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Court Tour x Chapter 11

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Chapter 11:
After Hours with DJ Abair

Barely had I made my flight out of Long Beach. On my knees I begged, with sporadic desperateness dramatically choking my plea, to board that flight. All the passengers scowled at me heavily as I awkwardly walked down the isle; heightening the scowls when my computer bag would slightly scathe someone’s shoulder. The “technical difficulty” was me that day, and the inpatient fiends who boiled in their seats of comfort wanted to see blood. My blood. On every angry face, murder was drooling from their eyes and down their fire red cheeks. This will be a relaxing flight, I sarcastically thought to myself as I squeezed my way through an obese couple to my assigned window seat. Embarrassingly, I sat down, feeling their contemptible glaring beams slice into the side of my skull. Being the last one to board a flight AND sitting in the window seat is like rear ending someone then getting rear ended yourself. A pile up that is more humiliating than any accident I have ever witnessed. Or caused.

A day was spent in San Jose for a little R and R. Well, but it was far from resting and relaxing. The day was spent radically rushing around to gather my things, working, and coordinating the rest of this trip. The One Man Demo with Stephen Perdue was a success, but there were two more events, and without constant dedication, they could expire in a dancing eye lid like unattended milk. The next event was at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas with DJ Abair, a man who has proven to be a wild card time and time again.

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“.. a man who has proven to be a wild card time and time again.”

Among all of this, I had decided in my mind to ask Camila to marry me. Madre graced me with her Mother’s diamond ring and told me to follow my heart. She had always said that when that right person came along, the Leo fire in my chest would explode and burn up any doubts. This had long happened and any doubts were charred to a thin crisp the moment Camila’s smile initially graced my pupils.

Early, on noon’s horizon, I landed in Las Vegas. Adam had sent me the address to the hotel he had booked for me. It was a slimy Motel 8 somewhere off of North Las Vegas Blvd. It was apparent that he went way over his budget for this trip already, so I would be tasting the shit on the end of the stick.

“That’s what you get,” he said as I complained upon entering the rickety room. “How do you think I feel? I barely can pay my rent after this trip…” Adam paused momentarily, “your trip.” This confused me greatly, for Adam was living in his van, The Patriot, somewhere off the coast of California.

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As far as I was concerned, his land lord was the mighty Pacific Ocean. Now I was toiled by a new reality. One I never knew existed: What does the Pacific charge for rent?

A panic attack was pummeling my chest like the drummer from Helio Sequence.

Abair better fucking be there,
I thought to myself as uneasiness rattled my tired bones
and my new pair of Pig Wheels glided down Las Vegas Boulevard. It was Super Bowl weekend and I could hardly even skate down the street without running into someone, or something–the Wookies were out fore sure. Who knew how this was going to turn out.
The palpating in my heart sky rocketed as I walked up to the Mirage Hotel and Casino.

Broadcasted for all to see on the Mirage’s towering marquee, dwarfing The Beatles Love Circus Du Soleil which lay beneath it, was a massive Court Tour billboard that said, “After Hours With Dj Abair.” Wow, I thought to myself, Adam went all out on this one.

Abair was sucking down a cheap bottle of Taaka Vodka behind the DJ booth that overlooked a crowd of three hundred.

“You know, Abair,” I informed, “the bar is open for you and I.” Abair looked at me shiftily with sweat pouring down his face.

“Travis, this so fucking gnarly. I can’t do this. Look at all these people.” Then his demeanor switched off like a bedside lamp. “You are amazing, Travis. We are twins. I’m gonna get your name tattooed on my chest after this.”

The first song Abair played was, “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. The crowd, all of them drunker than Hank Williams Senior, responded to this horrid song with shouts of joy. Every kook in the crowd started fist bumping and dancing, each egocentrically shining in their very own Universe. Abair was mic’d up and a thundering, “YEEEEAH!” blasted over the speakers. I tried to sew an expression on my face that hid the fact that this whole situation was completely fucked, uncomfortable and pretty hard to watch. Fuck it, I thought to myself, people are enjoying themselves. This is going well. Really well actually.

Carly Rae Jepsen shrieked her final “call me maybe” over the speakers and the crowd exploded in applause. All I could think was, I would never call her. Not even maybe. Still, I forced my lips to smile and dragged my hands to a clap. The wild cards started flaring in Abair’s eyes and he yelled some incoherent nonsense about Adam Crew and a Yellow Brand Tour. Then an acoustic guitar started picking over the huge speakers surrounding the venue.

Tracy Chapman’s “You’ve Got a Fast Car” started playing. The crowd looked around at each other as if a squirrel had crawled behind the walls weeks prior and died. How embarrassing this is, I thought. There is always a time and place for every thing, and this was neither. I mean come on! We weren’t in a garage at three in the morning doing cocaine and having deep conversations about the Holographic Universe! People exceeded irritation and began to boo Dj Abair.

My forehead rose from my hand as Abair turned off the music and started ranting. “Fuck this! Fuck all of you! You are all losers,” he choked for a moment and with a prepubescent  voice continued, “ALL OF YOU!” Tears started pouring down his face and he wiped them away with the remaining bottle of rip gut vodka. “Fuck you Adam Crew!” Abair yelled at the ceiling, then he threw the empty bottle into the livid crowd.

A riot broke out in that dark venue. Everyone wanted Abair’s head on a stick, but he was no where to be found. Rooster haircuts, cocaine crazed models, bouncers and even bar tenders started beating the shit out of each other. With a profile below sea level, and like a snake in a meadow, I slithered behind the bar, stole a bottle of Makers Mark and got the hell out of there. Unlike the “One Man Demo with Stephen Perdue”, “After Hours with Dj Abair” was not only a failure, but a disaster.

A ruthless pounding in my head joined hands with a cold bathroom floor and slapped me awake. I was back in my hotel. Whiskey crept through my breath and the diamond ring I planned on presenting to Camila was on my left pinky finger. With my hand trying to contain the ferocious teeth that were clamping my brain, I walked into my room and saw the time. It was already six p.m. and Camila would be landing at nine p.m. sharp. After briefly brushing the remaining Maker’s Mark from my breath, I put on a nice shirt, rushed to The Stratosphere and caught the 108 to McCarren Airport.

Camila’s back was frowning at me as I awoke and tried to kiss her. She was a little upset due to multiple layovers she had withstood the day before, and a mix up of terminals causing me to pick her up an hour late. In my pocket, the diamond ring taunted me. Now is the time, Travis, I thought. It’s now or never. Camila would be leaving the next morning. If I didn’t propose at that moment, it would be the last time I would see her for years, perhaps forever. Fathoming a life without her choked any kind of future for love–for life. A life without her was no life. I wanted to share everything with Camila. Every sun and every moon to come. Every smile and every sadness to curl our lips. Every old demon to poison our past and every young angel to come and heal it. My fidgety heart had always been a hard one to hold, but she had it pinned down.

Her eye lids slowly arose, and her big beautiful, dark eyes sleepily looked into my fear stricken, nervous-as-all-hell stare as I knelt by the bed. The mid-afternoon desert sun was massaging my shoulders. Without seeing the ring and still trying to conceive the new day around her, Camila said with a cute chuckle, “Travis, what are you doing?” This was it.

“Camila, will you be my wife?” Her reaction completely surprised me. A smile stretched from cheek to cheek and her eyes gently closed.

“Yes, Travis.” Even now, and most likely for the rest of myself, I will never be able to describe the happiness that burst within my chest. On the dirty mattress, inside that seedy Motel 8, Camila and I prayed to God for His approval; something I had never done in my life. God and I both had enormous egos, ones in which always exploded like a dinner conversation about politics when met face to face… or religion.

“The Ballad of John and Yoko” blared into an all too real setting as Camila and I walked out of the Clark County Court with our marriage license. We were bombarded by pastor after pastor to get married in their chapel. It seemed like they were trying to crucify me. At one point, two almost got into a fight over who would marry us. Any pan handler in the Tenderloin of San Francisco had nothing on these guys. They were ruthless.

Earlier in this story, during Camila and my first trip to Vegas, which ended horribly, we had tried to go to a strip club off of North Las Vegas Boulevard. Ironically, directly across the street from the strip club, was the little chapel that we decided to get married in. Who would have thought?

A flamboyant woman, cloaked in green with bright purple lipstick to match and a pair of ten inch high heels married us on that magical Las Vegas night. A night when simultaneously someone was hitting the big jack pot while someone else was getting arrested. Off somewhere in that shit show of a city, someone was vomiting in a Casino bathroom; but Camila and I were getting married. A single tear rolled down my cheek. I was hypnotized by the beauty of my soon to be wife, she was beyond stunning. Every second of my past led up to that moment as the strange pastor united us once and for all. All the many regrets, bad decisions, experiences fell into place while Camila and I joined hands and got lost in each other’s stares.

Many times in my turbulent past, fueled usually by drugs and self destruction, I have met suicide in multiple settings. On the sharp edge of a knife, in the reflection on a porcelain draped bath tub, or over the railing of a golden bridge. Every time a little shining light would pull me out from the lake of despair I seemed to always find myself drowning in. A light at the end of the tunnel, one could say. I never knew what it was going to be, or what it would look like, but I knew it was out there, somewhere, waiting. Holding my joyous tears back, and as I said, “I do,” I was not just looking at my best friend, lover or new wife. I was gazing deep into that light. The light which promised it would shine on one far away day. All those years the light that had always been hazy and dim, blinded my eyes for the very first time. Softly, it resided back into the glistening ivory of Camila’s white dress and finally, for the first time in my twenty five years, life had made sense.

Court Tour x Chapter 10

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photos : Austin Iles

Part 3: Happy Endings
Chapter 10:
The One Man Demo

Blake Johnson, Instagram’s moon facing bandit, had no idea what his tomfoolery birthed. This was nothing like the time when he insulted a rapper about sleeping with Ice T’s wife and designated the blame to some white, unsuspecting kid from the Mid-West. His little “hash tag” created a full blown tour after I pitched the idea to the president of TMG Creative, Adam Crew.

With Adam’s wealth and success, he wanted to sponsor and fund this trip; giving me full creative direction in the line up of people for this tour. I chose three people in particular; one for each state to incorporate their amazing talent into the existence of this flopping tour. Hell, we all get old and deserve one last bang.

Three cities in three different states; Long Beach, Las Vegas and Georgetown, Texas. I wanted Stephen Perdue to skateboard in Long Beach, David Abair to DJ in Las Vegas, and Travis Graves, also known as Mt. Egypt, to perform in Texas. Adam was instantly skeptical about Abair’s credentials and punctuality, but I promised his legitimacy; DJ Abair had drawn large crowds at the one and only Hound Lounge in San Francisco. We had our people, now was the time to make it happen.

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Official Tour Flyer

Court in Long Beach was at the rooster hooting hour of seven in the morning. Natalie Kozanitias had picked me up the night before and let me sleep on her and Corey’s high end, L shaped couch that stretched from one end of their living room to the other. Corey was in Santa Barbara tending boats, but Clicker the pooch sent me Corey’s Grecian love with slobbering kisses as I settled on that Godly couch. Camila and I talked for hours about a possible marriage in their Budweiser backyard, as I rudely ignored Natalie’s Sloppy Joe feast; deliciously seeping through a kitchen window. As usual, life was moving at light speed.

I represented myself in court after writing almost nothing across the street at a corporate, bully coffee shop. My argument with the judge was primarily the fact that I had no money and mostly no time at all; so she waved all fees and sentenced me to AA meetings for six months. My cheap suit shined with Law and Order’s Raul Esparza’s confidence and, in my mind, victory had never been more fluent. I tasted it on that proud day.

Not much time remained before the One Man Demo would begin with Stephen Perdue at the Houghton Skate-park in Long Beach, California. Adam had flown in Perdue, and TMG’s one and only Fred Zahina to document the event with his Super 8 camera, unique eye and all out CURMUDGEONRY . This duo made me very nervous, however, and part of me would be surprised if the two of them even showed up at all. Adam briefly had told me that he had gotten each of them rooms at the five star Renaissance Hotel in downtown Long Beach with a budget of one thousand dollars for living costs. Those two definitely were blacking out.

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Perdue & Fred Zahina | Official Demo Flyer

” Those two definitely were blacking out. “

One hour remained before the One Man Demo, and word had traveled that my oldest friend and highly talented artist, Brandon Hurley, better known as Bear in Woods, had just done a showing the previous night to promote his business; Brandon Hurley Arts where one can find multitudes of flawless strokes of fine art mixed with urban rawness. After calling him, we agreed to grab a quick bite at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles before the demo.

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Brandon Hurley Arts | Official Tour Flyer

Bear in Woods and his girl friend whom I had never met, Natalie, stared at me with a wide eyed awe as I inhaled my dish. Time was running out and I needed to get to the demo pronto. The One Man Demo with Stephen Perdue was scheduled for an hour. That would give me enough time to show my face, execute a little PR for The Court Tour, throw some product and get the hell out of there to catch my flight back to San Jose. Long Beach was the short part of this three week stint, so every move I made had to be delicately coordinated with time. Quickly, I paid my bill, gave them both my love and hailed a cab. I liked Natalie, and throughout the twenty years Brandon and I had been friends, he had never introduced me to a woman whom I liked.

 

Perdue was already on the course ripping. Fred was drunkenly skating around with his camera in hand. Both of them looked a little rough around the edges. Who wouldn’t after being granted a thousand dollars for but one night? I remember the old Toebock trips when you had to get yourself to an event with your own money. How so much had changed.

 

Perdue killed it. The crowd of skinny pants wearing teenagers, with blinding braces and bleached hair, screamed like they had just seen Jesus himself after Perdue effortlessly landed every trick he tried. His male model smile curled under his flowing curly hair as he cruised through the park, while nineteen year old girls shrieked from his dreamy demeanor. Now I knew what it was like to go to a Beatles concert in the early sixties.

I heard one girl, who could have only been twenty at the very least, say,

” He is SO hot. I am going to fuck him tonight. “

 

Her friend disagreed and the two minors started violently slapping each other, which led to them both being escorted off the premises by a nearby, enticed police officer. This was out of control.

Fred found me in the crowd and led me to a box of product. He handed me a megaphone and called me a piece of shit; for what reason I hadn’t a clue.

I threw product out and the crowd went into an all out frenzy. Court Tour posters and shirts were thrown, but every pair of hands that touched these items immediately dropped them to the floor. No one gave a shit about the Court Tour. I mean, could you really blame them? I myself was having a hard time understanding what exactly I was trying to accomplish with this strange tour.

Pig Wheels and a couple of Habitat boards, a Silas and a Gall, were heaved. Also, I threw some “Don’t Act Famous” videos out into the wild crowd. Three DVDs were tossed out into the wave of hands and one came hurling back; belting me in the face like a Big Gulp in The Weatherman. Harsh.

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“..one came hurling back; belting me in the face ”

 

Perdue was trying to land some kind of demo-ender trick as I packed up my shit; a loose pair of wheels and my flyers which only Fed Ex made a profit from. Upon entering a cab I had bum rushed in the middle of a busy street, I heard the skate park explode in applause and excitement. Perdue must have landed his demo ender. Like a kid leaving his hometown in a cheesy movie, I peered out of the back window in the cab; but instead of witnessing a teary eyed best friend shouting against my departure, I only saw Perdue’s scruffy, dirty blonde hair bobbing above a jagged silhouette of women, swarming him like a flock of termites do to a decaying log. His shirt had been ripped off and in my dwindling sight I could see Fred Zahina with his shirt off, too; shot gunning a beer and trying to feed off the less fortunate girls who just could not break through the barrier of hormonal maniacs encompassing Steve. Meanwhile, Perdue’s smile remained UNCHANGED with that male model smirk never leaving his lips. It seemed to me that he didn’t even realize what was happening, let alone where he was. He was like a parrot trying to hold onto a swaying palm branch as it’s being tossed around violently by a Florida hurricane. Never really knowing the danger of the situation, but loving every moment of it.

Court Tour x Chapter 4

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Chapter 4: Smile

Pounding. Someone was pounding on our door. A voice accompanied the up-roaring door.

“It was check out time at eleven!” The voice was just a bit quieter than the thundering knocks, but no where near quieter than the thunder in my head. “It is four o’ clock PM! IT IS TIME TO LEAVE!” When the time just granted settled in my head, I shot up, creaking my neck as I did so. The shower was running and as my pants found my legs, it shut off. Camila came out looking just as burnt as I was. What the fuck happened? Why would we take Xanax at five in the morning? Wait, did we take Xanax? There was no times for answers, let alone more questions. It was time to get the hell out of there.

The coffee at Denny’s smelled amazing. Camila sat across from me with sorrow drooping her lips.

“This sucks, I didn’t get to see anything. I can’t even see the Grand Canyon, unless we leave right now. I didn’t get to see anything in Las Vegas. What will I tell my bosses when they ask me what I did? Not only that, I will go back to Brazil in maybe February, March for sure! I didn’t see…” She paused in sadness. I had an idea to fix all of this. It was a long shot and, soon to be known, a horrible idea.

Now the plan had shrunk immensely, with distance heavily out weighing time. The plan was to party until eleven, or so, in Las Vegas, then wake up at four in the morning, drive the five hours to the North Rim, spend a few hours there and drive the straight eleven hours back to San Jose. Arrival time would be around five or six in the morning, so a quick nap would take place, and then returning the rental car to SFO at the drop off time of 1:00 p.m. would follow. It was definitely hectic, but do-able.

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It was nine ‘o clock pm, and the two of us found ourselves walking down Las Vegas Boulevard. Some drunk asshole in a Chubakka costume came in hot with harassment on his mind. Or hers. Fuck, I couldn’t tell. It was a Wookie! The derelict got Camila in a bear hug for a second, but she escaped and we slipped away.

The Bilagio Hotel sprouted geysers in the air. A huge glass air balloon towered next to the Eiffel Tower. Lights were everywhere. Never had I seen Las Vegas, it was interesting. Like one giant circus with the people as the acts.

After dancing to music that both Camila and I despised at some club offering free drinks for women, thus going our attendance, we decided that it was time to get back to the hotel. It was already almost one and, following the plan we had crafted, we would need to leave in no more than four hours.

After shortly entering the room, we left again to a little run down Casino next door. Drinks flowed, cheap whiskey mostly, and I found myself at a Black Jack table…winning.

“Come on, Travis. Let’s go back to the hotel. It is late,” said Camila with a tug at my shoulder. I was in the zone, and I was up a hundred dollars.

“Hold on, baby. Let me just play until I lose,” I said with eyes glued on the dealers wedding ring. “Is that cool?” Silence. Vacant was the floor behind me where she once stood only seconds before. I sucked down my beer and made another bet.

Two hands went by and I lost. My phone came out of my pocket and queasily waved by the time four o’ two a.m. My eyes started scaling the smokey casino for Camila, but she was no where to be found.

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Camila and I had been conversing with some security guards that night, so I asked them if they had seen her.

“Oh, you’re Brazilian wife,” one said.

“She left,” said the shorter one. “She looked pissed, buddy.” Before he could say another word, I was out the door.

Camila was back at the hotel, pretty drunk and super pissed. I couldn’t blame her. Our agreement was to stay out only until eleven or twelve. Already had we breached that idea by staying out ’til four. Then when she asked me to go back with her, I had said something stupid about winning. My heart coincided with hers, and I just wanted to make it better. Too late. She was irate. Without a word and fire in eyes, she stormed out of the hotel. Leaving the entire room trembling in the wake of a slammed door.

She just needs some time, I told myself. Ten minutes went by and worry shattered my whole state. Here was this gorgeous woman in a one piece mini skirt, from a different country, drunk and angry walking around by her self on a sketchy side street that slithers next to the Strip. I had to do something.

“There’s gonna be some stuff you gonna see, that’s gonna make it hard to smile in the future. But whatever you see, through all the rain and pain…” Tupac and Scarface’s, “Smile” was blasting as I recklessly drove down the dark street that I hoped she had even went down. I left my clothes, besides my pants, at the hotel; so I was definitely lookin’ white trash. Ignoring this reality, I swallowed my beer, trying to calm my worry as I shot down the dark street. By this time, I was freaking out. She was no where to be found, and now I was lost. In a panic, and on the verge of a nervous collapse of some sort, I drifted the car into a right turn. Then right again, this time screeching a bit during the turn, onto the Strip. “Smiiiiiiiiiiile for me. Won’t you just smi…” SMASH!