Tacos with Ray

Ray Liotta died. Damn. How quick are our years?Unforgiving. Exacting. But in an Aristotelian way Ray is immortal. They remember celebrity.

An “established” Hollywood actor. True. In his life he wore both masks – comedy and tragedy. I’d rather think of my dinner with a really normal fella 30 years ago.

The night before, at Fenders Ballroom in Long Beach, I was in the worst fight of my life.
At a punk rock show three young vatos attacked me – an initiation. Perhaps.

I was in control until three older ones sucker punched and overwhelmed me, I was knocked to the floor. Countless legs kicking me. I could only cover my head as suddenly I was pulled to my feet.

It was two LADS – LA Death Squad members – a gang from my holly hood. They recognized me from the old days. We had beers at intermission.

As they got me to my feet, a vato was biting my left wrist, another tried gouging out my left eye. His finger slipped into my mouth and I bit it to the bone. We swung and kicked backing our way to the exit.

The next evening, cradling broken ribs a broken nose a black eye, other eye swollen, cuts on my face, I bump into Ray at my corner taquería on Cahuenga.

As he turned, he sees me, “ what the fuck happened to you” I said “I was in a fight last night, Ray”. “You know my name?”, he asks. I told him “sure. You were great in Something Wild” (his big break). Little did we know he’d be typecast as the same tough guy again and again but then again he was at his best.

But on this evening, he was wrapping up his big dramatic follow “working up on the hill” – Universal. He apologized that he had to run, as if we were friends and planned going to my flat for some bongs.

Young. Ambitious. Excited by the unlimited potential. “You gotta take care of yourself” as he left. A genuine fella. He hadn’t taken a beating yet. He didn’t know he was looking at his future.

He offered respect without needing to say it. Now I’m returning the favor. Respect. But now “i get to live the rest of my life like a schnook”.