The Santa Suit

T-Bone rolls into the shop, 25 minutes late, early for him.
“By God man,” I say. “What the fuck happened to ya?”

T rolls the eyes, shoots the grin, and the Rorschach test splayed across his wifebeater tells the story:
The Sriracha splotch, a meandering dribble of Jager.
The desperate smudges of lipstick, a shade unavailable in the Continental U.S. the past decade.

“Rough one,” he says. “Anything to drink?”

I throw him the package from Party City, all itchy asbestos-laden floss and clearly flammable crimson polyester.
“Suit up, Santa. The fellas are waiting”

We do the shoot quick, maybe 6 takes in all.
It’s early for everyone, and we mumble into coffee cups: varying degrees of hungover.

I Irish up the Folger’s, Brad rallies us to please put a little twinkle in them steps.

Santa is getting into character, and all the good booze is quickly drained.
“Really man? The Crown Black? I told ya to hit the goddamn Kessler first, didn’t I?”

Green Screen stuff is done. We head downtown for some bar action.

Tbone rides with me in the truck, and we listen to NPR doing a segment on the Higgs Boson.
European nuclear research scientists say they are close to discovering the elusive God Particle.

T is fascinated: The meaning and origin of life, explained finally by subatomic particle?
T points out that it really doesn’t have any bearing on his precious String Theory, and I can only agree with a shrug.

I’m riding goddamned Anaheim Boulevard with Santa in the front seat, a can of malt Liquor between his legs.
And you still want the meaning of life?

We get out in front of Steiner’s, and the cars start honking.
“Santa! Yo Santa! What up bitch?”

T flips them off and dances in the street.
An Ecuadoran family packed into a ’89 Tercel slows and stops in front of Santa.
They hold out a toddler to pull on Santa’s beard.

The suit, it has him now.
He’s seeing adoration he hasn’t seen, well…….. it’s been a while: We’ll put it that way.

He’s still and always will be our lil Eric.
But the beer gut, The tattoos crawling up his neck?
The Devil Clown lurking just beneath his boxers?


But now, enveloped in something warm and familiar, he’s brightening up the day.
Coloring the book.

A young woman comes up to him on the sidewalk: Clearly, she’s been crying.

“Sahnta Klowse. Oh Sahnta,” she says.
“Oh Ho,” says TBone. “And what , um, what do you want for Christmas little girl?”

She smiles then, shakes her head.
“Can I have a hug, Sahnta? Would that be ok?”

It’s fuckin’ magic.
Now it’s time to get into that dark bar and escape the fuckin’ magic.

It’s no use.
People see him, see that suit, and they can’t stop smiling.

Tbone does a few shuffling dance steps, pinches the bartender’s ass.

He drinks freely from the regulars’ glasses, and they can’t get enough of it.

Things start to get sloppy.
They always do.

Santa’s beard is smudged now, the white fur on his suit tells the story of multiple trips to the pavement.
I worry that the welcome is exhausted, the crew will see past the Suit and look into a darker, far more familiar fairytale.

But no.
As long as he has on some sort of combination of beard, hat and jacket, he can do no wrong.
People are filling the joint.
The word’s out on Facebook:
You gotta get down here! This Santa…he is a riot!!

And we pack up the gear and leave.
We leave Santa there, he doesn’t belong to us, not any more.

An ocean away, men huddle in the control room of a super collider, and they smash atoms against eachother.
They fall upon the leftover matter like crows on roadkill.

To see what it’s all about, see what makes man tick, is that it?

Yeah, well. They should’ve just asked us.

Our Last Gig: Hemet

Jeddah Hemet climbed down from the wagon at daybreak, and surveyed the valley below with a satisfied grunt. It had been a hard journey, crossing the pass in the dead of winter, and there were sacrifices to be made, to be sure. He allowed his tongue the singular pleasure of probing between latter molars, where he could still taste the gristly thigh meat of Cousin Jasper.
But now was not the time to mourn the past, for the verdant valley stretched along what we now know as the San Jacinto would be a suitable place to stop:
He unbuttoned his canvas trousers then and urinated upon the foundation of his new life, christening the land that would serve his wives and children well.

In the weeks to follow, many of the indigenous Soboba Tribe would fall, either to the firearms and hatchets of the white future, or -eventually- to the syphilitic strains that confounded their pure and untested immune systems.

But revenge would someday be theirs, as the last remaining elders of the tribe would eventually drain every meager cent earned in the bubbling meth labs of the new century.
A fortune made in the name of progress, vanished within the draw poker slots of the local Casino:
A white man’s fortune wiped out, five quarters at a time.

You win paleface.....of course, that comped Bloody Mary just cost ya eighty bucks!

Good to know a little local history, don’t ya think?

Back after another goddamn layoff, this time out to the wilds of the inland and-yes!– back to a roller rink!

Help me out here, people: Just what the hell is it about roller rinks that makes them the logical place to put on punk gigs?

Oh yeah, we’ve played a few in our day:

Is it the stubborn funk of sweat socks and pubescent pheromones?
The thirsty expanse of parquet, always ready to drink more blood from a skinned elbow or knee?

Maybe it’s because it just sounds so goddamned good in those joints, ya think?

We load in for the long drive out yonder, and realize we haven’t touched guitar or stick since the last road trip out to the Midwest.
We pray that the scamps at American Airlines didn’t take their frustrations out on the baggage, and that we can remember the chords to Manzanar……I mean, we’ve only played that goddamn song twelve thousand times after all!

Ah, but it’s good.
To load back into a car and drive out to a gig with the fellas, yuck it up a little…….

Paul warms his hands on Alf's freakishly warm skull. Next up...? my crotch!

Besides, it’s been a while since we played with D.I., will be nice to catch up with those guys and see what’s been happening in their world…!

Rock Legend you say? Hell, I'd take that kinda press any day!

We load into the swank Wheelhouse and are shown around by Taylor and Ted of Toxic Youth Productions, two kids that really run a nice night!

Backstage at the rink...

...Kimm resorts to labeling his food after losing his last lunch to the fuckin' break room thief!

Anthony makes yet another child cry with his bleak stories of killing Santa's Reindeer for jerky......

We play:
We start the set furiously, five fast ones in a row without a stop.

If we could only keep up the pace, the kids, we’d have em!

But we’re out of practice, out of shape.
I sing from the throat and forget to breathe, corpuscles scream for oxygen and I start to see the familiar spots swimming before my eyes.
Anthony looks longingly at the beer bottle sweating on his amp during songs, wishing only for a break long enough to grab it and empty it by half.
As I try to go straight into number six Alf shouts at me to Stop, goddmnit! and fumbles for the Advair inhaler.

...back to werk!

And then, as usual, we start to play songs only we get a kick out of, oh, I don’t know….
Last Time I Drank anybody?
Hangin Around?, say there’s a real pip the kids will go wild for!

And then the pit starts to lose steam, it slows, the kids tentatively dancing with confused looks upon their brows, waiting for the point in the song that it will surely kick into double time.

But alas, it never happens.
The slow songs stay slow, and the pit dissipates finally, like a stadium Wave at a weekday Dodger game, kept alive only by the drunks and tourists with no shame.

Show biz pros that we are, we pull a few oldies out of the back pocket and end the set fast, but the damage is already done.
Out in the darkness there are a dozen young faces illuminated by the azure glow of smartphone screens, and I can only imagine the deservedly cruel critiques being shelled out on Fbook.

Mom was right! These guys still suck!


It’s time to adjourn to the bar, where we catch up with a few friendly faces:

Kimm givin Jeff the ol what's what!
The latest Muppety-Star Wars combo tat...don't ask!

And then D.I. takes to the stage, and they sound just great.
Casey has the motivated sparkle of the newly cleansed, and they sound tight.
No Fair! Somebody’s been practicing!

Oh the crowd wakes up!

We wrap up the night in the usual way: a few hilarious cocktails, a few welcome urgings to Paulie to get on the dancefloor and shake what God gave him!

...uh oh...
Hey joto!---no parkin on the dance floor!

We load out and prep for the weird ride home, another Roller Rink under the belt.

The parking lot is busy, Moms coming to pick up their kids at the rink, couples making out in the shadows, someone pukes on a shrub.

Kimm and I look at each other, wordlessly, and I can tell he’s thinking what I am:


Jeddah completes his morning constitutional and shakes his weathered member as a northwest wind whispers against his manhood and stirs a more primal urge.
He holds fast, measuring the subtle response of blood flowing into spongy tissue.
Then he thinks better of it, and holds himself out to the growing sunlight.

He starts flagellating himself then, furtively at first, then more vigorously.
He stands before God and Nature, and he claims subservience to neither.
And finally, erect and prompted, he lets fly onto the awaiting soil.

He has claimed the land, totally.
It was not enough to baptize this new land, no.

He had to fertilize it—-literally— before buttoning up his trousers, rousing the womenfolk, and unloading the wagon.

Jed Hemet:: Visionary