THE BIKE PROM OF MICHAEL JASORKA
Temecula, CA – Often in some of my early stories about the music scene here, I talked of feeling a relationship, a mystical connection, to the land area known as Murrieta. Even now though I don’t still live in the city limits, I still have a Murrieta zip code. So I know a territorial smooze when I feel one as Murrieta was the first. It appears that my participation in Occupy LA opened the doorway to another area smooze, this time it’s the big city.
Now I know you can say, “of course LA is magnetic, like New York” so allow me to relate a simple tale of how the magic of LA is working its ‘smooze’ to enhance my infatuation for the big city. This is the first of two parts. Stay tuned for the second installment called From Turf To Surf, The LA Marathon.
Unlike the last visit to LA, see Songs Of Bilitis, this trip started smooth and finished smooth, in and out.
Arriving in the chilly city around 8 bells, my congenial LA host was set to be at a meeting until 10 or 11 PM. I had almost 3 hours to kill but I wasn’t worried. I had a loose plan and an interesting feeling which I couldn’t pin down, still can’t even as I write these words.
Tapping* out of the train station I boarded the Metro subway for my next transfer point for the trip to Wellsville, aka The Good Life collective. I was down to re-up (slang term, see Memoirs) and check on the book copies left there on consignment, not that I expected any sales, lol. However, I had planned in another stop first in my journey before hitting the ‘good life’.
On the corner of the block of buildings that house The Good Life and another collective called the Hot Spot is a small, long time in the neighborhood, non-descript pizza parlor named Pizza Pauls.
The interior, which opens to be larger than expected, is totally ‘old school’ with an artsy flair, [square café tables with plate glass tops beneath which lie play, musical, and other artsy postcard promoted events arranged at collage angles]. The darkened atmosphere reflecting from the hardwood walls is broken by B&W photos of famous people I have never heard of and both snow-white headed owner with his cook wife in the kitchen. The pizza, pepperoni, red onions, and green peppers, looks off a magazine cover. The taste is old school fresh with slightly bitter pepper chunks a delight. Though I get a small, I had two slices ‘left for later’ and still time to kill.
At The Good Life, Hannah, the young woman from Murrieta I originally met there, was on-duty, and I learned that another woman who works there had borrowed the display copy to read.
“Cool,” I assured Hannah and her sisters as I remounted another copy of Memoirs to the display rack. Then I chilled for about 30 minutes enjoying some medicated tea and a water bong in the patient lounge. Walking back past the Hot Spot which had a small packed ‘sausage party’ waiting room, a type of collective not unlike the local ones here when they were in operation; I marveled at the difference in atmosphere The Good Life was.
Arriving back in my adopted LA Echo Park hood, I looked at my phone and saw only it was 9:30PM, then rechecked the text. “Meeting lasts till ten, home about 10:30, 11”
Crawkie! I thought to myself but the night still felt energetic and after two hipsters walked passed me, I wondered if the place of the comic book release party might be just readying the place up for the next night. I pushed on after texting my friend that I was on his home turf.
Crossing the street and moving past my turnoff, I was only halfway through the next block before I saw something was going on at 1218 ½ Temple, a block, one story concrete, two stall garage style building, which during the day is ‘home’ to one or two homeless persons. On this Friday night, there are young twenty-somethings hanging out in front in small groups not unlike a high school club party scene. The dress is big city casually cool with artsy features heavily muted; it’s a night-time neighborhood off-downtown, read like ‘off-Broadway’ hipster happening. The changing silhouettes of light on the bed sheet curtains complete my high school flashback and confirm something is definitely happening, and of course, it is Friday night in LA, even if it is the quiet side of Echo Park.
Bypassing the $5 cover to gain access by dropping the name of my artist friend having the following night’s event, I did indeed locate my friend inside, social butterflying.
The shindig was being hosted by a middle 30s something art promoter named Collin Manning, the curator who called his venue the DIY Gallery Lounge on this night. The party happening was Club Ding-A-Ling and tonight was the ‘reported’ last time call for the ding-a-lings. Collin had decided to move on to something different, a ‘new horizon’ as Michael called it. Seemed a pity since the place, which reminded me of the Cavaliers’ Club back in Louisville [KY] in being a bare bones room, with a bathroom in the rear and a set-up for a turntable, speakers, and a mic on a mat, had a good crowd. That says a lot and speaks to the need for such a place on that side of the Park which has seen a growth of hipsters in the otherwise ethnic section of the neighborhood.
Saturday night’s alright for more than fighting.
Michael Jasorka lives the artist that he is. Art is his life, not his hobby. As such, he travels in one of LA’s art circles and tonight is the night of his latest art effort from Bombshell Comics, That Bike.
As with December 3rd, 1967, the comic book story about the recorded true life UFO encounter of the fourth kind, That Bike is another true story, only this time autobiographical. Michael is from the east coast and in Philadelphia Mike found a rare 1969 AMF (American Machine & Foundry and AMF bowling equipment) ‘muscle bike’ on a rooftop. This night ‘that bike’ is perched atop a table, completely restored and in semi original as-issued state. The comic book index adds notes about the ‘add-ons’ to the working model that Mike sometimes rides even at night. The book also includes re-created AMF bicycle ads and an NBHAA analysis of the bike along with historical photographs.
The venue this night is called the Krishna Kumar Gallery but has familiar face Collin as the curator however the room is transformed from the basement house party look to brightly lit gallery gathering, neighborhood style. Cheese cubes and crackers, Crown Royal, some red wine, while cans of Tecaté chill on ice. Small gatherings of people look at the hung original art drawings or read the photocopied archives lain about the table under ‘that bike’, but the ‘birthday boy’ of the evening is Mike. This is his Bike Prom and he wears the crown well, with a quiet glow of accomplishment. The book reading given later is perfect since it also includes a live slideshow shown to the UFO comic book recording.
As I bid adieu to Michael in the midst of a party still going on for the second time in as many nights, I spy Jessica standing in the doorway. She has come by to see the reception after getting off work. She and the featured artist were dating a month ago. The time apart actually allowed Michael to focus on the launch of his latest comic zine, and now perhaps get another dance at this bike prom.
I walked past one of the many signs attached to the sidewalk telephone poles (I hear the gasp from fellow Temec/Murrvillians) announcing ‘No Parking Allowed/No Bus Service’ allowed along Marathon Route. Turns out this weekend [last weekend now] is the running of the Los Angeles Marathon and I am staying less than a hundred feet from where thousands of runners will past in the morning.
(*- Tapping is paying the fare by ‘tapping’ a pre-loaded metro card against a fare box monitor; to be continued…)