Those were the good days, those riots. The city combusted into a giant firework display that lasted for three days and it was never more exciting. On the first day of Social Panic, I was stuck in my Jeep in Century City, the west side business center of Los Angeles and the apocalypse was now. Panicked drivers were pulling their cars onto the sidewalks trying to circumvent the roads and people looked dazed.
The National Guard was called in and a curfew imposed. I finally made it home after three hours in a drive that normally took twenty minutes to my apartment on the beach. I was in my Jeep with the top off and I had to drive through a black neighborhood to get to my place. I was pelted with objects as I sped down Brooks Avenue. It was super cool.
I arrived home, smoked a joint and went to the roof to see the city with its plumes of smoke dotting its landscape. That night, the Guard rolled in and their tanks overtook the empty boardwalk of Venice. The voltage of the moment made me downright horny.
I was glued to my phone with friends while watching the wall-to-wall TV coverage until I was about to explode. I had to go find some tail but it needed to be geographically close. I called Tim who lived a few blocks away.
We had only known one another from the gym and had flirted a little but we never actually did anything. He was game and I snuck out of my building in the cover of night and walked the short distance to his house, all the while fearing a soldier with a flashlight. My mental preparation for being captured and frisked turned out to be futile.
Tim was a bitter bodybuilder slash artist in his 30s with a shock of prematurely gray hair but luckily politics were not on his mind either. We had an aggressively angry time together and I crept back home. I settled in for the night with the TV on so I could awake at various points to see the riot’s progress.
Yesterday when I heard the verdict read live on radio, it fondly flooded my mind with those memories. The current trial hinged on whether this sixteen-year-old black kid grabbed the officer’s nuts and incited the officer to slam him on the car hood. I saw the videotape. We all did. And we all saw this handsome cop grimace at one point and then slam the kid down. Grimace then slam. If I were in the position of that black kid, I might have even taken the opportunity although my grab wouldn’t have been from anger and I'd like to think it would have made the cop smile.
When I heard the cries for “No Justice, No Peace” on the radio, I oy-veyed but silently wished this city would go up in flames again. The complacency of Los Angeles would be shaken to its core and the fun would begin.
When I met Billy months later after the riots, we started talking about them and I asked what he did during those days.
“It was scary! I just stayed in and watched TV.” he said. “It was so weird. They shut down my office and I got a few days off. It was like a snow day!” I had to agree.