Though I'm not one to brag (ha), I have a pretty sizable record collection. For example, although you only really need one dub album — since, let's face it, they all sound the same — I have managed to buy all the King Tubby, Scientist, and Lee Scratch Perry crap I can get my hands on. And I don't even smoke pot. Hey, need to hear that rare Big Black B-side? Sure, let me find it. Oh, you like Gene McDaniel's version of "A Hundred Pounds of Clay"? No prob.
All this is great, unless I want to hear the basics. Some of my all-time favorite bands aren't in my collection, because I have heard them so much that actually buying the entire record seems like a waste of money. Albums from AC/DC, or Metallica, or even the Rolling Stones are completely absent from my library. So this week when I really started jonesin' for a Led Zeppelin song, I had to go out and actually buy it, which felt weird. And while I'm at it, for God's sake, I went through my Zeppelin period like fifteen years ago. It's amazing that I would even want to hear a song of theirs that badly (and one that I couldn't catch on The Bone, of course).
But I wanted to hear "In the Evening" on In Through the Out Door. Dude, I wanted to hear it real loud.
So I bought that puppy and then I was sorta bummed, because I don't have a CD player in my car, and I wasn't going to be getting home until really late. I started to think about the folks I was going to meet that night, and whether they were the sort to have portable CD players. Or maybe I could convince the bar to play my song?
My friends were at the Fireside on Irving near Eighth Avenue. It's a pretty sleek place, a bit too sleek for my tastes, with fine lines, warm paint, and, of course, a big ol' fireplace. When I walked in, I had the opening strains to "In the Evening" running through my head, as it had been all day long (Ba-da-da-dada-daa ... Ba-da-da-dada-daa).
We perched ourselves at the bar — me, G. (whose name will be protected), and E. (whose name will also be protected, the reasons for which will become apparent later).
I've been friends with G. and E. for several years now. They're two stimulating, cynical, good-time guys who make a girl feel like a girl. I was psyched to be in their company. Plus maybe they would have a portable CD player. (I have since realized that these things don't exist anymore, really, and most people use these "iPod" thingies instead. Interesting!)
I ordered a Chimay and the guys had whiskey and beer. I could tell right away that something was amiss. They looked like they had just lost the all-city Little League championship or something.
"Dudes, what's the D? You look like shit," I said, in so many words.
"We need to get laid," said G. The strain in his voice — and emitting from his crotch, quite frankly — was great. I was a bit flummoxed, because these were two attractive guys who I always thought had no prob getting chicks. E. is a surf instructor and G. works in the music field. I mean, come on.
"I have a great idea!" said G. "Do a six-week Bouncer series on trying to get us laid!" I pointed out that if it actually took six weeks to get them some, then we were in trouble.
I was just launching into a pep talk when all of a sudden there was a great commotion in the bar behind us. We turned around and saw a blond, middle-aged punk chick stumbling in what seemed like slow motion through two tables and two sets of chairs. It was the longest fall ever. Her boyfriend eventually helped her up and the two of them went off into the corner and began to make out. Oh, baby, you really get me hot when you take a drunk dive like 'at!
"Yo — K, no more drinks for them," said the bartender.
"Huh," said E. "TSOL must be in town." (See? He's funny, ladies!).
"That fall took forever," he continued. "It was like the opening part of that one Metallica song... you know, chunk chunk, chunkchunkchunk kerchunk..."
"'Sanitarium'?" I posited.
"Jesus, no," he shot back. "None of that Black Album bullshit."
He had the song in his car, he said, which of course meant that I would also be able to hear my Led Zeppelin song. (Ba-da-da-dada-daa.)
We talked a little bit more about G. and E.'s sex situation, but frankly it was pretty fucking dire and they didn't really seem to want to do any of the legwork involved to change things. They'd both gone off their antidepressants, for one thing, so actually approaching anyone or being approached was going to be out of the question. I mean really, guys, pick yourselves up by your booty-straps. My friends reminded me of those two old men who sat in the balcony on The Muppet Show and made cynical comments about everyone and everything but weren't getting any. Someone like Fozzie Bear had a much more positive outlook and was thus banging Janice, the guitarist from Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.
We went to E.'s car. I squished myself underneath a surfboard and lay flat in the backseat. He pulled out ... And Justice for All and played the second song, and there it was, in all its glory, the TSOL chick's dramatic fall. I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants. Then, mercifully, I handed E. my Led Zeppelin CD. There was a moment of silence and then "In the Evening" kicked in. There are few pleasures in life as great as finally hearing a song that has been tugging at you for weeks. We all got into it — which in our San Francisco way meant that we just sat there.
Well, I thought, at least these guys were finally sharing an intimate moment with a woman. My work was done.