Train Hits Casino

Carlos told me about friends of his, two girls who live together and have the same birthday. He invited me to meet them at Wild Woolly's, a bar in Chula Vista. I got there at 11:30 p.m. and didn't see anyone partying. My friend and I were the only Anglos in the place, but nobody in the bar gave us attitude. Everyone was there to drink, play pool, hang out.

When Carlos arrived, the first thing I noticed was his spiked hair, which was dyed blue. "Sorry I'm so late. I was at the protest in Los Angeles today," he explained. "It took me a long time to get back." My friend said, "Yeah, and how long does it take you to get your hair ready?" Carlos laughed and said, "That takes about an hour."

I asked Carlos what he was protesting in L.A. "A friend told me about it the day before. I joined it because I am an immigrant, and immigration rights is a touchy subject for me. I felt strongly enough about it to drive up and walk with thousands of people for a few hours...hours I could have been on myspace.com."

The party was at an apartment nearby. Carlos led us down this long, dark alley. I saw one guy who looked like a drug dealer. There was a homeless woman yelling about chickens. One of the birthday girls was in the alley trying to calm her down.

Carlos introduced me to some of his friends, a few of whom were in a band called Someday Assassin. Carlos offered me a cold New Castle from the refrigerator, and when he opened the freezer, I saw a six-pack of Corona. I wondered if the person who put it there would remember it before it exploded.

Carlos made a drink that I believe was a combination of vodka and cranberry juice. He mixed it in a plastic gas container, which he drank from. My friend said, "I hope that isn't a used one."

A woman at the party had wine spilled on her. She said, "I don't want to change. I've already changed three times tonight!"

I watched as women arrived and hugged their friends. When both women had cigarettes in their hands, they would try to hug without burning the other. Signs on the wall said to smoke cigarettes outside and pot inside.

Aside from the DJ, my friend and I were the only Anglo people at the party. The DJ's name was Brian, and he told me he plans to open a used record store that he is going to call Plagirhythm.

I met Maya, one of the birthday girls, who was turning 28. She said, "I'm happy about it. I always wanted to be older when I was little."

* * * In March, I got a call about a party at a hotel near Viejas Casino. It was on the night of the Train concert at Viejas. A group of women had booked three rooms in the hotel. I noticed that there was a tour bus in the parking lot. I wondered if the women traveled in style or if it belonged to the band. I joined the women on the balcony, and one of them told me that it was her birthday party and that she wanted to make it a "girls' night out." As we were talking, we saw the bass player and singer from Train getting on the bus. The women got excited, and I convinced them to go downstairs to meet the band. The singer came out of the bus, and the women were screaming as if he was one of the Beatles. He looked up, smiled, and went into the hotel. The bass player, Johnny Colt, came out a few minutes later, and I struck up a conversation with him. We were talking about old rock bands, and when I mentioned the Black Crowes, he told me he used to play bass for them. I said, "When I worked in radio, there was a bass player who came in for an interview. He had just gotten his arms tattooed with the Heckle & Jeckle crows, and I thought how pissed he would be if he ever got kicked out of the band." He laughed and rolled up his shirt, revealing the tattoos.

As he was leaving to return to his room, he told me I could tell Pat (the singer) that we were old friends, and he'd stop and hang out.

The women offered me an "adult beverage" and asked me to tell them everything Colt had said to me.

One woman said her husband had been getting jealous with her obsession over Train and that he started switching the radio station when a Train song came on. She said, "I would never cheat on him. Even with the singer." One of her friends laughed and said, "Are you sure about that?" They giggled as if they were school girls. When Pat came out of the hotel, he talked to all the ladies. The birthday girl had him sign one of the birthday cards. She said he wrote a sweet message and that it made her day.

The rest of the band came out and talked to the women for about ten minutes. A few teenaged fans showed up. One said she loved the song "Meet Virginia." Another told me, "I like 'Drops of Jupiter' so much more." I told her I liked the song "Cab," that it has replaced the Harry Chapin song "Taxi" as my favorite song on the subject.

The band got on the bus and headed to their gig.

I thought the band would mention the woman's birthday during the concert, but they didn't. They talked about the fitness place in Alpine that they worked out at earlier in the day. They brought women from the crowd on stage to dance. One woman took the opportunity to grab the singer's butt. The singer invited a couple of young girls -- one was about ten, the other in her early teens -- up on stage and taught them the chorus of a song. The girls sang along as their parents snapped pictures.

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.

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