El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

Friday, August 20, 2010

May the force be with you when driving to a show in Los Angeles.

Fear - The Record 1982

Derf Scratch, founding bass player for the early 1980’s punk band, Fear passed away last month at the age of 58. Derf, which is Fred spelled backwards, was originally from New Jersey but grew up in Temple City in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley and passed away in Camarillo. Known for their intense lyrics, loyal following and led by their intimidating front man Lee Ving, Fear played mostly the California circuit but once ventured to the East Coast for their now famous appearance on Saturday Night Live on Halloween Eve 1982. Invited as a guest of John Belushi, Fear came on stage as many of the hardcore fans immediately started stage diving without the band missing much of a step. Fear’s first album, “The Record” is a time capsule of what was going on in the Hollywood punk scene back then.

In July of 2004, I had tickets to see Fear play at the Key Club on the “fabulous Sunset Strip” as John Doe of X would say. Although Derf was not a member of Fear by this time, I eagerly anticipated seeing the band live as I had not even thought about Fear since that Halloween eve so many years ago. The show was on Saturday July 3rd, 2004 and I hideously underestimated the Hollywood traffic on that steamy Fourth of July weekend. I thought it would be nice to drive down Sunset Blvd on the way to the Key Club so we left Eagle Rock one hour before the show via the 134 freeway. We quickly made it to Sunset and Vermont and then instantly hit a tsunami of gridlock, chunky style. By show time we were barely at Sunset and Wilcox as we crawled down Sunset Blvd, passed Hollywood High School and the Guitar Center, entering the West Hollywood border where driving became more like swimming in peanut butter. The sweat and the anguish poured down my face as I continually chose to stick to my guns, marching down Sunset Blvd inch by inch like slow motion army ants in route to a discarded popsicle stick. By Sunset and Crescent Heights we were over two hours late for the show but I was determined to get to my destination that night. I could see the club and its neon sign off in the distance as my passenger cheered me on much like one does to a depleted marathoner as they approach the final stage of the 26 mile journey. Despite being almost three hours late for the show, I accomplished my goal of getting to the Key Club that night. When I drove by the front door, I sighed in relief but without even lighting up a victory cigar or resting my achy body we turned around and headed home, never entering the club that night and never seeing Fear hit the stage. I wisely chose to take Beverly Blvd back to the North Los Angeles where I arrived void of the energy and enthusiasm which I had left with earlier that evening. Saturday July 3rd, 2004 was the first time I realized what a powerful force that Los Angeles traffic can be. May the force be with you when driving to a show in Los Angeles.

Rest in Peace Derf.

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