Los Angeles.. what can I say?
A lot, okay.
When I was a kid,
a small one,
we'd fly out there
on TWA . .
. . . for free because my dad worked at TWA, and his sister, my Aunt Edith lived in Pasadena which as far as I'm concerned is Los Angeles too. I remember very little except that one fine sunny day, like all days out there, I somehow monkey-crawled up to where the bananas were 'hidden,' and ate them all. Six or seven I'm told, and they were half green. Apparently I became green too, and my poor mom had to clean up the mess. To this day, can't stand the sight or smell of bananas.
Aunt Edith's husband was named Junior. Not Alfonse Junior or any other name-junior. Just Junior. He was Italian and some of his people were involved in one of those infamous courthouse step massacres in Kansas City, to kill some witnesses. He changed his name, married my aunt, and left the midwest to go live in LOS ANGELES, the place where a person can have a little anonymity and do criminal shit without much notice.
By the time I could have actually appreciated flying out there for free, dad switched jobs to something so boring that I can't even recall what it was.
Aunt Edith and Uncle Junior however would visit KC pretty often. Always in a Cadillac. Uncle J got a new Cadillac every single year. I pictured him at the GM assembly plant in Van Nuys, waiting for just the right Cadillac to roll off the line, saying yep... that one. Wrap it up. Is cash ok? Of course . . . bla bla.
My cousins would come too, on their visits to gorgeous ... cough . . Kansas City.
Bubby and Judy. Bub for short. Both were tall.
Aunt Edith was a good looking woman. Old yes, like 35, but a handsome gal with a nice smile. Junior wore black Dave Brubeck glasses, balding--jet black hair vitalis'd back, gypsy Django Reinhardt moustache... squaresville yet classy. I think he even smoked a pipe. But their kids, my cousins, due to being born and raised in Los Angeles.. Pasadena . . whatever, looked like true movie stars.
They blew into KC riding in the backseat of Junior and Edith's Caddy convertible, tall and tan, teeth several shades brighter than ours, wearing fashions that wouldn't be seen around here three years hence. Older, muey sophisticated, beautiful. I tried to hate them but they were just too nice.
So I decided to hate Los Angeles instead . .
Me and Cheryl arrived in Los Angeles, Kagel Canyon actually, in the early eighties, driving her lawyer brother's sporty Saab something or another that we borrowed from him down in La Jolla. We had flown in . . TWA. Vacation.. three whole weeks.
Note from wiki: Kagel Canyon is an unincorporated community in Los Angeles County, California, United States. Kagel Canyon is located in the southwest part of Angeles National Forest west of San Fernando. In 2000, Kagel Canyon and the neighboring Lopez Canyon bla bla bla--
Cheryl's friend Barry from high school in Bartlesville, Oklahoma lived there.
Okies have always been welcomed in Los Angeles haven't they. Barry's male friend, roommate, was from North Carolina, basically the Oklahoma of the eastern seaboard.
We were there---me and Cheryl, about ten minutes.. introductions all that, out under "the veranda", when a tarantula the size of my fist came skipping across, towards us. Iridescent plum black. Ugly yet fascinatingly beautiful. Skipping? Maybe scurrying. I do remember it was moving fast and that all four of us noticed. We were simultaneously focused on the furry arachnid, which to me at least, seemed huge.
North Carolina dude, Barry's roommate, did a four foot horizontal jump with an accompanying banshee yell and smashed the tarantula under his huaraches, to my horror and Cheryl's too I think.
I told him that while I was also on edge, I thought he should have let it pass.
He said, and I can remember exactly- "Tell ya what dude. You live here with them motherfuckers. Be friends with them. Blow 'em shotguns off your joint. I never in my life saw anything similar before I moved to Los Angeles and I'll be goddamned if I let a creature like that anywhere near my house."
"You guys own this place then?"
"No we rent, dick. Your point?"
"My point? How do you guys feel about living in Los Angeles?"
"Your point.. is . a . . a question?"
"We hate it, but before you go home to Farmville you need to get down to see the hookers on the strip."
"Uh . . Farmville?"
So quickly these hicks had become Los Angelites. Month or two in L.A. and you get a 'tude. Farmville indeed.
Barry drove a BMW because when he first got to Hell A from Oklahoma he drove a Pinto, and it broke down.
Both times he got his ass kicked while walking to find a pay phone or whatever. This was pre-cell service and he didn't have triple A anyway.
Jumped... mugged. Beaten bloody, robbed . . .
Welcome to Los Angeles Okie! Now you're naturalized!
He relied on that BMW to not leave his skinny white self stranded.. again, because Los Angeles is cruel.
I nodded when Barry told of his muggings as I petted the Saab for good luck. Personally I was terrified a few times too that trip, when we got off freeways by choice or accident. Even on the freeway was horrifying at times, like when the tandem trailer gasoline truck jack-knifed just in front of us. 105 farenheit. 9 lane parking lot of crazed angry LA zombie drivers stuck in traffic. We had been to wild Tijuana too, which was tame by comparison to Los Angeles.
At one point me and Cheryl decided spur of the moment to go seek out my Uncle Junior and Aunt Edith. Found their "casa" in Pasadena but they were gone. Dead from Los Angelitis, so the neighbors said. An 81 Caddy sat in the driveway gathering dust. Obviously 81 was their last year. Bubby and Judy were gone too. Bubby, so we were told, had taken to dressing as a pirate--a male prossie on Sunset. Judy, a pro body builder on Venice Beach.
The air smelled of stale bananas.