The mirror traffic pulsed against the dawn on the rear view in front of him and there on the 5, just as anywhere else, but especially in LA, everyone was so afraid to merge onto freeways because people never gave leeway. Cars violently glided towards each other like effigies of the people driving them and how they drove reflected something kind of hidden in everyone, something that which set the beat to everyone’s actions; time was burning, people had somewhere to be and if you got in the way, you were getting run over. Those who couldn’t drunk drive responsibly ruined it for the rest who could and highways just became one sprawling, dysfunctional vein, where bad decisions spilled accidents and bled deaths onto itself.
Everyone suffered together on those concrete lanes. Tracks that in Jay’s dreams morphed into rollercoastered hills, turned upside down into giant looped mega ramps which dangerously shot him out into the void of the dish water light sky. Even in those dreams, Jay suffered through the purchasing sins of those who still insisted on spending their money on the same sedans that the police used -and the freeway would fill with nothing but them and fool dreaming Jay, causing him panic when he looked into the rearview mirror and sees an army of fake police driving behind him.
Jay numbly looked out the window as if he was passing through some dream location, noticed Mexicans climbing out on a billboard, draping the next advertisement as a giant nylon sheet over the top edge, and it seemed as if the first time Jay had actually ever seen this done; as tattooing the sky this way looked more dangerous than how he would have originally imagined.
Jay didn’t remember where they said they were going, but the kids driving were on the way to someplace like Eclipse, Shangri LA, Amnesia, Land’s End, or Ottobar, Inferno, Chinois or Engine Room, Hemisphere, Cardi’s or maybe even Shanghaied off Rudson.
Jay sat silent there in the car’s cabin between the talk of the kids: talk about fire wire, talk about people Jay didn’t know, talk about Joe Valdez almost killing himself trying to double torkie the corner at China Banks, talk about the premier after party they were on their way to; the premiere celebrating the completion of the documentary, TURBO’D- a videography trying to pass itself off as a film, about a once popular professional freestyle rollerskateboarder dealing with his career becoming obsolete by hacking his girlfriend and her mother up into medium sized pieces, putting both of them in surfboard duffel bags (which had probably been given to him for free by some courting sponsor), and storing them inside a beer cooler outside of Torrance.
Jay sat uncomfortably numb, felt just like what he imagined Hank Williams felt when Hank OD’d in the back of his Cadillac while on tour. Jay sat languidly there in the back seat next to some other kid he didn’t know, mentally balancing his checkbook to see if he still had enough to get a gram. Jay tallied in his head, sacrificed grocery money, thought about the deferred Hetch Hetchy water bill, accounted for electricity to be paid even later and he still came up short. He kind of had enough to buy a gram, he could actually buy a gram, but then he probably would only have enough for probably only one cheap beer, minus tip-which was no big deal anyways, because Jay never really minded not tipping bartenders.
Jay thought maybe by the time he got re blasted into the stratosphere onto the tail of the white comet of some new yackcaine (if this was even possible after the Merc) he could then be conveniently hopped up enough to somehow manipulate free drinks. It wasn’t like Jay was a coke fiend per sae, he just kinda became one when he did it and reluctantly snorting all that minor that last couple of days- but especially the Merc, had opened up that pleasure seeking receptor sight in his brain which ruthlessly sought out any kind of rush no matter the cost.
“Jay.” said the kid driving, who’s name Jay didn’t know, though Jay acted like he did when he met him tens of minutes ago, even though there was no real logical reason for Jay to pretend to know the kid- but Jay pathetically felt obligation to feign recognition of a stranger who recognized him only because of Jay’s Q level celebrity status.
Jay still looking out at the window, off at nothing in particular, seemingly unaware of anything immediately around him, detached, unimpressed by the beautiful landscape. The kid driving called his name out again.
“Jaaaaaaay.” Said a close up of the kid’s lips in slow- low motion pitch.
“So what, Jay Lee? Seen that RHYTMN video, yet?” said the kid driving, as he looked back at Jay through the rear view, approximating a certain cheerfulness that tried to justify Jay riding in the back seat of his car.
“What’s it Called?” asked the kid, like he actually knew the answer, but was still conferring with the other kid sitting shotgun.
“Genesis.” Said the other in the back seat next to Jay, answering out blankly –almost to no one in particular.
“No. Yeah, Genesis. What, you like seen Genesis?”
The only sounds remaining in the cabin were from the freeway air passing through the poorly sealed cabin and the rhythmic thump of the tires bumping over the gaps between the slat sections.
“Jay, you alright there.” Asked the kid driving.
“What?” Jay asked back, suddenly, over-cautiously, an unjustified tone in his voice.
“The RHYTMN video, man. Rhytmn.” said the kid.
“ Rhytmn? You know, like Ryan Bartsma?” asked the kid back again optimistically.
“Bartsma, Jay.” Repeated the kid again, “Bartsma. Ya know.”
“Bartsma.” Said Jay back vacantly, softly, as if the word Bartmsa was just some un-amusing piece of food between his teeth. He sat still there preoccupied, sickly looking out the window, lost while his thoughts trailed back off into hypothetical coke prospects.
“Nah, no…just what, like are you more into Eastern Seaboard cartridge documentation or all the new stuff coming out of Europe? Cliché? Palace?” the kid pressed, sounding like someone who read the back pages of the rollerboarding funny papers too much.
“What!” said Jay suddenly going from near comatose to defensive, paranoid.
“Clichay?… PAL-ace?” asked the kid back, cautiously.
“Like, I don’t even know what you’re talking about, man. ”, Jay responding back authoritatively, with the same unjustified distain in his voice.
Jay turned his head shell shocked, resumed looking out the window past the hills, as if he was searching for somebody.
“What! Like, you don’t like Palace!” the kid pressing back, revealing a bit too much enthusiasm in his voice, when he probably shouldn’t have. His hand was clamped onto the steering wheel with a cigarette between the his fingers near the knuckles, as if the cigarette were a straw and it’s smoke efficiently streamed out of the cabin through the crack in the window like a tiny river in the air, and there was a hint in the kid’s voice implying Jay not really worthy of making such a passive “not in my radar” non-judgment.
Jay, let out a coke sigh and could feel himself in the all too familiar territory where the fan boy could quickly turn against. Jay thought he probably would have been better off playing fake nice. Maybe it would have been less of a hassle as if he had just lied out of courtesy, just acted passively psyched like everyone else in LA always seemed to do.
“... like you know they’d just still send all their covey to Etnies, Bizzo… if they had the chance.” Jay said with finality, lamely placing his forefinger up to his lips like he was holding back a gentle mock belch.
“What!” the kid driving.
“Euro footy looks… weird, anyways.” Said Jay confused.
“…. an approximation of the idea of what it is to be American.” Jay absently continued, could feel them thinking against him.
No one said anything and Jay still felt forced to strain his point, almost obligated to over explain his opinion to the three kids there in the car, but he just didn’t have the mental energy to do so and he wasn’t even sure where to begin or even how much he actually cared by now.
“Too many New Deal Uk European kids wearing American baseball hats. Jerseys, like basketball jerseys, you know?", Jay then too late to switch gears to segueing into a more laid back tone, momentarily taking emphasis off his general hostility.
“Bizzo?” said the kid sitting shotgun, like he couldn’t believe what Jay was saying.
“No, yeah, BIZZO, and fuck them too!” Jay, returning back to being annoyed.
The silence continued in the cabin, but then was broken by Jay digressing into fake friendly, “So, who’s got a cigarette for me? Like, who’s got an extra square?”
No one said much after that and they effortlessly coasted through the yellow lights into West Hollywood. The kid’s car leering into the terror twilight, and they passed beside the enterprising sidewalks in front of the haze which pressed itself behind the tops of the palm trees lining the boulevard and they continued to descend beneath the glowing darkness that began to accentuate the frame of the neon around the bars.
Jay hopped out the car first, didn’t wait for the kids as if he was no longer there with them, and when he finally got into Yaga’s after superfluously showing the door man his ID, he immediately smelt the sweet ferment stench rot from the cumulative sum of every drink that had ever been spilled there, whirring against the industrial strength floor soap that they used at the end of every night, and it smelt seductive in it’s own nameless, forbidden way. Entering, Jay felt like one of Plato’s pilgrims- joining the rest there, only to be distracted by illusory shadows in the beer light.
Walking in right away, Jay saw old boy Cookie sitting by himself in the crowded bar. He nodded at Cookie Head and it had been awhile since Jay had seen Cookie around, felt as if it had been almost a decade, even though it had probably only been three years since Cookie was out and about, down in the scene – like when Cookie was still getting repped by Costa Bravo. Jay heard a rumor that after Cookie’s forced retirement, he somehow became involved in some kind of procurement position for a high profile prostitution ring out in North Hollywood. Jay felt like going up to him, chewing the fat with old Cook, but then decided against it, that it was better to not try to engage in another of what seemed like an endless series of forced conversations this Saturday and Jay continued walking deeper into Yaga’s.
Jay thought about the scene in It’s a Wonderful Life like he usually did. George Bailey goes to his neighborhood bar after he had not been born. Jay thought about the same clinks from the glasses, the jazz age hipster flash of the piano in the background, that sinister drunk public social – the timeless allure portrayed in that fictional bar in a fictional small town during the end of great depression, and it always seeming to morph back to the bar Jay was always at and Jay thought things didn’t seem that much different back then: sure, the sexual revolution in Pottersville had yet to have happened, but Jay figured drunk girls back then still acted the same.
Man walks into a bar, brings his whole life inside with him.
Jay automatically scanned the bar for whom he thought looked like they could be peddling some of Bolivia’s major chief export as New Order’s Ceremony was blasting through the sound system optimistically, deceiving Jay into an exhilarated illusion of promise. Though just because Jay liked the music, didn’t mean the music necessarily liked him- Jay was well aware that the tunes could at any second very easily turn against him. He thought about Martini spraying Mr. Gower in the face with seltzer to the backdrop of the hypocritical sin-jazz. He thought about all the terrible feelings that could have ever been felt in front of all those hypocritical melodies- those melodies that would turn into the backdrop of the soundtrack, to the sequel, of the yet to be released promo of the demo tape of Jay getting his ass kicked by the bar again.
Things that Jay liked not liking him was nothing new and this didn’t seem like it was going to change anytime soon. Jay lived in LA his whole life, the bar was packed and yet it seemed like he knew no one there. Where were his peeps? Where the fuck was Daher? Or muthafuckin Shippy? What about Ethan? Actually, Jay knew Ethan was now well gone. Jay knew Ethan was living in Portland somewhere, riding for pasteurized and sanitized Planet Earth. Jay could imagine Ethan hawking his OG Miles Davis vinyl for some mid period Stereolab CD’s in the music department at Powell’s. Jay imagined Ethan stoned and overwhelmed inside of tiny north east side of Portland, Ethan like Jay, consumed inside of a pristine bummer high.
Yaga’s poor ventilation combined, with the mass of girls who insisted on jumping up and down rhythmically into the pitch dank claustrophobic space which barely passed for a dance floor, made Yaga’s smell of humid pussy and Jay looked for an opening into the bar so he could somehow reconcile everything that had happened today and just order a beer, or a shot and a beer.
Jay had been at the bar no more than ten minutes, felt a hand on his shoulder from behind and for an instant he held onto the hope that he was being touched by someone he wanted to see, but he turned around only to discover it was just Allenson.
“Jay, old boy.” Mc Allenson still managing to annoy Jay through the hard guitar coming out through the invisible speakers over the bar.
Jay barely nodded towards him, turned his head away back towards the bar, already automatically regretting his response.
Mc Allenson was wearing: a logo Vans t-shirt that’s graphic looked like baseball pendant clip art generated through Microsoft Word, a straw woven entitlement fedora that looked all about ten minutes old, sported a pristinely trimmed goatee, machine ripped denim and some other unremarkably teched out Vans-Vans that which their design discarded the time tested vulcanized waffle soul construction and instead was presumptuously built with some new type of trendy glued cup model, making Mc Allenson’s prototypes look like they would otherwise be headed straight to the outlets.
“Coming from Expo?” Allenson yelled into Jay’s ear and again, even in the noise, Jay could detect Allen hiding behind his usual fake vale of friendliness.
“What?” said Jay looking over his shoulder and then facing back nervously towards the bar.
“Expo! I said you coming from Expo.” said Allenson, a passive way of communicating to Jay, making it seem like he probably hadn’t seen or heard about what went down during Bast’s demonstration routine, even though such tidbits like this were never unlikely undetected by Allenson. Jay figuring it was Mc Allen’s sneaky way of as usual, not fully acknowledging Jay’s presence.
“Why?” said Jay guarded, trying to flag down the little hard body bartender with the dysfunctional tattoos near the baby fat around her hips, who looked like she was fourteen.
“Why, what?” Mc Allenson, sharply volleying back.
“No why what. It was just wack, whatever.” Jay dismissing, turning his head back to the distraction of flagging the bar keep down.
“Ya know, I knew you would say, that. I’d just expect something like that out of you, Jay.” Mc Allenson, chortling back.
“Allenson, you’re one smug bastard. Do you know that? Are you even aware of yourself?”, asked Jay back with a condescending looseness.
Allenson slapped Jay back on the back hard, “Certain things that you can rely on not changing. Hey, right pal?”
“I wouldn’t know anything about it.” Jay fingering his twenty, deciding on getting just a beer and reserving the rest for a gram.
“Well, let me for one tell you I had a blast! Good stuff. Some real nice stuff on the horizon.”
Allenson took the seat next to Jay that had just emptied, “See that Zoo Jersey booth. Ecko now doing Zoo. Fully expand the line. Total market saturation, I mean domination. Can’t wait to see Mark’s twist on it. It’s going to be excellent.”
Excellent was a word Jay hated, used by hacks-sacks just like Allenson. The same who used the word that weren’t able to judge how corny they actually sounded saying it- automatically overriding any opinion they could have. Jay figured if one thought they sounded better using a word like excellent, there was a lot of other things they well weren’t aware of.
Maybe to a three year old, at first glance, Allenson kind of looked like he was in the know, but Jay knew enough about him. Even though sometimes (though not tonight) Allenson accidentally wore the right t-shirt that had the right size price point graphic located on the right position on the corner swath of baumwolle, and sometimes Allenson somehow even managed to sport the right current tint of denim (though not tonight also), wear some relevant looking prototypes- despite this, Mc Allenson was still always functioning after the fact. Allenson was hip by proximity- it didn’t matter what kind of gear was thrown at him (they could have flowed him Fucking Awesome or Hollister and he would have rocked it the same) - it just so happened that Mc Allenson was working the right boutique corner of action sports retailing where it was effortless for him to get that Alphanupes, the UXAs, the Sam Devlin. Mc Allenson was really just some thinly disguised lamestreamer, anyways- too muscular, definitely too gentile looking, kinda fratty, looked like some silver surfer- or Laird Hamilton. For instance, Allenson could never pull off wearing just Dickies and or an old Butthole Surfers t-shirt with some blown out Airwalk Not The Sames-es. Though, there was also something kind of simultaneously charismatic and non-threatening in Allenson that allowed him to nestle himself within the industry. His confidence and projected puritanical austerity convinced people to see past his Dick Tracy chin (or maybe it was his Dick Tracy chin that helped him). Allenson, though really such a dolt- that when he did have his guard down, he usually got away with ending statements with fake rap euphemisms like: “With my dick in dat ass.” or “That’s bad ass!” or “ Like, a little bitch” and on a scale of one to one hundred thousand, measuring cultural relevancy, Mc Allen would have probably scored about a two hundred and that’s just because of where he worked and maybe also because he had been reading skateboard magazines off and on for about ten years. Other than that, Mc Allenson wouldn’t know the difference between NOFX and DAS EFX. Jay wondered why Mc Allenson didn’t work at Skatemental.
It was as if the thing inside Mc Allen used to make judgments barely worked or was broken or just didn’t exist. Mc Allenson was the type who thought they were being real by saying what was actually on their mind, but didn’t realize saying something usually left unspoken, was quite tacky tech.
Most of the time Jay felt Mc Allen thinking contrary to what he usually said- not getting a response. Jay regretted times he actually tried to have an upfront conversation with Mc Allen, only to be met with Mc Allen’s personal brand of thinly veiled condescension - how Mc Allen always seemed to slightly under the radar respond with statements contrary to what Jay was expressing. Mc Allen usually exposing himself that way as being anti-Jay. Still though, there was something in Jay that always half wanted to win him over, at least a tiny bit- though with Mc Allenson, Jay usually yielded such mixed results.
“You see Falcott’s run in his demonstration routine? Guy’s a real pro. Falcott can do whatever he wants!” Mc Allen announcing at Jay, as if he decided what he had said preemtively.
“That guy’s got a wack style, whatever.” Interrupted Jay.
“What do you mean that guy’s got a wack style? That guy’s got a really unique style- a tight fucking style.”Said Mc Allen a bit too authoritatively, already fully revealing the contempt he held.
“Style is the accidental, incidental aberrations, missteps -quirks of action that does it’s best to follow a strict set of guidelines… Arms down for Gino. Guy holding his thumb-pointing his finger.”
Jay continued though he felt Mc Allen was already pretending like he didn’t catch what Jay was saying.
“ Everyone makes mistakes their own way, and these ‘mistakes’ are their style.” Jay said carefully, trying to bridge the gap, by revealing what he though was truth.
“What are you talking about? Falcott’s scarf scrapping the pavement when he hand drags on a double torkie looks pretty good too me,”
“Everything Falcon does is intentionally accidental. Falcott’s fake indy.” Retorted Jay back flatly.
“You’re crazy. You know that? You hate everything.”
“The medium is the message, Mc Allen.”
“Quit hatin, Jay.” Mc Allenson dropping the g in “hating”, in attempt to make his statement sound more home spun- Mc Allenson, getting way too bent out of shape.
“You know, what’s the last thing you’ve done? Filmed your self typing a typewriter? Rode your bike to Marin? Pretended to go to City College?” Mc Allen attacking Jay, saying this as if he was aware of something hidden that Jay couldn’t ever possibly be able to grasp.
“I am only the sum, er well… man can, is entitled to his own opinion.” Said Jay straining.
Allenson said nothing, continued to look ahead to try to order a drink as if everything Jay had just said was irrelevant.
Jay shook his head to himself, doubting his instincts, thought he would try to rescue the conversation.
“Hey Allenson, I got a joke I just heard, all right? I got a joke for you. See, listen to this, it’s a good one too. You’ll like this. Okay, how many rollerskateboarders…How many rollerskateboarders does it take to screw in a light bulb?”
“What are you talking about?” said Mc Allenson, not wanting to hear anything.
“It’s a joke, Allen. You really need to loosen up, old sport- that might be your problem, Allen. Okay, now look. How many, how many rollerskateboarders does it take to screw in a light bulb?”
“You got me there, Jay. I have no idea.” Allenson, refusing to even play along.
“Two. One to screw in the light bulb, another to document it so they can edit it into their trick cartridge endorsement promo.” Said Mc Allenson, one upping Jay.
“You read too much Poweredge, but no. That’s not the answer, I was looking for.” Jay jibbing McAllenson, not really making that good a point, “ C’mon, how many rollerskateboarders does it take to screw in a light bulb?”
“I have no idea, Jay” Said Mc Allenson, raising his arm straight up, trying to flag down the barkeep.
“Two! One to screw in a light bulb… one to screw in a light bulb and like another to do and interview saying how the skater who screwed in the light bulb was so innovative at the time!” Jay saying the punch line with way too much enthusiasm.
Mc Allenson without ordering turned to his left and walked away - Mc Allenson taking control by cutting the conversation, not saying anything, as if Jay was some poor fool. Jay felt like he wasted a perfectly good joke on the wrong person.
Jay still couldn’t get the barkeep’s attention, she was going way too slow, even seemingly going out of her way to not notice Jay there and when she served some group at the other end, she let them buy her a shot and spent an inordinate amount of time talking with them, like she was hanging out in her living room or on vacation.
Jay finally flagged her down in a way that would seem unnatural to most anyone’s composure ordering drinks at the bar, but he was forced to because he kept getting passive aggressively skipped by new people approaching the counter.
“Yeah.” said the barkeep finally, looking back at Jay like he was a piece of Dogtown crap on the lawn.
“I was begging to think that you couldn’t see over where.” Said Jay unjustifiably friendly.
“Waaa.” She said.
“I said ‘Just give me a Jagerbomb and a Settler.’ That’s all.”
“We don’t do Jager bombs.” Said the girl as if she was working at the DMV, looking away as if there was something more important to the right of Jay.
“What, you just don’t like have the soda?” Said Jay pressing, out of a naive, honest curiosity.
“NO, we just don’t do Jage’s.” She said, looking away as if Jay didn’t think of something quick, he would be skipped again.
“But you have Jager?”
“We don’t do Jage’s!”She hissed back, Jay still not knowing what she was talking about.
Jay felt her think rushing him on deciding what to get, “All right, then give me a Settler and an Old Crow, then.”
She pulls the Settler out the ice bin in front of her, pops the cap off with some flat stupid looking metal bottle opener which advertised on it’s plastic cushion, a brand of fake absinthe that Jay was unfortunately familiar with, and she placed the opener on the back of her waist, sets the beer out in front of Jay, like it was all a big fucking deal. She turns around a bit too methodically and Jay again notices her dysfunctional back tattoos, the baby fat around her hips and she goes towards the back of the bar and starts climbing on the ladder to reach for the whiskey on one of the higher shelves; why Old Crow was on a top shelf there at Yaga’s was beyond Jay. But the bar is so crowded, and the barkeep was being such a bitch for no reason, Jay impetuously decided to grab the Settler and walk off into the dance floor. He figured if she tracks him down, he could just say he left the beer money on the bar and didn’t want the whiskey after all. Then for the rest of the night, he could just order from the other bar out back, that is if he ever was never able to find any coke.
Jay walked out onto to the back covered Patio where he might be able to disappear somewhere, find someone he knew or actually wanted to talk to.
They were playing different music outside, Morrison was pleading for love twice– Morrison putting an exact measure on the love, quantifying it like he thought it needed to be- wanting one for tomorrow, one just for today. The Lizard King knew, though. Jay figured Morrison was also too familiar with the capriciousness of Californian women raised on promises (his understanding of this, probably helped him become Lizard King after all). Morrison wanted the affection in advance, the promise, the love a head of time, because it didn’t seem he was too sure that it was going to be there much longer. The way the song singing sound ended, Jay figured it must have not panned out so well for Jim.
Jay stepped off the single deck stair onto a swath of no where in particular and thought again randomly to himself, like how he thought about it all the time: the night when they first kissed. Jay said to Deanna: “I’ve already jacked off to you a few times.” And that only seemed to humor her enough and or suffice in guiding her logic to descend to the end of her corridor of sexual politics logic. Jay admitting what he did, that night over a decade ago, remembered how he made her smile gaze back at him, and Jay always wondered about whatever it was that which miraculously hastened seeing her pussy quickly and Jay thought it either had nothing or everything to do with what he had said or done.
People whom Jay didn't want to bump into tonight: Reese definitely, Pastras yeah, Thiebaud of course, Rocco no doubt, Templeton or Deanna, though it would be impossible to see Ed and Deanna because it had practically been also a decade now since they would be seen at such lowly public events – Ed and Deanna now never such mingled amongst the commoners of Los Angeles and instead seated themselves inside their own vacuum bubble amongst oil czars, bankers, celebrity wife swappers.
Templeton and Deanna looked better and saw much more than Jay. Jay never knew about the time Templeton accidentally pushed Tracy Emin into a pool at that one Art Basel that year with the upside down army tank, or Jay wasn’t even invited along the time when Templeton and Deanna supposedly participated in some fairly exclusive orgy in St. Barts, and Jay never saw Templeton shooting heroin in Marfa with Anthony Burden the night before Templeton had his solo show at Chinati, Jay couldn’t fathom why Templeton was always speaking ill of Damien Hirst in the media but was also weirdly still being pictured with him those times in the Sunday Times, Art Forum, Vanity Fair, Jay didn’t know about Schnabel that one time with his arm around Deanna at Cannes suggestively- sans Tempster, Jay had only heard about when Templeton shot junk for the first time (as punishment to Deanna for fucking Shannon Dollin in their Hollywood bungalow) during his studio group crit at Cal Arts (which he also forced Deanna to attend and suffer through and bear witness and to be his handler and drive him home from class) before Ed eventually dropped out, Jay never saw the Templeton Larry Gagosian in conversation series interview in Art Forum, or known about Templeton seen at various successive international fairs with Gagosian, Hirst, Barney, Yayo Kusama, Jay didn’t know about the inevitability of Templeton eventually being repped by Gagosian, Jay had only read about and barely remembered and almost never though about Templeton’s break out piece :a man who committed suicide’s last check encased in resin, intentionally inflated at Sotheby’s, acquired by the Tate Modern within the first six months it was created (it’s value being inflated and then quickly being sold to a museum as an integral part of the concept behind the piece), Jay did though catch the article about Deanna Templeton buying dildos at Fredrick’s on Melrose in Variety that wasn’t really about anything (except Deanna buying dildos at Fredrick’s on Melrose), Jay had not seen the orgy video with Bijou Philips and Deanna and Ed and Ed’s assistants and some of their friends where Ed attempted to spectral analyze the scene to see if ghosts or souls “vortexed in” during condomless intercourse -that very same video piece that which also won the Hunting Prize that one year , Jay never knew about the foreboding Ruscha painting that spelt “Templeton” instead of Hollywood on a garish silhouette of the hills, that which also symbolized Templeton’s figurative and literal presence on the LA scene ,on the whole American landscape, the world, Jay didn’t know about the capsule in the New Yorker that still took the time to explain that Ed and Larry both rose from the streets (Ed, the beginning of realizing who he could become through rollerboarding in Huntington Beach public school pavilions, Larry getting his art start dealing from selling posters in the parking lot of his trunk when he attended USC), and Jay never did see the unforgettable look on Deanna’s green eyes that one time she sucked off Andy Roy in the Best Western hotel room during the final Television Tour and how she stared back at Ed- Deanna over enthusiastically rocking her head back and fourth defiantly reminding Ed what the price was that he had to pay for being “with” her, Jay though had heard Deanna’s punk band once “Teenage Pussy”, which quickly splintered but not before putting out the single on Kill Rockstars, Eye Rape (I Rape), where the chorus went: “something something something cause you’re never gonna see my sex panties.”, Jay also never saw Deanna Templeton fucking eleven year old Tosh Townend in Brisbane right before, coinciding with Ed announcing his retirement from rollerboarding- when Deanna deflowered Tosh right before Ed liquidated the part of his company over to Paul Schmitt.
Jay read Templeton had recently been invited to Minneapolis, given free reign to re arrange some museum’s permanent collection, permission to place his sculptures with-in a newly arranged art historical context. Ed apparently made some new sculpture that was instantly controversial, just as controversial as his work usually was. Jay remembered that Sunday Times article, Templeton was quoted saying: “Deviants are sacrificed to reinforce group solidarity”. Templeton spouted off something about how after every one hundred quadrillion movements of action, another lamb would inevitably have to be slain. This time, Templeton said, the lamb would be a woman, not a man. This time, she would be installed on a wall- a realistic polyurethane sculpture of a woman (like a McCarthy) dressed in hospital gown, placed inside a sanitary wood shipping crate and very carefully, very meticulously she being surgically crucified with pins piercing through her hands and through her feet, nailing her to the blocks of wood holding her down into the box. Her head was facing the backside, away from the viewers, and the hair they used for her exposed pony tail, combined with the realistic make up on her rubber skin, made the sculpture look eerily life like. The sculpture had a certain quality, even making it seem like she was slightly breathing What was curious about the sculpture- the attention to detail paid to the invention of the methodical torture of the spiking of the pins through her hands and feet, how they seemed so clinically, professionally done. That such a brutal way of keeping an anonymous woman kidnapped in a crate like this, that it involved some kind of manufactured, some kind of modern process like this, involving medical tape, plastic ties, medical buffer paper, was one of the few clues given for how the piece could be interpreted. The trompe l'oeil –that it was an actual white woman kept like this and that it was seemingly shipped around to different institutions around the world for the public to see, was most striking in Tempster’s new show, because his sculpture was also hung in the same gallery room as an actual stolen medieval tapestry of Christ: Crucifixion with Millefleurs (late fifteenth century) and also placed next to a broken piece of limestone relief of hieroglyphics, pilliaged from ancient Egypt- The beautiful Horus, the great God (1320 BC).
But now, if Jay would have smiled, why would he have smiled? Days when Jay would actually step on his rollerboard (which had become increasingly infrequent and mostly now never at all), he would catch himself thinking he wasn’t keeping his word with himself. What that word was, he couldn’t exactly remember, but he knew it was back there somewhere. His days pushing in Santa Rosa, San Rafael, Santa Monica, San Francisco, San Bruno, San Jose, Santa Cruz, San Pedro, Santa Maria, Santa Anita, Santa Ana and San Diego had come grinding to a halt- it had been a while. Sure, he had his commemorative Skate Mental cruiser decks still out, but that practically meant nothing- just really Reese’s way of showing fake skate history reverence (and it was those same decks that even might cost Jay his job). It was no great secret that Reese was just more concerned with what people though of him if he had not thrown such a small rat bone out to Jay. But it wasn’t just that. Reese was probably just a symptom of what was really wrong with Jay’s life. Jay had single handedly shot himself in the foot too many times and it wasn’t like he wasn’t aware of this. Sure, it’s nice to be known as a legend, but from where Jay sat, that just couldn’t be enough. Sure, Caballero could get by because he had the iconic shoe, the shoe that was more influential than his actual career, but Jay wasn’t even as popular as Caballero and besides, Jay didn’t have a shoe out anymore or any kind of price point apparel stitched with his name on it, for that matter. Besides, Jay always thought that by now Caballero had become just some glorified midget- some blind figurehead christened by ever increasingly out of touch people like Steve Van Doren, George Powell, everyone else who followed along.
Mostly though, Jay knew you had to deliver the goods, not waste your time or everybody else’s. Sure, Jay had yet to disappear from the scene, but the road had narrowed when it was supposed to be wide open. Jay was lingering out on the pavement. It was like there was a missing person inside himself and he desperately needed to find him. Jay had tried to do things to advance himself, but maybe his efforts weren’t enough or the timing wasn’t quite right or both or maybe just never even meant to be at all. Maybe Jay didn’t have it inside of himself that which was required for what he wanted, for what he so desperately needed to survive in this crazy game. Whatever he was now, some fictitious head of state for a place that no longer existed, an early nineties era relic, a street skater from bygone days; wherever Jay was, he knew he was staring straight into the eye of the void of the bottomless pit of cultural oblivion.
Jay felt a tap on the back of his shoulder and again hoped instantaneously maybe it was someone he wanted to see and Jay turned around only to see the petite bar keep, whom he stiffed inside and he thought to himself- knew, instantly regretted that he should have just waited for the shot and given her the money for the Settler and the Old Crow.
“You didn’t pay for the drinks! You need to leave.” Said the girl, who now not behind the bar looked shorter.
“No, what? What did you say?” said Jay, stall bluffing.
“The money for the beer, the shot. That was eleven dollars! You just walked away!”
“ Nah, No, I left it. I’m positive I did…” Jay saying out loud as if he was remember confirming back to himself, Jay feeling her gaze pierce energy, slightly unbalancing his lie timing required to bluff.
“Like fun you did!” her voice pitch accidentally getting higher, revealing a girlish squeal that made Jay realize she was probably about as young as she looked.
I saw you walk off! “That’s twelve dollars!”
“Twelve? I thought you said eleven.” Said Jay lamely, shit eating grinning, a sad attempt to turn on the charm.
“No!” Said the bar-keep-back curt, clearly more pissed by Jay’s attempted charm.
“That’s kind of expensive, anyways. I left seven bucks on the counter.” Countered Jay, casually as if he was trying to change the tone of the conversation.
“No, I saw you walk off. Come on, let’s go.”
Jay decided to give up, realizing he was an idiot for thinking he could not be conspicuous with her in the crowded bar- for foolishly thinking he could just do the Californian passive aggressive walk away.
Jay took out his wallet tentatively, pulled out his only twenty and said, “All I got is a twenty.” hoping she would give up.
She snatched the twenty out of his hand and said, “That’s okay, I’ll get you change.”
She turned around and Jay TV-eyed her backside as she walked away, she walking away like how she knew it looked good, as if she knew Jay was staring at her and she confirm swiped her hand over the decoration swath of jean covering her and Jay got the feeling that he wasn’t going to get his change back or see his shot of Old Crow.
Jay not able to stop staring at her backside as she walked away- surprising to him, because he had always thought of himself more a legman. Legs - literally the very first thing Jay saw when he was born coming out, though ever since, it seemed he was constantly trying to go back in the other direction.
Jay was still coked out, but definitely not wired and he was more than half way through with a beer that was doing absolutely nothing for him and he had barely any cash on him now and a wave of desperation just washed over him as he was left alone in a crowd with his lonely amplified, hollowed thoughts.
Jay, in such a dull state of nerves, felt unsusceptible to any enjoyment that the bar could possibly offer him now - unless it involved the companionship of woman (but even that enjoyment was dodgy and not likely). He wondered to himself what if all the objects of desire in his life were actually realized; if all the changes in institutions and opinions which he desired, could be completely affected at this very instant, if it would even be of any great joy and happiness to him. An irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered: "No", and his heart sank within him. Jay couldn’t even be happy in his fantasies. The whole foundation of which his life was constructed seemed to just fall down, like in the scene at the end of Point Break, where Bodie wiped out on that giant storm wave in Australia and all happiness that was to have been found in the continual pursuit of some end and what this end was now, he didn’t even really know- all of it seemed to be scratched off like the paint on the wood of the bottom of one of Jay’s overly rail slidid’ Skatemental commemorative cruiser rollerboard decks. The dysfunction of Jay’s life had started small and slow, but had been creeping up for months, years and the cloud seemed to grow thicker and was fuller and now crippling him. Everything ceased to charm. Jay entertained the notion he had nothing left and realizing this, he futilely took another pull from the beer.
The thing wrong with It’s a Wonderful Life was how George Bailey not being born caused Donna Reed to become an old maiden librarian. Jay knew Donna Reed could never stay single. The concept of her staying single and not keeping on with someone else defied gravity entirely. Instead, Jay thought, it would have been better for that film to have had just shown Donna Reed really drunk at that bar.
Jay repeated a lyric to himself again: I know LA is Hades, because of LA ladies.
Jay felt a little better after the next long hit of beer and then he saw Natas sitting at a small candle lit table inside, over next to the wall, also noticing him. Usually Jay normally would have been too intimidated, too shy to talk to Natas and he just could have easily walked in the opposite direction, but the overwhelming sense of futility he was soaked in made Jay in a rare case not really care as much anymore and he uncharacteristically walked towards Natas’ table.
“Natas, what up? What the hell are you doing here! I saw you at expo earlier.”
Natas looked at Jay and Jay instantly, immediately felt the accessibility within him. Here he was mere inches from Jay and Natas looked so unmistakably like himself, looked more so Natas that Natas, as if Natas was playing the lead in a parody for a canceled pilot about a made for television program about Natas. Here, he was talking to the man, and it was really no big new deal, no big whoop.
Jay sat down in the chair on other side of the tiny table in front of him, slinking back tired but comfortably, like he just ridden a stoned horse through the dessert.
“I’m here waiting for somebody to give them a key. But I think I’ve already been here too long.” Said Natas, absent mindedly.
“You look like you could use another.” Natas, nodding at Jay’s beer, “I’m getting up. Looks like you could use something strong.”
“No, yeah whatever you’re drinking. Or-” said Jay, feeling obligated to pull out a couple of bucks he barely had, but also having a feeling that doing so would have been in poor taste. Jay also feeling his response may have seemed too forced friendly.
“Wait, how about” Jay pausing “Furry Calamari, another Settler.”
“Got it.” Said Natas.
Natas walked off and Jay couldn’t believe that Natas was buying him a drink, buying him two drinks for that matter and such a chance encounter unexpectedly lifted him, Jay already felt okay.
Natas came back holding two shots, a longneck, another cocktail.
“Here – you go Jay, drink up.” Said Natas as he held his shot out in the blind air.
“To this year’s Expo. To all the Johnny Romano tax breaks Deluxe has coming to them. To the wrinkled saffron lace on Deanna Templeton’s pretty pink panties.” Said Natas.
“Cheers.” Said Jay as he took in the Furry Calamari.
“Yeah, No- I saw you earlier at your booth. Sorry, I like wanted to check it out, don’t know why I didn’t.”Say Jay, grimacing from the shot.
“Ah, that’s all right. I’ll send you a catalog to the office. You ‘re still at Skatemental, right?” Asked Natas like he knew something.
“Maybe. ” Said Jay grabbing his beer.
Jay took a hit, felt the cold hit his stomach and it felt good washing into him like the waters that traveled all the way from the East Bay that hit against Pier 7 when Sanch fakie heelz fakie mannies the block from high to low.
“No- yeah. Well, just between you and me, I don’t think I’m gonna be there much longer.”
“Why is that?” Said Natas, accidentally over squirted the orange in his drink, licking his finger.
“Ah…I don’t know, probably because Reese is a fucking idiot? He and Balma are now getting into bed together and all this shits going down.”
“What you actually don’t want to see Skatemental in Transworld Business Journal?” Said Natas, him seeming surprisingly aware of what was going on.
“Shit, couldn’t care less about Transworld. I’ll tell you that much. Muska tryin to get on too, if you didn’t know that. Like spending a lot of time with Reese, gaying off at the Berrics, popping up at the office.”
“I heard Muska is already on Skatemental, that an announcement just hasn’t been made yet?” Said Natas.
“No, Really? Yeah, could be. You know they don’t tell me shit. Like- I really don’t know shit. Ya know? Like I never had my brand. As if Skatemental hasn’t at one time even taken cues from Stereo.”
“No, yeah. I know. I miss Stereo. We all miss Stereo.”
“Aw, naw thanks, had a good run, ya know before shit got hijacked- before shit got wack, before Dune went completely insane like that, handing it over to Thiebaud– like before the great depression Mickey Mouse Graphics, ya know- like before putting TNT on the team, Danny Gonzalez, Wilburn.”
“Yeah- I was always curious what happened with that.”
“No, yeah, well…” said Jay, sounding like his usual slacker self. “pretty much learned the hard way why they businesses write contracts. Ya know? Like, you know it started off all verbal on Haight, everything was cool because it was all new, we were excited and everyone was getting along, it was all California casual until Thiebaud saw how he could get leverage off, Dune –steal it from me, then run it into the ground.”
Jay paused looking at the black label on the Settler. “Like, Stereo turning into what Zoo Jersey is going to become.”
“But, what about Pastras? What’s he doing?”
“I don’t know. I think he’s like an MC for Fuel TV or something? I honestly don’t speak with him. Don’t know.”
“Yeah, I knew there was bad blood between you guy’s. It was just surprising cause for a minute there, Stereo was ahead of the whole game.”
“No, I know, the whole game. No, yeah, it was. We were. I was getting all kinds of offers at the time, too. At one point even, Goodby Silverstein and Partners even wanted me to come work for them, but I was just so naive and smoking a lot grass at the time and I though it would last longer, ya know, like I actually thought it was the real future of skateboarding. Like for a second skateboarding seemed way above everything else too- culturally. It’s influence tricking down into art and music, design, fashion. And I’m not talking about Aaron Rose and the stupid Beautiful Losers thing. But then everything turned over to shit quick, Pastras basically hands the company over to Jim and then I’m like finished. Unemployable. Let’s just say I was used to so much autonomy that no team manager wanted to even touch me, with a ten foot Schmitt Stick. For a minute though, I though I could have gotten on Girl though, but they didn’t really want me, I was the Bay Area Stoner who couldn’t find his way out of North Beach and they were the tight little LA ATMclick- those kids were much younger than me, anyways. So then Reese acquires Skatemental and he’s still so wet behind the ears and all needs advice and doesn’t know what to do, and he picks me up, promises me senior graphic designer and then we start clashing and he obviously starts feeling threatened by me, starts getting pissed at me for nothing, just makes up reasons to be pissed at me, just imagining all these things, then demotes me to sales team because he could and there was nothing I could do about it - cause I was contract. Reese could have made me an actual employee, but he never did- hasn’t. I even have to pay my own taxes.”
“That sounds horrible.”
“No, it was real bad.” Said Jay- nodding to Natas for a cigarette.
“That’s lame. ”
“No yeah. Totally. And now Reese is getting manipulated by Balma, but unlike me and Reese, it seems like they really do get along. Reese is obviously not threatened by Larry and Larry is clueless enough to think that Reese is on the cutting red edge- like Reese really knows what time it is. They have this crazy notion that in the future, like everyone is going to be able to watch rollerboard’n videos on home computers and everyone will own one like TVs and will want to pay money to access skate footage over telephone’s wires. Core Technology? If you’ve heard of that. They’re even supporting some campaign promoting LIL B coming out of the closet. It’s wack. Oh and I totally forgot about this, but they’re also pro-ing Stephan.” Said Jay, punctuating himself by lighting his cigarette with Natas’ lighter.
Jay let out a sign and scuffed his stubble, in a way that illustrated resilience,” I think I’m getting fired soon anyways, so I might just be making my exit at the right time.”
“Really, how come?”
“So stupid, like what happened. I don’t even really know what happened. Danny all comes up to me the other day and makes me go out back to receiving like on the DL, like its some secret emergency. I go out back and there’s this humongous bio crate in receiving. Like we ordered a piece of machinery or an airplane engine or something. Must have taken them two lifts to get it off the flatbed. Dan tells me to look inside and it’s filled supposedly with nothing but my limited edition commemorative cruiser decks- the packing list saying like we ordered 2,500 and the rest were on their way. We don’t even know how many are in the crate. It might be a typo. Hopefully. It’s like somebody might have made a mistake re-filling out the order form to the manufacturer- like accidentally mis-wrote a decimal or something. Anyways the manufacturer that we order from has us on Net 30- so we usually pay them when he flip the prod and ship it out- that credit, they give to Skatemental it’s like pretty much what the company operates on. So, I’m just paranoid I could get the blame for f-ing up on the order form.”
“Right, they got you on Net 30 and they don’t return orders back for credit.”
“Yeah- exactly. I mean, maybe they might. Its such a big order that I didn’t even think about it. But now that you mention that, maybe that could work. Like maybe they’ll take some back. I just freaked out and thought maybe I can just try and flip a bounce more on the DL.”
Jay finishes his beer and then throws it on the ground, takes a drag and puffs the air through his nose like an angry cartoon goat, “ but I think…I don’t know, it just seems like it had to have been sabotaged or something cause now were sitting on all these decks that I honestly don’t think we’ll be able to all flip.”
“Yeah, ouch is right. I mean, I always order a few extra decks on the DL, just for fun because I know when I’m working the phones, I can find more of a demand from the shops- more shops wanna buy them, more than say what Reese or especially what Meagan predicts. So I try to sell a few extra on the side and manipulate the order on the DL and get a few extra more, but this time our manufacturer, the ones that do the heat transfers, who make all our decking boards, didn’t even call to confirm the order- like they were apparently all too happy to push the button on 2,500 Jay Lee limited edition cruiser decks, which are probably gonna end up putting the whole operation in jeopardy. “
“Maybe though, we can get some leverage off of them because they never confirmed an obvious typo.” Said Jay, thinking out loud.
“ That could be a problem.”
“Yeah- totally.” Paused Jay, grabbing the skin above his Adam apple, like he usually did when he got nervous.
“I hope they don’t try to hold me legally liable for this. Like, I mean I could of sworn I filled out the order slip like I normally do.” Said Jay shaking his head as an after thought to himself.
“I just don’t understand why the manufacturer could not have at least called someone to confirm the order! Ya know? We’ve never gotten a crate this big, it’s one of the biggest ones I’ve seen. Thank Christ receiving is all the way in the back, but someone is bound to find it before I can find a way to re ship them out. I really don’t know how such a fuck up could have happened.”
“Well, ‘There’s a slacker born every minute’ could be California’s state motto. You would be surprised how many so-called businessmen are complete fuck ups. I don’t mean you. Like, I mean the Firm and how all the other indie labels were incidentally conceived to be permanently, randomly subject to decline and decay, that is they all function with gradual loss of rationality, efficiency, surplus producing energy, now matter how well the institutional frame work they function was designed. I’m surprised many have been around this long.” Said Natas as he twirled the mini umbrella from his melted cocktail in tiny arcs- the soggy pointed part of the toothpick being visibly withered away against the blank surface of the tiny roundtable.
“How far down the line can it all go? What do you thinks gonna happen?”
“Oh, I don’t know. It sounds cliché but the corporations are probably gonna really kill it. Put the final nail into counter culture. That is until some kind of equalizer comes around. Right now, though there are too many Johnny come latelys with capital to throw around, and who also want to throw their own unqualified two sense in. Like VF Corp. Lee and Joe Jamail. They’ll make sure to bastardize the brand, over expand it, take all kinds of liberties, put it everywhere, turn skateshops- rollerboarding into something else all together. I mean it’s already turned it into such a sideshow anyways. “
Natas paused, “But ya know, even the little labels are terrible too, so it doesn’t much matter. Like, look at Deluxe. Look at ‘Real’. They don’t have a clue either. I don’t even care anymore. It’s just rollerboardin’. Just some glorified pogo stick. Rollerboarding isn’t music, isn’t writing. That’s what I sensed before I stopped doing 101, like when I got out officially- out the game full time.”
Natas paused looking down at his shadow on the table,“Well, before I got back in this time, anyways. But, even now it’s not like it was back then. The atmospheres changed, from one of creativity and isolation to one where the attention would be more to the show.”
“Is that what you think it was with me and Bastien out there today?”
“Well, I don’t know what that was, seems like you don’ really either.” Natas paused.
Natas grabbed his glass and looked at it significantly, in some kind of contemplation, snapped, put the glass back down,” I don’t know when it happened, when it started going down hill. It was probably after Mouse though. It was definitely after Mouse. I think it happened when Fulfill the Dream came out, actually… Muska becoming the Elvis of skating and all.”
“Yeah.” Said Jay, not quite knowing what else to say.
“At least Elvis influenced better musicians that would follow him, whereas after Muska they just got better and worse if you know what I mean.”
“Uh…No, yeah believe me I know.” Say Jay pulling on the skin on top of his Adam’s apple again.
“Well, I guess what I’m saying isn’t all completely true.” Natas, taking a content sip through the slim black straw, “People were always dealing with illusion and delusion before that time- the early nineties. The times really do change and they don’t change.”
Natas nodded his head looking back into the candle, gulping right when he began talking,“There were characters back then and there were things that were underdeveloped that are more developed now. But back then, there was space, space- well there wasn’t any pressure, really. There was all the time in the world to get it done. There wasn’t any pressure, because no one knew about it. But then people started reading about themselves and believing it. That’s what Ternasky didn’t understand ya know? He wanted Hensley to quit. I know he did. I could tell you that much.”
“Don’t you think it’s just so weird after all these years, this is the first time we actually speak? I mean we did work for the same boss at one point.”
“It’s strange.” Natas grabbing for his pack of smokes. “Well, maybe not so strange after all.”
Natas lit his cigarette, inhaled and resumed what he was saying while he was exhaling, straining and gulping his voice, “Rocco just wanted it that way.”
Natas, paying attention at fingering the tip of his cigarette, “Don’t feel bad. You know I barely hung out for the first time with Chris Lambert not too long ago. Chris Lambert for Christsakes.” Natas shaking his head to himself in slight frustration.
“Yeah I know. I always thought it was weird how he never had a company party or like actual meetings with everyone there. I still can’t believe he had those shift break downs at the World Park, like the schedules when we were allowed and not allowed to skate. That’s always the way it was with Rocco.”
“Well, he just wanted it all to be separate. And he had a point too, one that no one couldn’t quite grasp at the time. Meta brands- smaller brands within a brand, not just one tired label like Powell or Santa Cruz. There’s a lot you can get away with, when departments are fully separated- no one internally ever having a chance to team up. I mean, they all eventually did team up with Girl, but ya know something like that’s inevitable. But Rocco was always crazy though- even in his more sane moments. Rubbed off on Mark too, ya know? Gonz wasn’t always a complete lunatic.”
“No, yeah I know it rubbed off on Mark. I knew that right when I got on Blind. Mark was already toast. Nothing he ever said ever really made sense.” Said Jay.
For seemingly no clear reason Jay turned around in his chair to make sure no one was listening to him, “ I remember when I first got on, we were planning on taking a trip to SF and Mark said I had to tre flip the seven at EMB or like I’m off Blind. Like totally kicked off Blind, even though I just got on. Mind you, I couldn’t even tre flip flatground yet. I called Rocco and complained to him about what Mark told me and he didn’t give a fuck. He really just didn’t care. He said ‘Well, treflip it or get the fuck off Blind.’ I asked Rocco: ‘How am I going do this?’ ”
“What did he say?”
“He said: ‘Go fast so you clear the stairs, utilize the extra fall time to concentrate on the kickflipping it and stay underneath the board and not to think about it too much.'”
“Rocco knew how to tre flip the seven before you and told you how to do it.”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“Well, I’ll never forget the World days. For better or for worse that was probably the most exciting thing I’ve been involved in.” Said Natas reluctantly.
“But what about all those Swatch Impact Tour Demos? I’m sure that was crazy.” Asked Jay.
“No, it that was. Yeah-”Natas, concluding absently.
“Like, I’m sure those Santa Cruz stadium Demos were exhilarating! I remember it seemed so new and exciting back then. You must have become possessed by the magnitude of those shows.” Said Jay realizing he was over fan-ing out on Natas, but also feeling like it was alright.
“When you’re out there skating and it’s going well, you do kinda loose your identity. You become totally subservient to the skateboarding, which you’re doing from your very being.” Said Natas.
“So you did become possessed?” pressed Jay.
“What do you keep meaning by possessed? ”Said Natas, guarded.
“When you’re out there skating the course, don’t you get that feeling that death can’t touch you? Just as long as you keep torkey-ing and kickflippin-it triple maxx, death can’t keep up?”
“Oh death can grab you mid torkie. Make no bones about that. Look what happened to Colby. Remember that? Yeah, but I know what you’re saying. It’s dangerous, because it’s effect is that you believe that you can transcend, can cope with anything. That it is real life, that you’ve struck at the heart of life itself and you’re on top of your dream. And there’s no down. But later on backstage, you have a different point of view.” Said Natas.
Natas paused in contemplation, tiredly fingering the straw in his melted drink, “But it does seem like death can’t get you, though. Death’s not here to get anybody, anyways. It’s the appearance of the Devil and the Devil is a coward, so true knowledge can over come that.”
“What do you mean?”
“The Devil is everything false, the Devil will go as deep as you let the Devil go. You can leave yourself open to that. If you understand what the whole scene is about, you can easily step aside. But if you want the confrontation to begin with, well, there’s plenty of that. But then again, if you believe you have a purpose, a mission, and not much time to carry out, well, you just don’t bother with some things.”
“It could go either way.” Said Jay, but not quite knowing what Natas was getting at, but saying something to push it along, to make himself keep up.
“Yeah, it very well could. I mean, look at our Jesus, Christian. Hosoi gave us so much hope with his flying high. Each one of those airs with it, ya know, bought it’s own sort of optimism. But now he’s human wreckage. It’s kinda like a different version of Jesus. Christ suffered on the cross so he could suffer for our sins and Christian enjoyed his Christ airs so we could suffer for his. “Natas paused.
“Like there’s not just one, there’s many- more than one, ya know? Jesus is the most identifiable figure in Western culture and he was used, exploited. We all have been.” Said Natas reassuringly.
“Why do you think Jesus had to die?” Asked Jay, pressing.
The shadows flickered on Natas’ face, making his expression seem more pointed-evil even, though Jay knew Natas was the opposite, “Realistically...Because he’s a healer, was a healer. So he goes to India, finds out how to be a healer. Becomes one. But see, I believe Jesus overstepped his duties a little bit. He accepted and took on the bad karma of all the people he healed. And he was filled with so much karma that the only way out was to burn him up.”
Jay continued for Natas. “Hosoi was a healer, but his end was more self inflicted.”
“Yeah, maybe so- that’s the difference. Hosoi just became a slave to his emotions. If you’re dependent on your emotions you’re only dealing with your conscious mind. That’s where the meth and sex comes in. But what Hosoi didn’t know, what Hosoi still doesn’t know is the fact that you have to be faithful to your subconscious, unconscious, superconscious- as well as to your conscious. Integrity is a facet of honesty. It has to know with knowing yourself.”
“Yeah, but I always kinda thought Hosoi was a kook too, though.”
“No, yeah totally.” Said Natas.
"Luck is funny like that, though. People like to believe that solely their judgment determines what happens, but context has a lot to do with it too.” Said Jay.
Natas Continues. “A lot. Yeah, Jason but you complain about Reese. Sure Reese may not have a clear idea what direction to take Skatemental in, but since he became CEO, it kinda doesn’t really matter. Since he is CEO, what he says is the way it should be. Whatever ill decisions he makes- it is technically his right.”
“Yeah, kinda like when a girl dumps you for someone else. She could dump you for a professional BMX biker- he may or may not treat her as well as you did, but it simply doesn’t matter, because she made that decision. Weather or not it was objectively a good decision, she in her own way still has that right, simply because she has that freedom-the power.”said Jaya.
“Not all the time there is such clear cut between right or wrong. Sometimes there’s a subjective right and wrong, sometimes there’s an objective right or wrong and sometimes there is no right or wrong. And there’s also unlimited variations of such. Some would say right and wrong don’t exist all together, but I never bought that. Sometimes though, events are just dictated not by circumstance, but on emotion. To some extent it really doesn’t matter why the girl would dump you for a professional BMXer, in this case. You’re right, though. The fact remains that she did and no matter how sound her reasoning may or may not have been it has to be somehow good enough because that’s just the reality. You make it good enough. Maybe she simply likes the way he makes her feel- whether or not it is ‘healthy’, whether or not he is ‘a total kook’. That’s subjective. Whether say, an army decides to burn a library that’s information would be lost in time forever- or to say murder a pregnant woman, ya know-that’s objectively wrong. Whether or not you decide to wear black socks or grey socks- or whether a pebble should shift a millimeter, there is no right and wrong there. How she rates what’s good for her differs from what you think is good for her and what’s good for you. And what’s good for you doesn’t even matter now and is completely thrown out the window, because in this case you simply got fired. And that’s kinda just the way it is. We can only hope that those in the position to make important decisions think beyond that of the scope of their perception, but you know how that goes. It’s a problem that has existed since the beginning of civilization and I doubt it will be resolved anytime soon.” - Natas.
“Yeah though, so: infinite variations of wrong and right. What’s good and bad not always being completely objective, not completely subjective. Complex problems.” Concluded Natas, as if he was reminding himself.
“Well. I don’t even care about Skatemental by this point anymore.”
“Yeah, well why should you? You’re not an owner, you’re only contract. Besides, selling out the brand is just a natural progression, anyways. The label starts out off the cuff, aligned with the immediacy of what’s happening on ‘street level’, whatever that corny term really means nowadays- it has no commitments so it does have that freedom to align itself with what’s up and coming, to align itself with what the rest of the market has yet to fully recognize or to co-opt. The brand grows and builds followers, but those followers change too, and may eventually desert you- so it’s natural to look for new people who are still interested. And if you think about it, it’s kinda cool to have something that started off avant and all progressive, but then is watered down and becomes a parody of itself and sold off and then brand is officially dead, even though it just made everyone a lot of money. I don’t fault Eli or Rodney at all. Doing real Zoo up to some point would have gotten old or maybe redundant: ‘Yayee! The whole team is still skating down Times Square again!’- There’s not enough real heads to support the brand. The real heads are probably getting it for free, or not even necessarily concerned by this point at even getting it at all. You can just water it down and give it to the people who live in the suburbs and take their money to subsidize your next project. Your new project can even be more unsustainable than your original project, cause now you have more money. It’s the risks of the unsustainable where true innovation flourishes.”
Natas paused and continued “And if you think about it, in the end: how many times can you exhaust the variation of some logo? What kind of life is that anyways?”
“Well, why didn’t you do that with 101.”
“Well, I didn’t really own enough of 101. It was Rocco. Besides, I don’t think he’s really capable of coming up with an innovative Ocean Pacific mainstream crossover version of 101 to sell to Foley’s.”
“Yeah, unfortunately the way companies are set up, it’s all about finding the next John. But, there must be some way you can sell out and still have integrity. Imagine selling out and somehow making the brand more exciting than it was when it was ‘underground’. ” Said Jay.
“Why do you think this never seems to happen?” Jay asking back at Natas.
“Outdated business thinking that says ‘We do it this way, because that’s the way it’s done’ mentality, not questioning why they are perpetuating such inefficient, obsolete business modes. Like, variance analysis. A company spends a set hypothetical amount of money on their product, because they don’t know how much it actually costs to produce what they make, then at the end of the year when they can see how much they actually spent, they correct or adjust their books. If they had the tools or in this case actually knew how to be able to figure out how much money they actually needed, they could save the company all those unneeded steps and save even more money. But no one does that. They just keep doing the same thing. They just keep promoting different abecs in their bearings- perpetuate racist ideas like China wood isn’t as good as American- like they’d rather chop down our trees for disposable boards- so stupid! or they sell things for 4.99, because they are afraid the customer will back off if it’s a penny less- like what they’re saying is that they are not confident about their product enough to add that extra penny back on-everyone, afraid of a penny! All that stupid stuff- Montgomery Ward mentality, the decaying old American way of thinking ”
Natas paused, while the flame light flicker danced on his face, index finger on his chin “One problem is that with most corporations- the people who drive business are the people in marketing and sales and in most cases through them generating positive results, they get rewarded the higher up positions, until the company is almost completely run by these people. They more often than not have little or no understanding what it takes to actually produce something new for the company- that to take a good idea and to actually realize it, takes a tremendous amount of work and that the final product has as much to do with the process that it takes to make it, as much as how good of an idea it was in the first place. You take an idea, once it’s executed, you see all sorts of unanticipated questions- variables pop up that have to be solved and it takes a certain type of decision making- knowledgeable of craft and also you need some certain type of criteria to make the decisions necessary to push the product into fruition. Fruition- God, I hate that word. Anyways, that’s something that the numbers guys don’t understand. They think once the good decision is thought up- putting it into production and creating it is this next seamless step. They can’t even anticipate the certain magic that was needed in the first place to make what may have originally been successful with. And that’s a big problem for most businesses. That’s why there is so much shit out there. It’s like trying to re-make an album. Remaking an album is impossible, because it is impossible to recreate that certain magic- the special set of circumstances unique to what the music was created under. That’s why I think studying liberal arts is important, it helps give people a greater understanding of process involvement.”
“Yeah, kinda how Danny Way bullied the art department at Plan B. Those were the best graphics in the industry- some of the best graphics in any, but Danny never ceased to remind Cliver- who the stars of the show really were- he thought that Plan B was all just the skaters and he never knew the new Plan B was Vert Aids.” Said Jay.
“It seems like all this we are talking about, hashing it out like this is all the unconscious function of Surf Expo, though I don’t think anyone made any of these statements out loud at least once today.” Said Jay.
Natas fingered the withered napkin underneath his drink: “There’s the zillion dollar question. You at least can find reprieve that no one seems close to re-discovering it yet. The answer is out there though, ya know, there’s a remedy for any problem out there –how to somehow generate new and exciting life style ideas and exciting products that actually show people how to become better than what they are.”
“You know, I’ve always kinda thought about it that way, but never such put it into words.” Said Jay.
“Then, there you go. You know, there’s something out there for you” Said Natas, somehow confirming something Jay held inside himself.
“You just have to make it. Making it means finding your own line. Everybody’s line is there, someplace. People think they just have to go through living hell on earth, but I don’t necessarily believe that attitude.” Said Natas, pausing.
“Sometimes the people who believe that life is a tragedy, are the people who are simple, closed-minded, who have to make excuses for themselves.” Continued Natas.
“And speaking of making excuses, I don’t think my friend is gonna make it after all.”
“Oh, well you can give the key to me and I’ll look out for him. I might be here a little longer “ said Jay overreaching his friendliness, Jay realizing he was unexpectedly a little drunk from the shot.
“That’s all right. They kinda don’t deserve it by this point.” Said Natas getting up, taking a dollar out of his wallet, throwing it on the table.
“Hope, It all works out for you. I’ll try to remember to send you a Tech Styles Textiles catalog.” Said Natas trying to walk off, but having to wait momentarily for a guy that had on a t-shirt that in bold red lettering said “TURBO’D” to get out the way.
“Thanks for talking Skatemental with me, I think maybe you helped me figure something out.”
“Ya remember though- with Skatemental, even if that helps saving you, it still won’t save you.” Said Natas, then noticeably making his exit.
Jay sat by himself little longer, thought about Natas some more, automatically reviewing all the things Natas said, already self consciously scolding himself for the dumb things he felt first hand embarrassed about. Jay knew Natas could drink, but he also had the feeling that Natas was also the type who didn’t drink often. Unlike Jay, Natas was smart enough to drink water also when he drank. Jay guessed maybe such discretion was indicative of the one big difference between Natas and Jay.
Jay aimlessly wandered around Yaga’s some more. Jay knew Donna Reed at one time actually did live in LA. Jay imagined Donna Reed at the Brown Derby, back when the Brown Derby was still a happening place. Donna Reed was dressed like a secretary, sitting at the bar by herself in the middle of the day, waiting for someone. Donna Reed never drank beer or tequila; she had a certain distaste for sweeter drinks; you would never see her drinking a cape cod or she would never drink a vodka pineapple. Donna Reed usually ordered something with bitters, or gin, and it had an olive, or vermouth or lime.
Jay imagined if Donna was around these days her favorite band would be Gin Blossoms.
Jay saw people he half recognized out on the patio and tried to blend in with them by sitting beneath an umbrella at the unstained wooden picnic table that everyone was standing around and now he was the only one sitting and some of the people seemed to notice him, but no one said anything, until a kid who Jay knew as Ed Devera’s surprisingly non Filipino cousin finally handed him the corna sized spliff of medicinal marijuana they had been passing around and Jay felt relieved about the idea of the refuge of pot which he had temporarily forgotten about (even though he had been smoking every day since he was fifteen) and he accidentally took too big of a hit and coughed uncontrollably after he inhaled too long and he handed the joint back and Ed Devera’s cousin asked, “Are you Okay?”, as if it was the first time Jay ever smoked pot and Jay felt the high wave hit him too hard and he began to panic about nothing in particular and Jay thought about the title to another great album: Getting Stoned in Hell.
Jay hit the patio back up again after going to the bathroom to distract himself enough to calm down. He saw one of the kids he came to Yaga’s with, the one who was in the backseat with him- now sitting out on a bench next to Chloe Sevingy- the kid with the precise posture, knowing he looked tight chillin’ with Chloe. Jay thought it was funny because he saw the actress who played the girl that Chloe Sevingy accompanied to take an AIDS test with in Kids, earlier at Expo. Jay knew that Kids had only been out a couple of years, but still wondered, “Where they already doing a Kids reunion?”
That hyper reality, it so obviously Chloe, unmistakably Chloe Sevingy, except for how she was dressed, which was curious, surprising as she was wearing a dark blue Donna Karen skirt, crème colored d‘orsay pumps by Manalo Blanik, a white silk blouse by Jill Sander, looking like a secretary and not that progressive rave promoter sponsored by X-Girl look, as one would naturally expect- she looked less like Jenny, more like Riel Hunter, as if making the conscious statement: you don’t have me pegged. Jay could tell from how she was holding herself, she could tell people were well aware of her- and Jay caught a glimpse of how this could make someone crazy, how it made Chloe crazy.
Chloe got up like she knew something, - as if she knew Jay was pretending that she wasn’t giving him a bad case of TV eye.
Chloe absently walked toward the wall that was covered in the projection of interview footy of a seemingly upset Rodney Mullen, who was now crying over the exposed bricks and the image of Rodney enveloped Chloe as she bent down to pick something up off the ground which Jay couldn’t quite see, and Chloe turned her face into the projection- the pale colors and indefinite shapes of the magnified image of Rodney’s talking face looked like puddles, giant moving inkblots which camouflaged Chloe’s face to the surface of the wall behind her, though Jay could still make out her eyes and her eyes were even more pronounced and she was staring back, gaze piercing towards the projector, maybe staring back at the projectionist and she reminded Jay exactly of Darryl Hannah in Blade Runner, and it was uncanny how so exact it matched and there was no one for Jay to communicate this to- how much so Chloe reminded Jay of Darryl Hannah and it made Jay more panic stoned because it was so outrageously synchronous and Jay wanted to tell someone about this somehow, he needed to tell someone this, but he couldn’t and he mourned he wouldn’t be able to, and he now felt more alone than ever because there would be no one to properly explain this to, no one fully to grasp how Chloe became a replicant, no one could come close to understanding this enough to take it in the details, the way they deserved to be retold and the entire memory would be lost inside spiraling ether and for a second Chloe was still not looking directly at Jay, and the image of Rodney twirling around on his freestyle board in place in an empty garage saturated Chloe and Jay was so stoned that he thought he felt some vibration inside her head pointing back at him -acknowledging him, and nudging him to what he had no idea, but Jay was so locked into where Chloe was and he was paralyzed, and terrified and did his best to stand there all Californian casual, though he was failing and still doing his best to not look straight at Chloe and Chloe rotated her head and for a split moment Jay could feel himself inside the rotating radius of her line of vision and that instant was magnified even more and it all slowed down inside of the abstract projections and the room, dimmed down and the rap music and Rodney’s sound bite quotes also screwed down into a low pitch that descended into near silence and Jay was now aware of the sweat on his lower back bleeding through his button down shirt and he now felt like he didn’t have to hide looking at Chloe and she looked back at him and he could feel her transmitting something indescribable to him and whatever it was she was pulsing out, it voided out the room and everyone else was completely oblivious and Jay still didn’t know exactly what she was communicating but he could still feel it and it was exactly like the very essence of something in the universe was blinking back at him and then the room suddenly too early turned back to normal and Chloe bent right back up as if nothing happened and the film was over and the projector projected black light onto her and the yellow and red and orange film marking scribble danced on her in the sudden and ominous darkness as she walked back to her seat over to the kid.
Jay walked away, mourned for Chloe, mourned for Heather again, mourned for women he would never catch, for woman in general and the thought made his stomach tingle in that bad way. Jay felt his crotch shock flinch in silent desperation.
And Jay couldn’t leave this place, this place where he made all the wrong moves and with all the other ones he still just second-guessed. This- a place where they made movies specifically to reconcile middle aged Dianne Keaton becoming sexually obsolete.
Jay, he so useless, felt about as hopeless as all the unused soggy driveway quarter pipes of the world. Jay he so felt fucked beyond understanding.
Jay thought about how all things strained for the inevitable, how people die from wearing out from the inside. People blanch from the inside.
And Jay, an old turtle, was still there though, held on tighter to the tiny rock he still occupied, he wasn’t dead yet, he was still in the biggest city on the coast- still surrounded by the walking dead.
Jay saying in his mind:
“Dear, Lord – I don’t think I have the courage to change any time soon.”
Jay further away walked back because there was nothing else to do. He had no choice but to walk away from yet another thing that he didn’t want to walk away from, but he was so stupid and such an idiot and then thinking about having no choice, made him regret it more again.
A tiny point spiraled inside him, activated by those thoughts and intensifying the quick drunk that combined with that too big pot hit and all the coke from earlier, made the room begin to slightly vibrate and them accelerate and to ascend away and Jay freaked out in fright and flight, started trying to hold on, saying in his head what he had heard when he was a kid- repeating this as a way of anchoring himself inside the thing which had started out as a tiny whirlpool and had now expanded out into a sink hole.
“Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the earth, have mercy on us.”
“Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.”
“Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the earth, have mercy on us.”
“Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the earth, have mercy on us.”
Jay went out through the same opening of Yaga’s he came in- when normally he would stumble into blackout, this time he just went home.