Our Last Gig: Hemet
December 8, 2011
Jeddah Hemet climbed down from the wagon at daybreak, and surveyed the valley below with a satisfied grunt. It had been a hard journey, crossing the pass in the dead of winter, and there were sacrifices to be made, to be sure. He allowed his tongue the singular pleasure of probing between latter molars, where he could still taste the gristly thigh meat of Cousin Jasper.
But now was not the time to mourn the past, for the verdant valley stretched along what we now know as the San Jacinto would be a suitable place to stop:
He unbuttoned his canvas trousers then and urinated upon the foundation of his new life, christening the land that would serve his wives and children well.
In the weeks to follow, many of the indigenous Soboba Tribe would fall, either to the firearms and hatchets of the white future, or -eventually- to the syphilitic strains that confounded their pure and untested immune systems.
But revenge would someday be theirs, as the last remaining elders of the tribe would eventually drain every meager cent earned in the bubbling meth labs of the new century.
A fortune made in the name of progress, vanished within the draw poker slots of the local Casino:
A white man’s fortune wiped out, five quarters at a time.
Good to know a little local history, don’t ya think?
Back after another goddamn layoff, this time out to the wilds of the inland and-yes!– back to a roller rink!
Help me out here, people: Just what the hell is it about roller rinks that makes them the logical place to put on punk gigs?
Oh yeah, we’ve played a few in our day:
Maybe it’s because it just sounds so goddamned good in those joints, ya think?
We load in for the long drive out yonder, and realize we haven’t touched guitar or stick since the last road trip out to the Midwest.
We pray that the scamps at American Airlines didn’t take their frustrations out on the baggage, and that we can remember the chords to Manzanar……I mean, we’ve only played that goddamn song twelve thousand times after all!
Ah, but it’s good.
To load back into a car and drive out to a gig with the fellas, yuck it up a little…….
Besides, it’s been a while since we played with D.I., will be nice to catch up with those guys and see what’s been happening in their world…!
We load into the swank Wheelhouse and are shown around by Taylor and Ted of Toxic Youth Productions, two kids that really run a nice night!
We start the set furiously, five fast ones in a row without a stop.
If we could only keep up the pace, the kids, we’d have em!
But we’re out of practice, out of shape.
I sing from the throat and forget to breathe, corpuscles scream for oxygen and I start to see the familiar spots swimming before my eyes.
Anthony looks longingly at the beer bottle sweating on his amp during songs, wishing only for a break long enough to grab it and empty it by half.
As I try to go straight into number six Alf shouts at me to Stop, goddmnit! and fumbles for the Advair inhaler.
And then, as usual, we start to play songs only we get a kick out of, oh, I don’t know….
Last Time I Drank anybody?
Hangin Around?, say there’s a real pip the kids will go wild for!
And then the pit starts to lose steam, it slows, the kids tentatively dancing with confused looks upon their brows, waiting for the point in the song that it will surely kick into double time.
But alas, it never happens.
The slow songs stay slow, and the pit dissipates finally, like a stadium Wave at a weekday Dodger game, kept alive only by the drunks and tourists with no shame.
Show biz pros that we are, we pull a few oldies out of the back pocket and end the set fast, but the damage is already done.
Out in the darkness there are a dozen young faces illuminated by the azure glow of smartphone screens, and I can only imagine the deservedly cruel critiques being shelled out on Fbook.
Mom was right! These guys still suck!
It’s time to adjourn to the bar, where we catch up with a few friendly faces:
And then D.I. takes to the stage, and they sound just great.
Casey has the motivated sparkle of the newly cleansed, and they sound tight.
No Fair! Somebody’s been practicing!
We wrap up the night in the usual way: a few hilarious cocktails, a few welcome urgings to Paulie to get on the dancefloor and shake what God gave him!
We load out and prep for the weird ride home, another Roller Rink under the belt.
The parking lot is busy, Moms coming to pick up their kids at the rink, couples making out in the shadows, someone pukes on a shrub.
Kimm and I look at each other, wordlessly, and I can tell he’s thinking what I am:
Jeddah completes his morning constitutional and shakes his weathered member as a northwest wind whispers against his manhood and stirs a more primal urge.
He holds fast, measuring the subtle response of blood flowing into spongy tissue.
Then he thinks better of it, and holds himself out to the growing sunlight.
He starts flagellating himself then, furtively at first, then more vigorously.
He stands before God and Nature, and he claims subservience to neither.
And finally, erect and prompted, he lets fly onto the awaiting soil.
He has claimed the land, totally.
It was not enough to baptize this new land, no.
He had to fertilize it—-literally— before buttoning up his trousers, rousing the womenfolk, and unloading the wagon.