Sometimes you’re an Angeleno who craves legitimate gumbo.
Sometimes you want this gumbo to be vegan.
And sometimes you want vegan gumbo that is really thai cajun fusion and you want it with a a side of crushed walnuts and habenero preserves (so hot right now).
Sometimes you want hot things so right now even though you are driving North up Sunset to hit the newish Ramen spot in Silver Lake (by Thirsty Crow, a stone’s throw from Silversun Pickup [the store, not the band]).
Sometimes you’re too old to listen to indie rock and too irrelevant to produce it. But it's chill. There's a perk for aging millennials, and it's that mix tapes are never not cool.
What matters now is that you update Waze, though. It's never not satisfying to update the destination. You set it to New Orleans for no reason besides gumbo and hurricanes. Supposedly the real screenwriters, journalists and artist are moving there. Real creatives know Marfa's for posers, but also drugs, maybe posers on drugs. Maybe you don't know anything.
Also, never not, never not, never... forget it, just pop in to the Mexican bodega for some ginger, jalapeño, thai basil and bean sprouts (in case the produce situation is dicey when you get there).
Outside there's a taco truck. Grab some veggie mulitas. Fill ten souffle cups with red salsa. Use what you can and save the rest. If anything goes wrong, you’re going to miss taco trucks more than your so-called friends in L.A.
Your head hurts. You bat around some unknowns. Who hooked you up with that molly? Why was Carrot Top at No Vacancy the other night? What was that producer's name, the guy who kept buying rounds of fernet?
Also, did your friend's friend invest in that vegan thai bayou fusion slash remote data center which uses heat waste to operate functioning hot plates?
Is that how they really spell their last name? Or is that one of those clever, homophonic FB avatars? Tough call. When you think about it, if social media is the collective performative, then every name’s a stage name. You forget to write this down and then forget you thought of it.
On the road. You google search the vegan-Thai-fusion-restauranteur friend. You insta scroll, you slip into snapchat timesuck, you confirm your suspicion: the friend appears to own a business in New Orleans (they also seem to always be elsewhere).
Oh well. You check the time. You figure you can Airbnb Phoenix tonight, and Dallas tomorrow. The day after, you’ll be slurping gumbo with almond-butter infused peanut sauce alternative. You’re gonna be even hotter. You are proud of your ability to Airbnb and drive. Then you loathe yourself for being that person using their phone and driving. You tell yourself it's not really texting and driving but inside you know this is some heavy post-Freudian shit and hazarding other drivers is an Oedipal obligation.
But analysts are expensive and being hot in L.A. is a major commitment. There's always a favor owed, something you need from one person, to keep a promise for someone you’ve been blowing off (or blowing on, a matter of perspective, really). It takes you till the Indio Valley to confirm the reservation. It's a tacky "creative loft" with a side of "I paid more because this asshole bought a mass-produced record player and Amazon-ed a reissue of Diamond Dogs." You accept the majesty of Bowie, that he appeals to queen and bro alike.
The dark desert stretches in all directions. The moon is gone. You sigh, one less thing to blame for whatever happens.
Then there’s this thing about Waze where it literally wants to shave 10 seconds off a three-day drive. Then there's this thing where you call your ex, even though you know they’re not gonna answer, but the point is them not answering. Then there's the thing about how it started at a Thai restaurant. You both traipsed into the bathroom, fell into a bizarre make out session. The door was ajar, it was that crude. That never happens. This was the hottest most equally dysfunction human who’d ever smashed face with you. This was your conspiracy.
And this is the roadtrip you planned but never took with them.
So of course you call them.
And of course a call leads to a text which leads to a text check.
And another text check.
Which leads to Arizona, and a 12-pack, and a half pint of rye, which leads to a hot tub in the cramped workout facility underneath some freezer box loft in a tasteless chain restaurant “downtown strip," which leads to oversleeping, which leads to skipping Dallas and just barreling for New Orleans with one hand on the wheel and the other on your phone.
Then Waze just keeps telling you to take a back route highway to skip some fatal car wreck and finally you’re like, Fuck you Waze, and you ex out of the app.
Then you’re on Insta, and you're wondering why your ex is in Milan. Who's in bed with you? Couplies? Already?
And then you hear a chime. You're low on gas.
It’s fine, you’ll pull over at the next gas station.
Except, you’re in a no wi-f zone and you don’t know if this is Texas or Louisiana.
You’re from L.A. and you only measure drives in time, not miles. You figure you're good for 15 minutes or so.
That’s when you see a little yellow dot in the distance.
Ten minutes pass as the sign waxes into a yellow square, literally the only light in the monochrome sky.
It says: Waffle House.
Haha, you think, Middle America's late night fast food alternative.
You size it up and think, It's like a xenophobic taco truck that took over a medical office's lease.
You pull open the door, sticky with years of neglect. When you step inside, you gag. It smells like Werner Herzog’s icy boot. But this boot was deep fried in month-old oil and left in the trash to rot. You count the hair nets, one, two, shit, everyone is wearing a hair net.
The bubbling sauce pans remind you of Mordor. You remember a bad acid trip, spider births, cannibal insects. You regret not staying home to rewatch those Efukt vids that those rich girls used to show you in the middle of the night.
You wonder, Who's weird here? Is it them, or did L.A. do something to me?
A waiter approaches. Your phone's dying, you have one bar. You're worried that your car might run out of gas. You ask if they would mind charging your phone. They're friendly, they say they don't mind.
"Are we still in Texas?"
"Sure as shit ain't Texas, honey."
Food arrives at a nearby table. It's a family. It must be eleven o' clock but there's seven of them. They look so happy. But you're not happy. You're alone, eleven hundred miles from home. You see a steaming nightmare, an insult to the memory of sizzling aromas drifting out of Saturday morning kitchens.
You change your mind and head back to the car. You think better than to eat the raw ginger. You tear open the warm bag of bean sprouts. They're no longer crunchy after two days in the car.
Why am I here? you wonder. Then you remember the gumbo. You insert a moral here, that single life is the life less judged.
It's cold. You're lost. You don't need someone judging you. There's enough of you doing it already.
You look at your phone. It wasn't charging for a while. Fourteen percent.
You ex out of every app. Then you hit the phone icon, recent calls, you hit the first number.
Someone answers, and you freeze.
"Hey, sorry, who is this?"
Where do you begin?
"4 LURKING MIX 3" features Lil Ugly Mane, Travis Scott, Fad Gadget, Arca, Post Malone, OG Maco, Kanye, Triple Six Mafia, Miss Kittin, The Hacker, and Oscar Wilde
If you promise not to creep you can lurk Avalon here