Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Motel Chronicles

I've been on a Sam Shepard kick recently. In the last few months, I've seen The Right Stuff and Don't Come Knocking (a collaboration with Wim Wenders that was released earlier this year). Paris, TX and Curse of the Starving Class are next on my list. I'm also currently reading Motel Chronicles, a collection of journal entries and poems by Shepard. Some of the entries are vignettes from his childhood, which he spent in Duarte. In fact, I was surprised to see South Pasadena mentioned twice in the book.

The first is a story about a time when he stole a bike and cut school with a couple of older boys:
The first time I ran away from school I was ten. Two older guys talked me into it. They were brothers and they'd both been in and out of Juvenile Hall five times. They told me it would just be like taking a short vacation. So I went. We stole three bikes out of a back yard and took off for the Arroyo Seco. The bike I stole was too big for me so I could never sit up on the seat all the way. I pedaled standing.[...]
We were finally caught later that night by a squad car on a bridge in South Pasadena. The cops acted like we were adults. They had that kind of serious tone: "Where did you get these bikes? What are your names? Where do you live? Do you know what time it is?" Stuff like that. They radioed our parents and confiscated the bikes. My mother showed up and drove me back, explaining how my Dad was so pissed off that he wouldn't come because he was afraid he'd kill me. She kept saying, "Now you've got a Police Record. You'll have that for the rest of your life."
I wonder if the bridge he mentions is the Oaklawn Bridge? The second South Pasadena reference features the Rialto:
King Solomon's Mines was the movie that most haunted me as a kid. I've never seen it since then but images from it still remain. Watusi warriors with red clay stripes down their noses. Raised black welts studding their chests. Teeth filed down to needle points. Lions ripping someone's arm off. Flies landing on someone's lip and the lip not moving. Torches in caves. Blue jewels surrounded by skulls. That English actor guy half scared to death.

The Rialto Theatre was dark and musky in the middle of the day and I entered the world of the movie so completely that the theatre became a part of its landscape. The trip to get popcorn up the black aisle with the sound track booming and the kids squealing in their seats was all part of the plot. I was in the cave of King Solomon at the candy counter. The "Ju-Ju-Bees" were jewels. The ushers were jungle trees. Cheetahs roamed through the bathroom.

I breathed African dust for days afterwards in a town of solid white folk.


Blogger jadis said...

i had no idea you were a theatre fan! :)

fyi, sam shepard's "suicide in b flat" is playing at the hayworth in LA, if you're interested!

6:12 PM  
Blogger South Pas Blogs said...

Jadis, I don't get out to see live theater as much as I used to (or would still like to).

I appreciate anyone who approaches their trade or craft artistically, whether it be a chef, or editor, or school bus driver. Even lawyers. Anyhow, Sam Shepherd seems to fit that description.

11:57 PM  

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