PUNK ROCK ROYALTY

By Iris Berry

Poem

SOMEWHERE IN SACRAMENTO CALIFORNIA
AT SOME WELL KNOWN CRASH PAD
SOMETIME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WEEK
AND SOMETIME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE AFTERNOON
DAY AND TIME
CUSTOMARILY UNKNOWN
TO RESIDENTS OF HOUSE
THE DISHES HAVEN’T BEEN WASHED
SINCE JULY (AND IT’S SEPTEMBER)
HALF EMPTY TO GO BOXES
WITH TWO WEEK OLD PIZZA
AND TACO BELL REMAINS
99 CENT BURGERS
FROM AM/PM
AND EMPTY BOTTLES
OF PLAIN WRAP LIQUOR
AND BEER CANS
LAY STREWN ACROSS THE KITCHEN FLOOR
LEAVING NOT EVEN A TRAIL
IN THE LIVING ROOM
THERE’S 4 GUYS
WHO HAVEN’T SLEPT
IN 3 DAYS
TRYING TO PUMP LIFE
OUT OF A KEG THAT’S
BEEN FINISHED SINCE THE WEEKEND
AND 2 PIT BULLS
GNAWING ON OLD RIB BONES
THERE’S FLIES EVERYWHERE
AND IT’S HOT
THE HICKOIDS
TALES OF TERROR
FANG
AND JOHNNY THUNDERS
IS BLARING OUT OF BEER SOAKED SPEAKERS
THAT PERIODICALLY KEEP
SHORTING OUT
THE TV IS ON
BUT THE SOUND IS OFF
SHOWING “BLUE VELVET”
FOR THE 5TH TIME THAT DAY
(MUST BE ANOTHER “FRANK” FEST)
AND IN THE MIDDLE OF ALL OF THIS
YOU’RE LOCKED AWAY
IN THE BATHROOM
LIKE PUNK ROCK ROYALTY
SITTIING ON YOUR THRONE
JACKING-OFF TO MY PICTURE
IN “FLIPSIDE” MAGAZINE
FOR THE SECOND TIME THAT DAY
THANK YOU,
I FEEL HONORED.



How old were you when you first started writing?

I was seven.  I had three older brothers and my parents divorced when I was three.  My mom was never home, because she worked a million jobs, leaving my three brothers in charge.  Our house became the Honeycomb Hideout, and we were deemed the forbidden house on the block!  With a pool table in the garage, cars on blocks everywhere, getting fixed, chopped, tinted and lowered.  There was always some kind of explosion or fire erupting at any given moment and it was a non-stop poker party, where only the bad kids were allowed to hang out.  If I weren’t seven, I would have joined in. So my only escape was to write.


Who were your first influences?

Doctor Seuss, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Dean Martin’s Gold Diggers, James Bond and The Bond Girls. All the Gabor Sisters, Bob Hope and Lucille Ball.


What is your favorite food?

See’s Candy, California Brittle, light chocolate.  I’m easy and my dentist loves me.


Favorite reading material?

Anything about old Hollywood, old Las Vegas, pop culture, art, film noir, anything about music, gangsters, vaudeville, boxers, burlesque and architecture.


Favorite Cartoon Characters?

SpongeBob SquarePants, Bugs Bunny and Top Cat.


Who are you biggest writing influences?

Bukowski, Baudelaire, Damon Runyon, Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy, Dave Alvin, Pleasant Gehman, SA Griffin and Thomas Jefferson.


As a performer, singer, songwriter, actress, L.A. historian, author, Dodger fan and Mexican wrestling ring girl, is there anything else you’d like to do, that you haven’t done yet?

Yes, there’s many, but at the top of the list?  I’d love to be a magician’s assistant and one day be sawed in half…it’s an obsession!




Most Cherished TNB Readers, From the Farthest Reaches of Outer Mongolia to Some Starbucks Wi-Fi Setup in Downtown Peoria:

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to whole-heartedly welcome you to the finely tuned, hopped-up, fuel-injected, engine humming, all pistons popping Poetry section of The Nervous Breakdown, in glorious 3.0.

My relationship with TNB started back in the original 1.0 days. When Brad Listi first asked me to write for the site, I wasn’t quite sure how to begin. Around that time, however, a dear friend passed away. So I decided to honor his passing by taking a stroll from Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade, down to the ocean. Armed with only my camera, a notebook, and my dear friend’s favorite food—a corndog—in tow, I marked his passing in photos and various remembrances. That became my very first posting.

Since then, I’ve seen the site go through various incarnations. I’ve seen my own life go through various changes, as well. I’ve become a better writer, a better person; a lot of that having to do with all the wonderful folks I’ve met through TNB. As you’ll witness in either the Poetry section, Fiction section, Arts & Culture, or wherever the site takes you, we have a lot of heart, humor, and intellect to offer.

And we the forever faithful and fearless Poetry team; Associate Editors Uche Ogbuji, Jennifer Duffield White, and Milo Martin and I, as Editors, will do our best to hold the Poetry section to those high standards of quality. Each week, we’ll bring you the most thought-provoking, soul touching, mind melting poetry we can find from those farthest reaches of Outer Mongolia to that Starbucks wi-fi setup in downtown Peoria.

This week we offer you poetry from such varied talents as Iris Berry, Jackie Sheeler, Lisa Johns, Kenneth Shiffrin, Jerome Dunn, Doug Knott, and this week’s Featured Poet, Michael O’Keefe.

So wherever you are in this big old world of ours, most cherished TNB readers, strap on your seatbelts, rev your engines, shift into overdrive, and get ready to take a ride on the TNB Poetry section in grand and glorious 3.0.

 

Onward and upward,

Rich Ferguson

All through the 1980’s
it was breakfast at the Rexall Fountain
on Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue,
or Snow White’s coffee shop,
where eating there
felt like some sort of
Disney ride on acid
with all the boulevard mutants,
much more effective
than any ride
I’d gone on at Disneyland.
There was the Las Palmas Bookstand
and Miceli’s Restaurant
and of course Red’s Baroque Books,
with the finest and complete
Bukowski collection around.
It didn’t get any better than Red’s.
There was Hollywood Book & Poster
for all your Horror and B-Movie needs,
for the real memorabilia jones.
There was Musso & Franks,
and Jojo down at Book City
with every paperback and hardback
classic known to man.
Grecco’s with all the
heavy-metal-white-trash runaways
and a slice of MTV
with your pizza.
And across the street
Frederick’s Of Hollywood
looking like a giant Wurlitzer,
always pumping out
that slow bump ‘n’ grind,
right there in the middle of it all,
and to this day
the best shoes in all of Hollywood.
There was J.J. Newberry’s
and the magic shop.
Johnny’s Steak House
for that $3.95 steak dinner,
and it was good.
Hooray For Hollywood
for cheap rock ‘n’ roll T-shirts,
3 for-a-dollar.
And of course Playmates Of Hollywood,
which started out
as a children’s store
and grew up with its customers,
from toddler to stripper.
Then there were the bars;
The Zero One After Hours
right above Playmates
when David Lee Roth owned it.
The Frolic Room #2,
Boardner’s,
The Gaslight,
The Firefly,
the original Frolic Room,
The Cathay De Grande,
home of fine punk rock.
The Vine Bar & Grill
for Blues and Jazz,
and last but not least
Raji’s where you could see Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
the Vandals and TSOL
all in one night.
And then on the outskirts
of Hollywood Boulevard
were all the places I lived;
The Cliffwood Manor,
Disgraceland, The Havenhurst,
and The Fontenoy,
surrounded by churches, schools,
auto mechanic places
and cheap dirt-bag, dope fiend motels,
with the letters always
burned out in the signs,
the kind of places
that only look good
in the movies
and only sound interesting
in a Tom Waits song.
Like The Mark Twain,
The Saint James,
The Saint Moritz
and The Sunset 8.
Yes, Hollywood in the 80’s
was a great time.
it was before Crack and AIDS,
it was the coming and going
of Ronald Reagan
and before all the real damage
he did as President hit,
before homeless was normal.
Now I look at Hollywood Boulevard
and it’s just like a former lover
grown old and alcoholic,
an old lover that never took care of itself.
My two favorite times
to catch Hollywood Boulevard
used to be at dusk and at dawn.
At dusk when the sun was barely out
but all the neon was on,
and in the morning
before pedestrians.
Raymond Chandler put it best
when he said, “Hollywood Boulevard
at sun-up is like an aging hooker
without her make-up on.”
Now it’s like that
around the clock and worse.
And when the L.A. riots hit
and Hollywood was burning,
I thought, “Oh no, not my Hollywood Boulevard.”
But it’s not my Hollywood anymore,
now it belongs to the gangs,
the mutant homeless,
the corporate conglomerates
and the tourists.
The new Americana,
God bless them all.
No, it’s not my Hollywood anymore,
but Hollywood in the 80’s
was a great time,
it was my Paris in the 20’s,
and yes, a good time
was had by all.