Linda pulled up in a convertible. I think it was red, though I wasn’t really looking at the car. There was no mistaking her. She hadn’t aged a bit. She looked just the way she looked on her album covers: huge brown eyes, full lips in a half smile, high cheekbones, proud chin.
I was at the newsstand on the corner of Ventura Boulevard and Van Nuys. I had been standing there since at least 1982, thumbing through Adweek and an occasional Penthouse, which was always blocked from view by a piece of cardboard obscuring the cover. I would always pretend I came upon the Penthouse by accident – as if I was searching for something else and my hand just happened to stray near the X-rated mags: “Whoops! Oh – darn. Here I am looking for Men’s Fitness and this pair of boobs just happens to be staring me in the face. Ah, but this article looks interesting. Let’s see…”
I put the Penthouse back when Linda drove up. She found movie star parking, right in front of the newsstand. Perfect. She looked right at me, cut the engine and swiveled in her seat slightly to face me. She didn’t make a move to get out of the car. So I took a few steps over to her. She didn’t look away.
“Excuse me,” I said. “I think you’re a great singer. I’ve enjoyed all your records, especially the Karla Bonoff songs. And you just kick ass on ‘Poor Poor Pitiful Me.’ Warren Zevon’s great, isn’t he? Love that ‘Hasten Down the Wind’ too. Anyway, you have great talent.”
“Weren’t you standing here in 1982?” she asked.
“Could have been. I live close to here and I come down here a lot on Saturdays and after work and stuff.”
“That was kind of a down time for me,” she said. “Living in the USA came out in ’78, and it kind of bombed. I mean it wasn’t too bad, but compared to the earlier albums –“
“It had kind of a different feel to it.”
“Yeah. So I needed a change of direction. Found it a few years later.” That’s when she teamed up with Nelson Riddle and came out with the What’s New record in 1983.
“1982 was kind of a down time for me, too. But nothing like 1985. That was brutal,” I said. I smiled and made a move to fade away respectfully.
“Are you doing anything right now?” she asked.
“Laundry. I have a load in, and it might even be done by now. They get pissed at you if you leave your clothes there too long. They’ll throw them out all over the floor. Have to do them again.”
“Don’t you hate that?”
I smiled. I knew it had been awhile since she had to bear the undignified tedium of doing her laundry in the basement of a six-unit apartment building. “I came down here for quarters,” I said.
“You need quarters? I’ve got a bunch in my purse.” And she started to fish in it.
“Thanks but – I’m fine. The guy here knows me.”
“I actually came here to see you,” she said. “I have a question about this guy Glenn Frey. You know him?”
“Sure I know Glenn. Founded the Eagles with Don Henley, wrote some great songs, died in 2016. That was a shocker. But he gives a lot of credit to you for giving him a break, playing in your band.”
“I was thinking of hiring him. You think it’s a good move?”
“Absolutely. It would be a good boost for him. And later you could record ‘Desperado,’ and put a lot more class into the song than the Eagles did. Not diminishing their talent, but you really nailed that one.”
“He’s got a lot of talent.”
“And chemistry. I think you’d enjoy playing with him.”
She leaned back in her seat, contemplatively. She was wearing cutoffs and a sleeveless blouse. It was a comfortable 82 degrees. The sun was starting to set over the avenue, and we were talking in shade.
“Good luck with Glenn,” I said. “Keep up the good work. My laundry…“
“Thanks for the advice,” she said. “Can I credit you on a record or something?”
“Naw. What would you say? ‘Thanks to the guy at the newsstand for the career advice’?”
“Something like that.” She smiled, closed the top of her purse. “Everything else good with you?”
“Yeah. My wife is going to leave pretty soon. She’s going to tell me when I’m at work. She’s going to have already found a place to live, and have made all the arrangements. It will be pretty devastating, because we both made a huge effort to patch up the relationship and live together again a few years ago. But there’s a lot weighing everything down. Her mom died. And I think she’s been unfaithful. Lots of shit. I’m going to kind of retreat into myself here pretty soon, not see many people or go out for awhile. I’m going to frequent the video store across the street and one night I’ll watch The Deerhunter and Ordinary People back to back. I know it’s an odd double bill, but it seems right, somehow. You know what I mean?”
“Yes I do. I like to watch the old stuff. Bogart and Bacall. I like Hitchcock.”
“So do I. Vertigo. I love Vertigo.”
“Me too,” she said. “So – popcorn, maybe, some night. Sound good?”
“I’ll be here,” I said.