I had made an appointment to confer with my friend and client Jesus, whose name is really Jesus, in downtown Los Angeles, where, if my understanding is correct, he is (very!) gainfully employed as a champion of the downtrodden and disenfranchised.
Parking downtown is expensive, and I'm a tightwad, so I customarily take public transportation when going there, in spite of the fact that a municipal ordinance requires every LA Metro bus to contain at least one loudly deranged passenger, commonly having a very heated debate with himself or herself, or trying to persuade others to embrace Jesus (not my friend and client, but the other one) as his or her personal Lord ‘n’ savior. I commonly play Word Maze, or whatever it’s called, on my iPhone and mind my own business.
Jesus shares my love of stylish attire, so I always dress up to see him. Because it was actually chilly, I was able without looking foolish to wear my famous Italian carabinieri coat, which I bought at the American Rag in San Francisco in 1988, and wore the night I met my girlfriend Little Rumso for the first time. She rather idiotically referred to it as my Sgt. Pepper jacket, but I came to love her nonetheless, for a little over a decade, anyway. She was actually very much more impressed — to the point of making herself available to me sexually! — by the khaki wool Eisenhower jacket I wore to our second meeting. It too came from American Rag, and I am indeed wandering far from the track on which you had so graciously agreed to join me, so shame on me.
I headed for Wilshire Blvd. and its abundant bus stops feeling a little bit handsome, even at my age, only to discover that what used to be called The Miracle Mile had been closed, apparently for the use of persons wishing to express their fury over the Turks’ brutalization of their Armenian neighbors 100 years ago. I had to walk all the way back to 3rd Street to get an eastbound bus, but nonetheless arrived on time.
Last week, Jesus took me to a Japanese place, but this time he craved meat, and so we headed only a short distance from our meeting place to an upscale burger joint, where we were attended by an almost unnervingly perky young server of around 25 who identified herself as Britney, and, a little charmingly, addressed us as “you boys.” Jesus ordered a Bloody Pig — a bloody Mary with strips of bacon in it. I am unsure as to whether I was able to completely mask my astonishment.
As we ate, we conferred about the project on which he has generously hired me to work — a video for the gal he loves, Debbi D—, who’s about to celebrate a momentous birthday. It is our mutual hope that the video, which I will direct, shoot, and edit, will make Ms. D— irresistible to persons who book chic local and other cabarets. Jesus is a musician of note — we first met, many decades ago, when I was assigned to lionize his combo in an English-language magazine — and has recorded a lovely backing track. The French fries we shared were very salty, but no less enjoyable for it.
After we parted, I swung anew past the truck out of which a friendly young woman was handing out complimentary cans of Illy iced coffee, hoping that she wouldn’t recognize me as someone to whom she’d given a couple of cans already. If she did, she kept it quiet, and I boarded the westbound No. 20 with no fewer than three cans in the pockets of my famous coat. Because of the Armenians, the bus detoured a mile or so east of my destination, and I got out to walk.
Who’d have imagined that there were so many Armenians in Los Angeles? And who’d have guessed that so many of those many would think it a good idea to encourage their children to embrace an ancient grievance as their own? I understand that the Turks brutalized their Armenian neighbors in 2015. I understand further that not a single person who perpetrated that brutality is alive today. When I visited Berlin in late 2012, should I have snarled at every local on the chance that their parents or grandparents had been Nazis?