Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Evening Series: Volume 3




The Evening Series : Volume 3

When the sun goes down, and the stars come out, it is at that moment I put on Elvis’ “Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits: Volume 1” on the turntable.  The recordings are in Mono, and what I have here are the original Mono mixes.  The sounds bounce out of the speakers with a certain amount of intensity.   I met Elvis once when I was a child.  He and his buddies used to play touch football in our neighborhood park every Saturday when he was in town.  “Town” being Los Angeles.  To be specific I’m talking about Beverly Glen Park on Beverly Glen Blvd .  He would show up late afternoon, and they would play till the darkness came.  They left at dusk in a series of expensive looking cars, and it was like seeing ghosts during the daylight hours. 

The last time I saw Elvis was not long ago.   I was at the Four Oaks cafe having a beer, late at night, you know around 11ish.  That’s late for me. I have to get up early for work, especially on the weekends.  He came in by himself, and there was no one else in the cafe.  He took the counter seat across from me.  He told the waitress behind the counter that he wanted to have a coke in a bottle.  She served him the coke by getting it out of the fridge and sliding it across the countertop - and he caught the bottle before it was about to fall off the end of the counter.  He said to her “Thanks Mam.” He looked at me, and I looked at him.  She looked at her dish towel while drying a dish or two.



As I was finishing off my beer, he called out to me ‘hey do you want another?” I just smiled at him and said “sure.” He then got the waitress’s attention, and said “give Tosh another beer.” I was surprised that he knew my name, even though we have met briefly in the park, it was some time ago.   “Tosh, do you mind if I sit with you?” I said “sure, come around.” I then asked afterwards saying that, “or do you want me to come over there.” He smiled, and made a gesture to get up, but then sat down again.  As I got up, he then got up, and I sat down.  We did this for a few more seconds, and we began to laugh hysterically.   He then said, “tell you what, I’ll meet you half-way.” I said “OK.” “I’ll count up to five, and we will both get out of our seats at the same time.” I counted one, he counted two, I counted three, he counted four, I counted…. Five!  And we both got out of our seats by five, and we sat in the middle of the counter bar. “Wow that was something.” Elvis had a funny way of phrasing the most obvious thing, at the right time and place. 

There was a juke box in the corner of the cafe. I asked him if he minded if I played a song. He said “sure go ahead.” I went over and found a song by The Cramps called “Human Fly.” I put the quarter in, and the needle hit the vinyl, and I began to shake. I started to dance for about a few seconds, and then Elvis got up and started dancing with me.  We danced really close without touching each other.  He took out his comb, which was like a switchblade. He opened it and began to comb his hair while dancing.  He then handed me the comb and I put it through my hair as well. I can sense the hair cream on his comb, and it felt good to put it in my hair.  After the song was over, we went back to our seats. 



I bought him another Coke.  I immediately thought of the Frank O’Hara poem about drinking Coke.  Elvis knew the poem and he said that he loved it.  He started to recite it to me:

“Having a Coke with You
is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy…”

I told him to stop there.     

We sat there for a while without saying a word to each other.  I still had his comb in my hand, and I gave it to him.  He took it, and put it through his hair, just once.  He drank down his coke in one gulp, sort of burped, and he then smiled at me.  He got up, and rubbed my two shoulders, and said “I’ll be seeing you.” And I said, something like “Yeah.” He walked out of the cafe, and went straight into the darkness outside. He disappeared.  I finished my beer, and I got up, and I too went into the darkness.  Who knows what we will find in total darkness?  

- Tosh Berman, July 23, 2016 (7:30 PM to 8:30 PM)  (Poem by Frank O’Hara)



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