It all comes back to Manchester

20 Mar

This weekend I left sunny Los Angeles to visit my friend Darryl in Toronto. I met Darryl a few years ago while he was working on Pride in Travel (available on Amazon here and features yours truly in chapter 5). It was a chance to head to Opera Bob’s and meet the other members of the Toronto Supporters Club. The global City community can seem small at times and we all seem to know someone in every city. This feeling of camaraderie reminds me of the early 90s Morrissey crowd that followed those early solo tours around the states. There are a few worlds that overlap but this is one case when they did spectacularly. What follows is one of the greatest stories I’ve been a part of in the last few years.

In the fall of 1992 Morrissey came through Los Angeles with his Your Arsenal tour. That was also a monumental year in my life in which I turned 18, had left home to move in to the dorms at UCLA. My friends and I made plans to attend the Hollywood Bowl shows then follow the tour to the Del Mar show because it was a general admission show and you could get to the front if you arrived early enough. We camped out for two days in an unusually rainy Del Mar while rotating out trips for naps and showers at a nearby Motel 6 that we were sharing with no less than eight other fans.  Our efforts paid off and we were rewarded with a few hours smashed up against the barriers while Moz tore through his set. Somewhere during the show someone tossed a flag on stage that Morrissey whipped around for a few seconds before he threw it to the side of the stage. Any rabid fan knows that after the show your main goal is to get whatever you can from the Roadies tearing down the stage. I was the lucky one that grabbed the flag from the stage with a little help from my friends helping me plead to get it thrown down to us. It was a cross of St. George flag – a nice one as well that wasn’t just screen printed but stitched together pieces of nylon. I went skipping back to our car to head home with this new treasure firmly in my grasp.

I hung this flag in my dorm room for a few weeks until the morning I left for New York to catch the last few nights of the tour. I had a free ticket to fly anywhere in the US thanks to my newly acquired AmEx and I could think of no better destination. I traveled with two friends to the city where we had no hotel room booked or tickets to any of the shows! These were no ordinary shows on the tour they were three small club sized shows around New York City and ending the week in Philadelphia at the Tower theatre. That trip is a tale for another time but in the midst of these shows was Thanksgiving when no show would be played and we took our chance to try to meet Moz at his hotel to get a few things signed one of these items being my flag. After hours of waiting at The Mark we were rewarded with a few moments of his time and were told to wait in the lobby. Linder Sterling came back to the lobby to gather up what we had and took it to Morrissey’s room to get signed, she returned 20 minutes later with everything bagged up for us and we ran back though the cold streets to our derelict hotel off of Times Square giddy with our interaction.

I’ve held on to this flag and kept it as the ultimate Morrissey souvenir sure to win all arguments of who has the best object from the era. I haven’t displayed it in many years because I’ve been worried about the flag becoming worn and the autograph fading so it’s been tucked safely inside a box for the last 5 years. Flash to October of last year when I was selling my beloved Vespa LXV to my friend Andy to make room for my Primavera. Andy is also a City fan, member of the supporters club and a MASSIVE Morrissey fan. He had never been to my home and had a bit of a nose around at my memorabilia covering the walls. We got to talking about various items we had and I knew I had to bring out the flag. I couldn’t find it at first and just told him about how great it was. He asked some questions about where I got it and pretty specific details about the flag itself and quickly realized this was the flag he had thrown on stage that Halloween night! I knew I had to find it. A few moments of opening nearly every box in my office I found the folded flag and presented it to Andy. He marveled at seeing this flag he last had in his hands 25 years ago now with the oil crayon inscription of “Bernadette Hoist It High – Morrissey” in the distinctive Moz scrawl across a panel. I was a bit worried he would ask for it back but instead wanted a photo with it and put up a post about it.

Andy Flag 2

There are certain people in my life I feel I was always meant to be friends with but had never been brought together until recently. We all moved in the same circles, knew many of the same people and have shared experiences. It wasn’t until something like your team pulling an impossible victory out in overtime spawning the need to form an official club that you meet these people.

International Women’s Day

8 Mar

I didn’t start this day thinking I should write a post about International Women’s Day but as the day grew on I knew I had to write about one very special woman who was a massive influence on who I became. I just went digging through my boxes of photos and unfortunately this is the only one I could find of her but everyone – meet my grandmother Dolores Ojeda.

Grandma

It wasn’t until I was much older that I began to appreciate just what an incredible woman she was. This photo was taken on the day of my high school graduation, my Dad reserved the private room of one of the nicest places in all of Montebello to celebrate this grand event. She’s wearing her go to dress, I’m sure somewhere on the booth is her white sweater she would wear with this. She’s there with my two cousins and another in the booth behind, all of the little girls in this photo are now grown up with children of their own.

So what made “Fat Grandma” the greatest? Well first she let us call her “Fat Grandma”, she was carrying a bit of weight on her and well our other grandmother weighed about 90 pounds soaking wet and holding a brick. She grew up in Bakersfield during the great migration from the dust bowl and family lore has it that she was being groomed to be married off to someone with a bit of money but luckily for us she hopped the fence one day and ran away to start a life with our grandfather. With that man she would have three children the first one being my Dad. Their life together was cut short after an accident in Mexico took him away far too soon and she was left a single mother in 1960. So what did Dolores do? She went to work! Some of my earliest memories of her are visiting her at the Thrifty’s Coffee Shop where she was a waitress until they closed the restaurant. My tea kettle I use today is one that she swiped from the shop and I think of her each time I use it.

Somewhere in the early 80’s my Dad took full time custody of me and my two siblings and when we needed a place to live grandma moved out and let my Dad move in to the home she had been in for decades. Her sacrifice enabled us to have some stability and get back to growing up. She would often stop by to clean the house or visit with her sister who lived on the opposite corner. Sometimes she would comment on the neighbors my favorite was her annoyance at the house across the way that had a few teenage daughters who had boys coming to honk their horns when they came to pick them up for dates. She taught us that you should never go out with a man that won’t come to the door to pick you up.

We would also go on adventures to Downtown LA, she loved the bustle of a city or to the Golden Gate theater to see movies. She taught us how to ride the bus and not to take any crap from anyone even if that meant you had to swing around a sock full of nickels to scare them away. You would always get at least $10 to run to the concession stand to get her a cup of ice or candy and she would never ask for change back.

Dolores was a strong independent woman that was bound by a few ideals that I wish she didn’t feel the need to live by. She had this man in her life that she said you had to have someone or people would think you’re ‘funny’. He didn’t seem to really add much to her life and really wish she could have just been allowed to be single and not have to worry about what everyone thought. I also wish she had believed in her abilities a bit more, she was smart but there were things she never did like learn to drive. When I was 16 I went to pick up my grandmother for my brother’s graduation and she sat in the passenger seat just smiling at me and a little tear rolled down her cheek. I asked her why she was crying and she said she was just happy I was driving. I can’t help but wonder where she would have gone if she knew how to drive, I can picture her now just winding her way all over California going where she wanted to.

So that’s it readers – your inspiration doesn’t have to come from some grand woman in history. It could be anyone! I know I wouldn’t be a fraction of the woman I am today without this woman who also let me know it’s ok to be the kind of woman that would receive a holiday card from the local bar. I wish the Wagon Wheel was still open so I could go there and hold a glass aloft in toast to you grandma, I hope you’ve got a beer with you somewhere and are watching the sights.

Mistakes were made

4 Mar

I’ve never been one of those women that can justify spending more than say $30 on a haircut. I have straight hair and a simple cut so I’ve always just popped in to whatever discount chain stylist I was near when I need a clean up. I did try last year to find a “stylist” that I would go to and have a quality cut and color but it didn’t look that much better than the strip mall places and left a giant hole in my account so I abandoned that notion after two visits.  I had a lot of errands to run today and at the end of it all I decided to get my bangs trimmed because I was full on sheep dog status with the hair more than half covering my face. I asked the stylist to just trim about an inch and have them still go past my eyebrows so I could put off having to go get those done.  Well this is what I wound up with.

fringe

As you can see it’s well above my untamed brows also what’s with the strays?! So what did I do? I did nothing. You just have to accept that this is done, it can’t be undone and just accept it and move on. I’ll be saving myself $6 on not having to get them trimmed again so soon so there’s that. Today it was stopping by the wrong shop on the way home but it could have been anything. In life there are so many mistakes that get made – sending off a snippy text to someone, accepting a date with that guy you know isn’t right, leaving the house without a coat knowing full well you’ll be out after dark or forgetting you had tickets to that amazing show that all of your friends are posting about.

I’m not one of those 24/7, vision board, positive thinking rules the world people but if we all just learned to accept mistakes happen and just move on with our lives we’d all be happier people. I know too many people that are hanging on to regret and anger from years ago and hope one day they can just accept we don’t have time machines and learn to move past things.

57,863 Miles

28 Feb

Last week I climbed in to my Mini and started it up to have the cold weather warning alert pop on to the controls along with the mileage 57,863. I sat there staring at the numbers for a minute thinking of everything that’s happened during those miles. I bought the Mini while working at a company that was based in Encino and had me making my longest commute of my working life. Within a few months that company would start to implode upon itself with the owners relapsing in to their addictions and I made the decision to walk away grabbing my last paycheck not knowing what would happen to me next.  I came home that day and took a look around at my apartment and wondered how long I would be able to stay there as I wouldn’t be entitled to unemployment.  I had a vague promise of a temporary job with Virgin Galactic on a data entry project that would help keep me going until I found permanent work. It was a chance to work with some old colleagues and my way in to a company I had wanted to be a part of for nearly a decade. Having spent the bulk of my working life with another Virgin company, oddly enough starting off as a data entry clerk I was familiar with the brand and always regretted walking away before. On my way to Mojave for my first day orientation I was hoping with each passing mile that it wouldn’t be my only trip. I must have done an amazing job on that data entry because I’m still with them now and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Those miles include so many trips to Mojave but they also have a lot of adventures packed in there. Trips to Indio for Coachella, Las Vegas with friends, that one weekend we drove to San Francisco then down to San Diego in the span of three days chasing great music. Early morning drives over the canyon to the Kings Head to watch City play and now to the Rec Room from Long Beach where I now live.  The supporters club that was started by a few stray fans has now grown to this giant loud group and I couldn’t be prouder of it.

Sitting outside that gas station in Mojave with the winds whipping around me as I was tucked safely inside the car staring at that number I felt content. The next morning I would stand out on the edge of a runway and watch a beautiful spaceship take another test flight. My life isn’t perfect by any means but it’s pretty good at the moment and I’m looking forward to the next 60,000 miles.

Modern Butts and Vintage Seats

3 Mar

Last night I went to see Morrissey playing a tiny little show at Hollywood High, being a lapsed fan I thought how could I pass up a chance to see someone that once basically ruled my world at such a special place.  I didn’t factor in that the auditorium built decades ago and has along with the rest of the school been designated a historical landmark would still have those tiny little seats!  I’ve always been fortunate enough to be able to fit into seats even if it took a bit of maneuvering but no such luck on these ones. I could sit on the edge or go in kind of at an angle but I was definitely looking forward to when Moz took the stage and the whole crowd stood up.  My feet were starting to fall asleep with the weird angles I had to tuck my legs underneath me while sitting on the edge of the seat during the opener.  I was at least not alone in this, there seemed to be several of my fluffy counterparts around the auditorium with similar challenges!

IMG-20130302-00235

Other than the seating issues it was a good show!  We had extra tickets and sold them to two very young fans that had never seen Morrissey live and even though it was general admission we still found ourselves sitting next to them.  After spending a few hours with them in line waiting to go in it was like we had kind of adopted them and wanted to make sure they had a decent night.  They looked a little bored during most of the show but every bit of Smiths that made it into the set list brought a wave of emotion from them.  I’m sure if it was 20 years ago and Morrissey had broken out a Smiths song during one of his solo shows I would have had a similar reaction.  But as a weary 38 year old that had seen so many shows in the past it just didn’t hit home like it did for these kids.  Just jaded with age I suppose!

I did hit the merch stand last night though and passed up on some of the more interesting offerings with Morrissey being set as a religious icon and settled for a lithograph print of some lyrics from Still Ill and a set of pins.  Being the best ticket scalpers in the world I passed on a pin to the couple we sold the tickets to.  All in all not a bad night out even with the stiff little wooden seats and the anti-meat propaganda break in the middle of the show.

Dream Crushers

12 Feb

This weekend there was yet another family party for my niece who was turning 10 so we all trekked back up the mountain to Wrightwood. The usual merriment was going on but as the bulk of the family left and it was just a few of us sitting around the dining room table the talk turned to my eldest niece’s post-graduation plans. We’re still not sure how she managed to make it to the last few months of her senior year without someone telling her to take the SATs and its too late to sit them now so any sort of traditional university is sort of out of the picture for the next semester. She is focused on working in the theatre though. No she doesn’t want to become an actress she wants to work behind the scenes, being a Stage Manager or Director. Of course she wants to do this in New York City, this is our first problem. While we adore her and don’t want to discourage her or anyone from following their dreams this is a girl who well into double digit age honestly believed that Santa was real. THE CITY WILL EAT HER ALIVE!! We told her that there are lots of theatres in Los Angeles and maybe she should start here where she’d at least be able to live with one of us and get a few internships or PA jobs under her belt before heading east and she’d get to live in the city! This girl has spent most of her life living in the mountains, sure she’s traveled, they went to New York maybe 5 or 6 years ago so she’s not completely ignorant of the city atmosphere but it’s so different when Mom and Dad are tucking you away in a hotel room and you’re eating at Bubba Gump overlooking Times Square. We have a few months to try to sort this out but right now we’re a little concerned about our Weebecca.

2013 here we come

6 Jan

Ok just spent most of the afternoon talking with a friend about plans for the future.  We’re roughly the same age and we’re both just kinda floating along here in LA not necessarily directionless but not with a firm plan.  I turn 39 this yeah and while I’ve never been one that gets hung up on age I think it’s definitely a year when I need to make some decisions on things and get things going.  2012 was both amazing and horrifying and I’m glad it’s over and I feel we’re all ready for some change.  I think if I didn’t have certain things that I could rely on throughout the last year I would have been slightly batty.  There are two things in particular that gave me some definite bright spots throughout the year and both of them are tied up neatly in this one clip.

Noel Watches Final against QPR

Yes I grew up in LA, total American and have no blood ties to Manchester at all but still feel a total connection to the city.  This last year was pretty rough for a number of reasons but there was always another Noel Gallagher show on the horizon to look forward to and after the season started each weekend brought a fabulous new match to watch.  As I navigate my way through this next year and hopefully coming to some great decisions I know I can always take a little break from it all and get lost in a wonderful 90 minutes of soccer or a few minutes of an absolutely brilliant song.

 

USA, USA, USA!!

15 Dec

Earlier this year Mike Catherwood a.k.a. “Psycho Mike” from Loveline / KROQ started a pledge to buy only products made in the good ole’ USA for a full year.  You can read about Mike’s decision at his website Domestic Journey.  I’m an avid listener of Loveline and the Kevin & Bean show and when I heard about what he was doing I was very intrigued.  I started looking at my own purchases and tried to make a conscious effort to really look at my purchases and buy American when I could. It’s a lot harder than one would think!  As someone that produces a “product” (hey Gilbeys are a product!) I only use materials produced in America so I can proudly say that not only are they 100% handmade by an American they are also made exclusively of American products from their stuffing, ribbons and catnip!  You can see my online shop at the Gilbey store on Etsy, fair warning if you haven’t been to Etsy before be prepared for major hits on your wallet.  There is one thing I found that I know is also handmade here in America that I absolutely adore and think everyone should know about and that’s Tarina Tarantino.

ImageIf you watch The Mindy Project on Fox you’ll see that Mindy Kaling is also a big fan and wears lots of Tarina’s products.  The LA shop is on Melrose Ave at the end of my block which I believe may be far more dangerous for my finances than the Paul Frank shop was.  I have been able to control myself though and ever since my first venture into the strange little pink shop I’ve been in absolute adoration.  I’m not a very girlie girl but I do adore something shiny or whimsical and Tarina’s jewelery scores big on both marks.  I also like that her rings which are my favorite things are adjustable, super old school style with the band you gently pull to widen, but not that pinchey sort that goes underneath your finger this is a full on thick sturdy band that’s adjustable at the top.  There are also adorable bows that clip on to everything (though I do wish they had a pin option on those so I could put my safety pins away), necklaces and awesome headbands! Today I celebrated my return to the working world with a few new purchases from the store.  I soooooo want to wear all three of these at once but I think I’ll start off with the LA girl ring first, maybe I’ll rock the bunny ring at the kids recital tomorrow, we’ll have to see what the day holds. Until then I’ll be representing my “East Los” roots with my homegirl Sparkle.

Where does this water come from??

15 Dec

There are some weird bits around this part of town that will randomly have water running down a street and you can’t really tell where the water is coming from.  One of these spots is the top of Laurel Canyon right before you crest the hill by Mulholland – it always has water running down the east side of the street.  On my street today I saw this little tributary which I’ve dubbed Edinburgh Creek.

ImageI was walking down the street to do a bit of shopping on Melrose and thought maybe it was just some run off from the rain we had the last couple of days.  I looked around the rest of the street and no water across the way and as soon as I crossed Waring it was all dry and there really wasn’t that much rain or any sign of this when I went to go watch the Manchester City game this morning at 4 AM (yes that’s ungodly early but you do what you have to do).  On my way back I circled the block looking for the source of water and couldn’t find one!  Random! Another We-Ho mystery much like where was that water coming from that was just bubbling up in the middle of a little crack on Crescent Heights by Norton that one night.  I kept watching the news the next morning waiting to hear about a big sinkhole opening up or a water main break but nothing.  I’ll keep you posted if this little creek develops into a full on river.

Don’t call it a swap meet

29 Nov

As a kid growing up in the San Gabriel Valley there was always a place you could go to stare at a blanket of old tools, sample some cherry juice, buy some jeans that may be knockoffs and beg your Dad for a baby turtle – that magical place, the swap meet. It was where you could find just about anything and it was a Sunday tradition in some households. Wake up late, head on over to the swap meet where you’ll wander for aisles not finding anything that you really want and you’re not exactly sure what your Dad is looking for anyways. It was a good place to pick up a pair of All Stars or a copy of the latest East Side Story collection (if you don’t know what this is you may not be a true chicano). I haven’t been to the swap meet in Rosemead at the old drive in since leaving for UCLA and I’ve only spied a few small swap meets here in the area that don’t come close to the glory of the ones I grew up on. It must be about 10 years ago that the Melrose Trading Post popped up at Fairfax High. I live really close to this high school and this past weekend was the first time I had visited the Trading Post in about a year.

Ok so Trading Post – first let us start this by saying that the organizers do not like this event being called a swap meet. It is though! It’s an outdoor flea market where people go to paw at cowboy shirts and 70’s style coats with big collars. There are multiple booths of guys standing by a field of used boots, not sure who they are trying to sell to I’ve never seen someone trying these shoes on. I was sad to see that the Pyrex lady was gone, she was a good spot to go get a quick gift for Mom as she always had something in red available. Most of the stuff is overpriced and unnecessary but isn’t everything around Melrose? Also gone is the giant table of “sharp things” that was a field of junk drawers dumped out onto two long tables. In its place are several crystal booths! One was offering holiday crystal parties, wtf is that all about?

While the food is better at this swap meet, I do miss the baby turtles. I wonder what this area would do if one morning the trading post opened up not with booths filled with art that looks as though the artists must have some very well funded trust accounts or furniture covered in milk paint but instead had row upon row of regular swap meet booths. Stereo equipment, DJ lights, plate sets, random old tools, guys with cheap looking new tools, the key guy and socks on every corner. At least this place still has a booth where you can buy tamales and a hot dog.