Sometimes, my husband wakes me up in the morning with music. Sometimes it’s his own melody—recording bass, guitar or vocals onto his Mac—sometimes it’s random classic country or his all-time favorite band, Neurosis.
This morning he woke me up with The Best of Blitz. And it immediately took me back to one strange, rainy day in L.A.
I was around 16, deep into my punk/oi! Phase. Shaved head with bleached bangs, docs, my mohawked boyfriend in tow (complete with Blitz-inspired tattoo). The smell of the rain mixed with the sludge in the street as we stood in line outside The Allen Theater in South Gate at the edge of East L.A., ready to see Blitz—or whatever was left of the 80s legends.
We were both used to seeing “the greats” and kind of wishing we hadn’t after the fact. Since I had moved to L.A. with my mom—and my boyfriend followed—we’d seen a lot of killer shows and a lot of flops, too. But this was different. Blitz was one of those bands I got into my freshman year of high school, thanks to a burned CD from an older classmate, now obsessed with automatic weapons (that’s another story…I digress).
That year, I learned all their songs by ear, and all their lyrics—which were mostly about living in England in the 80s and “never surrendering.” Note: Being born in 1987 has never stopped me.
As far as I was concerned, “Warriors” was the best song that had ever been written in the history of music. Weirdly, I still kind of believe that. I guess it's true: The stuff that inspires you as a youngster will always pump adrenaline through your veins.
But...let's get back to my story.
Standing outside the Allen. Smoking Chesterfields (because that's what Lemmy smoked). It soon began to downpour on my boyfriend and I. Word traveled down the pike that the tickets were indeed sold out, so we ran—defeated—into a nearby deli. I want to say it was a pizza place. I remember flickering lighting and hard, plastic booths that smelled like caustic cleaning supplies.
Here’s where my memory gets fuzzy.
What I do know is that a British blonde guy—young-looking but worn out and wearing a ripped band T-shirt or some sort—joined us at our booth. I thought he might be homeless or, at the very least, living in his car.
I think he offered to share his pitcher of beer with us if we bought him some pizza. Which doesn’t make sense, as I remember now. Why would he have money for beer but not pizza? OK. Wait. I guess that does make sense.
Anyway, we get to talking and we tell the guy we wish he had gotten tickets in advance, since the stupid show just sold out. He grinned from ear to ear.
Flash forward a few beers later, and we’re inside the Allen Theater, singing: “You’d better watch out! For the razors in the night!” at the top of our lungs, as if it weren't a song about hooligans violently assassinating each other.
All is warm and content and happy. It feels like we're singing Christmas carols. Everything is all right.
Our mysterious British companion is also singing. He's on stage, with a microphone.
As it turns out, the only original member of the band by that time was the pudgy, long-haired Alan “Nidge” Miller, but at the time, I couldn't have cared less. The new guy sang it like he meant it, and he was closer to my age, anyway. I felt connected.
And I guess there was still enough “kid” left in me to suspend my disbelief and succumb to a little magic. Maybe not all my heroes were dead, and I still wanted to believe in something, even it was an old, forgotten something that hit its peak long ago.
I checked Wikipedia this morning to catch up on the band. Nidge, the last "real" memeber of Blitz, died in 2007 after a show in Austin Texas. He was hit by a car.