I went into the suburbs for the 1st time in a few years last night, and it scared the tar out of me. Don’t worry, this isn’t a “kid moves from the suburbs to the big city and turns on his upbringing making himself feel tough and superior to his suburban counterparts” tirade. My suburban upbringing (in the South, a suburb is any neighborhood that doesn’t get bus service) was a few tenement apartments/jail cells ago, but it’s a time of my life I really enjoyed. I didn’t have to lock my car, I didn’t have to carry a knife, and I didn’t have drunks passed out in the doorway of my apartment. Strip malls were to be skated, and the neighborhood watch was to be tormented (quietly chaining their cars to mailboxes usually brought down the bumper or the mailbox, both resulting in hilarious entertainment). It was a nice place to be a kid.
Enter Corona, California. Located about 45 minutes out of LA, Corona is very strip mall oriented (at least what I saw) and seems to have 3 cops for every citizen. I was there for an EYEHATEGOD/16 show being held in a shopping center theater. Because I was driving, I waited to hit the liquor until we got there (drinking a 40 oz while you drive is a pain in the ass because you have to keep it between your knees and it gets really warm). We parked for the show and went to find a liquor store. Begin Operation Harass Out Of Town ID Guy.
So I still have an out of state driver’s license. So what? So I could pass for an 18 year old. So what? It doesn’t give people free reign to make my life more complicated. The first place I stopped would flat out not sell to me. I don’t even think they knew that Louisiana is a state. The second place took my ID in the back for 10 minutes, constantly looking out the door to see if I was spooked. “Look you fuckers, if buying beer at your shitty store is this much of a pain in the ass I’ll go next door,” was probably not the right thing to say, because they handed me my ID back and said, “fine, do that.” So I did.
I finally went to a gas station, and was able to buy relatively hassle free, but even then the guy acted like he was doing me a huge favor by letting me purchase from his store. Winking at me as he handed back the cash, “have a good one, kid.” The stress from getting a simple beer drove me to rip open the bottle and chug a good 14 ounces in the parking lot. A behavior that attracted a passing police cruiser, who began to pull a U-turn in the middle of the street. Fuck, since when do the cops have time to bust someone for an open container law? Since I got to the suburbs. So, ala high school, your humble 26 year old author was running from the cops, bottle of Magnum in hand, just trying to sneak back into his car. Thanks to my Olympic hedge diving training I eventually made it back to the Drivermobile, stashed the beer, and went into the show, coming out later with fellow BigGunner Patrick Delaney to slink around the shadows and finish my alcoholic beverage in the peace that only an alley can provide.
What drives the suburbs is boredom. The cops, devoid of much real crime, are on the lookout for something to do. The kids, relying on their own wits for entertainment, do borderline illegal things for the thrill of getting away with stuff. The cops need the kids to justify expenditures, and the kids need the cops as a common quasi-enemy to rebel against. They need each other to survive, and I think that’s beautiful. Just leave me out of it.
If anyone cares, EYEHATEGOD fucking rocked, as always. They played for an hour and a half, doped out of their minds, demanding pharmaceuticals from the audience the entire time. They’re on tour with Pantera now, but I’d suggest seeing them in a smaller club if you can. Just make sure you drink before you get there.