THE 'X' FACTOR
I had another busy weekend which took me to Long Beach not once, but twice. Friday night I got together with friends I hadn’t seen in a loooooong time and we laughed our asses off over online dating stories. We may not have found love but we have hours of entertaining anecdotes. Saturday was about running errands and getting things done and then getting things together so I could go back to Long Beach where I would spend the night at Matt and Leisa’s after going to see Matt’s band, Wax Apples, open for X at the House of Blues in Anaheim. The plan was that I would get up early the next day and drive to San Diego to meet my dad at my brother’s house.
I love the band X, check them out here - they’ve been rockin’ for over 20 years and they still get better every time I see them. I had never been to the House of Blues in Anaheim, which is technically at DISNEYLAND! I think the whole House of Blues franchise is very Disneyesque with it’s folksy faux Bayou art and bad paintings of blues legends. When I go to the HOB on Sunset Blvd. I always expect to one day find animatronic dead blues heroes propped up in the wannabe swamp shack that houses all the gift and merchandising items. It’s pretty cheesy, but they book great bands and have excellent sound so I suppress my snotty girl attitude and usually have a great time.
Thankfully we didn’t have to drive, Matt had gone earlier with his music stuff, so we hitched a ride with the neighbors, Nancy and Russ. They are, I swear to God, the real life Dharma and Greg. So it was an entertaining drive, Nancy drove, and I heard the story about their first date to Lollapalooza which she attended both days so she had already staked out the parking situation, thus when they arrived she skirked into the best parking spot and effortlessly handled the security guard who gave them a hard time about “the smell of marijuana”, by offering to give him the roach. How could he not fall in love with a girl who could score great parking, diffuse security and smuggle a fatty into the show for Jane’s Addiction?
Going to the HOB at Disneyland was just plain weird. Okay, I took a puff of pot in the car and I’d had a margarita, but I was by no means altered. Something about Disneyland always takes me to this weird acid flashback state. I don’t know if it’s that everything is sooooo manufactured, or if it’s all the tourists, or what, but from the minute we stepped on the property I felt like I was out of my body. Then when we got to the House of Blues the first person I see is an ex-boyfriend from 12 years ago who hugs me a little too closely, a little too long. Why is it when things are weird they just get weirder?
We entered the faux shack that is the HOB Anaheim and ordered a couple of the most God awful margaritas EVER! Note to self, do not drink mixed drinks at HOB. Stick to straight alcohol or beer. Wax Apples took the stage and started to play. They are such a rockin’ band. I can’t even really define their music – groovy punk? Matt plays saxophone and the band shreds. We stood on the floor in front of the stage and noticed that there were lots of youngins in the house. Yes indeedy, it was an all ages show. The three little boys in front of us were tripping Leisa out because they looked just like boys we had gone to Junior High School with. One of them looked exactly like Bobby Brady.
After the Wax Apples set even more children came down to the floor and Bobby Brady told me that the crowd would get kind of wild for the next set by the Smut Peddlers. “Do you mean a mosh pit?” He looked a tad taken a back that such an old person would know the term, but yes that was what he meant. I told him I could mosh with the best of them back in the day, and then when he wasn’t looking I told all my other elderly friends and we left the dance floor for the upstairs bar in the faux shack.
I had finished my second cocktail and was now ready to wave a cigarette around while talking excitedly with my hands. It’s what I do after two drinks. So I scanned the bar, also full of children to see who was smoking and looked like they’d have an extra for me. Leisa came up and handed me my third cocktail – some very expensive tequila with an unrecognizable name, on the rocks. I spotted a tall young man with a cowboy hat perched upon his skinny head standing with two other guys, all smoking. I sauntered up and asked if I could have a cigarette and he said, “sure, if you introduce me to your cute friend.” Leisa! She’s still got it even after 2 kids and 9 years of marriage. Of course she was sporting a super cute poncho in pink, her signature color as well as a Wax Apple sticker on her cute butt. We chatted with tall boy who claimed to be in a band called Pennywise. Ah, it’d been so long since I’d been bullshitted by a twenty something in a bar. A visit to the Pennywise website revealed him to be full of shit, but I think of him fondly for making the effort.
We asked them if they were here to see X, and they said no, the Smut Peddlers. “Oh you mean the band that’s playing right now?” They took off running. The Smut Peddlers worked the teen and tweens into a sweaty, moshing froth. I wasn’t too impressed since it sounded like regurgitated punk music, nothing too original. We hung on the porch and chatted it up with various and sundry strangers whose names I don’t remember while I waved my cigarette. The Smut Peddlers completed their set, so I went down to find a good spot to watch X from – there are no places to sit and it was getting to be about the time when I wanted nothing more than to lay down and do some William’s flexion exercises to stretch out my back. The last time I saw X I danced as I did twenty years ago and threw something out in my neck which caused numbness and tingling down my left arm.
I’m getting old.
Ran back upstairs to find my peeps and luckily for me ran into Jacqueline and Rudy who are well connected and had seats and passes for the loge area. Yippee! I slapped a pass on my arm and headed for my front row pew in the sky. Actually not that high, but over the crowd of swirling youth who crammed the floor below me. I lost Matt and Leisa somewhere, but I was sitting down and I was stoked. Just in time too because the curtain went up and X started to play “Johnny Hit and Run Pauline”! Jacqueline exclaimed, “Good Lord, what happened to Exene?” This is the lead singer who used to be a tiny little thing with wild hair and a pale face with a slash of red lips. She is a wonderful, intelligent writer, but the aging process hasn’t been so kind. Sometimes in the last couple of years she appears to be doing her own impersonation of Betty Davis in Whatever Happened to Sweet Baby Jane? She’s got all the same gamine moves but she’s also got a gut and seems to be just a tad bloated. If you close your eyes though her voice soars the same as it always has.
The rest of the band hasn’t really aged, John Doe is still a babe, and they sounded awesome. They haven’t really written a new song in the last two decades, but it’s always good to hear the old songs, “Los Angeles” “Riding with Mary” “Have Nots” and most excellent covers of “Soul Kitchen” and “Breathless”. They didn’t play “Fourth of July” and the talk from the stage didn’t political, but it was a really great show. About one third of the way into the show I spotted Leisa’s totally cute pink poncho shimmying behind the band. She was backstage! Go girl! Jacqueline and I were waving like fools, but she couldn’t see us – you can’t really see the audience from back there. She danced the whole show and it was so much fun to watch her having fun.
After the show was over Matt came up to the loge looking for me because they were my ride home from Disneyland. He grabbed my hand and we slipped backstage followed closely by Jacqueline and Rudy – who know how to follow and not stop -better to apologize than ask permission. We mingled with the sweaty band and got to use the bathroom in the dressing room courtesy of John Doe’s wife who was kind enough to let me in. By this time I was out of gas and wanting to go to lie down on a couch in there and take a nap.
So we left – stopping at Alberto’s for some rolled tacos and guacamole at 1:30am,
because it helps to soak up any alcohol that might be left in your system with grease. We stopped and picked up their sleeping child, who was no longer sleeping by the time we got to the house. I passed out on the couch and woke up 6 hours later feeling quite tired, but just in time to watch Fuel on TV with Ryan as Leisa cooked up some pork products for Matt, since it was father’s day and all. I dragged my tired old ass off the couch and down to San Diego to spend the day with dad and bro.
And all in all it was a very good time, but I’m getting a little old for all this fun.