Patriotic Swill

Friday, April 9, 10:01 p.m. Maybe seven partygoers have arrived at Carlos’s house on Esther and El Cajon Boulevard. Jason plays a song by the Asylum Street Spankers on the piano while I stock the fridge with beer.

Back in his room, Carlos plays Flying Burrito Brothers tunes from YouTube while Aaron passes around a bottle of bourbon. Jason talks about his new place in Silver Lake, which he calls the “North Park of L.A.”

“My window has a great view of this lit-up revolving sign,” he says. “On one side it has this foot with a frowny face and on the other side is the happy foot. So it’s happy foot, sad foot spinning outside my window 24/7 for eternity. It’s going to drive me crazy.”

With Jason on piano, Scarlet Symphony’s Zach on stand-up bass, a harmonica, and a couple guitars, we play a jazzy “How Many More Times,” improvising strange lyrics as we go. Then “Sleepwalk” by Johnny and Santo as Aaron (Western Set) picks out the pedal steel lead on dobro.

In the middle of blues standard “‘Tain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do,” a gang of about 15 people plow through the front door and immediately begin feeding shots of tequila to everyone with an instrument. A few disappear briefly and return with 42 Jack in the Box tacos.

Some of us step out front to smoke and Jason talks craps. “The trick is knowing when the table goes cold. The mojo disappears and you just keep losing money. It’s a metaphysical thing. A vibe.”

“I need some more epic jams,” Aaron says. “I need prolonged jammage.”

Instead, we talk about South America and how they really have life figured out down there. “[In Brazil] the bus broke down, like, three times, and every time, within 20 seconds, the orange cones came out and there’d be a soccer game in the middle of the road,” Aaron relates. “People were playing guitars and singing. If the same thing happened here in the United States, everyone would be on their phones and iPods, all pissed off. We had a huge party.”

We discuss how alcohol bolsters foreign-language capacities and how we feel we’ve been cheated, somehow, by our homeland’s tradition of dance. Brazil has samba, Argentina has tango, everyone knows how to salsa, but what do we have? The funky chicken? The soulja boy? The electric slide?

Inside, Gigi plays a piano theme she wrote for an androgynous character in her half-finished novel. Savina tells me about getting hit by a car while riding her bike in O.B. a few days ago.

Later, the first chords of “Five Years” ring from the piano and we commence to jam with every instrument in the house and everybody howling along. “Five years, my brain hurts a lot! Five years, that’s all we’ve got!”

The tune shifts to a tango, with off-the-cuff vocals about food, (ex-)lovers, and consciousness. Loud talk and laughter booms from the kitchen.

I meet a Filipina girl with bright blond hair named Wowie. I’m not making this up! We somehow end up talking about the hummus guy at the farmers’ market, Lent, and that age-old question: “Are Jack in the Box tacos, in fact, vegetarian?”

“Did you know that when the Mayflower came over, water would go bad, so they brought beer?” Gigi asks. “America was founded by alcoholics.”

We take a patriotic swill from our drinks, then, and, as if cuing the end credits to our evening, the first chords of “Bohemian Rhapsody” ring from the piano and we all join in for a crooning, impassioned chorus.

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Chad Deal.
For more stories by this author, go to sdreader.com.

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Tell that Jason fella to quit being a poser. I know that sign, and its actually in Echo Park i.e. Silver Lake-adjacent.

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