OCTOBER 5, 2014

 

LARRYS HIGH SCHOOL REUNION

 


 

So anyway, now comes the season when frightful things stalk the public byways. Things like hideous ghouls, zombies, bloodsucking vampires, Frankensteins and golems. That's right, its Election Time again!

The midterm pamphlets have been sent out by ROV and here in California we will be choosing the Governor, either Jerry Brown to continue or GOP Neel Kashikari, an individual whom nobody knows or has ever seen, in fact.

Not since he assisted the reprehensible bank bailout during the financial crisis when Bush was President Appointee.

Along with Governor, the usual raft of suspect officers need to be either approved or replaced. While Barbara Lee is up for reelection against Republican Dakin Sundeen, also a non-career politician like Kashikari, we see that our Islander Rob Bonta is aiming for 18th District State Assembly in a clear career move up from the Hospital LAFCO board, to City Councilperson and now this. He is up against David Erlich, a professional electrician.

We will talk about these candidates as well as the Propositions, which include a State Constitution amendment, a bit later.

Mainly we want to talk about the Bay Area's favorite Holiday, the several week period of hard parties, fantasy role play, dressing up in costumes, jumping up and down, bounding exuberance, raw sex, and sheer fun called in some places Halloween. There is so much fun going on around here, there is something even for children to enjoy.

And of course the annual search for the most sincere pumpkin patch in the world.

Eugene has been polishing up his special gleaming weapon, the Bowser Boffer, for some of you know what very special holiday event follows in the next month on this Island.

Ah, Tradition.

In the meantime the occasional pistol crack and submachinegun rattle signify only the occasional traffic altercation on the freeway or family dispute in Oaktown being resolved in the usual way of Northern California in this post Grunge, post punk, post Hippie era -- we kill one another.

This kind of thing certainly is at odds with the image of what Babylon would like to present to the world: a region of happy, smiley people practicing yoga and swimming to work each day, like in a Kliban cartoon. But, you know, the marketing people over there on California Street happen to be the best in the world and so no one suspects that within the bright beating shining heart of Babylon resides a cold, rotten core of selfish Republicanism eager to inflict the Ellis Act at every opportunity.

As a result of this, scads of artists are fleeing Babylon to come here to the Island, where arrogant privilege remains verbal in the confident face of certain obscene rent increases that will definitively drive out the riffraff born here.

Nevertheless something remains of NorCal which is peculiar, offbeat, strange and worthy of preservation. Good people still live here -- isolated and beset for certain, but they do exist.

In any case, Larry Larch, who is director of the nonprofit Pushy People Anonymous won some sort of award from his old highschool in his hometown of La Mirada and so he paid a visit out there to give a talk, supposedly as the main speaker at the 30th reunion dinner. PPA supplied Service Dogs and group therapy to people enrolled in its program to cure people of obnoxiousness and it was a tremendous success. Naturally obnoxious people never think there is a problem with their behavior, so nearly all participants were enrolled by associates and family. In some parts of California, it had become quite chic to be a PPA enrollee, just as for some in Society, being a graduate of the Betty Ford Clinic is considered to be a badge of social merit. The franchise based in LA boasted a number of very prominent individuals who knew each other, while the Sunnyvale franchise pumped out IPO after IPO from its group therapy sessions.

As for the Service Dogs, their purpose was to respond to obnoxious behavior by biting the owner.

He did not have a good way of getting there, as the BART does not go down so far and nowadays the bus system had gotten physically dangerous. His own car, a 1977 Volvo remained in the shop. So he hooked up with Pahrump who owned a scooter and had an extra helmet.

When asked if he had any protective clothing for riding a scooter, he had to admit that all he had were suits from the Mens Wearhouse and flip-flops for footgear, so Pahrump dug around to come up with a pair of leather pants that glowed lavender and Martini supplied a set of Doc Martins for the ride.

Now it may surprise some people to discover that California is no different, really, from most of the United States. There are a few unusual cities that capture all of the press, all of the attention, and indeed, it is the business of those particular cities to do just that to make money.

But California was settled by unruly people of no special intellectual development more interested in escaping the 9-5 office job than anything else. Bands of Okies followed the dissatisfied Mormons and 49'ers from heartland farms to make these small towns that populate the California landscape. In truth, most of California, in terms of agricultural population, is no different than any rural scape in Illinois, Iowa, or Minnesota. The farmers of Modesto would be in perfect agreement with the farmers of Lincoln Nebraska. Within the scope of the Bay Area metropolis, home to some nine million people, and the scope of the LA basin, home to 35 million, there lives a different sort of culture. Outside these two areas, you find small towns such as you would find anywhere.

From such a town came Larry Larch. He was born and raised in the little hamlet of La Mirada, which claims two distinctions of merit: it is a suburb of Fullerton, a town where people plan on nothing happening, and it has a new library building, the largest innovation in over 75 years.

When Larry and Pahrump arrived in La Mirada off of Route 5, with a few jaunts on arterials to left and right, they stopped at a cafe to take stock of things and check the maps, because in the intervening years since Larry had left, all the landmarks had changed, and the man there wanted to know if they were rock stars on account of their clothing and clear presentment as to not being from anywhere near there.

Pahrump, a Native American, was used to this sort of thing, but Larry had to go an invent a fictional rock band called the "DC MonkeySpankers", and this seemed to satisfy the man who promised to look for their gigs in the local paper.

When they got to the Welder's Union Hall, where the dinner was being held, Larry had to pay $30 to get Pahrump in there, despite supposedly being the guest of honor. They sat down at a table and Larry looked around at all the people who had survived the past 30 years and thought about what he would say about becoming the successful entrepreneur of Pushy People Anonymous, realizing that his high school experiences had provided much of the impetus to found an organization that tries to ameliorate or kibosh pushiness -- but not in a good way. There was Frank Fetta, a still chubby, boyish fellow who desired to become a Mafia kingpin, and had started off by threatening people and treating his sidekick, Nils, like dirt. He had once pulled a gun out of a hall locker, telling Larry he better not ask the girl named Vicki to the Homecoming Dance.

Over there was Sandra Bollox, a brassy redhead who had acquired quite the romantic reputation, but who had laughed in his face before turning on her heel after he had helped clean up her Chihuahua's mess at another school dance.

Larry, understandably, pretty much stopped going to high school dances after his sophomore year and skipped on the Prom.

There was Bob Pettit, still a used car salesman after all these years, who had sold Larry his first car for $1000 -- a substantially inactive Pinto which Bob had furnished by spray painting the engine black, draining the oil so as to hide the leaks and turned the odometer back with a hand drill. Fortunately the head blew fairly early as the brakes were worn to the base metal, which had, in turn, gouged the rotors and drums.

Pahrump was over by the punch bowl when Sandra came up to him and said, "Are you a real Indian? How, Chief!" And she put the palm of her hand up to her mouth and went, "Wooo wooo wooo!" imitating a 50's era Oater Native American. Pahrump walked away.

One after another Larry ticked off the reasons which had driven him to establish his business hundreds of miles from this place. He turned to Pahrump and said, "Let's get out of here."

The two of them walked out and down the road to the Dew Drop In bar and each of them had a Fat Tire and a bump.

"They made me what I am today," Larry said. "They are all bullies and I hate them." A large portion of Larry's business involved providing, in addition to group therapy, highly trained service dogs that would respond to pushy behavior and obnoxiousness by biting the owners, who had been enrolled by family and close associates.

Then they got on Pahrump's scooter and drove through the little town where Larry had grown up. They drove past the new Library center and they drove past the park where Larry had first kissed a girl named Heidi and they drove to the old high school where Larry stood at the chain link fence looking for a while at the buildings, not saying anything. Then they got on Pahrump's scooter and drove the long way home.

Back on the Island, Rev. Howler, of the Adelphian Iglesia del Luz de los Cajóns de Estacionamiento del Mundo, was in fine dramatic form on the subject of parking place seizures and how in the Kingdom of Heaven that was immanent there would be room for the cars of the Elect, who would all drive massive SUV's while those ignominious damned would be sentenced to driving unairconditioned two-door Toyotas endlessly in circles around a city office building, searching for an open spot.

As god's Apostle spoke a woman from the neighborhood came walking up the aisle with some papers and leading on a leash a dog wearing a blue vest. She came right up to the podium, from which the Apostle had been used to seeing people fall on the ground frothing at the mouth and speaking in tongues. The woman did not fall down, speak in tongues or praise the lord. Instead she said, "The neighborhood got together a little donation for your church," handed the Apostle the end of the leash and set the papers on his lecturn and then turned and walked down the aisle and left the church without saying another word.

In the Old Same Place Bar Tipitina was complaining about her boss to Suzie, who listened patiently behind the bar to how she was being abused at the firm of Jack Sparrow and Partners. Seems her boss, Tim Pircey, had arbitrarily shifted her working hours to suit his own comfort level, had demanded that Tipitina fly regularly to San Diego -- on her own credit card -- and had demanded all flights be economy class. Accounting had changed the expense report from a simple spreadsheet to a cumbersome two page macro-enabled document that took hours to complete. In addition, the filing room where Tipitina spent most of her time was a stifling, hot, unairconditioned space that took the full force of the sun through a skylight that had no view. The temperature in there rose well into the nineties.

The Man from Minot overheard all this and said, each age has its own label to match the characteristics of the characters that define the times. We saw the Sixties as a time of people coming together so it was called the "We Generation." What followed was the more self-involved period we call the "Me Generation". Then came the Reaganites and the Neo-cons with the "I Got Mine Generation." Of course we blipped through the Clinton time to a time when lack of intelligence, exalted ignorance, touted incompetence, and imbecility governed the land: The Age of the Moron. Nowadays we have a new spirit determined largely by disappointment, violence, obnoxiousness, over-the-top violations of personal space, pushiness, and rude behavior where Larry Larch's PPA is in high demand. Voila! Welcome to The Age of the A-hole. That is the time in which we now live.

They all sat there for a moment considering these truths.

The reverie was broken by the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

 

 

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