Wednesday, April 8, 2009
It was 1985, yeah, we were right in the middle of the Eighties and living in America was everything we ran away from, colonial England. America finally built a class system and you were either in the upper classes with your nose in the air or the lower classes with a cocky peasant chip on your shoulder. “Vanity Fair” was the big magazine of the day, published by creepy gay Republicans and surprise, snobby Englishmen. Every issue canonized fascists like Imelda Marcos, Moammar Kadaffi, and Ron & Nancy Reagan. Yuppies were in style with their materialism and designer mania and it was cool to mock hippies, peace, love and ecology.
The Eighties were lonely and I spent many Sundays alone on the beach, tanning so I would feel sunny even though my disposition was gloomy. When I got to a good spot on the beach I pulled my jeans and t-shirt off and lay in the sand, my head resting against a bed of sand. I closed my eyes with my cool black hair falling in my face, my eyelids red and restful inside.
And the kids weren’t alright: rock music was absolute garbage in the Eighties, either New Wave nerds with their bleeping keyboards whining about Big Brother and paranoia, or Punk Rock jocks screaming their fat thick necks about Big Brother and paranoia. I wasn’t nerdy enough for New Wave and not caveman enough for Punk Rock. Goth was okay but I didn’t like drugs or fags called Damien with their clove cigarettes.
I bumped around from one temp assignment to another wondering if I had a future at all. All week long I’d check into one antiseptic firm after another in downtown LA: Atlantic Richfield, proofreading contracts, Thomas Cook travelers checks (working in their vault), Transamerica Corporation, yawn. I’d get my weekly check every Thursday and spend it on bad movies, bad records, and even worse nightclubs where I’d run into musicians I used to play with who got signed to the majors and would shamelessly snub me. It wasn’t a wonderful life.
The sky was cloudy and the sun was fighting its way through to shine down on me. The sea breeze was light and spicy. I could hear the ocean waves crashing like thunder and booming like the hooves of a thousand horses racing towards me.
The US Government wanted us to believe that they were the greatest society in the world and it was going to be a tough sell, given that our President cut off funding for programs to aid the elderly, shutting down countless institutions for the insane, and turning his back on AIDS research. And he had the blessing of the Revs. Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, and Jim Bakker. With all this apathy and arrogance I kept my fingers crossed and wished for a terrible calamity to befall the United States for their selfishness and xenophobia. Soon enough it would happen in New Orleans, in New York, even in smug Los Angeles. But not before I would suffer first, spending several years homeless and living on the streets and in jails. The past was very dark and the future had a long way to go before it would be bright again.
The sun finally broke through the clouds and its warmth engulfed me. I could hear the sea gulls shrieking in the sky as they flew in circles above me and around the empty beach.