November New Year’s Big Adventure
New Year’s is one of those holidays that I dread. I never know what I’m going to do and I rarely venture into the heart of the beast, Times Square, to celebrate a new year at all. I’ve done it a couple of times, once when I worked as a cater-waiter for a Millennium Party in 2000 and once when friends stayed at the Bryant Park Hotel and we walked over to view the festivities from a comfortable distance on a side street. I didn’t see the ball drop live in either case, and it was fine by me.
This year, when it was announced that Green Day was going to be the special guest of “New Year’s with Carson Daly ‘live from’ Times Square,” I immediately made mental plans to be there to watch the ball drop and hope to hear the song “21st Century Breakdown” ring in not only a new year, but a new decade as well.
And then the other ball dropped: Green Day was not actually playing live from the Square, but live from Los Angeles. Oh well, shit happens, back to Square One of doing nothing for the night.
At the same time, a live concert was announced from Los Angeles that took place this past Monday, November 23, live from Nokia Plaza in downtown LA. A small outdoor concert, presumably with footage from this show, was being used for the New Year’s special. I really wanted to head to California to attend, but I’ve been so blessed (’cause I’m not cursed) in traveling this year that it seemed impossible for me to do it.
A friend demanded that I come out some how, but I couldn’t see my way clear to do it. I knew the night would be special if I could make it, but alas, it just wasn’t working out that way.
Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure
But then I remembered one of my credos from this year: the Lushie Gods are good. I sent out mental waves of Lushdom and the Wednesday before the show, I decided to head to LA, which depended on a number of factors: flight, car, places to crash. I set the wheels in motion for all of the above and then went off to see a remastered version of “Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure,” introduced by Tim Burton, at the current retrospective of Burton’s films and artwork at MoMA. (Thanks, David and Melody!!)
I’ve never been a huge fan of “Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure,” but I remember it fondly as a film that brings a lot of happiness and joy into lives as well as a positive philosophy of keeping your inner child close to you. Pee Wee may have been super jealous of his bike, but he learned along the way that if you are yourself and seek to open your heart for something you care about, you’ll find your bike again and will meet some crazy and fantastic people as well as Large Marge, along the way.
When I walked out of the film with my friends, I was in a happy mood. I called my friend who could get me a special rate (practically free) on an airline to California and confirmed to meet him the next day for it. I called other friends to double check that I could stay with them, and by Saturday, I was on a flight to Los Angeles.
Riverside, California, 1977
As a Midwesterner and Eastcoaster, I’ve always made fun of California, especially since I suffered greatly in that State back when I was a kid. Riverside, 1977, when Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and the song, “Go Your Own Way,” was the rage hit of the day, my mother and I traveled to the Golden State to visit my nephew, my ex-brother-in-law, and his new wife. We had driven from Phoenix through the desert and landed at my brother-in-law’s pretty ranch house with the swimming pool and the dog kennel in the backyard. He had been a dog trainer during the Vietnam War and continued this line of work when he got out. There were two beautiful Doberman Pinschers, a miniature blue Pinscher, and in the kennel itself, a pair of Alaskan Huskies with their brand-new litter of green and blue-eyed fluffy Husky puppies. I was a kid in California heaven, escaping the misery of my hometown, Detroit, and would not have despised California until I returned in 2003 if it were not for an incident that clouded my brain about Cali for a good many years to come.
We had gone to Disneyland for the day and it was pretty much a mindfuck of my mother not letting me ride on anything that “looked” dangerous, so we didn’t go on very many rides. A fire had also broken out in the Haunted House, so I didn’t get to go in there as well. It was a disappointing day at the park, and as we headed back to my relatives’ place, all I could think of was playing with the Husky puppies to ease my crappy Disney Big Adventure.
When we finally got back to the house, I ran to the kennel and got a most horrible shock: one of the puppies was dead with a massive hole in its head and a rock laying beside his motionless body. Needless to say, this 13-year-old girl freaked the hell out.
My ex-brother-in-law and his backyard neighbors apparently didn’t like each other. My brother-in-law was Black and his wife was White and while there may have been other issues going on between the neighbors as well (my ex-brother-in-law was a Vietnam vet, after all), it seemed to me that in 1970’s California, mixed-race marriage was an issue that caused asshole children to throw rocks at puppies in an attempt to kill them. Because, y’know, it’s all the puppy’s’ fault and shit. My California dreams were completely dashed by the entire day’s incidents and I had nightmares of dead puppies and being trapped in haunted houses for years afterward. To this day when anyone mentions Riverside, I recoil with disgust and horror.
Los Angeles, 2003
Flash forward to my next encounter with California, in 2003. I had gotten a project archivist job with the Newport Jazz Festival and I headed out to Los Angeles in order to survey hundreds of Festival videotapes that were stuck in a warehouse in the City of Industry and arranged to ship them to New York. I was also attending the Society of American Archivists conference in Century City and visiting some college actor friends who had moved out there years before. My visit was picture perfect and wonderful and I even managed to miss the gigantic blackout that happened that year on the East Coast. My visit occurred at the same time as the two-country and multi-state Black Out of 2003, which knocked out power to the entire Great Lakes and Northeast regions on both sides of the border. I watched it all from the comfort of my hotel room and then got in my car to visit friends. It was a most excellent trip.
Berkeley and Crockett, 2009
My next visits to California, to Berkeley and Los Angeles this year, were equally as enjoyable as 2003, but luckily no blackouts this time, either from power failures or alcohol. I came out to Berkeley to see Green Day’s American Idiot musical and visit some long-lost friends who had moved to the Bay area years ago. While I had mixed feelings about the show itself, I did quite enjoy American Idiot and loved seeing old friends and making a few new ones that I hope will be around for years to come. I even got to unexpectedly go to Toot’s in Crockett, CA, to try and catch the 12-piece band, the Mystic Knights of the Cobra, but we missed the show and ended up hanging out until the small hours of the night instead.
Mystic Knights of the Cobra on Creepy KOFY Movietime
(The El Camino riff in the above video was chanted by the FBHT in London earlier this year. Go COBRAS!)
Los Angeles, 2009
My recent visit to celebrate New Year’s in November was equally enjoyable. I flew in on Saturday, arrived at 6:30 PM, stayed on my friend’s couch for two days, visited another friend who I hadn’t seen since 2005, and just had an amazing time with people that I love.
After two days, I headed to downtown L.A. where I met up with East Bay friends. We hung at our hotel for a while and then marched to Nokia Plaza to see Green Day perform an hour-long show that consisted of so many old and wonderful songs of theirs that I thought my head would explode. I unfortunately didn’t end up being close to the stage at all, but I was hanging with some pretty cool people, including a friend who, like me, was one of the few people around us that actually knew the words to these wonderful and vibrant tunes from the 1990s that the Boys were drumming up on stage.
It was heaven.
There were three highlights of the show for me, not in any particular order. First, the people I hung out with all day are some of the funniest, liveliest, and craziest people I have ever met, and I’ve hung with many fun, live, and crazy people in my life. Thank you for a wonderful time! The second highlight is that I FINALLY GOT TO HEAR TRE SING “DOMINATED LOVE SLAVE” LIVE, as he and Billie switched up guitar and mic for drums, and I literally had a grin on my face that could not be wiped off for anything in the world. The third highlight of the night is that I actually got to meet Billie and Tre and had a short conversation with Billie and an even shorter one with Tre. I stuck out my hand to both of them with a simple, “Hi, I’m Tanya,” and they both responded with handshakes back, “Hi, I’m Billie,” and “Hi, my name is Tre.”
Needless to say, even if my phone got shut off for a bit due to this trip, it was a mighty fine time, and a Happy New Year’s in November with California Dreams was had by all.
Thank you, California.
I know that visiting California and living there are actually two different things, but seriously, I’ve come to the conclusion that I would rather live with beautiful mountain ranges, fruit falling from trees, bushes that smell pretty and sunshine then the cold hard reality of New York. Mind you, I love New York and I have lived here for a number of years, but I’m tired of the climate, the scene, the lack of creativity that has engulfed my life here since 1985. I’m ready for a new big adventure in a broke State, sailing out my years on a porch, looking at burning mountains with the ever-present notion of shifting earth under my feet rather than my cold, hard, and beloved Brooklyn.
I never thought I’d say it, but in the next five years, I’m moving to California. It’s always good to dream.
I wish everyone their own Big Adventure and a Happy New Year!
Nokia Plaza Setlist – Show and Soundcheck, November 23, 2009
Nokia Plaza Concert (GDA):
1. Know Your Enemy
2. East Jesus Nowhere
4. Coming Clean
5. 2000 Light Years Away
6. Welcome To Paradise
7. Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?
8. Dominated Love Slave
10. Murder City
11. Christie Road
12. Going To Pasalacqua
13. Disappearing Boy
14. Are We The Waiting
15. St. Jimmy
17. American Eulogy
19. Last Night On Earth
Nokia Plaza Soundcheck (GDA):
I Want You to Want Me – Cheap Trick
Having a Blast
Sassafrass Roots (First time ever played live or since it came out, according to my brief conversation with Billie Joe)
Nice Guys Finish Last
Pulling Teeth – Acoustic
Stairway to Heaven
Gilligan’s Island theme song
I Fought the Law