Friday, February 15, 2013

Strangers On A Plane

Ah for fuck sake. 1 hour internal flight south from LA. Hot hot day and  I'm squashed between two massive fatties and the window. I look down as the plane rises out over the ocean and stare in shock at the amount of sharks I can see thrashing about down below. White caps cutting this way and that. Dark crescents beneath the blue surface. Sharks. Hundreds of them or waves. I'm deep In confusion and disbelief wondering if there's a massive feeding frenzy just off a Californian beach or whether I'm mistaking the sea's natural state when Mrs Happy Fatty nudges me and says"So where you going?"
I look across with utter dread. i am not good at talking to strangers. I have no small talk just big horrible tactless talk.

"I'm going to interview a band called Public Enemy for an English music newspaper."

the two massive fatties coo and wow and offer me some food. I am small, skinny, suedeheaded in a Lacoste Shirt I picked up In Brazil. I have dark blue linen shorts. On my lap sits my luggage. A bag with long trousers. A too hot Duffer top. A tape recorder and some tapes. A book.

They have their luggage. Food. My short attention no tolerance narrow minded short circuited inability to make small talk or friends already has them pegged as obese boring Americans using a short internal flight to scoff.

"Peter and I love music. We are going to see Dick Dale."

I think Robin Hood. Dick Dale. Alan A Dale. maybe some wooden faced MOR crooner?

"I've not heard of him."

Both of the fatties. "WHAT? Dick Dale, the guitar man. we goto see him everywhere. Every show we can afford. Conference centres, theme parks, rock and roll reviews, he's our favourite."

I'm trying to work out how they can both talk perfectly in unison. maybe they've said this many times before. I start to soften. they push a bag of Beigel Chips at me. I'm 21 and go on the road interviewing and reviewing bands.

"Well we have a lot in common then ..."

"James. I'm James. I'm the Features Editor of the New Musial Express in London. I love America. how often do you see this guy?"

The fatties have become people. Music people. I have something to talk to them about but they do all the talking. In unison.

"We've always loved Dick, ever since we were young. The other live bands just dropped away or broke up but Dick kept going. he's a great showman, his guitar music came before Surf music. You have such a great job. You get paid to do what we have to save up to do. but we don't let things get in our way. It's what we love doing.

"We have a son about your age but he prefers films, he works in a video store. All the time it's films. we can't understand why he doesn't want to come and see Dick with us any more. He used to when he was a little boy and we'd drive across state to see him but not now. he's got his own thing. we love Dick dale. he loves films."

We start to descend and they begin wrapping their food and putting back in boxes and "aloominum" foil. I check my bag and my pockets for my folded up itinerary. I've gone from narky narrow minded hungover cynic into having a great twenty minute blast of enthusiasm about this guitar player I've never heard of from two people I'd judged before I even talked to them. Welcome to my outlook.

I've gone from being trapped by size in a sun hot window seat wondering if there's an ocean of sharks below to happy and warm and inspired.

We land and stop and they struggle out of their seats, pushing the ones in front down. we are the last people off the plane, they are buzzing and upbeat. Happy music people, they can't move as fast as I but I wait after I've crossed the Tarmac at the steps up to the airport.

"it was nice to meet you, enjoy your concert. I'll look out for Dick Dale in the future."

"And you James, so nice to meet an Englishman in music too, you go and buy some of dick's records and if you're ever in Orange County look us up. Peter and Cathy Tarantino."

James Brown

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