On Friday January 18th, I woke up and immediately went for a final run amongst the beautiful snowy hills I’ve grown so fond of over the last 2 years. Due to the exploratory nature of the run, I mistakenly trespassed into a ritzy neighborhood. Once I realized this I just decided to keep going, and came to a palatial druglord villa near the top of the mountain. It was enough to make me slow down for a second to gawk.
|taken from the realtor’s site. “The crown jewel of Prescott.” only $4.8 MILLION|
I noticed the realty sign in front of it, so I jumped the fence and discovered that the artificially-terraced-and-sodded ‘back yard’ had one of the best views of Prescott (and neighboring Prescott Valley for that matter) I had ever seen. There was even a pool that spilled over the edge of the man made cliff, which was frozen solid for an even more awesome effect than was intended. I stopped and meditated in gratitude for such an epic, if not illegal, way to say goodbye to the place that had been my home for the past 2 years.
|view from pool. taken from realtor’s website, obviously at night. I was there in the morning and honestly it looked better in the sunlight.|
Leaving Prescott proved to be harder than I thought, in several ways. I didn’t realize how tight the little Arizona mountain town’s grip on me until I tried to escape it. Even after several month’s public knowledge of my departure, a proclamation of gratitude and goodbye and an enormous social arena, and 2 separate going-away parties, there were still enough last minute come-see-me-before-you-leave endeavors to delay my departure a good 4-5 hours. However, I am truly happy to have such a large group of people care for me. The last time I left a city, everyone just assumed I was dead. Literally. Granted this was a different part of my life that involved hard drugs and general scumbaggery. But the point is, Life has taken me to a drastically different place and I’m grateful for that. And these friends are pretty diverse, too. Between all of my friends I was able to discern places to stay, friends of friends to meet up with, and cool things to do in pretty much every spot between LA and Vancouver.
|This is Alex from Prescott. He taught me how to use a dry bag, and instructed me to swim in the Oakland bay.|
After a morning of last minute preparations, heartfelt goodbyes, and a particularly heart wrenching last moment with my girlfriend, Christine, I was off into the west.
The drive out of Prescott was beautiful as I took the 89 out the back way and wound down through the mountains, but as soon as I hit flat ground it was pretty boring. I had a growing urge to urinate, and when this came to a peak I took the nearest exit, which was “Desert Center”. I soon discovered that Desert Center was nothing but an enormous dirt/gravel lot with some abandoned businesses. I did seize the opportunity to piss, though, but as soon as I got a good stream going, a Jeep blazed through the lot, apparently only to do a few donuts and kick up a dust cloud that lingered. I gathered my wits and genitalia, and took this picture as the sun set behind a post-apocalyptic gas station.
Fear and Loathing in the City of Angels
|this is how people in LA express their affection to one another.|
Shortly thereafter Kimba calls me and suggests we meet at Venice Beach. After parking nearby, I strapped my guitar to my back and walked to our meeting spot. I stopped and took a picture of this excellent Orson Welles-themed mural along the way.
|if you don’t get he reference, look up “Touch of Evil”|
Kimba gave me a quick run-down on the Venice Beach boardwalk, and then I was off into the freakshow. I described it to a friend later in the day: “You know how the Japanese take American culture and totally misinterpret it and twist it into something even more ridiculous? Well Venice Beach is as if the Japanese made a New Orleans-themed boardwalk.” The place is like a long, thin circus of humanity, set against a beautiful beach backdrop as some sort of sick joke.
|this guy specializes in shitty oil paintings with the caption “DON’T FUCK WITH ME I’M A GODDESS”|
|impromptu drum circle, led by a frenetic, whistle-blowing dwarf (center, blue shirt)|
After scoping out the spectacle I was a bit stressed out, I guess from all the stimulation. So much bullshit from so many angles at once was exhausting. I sat down, pulled out my guitar and played some music to relax my mind. I zoned out and got pretty into it, and a young guy came and asked what he should put his money in. I opened up my guitar case and set it in front of me, and thus began my California busking career. Over the next few hours I played, sang, danced, and generally had a great time as onlookers passed and stared. Some gave me money, others didn’t even turn their heads. A couple of swagged-out black guys even stopped, rapped over my delta blues progression, and then proceeded to make it rain dollar bills whilst celebrating their lyrical victory. I ended the song at an appropriate moment and exchanged elaborate handshakes with both of them. I didn’t make a ton of money, but I wasn’t trying to. The way I saw it, I just did what I enjoy and do for free every day, and strangers gave me money for it. Not a bad deal. Eventually I came out of my busking trance and realized the sun was going down, so I packed up and used some of my busking profits to purchase a local delicacy, the pupusa. Its essentially a big corn tortilla stuffed with meat and cheese, and was extremely good and cheap.
|beats the shit out of taco bell any day|
Before leaving I noticed the undeniable beauty of the sun setting over the ocean, with the Santa Monica mountains in the background. Picture doesn’t really do it justice.
|i guess this is why LA got so big in the first place.|
After the sun set, I met another friend, Emily Ann, and went to a group meeting, details of which I cannot share due to the nature of anonymity. It was a very tolerant place, but this sign on the wall detailed the 3 things they won’t put up with.
|cats are ok.|
After the meeting, which was EXCELLENT, by the way, E.A. led me to “Nate ‘n’ Al’s” diner. We met in front to find that it was closed. I looked around and expressed both my distaste with the upscale nature of our surroundings, and my overwhelming need to urinate. E.A. informed me that this was Beverly Hills, and that I could consummate both sentiments simultaneously by relieving myself on the nearby Chanel fashion megaplex. She wasn’t serious, but I was, and seized the opportunity, leaving a long, unbroken trail of urine along the wall of the meticulously designed building. It is worth noting that at this point – I just realized I have publicly pissed on every single area of LA that I have been to, some even multiple times. Seriously. And not out of any vandalistic or destructive urge. Just out of necessity. I have a fast metabolism, drink lots of water, and LA isn’t big on public bathrooms. These three conditions have created a perfect storm of frequent public urination that will probably continue throughout my stay.
After some deliberation EA suggests we go to Mel’s diner in Hollywood. I am reticent because of my Hollywood experience the previous night, but am lured in by her promise of a free milkshake. Along the way I resisted the urge to steal this from a very expensive neighborhood:
|not “Dick” or “Dick’s”. just “DICKS”|
After reluctantly surrendering my car to the valet attendant at Mel’s we go in and get a table. Much to EA’s chagrin, I have brought in a can of tuna and a can opener. It seems a feasible option for protein intake without gross expenditure. I explain to her that this can of tuna cost me about a dollar, and will provide me with as much sustenance as a 10 dollar appetizer from the menu, before reading this elegant slogan off the can to her:
|is this even possible?|
Our waitress must’ve noticed my faux-pas, because we receive possibly the shittiest service ever. EA eventually just accepts my logic and we carry a decent conversation over the 6 dollar milkshakes (even more expensive than in Pulp Fiction!). I drive home in a daze brought on by exhaustion and sugar overload, and pass out almost immediately.
|Santa Monica: so classy, even the mannequins look at you with disdain.|
It was “Chiptune Night Vol. 2”, which means that all the music we were hearing is made on antiquated 8-bit video game equipment, like original NES. There were literally people on stage playing GameBoys as musical instruments. It was cool.
I was pretty beat after a while so we parted ways and I went back to Mar Vista and to bed.