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As I prepared to move here from New Jersey in 1988, I kept hearing the same thing: “It’s all plastic Hollywood showbiz hair-metal people trying to make it big. You will not succeed and you will hate it.”

Yet I instinctively knew not to listen. SST Records was here, along with most of my favorite bands. The one person I knew who’d made the journey, my friend Ben Chatrer, told me that while it was financially “disastrous” trying to stay afloat doing temp work, he still managed to make the rent and eat something every day. I decided to give it a shot; saved up $1000 and bought a round-trip ticket.

I showed up with no drum set, no car and no place to live, yet found myself a member of two different bands inside of two weeks.

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Crawlspace had placed a Recycler ad describing themselves as a “working band with vinyl” and looking for a drummer into “MC5, Butthole Surfers, Sonic Youth” that I saw and circled on my first morning walk around McArthur Park. Rommelz Gogglez were students at Otis/Parsons that lived down the hall from Ben’s friend Gina who was letting me crash on her floor. To my surprise, both bands were willing to drive me around to practice with a barely functional there-piece drum kit I bought in a Marina Del Rey garage for $100, helped me rig up cinderblocks to keep the kick drum in place and grabbed the one cymbal for me when it went flying off the makeshift stand.