Way back when I was a broken straw in plastic pants digging with my pinkie nail for the meaning of life at the bottom of dollhouse-sized Ziploc bags, each substance I piled into my nose, my mouth and my posterior (really) operated as its own kind of emotional, pop-cultural spackle: a gram of cocaine for the Diana funeral (and just about everything else), a tiny aluminum-foil ball of heroin for a straight junkie boyfriend with Radiohead tendencies, a tiny yellow bag of meth for unnecessary green-faced two-day conversations over wicker tables with people that I did not know, and did not want to. It all filled the cracks, and it all made sense.
It doesn't anymore, though. And neither do the Lemonheads.
"Where are you going?" I snort into my cell phone in Jason Ferguson's general direction. "And how do I go about being your plus-one?"
I've got a long hair up my ass itching me to go out, and not the kind of hair that involves fingering a numbing white powder up after it. So when Jason's response spills out a sour citrus upon a brain-concealing appendage that typically rests above the shoulders, I should probably know better. My last foray into the dopamine world of head lemon Evan Dando resulted in an all-night back-room chat-off between myself and his long hair, that and an extremely stuffy nose. And if I'm not mistaken, he wasn't supposed to be doing that sort of thing anymore. Then again, neither was I.
"I'll meet you there," I wipe my nose with my flip phone and snap an imaginary rubber band around my wrist. It hurts.
The Social is alight with the doldrums that flannel-grunge fashion choices imply. Everybody looks intentionally unhappy — just like they did 15 years ago, only this time with bellies — and if I didn't already hate Jared Leto, I would totally fuck him to find out I did tonight. There's a pathos in the air redolent of smack fade-outs and "Winona forever" tattoos, and varying shades of Winona herself are shoegazing their shuffles up and down the bar in search of a social disease. I feel like Dave Pirner, and I am not immediately having a good time. Juliana Hatfield, where are you?
"The last time I saw the Lemonheads was 15 years ago," Jason remembers when he once did have a good time. Somebody thick and heterosexual steps on my toes as Jason goes on to tell a story about a winsome Dando busking outside a venue following a shambolic police crackdown on excessive volume. He even has pictures of said affair in some sort of electronic gadget that might be a smart phone (not very '90s at all). Yep, that's the snorting hair.
Speaking of, the going rumor currently receiving chapped-lip service around the room is that the headlining wash-up himself may be circulating through the opening-act crowd in search of potent snortables. He may or may not have already refused offers of green smokables, but, in the interest of legalities, this may be a hemp fabrication. I kinda woulda sorta believed it if I coulda … but I shouldn't. Nobody's that desperate, are they?
"Are you Billy?" a frazzle-haired stranger frazzles. "Let me buy you a drink."
OK, desperate, but not that serious.
A few minutes later Dando is seriously going through the motions on stage, a white beanie drawing unnecessary attention to his nonironic, potentially narcotic eye-rolls and concealing the hair that everybody is here to wish that they still had. It isn't a bad show — standard distortion-blurring, three-chord monotony in the great Lemonheads piss-off — but neither is it particularly good.
"Mrs. Robinson!" somebody howls on cue.
"You suck!" somebody else does, too.
"Excuse me?" Dando has no idea where he is.
For a slight reprieve from the '92 KROQ rotation, Jason and I pop outside to a people-watching table, only to find that for once there is actually a person worth watching, and not just a goth kid with a blue wig helmet. Some superhot skullcap in long camouflage shorts and a sweatshirt pullover (the standard-issue uniform) has collapsed exactly two chords ago, right in the middle of Orange Avenue!
"You should have heard the sound!" a nearby acquaintance musicologizes. Apparently the crack of an uninhibited head against the cold concrete of downtown is worthy of a rhythm sample, to hear this group — Jason, Bao Le-Huu and a couple of their creddy friends — recount. Jason, on cue, dusts off the term "schadenfreude" for the delight and bemusement of a select few. And I am, presently, having a good time. Especially when I hear that said skullcap happened to vomit up a baggie of crack rocks (more hammer than spackle, actually), which only makes him cuter. Ambulance, fire truck and their bright lights follow, as does a girlfriend with shaky cell-phone hands trying to figure out exactly what happened to her walking dildo.
"It's a Shame About Ray" muffles from the Social door, and it's a shame that I'm gay.
We pop back in for what sounds like an encore, long enough to see Dando remove his cap and give the people what they came for: hair … on an ass. And as the last note fries from the tired amp, Evan leaps from the stage and right out the front door. Jason and I catch up to him, for no real reason, outside the Independent Bar.
"Can I ask you a question?" Jason reaches for his electronically rendered photo while my nose starts to itch.
"Uh … no … I gotta go!" Dando's wrinkly eyes roll back into his head and in the direction of his next tour-bus fix.
Phew. So do I.[email protected]