James Frey Official Website
Join the JAMES FREY mailing list

Beck interviews Waits


Tom Waits x Beck Hansen : Pt. 1

Irrelevant Topics in a new section featuring conversations between musicians, artists, writers, etc. on various subjects, without promotional pretext or editorial direction. For the first in this series of conversations, the legendary musician and performer, Tom Waits agreed lend an hour of his time to talk about anything and nothing in particular. 

Here is Pt. 1 of that conversation.

Tom Waits: How you doin’?

BH: Good, I’m good.

TW: Are we up and runnin’?

BH: Yeah I think so. Hey, I wanted to ask you about being from Los Angeles. You grew up there…

TW: Yeah, Whittier, La Habra, Downey, that whole area. Yeah, Los Lobos, they’re from Whittier. So is Nixon. I remember Nixon’s market. He had his own family market.

BH: He was? For some reason I thought he was from the Midwest.

TW: No, California, and we used to get a visit every year from the Oscar Meyer wiener mobile, which was an enormous vehicle shaped like a hot dog. The driver was a Dwarf, and the wiener mobile would broadcast music while he sang the song “I wish I was an Oscar Meyer wiener.” He drew quite a crowd. Pretty exciting for a shopping center.

BH: That car is still driving around. I see it from time to time.

TW: You see the Oscar Meyer wiener mobile?

BH: I’ve seen it parked.

TW: They used to pass out little whistles that were about two inches long and it had three notes available. (Laughs.) Whittier lore.

BH: I was born in the McArthur park area.

TW: You remember when they drained McArthur Park, the lake? 

BH: I do, yeah…

TW: They found unbelievable things: Cars, human bones, weaponry.

BH: They should have done an exhibit.

TW: I don’t know why they didn’t. I thought that’s why they drained it.

BH: I’d always heard that when they drained the Echo Park Lake they found an amateur submarine.

TW: Oh, my God.

BH: I don’t know if that was lore.

TW: You mean a homemade submarine?

BH: Yeah, I think it was older too, from the early days of “home submarine building.” I don’t know if that subculture still exists?

TW: That was the East Kids.

BH: There’s so many different versions of the city.

TW: It is pretty international. Drive over here and you’re in Russia. Here, Indonesia, the Philippines, Central America. It’s pretty wild that way.

BH: I think of the city as a sort of mirage. If you look at pictures of the city a hundred years ago it’s just a bunch of weeds and desert dust. Its not really supposed to be here. I was always fascinated by the city it was meant to be. I guess it was a place created by developers. It’s not really like a city where some people roam around and then they find a good piece of land, and then they test it out for a while and make sure there is water so they don’t die, and then they decide to make a city. I started looking at some pictures…Beverly Hills was originally supposed to be called Morocco Junction. I started thinking, if they’d gone with that name we’d be in a whole other situation. I was wondering if there were any things that you remember? It seems like it’s shed its skin so many times.

TW: Well, cars choked everything. I know originally there was a red line that ran from San Bernardino all the way to the ocean and for 35 Cents you could ride a streetcar you know from…

[ click to continue reading a fascinating interview with these two geniuses ]

Posted on July 18, 2009 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art, Los Angeles | | No Comments »