Back when I lived in L.A. people had nicknames for things like Ralph’s (grocery stores) and 7-11 (convenience stores.) There was a retro Ralph’s, a red Ralph’s, a renovated Ralph’s and a rundown Ralph’s. Yes, they all had to start with an “R”.
And in the cheaper section of Hollywood, where a lot of aspiring rock and rollers lived, sharing rents and taking day gigs while working toward that big break in the music biz, there was a 7-11 everybody knew as the Rock ‘n Roll 7-11.
This 7-11 was a little grittier, a little darker, a little less cared-for than the typical 7-11. It was staffed entirely be guys who were in hair bands. They wore black t-shirts, had tattoos, really long and / or big hair. In short: they looked marginally different than 90% of the rest of Los Angeles citizenry.
This 7-11 was on Sunset, at Curson.
I frequented other 7-11s close to where I lived, but one by one their soda fountains went flat. You could TELL them that their fountains were flat and they’d acknowledge that they had heard you but nothing would every actually CHANGE about the situation. And then one day you’d be ready for a Big Gulp and you’d think “I wonder how that 7-11 over by the Mexican restaurant’s fountain drinks are?” And you’d audition that fountain.
The Rock ‘n Roll 7-11 was my main 7-11 for a couple or three years. I took some photos way back in that day, including one of a couple of pumped-up LAPD officers cuffing some guy, and one of his shoes was on the asphalt. When I decided to immortalize this location in a painting I had to work that in. I also had to work in one of my favorite apartment buildings, the Sunset Curson. Even though it’s like a block away. And I thought that on Sunset Blvd. it ought to BE sunset.
The main guy who worked the counter had long, flowing blond hair, was thin and wiry, and had the tattoos and black t-shirt uniform of the neighborhood. I decided to place him directly at the center of the composition, foregrounding the Super Big Gulp, with its fuzzy effervescence. The tattoo is my Gipson SG, on fire. The car in the parking lot with the vanity license plate was car from MY immediate neighborhood which I could never figure out:
Too loose for you?
Too lucky for you?
I’ll most likely never know…