A Canyon Christmas
Ten minutes to Christmas and for once as midnight approaches, the party is flagging and people are slipping away into the LA night. Down there in the sprawling suburbs families have been singing Christmas carols. Now the kids are tucked in bed and sound asleep, seconds after they promised themselves that they would stay awake to try and see Santa. Husbands and wives are having a drink while they wrap last minutes gifts. But up here in the canyon middle America is far away.
Up here in the canyon Phil Spector is smoking a cigar and floating on a lilo in my pool. The pool is way too cool to swim in but Phil is drunk and does not feel the chilly water. Incense and dope smoke hang in the still air mixing with the desert scents of pine and creosote.
Joni Mitchell and a drummer from the Troubadour house band are deep in conversation in the sunken lounge and I think he is falling in love with her just like I did. Jim Morrison is slumped on a barstool having drunk me out of scotch hours ago. David Crosby was here earlier with Linda Ronstadt but someone got in a huff and they left. The music has been loud all night and I didn’t hear who offended who, but Frank Zappa may have said something. He often does. That’s his shtick.
The get together was not my idea but with the clubs closed tomorrow we just decided we needed to have a bit of house party. “A party for orphans,” Jackson called it. We have all came from somewhere else to be in LA because if it is going to happen for you it will happen here.
Earlier someone had put The Beatles latest album on the stereo and McCartney was singing “Back in the USSR”. I went to get a beer from the bar and as I walked by Jim he opened his eyes.
He smiled broadly and the stoner facade dropped away and I suddenly saw the man within. But then the shutters came down again and it was gone in a flash.
Now I eat cereal from the box and wait for the cars to come and collect the stragglers. Some DJ walks in with some white labels, advance copies of unreleased records that record companies give to club and radio DJs to test market. Right in the middle of Ob Li Di Ob Li Da he lifts the needle off the The Beatles and flings the record on the couch.
“Fuck that,” he says. “Here is the future.”
He takes an unlabelled album from the plain white sleeve, puts it on the turntable and drops the needle into the groove. A thunderous two note guitar riff erupts then frantic swinging drumming followed by a masculine scream. A handful of cereal pauses halfway to my mouth. Jim wakes up. Led Zeppelin walk the earth like dinosaurs. The 60s finish right there and then.