I used to live and work in West L.A., so I’ve seen my unfair share of crazies and burn-outs—especially when I worked at the guitar shop. The gonest of all of them (even nuttier than the “Prussian Army Commander” who furiously argued (with no one) that he grew up with Bruce Jenner in our supply closet) was a chemical brother I call “The Damned Rambler”. I call him that because the only way I can make sense of his condition is to believe the following: that at some point, he was caught speaking ill of his god, who then punished him by making it so he could never ever stop talking. Ever. Not for a second. (Talk about a life sentence!) (Come on!)
While my good friend Leland stood behind the counter and nodded along politely (for 15 tragic minutes), I pretended to work, but really I was just scribbling as many things as I could make out. It was hard, trying to write while hypnotized. He didn’t stutter, there was no thinking, no searching for the right word. And what kinds of things did he say? This little bit won’t do it justice, but… lllllllet’s get rrrrready to rrrrrrramble!
“I took a bullet for Stevie Ray Vaughn…..I never get my gifts at all…..My sister’s a senator—you know her as ‘Susan Sommers’…..There’s a burial ground behind the library…..I didn’t rub many girls’ tummies…..He murdered someone in a mansion and got away with it and that’s a no-no…..I ran track against Huey Lewis and Tony Orlando…..Popped Tina at the Thunderdome and they said, ‘Don’t hit your wife’…..I was head surfer…..Kids on speed down at Havasu—they even scare the Indians…”
I’ll always wonder what would have happened if I had picked up a guitar and started casually playing Ramble On. Maybe it was a hidden camera show and I would have won.
In a mostly unrelated story, the last time I was in Westwood, a random homeless dude asked me for change. I gave him a quarter, and he said, “Perfect! That’s all I needed!” and ran off. That’s never happened.