I WAS SO HEAVY, MAN, I LIVED ON THE STRAND
|Beautiful Rincon Point near Santa Barbara|
SO, ANYWAY, WHERE WERE WE?
Oh, that's right, we left off around hanging out in Hollywood. Okay, so we had nothing book related scheduled for the next day (but wait…we’re getting there…) so Stewart and I headed north along the Pacific Ocean, our destination - Santa Barbara. Before I explain what can be viewed roadside on this drive, I want to tell you about the etiquette of the ‘All American Freeway.'
Hold on while the dramatic music is cuing up…
What a messed up system..! Other than surfing, celebrities and all year round sunshine – Los Angeles is famous for one other thing - traffic – and lots of it. Stewart gave me a brief history lesson in ‘Carpool Lanes’ (a whole inside lane ‘the fast lane’ to you or I) that is solely reserved for cars with a driver and a passenger. Yes, that’s right - if you are driving with another person alongside you, you can sail past the traffic… Most people on the road out here are sole drivers because Los Angeles barely has any public transportation, and the city is so vast and spread out, that driving is necessary; but not quite justifiable. Everybody in LA drives as a result, just to get around and roads resemble a rollercoaster version of our UK ‘Spaghetti Junction’.
Remember, I am British. In the UK we have a solid public transportation system, so I was just not used to NOT having public transport… ALL THE TIME!
The drive to Santa Barbara is varied and ultra scenic, from picturesque red foothills to vast valleys of citrus fruit, you just end up with retina strain trying to soak up the visuals. It was at this point that I remember zoning out and listening to the radio, which was playing an array of Mariachi, I realised a ‘non-point’ that Stewart had been driving with one foot on the dashboard pretty much the whole time we were on the freeway - as most cars in The States are automatics with cruise control, not stick shift like back home. So, yes, just a side note. Sorry.
We took a break at Rincon Point, a famed natural point break surf spot with a horizon and surroundings that has to be witnessed. It’s so beautiful! In total cliché, I perched on some driftwood and cooled myself in the sea breeze watching the surfers hanging for waves and smiling at the passing ladies. Being a fan of our animal friends I was super happy to spot some sea lions swimming alongside the surfers, I rolled up to Stewart grinning and pointing like an idiot to which he informed me is a bad sign, as seals being so close together usually means sharks in the area or at least attracts them in this environment. Oh shit, of course, they have fucking sharks out here, I am petrified of sharks.
We jump back in the car and soon enough we pull into Santa Barbara. We take a walk around and find ourselves on the main high street that is cluttered with cool craft shops, weird high-street bronze statues that look like everyday workers cleaning windows, super high-end designer stores and various eateries. We look around somewhere suitable to feed and find a Vietnamese place, which was just incredible. Planning our next day over a mountain of food, we walked around a little more and headed back to the rental car. It was somewhere along the trip back where I remember I could barely keep my head up…I remember thinking…
“I wonder if I ate something that doesn’t agree with me? I feel like shit!”
I felt like my body was made of lead and I just fell into the deepest sleep, which leads me to my next point; The Mysteries of Jet Lag. The thing about Jet Lag is it is never finished in one sitting; it hits you like a wave and just comes out of nowhere…I’ve never had it that bad visiting the US before, this time it just floored me and pretty much finished me off for the rest of the day. So in the car we climbed and all that I remember was, well, the next day.
The next day, Stewart had arranged for us to go for coffee with a guy called Robert Arce.
If I remember correctly – Robert used to work for SST (Black Flag’s homegrown label) and is currently in the process of making a Black Flag documentary in the vein of 2007’s American Hardcore. We met up and he showed us the trailer on his laptop, it looks like a great project. Over coffee we talked about the string of interviews that Barred For Life had conducted thus far and the interviewees and just general geek Black Flag trivia. We explained to Robert how tough it was for us trying to reach Raymond Pettibon (Greg Ginn’s younger brother, and exceptional artist for Black Flag and others), and Robert kindly he gave us his home address – which happened to be in the Venice Beach area. After a little debating in the car park we decided to just head out there and go knock on his door and see what happens.
An hour later we arrive in Venice Beach, and this is what kind of went down…
There is a fine line between wanting an interview and stalking a man, and both can be risky business. Happily we were not stalking, but Raymond didn't know that. If legend is to be believed, Raymond is notoriously reclusive, so the thought of disturbing him was awkward and weird – but totally worth a shot if we could secure an interview for Barred For Life. So we parked and walked along Venice Beach Boardwalk, which has to be witnessed with all it’s human oddities and accepted pan handling freaks…
We soaked in the visuals and simultaneously psyched ourselves up. Venice Beach is amazing and terrifying all at the same time. It is a melting pot of every type of culture you can imagine, and completely full of whacko’s and chancers. We watched a Jimi Hendrix look-a-like (played a left-handed Stratocaster strung upside down) on the beach, saw the beefcakes pumping iron at the outdoor Gold’s Gym (hilarious), amazing Skateboarding in the bowls and I got totally hustled by some Hip Hop guys giving me a signed ‘free’ CD and then trying to charge me for it. The whole experience of Venice Beach can be summed up as WEIRD.
We finally located Raymond’s house and rang the bell. Dammit, Nobody home. I spotted a telephone book lying next to a gate; we looked him up. R. Pettibon was listed. What the fuck. We called his home number and got his answering machine. His answering machine gave us his studio number, and his receptionist told us he was out with Thurston Moore ‘on the town’. So, we were close. We talked to his gallery rep, we sat on his front stoop. We called his house, and at one point Stewart talked to somebody, who could have been Thurston Moore or David Markey (he was also mentioned along side Thurston Moore by his rep). Well, you can’t win them all. We cut our losses and went to eat gigantic pizza to calm our stomachs, and to give a chance for Stewart to give a call over to Chuck Dukowski (Black Flag’s original bass player), who lived just up the street from Raymond.
Okay, so this is where the story gets even weirder, so I may as well cut it short and pick up from this point next time. Hope that you enjoy the images, and thanks for reading…