Thursday, June 25, 2009

Darkness falls across the land......

Get yourself a beverage. This is going to be a long one probably. I'm also taking my mother-in-law's advice and enjoying my Widmer Hefeweizen. Knitting will come later. Appropriate post about my very awesome birthday present later.

Yesterday evening, I took myself for a drive. Kevin was out for the evening, and though it was knit night at Border's, I was too antsy to sit and knit, especially in those god awful plastic torture devices they call chairs. I needed to see water, feel the wind on my face. The Delta is just a few miles away, and I often forget that it is easily accessible.

I drove over to the Martinez Marina, and went for a walk. It isn't the walk along the beach that I need, but it was still a comfort hearing the water break on the shore. As with any other wharf or marina, the smell of diesel and decay wasn't completely unpleasant. It reminded me of my trips into San Pedro when I was a child. The salt marsh made me think of Bolsa Chica and the restoration project to restore their wetlands. As the sun was setting, it just seemed wrong. It was setting on the salt water, but there was too much land and not enough sand, too many ducks and not enough Cormorants. I headed back to the car and headed into the hills above the wharf.

I came across the old Alhambra Cemetery. It holds many of the early settlers of the area. The gravestones had dates from the mid-1800's. Oddly enough, I thought of the dead rising from their graves, as in Thriller.

Alhambra Cemetery, Martinez, CA

This would be a little spooky at night. It sits at the edge of a residential street. It is surrounded by a chain link fence and barb wire. It seemed so sad. All those buried here walked, lived – here – at some time in the past. Do they have families that think of them today?

This morning we received the news that Farrah Fawcett had passed away. This was sad news, but she was obviously very ill and at least she is now at peace. But it didn’t end there, did it.

I was listening to talk radio, as I do every waking hour at work, and around 2:30 they broke the news that TMZ had reported that Michael Jackson had been taken to UCLA Medical Center, having possibly suffered a heart attack.

As the afternoon progressed, he became the story, as he is even tonight as I write this. On my way home, I thought, “this is the Elvis of my generation”. But as Keith Olbermann has pointed out, he has been part of our cultural lives since 1969. I was four. I don't remember the performances, but I do remember the cartoon from when I was little.

Then there was Thriller.

I graduated from high school in 1983. There was this thing called MTV that I had heard about, but these were still the days of TV antennas, and you just didn’t pay to watch TV, at least we didn’t until I ordered service in 1988.

…they’re showing clips of the Jackson 5. Oh my, the fringe, even for the 70’s…….

These were the days of Freeze It Hair Spray, leggings, big belts and big shoulder pads. I worked at May Department Store at Westminster Mall. I was the Assistant Manager in the Women’s Social Dresses and Fur Department. Yes, we sold fur. We sold a lot of it. We made not one cent commission, and we kicked the ass of our sister store in Costa Mesa. My personal favorite was Afghani Red Fox. Had I lived in a cold climate, one worthy of wearing fur, I would have bought it in a heart beat. Such was not the case.

I worked primarily in the evenings, because, quite frankly, I hate mornings. That is one thing that hasn’t changed in 20+ years. I was taking my dinner break, and headed out of the store into the mall. Next door to May was an audio/visual store and they had a TV set at the entrance. Thriller had just started.

….time for another beverage. Be right back…..

….that’s better……

….now I’m being interrupted by my friend Chris IM’ing me

….jesus, it’s going to 101F on Saturday……

I stood in front of that TV for its entirety. I loved Vincent Price, and I was so thrilled to hear his voice, talking “street”. It was an amazing film. It was more than a video. It became iconic for that time and it changed us. In a word, it was bitchin’.

I bought the Thriller album. I listened to it over and over. My friend Leslie worked in the Junior’s department. It was next to my department. Sometimes we were the only ones on shift for the evening. They played a local radio station in Junior’s – so Leslie and I would dance around – moonwalk on occasion. When Purple Rain was released, and When Doves Cry became a hit, we had our own little stroll that we would do through the department. Another friend I had at work, that I still fondly remember as Koci, because I had one too many Chris’s in my life, worked in Men’s which was across the aisle from my department. I remember when a couple of guys ran out the door with a bunch of Member’s Only jackets (I think) and Koci took off after them.Security was not happy with that.

After work, Koci and I would hang out down at Huntington, have a few beers. His family rescued desert tortoises. I really loved his truck, even that awful minty green color. He was fun and he was a good friend. He was one the last people I saw before I left the states back in 1984. I’ll never forget that day.

May had the first 18 hour sale – I worked it. Somewhere in this house is a letter of commendation issued by the President of May thanking me for participating in retail history. They were the first department store to be open on New Year’s Day – I worked it. The first concert I ever went to was Bruce Springsteen during the first leg of his Born in the USA tour. I went with one of the guys from receiving.

Whenever Chris would come roam the mall, I suddenly got a migraine and had to leave. Chris has ever been a poor influence on my life. I feel safe in writing this since I am fairly confident that he doesn’t ever read this. If he does – just remember – it’s all your fault. Always. (insert sound of throaty chortle here)

I was always running late for work – literally running for the time clock. That hasn’t changed either. A couple of years ago, I went back to Westminster, to walk the mall and see what was the same, and how much had changed. This was before Robinsons-May closed, but the store had been remodeled so many times, it had little resemblance to my store. I’m always disappointed when I take these walks down memory lane. But then we also view the past through rose colored glasses.

Whenever I hear Thriller, or see it, it takes me back to those couple of years that I worked at May, to those last couple of years of my teens. Though Michael went off the rails a while ago, he was amazing back in the day. I want to remember him from that time. In the words of Bob Hope, thanks for the memory, Michael.

If you want to take your own walk down memory lane, here is the link for Thriller. Do a little moon walk. If nothing else, dance like a zombie.

1 comment:

sandra said...

Thanks for the picture of the cemetery. I also lookked at the others in the area. I don't remember the fence with barbed wire, but it has been 40 years since I've been there. One of these years, I'm going to go back and see if my little house is still there.