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Boardwalk Excerpts from
Call Someplace Paradise
by Pat Hartman

Winter 1979
A young dude with rings through both nipples gave an erudite lecture about piercing all kinds of body parts including ones I don't even want to think about. He longed for a piercing for more than a year, then someone gave him a gift certificate for it. In return, he gave the other person a tattoo. Someone asked, what about clothes? He said the feel of the fabric against the rings provides constant titillation, which is a lousy pun except he didn't appear to realize it was one. "You always know your nipples are there," he said. "In the supermarket or someplace, it's a turn-on because it's like I know a secret nobody else knows." Now a devotee of self-mutilation, he makes special jewelry for various anatomical landmarks and pierces his customers for free.

The cops on the boardwalk are always in pairs, and now even the pairs are coming in pairs. We saw two patrol cars one right after the other.

A group with three guitars, a banjo and a fiddle and spoons, did Charlie Daniels stuff. One musician announced that two of the guitar players are getting married next week. Instead of "Okie from Muskogee" they do a song that says "I'm proud to be a derelict in Venice." One line goes, "They don't shave their armpits, they don't use deodorant or Nair." There follows a long list of things that derelicts in Venice don't worry about, "cause worrying is the biggest sin of all."

Fall 1981
In front of the Sidewalk Cafe was the most bizarre act I've ever seen. Somebody was on stilts, totally covered with a long white dress. The person wore a pink and white papier mache' mask and had long strands of silver stuff for hair. He or she played a plywood violin with one string which seemed to make a thin eerie sound. I think maybe the sound was actually made with some kind of a mouth reed.

Fall 1981
On the boardwalk a new (to me anyway) group showed up called Ecolibrium Alliance, whose home ground is Big Sur or somewhere equally remote. They travel with several animals in a large bus trimmed with purple and they all wear purple. Their weird medieval-looking odd-shaped handmade instruments were laid out on a carpet spread on the pavement. A banner said "Ecolibrium Survival Show." A sixtyish man played a wind instrument with many stops, and a dark-haired woman played a keyboard. Their music was eerie and strange. The other instruments were not in use at the moment. There was a blonde woman with glasses who wore a flowing purple top and jeans with many velvet patches sewn on, and a cute little blonde girl two or three years old. Another young woman with long blonde hair danced in an Oriental mode and passed the hat.

The vendor next to them, who sold metal tit-covers shaped like seashells, kept telling the listeners to move from in front of her stand. I said "Do you have a lease on this land, or what?" A young street musician with a guitar joined the crowd and played different music just to be irritating. He hassled the hat-passer and said he had been singing first on the other side of the boardwalk when the Ecolibriums set up. I've seen this peacenik pass out anti-Diablo Canyon pamphlets, but when it's a question of someone cutting in on his territory - hey, that's business. I can see his point. On the other hand, there are only certain places where an outfit the size of Ecolibrium can set up. It's much easier for a single musician to relocate.

Early 1982
The newest cool thing on the boardwalk is to wear antennae. A hairband clamps onto the top of the head and has springs or (in the economy model) pipe-cleaners with glitter-encrusted styrofoam hearts or spheres on the ends. Some people call them deeliebobbers. In other fashion news, many of the trend-conscious wear metallic-threaded twisted cloth around their foreheads, as modelled by Olivia Newton-John on the cover of People magazine. Unlike Tonto, beach dwellers favor headbands with shiny gold or silver braided in or pasted on. A gilded, sparkly thing on the head says, "I'm royalty." Subliminally it's a coronet. It's very California, where so many people feel the same sense of entitlement experienced by reigning monarchs. Is that healthy or heinous?

In one of the empty lots someone had a big inflatable lifeboat set up, with a tent in it. A punk-style teenager of indeterminate sex sat on the sidewalk with a drum set made from pots and pans and a bleach bottle and a bunch of other junk. Being not a good libertarian but only a situational one, I signed an anti-handgun petition.


© 2004 - 2012 Pat Hartman
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