Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tattoos like NASCAR Logos


No one in the industry didn’t quite seem to know what time it was, but that was nothing new. Jay always figured that it was just too easy for everyone to become hypnotized by the immediacy of everything. The giant cheerleaders in those beer ads, stood in the back of the convenience stores guarding the coolers, and posed satisfied and confident and could radiate the promise of Friday night. Domestic cars were modeled after some Californian dream that didn’t seem to quite work out, just like those Skatemental ads advertised mastery of the conquered territory- mastery of unconquered so cal skate land. As miners rushed West looking for unstaked claim decades ago, now all those skater boys pushing around on their personal, semi-customized pedestals mounted on roller wheels, flocked to Los Angeles to execute all those undocumented Sk8 maneuvers, at all those wildly trendy skate spots. And as progression drove the sport, things eventually became distorted and the status quo grew into something more grotesque. Tattoos like NASCAR logos decorated those pro’s arms, telling the amateur riders how to act and dress- telling all those other kids who would have to get normal jobs how to permanently decorate their skin, making it even harder for them to find gainful employment.

Jay excused himself from the office, supposedly just to go take Banjo home, and with a tone in his voice that hints of guilt- says to the other workers in sales he was going to return, even though it was well past five and he wasn’t even technically bound to come back nor didn’t have any intention of doing so.

All Jay wanted to do was simply go home and pass out, but when he finally got to his apartment, he was too restless and frazzled from the coke, couldn’t even try to lie down.

Jay got into his Volvo, started to drive aimlessly around Santa Monica and then found himself driving out to LAX. Jay parks in the half occupied parking garage, takes mental note of the zone his car is in, immediately forgets the zone’s code, walks through the airport, past the airline confirmation clerks, past airport security (even though he still has the empty silver vial on him) and eventually finds himself at the airport coffee shop. Jay orders a decaffeinated coffee, sits close to the window so he can see planes take off, and occasionally glances at last week’s New Yorker, which he brought with him from the car. After finishing his coffee, looking through all the comics and not being able to concentrate on any specific feature, Jay finds himself wondering around the rest of the airport, walking past the terminals, seeing all the pedestrians pulling on their wheeled suitcases, wondering why the suitcase companies didn’t use some thicker urethane type skate wheel instead of those tiny flimsy hard plastic ones. Jay walks up to a kiosk for no reason in particular and as he studies the graphic of the airport layout he looks up and notices a tall handsome woman with perfectly long straight brunette hair like Stephanie Seymour, wearing a woman’s business suit, nervously and proactively walking on a sidewalk that looks like a long treadmill. Jay keeps his eyes affixed to the thick red and blue and green lines of the airport map and occasionally darts them back at the woman and wonders if she is actually from LA or returning home elsewhere. Jay tries not to stare too long or look too conspicuous and as he can’t stop looking back at her, he mentally constructs the details of her life. Jay imagines her having some boyfriend or husband who also wears suits to airports and it then becomes easy for him to automatically imagine all the ways her hypothetical mate would naturally be better than him. Jay slowly walks through the food court, past the gift shops and past all the magazine stands, and finds slight reassurance in all the commerce, comfort from the sanitized sleekness of the airport and Jay can feel the collective air of anticipation around of going someplace else. Even if Jay had the time and the money, he still couldn’t know where to go. Even in his fantasies, Jay would get lost in the logistics of how it could all be possible, until it all seemed too unbelievable and the perceived impossibility would eventually make his mind drift into thinking about something else. Jay walked back to the car anticlimactically, pulled out and absent-mindedly pays the attendant so that the border stick could rise up so that the Volvo could proceed back into Los Angeles. Jay motored pass the hotels and inns around the airport and gets the sudden urge to rent a room, in hopes he could feel like he was some where else. Instead, Jay just drives back to Santa Monica, back to his apartment, eventually collapsing down onto his bed without taking off his clothes, not pulling himself under the covers and finally passes out.

Fractured dreams pass through Jay’s head like a torrent, feeding off the margins of his mind, bringing in ideas that sometimes seem to come from some place else. His nervous dreams were without plot. Running was like wading through neck high water. The dream’s narrative was in the first person and then switched into Jay watching from somewhere else a far. People he tried to talk to morphed into different characters and sometimes Jay’s thoughts and actions were unlikely and unexplainable. If Jay was ever in search of something specific within that dream, he never found it and right when the dream seemed as if it was just about to reach a point of closure or climax, Jay reluctantly wakes up.

Jay wakes with sheet marks on his face, blazer still on, his head feeling dizzy and hollow. Jay’s mind futilely tried to trick itself into not being depressed but when he got up and walked towards the kitchen he gave up and resigned himself to the fragile emotional hangover he would simply wade out for the next day or so.

“Maybe there would be someway to enjoy the depression, “ Jay though to himself.

Dehydrated, Jay twisted his head underneath the faucet and sucked water out in big gulps, until he had to stop and catch his breath. If he wouldn’t have been so sick, quenching his thirst would have probably been the best feeling- but now the sudden gush of water hurt his insides going down and he felt like he was on the verge of drowning.

With the faucet still running, Jay turns his head and sees Banjo politely trotting towards the front door, hinting that he too also needed to go to the bathroom.

Jay slipped into his bucks, pushed down on the backs with his heels-wearing them down like slippers. Looking for Banjo’s leash, Jay scuffed the floor lazily and finds the leash tangled inside a blanket on the couch. Jay grabs his keys from the counter and notices that his answering machine has unchecked messages, but decides that taking Banjo for a walk, gaining his bearing is higher priority and leaves the machine helplessly blinking.

Jay opened the front door of the apartment and instantly felt the cool air of the Pacific and was conscious of the sound the ocean made, as it’s muffled hiss rushed into the apartment’s threshold.

It was a newish day and although it was a bit late to be just getting out, Jay could still take some comfort looking at the immaculate atmosphere, the perfect light coming through the cloudless sky - Jay feeling slight reprieve, just for the moment not fully focusing on his hangover.

The clasp on Banjo’s collar optimistically clinked against itself as Jay trotted Banj down Santa Monica Boulevard. A selfish, too loud motorcycle sped against them- leaving a trail of drone which sent a crescendo passing them and then faded out down the Boulevard as the bike ascended past.

Jay lived within walking distance to Jon’s Coffee Shack- a small green painted satellite stand, situated to the right of and also owned by chic, Hotel Sonoma. Jay tied Banjo to the pole out front and could hear “You, don’t have to call me darlin, darlin”, coming through the white mini outdoor speakers, which were installed outside in the top corners of the tiny coffee booth. Jay sees Corrine working inside the stand and instinctually acts like he doesn’t notice her, try’s to maintain an air of casual breeziness – as if he’s solely concentrating on his drink order. Jay hums to himself innocently, tapping his finger against his jean as he eventually switches to the front of the line.

Corrine turned around from the espresso machine, holding a sparkling sugar sprinkled scone with a pair of clear yellow colored tongs, delicately slid it in a tiny brown paper sleeve and handed it to the older man standing next to Jay. Corrine’s eyes aim at Jay and casually notices him as if anything in her peripheral vision usually goes unnoticed.

“Hey, how’s it going?” asks Corrine.

“Oh, what’s up? Nothing. Just getting out of the house and stuff…. Just taking Banjo for a walk!” says Jason optimistically.

Corrine leans up to the small pristinely lacquered natural blond wood counter, looks out at Banjo, “Yeah, so I see……… So, what can I get you?”

“Um, I think I’ll…um, give me… give me an iced red eye…redeye, with half a squirt of peppermint and uh…. what breakfast taco’s do yall have?”

“We’re all sold out of the breakfast tacos, got to come a bit earlier on weekends to catch them.” Says Corrine, naggingly.

“Oh, dang, well I guess just give me the red eye and then that’s it!” Says Jason, overly suggestive by the tone in his voice that the coffee shack running out of tacos is not much of an inconvenience to him.

“…Guess I’ll just pick something out at Milo’s.”, says Jason out loud and to himself, superfluously.

Jason felt the slight skepticism coming through Corrine’s clear thick frames. “ You feeling all right, Jay? You look a little tired,” says Corrine like the stoner police.

Jay forced himself to look Corrine directly in the eyes, as to somehow convey himself with assurance,“ What? Yeah. Oh, no yeah I’m tired all right. ……. Yeah - been a crazy week at work.” Says Jason solemnly.

“Yeah, I bet…” says Corrine, then interrupting herself, “ Oh, did you say iced red eye with a shot of peppermint?”

“Um, yeah- no, that sounds really good!” answers Jay with slightly too much emphasis.

Corrine turns her back to him and Jay bobs up and down on his ankles, fingers still tapping on his jean. Jay looked at Corrine, now with her back turned to him and studied the red stitches of the frumpy skirt she had on, a garment which looked like she could have suttered herself, or perhaps put together at her apartment.

Jay concentrated on the lyrics coming from out the speaker: “You don’t even call me by my name.”

Corrine pours the espresso from a small metal container into a clear expensive looking plastic to-go cup, grabs the bottle of syrup from the shelf underneath the espresso maker and pours what looks like a little more than half a shot of peppermint into the drink.

“So what have you been up to?” Asks Jay, addressing a personal question to Corrine, taking the emphasis away from the burden of feeling slightly guilty for having her wait on him.

“Oh, Me and Michelle are renting that space the old glass studio used to be in from Cindy and setting up a yoga studio and store front to sell clothes and homemade stuff we’ve been making.”-Corrine slightly warming up, clearly getting a bang out of talking about the blue print for her unsustainable business.

“Oh, good!” said Jason encouragingly, accidentally staring a bit too long at Corrine’s bangs, which for some reason are a lighter than the rest of her hair.

“Yeah, we’ve been making our own soap and been selling it every other Sunday at Reaux. We’re gonna have fairs in the back of the new space and invite people to set up booths to sell their art and homemade stuff. Serena is talking about opening up an Indian food trailer and has also gotten really good at making crepes, so she might be using the space in the back too.” says Corrine.

“Oh, wow. So are you going to be having err, teaching, yoga on weekdays?” asks Jason quizzically.

“Yeah, Jade and Lauren are also gonna be instructors, so were gonna rotate, probably just have classes in the evenings for now.” Says Corrine.

Corrine continues, “Anyways, my boyfriend Rick has been helping out a lot and he’s been finishing up the place and also screen printed flyers and shirts and posters at his guild.” Corrine pauses. “ You know, my boyfriend Rick, don’t you?”

Jay humming in contemplation: “Um, No I don’t think I do.” Jay knowing full well that he didn’t know Corrine's boyfriend, yet still for some reason felt compelled to act like he was sorting through his head to see if he had ever met some “Rick”, doing this out of some fake courtesy to Corrine.

“Yeah. It’s really coming along nice. We just mounted two big mirrors on the main wall and right now were working on installing some balance bars.” Continues Corrine.

“Oh, nice!” Jay getting the feeling from the way Corrine pauses that he’s coming across as slightly foolish – a side affect, a post cocaine induced exuberance, Jay having a hard time gauging the intensity of his response.

Jay continues lightly: “ Yeah I’m totally out of shape myself. Maybe I can start coming out?” Jay not meaning what he’s saying, not actually wanting to take yoga classes at Corrines’s hypothetical studio, but was just more steering the conversation as to take the focus off his last statement.

“Yeah, you should.” says Corrine tentatively, almost too fast for a normal response. “Were trying to get a group together. It’s probably gonna start next month from like around 7:30 to 9:30 on either Mondays and Wednesdays or Thursdays and Saturdays. It’s gonna be fun and afterwards well be making Mojitos and playing records.”

“Gotcha” says Jay as if he’s making a major mental note.

Claire sliding the redeye onto the lacquered wooden counter asks dryly “Would you like anything else?”

“Um, no that will be it for me.” Says Jay dismissively, in his easy, accidental country accent.

“Then, that will be six twenty five.” Says Corrine, looking down pressing a button on the credit card machine as if she’s conveniently clearing some setting.

Jay hands Corrine the ten forcibly and backs away suggesting the rest is tip and Corrine says “Thanks”. Corrine saying “Thanks”, ad hearing to some common courtesy, a tone in her voice was hinting she’s actually more accessible than she lets on, as if she really was more allies and less rival to Jay- as if their interactions could be less guarded (even though they really couldn’t).

Jay though that Corrine was for the most part, anti Jay. Every time now when he sees Corrine, he always thinks about that one time he got drunk at the coffee stand (which really isn’t the best place to drink beer).

That one day months ago, Jay was leaning on the counter for what seemed like minutes, for once making somewhat easy conversation with Corrine while she dutifully did dishes in that impossibly tiny metal sink inside the booth.

Then that very same day, which was on a month Jay couldn’t quite remember because LA had no seasons and everyday looked the same, taking Jay by surprise, suddenly and coincidentally and out of nowhere, former retired vert vet Trent Daniels walks up to the coffee stand.

The last time Jay saw Trent was at the shitty public skate park way out in Fullerton, the park built by Grindtime, that park that selfishly allocated way too much concrete and space for all those irrelevant vert bowls, all those over -vert cradles. That last time at the park in Fullerton, seemingly without any provocation on Jay’s part got bombarded with heckles from Trent and his homies. Trent’s homies, the park’s crew of crusty pad old guard vert locs, with their fake ripped jeans, their generic vans, their Beer coolers, wearing their Ramones t-shirts that you could tell they were very proud of- were all sad middle aged caricatures of their former gloried teenaged selves.

Jay even got vibed for wearing his Smiths shirt by one of Trent’s homies’ girlfriends. As she walked by Jay sitting on his board on the ground, she passes him and obnoxiously greets him with a “Heeeeey!”- in a falsetto mock gay voice -insinuating Jay was a fag for listening to the Smiths (that dumb bitch, completely unaware of Telch Asherton’s mesmerizing part in the Clutch-V promo which had dropped around that time- had used the song “Speedway”, by Morrissey).

Later, Jay heard those slight comments again, clearly aimed at him, said right before he would drop into the pool . Those comments meant to distract and jibe him while he was trying his best to navigate around the vert walls, those giant walls that also gave him slight vertigo rolling up them. Although Jay could probably out skate Trent or any of Trent’s homies in any other scenario, this time he was a bit out of his element skating that slippery Dogbowl replica, that faux drained pool with that extra gnarly coping mixed with rocks and pebble sediment- the coping, purposefully poured so that it was rougher and scarier to get up and grind on. That coping that every time someone would grind it, a loud “klaaaaaack” could be heard through out the gated pavilion, sounding like a lawn mower blade getting caught on a curb.

Jay knew the public park was a step back for skateboarding though, obviously indicated by their strict rule requiring helmets. That park in Fullerton, the only concrete park in LA to have a helmet law (it was named after the lawyer family who donated the money for the park). The whole park was enclosed around a gated fence and employed aggressivly overbearing public works staff who seemed more than glad to enforce their puny helmet rule, to monitor the park and issue citations for smoking, drinking, cursing or not adhering to what constituted as their general park rules.

Leave it to a lawyer to take something that generally represents freedom, and danger and the quest for individuality and they require everyone fill out waivers, get laminated badges, and have skaters wavers before they could even come through the gate. Fuck the Lee and Joe Jamil family!

Originally, Jay felt he was at least making an honest attempt to stretch himself, humbly taking part in what the local skate community was offering (he wasn’t even technically pro anymore). Jay, conscious of himself compromising his taste and values by going along with what the general public’s interpretation of the sport was- knowingly going along with people who he knew had more ways and means than experience, people completely unqualified, who had no business shaping the direction of the culture.

Jay wore his roommate’s biking helmet (Jay did’nt even own a skateboarding helmet), in a pathetic hope of trying to be the bigger person, momentarily giving up everything he had learned up until then, putting away the notion of looking cool for skate boarding’s sake, eschewing his punk rock roots in the name of safety and comforminty - all for neutralized mainstream assimilation.

Against Jay’s better instincts, trying to participate in something that was supposedly positive for the community, tryed to assimilate himself with the clueless public, because wasn’t promoting exercise a good thing in itself? Maybe breaking down the barriers of skateboarding’s exclusivity could be of a greater good to the public? Instead it all just ended up exposing itself for the bastardization of something that used to kinda sort of matter.

Trent and his crew added insult to injury, totally harshed that session completely. Trent and all his over weight, middle aged weekend warriors with their giant luxury pick up trucks, their jet skis, their generically hot wives, listening to the predictable Slayer and Metallica. Those grown men looking like giant babies, voluntarily wearing their knee pads and elbow pads and wristguards, making the skate zone feel like a locker room, which only seemed to fuel Jay’s ever increasing ennui.
That day, Jay left the park Fullerton park exhausted, holding the helmet by the chinstrap tired- the biking helmet dangling almost close enough to scrape the ground.

So at Joe’s Coffee Stand, that day- when Jay saw Trent walk up to the stand, Jay being as buzzed as he was, felt that Trent, now alone without his team, was now in Jay’s territory. Jay having Corrine as an audience for his scathing of Trent, may have even slightly fueled him, taking Trent by surprise while Trent looked slightly scared- with even a slight innocence in his face. Trent said nothing as if he had no idea what Jay was talking about, like he had not the slightest notion which former pro skateboarder Jay was.

Jay’s mind was drunk and racing, Jay making a scene in front of Corine, talking out way too loud, commenting and attacking Trent’s need to wear knee pads and elbow pads; something about how they underminded the basic tennents of function - how Trent and his skateboarding were less dangerous.

Jay did’nt remember exactly everything he said, but what he did remember was the last thing he said, as Trent backed away cautiously after getting his to-go drink.

Trent’s surprise scathing ended some where along the lines of Jay saying: “…and that’s the difference between you and me Trent!”

Jay feeling justified, slightly liberated, vindicated from the last incident at the Fullerton park, feeling as if for once he got the last word in, the final one up on Trent. Jay felt like he didn’t miss a beat- his punctuation and timing seeming almost perfect, felt like he was on a successful pilot for a television show about himself, a clip from a scene in a trailer to the movie for his life.

Unexpectedly, right when Trent exited, that day months ago, Jay felt cast into sudden hell when he looked back at Corrine staring back at him unimpressed- a piercing quality of frustration and indifference coming from her black eyes through the clear frames of her retro eyeglasses, now very well making it clear that Jay overstepped some imaginary boundary of talking shit to whom she would most likely refer to as “her customers”- Corrine taking all the air out of Jay’s small victory.

Just before Jay had a chance to explain the situation, that very same day months ago, Corrine cut Jay off and says to him: “Go home Jay, please go home.”


No comments:

About Me

My photo
Houston, Texas
Be kind, because everyone you'll ever meet is fighting a hard battle.