Jun. 24th, 2007 | 10:05 am on Fairfax

Matthew and I met up with his friend Jason on Fairfax Bvd. – he was a one man events calendar according to Matthew.

We ambled into Family, a wonderful narrow shop with high ceilings. On the radio (I thought) played the KPFP broadcast that I had heard earlier on the radio in the car as I drove into LA. It turned out that it was coming from the iPod behind the counter – the guy behind the counter hardly noticed me – The shop sold book comics and art on the walls, mostly in the LA grotesque style which consisted of lots of skulls mainly… to simply describe it a shop simply does not do it justice – it is a reference point to many of the cultural directions that this town has. There was a section groaning under the weight of Bukowski novels. I saw three compilations of stories by Richard Brautigan and countless other goodies. In the end I settled for a novel by the guitarist John Fahey, How Bluegrass Ruined My Life. I have to finish Jupiters Travels by Ted Simon first.

Outside a huge man with shorts was barking into a cell phone. Jason whispered that he was a very influential guy who has an evening slot on KPFA. He flew out to Iraq to report on the war during the ‘Shock and Awe’ bombing.

We nipped next door into the Nova cafe. Outside two ‘dudes’ were seated watching Forbidden Planet on a little DVD player. Inside we walked under a huge lime green luminous rubber blanket like a close-up shot of an aliens intestines. At the end of the room behind the DJ was a 10 foot luminous octopus like creature and on the wall next to us played an animation of constant whirling starry space images. The waitress a pretty dark haired girl about 4 foot tall – like a Victorian fairy brought our drinks and I peered at the walls which were covered with plastic science fiction and monster figures, detritus from a thousand breakfast of champions .

 

Jun. 23rd, 2007 | 06:56 pm At last! A ride

I returned the hire car lunchtime today after yesterday when I drove 200+ miles up country to Thousand Oaks on the 101 the 5 the 10 and back, all Friday on the freeway huddled among infinite numbers of vehicles running about like ants in the hazy humid sunshine. The first bike was the furthest and on paper looked the most suitable. A 1993 FJ1200 same mileage as my old one I sold in 2004 same age too. I was dismayed at how badly it had been neglected and the owner wanted too much money for it so I went to a supermarket and chomped on a leathery burrito and fixed up the next appointment on my cell phone.

The second viewing took place in Garfield an east LA suburb consisting of endless chinese solicitors and dentists mile upon mile along the road I was to find my next bike. I irritated the seller by phoning to tell him I was lost as the numbers incremented north of the freeway and increments again south of the freeway so I did my u turn and eventually found him. He glared at me through his orange Oakleys and I cheerfully greeted him in my best English plummy voice – he led me to the garage where there were two Suzuki 750 both drenched in what best could be described as tar… its the rat bike look he explained. All I could see was the bald tyres, worn disks, sagging chain and blown fork seals. The bike was a mess and he was so proud on the phone. He smoothed back his lank fringe and wearily explained he was off to New York and needed to sell them in a hurry, the other one was already spoken for as a local bike mechanic had reserved it. I started up the bike and it immediately died. And again. And again. It was flooded but I persevered and we set off – I followed behind and revved the guts out of it to try and get the mixture leaner . I must admit that it did settle down but I explained politely that it really needed too much work on it to be worth it and said my goodbyes… you wont get a bike for 950 dollars in any better condition he snapped. He was probably right so when I got home I arranged to see the third bike at 9 am in east LA.

East LA, dusty and frightening, images of drug gangs and shootings raced though my mind as I circled the house where the Kawasaki Zephyr waited. At the top of the stairs a grim faced Mexican guy stared down at me. I greeted him as he held out an muscle-bound tattood arm – led me round the back… I expected to be pounced on by a gang of thugs so I left the money in the car. He turned out to be surprisingly meek and polite and was selling the bike for a friend. Again, the bike was terrible, leaky forks grimy and unloved. I fired it up and took it out onto the LA streets, it coughed and spluttered, firing on 2 out of the 4 cylinders. so I took it back and we shook hands and I left.

Back on Beverly Boulevard, Matthew suggested I see Tony, a car dealer selling Rolls Royces and Smart cars from his crowded lot … Tony is from Kent and showed me into his neat office and he tapped away on his PC -pointing out the arial view of his house in Kent and then on to help look for a bike, on www.bikez.biz and recyler.com… oh yes and I know Johnny Rotten he said and the other day John and Paul Cook and Chris Thomas all met last week to re-record some guitar riffs for a new computer game.. they had lost the original masters so they re-did it.. and it all went really well!  He advised me to go next door to Swingers Cafe (a popular Hollywood eatery) and use the free wifi there. Really nice guy – he cheered me up and I thanked him and nipped next door. No sooner than my burger had arrived, I arranged to meet up with a guy a few blocks away to see a police department Kawasaki Z1000 – in under an hour the deal was done and I became the proud owner of a LAPD bike.

 

 

 

Jun. 22nd, 2007 | 09:17 pm An optician in Montebello

I folded up the yellow blanket and tidied my belongings in the back room of Matthew’s rented house. Outside the noise of sirens and brightly coloured birds compete with each other. I am exhausted and bewildered by Los Angeles, I dont think I can really get the hang of this.

Yesterday was a day of struggle. I bought an AT&T simm card for my phone which was not too expensive – it took two hours for it to work for incoming calls.

Taxis are not hailed from the street in LA, they are ordered via phone. When you get the cab, beware of going outside Los Angeles for my Russian friend got terribly lost when I asked him to venture onto the 101 to Montebello to look at an aged XT550. We did about 12 U turns when we got off the freeway to negotiate the maze of thread like streets using the battered street atlas. His reading glasses simply were not strong enough to read the street names, so he perched his wife’s (mother in law’s?) glasses on top of his own to decipher the route. He tried phoning up the taxi company for directions but they could not help. He radio in for help, no use. He stabbed at his GPS with his dirty fingernail but the unit did not recognise the street. We are in another city he wailed. My headache got worse. I moved into the front seat and took hold of the map and eventually we found our way, gingerly crawling along the roads, asking the two policemen standing by their smart patrol cars which look like they were customised with shiny chrome wheels. It was prom night at the local high school and they were directing the traffic. I was dropped off an hour late to the house of the owner of the prospective ride I hoped to purchase. A 1983 XT 500 Yamaha – with unsuitable off road tyres which I intended to replace. He wheeled the grubby bike out of the shed, at the end of a parched garden littered with 2 trucks a shiny new BMW, a Honda Accord and two Harleys. Twenty Four hundred off road miles he announced as my heart sank. The forks leaked, the bike was totally covered in rust.

There was rust on the rust and the chain was shot. The plates had 2000 on them, no way was I going to ride it back to LA. An indicator lens was missing. I had visions of the smart policemen catching me riding this illegal heap past them and busting me for no bike insurance.

This was not going to happen.

Jun. 20th, 2007 | 12:02 am – The Journey Begins

I don’t expect this to match up to Samuel Pepys but I hope this account of my wanderings for the next two months will help anyone interested enough to turn to this page get some idea of what I am up to before totally losing interest in the remaining part of the sentence and going elsewhere. I hope also that it does not alienate you (even more) having read or that any part of it might offend. Then again, I suppose it would not make a huge difference if it did.

So – tonight (or this morning as it is now), when I have finished ripping the remainder of the pile of CDs I had queued up to add onto my mp3 player I will collapse into a dreamless sleep. I will not bore you and lists of what I have taken with me but just to say that its a nice mixture of my old favourites and quite a few pre recorded programmes culled from the mighty WFMU, some KPFA and ResonanceFM.

http://www.wfmu.org

In the hallway sits a huge German army kit bag with a lot of my motorcycle gear and sleeping bag etc inside, a pair of ‘Held’ ™ soft throw-over panniers sit alongside, containing some clothes and other bits of gadgetry. These throw-overs were first taken to East Berlin to see what had happened after the wall came down in the early part of 1990. They went down to Portugal from Le Havre in pretty much one day – 1000 miles in one day, on my old FJ1200, a personal record – I never wish to repeat.

When I get to LA, I am meant to meet up with a Mr Bad Bubba who has a 1993 FJ1200 waiting for me to see on my arrival. I am planning to obtain a second hand motorcycle which is

  1. good value
  2. in ood running order
  3. Not so ridiculous that strangers will laugh at me on (ie mopeds or Viragos)

So I will be happy with a 1980 Silver wing or a XT550 or an FJ etc – we will see. I will be pouring over Craigslist to see what else turns up.

The route? don’t be silly, I have to get the bike first but – if its an off road bike I will go south… to Mexico and beyond. If its a big comfy Wing I might point it to Alaska and see how far I get! I have the waterproofs and the insect repellent but I also have the anti malarial pills as well.

The only deadline is that I have to be at WFMU in New Jersey by 16th August as I am due to deliver a live show on their Listener Hour slot. I have already loaded my memory stick with the basic framework of the programme and will replace and restructure it as my journey unfolds (unravels).

I will be meeting Matthew at Los Angeles airport. Matthew is a dear old friend from Holland Park School who witnessed many strange events as I did. His only request was to bring Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts for his girlfriend and Heinz Baked Beans for himself. He helpfully offered to pay for them and of course I will insist on payment in full upon my arrival. The Californians obviously lack baked beans (which surprises me) and Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts, the poor devils. I think there could be a business opportunity there….

I am waiting for the penultimate cd to finish ripping then I am off to bed for my morning taxi to Heathrow.

 

Wish me luck.

Jun. 8th, 2007 | 09:10 am

The days are clicking down before I leave for two months US to do a Travis ‘Harry Dean Stanton-esqe’ wander through the back yards and gutters of the United States of America and beyond.

Decisions decisions… the motorcycle I was watching on eBay did not get a single bid.

Not surprising rally as it is a 21 year old dog. Tatty and unloved, unfashionable sofa with a 1300 cc gas guzzling engine. Still, if its still lying around still unloved I might make a silly offer. A dealer selling the machine uses it to get the sandwiches each lunchtime. It will need some work but if its cheap enough, why not? Craigslist had a black and white police bike for sale. I ignored it,

The main skeleton plan is to find my feet when I get to LA and get onto Craigsist again and hunt down a 1980 lump or crash damaged newer thing….

The route? I am going to flip a coin as to the direction, north or south. I have been considering posting a vote but who really cares?

Jun. 4th, 2007 | 02:26 pm

Mrs jtreg bought tickets to Throbbing Gristle record their version of the infamous Nico Desert shore album at the ICA as part of my birthday treat(s) …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertshore

I was at the ICA 40 years before at the unforgettable Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition – this played a huge influence on me in the years to come, awakening my interest in computers very early on.

I have never obsessed about Genesis P Orridge but it was interesting seeing him interact with his TG co–workers as part of this installation. Gen has really knobbly knees and like me is not getting any younger. Ah well.

Afterwards we stumbled across a French Restaurant and enjoyed a relaxed meal sitting down at 3:15 in the afternoon, nice.