As Gary went on to explain his “religion”, the Maserati slowly filled with smoke. The car was one of my favorite toys I acquired since I hit it big as a producer and engineer in the music industry. It was a GranTurismo convertible with a 4.7 liter V8, top speed of 283 mph and 0-60 in an eye raising 5 seconds. The only downside to the car is I could only drive it in situations where there was no opportunity to get it stolen. I knew full well there were thieves that just followed guys like me around for the opportunity to take it off your hands. For the most part I just took the limo places. It allowed me to get as fucked up as I wanted with no consequences to consider.
My phone began to ring for what seemed like the third time since our trip to 7-11 began. I ignored it. It was hard to tell how long we had been sitting in my driveway since I had lost track of time at this point. We had been hot-boxing for God knows how long. We started the moment we got in the car after picking up an eighteen pack of Bud. An odd choice since Washington State has some of the best microbrews in the country, but I find Budweiser has less pain associated with it when you really pound it down.
I expected LaMarr at anytime and although my relationship with him is hard to explain, I’ll do my best. One might, at first blush, dismiss our relationship with labels like party-buddies or wing-men. The more astute or just a freak might go so far as calling LaMarr a social assistant or human familiar. None of these are quite right though. I guess the most apt comparison I can make is to an Atlantic dolphin species I saw discussed on the Nature Channel once. The males of these dolphin communities always travel in twos. They travel together as a unit whether mating, hunting, playing or whatever else male dolphins do. I know human males don’t do much more than that. Needless to say, scientists are studying the exact “survival” reason for this, but if one of these scientists followed LaMarr and I around for one night, they’d understand it’s all about the party - and wow - do we party. In fact LaMarr and I together have raised partying it to a level and art form hitherto unknown by our species and likely the dolphins as well.
You see, when presented with the challenge of infiltrating and harvesting a new party circle or social gathering, one man may survive, but rarely thrive. Most people understand this concept on a basic level. It’s why people bring a friend to new social situation. They feel less awkward and are guaranteed to have someone to talk to. What is rarely understood is that bringing a “friend” doesn’t increase your chances of success. More often it is just a crutch that keeps you from venturing out of your comfort zone and seizing the moment that is before you.
That’s where LaMarr comes in. When facing down the party gods and demanding from them tribute you don’t need a “friend” you need a God damn fellow Musketeer. Someone so in sync with your creed and aspirations you need not say word to clarify intention. All is understood with a flash of the eye and even that is not necessary. It’s why the term “wing-man” doesn’t quite cut it. We don’t back each other up or support each other’s goals, we work as one. No need to talk. No need to plan. Just do or do not and make Yoda proud.
When LaMarr and I work a room it’s a beautiful thing and all benefit from it. In fact I should state right now, that a true party Musketeer does not come to plunder, but to lift up all around him and take the party to the next level, if done well you’ll pull resources for all where none thought existed. Like Jesus feeding the crowd with only a couple fish and a loaf bread, the truth is, no matter what you got when you get there, if you believe, you can take a bag of Doritos and make it into something biblical.
Whatever LaMarr and my relationship may be I’ll say this, I love that man. I’d trust him with my life, my reputation, my women and my drugs. Perhaps we were brothers in a past life, but I don’t give a shit if we were. LaMarr and I share a karmic tendril so thick His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, could hang his robe on it, if only to let it dry from all the tears of pride shed on our behalf.
As I exhaled my hit and thoughts of LaMarr’s whereabouts, I heard the distinctive rumble of his 2012 Jeep Wrangler. LaMarr was a very rich man as well. His uncle was silly good at the stock market and was one of the top 10 richest guys in the US. When he died, he left nearly his entire estate to LaMarr because he was the last male carrying the Hartman name. That and I get the impression that LaMarr was his favorite relative. No wonder though, LaMarr, whose first name was actually Glenn, was easy to like. At 35, he was a tall good looking man with an athletic build and a deep, infectious laugh. 6 foot 2 with dark hair and crystal blue eyes, he had a smile that disarmed women before they had a chance to throw up their defenses and from the tag team and orgies we occasionally had the chance to participate in, I was privy to the fact that he was hung without modesty and knew how to use it. A sight to behold for sure. He also was the only man I ever met that could out drink me.
I pushed the control for the gate and up rolled LaMarr like clockwork. The instant the Jeep came to a stop, LaMarr leapt from the driver’s seat and rushed up to my window.
“Dude!” he exclaimed excitedly. “Why aren’t you answering your phone?” He was about to continue, but was interrupted by the cloud of blue smoke that began to pour out of my window as I rolled it down. “Give me some of that.” he demanded as I handed him the little bubbler we were pulling on. After three long hits, he handed it back to me and slowly smiled as the THC spread over his mind like a warm blanket.
“You were saying?” I asked.
“You need to get over to my place!” he said, eyes widening with anticipation. “Remember those two escorts I hooked up with last night? Well they’re still at my place and they have more coke than they know what to do with - and me too for that matter.”
I nodded. Despite the fact that money was no object when it came to such things the fact remained that the only thing better than doing your own coke was doing someone else’s and if that someone happened to be a beautiful woman, all the better.
“I got some tracking left to do.” I said sadly.
“What?” LaMarr said incredulously, pressing the air with his hands to help articulate the importance of what he had to say. “You know how horny women get on coke and these two are no exception. They are dying for some action. Soooo hot I’m telling you!”
“Bring them over here.” I said, “Take the limo. See if you can give John, my driver something special on the way.”
LaMarr’s eyes stared into the distance as he pondered the implications of this for a moment. “OK.” He nodded excitedly. I’ll tell them Gary is here too, hi Gary by the way, they’ll flip when I tell them what band he is in.” and with that, LaMarr ran back to his Jeep and was gone as quick as he arrived.
“I love that man.” I said, handing the pipe back to Gary.
“I can see why!” Gary exclaimed. “But he forgot the limo guy?”
I looked back at the cloud of dust LaMarr had left behind and nodded. “LaMarr is just a little excited. The thought of coke fueled tang got the best of him. Don’t worry, John will get his turn.”
“Taking care of the help, eh? Matt, you are a generous man” Gary said raising his eyebrows.
I nodded. It was a true statement. I looked Gary in the eye to be sure he was listening. “Always be willing to share the fruits you have gathered my friend, even if it’s a stranger, in fact especially strangers, if only for the look of shock on their previously selfish faces.” I smiled at the thought and continued. “Give what you can, when you can. It always comes back, just not in the way you expect sometimes and a favor given is good as gold if your down on your luck. No matter how well off I am now, nothing lasts forever. Not the good. Not the bad.
“Dig.” Gary said as he dumped the water in the pipe out the window and put it back in a silver stash box. He closed it and smiled. “Something tells me my day is about to get better.”
“Oh yes.” I nodded. “Now let’s go track so we can have some fun.”
“Deal.” he said as we both hopped out of the car and headed for the house.
We walked across the red cobblestone driveway, up the broad steps and through the large columns to the front door. You could smell the salt air of the Puget Sound just beyond the bluff outback. It smelled like the Pacific Ocean just 4 hours away, but sweeter. If one were to stand in the house or backyard and look West on a good day, the Olympic Mountains on the Peninsula were breathtaking. To tell you the truth, in all my travels, I’ve never known a place as beautiful as Seattle. Olympics to the west and the Cascade Mountain Range rising in the east and of course Mt. Rainier, looming up just south always reminding us of how small we are. Then there are the trees, trees everywhere. Rivers, lakes and streams flow all around you no matter what direction you go. Blue Heron and Bald Eagles are common sights. The San Juan’s always beckon you to explore the countless islands that stretch north through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I come by my romance of Seattle honorably. I am one of the few I find that were actually born here, but it has always been that way with this place. Even the misty blanket on a cloudy day is comforting to me. People come, but rarely leave. To let you in on a little secret, us locals say it rains all the time just to keep people from moving here.
We walked through the door and over the stonework floor. I was met by Jenny, my butler. “Anything I can do for you Mr. Millikan?” Jenny was an ex-stripper I met one night. With long dark hair and legs for miles, she was a tall glass of water that I just had to put on my payroll.
“We soon will have some guests.” I replied. “If you could send them to the studio when they arrive, I would appreciate it.”
“Shall I have the cleaning staff on standby”, she said with a pearly white smile and a mischievous laugh in her deep brown eyes.
Pondering the last “guests” pengent for ecstasy and liquid LSD, I replied with a nod and a shudder. It was quite a trip to say the least.
It was a nice house, big but not gaudy. I could spend time describing it in detail, but that’s what decorating shows are for. Suffice it to say it looks like one of those houses you see on the hill in the distance. The ones you wonder about. The real money though was downstairs in the studio. While there are cheap alternatives for anything, in audio engineering you get what you pay for and usually that starts at three grand and quickly works its way up from there.
As we took the elevator down to the lower level I began to think of my humble beginnings in the music business with a pre-Intel IMac and a ProTools LE system. Although it was held together by rubber bands and duct tape it got me to the finish line with an album that eventually went platinum. Ironically it was one I did for free. My life was never the same after that. I went from dead broke to a hot commodity. Soon I had more money than I knew what to do with and I quickly started investing in my favorite hobby – hedonism.
We reached the lower level and stepped onto the hardwood bamboo floors that stretched throughout. I told Gary to head to the live room while I headed to the control. I went through the first then second door that provided better sound isolation. I took a deep breath to clear my mind. The control room contained all the audio toys an engineer could need. Modeled after Capitol studios in LA, it was a treasure chest full of the finest in digital and classic analog equipment. SSL FX G384, Fairchild 670 Stereo Compressor/Limiters, Drawmer DS201 gates, and a selection of EMT plates. All of it was routed through a ProTools HD 3 system. The mic cabinet was just as impressive with an A-list of condenser, dynamic and ribbon microphones. All of gear and sound treatment together cost nearly a million bucks.
I found I needed all of it with the exception of the SSL mixing board. For those not familiar with audio gear an SSL is that big thing with all the faders, buttons and knobs. Don’t get me wrong, an SSL is the industry standard and I used it for the quality of its mic pres, but it really is a hangover from the days of analog. I just had it for effect. No matter how much good gear one has, a layman evaluates a studio by the size of the board and I swear it is an aphrodisiac when it came to my many female guests.
Being born in the digital age I did my mixing “in the box” on the Mac Pro computer. I bought it two years ago in 2010 for just under $17,000 and it was a processing monster. It had Two 2.93GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors, 32 gigs of RAM and 4-2 terabyte drives which allowed me to use the internal bus rather then write to an external drive. The monitor screens were just as pretty with two Apple 30” Cinema displays that you could stare at for hours without eye fatigue. Add to that the Dynaudio BM 5A MKII near-field monitor speakers and I was in heaven.
Make no mistake; I am definitely a ProTools man. It’s unrivaled as an editing platform, but lately I’ve been doing the final mix-downs in Logic. Logic’s summing bus algorithms put ProTools to shame. It was so warm and luscious that it was hard to believe it was digital and with a full suite of Waves and McDSP plug-ins, I had no excuses to fall short of audio perfection.
Gary powered up his Jensen preamp that powered his cab and soon I fired up the mix. Soon he jumped in with a fiery slap after a four bar drum intro. I was getting great tone off him. When it came to bass, I started with a pretty basic set-up. I had an RE20 microphone on the cab and his direct signal was running through an Avalon DI. Later I would fatten it up with a Line 6 Bass POD mixed in. Finally I would add the plug-ins. First the EQ shelved at 30 kHz, dipped at 500 to take the dirt out and a boost between 2000k and 4000k to get the attack, then adjust to taste. Next came the WAVES RBass to fatten it up, some outboard compression with the Fairchilds and then mix it all down to a mono track. All that was left after that was an L1 limiter to crush it down so the bottom doesn’t fall out of the mix.
If people realized what it took to make an album, I’m convinced they wouldn’t steal songs. A good album took 6 months to a year if you were lucky. Every instrument is tracked separately. It takes 14 tracks for the drums and two or three for each instrument after that, with the exception of vocals. Then all of it needed to be mixed down to a stereo track. It was no easy feat that took me 10 years of mentorship to master.
We were just finishing up the final takes when LaMarr arrived with a blond and a brunette, one under each arm. Tall and slender and in matching white tops tied just above the naval and short black miniskirts, I felt my heart skip a beat at the implications before me. Absolutely gorgeous, these looked like a couple of girls who knew how to be very bad which in this case was very good. Professional girls on this level knew how to please. They could melt you with a word and leave you feeling like a virile king no matter whether you deserved it or not. The fact they took money to perform their art was the biggest plus of all. As I heard a comedian once say, you don’t pay them to stay, you pay them to leave. Although, I got the feeling these girls weren’t here for money, but to cozy up to the power that came with wealth and fame. Power, after all, was the greatest female aphrodisiac.
“Matt, I want you to meet Diamond and Jade.” LaMarr said with a grin that reached all the way to his ears.
“Very pleased to meet you both. Welcome.” I replied as I caught the lascivious eye of Jade, the brunette. It was a look that exposed her skills at seduction. I could feel my Chakras open just looking at her. In that moment I felt 2 inches taller or longer, depending how you looked at it. “Wow!” was all I could think. Man-oh-man this was gonna be good.
With a quick kiss on LaMarr’s cheek, Diamond bounced into the live room where Gary was tuning up for the next song. Jade, without a word, started walking toward me closing the inner door behind her. LaMarr, realizing he had lost his privileged position, threw up his hands and turned back toward the elevator punching the button to return upstairs. He most likely was going to find Jenny who was always willing to earn a little extra money on the side and so was our ace in the hole at times when sexual options eluded us.
I could care less at this point as I watched Jade cross the floor like some predatory cat, twisting her hips with each step. As she came closer she dragged her nails across the SSL sound board catching the faders with her finger tips as she came. Tap, tap, tap. The look in her eye was so enticing I felt my face flush with an excitement I could barely contain. I closed my eyes for a moment in the hopes of catching my breath. As I did, I heard her fingers coming closer. I felt my heart start to beat like a Snoqualmie Spirit Drum and I opened my eyes in time to see her start to loosen the buttons on her shirt, exposing the pink lace bra underneath. She stopped to lick her lips. Her eyes narrowed as she pondered her plan of attack, but at this point I had already submitted to my fate. I leaned back in my black leather chair and waited for the kill. Soon she was on me, spreading her legs to cross over mine. Her flowery, crisp perfume washed over me drawing deep into my lungs. My head began to spin, drunk on the pheromones. She leaned gently up against me pressing her soft breasts to my chest. Overcome by the arousal, I tensed and stiffened, arching my back in anticipation. Sensing this, she slowly she leaned down and drew my left earlobe into her mouth. Slowly she turned my earrings with her tongue. Then, with the hot breeze of a whisper, she hushed into my ear “Relax” and I simply melted into my throne helpless. I was hers and at that moment there was nothing or nowhere I would rather be.