I WISH THEY ALL COULD BE CALIFORNIA DOGS
Below are photos of three Los Angeles dogs I have loved.
This first one is a little ragamuffin I saw wandering around on the Venice Beach Boardwalk one day, where I snapped his picture. When my brother Napoleon saw this photograph recently he said, "What, did he just stand there and pose for you?" I answered, "Yeah, pretty much."
The red bandana marks this little guy as more "dawg" than "dog". And as Nappy noted, this Venice Beach Dawg is the sort of dawg who kind of belongs to everyone in a way:
Ahhh, GEORGE! The greatest and smartest dog that ever lived! We found him wandering on our Orange County street and gave him a home. The photo below was taken in the alley behind our house in Garden Grove.
On the left is a neighborhood friend, Donny, I believe; on the far right is my little brother Napoleon (as my dear friend the Flying Aardvark once said: “He looked tough even back then!”); and in the center, with his arms around George, is my Pa.
THE LEAGUE OF SOUL CRUSADERS
As I've mentioned numerous times on my blog, "The League Of Soul Crusaders" is the name that my great group of friends and I called ourselves in the early 1980s. We were sort of a “drinking gang”, known for our wild, partying ways.
This photo below shows us riding in the 1964 Cadillac belonging to Torch (seen driving). This was taken on July 4th, 1983, in L.A.’s Brentwood area. I can’t say more about it now because… well… this story might possibly be worth big money someday.
Left to right is: me, Twinkie, Wally, Nappy, and Pooh . . .
Below is a photo of some of “The League Of Soul Crusaders” waiting in line for Bruce Springsteen concert tickets in downtown Santa Monica.
I can’t remember if this was for “The River” tour or the “Born In The U.S.A.” tour. At any rate, we waited in line overnight, and ordered a pizza.
“Where did you want this pizza delivered?”
“Give it to the guys on the sofa at the corner of 4th Street and Colorado.”
“You heard me. Now move it!”
Left to right: Brother Nappy’s shoes are visible at the far left, bottom. Then that’s Lin Coleman standing; me sitting on the arm of the sofa; Twinkie’s blonde girlfriend; Pooh in the glasses; and Cranium’s sister, Liz:
Below is a photo of me, sleep-deprived and hungover, still waiting for Springsteen tickets on the morning after the night before.
[If you were waiting in line with us… sorry about that. I know you didn’t get a minute’s sleep, but you were partying all night with 'The League Of Soul Crusaders', whether you liked it or not.]
Zucky’s was a 24-hour restaurant/delicatessen located at 5th Street and Wilshire in Santa Monica. ‘The League Of Soul Crusaders’ wound up many a wild night by going to Zucky’s for a bite to eat.
Although it never worked out that way . . .
One year, my artist friend, Eric, helped me to silkscreen by hand a Zucky’s T-Shirt design I had created for my ‘League Of Soul Crusaders’ buddies. I gave them the shirts as Christmas gifts.
They read: Home Of The League Of Soul Crusaders - ZUCKY’S - Open 24 Hours – Santa Monica, Calif.
What made the T-shirts so funny is the fact that... well... they didn't like us at Zucky's. They didn't like us at all!
HODGEPODGE O' STUFFS
Below is the Turn-Of-The-Century street façade at 20th Century Fox studios in Century City. It was constructed for the movie musical “Hello Dolly!” If I had a dollar for every time I walked up that street... I worked on the television show M*A*S*H during the final 5 years of its run, and this was the route to Stage #9, where the show was filmed.
Perhaps someday I’ll write a blog bit about that portion of my old life.
In the background and to the right can be seen the Century City Towers, where my great friend the Flying Aardvark works today:
In the Long Beach area is the Vincent Thomas Bridge. On one of our Photographic Expeditions, Marty and I went down to Long Beach and a couple of friends accompanied us.
In getting down there, we drove across the Vincent Thomas Bridge. Later, we signed up for a boat excursion that took us under the bridge. Later still, it occurred to someone (and I think it was me) that if we took the helicopter tour, we could fly over the bridge as well. So that’s what we did.
That was decades ago, but I still remember that as the day we went across, under, and over the Vincent Thomas Bridge all in a matter of a few hours. Coolsville!
Here is a picture of Santa Catalina Island. Nappy, Dean, and I once spent 3 days and 2 nights in its little town of Avalon. There was only three of us, but we partied like it was the entire 'League Of Soul Crusaders'. I’m pretty sure the authorities are still searching for us!
Unfortunately, it hadn’t occurred to any of us that we might need a place to sleep. So the first night we slept in a small park near the boat dock.
In the morning, the police said we can't sleep in the park - what a shame. So the next night we hiked to the top of the hill (at left in photo below) and slept on a concrete slab we found up there:
Let’s not forget that I eventually moved out of Los Angeles for a reason. When I was growing up there, it really did seem like a paradise.
But with the influx of people over the years, the tone of the city changed. By the late 1980s it had become an overly crowded and angry place, and I finally said, “Uncle!” At that point, I had begun referring to the city as “HELL. A.” and in 1992 I left.
Below are a few examples of why I thought L.A. had become HELL. A.
For one thing, there's something called "Smog":
Shortly before I moved to Airheadzona, I had begun to feel more and more like William Foster, the character Michael Douglas played in the movie “Falling Down”.
Here is a scene from “Falling Down” that I almost stood up and cheered for in the movie theatre when I saw it for the first time [“I’ll give you something to fix.”] :
Will anyone ever forget these words? They've become a part of the American lexicon:
Toward the end of my love affair with Los Angeles, no song summed up my viewpoint better than did "How Much Is It Worth To Live In L.A.?" by the great Waylon Jennings:
THIS IS THE END
"This is the end
My only friend
~ Jim Morrison,
(from the song "The End")
From the "Boys Will Be Boys" department . . .
Stephen T. McCarthy [after drinking too much Ouzo]:
"Andy, I've got it! Why don't you take a picture of me, and we'll rig it to look like you caught me in the act of peeing."
Kelly "Andy" Anderson [after drinking too much Ouzo]:
"Out-friggin'-standing! Go over there and make like you're doing it on that engine I've been rebuilding."
Eleven months before he killed himself, my friend Kelly "Andy" Anderson sent me a photo post card he had developed himself. On the front was that picture of me with my pants down, which you saw above. On the back, Kelly had copied an Untitled, two-stanza poem I had written years earlier:
The sun yawned and thought about calling it a day
Kelly and I sat at the entrance to his garage on gasoline cans
His old truck looked beautiful, parked with the last of the sun’s rays
Glinting brightly on the dings and dents
And the cavity where an engine belonged.
I loved Kelly and his truck and I loved myself
And the blood in my veins, the heart in my chest, pumping
The beer in our bottles dwindled, just liquid sand in an hourglass
A lovely moment
A short reprieve
And then my friend signed off with this:
I miss those moments, and I miss those friends.
Hope you’re OK.
Nov. 8, 1985
I do miss my friends... and sometimes I miss L.A., too.
I hope y'all enjoyed my tour, and to quote from one of Warren Zevon's zongs:
Well, they say this place is evil
But that ain't why I stay.
'Cause I found something that'll never be nothing
And I found it in L.A.
It was midnight in Topanga
When I heard the D.J. say,
"There's a full moon rising,
Join me in L.A."
Heck, I never even took you to Topanga Canyon on this tour, did I? Well, maybe next time. There's far more to see in L.A. than I could possibly cover even in 6 installments.
To go back to Part 1 and begin the tour all over again, click this link: The Waybac Machine
~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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