Last week I happened upon the personal effects of another man’s life…spilling from burst garbage bags, tossed at the Narrows…at the crossroads of three tent encampments…a window into the past, when packs of young white men swaggered across Los Angeles in boots and ripped jeans, hair bouncing in expectation of near fame, failing that, admiring glances from the ladies, failing that, self-affirmation in the mirror.
The first thing I noticed in the pile was this framed graduation photograph from Bonds-Wilson High School, Charleston, South Carolina, class of 1978. This is quite an artifact to turn up in the Favela 40 years later. Did he live in the neighborhood all this time? Why else would it be here?
He joined an 80s hair band called Warhead. That’s him, second from the right. Encylopaedia Mettalum lists two songs in their oeuvre: “Explosive Rock”, and “Tonight, We Rock”.
A few years later, the band left South Carolina in a bid for the big time, re-constituted in LA as Bad Influence. Westar Promotions, the promoter/manager, lists a Van Nuys phone number. This may be as far as they got. I asked a wise veteran of the metal scene of that period if he had ever heard of them. He hadn’t, “but there were a literally a thousand bands.”
He wasn’t kidding. Also among the effects, a yellowed copy of Rock City News, the Sunset Strip free weekly ….pages and pages of bands remarkable only in their astounding similarity. A phone book of douche faces (and I say that with affection) attached to forgettable monickers: Terriff. Tarrga. Thieves & Lovers. One is reminded of Mick Mars’ dictum: if the band has a shitty name, it’s certain to be a shitty band. That’s probably unfair to the people we see here whose skill level ranged from classically trained to hack, but there can only be one Motley Crue and a whole lot of earnest young men handing out flyers. It’s the unforgiving animal we all ride.
There was a point in life when your hair was the most valuable thing you owned. Or to express it differently, there was a point when you had hair. You cared for it, the fulcrum upon which tilted your destiny.
Then there is this. Who is she? A girlfriend? A beloved sister? Was she the keeper of his memories? Did she mourn him or tire of him? Is he alive? If so, is he in Los Angeles, still working a day job? Why would you keep this all these years, only to toss it on Raymer St, behind Target?
I like her better as a mystery.