Saturday, March 14, 2009
(part 155) NASHVILLE: MUSIC CITY
I didn't want to go to Nashville, but I did want to leave L.A. I felt like a walking target after escaping the clutches of Camarillo State Hospital and those who were trying to keep me in there.
I was too hot. Everywhere I went people would make comments about my escapades on the Hyatt House and the tower. A number of these moments turned into physical fights in public places around West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
I knew it was just a matter of time before one of these occurrences turned out poorly, because the local cops were still gunning for me. I can't blame them for their attitude, but I didn't want to stick around and see how far they were willing to go.
When the Nashville offer came up, it was a way out of town, nothing more. If you recall, I'd gone to Ohio with John Rhys for the same reason in 1970.
I just needed to get away from L.A. for awhile, and figure out what to do. In DP's mind it was Nashville, the center of country music, which had been getting more outlaw oriented, because of Waylon Jennings and others.
He felt the environment was ripe for what I was doing musically. It may have been a good call at some other time, but in the condition I was in, it never panned out to be anything more than a long hard drunk.
I didn't know the town or anyone in it, and had been somewhat abandoned by DP as soon as we arrived. He went off to see about his own business, because he was from Nashville.
I would sit in some stranger's apartment and try to figure out what I was supposed to do, other than wonder where the hell DP was. As usual, I didn't stay in one place very long and took to the streets of music city in search of something, anything.
I ended up near Vanderbilt University, and began frequenting two bars on a daily basis, the Exit Inn and Fridays.
I had no money, so I would do impersonations of famous people at the bar, in hopes of getting my audience to buy me drinks, which worked pretty well some of the time.
Later on my mother would send me small packages of cheap American Indian jewelry, mostly turquoise rings, which I'd wear ten at a time, in hopes I could sell them to interested customers for a little cash.
DP was kind of pissed off about this, because it prevented him from being able to keep me tied to him and his otherwise total grip on me if I was broke.
I'd been on the streets too long to allow myself to be maneuvered into poverty's corner where someone, anyone, was my single benefactor.
This kind of hold on a person was practiced in the music business a lot. They'd give you just enough to keep you coming back, but not enough to make any real difference in your life.
I learned this the hard way, so I developed my own plan in Nashville outside of DP's grasp. I always seemed to feel like someone was trying to control my movements, thoughts, and emotions by hanging little bits of raw meat out to keep me interested.
I resented the treatment, and did whatever I could to even the playing field a little. Over time DP was forced to realize that he was not in control of me.
I met a lot of dope dealers, musicians, politicians, and females in Nashville, but never got my act together enough to make anything work.
I found it hard to walk on my busted feet and ankle, so I drank all the time to bear the pain. When I say I drank all the time, I mean, if I was awake, I was drunk. I consumed more booze in Tennessee than I ever had in my life, and it just kept adding to the tortured state of my body and mind.
I was drinking in Fridays Bar one time, with a bunch of dope dealer friends of DP's, when some guys I 'd never seen before showed up at the bar.
One of them pushed me out of his way, so I pushed him back, not knowing or caring, that he was one of the main cheese balls in the area. He whirled around and said, "Who pushed me?" to which I responded, "I did." He eyed me for a second and punched me in the face, and I went after him in a heartbeat.
The crowd at the bar grabbed a hold of me before I could inflict any damage on this asshole, saying to the guy, "It's OK, so and so, he doesn't know who you are, he's a musician from L.A."
The guy looked at me, clearly pissed off by my willingness to get into it with him, and said, "OK, but keep him out of my way." With that a couple of people pulled me aside and told me, "Bobby lay off, he's a friend of ours."
"OK", I said, "But he's the asshole who started it." "Yeah, well he doesn't know you," they said, "and he didn't mean anything by it." "OK, Ok, I got it, let's have a drink." This in fact was the way much of my time in Nashville went. One questionable moment on top of another.
I had reached the point where tempting fate on any level became a game of mine. In a store in Nashville, a local mini-mart, I would play a game.
Me and some other idiots would take the power cord from an electric lamp, and strip the rubber off, leaving the copper wire exposed. We'd then take the double wire and split it into two single wires attached to the plug. Grabbing one wire in each hand, someone would then plug the cord into a wall socket.
The electricity would run up through your hands and arms and tend to seriously flex the muscles in each one to the point of twisting both of them inward like pretzels.
The object of the game was to see who could hold these live wires the longest; I almost always won, because I didn't give a shit if it killed me. I wasn't afraid of dying, so I'd just stand there like an dumb shit, holding the wires until the electricity wrenched them out of my hands.
These kinds of things tended to give me a local reputation for being nuts, because I had no inclination whatever to spare my body punishment. So when challenged to a drinking contest at Fridays I accepted without question. Not because I wanted to have a drinking contest, but because it was free booze for the participants, nine shots of free booze.
The drink was called the petrifier. It contained nine shots of different kinds of hard liquor in a single tall glass, and who ever could finish it first won.
The effect of this stupidity was an almost instant blackout. Some of the alcohol included in the drink was 180 proof white lightening, which I experienced for the first time in Tennessee.
After the second go round I ended up in a ten hour blank from alcohol poisoning, and was told I'd been standing in the middle of the street with my pants down around my ankles, hitchhiking, near Vanderbilt University.
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