One of those phone calls
I was down in Palm Springs, 550 miles away when I heard the news. I had rented one of the many “mid-century modern classics” available there, a house straight out of Bing-Dinah-Sammy chic with a dash of desert kitsch thrown in. In other words, another one-story, 1,200 square-foot house splashed with orange and aqua, with the pool/spa/firepit/gas grill in the backyard, lovingly restored by a couple of gay dudes who own a Palm furniture store.
So the stage was set for a little nostalgic fun. I have a couple of old San Diego State University college buddies livin’ in the Greater L.A. Mess, and it seemed like a good idea to get a joint in PS, have a little party on the patio and do some long overdue catchin’ up. Since my brother was part of our clique of Spaztecs and still lives in San Diego, he also got an invite. Palm Springs was a two-hour drive for the three of them, and a nine-hour drive for me, but, what the hell, sometimes you gotta work a bit to be a good host.
But this little soiree wasn’t gonna be all that simple or carefree. Shit had been—as it seems to do quite frequently once you get deep into the quinquagenarian scene—hitting some fans lately. One of my friends was broke, depressed, alchoholic, on pills, and stuck in a dreary dump of an apartment. The other guy had some real problems.
So the plan was, get together and complain about crumbling dreams, deteriorating health, and nasty ass ho bitches—also known as ex-wives—and see if, somehow, some dark humor might be scraped up. That, and a few wine-fueled cannonballs into the pool. Our needs were simple. I was there on Friday afternoon, checking out the place before arrivals on Saturday.
While swimming a few much-needed test laps in the 100-degree heat of PS, brother Tom called and left a message. “Hey, man,” he said, “you better turn on the tube. Some problems up in your town. See ya tomorrow.”
Problems? Oh, fuck, I thought, not another screwball who snapped and went postal with his collection of semi-automatics. I pulled out the iPad and went to the Gazette’s home page. Oh, shit. Really? Wow. Jesus. Just what we need. Mass death and carnage at one of our big ticket blue chips.
I instantly felt badly for my Little Big City. What a shame and what can you say? I didn’t ask why God let this happen. God, it became obvious many years ago, is the world’s worst Samaritan. Never gets involved. No, I just sat down, had a glass of wine, and raised it to everyone who had taken a chunk of Galloping Ghost just hours ago. Will there ever be another Air Races? I’m guessing maybe. If. If organizers can successfully deal with the inevitable tsunami of litigation, and if they can find future insurance. Man, right now, that’s feeling like a fairly ginormous “if.”