Starsky and Hutch and a carton of milk – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

You couldn’t walk in most of Los Angeles. There were no sidewalks. Everyone drove.

I drove to the supermarket, just two blocks away, to get some milk. I pulled into the huge car-park and was cruising along in my VW camper van looking for a space near to the entrance when a car shrieked past me at huge speed and, with a screech of tyres producing a cloud of smoke, broadsided in front of a big Chevvy van that was chugging down the next aisle. At the same time a similar car performed the same action from the other direction so that the two cars were now blocking the van in. Simultaneously two other cars screamed up behind the big van and also screeched to a halt in a pall of smoke. The van was now completely hemmed it in. For a moment it was as if everything was on pause. The van had halted. I had jammed on the brakes and come to a stop and was watching the scene on auto. The blue tyre smoke slowly drifted off over the parked cars. Then it went bananas. All the doors of the four cars flew open and armed men jumped out. Sixteen guys crouched behind the open doors pointing guns at the Chevvy van.

My mouth dropped open. This was like the movies. I was frozen.

I could see one of the guys from behind the Chevvy come out from behind his protective door, edge along the side of the van with his gun cocked up in the air at the ready, towards the front of the Chevvy.

A helicopter buzzed down overhead.

The guy reached the door, reached up to the handle and flung the door open, jumping to the side and levelling his gun at the occupants, young white guys in their twenties, who had their hands raised in the air. He then reached in, grabbed the guy in the passenger seat, yanked him out of the van and roughly flung him on the ground. Most probably the same thing was happening on the driver’s side but I couldn’t see that. The other guys with the guns began coming out from behind their doors, still training their guns on the van, and fanning out to cover the van The guy I was watching stood on the passenger’s head with his boot and pointed his gun at his head. There was a lot of shouting.

I was twenty feet away stationery, gawping like an idiot at a scene that was like something out of Starsky & Hutch. It had all happened so fast.

What if they had started shooting? I was right in the middle of it. What was it all about? A drugs bust? Some gang or other? A routine check? Even for America, it was a bit OTT.

“Excuse me sir, can we see your driving licence, please?”

Where was my camera? I always had my camera with me. I’d left it at home. How could I have done that? I would loved to have had some photos of the action. I could have taken some stunning shots of men with guns, helicopters and action.

Just another day in LA.

19.9.01

 

I’m one crazy, innocent, fifty-two-year-old mother-fucker. But nowhere near as crazy as I think I am.

18.9.01

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