If there was a world’s record for multiple times of moving in and out of apartments in one year Griff reached it. In the course of several months he lived with his brother on the Westside, moved into his drug addict pal Pierre’s apartment, and then to add insult to injury, on an early Saturday morning Pierre’s mother banged on the door insisting that he help her move all of Pierre’s things out.
“Pierre told me you’d cover the rent for him while he was in rehab”, Griff grumbled.
“Nothing doing”, Pierre’s mom, a registered nurse who probably got him hooked onto the shit in the first place growled, “There was no such agreement. You’re gonna help me move all his things out and then you’re gonna have to look for a new pad to live in, kid…..Sorry”. As if that last sorry was going to make any difference. Bitch.
So our hero not only pulled his back moving his own shit out but had to move somebody’s garbage out all day long. The abrupt move out was so bad that Pierre’s beloved cat, Thunderball, ran out of the van and into the darkness. By the end of the day, with Pierre’s stuff out and his crap all piled up in his own car, Griff was exhausted. He spent the night sleeping in his car and looking for a new home the very next day.
Finding an apartment on a Sunday isn’t easy, but when you offer 50% cash up-front you won’t have problems moving in. Especially in Koreatown, which kept Griff busy all day. By the end of Sunday night his back was screaming in pain and he crawled into a hot bath.
“Well, at least I’m all by myself and don’t have to answer to any crazy roommates. The rent costs more but at least I’m in charge of everything. Family, friends, they all suck. Worthless motherfuckers”, Griff mumbled to himself in the tub while Blondie cheerfully sang in the background.
Griff stared at his feet sticking up in the water with snakes of steam rising and then looked down at the top of his penis sticking up like a periscope in the Pacific Ocean.
“Sure, you’re floating right now”, he spoke to his carcass, “but let’s have a look at you thirty years later. Will everything still float?”
He sunk back in the hot water and submerged his head completely. It felt good to live in an apartment that looked like it came from an old movie. After holding down three beats like a drummer in a ¾ time song, he lifted his head up out of the water, leaned over the tub, and grabbed the fifth of Bushmills Irish Whiskey, giving it a healthy swig for Jesus and his friends.
Gulping down the warm liquid, he peered at the strange pattern of tiles on the bathroom floor and the way it criss-crossed the tiles on the bathroom wall. He heard the phone ring and let the answering machine take it, followed by the beep.
“Hello? Griff? This is Ellen Ostin of The Jimmy Crack Pipes, and I wanted to do a show with your band, with you guys headlining of course. Um, I was thinking, by the way, do you have the number of the booking agency that’s handling your tour up to the Northwest? If you hook me up, I’ll buy you a beer, well! Anyway! Give me a call, dude, later!”
“Hmmm, a beer”, Griff mused, “not even close”. He put the fifth down and buried his head under the warm water again.
Garbage Truck rehearsed twice a week at Action Rehearsal Studios, and they were so well rehearsed that all Griff had to do was call the name of the song and the band blasted right into the number without a hitch. It was a truly wonderful thing to watch.
“Okay, guys”, Griff said into the microphone, “’Toss The Midget’, let’s rub one out”.
The drums pounded out a locomotive beat and the three guitarists peeled out layers of cacophonous feedback spew: Bobby alternated between lead and rhythm guitar, mostly lead because he was the only one of the three that sounded like he practiced his axe; Bert played rhythm because his attack with chords was the sharpest and pulsated perfectly to the beat – unfortunately he thought he was wasting his talents simply playing chords and thought he could better serve the music world by ripping out atonal guitar solos; and the new fish, Bradley, who alternated between chords and single notes to round out the full, deep wall of noise.
Every guitarist played through dirt boxes connected to their large amplifiers with Trev and Ricardo anchoring everything down with a rhythm lockdown that truly served an irresistible bottom to band’s sound. Unfortunately, for all their competency the sheer boredom of playing the same fifteen numbers began to set in and egos grew larger and larger.
Griff already had problems hearing himself sing because of the wall of guitars howling in the room. The mike was practically up to feedback levels because it was turned up so high, and his only real chance to hear his vocals were ironically in a controlled situation like a nightclub where the monitors would send back the signals from his mike. But in the rehearsal studio, forget it.
“Time to toss the midget, that little tiny idiot:” sang Griff listening to Bobby’s chord changes…until they were drowned out by a surge of volume from Bert. Bert made the sole decision to turn up the volume of his guitar, drowning out what Bobby was playing. Bobby’s eyes burned daggers at Bert. Bert seemed oblivious to Bobby’s anger. Griff stopped singing into the mike.
“Stop, Stop! STOP!” yelled Griff into the microphone. Ricardo kept drumming.
“Stupid, stop!” Trev yelled at Ricardo. “Don’t you know when it’s time to stop?”
“I thought he was just talking to them”, Ricardo sulked, doing a short roll before stopping.
“God damn it, Bert”, Bobby yelled, “Turn your fucking guitar down. I can’t even hear myself and I’m standing on the other side of the room!”
“What are you talking about, dude, I’ve got my volume knob turned all the way down, you must be trippin’”.
“You’re pretty loud, Bert, no shit”, Ricardo commented.
“All I can hear is you, for real”, Griff scratched his ass while his vocal mike started humming from the feedback. “God, you guys are so out of order. Well! Okay!!! Turning down EVEN LOWER HERE, okay???” Bert groused, sulking harder than Ricardo did five minutes earlier.
“’Toss The Midget’ again?” Ricardo asked Griff with his sticks ready to attack.
“No, you guys ruined it for me, let’s do ‘Green Blood and Ham’”.
Bert started the song with his mopey face on, the band sliding in and rocking out the tune, when Bradley’s guitar turned up so high all you could hear was Bradley’s single lines and Ricardo’s drums.
Griff sang the first line and then stopped. Fed up, he sat down on the stained plaid sofa, shaking his head in disgust. Ricardo stopped playing, and everyone else stopped. All you could hear was the loud whooshing of sound from the amplifiers, whooshing like a wind tunnel and occasional radio interference jamming through the frequencies in the amps.
“What now?” asked Ricardo.
“What now? What now???” Bert yelled. “Bradley, I can’t hear myself, turn down. Shit!”
“I AM DOWN, you’re crazy, what are you talking about?” Bradley laughed angrily. “Lookit, my volume knob is turned down to four”.
Bobby walked over and looked at Bradley’s amp. “But your amp is turned up to nine. Turn it down to a seven”.
“What? Seven? Why should I? What is this, a fascist dictatorship?”
“Turn it down, man”, Griff ordered from the discolored sofa.
“No way! Fuck it! My volume’s the lowest in the room, it’s lower than Bobby’s, it’s lower than you, Bert, and –“
Bobby walked over to Bradley’s amp to turn down the volume knob with his guitar still strapped on, and upon touching the knob got an electric shock that made him jump across the room.
Trev chuckled. “Take your guitar off, Einstein, like this”, and unstrapped his bass and walked over to Bradley’s amp.
“I know how to turn my own amp down, thank you very much!” Bradley jumped in front and turned down his volume knob.
The rest of the rehearsal was pretty tense and Griff was given to glancing at his watch every couple songs. He even wound up calling it a rehearsal half an hour early because everyone looked like they were ready to kill each other.
When Griff got home he already had a message waiting for him on his answering machine…from Bert.
“If I ever get that kind of treatment again I’m quitting. I don’t need this shit, you know? I’m a great guitar player. I had to turn down two bands last week ‘cause I believe in Garbage Truck!”
An hour later Bradley called, obviously sauced from a few beers and ready to discuss the disastrous rehearsal they had just played.
“-and by the way, I have a friend from Spastic Magazine who can write us up in the next issue”.
“Well”, Griff said, “that’s the best thing I’ve heard tonight, come to think of it, it’s the only thing I can hear tonight”.
And he wasn’t lying, either, because his ears were humming like crazy, and they continued humming all through the night even when he attempted something so meager as sleeping. The poor bastard.