LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, 1984 – When your humble narrator (YHN) and the future Mrs. Gurl 52 decided to move to Los Angeles, it was done in the way most grandly magical adventures are done: With little preparation, less money, no luggage to speak of and super-starry, slightly bloodshot eyes.
The departure was as finely orchestrated as the Greater Livermore Community Symphony’s take on Penderecki. Luckily, it in no way was indicative of the road that lied ahead for us.
The plan was to meet in Washington D.C., where YHN would be finishing-up a long tour with the Raybeats. Like most plans, they were worthless as the paper, lost weeks earlier in some loft during an absolutely insane party, they were scribbled on.
In retrospect it was no great loss. Covered in inky smooges consisting mostly of L.A., with many circles drawn around it, a list of regional foods and New Orleans/Burroughs underlined heavily, they were more a wish list than anything else.
The car we had purchased, a 1974 Honda CVCC threw a rod around Aberdeen as Gurl 52 made her way down from Boston. That meant YHN had to have the band drop him off on their way home.
They were very understanding and it seemed almost like the stereotypical saga of two wacky kids starting a new life together had cracked their veneer of jaded cynicism.
They had little advice for YHN except to stay away from the Valley, don’t sign anything when you’re high and to see Gurl Thirty, Shelly da Cunha, as soon as you get to town.
Seeing as to how many things YHN had learned from these amazing NYC art thugs by simply taking their lead and groking their spiel, that is what happened. As soon as we got to Los Angeles that is. It took a while, New Orleans y’know, oh, and Vegas.
After an action packed, cross-country, two-kwazy-kids-in-love meander across the country, Hollywood beckoned and we landed in Pasadena.
Calls were made to Shelly and after a couple of missed connections, pleasantries and “do you knows” were exchanged willy-nilly and a meeting was arranged at Gorky’s the next day.
Now, if there was a poster person who was supposed to embody “Welcome to Hollywood,” “This is not Kansas” and “I heard you were kinda interesting,” in one, calico vision, it was Shelly.
She is the kind of a Gurl that is always there where the action is. The kind of a Gurl who is always in-the-know with absolutely no effort. The kind of a Gurl who makes things happen simply by being around and makes them profound by her presence.
Like most Gurls that YHN knows, Shelly was into music. Not just as a fan but as a performer as well.
Her band “The Debbies” and her appearances with other Los Angeles Gurls and Boize were filled with the wild abandon and casual elegance that only comes from an ecstatic plane of being most of us can only dream of attaining.
She used her connections as a columnist for the L.A. Weekly to wrangle an introduction to the band Legal Weapon, who were looking for a manager. It was the beginning of YHN’s Los Angeles Daze. Without Gurl Thirty and her sage advice, who knows if YNH would ever have become, YHN.
That was the magic of Shelly. She helped make things happen without even knowing it. Her support of performing arts and our scene of performers was like watching live magic when you still a child.
It was mystifying. It was mind-altering to see performed right there in front of you and implanted a profound desire and firm belief that there was more to the world than what you had been told previously.
This is not to say that she was a lilting pixie spreading dust around while humming a happy tune. She, like most Gurls, harbored many boats in her vast oceans and sailed them all with savage grace and aching courage.
When Keith Levene came to town, fleeing the implosion of his Pistol project Public Image Limited most of us knew it would only be a matter of time before these two pillars of fire combusted together.
The conflagration of soul, synergy and a simpatico sang-frond for the ages burned across the city. At first, they tried to hide it seemed. “Oh, we’re just starting a company” they said, as if the smoldering looks exchanged were about getting product out instead of more time locked together in.
You would see them out sometimes and it would be like watching post punk Henry and Junes as they lived a life lived like a novel. Their marriage was made for L.A. Dee Da and roses.
It wasn’t long after their company had produced the Red Hot Chili Peppers that they started thinking about leaving L.A.
Many thought they would go to NYC but they ended-up going back to Keith’s home in London. They made the move and reports slowly stopped coming over the pond.
Gurl Thirty gave YHN his first break in Los Angeles. Even better, she showed YHN how easy it is when you listen.
No dees were da’d in the writing of this article.
YHN, Arturo Bandini is the main character of “The Road To Los Angeles” and is known mostly for his desperate attempts to be a real writer and to escape the small-minded world he grew-up in.
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