January 21, 2013 - by Nick Schneider
Los Angeles is like a beautiful woman. Not that the city is literally beautiful- there are far more aesthetically pleasing places in the world (Rome, Paris, San Francisco, etc.)- but there is a certain visceral attraction inherent in this sprawling mass of suburban housing, film studio lots, palm trees, and sumptuous Mexican restaurants. Maybe it’s sheer illusion, the allure of a vaguely glamorous, mostly fictitious, past and present. Maybe it’s the collective dreams of broken souls, struggling musicians and starving poets coagulating in the brown-gray halo of smog eternally engulfing Hollywood. Maybe it’s the fact you saw the ghost of Jim Morrison haunting the Sunset Strip the other night, a bottle of Jack Daniels in his hand, a joint hanging from his mouth. Whatever it is, there’s something inexplicably attractive about this city. And, just like a beautiful woman, no matter how badly she treats you, it’s not gonna make you love her any less. In fact, it will probably just make you love her more. Such is the nature of love, true or otherwise.
Pulling into view of the city- its snaking highways and desert backdrop and choking traffic- I had to silently admit how much I missed the blaring car horns, the blinding pace, the booming hip-hop and mariachi music spilling out of countless rolled-down windows. It was an impeccably clear day in Santa Monica as we arrived at our hotel exhausted from the ride down. Emaciated skater kids stalked the wide sidewalks, men dressed in rags rummaged through garbage cans, a high-speed pursuit in Compton was being broadcast live on the lobby television. You haven’t changed at all, LA.
The Silverlake Lounge
Grim realities come to fruition in all sorts of ways. During our show in the epicenter of hipsterdom known as Silverlake, it materialized in the form of a broken guitar string. Make that two. Three…Three broken guitar strings between two guitarists, all in the span of one song- that’s how The Stu Tails started their Big Weekend in LA. Three days, three broken guitar strings, one chaotic way to start the tour. Both of the other bands on the bill (alternative/folk/indie rockers Trash Honey and ska/pop/rock outfit Terry Got Fired), bands great by any standard and devoid of the insipid Hollywood bullshit attitude that plagues so many musicians in the territory, simply kicked our ass. They were tight, they were energetic, the solos were spot on and they made us look like a group of amateurs who just graduated from the garage last week.
What are a pack of semi-adult men to do after such a blow to the ego? Let me rephrase that- what are a pack of semi-adult men who can’t get laid to do after such a blow to the ego? That’s right, you guessed it- find the nearest liquor store open at one in the morning. Buy a bottle of booze, roll a joint, and head out to the beach, as far west as we can possibly go until the land runs out along with our intentions. Hey, it worked for pioneers for hundreds of years, maybe it would work for us.
The sand was numbingly cold under bare feet, a cool breeze blew in from the eerily quiet expanse of black ocean expanding before us, the stars were out in typically indifferent, mocking fashion. Yes mocking- still and silent and serene in their beauty and impossibility, so much brighter and bigger than we’ll ever be with our small dreams and insensible insecurities and fragile emotions. Mocking as we drunkenly/stonily debated the unseen laws of the universe, weakly referencing string theory and half-remembered quotes from college philosophy classes. The stars, I realized, were just as pale and unrelenting in Southern California as they were in San Francisco.
There is a secret magic embedded in music that brings out the best and worst in people, especially in the musicians themselves. Day one was a little bit of both and there’s no point in regretting any of it. Regrets are like bad dreams- everyone has them and you can’t control them. The only thing you can do is wake up and keep on living.