Lost In OC: How to Spend Your Summer Non-Vacation

The author protests. Photo by Shelly Schuller

It’s August, and even the squirrels and coyotes are catching on that summer won’t last forever. The “Back to School Sale” signs are going up (it was always creepy and dissonant to see “Back to School Sale” right below the “Grant’s for Guns” sign on that now-shuttered Costa Mesa sporting-goods store). Next, there’ll be the pop-up Halloween shops, the turkey platters, the gift wrapping, the New Year’s horns, the egg-dying and—whammo!—here comes next summer to waste. Don’t let this one get away from you!

Here are some things you can do in the dimming days of this one:

It’s been half a century since Mick and Keith penned “Summer’s here, and the time is right for fighting in the street.” The human race, you’ve perhaps noticed, has not spent those intervening years creating an egalitarian hippie utopia. Instead, there is more cause to kvetch than ever, what with Il Douche in the White House seizing babies, assaulting the free press, sucking Putin dick and trashing regulations on greenhouse-gas emissions while the world burns.

There are horrific, deadly, uncontained fires going on from the Arctic Circle to California, and Mr. Defend and Protect hasn’t said word one about them, obsessed instead with collusion, a border wall and a space force. You know, to protect us from Montenegro’s space force while we burn.

OC has seen some historic protests this year—for women, against gun violence—and smaller ones are taking place all the time. I know people who are still protesting our 2003 invasion of Iraq. Check social media for events that resonate with your beliefs, then get your feet in the fight. What good does it do? It’ll help like-minded folks feel less alone. It’ll help you feel less alone. It’s aerobic. And it helps to keep activism rolling into the midterm elections, so we might finally return some checks and balances to our political system. You can help Dana Rohrabacher earn a nice, long retirement on the public dole. And—who knows?—maybe you’ll get laid.

Jonathan Richman sings in the house, as well as at some other places. Photo by Leslie Smith

Has anyone been to the newish Marty’s On Newport in Tustin? We’re going this weekend to see Jonathan Richman, which should be a great fit, as I hear Marty’s isn’t much on air conditioning and Jonathan insists venues turn the air conditioning off when he plays anyway. It’ll be a sweaty kismet. Some people think Jonathan invented punk rock, but he thinks otherwise. I think he has more heart than anyone else in rock, and he lets it show.

Marty’s is booking a variety of stuff, from venerable LA punk bands to sizzling Latin acts to reggae to the Eagles of Death Metal. All aboard!

Both of the bookers from the lamentably closed Don the Beachcomber, Christopher Burkhardt and Ed Boswell, are separately and together putting on shows at various OC venues. Among the notables are country’s Jim Lauderdale at Original Mike’s and the return of Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys—their first gig since guitar monarch Ashley Kingman’s heart surgery—at the new Cavern at La Santa, both in downtown Santa Ana. You’ll find plenty more online at Boswell’s Musical Thrills and Stellar Shows and Concerts (www.stellarshows.net). And—who knows?—maybe you’ll get laid.

Everyone needs a summer song or album, and it’s good to update them so you’re not still listening to Sgt. Pepper at the beach 51 years after the fact. You will, of course, want your own theme, but you’re welcome to borrow mine, which is “Dum Maaro Dum” by the Bay Area’s Aki Kumar, from his just-released Hindi Man Blues. I’m still nuts about his last album, Aki Goes to Bollywood, on which the Mumbai-born singer/harp player formed a bridge between Indian soundtrack music and American blues ravishingly well. If “Dum Maaro Dum” is any indication, the new album leaps off that bridge into the unknown, and I love the heck out of it. You should be able to stream it at www.akigoestobollywood.com.

Aki goes Hollywood. Photo by Aaron Blumenshine

Back in the 1980s, my friend and often-times band mate Mark Soden was running a high-school media lab in Huntington Beach. One day, some of the students were mooning about how great it would be to be in a band, so he told them, “Okay, you’re in a band.” He gave them rudimentary lessons in music and attitude—one guy played an ice ax, another an early Texas Instruments computer—named them Youth Hosel, and within six weeks had them onstage at LA’s Anti-Club.

If they could do it, if Maroon 5 could do it, why not you? Decent musical gear has never been cheaper, particularly if you buy it used from meth-heads. Learn a few chords, bellow a few words, and you’re in the game.

The hardest part is choosing a band name. So, here, you’re welcome to some of the ones I’m not using: Hippie Flapjack Removal Service, the Preconditions, Drug Pouch, Jimmy Regurgitate World, Iron Mullet, Spelt Tarantula, the New Sweaty Minstrels, the Cutlets, Mega Poodle, Choking Hazard, the Earthen Berms or Smeg Newton. You can thank me when you get a Grammy.

Playing music with simpatico people is one of the great joys in life. And—who knows?—maybe you’ll get laid.

Given a tattoo’s semi-permanence, you don’t want some fly-by-night whim of a tat. I recommend you get one that will remain valid, no matter what else changes in your life—such as a tramp stamp above your ass that reads, “YOUR NAME HERE.”

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