Punker Notes [Original Novel]
Part Two: Road Trip
All my money is gone. We’re surviving off of Mawmaw’s cooking as far as food goes. We’ve got the stash of crappy champagne that has been left untouched for some years. Jenkins has found a shitload of it in the garage. So our main problem is coming up with gas money.
“Hey, Mawmaw..., can you lend us five bucks for gas?” Jenkins entreats as we are getting ready to head to the French Quarter.
“What fo’...?” Mawmaw now looks around to make sure that Carolyn, the black housecleaner, is out of earshot. “So you can go hangout with a buncha jigaboos in the Quatahs...? You better watch out. They slit ya throat throw ya in the Mississippi think nothin’ of it... ‘Specially if ya out near Rampart Street where they always muggin’ them tourists.”
After a shitload of haggling Jenkins gets the five dollars off of her. But then she’s on all of us, “Oughta be ashamed uh yuhselves stealin’ from an old lady. Ya otta go down ta Turbo Mart, get ya uh job workin’ as a cashie-ah. But you all gonna have’ta do somethin’ with that hey-ah... Cuz they ain’t hirin’ no hippies—or whatevah.”
Soon were riding in the Caddy down River Road to New Orleans. We’re headed to a gig in the Ninth Ward. Some new wave show in a theater.
We’ve got the directions written down. We traverse the Garden District, pass the French Quarter then the Marigny, and after a bit of navigating through the Ninth Ward we pull up to the place. It’s in pretty rough shape. Doesn’t look like it’s been frequented by any movie goers in some time. The gig is free, we walk in and we’re in one huge deep cavern of darkness. Tons of seating. At the bottom of a deep incline way down in front there’s some light. It looks like a handful of people are grouped near a wide stage.
We step slowly in the darkness fearing we’ll fall flat on our faces tripping over busted theater chairs or god knows what. We’ve downed a bottle of champagne on the way and aren’t too sure of our footing.
I’m sitting perched on the top of a seat in the front row. Jenkins and Frank are standing a couple feet away in front of me. My chair is an aisle seat, all the way to the left. A couple of girls come down towards the stage on that same side. They stand there, nearby for a couple minutes taking the scene in. Then one of them approaches me, “That chair looks a little dangerous to be sitting on.”
“Yeah..., probably,” I answer then give her a good glance checking her out. She’s all decked out in new wave everything. The bobbed and bleached hairdo and some tight pegged black pants. Pink early sixties style pumps and up top, a fuchsia, super tight short sleeved cotton blouse with a plunging neckline exposing braless itty-bitty-titty cleavage.
“Where’dya hear about this gig?” I make conversation wondering if some action is in the works.
“Some friends from school... We go to Tulane,” she nods to her friend. “We’re freshmen there.”
“Oh..., cool.” And I’m wondering if the Tulane thing is the reason she doesn’t have much of an accent, unlike everyone else I’ve talked to here.
“Those guys with you?” she points to Jenkins and Frank.
“Yeah, we’re here from California.”
“Oh yeah...? You guys punks...? Are you hardcore...?!” she adds as if she’s talking about some taboo shit.
“No..., we like G.B.H., the Misfits, Angelic Upstarts though.”
“Y’all anti-American?” her friend joins the conversation.
“No..., not really.”
“Y’all Nazis?!” the friend continues.
“No...! Huh...!” I can’t help but laugh. “We’re not fuckin’ Nazis.”
The band starts playing and it’s too loud in there making an effort at continuing the conversation useless. This band with their pitch bending synthesizing and their effeminate dude on vocals seem like they want to be Ultravox, but don’t know quite how to pull it off. Their sound is a bit on the tinny side as they are lacking a bassist. Maybe the keyboardist is supposed to be carrying the bass-end duties, but it appears he’s not capable of it.
I notice the girls’ heads bopping like they are trying to force themselves to get into this display of mediocrity. Then I see them passing a pint bottle of what looks to be apple schnapps back and forth.
Jenkins, Frank and me can take only about fifteen minutes of the performance and we walk out of the theater to the Cadillac. Jenkins gets in the passenger side and pops the cork on another bottle of warm champagne. He takes a gulp then hands it out the window to Frank who has a hit and passes it to me. I hand it back to Jenkins after taking a good swig of the gnarly shit.
“Hey man..., what’s goin’ on in there?” a black guy who is walking past the theater asks.
“Some new wave band,” Frank answers.
“Oh...,” he sounds disappointed. “Any good?”
“No...,” Jenkins shakes his head, “they’re shit... The bass is shit... They don’t even have a bass player.”
“Oh man...! Gotta have the bass... Most important part,” and the guy walks on.
Minutes later the new wave girls walk out and head over towards us.
“Hey..., I didn’t even find out your names,” I’m looking at the one in the fuchsia top.
“I’m Kelly... And this is Julie,” Kelly then shakes my hand.
“Whatta you girls doin’ now?” I’m thinking about getting that top off.
“We’re gonna ggo ta Déjà Vu. Knoww where that puh-lace is?” Julie seems a bit tipsy.
At Déjà Vu the five of us are sitting at a booth passing the champagne and the schnapps around under the table mixing the two for a better buzz. Soon we’re all pretty fucked up and wander onto the dance floor. The intro to “Dancing With Myself” starts and the girls let a little squeal out in unison. Then they’re just totally going off to the music while inviting us to get into it too. We give it a shot, but it’s just not our thing. We do move around enough to call it dancing.
As soon as Billy Idol’s crappy offering ends I walk over to the DJ, “Ya got any Thunders?” I inquire all sloshed.
“What...!” he yells over a Wall of Voodoo song that has just started.
“Thunders man..., Johnny Thunders...!” I yell back.
“Yeah..., but nobody’ll dance to that.”
We settle on the Specials and as a soon as “Mexican Radio” ends, me, Frank, and Jenkins are skanking around the dance floor to “Monkey Man.”
Photo by CirrosisAguda