Have you ever tried to climb over the back seat of a car without using your hands? It’s not easy. Particulary tricky, mind, when you’re trying to do so with an angry, shaven-headed American policeman screaming “KEEP YOUR TWO HANDS VISIBLE!” and pointing a gun at the back of your head through the rear window.
But such is life, apparently, when you roll with Kid Cudi and his crew. Mere minutes ago, I’d been hanging around the sidewalks of the lush Melrose Avenue as Cudi posed playfully for NME photographer Pamela Littky against a wall mural.
Unfortunately, someone in the area evidently thought that such antisocial behaviour as buying trainers, eating sandwiches and getting your photo taken could not be allowed to pass in their neighbourhood, and a phonecall was made. Apparently, we burgled something without noticing.
And so, I’m gingerly stepping backwards, hands on head, towards the aforementioned angry shouty man, one of 10 or so armed police officers with an alarming amount of weaponry pointed in our direction as a helicopter circles overhead. Then I’m kneeling on the ground, and wondering what exactly he means when he says “INTERLOCK YOUR ANKLES!”
Another officer handcuffs me, soon figures out from my over-accommodating politeness that I’m about as gangsta as Harriet Harman, checks my passport and takes off the cuffs. By now, Cudi and his boys are guffawing, bantering with the LAPD guys, the atmosphere surprising jovial. I too allow myself have a little what-the-fuck chuckle, but my palms are still sweaty, and I know now exactly what it feels like to be scared of being shot, which is a new one on me.
The whole thing, the officer in charge explains, was the result of a resident near the Joy Rich store we were shooting outside having identified us as having been involved in a looting of some kind. He also explains exactly how we can complain if we’re not happy with how we’ve been treated, stressing that they were just doing what they had to.
“She’s white, and 50, so don’t blame me…” he adds. Later on, no one’s sure. Was there a burglary nearby, and we were wrongly fingered? Did some crazy old bat make the burglary up? Did she just not like the way Cudi was chewing his meatball sub?
Either way, it’s an object lesson in how the US really is a very different, quite scary and pretty racist place. And in how agile you can be when someone’s pointing a shotgun at you…