from the Critical List February 20, 1987
Love Tractor at UCLA, 2/12. It's been quite a few years since I flunked out of college (well, I didn't exactly flunk out, but I didn't exactly finish, either -- let's say I took a long-standing incomplete, and I'm letting it stand). But I never mind going back to see how tiny the students have gotten since "my day" (why, they're babies, practically!) and to remind myself just how happy I am to have put all that business behind me. No more pencils (except when I can't find a pen), no more books (haven't read one in ages), no more teachers' dirty looks (I knew them well). Ha ha ha, la la la! I'm free, I'm free, I'm free!
        It's also been a few years since Love Tractor were in college (they went to that school for underground pop bands outside of Atlanta), though they still live in a college town and get their records played on college radio and, I would imagine and hope, in college dormitories, and are every once in a while (last Thursday, say) invited to perform in a college snack bar, for college students and anyone else who manages to hear about it. The snack bar they've got at UCLA -- well, I imagine they've got hundreds of snack bars at UCLA, but the one I'm thinking about now is that called the Cooperage, in that Queen Mary of student unions, Ackerman -- is a very nice snack bar indeed, with a commodious stage tucked in the corner, a better PA and better sight lines than you'll find in half the clubs in Los Angeles, and darling little pizzas cooked on the spot for a reasonable $1.50. And there's a bowling alley right next door! And a really decent video arcade, where I saw for the first time this very cool new game having to do with skateboards, which throws swarms of bees at you and flashes the stern warning (or perhaps credo) "SKATE OR DIE." Frankly, I didn't understand this game at all. Where I went to school, we didn't have video games (dude, Pong had only hardly been invented!), and if we wanted to do any bowling, we had to go off-campus to do it. Our snack bar had a pool table and a couple of pinball units and a candy machine I once found stood completely on its head. You couldn't get darling little pizzas there, but the French-fried hot dogs (the specialite de la maison, steaming on the inside, a blackened crisp on the outside) more than compensated. And there was caviar for a couple of months, until some person in authority (I think they had to send to the state capitol for him) put the kibosh on it. (Caviar with kibosh, an old Russian delicacy.)
        Anyway, caviar or no, and even without French-fried hot dogs, the Cooperage is a dandy little eatery and a fine occasional nightclub, especially as they charge no cover. (Buy some pizza with the money you save.) Dream Syndicate is there tonight, if you're reading this on Thursday the 19th, you can check them and the Union out at the same time. Even when there aren't any bands playing, it's probably an all right place to hang; you can catch up on the college fashions, and play air hockey, and maybe talk your way into somebody's bowling party. Don't be shy -- no one will have the faintest idea whether you belong there or not. There are like, what, 30,000 students attending UCLA, and they come in all shapes and sizes, colors and ages. The kid I saw working the skateboard game couldn't have been more than 12, and nobody asked him for his ID. So that's my big recommendation -- everyone go down to the Union, and please don't mention my name.
        Love Tractor, for their part in this abominably digressive review, were just ace....

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Copyright Robert Lloyd 1987 and 2006