it was in historic Frogtown, as Chris and Ramie were so excited about
specifically at the Frog Spot which is a beautiful non profit space right by the LA River
Will Campbell and his lovely wife were there. Marko 77 (far left) was the DJ, he played a bunch of great tunes from The Replacements to Soul Asylum and the Ramones. Johnny Angel (far right) read and played acoustically.
Monty, fresh from Nashville was in attendance with Os and Kim
It’s always a good night when Jeff Tsar gets to say hi to a guy with a Jeff Tsar tattoo.
We were all there to celebrate and participate in S.W. Lauden’s debut crime novel, Bad Citizen Corporation, and eagerly awaited to hear him read from it. He did not disappoint.
Lots of people who hadn’t already bought his book off Amazon snagged it last night.
about nine of us read for 5-8 minutes before SW did. i was super nervous to read and the last thing i wanted to do was follow Heather, and thank God i didn’t have to she was fantastic. she talked about inviting readers to make love to her husband Bill, (center). Ken said she got the most laughs.
i read a new poem that i had just finished that afternoon. one called “a tale of two cities… or Murdurrrrrrr”
chris said i killed. everyone was so complimentary, heather said i should hustle my work to places and just get over my shyness. i saw all, awwww. thanks everyone.
afterwards bands played including Champion, which we have all missed.
below is the poem i read.
it was tough because i had to make it palatable for kids, but i did my best to make that restriction a part of the tale, so in the end i was actually glad that there was a challenge. and trust me, it was challenging.
a tale of two cities, or Murduhhhhhhhhhhh
his name was David
but he looked more like a Jamaal
or a Shaquille
or a Montell
or a La’Twann
he was dressed like that one dude from the Black Eyed Peas who writes all the terrible songs.
but he was shorter.
had an expensive jacket with crazy patches, baggy pants
shoes that were untied
a belt that didnt have a clasp
his eye glasses were tinted even though it was night
i had been camped out in my Mercedes in front of the W in Westwood
waiting for one of the many East Coast consultants
to ping me on the Uber app.
theres an option on there that you press if you want a Mercedes or a Lexus
instead of the typical Prius
the price is nearly tripled
which is why I was a little surprised when
waltzed over to the passenger side, while never raising his eyes from his iphone.
he sat next to me, which is also uncommon, he eased the seat back
allllll the way
i clicked my app and looked at the destination.
Crenshaw and Manchester, i said out loud, steering towards Wilshire. i know that spot, i said
and he finally turned and looked at me with a raised eyebrow.
my man the colonel, g!
there WAS a KFC there, old school. David admitted. Jack n the Box now, he corrected. and went back to his phone.
i hit wilshire.
what kind of music would you like?
93-5 he said.
KDAY is my jam, i lied. and we made it to the 405.
he kept to himself and when the station broke to a commercial i said
oh theres children present?
i said excuse me, governor, instead of enduring these adverts, allow me to switch over to satellite radio
gangsta rap, i believe it’s been dubbed.
after a few minutes i heard him sing along quietly. i had succeeded.
there was a bit of traffic on the 405 but we sped along without a care.
yo, cut the track, he ordered and i muted the radio with my thumb
he spoke into the phone using all sorts of slang and made up words but even though im very light skinned
not only do i share his race, but i used to live in the neighborhood where we were headed.
basically he was asking his friend if he was interested in meeting him at the home of an acquaintance for an important matter
that conversation segued into kidding about something they had both read on another gentleman’s facebook page
something involving the law, an incident, tears,
no. a voicemail that they both found amusing
and how they both agreed the gentleman in question kissed men.
“but seriously, my friend,”
my passenger said into the phone which he held up to his mouth–
palm up like he had just taken a healthy gulp of mead from a chalice,
i implore you, join me at Lord Leroy’s castle tonight, i shall be bearing inebriants of the highest quality.
his friend agreed and “David” ended the call by lovingly exclaiming
a’ight uber driver, we gonna hit that Jack, then run across the street to the smoke shop,
normally i dont like to take several stops when im driving an Uber because i really only get paid when the wheels are turning
but what was i gonna tell mr I Am Jr? No?
his conversation concerned me because i hadnt overheard what the matter was that they wanted to meet over
i concluded the worst
we arrived in Inglewood and i said that’s where Mr. Jims used to be
It takes no teef to eat Mr. Jim’s beef
i offered my hand, which he slapped in approval
“Old School” he said, and it fit.
we drove down one of those streets near the Forum
we turned in the drive way.
i’ll be right out. chill.
he left behind his glasses on the seat, next to a paper bag
and the latest novel by S. W. Lauden.
soon he returned and he showed me a large bag of illegal, but natural, vegetation.
also inside the bag were three hand rolled
to be honest, i dont know, what it was, it was dark.
wanna get hiiiiiiiiiigh uber?
that’s very generous of you, david, but i’m driving.
oh come on old school lemme get turnt with my uber dude
i stopped at a stop sign and turned down the music a little.
listen my genetic relation
if the po po see two handsome n-words in a benzo
there will be no judge. no jury
they will escort us out of this beautiful ride
and take it for their own.
if we’re lucky they’ll only beat us a little bit.
stay in school
just say no.
we headed to the head shop after a wink
David ran in then out with a bag of this and that,
it was none of my business.
we went to another apartment and i waited. and then another.
i was beginning to become suspicious as to this most unusual ride because every time he would get on the phone or text someone he would ask them to join him in some dalliance and they would decline.
so whose homes were we stopping by all around South Central?
finally he said ok, we’re going over to my man Xavier’s house.
as we approached the address he got on the phone and said
n-word we here! where you?? im in this fly 250, like what Ray Ray had. n-word’s got his blinkers on
throw on your blinkers, old school
the gentleman located us and got in the back, where David joined him.
they talked about this person and that one, and then Xavier asked about Yolanda.
bruh Yo Yo has me broken hearted.
for real, asked Xavier?
David just shook his head and raised his voice, Old School, you ever fall in love?
only every other day, i said.
the gentlemen laughed, slapped hands
when they laughed they laughed like this
David followed up with, ever get your heart broken Uber?
routinely, i said.
Preach! David challenged.
i said her name was Anna. i was so in love with her.
she said if you love me so much why wont you show it in the most disturbing ways?
MURDAHHH the gentlemen asked?
no, she wanted me to kiss her in the
THE MOUTH they said?!!?
Disgusting, X said. Everything goes in the mouth. Food, Drinks. Fingers. And whats on Fingers?
Newsprint! the boys said
and i said Exactly!
totally gross. and she told me all of her other suiters would kiss her there.
And i said, if the mouth is such a great place to kiss then why did the Good Lord give us two cheeks in which to target?
and the men rolled around on their backs in the back seat laughing and laughing and omg
BECAUSE IT WAS TRUE!
i kept driving and after the laughter ended Xavier coughed a little and said,
id kiss any white girl, black girl, mexican asian right in the mouth, but thats me
fo real? David asked.
100, Xavier confirmed. You telling me you aint never kissed a female in the mouth?
David smiled sheepishly and said I mean sometimes a brothers gotta do what he gotta do
Ours is a heavy burden, my n-words
and we rolled down a back road that cut towards the remains of hollywood park.
oh, this is where theyre going to kill me, i thought, kill me and steal my car.
i thought about the girls who wanted me to kiss her there and how much i loved them, still,
and how if theyd asked nicely, i Would have probs
gross as that is.
and i overheard some noise in the backseat.
well here it is one said to the other.
no it was the hand rolled thingamabobs.
Xavier was looking at it as David was explaining,
bruh, my heart broke, we gonna sit in my crib and imma have to cry on your shoulder a little bit
you a real friend. i aint never forget you was here for me.
now uber turn leff right here.
we drove towards a typical apartment, one like youve seen a million times.
you sure you dont wanna partake in this completely illegal activity with us strangers and park your luxury vehicle on this dark street in inglewood always up to no good?
well, maybe for a minute, i said.
and David said really?
i said, next time super fly
they laughed and as they left, X said, look out for that spot over there,
full of Crips
i took note and drove off into the darkness
and was promptly murdered.