Thursday, April 9, 2020

A 70s Road Trip - A Cassette Journey


1973. Made myself a cassette and took the keys to my old man’s Barracuda. Let’s me drive it – sometimes. Loves that car. I opened all the windows and put in the tape; “Sittin in a park in Paris, France…” I pulled out of the driveway in Studio City, turned right on Ventura by the Bla-Bla CafĂ©. “There were lots of pretty people there, reading Rolling Stone, reading Vogue.” Headed down passed Kirkwood Bowl into Hollywood. Guy in a Super Bee wants to race me at the light by the Market Basket. I give him a nod and when the light turned green, he was gone. I was just cruisin’, listening to Joni. “Ah, but California.”

I’m gonna see those folks I dig, I’ll even kiss a Sunset pig, California, I’m coming home.

I turned up Mulholland and punched it. Opened it up. Zeppelin, “Goin’ to California.” “Someone told me there's a girl out there with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair.” Turn it up. “The mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake as the children of the sun began to wake.” Then “Radar Love.” The radio, you see, was playin’ some forgotten song. Brenda Lee coming in strong.
I pulled off the road. City in the smog. The haze filling up the big bowl of the Valley, the San Berdoo’s purple peaks reaching up over the char; the city on the other side.

Made a left on Laurel. Mamas and Papas. “Young girls are coming to the canyon.” It was 12:30. Stopped at the Canyon Mart and got a roast beef and a Bubble Up. Talked to a girl sitting on the wall eating Granny Goose potato chips. She said, “Nice car.” Her friends came out. She hopped off the wall and said, “See ya.”

I drove down Sunset through the Strip and all the Billboards. There was a cool one for Close to the Edge and one for Ziggy Stardust. The song on the cassette was “L.A. Woman.” I was switching the letters of his name in my mind like a Scramble – J I M M O R R I S O N – Mr. Mojo Risin’. Wow. “Well, I just got into town about an hour ago.” Past the Whiskey and the Rainbow and the Roxy, through Beverly Hills and the big pink hotel and on past Bel Air. The vibe got chill as the traffic eased. I spaced out to Steely Dan.

I turned down the volume to hear the song of the motor purring along the curvy boulevard. That was a California song in itself. I drove down Sunset to the Sea. Turned up the volume. The Beach Boys. “The Warmth of the Sun.” There was a spot on PCH at Leo Carrillo. I got out and put my toes in the sand.

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