I Skinned My Knee on the Sunset Strip
If there were a time machine or a do-over button, I would be a rocker chick on the Sunset Strip in the mid-80s. Back then, the Sunset Strip was my Wonderland, a magical place where dreams could and would come true, if you only believed. And I believed with all of my heart. I remember sitting in my boring Pennsylvania hometown, reading Metal Edge, Circus, or Rip!, looking at photos of the hottest metal bands as they sauntered along that famous street. I religiously watched MTV in those days, hungry for any sight or sound from those bad boys of the West Coast. Mötley Crüe rode their Harleys down the Strip, headed for the nastiest strip club they could find. Dokken perched on a semi, crooning, “It’s Not Love” to the lucky passersby. But it was love in those days — a love of music, excitement, and lanky, swaggering men with big hair, spandex, and boots.
Fast forward twenty-five years or so. I catch the #212 Metro bus to Sunset, and transfer to the #2 bus headed down the Strip, hoping to catch a glimpse of Duff McKagan at Book Soup, where he is doing a book signing. Who would have thought that our rock and roll heroes, those purveyors of booze, blues and tattoos, would become authors – with or without the help of ghost- or co-writers? Many books have been written about Guns ‘N’ Roses, both from insiders and outsiders. The lifestyle I once coveted is now the subject of not only books, but also movies, plays and trivia games. After a few minutes of winding down the busy thoroughfare, I step off the bus across the street from the legendary bookstore. I looked over at the long line – half of the people clutching Duff’s book weren’t even born when Appetite for Destruction hit the airwaves. And I still have the cassette.
Bam! I hit the pavement. While I was checking out the line across the street, I neglected to notice the uneven pavement and did a header onto my ass, skinning my right knee in the process. But thankfully, I didn’t lose my glasses, even though they ended up on my forehead. The Sunset Strip can be rough, I found out too late. I crossed the street, and tried to nonchalantly glance in the store window, but I couldn’t see anything. I didn’t have enough money to buy the book, so there was no reason for me to join the lengthening queue. My knee hurt. I wondered if it was bleeding. I wondered how many rock gods had fallen on that very same street over the years, propelled by brazen and interesting misadventures, instead of mere clumsiness.
I looked around at the bright billboards, the lanes of fast cars, the hovering exclusive hills, and the people young enough to be my children. I gingerly walked down the street as my knee started to swell. Yes, the Strip of my 20-something fantasies was long gone, but I could still rock and roll. I just had to watch my step.