Thursday, November 02, 2006

Going to California

Around the summer of '86 I had just left one of the bands in my previous posts, so basically I was a bass player with no job, no band and living in the back seat of my 1980 Ford Fairmont. Life was good. Ya right. Afriend of mine, who I had been in a band with in the past, told me about a dude who was going to be moving to california and needed a bass player. He said it was an all expense paid trip and that he was going too. So after about 2 seconds of contemplating whether I should go or not, I told him count me in. This was basically, most musicians dream. Go to Hollywierd and become a rockstar. This was it for me. My last chance at the big time. I was moving to California...

My friend "Sal" took me over to "Bennys" house in East Lansing so I could meet the person who held my dreams in the palm of his hands. Benny seemed like a pretty cool guy. As it seems, he had never worked a day in his life. He, however, made about $50K a year selling something called Indica. I didn't really care, I just wanted to go to L.A. I auditioned in his living room and was told on the spot that if I wanted to go, I was in. He really emphasized the part about "really wanting to and also being able to". I fit in both of those categories. So the plans were starting to be made. We had a departure date of sometime in December. I had an ex-giirlfriend who agreed to let me stay with her until we left so I wouldn't have to live in my car. Note to people who have nasty break-ups: Idiots, you may need their friendship some day. Best to part as friends. Better to have a friend nearby, when you're drowning, than an enemy, if ya catch my drift.

December was approaching fast and I had managed to wok part time and sell my Ford, way under-priced BTW, and come up with some emergency money in case needed. Benny said he would provide transportation and a place to stay once we got there but we had to buy our own food. That seemed more than fair to me. Come to find out, there were quite a few people that he planned to take to CA. First there was his wife and 2 kids, his nephew(who by the way is an awesome guitarist) Sal and I. We were going to be traveling in a 78 Thunderbird, 2 door no less, and pulling a U-haul trailer. 7 people in a T-bird for 4 days didn't sound fun but I figured I could rough it out. The end result was, after all, my lifes dream. After all the packing was done, seating arrangements were to be made. As it turned out, Sal and I would be riding in the U-haul trailer. You would think this to be dangerous, and you would be right. Honestly tho, I didn't care. At least I would be able to stretch out while the others would be cramped in the car. So I didn't mind one bit. That was until we hit the snow storm in Indiana.

First let me start by saying, "Jebesus Churst". Picture this, you are in trailer attached to a car with only a small round peice of metal holding the two of you together. You have no windows, the trailer is packed fairly tightly, not leaving much room to move. It's pitch black to where you can't even see the hand in front of your face, going 70 miles an hour down a freeway in the middle of a snow storm. You'd scream but no one would hear you except the other person in the trailer with you and you don't want to show your fear so what do you do? Light a smoke and say What the F is going on? Sal and I would hold our lighters and look at each other thinking this is the stupidest thing we've ever done. It isn't but it sure felt like it at the time. So here we are, the sounds of snow and sleet mix pounding and echoing in our heads, pitch black, trailer rocking and unseeable luggage falling on top of from time to time. To add to that, I had to pee. This went on for about an hour and a half when they finally pulled over. Apparently all this extra weight had been a strain on the transmission and we had to pull over to a gas station and examine.

Benny opened the trailer doors and broke out laughing when he saw the horror on our faces. We must've been white as ghosts. I didn't think it was real funny, neither did Sal.

So here we are, stranded in Marion Indiana, home of Jim Davis, the Garfield comic strip guy, or so they boasted. The mechanic said we needed a new transmission and he could have us up and running first thing tomorrow. That sounded great to me. I was hoping by then the storm would subside. We managed to find a motel nearby and they deposited the trailer there for our convenience. We got a couple rooms so it was nice to be able to stretch out instead of laying on boxes and such. The next morning when we got up, we discovered that the trailer had been blown all over the parking lot. Apparently, high winds and ice storms will do that. Glad we weren't inside then.

We had finally got the car back and Benny decided to take his family back to Michigan and the 4 of us would start our journey over a week later. So I only had to ride in the trailer back to michigan...thank God. After a week of explaining to my friends that they would have to wait another week before I would become a rock star, we were ready to attempt the trip again.

As I mentioned before, Benny had made his living of this thing called Indica. It wasn't but a short time after our second journey started that I realized the full extent and value of this crop.
This particular brand of MJ was really potent and Benny like to smoke one after the other. The rest of us in the car didn't even have to try it. We all had what you would call, "contact highs" the worst thing about it is that Benny was driving and didn't want anyone else to drive. Yes once again, we all feared for our lives. The first part of the trip wasn't to bad tho. Just a little minor weaving on the freeway which Benny attributed to the wind blowing the trailer around, even tho none of saw any trees moving in the wind, we accepted this ascertation.

Things went pretty smoothly until we hit New Mexico. For some reason, they were having the worst storm in years. I, of course, new the reason was we were all doomed to die at the hands of a major stoner behind the wheel of the car and God was really pissed at us and threw more snow and icy winds at us just to make sure. This was when Benny decided we should take a southern route and jumped on I-35 south to try and get out of the storm. This did give us some reprieve for about a couple of hours. We learned that the weaving in clear weather isn't quite as bad as weaving thru a snowstorm. Tho still somewhat fearing for our lives, we were relatively calm.
You may think our fear is a little exaggerated but it's not. I guess you had to be there. Anyway, we finally hit I-10 and continued our journey west. You would have thought that driving through the desert would have been refreshing after the blizzard we had encountered but guess what! We hit another blizzard in Tuscon Arizona. Destiny was not in our cards. It apparently was the first snow they'd had in over 50 years. I have to admit tho, it was pretty cool to see snow on cactus. I'm sure there's not many who can say they've ever seen that. We did manage to stay out of the ditch. I felt bad for all the others who didn't. We had an advantage because we were used to driving in these conditions, being that we were from michigan. We ended up staying in Tuscon that night, basically state police were telling everyone to get off the roads.

The next day was the big one. The day we would arrive in California. We arrived at the border and there was border patrol. They asked us if we had any fruit and other things I can't remember. Benny misunderstood. I can't say I blame him. His eyes were barely open because he was so stoned, I figured his ears were probably just about closed as well. Any way, he told Border patrol that we were not a bunch of fruits and to F off. Note to self: Never tell Border Patrol to F off. We were directed to a special parking spot on the side of the road and were directed to get out of the vehicle. After a short search of our persons, they proceeded to rip everything out of the car and trailer. Even the back seat was torn out. They then told us we were okay to go. There we stood with all of our belongings spewed across the Golden States border viewed by the laughing passerbys as we were criminals and should be shot. Border patrol grinning from ear to ear. So we humbly packed everything back in the trailer and were on our way. Hollywood here we come. to this day, I still have no idea how Benny hid the 2 ounces of Indica he had and you know what? I don't think I want to know.

It was about 7 pm PST when we arrived to our destination. A 3 bedroom house in Garden Grove. Not Hollywood...Garden Grove. I guess it didn't really matter, we were there and Hollywood was only about 45 minutes to an hour drive away. We finished unpacking the necessities and I got the bright idea that I wanted to see the ocean. No one else wanted to go and of course driving the car was out of the question. Benny was still awake and had the keys. So, being as excited as I was to be in California. I decided to walk to the beach on my first day there. I figured after being couped up in a car for the past 4 days, my legs could use the exercise. To make a long story short, It took me just abou 4 hours to get to the beach. By the time I got there, it was really dark and I couldn't see anything and still had the walk back. Forget about buses. I ahd forgot my wallet and had no change for the bus. By the time I got back, my legs were in a great deal of pain. they hurt even when I laid down. I think it was 3 days before I actually started to feel normal again.

Well that concludes the journey to California. What happens there next? I will tell you at a later date.

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