove (Part 4)

     Rico Carelli met me at the door of his office, all smiles and arms outstretched for an Italian man-hug.  I gave him one, then introduced the baby ducks I had in tow.  Behind me were Trish Carreza and Feather.  Both were in the market for new cars, and Rico could deliver them nearly painlessly.  He'd put other performers at Inana behind the wheels of brand new Cadillacs; if he had his druthers, the parking lot at our Oceanside studio would look like his new vehicle storage lot in Anaheim.

Groove (Part 5)

     Lawrence Pelton survived.  Larry Bennett did not.
     The shootings in Los Angeles were major news, of course.  The local news in San Diego opened with the story, and so did the national news. Mr. Ronald Haley, a former executive at adult film studio Leisure Time Video, first entered the production area of Vivid Video in North Hollywood.  He shot four people (two Vivid executives and two performers), stole a car from an uninjured employee, and left.  Then he went to the offices of Hustler Publications on Wilshire Blvd. and La Cienega, entered the business offices of Hustler Video, and shot another three people (two executives and a security guard).  Despite knowing Haley's work history, talking heads kept wanting to connect Haley's outburst with the gun battle at Inana Productions a year ago.  Police sketch artists rendered, from descriptions, a man who looked like an unshaven Hunter Thompson.  The jacked Audi was being searched for, but finding a fairly generic-looking car in Southern California was like spotting a single goldfish in a pet shop's feeder tank.

Groove (Part 6)

     After I dropped off Trish, the radio got tuned to 770 AM, KNX News Radio, the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles.  The shootings were being discussed almost nonstop, only interrupted every ten minutes for the all-important traffic reports.  Both Pelton and Bennett had been taken to local hospitals, their current status not yet known.  Executives from Vivid and Hustler were holding a joint press conference at five. at the Hustler building.  Neither had said much more than the standard "it's a shock and a tragedy" statements.

Groove (Part 7)

     Bekka, Terry, and myself were at home in Encinitas about 10:20 the next morning, waiting on our two mafia bodyguards, Joey "The Fisherman" Falcone and Frankie No-Neck.  They arrived precisely on time, both looking sharp in dark grey suits, every inch the mafioso professionals they were.  Both had a single suitcase and a single briefcase, them explaining they also had garment bags in their cars --- fresh suits --- but were otherwise prepared for a while.  Joey laughed, "My wife doesn't like when I have assignments that keep me away from home for several days.  She really hates this one.  I'm gonna be the personal bodyguard to Becky Page!"

Groove (Part 8)

     At Jane's suggestion, we went to the barbecue place next door to the Hell's Angels' bar in East Oakland, bringing our pork sandwiches and beans and greens and bean pie inside, to eat at a booth.  That way we could accompany our meal with a beer.  Budweiser, of course.  Like every other collection of outlaw bikers, the Hell's Angels knew there were really only two kinds of beer: Budweiser, and That Other Shit.  When in Rome....

Groove (Part 9)

     On the taxi ride up to Cloyne Court co-op, on Ridge Rd. at La Loma, my pager went off, and it was Bekka.  And she'd put in an odd combination of codes, both "911" (major shit is happening, call ASAP) and "411" (big news, call soon, important information available).  When the cab driver dropped us off, I took in the scene at the co-op.  It was definitely a blow-out.  I could hear 77-style punk rock being played live, the singer trying to ape Joe Strummer's voice.  There was lots of talk and laughter and activity, but it seemed to lack the same sort of uncoordinated efforts of a large crowd fueled on alcohol.  We strode in like we owned the place and paid a guy wearing a King Vitamin crown and fur robe for our beer cups.  I wasn't in too much of a hurry to start drinking, I wanted to find a resident with a private phone who I could bribe into letting me call San Diego.

Groove (Part 10)

     I was standing in the back yard with a cigarette and a full cup of beer, enjoying the peaceful wiry feeling of a good Ecstasy high.  A girl with frizzy blue dreadlocks drifted up, seeming to consider me from several yards away.  I nodded in greeting, which she took as a sign of tacit approval, and came up to me.

Groove (Part 11)

     An hour and twenty minutes later, Rinny and I went back downstairs.  Jane and Kristen were playing Uno with two other residents at a table, Jane sitting in Kristen's lap.  Jane looked up at us, glanced at her watch, and said, "I see you went into the bonus rounds."
     Rinny replied, "We did.  That was.... wow.  So I don't suppose I could bribe you two into letting me keep him all night?"

Groove (Part 12)

     I called Bekka that night and told her I would be staying over another night, Jane wanted my presence and possible support when she met Kaitlyn's parents the next afternoon.  "Translated, that means the little darling wants you around to bulldog her if she tries to throw down on Maitlyn's mom," Bekka said.
     "You know, dear, you might be right," I responded.

Groove (Part 13)el

     I returned home around midday the next afternoon.  Bekka and her entourage were just about to leave, heading to downtown San Diego for some antique-hunting.  They'd already worked out a plan.  So Bekka wouldn't feel like she was constantly crowded, Frankie No-Neck would walk a few yards ahead of her, scanning for trouble.  Joey would be several yards behind,  Terry would be at her side.  They'd agree where they were headed to, and start walking.  At a shop, all four would go in, the two wise guys poking around briefly, casing the shop, then exit and wait outside while Bekka did her browsing.

Groove (Part 14)

I returned home around midday the next afternoon.  Bekka and her entourage were just about to leave, heading to downtown San Diego for some antique-hunting.  They'd already worked out a plan.  So Bekka wouldn't feel like she was constantly crowded, Frankie No-Neck would walk a few yards ahead of her, scanning for trouble.  Joey would be several yards behind,  Terry would be at her side.  They'd agree where they were headed to, and start walking.  At a shop, all four would go in, the two wise guys poking around briefly, casing the shop, then exit and wait outside while Bekka did her browsing.

Groove (Part 15)

     Larry Bennett;s memorial service was on Saturday.  His actual funeral was a private, family-only affair.  The memorial service was open to all, but particularly to the adult film community.  The service would be another show of solidarity.  Our businesses may compete, but our personalities should not.  We're all in the same racket, and the world really doesn't understand us, so we must be able to lean on each other.

Groove (Part 16)

     It was clear this would be a day-long event, the world's most twisted company picnic.  MacArthur Park is already well-used on a Saturday, and the massive influx of porn sluts, studs, crew, fluffers, front office folks, brass and lots of hangers-on added to the energy.  The hangers-on tended to be people like a gaffer's roommate, or a B-list porn star's cousin.  They were more than a little overjoyed to be there, especially with the star power that had come out.  I was seeing a lot of old familiar faces around.  Another big difference between Gardena and MacArthur Park was attire.  At the Crystal Chapel, all the girls were dressed fairly modestly, nothing that would turn heads.  That was to demonstrate to the Moral Militia people we were to be taken seriously, this was not the Parade of Harlots.  Now, dressing like the trope of a porn star was the style of the day, a show of solidarity again.  I noticed a trend towards semitransparent material over bra-less or undie-less bodies, just opaque enough so the viewer couldn't be quite sure.

Groove (Part 17)

The Previous Monday....

     The taxi dropped me off in the big traffic circle on the west end of the UC Berkeley campus.  I'd looked up where McCone Hall was, and started walking that direction.  Jane had already told me when her instructor for Geology 101, Professor Hodges, would be at lunch.  I was timing it so I'd be there right before class got out, so I'd be able to go in and speak to the prof in private.

Groove (Part 18)

     Well, well.  The INS came to visit me today.
     I was banging away  at my keyboard in my Oceanside office when Gina buzzed me.  "There's two guys from Immigration and Naturalization headed up to see you, and all they would tell me was it was 'about an employee.'  They should be there any second, so put away your damn little glass pipe."

Friday, March 17, 2017

Freshman (Part 1)

     Angel was over the moon for the mini-features idea I'd had.  Really, what I had proposed was making XXX versions of sitcoms and TV dramas.  Inana's roots were in the production of "loops."  In porn, loops were twenty to thirty minute long sex scenes, no plot whatsoever, just wall-to-wall sucking and fucking.  We were still producing them, with a twist: instead of just random sexual activity, we actually had some set-up for the action.  Say, a guy helps fix a girl's car when it's broken on the freeway.  She invites him back to her place to wash up, then demonstrates her gratitude.  A woman owes a bookie money, but she offers a different form of payment.  A guy helps two girls move into their new apartment.  They thank him, at the same time.  And on and on. Just little set-ups lasting about three minutes, then into the sex.

Freshman (Part 2)

     Bekka chartered an afternoon flight from San Diego to Oakland the day Jane's new roommate was expected.  She was met by Riley, sitting in the passenger loading area on his putt.  Bekka had what little she would need for an overnight stay in a Zo bag, slung across her back.  They rode out for Berkeley.  Once on Dwight Way, Riley spotted and occupied a parking space near the private dorms Jane was living in.

Freshman (Part 3)

Script Outlines, 1st set mini-features, fall 1992

"Duane and Dolly's Place"

Duane - Stuart K. 18 y.o. living in the garage of his parent's house.  A veteran stoner.
Dolly - Susan Black.  Duane's live-in girlfriend, also a veteran stoner.
Mr. Wilkes - Sean Brown.  Next door neighbor, 30-ish black hipster, jazz fan, stylish.
Xenon - Gabrielle Easton.  Wilkes' date for the night.  Goth-looking, aloof.
Limp-Dick - Roach.  A punk rocker.
Dizzy - Feather.  Punk girl, Limp-Dick's girlfriend.  Severe ADHD sufferer.

Freshman (Part 4)

     On the first day of class, Jane breezed across campus with a smile on her face.  She was heading to Soda Hall, up on Hearst St., for Computer Science 101.  After that, American Literature 101.  Get some lunch.  Then, the big one, Introduction to American Business at Haas.  Her day would end with Geology 101, a.k.a. "rocks for jocks."  It was a total dummy course (hence the nickname), but would fulfill one of her requirement courses and not take away energy or time from the courses she actually cared about.

Freshman (Part 5)

     "So how's Erica?" I asked Mallory over the phone.  "What did she think of our cunning plan?"
     "Well," stated Mallory.  "Goodness me.  Okay, it's been a few months since we talked, but that is not the woman I remember."
     "Don't feed me teasers, get to the meat."
     "First of all, when she answered the phone, I could barely hear her over the stereo at her house.  She was blasting punk rock.  Do you know a band called the Germs?"
     I stifled a laugh and said, "I'm familiar with the Germs.  They've been gone since 1981, their singer died.  Good stuff, though,  That's what she was playing?"

Freshman (Part 6)

     From 6:30 to 9:00 on the first Friday of classes, Jane's residence was having an "open house."  All the residents would prop their doors open.  One roommate would remain in the quarters, while the other walked around the building and met the neighbors.  After a while, they would switch off.  It was a way to keep people two doors down or one floor up from being total strangers.

Fredhmsn (Part 7)

     "Ultimately, it was about catharsis, and the feeling of being totally unrestricted," said the thirty-two year old punt rocker across from me at the table.  "I'll freely admit, I'd bought the media story about hardcore punk, and punks in general.  I thought they were all just teenage heroin addicts.  Lesson learned: don't judge a book by its cover.  I'm glad Fang didn't."
     Erica, the thirty-something punt, leaned over and kissed the cheek of the teenage girl next to her, another punk.  The girl's name was Fang, she'd named herself after her favorite band.  In homage to Sammy, Fang's singer, her hair was about a half inch long all over, except for a patch right up front, which was about five or six inches long, what is known as a devil-lock.  Fang had turned sixteen a week earlier.  Six days earlier, the correct paperwork for emancipating a minor had been collected from the Minnehaha County courthouse.  Two days later, Fang's parents were bribed with a gram of crack cocaine into signing the paperwork.  The next day, a judge declared her parents in contempt --- they never showed up for the court hearing --- and granted the emancipation.

Freshman (Part 8)

     Professor Lewis announced, "All right, I've read your proposals for the creation of 'rapid growth/ small businesses.  Many of you don't quite the the premise.  Several of you did.  And one of you thinks you're being funny."
     Jane was currently sitting in her "Entrepreneurship and Small Business Creation" class, nicknamed "Start-Ups for Dummies."  It was a relatively small class, only twenty-five students, but all the classes as Haas seemed to be small.  No wonder admission was so exclusive, they seemed to be cultivating a rather intimate approach to education.  On Friday, they'd been assigned the task of proposing a small business venture that would see rapid growth, like doubling its size in three years.  Professor Lewis has instructed the class to not share ideas with each other, so there would be no chance of plagiarized ideas.  Jane had immediately thought of her venture, but had no clue what other students were thinking about.  The proposal wasn't a formal one, just a few pages explaining what the business was, it's initial size, and why the student thought it would grow so quickly.

Freshman (Part 9)

     Erica and Fang had arrived.  Their stuff had been moved by Mayflower, leaving them to simply drive the Camry to California.  They had plans for when they arrived.  First night would be spent in a local motel.  The moving company would have everything inside the apartment already, after their night in the motel, they could tackle unpacking rested, and have the whole day.
     We'd done the same sort of housewarming Mallory and Jill got: a case of Anchor Steam, a package of burrito-sized tortillas, a bottle of El Tapatio hot sauce, and a gift box containing the ingredients for making tuna hot dish, in case they wanted to remind themselves why they were leaving Minnesota.  Also a bottle of good champagne, with four glasses.  Bekka and I would be detained in North County when they arrived, so Jill and Mallory would greet them.
     A larger housewarming gift was Erica's new wheels.  Fang was right: the Camry was a dork-mobile.  Toyota Camrys are very reliable, offer good gas mileage, and the four-door models will actually seat four adults without too much distress.  But while not completely gutless, they also aren't quick, either.  Handing is dull and predictable.  The Camry is designed for people who don't really like driving, and could care less about what they drive.  It's not a car, it's an appliance.  The Toyota Camry is as thrilling as the moving sidewalk at the airport, and its design has all the pizzazz of an egg.
     So, in keeping with tradition, I'd gone car shopping.  Mitch the mechanic, out in Santee, did some sniffing for me and located a 1971 Plymouth Road Runner which had the good options installed, a 440 "Six Pack" motor and four speed manual, along with power seats, air conditioning, and power steering.  It was a solid blue, a color not noticeable by CHP.  With a five second 0-60 time and a quarter mile stat of 13.5 seconds, it was an ass=kicker.  I bought it from Mitch's contact, then gave it to Mitch so he could work his magic on it, getting the thing
mechanically bulletproof.  I was glad I did.  Some unrepentant spaz had made a rat's nest of rewiring the ignition system, the three two-barrel carbs were not synced up, and the clutch plate had maybe a month's worth of life in it.
     The Road Runner had been dropped off a couple days before their arrival, and left in a visitor space.  After Erica, Fang, Mallory, and Jill finished with the unpacking, Mallory told the recent arrivals to follow her, she had something to show them.  They walked out to the car, Mallory saying, "See, that's the sort of car Bekka and Lenny like, real beasts.  Do you like muscle cars?"
      "This thing is killer!"exclaimed Fang.
     "I remember guys in high school aspired to own cars like this," said Erica.  "The ones who bought them could only afford junkers, which they swore would be in showroom condition in just a few months.  Yeah, right.  It's nice to see something like this in good condition."
     "Well, this one's yours, here's the keys," said Jill, reaching in her pocket.  "The clutch is probably stiffer than what you're used to, but it has a good long throw.  Take it for a spin."
     Erica and Fang looked at the other two in complete confusion.  Both said "Whaaa...?"
     "It's a little gift from you new boss," said Mallory.  "He didn't want you driving a hobbled goat like the Camry in Los Angeles.  Sometimes being able to go fast is very important.  And you'll have all that steel around you."
     Jill finally grabbed Erica's hand and pressed the keys into it.  "Get in the damn car, woman, and start it up!  It needs to warm for a minute or two before driving it."
     Erica and Fang looked at each other and squealed like cheerleaders being fed into a chipper.  Fang dashed around to the passenger side while Erica unlocked the driver's door.  She let Fang in and fired up.  It came alive from cold in under two seconds of cranking.  Mallory leaned in the window and pointed at the center of the dashboard.  "Lenny had the Alpine installed.  We're assuming you din't want an in-dash eight track player."
     Fang reached in her bag and pulled out a cassette, which she slid into the stereo. The song "I Hate Work" by MDC began playing.  Erica swerved the volume up.  Mallory and Jill cringed, offering weak smiles. Erica and Fang began bobbing their heads in time.  Erica killed the volume briefly, yelled, "We'll be back in a few!" then launched down the driveway.  Mallory and Jill went back into the apartment.  Mallory commented, "That is not the same woman I knew in Minneapolis."
     "Yes, she does have a certain intensity about her now," Jill observed.
     When Erica and Fang returned, they called me at the mansion to shriek and squeal their thanks.  "That thing is just too insane!" exclaimed Fang.  "Erica is gonna let me take the wheel for a while when we're out on I-5."
     "Uh.... Do you know how to drive?" I asked.
     Fang got snotty.  "What do you think?"
     "I think it's a fuckin' fair question, tootsie.  Do you?  And a manual transmission?"
     "Yes..." Fang hissed.  "About seven moths ago, I had my dad's truck for a few weeks.  I was holding it as collateral for money he owed me.  I let the piece of shit get too far in the hole.  Well what the hell, it'd be nice to have wheels, to I got his keys, then asked a neighbor to teach me how to drive it."
     "Okay then," I responded.  "Get your appointment with DMV as soon as possible, so you get your license.  Being in LA and not being able to drive legally is a real drag.  So, you two are headed to the Bay Area tomorrow?  Any set plans?"
     Erica, who was on the extension, said, "Friday we're visiting Gilman Street in Berkeley.  When do they open?"
"Doors open at eight, first band at 8:30.  My advice is to head into Berkeley  earlier in the day, like late morning, and make a day of it.  Obviously Berkeley is a smaller town than San Francisco, but Berkeley is a far, far goofier place.  The residents seem to take pride in just how odd things can be there, especially the people.  You could spend all day on Telegraph Avenue between Sproul Plaza and Dwight Way.  In fact, people often do.  If you want to add to your record stash, you've got two places to shop, Rasputin's and Amoeba Records....  Although, personally, Amoeba is the better store.
     "Two warnings about being on Telegraph.  First, you're gonna be hit up for spare change every ten feet.  Look 'em in the eye, smile, and say 'No.'  Anyone wants to press the issue or give you shit, get in their face, big time.  Put up with no guff from the spare-changers, especially the crustys.  Some of them develop an attitude, and they may need to be persuaded to drop it, at least around you."
     Fang cut in, "'What, you have a problem with people spare-changing?  They're poor, they wouldn't be doing it otherwise."
     I sighed loudly into the phone and replied, "Yeah, I know they're poor, and I do't have a problem with spare-changing.  I do have a problem with anyone hitting me up talking shit to me if I tell them no.  See, if you're sitting on the sidewalk, occupying space and asking for a handout, you're not in much position to hurl abuse at strangers.  If I walk by, and you ask me for change, and I say no, our interaction is over with at that point.  You asked me a question, and I gave you an answer, there is nothing to debate.  If you cuss at me, or talk shit, or razz me, I'm going to stand in front of you and offer two choices.  You either stand up and back up your mouth in a big way, or I count to ten, then start kicking you where you sit.  But you're asking me for a favor.  I don't owe you a fucking thing, really, nobody does.  If yo call me an asshole or tell me I'm a greedy capitalist fascist pig or whatever, you're vastly overstepping both the protocol for our interaction, and basic good public behavior.
     "The fucking crustys are the worst.  They're young, they're relatively healthy, they're not suffering any obvious mental illness....  You know what?  There's a Labor Ready center in Oakland.  Show up early in the morning, go out on a work crew, they give you a check at the end of the day.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  The crustys really are the lazy bums Republicans complain about, they refuse to work, they'd rather beg for change and drink malt liquor all day, and eat at the local soup kitchens.  They're leeches.  And they're that way on purpose."
     "Hey, the crustys are politically active!" protested Fang.
     I started laughing.  "Oh, Jesus Christ.  Spare me.  They're worse than ignorant about the political allegiances they claim, for one.  First off, they don't understand how anarchism works.  You can't be lazy and be an anarchist, you've got to bust ass to survive, because your survival is up to you, and you only.  There are no soup kitchens in an anarchist society.  The espousal of Communism demonstrates they not only haven't read their Marx, they also haven't paid any attention to how things went in countries that attempted Communism.  Look at China under Mao, or Russia under Stalin, or Cambodia under Pol Pot.  Shit, the crustys would be the first to go in all three places.
     "Then they compound their ignorance by thinking Communism and anarchism are somehow compatible theories!  Bullshit, they're totally contradictory.  One espouses total autonomy of the individual, the other views citizens as a giant collective, almost a hive mind.  There is no political, economic, or social commonalities with the two philosophies.  Saying there are just demonstrates you know nothing about either one.
     "And don't waste your breath telling me about the radical causes they hook onto: Earth First, Animal Liberation Front, the RCP, whoever.  I honestly believe they con't care about the causes, they're just happy because the rallies always give them an excuse to throw bricks through plate glass windows.  The crustys are just vandals.  They're lazy, childish,entitled, ignorant, drunken vandals, whose dogs are always malnourished because the money they made spare-changing was all spent on King Cobra.  Fuck 'me.  And they can stay out of my way on Telegraph Avenue."
     I cleared my throat and paused a few moments, waiting for a response.  There was none.  I continued, "Um, the other caveat I'm gonna offer is about People's Park.  Yes, visit.  People's Park is an outdoor asylum, you're gonna meet some highly entertaining folks there, people who've turned their mental illnesses into never-ending performance art pieces.  Go ahead, hang out, talk to people.  But keep your purses on tight, preferably under your jackets.  Anyone approaching you a little too quickly and aggressively, face 'em down.  Shove your hand in your pocket like you're going for a blade.  They're catch the movement and veer off.  Oh, for Christ's sake, don't buy any drugs there!  I wouldn't trust a dealer in People's Park to sell honest aspirin.  And watch where you step, there's dog shit everywhere.  And the black dudes hanging around the Free Box?  They are the crackheads they appear to be,  They've each got a proposal or sob story or incredible deal they want to tell you about.  Avoid them, and if you do pick one up, be as rude and as ugly as you can without crossing the line into racist tirades.  You're in Berkeley, even the crackheads aren't subject to n-bombs."  Switching tracks completely, I said, "So where are you staying?"
     "The Town House Motel on Lombard Street in the Marina District," Erica responded.  "I know you were saying driving is a pain in San Francisco.  How serious were you?"
     "Very," I chuckled.  "Reilly, you could probably cope with the driving, it's the parking that's a nightmare.  You've gotta leave the car somewhere.  Finding legal public parking, like on the street is a pain in the ass.  The Financial District, Tenderloin, and Nob Hill have private garages with hourly rates so high you'll think they're also gonna wash the car, for what you're paying.  So far as driving goes, you'll notice a difference between SF and LA.  In LA, drivers are incompetent.  In the City, they're aggressive, and that takes some adjusting to.  For God's sake, do not stop when the light is turning yellow!  At least aggressive drivers are paying attention to what they're doing, they're not eating yogurt and reading a book at the wheel."
     "So how do we get around?" asked Fang.
     "Public transit and cabs.  San Francisco MUNI is pretty damn good, light years ahead of transit in Southern California.  And cabs are ubiquitous.  Downtown, you can either go to a taxi stand or just flag one down.  Elsewhere, call a cab, your wait probably won't be more than ten minutes.  I like Luxor Cab the best, their drivers tent to have English as a first language.  MUNI has both buses and light rail, there's BART, the Bay Area commuter trains, AC Transit in Berkeley and Oakland is pretty good.  You'll want to drive to Berkeley when you go over, because BART stops running at midnight, so you'd have to miss the end of the show at Gilman.  In both Berkeley and San Francisco, you're going to be doing some walking, no matter what."
     After we hung up, I reflected on Erica and Fang.  Erica had done more living n the past six months than she had in the previous thirty-one years.  Some of her choices seemed reckless, getting together with Fang being the most reckless.  While admitting in a divorce court that she was a lesbian took a degree of chutzpah, it wasn't reckless.  From Mallory's description, Erica's entry into the dyke scene in Minneapolis wasn't a head-long dive, more like dangling her ankles in the water from the edge.  Erica would show up to the bars on weekends, but would sit quietly and slowly nurse drinks, while dressed in a manner that said, "I am as sexless as a stick of gum, leave me alone."
     Then she met Fang, a fifteen year old drug dealer from the suburb of Edina, another punk rock girl with more attitude than knowledge.  The two clicked, got in bed together, and Fang hung around at Erica's place for five days before heading to her atrocity of a home.  Erica was either having a late adolescence or an early mid-life crisis: she dove headlong into the hardcore punk scene.  Her clothes went from Lutheran Librarian to Sid Vicious Swag, she started collecting facial piercings (plus both nipples) and tattoos.  Given her underage girlfriend's source of income, Mallory was concerned Erica would dive into chronic drug use, too.  Erica had confidently assured  both Mallory and I that yes, of course she'd tried Fang's various wares, but wasn't impressed enough with any of them to develop a habit.  (She liked meth the best, though, which put her at risk.)
     Fang, now sixteen, was someone I'd met before.  In fact, I'd met dozens of Fangs, and dated a few of them.  The shortest and driest description of her personality was "extroverted."  What sort of mood she was in at any point would be immediately obvious to those present.  She had more than her fair share of guts, which was a problem: she also had the standard amounts of teenage rashness and sense of invulnerability.  Teenagers rarely hide their feelings about the world around them from everybody except their parents, punk rock kids even more so.  And like everyone else her age, she had the world figured out and didn't want you fact-checking her.  Really, she was right on schedule behaviorally, and that behavior was magnified with the lens of hardcore punk.
     When I first heard of hers and Erica's relationship, I'd figured it would be over any day now.  They'd been together about three and a half months, or several lifetimes when you're a teen.  Fang would surely drop Erica just out of fickleness.  Then Erica would have to find another punk rock lesbian, as she'd altered her appearance both drastically and permanently.  Even the dyke bar denizens would be a bit put off by the facial piercings and ink (at least in Minneapolis).  Laser tattoo removal wasn't a thing yet, and removing large-gauge piercings would leave dimples in your face, like deep acne scars.  Erica would be looking punk rock for a while, whether she wanted to or not.
     Then I met Erica and Fang.  One thing I noticed was the look in their eyes both of them would get when looking at the other.  It showed genuine love and adoration, not just lust or infatuation.  Seeing that look on Fang relaxed me greatly, my new writer wouldn't be getting her heart broken by Minnesota jail bait.  It was also clear that Erica didn't talk to Fang like another idiot teenager, and Fang didn't treat Erica like Some Old Person.  Their communication was very good, especially in private.  The best part, Fang would defer to Erica, especially on the subject of real world matters.  It wouldn't bother Fang to drive with no license if she was dating someone her own age.  Erica told her she'd save a lot of headaches if she played by the rules, and Fang simply took her at her word, not debating the subject.  Fang would also obey Erica when Erica told her to calm down and mind her manners.
     So Fang was an emancipated minor, which would help things.  However, if push came to shove and their sexual relationship was revealed to the general public, Erica would be looking at prison time for statutory rape.  Erica was literally twice Fang's age.  And Erica didn't look young enough, or Fang old enough, for people to not notice the difference in ages.  They'd already agreed that random strangers would be told Fang was nineteen if they asked.  Both had made it clear that there was plenty of ardor in their romance.  While not providing gory details, both would mention having an entire day go by when neither put any clothes on at all: Fang was a drop-out, and Erica lived on a hefty alimony, and sometimes they didn't need to be anywhere, so....  Crank up some Vice Squad, grab the lube and toys, and go to town in as many creative ways they could think of.
     They knew enough to cool their ardor in public, however unwillingly.  As they made friends, the friends would initially be informed they were just Good Friends, nothing more.  Once someone had been felt out a bit, and there was more trust, they'd be honest.  There was no real concern about LAPD kicking their door down.  This was Los Angeles, not Salt Lake City.  The neighbors weren't about to ring Johnny Law because, goodness, that one girl looks awful young, and it's obvious those two are, you know, funny for each other.
    A current concern for me was what Fang would do with her days.  She had too much energy and too much intelligence to become a TV addict.  Okay, she's a fifteen minute walk from Venice Beach.  There were good and bad points to this.  Sure, she'd have someplace to hang out all day, but given her previous career, she might be tempted to go back in business....  Which would mean making new connections, and take money to buy from those connections, then establish herself on the boardwalk and let her  wares be known.  Too easy to take a bust, from too many directions.
     Everyone she'd spoken to in California had impressed upon her the importance of, if not completing high school, at least getting her equivalency.  Fine, dandy, she'd take the crash courses and test out....  But the local community college only offered courses that were a semester long, so Fang would have to wait until spring semester to start.
     I'd finally just asked her, stright out: What are you going to do with yourself  now?  Erica is going to be spending a lot of time staring at a computer screen full of text, writing scripts.  Do you have any hobbies?  What the hell do you want to do?  What would keep you occupied?
     Fang gave this some thought --- a positive sign --- and replied, "I wanna learn how to play bass.  I wanna be the female Rob Wright."  (Rob Wright is the bass player for the band NoMeansMNo.)  "It sucks, all the time I was dealing, I always had people wanting to barter crap.  If it was something I could use, I'd do it.  Usually it wasn't.  I always hoped someone would have a bass and practice amp they'd want to trade for product, and no one ever did.  Edina doesn't have any pawn shops, they're illegal there, and the ones in Minneapolis.... Oh my God.  Who decided that a fucking pawn shop should be all fancy and high class?  Those places were, it was so stupid-looking.  Their prices were ridiculous,too.  I pointed out to a couple of 'em that what they were asking for a bass was the same price as a new one.  Both of 'em tried to lay some lame bullshit on me about their products being 'vintage.'  Bullshit, it's a fucking Fender Mustang, they still make the damn things.
     "'But oh yeah, I want to learn bass.  I've got the natural hand strength, and I can tune by ear.  If I can find one out here, I'll be so stoked."
      "Are you going to be a pick player?" I asked.
     "Oh, fuck yeah," Fang assured. "Rob Wright, Leemmy from Motorhead, the dude from Pit-bull Babysitter, Riley from Big Black...."
     "Chris Squire from Yes...."  I inserted.
     There was a pause, then Fang said, "I hate that prog-rock shit.... But yeah, okay, he's got a good sound too, and he's fast."
     "If you're gonna ape Rob Wright, you want a Fender Precision bass, and play through Marshall amps.  Unfortunately, Rob has said a lot of his sound is just the result of playing really damn loud."  I thought a moment.  "You like Big Black?"
     "Oh, fuck yeah."
     "Well....  Instead of a metronome, save your nickels and buy a Roland TR 606 drum machine.  Haw, Spin Magazine once said, in rare moment of me agreeing with them, that Big Black was the only band in the world to get an interesting sound out of a Roland drum machine.  I'm not sure how to pull off the distortion without blowing major bread on a full size tube amp, and unless you have practice space, cranking one of those up in an apartment building is an express trip to eviction-land....   But I know David Sims of Jesus Lizard uses a good ol' Rat distortion pedal, and he's got a gnarly sound."
     "Ooh, cool idea."  Then, in a blue voice she said, "Then I have to convince my honey to lay out the dinero for all this stuff.  I'm sure I can find a used Fender Precision in LA, the pawn shops here gotta have better prices than back in Minnesota..."
     "An LA pawn shop will have better prices, I'm sure.  And the neighborhoods they're located in will keep you on your toes.  Shop by phone, don't just start cruising pawn shops.  So does Erica know of your interest?"
     "Yeah, I've mentioned my interest in playing bass several times.  And when we're listening to music, I'll point out the bass lines in songs, cool stuff.  Like that opening bass line in the song 'John Wayne Was A Nazi.'  So she'll know it's not just a whim."
     That night I went to Guitar Trader on Clairmont Mesa Blvd. and went shopping.  Fender Precision, Rat distortion pedal, a fifty-watt Marshall practice amp.  These were set up front.  Then I asked about drum machines, specifically the Roland TR 606.  The look of supplication I was getting from the sales drone (a new Fender bass surely had a good commission)  evaporated into a cockeyed visage of confusion, amusement, and contempt.  "You're looking for a drum machine, sir?" he asked.  "Why?"
     I gave him a stare.  "What the hell sort of question is that?  You carry 'em, right?"
     "Yes, we do....  The people buying them usually aren't buying instruments, they're interested in the synthesizers.  They want to make doop-doop noises with a beat, dance music junk.  What will you use the drum machine for?"
     Drawing in air for patience, I replied, "Initially, as a metronome.  Never having used a drum machine, we'll have to learn how to program one, then we'll have a bit more lively accompaniment.   So, the TR 606 by Roland, you got 'em?"
     "I'll have to check, it won't take a moment.  Why that particular model?"
     "The 606 is what the band Big Black used, and they had a great sound.  In fact, it's their sound which inspired picking up the distortion pedal.  You know them?"
     "I'm not familiar.  What type of music are they?" asked the drone.
     "They were a proto-industrial band from Chicago," I explained.  "Two incredibly distorted guitars, one distorted bass, and the Roland.  Excellent stuff."
     "Um;....  I'm not familiar with that, uh, genre of music, sir.  What does it sound like?"
     I gave a sharp grin and said, "Let's just put it this way.  No one listens to Big Black so they can calm their nerves.  They're as relaxing as an acetone lollipop.  You'll have to just check them out, personally it's worth it."
     We went to a section of the store which seemed to be sequestered.  Here lay the electronic equipment, the keyboards, synthesizers, and drum machines.  The way this section was situated in the store, it was like they were ashamed they had the stuff.  One other person was browsing, dicking around with a Korg sampling keyboard.  The drone walked over to a partition with a couple dozen drum machines mounted on it.  He looked, then pointed.  "There it is, sir,"
     "Okay, great.  Pull me one out of stock, and that'll be it, except for a handful of picks."
     The drone gave e a strange look, then went to a locked cabinet, searched through it, and pulled out a box.  Coming back he asked, "You don't want to try using it first?"
     "I don't know how to program a drum machine, and I already know what it sounds like.  No point in me farting around with the thing.  It's a gift anyway."
     We went up to the cashier, where my stuff was waiting.  I grabbed about five each of guitar picks of varying weights, and told the cashier to start ringing up.  The drone said, "Hey Nick, have you ever heard of a band called Big Black?"
     The cashier rolled his eyes and shook his head.  "Yeah."
     "What do they sound like?"
     "Oh, Jesus.  They're, like, really really loud and distorted, totally atonal stuff, like they're purposely playing their guitars wrong.  The singer is a total dork from what I heard, some pencil-neck from Chicago.  Why?"
     The drone's eyes had narrowed.  "This gentleman is interested in recreating their sound," he told the cashier.
     Looking at me, the cashier said, "So long as you don't live on my block, go for it, sir.  Whatever.  You really like that stuff?"  He had shifted to a contemptuous sneer.
     I gave him a silent stare briefly, long enough for him to look up from the register at me.  I said, "Yeah, I do.   Do you always editorialize on the musical tastes of customers?"
     "Only when it's necessary.  Sir."
     "So, what do you listen to?  Who are your favorite bands?"
     "Let's see....  Fate's Warning, Mercyful Fate, Queensryche, Opeth...."
     I snorted.  "So, basically, you like rock and roll, so long as all the catharsis and spontaneity have been removed, and replaced with complex scales, adagios, and beats that require a thirty-two count.  Fuckin' art metal, Jesus.  Because the world really needed pretentious wank-a-thon guitars and lyrics that read like story outlines from JRR Tolkien.... If Tolkien had fetal alcohol syndrome.  I guess you're working in the right place, I'm sure San Diego has plenty of Yngwie Malmsteen pretenders around who'll take a quick head job form any fan they can get, regardless of gender.  It wouldn't matter anyway, if those dudes are like their hero, they can only come if they're looking at a photo of themselves from their high school yearbook."
     The cashier sniffed, "I'm not surprised you don't enjoy progressive metal, the complexity of it would be...."
     Interrupting, I said, "The complexity is the biggest problem, you jackass.  If your genre of music values extreme technical skill over passion and balls, then you'd better stop saying you fall under the umbrella of rock and roll. don't call yourself heavy metal, no matter how big of hair your band has, or how high the Marshalls are stacked.  You wanna write complex, symphonic music great, fucking learn musical notation and start writing symphonies.  That way you can have seventy or more instruments at your disposal.  Cut your hair and go to Julliard.  People who wanna actually have fun when they play are more than happy to take over your cancelled club dates, believe me.  But stop jerking off in public and calling it art.  Prog metal eats shit."  I waited a tick then said, "And before I forget, fuck Rick Wakeman, too."
     "So, if it doesn't sound like 'Louie Louie' it's not rock and roll?? came the sneering response.  "Maybe 'Diddy Wah Diddy' by Bo Diddley was the high water mark for rock and roll, and it's been downhill since." He looked me over.  "Until punk rock came about, right?  I guess rock and roll was getting too smart, so punk came along and brought back the stupid."
     "The high water mark of rock and roll was 'Rocket 88' by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, featuring a very young Ike Turner on guitar.  Do I need to explain about 'Rocket 88?'  I'd better not have to."
     "Oh, enlighten me."
     "Fucking moron," I muttered under my breath.  Then, "'Rocket 88' was recorded in the spring of 1951, and is generally considered the first true rock and roll song ever recorded.  Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats were actually Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm.  It's a standard twelve bar boogie, but had the first example of guitar distortion.  Ike was playing through an amp that had been damaged, to patch damage to the cone they stuffed newspaper into the gash, which gave the guitar a fuzzy, distorted sound.  The band decided they liked the sound, and recorded with the damaged amp.  'Rocket 88' hit number one on the Billboard R&B charts in June 1951 and stayed there for five weeks.  You'd never heard any of this?"
     With a mock-despairing sigh and an eye-roll, the cashier said, "Really, sir, anything that happened in 1951 is irrelevant today.  I mean, you're talking about something a blues band...."  He inserted a tone of sarcasm when he said that.  "... did way back then?  This song was supposed to be the firs rock and roll record ever made?  Good God, blues is even more contemptible than punk rock.  The blues is music for dimwitted alcoholics, who don't notice every blues song uses one of the same three bass lines, and wanna hear about how some guy's 'baby done left him.'  I prefer music with some intelligence.  At this point, sir, you're demonstrating your own lack of intellect, you think if it has more than three chords, a song gets all confusing, I suppose."
     I drummed my fingers on the counter briefly, then told him, "Okay, we'll be coming back to the personal insults in a moment.  Tell me, am I fair in saying you claim to like rock and roll, but hate the blues?"
     "Yes sir, that would be a good assessment," the cashier smirked at me.
     "And you see no contradiction there?"
     "Should I?"
     "Yes you should, jackass," I told him.  "Rock and roll wouldn't exist if R&B had existed first.  Jesus, look at the song structures, lots of 3-4 drums, twelve bars, and a sound that grew more and more reliant on electric guitar as time went on.  Electric guitars were pretty much invented for jazz and blues players, so they could be heard over the rest of the band in an auditorium.  Since you're so fucking dismissive of rock and roll's history, I'm guessing you're totally ignorant about the invention of the electric guitar.  You know, the things you sell?"
     The cashier made a disparaging sound and said in a bored voice, "Of course I know where electric guitars come from.  Telecaster, 1951, Leo Fender.  Everybody knows that."
     "WRONG!" I yelled.  "You're off by twenty yeas, jackass.  1931, George Beauchamp and Adolph Rickenbacker invented the first electric pickup for the guitar.  They built a lap guitar called the 'frying pan,' the first commercially available electric guitar.  Various people dicked around with mounting pickups in Spanish guitars, but everybody had trouble with distortion and feedback.  In 1940, Les Paul made a solid-body guitar to try and take care of some of the problems.  Leo Fender started experimenting with solid-body guitars in the Forties.  In 1950 he built the Fender Esquire, which became the Telecaster in 1951.  The Telecaster was the first mass-produced,solid-body electric guitar.  It had two pickups instead of one, and you could strap the damn thing on like a regular guitar.  Easier to tune than early electrics, too.
     "The Telecaster first became popular with country and western guitarists, then were picked by R&B players....  And then by rock and roll musicians.  But the electric's roots were in jazz and big band, they needed guitars with more volume.  See, you gotta know the entire history of something to understand it, not just its popular history.  Study your history, or the world is a mystery, jackass."
     Now the cashier had installed a smug, tight-lipped glare.  He sniffed, "I'm not sure what was invented in 1931, but it wasn't the electric guitar.... Sir.  Leo Fender invented them."  He looked across the showroom, then said, "In fact, we can settle this right now.  My manager would know, he'll back me up.  In fact....  I'll make a bet with you.  You say some guy in 1931 invented the electric guitar, and that's nonsense.  I don't know what you're thinking of, but it's not the electric guitar...."
     "Robert Beauchamp invented the electric pickup for guitar in 1931, and built a guitar called the "frying pan' with Adolph Rickenbacker.  It's real simple."
     "Okay, sir, if you're right, I"ll pay for your purchases tonight.  How does that sound?"
     I raised my eyebrows and said, "I hope you've got good credit, jackass."
     "Stop calling me that," he grumbled, then called across the store, "Excuse me, Benjamin, could you come here please?"
     A guy who looked like a weather-beaten Mick Fleetwood drifted up.  "What's up, Daryl?" he asked.
     "We need you to settle an argument.  Do you know who invented the electric guitar, and when?"
     Benjamin frowned and rubbed his nose, then said, "Um, it was a guy named Beauchamp, more or less.  He invented the electric pickup.  Then, him and Eddie Rickenbacker built a weird-ass-looking guitar to mount it on, it was a lap guitar.  Hawaiian guitar players loved it."
     Daryl the cashier stared at his manager wide-eyed, then loudly shrieked, "What!?"
     Benjamin the manager started to patiently repeat, "In 1931, a man named Beauchamp invented the....."
     "No!  It was Leo Fender, in 1951!"
     "Uh, no.  Fender was the first mass producer of modern solid-body guitars, yeah.  He's the one who created the first versions of what we think of as modern electric guitars, and mass-produced them so everybody and their brother could get one easily.  But he didn't invent electrics."
     "No way...."  Daryl looked pale.  Then he smacked his hands together and said, "Okay, Leo Fender invented the modern guitar, he invented the solid-body!"
     Looking slightly peeved, Benjamin said, "No, he didn't.  Les Paul did, in 1940.  He made a guitar out of solid pine he called 'the Log.'"
     I grinned at Benjamin and said, "Thank you, sir.  You just saved me a shitload of money."
     "What?  What's going on?"
     "Well, Sparky here started off the transaction by talking shit about one of my favorite bands.  That's okay, I don't care for what he listens to.  Then he decided to demonstrate how proud his is of his ignorance by....  Okay sir, what is generally considered the first rock and roll record?"
     Pursing his lips, Benjamin said, "Hoo boy.  Hard to call that.  I mean, R&B has been around a long time, and that's where rock comes from.  Um, what is considered the 'first' rock and roll single was a song named 'Rocket 88' by Ike Turner's band, also in 1951."  He frowned at Daryl and said, "I thought everyone knew that.  How do you get to adulthood as a rock music fan and never hear that story?  I heard what happened was, the band was driving to the studio and the guitar amp fell off the roof of the car they were in...."
      "And the fuzzy, distorted sound associated with rock guitar was invented," I filled in for him.  "No, Daryl didn't know that, nor does he care, since blues is irrelevant to modern rock and roll, according to him.  Blues players aren't cranking out mad arpeggios over complex time signatures, so the blues suck.  A guy who sells electric guitars for a living, and he disses the blues?  What's the world coming to?"
     Benjamin drew himself up, and put on his Serous Manager face.  "Daryl, are you debating with the customers again?  Deciding you want to contradict any comment they make?  God dammit, I've talked to you about this, I'm sick of you pissing the customers off by running your goddamn mouth.  Nobody wants your fucking opinions, Daryl, just shut up, smile, and ring them up.  You want to share your opinions about music, get a job writing for Spin.."
     "Hey, I was glad he wanted an argument," I chuckled.  "He saved me a bunch of money."
     "What do you mean?" asked Benjamin.  Daryl looked really pale now.
     "The question about the invention of the electric guitar was our topic.  He said 1951 and Leo Fender, I said, 1931 and George Beauchamp.  He bet me the cost of what I'm buying he was right.  Well, shit, that means I'm getting a new Fender Precision bass, a Roland drum machine, a practice amp, an effects pedal, and some picks all for free.  Damn, I"m gonna come back tomorrow and argue music history with some other idiot who works here, I'll be able to fit out an entire four piece combo!"
     Seething quietly, Benjamin addressed Daryl.  "So tell me, how did you plan on paying for all this?"  He pulled the receipt off the register and looked at the total.  Then he glared at his cashier.  "Answer me, Daryl."
     "Um....  Hey, I have my in-store credit card here," Daryl sweated.
     "Which I know for a fact is maxed out.  It was declined the last time you tried to use it, you didn't have enough credit left to buy a set of strings.  So how are you paying for this gentleman's purchase, Daryl?"
     "Um.... Uh, I guess I could have the limit on my card increased...."
     "Your card is at the fucking limit now," growled Benjamin.  "Do you know how embarrassing it will be for me if one of my own employees is sent to collections?"
     I stuck my nose in and said, "Don't sweat it, I came here with the intention of spending the money to begin with."  I pulled out my wallet, Daryl looking grateful.
     Benjamin turned to me and asked, "Out of curiosity, how did Daryl begin his little bit of debate club bullshit with you?"
     "He didn't want to debate at first, he just wanted to insult me and a band I like.  I don't suppose you're familiar with a Chicago band called Big Black?   They broke up a few years ago...."
     "Oh yes, Steve Albini's band," smiled Benjamin.  "Good stuff, very challenging."  He looked over at my purchases, picked up the drum machine, and smiled.  "A TR 606, huh?  Are you starting a tribute band?"  This surprised me.  He looked like the least likely type of person to be a Big Black fan.
     "Not me," I replied.  "Actually, all this crap is for a friend of mine up in LA, it's a gift.  I've got a sixteen year old girl who wants to learn bass.  She cites Riley from Big Black and Rob Wright from NoMeansNo as influences.  Well, Rob Wright plays a Fender Precision, and I figured buying her a drum machine would be more fun than a metronome."
     "And the Rat pedal?"
     "Dave Sims from Jesus Lizard uses a Rat.  She likes his sound, both Riley and Sims have that heavy distortion, you know....Haw, Daryl knows who Big Black is, and hates 'em.  He thinks Steve Albini is just some pencil neck."
     Benjamin focused his attention back on Daryl and said, "You know, boy, you're working on my last nerve tonight.  You don't know who the fuck Steve Albini is?  You don't know what he's done?"
    Apparently Daryl was feeling fed up.  He said, "Yeah, I've heard that band Big Black!  They're just noise, they're a joke!"
     "Okay, first of all, Daryl, this man here will be the last customer you ever express your goddamn opinions to on the subject of music.  Nobody asked for your fucking opinions, so stop handing them out for free, save your brilliance for the letters section of Rolling Stone.  Also, I can promise you've heard music that Steve Albini has produced.  Albini is a genius in a recording studio.  He engineered Nirvana's second album, he's worked with PJ Harvey, the Pixies, the Breeders....  Steve Albini is goddamn brilliant."
     I snickered, "Well....  He is kinda geeky."
     Benjamin gave ne a grin and replied, "He can't be too much of a wuss.  Do you know the city of Chicago at all?"  I confessed my ignorance.  "I know which neighborhoods Albini was living in when he first started Big Black, when he recorded the EP 'Lungs' in his bedroom.  He's no pencil neck if he could hack lining in those places."  He glanced over at Daryl, then back.  "Sir, I apologize for any annoyance you've had do deal with because one of my employees has no sense of tact.  In fact, you know what?  Wait right here."  He walked off.  Daryl and I shrugged at each other.
     He returned a few moments later with a roll of duct tape.  Stepping inside the cashier's booth, he said, "Daryl, stand still.  Don't you dare move."  Then he pulled out a good length of tape.... And began wrapping it around Daryl's face and head, covering his mouth.  Benjamin went around Daryl's head three times with the tape.  Daryl was now muzzled.  "Problem solved for now," said Benjamin.  "Daryl, that stays on until you clock out tonight.  I'm going to be keeping my ears open around you.  You're going to do what the fuck you're paid to from now on, which is ring up purchases.  You will be polite with the customers, you will exchange pleasantries.  You won't start arguments with them for your own amusement.  And if you trash talk any of them again, the best you can hope for is getting taped up.  The only reason I'm not firing your happy ass right now is that I'd like Guitar Trader to get the money you owe.  I'll take it on faith you're making your monthly payments."  He turned to me and said, "Sir, may I halp you carry your purchases out to your car?"
     "Most appreciated," I replied.  "It's the black Fleetwood."
     Benjamin grabbed the bass and the bag of picks, I got the other stuff.  He turned to Daryl and said, "Don't even think about pulling the tape off, Daryl.  If that tape leaves your head, you're leaving your job."  We headed out.  Daryl stood and stared at his register blankly.

Freshman (Part 10)

     The next morning I had the courier service schlep Fang's new toys up to Venice Beach.  The only message I sent was a sheet of paper with "GET TO WORK -- LENNY" written with a Sharpie.  Right around noon I got a call from Fang, who was nearly hysterical with joy.  "Oh my God, you are so fucking awesome, Lenny!" she shrieked.  "I've got the bass and pedal and amp set up in the spare room, and the drum machine is next....  Although it'll also be playing through the bass amp....  And I'm gonna need to learn how to program it.  Have you ever used a drum machine?"

Freshman (Part 11)

     Jane was walking down South Drive on the UCB campus, heading for her American Literature class at Wheeler Hall.  As she went past South Hall, two dudes emerged from the trees between the two halls.  Classic bros, wearing ironed Levis and sweatshirts with Greek lettering.  They had the sort of good looks that the models in a JC Penney's catalog have, generic Caucasians.  They were as memorable as a city bus.  Jane briefly considered them as they walked towards her, she assumed they'd dodged down there to smoke a quick joint.  She poked a Newport in her mouth, planning on lighting it at the front of the building.

Freshman (Part 12)

     Erica and Fang were parked on one of the sofas in Jane's shared room, bottles of Miller in hand.  Jane was on the love seat, talking on the phone.  She finished, hung up, and smiled.  "Dolly said they're gonna start playing at 9:30.  We should be there at nine, so Dolly can talk us past their doorman.  Usually they don't have a doorman, but on nights when they have live music, they bring someone in."

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Summer Wrap-up, 1992 (Part 1)

     Three weeks after graduating from high school, Jane made her first adult video.
     Neither Bekka or I were worried about her passing the interviews.  She could cold-read a script with punch and energy, God knows she wasn't shy about showing off her body, and the two of us knew from first-hand experience Jane could rattle the rafters of any sexually active homo sapiens.  I even tried to make her video interview --- two hours of sex with a studio-assigned stud or slut, in front of running cameras --- more challenging by matching her up with Stallion.  Not only was Stallion another male performer whose intellectual growth stopped around sixth grade, he also had a mild attitude problem.  Stallion was a legend in his own mind, he expected to be scooped by Hollywood any day.  Things were weighed against this happening.  First, Stallion was dumb as a bowl of oatmeal.  Next, he was a passable actor, not a good one.  And last, Hollywood was as likely to pick anyone connected with Inana as the Republican National Convention was to hire George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic to play the convention.

Summer Wrap-up, 1992 (Part 2)

     I'd had Mallory do an extra bit of writing for me.  I told her to come up with two or three pages of one-on-one dialogue that would seem like it appeared in the middle of a script.  Total fiction, a sample of a script that didn't exist, but had good dramatic moments in the dialogue, along with a bit of humor and some emotion.  I'd come to realize that my usual way of conducting the first interview with a prospective performer wouldn't fly any more.  How it had worked in the past was I'd pull three copies of an old script out of the files: one for the pledge, one for Bekka, and one for me.  Bekka and the pledge would run through some one-on-one dialogue from the script, me reading along.  This was a cold reading: the pledge would be seeing the script for the first time.  Really, what we were looking for was literacy, inflection, and some energy.  We weren't expecting a Alec Guinness-level performance, just a sign they could process the tone of a section of script right off the bat.

Senior. (Part 1)


     Honest, I take pride in giving people a chance.  Everyone gets a shot with me.  However, the young sport I was dealing with had used his shot already, and I was ready to stuff him down a sewer.
     Bekka, Jane and I are at UC Berkeley, being given a guided tour of the campus by the young sport, a senior who had identified himself as "Sparky."  Okay, strike one.  He was in Nikes, Levis that looked like they'd been ironed, and a sweater that says "Cal" across it.  He is just so darn overjoyed to meet us, he can't stop smiling.  It's the same smile I associate with Scientologists who hang around airports.  He's so full of vim and pep and energy you want to cut off his breathing for a couple minutes.  The "Up With People" troupe would have fired him for excessive cheeriness.

Senior (Part 2)

     Our final visit was all the way across campus again, and then some, to the Unit 2 housing complex at College Ave. and Dwight Way.  Unit 2 consisted of four buildings, or "residence halls."  Each was about eight stories, with a plaza in the center and a low building housing study halls and the cafeteria  to one side.  Sparky had regained a bit of pep, and told us he knew the front desk people at every piece of housing UC Berkeley owned.  He assured us we'd be able to see a vacant dorm room, so we'd know what one was like.

Senior (Part 3)


     A drizzly Wednesday.  Bekka and I had to be at the studio, then were headed up to LA for a business dinner with Angel.  Jane was excluded from business dinners.  My guess was Angel needed us to mule Smiley again, and there would be some complexity with how things would work.  If we were just being glorified bag men, he'd have talked things over on the phone.
     Around 5:30, Jane had already knocked out her homework and done a bit of tidying around the house. Nude as always, she sprawled on one of the sofas with an Anchor Steam, debating whether to go pick up some dinner, or just forage through the leftovers in the fridge.  The doorbell rang.  Not expecting anyone, Jane pulled her robe on and headed down to the front door.

Senior (Part 4)


     Jane's enrollment papers arrived yesterday.  She will begin her freshman year as a UC Berkeley college student, and a business major, in September.
     The packet included her notice of acceptance at Haas Business School.  I'd checked around a bit, and normally applicants for admission are reviewed by a committee.  The school will contact prospective students and ask them to provide more detail about their lives, their interests, their favorite Warren Buffett album....  Professor Campbell must have had the political pull to tell the others in charge at Haas, "Look, just trust me on this, we want her here.  Who's wrangling freshmen this fall?  Oh, you're gonna have so much fun!"  I puzzled over Campbell's interest in Jane.  Did he enjoy human train wrecks, and mistakenly believe Jane would be one?  Was he expecting disruptive behavior?  Jane's appearance was disruptive enough.  Besides, her grades should indicate that when in a classroom, Jane was all business.  Who knows, maybe Campbell thought Jane was hot, and just wanted eye candy available.

Senior (Part 5)

     Once again, I'm the only male at the table.  Also, lesbians outnumber straights 3-1 (one abstention), and bisexuals by the same ratio.  Considering how much time I spend in the company of women, I should be a pussy magnet like Roach....  Except I have enough self-awareness to know I lack his charm and charisma.  If I was single, I'd pay Roach to give me lessons.

Senior (Part 6)

     We didn't attend Lance's pretrial hearings, there was no need and no point.  The first day of trial for Lance Grisham was in the last week of April.  Our lawyer was with us, sitting at one end of the prosecutor's table, with Jane right across an aisle.  Juvenile court was blazing fast, compared to adult criminal courts.  Lance and Vance were being tried at the same time, which made almost everyone happy.  Those that weren't happy were Lance and Vance's parents, who felt the double trial would poison things for their respective sons: their fine young boy would be closely associated with that young idiot who caused all this trouble.

Senior (Part 7)


     The joint trial lasted five days, Jane testifying on three of them.  Knowing our presence would aggravate, Bekka and I sat in the rear, stepping in right before the opening gavel, and splitting as soon as the show was over.  Lance and Vance's statements after booking were considered the centerpiece for the prosecution, as the two boys had, in the course of their interviews, confirmed that Jane's account of things were pretty much spot on.  While neither of them said, "We had committing rape on our minds," both did say, in so many words, that Jane would be propositioned for sex, with both of them.  And if she said no, Lance had assured Vance that they'd start anyway, Jane was such a nympho that she'd get into it once things were moving along.  She was kinky, she'd probably love the fact that she'd initially been forced into it.

Senior (Part 8)

     Jane trotted down the stairs from her room and said, "They're coming."
     I was blank for a second, then said, "Hey, great....  Right?"
     Frowning at the carpet, Jane responded, "Yeah, I guess so.  Personally, I don't think you and Bekka should have offered to pay for their trip.  You're flying them out here, you're putting them up at the goddamn Marriott in La Jolla Village, you're renting them a car.... Jesus.  Their daughter is graduating from high school.  They didn't win a sweepstakes prize."
     Bekka and I had insisted Jane invite her parents to her high school graduation.  When she first brought it up to them over the phone, they were lukewarm about the idea.  Bekka and I both assumed their hesitancy was based in economics, so we told Jane to let them know we'd cover all the major expenses of three days in San Diego.  Jane's initial response to this was, "None of us owe them a fucking thing.  They're not poor, if they really want to make the trip, they can."

Senior (Part 9)

     Seven days before Jane's graduation, Bekka and I went up to check progress on Angel's big, huge, major, massive project underway in Oceanside.
     It was a dilly.  In late fall and winter, Angel had sat down with me, Small Steve, Vinny, Bekka, Calm Steve, and Jeanette to discuss Inana expanding.  We felt like we were outgrowing the mansion, even if I wasn't bringing on new performers.  Inana had invented "smart porn," and the world was beating a path to our doorstep.  The major adult studios were (finally) contributing to the genre, but Inana was still number one.  I could have put two hours of scene blocking on a tape and it would have sold.  To the viewing public, Inana was a Mercedes E-Class.  The other studios were Buicks.  Sure, the Buick is comfortable enough, and it does the job, nothing to complain about really, but....  The Mercedes is something else.

Senior (Part 10)


Jane's high school graduation was on a Friday.  Her parents arrived Thursday.  They flew into Lindbergh Field, rode the courtesy van to pick up the rental car we'd reserved in their name, drove up to La Jolla Village and checked into the Marriott (room billed to L. and B. Schneider), then headed for our place.

Senior (Part 11)

     The music played, and the graduation caps flew in the air, to cheers.  Those in the bleachers began standing up, to stretch their legs, if nothing else.  A graduating class of 580 takes a while to get across a stage, one by one.  Now everyone had their diplomas, and were ready to blow the Popsicle stand.

Senior (Part 12)

     People began arriving right at seven, ready to party.  There didn't seem to be a trend of "fashionably late" arrivals: the feeling seemed to be that being late might mean you may miss something interesting.  By eight the house and patio were crowded with people talking, laughing, drinking keg beer, and generally socializing.  Bekka and I had taken it upon ourselves to hand out hits of Ecstasy to every new arrival we saw, and only had a few people refuse.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Preacher (Part 1)

The location of Terry's first regional target competition was at the Riverside Co. fairgrounds.  She had quite a crew backing her up, we'd taken two vehicles.  Terry drove up in her Nova, with Gerald and an ex-street drunk named Drummer, who I'll explain in a minute.  The Fleetwood contained Bekka, Jane, and myself.  And a Berdoo Hell's Angel, a younger guy named Soda Pop, would be meeting us there....  Although his primary interest was Jane, who he'd met at the H.A. Labor Day run, not target shooting.

Preacher (Part 2)

     Angel called me around mid-day Monday with some news.  "We got some free advertising yesterday, although how much it will be worth is up in the air.  You know who Jerry Fallwood is, right?"
     "Of course," I replied.  "He of the Crystal Chapel in Orange County.  Moral Militia, and all that.  He'd be offended by my technique when I brush my teeth, along with every other aspect of my life.  Lemme guess, he's bugged by our videos.  Big surprise.  So what does he have to say?"

Preacher (Part 3)

     The next day, Channel 10 news (ABC) called me, asking if it was possible to interview Becky Page that afternoon.  I told them to be there at 1:30, so Becky could be showered, dressed, and have a bit of lunch beforehand.  I asked the nature of the interview.  "Jerry Fallwood has done a mass mailing to his followers, regarding Ms. Page.  It's rather inflammatory stuff.  We have a copy of the letter, we'd like Ms. Page to read it, then give us a response."

Preacher (Part 4)

     Bekka, Jane, and I watched both the local and national ABC News broadcasts, and in general were happy with how things came out....  Although on the national report, our guns and the presence of Jane seemed to have the most air time.  The two messages I wanted to come across, did: we are not immoral or evil people, and anyone considering any kind of physical attack on Becky Page would be facing down a lot of lead.  The national report identified Jane in a caption as "Jane Osborne - Underage Roommate of Becky Page."  (The local caption simply said, "Jane - House Mate.")  We'd decided to go for dinner at Evelyn's after the national segment, but when Bekka and I started to rise, Jane said, "Let's wait a couple minutes, I have a hunch I'll be getting a call."

Preacher (Part 5)

     I took my Valium when we got home.  To pass the evening, I pulled two Mel Brooks movies, "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein."  I burned through three fat bong loads and drank milk straight from the carton, laughing at jokes I'd heard thirty times before.  I dozed off near the end of "Young Frankenstein," and was only vaguely aware of being helped up to bed by the girls.  I stayed asleep until 9:30 the next morning, when Bekka woke me up with a kiss.
     She sat on the side of the bed and said, "You know I'm not really good at being a bossy wife...."

Preacher (Part 6)

     At about 6:30 the next evening I'm leaning against the trunk of the Falcon having my dick sucked by Jane.  We're on a dirt track that runs through hundreds of acres of iceberg lettuce, far from pavement.  I can make out shapes in the distance --- buildings of some sort --- but it's hard to tell.  Between the three hits of Ecstasy, the Johnnie Walker, the meth, and the handful of mushrooms, trying to define the shapes is a little difficult.  Whatever, I have a seventeen year old cum-slut sucking my dick, that's the important thing at the moment.  She's wearing a pair of Bekka's devil horns, a red pair, and watching the trail of color as she bobs back and forth is fascinating.

Preacher (Part 7)

     Blondie was Cheryl.  Dexter was Mike.  Lupe was Roxanne.  Biff was.... Biff.  Too crazy.
     Even on a Saturday night, a Denny's in El Centro is a pretty dead place.  We sat in one of the big booths and ordered coffee, six milkshakes, and four orders of fries.  Jane and I gave our basic bios, which fascinated the four others.  They were familiar with Becky Page, and three had seen at least one of our movies.  All four were seniors.  Biff and Roxanne had been going steady since the beginning of eleventh grade, to Biff's father's annoyance.  "He's kind of a racist.  I mean, shit, this is El Centro.  If you've got a problem with Mexicans, why the hell would you live here at all?"

Preacher (Part 8)

     Heber, California is where the rest of the world imports its dust from.  It has to be, they're rolling in it there.  I followed Mike's directions into Heber and his grandpa's house on Parkyns Ave.  Jane and I waited in the Falcon while he trotted up to the door, let himself in, then strolled nonchalantly back out to the car, carrying some light blue paper.  He got in the car and handed it over.

Preacher (Part 9)

     And then, things got quiet for a while.
     Jane and I did our traveling, and added another stop to our itinerary, Hearst Castle.  I'd always loathed William Randolph Hearst, and was curious about how much luxury could be acquired when you make your living as a bullshit artist.  Rather a lot, it turned out.  We took US 1 all the way down the coast, a road the Falcon was built for.  Breathtaking scenery.  I shot a few rolls of film on an empty beach, getting Hustler-style pictures of Jane writhing in the sand.  She said she wanted two sets of prints to give away: one for her current boy-toy Smiley, the other for.... Lance.  She told me, "Yes, it is a bitchy thing to do, but....  I was anything but a bitch while we were breaking up, so this is just a little zing.  He'll have something to jack off to, and might realize he really did blow it when he set his sights on the Debbie object."

Preacher (Part 10)

     Mike, our high school friend in El Centro, called on Sunday.  "Oh boy.  You probably don't want to be hearing from me, but I figured you guys should know.  I guess you guys took the dude who puts out that Moral Militia newsletter to court and had him shut down, or whatever."
     I replied, "Yeah, there's an injunction against him.  The judge read the newsletter and ripped the guy a new asshole, from what I hear.  He told the bastard that just because he didn't write that article doesn't mean he's not responsible, he's the one who put it in print.  The guy, his name is Mather Owens and he's from Merced, is forbidden from publishing until the injunction is lifted.  And to top it off, he's being sued by Bekka, the studio, and even the church he worked part-time for.  He was paying for the postage by using the church's bulk mail permit without their permission, and I guess had been for a long time.  He's gonna be living under an overpass in two years."

Preacher (Part 11)

     Bekka and I went inside.  I grabbed the Leucadia Deli menu off the phone and dialed.  I had a metric shitload of people to feed that day, I didn't want anyone to have to leave the property before the picket broke up, unless they were bleeding from every orifice.  I ordered seven pizzas, pounds of pasta salad, ravioli, sandwiches, and told them to have the delivery driver pick up four cases of Anchor Steam on the way over, I'd make the courtesy worth his while.  Given the amount of food I'd ordered, I was given an ETA of 1:15.

Preacher (Part 12)

     All three stations wanted to interview the same three Inana girls: Eslpeth (Ella Belle), Ellen (Skye Tyler), and Feather (ibid).  These were puff-piece interviews, so all three reporters nixed the idea of doing another "news conference" interview with them.  Fair enough: three girls, three stations.  Ellen had a full lead and a shared lead under her belt, having played Madison in "Temporary Pleasures," and was the angel in "Good Girl/Bad Girl."  Elspeth's first lead was as Stella in "Good Girl/Bad Girl," the young woman plagued by the angel and the devil (Becky Page).  "GG/BG" was yet another blockbuster sales-wise, and also truly put Inana over the top when it came to crossover popularity.  It was a truly warm, fun movie, and the character of Stella was portrayed with a lot of depth and nuance, she was a complex person with intelligence, soul, and a very sensual grace.  People, Us, and even Newsweek printed fairly glowing reviews of the film.  Newsweek invented the phrase "smart porn."

Preacher (Part 13)

     Even home feels a bit crowded.  Along with Bekka, Jane, and myself, Terry is here, as well as Drummer and Vinny.  At least Vinny is sleeping at the studio, up in the penthouse.  Considering what is going on, Terry positively bullied her way in, as angry and locked down as I've ever seen her.  "No, woman.  No goddamn motherfuckin' way am I leaving you alone....  No offense, Lenny."  ("None Taken.")

Preacher (Part 14)

     Vinny called me in the office to let me know what was going on.  On early Sunday morning, a strike force would be paying a visit to Edgar Sanderson at his home.  Two cars, six soldiers, all in body armor under their suits.  "We figure if this mook's first impression is that we're Feds, all the better.  Then we tell him, 'We ain't the Feds, but you wish we were.'  We'll squeeze him for what he can tell us, and make it clear that any plans his buddies have for Becky Page are off the fuckin' table, she's being watched over very closely.  We'll be at his door at seven in the morning, stay for a few hours, and be back in San Diego by noon.  Is it all right if we use the mansion to bivouac?"

Preacher (Part 15)

     On Sunday, Bobby rode with me to the studio.  I introduced him to the cast and crew as simply "my friend Bobby," a man who understood film-making and was curious about the aspects of producing hardcore.  Everyone recognized him, of course.  He was being addressed as "Mr. DeNiro" and gave up after a while on saying, "Please, call me Bobby."  Our performers in the morning --- Trish, Sue, Jolene, Tex, and Stallion --- were fairly cowed.  Stallion especially, as he didn't hide his Hollywood aspirations.  The (kaff, kaff) plot of the morning loop was two couples, neighbors, (Sue and Tex, Jolene and Stallion) were in need of a house-sitter while they traveled, and were interviewing Trish for the job.  Through some unlikely revelations about each couple's romantic habits, the sex kicked in, Trish being passed around like a joint at a Cypress Hill concert.  I'd already told Bobby the "plots" in our loops were contrived bullshit, but the fact that we bothered at all put us ahead in the market.

Preacher (Part 16)

     There was a message from Angel waiting for me at home.  I told the girls I wanted to call him before we worried about getting a meal in us, and went up to the bedroom to call him.  He picked up, and when he realized it was me, switched to his business voice.  The one that says all data is valid data, so get the shit out of your ears.

Preacher (Part 17)

     Things seemed to get sedate again.  Terry went back to Ocean Beach.  Drummer had done his seventy-two hours, and the interviewing shrinks determined that he was no more insane than anyone else.  He was just a stubborn old man who had lived very rough for much of his adult life, and wanted to be left alone.  Anonymity is a good way of accomplishing that.

Preacher (Part 18)

     A night's sleep did wonders for Bekka.  She was far more herself in the morning.  She got dressed and headed downstairs to the psych unit, as per orders.  The shrink interviewed her and gave approval for an eleven a.m. release.  He did insist she stay on the unit until that time, though.  Fine with her, she wanted breakfast.  A staffer on the unit called up to my room to pass on the information.

Preacher (Part 19)

     "What's this about walking around naked?" a woman's voice said from the doorway.
     We all looked over.  There stood Jill and Mallory.  Jill was holding a box of See's candy and a card.  She gave us a pseudo annoyed grimace and said, "Well!  One of our best friends gets shot by a Christian fascist, and neither him or his wife call us.  We saw what happened on the news Thursday, and called your house.  No answer.  Jane answered the next day, and filled us in.  Really, you two, we're your friends.  We can handle the bad news along with the good."

Preacher (Part 20)

     Angel came back, and sat in relative silence.  After a while my parents left.  When they did, Angel pointedly said to Bekka, "Why don't you take these two over to your house, show it off a little.  I'll keep Lenny company."
     Bekka picked up on Angel's tone and said, "Absolutely, Angel.  We;ll come back in about an hour or so."  The three girls skipped out.
     "Unburden yourself," I told Angel.

Preacher (Part 21)

     Up and about much earlier than normal for a Sunday.  We're taking an excursion to the utterly generic Southern California town of Gardena.  This burg has one outstanding feature: ad edifice known at the Crystal Chapel.  It is the heart of evangelical Christianity in California. It took a little while, and a eighteen million dollars worth of cup-rattling, but it got built.  To evangelicals, the Crystal Chapel is their White House, their Shangri La.  And Jesus dog-fucking Christ, is it hideous.