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WEDNESDAY READING: California Dreaming (Part Two)

The Cretins, the Estlund Twins, Disneyland and sun

Geoff Reading

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We woke up at Shelly's place. The boy wanted to go swimming - again - and his Godmother's daughter lived two blocks away with an amazing pool. He got even more daring this time out, doing bobs in water just over his head with little to no assistance. The place was a five-story donut with the pool in the middle. The structure left all of about 75 minutes a day when the sun was actually visible and giving direct sunlight on the pool. Luckily, our timing was impeccable. We got there just in time to see the sun crest westward into view, and just before we decided to leave, the sun begrudgingly waned out of sight toward the water. 

It was time for another meal in the depths of a landmark - again.We walked up to Barney's Beanery and had lunch. Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and plenty of others were habitually over-served at Barney's in late sixties and early seventies. The kid could not be persuaded against the games he saw in the back of the bar, so - on the sly - we went and "played" a round of foosball - which we ended up needing NONE of the little players for. Little hands were far happier manually scoring each goal, for the prize of getting to listen to the ball clunk, roll and knock against the machines wooden innards before coming to a rest. It was a pretty good hang, actually. 

The following night was the Cretins motorcycle club party. My buddy Eric Orr, former old school Seattleite, and more recently a true friend I acquired only after moving to California. We met through some mutual 206 friends right after I made the jump south. He had been there a year or so, and was responsible for hooking me up with my apartment in Angelino Heights at the corner of Douglas and East Kensington. Angelino Heights is the fancy end of Echo Park that sits right above downtown L.A. - one of the first nice neighborhoods in the city. It's right across Sunset Boulevard from Dodger Stadium. My place was a HUGE two bedroom with tall ceilings, hardwood floors, a big kitchen, a claw foot tub and a view of downtown. It was $750 a month.  The building is a two-story courtyard set up with 16 units - eight up, and eight down. It was lord. Eric got me my place. I in turn got Eric Richards in (another Seattleite), and through him Joe Bass got a place (more 206) - until almost the whole place was filled with friendly faces. All who were fortunate enough to get into (and continue to reside at) that place owe a HUGE thanks to Mr. Eric Orr.

A few years after he arrived in the Southland, Eric and some friends dreamed up a motorcycle club and called it The Cretins. Ten years later, Eric is the only original still around, but the roster is massive. They have a clubhouse on a downtown rooftop with a full bar, ample parking, a stage for bands to play on and a spectacular view of the L.A. skyline and Dodger Stadium. Eric procured the spot like most things that come to pass in Los Angeles - out of seemingly thin air. It just happened. 

The Cretins party was AMAZING. Three bands, tons of hot little biker chicks, cheap beer, mixed drinks and shots, and the view ... it just doesn't happen like that in the 206, the 253, or anywhere else I've been on this coast. Lyle and his wife, Jen. had driven up from the LBC and I had met them at The Shortstop, a bar I used to frequent, and driven us all to the party.  The Shortstop had been my local watering hole for five years, walking distance from my old apartment.

I had been looking forward to Sunday and the following Wednesday as much as any other day of the trip. Two words: Estlund Twins. Fuck yeah, man. Sunday we spent all morning and afternoon with Kristina and her 40 dogs. And her bong. And her spare bedroom full of kids' toys including watercolors and arts and crafts. T's twin sister, Kim, was New American Shame's publicist at Atlantic Records. Kim and I struck such a chord that we embarked on an immediate platonic love affair that lasts to this day. A few years after I emerged in the 213, Kim gave me her sister's number (who I had met a few times before) and Kristina and I also found something in each other that was soul oriented and everlasting - sports. 

It was the Red Sox and the Yankees in the World Series. Schilling and his bloody ankle had taken the Bombers all the way down to their last straw - Mariano Rivera. I thought to myself, if you want to be world champions, this is what you have to do - beat Mariano in the ninth inning at Yankee stadium.  And then it was over. The Sox had done it. The fucking Boston Red Sox had taken the World Series.  I sat alone in my apartment stunned - NEEDING to share the emotion with someone. I had only recently been given T's number, and knowing she was a huge sports fan (and Kim's sister for god sakes) how badly could it go? I called her and we bonded over the unimaginable. After that I spent TONS of time at Kristina's place in Venice Beach. She always had the killer snacks, the coolest dogs and at least four games on at a time. We were both chronically single and had no desire to fuck up a good thing by throwing a hump on a buddy. We were golden. 

The night after Eric's party, Coleman got to meet Kristina for the first time. She may as well have been babysitting him since diapers. It was flawless - no surprise whatsoever. 

On Monday, Eric had said if we were downtown with time to kill at any point, to come by his fabrication shop. Monday we were going to have dinner with Channing and Lettie at their home in Boyle heights and had a few hours to kill. I took the boy to Eric's and got a great picture of the two of them on a motorcycle. Lunch wasn't far away, in the form of a pizza joint Eric's partner owns in the same building. I had been going back and forth with Howie Pyro about whether we were going to be able to work out some face time on our visit, and it turned out he live a stone's throw from E's shop.  He came down and met the boy, caught up for an hour or so, and we generally enjoyed each other's presence for the first time in far to long. Later, another chance call landed us some face time with Joe Bass and his girl, Chris. Soooo good to see him. Having two grown kids of his own (and having the eternal spirit of a 9 year old), Joe was another person who might as well have been changing Coleman's diapers. How well they got along was amazing. While in the old complex, our good friend George Earth came home and it just went on and on and on.

Dinner with Coleman's Godfather was as much for Chan and me as it was for anyone else. We could chill and talk all night. It's just always been that easy. We hung out until the nap-less kid started showing his age and the hour. We parted with a warm (non-sexual) manly embrace. We will NEVER go five years without seeing that guy again. Period.  

Tuesday came with mixed emotion for me. On the plus side, I was taking the boy to his first rendezvous with the Promised Land - Disneyland. On the downside, my week long ace in the whole bargaining chip (ala "it's bed time, you can EITHER stay up passed bed time and give me guff, OR go to Disneyland on Tuesday, but not both, and its totally up to you") was gone. 

The day itself was fantastic - sunny, but not to hot, a Tuesday with no huge lines anywhere. AND Loaded's former manager's assistant, Wendy (now married with two lovely little girls, 6 and 2), was going to be there with her daughters and mother. A play date at Disneyland? You're joking, right? It couldn't have gone off any better.

Wednesday brought the Estlund twins again, and dinner at Kim's house. Maybe this is all redundant and self-serving, but I would take a bullet for Kim Estlund. She and Coleman made dinner while her husband, Joe, and I talked about his Westwood One Radio show and this column's possible participation. Since my last trip to the Kim and Joe abode, they have transformed their garage into a full blown bar room/ dude's wet dream garage hang out station. I'm going to need to get me one of those. 

We had had eight days out of nine with sunny blue skies. It was amazing - just what the doctor ordered. The next day we flew home. It was grey, raining and unusually cold for the middle of April. 

P.S.: My girls the Estlunds are famous for more than being the coolest twins to ever walk the earth. Back in the pre-grunge days, they showed up in a couple of videos you might have seen. They are the two sets of legs walking across the stage at the 0:38 mark, and they are they are holding Rikki's snare a few seconds later at the 0:43 mark.

Check it:

Sorry girls.

Drummer Geoff Reading - who writes a bi-weekly online column (Fridays) for the Weekly Volcano called "Holding Down the 253" in addition to his weekly Wednesday music column - has played music in tons of Northwest bands - Green Apple Quick Step, New American Shame, Top Heavy Crush and most recently Duff McKagan's LOADED - to name but a few. He's toured the world several times over, sharing stages with the likes of Slipknot, The Cult, Buckcherry, Korn, Journey, The Sex Pistols, Nine Inch Nails and on and on. He has called Tacoma home since 2005, and lives in the North End with his wife and son.

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