Saturday, June 18, 2005

Mostly fucked off yesterday; manager and his workman sawing and planing in the empty apt. next door from 10 a.m., "Humpty Dance" on their radio. Down La Brea to shopping center in the heart of one of L.A.'s middle-class black neighborhoods; young woman in Nat'l Guard (I think) fatigues. Eso Wan bookstore, where I missed Chang in May, probably the only place in town you can buy Jasmine Guy's memoir, self-pub'd books on freemasonry, and Nate Mackey's Paracritical Hinge. Owner talking quietly to someone about Emmett Till before a guy comes in ranting about Ghana (while I'm looking at a Billie Holliday bio called If You Can't be Free, Be a Mystery), then helping a lady looking for a particular romance novel. (Owner: "I think it has a white-colored cover." "White-colored" instead of "white" -- intentional locution?*) Considered some Langston Hughes b/c of yesterday's note, seemed corny; stuck w/ the Mackey, which I'd almost mail-ordered last week, and an academic book on sampling. Phillips BBQ, a little east and south, take-out-only stand near Lemiert Park -- links/rib/chicken combo with their "mixed" hot+sweet sauce. In true Q-stand fashion (as opposed to soul-food cafe), the sides are perfunctory; I understand the red velvet cake and other desserts are good. (Passed a business on the way called "The Cobbler Lady." Very tempting.) Kid tries to sell me incense in the parking lot. Not even a couple of outdoor tables; attempt to eat ribs in car (is that middlebrow?) with predictable results, despite bumper-to-bumper freeway.

(*Have I ever mentioned that American Greetings, RC to Hallmark's Coke, has a line of black-aimed greeting cards that are prominently displayed under the name "In Rhythm" in the Rite-Aids that carry them? Identical to other greeting cards except for having pictures of black mothers/daughters, etc. What do they call their Hispanic cards? "Picante!"?)

Back home briefly to change shirt, answer 2 or 3 emails. Back out to Foothill Records in La Canada, not too much traffic that way. Closed (I'd called and gotten no answer, but the place is so weird one never knows). Mostly listening to Scene Is Now, The Oily Years all through this, plus snatches of KCRW and KPFK: "The Secret Sign on the Dollar Bill is yours for a $40 pledge." Stop in a nearby cafe I've liked before, can only stay there until 6 because there's been some sort of teen-curfew crackdown since I was there last; also, they've reduced their space by a third, adding an internal wall. Flipping through L.A. Weekly -- no pick for the Go-Bs or A-Trak, I got on the pitches late -- noticed that Clement's Purple Noon is at the New Beverly later, not 'til 9:30 second feat. with Le Cercle Rouge.

Home would be a sidetrack from where I am, so I decide to stop by Sea Level. Traffic much worse this direction, buses force me to miss the turn from Glendale to Alvarado twice. Get there around 6:30, a scruffy band is extending an instore soundcheck into a rehearsal, until they head across the Sunset to Rodeo Grill. Chat w/ Todd, who convinces me I need Anniemal (free button w/ purchase, which I wore the rest of the day); also locate the Scout Niblett EP with "Uptown Top Ranking," which I approach with trepidation but need to hear. Friend of Alec Bemis' passes through, kindly gives me his self-released CD from the consignment bins. Band comes back, name of Viking Moses, w/ connections, I'm told, to the equally awfully-named Supperbell Roundup: Three rotating singer/guitarists w/ ok rhythm section: First guy all Oberst, but his songs are pretty; second guy sounds, I swear, like David Crosby, actually has good vocal control; third guy, yellow bandana and a sketchy, Little Wings mein, sings like Nick Cave. Confusing. Audience made up of 7 or 8 indie kids, two local 7th-or-so graders in their softball uniforms, and Jorgen from Claremont.

Split for movie about halfway through (actually, considering their soundcheck act, probably more like 1/4). The New Bev runs on a loose schedule -- guy at the window tells me the movie won't start 'til 10. Cross street to a new bistro-styled, loose-tea-in-French-press cafe, nicely appointed w/ paisley-upholstered banquettes; right next to this neighborhood's Starbucks. A year ago, this was a Bernie's Bagelry, no competition for "Elite Catering" (SHABBAT TAKE-OUT) nearby. In restroom, notice three faint parallel sauce stains on my neck from hrs. ago, looks like I've been clawed. This is about as insightful as Crash, but I've driven today from an area where it's unusual to be a white guy not in a car, to a mostly Anglo "enclave" (except for the two middle-aged Iranians in the cafe), to the Hispanic end of Sunset in Echo Park (except for Sea Level itself, a few blocks east of an area where it would get 3 times as much walk-in business, and the two guys near the jugos cart; "Yeah, it's a little like Hrvatski"), to the Beverly/Fairfax district at dusk on Friday, where everyone on foot is Orthodox, sitting next to a table of young Korean-American women w/ wholly Californian speech patterns ("A Dilliard's is kinda like a Macy's"), killing time, writing this, before I forget the city I say I don't love.

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