Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Fifth Novel of the Life of Deak -- Deak V 1987: The Final Months

To better understand what is happening in these opening four chapters of the fifth Deak novel, entitled Deak V:  1987: The Final Months, a brief recap of the fourth book in the Deak series is most necessary.  That novel is complete and entitled, Deak IV:  1987: The Early Months.  The fifth novel picks up right where the fourth novel left off in Berlin, Germany on June 12th 1987.  Deak is the LA-based rock musician superstar who is narrating his autobiography.  Deak’s close friends and band mates are Jonesy, Deak’s longtime collaborator and keyboardist; Desmond, aka The Sexadactyl, the twelve fingered drummer and singer; and Compton Ass Terry, Deak’s young black DJ who hails from Compton.  Amongst their adventures in the first six months of 1987 are getting Michael Jackson’s pet chimpanzee Bubbles so geeked on caffeine and sugar that the hyper spastic chimpanzee crashes and destroys all twelve cars on Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch race track.  Then Jonesy writes a rock opera called The Enlightening Son, which they perform at the LA Opera House.  Then Deak and the band mock the glam heavy metal scene on Sunset Strip by transforming themselves into a heavy metal band called Juggernaut and releasing a metal album called Drop Forge Candy.  They construct an actual two storey juggernaut atop an actual tank and perform aboard their juggernaut while slowly rolling up and down Sunset Strip.  As soon as they complete their domination of the Sunset Strip hair metal scene they get bored and move on from it. 
One night in the early spring Deak and his band mates spend a Friday night in Compton, where they bear fearful firsthand witness to the infamous crack fueled violence and the police brutality.  They conclude the night in Compton on an upbeat note, hanging in the studio with young Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and the rest of Niggas With Attitude.  Deak is inspired by the night and quickly records his own hip hop album entitled, White Hoods in the Black Hood, which contains many songs protesting and denouncing racism and police brutality.  Deak and the band give a free concert and throw a block party in Compton’s Ellerman Park to celebrate the album’s release.  Daryl Gates, the racist police chief of the LAPD shows up and Deak humiliates him by singing the song Deak had written about Daryl called, ‘Gates’ Face is Whiter.’  Gates is infuriated by the song and its clear inferences and a public outcry goes up from his supporters, which the media agitates.  Very shortly thereafter Deak receives a thinly veiled warning letter from the FBI and he and the band decide to flee to Hawaii for a few weeks to escape the furor. 
Desmond the drummer is also a filmmaker, and while in Hawaii they film his latest movie, an adventure film about a sunken treasure ship and a submarine containing Russian spies called, The Ocean Hole.  Anthony Kiedis and Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers live near Deak in LA and are friends with Deak and the band.   Kiedis and Flea are featured actors in the film, and in the off screen antics.  Deak and Jonesy only have minor roles in the movie so with their free time in Hawaii they write and record a new album called Head Spice.  When they return to Los Angeles there is lingering hostility toward Deak for the incident in Compton so he and the band quickly release Head Spice and escape LA by embarking on a hastily arranged tour to promote the album.  As the tour progresses across the country each band member meets the beautiful woman of his dreams.  First Deak meets Katrina in Denver and she joins the band on tour; Jonesy meets Mona in Detroit and she joins them on tour; Larry, their manager, meets Faye in Cleveland, and she joins them on tour; Compton Ass Terry meet Jheri Curl in New Orleans and she joins them on tour; and Desmond meets Annalise in Boston and she joins them on tour.

The tour moves to Europe, and Deak and the band are scheduled to perform a sold out arena in Berlin on the night of June 12th, 1987.  President Ronald Reagan is in Berlin that same day to deliver his famous ‘tear down this wall’ speech.  Reagan is paranoid that Deak will counter his afternoon speech with a public response and mockery of Reagan at Deak’s show that night, so Reagan invites Deak to perform at a presidential luncheon at the American Embassy before the speech.  Deak eagerly accepts the invitation intending to denounce Reagan to his face but the band never gets to perform.  It turns out that Katrina, Mona, Annalise, Jheri Curl and Faye are all CIA agents who were on a mission to monitor Deak and the band and to lead them to Reagan.  (When scheduling the hastily organized tour, Deak’s girlfriend Katrina specifically requested that they plan to be in Berlin on June 12th so she could attend a family reunion.)  Upon arriving at the U.S. Embassy. Deak, Desmond, Jonesy, Compton Ass Terry and Larry are all locked in a secret room deep in the U.S. Embassy, where they sit at the moment the fifth installment of Deak’s life story commences.

Deak V 1987: The Final Months 

Chapter 1 - The Untimely Death of Mortimer Jones
Chapter 2 - The Thug Life Unicorn Posse
Chapter 3 - The Ocean Hole Premiere
Chapter 4 - The First Annual Wrightwood Unicorn Parade

Chapter 1
The Untimely Death of Mortimer Jones

Compton Ass Terry, Larry, Jonesy, Desmond and I were locked in a secure room in the U.S. Embassy in Berlin for hours, drinking German beer, watching movies, lamenting the horrible ugly truth about our beautiful and suddenly ex girlfriends, cursing Reagan and his henchmen and wondering the time and manner of our release.  Our liberty was abruptly restored to us in the middle of the night.  Three government agents unlocked the door and ordered us out.  They were sternly polite but never threatening.  They escorted us down a flight of stairs into the basement, where we entered a tunnel.  It seemed like we had walked three blocks under the city of Berlin when we finally reached a door which opened into the night.  An idling black van was parked there; the side door of the van slid open and we were brusquely instructed to enter. 
The tinted windows of the van thickened the darkness.  The driver and his passenger were two men in black who appeared to us like bodiless faces in the night.   As we trundled for several miles they explained that after they dropped us off we were welcome to tell the public the truth about our abduction, to the last detail, but warned that we would likely be perceived as insane or doped up rock stars spouting conspiracy theories; and that the government already had proofs prepared to contradict any such claims; then they further planted the seeds of doubt that such a fantastic false claim in my history could prove permanently damaging to my name, reputation and many revenue streams. 
Right then I didn’t give a whit about any of that; I just wanted to be out of the van and far away from the agents.  They dropped us a about a block from a cab stand on the outskirts of Berlin and sped off into the night.  We immediately hired a taxi to our hotel, where we arrived at five in the morning.  We were in agreement that we wanted to leave Germany at once, and so Larry hastily wrote up and sent out a press release stating that due to personal tragedies we had unfortunately been forced to cancel our Berlin show with no advanced notice.  We apologized profusely and guaranteed that all tickets would be refunded in full; and that we would return in the near future to redress the late cancellation with a free concert.
After all the drama with Reagan and the government agents, and that all five of us were simultaneously licking our bruised hearts over beautiful girlfriends we had genuinely believed we loved, and that they loved us, we were in no humor to finish the tour.  But we pushed on and performed the final two shows, Paris and Barcelona, before hurriedly boarding the Duck and returning to America.  The Duck was the military cargo plane that I had bought and luxuriously refurbished within and painted like a mallard without to transport us on our tours. 
We were never so relieved to be airborne as we were above Europe headed west.  We were all anxious to return home and turn to a fresh page of life.  We had to stop at JFK International Airport in New York City to service and refuel the Duck, so while Larry attended to the airplane, Desmond, Jonesy, Compton Ass Terry and I prepared to spend the afternoon in Manhattan.  Jonesy planned to visit Steinway Hall to look at pianos; Desmond planned to call the girls he knew in New York until he found one available for fun on short notice; Compton Ass Terry was headed to Harlem to say hello to an uncle; and while I was invited to accompany all three, I really just wanted to spend a few hours aimlessly wandering Manhattan alone.
Once inside the airport the four of us made straightway to the bank of pay phones mounted on the wall.  While they were calling their various contacts I noticed a little sticker on the wall above the phones. On it was plainly printed: They Might Be Giants Dial-A-Song, followed by a phone number in Brooklyn.  I was waiting for my mates to make their calls before we ventured into Manhattan together and so I dialed the number and heard the greatest silly little song about a cowtown beneath the sea where the cows live in homes made of bone.  It made no sense but it made me laugh, and was built around one of the catchiest accordion riffs I have ever heard.  So I dialed the number two more times and when the others were ready to head into Manhattan I explained why I was laughing, and had them dial up the song for themselves.
I spent the afternoon sorting my thoughts and clearing my head of Katrina, although my mouth was fouled with the bitter taste of breaking up with yet another girlfriend who had proven to be a phony traitorous liar like the others before her.  Katrina was a heartless government agent among whose talents was expertly faking love, and I wanted to scrape and spit her name off my tongue forever.  My mind was furiously racing and I was walking at an accordingly quick pace, sometimes all but loping the long city blocks.  All the while the ‘Cowtown’ song was lodged like an earwig in my brain.  ‘Cowtown’ was one of those songs that was so silly, upbeat, happy and catchy that even the most sour puss curmudgeon would involuntarily crack a smile upon hearing it.  So as my mind raged at Katrina I bought two dollars in dimes and stopped at several payphones throughout the afternoon and dialed up ‘Cowtown’, which made me chuckle and calm and forget about Katrina for two minutes.  Aided by ‘Cowtown’ and my exhausting, high speed gait, my mind eventually settled somewhat and I was able to start thinking about the songs that I had been writing for our next album, with the working title of Life Beyond Time.
As it was nearing time to return to the airport I stopped for a quick beer in a bar across from Bryant Park.  I had been there barely three minutes when Jonesy wandered in.  I quickly realized that I was just blocks from Jonesy’s Steinway Hall destination.  Jonesy sat down beside me at the bar, grinning from east to west. 
“You look like a pianist who found some keys that tickled his fancy,” I remarked.
He was bursting, and replied, “I just spent half a million dollars on a D-274.” 
“That sounds like a great bargain,” I answered.  “What is a D-274?”
His face suddenly assumed an aspect of sincere shock.  “The D-274 is a grand piano that is the finest concert piano ever crafted by human hands!  You have Les Paul guitars, Stradivarius violins and Steinway D-274s!  They are simply the best, and I now own one.”
I knew he wanted to gush so I toasted him with my beer and encouraged him.  “Tell me about your new baby.”
“The wood is satin laminated maple and the instrument sits atop four huge, ornately carved mahogany legs.  They are going to burnish the maple so that it tapers to my favorite color orange around the sides.  The hammer felts are constructed of tightly woven Chinese silk harvested from a northeastern mountainous region where life for the silkworm is particularly peaceful, and the clime particularly perfect for piano felt silk, and so these felts absorb each hammer strike with pitch perfect precision.  The bench is burnt orange mahogany to match the massive piano legs; the bench top is Italian marble and the sides of the legs are finely inlaid with mother of pearl.  Overall the piano and bench are covered with thousands of Swarovski crystals and notwithstanding the music it eventually produces, the instrument itself is already a masterwork of art.”
“She sounds gorgeous, how is she in bed?” I drily inquired.
“Even better than she looks,” he replied with a laugh.  “The keys respond to the fingertips as if under command.  The feel and the sound are beyond phenomenal.”
“I’ll have to play it for myself,” I suggested.
“I can’t wait until you do,” Jonesy responded.   “In a sense you paid for it—I wouldn’t have been able to afford half a million for a piano if I wasn’t in your band.”
I demurred by replying, “And our recordings and concerts wouldn’t be so successful without your musical contributions and production skills, so you’ve earned every penny.  Where are you going to keep it?”
“It’s probably going to cost another twenty thousand, but when you’re spending half a million on the finest grand piano on earth what’s another few grand in moving expenses?”  Jonesy rhetorically asked then sipped his beer and explained.  “I am going to stand it in the second floor solarium, so I’m planning on renting a crane, having two of the massive window panes removed and most carefully hoisting it through.  They were already shipping two other pianos to California tomorrow, so they’re going to include mine and it should be finished and delivered sometime this weekend.”
“That’s marvelous, I’m happy for you.”
We clinked glasses and sipped.
“What did you do with your afternoon?” he asked.
“I cursed Katrina while thinking about songs for our next album and I’ve had that ‘Cowtown’ in my head since I first dialed it at the airport.  It was cathartic,” I replied.
“Yes, my mind has had a few unkind things to say about Mona all day,” Jonesy added.
I pulled out a handful of dimes and held them out to Jonesy.  “Go listen to ‘Cowtown’ again.  I’ve listened to it twenty four times already.  The number is 718 387 6962.  I want to translate some of that spirit, that playful silliness and joy for joy’s sake onto the new album, and it will distract you from Mona for a few moments.”
He did so and returned.  He was smiling and said, “’Cowtown’ is brilliant!  That accordion riff will sound amazing on the D-274!”
I noted the time and said, “We should get back to the Duck.  After all this I really can’t wait to be in my own bed again.”
As we finished our drinks and paid the tab, Jonesy said, “Thanks again for everything, including the D-274.  People often regret not saying things, and I don’t want to be one of those people.”
“The love reciprocates, be assured,” I answered, “and always will.”
Chilled gooseflesh spread all over my body as we gripped hands and shared a brief chest bump of a hug.  Then we walked the few blocks to Grand Central Station and boarded the subway.  Back at JFK airport in Queens we found Compton Ass Terry and Larry awaiting us at the private boarding area.
“Desmond called the airport and had me paged,” Larry explained.  “He won’t be joining us, but he will meet us in Los Angeles in a couple days.  He said he has two dates lined up.”
“Well, it didn’t take him long to get over Annalise!” I remarked.
“Actually, it took him longer than I thought it would,” Jonesy replied. 
We all shared a laugh then boarded the Duck and flew home to Los Angeles.

My groundskeeper and live in personal assistant Pierre was there to greet us at Easytown, my Laurel Canyon mansion.  He explained that the anti-Deak public sentiment had finally subsided and faded into yesterday’s news; and that the radio stations were regularly playing several tracks from Head Spice.  I was immensely relieved and then he handed me a large brown envelope. 
“A very attractive woman stopped by twice while you were away and left this,” Pierre explained.  “She wants to write your biography or to make a documentary about your life or both, and I must say that if I wasn’t a queen to the core I’d let her document me in a heartbeat.  She is smoking!  And let me tell you that sister looks dynamite in her designer clothes!”
I opened the envelope and removed a head shot, a one page proposal and her phone number.  Her name was Jayna Gillette, she was gorgeous and I had every intention of calling her the next day.  I did just that and we went on a date in the afternoon.  I told her how I had written the first three volumes of my autobiography while in traction for two months after Tzarina and Frank Sinatra pushed me off the third storey of the ironworks of a partially constructed hotel in Las Vegas and I broke my back when I crashed through the roof of the site foreman’s trailer while he and a bottle of oil were engaged with two naked women.  I went on to explain that since then I had been in the habit of writing my life out as it unfolded but that I was very open to her filming a documentary.  Since I had the songs ready I was ready to start recording my next album any day, and a video recording of the process of my songs entering the studio in my head and exiting on vinyl could make a nice film; or at the very least we could have file footage for later use in videos.  She could have told me she wanted to make a time lapse movie tracking the growth of my toe nails and I would have said yes; as it was we agreed that she could randomly film me and the band during our daily interactions, and in the studio as we rehearsed and recorded our next album, which I was ready to start working on the moment Desmond reappeared from New York.  That first date with Jayna lasted two days and following that she and her camera were a fixture at Easytown and by my side.
Desmond returned from New York three days later with a beautiful woman on his arm.  Her name was Renata and she was a leggy blonde model who aspired to become an actress, and she had come west to try her luck in Hollywood.  Since Desmond lived with me at Easytown, when he arrived home, he and Renata simply stopped in the living room where Jayna and I we were working and playing. 
“Welcome home,” I said.  “This is Jayna Gillette.”
“And this is my new friend Renata Rivoli.”  After introductions he continued, “So what’s popping in your hopper?”
“Jayna wants to make a documentary about us and since I’ve written a batch of songs for a new album I want to get to work in the studio and Jayna is going to film a documentary of our creative process.”
“And my drums and I are at the ready and at your disposal,” Desmond replied.  “You can play me the new songs or give me demos any time and I’ll be good to go.  So we just finalized the date and The Ocean Hole is opening in theaters three weeks from Saturday.   My friend Eddie Flicker the film editor completed the final edit while we were on tour and it looks fantastic.  We have arranged for a gala premier at Grauman’s Theater the night it opens and we want everyone there.  I’m also just about finished with a new script called The Thug Life Unicorn Posse and I’ll be ready to cast and film soon—when I have free time from making the new album, of course.”
“That sounds great!” I replied.  “I can’t wait to see the film, and after we tell Kiedis and Flea and spread the word at the Kitty we’ll fill that theater and then party all night!”
“Exactly my thinking,” Desmond concurred. 
He and Renata disappeared into his bedroom while Jayna and I returned to our play.

On Friday night Jonesy called and invited me to his house in the morning.  His new piano was being delivered and he wanted me to help him install it—and naturally to show it off.  I told him I’d be there, and that I planned to play him the new songs, which we could use to christen the piano.  I also told him about Jayna and the documentary and that I would also be bringing her along.
Jayna and I drove to Jonesy’s mansion two miles away and found it abuzz with activity.  There was a crane and movers all busily fawning over the most exquisite piano I had ever seen.  There were so many Swarovski crystals gleaming in the sun that it was actually blinding to look upon, and I had to shield my gaze and look askance.  Two massive window panes of the second floor solarium had been removed and laid off to the side on the lawn and the workers were busy attaching the piano to the crane with ropes and chains.  Jonesy came right over to Jayna and me and breathlessly asked, “Do you see the D-274?  Did I exaggerate in the least?”
“No you did not!” I replied, staring in awe.  “That is the most phenomenal piano I have ever seen.”
“Just wait till you play it!” he exclaimed.  “I’ve dreamed of this day all my life, and for years thought it would never be more than a dream.”
“I’m really happy for you,” I answered.
Then Jayna started filming while Jonesy and I joked around for the camera.  We watched as the crane carefully hoisted the piano to the massive opening in the second floor window.  Several movers inside Jonesy’s solarium were carefully pulling the piano into the opening and untying the ropes and chains when two of men shouted simultaneously and we watched as the piano teetered on the edge of the opening then suddenly plummeted to the ground.  Jayna turned her camera on the movers when they screamed, and so captured video of the grand piano’s catastrophic plunge onto the stone patio below.  At that moment Jonesy shrieked in horror and Jayna involuntarily turned the camera to his face, so that she also filmed the very moment an F sharp key from the piano, which had been launched like a projectile when the D-274 crashed and smashed, pierced Jonesy’s left eye like a bullet.  I knew he was dead before he hit the ground and we watched in horror as he crumpled into a heap.
What followed was pandemonium that my mind has largely blanked out.  Emergency personnel reached the scene almost immediately but Jonesy was already cold and changing color as the spirit departed his body.  After he had been carried away, and the police had filed their report, the crowd dispersed and Jayna accompanied me back to Easytown and consoled my loss of one of the best friends I have ever been fortunate enough to have enter my life. 
We mourned Jonesy and several days later memorialized and said goodbye to our dear friend. 

Chapter 2
The Thug Life Unicorn Posse

Following that I was musically lost for a week or so.  I tried to write a requiem for Jonesy, but couldn’t even find the sorrowful inspiration for that.  I was still ready to record the new album, and Jonesy would have wanted us to proceed without him, but without him I felt somewhat musically lost.  His musicianship complemented mine in many ways I’d long since taken for granted.  After a few listless days hanging around with Jayna I even advertised and conducted impromptu auditions at the Pretty Kitty and quickly had a line of three hundred plus men and women wrapped around the block who wanted to play keyboards in my band.  I convinced myself that the doldrums I was festering in had also infected my ear drums, because nobody sounded good enough.
Throughout the days of mourning Jonesy I had been dialing They Might Be Giants’ Dial-A-Song several times every day.  They had a constantly changing and fresh supply of brilliantly silly songs ranging in subject matter from my beloved Cowtown to purple toupees, to shoehorns with teeth, to standing on your head to youth culture slaughtering dogs.  I never knew what to expect, was always entertained and impressed with their musicianship, and had a smile on my face every time I hung up the phone. 
One afternoon, after calling Dial-A-Song and chuckling to a They Might Be Giants song about the world’s address, I decided to leave a message after the tone.  I simply told them my name and number, assuming that my fame had reached their ears, if not my music itself.  An hour later I received a phone call from John Flansburgh.
“Are you the real Deak or is this some prank?” he skeptically asked.
“I’m the real deal,” I replied.  “I saw your Dial-A-Song number in Kennedy Airport a couple weeks ago and have been calling several times every day since.  I absolutely love your clever little songs.”
“Thank you so much,” he answered, “but could you first prove you’re not a prank and sing one of your songs?”  I quickly crooned my way through his test and he cried, “Oh my God!  It really is you!  I’m flattered and honored that you like our music, is that the reason you left a message?”
“Who is in your band, anyway?” I asked. 
“It’s just me and my friend who’s also named John,” John explained. “We live in different apartments in the same building.    He plays accordion, keyboards and saxophone while I play guitar and a few other instruments.  We write and record the songs in my apartment using a drum machine and an old four track recorder.”
“Your work is brilliant,” I complimented.  “So the reason I called is that my keyboard player and bassist named Jonesy recently died in a tragic accident.”
“Of course I know who Jonesy is!  I have your albums!  Oh my God!  He’s dead?” John asked in shock.  “I hadn’t heard…when did that happen?  He was actually one of John’s favorite keyboardists.” 
“Almost two weeks ago,” I answered.  “I have a new album ready to record but a gaping hole in my band.  Jonesy would want us to make the new album, and we want to do so to honor him, and to dedicate it to him, but none of the musicians I’ve been auditioning are producing the sound I’m seeking.  I even told Jonesy when we were in New York City that I wanted to capture the spirit of your light hearted sound on my next album, and since I’ve been dialing in and listening to your songs every day, and since you are the musicians whose musical happy moods are currently inspiring me, I thought I’d offer to fly you out to Los Angeles to audition for me.  You could be honored guests in my mansion for a few days or a week, and indefinitely if I invite you to work with us.  If not, I am a gracious host and you could spend a week out here relaxing or doing whatever you like before I paid your fare home.  That is why I called.”
He was clearly excited.  “Well let me say on behalf of John that if you are sincere we are there.”
“Fantastic, and thank you,” I replied.  “Since I know I am sincere I’ll plan on seeing you soon.  My manager Larry will call you later today; he handles all travel and other such arrangements for me.  We record in my ten bedroom Laurel Canyon mansion, so if all works out as I’m hoping, you two can each have your own bedroom for at least as long as we need to make the album.”
“Well let me say fantastic and thank you too!” John excitedly answered. “I’ve never even dreamed of jamming with the likes of you!  Wow…I’m flabbergasted and floored!  I’ve always wanted to visit Los Angeles!  This is going to be amazing! I can’t wait!”
Two days later Pierre fetched John and John from LAX and an hour later they were standing in my kitchen.  Their names were John Flansburgh and John Linnell.  John Flansburgh was holding a guitar and John Linnell his accordion.  They immediately presented me with two cassettes that contained their complete works to date.  I thanked them profusely and promised to cherish the tapes, which I did.
John Flansburgh’s most distinguishing features were his square haircut and horn rimmed glasses; John Linnell’s were his skinniness and uncontrollably wavy hair.  They were very polite and humble and gracious.  Desmond came downstairs with Renata while Pierre carried their bags up to their rooms.  A few minutes later Desmond, Renata, Jayna and I pointed out their rooms when we gave them a tour of the mansion, including the Enchanted Tower, which at the time was being rented by David Bowie for a few days.  I explained that the massive tower and rear entrance had been built around the master bedroom, which was haunted by the ghosts of gay lovers who groped and satisfied every man who set foot therein.  I further elaborated how Elton John had spent several million dollars refurbishing the back corner of my mansion into a Mecca for queens called the Enchanted Tower, and how there were gay celebrities coming and going without my knowing every day and night.
Both Johns were surprised and amazed to hear that David Bowie was just a few feet away on the opposite side of the wall.  They marveled at the gold plated and bejeweled house entrance to the Enchanted Tower, and then we returned downstairs to the studio. 
“Shall we see what happens?” I suggested, pointing to the instruments.  Pierre had already carried in John’s guitar and John’s accordion and saxophone.  I strapped on a bass, Desmond manned his drums, John Flansburgh tuned his guitar and John Linnell stretched his accordion.  Jayna and Renata sat on the couch and watched.  That was at noon.  We started playing and didn’t notice the time until it was about eight, by which time they had long since passed the auditions and won places in my new lineup.  Pierre brought us drinks and noshes, and Renata and Jayna, who was filming, kept saying how great we sounded, which we did.  We played a mix of my songs, new and old, as well as numerous They Might Be Giants songs, most of which I requested.  We still had to introduce them to Compton Ass Terry, but Desmond and I knew that their getting on well was a foregone conclusion.
Throughout the day during breaks we learned that John and John had gone to high school together in Massachusetts where they were friends.  Upon graduation they went separate ways—Linnell went to university for a semester to study English then dropped out to pursue his music; and Flansburgh had gone to three different universities and finished with an art degree.  They were reunited after several years one afternoon when they moved into the same Brooklyn apartment building, unbeknownst to each other.  They considered it more than coincidence, renewed their friendship and started making music.  That was a couple years before, and they had built a small following in Brooklyn and on their Dial-A-Song line.
It was around eight when Desmond suggested, “Hey John, that last part sounded great, but if you could jump in with me when I syncopate just before the fourth beat after the bridge, that would sound tight.”
“I can do that,” John Linnell answered.
“Do you mean when I hit the open E chord?” John Flansburgh answered at the same time.
“That’s it!” Desmond exclaimed.  “Every time I say the name John you both turn and start talking.  It’s driving me nuts!”  He looked at John Linnell and declared, “From now on you are Skinny John.”  Then he turned to John Flansburgh and proclaimed, “And you are Flat Top John.  Any objections?”
They both laughed and shook their heads.
“I am skinny,” Skinny John agreed.
“And I do have a flat top,” Flat Top John concurred.
“Then that’s settled.  And one more thing,” Desmond announced.  We all looked at him expectantly.  “There is one thing distinctly missing from this room…actually, two things.”  He waited while we all looked around at each other trying to understand what he meant.  He finally continued: “There are four men in this room and only two chicks.  We have to restore the balance and find Skinny and Flat Top a couple of girlfriends pronto!”
“A girlfriend sounds good!” Skinny John exclaimed.
“I could go for a girlfriend!” Flat Top John added.
“Why don’t we call it a jam and head down to the Kitty?” Desmond suggested.  “Compton Ass Terry is deejaying tonight, so we can introduce him to Skinny and Flat Top and then find these two a couple of girlfriends.  I’ve also finished writing my next screenplay so I want to see what everyone thinks about my ideas for the next film over a brainstorming session.”
“What is the Kitty?” Skinny John asked.
“We own a club on Sunset Strip called the Pretty Kitty,” I explained. “It’s our hangout, night club, occasional stage and groupie training school all in one.”
Everyone agreed with the plan, so we went our ways into my mansion to get ready for a night out and an hour later we were seated at the VIP table at the Pretty Kitty.  Desmond sat at the center of the table with Renata and held court.  “As you all know The Ocean Hole opens this Saturday and I know you will all be there.  I’ve seen the final edit; it is tight and sweet.  This is going to be one of the biggest films of summer ’87!  But I’m already on to the next one—he who doesn’t take the extra step to stay ahead quickly falls two behind.  I have just put the finishing touches on my latest screenplay, a horror comedy called The Thug Life Unicorn Posse.  I want to start casting and rehearsing next week so let me tell you the story.”  At this moment he looked at John and John, who were trying to look relaxed but were clearly intimidated as they quietly paid attention to their drinks.  Desmond glanced at Skinny and Flat Top then interrupted himself.  “Give me a few minutes and I’ll be back to tell you about the next film.”  He slid out of the booth and entered the standing crowd. 
The Pretty Kitty was pretty packed; there were over 300 people inside the club, the vast majority of whom seemed to be very attractive women.  Desmond slowly circulated the crowd, and I think spent at least a few moments chatting with every woman in the club while we carried on in conversation about the day’s successful creation of a new band and how well we all meshed musically.  Desmond was gone wandering the club for almost an hour before he returned with a beautiful blonde on one arm and a gorgeous brunette on the other.  Then he introduced the girls.  “Ginny, this is Skinny John, and my feeling is that you two would enjoy each other.  And Wanda, this is Flat Top John and I believe you two to be suited to each other too.”
Ginny sat down with Skinny John and the two quickly fell to sitting close and chatting quietly.  Wanda and Flat Top John did the same on the other side of the enormous booth.  Desmond returned to his seat of prominence with Renata by his side and resumed telling us about his next film.  The Ocean Hole is going to be a huge hit and we have to be ready with a follow up.  I have just finished writing that script and it is called The Thug Life Unicorn Posse.  I’m not going to hesitate to blow my own horn and say this film is going to be great.  About the only good thing to come from my time with Annalise was seeing her tattoo which inspired the story.  Lying, treacherous harpy that she is, she does sport the greatest tattoo I have ever seen: it is a small unicorn’s smiling face between her thighs in just such a place and position that the unicorn can grow a beard whenever Annalise decides not to shave.  Above the unicorn are tattooed the words: THUG LIFE.  It is the funniest tattoo ever and I giggled uncontrollably every time I saw it. 
“So I got to thinking how actual thug unicorns might behave and the script sprang to life in my imagination.  The film’s logline is: bloodthirsty, beer swilling unicorns terrorize the town of Chester.  The film opens on a shot of a sad rhinoceros in his cage at the zoo.  A lightning bolt smashes the wall of his pen and he breaks out and gains his freedom.  He wanders around Chester until he comes to the horse racing track.  He wanders into the stable where all the fillies are stalled, and proceeds to mount and hump every last one.  A few months later a pack of very colorful, wild and dangerous unicorns is born.
“One night two of the frisky young unicorns make their way to the back of Charlie’s Bar, where they discover a stack of beer cases containing empty bottles.  Some of the bottles still have beer and swill left in them, so the unicorns start sniffing excitedly, then tearing open the beer cases and draining the dregs of the half empty bottles.  They get euphorically drunk and tear through the beer cases anxiously craving more.  The owner of the bar is Charlie, and while the unicorns are being intoxicated by their glorious first taste of beer, Charlie is at the bar talking to Earl, his hunter friend and a regular.  Toward the end of the night Charlie brings a bag of trash out the back door of his bar and sees the unicorns playing in the trees.  They look right at him then carry on drunkenly romping.  Charlie returns inside and tells Earl that he thought he’d just seen a couple of unicorns, and Earl replies that he’ll keep his eyes out for them when he goes hunting in the morning.  Earl does go hunting early and does come across the unicorns in the woods and he shoots one.  The unicorn falls to the ground and Earl rushes from hiding to inspect his kill.  But unicorn horns have healing powers, and one of the wounded unicorn’s friends heals its bullet wound with a magical touch of his horn.  The angry unicorns surround Earl and then gore him and feast on the blood and beer that gushes from the gashes in his gut. 
“That night the unicorns return and hide in the trees behind Charlie’s Bar and gore two more bulging beer bellied patrons when they leave out the back door of the bar.  The television news covered the story of Earl’s mysterious death in the woods throughout the day.  Then a family is driven from their home by two unicorns, other unicorns are witnessed goring the two drunks to death behind Charlie’s bar and panic spreads like wild fire.   By emergency order the entire town of Chester evacuates immediately.  At this point in the film there is a great overhead shot of the traffic jam on the way out of Chester while just a couple of cars are trickling into town. 
“The few people driving into Chester are the intrepid unicorn hunters, brave souls who for a variety of reasons have decided to put themselves in grave danger in the hope of capturing a unicorn or cutting off one’s horn.  Amongst the unicorn hunters are Elmore and his 18 year old daughter Vicky, who has always dreamed of having her own unicorn and daddy is trying to fulfill her wish.  Randy and Mandy are a young couple who want a unicorn horn because they believe that drinking from a hollowed and inverted unicorn horn acts as an aphrodisiac. Big Eddie and his son Irwin are father and son big game hunters who want to mount a unicorn on their wall of trophies.  Gabe, Preston and Jarvis are three guys in their twenties who are going to try to capture a unicorn for unnamed wealthy Asian buyers.  Also driving into Chester are Jack and Calvin, two federal agents sent by the government to investigate the reported unicorn maulings. 
“After the whole town has fled, Charlie’s Bar has no business, so as the few cars driving into Chester pass by Charlie’s Bar, the camera shows a large ‘Closed For Renovations’ sign hanging across front.  As they drive through town the unicorn hunters also see the destruction the unicorns have wrought in search of beer—there are broken windows and doors and empty beer bottles and cans scattered throughout Chester, and random cars stranded with punctured tires.  Big Eddie and Irwin pitch a tent in the woods, the federal agents retire to government provided safe house and the rest all rent rooms at the Chester Inn, where they gather. 
“The Chester Inn is owned and operated by Albert Woogle and his two pretty daughters, Adrianna and Nella.  Albert is a very large, intimidating and domineering man.  There are ten or twelve actual hitching posts lined up before the Chester Inn, and Albert issues a stern warning that anyone who is caught with unicorn bait inside the hotel, and by unicorn bait he means beer or blood, will be tied to one of the hitching posts and doused in their bait.  For romantic interests Albert’s beautiful daughters inflame the hearts of Gabe, Preston and Jarvis, and vice versa.  Albert notices this and warns that anyone caught doing anything he disapproves will also be tied to one of the hitching posts and doused in unicorn bait.
“The next morning the unicorn hunt begins, and the first victims are Big Eddie and Irwin, the father son big game hunters who camp for the night in the woods.  They decide to try and capture a unicorn with a large net, so they leave some bait beer and a cup of blood on the ground between two large trees, then each take an end of the large net and climb one of the trees.  Big Eddie doesn’t see the unicorn in the tree above him until it startles him so suddenly that he falls from the tree and is speared in the crotch by the unicorn waiting below.  Another unicorn scares Irwin out of his tree onto an upward pointed horn below, then the unicorns feast on Big Eddie and Irwin and party up with the bait beer and blood.
“That cuts to another scene of other unicorns that destroy the house where the federal agents Jack and Calvin are staying, and their car, and chase them away on foot.  Jack and Calvin run to the Chester Inn and rent rooms and stay safely indoors while everyone else hunts for the unicorns.  In the meantime Charlie has big plans.  He is renovating his bar into a brew pub, and he befriends the unicorns by feeding them his homemade raspberry lambic beer.  Charlie has found investors and already acquired the pasture behind the bar, so his plan is to turn the bar into an overpriced restaurant with window views of the unicorns living happy drunken lives in the field behind the bar.  The unicorns do not fear Charlie, nor do they attack him; but rather grow to trust him as a friend thanks to his steady supply of beer.
“Back at the Chester Inn and the unicorn hunt, Gabe, Preston and Jarvis, the three guys about our ages, are interested in the innkeeper Albert’s daughters Nella and Adrianna; and the girls reciprocate, although Nella likes Preston and Adrianna likes Jarvis, sticking Gabe in the lurch as the two couples make plans for a midnight tryst.  The girls also inform Preston and Jarvis that the girls’ father Albert has been overcome with greed and joined the unicorn hunt. 
“Randy and Mandy return to the Chester Inn from the day’s hunt and smuggle a bunch of beers into their room inside Mandy’s oversized handbag and Randy’s duffel.  They want to enjoy a few beers before bed.  As they are drinking beer two unicorns tap their horns on the bedroom window, then Albert knocks at the door, and Randy and Mandy become the first two people tied to the hitching posts.  Later that night Albert catches Preston and Jarvis trying to sneak into Nella and Adrianna’s rooms and they end up tied to the hitching posts next to Randy and Mandy.  While the four are bemoaning their fates tied to hitching posts drenched head to toe in beer and blood while waiting to be gored by unicorns, Gabe pulls up in Jarvis’ car and sarcastically salutes them on his way out of town. 
“Vicky’s boyfriend Buddy arrives in Chester.  She thinks he’s there to take her away but he’s actually come to join the hunt.  Elmore welcomes Buddy’s help, and they decide to dig a pit in the ground and camouflage it with branches and leaves and hope to trap a unicorn that way.  While walking through the woods they come upon a pile of rainbow colored unicorn dung.  Figuring the unicorns have obviously been there, that’s where they decide to dig their pit.
“Back at the hotel, Jack and Calvin, the federal agents, have slept in because of their terrifying ordeal the previous day.  When they wander into the lobby about noon, they have no intention of going outside to look for the unicorns.  Nella and Adrianna are behind the desk, and feeling mischievous, and since their psycho father Albert has just rushed off to join the hunt, they invite Jack and Calvin to their rooms for a little afternoon delight.  At that moment Albert is walking in the woods when he finally finds a unicorn that appears to have its horn stuck in the low crook in a tree.  Albert races back to the hotel for a saw to cut the horn free and catches Jack and Calvin with his daughters.  He ties them to the hitching posts next to Randy, Mandy, Jarvis and Preston and then races back into the woods with a hacksaw in hand. 
“Albert returns to the unicorn with its horn fixed in the tree only to find that it was a ruse.  The unicorn had faked it, and quickly stepped away from the tree and turned toward Albert, snorting.  The unicorn is joined by three friends hiding nearby in the trees, and they gore Albert and feast.  The scene then shifts to Elmore, Vicky and Buddy, and their camouflage pit, which manages to catch not one but two unicorns who were walking together and fell through the trap.  Elmore and Buddy rush from hiding to look down into the pit.  While they are looking down two more unicorns sneak up from behind and push Elmore and Buddy into the pit, where they land on the unicorn horns that are positioned like upright spikes.  The unicorns help their friends out of the pit, along with the corpses of Elmore and Buddy, and the four feast while Vicky shrieks in horror and sprints into the trees. 
“The scene returns to Randy, Mandy, Preston, Jarvis, Jack and Calvin tied up to the hitching posts.  The scent of beer has worked as bait, and three unicorns have appeared, and are sizing them up while slowly approaching.  Randy pleads with a unicorn who is closing in on him with its horn lowered; the unicorn ignores Randy’s pleas and gores him and he dies.  Another unicorn approaches Preston in the same menacing manner; Preston also pleads for his life and is also gored to death.  Nella and Adrianna are looking on and the agitated unicorns are preparing to freak out while everyone else is preparing to die when suddenly the air is filled with the pleasant strains of ice cream truck music.
“Everyone pauses, including the unicorns, and looks toward the sound where they see Charlie slowly approaching on a rainbow colored tractor with a brightly painted horn for a hood ornament and towing a low, long and wide flatbed trailer with a U-shaped trough built onto it.  A spigot within Charlie’s reach behind the tractor seat fills the trough with the unicorns’ favorite cherry lambic beer.  The full herd of twelve unicorns gathers from all directions and very peacefully mount the trailer and begin drinking beer.
“Adrianna and Nella get the keys from the office and release Mandy, Jarvis, Jack and Calvin from the hitching posts and they all follow Charlie to his bar, which has been renamed, Charlie’s Brew-B-Q and Unicornutopia.  Charlie drives the unicorns into the fenced pasture behind his bar and restaurant.  The unicorns dismount the trailer and wander toward the ‘beerigation’ system Charlie has installed to feed little stone fountains around the meadow.  He then gently closes the gate, locking the unicorns into their beer and blood saturated pasture, and joins everyone inside for the grand opening of his restaurant and Unicornutopia.  In the end Charlie hooks up with Vicky, Jack connects with Adrianna and Calvin ends up with Nella as they all watch the unicorns through the window.  The end.”
“Is that not the greatest unicorn movie ever written?” Renata exclaimed.  She was positively bursting with excitement about the film, and rightly so.
“That is the greatest unicorn story I have ever heard,” I sincerely responded.  “That would be gorgeous translated to the big screen and the public would absolutely flock to see a great unicorn movie.  Plus many parts are just hysterical.”
Skinny John and Flat Top John had spent the whole time engrossed with Ginny and Wanda, and had not heard a word Desmond said.  Desmond decided to razz them.  “So what did you think, Skinny John?  I was thinking you could play Jarvis.  And what about you, Flat Top?  You’d be a perfect Preston, don’t you agree?”
He had interrupted both of them and neither knew what he was talking about.  We all laughed. 
“If Preston plays guitar, then I can play Preston, whoever he is,” Flat Top John fumbled to answer.
“Jarvis sounds cool,” Skinny John answered.
“Neither of you heard a word I just said, did you?” Desmond asked.
They sheepishly shook their heads and mumbled that they hadn’t.
“And well you should not have!” Desmond shouted.  “With those babes on your arms, if your priorities were otherwise I’d question whether I really want to play with you again!  And who am I to set you up with an irresistible distraction and then complain that you’re distracted.  Here’s to Skinny John and Ginny! And to Flat Top John and Wanda!”  The whole table toasted John and Ginny and John and Wanda; all four relaxed and smiled and looked as happy as could be.  “You are the exact ages, and will make an excellent Jarvis and a marvelous Preston.  I’ll give you copies of the script later!”
Compton Ass Terry got a break from the DJ booth and joined us to meet the Johns.  Within moments after meeting they were getting on like lifelong friends, and we carried on after the Kitty closed back to Easytown and late into the early morning.

Note:  I wrote a full length screenplay of the story described in The Thug Life Unicorn Posse, and was also inspired by the tattoo.  See both here.  

Chapter 3
The Ocean Hole Premiere

The premier of The Ocean Hole was two days hence, and bittersweet as it approached, inasmuch as our dear friend who played in the film and helped compose the music was recently deceased.  And yet all we could hear was Jonesy saying that the music was the most important thing and must carry on forever.  John and John were both at ease and comfortable staying in Easytown, and we had decided to hire them to play on my next album, for which I would pay them a most generous session rate plus a reasonable piece of every sale.  Compton Ass Terry, Desmond and I all loved playing with them, and having them around, and so we immediately began rehearsing and recording the songs that would become Life Beyond Time.    
It also turned out that Desmond had actually been conducting serious interviews when he questioned every woman in the Kitty before picking Ginny and Wanda to introduce to John and John.  Ginny’s parents were music professors and she had studied classical piano before dropping out of school to pursue a music career in the more entertaining and enjoyable realm of rock and roll.  Desmond had paired her with Skinny John, who he knew had studied English for one semester before dropping out to pursue a music career in the more entertaining and enjoyable realm of rock and roll.  Desmond had paired Wanda and Flat Top John wisely as well.  He had attained an art degree and she was an accomplished artist. 
John and John eased right into life at the mansion and we immediately started rehearsing and recording Life Beyond Time.  There was a really nice balance in the studio for as we worked on the songs we each had a girlfriend sitting in on the sessions—Jayna, Renata, Ginny and Wanda.  As work progressed on Life Beyond Time we all settled into routines.  We recorded for about ten hours a day—from ten in the morning till eight—and every evening, rather than hanging out with us, John and John went off into the LA night with Ginny and Wanda.  They were driven to succeed, and determined to make the most of the opportunity I had afforded them, and so they spent their evenings working on They Might Be Giants songs and playing impromptu gigs and open mic nights at coffee houses.  When they weren’t busy entertaining their new girlfriends or small audiences, they were writing songs for a concept album called Grains.  The songs were thematically related and included such titles as, ‘Sand’, ‘Wheat Germ’, ‘Dust’, ‘Mite’, ‘Eye Crud’, ‘Spotted Speck’, ‘Star Scatter’ ‘Schmutz’  and so forth.  We played and recorded some of their songs along with mine during the sessions, and were among the members of several of their highly entertained audiences of They Might Be Giants’ impromptu tour of Sunset Strip’s smaller clubs and cafes.
Opening night of The Ocean Hole arrived and we all dressed up and went to Grauman’s for the premiere.   The Ocean Hole was the film that we made in Hawaii earlier that spring, when we retreated there to escape the controversy we had stirred up in Los Angeles and nationwide. 
The Ocean Hole told the story of a sunken treasure ship, Russian spies in a submarine and a pirate ship of Amazon women while showcasing Desmond’s surfing prowess in the legendary monster waves of Waimea Bay in Hawaii.  Anthony Kiedis and Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers both attended the premier and played in the film; Kiedis was a surf shop owner who helped Desmond and Flea portrayed one of the two Russian spies.  Desmond starred as the surfer dude who fell in love with Kaimana, a local Hawaiian beauty who was descended directly from the famous King Kamehameha.  The apparition of King Kamehameha appeared in the movie, and was played by Compton Ass Terry.
It was locally known around Waimea Bay that there was a three hundred year old sunken ship full of gold resting in the crater of a dead underwater volcanic crater about two miles offshore, and which opening had partially crusted and closed over.  Because of currents and squid ink the volcano was always inaccessible but for every once in a great rare while when a perfect confluence of conditions made the volcano briefly vulnerable to human visitation.  When there was a super low tide combined with a low pressure storm system coming from the west, the waters stirred and whirled until the cenote that has formed across the top of the volcanic crater was accessible at the bottom of a massive, violently churning maelstrom.  This was the part of the film where Desmond showed off his surfing skills.  He and Kaimana surfed in tandem to descend the maelstrom by attaching themselves each to the end of a rope, and pulling it closer as they dropped.  After a long scene of their ballet like descent down the maelstrom they drop safely into the hollow of the volcano.
There they discover the ship has been looted, and that all the gold has been loaded into a submarine docked in an underwater air pocket.  They encountered Flea, the Russian spy and submarine admiral, along with his beautiful Russian spy girlfriend Fabiola.  They were making love in a corner of the cave, and Desmond and Kaimana found the keys still in the submarine, so they bolted the hatch, fired up the sub and bolted from the volcano.
They brought the submarine to shore and secretly started moving the gold from the submarine to a hiding place on Waimea Bay.  The Russian spies made their ways to shore in a lifeboat and demanded return of the submarine and the gold.  Then a pirate ship appeared on the horizon.  It was manned by Captain Tarangela and her band of Amazon women, whose ship is named The Booty Hauler.  Desmond tossed the keys to the submarine to Flea and his girlfriend and told them that the Amazon women stole all the gold just before they showed up on the beach.  Flea and Fabiola quickly climbed inside the submarine and took off after The Booty Hauler while Desmond and Kaimana stood on the shore laughing and waving goodbye, knowing that all the gold is safely hidden.  The movie ended with everyone flying over and away from Hawaii in The Duck, and looking down to see a sea battle raging between The Booty Hauler and the Russian submarine.
We had been working on Life Beyond Time with John and John for over a week when the night came for the premier of The Ocean Hole.  I bought a limousine and had Pierre drive the eight of us there in style—Desmond and Renata, Skinny John and Ginny, Flat Top John and Wanda, and me and Jayna.  Compton Ass Terry and his new girlfriend Kelly were going to meet us at Grauman’s.
When we arrived at Grauman’s theatre a VIP section of about twenty seats had been cordoned off for us and our entourage.  We had tables and drinks and relaxed and watched the film in luxurious style.  Jayna and I took up the two seats closest to the aisle, so that she could get up and move around with her camera as she filmed the documentary.  Skinny John and Ginny sat beside us, and were engrossed with each other even before the opening credits; Flat Top John and Wanda sat behind us and were equally engaged cooing and necking. 
Just minutes into the film Skinny John and Ginny stood up holding hands and he whispered to me, “Excuse us, we have to get out for a minute.’’
“The movie just started! Where are you going?” was my hushed reply.
“I’ve got an idea for a song called ‘Eye Crud’ and I want to work it out and write it down before I forget it,” he responded.  “And I need Ginny for inspiration.” 
“You’ve written six new songs already today!” I remarked.
“Soon to be seven,” he answered, then climbed over me while pulling Ginny by the hand.  Minutes later Flat Top John and Wanda quietly stepped toward my seat, which was their only way to the aisle.  He too was inspired with a new song and needed to work it through and memorize it.  Then Skinny John and Ginny returned and all four climbed back and forth over me. 
When Skinny John was again seated next to me, he softly whispered to me in between the film’s dialogue and scenes.  “My mind feels like it’s going to explode!” he explained.  “Two weeks ago I was in Brooklyn working on the latest Dial-A-Song in John’s apartment.  Now I’m playing on your album, we’re cranking out new songs for an album called Grains that wasn’t even a grain in our thoughts a week ago.  There’s another song!  John and I each have what seem to be loving and devoted hot girlfriends who inspire us to write more songs.  We’re sitting at the premier of your film and you want us to be in the next one.  We’re both a bit overwhelmed and for my part I cannot decide from one nanosecond to the next whether to play accordion or make out with Ginny.”
“I understand,” I said with a laugh. “And Desmond won’t be offended if you miss most of the movie tonight; we have the tape and you can watch it any time you want.”
“I figured that, which is why I figured I’d concentrate on the new songs and Ginny.  Thanks man, for everything; this has been the best week of my life,” he whispered with sincere gratitude.    
“Enjoy it,” I replied.  “Thanks in part to you two Life Beyond Time is sounding every bit like I heard in my imagination, and I am grateful.”
“Bit!” he exclaimed.  “Great song idea for Grains!”  He grabbed Ginny’s hand and climbed over me and Jayna again.  Just then Flat Top John and Wanda returned and they again took turns climbing over me. 
“Did you tell him why we’re acting so weird?” Flat Top asked Skinny.
“Yes, he gets it,” John replied.
John and Ginny left their seats while John and Wanda resumed theirs.  Then Flat Top John leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “Check out what I just wrote for Grains.”  Then he very quietly sang:
“My eyes have crud
Like the eyes of a spud,
It came from the tears you made me cry
When you broke my heart and spilled my blood.”
I told him I liked it; then moments later Skinny John and Ginny returned to their seats next to me.  Skinny John leaned over to me and whispered, “Check out the song I just wrote for Grains. It’s called ‘Sand’.

“Sand, sand, you cover much of the land, and…
Sand, sand, you make a print of my hand, and….
Sand, sand, you measure time in a glass, and….
Glass is made of sand and….
So when you fall through yourself we know when the time has come, and…
We know where we stand when we are feeling the burning sand, and…
We know where we are when we are standing on burning sands.

And so John and John went for the next two hours, climbing back and forth over me to go write songs or find unusual places to make out with Ginny and Wanda.
About fifteen minutes before the film ended, Desmond, Kiedis and Flea all climbed across our aisle and left the theatre.  The moment the final credits had rolled and the lights came up, Desmond, Kiedis and Flea reappeared, each at the top of one of the three aisles in the theatre.  They were standing upon surfboards mounted atop skateboards.  Everyone turned to watch as they balanced with one foot and used the other to propel themselves down the incline of the aisle toward the stage.  All three crashed into the foot of the stage at roughly the same moment, and all three tried and failed to execute a full flip onto the stage, instead sprawling into each other and the three chairs that a stage hand had arranged.  They then faced the audience and rolled footage of gigantic waves on the large screen behind while they wobbled their bodies in imitation of actual surfing.  Then they pulled the three chairs to the front of the stage and Desmond announced that they would be hosting an informal question and answer for any who wished to stay.  No one moved although it wasn’t a very informative session, and only women asked any questions.
One woman shouted, “I want to know your number!”
Another asked, “Do you give surf lessons?”
Another asked, “Do you all still have the bathing suits you wore in the movie?”
Another asked, “Have you seen the waitress?  I’m going to need another drink if we’re going to stay here.”
At that Desmond announced, “Let’s move this to the Pretty Kitty instead.  The first round is on me and we can carry on with this question and answer session there!”
Everyone agreed and that was where the night led us.

Chapter 4
The First Annual Wrightwood Unicorn Parade

We partied late and I had only been in bed with Jayna for a couple hours when Desmond rapped on my door early.
He was balancing a stack of scripts on his forearm and handed us each a copy.  The Thug Life Unicorn Posse script is finished and ready to go into production.  Last night inspired me and I need to start work on the follow up to The Ocean Hole at once.  I thought you two could play Randy and Mandy, although we can finalize who plays which characters after a casting discussion.  Think about it—we have almost everyone we need here right now!  The iron is hot so let’s strike and make another movie!  John and John can play Preston and Jarvis, and Ginny and Wanda can play Adrianna and Nella.  Larry can play Albert, Renata can play Vicky, Compton Ass Terry can play Gabe, I’ll play Charlie and we’ll audition or wear make up for the rest of the roles!”
I groggily replied, “That sounds great.  We’ll be finished with the basic tracks of Life Beyond Time in the next few days so we can get started on the movie right after that.  But for this particular moment, this very now, I safely speak for Jayna when I say we need more sleep.”
“Exactly, and I’m down the road ahead of you,” Desmond excitedly explained.  “I’ve been on the phone for three hours already this morning.  We are going to meet at the Kitty tonight for the first reading and I’m going to start blocking the scenes we can film in the After Hours studio.  In the meantime I booked us several rooms at a hotel in Wrightwood for location filming starting on Tuesday.”
“Today is Sunday—that’s only two days!” Jayna exclaimed.  “Where is Wrightwood?”
“Wrightwood is a small town of about four thousand people seventy five miles northeast of here that is the perfect wooded location for the film.  The owner of the hotel where we’re staying also agreed to let us film the Chester Inn scenes there.  Jayna, I even thought you could help with the filming since you spend your life attached to a camera.”
“I would love to do that but I definitely want to be in the film also!” she clarified.
“Oh no doubt that, you’re definitely in!” he replied.  “I’ve got to get to work…I’ve got more phone calls and arrangements to make.”
He left and moments later we heard him awaken Skinny John and Ginny by knocking on their door….
We spent Sunday and Monday finishing the basic tracks of Life Beyond Time and then prepared for our road trip to Wrightwood.  I need to proceed along a slight digression here.  John and John were such respectful, enjoyable and entertaining houseguests that I made it clear their invitation to stay was indefinite—musicians like themselves were the very reason I had bought a ten bedroom mansion in the first place—and musicians on demand must be on hand.  I also made it clear to John and John—as I did to all my guests—that they were welcome to take the master bedroom for a ride if they were ever curious and so inclined.  Elton John, Freddie Mercury and their consortium of queens had the schedule for the Enchanted Tower already booked in advance for the next fifteen years;  however, as part of our agreement, I reserved one hour a day unto myself should I have any need for the room.  As mentioned in earlier volumes, I avoided even setting foot in the master bedroom for how squeamish the mere thought of it made me, much less the actual sensations.  So that hour fell sometime every day between noon and three in the afternoon, which was usually when Pierre went in to clean, and frequently accompanied by his latest lover.
While John and John were definitively uninterested in exploring the erogenous wonders therein, Ginny and Wanda were most interested to see what would happen if their boyfriends were to enter the master bedroom.  And so one at a time, much against his will, each John succumbed to the charms of his beautiful girlfriend and followed her in.  And each time Ginny or Wanda could be heard uproariously laughing behind the wall, and who each later described how her John jerkily jumped around the room and used his hands to protect his crotch while trying to avoid the caresses and kisses of the amorous gay ghosts.  Eventually the giggles died down and Ginny or Wanda made the experience worth her John’s while.  Both Johns adamantly admitted to intensely disliking the sensations of being licked and prodded from beyond, and yet every day one John or the other followed Ginny or Wanda in for half of Pierre’s cleaning hour.
Before I bring the ensemble to Wrightwood to describe that adventure, I need to address two more details.  While having fun with new friends and recording a great new album we had not forgotten being kidnapped and detained by Reagan’s government thugs.   We were warily mindful of it throughout every day, and presumed that the mansion was being watched, our movements monitored and that our phones were tapped.  We hadn’t received any more threatening letters from the FBI, or any communication from the government, but we certainly hadn’t allowed complacency to beguile us into thinking we had been forgotten, and while we were glad to be getting away to Wrightwood for a week we also fully expected the feds to follow us there.
I also need to bring Debby into the narrative, as she was a major character in this chapter of my life.  She was Compton Ass Terry’s new girlfriend; he introduced us to her the night we had the first table read of The Thug Life Unicorn Posse screenplay at the Pretty Kitty.  She was a stunningly beautiful young woman, and exceedingly fair skinned; and while I would not describe her as albino pale, she did put the white in Caucasian.  For the reader just jumping into my story, Compton Ass Terry was the deejay Desmond had hired to provide music for the Pretty Kitty, from which station he quickly became our friend and band mate.  As his nickname suggested he was from Compton, and his skin was so black as to be blue; and the contrast between his and Kelly’s skin stark and striking—he could not have been more ebony nor she more ivory.  She sat on his lap throughout the reading, with their arms and hands constantly wrapping and rewrapping their embrace of each other.  Every one of us could clearly discern and actually feel the intense connection developing between the two; throughout the night their eyes and lips remained unwaveringly locked as we witnessed their fall into the throes of love.
We were all gnawingly curious about Debby, but she and Compton Ass were as one person all night; we could not get a word out of either and all we could glean was that they met when she came into the club two nights before.  Our plan immediately expanded to include her on our trip to Wrightwood, and Desmond even wrote a small scene for her at the end as Gabe’s babe who accompanies him to the grand opening of Charlie’s Brew-B-Q and Unicornutopia. 
Tuesday morning early we loaded into several vehicles which included a large truck full of props and costumes and camera equipment; our van outfitted as a mobile recording studio; and another passenger van.  Two hours later we were in Wrightwood and settled into our rooms.  The heavily wooded town was nestled into the edge of Angeles National Forest, and from our small hotel we could walk everywhere. 
Desmond was so intensely devoted to making the film that I don’t think he slept seven hours total during our week in Wrightwood.  He had written and well adhered to a schedule of when everyone filmed their scenes, which left us with a lot of down time.  Both Johns and I worked on adding some production to the tracks of Life Beyond Time in the mobile recording van, but John and John spent most of their free time off with Ginny and Wanda frolicking around Wrightwood. 
John and John also borrowed Jayna and her camera from Desmond when he didn’t need her on the film.  They simply wanted to shoot a variety of random footage that they could use in future music videos.  Amongst the props we had brought was a full size, two man unicorn costume.  There was a gazebo in a small park near the Wrightwood town center, and John and John filmed themselves romping around and in gazebo wearing the two man unicorn costume.  That was an hour of nonstop laughter and I even remember John saying:  “You do know the rule about two man costumes?”
“What’s that?” back half John replied.
“Express flatulence and you might as well give yourself a nut shot, because that’s what you’ll get!”
During our second afternoon in Wrightwood, John and John wandered into a church thrift store.  They were seeking strange garb they could wear on film, and found a welding mask that elevated both to elation.  We rushed back to the gazebo to film scenes of them doing various things while wearing the welding mask and more hilarity ensued.  By then onlookers had gathered, and when they were finished romping for the camera with the welding mask, John and John introduced themselves to their audience of ten or so locals.  While engaged in glad handing the locals they had the spontaneous idea to give a free They Might Be Giants show at the gazebo that evening, and announced it on the spot.  They also handed out business cards with the number to They Might Be Giants Dial-A-Song.  They then asked everyone if anyone had any interesting or unusual masks or attire that they could wear for the camera.  Someone hurried to their nearby home and returned with a tribal mask; and someone else produced a Mardi Gras mask and a red feather eye mask on a stick.  John and John made a bunch of silly video wearing the various masks and then returned that night and performed a free show at the gazebo. 
I think they were determined to meet every last resident of Wrightwood because the next afternoon they went knocking on doors asking for costumes and props while handing out business cards and invitations to the free They Might Be Giants concert at the gazebo that night.  That resulted in people rummaging their closets and attics and producing a wide variety of unusual items for John and John to film themselves wearing—from costume jewelry and vintage clothing to authentic military and sports uniforms; from clown suits to tuxedoes and wedding gowns.  One woman named Leann had an antique theater wardrobe chock full of goodies and someone else produced three huge mascot heads—a lion, a bear and an elephant with an unusually long trunk.   
Throughout the week Jayna, myself, Ginny and Wanda filmed John and John lip synching and jumping around in front of three different four foot tall cardboard cutouts of the same strange old man’s face; roaming, running and wandering around an empty schoolyard; banging on world maps spread across school desks; wearing purple toupees; and marching in circles sporting two enormous fezzes, almost four feet tall, that sprouted from their heads.  Ten year old twin sisters asked to be included, and so they were filmed standing in the park, one holding a picture of their mother and the other a picture of their father over their faces and above their heads.  John and John filmed Ginny and Wanda dressed as two very sexy hotel detectives; they filmed each other rolling a baby carriage containing a large, ceramic elephant; and so it went every day all week…someone loaned them two astronauts suits and helmets and Jayna filmed them wearing the space suits while playing drums and saxophones, and also metal detecting and trying to eat Chinese food; Jayna filmed John and John driving vintage cars and waving a checkered flag; and wearing wet suits and antiquated nautical helmets while squirming at the bottom of a swimming pool; putting their hands inside an oversized puppet head; and playing barefoot slow motion soccer with a globe on a shag rug.  And finally, and what was perhaps the strangest of their strange film clips, Skinny John and Ginny filmed their night light from fifty different angles and distances using various light settings on both the light and the camera.
Every night about seven, just as the sun was fixing to set, John and John set up with the accordion and guitar in the gazebo, and every night the size of They Might Be Giants’ audience multiplied by degrees as word spread while they continued knocking on strangers’ doors and introducing themselves.  They wore the clothing and masks and accoutrement the people had brought out while performing their riveting They Might Be Giants shows and John and John quickly came to be regarded as the beloved adopted sons of Wrightwood.
Meanwhile Desmond and the crew worked diligently on the film, and thanks to Desmond’s meticulous planning and precise execution, filming proceeded flawlessly and on schedule.  He had rented a small herd of goats from a local farmer, which he decorated as unicorns and filmed in the various situations depicted in the film.  It was extremely difficult both decorating the goats and making them to perform on command.  They were goats, after all.  But Desmond managed, and his plan was that afterwards an animator friend of his would superimpose the unicorn horns with his pen on each individual frame of film.  The animator also planned to alter the appearance of the goats as he added color while blending the animated horns with their foreheads.
One afternoon toward the end of our week in Wrightwood, Desmond and Renata took me aside.  “We want to prank Flacco and Flat Top and already have a plan.”  By this time we were referring to Skinny John as simply Skinny or Flacco (Spanish for skinny); and Flat Top John was simply shortened to Flat Top; and so we sometimes called them Flacco and Flat Top.
I chuckled and said, “Do tell.”
Desmond handed me a few pages and explained: “I’m going to tell them I’ve added a new scene to the film.”  I started reading and immediately laughed.  Flacco and Flat Top portrayed Harry and Rod, a newlywed gay couple who were checking into the Chester Inn for the first night of their honeymoon attired in matching yellow suits and straw sailor hats.
Harry and Rod were to be registered at the front desk by Adrianna and Nella, who were played by Ginny and Wanda in the film.  Desmond gave both Johns copies of the new scene, and explained that while Ginny and Wanda were working from roughly the same script, there were some slight variations in theirs, and he had given the girls license to go off script as they saw fit to improvise.  He asked that John and John simply go along with Ginny and Wanda if they varied from what was written.  (Ginny and Wanda were enthusiastic participants in the prank.)  Desmond further explained that he had written the characters of Harry and Rod into the script as a shameless vehicle to appeal to the homosexual demographic.  John and John did as Desmond requested and memorized their lines, donned their ridiculous, short legged yellow suits and hats, and when Desmond gave the signal Jayna rolled the camera and John and John playing the freshly married Harry and Rod approached Ginny and Wanda playing Adrianna and Nella at the desk of the Chester Inn. 
“We have reservations,” Harry said.
“We had reservations,” Rod responded, marveling at his shiny wedding ring.  “Now we have each other…forever.”
Adrianna and Nella looked at the register, then Adrianna replied, “Here it is…the bridal suite, Mr. and Mrs. Harry and Rod Forskein.”
“Which one of you is the bride?” Nella asked.  “I’m sure you would prefer to be addressed as Mrs. Forskein at this point.”
“Yes, which is the alpha dog and which the bitch?” Adrianna added.
“That’s not what’s written here,” Rod whispered. 
We were all backstage choking on laughter.
“Excuse me?  We don’t know what you mean,” Harry calmly answered, also going off script.  “Alpha Dog? Bitch?  We don’t make such distinctions in our relationship; I consider him to be a full extension and equal half of my whole self.”
“As do I,” Rod added.
“Are you here to join the unicorn hunt?” Adrianna asked.  “There are rules.”
“Unicorn hunt? What are you talking about?” Rod responded.  “We just came to quietly enjoy the view and each other for the first few joyful days of our lifetime of marital bliss.”
Nella removed a fake unicorn horn about fifteen inches long from under the desk.  She held it upright between her thumb and two fingers and spun it slowly.  “Are you looking for something that resembles this?”
At this point Desmond, Renata, Jayna and I were rolling on the floor in the next room, ready to let our stifled laughter explode. 
“Do horns turn you on?” Adrianna asked.
Rod looked down at his script, recovered his place, and replied, “You seem to be serious about this unicorn thing.”  He looked at Harry and continued.  “I have read these things hold the power to keep a marriage fresh forever.”
“I would feel less lonely when you are gone if I had a unicorn horn around,” Harry answered.
“We have a tradition here,” Nella said, withdrawing an instamatic camera from a drawer.  “Every time we have guests in the bridal suite we snap a picture of the groom kissing the bride and mount it on the wall for a week.  It keeps the bridal suite blessed with good luck and future fortune.”  She too was struggling to refrain from laughing, and was barely able to finish the last line without breaking.  She aimed the instamatic camera, then took a deep breath and said, “You may now kiss the bride.”
Harry and Rod looked at each other and were not the least bit interested in kissing.  “Come on baby,” Adrianna encouraged.  “Do it for me.”  Then she and Nella could contain themselves no more, and were the first crack in the dam to breach.  John and John were not even close to kissing when Ginny and Wanda burst out belly laughing and Desmond shouted “Cut!”  Then Desmond, Renata, me, Jayna and the rest of the crew and the hotel workers joined them in a sustained roar of laughter in the hotel lobby that lasted over three minutes.  We finally revealed the ruse of the fake scene, and how we had enlisted their girlfriends’ assistance, which girlfriends had also contributed ideas to the plan.  And when we played back the two minute video clip and analyzed it frame by frame it only became more and more hilarious.  Both Johns took it in stride and nonchalantly remarked, “I’m sure someday we’ll find a use for video of us in yellow suits.”
By the time we wrapped filming on the sixth day unicorn mania had swept through Wrightwood. People were carrying stuffed unicorns and sporting them on tee shirts.  They had fashioned homemade horns which they attached to their dogs’ heads as they walked them around town.  The local diner was serving chicken as a unicorn steak special.  Unicorn puns and jokes were on marquees and church signs throughout town.
Several hundred people attended They Might Be Giants sixth and final gazebo show, including our entire entourage.  The whole town knew we were departing the next day and came to say thank you to us all and a special goodbye to John and John.  When They Might Be Giants finished their final set and encores, John spontaneously blurted into the microphone, “Since we’re leaving tomorrow, let’s have a parade!”
Everyone present was hit with a collective moment of inspiration, as if organizing an overnight parade was the obvious and only sensible thing to do.  The crowd quickly conferred and agreed and announced through an appointed spokesperson that a parade would begin on the street before the gazebo at three o’clock the following afternoon and escort us out of town.  The people of Wrightwood promised to have a unicorn float whereon John and John could perform a few final songs before leaving.  We all departed and went to bed wondering what kind of float and parade they could possibly produce in less than twenty four hours.
After celebrating completion of the vast bulk of the major filming with a few beers, we retired to the hotel and rose early to start packing up the truck and vans.  John and John left us before noon, and about two thirty we were loaded up and ready to return to Los Angeles, and so drove to the gazebo to follow the parade out of town. 
We were amazed to see the number of people gathered and lining the route out of Wrightwood, which easily exceeded a thousand.  They had constructed a float of a massive, colorful unicorn.  It was someone’s full scale model dinosaur that they had modified, including attaching a horn and painting it like a rainbow. 
Ahead of the float was the Wrightwood High School Marching Band.  Behind it was a group of twenty children wearing handmade unicorn heads, and a few people in various uniforms and other stragglers who were inclined to parade. 
John and John started by marching vanguard dressed in uniforms that matched the high school band.  They were both wearing huge bass drums and each holding up a pair of three foot long batons.  They held the batons pointed tip aloft, then dropped them and started marching.  John and John then flipped the batons upside down so the balled ends were up and used them to beat the drums in time with the band, which had started playing with John and John’s first step.  Flacco and Flat Top led the parade by beating the drums in time with the band for the first song; then they dropped back to the float, unstrapped the drums and climbed aboard.  Each quickly donned a half of the two person unicorn costume, strapped on their accordion and guitar and started playing.  The truck slowly towed them out of town as the townspeople said goodbye by tossing flowers and stuffed unicorns onto the float, as well as the masks and other items they’d brought out for John and John to wear in their videos and performances.
We just inched along from behind and watched our new friends enjoy their moment.  Jayna filmed the whole parade from behind while sitting atop the roof of our creeping van.  The slow parade lasted for about an hour.  As they passed through the crowd on the float John and John seemed to know each and every person in attendance by name.  When they had reached the end of the parade route the driver pulled the float to a stop as the people dispersed behind them.  We pulled up from behind, John and John loaded their instruments and all the gifts from the float into the prop and costume truck, and then themselves into the van with us and we drove home to Los Angeles.

Chapter 5
At this point I just have notes, the lyrics to a bunch of songs on Life Beyond Time, an arc and the novel outlined to the ending.   Much of the rest of the novel is going to use a biracial marriage to discuss racism in LA at the time, and the race motivated police brutality and greed motivated police corruption rampant in the LAPD in the late eighties.
While in Wrightwood we also became much better acquainted with Compton Ass Terry’s new girlfriend Debby.  It turns out that she is the daughter of racist, right wing nut job LAPD police chief Daryl Gates, with whom Deak and the band had a huge conflict just months earlier in the spring of 1987, in volume four of this series. 
Debby becomes pregnant, and she and Compton Ass Terry decide to marry.  Since her father Daryl is racist, and already hates Deak and his band, he particularly despises Compton Ass Terry.  At some point there is a meeting between Deak and the band and Daryl Gates.  Deak denounces the racism and police brutality to Gates’ face, and suggests that the police department hire undercover officers to go undercover inside the police department, to expose the racist and criminal cops from within.  Gates hates the idea but agrees to it as part of a quid pro quo deal. Gates’ plays drums and has always wanted to play onstage before a huge audience.  He’s also written a couple of terrible songs that he wants to professionally record.  Deak agrees to record his songs and let him onstage one night for a couple of songs in exchange for letting us enter the LAPD as new hires to witness and report what is really going.
To that end I read and picked apart Daryl Gates’ autobiography called CHIEF.  He was an arrogant piece of shit.  He punched a cop when he was seventeen.  The police let Gates off at the time—had they pressed charges he would have been disqualified when he applied to become a police officer a few years later.  I have ripped pages of Gates’ words and quotes from his autobiography and am going to use them to approximate Gates’ words and beliefs into dialogues in the story. 
As far as John and John of They Might Be Giants, I could send them back to Brooklyn, but I’m thinking to keep them around to play in the band when the Life Beyond Time album they played on is released.  They would also be good to have along in the comical scenes of Deak, Desmond, Compton Ass Terry, Flacco and Flat Top undercover in the LAPD. 

There will be other wacky adventures unrelated to Gates as well, including some holiday fun, perhaps.
Deak V – 1987: the Final Months will conclude in epic fashion on the last day of the 1987, New Year’s Eve.  Deak has decided to give a free New Year’s Eve concert at the Hollywood Bowl and to hold Compton Ass Terry’s wedding to Debby Gates onstage before the show.  Gates and the LAPD and the SWAT units and the military all crash the show like they’re invading a small nation.  We are not arrested, but detained in county jail, which is where we spend New Year’s Eve, and where the sixth Deak novel will begin.