#80 It Was Like That When We Got Here & I Live In LA – Northeast Los Angeles Party at the End of the World.

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These two tracks are from the new Camper Van Beethoven album  El Camino Real.  Release date June 3rd 2014.   

I was recently in Highland Park a neighborhood of what might be loosely  referred to as Northeast Los Angeles.   I was there to record an episode of Marc Maron’s immensely enjoyable podcast WTF.   I realized I was not too far from the apartment where the “Playing on a flying saucer over Los Angeles” story took place as chronicled in #68 The Long Plastic Hallway-Playing on a Flying Saucer with the Talking Heads.   Funny.  Regrettably I failed to tell Marc Maron  this story in our interview.

It seemed like all throughout the 1980s every couple of years I would end up at some strange party in this area of Los Angeles. Some weird mix of rich people, hipsters and low lifes. Socio-economically strange as well.   On the east  side you have the extremely wealthy enclaves of South Pasadena and San Marino.  I mean really rich. Like Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos corrupt ex-dictator rich.  Indeed this is where the former filipino president and his wife lived after being overthrown.  Various relatives of the Shah and other members of foreign oligarchs seemed to settle in this area.  And of course the wayward scions of New England establishment fortunes.  I assume dwindling fortunes cause they always lived in some decaying mansion.    Think grey gardens.

But back to geography.  To the north you have Glendale and Pasadena. To the  south high-rises of Downtown.  To the west Los Feliz and Hollywood.   All relatively affluent places, home to power brokers of various kinds:  banking, entertainment, military-industrial academic (Cal Tech/JPL) and political.  But in the middle of this are a series of neighborhoods like Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Atwater Village, Montecito Heights, Mt Washington and others without name.   Within these neighborhoods you have poor areas, usually in the flatlands, and up on the hillsides are nicer houses and generally wealthier people.  Not Imelda Marcos 15,000 pairs of shoes rich, but not as poor as the folks in the flatlands.

It was in a relatively new and nice compound near the top of one of these hills that I occasionally attended parties with a few of the the punk rockers from the Inland Empire.   I don’t know who in my IE group of friends got the original introduction but somehow we were on the guest list from time to time.  The hostess was a woman reportedly from spain, but I always wondered about that because most of the cars were tagged with Mexican “La Frontera” licenses plates.   The rumor was she was variously the daughter, mistress or wife of some gangster.  This was the early 1980′s and the Mexican and Colombian drug cartels hadn’t really made any headlines, so we always assumed that our host was connected to the Sicilian Mafia.  Which somehow made it seem safer.

Regardless these were pretty typical LA parties, mostly booze and a little bit of drugs in the back room somewhere.  Some impossibly arty musical ensemble.  Inevitably someone was keeping time on an oil drum or some other large piece of metal.  Guitars, Synthesizers and a often more than one bass player.   At least one of the band members was always from the UK.

One night we all went outside because there was an enormous brush fire in the Angeles National forest that had worked it’s way down into the foothills of Pasadena.  It may have even been the La Tuna fire that burned parts of  Verdugo Mountain between Burbank and Glendale.   It looked like the end of the world.   But this only seemed to enliven the guests.

Their are two songs on the record inspired by these parties and their mysterious hostess. It Was Like That When We Got Here is largely about the party on the night of the fire.  I Live in LA is about the  hostess.  

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It was Like That When I Got Here

It was broken on the floor

It was like that when we got here

A piece was stuck in to the door

It was like that when we got here

There was this girl I kind of know

It was like that when we got here

In an Army Uniform

It was like that when we got here

I’m a mess baby and you’re a mess baby

So why can’t we be more than friends

You and I were meant to be together

I’m a mess baby and you’re a mess baby

So why can’t we be more than friends

You and I were meant to be together

An Endless pool of summer light

It was like that when we got here

Pasadena burning bright

It was like that when we got here

A phoenix rising from the smoke

It was like that when we got here

The mountains rising up in flames

I’m a mess baby and you’re a mess baby

So why cant we be more than friends

You and I were meant to be together

I’m a mess baby and you’re a mess baby

So why cant we be more than friends

You and I were meant to be together

It was like that when we got here

It was like that when we got here

It was like that when we got here

It was like that when we got here

I Live in LA

She comes in like a star

Wearing jewelry and fur

with her own entourage

hanger-oners in clogs

From some small town in spain

Its never explained

Sufficiently

Or the security

I live in LA

Come and see me someday

You can stay at my house

I’ve got plenty of space

I live in LA

Come see me someday boy

If you wanna have a good time

A good time with me

Black SUVs in the drive

tinted windows and guards

Cowboy boots and shaved heads

Italian suits tattood necks

the party rages inside

but its never explained

Sufficiently

Oh boy I hope its not too late

I live in LA

Come and see me someday

You can stay at my house

I’ve got plenty of space

I live in LA

Come see me someday boy

If you wanna have a good time

A good time with me

Done ever ask where i’ve been

Dont ever ask where the money comes from

Dont ever ask who I am cause it cant be explaind

Sufficiently

Or the Security

I live in LA

Come and see me someday

You can stay at my house

I’ve got plenty of space

I live in LA

Come see me someday boy

If you wanna have a good time

A good time with me

I live in LA

Come and see me someday

You can stay at my house

I’ve got plenty of space

I live in LA

Come see me someday boy

If you wanna have a good time

A good time with me

© 2014 Camper Van Beethoven

2 Responses to “#80 It Was Like That When We Got Here & I Live In LA – Northeast Los Angeles Party at the End of the World.”

  1. When does your episode of WTF air?

  2. Love the music and the stories on the blog…Hooray CVB!

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