I confess I have been a bit self-absorbed lately and looking at a symbolic era and place in the hills above Los Angeles that I had very little to do with because it was and is so well-publicized and can be held up as a symbol of the end of an era. I was especially struck by this remark in a recent review of a book
about the place:
"Methodologically, Laurel Canyon illustrates the danger of reliance on modern-day interviews in historical studies: can an accurate picture of the past come from people with 40 years of hindsight, reflection, and regrets? Subjects are all too eager to reminisce and share rumors and gossip even when they admittedly can't remember details and/or sources."
Why I would question the Walker book is that he currently resides in the place he is writing of, he is now making his life there, and has made a career publishing in L.A. papers so I suspected that nothing juicy would be dished.
I decided this morning that's why I probably could never bother writing about the people I'd encountered along the way. I mean "people with 40 years of hindsight, reflection, and regrets."
I can't help as a human being to compare and contrast, I like this person, I don't like that one so much because of x or y or z. It might be about me.
Of the people I encountered, if they're still associated with the business and were during those glory years everyone is sick of hearing about, they tend to make their roles in that history large and expansive. A few years back, I ran into a person I had known off and on for many decades. Actually, I made a special point of visiting and went far out of my way and spent far too much money on travel and used up my own valuable and precious time, all out of some misplaced concern on my part I suspect. She was a person who I now felt had been emotionally and psychologically contaminated by her life around the music business. Her exposure to life in general and the toxicity of that cultural environment in specific, at least as I witnessed it, was by now nearly beyond repair.
She recited in a line all of the events dripping with pop-culture significance held important by that society which meant she could regard herself as an integral part of that world or at least had some history with it. She was here, and she was there, watching this happen, when something else happened, throughout all those years, and privy to much insider gossip and backstabbing. She was there in front of me, and her rapid in-a-line recitation designed as evidence of her stature in the community was unnerving to me. I didn't want to listen to it. Oddly, and rather abruptly, she expressed concern about the impending toxic pollution likely to emerge from a CD manufacturing plant being constructed in a neighboring town.
She grew angry and warned me never to write about her or her husband, who is still working in the business. "Don't write about us!" She began to threaten me, and said she would put a curse on me and believed she could. Well, truth is, I wouldn't write about them anyway because who wants to make fun of crazy people, but I can understand better why her husband hired a publicist soon after that visit.
Why I would never write about the things that I sometimes find important is that my own memories by now are fragmented and distant, with much history of my own in between.
In that precious village I keep telling you about, that still stands but essentially has ceased to exist as it once was except for a fragment of my memory now and again, which on my last visit there was as profoundly disappointing and unpleasant as it could ever be, as it seemed the place had carried itself and its inhabitants to the most logical extreme of cultural evolution.
Today's shard of recollection is just that, a shard. Many years ago my sister and her boyfriend Frank Zappa and I went to see a new touring exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls that landed in the small village. I told you there wasn't much to do in town, and the scrolls (and their history and rediscovery) were the topic of much discourse. An amazing archeological find that defied imagination! A rarity and treasure on display in our little town.
But I can't remember anything about why we might have gone (except it was something to do), nor any conversation we might have had after viewing them. Though I carried home a brochure from the exhibit, and remember standing near a group of nuns who were peering through the glass case, clearly, for me, this was not a significant event in any way. Yet it's a little scrap of history about Frank Zappa. He saw the Dead Sea Scrolls with his own eyes.
What I'm saying is, none of my memories of Frank
encompass that sort of haughty melodrama that surround certain other people in the business, so while there is a fact or detail here or there, they don't make good copy. And slim in number. If I were to try to write about it, the book would be no longer than 3 pages.