Before this weekend began, I knew it'd be an eye-opener.
I just didn't realize how much.
It began with something of a surprise. A shock, really. I got a message from Tim Murphy Saturday, called him back, and quickly found out that he won't be able to be one of my groomsmen at the wedding. He couldn't get the time off of work and he felt horrible. I assured him I understood and told him not to worry. I wasn't angry at him… I wasn't anything. Then, I got off the phone - and I was pissed. Not at Tim, mind you. I was pissed at the world for screwing things up. The bottom line was that Tim not being there is gonna suck ass - a very large ass. Tim Murphy and I have always been very close, even when we weren't, and I really wanted him to be a part of my wedding. Vicky and I talked about it and agreed that some things just suck and this was one of them. Even though I understand Tim's situation, I've been there before, and I feel bad for him as well as myself, this still sucks. I can feel that without judging anyone. Then, I started considering Plan B…
Mind you, I'd spent a lot of time in the past few days passing judgment on people. We were heading to a street concert/block party in Santa Ana and, having spent a great deal of my life in Santa Ana, I was sure it would suck. We drove down to Wilshire Square, down by McFadden and Ross, a neighborhood I'd been to plenty of times. Vicky said they'd have live music and I pictured Pedro and his cousin on borrowed guitars. Vicky said they'd have food and I remembered all the bad meals I'd had with my ex-in-laws. (Mind you, it probably didn't help that they wanted me dead…)
Then, we pulled up. An enormous, portable stage filled an entire intersection. All the streets that fed into it, were blocked. Local restaurants, like Memphis and Pangaea and others had booths set up. Starbucks provided free coffee. In front of the stage, the street was filled, for an entire block, with tables.
Already, I felt like an idiot.
We met Vicky's friends, who'd invited us. Claudia, this little, powerhouse of a girl, works with Vicky and so does her brother, Mark, a small hill of a man. I also met her husband, David, with whom I got along very well - and many, many relatives. The bands were actually decent. There was lots of food. David handed me a couple of cigars.
Yep, I was a jerk. But I admitted it to Vicky. I'd prejudged without any basis.
The next morning, we had to be out early. We were driving out to Alta Dena. Turns out there's more to the story of the found wallet. You remember that, don't you? When Vicky and I found the old woman's wallet at the mall? Turned out the woman owned a honey-ranch and invited us up. We took her up on the invitation, thinking we'd meet some down-home, salt of the earth kinds folks.
Then, the night before we left, Vicky looked up the woman's last name on the Internet.
Turned out, she was the widow of a man named Jirayr Zorthian… a rather-well accomplished 20th century artist.
This changed things a bit! We read about bohemians and parties and artists and celebrities and wild… this was going to be interesting. Right away, I figured we were going to meet "my people". After all, I consider myself something of a bohemian. I'm an artist. I looked forward to fitting in…
And then we got there.
And it wasn't just the heat that rang us like a bell but the architecture, geography, atmosphere, aura… the world had changed. We had walked into something cooperatively created by Gaudi, Escher, and Charles Foster Kane. I don't know how Vicky took all this in - the place was immense - but that should be one benefit of the new site. (Coming in Fall of 2005!) I will say, though, that I was having trouble. Take the voices I used to hear and give them building materials… it was all disconcerting…
It wasn't beautiful. It wasn't ugly. It was… interesting...
This all would have been fine. It would have been perfect. Then, we met the rest of the people. You see, there was going to be a gathering at the house (which is a silly way to put it, the way the ground seemed to puke up buildings, half-finished, half-destroyed) and we were to be a part of it. All of these old friends and family got to know Vicky and I as the "Good Samaritans". In a way, I'm glad. If they had known I was Ken La Salle, writer, philosopher, et al… it all would have turned out very differently.
There was Mike, who Dabney (our hostess) referred to as "extremely talented", though his greatest talent seemed to be remembering Jirayr. There were two Roberts, one of whom worked at JPL and the other… I don't know. The two women married to Mike and the vague Robert seemed nice enough. Then, there was Allan, Jirayr's son, who was like a little prince (in his 40's) with seemingly no accomplishments excepts his eccentricities. We met Michelle Feynman, daughter of the famous physicist, and her family. We spoke with Brett, LA artist and seemingly down-to-earth and nice guy, and his family.
They were all so annoying. So many of them were clinging to the past with dirty nails; there was little talk of the present. For the most part, they suffered from that liberal failing that I hate so much, that confidence in their own righteousness, as if (burning) Bush would fail simply because he was evil. I realized that if this was bohemia, I had terribly misjudged myself.
I had a better time sitting in the midst of Santa Ana than with the elite bohemians of LA… which simply served to remind me that, for all my aspirations, I'm really just a guy from Santa Ana, no different than ever.
Oh, we'll be back again. We'll see Claudia and David at the wedding. (He's helping me get some of those cigars.) And we'll go back to see Dabney Zorthian. She's an incredibly sweet woman with a rich outlook. So what if she knows some self-righteous blabber mouths… Vicky lives with one.
We both had fun stepping out of our comfort zone for a while and, then, returning to it… that's living.