Reflections of Bliss from the Brink of Peril

July 9, 2003
Bob Freville
Lindenhurst, New York


What's up, Bob?  I don't refer to people by their first names enough...

I don't know if you're facing the recent storms that Ohio is infected with, but the constant thunder, lightning, hail, and 50 mph winds is a foul reality to come home to, especially after spending a weekend in the sun.  Unless you enjoy this "changing of the seasons" bullshit that everyone on this side of the country seems to praise, you MUST check out Southern California.  The fucking sun is up at like 8 in the morning, shining bright, but never too hot.  It was up in the high 80's to maybe lower 90's this past weekend, and for me, it was perfect.

Granted, we stayed smack dab in one of the weirder areas (so I'm told), in Hollywood near the corner of La Brea and Sunset Blvd.  Just like any other urban area, you have your sketchy characters, especially at the turn of the day, when pm goes to am.  Actually, it wasn't much different than my experiences in Pittsburgh or Cleveland, and in defense of Sunset Blvd., there was always an underlying presence of Blue Meanies, so unless you're completely naive, I can't imagine anything seriously ill happening to someone.  I mean, I wouldn't recommend Melissa run to the corner store at 3 am for some Hooch, but at the same time, I don't think anything would happen if she did.  Still, that's being kind of foolish, when the world we live in does have evil shit around...

Check it: Friday, we went to the Beach, accompanied by the great Jack Bishop.  We parked in Santa Monica, and walked around there for a bit, then to the Pier.  From there, we headed south, and walked down the coastline to Venice.  That, my good man, is an odd place. Fun indeed, but sadly nothing too flamboyant and/or obnoxious.  The strangest thing that sticks out right now is some dude in a thong "performing" with several cobras in his hand.  My, how he had those snakes tamed!  Then he picked up the cup, and proceeded to pass it around for donation, extending the same hand that his pets were in.  Turns out they were rubber, and it's suffice to say that the crowd that had gathered quickly turned their backs and went their Ways.

Soon thereafter, though, there was the Belly Dancer, but to be completely honest, although Venice Beach was kind of cool, it seemed as if folks were trying to live up to the reputation it's gained.  Mind you, we only spent a couple hours there, walking to the Venice Pier, and then turning around returning to the Santa Monica Pier, so we only got a brisk taste.

By the time we got back to Santa Monica, the sun was beginning to set over the mountains, and therefore we decided to stay there for the fireworks.  Even though they weren't going to be actually in Santa Monica, Jack informed us that, from this vantage (actually, he suggested the Venice Pier), we'd be able to see the annual displays of pyromania up and down the coast.

Before I go on, let me describe the Santa Monica Pier.  First off, there's a small amusement park (size of a Fair, I guess) a little past the Pier's entrance.  Then there's buildings and shops, and then it continues out into the ocean, where there's another building that houses a restaurant (or two, not sure), and then the Pier goes a little further still.  Point being, this is no mere fishing dock.

OK, so it was at the end of this structure that we solidified our complete Awe.  We saw no less than 10 major fireworks displays.  I have a video of some of it, but since it was in the dark and all, it was hard to capture.  This is something that you have to see in person.

To the left (south), there was like six displays, and aside from Marina del Rey, I have no clue where they came from.  To the right (north), there was at least four more, going up along the coast through Malibu and on.

Since I'm not familiar with the area, I can't say where these performances were from, but I compare them with the display we saw in downtown Cleveland last year.  That was the largest I'd seen to date, with explosions of all sorts rocketing from a ship out in Lake Eire.

Every display we saw from the Santa Monica Pier was larger than Cleveland's, and most lasted quite longer.

And that was Friday, and this is without getting into the fact that the afternoon was spent with the infamous Jack Bishop, who not only helped as a guide for the locale, but just imagine the discourse of those hours...

Saturday was our City day, and we spent that afternoon on Hollywood Blvd.  It was cool enough (what the fuck?!  Another "Emergency Alert" on the radio?!  When will it all end?!?!  Oh, this has nothing to do with Cali, this is just the Sad existence of Ohio) I guess, and Missy got a picture of me feigning an epileptic seizure on Jack Nicholson's block of cement at the Grauman's complex.  Yeah, there's the Hollywood sign and all, but it's mainly a trendy, tourist strip.  Which isn't too bad, I guess, and that's not to say that we had anything short of a good time there.  Drinking at some random Greek (?) restaurant where understanding was not in dialogue, but certainly in liquor.  Things like that are what sticks out to me more than seeing Miles Davis' star on the Walk of Fame, although the latter is certainly cool.  The Simpsons and Woody Woodpecker also have stars on the Walk, by the way...

That evening, though, we went to the California Plaza in!  Before that, we hooked up with none other than super-sexy Rachel Kann and Ratpack Slim!!!!!!!!!!   Yeah, these are just people and all, but just like Mistah Bishop, they're folks I highly admire, and thus it was rad to hang out with them.

So, with our poetic duo, we went to snag Heather, this fine-ass blond vixen whose humor is just as bizarre and intelligent as it gets.  We then headed Downtown, where we saw this 50- to 60-piece Hip Hop orchestra called Dakah (emphasis on the "kah," not "Da," lest we sound like we're heading to a concentration camp).  Unbelievable.  The show in itself was unlike anything I'd ever experienced, and the fact that we were in such a place as downtown Los Angeles was difficult to grasp.  I kept looking up at the skyscrapers towering above us, but even then, it seemed like a dream.

After that, we departed our local posse, and took a cab to Pico Blvd., where we ate the best burgers on Earth at this small diner called Apple Pan.  I legitimately have never tasted any burger as good as their Hickoryburger...

Being that this was the first time in California (let alone L.A.) for both Melissa and I, it was clear from the start that we would not have even a moment to let anything sink in, since Time allowed only a couple days for us there.  Thus, we weren't even able to acknowledge that we were anything but completely overwhelmed, and therefore the entire excursion was thoroughly surreal.

Leaving that, a practical Nirvana for me, for a place like Ohio was miserable enough.  Then you throw in these wretched storms that have attacked the Armpit of America for the past couple days, and it's difficult not to get depressed.  I'm trying as hard as I can not to let this Gloom take over my soul, but since Bootawachenga didn't let me sleep Monday night (his Kryptonite is loud bangs, and with sever thunderstorms pounding all through the night and into the morning, he spent those hours panting on my chest, hoping that I could somehow take the Terror away), my energy is running low.

However, this just means that I need to do some Thing, now, whatever it takes (in reason) to get out of this unholy land.  Oddly enough, that may include sticking out another winter in Ohio, but later for that.

I hope this finds you well, and I'll probably be emailing this to you in the next day or so.  In light of the incessant Storms, I've stayed off my computer, and yesterday was the first time I checked my email since I left Cali (I used a cyber cafe a few times).  Tonight, pending another break in Nature's Fury, I'll get back online, and go from there.


Stabbing Westward,
Jake McGee