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The Other Side of Everything

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Written on October 8, 2005, and categorized as Secret and Invisible, Travel, True Story.
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venice beach

Anything can happen on a Saturday. It doesn’t matter what weather is doing, really, because it’s Saturday.

Household obligations and the desire to sleep are the only thing between you and this miracle time of freedom.

Sunday can be leisurely, for sure, but it is already too near the forced march of Monday. Saturday leaves you time to spare, to eat and drink, to be lazy, to watch a film, then another, to dress inappropriately and then more so, to be lost and found, to make waste, not haste.

One Saturday morning in early December, 1993, I awoke in California, in a cheap just-above-shitty motel off Santa Monica Boulevard, with plasterboard walls so thin you could punch through them, fat cockroaches scuttering everywhere, and the sun streaming down as usual. The sheets were clean enough, thank God.

My first thought was to notice the bullet holes in the walls that we hadn’t seen the night before.

We had driven down the two of us in a huge white Oldsmobile from Bass Lake through Fresno, and on to a Friday afternoon meeting with a female executive in a large recording corporation in Hollywood. It was a long drive, at interminably slow speed, but it was this way I first entered Los Angeles, driving in on the freeway.

I found a bowling alley near the office, where I changed from my hiking jeans and boots into conservative office wear. I felt British guilt at using the bowling alley’s lavatory without paying for bowling, so I bought an iced tea before I left.

In the car park, S waited for me in the sun. “They are bowling on a Friday afternoon!” I exclaimed. The local inhabitants were choosing to spend money to remain out of the afternoon sun in dark, echoing tunnels, with aircon and a cafeteria.

“It’s cheap,” she replied, leaning up against the side of the car in shades and shorts. “It’s hot.”

It was hot, sunny like a pleasant English early summer day in mid-May, and this was December. December – April, Los Angeles is not usually too bad, climate-wise. Pleasant temperatures, air pollution just about at London levels.

Next morning, having retrieved the Oldsmobile and swiftly exited the motel, I phoned Bill, bass player, resident of West Hollywood. Bill was great, a big friendly warm guy, just like Californians are supposed to be. He kindly offered to chaperone us culturally and find us a less scary place to stay for a couple of days, despite us waking him up on a Saturday morning which was clearly his recouperation time from an intense Friday night’s gig, and to meet up for lunch.

We had a few hours to kill, so we decided to go for a jog along Venice Beach.

Saturday morning 9.30am Venice Beach is as mad as anywhere I have ever been.

As we jogged, we fitted into the scene seamlessly, moving and keeping pace with the other joggers, keeping to the jogging lanes obediently and taking it all very seriously.

Nowhere has the civilised veil of sanity been more transparent. Never have I seen more artificially enhanced bodies in my life. This is a place of human extremes, where the most unhinged people in the world hang out, from every state, from every land, of every gender and sexuality, drug takers and sellers, rich people alongside paupers of every kind, in a permanently wacked out beach-zone of constant physical improvement and psychological deterioration; we watched people lifting weights, balancing, pulling up on bars, trampolining, and conducting all kinds of body beautiful exercise in a complex and bizarre public Saturday morning ritual.

We jogged past the beach tractors cleaning and combing the sand. We jogged past a black guy on rollerblades wearing star-shaped shades, with his amp on a trolley, rolling along with him, playing glittering rock guitar, his face screwed up permanently in soloist’s ecstasy. We jogged past beggars and vendors and migrants and zombies and tourists and locals; we jogged through an episode of Baywatch. I noticed the crew’s black shiny bomber jackets with the show’s logo on it, and this felt quite normal. Everyone was just ignoring the shoot, and the minders just hanging out with the rest of us, not expecting anything in particular to have to deal with.

It was the first time I jogged wearing shades.

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This thing has 5 Comments

  1. karma
    Posted 9 October, 2005 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    that sounds like a lovely Saturday. I fully agree with you – Sundays are just buffers in between. towards Sunday afternoon, I start getting cranky thinking about MOnday morning at the office

  2. ME Strauss
    Posted 10 October, 2005 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    What a killer ending! And might I add a great description of Venice Beach. I think I stayed at that same hotel once, but of course, in LA LA land there are so many . . .

    Thank you again, for a fun read.

  3. Jay
    Posted 13 October, 2005 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    It’s like you’re writing about me!

  4. Neil
    Posted 14 October, 2005 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Hi Deek,
    Loved the Saturday post, very descriptive I could actually imagine the whole scene. Check out my blog when you have the time, its about football. You know Deek; I’m part of a team that has just developed this blogging software called Qumana. Its got this feature called the DropPad, which I think can really help you out. You could upload picture directly to you blog, within seconds. Do check it out, its free. You could download Qumana from http://www.qumana.com

    Please email me at neil@qumana.com and let me know what you think about Qumana, if you do download it.

  5. Bill German
    Posted 14 October, 2005 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    i love venice beach

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