punk pixies in the canyon


An excerpt from an LA Times article I wrote in the Summer of '92...

Weetzie Bat, the heroine of my first novel, was born full-grown, L.A.-love-goddess-style, but the sea she came out of was a cement road cut through a cool green canyon, an ocean of ruined palaces, overgrown gardens of amaryllis and oleander and legends about rock stars and magicians.

When I was 17 years old, my friends and I used to drive through Laurel Canyon after school in a shiny blue vintage Mustang convertible. We couldn't wait to leave the smoggy Valley we found so stifling, plunge into the canyon and come out the other side. On one of these trips, a punk princess with spiky bleached hair, a very pink '50s prom dress and cowboy boots seemed to appear out of nowhere, her thumb in the air. We didn't pick her up. But her image stayed in my mind: the pixie spirit of Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles.


Our nighttime excursions were even more filled with decadent wonder. Under the gaze of billboard deities on the Sunset Strip we ate hot dogs inside the Carney's train, skulked down the aisles of Tower Records and slammed to bands like the Go-Go's, the Weirdos and the Cramps at the Whiskey and the Roxy. The music was intoxicating. I watched X play one night--Exene and John Doe swooning and darkly beautiful like roses inked on white flesh--and wished I could write stories that made people react the way they do to music--sweating, dancing, crying.

Weetzie was born in this Hollywood but she was named on a San Fernando Valley freeway. A friend and I were rocking to KROQ, when we saw a pink Pinto with the license plates "WEETZIE." My friend, a rambunctious surf-skank-go-go girl who is now a highway- patrol officer, sped up and expertly maneuvered her Bug to catch up with the Pinto. There behind the wheel was the spiky-haired, blonde pixie wearing big pink Harlequin glasses. Well, maybe she was a different girl. Or maybe we never really saw who was driving the Pinto. But as soon as I had the name, the character just evolved by herself. I made up stories about her and drew cartoon sketches of her for years.

To read the full article: http://articles.latimes.com/1992-07-26/books/bk-5383_1_laurel-canyon