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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Ah! Los Angeles In The Eighties

I moved to Los Angeles from Massachusetts in the early eighties. My brother and I drove there with everything we owned — which wasn’t much — in a Toyota Tercel. We convinced ourselves, for all sorts of reasons, that we’d like California; but truth be told, we were just poor and cold all the time. My brother stuck, and sticks there still. I got a job as a welder in the desert and commuted, 60 miles one way, in a car with no air conditioning from an apartment in Culver City –also with no air conditioning — and I thought I’d never be cool again, and I left after a little while.

We both played music. My brother was, and is, really good, and I did, and do, suck at it. My brother would play with really good musicians for no money and I’d play with amusing fellows that weren’t very good for no money.

No harm. Los Angeles was a very fertile music scene just then, even though I couldn’t find a way to be fertilizer. I met lots of people and saw lots of them around town, and a lot of it still gives me a grin to think about. It really was like a small town then, compared to now, and I still have a certain affection for the memory of the place.

There was this guy kicking around named John Trubee. He had a loose organization of people he “performed” with that he deemed John Trubee and the Geeks; or maybe it was the Ugly Janitors of America, I can’t remember, and I wonder if he could. Anyway, I have a single by Trubee kicking around my house somewhere; but I can’t find important things right now, so I’m not looking for it. It has always been the perfect encapsulation of my memories of Los Angeles.

Back before you could get your own four-track recorder at the music store for the price of a long lunch, getting to record stuff in a music studio was a big, expensive undertaking. There were all these scam artists that would put ads in the indy papers, promising to record your song professionally if you sent them the lyrics. They’d get you coming and going, usually; charging you quite a bit to record it in a desultory fashion, a small fortune to press a few into 45s, and in a bunch of cases took part or all of the copyright on the thing you sent them in the small print, on the very off, off chance someone sent them something good that eventually got picked up by a real label.

Trubee wrote the weirdest shite he could think of, got a few bucks together, and sent it in, figuring they’d reject it. That was the zeitgeist just then, that the Intertunnel now takes care of: So bad it’s fantastic. They changed the title, which originally incorporated “Stevie Wonder,” not “A Blind Man,” but other than that, they gave it a go. The result is, without question, the funniest thing I ever heard.

Some day, I’ll write a book loosely based on my time in LA, but in the meantime, we’re all going to have to settle for A Blind Man’s Penis.

I suppose I’m obligated to point out that a song entitled “A Blind Man’s Penis” is not safe for work, unless you work in the pornography department of a satanic cult’s rendering plant. Maybe it’s like the sign in English telling illegal immigrant busboys that don’t speak English to wash their hands after crapping, but sometimes you gotta go through the motions.

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