Mimi could apply mascara, change her clothes and eat a meal while flying down the notorious 405 at 70 MPH in her brown Toyota (license plate: PHIEND). My superpower was attracting law
enforcement. One night in Orange County following a big punk show, we sat in the car for the better part of an hour trying to figure out who was sober enough to get behind the wheel as a pair of cops parked across the street happily awaited our decision. Mimi's magic carpet of PMA usually provided us a safe getaway and this time was no exception. We laughed all the way home, another dodged bullet added to the belt.
Sometime after we got caught in the Mendiola’s Ballroom riot and before we took on the crucial work of handling Social Distortion’s fan mail, we fell into the orbit of the Better Youth Organization. The brainchild of Mark and Shawn Stern who had a band called Youth Brigade, BYO served as record label and promotion company for hardcore bands around the world. Mimi, a textbook extrovert, managed to use the Mendiola’s debacle as a springboard for friendship and fun (read: sex and drugs) landing us an invite to the BYO HQ on N. Flores in West Hollywood.
The property consisted of an old two-bedroom Spanish Revival house in front, and a small apartment above a garage in back, with a long driveway alongside. Both dwellings were in various states of disrepair, a fact that was not incongruent with its tenancy. We climbed the stairs up to the apartment shared by Mark and Shawn where we hung out and discussed the news of the day. That’s where I met Dream.
If memory serves, first there was the "double zero" after hours club in Hollywood where discerning scenesters and creative types went to keep the party going. I think Brendan Mullen started it as a sort of post-mortem adjunct to the Masque. Later there was simply the Zero club, a slightly watered down version of the original but just as fun. Recently, footage was unearthed from the dark recesses of underground YouTube where a night in the life of the Zero was captured on film for geezer punks like me to amuse themselves. Among the highlights are Anthony Keidis introducing himself as a member of Fishbone (1:15), El Duce weirding people out (1:02:48) and moi at age 21, slightly buzzed and mumbling about Jaks girls with my gal pal Gardia beside me (1:55:25)
“Where’s the party?”
At Palisades High in the late ‘70s, everything was about status. From your jeans to your preferred radio station or your brand of cigarettes, every choice was critical and every mistake had consequences. But in the hierarchy of cool, knowing where the parties were by the last bell on Friday, was a surefire way to establish your rank. In order to possess this sacred knowledge, reliable sources were essential. Being a Gemini with a journalism career in her sights, reconnaissance was second nature.
I had friends in high places. I had friends in low places. When I wasn’t in class or ditching class I was typically planted in the unsanctioned official smoking section at the front of the campus. I read Shakespeare for fun, played tournament tennis, kept pace with the biggest stoners and knew the lyrics to every Led Zeppelin song. I was a social chameleon, able to hold my own among top-tier overachievers and absolute fuck-ups alike. The only kids I didn’t gel with were the theater geeks (Forest Whitaker and Penelope Ann Miller among them.)
Junior High had been a horror film and I was perfectly cast as its leading reject during my final semester. I had one friend that wasn’t a book or a record and she was equally awkward. Lunch period was usually spent alone, crouched behind a tree on an ivy-covered slope as far away as I could crawl from all signs of life, but still on the right side of the chain link fence. I was Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club sans dandruff.
I spent much of that summer before high school locked in my bedroom deeply contemplating my social deficits, fantasizing about Robert Plant and wishing I was someone else. Someone with Stevie Nicks’ hair, Susan Dey’s figure and a boy in the band. One hazy day that cruel summer, I replaced the tobacco in my parents’ cigarettes with oregano, snuck a couple a swigs from their well-stocked bar and proceeded to lock my door, empty my closet and take stock in front of the full-length mirror.