Fourth of July 2007

Fourth of July 2007 Venice Beach California

Part One: Wake-up to Dress the Keg

I know it has been a little while coming, but my telling you about my Fourth of July was delayed due to severe niggardly behavior. Let me explain. The day started out industriously enough at 0800 because I was on a mission to fill up the empty keg in my sister’s front lawn. At 0830, after cleaning up, I immediately stole Jeff "dirty jefe" Jenkins’ Arbor skateboard and kicked up to my sister’s house from my apartment down by the beach.

By the time that I arrived I had a fairly light sweat, as the heat in the early morning was showing promise of an outstanding afternoon. The minute that I put my key in the lock to open the outside gate it flew open. Paris, a ten-year-old houseguest, opened the door with a bright smile that would also be a harbinger of the day to come. She had bright pink spray paint on her hands and she was looking for trouble, asking me if I thought that it would be ok for her to tag some of the grass.

After explaining to her that I didn’t think that it would be a good idea she sort of sulked off, but not too far as to not be heard when I walked inside the front door. Paris had been up since 0600 because she had flown in from Toronto with her mother, Shala, just two nights earlier. Jetlag can play cruel tricks on kids, and more aptly, on people staying with kids that are affected by jetlag.

Poor Camellia, my sister’s fashion designer roommate, was awakened much earlier than her Cancer-crabby-evilness would allow and she came out of her room in her underwear and a t-shirt to see what all the new commotion was about. I explained to her that I was there to get the key to my sister’s ride because I didn’t want to lose my parking spot just because we needed a keg for the party. Parking down by the beach in Venice is like the play “Babes in Toyland” on the weekends because “once you leave its borders you may never return again.”

My predicament was discussed long before Camellia decided to act stank so I justifiably inquired as to the whereabouts of the key without giving her too much in the way of ammunition for bitching. Camellia can be a bit of a mine field when it comes to early morning disturbances whereas my sister, Lysa, can sleep through a train wreck as a result of our parents’ party training. I am grateful to them for at least giving us all that common denominator: Cooper’s rarely turn down a party, often the louder the better.

In order to really make the party happen, so to speak, I realized that I had to be committed to filling the keg though. Nothing says party like a full keg. I learned that from my high school years in Long Island where we would throw “keggers” on the beach. It was there that I first studied keg tapping technology and the importance of ice: lots and lots of ice. Shout outs to Justin Fabella who was my cohort in Glen Cove and taught me the importance of surge tactics in the war of the keg before becoming a lawyer.

After finding the key and heading off for the liquor store I pulled into a vacant parking lot at precisely 0859. I was the first customer. I could see the liquor store workers milling about and smoking outside of the warehouse. I took the empty keg in and exchanged it for a new one with $112 dollars. I even got a few bags of ice to chill it en route in advance. One of the same guys that was outside earlier helped me lift the heavy keg into the back of my sister’s Land Cruiser and I recalled hoping for similar help on the next leg.

This required some coordination with local forces due to the fact that an empty keg hardly poses a strain on one man’s muscle, conversely a full keg of beer is cumbersome for two guys. I knew deep down that I would have some sort of assistance because everybody in the Venice vicinity knew that parties were brewing everywhere and people would be out searching. The roads gave credence to this belief and traffic filtered from Lincoln Avenue to pedestrians gearing up for a parade as I turned down our street: luckily DJ Osamu pulled up right when I returned from West Side Liquors.

I was the happiest to see Osamu gearing up for inevitable keg party because he was providing the sound system, as usual, for the laid-back affair. (Shout outs to Paul T!) When I first saw the lanky Japanese-Hawaiian sensation he was munching on a burrito in his Cadillac listening to tunes with his engine still running. Apparently he thought that it might be too early to ring my sister’s buzzer but when he saw me he flashed a knowing smile and offered me the other half of his Mexican sandwich.

Together we made short work of dressing the keg because I had the barrels ready and primed with ice. I hid the tap to the keg because I didn’t want anyone else to tap it but me, a trained expert. The weight of the beer in the keg hastened the melting of the ice placed on the bottom of the barrel just with sheer pressure. The ice on the sides and the top of the keg left only about ¼ of the keg not in direct contact ice and a trickle of water could be seen traveling down the listing side: this is the perfection that you should shoot for. We now had a keg of Miller Genuine Draft, perhaps one of America’s finest low-quality beers, on ice, and chilling for the party.

Part Two: Tagging the Neighborhood to Topless

After pausing to admire our work for only the briefest of moments, Osamu and I eyed the can of fluorescent pink spray paint that Paris had so graciously left on the front lawn after “redecorating” a flower pot. I guess it was the city-kid in all of us that decided to tag something for real, after all, there was a party atmosphere permeating even though it was about 0930. I picked up the can and we both walked out the front gate towards the bakery that was being demolished in lieu of more condominiums on 5th street. In this ever-expanding city the one thing that is looked down upon the most by the locals is building more housing: especially when they build up.

Our target was the blank billboard-style planks that shielded the current demolition from public view. Already 80% covered with bills and advertisements from everything from rock bands to upcoming movies we set our sights on the white space that faced the direction of the party. We took turns standing at the intersection looking out for the cops and our results were quite stunning.

Osamu left shortly after to pick up the massive speakers but because of all the activity and general excitement that I was feeling, I decided to go back to my apartment and take yet another shower for the party. At this point I may have even tapped the keg, but my sister was awake and dead set against starting a party at ten in the morning. So much for Cooper’s never turning down a party. I must confess now, that this was indeed my plan from the beginning and I told my guests to arrive early at noon, while my sister told everyone four in the afternoon.

Her house dictated that the party would be carried out under her rules, though. Sometimes when the party gets going it is hard to stop was my rationalization. I was also reluctant to share the $200 worth of ribs that I purchased with just any Johnny-come-lately. My plan was intricately linked to the arrival of our resident barbeque chef and Chateau Marmot manager, Wayne. I had spoken to him several times earlier in the week and outlined a plot to fire up the grill and hide some ribs for the Rikoko Lounge and subsequent later use.

So far, I was all in for the Fourth of July. I already put down about $500 to ensure that all the amenities were going to be readily available for the masses, but I also wanted to make sure that the most important guests didn’t want for anything as well. Hipsters show up notoriously late, as a general rule. Besides, with work looming on the horizon for Thursday I felt that it was in our best interest to start early, hit them hard and then coast after the fireworks ended. “The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley”, is a line in a poem by Robert Burns though.

I knew that I was going all in because I have been saying “sometimes you have to dig deep” since September and I had my shirt off before noon. Nothing says reckless abandon like having no shirt on and commencing the rest of the day. I took this one right out of Dirty Jefe’s playbook. He never wears a shirt and he always looks like he’s headed to the beach at any given moment. Maybe it’s the long hair? I don’t really know, but I haven’t gotten a haircut since March and I may not get one all summer long. There is no telling how the surfer-hippie-hipster look will play out on this African-american. I’ll be sure to keep you all informed as to how it goes…

At this point in time though I won’t get into too many of my different looks, but let’s just say this look was a classic. You’ll have to go to The Arab Parrot in order to really see it though. (Check the July blogs.) I am having trouble getting photos from that website to link correctly to my blog, so you may have to take my word for it. I was stunning. Normally, I don’t really say that about myself but in this case I’m coming off doing absolutely nothing athletically besides surfing a whole bunch. Seriously go look at my body right now on that other website and tell me if I need to go back to the dojo and train in judo, or if you think that I should play more soccer this year.

Some can say that it’s just genetics and they may be right, but man, do I look marvelous or what? I sure felt marvelous. I felt so marvelous that when my first guest arrived fashionably early, I decided to break ranks with my sister and tap the Keg. Chris Robinson is one of my boys from way back in the day in Washington DC. We went to college together at Howard University and he even went to my high school’s blacker rival, Archbishop Carroll. We threw so many alcohol related parties in our apartment style dormitories that we became notorious for prolonging our departure from that storied institution known as The Mecca.

Despite the fact that it was only about 1100, tapping the keg in the presence of my long lost homey just felt right. The moment that the keg was tapped, Camellia’s attitude got decidedly better. Beer is the universal attitude adjuster if utilized correctly. Thanks to Chris’ friend’s help in the kitchen chopping veggies for my sister, even she didn’t complain too much that we were on the front lawn drinking so early. I contend that anyone that would come to your 4th of July party at the prescribed time of 1600 is not worthy to be at your party in the first place anyway. Hipsters aren’t always polite when it comes to party arrivals or departures.

Punctuality at parties is so-NOT-rock-‘n-roll. By the same token, getting a head start on everybody else that comes to the party is totally rock-‘n-roll. I started digging deep a long time ago, as I have mentioned even earlier in this article so fusing my brand of partying with the hip-hop culture is what probably prompted me to start with the more extremes kinds of natural fun fungi. I think that I got them from Dirty Jefe months earlier when he complained that they were way too strong. I thought at the time that it would be early enough for me burn them off and dance them down as the festivities ensued, but I was only partially right.

Lysa was hell bent on making the whole house ready for the shindig but, as you might have guessed, from this moment on I was completely useless. Time whizzed by in a blur. Before you know it I was on a lawn chair in the front threatening to take my pants off for no really good reason. That was fantastic. More people started showing up early proving and lending some vindication to my theory on hipsters, and blunts were rolled. My sister finally convinced me to put my six-pack away and we were cool for the rest of the night. I don’t think that I got too out of control until I did this keg stand.

Man we started early… I guess you can say that my camera skills got progressively worse throughout the night. I wonder how that happened…

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