Tuesday, July 8

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Who (VH1 Rock Honors)

So me and my wife Robin were on our way to see The Mother-Freaking Who at the Vh1 Rock Honors Taping at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA Campus last night. We're looking forward to a fun evening, with plenty of Foo Fighters, Incubus, Tenacious D, Pearl Jam and for some reason -Flaming Lips - listening to the latest King's X CD in the car we borrowed from my mom when the sound starts to cut out. It's like the CD has a scratch or is dirty or something, so I pull it out and take look. It's brand new, shining, immaculate, like a mirror.

Perfect.

They coulda used this thing on the Hubble.I put it back in and we skip back to where we were on Track 9. It plays fine, until it gets to the exact same point in the song, only now instead of stopping and starting, it starts to sound distorted and scratchy. We don't know what's up. Then the lights on the dash start to dim. Then the car starts to sputter. We're on the 405 headed North in medium heavy traffic, two lanes in - so I start waving at the nitwits behind us to let us over - cuz the power just completely shutoff and we've got no signal lights - and we're rapidly losing speed.

We get to the right lane, and through the red cones for the construction area where their widening the freeway. National Blvd is coming up, we coast down the ramp - stop at the curb. Stuck. I get out and push the 2001 Mustang around the corner, there's a parking lot - Ross Dress for Less - about 40 feet away. Getting up the driveway is a B.Y.T.C.H., but someone from a car behind us gets out and helps me get it up an into the lot. I'm yelling at my wife (cuz the windows are closed and electric) to turn the wheel further so we can get in the closest parking space as I feel my legs start to turn rubbery - she yells back, because she already *is* turning the wheel as far as she can, thank you very much for the power-steering with no power.

Another helpful person, a gal this time, offers to help us with a jump start and even has her own cables. (I forgot people in L.A. could be this decent, but then I remember - I'm in West L.A. and that's practically a different planet from the rest of town!!) We jump. It starts.

HOT DAMN!

We get halfway across the parking lot when a normal L.A. person jumps right out in front of the car and forces us to stop, it's stalls... then dies again. SHIT!

Nice lady with the jumper cables has already split. Hop out. PUSH. Push. Push. Turn turn - Fucking Power Steering again - into a spot. -- whew!

Ok, well this blows donkey nuts.

We had planned to meet two friends from the Foo Fighters Post Board in Westwood for some Sushi, so we call on my cell with the rapidly dying battery and let them know where we are. National and Sepulveda, Ross Dress for Less Lot.

I decide to walk around and see if I can find a Kragen or something to buy a new battery so we can get to the show, and hopefully home. Fortunately I've got some extra cash on me, enough for a battery - but not that much more.

My mom's gonna have a SHIT!!

Nothing. We got CVS, Vons, Shoes, Chicken/El Pollo Loco, McDonald's, Marie Callendars, Well's Fargo, but no auto parts places. I get desperate and check out the automotives sections at Von's (Vons? Yeah, right - What the H.E.Double-Fenders was *I* thinking. Desperation makes you Crazy!!). Motor Oil, Motor Oil, Motor Oil, Transmission Fluid, Motor Oils. FUCK! I try another store - same shit.

Back to the car, our friend Gaby isn't here yet. A trip to CVS across the street - bingo - Jumper Cables for $9.99. Now we're cookin'.

Gaby arrives. It's almost 7pm, we're all starved and the show start at 8pm. Gaby and her friend (ScreenName TaiFoo) paid over each $300 for floor seats -NO WAY is she missing the show. Neither are we. I needed to RockOut! We decide to head to Westwood and maybe see an autoplace along the way. Nothing. I try another call on the near-dead cell, 4-1-1, they tell me there's a Autozone on 1500 S. Sepulveda. We're at the Sushi place at Gayley at the 900 block or so. Six Blocks, give or take the Cemetary and the Federal Building. Do-able. I call. Answering Machine!

SHIT.

Fuck it, I need Sake! Lots.

We sit and eat. Try to talk music. Where did me and Robin, meet? How did we get into music (Is the car going be ok in the lot?) How long we've been married - I don't know I stopped counting the years at double-digits, but it only feels like a few months. Food's done. Sake was weak. I need a Beer!

Call Autozone again. Answering Machine. SHIT!

We head to the show, I suggest Gaby play a track from my Demo CD - that'll calm my nerves, but we're only 2 minutes from the venue. Track 4, "Wannabe" it's only 2 minutes long, almost like a punk song.

It finishes just as we pull up to Pauley Pavilion. Perfect.

We join the rest of the cows, mooing their way to the post-911 weapons screening and pat down. No Sir I don't have a gun, a knife, a digital tape recorder so I can make my own bootleg CD of the show or a camera. Except for the one in my slightly more almost-dead-like piece of shit super-slick and thin RaZor, that gets lousy reception - Thank You Very Much T-Immoble.

Inside.Find seat. Good view, except for giant TV Boom Crane right in front of us.
(Is it the Battery or the Alternator?) Show starts, David Duchovny opens things. Perfect choice, only guy who Rocks as hard as the Who with his new role on Showtime's Californication (Fuck the Peppers, he Fornicates very damn well on that show)

Foo's up first. Rocking Hard on "Young Man Blues" then "Bargain" Taylor sings lead on a bridge. Vocalist from Supergrass comes up with them and does a couple songs. Pretty good. (I"m thinking it's probably the Alternator, since we lost power while driving on the freeway) Foo's done. Too short.

Next up Flaming Lips with some Tommy. Jack Black intro's them in full Elton John Pinball Getup. ReDonkulous. Singer's standing in a Giant Reservoir Tip, like John Travolta as the Boy in the Bubble. Isolated from the world like the Deaf, Dumb and Blind Boy Tommy. Clever. Kinda. He leans forwards and starts to crowd surf in the bubble. Kewl. Unfortunately he gets back on the stage, and his crew gets him out of the bubble.(If it's the Alternator, I'm going to have to still get a charge or a replacement battery and I have no idea of mom has Triple-A) Damn, I wanted him to do the whole set that way - would've taken my mind off the singing. Band is tight though. Good job.

The sound is a lot quieter than I'm used to at Rock Shows, probably because it's really a TV show taping in a small Arena. Sound re-enforcement is only a fraction of what I'm used to seeing. A few ceiling speakers, hmm, right in the path of the boom Camera - that could get ugly!

I still need a Beer, but when I went to the concession stand I didn't see any. I notice people with some yellowish fluid in their cups. Might there be BEER?! I head back to concessions, and it turns out the fluid - is RED BULL. Oh, that's what it looks like - eeww. No wonder I drink Sparks instead! Rock without Beer is just - just - InHUMAN. What's this world coming too, soon they'll start having Rock Shows without WEED! Back to me seat. Bummer. Too bad I don't smoke weed, but sometimes it's the thought that counts.

Incubus Next. "I can see for Miles" Kick Ass. Brandon can sing his hairy ass off.

Tenacious D does Squeeze Box. Funny shit. (Ok, so if Autozone is still open, I can buy a battery, get home and deal with the probable Alternator problem later, except we have to buy our groceries tomorrow. Ugh. If Autozone is close, or we have to go all the way to Santa Monica for Kragen, we're fuCked!)

Pearl Spam (Yeah, they got so pretentious they totally lost me after "Ten") shows up with a string section for "Love, Reign o'er Me" and "The Real Me". Thank God Eddie left his guitar at home, him timing and articulation sucks. You got two perfectly good guitar players already dude, why fuck it up? Sounds great. Nice screaming. A little freak-show but nice. PJ still got it, even if they've been hiding it in the closet for the last decade in a half.

Adam Sandler shows up and does one of his sing-re-song things, to intro the Big Boys using the tune of the song "Magic Bus" When did this guy learn to sing? I've seen "The Wedding Singer" - who stole Adam Sandlers crappy voice and replaced it with this? Oh, and his guitar play is nice too - subtle and evocative. I almost didn't notice what he was actually saying.

That's when The WHO just explode onto the Stage with "Baba O'Reilly", and remind everybody who invented more than half the shit people try to do these days. Everybody forgets that Hendrix burned his guitar because he was trying to Out Do Pete Townsend at Monterey Pop. Nobody outdoes Pete. Daltrey's still got it at 64. He aint dead, and he never got old. The songs flow by, one dazzling hit after another. All the CSI Songs - man, some of that stuff is cool.

Girl in the next seat over offers us some Weed - Ok, NOW I'm at a Rock Show. We say "No", but at least I know people are finally getting thier groove on.

And then halfway through "You Better, You Bet" - the band stops.

They Lost Power!

"Shit Happens" says Daltrey.

No shit. I don't think this part is getting on TV. They go back and restart the song from the beginning. (Maybe, I can use the jumper cable with Gaby's car and at least get the battery temporarily recharged enough to get us home... Hm, not likely) The set lasts until 10:30, pretty decent length considering they had Five opening acts.

Show ends, we head to meet Gaby at our designated rendezvous point. My pants vibrate. Cell phone. Text Message from Gaby, they're waiting for the Stars to exit near Door 10. I go scope it out since my wife has knee problem and is wearing a brace. It's on the complete other side of the arena. Crap. Walk back and get Robin, gingerly make our way over the where the red carpet remains are scattered about like a deer carcass after a lion feast.

Find crowd of autograph and photo people. A few of them have boxes and boxes of glossies with this star/celebrity or that one at thier fingertips for autographs. Wow. Stalk Much!

Oh, well - I've waited hours sometimes for bands I really dig - and consquently met them and in a few cases became friends, but at the same time I've never been a celebrity chaser. I grew up in L.A., and sometimes you have to watch where you step around here or you mind have your foot in some A or B-lister on the way out of the mall. I've seen most of the people from the original 90210 show in Tex/Mex Bars or buying gossip magazines about thier co-stars as they giggle.

They're all just people, people.

Dave Grohl's already gone, somebody says. Taylor swings through in a blur. Townsends already gone. We hang out. Rent-a-Security tries to intimidate everyone. "Get Back. Everybody Clear Out" We don't move. He gives up. Mike McCready of the Spam goes by. Man! He's short. Eventually Jack Irons and Stone Gossard. Ament sprints past with a wave. Roger Daltrey shows up with some cool looking shades and signs autographs. Man, he's short! (Ok, so can we leave the car out there overnight without it getting towed, if I can't get it started? How much are towing fees these days... gotta be a shitload. Crap, how's long is this going to take?)

Brandon Boyd comes through and signs everything. I go up and mention the first time I saw the 'bus opening 13 years ago at HOB for 24-7 Spyz. Weird evening. I was there with Oscar Jordan (see my Top Friends), and he actually walked out during the Spyz set, largely because they had gotten back with their original singer P. Fluid and he was sounding like crap. Eventually he voice gave out completely and guitarist Jimi Hazel took over and did a ton of tracks from their "Strength In Numbers" CD. It was like somebody finally tuned on the light switch. Hallelujah - I can SEE again!

Anyway...

Eventually Eddie (The Billy Goat Immitator) Vedder finally comes by, with his security barking orders at the fans. "ONLY ONE ITEM, NO PICTURES!" Geez, that's like pathetic he has to have protection like that. Some people really need to calm down, he's just a singer - ok? Eddie was real nice, but I got nothing to say to him and don't care about pics or autographs.

The crowd breaks up, we head back to the car with Robin limping along. Back to National and Sepulveda, where I try to jump the 'Stang again. It takes me a good 15 minutes to find the connectors on Gaby's Audi-Suv in the dark. We even break out the owners manual. Eventually I start use my cell as a lightsource - well at least this thing is good for *something*. Hook it up. Try to start.

Bzzzzzt! Shit!

Let it run awhile, try again....

Bzzzzzt! SHIT!

Ok, fine. I give up. That's it I'm done. I've been through a LOT, and I do mean a LOT of dead battery situations. This shit is over. Finito. "It's Dead, Jim". I tried my best, and it simply wasn't gonna happen. Gaby offers to give us a lift home. Thanks. I let her keep the CD. We leave the car, hoping that it'll still be there in the morning. This'll be fun to explain to Mom. We get home at about 1:30am. No point in waking her up now, nothing we can do.

I wake up about 9am, call my uncle who pretty mechanical - he stops by. Mom's up (Oh Shit!) We finally tell us what's up.

"WHAT!!!!!!!!!!???"

Yeah... it's like that. We head back up to West L.A., I'm just hoping and praying the car isn't on blocks or something - but being West L.A, it's more likely to be decorated with bright puce bows or something.

We arrive. It's fine. All it's fenders and hub-caps are still intact. FuCk YES!

Mom's still pissed. Figures.

We pop the hood and almost immediately my uncle spots the massive corrosion on the Alternator wire.

"Well, there's your problem, right there!"

Yep, we need a new Alternator. Oh, and as it turns out Mom DOES have Triple-A, with "Plus" so the car can be towed all the way home (about 25 miles) FOR FREE!!!!

OH, CRAP. I spent all night, all night - only half-enjoying a Once-In-A-LifeTime CONCERT worrying about how much things were going to cost to get the car home and running when we could have had it TOWED FOR FREE!

Never. not once. not a single time did she ever mention she had Triple-A. We borrow that car every week, we've had flat tires in it - we've had dead batteries before. Fixed it ourselves every time. Every. Single. Time.

...and she's got Triple-A the whole time and didn't tell us.

Ok, fine. I"m not mad - I just finished putting in the New Alternator before I began writing this, but unfortunately we need to recharge the battery. Groceries are post-poned. I still need a Beer, and now I'm going to Frackin' Get ONE!

"Shit Happens." Yes, it does Roger - yes it does.

Vyan