Tzvi's Trees: Stories About Weed
#07 Riot Grill up and over the Rainbow
by Tzvi Peckar the Third, 2015
Somewhere under the fog of Hip Hop, Dub Step, Grindcore, and Bit Rock, someone claimed, “Punk’s Not Dead,” and that muther fucker was right; I just found it for a fifth reincarnation of its former self over the rainbow at a LGBT event in Downtown Los Angeles, inappropriately titled Riot Grill, but that’s the name so bite it.
Kim, the Puerto Rican, got to my place right after her day job as a receptionist for an investment company way out by LAX; 3 hours of answering phones, 5 hours of surfing the web with a pay grade five bucks above minimum wage.
“Am I late?” she asked storming into my apartment from the backdoor.
“Doors at 7,” I told her as I packed my various strains of THC oil into my handy mini-Hemp-pouch that came with my latest purchase of Blue Dream from a new extracts company.
“How much you gonna smoke tonight?” she asked fixing her hair in the mirror.
“I have to be prepared,” I educated her, “Besides, this one (I showed her the vial that I marked with a golden circle) is for strangers who want to suck some down with me. That’s how you avoid the sickness. Don’t toke from this one.”
“You’re paranoid,” she said turning to me, “Do I look punk enough?”
“No. Punk’s a state of mind, you can’t look punk; you can only be punk. Besides, I’d rather be paranoid than right,” and I tossed her my keys, “Here, you drive.”
I suggest Kim takes us along Sunset Blvd to get downtown. “But the road is so windie? I’m kinda scared to drive this huge thing on that,” she says about my brick red ’84 Ford Bronco as she takes a very slow left turn up Bundy. I pat the roll bars above our heads, “That’s what I installed these for,” I explain, “Take Sunset as fast as you want. If you flip us, just aim for one of the uber rich, Beverly Hillbilly houses. That’ll get ya the punk rock stamp of approval; just don’t hit the dog, they really don’t care about their dogs up here. Demolish the house and set the pooches free.”
We get to the Regent Theater downtown quick enough after all the obnoxious road construction along UCLA. I vaped so much during those thirty-minutes of bumper to bumper Lexus’, Mercedes, BMWs, a token Lamborghini, and stretched Hummers, that I could really go for a triple-shot espresso with an iced Americano as a chaser. “I need cocaine,” I say to Kim.
“You mean GHB,” she says, and I correct her, “I mean Bath Salts, uppers, kid, but I’m not that daring. Plus this is an LGBT event, that means Poppers and K-holes.”
The minute we step up to the Regent we see my new amiga, Maureen Herman (Bassist for Babes in Toyland), sporting a long black and white patterned dress, her extended height and bass playing arms tower over everyone as she smokes her cigs. She’s surrounded by the Adventure Time crew, a bunch of animators and writers with their significant others. The whole crew is already getting their drink on, planted around a few bar tables on the street, protected by a red rope of power. I must thank Maureen for the invite. “Smoking Cannabis dot com is happy to be here,” I say, hugs, intros to the rest of the members of Babes in Toyland. “Did the show start?” I ask. Maureen looks back into the bar as if she can see through walls with her x-ray, punk rock, woman power eyes, “Yes.” - “Fuck!” I bark right in her face and scat out, running right past the doorman, and stopped, “You have a ticket?” - “Guest list?” - “Name?” - I’m psycho impatient, tapping my foot, gotta get in already, I hear music, I’m supposed to cover the whole show right? Do I care? Yes, I always care. I don’t like missing anything at an event, unless I miss everything and then that just totally writes itself. “Here it is,” says the Guest Lister, and I’m shackled into my wristbands, one for access, one for drinking, “Thanks,” and my WWII helmet and I disappear into the venue leaving the Puerto Rican out with the Holly-Not-So-Normal-Wood crew.
People, punks, past punks, new punks, re-punks, non-punks, gays, lesbians, straights, bi’s, and Mxysptlkes fill this refurbished theater, two floors, one being a balcony with a second bar, and I’m already pushing my way through this mass once I’ve entered the door curious to know if Kanye and the Family are going to show up with Grandma Caitlyn?
Slutever’s guitarist/vocalist of the trio squeaks into the mic over their shoe-gazer riffs, “Everything was better in nineteen ninety four.” What was I doing in 1994? Befriending Angel in NYC, a drug-free drug dealer, threw a mini-rave, “D-tox,”on Ludlow with Michael Alig and Freeze, spent innumerable hours with Soigne and T2, my NYU roommate, in the tunnel, catching trannys in K-holes, dancing forever, lots of Acid, Ariadne’s attempted suicide, plenty of shrooms that I would nibble and deal, supplied by the midget Manhattan Paramedic, an extra in Kids, gifted an airplane floatation device from Chloe Sevigny while smoking opium with Kenny Kenny and Pat Fields, and an addiction to Russian ecstasy, to going undercover into squats in order to witness the other side of the Upper East Side; rich kids that ran away to live on the streets and listen to Sonic Youth and shoot heroin in Alphabet City—Yeah everything was better in 1994, except gays couldn’t get married, the War on Drugs, and the 3 strikes law was way still in effect, Freeway Ricky Ross was in jail for being a pawn of the CIA for the Iran Contra Scandal, while Clarence Thomas was not setting a good example for us to get a reliable African American president anytime soon. Ask a hippy, they’ll lie about their years too, “The sixties was the best,” but that is utter bullshit, because no way in hell was having Richard Nixon and Vietnam standing on your neck the “best,” besides, pot’s still illegal. I’ll take 2015 over those years any day, as long as the music gets better and tonight, the music got better again. And it’s a short set, bows by the girls of Slutever, no curtsies, and the Smiths come over the speakers and this crowd begins their between sets bustling, so I go on the search for the foody segment of the Riot Grill.
I make like three full circles of the main hall and spot less than zero BBQ grills smoking up the venue, and I’ve asked a few women couples if they knew where the food was, but their eyes just glaze over from their wine and ignore me to discuss something I cannot make out over 7seconds on the loud speakers. Maybe they’re listing off their favorite Riot bands, “L7?” I ask them, but they kiss instead of acknowledge my dumb ass question. That reminds me, I have to delete more Confederate Flag Waving Stoners from my Facebook; the Facebook is infested with those freaks, and they keep adding me, or I add them on accident. Mistaking heritage for bigotry, very troubling stuff, especially since they tote more guns per capita than the BMF (Black Mafia Family) did. Somebody needs to do an exposé on that crazy shit. They must be mixing their dabs with crystal.
I pass the VIP red vine, guarded by a Regent bouncer, and make my way, step by step, up to the balcony area where I expect to find the special party. VIP has a total of twelve souls on hold while the stagehands switch up the band gear. These guests are packed in groups of two or three, maybe a loner journalist or two, but we don’t have legit press badges, just general VIP wristbands so us like minded individuals are up here fending for ourselves, without any BBQ. There’s a hall of sorts at the back wall, no guard here, nothing, except an old movie projector. I take a picture of that and turn a corner that leads to some door, maybe kitchen? The door is open, an invitation if I’ve ever seen one, and inside I think I get a glimpse of catering trays covered in saran wrap until I’m pushed back out the door by a strange elitist-like woman and her suited limo driver type, “You can’t be in here.”
“How do you know that?” I say.
“No one’s allowed back here,” the woman says trying to ignore me and get back into that door.
“That’s fucked up, you were back there. Is there food in there?” I say trying to push my helmet covered head back through the doorframe, “I’m looking for the Grill segment of the party,” but the anally attentive, definitely straight executive limo man puts his hands on my shoulders and forcefully moves me back out of the door, closing it on me, but not all the way, leaving it open a crack, which I suppose is because yes, that is where the Chef Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen is, but weirdos in army hats are not allowed back there; don’t ask, don’t tell, so fuck it, I’ll go hang out with Babes in Toyland instead, so I just kick the door back open, hoping to get the guy in the nose, and run away, “What up, like, the show?” I ask the bouncer at the bottom of the VIP stairs as I exit his rope. Still no second band?
As I exit the Regent, there is King Buzzo. He’s got his guitar case in hand. I have yet to meet this man that seems to know most of my musician friends in life, but he’s engaged in discussions with the Babes, and an Adventure Time writer and the Puerto Rican are waving me over.
“Hey, you could have let me talk to Buzzo,” I tell Kim as I approach the table. “We don’t control you,” she says.
“I’m a considerate dude. You all control me,” and the writer offers me a cigarette. “No thanks, here, hit this,” and I vape the guy with my public use tip.
“Weed?” he asks.
“Yes,” I tell him.
“Like this?,” he inquires and as he presses the little button and takes his hit. I take the pen back and give a quick, “The PCP kicks in a little later. Have fun, I hear music again,” and I kiss the Kim on the cheek, take my vape to disappear into Nadia G’s new band, The Menstuators. I enter right as Nadia’s complaining about an Ex-Boyfriend who didn’t like the fact that she’d stay up all night taking poppers. “Told you,” I say to the girl next to me pretending she’s Kim. “Told me what?” she asks as if she really missed something. “Inside joke,” and I push to the front to get better journalistic coverage and hopefully a few bruises as a memento. Nadia’s rocking an S&M, Industrial-Punk, Lords of Acid outfit, accented by the silver meshed fire thorn, chain link, facemask worn as a headband. Her bass player’s got black electrical tape stars covering his bare nipples, keeping everything conservative. I think he’s assuming there are Kinder kids here so he’s keeping it G for the LBTs. Female drummer’s burning the light with her brilliant blue hair, tap-tappity-tapping the cymbals, and the guitarist, she’s got a one piece, black, all lace, see-through body suit, and her hair says, fuck this I’m playing music, let it just be brown and long, take that bitches. Maybe Nadia’s going to throw us food, but instead she cooks us songs, screams, hollers, and tosses her sweaty towel into the pit, coveted by some Hot Topic hater in the middle of the crowd.
“Where’s Kim?” I ask one of the Adventure Timers, but she gives the shrug, and now I see Barry Crimmins ranting a level of curse words only matched by myself on a good day. His pal, Tricia has got her ear on him, and I lean in, one eye peaking out under my rim, offering the controversial comedian who took on the Catholic Church for raping him and a billion other prepubescent kids, literally, and say, “Tzvi Peckar. You nearly swear as much as me,” and we have a good grip on each other’s hands, and this dude is trashed, “What the fuck is on your fucking head? Shit fucking place. Fuck me. Asshole crazies everywhere…Who are you?” Tricia gives me the, never-mind-him look, and I’m just happy to have something to write about and move along to the next band-
Oh fuck, my fuckin’ fuck face full of gold shit and showers, Le Butcherettes are serious business. I’ll be back. I rush to the exterior bar. I thought I saw the Kim as I ran out before. I find her being served a third cocktail. “You gotta see this shit. This is your jam,” I tell her pulling her off the stool. “I’m drunk,” she says. “Great,” and she downs half the bourbon tonic before I shove her through the theater doors into the manic mob of a cataclysmic sized mosh pit with a lead singer in a dress so red and on fire from her inner passion that Katniss Everdeen ain’t got nuthin’ on this Latina Mockingbird. I’ve lost Kim instantly, bashed from sweaty boy to screaming girls, people are just a mass of bubbling frenzy, as our leader in red destroys Mick Jagger’s swagger with her pristinely improvised, frantically choreographed poses. A stare into our souls, the beating of her own head, tearing a clump of her locks out for herself instead of entertainment, to a squat by the keyboard, her eyes a burning frenzy as she lyrically tells the tale of her Mother’s rape in a Spanish tongue. The drummer has transported himself into a zone beyond that of any sort of human awareness, you cannot see his hands, they move too quick, his red shirt and matching pants a blur surrounded by the stretched plastic animal skins and golden, brass cymbals that accent the band’s every move. The bass player, who will also jump on the mic, is straight out of old skool Alphabet City; short grey cut hair, dark rimmed glasses, all attached to a lanky form from her heroin thin neck with veins that bulge at every pluck of the strings, and I swear she’s been in the Velvet Underground, The Stooges, G-d is my Co-Pilot, and Thurston Moore should be charged with swiping her style, and this band is killing it, and Buzzo’s guest rocking on a song, and Kim is somewhere absorbed into the LGBT-Straight-MishMash mega mosh pit in this small theater.
I keep finding myself outside at the street bar scene. I still can’t find any Bitchin’ Kitchen food or some kind of candy bar, not even a mint, and starting to think Grill was a cute play on Girl, but a major fail on execution, “And where’s the comedy?” this guy on the outside says to me after I finish my rant to his girlfriend. “Right?” I say, and take a hit from my vape. “What’s that, tobacco?” his wife asks. “No, it’s the weed,” I say. She slaps her boy saying, “Ah, dummy here dropped our weed.”
“No,” I say.
“Yeah, in the bathroom,” he says.
“NO!” I’m shocked, offended.
“Yeah, man, a whole joint. And then, like, I got pissed off and threw out my cigarette pack,” but I’m not sure of the connection, so I make the obvious assumption and ask, “Did you have your weed in there?” And his wifey whacks him again. “Certainly did,” she says.
“This is the first low point of the evening,” I tell this man, “Here,” and I switch my vile, “Have a hit on me. Take two,” and he takes like 5, bogarting the thing and not offering his woman any, and I actually have to “ask” for it back. “Yeah, sorry man,” he casually apologizes as he kind of hands it back but not really, so I just take my property and force them to pose for a photo for my instagram (@TzviPeckar3). “Suck her tongue,” I direct, and click, and hashtag, and post.
The show starts off with a fine splatter of spit from Lead Singer and Guitarist Kat Bjelland, no count off by drummer Lori Barbero, and Maureen Herman seems like she was in the zone before she stepped on the stage, and the shit goes off, and the crowd is crazed for Babes in Toyland. Almost hard to hear the music over the audience madness, and the whole place is a giant pit and I’ve just got in here and we’ve only gotten through 30seconds of the first song. Kim the Puerto Rican is nowhere to be found and had ditched her press camera into my hands, so I guess I’m shooting now, but I can’t get much from the back of the theater, I need to go deep, I need to go inside, vape, and now I’m in the pit with the camera strap wrapped around my wrist to keep a tight grip held over my helmet; I’m in the mass, I am part of the mass, and no one fucks with the guy in the helmet in the middle of a pit, I own this shit. Crash, push, shove, beat, kick, stick, rip, vape, and keep it going, and the sativa from the pen is brilliantly bright, like the new ultimate upper, and I don’t need coke, ‘cause my brain and body’s firing off adrenalin and focus five times the doobie dose from the extract. “Fucking crazy, man!” yells a Clockwork Orange chick shoving her face into my lens. Last pit this hard was Melt Banana, second last pit this hard was Venetian Snares. I wonder if Kim’s up in the VIP watching?
Babes are killing it tonight. The reunion has been much anticipated, and now it’s the bloodline of this LGBT crowd. Babes are their adult prophets of pissed! They are sure to break up sixteen more times before they check into the Punk Rock Retirement home with Rollins and Al Jorgenson. You don’t play this hard without internal band problems, it just wouldn’t be right, punk ain’t hippy, and hippy bands break up all the time, or loose their leads and drummers in the middle of their days, or sooner.
Maureen has everyone’s attention on stage. Her long feminine figure dips and waves back and forth with grace and chaos to the rhythm of her crunchy bass lines, and it is through her zoned performance, her ignoring all of us, that allows us to focus in on that punk-ass grumbling of thick metal strings striking out from her electric bass. And she doesn’t slap nothing, she ain’t no Claypool, she’s not blowing out a trumpet riff in the middle like Flea or playing it cool like Mr. Fisher or Entwistle, she’s got it crunchy like Watt, but she’s all about the pick, the rumbling of one string, and for show she’ll slide her index down the entire neck and turn her head from the audience and hands will soar to the air reaching for her awesome, and then the guitar solo from Kat will switch focus as she screeches out her nonsense to drive us all mad with fury allowing us to mosh some more without missing a lyric. Barbero is obviously a drumming force to be reckoned with, and now she’s going to sing too, ah fuck that, that’s too crazy for this crowd, they may trample for that. Barbero could care less if they riot as she beats the shit out of that animal hide with her mouth gapped open, she’s not breathing, she’s holding it in, but her mouth is wide, her eyes bulged with passion, and then she’ll smile, she’ll actually fucking smile in the middle of it all, as if she’s happy that people have lost their minds to her and her best buddies’ music, and the show will end, and there will be an encore and that same psycho drummer will stay on the stage smiling like the mad joker of joy taking picts with her phone of the audience and the audience gives her the performance she deserves in return, and fuck anyone that says Punk’s Dead, ‘cause that just means you’re out of the loop, and I find Kim, drunk as fuck, drunk as fucking fuck-fuck; drunker than Barry Crimmins who was ever so twilight zoned trashed in his flannel in the middle of the pit, people circling him as he tries to see his Babes through his beer/whisky/vodka/and whatever else goggles.
“You like the show?” I ask the Puerto Rican.
“Muther fuckers in the pit don’t know what they were fighting on,” she says putting her hand on my shoulder with a villainous look in her eye on the face of sweetness and pure innocence, which she is not. “Fuckers push up against me, they gonna get a jab,” and she demonstrates by kicking out one elbow followed by the other, “Jab, Jab!” she keeps going in the Brick all the way back to the West Side, “Jab to the hip! Jab to the belly! Fuckers think they can fuck with the sweet blonde girl, jab-jab,” and now she’s Jabbing her own passenger seat, “You see me jabbing people in the pit? Muther fuckers didn’t know what was going on, jab-jab!”
“You want donuts?” I ask.
“Do I look like I don’t want donuts? You gonna get a jab,” and she can’t stop, “Jab, jab-jab!” and then she pukes out the window, “Oh I feel so much better. Donuts? Jab-jab, jabba-jabba!”
“Wanna vape?” I ask.