It was sad to see the old boy. First thing I noticed when he got out o the pick-up truck was he looked like he’d just swallowed John Travolta. My God. He was frankly gigantic and the T-shirt he wore, emblazoned with an exploding kitten’s head, didn’t disguise things much.
They say you can never go home again and I guess what’s meant by that is that things change irrevocably and if you retrace your steps hoping to relive a fond memory on the rebound, well you a big fuckin’ sucka. End of.
Nevertheless, as my pendulum swings between exultation and extreme bad luck so does the sweep of memory’s gaze mean that blurred out bits of detail often will give a person license to raise up a frayed ole banner of yesterday’s hope like it’s the emblem of a new tomorrow.
And so it was having donned such denial-tinted spectacles that I chose to reconsider once again entering the creative lab with two ex-collaborateurs of different but equally doom-laden pedigree, location being the link.
In other words, I went back to San Francisco thinking maybe I could “get the old band back together” to use the ouch-ey words of a hack screenwriter.
Not really, because they were each just one person and not whole bands, but anyway you get the idea.
Yuck and yikes. I left screaming.
One was so far up his own ass-myth of legendariness that he couldn’t even recognize that he was living in a pile of vomit, the other, who was also living in a pile of vomit, was too wasted on opiate derivatives to notice his stench of rotting failure.
I have to admit to also being a little overweight at the time, having just endured a year of sedentary living occasioned by a furiously decaying splinter that was trying hard to rid me of a foot.
I started drinking bottles of wine in the morning, when it was still dark, and going on long walks around sections of outer San Francisco I’d never had a single good goddamn reason to fucking bother with before. Mostly boring.
But one morning, the day I later told old Bats-in-his-Belfry that he was a shameful waste of food and ought to just die as soon as possible, I found the funniest little park in all the world (so far). It’s called the Dorothy Erskine Park and I guess there might be more to it down below than what I saw, but I only found the very toppermost bit of it.
It was literally a steep mound, with trees on top, surrounded by a fence, maybe 200 feet square in terms of area? It was as if the builders and city planners and everybody had gone as far as they could, and there was just this one weird pimple of a protrusion that couldn’t exactly be built on as it was. Somebody would have had to do massive re-shaping on this mound in order to make it flat enough to put foundations down.
Well they didn’t. Instead it was just a “park”. But what kind of park was this?! You couldn’t play ball there, there were no swings. There was nothing but a few trees and a pimple of grass, a sheer bank dropping down to a chicken-wire fence on either side.
But what a view in the early morning! A clear shot over houses and rooftops all the way to a sliver of blue water, from a totally different angle than I was used to.
After walking for miles and miles I sat on the very tip of it watching the sun come up over a part of the Bay that never makes it into the movies. I worked on a song I’d first thought of about 10 years previously: roads in blue / lead straight to you/ across the town/ and up and down / the hills and avenues / like a melancholy tune…
Then I went back to the pretty but gloomy cottage where the junkie snored, his over-fed cat licking grease from his chin.
We had a big fight later that evening. I’d found the syringes in the trash. He pretended not to know what I was on about and screamed at me for making noise while I cleaned his filthy kitchen.
I left the country soon afterwards and started to lose weight immediately.