By: David Lohrey
When you get to be my age, you begin to put things into categories, make lists, sort people and things by a smaller and smaller set of variables: good and bad, affordable and pricey, attractive and out of the question. When I was younger, there were far more gray areas, much more complexity, ambiguity, even doubt. When I was in my thirties, I had trouble saying no. Now, when I do, people believe me.
One such area of certainty is music. I can’t listen to most of the shit they play today. Forty years ago, I heard a lot on the radio but paid it no mind. I now know that a lot of what I heard back then was good. Al Green, Miles, Soul Train. I could go on. My God, what about the soundtrack to Shaft? Those were golden years. I’d let it all pass me by until they stopped playing it on the radio and then I realized life seemed pointless. Part of what I miss is being around the kind of people who loved Isaac Hayes, or even Sinatra. Today, I don’t meet many interesting people. Most of the people I’m around like rap and shit like that. They talk a lot of shit, too.
Forty years ago, I was living with a woman who drank hot milk with brandy before bed. She loved Al Green. As a matter of fact, she preferred black men in the sack. She was an undercover police woman with the San Francisco Police Department. She was a blond. We were together, sort of, but I knew she’d rather sleep with a brother. I’m not sure, but I think she liked their lips. She also liked to think she was promoting world peace. She saw it as proof of her decency and, perhaps, as a kind of penance. That sounds real weird, but at that time it was not unknown for black guys to use guilt as a way of getting white chicks to go down on them. Maybe they still do.
Lenore, who was 33 when I met her, was sexy. She had long fingers and a slight Virginia accent. She kept the radio on at all times when she drove. It was through her that I discovered the likes of Marvin Gaye and Linda Ronstadt. You couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing something great. Those were glorious times, believe me. It was also the time Patty Hearst was kidnapped and Lenore was called in to find her. She spent a lot of time in Oakland, but eventually had to move to Los Angeles to track the SLA. We drifted apart. She was having too much fun sleeping with informants in South Central. She was in and out of bed with several ex-cons from Folsom Prison and Vacaville. It was from one of them she heard that Patty was a nymphomaniac.
I’d taken up Lenore’s habit of drinking brandy in warm milk right before bed. It was about then at bedtime that she’d call. She was registered at the Hilton just off the 405 in Carson. She called from time to time, drunk. She had all sorts of things to say about the case. Of course, gossip about the sex lives of the participants got my attention. All I can remember now is that they kept that gal busy while she was blindfolded and restrained. Everybody assumed it was rape. I certainly did. Lenore was down there when the police located the SLA’s hideout and set it on fire. They were effectively burned alive. Lenore had been sleeping with the LAPD’s informant. She may have tipped them off. She never said.
By the time it was over, whatever we had going was over, too. She took up with a hot shit D.A. from Boston she’d met undercover. I ran into her on Broadway in San Francisco one afternoon. She looked great but I couldn’t see her face from behind her shades. When I asked her to remove them, she said she was hiding a black eye. Her man had smacked her and from what I could tell she liked it. She was dressed in a full-leather outfit with a decidedly western cut. She had on some turquoise jewelry and was driving a Peugeot. The DA drove a black Datsun 240Z. She told me that for some reason. Oddly, it’s the only thing I remember from our conversation. Lenore and I kissed each other on the cheek and waved good bye. When I got back into my car, I turned on the radio. When I heard Diana Ross, I knew all would be well and I was not wrong.