Secret Pop

Feb 14, 2005

disco dancing, archery, rape, and table tennis

Friday night, Martín and I went to Good Luck Bar. Chinese New Year is one of those events that has a comet-like tail, trailing on for a week or two after the actual date. Maybe because it's on the lunar calendar and most Western folk can't get a bead on when it is until they see a Chinese restaurant with something festive out front, and by that time, it's crept right up and passed them. And honestly, what Chinese restaurant doesn't have something festive out front at any given time of the year? Unless it's one of those Chinese places that has lost touch with its kitschy roots and models its decor after the interior of any Doubletree Hotel.

Good Luck Bar was still celebrating, as were the rain-splattered folk in Los Feliz. We sat in that living room area for a while, but there was an obnoxious group in our corner whose numbers were growing and whose obnoxiousness was proportionately following suit. So we got a little table in the main bar area and drank a few drinks and told a few stories and laughed a lot. Like we do. The hems of my jeans were wet from walking through puddles and the little rivers that form on the pedestrian crossings. The water runs in diamonds, crossing back against itself with every little bump in the asphalt. It's pretty. But no matter how high my heels are, I can't seem to keep my pants -- or my toes -- dry.

We stopped by Fatburger on the way home, and the jukebox started playing Beat It, and we both agreed that the Thriller album alone absolves Michael Jackson of any wrongdoing. And frankly, it's the parents of those kids who have something to answer for, if you ask me. Even if nothing untoward had ever happened, sending their young children to go sleep over at a grown man's house unsupervised is hardly the essence of good parenting. Bears wouldn't do it. This is one in what may end up being a string of examples of why I think we should look to bears for life lessons. But I'm not sure yet.

Jessie and I had breakfast at Nick's on Saturday morning before going to Hollywood to sign up for our next workshop. We talked about starting a band. We make each other laugh, and we rock out in the car when we're driving. (We sing the loudest to Peter Cetera.) The MP3 CD I had playing has a few different versions of that song Tonight, You Belong to Me on it. A Lawrence Welk-y one came on, and I reminded Jessie that she had heard this song in The Jerk, and then she quoted something from The Jerk, and so I skipped ahead a hundred songs or so to the version with Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters singing. I love pretty harmonies. And when Bernadette starts playing the cornet, it's my favorite part.

I do that. I collect songs. If there are a number of different cover versions of a song that is precious to me, I like to have them all. Or at least hear them all. These days, there are cover versions of songs that came out within the calendar year, so it's hard to keep up. But there are certain songs that I love to hear, no matter who is singing them. Try to Remember is one of them. And Alone Again Or. And of course the one I was just talking about. I think there are three different renditions of that song just on that one MP3 mix.

Anyway, I was sorry I had to rush, but I had to get to San Diego, and looming commitments take all the fun out of a Saturday.

I was invited to go to a Valentine's banquet at my parents' church. I had originally been asked to sing, but I had to be at UCSD by 8 p.m., and I haven't really entirely gotten my voice back since the cold I had around the holidays. I'm beginning to wonder if I will keep the scratchy break in my upper register for the rest of my days. It makes it difficult to sing ABBA songs. Which is something I do with great frequency. So Beulah and I ducked out of the dinner early and headed out in the rain, tiptoeing through slick grass and treacherous mud to get to the Price Center Ballroom to see Ira Glass, who was wonderful, as you would expect him to be.

There were sign language interpreters on stage with him, as a courtesy to a deaf person in the audience, who happened to be sitting directly in front of us. Sign language is really cool to watch, but I am sort of curious about the facial expressions and words that get mouthed by all the performers of this elaborate dance that I have ever seen. They really take expression to the next level. You can kind of understand it contextually strictly on the basis of the faces they make. Which are often comical.

To illustrate the value of empathy in a story, Ira Glass played a clip about a guy who mistook a midget for a little girl in a particularly embarrassing way. It is right up there in league with the "I Hear a Robot" story that Beulah tells (and that I retell to nearly everyone I meet). Ira Glass' clip included a crab walk. Beulah's story does not. But they are both gold on the universal stock market of saying the wrong thing.

I drove Beulah home, then I went back out into the rain to pick up Yen and meet John Meeks at Nunu's. As soon as we walked in the door, a cheerful girl admired my skirt and told me I was so cute that she had to have a hug. So I hugged her. And then Yen and I picked a bunch of songs on the jukebox but never got to hear them. That is my least favorite thing. Our table was crazy wet with the drippings of the myriad drinks that had been drunk (and spilled) there. And I was wearing very fancy shoes.

I had a Chinese New Year-observant dim sum lunch with my family on Sunday before driving back home to Los Angeles. My mother gave us red bags. I did a tiny bit of laundry. I smoked a cigarette in the hope that it might keep me from falling asleep during my drive. But that wasn't the best plan. I was very tired. I am on the road a lot. I may die on it one day. Just by way of statistics. I may also die on horseback, but this is much less likely. As I am allergic to (and a little bit afraid of) horses and haven't been on the back of one since a very early stage of girlhood. I'm no prophet, though. For all I know, I will die in a gum factory. I remember seeing a film about one on Sesame Street many years ago. And it looked fascinating and peril-ridden. I can think of a handful of ways I might meet my doom if ever I was to wander into one.

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