Speaking of the 80s...

George Harrison -- Gary Plyly
For a very short time, I worked assisting a guy who provided sound for various punk bands in L.A. I first met him in 1971 when he looked like the George Harrison of the All Things Must Pass era. I totally fell for him at first sight when we jammed at a Sunday afternoon front porch party at his house in Thousand Oaks. Fourteen or fifteen years later, I responded to an ad from someone who needed an assistant sound engineer. I had no experience, but hey, it was work. The guy on the phone asked me to meet him at his house the following Friday night before a gig in L.A...

The closer I got to his house though, the more I suspected this was the George Harrison guy. I don't know why. I'd never forgotten him; he was hard to forget. Sure enough, when I found the address, it was the same house. Thinking it couldn't possibly be the same guy, I walked up the steps and rang the door bell. I was stunned to see the guy I'd met before. He still had that long hair, but the beard was gone.

In the van, as we rode along the L.A. freeways, I told him we'd met before, but he didn't really remember me. He remembered the friends I'd come with that afternoon, and we talked about what we'd been up to. This was all well and good, but after he parked the van in the warehouse district, he pulled out a spiky punk wig and started tucking all of his beautiful long hair up under it. Good God! This guy was my age, and here he was trying to look like he was 20 years younger. And a wig! Didn't he learn anything from the 60s? Didn't he remember the "weekend hippies" cruising the Sunset Strip in their fake Beatle wigs and Rolls Royce Silver Clouds? What had happened to him?

The Atomic Cafe
The gig sucked. I wasn't into punk, and I felt like someone's mom standing there in my New Age silks and crystal jewelry. I toned that down a bit for the other gigs I worked with him, but I never pretended to be a punker.

After the gigs we'd go to the Atomic Cafe, in the warehouse district. Anyone involved in the L.A. punk scene will remember this place.
During the 1970s and 1980s, artists began to move into nearby aging warehouse spaces in the area, forming a hidden community in the industrialized area. Al's Bar, Gorky's, and the Atomic Cafe were very popular. The Atomic Cafe opened in 1946 in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles by Minoru and Ito Matoba. During the late 70s to mid 80s their daughter, Nancy, quickly transformed the quiet neighborhood bar/cafe into one of L.A.'s most popular hang outs for the local punk rock scene, politicians, and the Japanese mafia. On any given night you could see the likes of Blondie, The Go-Go's, Devo, X, Warhol, David Byrne, or Bowie sitting down having a bowl of noodles in the company of old Japanese men with full body tattoos. The legendary jukebox played everything from The Germs to Mori Shinichi until 4 in the morning as crazy waitresses would be jumping on top of tables trying to serve food.
Two things stand out in my mind when I think back to the Atomic Cafe: a 45 record of Syd Vicious singing My Way, and the ramen bowls. I'd never had ramen the way they served it. Full of halved hard-boiled eggs, slices of meat, bean sprouts, green onions, you name it, they put it in there. It was the perfect meal after a night of loud music and cheap beer. Unfortunately, the Atomic Cafe closed down in November of 1989.

A little memory... just thought I'd share.