Friday, March 15, 2013

There StandsThe Glass -- Artist Unknown


It was sometime back in the mid-90’s and I was in the middle of a three-year stint living in L.A.  I lived in the fashionable Los Feliz area just east of Hollywood.  The movie “Swingers” was filmed there right about the time I was living there.  The Derby, where the hot jazz and swing dancing scenes were shot, was two blocks from my apartment.  

Anyway, one day I decided that I had obsessed on my trivial problems and had been self-centered long enough.  It was time for me to volunteer to help somebody else for a change.  I hooked up with this organization that helped repair the homes of less fortunate people that were in terrible disrepair.  The volunteers gathered at a church and then we took a bus down to the home that was going to be fixed.  This home happened to be in the middle of the notorious South Central L.A. 

As we drove through the neighborhoods on this overcast Sunday morning, the bus driver was playing the local PBS radio station.  I don’t know what it is about Sunday’s mornings on PBS affiliates, but they all seem to play bluegrass music in this time period.   I specifically recall this slow, maudlin bluegrass tune that came on.  Even though bluegrass music and black people aren’t usually affiliated in any way, there was something fitting about this sad bluegrass song playing as we passed by drug dealing gang members (as evidenced by their red bandanas) and drug addicted prostitutes.

We finally arrived at the home of this poor black woman and her son both of whom were suffering from some weird skin disease.  The symptoms were these little lumps all over their face.  I wondered to myself whether they had small pox or something.  I never found out for sure.

The yard was filled with trash and an old shed in the back yard was about to fall over.  Some people went to work tearing down shed and hauling away trash.  I spent a couple hours scraping paint.  It was pretty brutal.  I was scraping the underside of the roof to their front stoop.  I had to wear goggles because the damn paint chips kept falling in my eyes.  Then when I put the friggin goggles on, the lenses would fog up and I couldn’t see a damn thing.  It was like this off and on for two hours.  

Regardless of what a pain in the ass that was, it was a pretty trivial little problem to have compared to the people who lived in this neighborhood.

I'm going to digress a bit from my Blues theme and play some somber country music.  This is an old standard country song called “The Glass” or “There Stands The Glass.”  I believe it was Webb Pierce who was the original artist.  I recorded this version, by an artist whose name I did not catch, off of Memphis radio and it really reminds me of that day in South Central L.A.

Click the link below the hear the song on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gslcvPuMGJQ