The music was inspiring, plus free donuts. Still in the middle of Church that Sunday, I just … realized I totally didn't want to be there.
In his “teaching” the pastor said, "We came to California to plant churches in the inner cities, so now we're opening a new branch in Northridge.”
I almost laughed out loud. Maybe to people who moved here in the past ten years, Northridge is a city. I mean there are some big buildings there now, but man, Northridge is, is, is…
It’s the San Fernando Valley, the north end!
Then I looked around the auditorium where this church meets so I'm able to stand being there, because it’s not a church building it's a school building. There was not one other person there with one gray hair or one wrinkle.
I used to pat myself on the head for being such a young thinker I only feel comfortable in a church full of twenty-somethings. But truth is, there is no feeling of community for me there. No reason really to even be there, since I find God, in our personal relationship, walking in the breeze listening to music.
So I got up and left. No one stopped me and asked me to stay as I walked away, the “prayer team” members in the back just looked at me with the same perplexed sense that I seemed to have.
I don't fit in anywhere.
This church is another one of those Church Plants you find around Los Angeles, and I'm told other inner cities, today. Totally non denominational, kids winging it with a microphone and garage band. Kids with guitars and the Bibles, trying to figure out new ways to do Church.
The music’s great at this church which meets, funnily enough, in the Michael Jackson Auditorium of Gardner Elementary School in Hollywood behind the Guitar Center.
I have to go back to get a picture of the plaque: Michael Jackson Auditorium, where my church meets...
I walked right by the “Prayer Team” members, past the plaque commemorating Jackson. Out through the doors into the unseasonably cool and refreshing breezes we're having in L.A. lately.
I'm the little old lady with gray hair now almost totally white. How do I explain Joni Mitchell and Love-Ins at Big Sur in the sixties to these people who think Old School means Madonna?
Music in my headset, I'm walking around the streets of L.A. again, trying to accept my situational uncorrectable aloneness in this already isolating city. I mean, the older you get, the less people there are around that are your age- they drop dead every day. So you have to be grateful just for being able to chew food anymore.
I see other people with wrinkles sitting across from me on the Metro and I want to pull them aside, compare lives. How did you make it this far? Were you in San Francisco or Hollywood in 1966 or 1967, did all that stuff really happen?
I spend my Sunday walking around L.A. with music in my ears discretely smoking.
Haven’t been to the Farmers Market at Ivar between Sunset and Hollywood in years, so wandered there that Sunday morning, thinking the handful of change in my pocket would buy me a tomato or two. It was more like nine dollars would buy me a sack of organically grown produce manured by happy cows, or something like that.
The blocked off streets of the Farmer's Market, with newly built high rise luxury apartment and retail buildings all around it, was jammed.
Proprietors of the ramshackle lean-to sales outlets were not friendly to me at all, as it was obvious I wasn’t there to spend money. My shoes, my hair, hands, all show I don't have any "disposable income."
Around me was a bustle of people, curiously many of them Asian, with shopping bags bulging, buying gallons of raw milk, masses of carefully assembled nine dollar sacks of produce.
I just wanted a place to sit down, some shade.
There was nothing there for me.
Well, there was a 3-piece jazz combo, a guy my age there singing sleazy blues-jazz songs with another guy on keyboard and a bass player, set up in one of the farmers' stalls, with a hat in front of them to collect dollar and coin tips. I tried to lean on a pole and watch them perform a song, and almost pulled down the Santa Barbara Pistachio Farm stall.
The singer finished his song and got real aggressive about wanting coins and dollars. I wandered a few feet out of range, and he said, “Well if you don't have any coins, why don't you take me home with you?”
I was stunned. Thirty years ago I would have taken him up on it. Today standing there in the heat, I felt the remnants of my old life in my sweat left over on me, residue from a hundred or so men with skinny bony bodies like the guy flirting with me from the makeshift stage.
I shivered, and really didn't want to be there anymore.
My sister would have stayed until the fare close and taken the singer home.
We two adult victims of Father Thomas Barry Horne of Chicago, 1940s-70s.
I walked up the slight grade of hill between Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood, so tired it felt like San Francisco topography, but at least there’s shade up on the Walk of Fame. Still no place to sit for blocks. I walked, I walked.
Then at last, comfort: A wrought iron bench. I sat down finally, it felt almost soft. In the shade, that cool wind massaging me, I gazed up at the Capitol Records building, remembering that time.... I could sit here for hours, I thought, just continue to discretely smoke, using my visor to hide the pipe and block the wind. Gaze at people walking by, enjoy the day.
Then three recent arrivals from some Southeast Asian nation squeezed onto the bench next to me and asked about the bus. I was friendly, tried to be hospitable, but on a Sunday, them waiting for a bus, they could be there another hour.
So wandered on to Argyle and caught a Number 180 home.
Stopped in the Armenian grocery where they really are trying to keep the floors clean now and keep the fruit from rotting. Bought some Liqueur and Vodka Chocolates and spent the rest of the day at home. The closest I’ll ever get to a park and shady place to sit in this city is probably the small square of yard in front of my apartment building. As long as I live in L.A., I have to accept that if you want greenery, or anything resembling a park, you have to buy your own real estate.