Asphalt shimmers in blurry waves. Palm trees sag in listless surrender without the slightest hint of a breeze to rustle the fronds. A tumbleweed rolls slowly through the intersection of Rodeo and Wilshire. Beautiful people hide behind tinted windows in carefully controlled air conditioned environments. Beverly Hills panhandlers beg for bottled water.
In one year, we’ve lived through 40 days and 40 nights of flooding rain, hailstorms, tornados, mudslides, earthquakes and fires. The forces of nature have delivered a hellish blow of Biblical proportions. But all this was just a warm-up for the drought that followed. The butt cheeks of El Niño are hitting L.A. with a vengeance.
Payback is a bitch.
I should be used to the blistering heat that currently engulfs Hollywood like a giant sauna. I am, after all, a child of the South where in the summertime, the living is easy…fish are jumping and the cotton is high. I grew up in the Mississippi delta where the humidity and temperature made a daily race to 100 in a land so flat you could watch your dog run away for three days.
I’m now a hot child in the city. And it’s different. I’ve spent four lonely days in a brown L.A. haze mired in a funk so low it makes whale shit look like stardust. I’ve been down so long it looks like up to me.
From the first of August through the middle of September, Los Angeles is not the place to be. Everyone with money leaves for the beaches. Those with none go home and abuse their families. Driving on the freeway is like being in the ring with Mike Tyson. Everybody’s pissed off.
I take to prowling the sidewalks at midnight, searching for anything to pull me out of my manic depression. On Monday I fell into a bar in Boys’ Town. The bartender gave me a raised eyebrow and said, “Do you like Piña Colodas? Making love in the rain?” It did not cheer me up
I met my old lover on the street last night, she seemed so glad to see me I just grinned.
That was okay until she got so emotional, baby. It didn’t take long to remember why she was my old girlfriend.
I continued my aimless wandering into the mystic. I was looking for something, but I had no clue what. Friends don’t help. Emotions are funny. When you’re in a great mood nobody is telling to get sad. But fall into a little depression and it seems like every third person has a special formula for making you happy.
Sad songs say so much.
When I’m sad, I want to wallow in it. Don’t try and make me smile. And I don’t need the worry warts. Don’t worry, baby. Knock on wood. I will survive.
But even I realized that I was over the edge. This was the worst case of the droops ever. My new name was “Mr. I Don’t Give A Damn.” It got so bad that my kids put themselves up for adoption. I had to find a way for Gerry to get his groove back. Nothing from nothing leaves nothing, but you’ve got to have something if you want to be with me.
I decided to throw myself into the breach. I would walk up to the edge of the cliff, stare down at the rocks below and determine my fate with a split-second decision. I would step on Superman’s cape, spit into the wind, mess around with the old Lone Ranger and slap the hell out of Jim.
I walked alone into the depths of South Central at midnight on Saturday wearing black, red and blue. This would be the test. I would stare death in the eye.
It was too hot…to hot, baby. The gangsters wouldn’t even come out of their houses.
I went back to my house and threw myself face down in the pool, breathing through the gills behind my ears. I was doomed to live in a endless funk forever. When in front of the house, there came such a clatter, I jumped out of the pool to see what was the matter.
I was struck mute. There at my front door was an angel. She was dressed in a crazy outfit that I vaguely recognized. It wasn’t Judy In Disguise With Glasses, but it was close.
“Hello, I love you won’t you tell me your name?” I sang.
“Please don’t sing,” she said. “You can’t carry a tune,” She was right.
“I’m the 600 million dollar woman,” she continued, “and I’m selling grooves.”
“Don’t you mean the 6 million dollar woman?” I asked.
“Adjusted for inflation,” she smiled.
“Where do I blow you up?” I came back.
“You’re funny,” she said, “But you have a sad face.”
“I’ve lost my groove,” I frowned.
“That’s terrible,” she moaned.
“I’ve been looking everywhere for it, but I can’t seem to find it.”
She shook her hair back. “That’s silly and a waste of time. If you can’t find your groove, just buy another one.”
“Grooves are expensive,” I told her. “Especially in Los Angeles.”
“That’s why I’m here,” she said. “Hollywood isn’t the same without you. I’ve been sent to loan you the money.”
“How will I pay you back?” I asked.
“I’ll tell you the next time you’ve got writer’s block. It’ll fill up another column.”
“Write on,” I grinned.
And that’s how I got my groove back.