26 years, has it really been that long?
Saturday was a milestone day for me. I saw Jay Rosen for the first time since 1981 when I left Omaha. I picked up Jay at the Burbank Airport (I was late on account of a traffic jam in Camarillo) and we spent a bit of time driving the LA freeway in search of the museum district- which we did eventually find.
Jay wanted to go to the LA County Museum of Art LACMA, which I had not been to before. There was a great show of 60s & 70s west coast artists. Some really cool work. I really enjoy modern, non-representational and minimalist art, this was a real treat!
While we enjoyed the show we gabbed, caught up on the past two and a half decades and shared what we could about the perirheral events of our time during and immediately after the Better Beatles. After a lovely dinner of salads and hummus we headed to the venue, with plenty of what I call Lost and Found Time to spare. Even employing a Garmin I can manage to get lost in LA!
Jay plays with a performer that had a gig in Highland Park, a neighborhood in LA which until this event I had never heard of. The Venue was Mr Ts Bowl on Figueroa, a run down, repurposed hole in the wall that is the perfect place to see fringe rock and kooky antics.
Jay knew a lot of the people performing and otherwise, and introduced me around as "his friend from Nebraska, and his old band the Better Beatles... that he hadn't seen for 26 years"... I think that our reunion, if that is the right word, was a profound experience for Jay as well.
I met Jay's friend Klaus Flouride, a name you may recognize- the Bassist of Dead Kennedys fame. Klaus is a super nice guy, not what you might expect of someone that has achieved status of genuine Rock & Roll Icon. When he said that he was a big fan of mine I was overwhelmed, a man that comprised a vital quarter of easily the best Politi-punk band of my generation said he really liked my music! SOOOO COOL! I had a really nice time visiting with him.
I also met The Ledge, that's what the guys call the star of the show, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy. He is a mellow, somewhat introverted fellow with a quirky personna, that, when unleashed onstage, is like nothing else in the known universe! It's like he is a conduit channeling cosmic craziness from a non-sequiter region of the outer galaxy.
He does the hand jive, towel-snapping toreador moves, paper plate saucer flying, whooping, hollerin' and poetry reading. He tops it all off with a strut around in his underpants, like a three year old being silly-naughty while his parents are out of the room.
The entire show is driven by the well oiled machine that is his back-up band. Jay and Klaus have a simpatico relationship onstage. The drummer, Joey Meyers, barrels through the night's performance like a long distance trucker hopped up on caffiene, speed, sugar and Merle Haggard. They are real pros. They jump, whoop, goof and crash around, avoiding The Ledge's towel snapping and manic gyrations. It is ballet des lunatics. These guys could back a train wreck and make it a beautiful experience.
They mused about the fact that still, after all these years, The Ledge doesn't recognize the intros to specific songs, and that no two shows are ever the same. That is probably one of the reasons they enjoy the gig, it's always fresh.
During the show I also met a couple of Jays confederates, locals that came down to say "hey" and see the show. Pete and Eric are working musicians, sleep deprived and bleary but so fun to visit with. Jay has nice friends.
Jay and Co. were planning to crash at Pete's house. Pete lives near the venue and had planned to take them all back after the show. Unfortunately he was exhausted from a week or more of long nights and a looming deadline. He looked like he could be happy curling up next to the homeless man sleeping in the loading dock.
I got his address and put it in my iPhone so I could drive the gang, and he could split early to get some sleep. Unfortunately I seem to have messed up and somehow deleted the entry. So after the show Jay ended up having to call, waking him up, to retreive his address. Man did I feel like an ass!
Obviously it was a late night 4:20 by the time I got back to Oxnard & hit the sheets. I still feel a bit loagy, but it was so worth it. I had a great time, and look forward to seeing Jay next month and meeting his wife Michele. We will be attending Budget Rock in Oakland, with some of the performers I saw last weekend. More fun to be sure!