One of my first restaurant jobs in LA paid off in spades with musical material. At the time, I was living with my friend and bass player Zo, his best friend and adopted sister Isadore, and our two big dogs- Luna and Blitzen- in a rinky dink 2 bedroom ghetto apartment in Culver City. Zo’s big hearted generosity paralleled the thunder of his bass chops, and when I got kicked out of my little green cottage in Glendale, he offered to let me and my rescued Samoyed, Blitzen, move in with them, crowded as it already was.
As the three-piece band Citizen of the Empire- with Zo on bass/vocals, Greg on drums/vocals and me on guitar and lead vocals- we were just finding our groove, practicing like madmen in the early morning hours before it got suffocatingly hot in our rehearsal lockout. Often from there Zo and Greg would head out directly to the Olive Garden in Westwood, picking up as many lunch shifts as possible to keep evenings available for gigging. I had been out of a job for over a year after being fired from a nonprofit immigrant rights organization composed mainly of well-intentioned Latino lawyers. Essentially, they had sacked me for being sleepy, which as a narcoleptic was well beyond my control. It always struck me as being somewhat ironic that in those weeks after September 11th, 2001, when most of the nonprofit world was up in arms against anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, I was being canned by an immigrant run law organization for being a sleepy white guy, disability or not. After consulting with a friend’s lawyer about my rights, I decided that it just wasn’t worth fighting a wrong within what was otherwise a worthwhile and upstanding community based organization, so I took it on the chin and walked away. One for the gipper, or whatever that saying is. I suppose in those days I was still learning that a desk job was probably not the right fit for a narcoleptic, if, in fact, there is really any fit for someone prone to falling asleep at random intervals, outside of perhaps a lofty position as head mattress tester over at Sealy Posturepedic or the Macy’s furniture department.