PUNK ROCK LIZARDS FROM OUTER SPACE
(A SEMI TRUE REMEMBRANCE)

for LOU RAWLS

1935-2006

1976, twelve-years-old, smokin in the dark, Lucky Strikes, and drinkin Hamm’s, from the land of sky blue waters. I would escape my mother’s madness, her “alcoholism” they called it—by sneaking out in the evening and climbing up on the roof of our Los Angeles apartment complex—with an AM transistor radio, a purloined beer and a smoke, and just staring up and into the black littered sky of crazy stars and moving lights, smog monsters, and wondering all the time if I could someday hitch a ride. But content right then to just listen to Lou Rawls soul sing as I dreamed:

You’ll never find … as long as you live … someone who loves you … tender like I do. You’ll never find … no matter where you search … someone who cares about you … the way I do.”

Getting lost inside the ocean of that great voice …

Maybe I drifted off or just drifted out, but something appeared inside the mix of cigarette smoke, smog, and stars hanging that night. From outer space it came, baby, swerving, interrupting my young blue soul—with long zigzagging drunken loops, and then just hovering there and sort of wobbling in front of me.

The saucer had one of those cool see-through dome tops where you can see the alien inside and cold black lizard eyes peered out of the bubble—looking at me.

I dropped my smoke, but luckily didn’t burn down the apartment complex and was smart enough even then to not let go of the beer. The warm California summer wind turned cold. We froze: two aliens staring at each other, maybe trying read each other’s minds.

The ship, saucer-thing vibrated, teeter-tottering, swerving again, wanting to go, wanting to stay, wanting to know what was blue enough or punk rock cool enough to crash into. From within the ship or maybe just his mind I could hear a crazy smashing rhythm, an alien punk rock beat seeking somewhere to let loose and scream, laugh and, well, maybe destroy. Yeah, I could understand that.

I know you, I thought, but had no horn or skill to answer with—only Lou Rawls. So I turned up the little AM radio.

You’ll never find … no matter where you search … someone who cares about you … the way I do.”

Maybe the lizard from outer space would have blasted me, if I had say, turned up the volume on the Bee-Gees or the Captain and Tennille, but this was Lou Rawls—a universal voice with a universal soul … The thing listened until I phased out the volume for fear of “Silly Love Songs” by Paul McCartney and Wings getting me blasted.

At the controls Lizard Man seemed to pull out of his stupor, seemed to sober up a bit, or changed his mind about something. He suddenly zipped off and upward—then out, way out, toward someone, somewhere, or something else. Maybe his parents had called him home, having discovered he stayed out too late and alone.

I felt lucky. A pattern had formed somewhere inside all those stars out there. Life was oblique at best. No one knew the answers. Not even them. But, even on a lonely night in northeast Los Angeles, sometimes, things traveled exactly on course.

-Bradley Mason Hamlin
brad@retrocrush.com

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