This started early one afternoon over gin and tonics in SF at the Buddha Lounge. Mark behind the bar was telling me about this guy down in LA who had had the back of his head blown off by a stray bullet during a convenience store robbery that went shoot’m up. The guy lies around the hospital in a comma for the better part of a month but eventually pulls through apparently no worse for wear except for the three by three inch metal plate that they had to put in the back of his head to keep everything tucked away. As the story goes Randal, the guy who got shot, recuperates for the length of time floated by his insurance policy and then goes back to driving a cab - and then suddenly he disappears but not before a few complaints are called in to the cab company about how he’s playing not very funny practical jokes with the cabs two way radio system. Poof . . . . Randal is nowhere to be found.
6 months later his sister (who actually told the story to Mark the Buddha Lounge bar tender) gets a call from Randal. He’s in LA and has a little home/office in Silver Lake. He’s changed his name to Sri Randal Randal and gives psychic readings or more accurately facilitates these sessions where he serves as an “antenna” to pick up “signals” from “disembodied spirits” who can then speak to you through one of the vintage transistor radios he’s collected (late 60’s models seem to work the best). You come in - you pay a hundred dollars – and he fiddles with the radio until he finds a channel where somebody “out there” takes the opportunity of saying some things you theoretically need to hear. And - supposedly “whoever” is “out there” identifies themselves and speaks about things that leave you with no doubt that what has taken place is both personal and authentic .
Between taking his time with the story and serving a few other patrons I’m on my third drink and to be honest I think this is all just a bunch of entertaining bullshit - I mean really, give me a break. But Mark who acts like he could care less whether I believe him or not and knows I’m heading for LA goes on to say that as he understands it you can find this guy down along the beach in Santa Monica the second Sunday of the month when he does cheap readings (20 bucks) as a way of “giving back” to the community, kind of like service work . . . just look for a guy near the water up on a ladder wearing a hat. I guess he wears the hat so the plate in his head doesn’t overheat and he’s kind of short and for good “reception” his head needs to be above anyone else’s in the near vicinity.
So, fast forward I’m in LA and it’s the second Sunday of the month and I’ve got nothing planned till I hook up with Zoe Ruth to go street shooting and then to the Auto Club show the next night.
I go to the beach, walk for awhile, and damn if there isn't this guy up on a ladder with a little transistor radio in his hand.
There was hardly anyone around so I snapped a polaroid and just walked up to the ladder . . .
“Hey, are you Randal”?
“I’m Sri Randal Randal, care for a transmission?” . . . .
“I guess so”
“that’ll be a twenty dollar donation”
I hand him a twenty and he comes a few steps down the ladder
“Put your ear by the radio”
I put my ear by the radio and he one handedly begins to toggle the dial - I’m hearing crackly intermittent sports scores and distant weather reports and fast food jingles and classic rock and more fuzz and then “BUZZ SNAP”
“Gary, this is your father. Listen son I don’t have much time but I wanted to let you know that I’m really sorry for how it was between us and I wish I could have done something or said something while I was alive to make it different but I just didn’t know how and I know that it hurt you but I want you to know that it wasn't your fault it was because of me and not you and I’m sorry and I hope that you can forgive me and I know you’ve struggled with whether you should have gone into the family business after I died but I know it wasn’t right for you and I can see that you did the right thing with your life and you’ve found your way and I’m happy for you so don’t think about it anymore - you did right and I’m proud of you and I’ve got to go now but I’m glad we could have this moment and I want you to know how much I love you”
and then weird static and he was gone
I stood there looking out at the ocean - after awhile i felt a hand on my shoulder
“you ok? Are we good?”
I couldn’t talk right then. I walked back to the parking lot and got on my friends P200 and rode as hard as it would go up the coast road. There was no fucking way that could have been faked. I laughed and cried and screamed and finally pulled over and walked back down to the water and smoked a couple of cigarettes - I felt really really good . . .
I’ve told this story to a few people. Not everyone believes me. It doesn’t matter. This is exactly how it happened and if I’ve spoken untruly may I be struck down by the powers of this grand and mysterious universe before I upload . . . .