Damnit, I woke up thinking about this. How can it be. Does the torment run so deep?
How psychically ingrained can an event be that you wake up to it?
I woke up thinking that it’s been 20 years. Twenty goddamned years ago.
Where does it all go. So much has happened since.
Twenty years ago, I was unemployed. I had lost a job the previous March which I was strangely unqualified and unmotivated for.
I more or less sought employment. But it was 1992 and I was 27. The urgency didn’t seems as pressing as it should have. I loafed. I had a friend at the time. He reinforced my bad habits. He was a bad friend habit. See, I can’t blame him because we ultimately choose our friends, right?. We choose those we associate with and live out our petty life with. Our friends reflect our values, I’ve always thought.
Still, I…can’t blame X.
All I can say is that me and X spent too much time together and we both got loaded off my collective unemployment benefits.
We didn’t do squat.
No one called me out on it. I was terrible
Looking back now, I’ve lived both sides of that fence. I’ve lived the life of those I despise now. The freeloaders, the opportunists. That is how I rolled. I loafed. X and I played handball and racquetball most weekdays at a court in Arcadia. I drank lots of Kern’s fruit drinks, listened to Howard Stern on morning radio, and did little else. The good old days. At night, we got mostly drunk. There was not much to live for in the next day as far as we were concerned.
X had no real job either. I tried to find one but I didn’t care enough. My efforts were placid.
We loafed a lot.
I got turned down for a few jobs. One of them told me they couldn’t interview me becaue I had been unemployed more than 2 months. I lit into the the guy on the phone. I let him have it. It felt great. I was despondent. I felt I could have murdered him at that moment. Venting frustration is an aweome thing! Amazing to think that in 1992 blogospheric relief was years away.
I remember the day. But I don’t because I wasn’t home when the verdicts were read. In fact, I had hardly followed the case or the televised court trial.
I was at Freddie’s 35err in Pasadena drinking with my friend X.
We were no-gooders.
You were all working. I was drinking, and most of it was paid for by the state unemployment department. The 35er was a dark, grimy bar. We sat there drinking idly on a Wednesday morning. We watched as they announced the verdicts on local television. We kept watching the television. We watched as Los Angeles erupted. The unrest sprouted up everywhere. Even people in Hollywood and the Valley were sweating. This was all happening just 15 miles down the road.
Fires, overturned cars, storefronts torched, absolute mayhem…
Pasadena was a major hub. Lots of late night drinking happened there, but tonight they kicked us out. Out of the town. Riot police stormed a little town miles from the Reginald Denny epicenter. We had to get out now. Normally X and me would have sat there all night drinking. We didn’t give a shit about Rodney King. But the Pasadena police pushed all the wrong buttons.
What else could 2 drunken Mexicans do in such a situation? Have a town meeting?
Why…we headed toward the action.
I was driving my 1988 Honda CRX Si at the time. The cops drove us out because they were trying to protect their own enslaving tax-paying masters. This is what sworn police do. They protect the tax payers and beat you down once in a while. After we were driven out, X and me jumped in my Honda and jammed. We were buzzed off our ass. Actually, we were becoming very drunk because we didn’t stop drinking. Driving? Ha! Get real. We headed to the Pasadena Freeway and down to the Harbor. The rest is history.
I remember driving down grids of South Central streets I didn’t know.
The fires were intense. Your could feel the heat through the open car windows.
Everyone’s windows were open that night. It was complete chaos and anarchy!
We were snubbing society in our own greedy way. But it wasn’t quite so high-minded.
Everybody was there for a few days’ supply of free groceries. Me and X grabbed liquor. We stole beer, we stole liquor, we filled up my CRX’s hatch. I remember we crawled under those gated barriers store owners drew over their businesses at night. They were rendered useless now as we all crawled under them like frantic roaches. Everyone was crawling under them in swarms of manic thievery. It was awful. We had no shame. Police cars roared up and down Figueroa but there was no order. We ran from liquor stores with our arms full of liquor cartons. The police roared by but none of them stopped because the flood of looters was so immense. Essentially we were allowed to burglarize in front of police and they didn’t do a thing about it.
It was absolute anarchy. I’d never (and never have since) seen anything like it. It was the a glimpse of the domestic war ahead of its time. The only survivors were the Koreans who took arms on their rooftops. Each for himself.
X and me came home that night and my CRX was loaded with stolen alcohol. X took a whole bunch, I took the rest.
The “unrest” continued for a few days. I was a vermin. I stole and looted on the night of April 29, 1992. Am I evil? An opportunist? Perhaps. At heart, I am no better than the refuse who gutted Los Angeles that night.
There was no ideology, there was no revolution. We just wanted free shit.
The next Revolution will be about free shit.
In every flurry of a memory train, there is one strange scene that affixes itself. Mine had happened much earlier.
After we were driven out of Pasadena, X and I were sitting at a Jack In The Box in San Gabriel. We had stopped in for a quick eat.
As we ate, we noticed that outside the front glass door stood an old lady pointing at us. We started to laugh because she just stood there pointing and neither of us got it…at first. She looked helpless. X got it before I did. I just wanted to laugh. I was having a good time laughing at her spastic eruptions. We thought she was crazy but X realized she was just really old and couldn’t open the door herself. He got up quickly and opened the door for her. I kept laughing.
The true character of man.
I’m so sorry for everything I’ve ever done, and failed to do.