ROCK PILGRIMAGE – TEN YEARS ON Part 2
By Shane Pinnegar
When we last talked I had just embarked on my long-planned Rock Pilgrimage of the U.S. of A, ten whole years ago this week.
It was a trip I’d planned for two years, and to say I was bursting at the seams would be an understatement. I had reasons to drink then, too… I do now as well (there are lots of “another stories” in this story!), but I had embraced my inner Rockstar in a big way at that time.
Consequently, I’d spent the last few days before my trip partying with my new girlfriend TJ – she won’t make an appearance in this story for another week – and the first few days, radically jetlagged and all over the place emotionally, drinking in the rock n’ roll sights of the Los Angeles Sunset Strip.
So there I was, at The Forum in Los bloody Angeles, rocking out hard to my favourite punk band, The Anti Nowhere League. This was the culmination of YEARS of rock n’ roll envy – if I’d lived in Hollywierd in the ‘80s, by crikey I would have torn the place (and probably myself) apart!
The band were smoking hot, fantastic. It wasn’t the original line-up, of course – it rarely is nowadays – but Nick Culmer – Animal to fans of the band (not that he’s thrilled being called that, as he told me in an interview some years later) was there front and centre and in charismatic fettle.
I was there alone, I drank, I sang, I rocked and rolled, and I even moshed for a bit. It was manic. MANIC! Loved every bit of it.
When I left the gig I was euphoric, on a total high – and not only because of the heightened booze intake over the previous handful of days.
And this is the bit where it all gets a bit dark.
I have no idea exactly what happens next.
The next thing I can recall is wandering – aimlessly, and for the first time in my life understanding exactly how unempowering that truly is – through some backstreets. I don’t know if I had taken a wrong turn off the Strip, or if somehow I had gone from A to Q with help from others who my brain refused to recall. It’s a scary feeling… but there would be scarier to come.
The next clear memory I have is peering over the back fence of a rather large house with a massive backyard. Clearly a monied family lived here. In the backyard were dozens of college kids, plucked straight from a frat house movie (at least to my squiffy mind).
Words were said – I can guess that I was my usual scintillating self and they were enthralled with the idea of hanging with this long haired Aussie reprobate – and I was invited into the party. There was a beer keg! Pretty girls! Preppies to poke fun at! This was a post-punk-gig Hollywood party, for real. How could I not go in?!?
More drinks were had, and jovial conversations shared all round… until I realised that some of my new “friends” were mocking one of their “friends”. I could tell things were not right. The guy was off his head and struggling – the last thing he needed was his so-called friends ridiculing him.
Ever the champion of the underdog, I investigated. It turned out that these charming chaps had drink spiked their pal, and thought it was the funniest thing to laugh their heads off at his distress.
This sort of thing will never stand with me. Apart from anything else, I’m a drinker and never done much drug-wise, not to mention being completely anti-spiking (as should we all be).
I confronted the guys. Tried to help the addled bloke. Argued with the blokes more. Some girls kept bringing me drinks from the keg.
If you’re smart enough, you’ll see where I went wrong already. I was NOT smart enough to realise at that time.
I started feeling funny. It wasn’t funny at all, but I felt “funny” big time. I also realised – reluctantly – that I couldn’t reach these drink spiking arsehats. So I left.
NEKK MINUTE… some hours of blackout later… I was walking up a steep hill overlooking Hollywood, and not long after ‘coming to’ I took a nasty tumble.
Almost immediately my left knee swelled, and to make the whole thing even better, my right ankle felt very wrong indeed.
I knew I was a long way from where I needed to be. I could barely recall the name of my hotel. I knew it was one of the ones far below us on The Strip, and walking there would take hours, and damage me even further… but I couldn’t find a cab.
My memories flash in and out at this point. They are blurry to say the least. Somehow I eventually found a cab. I was broken and crying and in serious pain and I knew that I’d been drink spiked, slipped some kind of Mickey like they’d done to their friend.
Whatever they slipped me fucked me up for days.
When I got to my hotel I booted up my laptop and Skyped TJ in tears. I was on Day four of a five week megatrip, and I had potentially rendered myself an invalid. I was a mess – TJ now recalls I was talking in random sentences, making little sense. She was worried.
There would be many more good times to come, but the injuries hampered me every step of the way. I saw a doctor a day or two later who wanted to put me under the knife immediately! EEK! Don’t think my travel insurance would have coped with that, so I did a runner and struggled on bravely…
Anyway, the following night I had tickets to see Steel Panther – still mostly playing covers in L.A. and Las Vegas at this stage – and next stop – ROCKLAHOMA!