Sunday, August 11, 2013

No. 298 – Section 43

Performer: Country Joe & The Fish
Songwriters: Joe McDonald
Original Release: Electric Music for the Mind and Body
Year: 1967
Definitive Version: Monterey Pop, 1968. That would be the movie, not the box set that came out in 1992. Country Joe & the Fish were included in the box set, but not this song wasn’t for reasons I’m unaware. I didn’t know this song existed until I caught—and videotaped—the D.A. Pennebaker documentary on VH-1 in late 2001/early 2002.

After my amazing Vegas experience in 2001—and I still have more to relate regarding that trip—there never was a question that I wasn’t going to back in 2002. In fact, I pretty much looked forward to it the whole year. Like a lot of things, however, it wasn’t as good as the first time.

Don’t get me wrong, it still was fun. But the most memorable part of that particular trip (aside from being felt up while being propositioned by a black hooker outside the Aladdin, of course) was the California portion of it.

Like in 2001, I flew to Los Angeles for a few days ahead of time. Again, Jin and I would take the drive over the mountains and through Death Valley to Vegas. However, this time we had company.

One of our traveling companions was Scott, who was making the Ratpack Vegas weekend solo due to Shani’s work schedule. We flew out of Port Columbus to LAX and flew back from Las Vegas on Monday. (Thankfully, no traumatic international incident took place after this trip.)

But the guest of honor, if you will, was Jin’s new guy. In fact, the sole reason Scott and I went to L.A. first was so we could meet Paul—just us, before he met everyone else in the larger group.

Actually, by this time, Paul wasn’t really Jin’s “new” guy. They met in early 2001, and like most great Hollywood on-screen relationships, they hated each other at first. OK, Paul was into Jin, but Jin wasn’t interested. In fact, when Jin told me about her new guy on the phone and described the particulars of how they met, I asked, was that the creepy guy you talked about last year? She laughed and said that it in fact was. Hey, a year can make a big difference.

We did all the L.A. touristy things—I’m not sure Scott had been to visit Jin before. We did a Dodgers game, went to Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Gladstone’s and, of course, Caffe Luna. (A Tarot card reader was there that night; it wasn’t the same superhot brunette, alas.)

Of course, Paul was a great guy. Jin wouldn’t have been with him otherwise, and Scott and I agreed that he was a good addition to the family circle. In fact, our budding relationship reached a point where on the drive to Vegas, a potentially inevitable thing happened: Jin and Paul were in a disagreement, and Scott and I jumped in on Paul’s side. Jin just shook her head: “I knew THIS was going to happen—my brothers would gang up on me with my boyfriend.” She was happy as a clam.

Paul wasn’t the only new person we met. Jin also wanted us to meet some of her circle of friends. This was partly for my benefit, so I would see that I wouldn’t be out on a limb when I moved there. One problem: I wasn’t going to move there, at least for now.

You might recall, after my great visit in 2001, I was ready to go, but by January 2002, Jin and Paul were hot and heavy to the point where he moved into her home. Jin was insistent—adding that Paul was, too—that they both wanted me still to come out and move into her back bedroom, but I knew better.

Come on. You guys are in a budding relationship. It’s an exciting time, and the last thing you want, seriously, is big brother living in the same house potentially cramping your style. (And truth be told, I didn’t really want to be around that either while I still was mourning my failed relationship with Debbie.)

I concocted a plausible reason—that I had research I had to take care of back East before moving West. It was true, and I already had my Cleveland plan drawn up, but Paul now living with Jin had at least as much to do with it.

Anyway, Jin had a cookout in her backyard and had over about 10 people. It was a low-key night, although a bit of drama played out over whether grilled veggies could be properly cooked on the same grill where hamburgers had been before for the one vegan in attendance. (Short answer: they couldn’t.) As it turned out, one of her friends brought over her Tarot deck to do readings.

My reading was unmemorable—certainly nothing like the previous one in terms of substance (or, shall we say, the view). But Scott had a big one, wherein he was told basically that a new person was coming into his life to replace the one who had recently departed. Shani’s dad died in 2001 after a brief bout of cancer, and Scott and Shani recently made the big decision to try for kids.

He was pretty shaken up by that—even moreso when he and Shani found out less than two months later that Shani was pregnant (with Leah). Yes, it definitely was a trip tinged with beginnings.

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