Sunday, November 27, 2016

"I just want to get the facts, Ma'am." 

Like any Crime Story, good or bad; like any Classic Noir, set in the Mean Streets of Downtown Los Angeles, the currently gentrified DTLA...it must start with a suspicious, violent Death.  The tone of danger is set.  The fine line twixt Life and the loss of same to the everlasting darkness of the Abyss.  This is the Underbelly, Man!  It is Then, and yet it is Now.  It's Alan Ladd and Veronica Silverlake.  Bogart and Bacall of the Wild.  It's a California Cuisine Menu with today's Special written by Jim Thompson.  FAREWELL MY LAUNDRY.  Ida LuPino Noir.

"It's Chinatown, Jake."  No.  It's actually Little Tokyo.  And the Death, an Ultra Violent One...happens between Burbank and Glendale.  On a train.  Like DOUBLE INDEMITY.  But not.  It's an Amtrak.  774, from San Loo E  to Onion Station.  Scentral California to the Big Avocado.  "This is the stuff, screams are made off."  Your conductor is James Ellroy.

The Passengers are unaware of the thin line between life and death that is to come.  Some of them are heading to the Rock Show.  And in two cases, the shows are different ones.  Myself and the Lady are destined for the newly coined term for the ghetto that once was Downtown Los Angeles.  DTLA.  For the Peace & Love Healing Vibes of YES members ANDERSON RABIN WAKEMAN.  The location, of course, that Palace of the Past, the Orpheum Theatre.  Home to previous encounters with KING CRIMSON and YES, the interior vibration is always relaxed and lower key.  And an alley behind the theatre that you know Marlowe has cased.   


But before the Dame and Eye have settled into our familiar surroundings; V for Vendetta shaped in Little Tokyo and City Hell, we must meet the soon to be disembodied living cipher who will violently depart this plane as train, under the wheels of our car.  Car number 5. 

The impact is unmistakable.  The train is a second home to us and we've done this route so often, one can tell when something is out of the ordinary.  "That wasn't right," I say to the wife, soberly looking eye to eye.  And it wasn't.  One can discern after the train has made a quick braked emergency stop, that the person no longer, has left two crime scenes: Part in the front at point of impact; the rest left behind, beyond the end of the Glendale headed train.  The carnage is bad enough to put out the lead engine and another engine is needed to pull the six car train set very slowly into the Union Station yard.  This will come way into darkness as the crime scene investigation draws on, longer than the actual trip itself.

Fortunately, I try to schedule any random Acts of God into the travel itinerary, since train encounters with outside objects, alive or not, is an increasing event.  The younger Rock Show couple in the row in front of us, are forced to miss the taping of Green Day on the Jimmy Kimmel Show.  Our show is for the next day, so we arrive into the Metropolis in the darkness; the skyline a surreal display of multi-coloured lights.  City Hall is prominent.  The Big Erection.  During the day, dwarfed like an ant below, I can't help but see Martian Invaders from the original WAR OF THE WORLDS, blowing up that Phallus into limpid rubble.  I'm sure it would be the same if I was in Washington D.C. with EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS.

Little do I know, that the next day before the show, I will finally accomplish the desire to investigate the upper tip of that pointed little head.  (And there's no code or subtext in the end of that sentence)  :)X.  It is the defining structure of classic Los Angeles.  Not...to the dismay of some, the Walt Disney Concert Hall. 

On my own, in true Illya Kuryakin fashion, if Illya lived in a Retirement Home in West Covina, I decide to enter Christopher Wren's Fever Dream of an Extenze Infomercial; Frank Lloyd Wright on Viagra.  Before the Prophesy of the Coming of the Brutalist.  I. M. Pei?  I. M. Potent.  Let's see how far up this shaft we can go.
                 
I am amused to see the news trucks of KCAL/CBS 9 & 2, parked up the butt of KABC 7 (my wife has some hidden sexual attraction for Weather Wonk, Dallas Raines...I think he is a THE FLY like mutation of Bryan Ferry and Jimmy Swaggart). 

*thighnote* (slightly higher than a footnote)  It is Okie Dokie to have a slightly perverse attraction to cheesy televangelists.  It is code when Benny Hinn, frothing in an ecstatic anointing moment sez, "Did someone touch me?"  I admit I have dark thoughts about "Pastor" Melissa Scott.  Especially when she is Speaking in Tongues (and her Temple WAS the United Artists Theatre in DTLA, now the home of the quite unlivable Ace Hotel and Ace Theatre).

There is a crowd of people entering the Main Street entrance to City Hall.  They are all there to get scanned and clearance for a City Council Meeting, which I believe has to do with street parking for those of the No Fixed Abode situation as opposed to property owners.  I never do this type of scanning.  Ever.  It is one of three reasons why I stopped flying.  Too Dystopic (that non-word used in place of dystopian). 

But I am in character, so all is well when I place my pockets contents in a small blue plastic container and prepare for my walk through.  A human walk through a car wash of radiation.  No beeps.  No red lights.  I'm surprised.  That metal rod in my hip (I don't have one), the stick up my ass (many insist on that one).  A belt, the most common of audio commotion (I don't wear one).  I reach the sign-in desk where a tall, dark officer assumes I'm with the City Council group, who are mostly dressed casual, those shorts and stuff.  I'm wearing my black Calvin Klein coat, so I might have passed for "concerned property owner" instead of "my vacation residence is a Ford Fiesta."  The officer is taken aback when I request "Observation Deck."  I expect a denial, but I'm asked to show I.D. and given a visitor's pass with no resistance.  A Jedi moment.  The officer quickly points to directions of the elevator maze that is the path to the top.  I'm blind, but have a memory of reading somewhere about the correct way of travel, ignore it and improvise like I know what I'm doing.  I don't.  But I have that Man from U.N.C.L.E delusional mindset.


The viewing floor is 27.  Many of the cars only go to the 22nd.  A hop out and then find the private or Express Elevators.  I find myself on floors and in corridors and offices I don't belong.  The back rooms of power and hidden means and ways.  No time for curiosity.  This cat needs the floor with the outdoor halls and balconies. 

Gliding into a secret unmarked office, with three young, almost hipster and trendy professionals behind computers, they are surprised to find their sanctum now inhabited by one; an aged runner perhaps.  Returned from Sanctuary.  I gravitate to the single lady, a Francoise Hardy type on my Left upon Entrance who is ready to offer assistance to this Elder from the Off Worlds.  But it is the taller, reed thin and friendly collegiate young man who stands to guide me out of the cyber labyrinth.  He speaks with a gleam of Masonic Ritual, that I have found my way to the lesser known private Lift that will lead me up.  I thank him most kindly for this rarified information and no Secret Handshake is proffered.  After pressing the Magic Button 27, like the Beatles finding the door that leads to the fire escape in A HARD DAY'S NIGHT, I am Free, Outside and Above the World.


I have the place pretty much to myself.  Nice.  Very nice.  The Metropolis below, but further away, thank the Goddesses for that, further away the newer towers of Moloch watch, ever watchful.  But further away...

After taking in the Four Points of the Compass, I decide to play in this Hall of Olympus, like in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS.  I am alone in the Mayor's Room.  In the power driven spirit of Recent Coups, I satirically seize the reigns of mythical power.  I proclaim myself Shadow Mayor.  This is real!  I posted it on Twit Hair.


Taking my leave, Orpheus Descends.  Gorky heads for The Lower Depths.  I thanked the police officer who scanned my humble personage, was gracious enough to hand me my Hotel Key around the all seeing machine for my concern of it being demagnetized.  I complimented him on his work, shook his hand and expressed my appreciation for the work they do.  I'm still in character but my satisfaction puts me in Utopian Mode.  So an idealism is expressed and A New Hope for the Good Ones.  My sense of humour and irony only return when I realize no officer noted that the t-shirt I was wearing was caustically referring to the power elite from the film ROBOCOP.

And wait!  The day's adventures will blend into our concert tonight!  To conclude our musical YES band compare and contrast from the last visit to the Orpheum Theatre.  It's now time to experience the joining of forces with Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman (alphabetically, not chronologically as members).  We were surprisingly pleased with Steve Howe's version of the band, as those who read the Watchful Towre of Patty Melt entry.  At first, I wasn't sure.  But so far, concerts at the Orpheum have healing powers.  Trevor Rabin was sick with a virus that spread from and to all members.  He held up for all appearances sake to our audience, but got sicker enough to cancel the, as I write this, San Francisco show.  Jon's voice started tentative, but was in fine form as the evening progressed.  Rick, like Geoff Downes, can appear confused behind the keyboards, but unlike Geoff, was hypnotically note perfect.  His cape may not be as majestic as it was during the Tales era at Long Beach Auditorium, but his musicianship, like Steve Howe is dazzling to watch.  And the new cats on bass and drums inspired the older musos to have the energy and enthusiasm to make the whole ensemble come together.  The music was wonderful, with many high points.  I was particularly impressed with an inspired new arrangement of LONG DISTANCE RUNAROUND.  Another satisfying here and now experience at this most favourite DTLA theatre.


And so the Femme Fatale and I conclude another four days in the noir soaked environs of our home away from another house, that may or may not be a home.  Los Angeles always means old haunts and new discoveries.  And we added quite a few.  So after the tally, it was back on the train, retracing the line and place that held such tragedy for others.

And the facts?  That a 57 year old man, ethnicity unknown, had slashed the throat (but not killing, as of that time) of either his wife or girlfriend, ran to a train heading Southbound, telling a passerby he was going to kill himself, before jumping under the wheels of our car.  Not a single local TV station carried the story.  No news van appeared as we waited, as day ended and night came.  Perhaps they were covering City Council meetings.  The only info, which contained a number of false impressions, like train passengers were bussed away (we weren't), appeared briefly on media web pages.

Google it up, Man.  The Net is a Drag.