Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Speaking of pre-practice bong-snaps, I probably should write a post about that one kid who used to come to the shala at 5 in the a.m. banging Guns 'n' Roses at max volume on his iPod—one could hear Axl howling "Welcome to the jungle—you're gonna die-yeeeee!" right through his headphones—and after stowing his gear, he would then hammer out a full and rather spectacular physical practice, all this while riding two or three tabs of the lysergic acid diethylamide.

The mind positively melts at the thought.

Thoughts of Axl also taking me back to a bike ride I went on three weeks ago with a buddy—we chugged north up the 101 through Malibu, and passed Latigo Canyon Road, which, as all die-hard G 'n' R fans know, is the street on which one Axl Rose, neĆ© William Bailey, resides.

I hear what you're saying—given my profound hatred of Guns 'N' Roses, how am I privy to such an obscure G 'n' R factoid?

This is itself another interesting story, which took place several years prior, and began when I piled into a rented limo with 10 friends to journey from San Diego to Los Angeles.

The limo's max capacity? Six. I should have known the journey was cursed from the get-go.

An acquaintance was due at a skateboard video premiere, as he had a starring part in said video. HIs sponsor footed the bill for the limo. I'm not sure who paid for all the goddamn Jack Daniels that was consumed on the north-bound journey, but that was definitely the drink and food of choice for the night.

When I say Jack was the drink of choice, I don't mean that it was the featured mixer, because I don't remember any Coca-Cola anywhere in the car—just crazy motherfuckers skulling amber-colored fire straight from the bottle.

For some reason, the wanton consumption of Jack brought to full intensity my friends' recent obssession with Guns 'n' Roses, so much so that all other music was officially banned for the duration of the evening, and the volume of the G 'n' R in the limo was set to an ear-bleeding level.

This evening was also, interestingly enough, the genesis of my blood feud with Guns 'N' Roses. I should also note that the limo driver and I were the only sober people on board.

We made it to the premiere. As is usually the case when people are drinking copious amounts of Jack Daniels, several predictable Jack-Daniels-inspired happenings occurred at the club where the premiere was held. These are the exact same events that take place wherever Jack is skulled straight from the bottle.

In no particular order: whlie waiting in line for the bathroom, a grown man pissed in his pants; a guy passed out in a booth and was forcibly ejected from the club by the bouncers; a guy threatened to smash a bartender in the face for not serving drinks after last call; the same guy had to be forcibly restrained from fighting said bartender, and was then ejected from the club by the bouncers; last but not least, a different guy knocked out a kid (with one punch!) out front of the club.

The one-punch knockout, for those who've never had the privilege to see a fistfight, was comprised of the sound of a fist striking a jaw and an unconscious head striking the pavement. Contrapunto: girls screaming and crying. My stomach flip-flops just thinking about those sounds.

We somehow avoided the squad cars, SWAT van, fire engines, paramedics and roving ghetto birds that converged on the club after said one-punch knockout, and regrouped in the limo. The Rainbow Room on Sunset Boulevard was the next destination, chosen because the Crue (as in Motley) either sang about the joint and/or used to party there.

True to the place's apparently legendary reputation (I say "apparently" because it was legendary to my friends, while I had no idea what was going on), we ended up hanging out with Lemmy from Motorhead, who is, you will be pleased to know, as ugly as everyone has ever said.

As the bartenders called last call, someone suggested going out to Malibu to "fuckin' ring Axl's doorbell!" Displaying a rather Holmesian feat of intellect, one of my friends had deduced the location of Axl Rose's house based on a few scant scraps of information and a fair bit of mindless and insane leg-work. The clues: Axl had bought the house so prominently featured in the video for "November Rain;" said house was located in Malibu; said house was located somewhere on Latigo Canyon Road. The leg-work: my friend had driven, ever so slowly, up and down Latigo Canyon Road, until he recognized the backyard from the video.

Did I mention I was sober the whole night?

The drive to Malibu from Sunset Boulevard was long, and it was the time of night when the booze began to wear off, and people became weary, cranky, and mean-drunk. We were, it should also be note, riding 10 or so people in a 6-person limo, which meant for 5 or 6 hours we had been sitting in each other's laps and at each other's feet on the limo floor.

At this point, too, due to the shenanigans at the club and the ear-splitting volume of G 'n' R piping at all times from the cabin, the poor limo driver was staging an open revolt, and repeatedly threatened to dump us all by the side of the road.

The idea began to sound increasingly appealing to me.

By the time someone sighted Axl's house the party was over and the hangovers had begun.

As an aside, and an example of my own particular obsession, I was beginning to worry about making it to practice the next morning.

A group of us assembled around Axl's buzzer, but no one had the stones to ring the bell. It was, after all, 5 in the morning, and anyway, what the fuck was I going to say to Axl Rose? At that point I not only disliked his music, but would have gladly strangled him for making it in the first place.

We all piled back into the limo, heads hung low. My friend Rich, God love 'im, was the last guy aboard. But before he climbed in, he shouted "Fuck it!" and ran to the doorbell. He jammed down the button for 30 seconds, long enough for all of us in the car to begin panicking, then ran back to the limo, dove in, and shouted, "Hit it!"

In hindsight, pulling a ring-and-run on Axl Rose from a limo is pretty fucking funny, although I imagine Axl himself would not, and did not, find it funny, in part because I bet that during the last 15 years, scores of drunken heshers have pulled ring-and-runs on his house. I imagine groups of tipsy and stoned teenagers, the gawky and rawboned guys in their tuxes, the lumpen unformed girls in their dresses, all of them laughing and giggling, the craziest among them holding down Axl's buzzer before dashing back to the open doors of the limo, which had been rented to take them to and from their senior prom.

After the ring-and-run, the mood went from hungover to downright maudlin; an exhausted, weepy feeling permeated the car as we drove back to San Diego. This feeling was only heightened by the fact that G 'n' R was still playing at an ear-splitting volume. We listened to "November Rain" on repeat during the 3-hour ride back to San Diego.

It was the longest fucking ride of my life. I got home as the sun rose, and I probably did make it to practice that morning, although I don't remember.

While we had huddled around Axl's doorbell, unbeknownst to us all, my friend Rich had opened Axl's mailbox and stolen several pieces of mail. The next day he proudly showed us a postcard from the San Diego Zoo. It was addressed to one W. Axl Rose.