LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, 1985 – Going to visit Gurl 52 at Slash Records was always a creepy sojourn of sorts. She worked there as the label moved from artists like the Gun Club and Fear into an ever-evolving list of indie stalwarts like Los Lobos, Violent Femmes and Faith No More.
Slash Records, Caroline Mankey, “El Coyote”, and “The Olde Spanish Kitchen”
Their offices were located on Beverly Blvd. Just up from the trendy environs of Melrose Ave. They were almost across the street from the fabled “El Coyote,” where Sharon Tate had her last meal before her date with the Manson Family.
It was also right next to the ghostly, boarded-up storefront of “The Olde Spanish Kitchen.” One of the many legends has it that the owner, a hot-blooded Senora, had shot and mistakenly killed her long-lost son in the darkened restaurant as he attempted to surprise her with his return home from the war.
She closed the establishment that very night and it remained closed until just recently or, so “It’s been said”.
The LA Times claims to have the real story.
Entering Slash Records through the front to see Gurl 52, Your Humble Narrator (YHN) would always ignore the faux Scandinavian furniture in the shop on the left to peer through the cracks of the warped boards of the “Kitchen” at the dusty interior, untouched by time and made static by the kind of tragedy that was kinda common in the city that he now called home.
Slash Records – meeting Caroline Mankey
Usually, there would be some new iteration of what passed for a receptionist in the lobby. In those heady days of eighties excess, extreme tattoos, and deathly pallor.
YHN would usually just scoot by the revolving coterie of central casting “edgy receptionist types” with nary a nod until the day he first noticed Gurl Forty, Caroline H. She wasn’t a Mankey at that time, but more on that, later.
What first gave YHN pause, what slowed the roll past her desk was not the screaming neon sleeve of tattoos that graced her slender arms, not the cascading blonde hair that bold flecks of some weird colored eyes shot through, giving her a demented sort of Cousin It appeal.
It was that she was reading. A book!
That was not a thing you typically saw an L.A. receptionists doing. Upon closer examination, it wasn’t just any book that she had cracked open in front of her.
Gurl Forty was reading the “Duino Elegies” by Rainer Rilke, in its original German! At a desk where the usual reading material was some kind of fashion magazine or, a pocket mirror.
Caroline Mankey – from Jumbo’s Clown Room to Slash Records
Slightly flabbergasted, YHN quickly got the scoop from the gossip-heavy group that made up the staff. She had been hired by the boss, who, while on a four-day bender of sorts met some guy who knew someone who knew her from when she was working with Courtney Love at the notorious “gentleman’s club” Jumbo’s Clown Room, located on a seedy stretch of Hollywood Blvd.
It turned out, in the la synecdoce vita that is Los Angeles, that a skein wove us together in more ways than a simple weave but in exquisite ways that led to a wonderful warp.
Gurl Thirty-Five Loomed large in Caroline’s life and her guitar player loomed even larger.
Before that part of this Gurl can be examined, however, we have to keep things in order.
That gig at “Jumbo’s?” It was to help pay for law school.
Caroline passed the bar first try and quickly got a gig at the esteemed firm of Benjamin, Lugosi, and Benjamin, specializing in copyright law. Of course, working for the offspring of Bela Lugosi and the Three Stooges made sure she had plenty of work.
Caroline Mankey – from Slash Records to marrying Jim Mankey
This is the thing about Gurl Forty and what it is about her that I find so compelling. To her, nothing was impossible. Nothing was too intoxicating.
For Caroline, nothing came easier than being harder than what others thought of her.
To her, life is a series of choices, some good, some bad but, most importantly, all of them yours. It is that ownership of all aspects of your life that requires a strength not many have and a discipline not many want.
The four of us became quite close. Many dinners, desert excursions, deep secrets held deeper were shared and always, a sense that we were all going to live in ways we never imagined drove us ever onward.
Slash Records Caroline Mankey and when YHN married Gurl 52
When YHN and Gurl 52 (yet to come) made the decision to legally bind our love before our move East, it was not made lightly. For reasons that will become apparent as the saga of future Gurls unfolds, it was like fulfilling some kind of destiny.
Never content with being correct nor proper, YHN and Gurl 52 married on the Fourth of July, in Las Vegas at the Graceland Chapel under the loving gaze of the King of Rock and Roll.
YHN had his pot dealer as his best man and Gurl Forty was the “maid of honor.”
It was Gurl Forty’s ex-husband who, in the suite at Caesar’s Palace before the nuptials remarked, in his sotto voce way of speaking
“Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of these things. This one, this one I think is gonna last.”
After we got out of LA, it did, it has and will forever last.
No copyrights were wronged in the writing of this piece.
YHN Wendell Kretzschmar is a character from “Doctor Faustus” who is a musicologist that visits a city to teach musical harmony, counterpoint, and polyphony as a key to metaphysics and mystic numbers. He meets a Gurl who seemingly makes him a genius, for a time anyway.
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