Friday, December 26, 2014

My Year of Sleaze

Accustomed, as I am, to maybe a couple of hundred at most endorsing anything I do on Facebook, I was pleasantly shocked to see that over 1800 had LIKEd the photograph I recently posted of me with my former girlfriend The Nib at Xmas in 1975, I in the same lime green satin bowling shirt I’d worn to my high school reunion, and she, as the Festive Holiday Season prescribes, in red, and an understandably skeptical expression.

I welcomed 1975 in the Rainbow Bar & Grill, where boys hoping to be mistaken for rock stars and gullible girls would grope one another in preparation for hurrying back to one another’s squalid digs in the hinterlands. “Fuck you, 1974, and good riddance,” I said, holding my glass aloft. During the referenced 12 months, my musical career had gone nowhere, Rolling Stone had cruelly spurned the big Rodney Bingenheimer feature article in which I’d imagined myself to do a really good Tom Wolfe imitation, and Patti Armageddon [not her real name] had broken my heart.

The first several months of 1975 were more of the same, except with a lot of promiscuity thrown in. I would go to the Starwood, the West Hollywood nightclub at which acts of insufficient prestige for the Whisky or the Troubadour would perform to audiences made up largely of persons on their way to the Rainbow. I would guzzle a great deal of vodka for courage, and some coffee to keep me lively, and try to persuade some platform-shoed maiden from a suburb I’d heard of in weather reports, but never actually glimpsed, to come home with me. A fair number did.

To perform the new songs I'd been writing, I put together a little group, the most notable member of which was a sensational, if unendurably truculent, R&B drummer from the Palm Springs ghetto (who’d have guessed there was one?). A future member of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers came to audition, listened for a few minutes, made the face of one who has just smelled something unpleasant, and went home without playing a note, but someone at a record company gave us money to record a demo. A prominent manager, scoffing, described it as sounding like Neil Diamond singing Dr. Hook. I’d intended Scott Walker singing Cole Porter, with a big, brash beat.

One night at the Starwood I came upon one of those record biz publicists to whom I’d formerly been ritually awful when I was The King of LA, and amazed him by being cordial. He offered me a job writing a little newsmagazine in my characteristic hilariously cynical style that might make ABC Records appear something other than hopelessly clueless.

My mentor pulled the plug when he discovered that I intended to make the third issue a celebration of Immorality in the Music Business, and to load it with photos appropriated from bondage magazines and of a pompous female executive who’d rubbed me the wrong way, both with the caption, “Stomach-turning scenes like this are all too common in today’s record industry!” At the time, all I knew about bondage was that I really liked the outfits.

[You won't want to miss a syllable of my account of the rest of 1975, coming tomorrow, right here!]

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