Thursday, December 20, 2012


After our adventures on the mountaintop we drive the hour back to Laurel Canyon. We have to get up to that deck job, make sure the tools are put away and give the guys a ride home to Love Street and their amazingly high-priced little apartment next door to Jim Morrison's old house. It takes very little time to get to the heart of the Valley, but slows. The 101 Freeway is a parking lot most of the day, it seems. Ventura Boulevard is even worse. My son and I have lots of time to talk and we use that time in highly charged and dangerous conversation that can lead anywhere. Once, when he was only sixteen,  the cops had to come to our waterside condo to quell a father and son riot.  His crime?  He had called me a Republican.  This damnable traffic, though, and being cooped up in a New Age automobile that effectively seals out the outside world is getting old. I roll down the window, then roll it up again. Exhaust fumes and traffic noise. 

This sure ain't Malibu.

Back at the job I saw exactly what I expected to see: not much. It was one of those days when there would have been more production if everyone had stayed home and learned some new guitar chords or just slept. But this is not my project nor is it my problem. The early evening is coming on and already the light of the sun is leaving the Canyon for another long night. I am starting to think about my room on the eleventh floor of the Hilton, some miles from here. I am also thinking about my writing table back at the Whispering Pines and my dog and my porch and and how the light at my table is a warm glow where I don't do much, myself. But it is home.

I still don't know why I am here, exactly. Just for a visit, it would seem. Ill-timed, perhaps, but we all know that if we wait for the perfect moment to journey forth to see a loved one or a special place, we might never make it. Perfect moments are elusive and quite often a product of serendipity.

“Beau, dude, d'ya remember you were gonna drive me to class?” One of the guys is in some kind of post-incarceration treatment class.

“Uh, yeah, dude, I forgot about that. What time do you have to be there?”

“Five.” The place he has to be is only about fifteen miles away. But it is an hour and a half drive. Soon enough, we are out of the Canyon and back on Ventura Boulevard, again moving at a glacial pace. This is crazy. On my old ten speed I would be flashing along, all my senses heightened, aware of my surroundings and cutting around all over the place.  But here I sit, trapped like a rabid hyena in a steel cage of my own making.

At first we sit in awkward silence, then the guy in the back starts working into a comedic monologue that I suppose is a kind of audition for the Old Man.  Me.

“Yeah, man, these drug classes suck. Piss tests every Friday. Everybody in there is fucked up and in denial.” He shifts into a spot-on California stoner voice, which for him is not a large leap.

“Whadaya mean, I failed the piss test? No way, man, I don't even smoke pot. Maybe it's mixed up. Yeah man, that's not my pee, no way. That's not even my penis, dude...”

It's pretty funny and it goes on all the way back down the Boulevard. My hotel is right around the corner from his classes and I am looking forward to a hot shower and a little down time back home at the Hilton. It has been a long day. I never realized how comfortable I had allowed my trailer park life to become. Morning coffee and writing, a few hours of trailer repair and then another couple cups of coffee. Then it is time for a bike ride and then back home where I spend long evenings reading my friend's Blogs, commenting in a half-witty fashion; drinking beer and sometimes stronger stuff; reading about bicycles and making furtive shopping forays on the webs, looking at my lengthy wish list of bicycle parts and yeah, fantasies of new bicycles.

None of that is happening right now. Right now is a lot of car time. A Lot.

We get to the place in the North Valley where we drop off the budding Lenny Bruce.  It is perfectly natural to pull over in the middle of eight lanes of traffic.  Where I live even the Interstates are only six lanes at the most.  And this is Ventura Boulevard, a neighborhood thoroughfare.  We pull back into traffic.

“Dad, I want to take you to dinner tonight. There is a vegan restaurant that you'll like.”  I'm getting hungry, but my secret plans for the night involved a pizza delivery and about a half dozen beers. Maybe a tot of rum. But I am not here to fulfill my own desires. This trip is for Beau. There is a nagging problem, however: during the interminable hours in the Space Ship, there have been many phone calls back and forth between the Boy and his Fiance. The conversations were guarded and encoded, but I am, after all. The Trailer Park Cyclist: All Knowing and something of a psychopath. I mean psychic. The gist of the nagging problem is the money financing this fancy automobile and all this petroleum and these high-priced (to me) meals seems to be emnating from a source outside of Beau's own bank account.  She has a full time job and I am beginning to realize there is a financial backer in the.. uh, background.

“What?! What do they want? We paid the deposit! They got their three hundred dollars!” I've rented enough airport autos to know what that call was about. I'm guessing he has kept the car past the scheduled return date. “Just take care of it, OK?”

Later, he calls her but she can't talk because she is at the beauty salon. I was only vaguely aware that such places still existed. Then it hit me.

“I'm meeting the girlfriend at dinner, I suppose.”

“Yeah, Dad, is that alright?” That he has to ask  indicates that he is aware of possible reluctance on my part. Look, the plan was this: he was going to get that deck job straightened out, get some money and pick me up at the airport and we would blast away up the Pacific Coast to Big Sur. He knows that I have been wanting to visit the Redwoods one last time. I had often talked about riding my bicycle along that part of the planet for quite awhile. The fact that the visit has strayed so far from the plan is no surprise; in fact I expected it. And of course he wants me to meet his girlfriend.  Why not?  She is paying for it, isn't she?

“Son, that's fine. It's just that I wasn't really ready to come out here. They didn't pay me until right before I got on the plane and I didn't have a chance to buy any clothes or get a haircut or anything. I feel like a bum walking around this town.”

 It's true. The blue jeans I'm wearing are six years old and worn beyond belief. Not cool-worn, bum-worn. During the height of my alcohol-fueled vision quest I had taken some dull scissors and whacked off my really long gray hair and had achieved a perfect mental-patient coiffure. I had shaved with a too-old razor and when I saw my reflection in an airport mirror I was shocked that they would let someone like me get on the plane.

“That's not important Dad, you know that.” Not really. My current look is fine for my little backwater trailer park town, but this ain't the trailer park. But also, this whole puppet show has been, it seems, a little odd and a little less of a Father-Son reunion and something  more of a wish-fulfillment passion play staged by an inept producer-director using purloined funds.

But ever am I loyal and I keep my mouth shut.  I am an old tyrant but also am I a loyal Father and this is my first born son.

“What time are you picking me up?”

It's been a long day.  And it ain't over yet.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park on location: Back to LA


  1. Hey TJ...first I'd like to say that I have been lurking away here, but haven't been commenting lately cuz big brother (at work) has the comments section blocked lately (and not just ur place, but most blogs I far I can still get to Fatty's, but that's about it).

    I can't help but chuckle at your stories of the greater Los Angeles area...I'm only about 3 hours north of there (my big bro lives in Simi Valley...about half way down...certainly on the fringes of millions of people).

    Every time I visit (or head down anywhere near the LA/LAX area) I'm just astounded by all the people. Well, actually it's all the CARS that blows my mind (usually 1 person per car, even the ginormous gas-sucking land-yacht SUV's)! can get on the 101 and 2am and it's still got a fair amount of cars...just here is everybody going?

    Anyway, hang in there bro, and keep telling ur's awesome!

    And I hear ya about getting up to the Big Sur area...2 of the guys I ride with are planning a bike trip next fall...we get up to San Fran somehow (train?), and ride down Hwy 1 back home...about 275-300 miles, prob do it in 3 or 4 days. I really hope to be on that one, it's been on my bucket list for years now.

    I'll be anxious to hear how the dinner went. These last few posts about your trip to hell (I mean LA) should be in a book! Hang in there and just go with the flow and enjoy the ride as best you can (as you seem to be great at doing).

    1. Hey, Matt. I'm glad to see you back in the groove. Thanks for coming by. I would truly love to be in on that redwoods ride. Those eighty mile days you are projecting, however, ain't what I'm thinking. More like twenty mile days. In fact, if it was up to me, I would just stay there forever and do two mile or ten mile days unto eternity.

      yer loyal pal, tj

    2. My God, this is the best stuff ever.

  2. Ha!
    Pretty quick and easy segue from psychopath to psychic!

    I never had the big formal girlfriend meetings with my boys and their girlfriends. They just seem to appear and always be there.

    Look forward to the story!