No screed for you today. If you're in L.A. come out to Hollywood or Long Beach tomorrow and we'll chat.
Here's your two-part valentine, first, chapter two of Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block, a novel I have had the pleasure of handing to many teenagers in Los Angeles over the years.
There were many kinds of Ducks; Buff Ducks, Skinny Ducks, Surf Ducks, Punk-Rock Ducks, Wild Ducks, Shy Ducks, Fierce Ducks, Cuddly Ducks, Sleek, Chic G.Q. Ducks, Rockabilly Ducks with creepers and ducktails, Rasta Ducks with dreads, Dancing Ducks, and Skate-Date Ducks, Ducks in Duckmobiles racing around the city. Weetzie and Dirk went to find the Ducks of their respective dreams.
At a gig at Cathay de Grande, Weetzie stood in front of the stage feeling Buzz's sweat flinging off him as he sang. He was bald, with tattoos all over his arms. Weetzie stared up into the lights.
"That is no Duck," Dirk said. "That is one wild vulture bird."
"But he is gorgeous, isn't he?" Weetzie said, watching Buzz's nostrils flare.
She was pretty drunk by the end of the gig. Buzz came out from backstage and grabbed her wrists. "How was I?" he asked.
"You were okay." Weetzie swallowed.
"Okay? I was hot."
"You think you are pretty sexy, don't you?"
"Yes. So are you. Come and get a beer with me." He turned and backed Weetzie up against the wall. She smelled leather and beer. "Put your arms around my neck." She did it, pretending to choke him, and he pulled her up onto his glossy, white back.
"Put me down!" She tried to kick him with her engineer boots but he carried her toward the bar. After he had let her down, he felt the pockets of his Levi's for change.
"Shit." He turned to Weetzie. "Let's go to my place. I got some beers." He looked about twelve suddenly, even with the shaved head, the eyeliner, and the skull earring. Weetzie started to walk away. "Come on," he said softly.
Weetzie clung to Buzz's body as they rode his motorcycle through the night. Wind blew on their faces, a summer wind thick with the smell of all-night taco stands. Buzz lived in the basement of an old house. The walls were covered with graffiti for his band, Head of Skin, and there was a mattress in one corner. Weetzie glimpsed the handcuffs for a second before Buzz had her down on the mattress. She kept her eyes on the bare bulb until it blinded her.
In the morning, Weetzie tried to wake Buzz but he grunted when she touched him and pulled the sheets over his head. She got out of bed, wincing, still drunk, and called Dirk. He came and picked her up outside.
"Are you okay?" she asked him. His eyes were red. He had met someone in a video booth at a local sex store and they had groped around there for a while, then gone to the guy's apartment. Dirk had awakened, looked at the unfamiliar face, and gone home fast.
"About the same as you, I think." They went to Canter's for bagels, which comforted Weetzie because she had teethed on Canter's bagels when she was a baby. While they ate, a cart of pickles wheeled by, the green rubbery pickles bobbing. "Oh, God, that's all I need to see after last night," Dirk said.
"There are no Ducks, it feels like," Weetzie said.
"What is that?" Dirk asked the next day, noticing a tattoo-like bruise on Weetzie's arm.
"Nothing," she said.
"You aren't seeing that Buzz vulture any more," Dirk said. Weetzie kept falling for the wrong Ducks. She me a Gloom-Doom Duck Poet who said, "My heart is a canker sore. I cringed at the syringe." She met a toothy blonde Surf Duck, who, she learned later, was sleeping with everyone. She met an Alcoholic Art Duck with a ponytail, who talked constantly about his girlfriend who had died. Dirk saw him at an all-boy party kissing all the boys. Dirk didn't do much better at the parties or bars.
"I just want My Secret Agent Lover Man," Weetzie said to Dirk.
"Love is a dangerous angel," Dirk said.
Second, (thanks, Mike) a punk rocker had a tender message which I want to give to YOU! Use it well,
So tidy boy, the mind is supple. More meshlike than a shotgun-blasted colander. A decaying oyster. I remember the forgotten and forget the way to where I'm standing, lose my name and recall the position of the fallen leaf that lay on a cold cobblestone near a complex of squats near Fulham Road sixteen years ago. I miss an old lover and discover the same Sun I have spent my life with, it silently says, "We are together in a relation of space. An illusion of isolation separating the mass of things, but the space between our cells touch the stellar depths, and upon this union we all connect behind the illusion of isolation." I am visiting you in my mind. Can you feel me when I think of you? Do we become more parts the more we meet? Is it the magnitude of memory that bogs one down to an early death? Do the "insane" go free because they forget? Do we blister our minds when we stretch a tight grip to the past? Is the moment of "now" a hole in the wall looking out from a room that we are sitting in? The room is spinning, the "past" and "future" are the landscape surrounding us. It is all here, but we only see what appears through the hole in the wall, until it is seen we do not notice it. When what we see reminds us of what we saw, we call this the past. But it is all here NOW. So I hold your hand and kiss your face though you may not know, I am loving you as always even as I was before I knew I knew you.
Love Jim Brown
14 February 2003