(There’s Gonna Be A) Showdown

johhnydavidOn Saturday night Carol and I went to the 80 year celebration/show for the Los Angeles Art Association/Gallery 825. These kinds of “300 people in a steaming hot room looking at some good but mostly bad art” shindigs don’t really flip my switch, but all in all it wasn’t bad. I can almost always get a poem or two (or one of these) out of a scene like that.

But after an hour or so we’d both had it, so Carol said to some friends of hers, “Be right back…” and we headed for the car. About half a block from 825 on La Cienega there is a restaurant with an outdoor patio, and as we approached who should amble out the front door but David Johansen, ye olden tymes singer from the New York Dolls, and current bon vivant and man about town.

Carol said, “Say hello to him,” so I said, “David Johansen! 1975, New York Dolls! My first live concert.”


“Hey, hey!” He smiled, shaking my hand and barely remaining upright on his long, chopstick legs. He was with a companion, an equally skinny woman of indeterminate age. Perhaps it was Sable Starr, or some other 70’s scenestar.

“That was 30 years ago, you must be old!” And we all went, ‘ha ha ha’ and I figured that was it, so we kept walking. But before we could make it around the corner he said, “We’re waiting for a lift, but I think they forgot about us…can you drive us a few blocks? Half a mile maybe?”

Well, I never have been able to say no to a 1970’s rawkstar looking for a ride, so we all climbed into the Trooper and headed toward Hollywood proper. After a few wrong turns and near-fatal collisions we arrived at a two story house on Carlton Way, in the hills just above Sunset Boulevard.

“Come in and have a drink,” Mr. Johansen said, “meet our friends.” So I angled the car up against the curb to keep it from sliding down the hill and we followed them in.

There were about a dozen people hanging around the place in varying stages of intoxication and dress, the most notable being Jack Nicholson, who was in a corner of the kitchen drinking champagne from a bottle and talking to a few young Hollywood blondes about Magic Johnson and Dennis Hopper.

The blondes were smiling and nodding and giggling, but I don’t think they knew who Magic Johnson or Dennis Hopper were. I lost track of Johansen, but there were a few people out on the balcony creating a ruckus, so we went out to see what was going on.

They were shooting a paintball gun at passing cars and throwing lawn darts out into the darkness and listening for the sound of broken glass or screams when they landed. Only problem with that plan was one of the cars they paintballed was a sheriff’s cruiser, and a couple of unhappy looking officers jumped out and shined their flashlights up at the balcony. Not at the people with the paintball gun, mind you, but at Carol and I.

From the kitchen I could hear Johansen shouting, “Come on, let’s go to the Halloween costume warehouse!” We all ran down a flight of stairs and out a patio door and got into a stretch limo that was parked on the side street. We slipped quietly by the Sheriff’s car, watching the officers inside, presumably making calls for backup or a paddy wagon. There were still a couple of people inside the house, but I never followed up on what happened to them after we fled.

I thought “Halloween costume warehouse” was an underground club or something, but we pulled up in front of an actual Halloween costume warehouse on La Cienega, and went inside. After a few minutes Johansen came out of a back room in an ape suit and ran past the checkout counter and into the street.

Nicholson and the blondes were standing in one of the aisles wearing only their underpants, trying on different wigs. I looked at Carol and she rolled her eyes and I said, “I know! What the hell?” and we went out to try to get a cab back to our car…

Okay, actually, when we saw Johansen Carol said, “Say hello to him,” and I said, “Nah, what for?” and we drove home and watched Reno 911 on Tivo instead. But, you know, the other part could have happened.

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