The Bong Wizard, Part II

By Miles Erickson

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The Bong Wizard, Part II
In the previous issue, I left off in the middle of a party off Fernwood. We now pick up about four hours later, late into the night as everyone is heading home. Some girl had offered Spenser and me a ride. I don’t remember her name but I remember she had a homemade jean jacket with a picture of Charles Manson on the back and “Yaddy” written underneath. Yaddy hopped in through the passenger-side door, next to her boyfriend, Davis, who was driving. Spenser and I filled up the back seats and the Wizard caught a ride in the open-air trunk. It was pouring rain, so much so that we were only a couple inches of water off from hoisting sail. As we turned down Old Topanga Road, to drop off the Wizard, the car rocked back and forth as he tried to settle into the crammed caboose. “Hey what’re these?” The Wizard asked, tugging on a theater cloth as a mysterious noise came from underneath. The Wizard pulled the cloth away to reveal a mysterious box underneath. Suddenly, the car was filled with screaming filled with horrible fear and madness. The Wizard was losing his mind, demanded to be let out of the car, despite the torrential downpour. I turned around to see what were multiple large, clear plastic bins full of writhing insects filling the trunk. I can’t print any of what was said in the moment because it was mostly expletives and curses. Once everybody was relatively calm, I made an inquiry as to the nature of the boxes. “They’re Madagascar hissing cockroaches,” said Davis. “He breeds them,” Yaddy chimed in, sounding very proud of her man, with an inflection as if she’d said, “He’s a pediatric surgeon.” For those who aren’t familiar with the party scene, I can assure you there is no bigger buzz kill than a box of 500 Madagascar hissing cockroaches. And there were at least two boxes from what I remember. “Why do you breed them?” Spenser asked. “For work,” Davis replied, “Ya know, a lot of movies need animals for productions.” Honestly, the lengths people will go to avoid working at at Home Depot or something. “Okay, yeah, that makes sense for like dogs and stuff but how many movies could possibly need two boxes of cockroaches?” I asked. “Well it’s not just movies, its TV shows, too,” Davis answered defensively. If you never rode in a car with 1,000 bugs shoved into Tupperware containers, I can attest that you suddenly become acutely aware of every single pothole in the road. Considering how wet the ground was, the risk of hydroplaning was relatively high but there was a bigger risk. The car only made it to Cali Camp before it broke down. Steam rose from the car’s hood as we slowed to a crawl in the Topanga Pet Resort parking lot. It was 3 a.m. and raining hard. That area of Old Topanga is geographically the lowest, situated in a depression between two hills and was quite flooded. Opening my door, I spilled out onto the watery ground, wet up to my ankles. “Come on,” I said. “There”s a gymnastics tent up that hill on camp property. We can sit out the rain there. I can call my mom to come get us in the morning.” If you or a child had ever been enrolled in Cali Camp, you may know what I’m talking about. The tent is massive, the size of a house, with gym mat floors and various foam structures making up its inner architecture. Davis popped the trunk, grabbing his Tupperware boxes. “I’m not leaving them” he said. It was at this point I got a good look at the boxes and noticed they were filled to the absolute brim. Inside the tent there where a couple of yoga hammocks, blankets that hang from the ceiling where people suspend themselves and swing around. The Wizard ran over to one and immediately started swinging around, while Davis and Yaddy sat on the ground under him with their roach boxes. Spenser and I laid flat on the mats, soaking wet and counting the minutes until the rain died out and the sun came up. It only took about a minute before The Wizard, hanging upside down and swinging like a pendulum, side- swiped one of the boxes with his forehead, spilling its nightmarish contents everywhere. I don’t know if you, the reader, have ever seen a grown man crying on an aerial yoga hammock, but it’s an image that becomes seared into your brain forever. “Noooo,” cried Davis. “You have to help me grab them!” The Wizard swung back and forth, frantically trying to free himself as his hair picked up more bugs with each swipe. Davis berating his girlfriend as she tried to grab up all the bugs. Calling them seemingly by their individual names as she worked. “Come on, Rosie, come here Charles!” “Spenser.” I turned to my friend. “I wanna go home.” So we took our chances, setting out into the pouring rain, seven miles away from home, never to see any of those people again. Madagascar hissing roaches are about the size of a fist and are an invasive species. Seven years later, I’m still waiting for the day when I stumble upon one while walking through Old Canyon. Long Distance Listening Party, Vol. 17 This playlist is available on Spotify. Search my user name, Mileserickson-354. Speedway, Morrissey 100% Endurance, Yard Act Prank Calls, Kelley Stoltz Places of Montezuma, Grinderman Killer Parties, The Hold Steady Speedway, Morrissey. I never thought that I would have two separate points of reference when discussing artists using chainsaws as an instrument. If you wanna hear a good example of this, check out Death Metal artist Mick Gordon. If you wanna hear a bad example of this, listen to “Speedway.” The reason it doesn’t work in this song is because it’s completely at odds with the musical aesthetic. Even if it makes sense poetically, as it pertains to the lyrics, it’s not diegetic* and at that point, it’s pretty much a glorified sound effect. In Mick Gordons “Rip and Tear,” the chainsaw is run through a synth-ey pedal and is melodically in tune with the rest of the song, providing structure by acting in place of a rhythm guitar. “Speedway” only features an actual chainsaw once, at the beginning, though I get the impression that the crunchy synth is supposed to register with the audience as being a chainsaw. Anyway, at the end it is a good song, and this is my favorite Morrissey album. Prank Calls, Kelley Stoltz. If you don’t know what the difference between Alt Rock and Indie Rock, Alt Rock is your late post-Grunge, early 2000 bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, White Stripes, Pixies etc. Indie Rock would be your early 2010 acts like Fitz, Grouplove, Modest Mouse etc. “Prank Calls” definitely fits the mold of the latter. Howling telephone vocals over marching upbeat piano riffs sort of defines the entire genre. Places of Montezuma, Grinderman. I can’t really write about this song without referencing The Rolling Stones and Beggars Banquet which Grinderman is clearly influenced by on this song. The lyrics are a little more early ’80s New Wave, with Grinderman doing his Depeche Mode deep vocals. The song sort of half-asses a chorus, replacing potential lyrics with a very brief melodic release and some vocal “ooos” and “aaahs.” *Common examples of diegetic music include music playing on the radio, overhead music playing in a cafe, as well as any music played by musicians that are performing in a scene. Often, a music editor will add filters to diegetic music to give the effect of how a character would be hearing the music in their environment. Miles Erickson is a recent graduate of CalArts, published author, and currently enrolled in a prestigious, four-year, student loan repayment program. Long Distance Listening Party’s vague intention is to discuss topics framed in the context of what I’m currently listening to.

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September 30, 2022