After a few years of living in a rock 'n' roll shithole, I finally made the move. Shitholes have their advantages. Even though I had a dumb and oblivious roomate, the trade-off worked in my favor.
Crazy Friday nights fuelled by cheap booze and even cheaper cigars while blaring Rockabilly and playing along with my guitar were a blast. The occupants of cars stopped at the red light outside my window often stared blankly at the second floor window, unable to understand the mute images of some greasy dude flailing on a guitar while indulging in large swigs of beer right out of the can.
My rooomate with his St. Bernard like demeanor, didn't seem to notice or even care. The only times that he wouldn't engage me in pointless, rambling and interminable conversations, was when I was playing guitar. He just seemed embarrrased, displaying a sheepish expression as if he had witnessed me picking my nose or something.
The fact that his part the apartment looked like a junkyard was probably a factor in his lack of concern whenever I decided to grind some metal or spray paint shit right there in the alcove. Flying sparks and toxic paint fumes didn't seem to register in his brain which seemed to be short on synaptic connections. His lack of general hygiene was indicative of a hippie mindset and decades wasted smoking pot and just being an all around lie-about.
On a few occasions, while drunkenly attemting to put together bikes or fix something, I would throw a tool and produce a blue streak of cursing. Too ridiculous to observe my seething anger and too dumb to be scared, he would blather on about some un-related, random subject, thus angering me even more.
Combination crash-pad, jam space,metal shop and bike repair room notwithstanding, I needed a change. The conveniently located 7-11 across the street was nothing but a magnet for degenerates and crackheads, and their desire to constantly cross the street to get to the only pay phone in the area caused many large trucks to engage their Jake brakes.
I found a place on a quiet street in a nice neighborhood not too far away and made the move. The antithesis of my last place, the first week was quite a culture shock. Not so much for me I think, but mainly my new neighbors.
That's the thing about quiet neighborhoods; they attract squares, various office-type folk and other non-descript people, but never greasers. Let's just say that my relocation to my new digs was not going to be quite the proverbial duck to water.
After several evenings of moving boxes in, I immediately attracted some undue attention and curious stares, but it gets dark early these days, so my transition was mainly done incognito.
My new landlords were a nice young couple with kids, but I doubt if they any had any first-hand experience with greasers.They were about to find out.
On my first weekend there, I was invited to small block party, meet the new neighbors as it were. I grabbed a shower and got my pomp nice and greasy. I thought that I had better not wear my leather jacket straight off, but opted instead for a garage jacket. I wanted the culture shock to be gradual.
What is gradual to myself and my greasy ilk, is akin to a punch in the face for squares.I tagged along with my new landlords as they introduced me all around. I received a few perfunctory greetings always ending with upwards glances to my pomp. Others justed eyed me suspiciously and some others gathered their kids about and moved away a little.
The tone was set and the predictable responses that I had envisioned came to be realised. Greaseballs always get that reaction from squares. Garnering stereotypes from movies and jumping to shallow and obvious conlusions seemed the norm. They seem to think of us as an amalgam of biker, bad-ass and criminal. The simple description of musician or gearhead seems to elude them.
In all honesty, who really gives a damn about neighbors. Given the oppurtunity, most will have their noses in your business soon enough and a small percentage of them will be insane, so it's best to keep them at arm's length.
My landlords, on the other hand, live right above me. After a week or so, I began sensing a slight underlying tension. Maybe the fact that every encounter I've had with them so far has found me clutching a beer in one hand.
The first weekend there, my main goal was to hook up the ole stereo. I got it running and quietly played some hillbilly boogie as back ground music while I unpacked. Sunday afternoon, I cracked a few beers and decided to see what acoustical properties my new surroundings had. I played a couple of tunes and everything was sounding good.
I needed to hear some pedal steel, so I fired up some Dale Watson. I cranked the volume knob a few notches. I didn't recall any loud banging as part of the pedal steel solo. I pressed the pause button, and realised the banging was coming from my door.
My distraught landlord was there. She was cool about it, but she had never heard a stereo that loud before. I wondered if she objected to the volume or the content.
As I sipped from one my seemingly ever-present beers, I laughed as I apologized, quipping that the stereo could go waaa-aay louder. She did not seem amused.
A $200 pair of Grado headphones is an expense that I had not anticipated.
As she was speaking with me she glanced at all the bikes and tools scattered everywhere. I'm not sure what she was thinking, but I suspect that I may soon be fixing a bunch of shit that I hadn't expected to fix.
A greasy fish out of water, a square greasy peg. A greaser in a square neighborhood is an abberation, and the transition is not easy. I enjoy the quiet nights' sleep in this neighborhood, but am appaled at all the weird clothes and preponderance of dumb hats. ( what is it with squares and hippies and their dumb hats?).
Fortunately the beer store isn't too far away, but I'm wondering what will happen when I decide to play some tunes on the old git-box or when all the lowriders start showing up.