[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.]
See also: Henry Rollins: Music Keeps You Young
On the last day of last month, my inner emo-boy said it was the last day of summer. I felt the need to cram in all of my loose-end summer music listening before the Sept. 1 self-imposed cutoff. There are some records that come out or, as the case may be, get shelved at certain times of the year. I know that I have several days in September before it is technically fall, which I could utilize, and I have been. I made quite the effort.
Rites of Spring, Embrace, Minor Threat and The Warmers all got spun along with albums by certain bands that I have designated as warm-weather listens. The first Generation X album is a summer listen. Their second album, Valley of the Dolls, is for later in the year. The Fall's Beggars Banquet label-era recordings, especially all those insane B-sides, are perfect for hot weather, while their earlier material works better in the later months.
Obviously, this is completely subjective and only my opinion. I'm not looking for an argument.
As the hours of listening wore on, something started to distract me and, with every passing moment, grew more persistent and profound. I almost don't want to confess to this. At 2100 hrs. the Trader Joe's at 7304 Santa Monica Blvd. would be closing its doors after loyally serving the area since 1985. I have been shopping there since about then.
I was surprised at the resonance that this fact filled me with. With all due respect, it's just a grocery store and not the only one within easy driving distance, but damn, I have been there hundreds of times. That is the thing that started to gnaw at me.
I have walked those aisles with people who are now gone, with women to whom I was devoted who eventually found that they could do just fine without me, and I have actually had more than a few interesting conversations with staff and shoppers.
Not to put too long a tail on the kite, but a grocery store, a thing we sexy Westerners take as a given, when you think about it, provides quite a vital service. I did not go into this place because I found the lighting to be flattering and the color of the floor tile pleasing. My prime directive was the neutralization of my almost constant hunger. If you go too long without food, it's not good. Combine the whole food-in-great-abundance thing with easy parking, and that Trader Joe's was a good deal.
With about 50 minutes left until the doors were set to close, I went there for one last pass. After entering, I took a slow lap around the place, having one last look. I bought some olive oil out of respect! The man who rang me up told me that no one was losing their job; they were merely being transferred. I thanked him and left. I stood in the parking lot for a little while, took a cellphone shot of the front and split.
I have always identified with Joan Didion's depiction of Los Angeles and Southern California, ever since reading Play It As It Lays, Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The White Album. L.A. is, by turns, a place of great beauty and promise, a place where immense dreams are routinely realized and destroyed as well, and an incredibly violent and dangerous stretch of America. Like many of you, I have experienced all of the aforementioned here.
This being the case, it is often difficult to have a pulse-driven, analog, we-are-a-village relationship with a sprawling city packed with the driven, the insane and all the rest. This is why I was so surprised at my reaction to the closing of a single location of a food chain that stretches from here to New York City. I am really glad I made that last visit.
I greet and bid farewell to seasons with music and literature. This can be quickly written off as being sentimental, nostalgic or not having the wherewithal to forge ahead into the bright future. Whatever. I do these rituals in an effort to not become so focused that everything in my life flattens out into one, continuous, raging surgical strike.
One of my favorite writers, Thomas Wolfe, the literary giant from Asheville, N.C., wrote quite a bit about returning to places and memories. He also wrote a book called You Can't Go Home Again, so I think he was able to keep himself in check to a certain degree. For years, I devoured books in an effort to find the one I was supposed to read. I thought I had found it with Knut Hamsun's book Mysteries, but it was Wolfe's Of Time and the River that has proven to be that book. Next month, I will be rereading passages of that one, as well as a lot of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
As I am sure you have noticed, the merciless fire-breathing, blast-furnace dragon for the most part laid low through the summer, waiting until the latter part of last month to rise up and unleash its unrelenting fury upon us all! It's been so damn hot, I thought I was living in the opening pages of Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita or locked in a blackout cell with one of Céline's malaria-driven fever fits. I don't do air conditioning. I would rather sweat, sleep poorly and endure. It makes me feel involved.
The heat has been great for dreams to which I can't apply any amateur pseudo-Freudian projections. Last night, I dreamed that the Earth was covered with a layer of pimiento loaf — yes, the foodstuff. A man walked up to me and offered me a CD of his music. I said, “It's just more pimiento!” He said, “No. It can't be. My last name is Parmento!” I was then awoken to battle the ants, who always seem to target me around this time of the year. Everything's fine.
Summer's almost over. I can't wait for what happens next.
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