Is There A Downtown Moorpark?

Posted 8/7/2010

 

There are times in everybody’s life when something you say doesn’t have the desired effect – it just doesn’t come out right.  This even goes for me.  And it, at least once, 40 plus years ago,  also went for Scott…

Meet Scott Mclane, bass player in a 1960s era small time rock and roll band looking to make it big in a beach town somewhere in Southern California – land of meteoric rises and even faster crashes; where success and failure often intersect and occur simultaneously in a fleeting moment of time when somebody should have kept their mouth shut…

The band, Glad, has just finished a successful opening act in a place that exists outside of normal sensitivity; a place where a sense of humor should be included in the price of a movie ticket, and where the popcorn should be worn inside the ears of anyone who cannot take a friendly joke…

A place known as… “The Moorpark Zone”….

I don’t remember a lot of the town, but I’m pretty sure I remember a lot more of it than Scott does.  That’s because my view of Moorpark was enhanced by the fact that I was seeing it through glass windows in the car.  Scott’s view of it was somewhat impeded by all of the carpet and underside of upholstery that one would see if one were hiding as far under the back seat of a 1941 Ford as one could squeeze one’s body in order to avoid detection by the crowd carrying torches and pitchforks…

“What was he doing down there?” “Why was there a crowd carrying torches and pitch forks?”, you ask.

I’ll tell you…

It all started when the management at the Moorpark Theater wanted to enhance the Friday Night movie experience a bit and decided that a pre-movie concert might be a great way to increase the take at the ticket window. I’m guessing they put out some feelers and let it be known that they might be interested in hiring a band to perform before the main feature on a given Friday night.

I don’t remember anything about what got us there or the run-up to the gig date… It’s a complete blank to me.. (I suspect that Daamen’s dad may have gotten wind of it and got us in there.)  It’s like time started with the first note of the first song… We didn’t audition, we just appeared there and started playing…

And that’s where my memory begins…

I have friends who have opened for monster bands and acts, and in fact, who have actually toured and played WITH these guys. What a great experience that would be, just one time.

The only other time we had opened for something was for the opening of the apartment building back in chapter 13… That one didn’t go well…

(It should have been an indication that things were not going to be completely wonderful that the film for which we were opening was “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”.  If you have never seen that flick, it’s just about the most depressing film I have ever had the pleasure of suffering through… I highly don’t recommend it, especially if you are in any way suicidal.)

We showed up and started playing.

We got well into the show and things were going great! We were all right on in everything we did.

We finished to rousing applause.

We took down all of our gear and packed up.

This is where we screwed up – we should have just gotten into the cars and left, but we didn’t.  We stayed for the movie…

After the movie, we were standing around talking with some of the people who were there, making friends.. After a bit, some of us left to load up the cars while Scott stayed behind as our good will emissary, chatting and influencing people.

At some point, he must have run out of things to say and shifted into humor mode. He inquired as to the location of Downtown Moorpark.. Scott was a great joker, and that’s what he was doing here – making a joke..That fact was lost on the group he was addressing…

And THAT fact was lost on Scott, so he followed up with “IS there a Downtown Moorpark?”.

That question didn’t elicit the expected laughter, so Scott decided that he would go ahead and throw the Hail Mary pass and go for the touchdown by saying “Did you know that Moorpark spelled backwards is Kraproom?”.

Sadly, this question was met with a highly negative response by a couple of the more hot-headed students from the local high school, and a push or two took place…

It was time to leave…

Most of us had missed these festivities because we were loading up, so we didn’t know about the joke-a-thon put on by our bass player. We just hopped into the cars and went home, excited that we had been so well received by the crowd.

A few days later, we received a call from the theater management requesting a return engagement! Way cool!  And this time there were RADIO commercials on all over the county advertising our “sure to be triumphant” return to the Moorpark Theater! The management LOVED us!

But the management hadn’t heard the rumors going around Moorpark High School that we had attacked one of their own, and caused him bodily harm (apparently he had actually faked some injuries with a false sling and some glue applied to his face and arms painted to look like cuts scabbed over).

So two weeks later we returned to the field of our great victory, excited because we had a full house to play to! Really – the place was stuffed with high school humanity and we were ready to rock!

But… And it’s a big but…

Just before we went on, someone who knew what was really going on came back stage to warn us about the crowd.. It was at this point that we heard about the rumors that the kid had spread around the school.. And it was at this point that the we learned that the house was full because they wanted revenge.  And it was at this point that we learned that the guy they wanted was “The Big Guy” with the four string guitar..

Great… We went on knowing that the crowd wanted to kill us – or at least Scott…

It was stressful… Our concentration was shot… The crowd was not appreciative of our efforts, to say the least, and threats against Scott were coming from the gallery between each number, with explicit descriptions of what they were going to do to him…

We finished early, packed up as quickly as we could – except for Scott.  He bolted immediately after the last song… We didn’t see him again until we opened one of the cars to load up and found him on the floor in the back seat…

He stayed there until we were well out of town…

Never to return…

Did I mention that “Moorpark” spelled backwards is “Kraproom”?

 

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Next: I eat my own foot… In front of God and everybody...

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